The Dark Trails RPG is a game which pays homage to the popular weird West genre. It can be used as a standalone game or as the perfect complement to a growing line of products that all utilize the rules found in the Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) RPG. As a player, you’ll find a wealth of material that allows you to assume the role of one of 11 unique classes, with descriptive names like: the Calavera, the Bedlamite, and the Sin-Eater. As a Judge, you’ll find over 400 pages of material giving you a wealth of resources for designing and running fantastic adventures set against the haunted landscapes of an unforgiving weird West.
You may be wondering about the above mentioned game that Dark Trails is tethered to. Dungeon Crawl Classics is a Fantasy RPG written by Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games. Since debuting in 2012, the book has gone through seven (7) printings and spawned a wonderful community of passionate gamers both new and old. DCC continues to grow by leaps and bounds by way of exciting adventures penned by some of the best writers in the industry, including third-party publishers using the system to fuel their own creative fires.
Fortunately, the Dark Master (Joseph Goodman) has granted permission to include a modified version of the DCC ruleset within the pages of Dark Trails to make it the first 3rd party published work to include the necessary rules for play. You don’t need anything other than the Dark Trails RPG to play the game aside from some dice, paper, and pencils.
Some of the DCC rules were purposefully left out when weighed against their place in a weird West setting, but these omitted rules can easily be added to Dark Trails should you own a copy of DCC and wish to include them.
This Kickstarter funds the standalone hardcover book for the game. Funds raised will be used to pay for additional art, editing, and layout for a quality book made by traditional offset methods to ensure it is as durable as it is beautiful.
Dark Trails is the product of three years of writing and playtesting by author David Baity. You may remember David from his first DCC adventure “Carnival of the Damned” published by Purple Sorcerer Games. While David has handled the majority of the writing chores with the Dark Trails RPG, lots of folks have thrown their name into the hat to help flesh out the magic and bestiary sections. Daniel J. Bishop, Brandon Goeringer, Bob Brinkman, Diogo Nogueira, and Jeff Scifert are just a few of the talented minds that have worked their magic to make Dark Trails something truly special.
For one of the two editions of the game we've commissioned none other than the legendary SanJulian to grace us with a beautifully painted cover filled to the brim with "weird." You can see a few more of SanJulian's DCC covers below, and be sure to check out his website for several works you've probably seen grace the covers of your favorite novels and other publications over the years.
Who else is on board to help to bring the world of Dark Trails to life? Over the last two years, the author has recruited some of the best up-and-coming artists in the industry. The Dark Trails RPG currently features work by Angga Augustiya, Todd McGowan, Christopher Torres, Simon Todd, Danny Prescott, Adam Slivka, David Hoskins, Aaron Robinson, MARCINs, David Coppoletti, and Diogo Nogueira.
Additional funds raised by the Kickstarter will help continue to fund new art from the above-mentioned artists, in addition to work by Stefan Poag, Peter Mullen, and Bradley K. McDevitt, just to name a few!
Dark Trails will be printed in two editions (standard and limited edition), both are hardcover books 8.5” x 11” trim size. The books will be printed in the USA by offset printing methods to ensure the quality of the book meets consumer expectations. Currently, we plan to keep the interior printed in B&W on 60# paper and stitched binding.
The standard edition will feature a full-color cover painted by iconic artist, Sanjulian (Creepy magazine, Vampirella, etc.) while the limited edition will feature a leatherette cover, accented with metallic foil stamping and an embossed version of the Dark Trails RPG logo. The ultimate goal with the limited edition is to create something that looks like it was pulled right out of the Old West!
Below, you can see mock ups of each book to give you an idea of what we're visualizing. The painting used to represent the standard edition is not the final Sanjulian cover, and both covers are subject to change.
The weird West genre is certainly well represented in the RPG industry, but those wishing to find a fully developed weird West RPG that utilizes a class-based system based upon the DCC RPG will be sadly disappointed. Dark Trails fills a niche for a DCC based weird West RPG by providing 11 original character classes paired with innovative rules designed to leave your players feeling like they’ve just spent several hours adventuring in a Western landscape where the emphasis is placed upon the weird!
