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A table top story game about the heroic women of the SOE in occupied France for 2-5 players.
A table top story game about the heroic women of the SOE in occupied France for 2-5 players.
198 backers pledged £4,665 to help bring this project to life.
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A Cool and Lonely Courage

£4,665

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After the kickstarter, more information will always be available on https://planesailinggames.com/tag/lonely-courage/

Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Khan, Nancy Wake, Odette Sansom
Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Khan, Nancy Wake, Odette Sansom

It is time for women to come to the forefront of history — a place where they have always been, though they are often overlooked. Bravery was on every front of World War 2. But how much courage does it take to do your job when surrounded not by friends but by enemies? When your first mistake might be your last, and hundreds of people in the war effort are relying upon you?

It is the Second World War. France has fallen to the Nazis and Churchill decides to disrupt Hitler's war machine in the occupied countries. He forms a volunteer group with one mission: to set Europe ablaze. Sometimes known as “Churchill’s Secret Army”, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) recruits agents from all walks of life. Unusually, they recruit women as well as men. It is the only place on the western front where women train for combat operations just like the men. 

The SOE were keen to recruit women. Captain Jepson, their senior recruiting officer, said "they had a cool and lonely courage” which particularly suited them to the isolated and dangerous undercover work in France. Women primarily worked as couriers and wireless operators but took part in all kinds of operations. It was extraordinarily dangerous. One third of the women who worked in occupied France were captured and killed. 

This game gives you an opportunity to tell your own stories of courage and sacrifice and to honour the women who did it for real.  

  •  "Lonely Courage is the best and probably the most emotional RPG I played in 2018. I recommend it unreservedly, especially if you love games focused on actual historical heroism" —Kevin Kulp, author of TimeWatch and Swords of the Serpentine. 
  •  "A Cool and Lonely Courage claws at your heart and leaves you scarred. A fresh and clever design with an elegant execution. A captivating historical experience done terribly, terribly right" —Stephen Dewey, author of Ten Candles. 
  •  "Lonely Courage was one of the highlights of 2018 for me and it's only gotten better since. It effortlessly weaves the women of the SOE's jaw dropping stories together with accessible mechanics that create truly affecting emotions. I was blown away by how quickly we zoomed in from the tragic backdrop of WW2 into vivid characters and moments that felt intimate and earned (poor Michel and your boulangerie, you did not deserve your fate!). It was like being inside a Spielberg war movie: beautiful, sad, and utterly memorable. And, having run it with beginners, also surprisingly easy to pick up even if you’ve never played a role playing game before" —Raph D'Amico, author of The Zone. 
  •  "Although it is a tragic game, it is not a depressing one. The personal, human, uplifting moments shine as brightly as the tragic setting.  The victories (small and large) shine as brightly as the losses.  The game creates people and allows the player to feel as they would, to experience their joys along with their challenges. The result is not only powerful and historically informative, but also personal and joyful" —Betsy Rosenblatt.
  •  "Alex’s love for this setting, and game, is evidenced by the amount of research he has artfully folded in to each page. Every episode offers examples and anecdotes to facilitate deeper historical understanding. “A Cool and Lonely Courage” is one of the most beautiful historical role playing games I have had the privilege to play and play test. The rule systems offer deep boundaries, and the narrative format allows for expansion of ideas and connectivity. This is a game that was truly created out of compassion, with the purpose to deeper understand overlooked parts of history" —Miranda Chadbourne.

This is an immersive table top story game for 2-5 players. A game session can take from 2-4 hours to play. All you need is a pack of playing cards, some paper and pens, and this short 6" x 9" format rulebook. You don’t need any historical knowledge to play — I have filled the rulebook with real-life examples that will help steer you towards the kind of situations and dilemmas which were faced by women working in the SOE.

In occupied France, the German soldiers were everywhere
In occupied France, the German soldiers were everywhere

The game starts with your character having already been captured and imprisoned by the Nazis. In flashback scenes you are going to find out how each woman’s life led her to that point.

A series of questions help you decide your character's background, recruitment, and training. You decide what strengths you discovered and what weaknesses were revealed. You decide whether you were going to face the challenges of a courier or a wireless operator before you parachuted into France.

Each player is dealt a hand of six playing cards, face down. You each play through five flashback scenes, one for each of the chapters of your life with the resistance: arrival, a mission, an interlude, capture, and prison. The suit of the card that you reveal at the start of each scene indicates whether that scene revolves around love, success, misfortune, or death.

Each scene introduces or re-uses a supporting character that you know, and circles around the relationship you have with those people, deepening your ties with them and fleshing them out as characters. Other players take the role of your supporting characters in your scenes.  

