Mythras and the Wild West

TristramEvans

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I wouldn't be interested in another Weird West, or anything that involved zombies/mythos monsters/aliens/steampunk or other assorted strangeness. I like Westerns when they're Westerns, and not a mash up of genres.
Yeah, I'm pretty sick of all those, and think they're already well covered by other games.

What I'd look for in an Old West game, besides just like basic rules for a shootout, train robbery, etc, would be just a bunch of practical historical info...

Communication times (by pony express, telegraph etc)
Travel times
Current medicine and medical techniques
Laws, law enforcement and court procedures (including what powers a deputy or sherrif were imbued with)
Trading and currency
Care of horses
Settlement plans and town layouts
Major cities and towns
Significant historical figures
Common occupations
Trade routes
Entertainment (including travelling carnevals)
treaties and relationships with various native tribes
Environmental obstacles - hurricanes, dustbowls, etc.
Common lingo and lexicons
Obscure historical facts - (I recently learned that at one time feral camels once roamed the Texas plains* - if that's not an adventure seed waiting to happen, I don't know what is)
Legends, myth and folklore of the time


* - One of the wackier ideas in American history, the U.S. Camel Corps was established in 1856 at Camp Verde, Texas. Reasoning that the arid southwest was a lot like the deserts of Egypt, the Army imported camels from the Middle East. Despite the animals’ more objectionable qualities—they spat, regurgitated and defied orders—the experiment was generally deemed a success. As the Civil War broke out, exploration of the frontier was curtailed and Confederates captured Camp Verde. After the war, most of the camels were sold (some to Ringling Brothers’ circus) and others escaped into the wild. The last reported sighting of a feral camel came out of Texas in 1941.
 
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Nobby-W

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[ . . . ]
* - One of the wackier ideas in American history, the U.S. Camel Corps was established in 1856 at Camp Verde, Texas. Reasoning that the arid southwest was a lot like the deserts of Egypt, the Army imported 66 camels from the Middle East. Despite the animals’ more objectionable qualities—they spat, regurgitated and defied orders—the experiment was generally deemed a success. As the Civil War broke out, exploration of the frontier was curtailed and Confederates captured Camp Verde. After the war, most of the camels were sold (some to Ringling Brothers’ circus) and others escaped into the wild. The last reported sighting of a feral camel came out of Texas in 1941.
Fun fact: Australia has so many feral camels (the population peaked at somewhere about 1 million and had to be culled) that they export them back to the middle east.
 

Endless Flight

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Yeah, I'm pretty sick of all those, and think they're already well covered by other games.

What I'd look for in an Old West game, besides just like basic rules for a shootout, train robbery, etc, would be just a bunch of practical historical info...

Communication times (by pony express, telegraph etc)
Travel times
Current medicine and medical techniques
Laws, law enforcement and court procedures (including what powers a deputy or sherrif were imbued with)
Trading and currency
Care of horses
Settlement plans and town layouts
Major cities and towns
Significant historical figures
Common occupations
Trade routes
Entertainment (including travelling carnevals)
treaties and relationships with various native tribes
Environmental obstacles - hurricanes, dustbowls, etc.
Common lingo and lexicons
Obscure historical facts - (I recently learned that at one time feral camels once roamed the Texas plains* - if that's not an adventure seed waiting to happen, I don't know what is)
Legends, myth and folklore of the time


* - One of the wackier ideas in American history, the U.S. Camel Corps was established in 1856 at Camp Verde, Texas. Reasoning that the arid southwest was a lot like the deserts of Egypt, the Army imported 66 camels from the Middle East. Despite the animals’ more objectionable qualities—they spat, regurgitated and defied orders—the experiment was generally deemed a success. As the Civil War broke out, exploration of the frontier was curtailed and Confederates captured Camp Verde. After the war, most of the camels were sold (some to Ringling Brothers’ circus) and others escaped into the wild. The last reported sighting of a feral camel came out of Texas in 1941.
Well, there goes my spare time for the next few years...
 

