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Suggestion for Western RPG

pogre

Legend
Howdy!

This past summer I read Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West. which I enjoyed tremendously.

I was thinking for one of my groups that is willing to try new things I would whip up a wild west campaign for them when our Traveller campaign concludes. The group is online and we meet once a week for a couple of hours. So some really cool games are ill-suited for online play - like Aces and Eights.

I also do not plan to have any blatant or conspicuous supernatural abilities in the game. Maybe a hint of Native American shaminism, but barely any if at all.

I have a ton of time to prepare, because we have a ton of material for our Traveller campaign. So, no big rush - if something's coming out that would work - share that too.

Have you played in a longer wild west campaign (10+ sessions) that you enjoyed? What would you suggest?
 

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I ran a F2F campaign set in 1889, in the midst of the Mexican Revolution (same events, just moved the start back to 1889), but I had some CoC elements. Used Aces & Eights, and it ran 34 sessions.

I would recommend throwing in a CoC vibe; the historical West has very limited scenario fodder other than law enforcement and the strife between settler and Native American through the 1870s, and the later union strife and fence/open range issues.

I chose the Mexican revolution because it was a multi-sided conflict with lots of racial and social issues thrown in. Even thoughb the PCs were mainly interested in money, they had to navigate the ebb and flow of a very fluid, front-less war.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I played Boot Hill back in the 80s, but never a long campaign. It was hard to stay interested. Maybe it was our age, be even now when my players and I are in our 30s through 50s, I think it would be hard to get folks interested in more than a few sessions of a game without fantasy. I really like JD Smith's suggestion of throwing in a CoC vibe. I think the AGE system would be a good one to base the mechanics off of. I played the Expanse, which is based on AGE, and I found it does a great job when running more cinematic campaigns.

Either that or I would build something from scratch using Cortex.
 

Dioltach

Legend
Have you considered D20 Modern with the D20 Past supplement? I haven't used it for an Old West campaign, but I've used D20 Modern for a variety of other settings and always had great fun.
 




pogre

Legend
I ran a F2F campaign set in 1889, in the midst of the Mexican Revolution (same events, just moved the start back to 1889), but I had some CoC elements. Used Aces & Eights, and it ran 34 sessions.
I thought about Aces & Eights, but I thought the Shot Clock system might prove problematic for an online game.
 

pogre

Legend
I played Boot Hill back in the 80s, but never a long campaign. It was hard to stay interested. Maybe it was our age, be even now when my players and I are in our 30s through 50s, I think it would be hard to get folks interested in more than a few sessions of a game without fantasy. I really like JD Smith's suggestion of throwing in a CoC vibe. I think the AGE system would be a good one to base the mechanics off of. I played the Expanse, which is based on AGE, and I found it does a great job when running more cinematic campaigns.

Either that or I would build something from scratch using Cortex.
This group has done well with the historical rpgs I have run in the past. Years ago I ran an age of Rome campaign that was a lot of fun.

This group is more about trying new things and touching base online once a week. The adventures mostly flow from goals they create in game. I have given up completely on any kind of cohesive story lines - I just throw out hook and frame a few events and we are off on running. I am currently running a Pirates of Drinax campaign, but I don't think anyone would recognize it as such 30 or so sessions in ;)
 




heks

Villager
i really like 'down darker trails' ('call of cthulhu' in the old west) and 'deadlands' and have played a great deal of both as straightforward westerns, without the weirdness.
 

MGibster

Legend
I would recommend throwing in a CoC vibe; the historical West has very limited scenario fodder other than law enforcement and the strife between settler and Native American through the 1870s, and the later union strife and fence/open range issues.
I'm puzzled by this given the breadth of stories within the western genre beginning with dime novels in the 19th century and then moving on to television, motion pictures, and even radio in the 20th century. We have more than a century where westerns dominated popular media and most of those stories didn't involve the supernatural. Just looking at a synopsis of episodes from season 1 of Rawhide will give you plenty of ideas that don't involve strife with Native Americans, unions, or the range wars. Though, uh, some of those episodes certain touch on those issues.

Here are some campaign ideas that don't involve the supernatural at all:

The PCs have just been released from prison. Now they're headed to Texas to take on Brisket Bill, their former leader who betrayed them after their last train robbery and made off with a fortune in gold.

The PCs are all "upstanding" citizens of Cripple Creek, a mining boomtown in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and you need the town to prosper so that you can prosper. That means keeping the peace and make sure everything runs smoothly. You characters might be part of the local constabulary, editor of the local newspaper, owner of a dry goods store, or perhaps even a member of the city council.

The PCs are responsible for scouting and and securing the best sites for the Union Rail Road to lay down their tracks. Which towns will the rail road go through? That's up to you.

Now that I write this, I've got to admit that I can count on one hand the number of campaigns I've run that didn't involve some aspect of the supernatural or the fantastical.
 

Now that I write this, I've got to admit that I can count on one hand the number of campaigns I've run that didn't involve some aspect of the supernatural or the fantastical.
There's the rub: when you boil it down, you've got law enforcement, outlaws, and Native American drama to work with. Not much variety for a campaign.

Despite the plethora of media coverage of the period, its fairly limited in options. And some of the staples (cattle drives, the buffalo hunters) do not translate well for RPG activity.
 

Greg K

Hero
Have you considered D20 Modern with the D20 Past supplement? I haven't used it for an Old West campaign, but I've used D20 Modern for a variety of other settings and always had great fun.
@pogre For d20M Western, I would heavily recommend Sidewinder: Recoiled by Dog House Rules over D20 Past
 


Greg K

Hero
For straight Western,
  • Fort Griffin Savaged (Dog House Rules) for Savage Worlds
  • Coyote Trail Expanded (Precis Intermedia): This combines Coyote Trail and several supplements. I don't own this book, but I was impressed with EarthAD.2 which uses the same mechanic system.
  • GURPS Old West (Steve Jackson Games) if you like GURPS. Get the Second edition which was, iirc, for GURPS 3e(the cowboy on horseback cover). It incorporates material from Roleplayer Magazine (including some famous Western personalities). The print edition is printed and sold through Amazon. If you do get the first edition, you can get the Roleplayer articles for Old West free from the GURPS website, but you will have to search through the issues and articles.
  • Sidewinder: Recoiled (Dog House Rules) for d20 Modern. Although, I no longer run d20M, this was an excellent d20M product.

 

Greg K

Hero
There's the rub: when you boil it down, you've got law enforcement, outlaws, and Native American drama to work with. Not much variety for a campaign.

Despite the plethora of media coverage of the period, its fairly limited in options. And some of the staples (cattle drives, the buffalo hunters) do not translate well for RPG activity.
Rawhide might be a good source of inspiration for a campaign with cattle drives.
Maverick could be a good source of inspiration for a campaign with travelling con men.
Wanted Dead or Alive could be a good source of ideas for a bounty hunter campaign.
A system such as Cortex Plus/ Cortex Prime could be good for running a series for a drama based campaign inspired by some Western TV series with an ensemble cast and personal drama.
 

Rawhide might be a good source of inspiration for a campaign with cattle drives.
Maverick could be a good source of inspiration for a campaign with travelling con men.
Wanted Dead or Alive could be a good source of ideas for a bounty hunter campaign.
A system such as Cortex Plus/ Cortex Prime could be good for running a series for a drama based campaign inspired by some Western TV series with an ensemble cast and personal drama.
Short campaigns. Mavrick and Dead or alive involved a single person. After a cattle drive has fought off rustlers, Indians, and a few other calamities, then what? You're on session 4 or 5.
 

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