Longwinter: Visitor’s Book (2021)

Longwinter: Visitor’s Book (2021), by Luka Rejec, is the first of two volumes. This is a guide book to a setting, it describes a place, a high valley, both cozy (in its way) and mysterious. The first half of the book is for all the folks who will play. You get a sense of the place, the settlements, what life is like, what the people do. It lays out a certain amount of specificity — this place has a distinct culture and character — but it is also tantalizingly vague — there is room for you to expand and explore on the material here. The invitations are everywhere. What’s the carving on the rock wall? What’s that machine buried in the snow? The text doesn’t answer those questions, that’s up to you.

The second half of the book describes the valley in mechanical terms. How do the effects of cold on a character work? What kind of things might you encounter in the wilderness. If the first half is a watch, the second half is the gears the make the hands turn. On its own, this is enough. I can find enough hooks in the (gorgeous) art alone to put together at least half a dozen adventures. But that’s not all Longwinter is…

The art really is lush and evocative. Rejec captures something of the crispness of those first days of winter. Bare trees, clean cold air, snowflakes on the wind, blinding blue skies. This is probably a region of the world we last visited in Witchburner (and will visit again, maybe, in Holy Mountain Shaker), though there are very modern touches, like the touring van, that subtly subvert those OSR expectations. There are swords and arrows too, but it is funny how something as simple and mundane to us as an older model car can make a fantasy world seem strange and mysterious.

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