Winds of the North is an upcoming solo Viking gamebook. It features sandbox gameplay with a mix of adventure and farm management. Each week, until open playtesting begins, I’ll be sharing a preview of the mechanics and features.
The passing of time is important in Winds of the North, as it attempts to simulate the saga of an unknown Viking (you) and their ascendancy to ruler. Your game, should you survive, will take place over multiple in-game years. The seasons also affect what things you can do and the weather that can hinder you.
During the game, a Week is one turn (2 activities). Four Weeks mark one Month. Each Month will tax your resources but reward large households and give you an opportunity to binge on ale to increase Happiness (a statistic of your farm that improves certain activities). A Season lasts three Months, and after Winter, a new Year begins (note, the Year tracks when you started, not the calendar year).
So, one in-game Year gives you 96 activities. It seems like a lot, but most of them take very little time to process. But this isn’t a game you’re likely to finish in one sitting (unless you die). It’s a campaign you’ll return to multiple times before you reach your goal of becoming a true King or Queen.
Activities and Seasons
Activities are what drive the game, they’re the actions you choose from that break down into Primary and Secondary. During a Week, you choose one Primary and one Secondary, or you can opt to perform two Secondary Activities and no Primary ones.
Each Season provides a unique list of activities. For instance, the Vikings always began their raids in early summer, so it only appears as an option in Summer, but it also has a limited window. Some activities, such as festivals, will have narrow windows in which you can choose them or miss out (at least, for the year). Also, some time-consuming activities can’t be finished in a single action. Voyages like raiding can take up multiple weeks or months at a time but reward you for the investment.
At the start of each Week, you’ll roll for the Weather to see if and how it impacts your activities.
Above is the Spring Weather Chart. There is a good chance of Fair Weather which is the best time for outdoor activities. Rain and Storms negatively impact those outdoor activities, and anytime you take such an action, you’ll have to roll to see if you become ill (and sometimes, the risk may be necessary). The worse the weather, the better your odds of becoming ill.
Winters were especially harsh, and during Winter, each Month takes on new effects where you and your household can become sick, increasing the sick rating of your farm. Animals can also become sick and will need taking care of. You’ll become very familiar with the Recuperate activity, which provides healing for the injured and sick.
At the end of Winter, you’ll find out who survived, rolling for each level of sickness on your farm. Animals that have been left sick simply die. Either heal them or slaughter them for food (just like the Vikings). The good news is, for surviving another year, you get to improve your character.
Next week, we’ll see what goes on at the farm and how you can build and customize your land and followers. See you then!