Sunday, May 6, 2012

Armchair Reviews: Devil's Gulch for the BRP system


I posted a quick listing of various Western RPG books a while back, but here's another one that just recently came out for the Basic Role-Playing System.
Devil's Gulch does double-duty as both a setting book and a genre sourcebook, and given a page count of only 92 pages, that's a tall order.

It delivers both, sufficient to kick off a short Western campaign set in Devil's Gulch for a while.

On the genre sourcebook end, it provides an all important one-page listing of various aspects of the 'Code of the West' in the Old West -- measure a man by what he is today, not by his past; never try on another man's hat; give your enemy a fighting chance, etc. It's great at evoking a real sense of the times and climes of that almost mythic era.

It also gives various character professions that add on to the other more normal (time-period appropriate) professions for the era -- with a particular 'weird west' bent to them. I particularly like the snake oil hustler and the hexmaster, though the medicine man is also a welcome inclusion as well.

As a setting sourcebook, it gives a respectable number of locations in Devil's Gulch that are easily extractable to your own setting if you wish. Each location has a map, a statted-out NPC or two if appropriate, and a short but detailed description of what if found within, along with telling details that reinforce the western feel of the setting. I enjoyed little things like the lists of supplies that can be found in the general store, and how easy fires can be started in the dry, almost-entirely-made-from-wood buildings of Devil's Gulch.

The NPCs are also memorable, worthy of stealing from when looking for a random NPC walking the streets to liven up the session.

That interior art is consistent and distinctive. It's not really a photorealistic approach, but a moody, evocative, slightly cartoony feel -- kind of like the art in the Weird Western comic book The Sixth Gun and the art in Alan Moore's League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen -- that captures and evokes the weird western feel quite well.

If you're looking for something to expand your Weird West collection of materials, or have been hankering to run a Weird West campaign using the BRP system, this would be a fine addition to your sourcebooks.

I really wish there could be more, but in a market that may not have that much call for too many Weird Western books, this is a strong entry to test the waters with. Hopefully folks will buy it -- especially at the current less than $10 price.

If you want to look at a series of posts I did on the comic book I mentioned above (The Sixth Gun) and what things can be mined from its pages, here are the links:

Inspiration: The Sixth Gun
Mining the Sixth Gun: Weapons of Dark Purpose
Mining the Sixth Gun: Monstrous Men
Mining the Sixth Gun: The Strange and the Familiar
Mining the Sixth Gun: Friends and Posses

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