Friday, May 31, 2013

Go Fer Yer Gun! Now Free At RPG Now

Beyond Belief Games has made the western RPG Go Fer Yer Gun! available as a free pdf download over at RPG Now.  It's a great little rules-lite game based on Castles and Crusaders and, if you've been following along, you've seen that I've been prepping to run this game.  There's nothing like a free set of rules to help make your Friday pass by more quickly!

Check out Go Fer Yer Gun!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gambling In RPGs: Wild West

Card playing and gambling were a mainstay in any western milieu so I wanted to make that a quick and simple option in my upcoming campaign.  However, after looking around the interwebs I was unable to find a satisfactory solution.  I wanted to keep the gambling in-game, quick and not side-track from the reason we all gathered in the first place, to role-play some wild west action and not sit around playing cards.  This is based on using Go Fer Yer Guns! but should be adaptable to any other RPG.

So here is what I came up with...

I'm basing the gambling 'mini-game' on Poker Dice but since this is being planned for a western style game I've switched the dice to playing cards; 9, 10, J, Q, K, A of all four suites as well as added a few additional elements. Since one of the hands in Poker Dice is 5 of a kind, I've added the two Jokers as wild cards. Thus 26 cards, 4 short of the 30 options in Poker Dice but I think that will work fine.

This 'mini-game' scene represents the entire 'poker' or gambling session for the player. The player 'antes' up the amount of money he wishes to gamble away. This would be a one time 'in' and wins and losses are based on this amount.

The GM deals 5 cards to the PC(s) and 5 cards to himself. The first two cards are face down and the last three are face up. This gives the outcome a bit of suspense and an option for players looking to cheat. The players are allowed to look at their face down cards.

These 5 cards are the only cards the players get with the following exceptions. The player can decide to use his Pick Pocket (cheat) ability to attempt to cheat to win the hand OR to use his Card Sharp ability to either cut his losses or enhance his winnings. He has to choose one or the other. The choice is made after the cards are dealt.

If the character (PC or NPC) have a Pick Pocket (cheat) ability they can try to cheat by rolling a Dex check + bonus + level directly against the victim's Intelligence check + bonus + Level.

A failure means that the slight of hand failed and the cheater was caught. Role-play accordingly - accusations shouted, guns drawn, bullets fly!

If they win then the player gets to trade in either or both of his face down cards to be dealt new ones. That will be his final hand.

All cards are displayed and winning hands are based on standard Poker Dice results. The winners and losers then roll on the charts below for final outcome.

WIN
Roll D12 +/- INT Modifiers

0 or less - Broke Even
1 - +20%
2 - +40%
3 - +60%
4 - +80%
5- Double your money
6- Double +10%
7- Double +30%
8- Double + 50%
9- Double +70%
10- Triple
11- Triple +Victim's weapon
12- Triple +victim's treasured item
13- Triple + weapon + Treasured item
14+  -  Triple + weapon + Treasured item + debt

LOSE
Roll D12 +/- INT Modifiers

0 or less - Loose all money, weapon, boots, treasured item + debt
1 - loose all money, weapon, boots, treasured item
2 - loose all money, weapon, boots
3 - loose all money, weapon
4 - loose all money
5- 90% of money
6- 80% of money
7- 70% of money
8- 60% of money
9- 50% of money
10- 40% of money
11- 30% of money
12- 20% of money
13- 10% of money
14+  -  Break Even


Now, if the player(s) had chosen NOT to cheat during the hand, they can influence the roll by adding their INT bonus. By the same token, the dealer can, if he had chosen NOT to cheat, apply his INT bonus as a subtraction to the player's roll.

I did a quick test of the above and it worked pretty well and was quick. I'll give it another couple of run-throughs just to be sure. If anyone sees any issues or has any other ideas let me know. This should be able to be adapted to most other RPGs as well.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wild West Campaign: The Town of Rebel

Thinking I'd start things off small, I decided to begin play in the small town of Rebel.  It's found on the eastern portion of the Rosewood Territory campaign map.  Even a small town like this there was quite a bit going on.

Rebel is a small tough mining town on the main road west just south of Beggars Canyon  It was founded by Harlow Cox after the Civil War before he moved further west and sunk roots in the more prosperous Harlow Junction.  Cox, however, still runs the Rebel though Sheriff Slade.  Slade keeps tabs on the town for Cox.  The sheriff and his deputies help protect the tin-pans working in Beggars Canyon from Angus Young. The Mormon from Bronson has sent his band of ruffians lead by Barton Clay and are trying to run the miners out so that they can stake the claim.

