A new Kickstarter campaign from Chris Spivey over at Darker Hue Studios has caught my eye. I’m a sucker for weird west stories going back to when I first read Werewolf the Wild West. Since then I’ve tried my hand at a few other RPGs like the obvious Deadlands, and wargames like Legends of the Wild West and Dracula’s America. What’s particularly intriguing about Haunted West however is where the focus lies.
A fresh look at an old setting
Whilst it can be played as a purely historical game, Haunted West allows you to add weird and wonderful elements to your game via magic and monsters. That’s nothing new though I hear you say. The intriguing thing for me is Chris and the team’s focus on the stories and voices of the ‘forgotten peoples’.
I’d have to admit that my knowledge of the Old West was, as with most, influenced heavily by movie and television. I loved everything from A Fistful of Dollars to Paint Your Wagon and Rawhide to The Three Amigos. However, you may see a theme in the protagonists here. Only as I got older and read more about the ‘truth’ of the West and the American Civil War out of interest from wargaming did I notice a fair bit of disparity in the view point of all of these stories. Sure, Dances With Wolves re-framed, but it was still a story from a certain point of view.
With that said then, I’m very keen to grab a look at this book, not just for the system, but the research and time that have been spent to bring us all something new. Even if I never get a chance to bring it to the gaming table, there’s enough on offer to make me want to pick it up for the ideas vault.
OK, but how does it play?
The system gets a tick from me straight away for being d100 based. When it comes to dice rolling I’ve grown overly attached to either the percentage roll or a variation on the bell curve (2/3d6). On top of this, we’re treated to a scaling system. As I said, this can be played in a historical fashion where a gunshot is likely to be fatal. If the bullet doesn’t kill you, the infection probably will. You can however layer up, taking your game to gritty horror or alternative timeline, full on 6-shooter pulp action.
On top of the core rules, the book brings everything else you’d expect from a contained game. There’s character creation, narration rules, and a heap of geography and background. This is further expanded with the Haunted West: Reconstruction. This alternate timeline diverges from our own as the Wilkes Booth plot also takes out Johnson as originally intended.
All in all, I think this looks like a pretty good package. For just $20 you can pick up a pdf of the book or up your pledge as usual for additional add ons or hard copies as desired. Given the writing team involved and the variety of art I’ve seen so far I can definitely see me at least picking up the pdf to give it a read. With the target smashed, currently 400 backers and over 200% funded, there’s also no worries of this not funding. Well worth a gander.
As always we’d love to hear your thoughts below of join us in discussion over on the Facebook group.
All the artwork here has been taken from the Kickstarter page.