Review: THE ABHORRENT SIX by Stein Hansen

I recently got my hands on an advance copy of THE ABHORRENT SIX, an upcoming Western adventure compatible with FRONTIER SCUM. It’s the work of Stein Hansen and Nidaros Kollective, and boy howdy! It’s more fun than the entire cast of a Sergio Leone movie trying to wrestle a greased pig!

I like horror, tabletop games, and Westerns, so ABHORRENT SIX went down like a shot of coffin varnish. Without giving away too many details, THE ABHORRENT SIX asks the important question: “What if Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight,’ but with a cryptozoologist’s nightmare, a horror novel, and a whisky jug’s worth of gallows humor thrown in?” The answer is even more impressive than it sounds. ABHORRENT SIX offers an original/adapted setting, a cast of characters both vile and vital, and a set of random encounter and room tables sure to bring a smile to the face of any particularly twisted and talented GM.

As I mentioned, I’m damn near the perfect audience for this book. I’m a horror writer, and my debut novel was a gore-drenched Western. I’ve lived for most of my life in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I was born in Grand Junction, Colorado, roughly two hours north of the location where “The Hateful Eight” was shot. My upbringing is full of tales of being caught out in the nightmarish blizzards that can blow through this region, from Wyoming to Salt Lake City and on down to Telluride. Stein Hansen has captured the apocalyptic, claustrophobic feeling of the area’s winters with uncanny aptitude, both in his prose descriptions and in the mechanics used simulate the experience (with one big, hairy exception, that is). His player characters and NPCs alike are vibrant and accompanied by appropriately grim art. With a variety of predetermined and conflicting motives at play, I have no doubt gameplay will have the feel of a collection of dangerous strangers gathered around a teetering poker table, with each keeping plenty of cards played close to the vest.

Stein Hansen is no newcomer to the indie TTRPG scene, having authored the MÖRK BORG supplements KENNELS OF KARNAGE, BABALON’S HANGOVER, and BABALON’S HANGOVER 2 (the latter two bestiaries created in collaboration with Liva Hansen). Based on this track record and the excellence of THE ABHORRENT SIX, I would love to see Stein branch out into further genre content. Piracy? The gentle art of mad science? Wherever he’s headed next, I’ll be along for the ride.

Watch for THE ABHORRENT SIX on Kickstarter.

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