It has been a bit longer than normal since my last blog post, but for good reason. After my double post about the Carta Jam, I decided to fulfill a dream I had been putting off and publishing a work of my own! I hope you will all indulge me as I introduce you to its basics.
The game is called The Land and the People and is based on the Carta SRD system developed by Cat of Peach Garden Games. A solo game inspired by the life's work of 19th century Korean cartographer Kim Jeong Ho, it is about the Character and their party of companions collecting enough data to create a map of their fictional country.
However, the game is about more than that. Through event prompts attached to the cards, The player is encouraged to explore the Character, their companions, and the world around them. I thought to illustrate this with a couple of turns here on the blog to show how a game might start.
Basics & Game Setup
There are two statistics that drive the action of The Land and the People, Travel Time and Accounts. Travel Time is how much longer the Character and their team can afford to continue on their surveying journey. It is an abstract indicator of both the money & supplies you have on hand to fund the travel and the morale of the party itself. Play in this game occurs in several rounds on the same map. The round ends when Travel Time hits zero.
Accounts are the survey data, old maps, and testimonies that the Character and their party collects to make their final map at the end of the game. Exactly what form they take depends on how you interpret the card events and can be quite interesting! You can't win the game unless you have at least 8 Accounts, so gathering them is quite important. Card events can cause the Character to gain or lose Accounts, Travel Time, or both.
To first set up a board for The Land and the People, the player would need to take the Kings out of a standard deck of cards and then pick one of the Kings to act as their Starting Card. The suit of the Starting Card influences the starting circumstances for the game, as it represents the patron (or lack thereof) that is helping the Character achieve their dream. It also sets the player's starting Travel Time and gives them a special ability. The King is placed on the board and 24 cards from the deck and put around it to make a 5x5 square.
For this abreviated play-through, I decided that my character would be Simas (he/him), a former low-level military officer who became interested in cartography as part of his work. Now that he has completed his tour of duty, he would like to make a map much better than those he had to deal with during his service.
For the Starting Card, I chose the King of Diamonds. This means my Character's work will be sponsored by a group of merchants or craftspeople. My starting Travel Time is 10 and I have 50% chance to regain any Travel Time lost due to a card event using a dice roll.
Each card has a short event and questions to prompt the player to think more about the action of the game. In the case of this King, the questions are:
What do [the merchants or craft-folk] do? What would they gain from having the Character’s map? Who is the main contact and what are they like?
I decided that Simas's sponsor is a network of small-time cart traders. They would be able to better trade between cities, getting an edge on some of their competition. Simas's main contact with the network is a well-established woman named Hila who owns several carts trading in metal goods between several major cities.
For my first move I moved down. Simas lost one Travel Time to move to the card and revealed the Four of Spades. The card event says:
A giant face carved into the cliffside above you seems to stare down at you. It is unnerving but impressive that your ancestors were able to make such a mark upon the Earth. Who or what is the carving a picture of? Do you know why they made it here? Result: +1 Account
As a result, Simas has gained an account. I decided that the carving was of a therianthropic (part-animal, part-human) figure that was made by people in the distant past.
My next move was to the left. Again, Simas loses one more Travel Time for a total of 8. The card I revealed was the Jack of Hearts. The event for this card reads:
The rising moon reminds you of a poem a dear departed friend wrote as you walk along a river. Do not be overproud of quick passage to the sea, It certainly is hard to return uphill to me. Moonbeams grace the mountains, I would stay and rest with thee. Where is this water racing before it meets the sea? Result: No Change
Here you can see that some of the card events do not have a mechanical effect, but instead focus on world-building and character development. I decided that this river flows past the carving from the previous card and curves west until it reaches a bay and a harbor town and noted that on my map.
For the next turn, Simas deducts one Travel Time for a total of 7 and I reveal the Three of Clubs. It reads:
The young magistrate looks forlornly at the disaster that is supposed to be their new office. Papers are everywhere and the clerk who is supposed to be caring for them can be heard snoring in the other room. The magistrate’s predecessor was removed for incompetence and now you are seeing the results of such a person staying in their position for far too long. The magistrate clears their throat, “How long were you intending on staying in town?” How did you two meet on the road? What did you bond over? What interesting things did you find helping to reorganize? Result: -1 Travel Time and Roll a d6 On 1-3, the Character gains +1 Account. On 4-6, the Character gains +2 Account.
Now we come to a time where the special ability that Simas’s Starting Card can apply since we are deducting from the Travel Time due to an event. Rolling a d6, I rolled a 2. The rule on the card says that I have to a roll a 1-3, so Simas must have gotten some assistance from one of the members of that trading network that is acting as his patron, putting his Travel Time at 7. As for the Account roll, I rolled a 6, meaning Simas now has a total of 3 Accounts.
As for the questions, I decided that they met at a roadside inn at a river crossing. They bonded over Simas having been stationed for a time in the Magistrate’s hometown. With two accounts added, they must have found something really useful, so I decided that they found a rough map and information about the local villages that some earlier official had created. It was likely for tax purposes but still useful for our cartographers.
For our final turn of this mini-playthrough, I revealed the Ace of Spades. The Aces are the Goal Cards where the player can trigger one of the game’s endings. Each Goal Card requires 8 accounts and either 4 cards of the same suit to be revealed on the board or all 25 cards being face-up. In any case, Simas was far from having the requirements, so he had to come back to this printing workshop later…
I hope this mini replay has left you interested in The Land and the People! If you would like to try out the game for yourself, a full rule set is available at my itch.io store at this link. If you can't afford it for some reason, I also try to make community copies available for marginalized peoples or others in need.