You’ll find several classes to choose from within the pages of the book, so let’s give you a basic rundown of what you’ll find.
Bedlamite: Absent-minded inventors constantly constructing inventions that defy all logic, including “wondrous” contraptions that are brought to life by their creator’s sheer force of will. Bedlamites often become addle-brained and introverted, preferring the company of their automatons to that of their allies.
Calavera: Spirit-mediums, most often female, that can both see and speak to the nearby dead wandering the closest regions of the Spirit Lands. The calavera shines like a beacon in the night to the restless dead, eager to have her deliver a message, or perform one last task that will put the spirit to rest. Aiding in those tasks marks her as a veritable queen of the underworld and the dead are not only willing to share some of their dark secrets but also have been known to reach across the grave to protect their only connection to the land of the living.
Gambler: With the big changes running through the weird West, the gambler could be called the chosen paladin of Lady Luck, able to manipulate the ebb and flow of chance like an occultist weaves arcane energy. Gamblers alter the probability of events going on in their surroundings and have a skill set that favors thievery and subterfuge.
Gunslinger: Sometimes, a poor soul is cut down before their time, and when that person is a law-dog or hardened soldier even death isn’t enough to discourage them from staying in the fight. These restless spirits possess the guns they died with and send out a call to those deemed worthy of carrying them. Gunslingers find their uncanny skill at gunplay supernaturally elevated by the spirits of vengeance that choose them.
Luchador: A luchador is most often a person noble of heart seeking the thrill of martial combat in and out of the sacred ring. In addition to high-flying acrobatics coupled with raw strength and fortitude, luchadores gain the ability to tap into their inner spirit, channeling it through their masks for supernatural effects.
Mountebank: The typical “snake oil salesman” of the frontier, these amateur alchemists and full-time showmen find that the events of the Seven Days of Night have unlocked a doorway to the mind that reveals recipes that defy all logic and, once brewed, resemble the magic potions of legend.
Mystic Monk: Trained in the sacred art of martial arts and schooled by master philosophers, the mystic monk is a humble warrior wandering the weird West in search of enlightenment. In addition to being a master of martial arts, the mystic monk can summon his inner chi, a virtual battery of spiritual energy used to perform superhuman feats.
Occultist: Occultists devote their lives to the mastery of the ambient arcane energies constantly flowing around all living things, learning to weave and channel them to miraculous effect through spell work. Occultists are considered master investigators and have a nose for all things arcane and unusual.
Revelator: The revelator serves as a bastion of faith to those seeking refuge from the madness infecting the world. They can perform divine healing and miracles in addition to serving as a bane to evil creatures—both living and dead—all while serving as a pillar of faith to those that still believe in the comforting words of The Good Book.
Sin-Eater: During the Seven Days of Night, no souls were granted passage to the Underworld and instead were cursed to wander the Spirit World where they were preyed upon by creatures native to the realm, or worse, taken as slaves by their own kind. Charon, lord of the ferrymen, knows an abundance of restless spirits could potentially unravel the barrier between worlds. Some ferrymen are hand selected by their lord to return to the surface world in order to shepherd lost souls to the afterlife and destroy those that prey upon them by using River Rites and the soul-aegis, a weapon that strikes fear in the hearts of the wicked.
Tommyknocker: Sometimes, a soul is just too pissed off to pass on and needs to get a slice of vengeance before taking that ride into the sunset. Tommyknockers are walking corpses for almost all intents and purposes, but the strength of their soul is such that it acts as a furnace, providing a means to animate its corpse-shell to take care of unfinished business. In addition to an unnatural strength, the tommyknocker is one of the toughest hombres found in the weird West.
