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So You've Decided to Run a "Western" Game. What Kind?

Which genre(s) of Western RPG would you consider running as a campaign?

  • Classical Western

    Votes: 21 34.4%
  • Acid Western

    Votes: 1 1.6%
  • Comedy Western

    Votes: 4 6.6%
  • Contemporary/Neo-Western

    Votes: 4 6.6%
  • Electric Western

    Votes: 1 1.6%
  • Epic Western

    Votes: 13 21.3%
  • Fantasy Western

    Votes: 26 42.6%
  • Horror Western

    Votes: 31 50.8%
  • Revisionist Western

    Votes: 12 19.7%
  • Science Western

    Votes: 7 11.5%
  • Space Western

    Votes: 21 34.4%
  • Weird Western

    Votes: 28 45.9%
  • Wuxia Western

    Votes: 10 16.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 9 14.8%
  • None of the Above

    Votes: 4 6.6%

  • Total voters
    61

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I think someone ought to do a movie about Tanto where Lone Ranger is even more dependent upon Tanto.
(I also wonder where they chose that name from. The Spanish "Of Course!" or the Japanese dagger, or elsewhere?)
Actually, the name is “Tonto”. Apparently, in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, "tonto" translates as "a dumb person", "moron", or "fool". While only a few would be fluent in any of those languages in the American West, Spanish words- for things like food, drink, slang and insults- might be familiar to a fair number of people. Especially the farther west or southwest you go.

And that fits in nicely with your observation about how the character is often dismissed by most of the antagonists- the clearly caucasian HERO is literally calling him “Dummy” all the time. It plays right into the prejudicial mindset of some of the people they opposed.

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MGibster

Legend
Actually, the name is “Tonto”. Apparently, in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, "tonto" translates as "a dumb person", "moron", or "fool". While only a few would be fluent in any of those languages in the American West, Spanish words- for things like food, drink, slang and insults- might be familiar to a fair number of people. Especially the farther west or southwest you go.
The guy who came up with the Tonto character lived in the northern part of the United States and was completely unfamiliar with Spanish. Supposedly he checked with members of a local tribe who told him Tonto meant "wild," and, if true, it could be they were just messing with him for fun or there was a miscommunication. We watched a Spanish dub of an episode of The Lone Ranger in high school Spanish and he was called Toro (bull) in that episode.

I realized there's some mixed feelings about Tonto and in particular when it comes to his broken English. As a kid, I never looked at his English as indicative of any lack of intelligence on his part. Maybe it's because I lived in Germany and Texas and had met a fair number of people for whom English was a second language and their grammar wasn't always spot on. Rather than being portrayed as a bumbling fool Tonto was a loyal, brave, and competent friend and ally to the Lone Ranger. If I were to remake the Lone Ranger today I'd certainly put an end to the broken English. I'd also go back to having a Native American play him instead of Johnny Depp.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
That might be a part of it. Especially if the “dummy” theory has any merit”.

Wikipedia says this:

Ultimately derived from gimoozaabi, an Ojibwe and Potawatomi word that may mean "he/she looks out in secret",[1] it has been occasionally translated as "trusty scout" (the first Lone Ranger TV episode, 1941) or "faithful friend".[2]

In the 2013 film The Lone Ranger, Tonto states that it means "wrong brother" in Comanche, a seemingly tongue-in-cheek translation within the context of the plot.
and
Jim Jewell, director of The Lone Ranger from 1933 to 1939, took the phrase from Kamp Kee-Mo Sah-Bee, a boys' camp on Mullett Lake in Michigan, established by Charles W. Yeager (Jewell's father-in-law) in 1916.[3]Yeager himself probably took the term from Ernest Thompson Seton, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America, who had given the meaning "scout runner" to Kee-mo-sah'-bee in his 1912 book "The Book of Woodcraft and Indian Lore".[4]

Kamp Kee-Mo Sah-Bee was in an area inhabited by the Ottawa, who speak a language which is mutually comprehensible with Ojibwe. John D. Nichols and Earl Nyholm's A Concise Dictionary of Minnesota Ojibwedefines the Ojibwe word giimoozaabi as "he peeks" (and, in theory, "he who peeks"), making use of the prefix giimoo(j)-, "secretly"; Rob Malouf, now an associate professor of linguistics at San Diego State University, suggested that "giimoozaabi" may indeed have also meant scout (i.e., "one who sneaks").[5]

Another possible interpretation to Kemo Sabe is in reference to the Lone Ranger's mask, which could be interpreted as "he who peeks" from behind the mask.

