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$35,025
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, November 1 2019 3:00 PM UTC +00:00.

Haunted West, a Historical Weird West RPG Corebook

Amplifying the Voices of the Forgotten People of the Old West

Haunted West, a Historical Weird West RPG Corebook

Amplifying the Voices of the Forgotten People of the Old West

$35,025
pledged of $10,000pledged of $10,000 goal
571
backers
17days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, November 1 2019 3:00 PM UTC +00:00.

About

One moment sets the course of destiny. 

But what if that one moment was changed in the smallest of ways? 

What if one madman's plan actually were to succeed beyond our known history?  

Darker Hue Studios presents its second project: 

 Haunted West, A Historical-Fiction, Weird-Western, Spaghetti-Action Game. 

This is a game about hope through struggle. It is a game that pieces together the stories of the largely forgotten people of the Old West, the people who have been whitewashed by history. Discover the American experience in the Weird West.

Grab your rifle, jet pack, and spurs to battle traitorous rebels in the defense of freedom, join the fight against temporally displaced dinosaurs, rustle cattle to make ends meet, and hijack a train full of illicit Confederate gold!

I hope you’ve got the grit and gumption to see this through. 

Head 'em up. Move 'em out. 

The Train Heist

The Old West—The Wild West, The American Frontier—is one of the world’s most familiar modern myths. The time was draped in ruggedness; there was an idealized dream of freedom, and a notion that just one person could shape the world. That myth belongs to all of us. Yet so many stories of truth, justice, and the American Way have been stolen, erased, and never recorded. Haunted West aims to tell many of those stories, to shine a light on the proud people who shaped America and fought for her just as much as those people whose stories are central to widely-known American folklore.

Haunted West honors the many forgotten voices of the American Frontier, tips its hat to the Weird West genre, rides the trails with the Spaghetti and Hollywood Westerns, and drinks at the saloon with historical truths. It’s a game about our real-world history that does not whitewash it, but instead amplifies the voices that shaped the West, and thereby America, helping define the world. We’ve taken an entirely new approach to the Weird West genre in gaming, with a system built from the ground up to enable you to tell the kind of stories you want, and accurately represent the history of the Old West while running games as gritty or as pulpy as you want.

Haunted West approaches the Weird West in a unique way, riding the rails toward something new. This is fertile ground for all. Haunted West explores the true history of the American Frontier with a focus on the tales of the forgotten, unknown, and overlooked, and all through Weird-West-goggles.

When I was young, growing up in the deep South of Alabama, I would watch Westerns with my grandmother on our one television in the house. Though we weren't always close, we huddled around that TV and explored the great Old West together, and that's how my love for the genre began. The only problem? No one looked like me unless they were cast as the villain or, sometimes, the butt of the joke. Haunted West aims to change that. 

In Haunted West you'll battle the Weird, take side jobs to get by, and help shape a nation one step at a time. Experience adventures in the vein of Deadwood, High Noon, Gallowwalkers, Hell on Wheels, The Magnificent Seven, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., and more.

This is a role-playing game inspired by real-life icons such as Bass Reeves, Belle Star, Cathay Williams, Tom Threepersons, Ah Toy, Nat Love, Kate Warne, Jerome Crow Dog, Joaquín Murieta, John Henry Holliday, Lucy Eldine Gonzalez Parsons, Jackson Sundown, Mary Fields, and Fee Lee Wong.

Haunted West hears the voices of the past and amplifies them for all to hear. 

"We need to haunt the house of history and listen anew to the ancestors' wisdom." - Maya Angelou 

The world of Haunted West: Reconstruction begins close to our known history, but branches off a few years into the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, dropping you in the middle of an evolving historical timeline. The War’s aftermath burns bright in people's minds, no matter if they or their kin fought with the victorious North or the traitorous South.

In our known history, John Wilkes Booth assassinates Abraham Lincoln, which accidentally elevates Andrew Johnson, a Southern former slave owner, into the presidency. He goes on to fight against every change the people, their country, and fallen soldiers had earned.