If you’re a fan of the DCC magic system, you’ll be familiar with how things are done. If you’re new to DCC styled magic you’re in for a real treat! Spells can be cast multiple times if you continually roll high enough. Roll low and you might lose the spell for a day, or worse, suffer from the effects of corruption! On top of being able to cast known spells multiple times, the total of your roll means potentially casting that low-level magic missile spell with effects so strong that you just might wipe the playing field with your trusty “finger guns.” In addition to a full complement of spells and miracles found within the pages of Dark Trails, you can import any of the 120+ existing spells found in the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG into your game, should you own the book.
You’ll find over 150 spells, wondrous contraptions, elixirs, and miracles within the pages of Dark Trails, but we didn’t stop there. In addition to the above, you’ll find a reliquary of beneficial and cursed magic items, along with rules and tables for crafting magical firearms.
The author of the Dark Trails RPG really wants to present you with a game that has some innovative rules that help capture the feel of a Western-themed game. You’ll find several interesting mechanics scattered throughout the book (some that you may even wish to port to your DCC game), but the main rules that make the Dark Trails RPG a horse you’d want to throw a saddle on include:
- New rules for firearms that incorporate a standard poker deck, including specialized critical hit and fumble tables.
- Boons & Hexes represent a run of good/bad luck your character might be having during a typical session. They’re awarded based on things like exceptionally good/bad die rolls, true heroics, and great role playing. Boons earned can be spent for in-game perks, while Hexes increase your chances of receiving more disastrous results on fumble and fear charts. In addition, they affect how NPC interactions pan out—consider the unlucky cowboy to have a dark cloud following him around.
- A new system that replaces the “standard” alignment mechanics found in most RPGs. The new system helps tell the story of how decisions determine the path a character may walk and how that path affects their reputation when dealing with NPCs.
- An innovative system for fear and madness that simulates a character’s ability to handle both physical and emotional stress during the adventure, including an extensive list of mental disorders for those who slip too deeply down the rabbit hole!
Lot's of folks are hard at work putting their twist on the weird West genre. For starters, you can check out Thick Skull Adventures "The Last WIll and Testament of Obediah Felkner." Author Stephen Newton is close to launching his exciting take on a weird West adventure that blends perfectly with the Dark Trails RPG. You can find more info at Thick Skull Adventures
You can also take comfort in knowing some talented up-and-coming writers in the gaming community have become so inspired by past playtests that they’ve taken the initiative to start writing Dark Trails adventures.
There’s no bigger compliment for an author than to learn folks think enough of their game to create material before the book is even released! The author has big plans to produce both free and paid content once the book is released into the wild. This includes supporting those who wish to produce their own Dark Trails material!
You’re going to love the bestiary in this book! Over seventy-five creatures have been pulled from the works of Lovecraft and the pages of folklore from all around the world! Several notable folks have thrown their passion into helping make the bestiary something special, including but not limited to: Daniel J. Bishop, Jon Hook, Brandon Goeringer, Bob Brinkman and more!
You’ll also find that several included creatures contain charts with all sorts of tweaks and nasty surprises to make each encounter terrifying and unique!
Sometimes, a Judge has a hard enough time wrangling up a posse, let alone coming up with a trail-ready adventure to keep'em busy! Don't you worry, partner, we got you covered! You’ll find a complete 0-1st level action-packed adventure included within the pages, and a ready-made town filled with personalities to get you started on the trail. As we reach stretch goals, more material gets added.
What Kickstarter would be worth its weight in whiskey if it didn't have some awesome stretch goals to sweeten the pot? We hope we'll see some of these reached, and if you surprise us and beat them all, we'll just have to up our game and bring something bigger to the table!
US $12,000: Congrats to the posse! Check your irons and saddle the horses cause we ride at dawn!
US $14,000: We’ll throw in a satin ribbon bookmark in both physical versions (standard and limited edition) of the book.
US $16,000: We need a bigger zoo! As it stands, there are 75 creatures for you to pluck from the pages of the book, but the author thinks you could stand for a little extra tooth and tentacle! If the project hits US $16,000, we’ll raise the count to 100 agents of darkness!