All that said, they might still have considered the “false friend” of “que no sabe" to be a cherry on top if they were familiar with spanish.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The guy who came up with the Tonto character lived in the northern part of the United States and was completely unfamiliar with Spanish. Supposedly he checked with members of a local tribe who told him Tonto meant "wild," and, if true, it could be they were just messing with him for fun or there was a miscommunication. We watched a Spanish dub of an episode of The Lone Ranger in high school Spanish and he was called Toro (bull) in that episode.
The “Tonto”/“Toro” translation has been mentioned in some of what I’ve read. But the writer didn‘t explain why this happened.
I realized there's some mixed feelings about Tonto and in particular when it comes to his broken English. As a kid, I never looked at his English as indicative of any lack of intelligence on his part. Maybe it's because I lived in Germany and Texas and had met a fair number of people for whom English was a second language and their grammar wasn't always spot on. Rather than being portrayed as a bumbling fool Tonto was a loyal, brave, and competent friend and ally to the Lone Ranger. If I were to remake the Lone Ranger today I'd certainly put an end to the broken English. I'd also go back to having a Native American play him instead of Johnny Depp.
I’d keep the broken English…as a tactical affectation to keep others underestimating him.
 

Committed Hero

Explorer
Attach files
If I were to remake the Lone Ranger today I'd certainly put an end to the broken English. I'd also go back to having a Native American play him instead of Johnny Depp.
I have a soft spot for Graham Greene in Maverick. Watching the scene again I didn't realize he sounds as Canadian as the McKenzies.
 
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Herne'sSon

Villager
Actually, the name is “Tonto”. Apparently, in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, "tonto" translates as "a dumb person", "moron", or "fool". While only a few would be fluent in any of those languages in the American West, Spanish words- for things like food, drink, slang and insults- might be familiar to a fair
I thought it was interesting how they played the "fool" aspect of the name into the character in the semi-recent Disney film of the Lone Ranger, with Johnny Depp as Tonto.

In it (and without spoiling too much) Tonto was played as sort of a trickster character, and as the film progresses we discover that he's dealing with PTSD of sorts because of the awful thing that happened to his tribe when he was a child.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Hmmmmm…a weird west setting in which you send cinematic & tv show western tropes through the looking glass…

A white vigilante and his Indian sidekick who are actually a Trickster spirit and his American acolyte

The rifleman whose Winchester never runs out of bullets…and nobody ever sees him buying any, either.

A fugitive shaolin priest who actually has all those supernatural abilities people claim they have.

A fire & brimstone minister’s daughter turned gunslinger…who is a little to familiar with fire and brimstone.
 

Hmmmmm…a weird west setting in which you send cinematic & tv show western tropes through the looking glass…

A white vigilante and his Indian sidekick who are actually a Trickster spirit and his American acolyte

The rifleman whose Winchester never runs out of bullets…and nobody ever sees him buying any, either.

A fugitive shaolin priest who actually has all those supernatural abilities people claim they have.

A fire & brimstone minister’s daughter turned gunslinger…who is a little to familiar with fire and brimstone.
Welcome to Deadlands. That's pretty much the tone of the books....
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
I'm pretty much only interested in settings with magic in them-- with a few narrow exceptions-- but most intersections of "fantasy" with "Western" are going to get my attention. Even games with more of a horror focus, like Deadlands, are going to be high on my list.

One of my projects was going to essentially be a D&D-in-Space setting, except with 19th century technology, and "the wild frontier" was going to be the region of space made up of former colonies of "the East" and "the West". I realized that despite my best efforts, I wasn't going to be able to write it without doing approximately all of the racisms, so I regretfully dropped the whole thing.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Welcome to Deadlands. That's pretty much the tone of the books....
I’m familiar with Deadlands, but I think some of those go a bit beyond its system. I don’t think you could quite play the demigod/avatar of a Trickster with the “power level” it assumes, for instance.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I'm pretty much only interested in settings with magic in them-- with a few narrow exceptions-- but most intersections of "fantasy" with "Western" are going to get my attention. Even games with more of a horror focus, like Deadlands, are going to be high on my list.

One of my projects was going to essentially be a D&D-in-Space setting, except with 19th century technology, and "the wild frontier" was going to be the region of space made up of former colonies of "the East" and "the West". I realized that despite my best efforts, I wasn't going to be able to write it without doing approximately all of the racisms, so I regretfully dropped the whole thing.
You might want to re-examine your concept through the lens of the Space:1889 game and setting. Essentially, it’s a Jules Verne/ HG Wells heavy setting, with adventuring on the Moon, Mars, and Venus. I used that setting for a HERO game, and it worked fine.

Yes, it’s technically post-Western in RW chronology, but the “sword & planet” Martian portion of the setting has some very Westernesque vibes.
 

