Troubles Afoot! Best put a round in that iron and make haste!
Down Darker Trails takes your Call of Cthulhu games to the badlands of America’s wild west! The era of gold rushes, outlaws, cowboys, discovery, and expansion!
Chaosium Unveiled: Inside Down Darker Trails
The Mythos manifests in the Old West, your investigators must take to the wilds that make up the lawless lands and fight back against the ancient and unknown evil that haunts the prairie. While the core rules support play with classic Call of Cthulhu, additional rules for Pulp Cthulhu allow you to swing into the line-quipping, guns-blazing action with new enemies, new talents, and new character options!
A History of the Wild West
Captured in text and image is the history of the Old West: famous individuals, playing American Indian heroes, notable places and sites, as well as inspiration and guidance on bringing the terrors and mysteries of the Great Old Ones into your games.
New Character Creation Rules
The investigators of Down Darker Trails stand in stark comparison to those found in Arkham in the 1920s. The book includes rules for Old West investigators, new occupations, new pulp talents, and new skills.
Ready to Play Settings
Two complete towns: the gold-hungry Pawheton, and San Rafael on the Texas border, are fully detailed, providing Keepers with ready-made inhabitants and locales from which to stage campaigns.
Two complete scenarios allow you to jump right into the action, or kick off a new campaign.
Scanlon’s Daughter—a murder mystery set between two feuding Texas ranches.
Something From Down There—join the rescue of a group of missing miners whose digging stirred things best left forgotten.
More in the Down Darker Trails™ line
Can't get enough of the Wild West?
Mozy on over and check out Shadows over Stillwater for ever more fun! We have a full campaign, a stand-alone adventure, Stonegarden - a new locale to explore, and more adventure hooks.
If you have a hankerin' for adventure, look no further.
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What The Critics Say
"...CoC has been sorely lacking a weird western sourcebook, so I was very pleased to see Kevin Ross and his friends at Chaosium release Down Darker Trails, a massive full-color 256-page hardcover which lovingly brings Mythos horror to the old west... an excellent addition to Chaosium’s catalog"
— Black Gate Magazine, Mythos in the Old West.
"There’s something about the people and places of the American West - Deadwood, Crazy Horse, Dodge City, Wild Bill Hickok - that just seem to work with the Cthulhu Mythos. Perhaps it’s because the West itself seems as mythic as it does real."
— Little Wars, Holiday Gift Guide 2017.
"Really, almost everything that you need to start adventuring in the Old, Weird, and Wild is included in this book. So, what are you waiting for?"
— Microphones of Madness, Have Gun will Travel.
"Does Down Darker Trails succeed in offering background material, locations, non-player characters, Mythos creatures, story ideas, and enough tone, mood, and flavor for a complete Western setting? The answer is yes, unequivocally."
— Reckoning of the Dead, The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful. A review of Down Darker Trails.
"Down Darker Trails is an exceptional supplement. It corrects a historical injustice by customizing a great system for an era that fits supernatural horror perfectly, and provides ample information, both crunch and fluff-wise to enjoy investigations there… The production values (are) the reference point against which other high-end products should be compared. Full colour everywhere, incredible iconography, excellent choice of old pictures and posters, gorgeous pencils on the non-coloured art, and some amazing imagery…"
— Antonio S., RPG.Net Review.
"The weird and the west go together well... If you dig westerns and horror, you’ll be happy."
— VintageRPG, Down Darker Trails Review.
"Down Darker Trails puts the Cthulhu Mythos into a Weird Western setting. The book takes an interesting look at how to integrate Mythos creatures into folklore, provides rules for using the West in 7th Edition and Pulp Cthulhu, how to play Native American characters that go beyond stereotypes and offers a pair of boomtowns to serve as home bases for investigators."
"Six-guns and pseudopods await your cowpoke... Keepers will be able to run a campaign for months in the Old West and never run of ideas. And Keepers could try different versions, whether Pulp heavy or Cthulhu light and other options in between... a unique Mythos setting of mesas and mi-gos that shouldn’t be missed."