US $18,000: The Dark Trails RPG already comes with a bountiful arcanum filled with wondrous contraptions, potent elixirs, and powerful spells, but there’s room for more! If we reach the US $18,000 mark, we’ll add an additional 50 spells and miracles to raise the total entries to 200!
US $20,000: How do you expect to get around in the weird West without a map to properly represent the states and territories as they currently stand? The Seven Days of Night brought about supernatural changes to all things, including much of the land! If we reach US $20,000, we’ll bring on master cartographer Jared Blando to craft a black and white map to be used for end sheets.
US $22,000: Dark Trails is filled to the gills with 11 playable classes, but there’s room for one more, as we love even numbers! If we can reach US $22,000, author Pete Spahn (Operation White Box) has agreed to throw a 12th class into the book.
US $24,000: Judges bringing the weird West to the table are going to need something pretty to spruce up those custom screens, and it needs to be as functional as it is purdy! Once we hit the US $24,000 mark, we’ll make PDF screen inserts and have one of our artists create some original full-cover art to show the players.
US $26,000: The limited-edition hardback already comes with foil stamping, but if we can reach the US $26,000 mark, we’ll throw some “shiny” on the standard-edition cover and spine as well!
US $28,000: The Dark Trails RPG already comes with an adventure to get you up and running, but if we reach the US $28,000 mark, we’ll include a second adventure penned by the legendary Daniel J. Bishop! Daniel is eager to have a go at bringing terror to the world of Dark Trails, and we’re excited to be able to include an adventure from his twisted mind.
US $30,000: Remember that black and white map we mentioned way back at US $20,000? Well, let's bump it up to full color to get a real taste of what a Western map might look like back in the day! Take a gander at Jared's color work.
US $34,000: We're going to offer up a form fillable character sheet for both the funnel style and higher level character sheets! Now, you can show up to the campfire with a spiffy character sheet on your favorite electronic device!
US $36,000: Bob Brinkman, my go to guy for all things Cthulhu, has agreed to lend a hand by way of writing a complete adventure to add to the growing library of material available for the Dark Trails line! Bob has a long list of writing credits to his name (DCC, MCC, Lankhmar DCC and Dying Earth MCC) and can also be heard on the amazing Sanctum Secorum Podcast .
All backers will receive the digital PDF version of the yet to be named adventure for free by way of DriveThruRPG at the time of fulfillment. The adventure will also be made available as a physical add-on at the discounted price of $12.00 (retail $15.00). Expect to see this adventure sometime in the 1st quarter of 2020.
US $40,000: I can't let my friends hog all of the fun, so at this level you'll have another adventure thrown into the stew-pot written by yours truly! Don't take my word for it! Ask anyone who's played through my published adventure "Carnival of the Damned".or in any of my convention games, and you'll get the idea of how much creepy I inject into all things related to RPGs!
All backers will receive the PDF version of the yet to be named adventure for free by way of DriveThruRPG at the time of fulfillment. The adventure will also be made available as a physical add-on at the discounted price of $12.00 (retail $15.00). Expect to see this adventure sometime in the 1st quarter of 2020.
US $44,000: I'm totally stoked to announce this one! If you've played Dungeon Crawl Classics then chances are you've played, or run an adventure by the legendary DCC author, Michael Curtis ! Michael is the main man behind the popular Chained Coffin boxed set , and the soon to be released Lankhmar boxed set . This is in addition to a treasure trove of other Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures.
Michael has agreed to lend his talents to a Dark Trails adventure! I can't tell you how excited I am by this stretch goal, and if you're a DCC fan I'm sure you'll be just as giddy!
All backers will receive the digital PDF version of the yet to be named adventure for free by way of DriveThruRPG at the time of the adventures fulfillment. The adventure will also be made available as a physical add-on at the discounted price of $12.00 (retail $15.00).
Due to Michael's busy schedule we can only promise that the adventure will be delivered sometime in 2020.
