Written by Michael Smith
The following review is for Revolvers & Wizardry: the Discordant West by the fine folks at Usherwood Publishing. Clocking in at 88 pages, and split into 4 chapters which are further split into subchapters, this book is an adventure expansion for the OSRIC game utilizing a Western feel.
Right off the bat, the cover sets the tone for the book, as we see a Minotaur wearing a cowboy hat and a “Ruined” man squaring off fixing to ‘draw’ on one another with side arms. If the reader had any question what the book was about, the cover sums it up quite nicely!
James Kramer, the main writer of this book, starts the book off with his Publisher’s Note. In it, he tells where he drew inspiration from when creating this work and what the readers should and should not expect. He introduces 2 new facets to the fantasy role playing game world: technology and reputation. These are addressed further in the book.
CHAPTER 1 – CHARACTER OPTIONS FOR R&W
Reputation is the only statistical option introduced in R&W. Starting at 0; a player’s reputation may rise or fall depending on the outcome of ‘showdowns’. This stat plays a role in how many henchmen a player may have, their loyalty, and reaction adjustments. Reminiscent to the fantasy side of RPG’s, this stat could almost be compared to Charisma, Comeliness, or even Honor. The stat is purely optional, but for those who wish to spice up their characters and add a little flavor, this stat should surely be used!
2 new races are introduced in this chapter – the half-gnoll and the minotaur. With each race, they are described in detail and then pertinent information is listed ranging from special racial abilities, starting age based on class, classes allowed, and level limitations.
A racial preference chart is provided covering all the races of the OSRIC setting, including the 2 new ones from this book, showing how they would react to one another. A few races listed might require further research into other OSRIC books, but the chart is detailed and easy to read and cross reference.
3 new classes are then introduced – the Desperado, the Doctor, and the Gunslinger. The Desperado in the R&W setting is what the Thief and Ranger are to the fantasy setting, but only having a limited amount of the skills of both classes. The Doctor in the R&W setting is a mix of healer, sage, and magician. A side note of interest, the Doctor gains access to necromantic spells! Lastly, the Gunslinger is described as a law keeper, judge, jury, executioner, spiritual leader, and sage. The Showdown rule, which is described later in this book, was created just for these characters. The 3 character classes created for this setting seem to definitely fit into theme of what Mr. Kramer was trying to accomplish. Each has its own flair and appeal, which makes them unique and fun to play.
To round out the chapter on Character Options, rules are supplied for attracting Band of Followers for each of the new classes, and secondary professions.
CHAPTER 2 – WEAPONS & COMBAT
The chapter starts off with introducing one of the main components of the book – Firearms! Rules are given pertaining to the quality of firearms, ranging from an Apprentice Gunsmith up to a Master Gunsmith, each having a chance to misfire, which would then refer to the section on Mishaps. Over a dozen firearms are described in detail, with stats supplied for each. Special rules are given for using 2 firearms simultaneously and the ‘Kill Shot’.
Conducting a Showdown is covered next. In the previous chapter, the Gunslinger class was introduced. This set of rules was made specifically for them. Showdowns, which were the iconic face-offs from the Old West, are easily handled in 3 steps. First, the ‘first draw’ is established by combatants rolling a d20 and adding any modifiers. Highest # achieves ‘first-draw’. Second, successful hits are determined. And third, a winner is determined, either by death or whoever suffers the least amount of damage. Rules are given for special circumstances/combatants.
Stats and descriptions are given for a few Melee weapons and other devices, including Dynamite!
The chapter ends with rules on the Mass Brawl, your typical barroom brawl. While most fantasy settings fail to elaborate on this, R&W gives the GM a simple method of determining the outcome of these everyday occurrences.
CHAPTER 3 – MONSTERS
It is noted that all creatures found within the OSRIC setting can be found in the Discordant West. The entries within this book though show how they would differ under this setting. From humanoid type monsters/creatures to undead and animals, there are plenty of monsters listed that will add flavor to this western setting.
The chapter ends with stats and backgrounds for some of the most notable heroes and villains of Western lore. Notables such as Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, Jesse James, and Wyatt Earp are included. Liberties were taken though in creating stats and historical accounts.
CHAPTER 4 – MAGIC & MACHINERY
The Flora, which encompasses the great expanses of grasslands, otherworldly wildflowers, and intelligent trees and shrubs are detailed here. New spells for each class are given, as well as a few magical items exclusive to this setting.
The chapter ends with information on Technology. Different forms of energy are detailed (electrical, kinetic, liquid, and steam) and a short list of items is given, ranging from mundane items to forms of transportation. Rules are also given for repairing technology.
The book ends with a 2 page color spread containing a short tale of Hannes Gentzen. Great artwork incorporating the themes covered throughout the book, and a fun read!
Also included is a 2 page map spread for the Discordant West.
All in all, the book is well written, with a spattering of color and black & white artwork throughout. Revolvers & Wizardry: the Discordant West offers GMs and players alike a fresh take on the Western theme that is easily incorporated into any fantasy setting using the rules found within this book. The Gunslinger class and Showdown rules will only add some excitement and fun to any setting!