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Ur Athal

Westward Review

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Ur Athal    10

As many likely know I really did not like Azamar, the production quality was not there, and the setting really was not my cup of tea so when I got a copy of Westward I was not expecting much. I can say I have been pleasantly surprised. While Steampunk is not my favorite genre to GM I thoroughly enjoy reading about these kinds of settings. So with that in mind take what I say regarding this product with a little bit of salt.

 

Westward a Steampunk Setting Book by Wicked North Games is their second foray into producing a setting book for their Cinema 6 framework, and it is of vastly higher quality than their previous outing. The artwork is vastly improved, and much of the color art is of a superior quality. From an artistic standpoint the only items which suffer are the assorted city depictions, and the schematics in the equipment section. Whether that is just me, or due to the fact that some of the art is exceptional, or a little bit of both, I don't know, however there is room for improvement. Regardless over all the art in the product is definitely in the B+ range which for a small press not catering to the d20 crowd is quite an accomplishment.

 

One of my pet peeves for many products is the layout. This is a category in which once again WNG's last product left me questioning whether it was worth printing, Westward offers no such reservations. Nice border touches, and an appropriate amount of art, along with successful placement of art pieces, give this product a professional, finished look. Font selection is much easier on the eye, and evokes a certain degree of warmth or rather romanticist charm. The use of white space is minimized throughout. An effective hyperlinked table of contents and an actual index round out the layout happiness. A place where they still have some room to improve, but I think they get a solid A for this outing.

 

The rule set is pretty much standard Cinema 6 fare, but this time around I was more interested in it because there was nothing to distract me from it, in fact I rather liked it. As a D6 Legends adherent, I found the Cinema 6 ruleset does manage to take care of most of my issues with Classic D6. So I can't really rate it except to say that like any D6 based product it should be easy enough to bend, twist, and mold into whatever house ruled version you happen to be using.

 

Westward takes a fairly unique approach to the Steampunk genre by making it far future sci fi rather than a historical progression leading to a steam based technology. Another interesting part is the fact that water is in short supply and fossil fuels are non existent. You are essentially stranded on a planet resembling the tumble weed dominated wild west of an old Hollywood western, and thats when it gets weird. Add in a heavy dollop of Lord Humongous ruling the wasteland in a post apocalyptic Mad Max world, Heavy Gear with a Steampunk aesthetic, and a 1984 totalitarian central government as the sauce that seems to run the adventure engine in the setting. All in all interesting reading, and presented with enough detail to run with it, but not enough to tie your hands. This should be appealing to anyone looking for a little bit of wild fun and the equipment section definitely rounds out the look and feel of this place while giving you the tools you need to be successful, even offering some artifact level items or rather high tech items you can't produce because you live on a resource poor deathtrap of a world. I have to give this an A- just because I feel a little more in the way of local personalities in the individual locations would make it gel a little better without unduly tying the GM to the railroad tracks.

 

The included short adventure frameworks, and the full length adventure seem like serviceable fare designed to introduce you to the setting. Never my favorite part of any book since I prefer building my own adventures, but almost a requirement for any setting book. I give it a B+, but your mileage will vary.

 

Lastly the included Character Sheets with individual art for a wide variety of starting characters adds a really nice touch to the whole book. Overall I think I would give this book a B+ or A-. It definitely has a certain WOW factor, particularly in comparison with WNG's previous offerings. I think they have room to grow in future products, but have definitely taken huge strides forward, and I can say that I want to see their next product. This product is definitely worth getting as a pdf, and I will definitely add to this review when I get my print copy.

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