— Charles Dunwoody, Geek Native, Mythos World: Cowboys and Cthulhu.
"A phenomenal book... If you want cowboys in the mythos, then you need this - 96%"
— Throatpunch Games, Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Down Darker Trails.
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- 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu
- Page Count:
- Color Hardcover
- Kevin Ross, Mike Mason, Scott David Aniolowski, David Cole, and Todd Woods
Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Down Darker trails Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea every day! Product-Down Darker Trails System- Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed Producer- Chaosium Price- $44.99 here https://www.chaosium.com/down-darker-trails-hardcover/ TL; DR- Cowboys and Cthulhu! 97% Basics- What’s that ahead on the trail? Down Darker Trails is a wild west source book for Call of Cthulhu. This book has information for both the game master and players to build anything, from gunslingers to wild west cults serving dark gods all across the west. Let’s look at the parts. Mechanics or Crunch- This book is an interesting and well done mix of old and new. Arguably there are LOTS of reskins of stuff we have seen before, but honestly, that’s what I need. I need to know what the fire rate for guns in that time was and and the prices. There are some major changes between 1880 and 1920, but the damage really doesn’t change that much in this game. That said, this book adds a lot of new stuff, from spells to real life states for characters, to excellent new options for investigators/players. I like everything that is here and it adds the right amount of depth and crunch for a game in this time. 5/5 Theme or Fluff- I like what’s here, but I have some minor issues. I mentioned before that there is a lot of reskinning for the time. That’s true and it’s true here too. But, I don’t see anything crazy new here regarding the mythos. It doesn’t invent a ton of new monsters or elder things. Lovecraft didn’t do a ton out west, so thats part of it, but I would like to see more new in the story of the mythos. That said, what is here is excellent. Amazing history summaries, great write ups on persons of the time, solid respect to the cultures of the west and its people, and character options that will let a person who is new to the old west beyond Back to the Future III into the world of what really went on out there. There is always more to be learned, but as a first pass into this world and the idea that a book can’t continue for forever, this is a great way to build mythos into the west and the west into the mythos. 4.5/5 Execution- Chaosium knows book publishing with the art, layout, readability, and book mechanics like hyperlinks and such all on point. This book even has real pictures of people from the time to so you can see the real faces of the west. Furthermore, since the real west was a lot more racist than the fun and wholly-pretend cowboy and Indians I played as a child, the book treats the indigenous peoples of the west with respect in art, writing, and design. 5/5 Summary- This is a phenomenal book. I love Call of Cthulhu, and recently lots of my video games have been old west as well. The pretend old west is fun, but the real west is far more entertaining and deep. This book gives me the keeper/gm the tools I need to merge those loves and it gives my players the tools they need to jump right in as well. I have some minor issues, but like all the products I love that quibble about it comes down to wanting more. What I do have is a well done book with crunch and stories to build a fun western adventure and a book that easily revealed its secrets. If you want cowboys in the mythos, then you need this book. 96%
I feel that down darker trails is a heavily slept on and underappreciated supplement. It really adds so much content to get you into the world of the wild west and if you are a world building nerd, this book will give you more information and content than you will know what to do with. If you are a keeper and your players like to run in gun or you are just a huge fan of the wild west, this is the book for you.
A great keeper resource with wonderful foundation for new and fitting character archetypes. A wealth of historical information. I would like to have seen a little more fleshed out areas as to how the mythos creatures and races interface with the environment. But the lost worlds section and intro scenarios are very well done. Shout out to Chaosium team as my first copy arrived damage due to postal mishandling, and they sent me another copy right away.
