ShamanNew Character Races for Owl Hoot Trail

by Paul Stefko

The west is a wide and mysterious place, home to all sorts of folks. The half’ins, hill folk, orcs, and shee you’re used to aren’t the only people out there.
The following races may be available for characters if the GM is willing.


Never tell a centaur that he’s half-horse. “I’m my own beast,” he’ll say. “To equate me to any other race is to diminish centaur, man, and horse.” Centaurs are counted among the greatest thinkers in the world, students of philosophy and the sciences. They have founded great academies and forged schools of thought that have stood for centuries.
It is true that centaurs possess features of both men and horses. The powerful equine lower body gives them great strength, speed, and grace. The human torso lets them use tools crafted for the other common races and to converse with them as well. They are at home in the great cities as well as the endless prairies.
Many centaurs are marshals, scouts, gadgeteers, preachers, and shamans. Few have the temperament to be ruffians or scoundrels.
They get +1 GRIT and +1 Learning. Centaurs present a bigger target in a fight, so they have a -1 modifier to Defense. However, they are Hardy 1, like orcs. Centaurs always use the movement rules for traveling by horse.


Back East, dragons are long extinct, hunted for sport for ages. On the frontier, there are still the terrifying sand dragons, but most folks know it’s a matter of time before some general sends his army to wipe them out too. So it came as quite the shock when a team of miners dug into a caved in chamber and discovered thousands of eggs that soon hatched into a race of humanoid dragons.
Drakes are a powerful but primitive race. Only a few have been raised in the great cities; the rest have formed native clans and roam the west, searching for clues to their history. Drakes are slowly forming their own customs, borrowing liberally from the other races.
A drake will usually be a gunslinger, ruffian, scout, mentalist, preacher, or shaman.
They get +1 GRIT and +1 Wilderness. A drake can attack with a breath weapon, which can be a blast of flame, a spray of acid, or arcs of electricity. This attack uses the drake’s melee bonus, deals 1d6 damage, and can target 1-3 creatures in the drake’s zone. A drake’s breath weapon can burn out just like a 3rd rank gadgeteer power. The cost to recharge is the price of a hearty meal and a few stiff drinks.


‘Fling is short for “tiefling,” which is what people call these folks Back East. A ‘fling is the child of a human and a devil, but contrary to what most preachers will tell you, ‘flings aren’t born evil. Raised right and given half a chance, a ‘fling can be decent, loyal, even righteous. Unfortunately, folks see the horns or hooves or red eyes and get all ornery toward them. Most ‘flings you’ll meet grew up on the frontier, away from the judgment of other folks.
A ‘fling will tend toward gunslinger, ruffian, scoundrel, scout, mentalist or shaman.
They get +1 DRAW and +1 Wile. They suffer a -2 to Amity. In exchange, ‘flings are Deadly 1. That means any injury they inflict is +1 on the 2d6 roll. In addition, ‘flings only roll every 30 minutes when exposed to extreme heat and cold, instead of every 10 minutes.


Gnomes are small like half’ins but have a touch of magic about them that puts folks in mind of the shee. Many are flamboyant, dressing in bright colors and performing as acrobats or stage magicians. Other gnomes are quiet tricksters, making valuable objects “disappear” without letting their owners in on the fun.
Gnomes tend to be scoundrels, gadgeteers, mentalists, and shamans. Gnome scouts tend to attract burrowing critters like badgers or prairie dogs as companions. The few gnome gunslingers are feared in the duel, as they tend to have conspicuous good luck. Gnome marshals are so rare that any gnome sporting a badge should be ready to prove it’s real.
They get +1 WITS and +1 Wile. Gnomes can cast the common mentalist tricks, even if they aren’t mentalists. Gnome mentalists can instead choose an extra 1st rank trick as a signature power. (Even though they’re as small as half’ins, gnomes don’t get the Defense bonus. Go figure.)


Folks Back East may say “Aasimar,” but on the frontier, everybody just calls ‘em Halos. Halos are what you get when a human makes a baby with an angel. Preachers don’t like to answer when folks start asking questions about it. Halos mostly look like humans, but each has a unique feature that speaks to their heavenly ancestry: electric blue eyes, feathery white hair, or just a healthy “glow.”
Halos are often gunslingers, marshals, scouts, mentalists, and preachers.
They get +1 GRIT and +1 Amity. Halos also get +1 to Mental Defense, as their spiritual connection protects them from powers.


