The Price of Coal
A story game of labor rights
In 1920, the coal miners of West Virginia faced shameful living conditions and even worse working conditions. Miners were paid subsistence wages, despite high profits, or even paid only in scrip which could only be used at the company-owned store. Within the mines themselves, workers experienced frequent cave-ins and other dangerous accidents, as the operators were reluctant to reduce production for the sake of safety.
Whispers of unionization began to arise in the mountains. The coal companies responded harshly, employing company gun thugs to violently and cruelly enact the company’s will upon the miners.
Events escalated from there, including the declaration of martial law, spiraling into the 1921 assassination of Sid Hatfield, who had by then become a local icon and a leader to the miners throughout the region.
Federal troops were dispatched to Blair Mountain, including aerial bombers equipped with leftover gas and explosive bombs from the Great War. Days of guerrilla warfare followed, during which as many as one hundred miners were killed for the crime of wanting a better life.
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. 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.
About the Game
The Price of Coal includes 72 cards. 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.
Playing the Game
The Price of Coal is a GMless game for 3-5 players and takes about 3-4 hours to play. No prep is required and the game can be completed in a single session of play. Players each take on the role of two characters: a coal miner and a townsperson or family member of a coal miner. They then answer questions to set up the relationships between their characters.
Each turn, players draw a prompt card, decide which of their two characters to feature for that scene, and create a scene of roleplay with other characters. The game ends at the Battle of Blair Mountain, where the players must face the ultimate confrontation: the full force of the US Army against the United Mine Workers.
3-5 players | 3-4 hours | Ages 13+
This deck consists of 72 tarot-sized cards.