Haunted West: Reconstruction creates a timeline in which, in addition to killing Lincoln, Booth's assassination plot also kills Johnson as he had originally intended. Lafayette Foster becomes President, and without presidential opposition, the Southern confederates are not allowed back in congress. The land is divided and given to the enslaved people as was actually planned in our known history, changing the power dynamic of America, with black landowners battling against traitors who are terrorizing them and trying to steal their legally-owned land.

We've worked with historians to help us imagine how that new dynamic plays out in our alternate timeline.

We think you'll love exploring the alternate timeline. As a gamer, I love world meta plots but I also like having the ability to run my own game. So in Haunted West we give you options. The game is layered, empowering you to run a purely historical game including many of the forgotten voices of the Old West, where you're more likely to die of dysentery than a bullet; or you may choose to take a turn toward the Spaghetti and Pulp Western; or, my hope is you'll want to take the ride into the alternate timeline which can be played in either gritty or pulp styleyour choice. 

That’s right, this is an entirely new system specifically designed with the Narrator's and players' enjoyment in mind. The system’s core mechanic is a 1d100 based system with some new twists. It’ll feel familiar and easy while having a level of complexity to appeal to old school gamers. 

The rules themselves layer on top of each other for ease of use and can be applied in many ways.

Why a New System?: We created a new system to provide exciting versatility of play styles, a system that is tailored to create iconic stories of the West, and a consistent way for you to tell your stories. For me, it was important to have something fresh to empower the player and Narrator alike. The system is easy to pick up for new gamers and has levels of complexity for old school gamers looking for that. But at the heart of it, it’s built to aid in telling stories.

The Essential Mechanics: The ‘Ouroboros System’ is unique in its approach to modular play and has a number of easy-to-apply rules. The core mechanic is a 1D100 roll under system with degrees of success and failure that have different impacts. Skilled Paragons are able to invest a portion of their successes into ‘The River’ and use that portion for a later challenge when the chips are down. Each skill is associated with 1 of 7 different attributes that confer a starting percentage in the skill.

Paragons:  Paragons are our system's player characters. We chose the term 'Paragon' because they are iconic, modeling an aspect of the Old West and larger than life. 

Mock Up of Character Sheet

Skinwalkers, vampires, werewolves, aliens, clockworks, monstrosities, magic, and more await you here! 

The Weird populates Haunted West on the fringes. People may know about it but rarely discuss it; it's not proper, and if you name it, you give it power. The Weird is rarely in plain sight and anyone that has a touched it is forever changed by it. These folks have seen beyond the horizon and understand the world is more, more dangerous, and more wonderous than anyone imagined. But unlike a Mythos protagonists, the people of the West are made of stern stuff. They don't faint or break easily. 

Haunted West builds its Weird from myths, stories passed down from generations, real-world sightings, and from the recesses of our minds. We've got supernatural horrors, science fiction aliens with technology to astound, and more. Stepping out of your door into the world isn't for the faint of heart.  

Artwork: Battling the Weird

Haunted West is a core book containing everything a Narrator needs to run scenarios in the Weird and Wild West. The book itself is an exquisitely designed hardcover 8.5” x 11” book clocking in at well over 130,000 words. Haunted West will be printed in two editions. The first will be available via offset printing for our US customers and the second will be available through DrivethruRPG for our overseas fans which will help to minimize the cost of shipping. Both versions of the book will be FULL COLOR! Our goal is to deliver the book to you Summer 2020. 

Mock up of book cover.

This hefty tome would give any cowpoke pause from its hidden secret and arcane lore of the past. If you’ve got the resolve, I’ll tell you a bit about it and hold back a few prizes for a surprise when you open the book. Rest assured it’s not a snake in your boot. 

A brief, “Howdy, partner!” We’ll chat around the campfire about history, how to apply the Weird, the horrors and wonders of the West, and the new system.