The Canyon Creek Saloon is the towns main gathering place run by Boon Johnson, close friend with the Sheriff and Harlow Cox.  He's always got his ear open to the goings on in Rebel and feeds that back to Cox directly.  His 'Scarlet Ladies' help keep the clientele drunk and satisfied.  At the Canyon Creek Saloon you'll usually see a number of tin-pans celebrating their strikes or drowning their sorrows, ranchers, a few buffalo hunters and weary travelers heading west whetting their whistles.  You'll also find the hard drinking Doc Anderson always willing to deal someone's inebriated, gold heavy, pockets into his infamous poker games.



Now during this process I created a 'map' of the connections of the general folks in this town.  As you can see the connections get a little crazy but it should be enough to get started.




I'm using the concept posted on the Boot Hill OD&D boards about using the people as rooms and connections as corridors for the players to 'explore'.  There's a few love-triangles, illicit affairs, a couple of rival gangs and indebted tin-pans to keep things flowing.  And there's a few connections to the larger campaign area and the bigger power-players in the territory.  I'm hoping that the players stories should evolve fairly organically within the environment without too much instigating on my part, but we'll see.  I'll have a few nuggets to toss  in there if necessary.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Go Fer Yer Gun! New Character Class: Widow

Continuing my two women only classes for Go Fer Yer Gun! by Simon Washbourn and put out by Beyond Belief Games.  As written, the rules define ten character classes; the Brave, Doctor, Drifter, Gunslinger, Maverick, Mountain Man, Muckraker, Preacher, Scout, Wrangler and the Wandering Monk optional class.

Though the west was quite the rough and tough setting and "no place for a woman", women played a big role in establishing the foundations of America's Manifest Destiny.  Though the classes mentioned above can be played by a women as equally as a man, there were two roles common in the western milieu that come up time and time again and were strictly the realm of the tough western woman;  that would be the whore and the widow.  I've added these two classes to my upcoming Go Fer Yer Gun game.

Widow

Whether they lost their husbands during the war between the states, on the plains defending their homestead, to sickness and disease or to some gunslinger, the women of the west had to learn to carry on.  They had to learn to run the ranch and deal with the rowdy ranch-hands, deal with shady and unscrupulous land barons and bankers seeking easy 'prey', they had to learn to defend themselves and they're children from Indians, bandits, and unwanted advances.  In other words, they had to fight to be respected as equals among the wild men of the frontier. And fight they did and often won - on their own terms.  These women were no shrinking violets. They were strong women in a untamed country carving out their destinies with a fervor no less intense than their male counterparts. 

Abilities

Heal (Int):  The power of a women in the west to be a care-taker was not overlooked.  A women can  prevent further blood loss.  With a successful check d3 hit points are restored.  A failed check staunches a wound and returns victim to 1 hp from zero or below.  (See GFYG! pg. 11)

Care & Attention:  If this women spends at least an hour a day tending the wounds the victim, she will add an addition hit point recovery to what the patient already gains from bed rest.  (See GFYG! pg. 11)

Literate (Int):  The widow is able to read and write and is literate in any language she can speak (See GFYG! page 10)

Writing (Int): The widow can write of her adventures in a journal and can sell her story as an article to a magazine or newspaper. (See GFYG! pg 21; writing & article)

Exalt (Cha):  The widow can inspire companions and listeners by her virtue allowing them to surpass their normal level of performance.  This is done with an inspired speech about lawfulness (or unlawfullness), courage and grit.  With a successful check, her allies gain a +2 on any action requiring an attribute check. (See GFYG! pg 22)

Listen:  (Wis):  Always alert, the widow can eavesdrop on  conversations even in noisy environments.

Widow Stats

Prime Attribute: Charisma or Intelligence (player's choice)
Hit Die: d6
Weapons: stingy pistol, pocket pistol, medium pistol, Carbine
Abilities: Heal, Care & Attention, Literate, Writing, Exalt, Listen
Starting Cash: 3d6x10 plus a horse and buggy
Experience point table: A

Level progression table (see Doctor)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Go Fer Yer Gun! New Character Class: The Whore

My wild west game of choice is Go Fer Yer Gun! by Simon Washbourn and put out by Beyond Belief Games.  As written, the rules define ten character classes; the Brave, Doctor, Drifter, Gunslinger, Maverick, Mountain Man, Muckraker, Preacher, Scout, Wrangler and the Wandering Monk optional class.

Though the west was quite the rough and tough setting and "no place for a woman", women played a big role in establishing the foundations of America's Manifest Destiny.  Though the classes mentioned above can be played by a women as equally as a man, there were two roles common in the western milieu that come up time and time again and were strictly the realm of the tough western woman;  that would be the whore and the widow.  I've added these two classes to my upcoming Go Fer Yer Gun game.