US $47,000: What kind of scoundrel would I be if I didn't offer you up a poster of the magnificent cover Sanjulian painted for the project. If we reach the 47K mark you will receive one folded 11x17 poster of the cover image free of charge. Free? Yep, that's right, amigo!It's my way of saying thanks for saddling up for this weird posse on the trail! Posters will ship with all standard and limited edition versions of the Dark Trails RPG.
US $50,000: What would make for an awesome new stretch goal for the Dark Trails RPG campaign? How about if I throw in another original adventure penned by none other than the legendary Harley Stroh? Yep, polish yer' boots up cause Harley's coming to the dance, and he's loaded for bear!
For those not familiar with Mr.Stroh, you can check out his amazing contributions to the hobby through the years here. Harley is well known for the amazing "Peril on the Purple Planet" boxed set in addition to a slew of adventures that most folks consider a must have when running Dungeon Crawl Classics!
All backers will receive the digital PDF version of the yet to be named adventure for free by way of DriveThruRPG at the time of the adventures fulfillment. The adventure will also be made available as a physical add-on at the discounted price of $12.00 (retail $15.00).You will be invoiced separately for shipping once it is ready for fulfillment.
Due to Harley's busy schedule we can only promise that the adventure will be delivered sometime in 2020.
US $53,000: Hang on to your hats, partner! I'm not done with you quite yet when it comes to DCC writers! How about if we throw one last original adventure into the stew-pot to see just how hungry you really are while you're waiting in the proverbial chow line ? I can personally attest to the madness festering in the mind of the DCC madman known as, Brendan LaSalle! Anyone who has ever attended a convention where Brendan was a guest will agree that this man has an addictive energy about him that makes for one of the best judges you'll ever get to roll bones with.
Brendan is responsible for several exciting DCC/MCC adventures, and is the creator of the addictive Xcrawl RPG (And version is currently in the works for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG!). If you are lucky enough to find a seat at one of his games, tell him Baity sent you and see what sort of horrific death your character suffers!
All backers will receive the digital PDF version of the yet to be named adventure for free by way of DriveThruRPG at the time of the adventures fulfillment. The adventure will also be made available as a physical add-on at the discounted price of $12.00 (retail $15.00). You will be invoiced separately for shipping once it is ready for fulfillment.
Due to Brendan's busy schedule we can only promise that the adventure will be delivered sometime in 2020.
US $55,000: You will receive a free folded copy of the map being created for Dark Trails by Jared Blando! I've been searching for a company that can handle the task, and I think I've finally settled upon a good choice. The exact dimensions of the map have yet to be determined, but you will have something close to a 34"x 22" map. Final size will depend upon folding dimensions, as we want to be sure the map will fit neatly inside the cover of the hardback. Maps will ship with all physical standard and limited editions of the Dark Trails RPG.
US $56,000: With all the content included in the Dark Trails RPG you're going to need another way to keep those important sections marked! We're going to throw in a second ribbon bookmark to help keep you from forming blisters on your fingers while flipping pages! Bookmarks will only be included in physical copies of the standard and limited edition book!
Need some fancy doo-dads to help your time on the trail go a little smoother? We've got a few items that just might help ease you into the saddle.
Physical copy of Bob Brinkman's stretch goal adventure $12 : You'll receive a physical copy of the stretch goal adventure written by the author. Shipping to be determined at the time of fulfillment.
Physical copy of Dark Trails RPG author David Baity's stretch goal adventure $12 : You'll receive a physical copy of the stretch goal adventure written by the author. Shipping to be determined at the time of fulfillment.
Physical copy of Dark Trails RPG author Michael Curtis's stretch goal adventure $12 : You'll receive a physical copy of the stretch goal adventure written by the author. Shipping will be determined at the time of fulfillment.Remember that this adventure may drop later due to Michael's busy schedule with Goodman Games. You will be invoiced for shipping separately for this adventure once it is ready for fulfillment.