Then we sit a spell at the trading post to make some characters, what we're calling Paragons, and you'll have your choice of 10 distinctive archetypes that cover a lot of ground, enabling players to make any character they can think of. The creative posse has built a detailed Life Path system to guide character creation from your lineage, to your crew, to a few antagonists that don’t fancy your face. 

Each Paragon has a couple of aptitudes making them more than a run-of-the-mill town person. Maybe they can shoot a little straighter, train horses a little faster, or rumor has it that some sawbones can bring the dead back to life. 

Skills are the salt-of-the-Earth of what a Paragon can do. Qualities are those small traits that make you stand out. It could be something like striking looks, a 500-dollar bounty, or an intimidating gaze that forces any law officer to keep walking.

You can’t have the weird without a little magick. We start the ball rolling with four historically-based Western theme magicks of the time. They've been researched and gamified for those looking to meet at the crossroads to barter with a demon.  

Book excerpt

We'll delved into an engaging narrative about the true West from before time until the early 1900s. Our story is sprawling with unknown visages and we touch on a lot of them, like an old friend buying the first round at the saloon. We’re storytellers crafting a tale that has never been told.

Haunted West takes the reigns and gives you all of the West, above and below to explore. Paragons may be dueling clockwork gunslingers in Deadwood, trading for supplies with the Lakota, holding the line with Texas Rangers against an unknown army, debating Southern politicians in halls of power on the East Coast, or stealing aboard steam-powered cities in the heavens. We are boundless. 

The book comes primed with over 50 historical folks for the Paragons to meet, call out, run from, or with whom to posse up. These are real-life icons pulled from history, and their voices are waiting for your breath to make them live again.

See 'Methods of Play' for all the gunslinger goodness.

What kind of no-good scallywag would I be without offering a Narrator a helping hand for running games, discussing the careful economic and racial divides you’ll need to navigate? I am not alone; I've got a crew of diverse voices to help tell the tales.

Haunted West: Reconstruction is the world setting. The entire book up until now has been a historical game plus how to apply the Weird, and this section gives you over 10,000 words dedicated to the alternate timeline. In this timeline, in addition to killing Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth's assassination plot also kills Johnson as he had originally intended. The alternate timeline imagines how this new reality plays out.

The world of Haunted West is a grim place of untold horror, the supernatural, sights that shatter even the toughest gunslinger, with wonders beyond description. It is the Old West—the frontier of America—with her people arriving from every corner of the globe, seeking fortune, fame, and a moment in the sun. 

The Paragons encounter rumors of some flying machine beyond description that's leaving mutilated cattle in its wake. They need the thing stopped before they go bust. But a deeper horror awaits those who follow the Aerostat. 

We present over 40 creatures pulled from folklore and myths, both supernatural as well as alien, to baffle and combat your players' Paragons.

We’ll have a foldout train map of the United States, a reusable town map, and an old west hex map for miniature combat.  

Artwork: Ghost Town

Some of you may be familiar with our first project that went to Kickstarter, Harlem Unbound. At the time we launched, Darker Hue Studios was just a small blip on the radar screen. I'm proud to say we're a slightly larger blip now. 

Harlem Unbound highlights the Harlem Renaissance under a Mythos lens and confronts the racism in gaming and H.P. Lovecraft’s work. It also won 3 gold ENnie awards (Best Writing, Best Setting, Best Cover Art), 1 Indie Groundbreaker Award, was used as part of the curriculum at a historically black college, and was accepted into the collections of a handful of museums.

We love hearing how Harlem Unbound has influenced gaming, and how many people have had fun playing it while being inspired by its deep dive into US History. We hope that Haunted West resonates in a similar way. 

Harlem Unbound: Awarded 3 Gold ENnie Awards

Want extra swag? We've got swag. Add-ons are for giving some extra punch to your order. Add-ons are available for all backers, and may affect shipping costs. To include Add-ons to your pledge:

                    At the top of the page, select the Manage Your Pledge button. If you haven't made a pledge yet, it will say Back this Project. In the Pledge Amount box increase the amount of your pledge by the total amount ($) of the Add-ons you want to add. After the Kickstarter campaign ends, we will send you a survey asking you which Add-ons your money is going toward. 