I have never been a huge fan of the Old West (movies etc), but Down Darker Trails has piqued my interest. This book has really been responsible for me digging into the history of both the US and Mexico. I'm even eating a lot more 'Old Westery' (a lotta Taco Bell) and I have switched from Scotch to Tequila. Also movies..., Valley of Gwangi, Dead Birds (mythosy), Bone Tomahawk, Dead Man, The Burrowers, Lone Ranger (not that bad) El Topo...plus all the spaghetti westerns. Very well done book. Awesome Art. Great bargain. Really gets you in the mood for Cowboy vs. Cthuloid tomfoolery. One of the main settings, San Rafael, which's name I noticed mentioned in 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'. The scene of the river siege. Mayhaps I add that to the story cuz I'm setting my campaign there. Anyway- I have been a lapsed Keeper...DDT is TNT for creative juices.
Down Darker Trails is likely to become a "modern classic" setting for Call of Cthulhu. I looked into it simply because Kevin Ross and Keith Herber were authors, and I was not disappointed. The "Wild West" is a common setting for Pulp action and the writers did a great job of writing a book that could be useful for both Classic and Pulp Cthulhu. The key thing to know about this setting book is that it is largely educational, with the goal of helping the Keeper design their own adventures within the setting. In that regard, it reserves a solid chunk of the book for historical background, characters, West-specific Mythos (and non-Mythos) threats, and lots to differentiate Investigators of the era. Of particular note to me is the space devoted to fleshing out two solid locations (Pawheton and San Rafael) to set adventures or a campaign in. This includes specific potential Mythos threats and adventure seeds. As a Keeper, I will always happily reduce the numbers of scenarios in a book in favor of fleshed out locations. My creative use of mold-able material should drive the product. My only gripe about Pawheton is that the building map is tiny and difficult to read. Two adventures round out the book and both can be set in the two locations if desired, increasing the richness. I can't comment on the efficacy of the adventures, nor would I if I could to avoid spoilers. The art in the book is fantastic. There are many single or two page spreads that look like they could be hung in an art museum. This may very well be the best art I've ever seen in a Cthulhu product. Not so good: Call of Cthulhu has always struggled with stereotyped appropriation of customs and religions of non-white cultures. I think the work of most recent products has done a good job of avoiding that concern and Down Darker Trails is not an exception. So, for example, a reader of this work could stand to learn a lot about Native American peoples by reading Down Darker trails. At the same time, I can't help but cringe any time I see references to "Shaman" or "Native American" "magic" in any Chaosium work. The authors are careful here to call it "Shamanic" and not "Native" magic, but that is clearly implied. The book mentions that Shamanic "magic" is "weaker" than Mythos magic, which I can't help but find that as derogatory. Every culture has it's own connections of spiritualism and I don't think it's right to play with that in a role-playing game. It crosses a line. (Another example is Vodou and Vodon in other CoC books being frightfully stereotyped.) So, if you intend to pick this up and this matters to you (which it should, in my opinion), be aware that the book treats the subjects ok, but not perfectly. All in all, I had no intention of running "Wild West" CoC games, but this book completely won me over. It is information rich and very well constructed.
This is a really well thought out product. It focuses on what's important for bringing about a good period game; that being tons of historical flavor and information that can readily be used for the setting. It gives a good overview time-line, and focuses the rest of it's 'historical west' section on interesting, real people that could be used in your game. These range from famous lawmen and bounty hunters to infamous outlaws and everything in between. It does not spare any ink on a tedious gazetteer (I'm looking at you, Cthulhu Invictus), instead offering up two fictional towns, including NPCs and local history that would both make excellent settings for campaigns. The 'Supernatural West' section offers new context for existing mythos creatures in an old west setting. This section proved even more valuable than I might have initially thought, because most of the little blurbs gave me ideas for campaign details and adventure ideas. There is even a section on new mythos books with a particularly western flavor and a detailed entry on folk magic that might be practiced by indigenous peoples. Last but not least, the book fully supports pulp rules, including new ones for things like dual wielding pistols and fanning single action revolvers. It's great, and fully represents the new Chaosium's dedication to AAA production values and art direction, with stunning, evocative art throughout. Pick it up if you like Westerns and unspeakable horrors!