Game: Frontier Towns: Fort Griffin, Volume 1
Publisher: Dog House Rules
Series: d20 modern
Review Dated: 11th, December 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
The significant plot twist in Frontier Towns: Fort Griffin, Volume 1 is that we’re not looking at Fort Griffin but the nearby town known as The Flat. Despite the un-inspirational name The Flat is an interesting town due to the interesting Wild West characters who pass through and dwell there.
Frontier Towns: Fort Griffin is something of a hybrid product but it’s a good and a successful mix. We have some NPC background and NPC stat blocks. We have some adventure seeds. We have some cartography. All this comes together to nicely illustrate a roleplaying town.
This Dog House Rules is a supplement for the rather good Sidewinder: Recoiled. It’s not surprising to see that the Dog House Rules manage to maintain the quality and professional shine they instilled in their d20 Wild West RPG.
The goal of Frontier Towns: Fort Griffin is to create an interesting and vibrant setting. Dog House Rules work hard to keep that Wild West flavour and throughout the supplement you’ll find colloquialisms (shucks) in the narrative. This isn’t annoying, though I fear it could easily be over done, and with the delicate balance struck the phraseology does help to strengthen the mood.
History provides a lending hand to Fort Griffin and The Flat. This isn’t an entirely fictional place; far from it. Dog House Rules don’t simply namedrop with the likes of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Lottie Deno the authors, Geoff Spakes and Christopher Warner, have done their research.
Take this direct quote from the game as a good example. “Most accounts agree that Doc Holliday arrived in Texas in 1873. Details about exactly when he spent time in Fort Griffin are unclear, but there is little doubt that he did visit The Flat from time to time.
Based on the premise that Doc’s visits occurred in the mid-to-late 1870s, the Dog House
Gang has decided to provide statistics reflecting an experienced and deadly Holliday, circa 1877; he’s formidable but not yet at the height of his gunfighting and gambling career.”
The supplement does then go on to give us a d20 modern character sheet for the famous Doc Holliday as well as information on Holliday.
The Flat isn’t just people. It’s places too. Our tour of The Flat focuses on the key buildings. Shannsey’s Saloon is the focus for many of the important NPCs and is an easy place to adventure hook PCs. It’s in the Saloon that the famous NPCs; especially Poker Queen Lottie Deno are most likely to be encountered.
If things go pear shaped then the PCs might also find it easy to get into Fort Griffin Jail. In addition to getting the floor plans for each building we’re given a history too – this is handy if you want to be accurate but want to set your scenario in The Flat just before the default timelime (so you know whether the building was actually built).
Front Towns Volume 1 also serves up York & Meyers Outfitters, Pete Haverty’s Livery and the Beehive Saloon. For each locale we have maps, NPCs with background and stats and a list of adventure hooks.
The cartography is good enough. Dog House’s maps sit above the basic line drawings, hand drawings or basic computer generated images which still appear in professional RPG supplements but below the quality you’d find from those publishers with a name for cartography. We’ve coloured and computer drawn maps. The colouring and the shading combine to give the maps some “oomph”. The extra effort in the cartography comes from the three supplementary PDFs with the Frontier Town: Fort Griffin package. In addition to 15mm Battle Maps and 25mm Battle Maps there’s the extremely handy Judge Reference Maps PDF too. I tend to need a Judge/GM reference map when I’m running anything more than just a tactical combat. Simply put I want to use paper minis on the players’ version of the battle map but I want a copy for myself so I can keep tabs of secret doors, traps and scribbled notes.
For each location and in partnership with the floor plans there is a fairly extensive “building key” which gives a thorough textual run through of the local. The building key is far more than just a map legend.
This volume of Frontier Town’s has 55 pages and will set you back US $6.75.
Fort Griffin dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s. The supplement succeeds in its goal of providing an interesting and atmospheric setting for a Sidewinder game. I think the setting is rather dependant on legends from actual Wild West history and if you’re trying to play down their role in your Sidewinder: Recoiled game then you might be a little caught out. The Flat is an interesting place and the adventure hooks are nicely baited and do sometimes chain together but there’s nothing which really leaps off the page as a “must use” for me. If you’re a Sidewinder fan then there’s every reason to part with seven dollars for this visit to Fort Giffin.