That’s right, partner! We're making a gaggle of pregenerated characters so you can do a few customizations and hit the trail immediately. There will be 3 types of characters per Paragon. Want those pregenerated characters on quality cardstock paper? Your total add on price is $10. 

Examples of character sheets. (Whiskey sold separately.)

For those looking to blast away with twin pistols, shotguns, and magick on the hex board, we’ve got 2 sets of paper minis for you. We’re hoping if we make enough, we can move into resin models. But right now this is what you’ve got! Add 1 pack for $10 or both for a total of $18.

The Paragon Pack comes with 5 iconic characters (Gunslinger, Sawbones, Gadgeteer, Hunter, and a Cowpoke). $10/pack

The Weird Pack comes with 5 creatures (Necromancer, Zombie, Skin Walker, Clockwork Assassin, and The Dark Rider). $10/pack

Mock Ups of Minis

For unlocked stretch goal scenarios, we’ll create a physical copy using DriveThruRPG for folks to buy. For you fine supporters, we’ll even sell them at a discount! Shipping to be determined at a later date.

These books need scenarios. Make it happen!

Status cards, historical folk cards, monster cards! Add 1, or all 3 to save a little gold!

Status Cards: Haunted West is a rough and dangerous place. Creatures shatter your Lucidity, leave your Vitality drained, and other status effects. These 25 Weird condition cards have all you need for easy reference. These will be made through DrivethruRPG with shipping determined when the order is fulfilled.

Historical Folk Cards: 25 of the iconic historical voices are waiting to join, harass, and debate your Paragons. The cards have an image on one side and stats on the other. These will be made through DrivethruRPG with shipping determined when the order is fulfilled.

Monster Cards: We’ve selected 25 weird creatures, statted them out, and given the rules for easy use. These will be made through DrivethruRPG with shipping determined when the order is fulfilled.   

Haunted West is an ongoing story, a mythology we are building together. Here's your chance to jump aboard the train and play one session of a living Haunted West campaign. Each pass is 1 session of 2 to 4 hours with up to 5 other players.

We’ll make characters together over the Darker Hue Studios Discord channel. Come aboard, if you dare.

Made out of soft suede, this 8" x 5"bag will be fire branded with the Darker Hue Studios logo, and able to be worn on the belt. It has a cord loop that hooks around a metallic button on the front and two loops on the back attach it to a belt.

  • Custom-designed Compass 
  • Custom-designed Gold Coins (3) – Grit Tokens 
  • Custom-designed Bandana
  • Custom-designed D6 Dice (2)
  • Blue Gems (6) – River Tokens   

Every cowpoke on the trail needs their war bag to survive. It has all the essentials. These custom, brown-suede Haunted West War Bags have a Weird alien compass to see you through the darkest of nights, three Grit tokens to keep your resolve close at hand, a bandana to keep the sweat out of your eyes so your aim is true. It also has a pair of custom dice to roll against the Huckster in the saloon, and six River Stones to keep track of your successes. While you don’t need a War Bag to play Haunted West, it sure makes it a lot cooler.

We're working with Campaign Coins to create a few authentic Weird West pieces for the war bags. The mock-ups are pictured; once the actual pieces are finished, we'll share those too.   

Pouch (mock up), Compass (proof), Gold Coins (proof), Bandana (mock up), Dice, Blue Gems

Hey partner, it’s almost time for us to part and I have a few gifts that I hope we'll reach with your support. If you saddle up to the saloon with us and buy enough rounds, we’ll be able to toss out more stretch goals as we go. Maybe we can hire some additional wordslingers and artists? Or maybe some new Weird entities to populate the vast Western plains?

