Tall Tales: Wild West B/X Fantasy Adventure Game Review

Tall Tales: Wild West B/X Fantasy Adventure Game

Author: Mark Hunt
Page Count: 96
Available Formats: PDF (and print)
PDF (DTRPG) – $7.99
Print – Coming soon

 

That’s right there is a new sheriff in town and its name is Tall Tales: Wild West B/X Fantasy Adventure Game. Utilizing the same gaming mechanics as Dungeons & Dragons’ Basic and Expert sets Tall Tales brings to life the American West portrayed in movies, TV, and fiction. If you’re familiar with B/X rules, making the transition to Tall Tales will be easy. The majority of the rules are the same with some modifications and additions to fit a wild west setting. The setting is the United States western territories during its heyday of saloons, gold fever, and high noon showdowns. The player characters can expect to find themselves in a spaghetti western mixed with history and folklore.

Character Generation
Creating a character in Tall Tales is just like creating a character in Basic D&D. The same abilities scores are used along with prime requisites for each character class. Alignments are also similar in that there are only three, Law Abiding, Neutrality, and Dishonest. There are 20 different languages a PC can speak, some classes can speak more than one, but everyone speaks the Common Tongue. Money is a bit odd. The game uses D&D’s money system of precious metals coins, gold, copper, silver, electrum, and platinum instead of US currency. Precious metals were used as currency at the time but they were in the raw form of nuggets or dust. The equipment list is correct to the time period and an additional table provides building costs of various structure types in case the PC wishes to set up shop. In Tall Tales, there really isn’t armor like in fantasy games but Armor Class is present. A player dexterity adjusts AC, as well as various clothing that acts as a form of armor.

Character Classes
The character classes for Tall Tales are as follows: Gunslinger, Desperado, Mountain Man, Brave, Singing Cowboy, and Snake Oil Salesman. Gunslingers have lightning quick reflexes and are deadly accurate with their pistols. They also possess a “Steely Gaze” which can make a man cower in fear. Desperados have one thing on their minds, money and how to separate it from their marks. These guys are the card sharks at the saloon and organizers of bank and train robberies. They use their wits and sleight of hand to increase their odds of success. Mountain Men make their home in the wilderness. They live off the land, trapping for pelts and food, only visiting towns to sell their wares or resupply goods not available by nature. Since the land is their home they are in tune with it, as well as its creatures which they can befriend as companions. Braves are the mighty native warriors of the Great Plains with exceptional ability to track. They are also very spiritual and use vision quest when they need guidance. Serenading into sunsets are the charming Singing Cowboys. These cowboys use their natural charm to connect with people to build solid foundations as well as to inspire others. Lastly, usually found proselytizing their lastest cures next to their elixir filled wagon is the Snake Oil Salesman. With these concoctions of salve, balms, and ointments the Snake Oil Salesman can mix up a cure to what ails you as long as he has his wagon to work in.

Saddles & Sidekicks
Everyone from the Brave to the Singing Cowboy needs a mode of transportation, a horse, mule, or donkey. The cost can vary on all three so be sure to check their teeth so you’re sure you’re paying the correct price for the quality presented. Special rules have been added to deal with spooked horses, riders losing conscious while in the saddle, and god forbid if some black hat shoots your horse from beneath you.

Because the dusty trail can be a lonely place, players can hire retainers. In the same fashion as D&D retainers. They can be found in a town’s usual haunts. Their equipment and expenses are paid by the character. A reaction table along with a modified dice roll is used to see if the retainer accepts the PCs offer. Retainers are subject to morale rolls and only gain half the experience points earned.

Advancement
Gaining experience in Tall Tales is once again similar to Basic D&D. XP is awarded for defeating adversaries, acquiring wealth, and roleplaying or as Tall Tale puts it upholding the Code of the West. An example of the Code of the West is provided. Character levels max out at six in this publication, with each classes having its own XP scale for achieving the next level. At each level, the character gains hit points and a new class title.

Game Mechanics
Much of Tall Tales’ game mechanics use the Basic and Expert rules of Dungeons and Dragons. Combat uses “to hit” tables, initiative, surprise, hits and crits, movement, etc. Tall Tales expands the rules to incorporate taking cover, two weapon fighting, and fast draw. Players will notice that Saving Throws are used but are reimagined to fit the wild west. Gumption, Quickness, Toughness, Riding, and Observation replace the traditional fantasy saving throws. Gumption represents a character’s willpower, how stubborn they are or how much grit they possess. Quickness is the character’s ability to quickly react to a situation require speed and agility. Toughness is their physical resistance to endurance and fortitude. Riding is the PCs ability to command their mounts, and Observations is their ability to pick out details or spot something that is unseen.

Towns and the Open Plains
Towns are as much a part of Tall Tales as the open plains. At some point, the PCs are going to come into one. Tall Tales provides the means to quickly create the kinds of towns you’ll need. The game provides six types of towns a judge can create along with building types, its form of law and order, and people and animals that populate it. Each NPC and animal presented utilizes a simplified stat block. An embellishment chart for NPC is provided as well as naming and occupation charts. To keep the PCs on their toes a wandering adversary chart for towns at night and during the day is provided as well a one for the wilderness that incorporates both human and animal adversaries. Final to make it all worthwhile Tall Tales provides a loot table.

High Noon
There are so few games that use the American West as their setting, so I’m always happy to see another join their ranks. Tall Tales is a great addition to those games. The rules, even if you are unfamiliar with B/X D&D, are easy to understand and interpret. The character sheet provided with the game mimics the look and feel of a B/X D&D character sheet. There’s even as a mint green paper version. The setting is a familiar one to anyone who has watched, read, or listened to tales of the American West; no alternate timeline or zombies. Tall Tales uses a very simple layout which lies on a digest size document, making it easy to read on a tablet. Overall, Tall Tales is an easy game to pick up and run with little to no prep. I recommend lovers of western style games to give it a try. You’ll find it has the same feel as your favorite movie, TV, or westerns stories.

~Stephen Pennisi

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