The Price of Coal

The Price of Coal is a card-based prompt-driven storytelling game about coal miners and their loved ones in West Virginia, 1921.

The Price of Coal is a card-based prompt-driven storytelling game about coal miners and their loved ones in West Virginia, 1921. It’s about the struggles faced by those who stand up for their rights, and about communities that come together through hard times. It’s about a history that should not be forgotten. It’s about the fights we still face today.

The game uses character and prompt cards to help you tell the story of a year leading up to a terrible battle. During this year, characters will face many trials together, both inside and outside the mines. The Price of Coal draws inspiration from a variety of storytelling games, like Red Carnations on a Black Grave, For the Queen, The Quiet Year, and Montsegur 1244.

The physical edition of The Price of Coal includes 78 tarot-sized cards printed on high-quality cardstock. Each character card is brought to life by the stunning art of Jaqueline Florencio. The deck includes rule cards, 12-character cards, season cards with in-game prompts, and interlude cards.

Historical Context

In 1921, coal miners in West Virginia fought for better safety protections, higher wages, and the right to unionize.The coal companies were unwilling to slow production or risk their own profits for the sake of safety. The companies kept an iron grip on everything in the coal mining towns, including the company store, the doctors, and the teachers. Eventually, a boiling point was reached. Martial law was declared, and the miners began to rise up to liberate their neighbors and to unionize the region.

Both the National Guard and the US Army were called in to quell the miners, including the use of aerial bombers left over from WWI. From August 25th to September 2nd, the Battle of Blair Mountain was fought, in which as many as 100 miners were killed. Over time, improvements were made to the worst of the conditions the miners faced, but the Battle of Blair Mountain was no victory for workers.

A century may have passed since the battle, but the fight for workers’ rights continues to this day.

One Shot Podcast Actual Play

Just released today, we’ve got an actual play recorded with Jennifer, James, Alex, Paulomi, and Beaz at the One Shot Network! If you want to hear a real session of the game and get a feel for what it’s like, this is a great resource. It’s also just a great listen, as everyone brought their A-game to this one! Thanks so much to everyone over at One Shot!

Table Top Crowd Interview

If you want to hear Jennifer talk about the creation of the game, the design process, and my general goals and intent with The Price of Coal, this is for you! She got to sit down with Kristin at Table Top Crowd and chat about the game a while back, and they had a really great conversation. Thank you Kristin, and the rest of the Geekspective crew!

Punching Out Interview

Jennifer was also lucky enough to talk with the fine folks at Punching Out, a local radio show about work and labor in America! Definitely give this a listen if you want to know more about the history of the Battle of Blair Mountain, including the factors that lead to it and some of the fallout that we still feel today. Many thanks to Rich and Ryan!

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