Of course, if the Kickstarter takes off like an alien saucer, we could make a series of detailed Haunted West miniatures, battle maps of the OK Corral or the Civil War, haunted by those lost souls for your Paragons to battle. Heck, maybe even a series or novels or a quarterly scenario! Watch the Haunted West updates about our goals, freebies, and more.

Written by the voraciously talented Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, The Town of Bannack is a dying Boomtown where you can buy anything for the right price, and the only thing more corrupt than the town itself is the Sheriff. Gar turns guilt and tea into words. He's written many, many rpg supplements, including OGL Wild West back in the strange frontier days of 3rd edition.

The Ivey Almanac of Ailments brings more gruesome realism of the Old West to the ruleset with diseases, poisons, and plague by Shane Ivey. Shane is the award-winning co-author and publisher of Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game and the history-infused Swords & Sorceries adventures for 5E, and publisher of such acclaimed games as Godlike, Wild Talents, Monsters & Other Childish Things, and Better Angels.

Salvation is like every other town in the Old West struggling to make it, getting by year-by-year and glad their community members, no matter how battered, made it home after the war. But the quiet town has a darker secret; it’s been a Yithian agent's playground for decades and its experiment is ready at last. 

El Haveli Embrujade is a brand new DIGITAL scenario! They say the Rana Haveli is haunted, earning its local name. But with an inheritance on the line, can the Crew clear the Weird?  By the brilliant Mariam Ahmad. They wear many hats as a storyteller, podcaster, streamer, cultural consultant, writer, designer and editor. Mariam is the creator of Sarzameen, a decolonized South Asian fantasy world in which their podcast The Musafirs, streamed short-shot Politics & Plagues, and one-shot games are based.

We’ll bring Alchemy to bear for your Paragons to craft toxins, potions, and dangers beyond the imagination.

We will expand the history section another 1,000 words!

That's right, we hacked/created conversion notes of our own game for all of you Powered By the Apocalypse fans! It’ll be written by the luminescent Brennen Reece. We present to you...Haunted West-world

Jess Nevins steps up to add another 1,000 words to the Reconstruction timeline. 

Django Unbound is a brand new DIGITAL scenario! An ancient devil barely banished ages ago needs to destroy one final ward for its freedom on earth and that ward is...you. By the resplendent Jahmal Brown. Jahmal is the host of the Diceology podcast. He has written Clockwinders for Fate, PRIME Supers for Cortex Prime and By Acer’s Light for Burning Wheel and Dungeon World. He likes games and stories about outsiders and underdogs up against adversity. Jay games with his kids and loves his momma but she doesn’t game yet. 

They've worked hard and are continuing to push out amazing work. Let's make sure the Core Book Creative Posse gets a third +10% pay bump. 

 We’ll lovingly craft a digital Narrator screen for all of your gaming needs. It’ll have the rules, charts, and info close at hand. 

 Jess Nevins steps up to add another 2,000 words to the Reconstruction timeline.

 Irelthki: An underground Clockwork Kingdown is hidden below Texas for your Paragons to explore if they have the grit and gumption. The wonders and horrors come in equal parts. 

I love me some Gumshoe and will personally create a hack/conversion notes for your use with Haunted West

A new Digital Scenario: La Cosa Que No Deberia Existir. Murderous mummies are walking the streets of Guanajuato, Mexico during the nights of every full moon. Esteemed writer Darren Watts is the former President and owner of Hero Games, publisher of Champions and other RPGs. He got out of the owning-things-business a while back and now freelances as a writer and consultant. 

The team will craft three new original creatures to thwart your Paragons and terrorize the townsfolk. 

The Spectral Heist is a brand new DIGITAL scenario by Chris Spivey in which the Paragons leave the material plane for a journey to the other side in search of the greatest treasure imagined. Can they survive riding the ethereal rails? Will they return? And will they ever be the same again? 

We’ll expand our Weird tech and kit out the Gadgeteer even more than they already are. Break out your goggles, tools, and let’s get to crafting!