Long ago, the spirits of the elements wanted more power in the world of flesh. They decided that they would create their own race of mortal beings, so the spirits imbued the unborn children of humans, shee, hill folk, and orcs with their essence, creating the first spiritfolk. In the ages since, these spiritfolk have bred true, forming a true race among themselves.
There are four distinct branches of spiritfolk, one for each of the traditional elements, but they can interbreed with equal chance for the baby to take after the mother or father. Each branch has different traits. Physically, a spiritfolk could resemble any of the four parent races with the addition of some otherworldly feature that gives away its spirit nature.
Any spiritfolk is likely be a member of any class. Spiritfolk can be greenhorns or native, as the race has had ages to spread across the land.
An air spiritfolk gets +1 DRAW and +1 Wile. They can cast spirit veil as if they were a shaman. An air spiritfolk shaman gets spirit veil as a bonus signature power.
An earth spiritfolk gets +1 GRIT and +1 Toughness. They have Hardy 1, like an orc.
A fire spiritfolk gets +1 DRAW and +1 Toughness. They can cast minor flame spirit as if they were a shaman. A fire spiritfolk shaman gets minor flame spirit as a bonus signature power.
A water spiritfolk gets +1 WITS and +1 Amity. They are immune to drowning, meaning they can stay underwater indefinitely.


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.

Goblin cowboys


  • 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.

300 pixel cover

“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 good with their actions.

Using slimmed-down game mechanics you already know, the Old West of your imagination just got a lot more dangerous.

Stock #: PELW01 Author: Clinton R. Nixon, Kevin Kulp
Artist: Rich Longmore Pages: 136pg Perfect Bound

Buy Now

Gambling group

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.

June brings new playtesting opportunities. Owl Hoot Trail by Clinton R. Nixon and Kevin Kulp, and Sisters of Sorrow, a new Trail of Cthulhu adventure from Adam Gauntlett.

  • Each playtest has its own email link. Please click the link to send the email.
  • You can playtest mulitple games, as long as you can make the deadlines. Send one email for each playtest.
  • Please ensure you have a group and first date lined up before you email.

Owl Hoot Trail

System: New

Number of Sessions: 2

Last Delivery Date: 20th July

Short Description: Clinton R Nixon’s game of fantasy meets the Old West with a neat, rules-light system. It’s easy to play and to play test. There is an adventure included with the playtest.

Please email if you want to participate.

Sisters of Sorrow

System: Trail of Cthulhu

Number of Sessions: 2

Last Delivery Date: 13th July

Short Description: The crew of UC-12 encounter an abandoned German vessel, and soon afterward the boat is infested with the same strange plant that apparently killed the other ship’s crew.

Please email if you want to participate.

October brings new playtesting opportunities, in particular Owl Hoot Trail, but we are shy of a few takers for the Esoterrorists adventures.  Anyone signing up for those will get a sneak peak at the latest iteration of GUMSHOE – Esoterrorists 2.0

  • Each playtest has its own email link. Please click the link to send the email.
  • You can playtest mulitple games, as long as you can make the deadlines. Send one email for each playtest.
  • Please ensure you have a group and first date lined up before you email.

Owl Hoot Trail

System: New

Number of Sessions: 2

Last Delivery Date: 1st February

Short Description: Clinton R Nixon’s game of fantasy meets the Old West with a neat, rules-light system. It’s easy to play and to play test.

Please email if you want to participate.

Coffins – Sopwith Camels vs the Mythos

System: Trail of Cthulhu

Number of Sessions: 2

Last Delivery Date: 1st January

Short Description:  Over the Western Front, pilots battle German aces, but are faced with an even more terrifying foe.

Please email if you want to participate.

The Worm of Sixty Winters

System: Esoterrorists

Number of Sessions: 4-8

Last Delivery Date: 1st January

Short Description: Set in the UK, ranging from Manchester to North Wales and Scotland, the OV must foil a world-spanning Esoterrorist plot.

This is the follow up to Albion’s Ransom: Little Girl Lost, but you don’t need to have played that one to participate. Email to participate.

Operation Prophet Bunco

System: Esoterrorists

Number of Sessions: 1 or 2

Last Delivery Date: 1st January

Short Description: When a crackpot preacher’s apocalyptic predictions rage through the worldwide media, the Ordo Veritatis dispatches a team to his hometown of Sequoia City, CA. The mission: curb the damage their doomsday perorations will surely do to the membrane.

It’s an introductory adventure, and we’ll accept applications from people who have never played GUMSHOE or Esoterrorists, as well as experienced players. Email, letting us know if you own Esoterrorists already.

Station Duty

System: Esoterrorists

Number of Sessions: 2-4

Last Delivery Date: 1st January

Short Description: Station Duty presents a new campaign framework for The Esoterrorists. Instead of sending the player characters on missions across the world, Station Duty encourages them to delve into the mysteries of one small town over the course of several investigations.

This book is designed for sandbox style adventuring, with a short introductory adventure. Please email if you’d like to test it.

This is no Orc with a Pie, but a desperate brigand wanted for bank robbery and moral turpitude in two States and three territories.

But we don’t even know his name.

To celebrate the first draft of Owl Hoot Trail, we are running a competition. Post a name for this orcish desperado in the comments. I’ll pick some then we’ll put it to the public vote. The prizes will be rather good.

Read Clinton’s latest article on Owl Hoot Trail here.

The art was created by the versatile and talented Jérome Huguenin.