Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Down Darker Trails

Product-Down Darker Trails

System- Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $44.99 here https://www.chaosium.com/down-darker-trails-hardcover/ 

TL; DR– Cowboys and Cthulhu! 97%

Basics–  What’s that ahead on the trail?  Down Darker Trails is a wild west source book for Call of Cthulhu.  This book has information for both the game master and players to build anything, from gunslingers to wild west cults serving dark gods all across the west.  Let’s look at the parts.

Mechanics or Crunch– This book is an interesting and well done mix of old and new.  Arguably there are LOTS of reskins of stuff we have seen before, but honestly, that’s what I need.  I need to know what the fire rate for guns in that time was and and the prices.  There are some major changes between 1880 and 1920, but the damage really doesn’t change that much in this game.  That said, this book adds a lot of new stuff, from spells to real life states for characters, to excellent new options for investigators/players.  I like everything that is here and it adds the right amount of depth and crunch for a game in this time.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– I like what’s here, but I have some minor issues.  I mentioned before that there is a lot of reskinning for the time.  That’s true and it’s true here too.  But, I don’t see anything crazy new here regarding the mythos.  It doesn’t invent a ton of new monsters or elder things.  Lovecraft didn’t do a ton out west, so thats part of it, but I would like to see more new in the story of the mythos.  That said, what is here is excellent.  Amazing history summaries, great write ups on persons of the time, solid respect to the cultures of the west and its people, and character options that will let a person who is new to the old west beyond Back to the Future III into the world of what really went on out there.  There is always more to be learned, but as a first pass into this world and the idea that a book can’t continue for forever, this is a great way to build mythos into the west and the west into the mythos.  4.5/5

Execution– Chaosium knows book publishing with the art, layout, readability, and book mechanics like hyperlinks and such all on point.  This book even has real pictures of people from the time to so you can see the real faces of the west.  Furthermore, since the real west was a lot more racist than the fun and wholly-pretend cowboy and Indians I played as a child, the book treats the indigenous peoples of the west with respect in art, writing, and design.  5/5

Summary– This is a phenomenal book.  I love Call of Cthulhu, and recently lots of my video games have been old west as well.  The pretend old west is fun, but the real west is far more entertaining and deep.  This book gives me the keeper/gm the tools I need to merge those loves and it gives my players the tools they need to jump right in as well.  I have some minor issues, but like all the products I love that quibble about it comes down to wanting more.  What I do have is a well done book with crunch and stories to build a fun western adventure and a book that easily revealed its secrets.  If you want cowboys in the mythos, then you need this book.  96%

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