“You wanna shoot me, Marshal? You ain’t fast enough, and my posse has a pyromaniac gadgeteer who’s already aiming at ya. You ain’t got the grit. You want me, I’ll be traveling the owl-hoot trail.” – Calabash Twigg, orcish outlaw, part-time bounty hunter and a very bad man To ride the owl-hoot trail: to take up as an outlaw. – American Old West idiom Owl Hoot Trail is a gritty Clint Eastwood western, set in a hostile fantasy world where half’in gunslingers ride out with shee scouts and hill folk preachers to escape the law, where mentalists cheat you at poker and gadgeteers build gizmos to keep undead off the range. Shee and half’ins and hill folk might exist in this world, but bullets hurt – hard. And there’s a whole range of monsters roaming the lonesome prairie, just waiting for a tasty morsel like you to cross their path. Half rules book, half adventure, Owl Hoot Trail showcases the adventure They Rode To Perdition, a multi-part mystery and starting campaign setting that’s centered on the little town of Perdition. With as close to an epic storyline as you’ll find in a western setting, the PCs can change Perdition for […]More...
The Everwayan points out that with “…all the excitement over the release of 13th Age, it might be easy to overlook another excellent new release from Pelgrane Press, the Western RPG Owl Hoot Trail.”
Further along is mentioned “The setting is mostly up to you. You can dial up the Weird Westerness or dial it down and keep things pretty gritty. There is a small section on foes and monsters, including some D&D old reliables reskinned a bit for a Western fantasy setting. Any GM worth her salt will be able to adapt easily the monsters from any d20/OSR game for Owl Hoot Trail.”
To read the full review, click here.
- Matthew Breen has designed a lovely one-page character sheet for Owl Hoot Trail – download it here.
- Download the two-page extended character sheet from the rulebook here.
- Download the three Perdition map handouts from the rulebook here.
User Baz King on the UK Roleplayer forums says that Owl Hoot Trail makes him want to tear up all his notes. He continues,
“The system in OHT is simple and light, but with all the buttons that OGL games press. On a quick read though, I’m impressed and want to know more.”
Read the full review and replies here.
Co-Designer of Owl Hoot Trail Clinton runs a game of the finished Owl Hoot Trail on google hangout with Jason Morningstar, Andy Kakowski and Bert Isola.
by Kevin Kulp
My first mistake was in thinking Owl Hoot Trail was D&D with guns. I was just starting to develop and polish Clinton R. Nixon’s remarkable, streamlined game of old western fantasy, and I thought I was on well-trodden and familiar ground. I set up a sample encounter, one which I expected would make an easy and light-hearted introduction to the system. I took 15 minutes to stat up a party of four PCs and took the encounter for a test drive. If everything went as planned, this introductory romp would be the first gunfight that introduced people to Owl Hoot Trail. Piece of cake, right?
Ten minutes and three rounds of combat later, two of my PCs had been shot dead and another was twitching on the ground, gut-shot and unconscious. Three of the four bandits they’d just met were happily riding away up the trail, uninjured and whooping and waving their hats as they escaped. It was not, one might say, a romp for the good guys.
And really, that’s appropriate. “To ride the owl hoot trail” is an old western aphorism meaning “to take up the life of a bandit.” I quickly realized that the feel of this game wasn’t D&D with guns; this was a gritty Clint Eastwood western with fantasy and steampunk. Shee and half’ins and hill folk might exist in this world, but bullets hurt. It’s a lesson I carried with me through the development process.
I love the result. Owl Hoot Trail has five races: humans, shee, greenskins, hill folk, and half’ins. It uses iconic western archetypes for classes: gunslingers, marshals, ruffians, scoundrels, and scouts. There are four classes with special powers as well: gadgeteers, mentalists, preachers and shamans. We leaned heavily on the side of flavor and theme; a preacher can literally use her faith to rebuke a wrongdoer into stunned repentance, a gadgeteer can activate his crank-operated electroprod, ruffians get a bonus for smashing whisky bottles over their foes’ heads, and gunslingers are particularly good at facing down an opponent on a dusty street at high noon for a life-or-death duel.
PCs aren’t the only ones with local flavor. There are a lot of monsters out there on the lonesome prairie, and it’s a fair bet that you taste better than their normal fare. Dog-gobblers head after children after they clear out the local watch dogs. Harpies are vulture-like scavengers who choose to make their own carrion by corrupting fresh water, and then following travelers across the desert who then die of thirst. Ogres have been known to singlehandedly wield Gatling guns, and the haunting cry of the owlbear may sing you into the arms of death.
Owl Hoot Trail is half rules book, half adventure. Pages 65-128 showcase the adventure They Rode To Perdition, a multi-part mystery and starting campaign setting that’s centered on the little town of Perdition. The adventure is designed to be as non-linear as possible; antagonists and allies all have their own goals and time tables, and how (or if) the heroes upset those plans determines how the adventure goes. With as close to an epic storyline as you’ll find in a western setting, the PCs can change Perdition for good with their actions. Let’s just hope they like it when they’re done; ‘Ole One-Eye’s Saloon has particularly good drinks, and it’d just be a shame to burn it down by mistake.
Owl Hoot Trail, by Clinton R. Nixon and Kevin Kulp, is a 136-page, 6″x9″ book that sells for $19.95 US, now available in the store.
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