So, I know this has only been available for a few days, but is there any chance of more information than just the cover/ back blurb? Such as table of contents, art examples, opinions/ first impressions? Just all seems very quiet...
Yeah, it has been a little quiet ... but I am happy to share a little bit of info about the Down Darker Trails PDF (which I bought yesterday).
Even though I have only really had time to skim through the book, I have definitely formed the opinion that this is a very solid title -- pretty much exactly what you would expect from CoC veteran writer Kevin Ross. As a setting it looks more like a historical west book with Mythos added into it, as opposed to some of the "weird west" settings that commonly pop up in RPG books. There is quite a lot of page count devoted to life in the old west, the general historical context, etc. But equally there is a good amount of material about weirdness that can be exploited for Call of Cthulhu scenarios -- half of this takes the form of ideas about how to translate some of the staples of the Lovecraftian tale (strange creatures, arcane tomes, etc) into things that more naturally fit into a Western setting. The other half is a short selection of "Lost Worlds" which can be grafted on to add a pulpy kind of angle to scenarios. The book is rounded out with two fleshed out Western towns -- great starting settings for scenarios of the Keeper's own devising -- and two detailed scenarios.
Physically the book is 256 pages and colour throughout. It advertises itself as a setting for both 7th Edition CoC and Pulp Cthulhu (and there are a few sections specifically aimed at Pulp rules). There is quite a lot of art, a mixture of period illustrations and new pieces. The quality of the art varies a bit but is generally effective an building a suitably evocative feel. One aspect that I think especially shines is the cartography -- there are some beautiful new maps created in a period-authentic style.
To answer your question about the general book contents, here's a chapter-by-chapter summary:
- Chapter 1: Old West Investigators (character creation, occupations, skills, rules, etc)
- Chapter 2: Equipment and Weapons
- Chapter 3: Optional Rules for the Old West (chase rules, rules for insanity)
- Chapter 4: The Historical West (a somewhat thorough summary stretching from pre-history through to the Civil War and into the mid-19th Century; includes lots of cool historical NPCs, notes on Native Americans, and a whole bunch of goodness)
- Chapter 5: The Supernatural West (monsters, tomes, folk magic, cults etc)
- Chapter 6: Lost Worlds of the Old West (4 different "lost world" kind of settings, each described in ~3 Pages)
- Chapter 7: Designing Old West Adventures
- Chapter 8: Pawheton (a sample Old West gold-rush type town in the Dakota Territory)
- Chapter 9: San Rafael (a sample Old West town near the Mexican border)
- Chapter 10: Something From Down There (scenario)
- Chapter 11: Scanlon's Daughter (scenario)
- Chapter 12: Selected Bibliography
- Index, Author Bios
Full disclosure: the book is rounded out with two character sheets designed by yours truly (although you wouldn't know, since the credits omit mentioning that -- oops).
All-in-all I think this based on what I've read so far that is a really good book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in dipping their toe into using the Old West as a setting for their Cthulhu games. Kevin has a great ability to fuse disparate ideas into a coherent and living setting -- he did it to great effect with the 3rd Edition revamp of the Gaslight setting, and he's done it again with this (IMHO of course).
Hope that gives you a bit more to go on ... I only wish I'd had time to read more of it and been able to give it a proper review.
Dean (from Adelaide)