I’m familiar with Deadlands, but I think some of those go a bit beyond its system. I don’t think you could quite play the demigod/avatar of a Trickster with the “power level” it assumes, for instance.
You could... it would be high level, but given that reloaded uses Savage Worlds, and Savage Worlds can do that, according to friends who ported Scion over to it.... think 15th level+...
 

You might want to re-examine your concept through the lens of the Space:1889 game and setting. Essentially, it’s a Jules Verne/ HG Wells heavy setting, with adventuring on the Moon, Mars, and Venus. I used that setting for a HERO game, and it worked fine.

Yes, it’s technically post-Western in RW chronology, but the “sword & planet” Martian portion of the setting has some very Westernesque vibes.
No, actually, it's not. the "Wild West" as shown in the movies and TV is basically 1870-1920 in the Southwest (NM, AZ, NV, CO, UT, eastern CA) and 1895 or so in the PNW (OR, WA, ID, Western CA.)
Seattle was "Civilized" by 1900. By 1926 the highways basically connected coast to coast, and the west was done.
1912 was the end of the territories in the (now) contiguous 48 states, with the joint admissions of AZ and NM

Many historians argue the "Wild West" period to be 1870 to 1890. A few argue for 1880-1890. Others give it as 1860-1920.Pretty much any way you cut it, 1889 is still in the Wild West, and the Challenge Article on the West in 1889 is pretty clearly thinking "Wild Wild West" and "Wild West", not Civilized Oregon (Many look at Washington State's admission as the end of the Wild West, and that's 1889).

Alaska and Hawai'i both had territorial police by 1920, and neither had the "western" mentality.
 

MGibster

Legend
1890 US Census said:
Up to and including 1880 the country had a frontier of settlement, but at present the unsettled area has been so broken into by isolated bodies of settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line. In the discussion of its extent, its westward movement, etc., it can not, therefore, any longer have a place in the census reports.

Some people put the close of the Old West at 1912 with statehood for Arizona and New Mexico. But then we still had a few armed conflicts with Native Americans as late as the early 1920s. Like many dates for eras, they're fairly arbitrary and serve more as a guideline than a hard point of no return.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
No, actually, it's not. the "Wild West" as shown in the movies and TV is basically 1870-1920 in the Southwest (NM, AZ, NV, CO, UT, eastern CA) and 1895 or so in the PNW (OR, WA, ID, Western CA.)
Seattle was "Civilized" by 1900. By 1926 the highways basically connected coast to coast, and the west was done.
1912 was the end of the territories in the (now) contiguous 48 states, with the joint admissions of AZ and NM

Many historians argue the "Wild West" period to be 1870 to 1890. A few argue for 1880-1890. Others give it as 1860-1920.Pretty much any way you cut it, 1889 is still in the Wild West, and the Challenge Article on the West in 1889 is pretty clearly thinking "Wild Wild West" and "Wild West", not Civilized Oregon (Many look at Washington State's admission as the end of the Wild West, and that's 1889).

Alaska and Hawai'i both had territorial police by 1920, and neither had the "western" mentality.
I‘m solidly in the “Wild West ended in 1890” camp, so by 1889, it would be on its last legs, wobbly on too much rye and a few gunshot wounds.

But that’s pretty academic & ultimately immaterial in the context of the Space:1889 setting, and honestly, what I actually did with it for my Supers game. One of the PCs, Colt, was 100% an homage to James West, for instance.

And the Terran colonial empires of the day expanding their influence on Mars is chock full of the same kinds of settlers versus indigenous people tropes of that period on Earth.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
My precious terrible idea was that the game took place in a spiral galaxy. One arm of the galaxy was ruled by the PHB+1 Empire, one arm of the galaxy was ruled by the OA+1 Empire, and the game takes place in the arm between them, about a century after most of the colonies overthrew their imperial governors-- with that middle spiral arm being the (more or less) full monty, "let's get weird" D&D full of disputed borders and unchecked threats.

I don't know how to salvage it.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
My precious terrible idea was that the game took place in a spiral galaxy. One arm of the galaxy was ruled by the PHB+1 Empire, one arm of the galaxy was ruled by the OA+1 Empire, and the game takes place in the arm between them, about a century after most of the colonies overthrew their imperial governors-- with that middle spiral arm being the (more or less) full monty, "let's get weird" D&D full of disputed borders and unchecked threats.

I don't know how to salvage it.
I’d love to help if I can…

The level of spacefaring is clearly more advanced than you’d seein Soace:1889 or even Spelljammer. This sounds a bit more like Dragonstar.

How “western” do you want to go? How “D&D”? Visuals?
 
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