July 17th, 2009

  • paka

wild west games

Okay, so crunch and fluff questions about western settings.

1. Fluff. I've really been enjoying old Dragon magazines. And not just because old used magazines are cheap; much as I like the recent, D&D focused incarnations of Dragon, I really like reading about the wider range of games and genres. One of the genres that surfaces in ads and articles here and there is westerns - and since that point in time games seem to have split character. You've got a lot of revisionist RPGs like Werewolf, Deadlands, and so on, but playing it straight seems to be relegated to the domain of skirmish wargaming. Am I wrong about this?

I can think of a number of reasons why people might not be stoked to play "just" a western game. With no magic or quasi-magical technology, the only advancement is character skills, attributes, and character-based, story rewards; and we all know how the Wild West "ended." I figure tweaking the setting to have fantasy, steampunk, or horror elements is pretty much the way to get around both of those blocks, but honestly? I'd sort of like to run a straight western game (no magic, no steam-powered armor, no card-based hex magic, no big werewolf gunfights, and so on). Would anyone have any suggestions for how to get players potentially interested in that one?

Or, on the flip side, should I be swapping my thinking to accept that just because there's magic/steam armor/hex magic/werewolf gunfights/etc doesn't mean I can't still basically run more or less straight western scenarios?

2. Crunch. Low- or high-fantasy versions of the west aside, both are going to mean guns. Lots of guns. And it'd be nice to have a useful skills ruleset too, since characters are going to be riding, gambling, talking to NPCs, herding cattle, whatever. What would people suggest as a rules system for mid-19th century America?

(Please, don't reccomend Dogs in the Vinyard. I know it has quite the fan following, but the background for the game makes me cringe so much that I don't even want to consider it.)