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Author Topic: Coyote Trail Expanded PDF  (Read 2976 times)

Zachary The First

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Coyote Trail Expanded PDF
« on: September 09, 2006, 10:18:07 AM »


Holy cow, I have been gifted with the opportunity to review roughly a metric ton of great RPGs in the wake of Gen Con Indy.  One RPG I’ve been asked to review outside of Gen Con was Politically Incorrect Games’ Coyote Trail Expanded Edition.  By now, if you’ve checked out any of PIG’s titles (or read any of my reviews of the same), you know that PIG’s products are usually uniformly excellent.  Now, the Wild West is not my favorite gaming setting, and I think it’s one that suffers from a lack of truly genre-defining products: some games mix in a lot of supernatural/steampunk elements, while others are too narrowly focused and thematic in nature to ever to the whole “all-encompassing the genre” bit.  Some are just plain vaporware.  So Coyote Trail comes to us with a definite niche to fill—read on to see just how well it succeeds.

My review pdf was 172 pages, and right on the cover proclaims itself to be “Wild West Action and Adventure”.  As usual, PIG loads this book up with all sorts of extras (we’ll come to those in just a bit).  The layout, like most PIG books, is nicely clean and easy to follow.  The interior art was ok; a few of the earlier pieces left me just slightly flat, but seem to improve over the course of the book.

CT (as we will refer to Coyote Trail periodically from this point in) is divided into Journals, which we will cover one by one:

Journal 1: Rules of The West

Coyote Trail uses the genreDiversion system, which is pretty simple if you haven’t used it before: you roll 2d6 and attempt to roll under your applicable ability plus skill (and any modifiers, if the GM so decides).  The more you roll under, the better your margin of success is, which determines how well you succeeded.

It is a point-based system, (so if you do want a more cinematic/heroic game, it is an easy matter of just adding a few more points to play with during character creation).

Characters are hugely customizable, choosing a background (such as clergy, foreigner, slave), a vocation (all the western archetypes are here: Outlaw, Prospector, Lawman, Drifter, Homesteader, Gambler, Cowboy, and many more), and Gimmicks such a Criminal, Quick, Wealth—basically modifiers that will help mold your character and possibly grant several bonuses to boot.

Skills are also purchased  Vocations come with vocational skills, which are cheaper to increase than non-vocational ones (for example, if an Outlaw wanted skill ranks in Design, each rank in that skill would cost him 2 points instead of one, it being a non-vocational skill for him).  In total, character creation is swift, customizable, and easy.

Mechanics are further split in this section into basic task resolution and more advanced rules (such as environmental modifiers and more specific hit locations), which enables them to be more easily digested by those unfamiliar to this particular system or gaming at large.  There are rules for automatic task resolution, and the mechanics seem to encourage you to get down to the action quickly.

The use of the genreDiversion system provides slightly more of a gritty than cinematic experience for this title in terms of character mortality, but as mentioned earlier, than can be changed through increased starting point allocation.  It is worth noting that the game is 100% compatible with the Active Exploits system, PIG’s Impresa system can also be used without much of a fuss.

I was very pleased to see all manner of rules and guides included for the use of horses, wagons, and chases in this section.  Any western game not making allowances for these, in my opinion, would be hamstrung from the get-go.

The last part of the section is a primer of sorts describing some of the legends and realities of the Old West.  Types of settlements (such a boomtowns, forts, villages, ranches, ghost towns, etc.) are covered, and there’s also sections on travel, common town sites, and a list of story ideas and subplots to get things rolling.

In addition to all this is are basic weapon listings, a list of common goods & services, and rules for character advancement (in Coyote Trail, experience points may be used to increase abilities/skill ratings, buy new skills, and even tame horses!).  Gun-lovers out there might not be satisfied with the half-dozen or so basic firearm types provided and are directed to The Knuckleduster Firearms Shop for more in-depth descriptions and greater selection of weaponry (interestingly enough, at one point CT tells you to reference this further by way of page 90, yet page has no information on it.  Hmph).

Overall, this section does an excellent job of laying down the core rules and character creation guidelines for the game, as well as provide a basic foundation and background for playing in the Old West.  In essence, Journal 1 is an RPG unto itself, and a group should be able to read this section and sit right down to the gaming table and begin playing.

Journal 2: Shady Gulch

Shady Gulch is a frontier town setting for CT, and is exceedingly well-written. Nestled in the Black Hills (and a clear homage to its contemporaries, such as Deadwood), Shady Gulch is full of action and not a few plot hooks.  What I was pleased to see was the amount of detail given to the surrounding area and not just the town itself.  The history of the town’s settlement is also touched upon, which I felt gave things a clearer perspective.

A small map of the town is included, and the businesses are described, as well as the system for purchasing empty lots or how mining claims work.  Dozens of town NPCs are described, down to the brutes running Shady Gulch’s tiny Chinatown.  The angered Indian tribes (Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapho) outside of the town are also mentioned, as is their desire to make war against illegal mining encampments such as Shady Gulch and Deadwoood.

This is an excellent default setting for a group to use as a “home base” of sorts, or possibly just as a brewing ground for encounters.

Journal 3: Indian Trails

Wow. Nicely done section. Not just tips for running an “Indian” campaign, this section does a nice outline of many of the basic pressures and threats the pioneer trails represented to the Native American tribes of this time period.  Better yet, it does it without falling prey to political agenda or preaching, concentrating on the facts of the period.

Trails and forts are briefly laid out in this section, much of the Indian Wars are explained.  But my favorite part of this section has to be the laying out of the various Indian tribes and their customs.  It should really help anyone wanting to avoid simply having Generic Indians 1 & 1A showing up in their campaign, as well as lend depth and background to said characters.

Journal 4: The Stories

Journal 4 contains four ready-to-run adventures and scenarios, all nicely statted out with plenty of NPCs.  I would especially recommend "Confederate Gold".  Not a lot else to say on this section, except including a starting adventure or adventures is one of my pet peeves when it comes to RPGs, so I was pleased to see this.

All The Extras

Well, it wouldn’t be a PIG product if it didn’t include all sorts of goodies and extras!  Included in this section are a basic task reference sheet, character and NPC sheets, templates for some common characters of the Wild West (prospectors, outlaws, townsfolk, and the like), 2 sheets of PIG’s Disposable Heroes paper minis (all nicely suited to Wild West play), a set of Disposable Dice (hey, everything you need to play and all that), and part of the Whitewash City line of paper models and floor plans detailing the Eagle Saloon.  All these bells and whistles really make you feel like you’re getting a lot for your money, something PIG excels in doing (see Iron Gauntlets).  The only thing I’d have liked to see tagged on the end of all that was an index, but a good Table of Contents upfront and a clean design makes that not much of a worry.

Conclusion

In the end, Coyote Trail Expanded is certain to be a hit with those who have been waiting for a mainstream Western RPG.  It combines a clean, easy-to-learn system with writing that works hard to nail down the feel and open feel of the Wild West.  Basically, again PIG has come up with a game that should be open to the veteran games as well as the new initiate to our hobby, which I think has come to be one of their strengths.  There’s a fantastic wealth of information in this book—I’m still not sure how they squeezed this all in to under 200 pages.  If you’re looking to saddle up to a western (geez, that was awful—like on par with one of Gene Shalit’s puns), you’ll definitely want to check out Coyote Trail Expanded.

 

Zachary The First

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Coyote Trail Expanded PDF
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2006, 11:22:44 AM »
Hmm..for some reason, my product link at the bottom doesn't seem to work.