Review: Coyote Pass

Coyote Pass by David Miessler-Kubanek
A RPG about smugglers searching for identity and life beyond the Edge.

Interesting. Veeeery interesting.

I’m digging a lot about the setting here; offhand, it’s reminding me of Dogs in the Vinyard; the story of folks on their own in a harsh environment, where the mundane and the mystical are somehow merging together. I like it. Indeed, I really think, if you’re going to be pursuing this idea at length, that that’s where you should head first… into the setting, making in shine. I say this because it took me several readings to really understand what’s going on… there are so many mythological elements at play here; even if we’re going with the mundane setting, the natures of the Coyotes, their Debts and their Innocents are heavily mythologized and heavily stylized. I think that’s great, but it’s also something I really, really need to see in action in order to get at the sort of gut level which would make this game shine.

I’m down with the traits and debts and duties, but I’d also like to see how they operate in game. The impression I get is that, by and large, what is or is not possible for a character is determined as narratively as possible, with consideration given to the coyote’s duties and debts (and traits as well? I’m not sure whether those are meant to apply or if they are mechanically decorative). It’s vaguer than I like… here’s another place where showing me some examples could clarify what you mean. Are traits like FATE’s aspects, able to be tagged at will? Are they gussied-up hit points?

And unfortunately, when we get into the mechanics of conflict resolution, I only grow more confused. I’m going to put this plainly: I do not understand, after reading several times, how conflict resolution works. Rolling 2d6 doesn’t seem to relate to the chart, presented, and deciding success v. failure as evens v. odds is undermined by the ability to spend courage to increase or decrease a die roll by one, and there doesn’t seem to be any obvious way to account for varied skills, aiding one another, having the higher ground morally or physically, etc. If success really is meant to be truly random, that’s fine (though a choice I disagree with), but regardless it’s unclear.

You know, I think the comparison to DitV is apt enough that, if I wanted to run this tomorrow, I would do so as a hack of that game. Traits would work normally, but for their being written on index cards and traded around… debts would operate like relationships, stats would be ignored or, perhaps, one’s duty would operate in place of stats. I think that the ideologies of the games are close enough that it could create an interesting situation, and it’s worth perusing for some inspiration. Because while I love the setting you’re throwing us in to, something must be done to make it playable. And indeed, I hope something is, because I could see myself having a fantastic time battling through Coyote Pass.

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