Copperhead County December: Elections, Actions, & Jams


Hello outlaws,

This month I want to talk a bit about the political side of Copperhead County. Then if you read (or skip) down to the end you'll be rewarded with another preview spread and some general news.

It's Election Time in Tennessee

The subtitle of this game is crime & corruption in the New South. "Corruption" isn't just there to make a snappy alliteration—the conceit of the setting is that the county establishment itself is essentially an illegal enterprise, being thoroughly entangled with crime and criminal cash. Thus there are many opportunities for a PC crew to work for, expose, corrupt, or destroy that establishment in pursuit of their own goals.

One of the main routes to this is that, as the campaign begins, a chaotic special election is underway to replace a deceased incumbent County Trustee. The role of the County Trustee is expanded upon a bit in the current text, but since this is a county-level role that might only exist in IRL Tennessee, most people probably don't know what it is or does.

In Tennessee counties, the Trustee is an elected position responsible for the collection, accounting, and disbursement of county property taxes and other public funds. In Copperhead County, then, where public funds are freely intertwined with dirty money for the purposes of self-enrichment and public development, the Trustee forms an important part of the corrupt establishment.

In fact, in Real Tennessee, which is often ranked as one of the most corrupt states in America, several real County Trustees have recently found themselves in hot water for stealing public funds.

(Behind the scenes: early on in the setting, the election revolved around the County Clerk, instead. This was a shot at Kim Davis, the sinister Kentucky county clerk who was briefly infamous in 2015. I changed it because, really, the duties of a County Clerk are not very interesting for this game. And since 2015 was approx. 50 years ago, who remembers that shithead anymore, anyway?)

Since the Trustee is so critical to the county ecosystem, the election provides a lot of possible drama for your campaign. At the start of the game, three sides are competing for it: the sure-to-win County GOP, the long-defeated County Democrats, and the independent villain Betsy Wood, a far-right, alt-right, crypto-racist-fascist type amalgamating the past several years of southern conservatism. Will your crew work with a party to join the establishment? Will you run your own candidate and turn the three-way race into a four-way free-for-all?

In my home campaigns, we've dealt with the election twice and in two different ways. In an earlier game, the crew allied with the County Democrats and their criminal allies and ran the Stringer's wife, a local high school teacher, as the Democratic candidate. She ultimately won after the crew did some espionage against their opponents, and after their allies perhaps did some election fraud of their own.

In my current campaign, which is a little more, uh, explosive, the crew is running their own candidate, a dimwitted Sheriff's Deputy who started as a sidekick to another NPC, then came into his own after his boss was killed off. Most recently, that crew did some espionage against Betsy Wood and her criminal allies, which resulted in her house being, uh, blown up. (This was a bit of Collateral Damage decided on by one member of the crew, which the others did not approve of, leading to almost a complete meltdown of crew relations. Next time we have to figure out how the crew can continue working together, and they might even change crew playbooks, which gives me a chance to figure that out.)

Preview: Action Descriptions

Meanwhile, work on the final game continues apace. December is very busy, but I'm hoping to get a lot done later this month, post-holidays. One thing I've done lately that I'm pleased with is figuring out the final layout for action descriptions. Of course, the current game already has full action descriptions, the format of which I and contributing writer Michael Crowley, who wrote most of them, based on the Blades descriptions.

My challenge in moving those out of the current 8x11 landscape format and into a 6x9 book format is that they're fucking long! Other Forged in the Dark books have addressed this a couple of ways. In Blades, all the stuff is scrunched onto one page across two columns. In Scum & Villainy, they let it all hang out across two pages. I really wanted to hit one page, but I didn't want the pages to feel crammed and cramped. Ultimately, the solution laid in editing the shit out of the text, and embracing more focused write-ups that briefly explain the actions and then give you nice, fat examples, which are the most useful bits anyway.

You can see how that works out in practice on this spread, which will also tell you more about the renamed Connect action, which I wrote about last month.

Copperhead County @ New MexiCon

Next April, I'll be traveling from my mountain home down to the deserts of ABQ to attend New MexiCon, where I'm sure I'll run a game or two and play other games and have a nice time. More details on this as they become available. I'm very excited to visit ABQ and go look at Walter White's house and that hot dog place and whatnot.

Playlist 2.0

Recently, it came to my attention that you can embed Spotify playlists in Itch.io pages. Shout-outs to my fellow FitD developers of Moth-Light and Hello, World for the example. Go click on their games and playlists too.

So if you go over to the Copperhead County homepage, you'll see the main soundtrack embedded now, too. Or if you scroll down, you'll see it here. I took advantage of this occasion to also polish the soundtrack, rearrange some tracks, and cut some others so its a lot shorter and easier to enjoy in one sitting. All cut tracks live on within the Expanded Playlist, which will remain behind the paywall in the game text.

That's all for now!


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