Physical copy of Dark Trails RPG author Harley Stroh’s stretch goal adventure $12 : You'll receive a physical copy of the stretch goal adventure written by the author. Shipping will be determined at the time of fulfillment.Remember that this adventure may drop later due to Harley’s busy schedule with Goodman Games. You will be invoiced for shipping separately for this adventure once it is ready for fulfillment
Physical copy of Dark Trails RPG author Brendan LaSalle’s stretch goal adventure $12 : You'll receive a physical copy of the stretch goal adventure written by the author. Shipping will be determined at the time of fulfillment.Remember that this adventure may drop later due to Brendan’s busy schedule with Goodman Games. You will be invoiced for shipping separately for this adventure once it is ready for fulfillment
Signed and numbered Sanjulian print $35: Add an extra $35 to your pledge and you'll have the option to select a signed print upon receiving your backerkit survey. Shipping is not included, and you will be invoiced separately once the prints are signed and on hand for mailing. Prints will be poly bagged and mailed in a hard mailer tube.
Dark Trails dice bag $25 : Add an extra $25 dollars to your pledge to have a proper saddlebag to take those weird dice on the trail! Shipping not included. You will be invoiced for shipping separately once the dice bags are in hand and ready to go out! Dice bags will arrive well before the hardbacks are sent to the printer.
Additional hardback (standard edition) $65 : Add an extra $65 dollars to your pledge per book you wish to add to your order. The purchase of extra books will help you save on shipping costs which will be determined at the time of fulfillment.
Additional hardback (limited edition) $85 : Add an extra $85 dollars to your pledge per book you wish to add to your order. The purchase of extra books will help you save on shipping costs which will be determined at the time of fulfillment.
Character sheet pad 50 count (funnel) $5 : Part of the fun of playing the Dark Trails RPG is experiencing the funnel adventure that weeds out the bad eggs from those destined for the role of hero. You'll receive a pad of printed character sheets specifically geared for funnels. Price does not include shipping.
Character sheet pad 50 count (standard) $5 : Once you survive your first brush with things that'd turn most men "yeller," you'll be ready to walk the path Lady Fate has laid out for you. Having a printed character sheet geared for levels 1st thru 6th certainly helps! You'll receive a pad of printed character sheets good for higher level adventures. Price does not include shipping.
Dark Trails T-Shirt $25: Men's S-XL (2XL, 3XL, 4XL add $2). Let evil know you're hitting the trail! This is a black two sided t-shirt with the logo on the front, and "Dark Trails RPG" with our web address on the back. Shirts will be shipped separately from physical book(s) and arrive before the completion of the Dark Trails RPG. You will be invoiced separately for shipping once they're ready to be mailed out.
Dice Blocks $6: One of the most popular dice runs I've made for Dark Trails is back! You'll get three pairs of the pictured dice to present to your posse, or pull out of your bag to instantly roll some heat during character generation (Baity dice are legendary!). Dice are only being sold in sets of six to keep us reasonably sane! This item will be shipped separately from phsyical book(s) and arrive before the completion of the Dark Trails RPG. You will be invoiced separately for shipping once the dice are ready to be mailed out.
You can also reach the author directly at email@example.com.
Risks and challenges
Backing someone with no Kickstarters under their belt can certainly make one hesitant to pull the trigger on any project.
Author David Baity has been an active member in the DCC community for several years and made sure the project was near completion before launching any form of crowdfunding to help wrap the book up. He has spent several thousand dollars of his personal funds over the years to purchase art, promotional items and freelance writing with the larger chapters of the book.
With the rough draft complete, work will begin immediately at the end of the Kickstarter, with editing and layout handled by a team of talented veterans with several products under their belt. Additional art has already been commissioned along with the gathering multiple quotes for a quality hardback book that really represents the years of hard work put into the Dark Trails RPG.
In short, we've tried to cover all of our bases before launching the Kickstarter and feel the risk to you as our backer has been minimized. We hope to make this the first in a long line of products to keep your weird west games going for years to come.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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