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Suggestion for Western RPG

MGibster

Legend
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.
Just from the first season of Rawhide:
  1. Gil and Rowdy volunteer to finish the delivery of a prison wagon containing seven dangerous prisoners to Fort Craig for trial.
  2. The drovers rescue several passengers from a stagecoach that overturns and discover that a gunman known as "The Executioner" is following them with unknown intentions.
  3. While partying in a small town, Rowdy attempts to help a woman with a dangerous husband – the town marshal.
  4. The drovers are approached by a Colonel looking for men to join his Confederacy of Panama. Gil must act to prevent losing his cowhands.
  5. Gil and Rowdy help four stranded women with a broken wagon, allowing them to accompany the trail herd to the next town. On the way, they reach a river crossing and enter into a dispute over who will cross first with some traders approaching from the other side.
  6. The trail herd comes under threat after a dead man is found hanging from a tree branded with a Mexican bandit's initial.
Each one of these are seeds for an entire session. I only looked through half of season 1 to find these ideas and there are seven more seasons to look through. You could base an entire campaign off of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.
 

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Just from the first season of Rawhide:
  1. Gil and Rowdy volunteer to finish the delivery of a prison wagon containing seven dangerous prisoners to Fort Craig for trial.
  2. The drovers rescue several passengers from a stagecoach that overturns and discover that a gunman known as "The Executioner" is following them with unknown intentions.
  3. While partying in a small town, Rowdy attempts to help a woman with a dangerous husband – the town marshal.
  4. The drovers are approached by a Colonel looking for men to join his Confederacy of Panama. Gil must act to prevent losing his cowhands.
  5. Gil and Rowdy help four stranded women with a broken wagon, allowing them to accompany the trail herd to the next town. On the way, they reach a river crossing and enter into a dispute over who will cross first with some traders approaching from the other side.
  6. The trail herd comes under threat after a dead man is found hanging from a tree branded with a Mexican bandit's initial.
Each one of these are seeds for an entire session. I only looked through half of season 1 to find these ideas and there are seven more seasons to look through. You could base an entire campaign off of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.
To demonstrate a different outlook, using the group who I had in my last Western campaign:

1) Volunteer? Or more likely: free wagon, team of horses, and slave labor. The nearest (only) prison in Texas at this time is near Houston, hundreds of miles away. The Indian Territory has no prisons.

2) Ambush a lone rider, from a distance, probably from behind. He might be a deadly killer, but one well-aimed bullet will do the trick, and death is permanent.

3) Finish partying and return to herd.

4) Go to Panama. We're getting a buck a day trailing this herd, after all, and the idiot in charge doesn't seem to grasp that we don't get paid until we hit Kansas.

5) Start the herd across; the traders can stand aside or get drowned. Driving a herd means guiding a slow+ avalanche of hide, hooves, and horns. And again: we don't get paid until the herd is delivered. The glory attached to cow-punching is a phenomenon that emerged long after the cattle drives ended. At the time, it was hard work and hard living for low pay.

6) Wonder what a Mexican bandit is doing on a cow trail that starts in north Texas and ends in Kansas. Or why a bandit would bother a herd going north. The money (and railhead) is in Kansas, which is why the cows are going there. You rob anyone, you pick groups heading south with no cattle.

Different groups, different expectations and motivations. My players tend to motivated by the four pillars of petty-mindedness, spite, greed, and illogical reactions to random NPCs; this cuts across all settings. They follow the Zen of What's In It For Me. And they tend to dig into the setting, which would, as noted above, eliminate a lot of those paper-thin 1960s TV plots.

But different groups, different approaches.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
No, the kickstarter is on the verge of getting the core books out.
The publisher is literally a three man team, a very small outfit. Two of them are husband and wife; that almost single-handedly (dual-handedly?) kept the main Swedish roleplaying magazine alive through the dark years before the ttrpg revival and explosion.

Unfortunately the wife got serious cancer and this is very likely the reason their Kickstarter plans derailed and is now years behind schedule.

I have no insider information though.
 

The publisher is literally a three man team, a very small outfit. Two of them are husband and wife; that almost single-handedly (dual-handedly?) kept the main Swedish roleplaying magazine alive through the dark years before the ttrpg revival and explosion.

Unfortunately the wife got serious cancer and this is very likely the reason their Kickstarter plans derailed and is now years behind schedule.

I have no insider information though.
No, I'm aware. I'm a pretty patient and understanding dude and certainly COVID has made things all the more difficult. It is nice to see things start to proceed after some long periods of quiet.
 

Have you played in a longer wild west campaign (10+ sessions) that you enjoyed? What would you suggest?
@Greg K already mentioned GURPS Old West, but I've found that to be the best choice for a non-supernatural (or similar) direction. It takes advantage of what GURPS does best--the specificity and customization for character creation, the extremely detailed gun combat rules, the wonderfully researched source books--and largely sidesteps GURPS rules bloat by not jamming in other genre elements, like magic rules. There's nothing I'd really use GURPS for anymore, except for a wild west game.
 


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