Josephine Marcus "dancer" who
became Wile Earp's third wife.
Whore

It's hard not to think of the wild west and it's sparse towns and rowdy saloons without the comfort to those rough riders; the Prostitute.  By circumstance, choice or need, these women were among the first to populate the rough towns of the burgeoning west.  Many of these women were expelled from their family life,  deserted by their parents or husband, some choose this profession while others lead this life until something or someone better came along.  But others were tricked and coerced into being soiled-doves, ladies of easy virtue,  scarlet ladies and calico queens.  Working in the saloons, bawdy houses or mobile cat wagons, these women of ill-repute were anything but naive in the ways of the world.  Though most were illiterate, they knew their power over the wild men of the west and used that power to influence and coerce their place in society.  Of course, it was a long hard road for these women who not only fought off disease, injury and death but also the stigma from the more pious sect of society.  These women carved out their place in the American west with their blood and sweat just as their male counter-parts did.

Abilities

Heal (Int):  The power of a women in the west to be a care-taker was not overlooked.  A women can  prevent further blood loss.  With a successful check d3 hit points are restored.  A failed check staunches a wound and returns victim to 1 hp from zero or below.  (See GFYG! pg. 11)

Care & Attention:  If this women spends at least an hour a day tending the wounds the victim she will add an addition hit point recovery to what the patient already gains from bed rest.  (See GFYG! pg. 11)

6th Sense (sense motive):  These ladies of ill-fame have a knack for sizing up a person's true sense of character.  They can see through the bluster and bravado of a wet behind the ears gun-toting hombre or the sinister manipulations of a hustler.  Once per day for every 3 levels, a whore can use her 6th sense to get a feel for a persons motives.

Pick Pocket (Dex):  This ability allows the whore to palm small items such as coins, money, jewelry,  and so on.  (See GFYG! pg. 16)

Feminine Wiles (Cha):  Using her feminine charms, the whore can calm an otherwise escalating situation or gain the trust of a lonesome rider. She can even manipulate someone to fight her battles for her or stand up for her "honor".  She can manipulate a single person at 1st level and one extra person for each additional 4 levels.

Town Sharp (Wis):  A soiled-dove knows a lot of the goings-ons in the town and surrounding area that she gleans from the pillow talks of her satisfied clients.  With a successful check she is able to recall relevant information about affairs or dealings with the local folk.

Whore Stats:
Prime Attribute: Charisma
Hit Die: d6
Weapons: Dagger, improvised weapons, stingy pistol, pocket pistol, medium pistol
Abilities: Heal, Care & Attention, 6th Sense, Pick Pocket, Feminine Wiles, Town Sharp
Starting Cash: 2d4x10
Experience point table: A

Level progression table (see Doctor)

Next I'll post the other woman of the west, the Widow.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bringing Fantasy To Life: Ray Harryhausen 1920 - 2013

The godfather of fantasy special effects passed away today at the age of 92.  Ray Harryhausen, master animator and fantasy visionary, brought to life creatures and realms that are now taken for granted with today's easily created computer generated effects.  His screen creations, going back decades, have left impressions on everyone who saw them.  The creatures he created are iconic Hollywood.  Everything from undersea beasts, to marauding skeletons, to Medusa herself were brought to life with painstakingly minute movements and photographed a single frame at a time.  It would be hard not to say that he had an influence on the creators of the original Role-playing games as many of us imagined our initial battles with skeletons and ogres looking like a Harryhausen epic.  Another iconic fantasy creator has passed and will be missed but his imagination will always live on.









Monday, May 6, 2013

Western Sandbox Map

Still deciding the best way to handle running a western rpg (see my previous post).

Not sure if a total open ended sandbox style setting would work or refine that to more of a linear 'story' but either way I always find it useful to put together a map with the various elements that I may use in either situation.

Below you'll find the map I created for the imaginary territory of Rosewood, located somewhere in the American southwest.  Anyway, I populated the map with all manner of classic western elements that would be useful for whatever game I end up running.

Click to embiggen and guess the inspiration.
You'll see the three counties, Kane, Rosewood and Chester along with the Nahone Indian Reservation.  All great for jurisdiction disputes and Indian raids.

We have a federal presence with Fort Travis.

The tough mining town of Bronson run by  Jedidiah Young, the Mormon silver mining magnet.  Good luck trying to make a claim there.

The rough town of Rebel, founded by Harlow Cox, along the western stage road, north of which is Beggar's Canyon.