Once you have all completed each of the chapters, you secretly decide whether to keep your last card or donate it to one of the other players — to find out who escapes, who survives, who dies — and how they are all remembered.

example of the planned page layout
example of the planned page layout

Here are some examples of actual play of A Cool and Lonely Courage.  The first is a recording around a kitchen table by Diana Gamet, Rob & Lindsay Daviau, Ariel Jaffee and David Nolin.

The second is a two play game on the podcast Party of One by Jeff Stormer and Kiva Fecteau

The third is a recording of a Gauntlet Hangout by Catherine Ramen with Peter Mazzeo, Carmen Maria Marin and David Morrison 

£1500: Campaign version of the game: Normally it’s run as a one-shot, but the campaign version of the game will allow you to run a game that spans multiple sessions, and have many characters running across the war from September 1942 to June 1944. 

£2000: Higher Quality Printing: If I reach this funding goal then all printed copies of the game will be printed by offset process rather than using a Print on Demand facility like Drive Thru RPG. This will provide higher quality printed books for all backers who have selected print copies. 

£3500: EPub edition: If I reach this funding goal then I will produce an ePub version of the rules which will be available to all backers who will be getting a PDF. I’ve heard that ePub format is highly desirable for people on phones and for those with visual difficulties. 

£4500: Print and Play cards: If I reach this funding goal I’ll be providing A4 & Letter format PDFs with cards that you can print and cut out for all backers who will be getting a PDF. These will have supporting character names, occupations and role-play details for those times when someone is stumped for an idea and wants a quick prompt.  

Women fought alongside the men in the resistance
Women fought alongside the men in the resistance
  •  Alex White is a game design and layout person, who successfully kickstarted a traditional RPG, Starguild: Space Opera Noir, and is now working on Story Games. You can find him on twitter as @NAlexWhite. He lives in the UK Home Counties with his wife, two daughters, and a Toller. 
  •  Amanda Valentine is an editor and developer whose work includes Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game, Dresden Files Accelerated, Bluebeard's Bride, lots of other RPGs, and a growing quantity of novels and fiction. You can find her on Twitter as @ayvalentine. She lives and works in the wilds of central Pennsylvania with her husband, their two teenaged geeklings, a pair of sweet cats, and a Mexican black king snake.
  •  Diana Gamet is our playtest co-ordinator, running many playtests, recording the sessions, and sharing the results. This helped focus the play aids which have been added to the game and has been invaluable. She can be found on Twitter as @dianagamet. Diana is an aspiring game designer, choral conductor, and music educator in Boston, MA.

What do I need funding for?

  • For copy editing, printing, and licensing of photographs.

Risks and challenges

Game design is complete and editing is underway. Once editing is complete I will finish layout and then arrange printing. At the present there are no outstanding unknowns for me to contend with, but if there are sufficient backers to make it worthwhile to use offset printing rather than Print on Demand, then there will be some additional time taken to select and work with a chosen printer.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $13

    FANY decoders

    You will receive a printable and hyper-linked PDF of the final rules for A Cool and Lonely Courage, and will have your name listed in the credits as a supporter. You will also have immediate access to the fully playable playtest rules PDF.

    Includes:
    • PDF of A Cool and Lonely Courage
    • Immediate access to playtest edition PDF of the rules
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    Pledge £20 or more About $26

    Maquis Fighter

    You will have immediate access to a PDF of the playtest edition of the rules.

    When editing and printing is complete, you will receive an 6” x 9” softcover edition of A Cool and Lonely Courage, as well as a copy of the hyperlinked PDF. Your name will be listed in the credits as a supporter.

    Includes:
    • Immediate access to playtest edition PDF of the rules
    • PDF of A Cool and Lonely Courage
    • Softcover 6"x9" edition of A Cool and Lonely Courage
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    Pledge £50 or more About $63

    SOE Courier

    You will have immediate access to a PDF of the playtest edition of the rules.

    Signed Copy: When editing and printing is complete, you will receive a signed 6” x 9” softcover edition of A Cool and Lonely Courage, as well as a copy of the PDF. Your name will be listed in the credits as a supporter.

    Includes:
    • Immediate access to playtest edition PDF of the rules
    • PDF of A Cool and Lonely Courage
    • Signed 6" x 9" softcover edition of A Cool and Lonely Courage
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $126

    SOE Wireless Operator

    You will have immediate access to a PDF of the playtest edition of the rules.

    Signed Copy: When editing and printing is complete, you will receive a signed 6” x 9” softcover edition of A Cool and Lonely Courage, as well as a copy of the PDF. Your name will be listed in the credits as a special supporter. In addition there will be a set of laminated reference sheets to help during the game.

    Includes:
    • Immediate access to playtest edition PDF of the rules
    • PDF of A Cool and Lonely Courage
    • Signed 6" x 9" softcover edition of A Cool and Lonely Courage
    • Laminated Reference Sheets
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    5 backers
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Funding period

- (21 days)