The World’s Best Game Of Intrigue, Mystery & Horror!
The Old Ones ruled the earth aeons before the rise of humanity. Traces of their cyclopean cities can still be found on remote islands, buried amid the shifting desert sands, and in the frozen wastes of the polar extremes. Originally they came to this world from the stars. They sleep now, some deep within the earth or beneath the sea.
Lovecraftian Horror in the Wild West [ edit ]
Call of Cthulhu is, by many measures at least, the second most popular RPG after Dungeons and Dragons (and in Japan it's actually more popular). Part of the game's longevity has come from the fact that its core idea, of ordinary people investigating mysterious alien events, can be adapted to other time periods besides the game's original (ie. the 1920's). Down Darker Trails is one such adaptation, specifically for the Wild West
For those not familiar with Call of Cthulhu, the game's core premise is that our world is the same we think it is, except for the existence of dark, secret, and alien/magical mysteries. The world of Indiana Jones or Hellboy are probably the closest comparison (if you've never read any stories of H. P. Lovecraft), except instead of being alien creatures themselves (as in Hellboy) Call of Cthulhu characters are just ordinary people.
As a horror-focused game, Call of Cthulhu/Down Darker Trails won't be perfect for every Western campaign. However, if you're looking for the darker tone of CoC, along with it's extremely popular rules, Down Darker Trails offers a unique take on the Western genre. To quote the game's makers:
This is a West of hidden worlds, lost treasures and cities, dubious deals and unsavory alliances. A land filled with beauty, mystery, terror—and wild adventure!
Call of Cthulhu, Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition) - Rules SummaryCollapse
Is it Any Good? [ edit ]
Again, Call of Cthulhu simply won't work as well as some of the other games here, if you're looking for a pure/traditional Western feel. However, if you're looking for a darker western, you can rest assured the Down Darker Trails is just the supplement you're looking for.
On Drive Thru RPG, with 11 ratings, the game has an extremely high average score of 4.8 / 5. Similarly on Amazon.com, with far more (135) reviews, the supplement again scored a very high average, of 4.7 / 5.
Good Reads (with only 20 ratings) gave a somewhat lower (but still strong) 3.95 / 5, and similary RPG Geek gave it a 7.89 / 10, from 11 ratings total. Of the fans that were critical, most complaints seemed to be about the structuring of the Wild West information (eg. instead of a single timeline each state has a separate history). Also some fans complained about the two included adventures, but that wasn't a consensus as many other fans enjoyed them.
In short, even most reviewers who gave less than five stars still thought it was a good book ... they just thought it had some weak spots. And far more reviewers didn't have those issues at all, with 5-star reviews far exceeding all others on Amazon (the site with the most reviews).
If you're looking to cross Cthulian horror with the Wild West, Down Darker Days is the perfect supplement to let you do so.