Advice for a Old West game system

Chris Gunter

First Post
I need some input from some experienced players of this game system. Myself and some friends need an old west system to run a campaign on. Something with good rules, a nice map of the territories, etc. There seem to be so few systems out there for that setting. I appreciate your help. Oh, I'm talking about a non-weird old west setting. Thanks.

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Yeah, they just released a book for the fundamental system itself. I think it would work great for what you want. I've got a lot of universal systems and Cypher System is by far the best IMO.


First Post
It's been a while, but I believe GURPS has a wild west setting. Decent selection of appropriate weapons, make your own maps of territories or use real maps.



Deadlands Reloaded. Its the largest IP from the people that make Savage Worlds. Deadlands has "weirdness" built into the setting, but that aspect can be minimized and just use the system and the flavor if you want.


Mod Squad
Staff member
my votes would be for boot hill and/or deadlands.

Note that Deadlands has several incarnations. The d20 version... don't bother with it.

The Savage Worlds version is supposed to be decent, though I have not played it. Given that Deadlands Classic is the ancestor and progenitor of SW, I would expect it to translate fairly well.

If you want all the fiddly bits (especially for combat) - go with Classic Deadlands. There's more to gunplay in this system than you'd ever really want.

I recently ended a 5 year Classic Deadlands campaign - any question, feel free to ask.
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I LOVE Deadlands Reloaded. The books are wonderful. However, we used Savage Worlds as a basis to build our own system (Bashed and Borrowed ;)) and we haven't been able to go back to the basic game.

However, I am about to start a new western game (with weirdness) with one of the school groups I run, and we are going to use the Cypher System. So whilst I may use the Savage Worlds Deadlands Setting, won't be using the rules.

So here is another vote for Cypher System... at least we can then compare play experiences ;)

I just need to look how to build some of the stereotypes, like Huckster, Gambler, Gunfighter, SHaman etc. Form memory, there was a solid weird scientist build or two.

I might need to make my own lists of Foci and create an extra 1 or 2. I will depend upon what the kids want to play.


So I recently ran a game/universe that I was making for D&D in the cypher system. The original vision was to have the game pretty heavily race / class based. Clearly Cypher doesn't really do that, but I found a pretty easy work around.

For races give them a pool of 5 or so descriptors, then for the classes give them 3 foci (or whatever suites your vision for a class). So essentially when they begin playing they pick a race and a class which narrows down their selection options so each class has it's own uniqueness. Furthermore, allow them to pick whatever appropriate tier ability they want. Instead of a new character being forced to take the tier one ability, they may take any tier one ability from the 3 foci you have alloted to that class. Also have them choose only one of the 3 foci to get the actual benefits of the focus (the other 2 in the class simply are there for their selection of tier abilities) .

I guess just think of the 3 foci as talent trees from something like WOW.

It worked great for me. I know that's not in the spirit of the game or whatever, but I really enjoyed how it worked out. I think my players did as well.


I'm surprised no one has asked what sort of Western adventures you want to run, which makes a very big difference in the sort of systems that should be recommended to you. What sort of games are you expecting to run?

Do you want combat to be gritty and realistic, or do you want deaths to be rare and violence to be stylized?
Do you want combat to be the focus of play, or do you want more cerebral drama based games?

If you want to run, "The West as it Was", you'd be better off with Aces & Eights. If you want to run classic John Wayne style Hollywood Westerns, you might be better off with Boot Hill 3e. And honestly if those are too lethal, you could run a more heroic western with something like Mutants & Mastermind set to you PL5 or such, and then have the capacity to switch to fantasy western, weird western, or whatever. And it might be interesting to strip out some of the setting of 'Dogs in the Vineyard' and run a game where the PC's were a Marshall and his deputies in some frontier boom town.

I don't know much about the system, but when this topic has come up in the past lots of people recommended 'Sidewinder Reloaded'.
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I agree with Cerebrim regarding a more authentic Old West system can be found with Aces & Eights, and also agree that Sidewinder Reloaded is another good one. While you don't need to use the setting with Aces & Eights to use the system, I personally don't care for the setting provided. Aces & Eights old west setting is alternative in that the US didn't go to war with Mexico, so all the southern territories (states) like California, Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Colorado are still a part of Mexico. While the real old west is anything from Kansas to California and Canada to Mexico, I prefer the desert southwest region with an emphasis on mining towns like Tombstone as a part of my setting.

While certainly less authentic, I am currently developing an alternate Old West setting with mixture of gothic horror, Cthulhu inspired horror, and weird magic being designed for use with Pathfinder RPG called Gothic Western. Since the first one-shot module I'm designing is called Horror on the Gila Express, which is based on a steam train, I've already created an encounter scale steam train deckplans, a train station, and jailhouse/courthouse/gallows in my photo-realistic style, available for purchase at DTRPG.


I don't so much have a system to suggest as a Meta-setting. Forbidden Kingdoms for D&D 3.x (D&D classes presented as Advanced Classes for d20 Modern as well) presents a Gunslinging skill used for Showdowns. There are few maps to speak of, unfortunately.

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