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Dream At High Noon is a relatively crunchy, realistic western rpg played with Texas Hold 'Em poker.

It's 62 pages with a solid readable layout, although the text feels a little densely packed into some pages.

The language in the book reminds me a little of how Dogs In The Vineyard reads, where it feels like it wants to be read in-accent, but like Dogs this isn't disruptive in Dream. Just casual.

Mechanically, Dream At High Noon has maybe the best use of chips in a poker rpg that I've seen. Each scenario has a pot to win, and you can manipulate details in the story by throwing chips into the pot. Clear the scenario and you get your chips back, plus extra. Of course, you can also lose chips in a way where they don't go to the pot, creating a push and pull between improvement and attrition.

More structurally, there's a lot of space given to safety mechanics and setting up a game that's fun for your group. The basics are covered, but there's also a recommendation that everyone wear cowboy hats, which you can take on and off to signal when you're in character, which is a neat flourish.

Conflict resolution in Dream is handled through a modified version of poker. You draw a hand equal in size to your stat, and then you modify that hand by spending chips. Spend enough chips, and you can win any hand, but your chips often don't come back until the end of the scenario, so pacing yourself is important.

For special conflicts, resolution gets more complicated, and Dream has what I can only describe as a Texas Hold 'Em battle system. It's significantly crunchier than Dogs', but if you like tactics and strategy and reading your opponent and gauging your resources, I think you'll dig it.

Modification-wise, there's a *lot* of built-in tools for changing your play experience. Everything from GMing advice to rules hacks to tips for immersion and simplifying the game for first-time groups is provided, and Dream does a good job at recognizing its complexity and giving people tools to manage that.

There's also a lot of mechanical pieces that go into making a player character, so the degree of customization that you'll feel while making a PC is decently high.

I think my only real critique of Dream is that it doesn't provide much by way of example adventures. The system feels like it could run fine for a fantasy western or scifi western or hellfire western, but the text makes it pretty clear it's intended to have a realistic tone, and it's a little bit harder (for me at least) to think up realistic plot hooks appropriate to the time period and genre without a few examples. If you're big into westerns, or you've read or watched stuff about the time period, you should be fine without needing to fall back on imaginary elements, but for me specifically a sample adventure would have been super helpful.

Overall, if you like games with innovating mechanics, crunch, meaningful stakes, tactics, and a fair bit of immersion, I would strongly recommend grabbing a copy of Dream At High Noon. You'll have to invest a little time into learning the book well enough to teach it, and you'll need to create a scenario (or have a scenario from another system) ready, but I think the experience is worth it.

Minor Issues:

-Some section headings aren't fully capitalized, like "Playing a hand" on page 13

-Page 14, Raised chips go to the bank, or the pot?

-Page 17, 3rd para, "threat level Once" missing period after level



I just saw this comment (itch never notified me) and I really appreciate the depth, thoroughness, and honesty of this review.

I honestly agree with most of the criticisms, and I've been mulling over releasing a v2 at some point hopefully this year, because I do really love the raising mechanics and the like, but I want to streamline some of the play and make it more accessible to online play. I will be keeping in mind these comments as I do!

Thanks again!

The mechanics are extremely cool! I'd love to check out a v2, although the game's really neat as-is.