This is a collection of short stories from numerous authors, all set in the imaginary town of Pinebox, Texas: the setting for many of 12 to Midnight's adventures.
There's a reasonable map of the town (not everywhere mentioned is shown, but enough to get you oriented) at the front, then the first item is a series of transcripts of conversations between a freelance journalist researching a travel article and various townspeople. It's a good way to suck you in, hearing about the town from the viewpoints of various locals - each of course with their own opinions and bias. I can see a lot of them turning up as NPCs in games set in Pinebox.
And so it goes on. Many of the tales involve locals, and they too might well find a place in your game. The stories might provide inspiration for adventures, or at least rumours and tall tales that your characters might hear if they get into conversation with the right people. However, if you do intend to mine this for adventure ideas, rather than atmosphere, you'll need to do some work as most of the stories are a little vague about what is actually going on even if they provide plenty for your characters to investigate. I regard this as a good thing because it enables the GM to put his own spin on them if he does decide to use them for inspiration for his own adventures.
A real gem for the GM who does want to use anything from this book is at the back, a collection of newspaper articles which cover events that take place in most of the stories. Even if you don't intend to use the stories as a basis for your own adventures, these newspaper clippings will prove wonderfully atmospheric - and perhaps provide red herrings when your characters are really supposed to be investigating something else!
Just as a tool for introducing Pinebox as a living (or in some cases, perhaps not) setting, this book is excellent. GMs will have to decide whether it will be flavour material to pass round their players, or to hang on to it as a resource for their own adventures - or perhaps, do both as the 'what is actually going on' in any story is undefined enough that even a player who's read it will not be significantly advantaged in his investigations, but will benefit from really getting into the alternate reality that is Pinebox. Quite a few of the characters in the stories will make excellent Pinebox NPCs even if the stories themselves are not to feature in a game. If you want to run adventures in Pinebox, you definitely want to read this!
Return to Buried Tales of Pinebox, Texas page.
Reviewed: 24 April 2010