Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Dead West Review

Grab you six-shooter and saddle up for SURVIVE THIS!! The Dead West .This one takes the familiar SURVIVE THIS!! rules used in Dark Places & Demogorgons and Bloody Appalachia and slaps it right dab into a demon and undead filled American western setting. Ruleswise it has familiar attributes, thematic classes, and roll a d20 and add your modifiers core rule.  Everything is compatible with other ST content which allows for maximum awesomeness. The setting is based on the American southwest, but isn't the American southwest (and I'll discuss it more in a bit).

Character Creation

After rolling attributes, HP, and Saving Throws, characters can either select or roll for a profession. Much like 5e backgrounds, these give players their starting gear and bonus skills. Then you choose a class. The are:

  • Cowboy - embodiment of the Western lifestyle, you can be a rodeo or range expert.
  • Demon Stalker - warriors dedicated to fighting the supernatural forces of the Dead West.
  • Doc - a sawbones
  • Faithful - individuals attuned to the holy
  • Frontiersman - individuals more at home in the wilds than civilization
  • Gambler - they know when to hold them and when to fold them
  • Gunslinger - these masters of the six-shooter are expert duelists and can do trick shots
  • The Hand - This is all all-round solid jack of all trades class. They don't have any specialties, but they are solid allies
  • Knife Master - graceful warriors skilled with small blades
  • Lettered - scholars and educated types, there are four paths: academic, government, lawyer, and scientist
  • Marshal - you are the long arm of the law
  • Outlaw - these folks don't know the meaning of honest work, and take what they need
  • Pugilist - hand to hand combat experts
  • Riflemen - while gunslingers focus on six-shooters, rifleman are marksman of a different sort
  • Soldier - highly trained warriors 
  • Telesstic - special individuals born with and trained to use unique powers, paths include Life, Arcane, and Decay
The skills section looks familiar to most ST games. You roll a d20 and add the appropriate bonus (based on skill level, class features, and attributes).  New skills include Fighting: Old World Boxing and Horsemanship. We're presented with setting appropriate weapons and equipment, as well as a list of new magic items. 

Game Rules
Again most of the information presented here is standard Survive This stuff. There are new rules for Dueling and Horsemanship (which make perfect sense with the setting). After your standard description of how to play rules, we're presented with a massive 70 pages worth of bestiary. These stat blocks are quite varied. We get stats for undead, elementals, demons, regular folk, and legendary characters in the Dead West. If you play any ST game, this section is quite useful even if you aren't running The Dead West.

The Dead West
While a lot information about the setting can be gleaned from earlier section, we're then presented with 7 pages of Dead West information. The setting is quite interesting.  The town of Raimi Mission and the surrounding areas were enveloped in an impenetrable crimson barrier. The laws of nature changed those that were killed didn't stay dead (hence the name, the Dead West). Additionally powerful elementals and demons stalked the land. Twenty years have past since that fateful event. There are small bastions of civilization that still exist and most of these are connected by a railroad system. Most of these areas are given brief descriptions. 

The book ends with random encounter charts, as well as disaster chart. There's also an index (including references) and finally a bonus urban legend stat block.

Final Thoughts
The book looks gorgeous. It's the first of the standard sized hardcovers from Bloat Games. The art is fantastic.  Bloat Games regular Phil Stone did the cover and Christopher Torres did the interior art. It's got a great style and definitely a great buy for weird west fans. This a complete game and setting that is fantastic on its own. However, you can make it even wilder by using other SURVIVE THIS!! games. Take the vampire as race rules from We Die Young and make a  vampire cowboy. The beasties from the Cryptid Manual all slot into the setting perfectly. I also have to point out that if you're like me and love Deadlands but don't care for the original system of Savage Worlds, you can use the rules from The Dead West and play it.

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