Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Owl Hoot Trail

With all the excitement over the release of 13th Age, it might be easy to overlook another excellent new release from Pelgrane Press, the Western RPG Owl Hoot Trail. It is a digest-sized RPG that is about 136 pages long. The first 63 pages are the rules, and the remainder of the book are scenarios and tables.

The game uses a very rules light implementation of the d20 system. The game includes the standard fantasy races with slight name changes which help to Westernize them (so to speak) for the genre being played. Thankfully, these fantasy races are not used as substitutes for minorities or specific real world ethnic groups, as they are in Wolsung and Victoriana. Native peoples and people of color are not disproportionately orcs or goblinoid races. Yea, fantasy races in the "real world" done right! Of course, you could entirely ditch the non-humanoid races if you wanted to, but the way they are presented makes them interesting and relevant to the setting.

You choose one of two origins:
  • A greenhorn is from back in "civilized" lands, and has a higher Learning skill
  • A native is someone who was born out West, either in a tribe or a small community, and has a higher Wilderness score

Character classes include: Gunslinger, Marshal (who has healing powers when sharing booze), Ruffian (a dirty fighter), Scoundrel (cheats and swindlers), Scout, Gadgeteer, Mentalist, Preacher, and Shaman. The Gadgeteer has science-based wondrous abilities, and the Mentalist, Preacher, and Shaman all have magical abilities.

There are three Ability Scores:
  • Grit - which makes you rough and tough
  • Draw - which makes you quick and ready
  • Wits - which makes you awake and sharp
There are five Skills: Amity, Learning, Toughness, Wile, and Wilderness.

There are rules for gambling and for gunfight duels.

The setting is mostly up to you. You can dial up the Weird Westerness or dial it down and keep things pretty gritty. There is a small section on foes and monsters, including some D&D old reliables reskinned a bit for a Western fantasy setting. Any GM worth her salt will be able to adapt easily the monsters from any d20/OSR game for Owl Hoot Trail. The statblocks are short and sweet.

This game will appeal to OSR folks who miss games like Boot Hill, as well as indie gamers who like Pelgrane's quality products and are willing to try new things.

Since coming back from South Dakota, I have been thinking about running a Western game. I am itching to try this game out.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Con of the North 2014 - Game Candidates

Minnehaha Creek Flood Stage

We're inundated with convention gaming ideas at the moment. Con of the North 2014, the largest gaming con in the Upper Midwest, is scheduled for February 14-16, at its new location: Crown Plaza Minneapolis West. I usually run 3 or so games there as part of the House of Indie Games theme room. This year things are a bit more complicated with the new space, theme tracks are on but room arrangements is a more complicated picture. There will also be a Tekumel theme track.

I will almost certainly be running a FATE Core based Tekumel game, probably set in the city of Katalal. I am also thinking about running 1-2 more games.

Candidates include:
  • An Everway  6-hour marathon session
  • +trey causey 's pulp-inspired Weird Adventures setting, using FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE) as the game engine
  • An adventure set in my Xeno-Meso setting as featured on The Everwayan, using FAE (or Everway, or Swords & Wizardry)
  • A medieval African adventure using +Kevin Crawford's Spears of the Dawn RPG
  • Tenra Bansho Zero
  • 13th Age, which shares a design lineage with Everway. Maybe even an Everway-13th Age 6-hour marathon crossover game.
Event descriptions need to be postmarked by September 3, 2013, so I have about a month to get this all figured out.

EDIT: I am surprised I forgot to list a Ubiquity system game: either All for One: Regime Diabolique, Hollow Earth Expedition, or Leagues of Adventure. We need to consider those games too.