Sunday, November 25, 2018

OSR Holiday Review & Commentary - The Eerie West - X! By Simon Washbourne

"Strange! Ghostly! Mysterious! Rousing tales of action and adventure in a wild west that never was. Who wants to read through reams of text just to get to the action? No-one right? These rules assume you know how to role play. They assume you know about “Golden Age” comic book pulp western fiction. (Thrilling cowboy adventures through a retro lens). They assume you know how OSR products work. There, it’s done. You know how to play already. Just get on with it. Go fer yer gun, hombre! "

Sometime ago I got into Beyond Belief Games Eerie West - X! for a set up for an OSR Wild & Weird West campaign set up. The product is put together with spit, bailing wire, & a micro system built on the lines of Swords & Wizardry. But it should work with mostly any OSR rules set with some work & best of all its open game content.
You get a wide variety of PC classes from the Shootist, Cardsharp, Trailblazer, Dude, Quack, & Hexer. The shootist is your gun fighter/fighter type. The Card sharp is your thief & all around rogue. The Trail blazer is your ranger & scout type for the Wild West. The Dude class is your socialite, tenderfoot from back East, & diplomat all rolled into one. The Quack is your cleric/doctor/fake medicine man all rolled into one whose potion might actually work or they might make you worse. The Hexer is your occultist who shouldn't be messing with the 'things man wasn't meant to know. Did I mention that there's a sanity rules set in here, full system for guns, monsters, NPCs,equipment, mundane animals, stats weird menaces, adventure ideas, two pages of rules & random charts.
The fact is that I've been looking for a more open set of Weird West rules over the last couple of years. Since these rules are cross compatible with other Beyond Belief X rules sets its very easy to swap them out for other OSR or even other  D20 systems.

Belle Starr
, American female outlaw. The caption reads, "A wild western amazon. The noted Belle Starr is arrested on the border of Indian Territory and being released on bail vanishes on horseback." Wood engraving in The National Police Gazette (1886 May 22), p. 16.

Even though Belle Starr wasn't featured in
The Eerie West - X! she's exactly the sort of cowboy or outlaw adventurer that could be used in adventures surrounding this campaign using this product. The fact is that a lot of Golden Age of Comics public domain artwork & source material was used in The Eerie West - X!. This puts the 'X' material square in the Golden Age of Comicbooks & Pulp magazine source material making it perfect for that style of old school or OSR campaigning. 
Everything from your bandits to your Wild West Gumberoo is covered;
AC: 10* HD: 3d6+1 Attacks: Claws 1d3 (x2), bite 1d3 Move: 10 San Loss: 1/1d3
Special: The creature has a rubbery hide that bounces back anything thrown on it. Bullets, arrows and so on will rebound in the direction they were fired, hitting the person that fired them (separate roll needed to hit).
A nearly hairless, extremely disgusting, bear-like brute of the woods."

There's just enough here to get a campaign off the ground & with blogs such as the OSR library its a snap to get a campaign off the ground plus get support. The material here isn't incredibly expansive but it doesn't need to be. The layout is easy to read, the stat blocks are standard, & the material is straight on point & top drawer.  While The Eerie West -X ! follows the tradition Western comic & pulp genre it really plugs into the Revisionist Weird Western;

"The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the rise of revisionist Western film. Elements include a darker, more cynical tone, with focus on the lawlessness of the time period, favoring realism over romanticism, and an interest in greater historical authenticity. Anti-heroes were common, as were stronger roles for women and more-sympathetic portrayal of Native Americans and Mexicans. The films were often critical of big business, the American government, and masculine figures (including the military and their policies). "
But really what The Eerie West -X! does is mix & match its material so that the dungeon master & players get a mix of classic Western material with Golden Age of Comics adventure! But could Wild West-X! be mixed with an old school or OSR adventure?

Yes as a matter of fact this material could easily be incorporated with say Swords & Wizardry or even original Dungeons & Dragons? Yes it could easily support such a campaign where the PC's blunder into  The Eerie West -X! or perhaps the PC's of the Eerie West X blunder into B4: The Lost City by Tom Moldvay. The PC's become lost in a sand storm & they suddenly blunder into the lost city itself.
Its not hard seeing the pyramid located some place in the South Western Mexican desert & the factions of the city waiting to sacrifice the PCs to their bastard Lovecraftian god thing.
"Lost in the desert! The only hope for survival lies in a ruined city rising out of the sands.
A pyramid with five twenty foot high tiers rises from the sand.  Atop it are three 30 foot tall statues.  One is a bearded man holding a scale and a lightning bolt.  Another is a beautiful woman holding a sheaf of wheat and a sword.  Between them is a child with two snakes twined about its winged body holding a wand and a handful of coins.
Food, water, and wealth await heroic adventurers inside the ancient pyramid."

Is the The Eerie West - X! worth getting?! I think so in spades, the game does what it says in nineteen pages & delivers on its promise with less filler & more killer with little issue. Plus its a great value & the material is cross compatible with other retroclone & OSR games. Five out of five in my humble opinion.

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