Friday, March 22, 2024

Cozy Town RPG Review

When I was a lot younger (like, in high school) I can remember spending long hours around the gaming table planning with my friends our adventuring party’s lair. We spent time building a home for our characters, planning the layout, drawing floor plans, discussing and listing the types of rooms in our shared castle home. We talked about the guardians, servants, and friendly NPC’s that would live in our castle and look after it while we were away adventuring.

Is this role-playing? We were using our imagination, and we were pretending. If these are the hallmarks of role-playing, then yes … yes, we were role-playing. That then, during that time, for that session, was our role-playing game. That is the same kind of role-playing game you will discover when you play… 

Cozy Town

When I first flipped through Cozy Town, I dismissed it out of hand as something that just wasn’t for me. It’s not really an RPG, not in the sense that I am used to. But given that I started this series of reviews because I wanted to explore something different, perhaps Cozy Town will fit the bill?

In Cozy Town players don’t create characters, they create a town. In much the way that I did in high school, sitting around and discussing plans for a castle, all the players in Cozy Town work together to create a home, not for their characters, but for an entire community of residents all looking for a home.

Character Creation

Just as we had created our characters in D&D, players will create the town residents, but only in the most general and cozy sense. The game recommends non-human residents and gives examples that remind me of video games like Animal Crossing. Here are the examples from the book, which will give you a better feel for what the game is going for than I can:

    • A small tropical island, with white beaches and small pigs that swim in the blue waters.

    • A small group of sentient guardian succulents, living in a mystical twilight grove in a fantasy world.

    • An ancient temple full of cats who walk and talk like we humans do.

    • Faeries who have built a home of dreams and wishes on one of Jupiter’s moons.

    • ...Or make up something similar! Remember to focus on the “aaawww” factor, something dreamy and comforting.

Once you decide on the residents of your Cozy Town, you focus on filling out other details and can even draw a little town map as you go. Town details include: townsfolk, features, events, transportation, and town spirits.

All of this reminds me of building my castle back in high school, but this is just the start. The process of creating Cozy Town is “character creation.” Next, it’s time for your character (your town) to go on an adventure!

The Adventure

In Cozy Town, your adventure is a year in the life of the town. Cozy Town uses a deck of 52 playing cards (with Jokers removed) to generate random encounters for your town and its residents. You divide the cards by suit, and each suit represents a season of the year. You begin the life of your town in spring, and you play through winter to complete one year.

On their turn, players draw a card and consult the rules to see what the card means, they then interpret the results and embellish them, describing what happens during that “week” in their town. 

This is role-playing. Generate a random result and then put that result into words that fit the narrative. That’s what a player does when a warrior swings their sword to strike down a goblin, or when their wizard casts a spell to teleport the party to safety. They roll the dice and then describe what happens. Cozy Town is the same.

After everyone has taken a turn, players decide if they wish to continue in the same season or move to the next season. I suspect this decision will have to do with how long a game session your group is shooting for, but I think that it would not only be best to move on to the next season, but also to set the cards that were used aside (and not use them) so that you can revisit the town later and be guaranteed different results during a future play.

With every turn, the town changes grows, and evolves, and the players create an ongoing story, not of a single character, but of a small charming community.

Cozy Town As Session Zero

While Cozy Town is designed with strong, “Stardew Valley” or “Animal Crossing” vibes, I can see using this to create a town for other kinds of small fantasy communities. I even think this might make a great “session zero” for another RPG, where players work together to create their town, then later each create a character who comes from that town. This would make a group of characters who all have a connection from that shared experience. It would be like those characters really did all grow up in the same small town together. (Cozy Town would make an awesome session zero for the previously reviewed, Golden Sky Stories.)

I don’t think Cozy Town would endure for an extended campaign, but it’s not designed for that. The random nature of the game means that Cozy Town will make an awesome one-shot for a night when someone can’t make it. That just happened this past Saturday, I wish I’d had thought of Cozy Town then. It would have been perfect.

Final Thoughts

I really like Cozy Town. It’s another charming entry in the “feel good” family of RPG’s, and it’s simple, and accessible approach to improvisational shared creativity makes it a perfect choice for a last minute filler. That being the case, I am sure that Cozy Town will find its way to my game table.

If you are interested, you can find Cozy Town HERE. (This is not an affiliate link. If you buy Cozy Town, I receive nothing. I recommend the game because I love it for all the reasons detailed in this review.)

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