Shipping

Shipping is always a saloon full of vile outlaws and malcontents looking to fill you with hot lead. We are looking to offset that as much as possible by providing DrivethruRPG for our overseas fans looking to dip into the American West. That should easily cut the cost in half of what it would be from shipping it from the US, as it will come from the closest distributor to you. We'll charge shipping after the project, but rest assured, we will try to find the lowest price. YOUR PLEDGE DOES NOT INCLUDE THE COST OF SHIPPING.

Risks and challenges

We're finalizing text, creating more art, and playtesting. We are going to make the book as great as possible and I am confident we will have it into your hands by next summer. I promise you at least monthly updates about how it’s going.

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    Jim Levy

    You're a real outlaw now!

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    Bass Reeves

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    Joseph Pierce

    You're a veteran, a war hero, and a fearless fighter.

    You'll receive a hardback and digital copy of Haunted West corebook, all-digital stretch goals, and two cocktail recipes. Your name will appear on the Acknowledgements page. This Backer Level allows the option of Drivethru books for overseas backers and offsets print for stateside backers.

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    Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo

    You're a villain to some and a hero to many, but always a force to be reckoned with: the Robin Hood of the West.

    You'll receive a hardback and digital copy of Haunted West corebook, all-digital stretch goals, and two cocktail recipes. Your name will appear on the Acknowledgements page. This Backer Level allows the option of Drivethru books for overseas backers and offsets print for stateside backers.

    We'll also give a hardback corebook to someone from a marginalized group that may not be able to afford the book.

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    **The Trading Post: RETAIL TIER**

    RETAIL TIER OPTION:

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    Mary Fields

    You’re relentless, unstoppable, adaptable, and a guardian of the mail route.

    You'll receive a hardback and digital copy of Haunted West corebook, all-digital stretch goals, you can create one weird instance (town, event, creature, or NPC), and two cocktail recipes. You can join a session of Haunted West at GenCon 2020, and your name will appear on the Acknowledgements page. This Backer Level allows the option of Drivethru books for overseas backers and offset print for stateside backers.

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    Geronimo

    You're a chief, medicine man, and legend.

    You'll receive a hardback and digital copy of Haunted West corebook, all-digital stretch goals, you can create one weird instance (town, event, creature, or NPC), and three cocktail recipes. , I will travel to you and run a game (2 - 4 hours) within 100 miles and your name will appear on the Acknowledgements page.

    This Backer Level allows the option of Drivethru books for overseas backers and offsets print for stateside backers.

    We'll also give a hardback corebook to someone from a marginalized group that may not be able to afford the book.

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    • Corebook (Offset or Drivethru)
    • Buy One and Give One
    • Digital Core Book
    • Digital Stretch Goals
    • Create a Single Weird Instance
    • Traveling Man
    • Old West Cocktail Recipe (Digital)
    • Purchasable Physical Add-Ons
    • Acknowledgements Page
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    Hiram Rhodes Revels

    You're a gentleman, scholar and statesman.

    You'll receive a hardback and digital copy of Haunted West corebook, all-digital stretch goals, you can create three weird instances (town, event, creature, or NPC), and three cocktail recipes. I will write an 8K word scenario for you, you’ll receive a warbag, and your name will appear on the Acknowledgements page.

    This Backer Level allows the option of Drivethru books for overseas backers and offsets print for stateside backers.

    We'll also give a hardback corebook to someone from a marginalized group that may not be able to afford the book.

    This backer level allows the purchase of physical add-on items.

    Shipping will be charged after the Kickstarter.

    Includes:
    • Corebook (Offset or Drivethru)
    • Buy One and Give One
    • Digital Core Book
    • Digital Stretch Goals
    • Purchasable Physical Add-Ons
    • Custom 8K Scenario
    • Warbag
    • Create a Single Weird Instance
    • Traveling Man
    • Old West Cocktail Recipe (Digital)
    • Acknowledgements Page
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $

    By pledging you agree to Kickstarter's Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.

    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.