Further down the road we have the new prosperous town of Harlow Junction - best whores and whiskey in the territory.  The land-baron Harlow Cox along with his political capital vies for making the Junction the new county seat.

South of Harlow Junction you'll find  the county seat itself in quaint Rosewood.  The town is kept in order by a no bull-shit sheriff Isaiah Courtright and his deputies and their no firearms ordinance.

We've got two feudin' families living in Eastwood and Garret always shootin' each other up 'cross county lines.  I'm sure somewhere around there lives an old hermit as well.

The tiny Mexican village of Pico on the edge of the Mar Caliente desert.

Finally the town of San Juan, with it's Spanish style mission located on the ol' San Juan Trail.

There are plenty of mountains, trails, deserts and hills, bluffs and canyons for hideouts, outlaws and posses to carouse and homesteads to be carved out.

There should be plenty here to get started with, I think, no matter what ends up being run.

*A fella, a smart fella may notice that I based the map on one of the great old school campaign settings The Keep On The Borderlands.



Friday, May 3, 2013

Planning The Western Sandbox

I've been putting some thought into a Western session(s)/campaign using the Go Fer Yer Guns RPG rules.  The more I think about it the more I agree with the general conclusion that a western RPG is quite a bit different than a FRPG such as Swords & Wizardy (or the million other FRPGs out there).  They're so different, in fact, that there needs to be a whole different process of planning the game.

In a FRPG, it's natural that a group of PCs come together to form a party to go explore a ruin to fill their pockets with gold and trinkets.  The more you have in the party and the more diverse the group the better chance you have to survive.  You can pull any number of pre-made dungeons, take a half and hour to roll up some characters and in you go, you're playing a game.

A western, on the other hand, is quite a bit different.  Most characters would essentially be loners and quite separate.  Their goals and desires would be quite different and rarely would they cross paths except, perhaps, in conflict as their goals crossed.  Keep in mind, I'm looking at this as an open ended sandbox setting, my preferred method of play - but can a sandbox work in a wild west game or, by necessity, are we looking at a more linear style of game play?

My initial feeling is that it would need to be a combination of both.  That can be accomplished with a couple additions to the western game, both of which I found over at he OD&D boards under their Boot Hill section.

The first is character motivation and this comes from Avalon Hill's Gunslinger game (mentioned in the OD&D thread).  I don't own the Gunslinger game so I'm just going by the information in the post.  Basically a character chooses three out of six motivation for their character (Settle Down, Money, Comfort, Respect, Fear, Outlaw).  I would disagree with the post by calling it an alignment system in that both good and evil, lawful and chaotic characters can achieve those goals by different means with the exception of Outlaw.  Perhaps I would add another one called Honor to balance out Outlaw.  These 'motivations' would give general direction and drive for the character and help the GM (Game Marshal) corral and challenge the players in a sandbox environment.  Rewards can be given for characters staying within their desired motivations.  Remember, and this is important, these goals can be achieved by being lawful or unlawful - that is up to the character's actions and the GM's interactions.

Second, a western game is driven more by characters and their interaction and less by exploration and killing things and taking their stuff.  A great idea in the OD&D post was Mapping out the Adventure based on the NPC's much like how you would map out a dungeon.  With the rooms being the NPC's and their connections (relationships) being the corridors players can be 'guided' from one interaction to the next depending upon their goals.  To flesh out the NPC's each one would have attributes such as fears (what he will do everything to avoid), desires (what he will do everything to get), and duties (what he feels he must do).  These attributes would regulate the NPC and give the PC and GM and idea of what to expect from these characters.

Both of these ideas would aid in getting the western game moving but there's still the issue of what would bring your players together.

When running any RPG it's always a challenge when just a single character splits from the party to go interacting with NPC's by themselves.  In a western game it seems that you would have quite a bit more of that.  We have about 9 players in our gaming  group.  I feel that that would be quite a challenge to keep everyone engaged once everyone goes off on their own.  Would face to face tabletop play be the best avenue for a western game?  Or would something like a play-by-post work a bit better where the players can separate and the GM can interact with all of them individually?

Finally, one solution to that would be to discuss with your players what type of game they would want to play and plan the game play around that.  For example, perhaps they all want to be part of a single gang?  Well, now they're all together and a session can be planned accordingly.  Or perhaps they all want to be part of a posse?  Good start, they're all together.  Perhaps they are a group of magnificent gunslingers coming together to save a town from bandits?  But breaking away from these archetypes in group play may be difficult especially since there would tend to be less 'action' and more 'role-playing' involved.

Apparently there was one more point I wanted to make but had forgotten what it was by the time I got down to the bottom of this post.  Oh well, it's Friday.  Just enjoy this....


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