WINTERHORN is a live action game for 5-8 players about how governments degrade and destroy activist groups. By playing law enforcement and intelligence operatives working diligently to demoralize and derail, you’ll learn about the techniques used in the real world in pursuit of these goals. By playing WINTERHORN you’ll have a chance to reflect on weak points in your own activism, and think about ways to harden organizations you care about against government intrusion.
WINTERHORN: the code name of a small but passionate group of “peace and justice” activists. On the surface they project innocent, if misguided, zeal, but you know better. You’ve dealt with groups like this before, and there’s always a dangerous core. Gun-runners. Bomb-makers. People who deserve to be thrown in a dark hole somewhere.
As government agents, your goal is to nudge them into destroying themselves, using every trick in the book – black bag jobs, disinformation, spinning up rival front groups, and even escalating to vandalism and violence when necessary. Your mission, with the full force of the government behind you and time running out, is to get WINTERHORN’s members fighting like rats in a bucket. They need to fall apart before they can hurt anyone, and the state’s hands need to stay clean.
They won’t know what hit them.
“Jason Morningstar told me he designed Winterhorn to teach real-life activists about the tactics used by modern oppressive regimes. I took away form the game not only a knowledge of those tactics, but also a horrific understanding of how casually corporate these state agencies can be. We talked about birthday parties and favorite pubs as we decided to ruin people’s lives. And yet, underneath our jokes and bravado was an undercurrent of fear. What if one wrong word or the wrong attitude could mean not just getting fired, but getting interrogated, or relocated to a prison camp? In a working group full of spies, how can you tell who is really spying on whom?” – Cynthia Hornbeck, Shut Up & Sit Down
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Interested in the inspiration and development of WINTERHORN? Check out this interview with designer Jason Morningstar on Brie Sheldon’s blog.