Raleel

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Well, there goes my spare time for the next few years...
I look forward to picking this up!

but seriously, even a small scenario in the vein of Gift of Shamash (hard sci fi) or Agony and Ecstasy (superheroes) would be good. They both have some rules sections in the back that one can build on :smile:
 

TristramEvans

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Fun fact: Australia has so many feral camels (the population peaked at somewhere about 1 million and had to be culled) that they export them back to the middle east.

Why are there not films about this? We can have movies about hordes of giant bunnies and killer birds, but feral camels seem way more believably awful - I mean, they're already complete assholes anyways, almost as bad as geese.
 

Nobby-W

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Why are there not films about this? We can have movies about hordes of giant bunnies and killer birds, but feral camels seem way more believably awful - I mean, they're already complete assholes anyways, almost as bad as geese.
No idea. Maybe they were too embarrased about the emus.
 

Endless Flight

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I've always been disappointed that there never were enough Western games on the market. Westerns are one of the greatest genres to do gaming in, in my opinion. Everybody feels the need to stuff extras in there, like magic and monsters. Isn't there enough "mundane" in the Old West?
 

TristramEvans

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Everybody feels the need to stuff extras in there, like magic and monsters. Isn't there enough "mundane" in the Old West?

I think every genre in RPGs suffers from that. I can't even think of a medieval game that doesn't involve magic off of the top of my head.

One of the reasons I own so many 3rd edition GURPs supplements, despite no interest n the system
 

Picaroon Jack

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My grandfather used to have this Time-Life series of books on the Old West. Sorta like the Enchanted World series, a series of tall, thin volumes on different topics. I seem to recall the covers being brown - maybe faux leather, but I could be mis-remembering that, with an oval picture on the front. Anyone familiar with these?

Anyways, I'd love to have an RPG Old West sourcebook that was like those books.
Yeah, my parents had those too! I picked up the gunslinger one on eBay a few years ago.
 

dbm

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After I checked in with my folks, and they realised they were one short, they bought it off eBay :smile:
 
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Simlasa

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Most fantasy games I've been in feel like westerns though. I mean, there are castles and monsters and magic... various ren faire trappings... but the assumptions about technology, freedom to travel, frequency of 'general stores', hotels to stay at, restaurants... all that feels more like a western.
But I'm in the U.S... so maybe it doesn't swing that way in other places.

I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy a pure western game... seeing as I live in the Mojave Desert with plenty of ghost towns (or-not-so-ghost towns) within a day's reach. The realities of how hot, dry, dusty and dull it was are on ready display. I think I'd have to move it north a bit, somewhere with trees.
 
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TristramEvans

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Most fantasy games I've been in feel like westerns though... I mean, there are castles and monsters and magic... but the assumptions about technology, freedom to travel, frequency of 'general stores', hotels to stay at, restaurants... all that feels more like a western.
Yeah, same for most post-star travel scifi as well, for me
 
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Dumarest

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Devil's Gulch I thought was much better than Aces High.
Why's that? I didn't look too far into Devil's Gulch because it looked more overtly 'weird west' and 'pulpier'... and it seemed more like an adventure than an ongoing game/setting.
See below:
Have them both...Devil's Gulch I would recommend if you need a typical Western town in a vague location as it has a pretty good generic town with maps and personages and nicely sets the supernatural option in a separate section in the descriptions so you can use the book without the "weird west" added in. The adventure ideas I remember would need to be totally retooled as they rely on magic and the supernatural and make no sense without assuming that is real. I'd have to look at Aces High again to refresh my memory but I know I read it once and set it aside as not having much I could really use.
I'm a horses-for-courses kind of guy and prefer a game that is designed with its setting in mind rather than games that want to be all things to all genres as, in my experience, they inevitably come up short. Additionally, I don't want to have to do all the work. It's part of why I don't play Hero or GURPS anymore. I don't want to buy a Build-a-Bear toolkit to make my own game; I want to open the game, read the important rules, and start chucking dice. 2nd edition Boot Hill has the advantage of being designed specifically to game out Western-themed gunfights, knife fights, fistfights, and such. It also only has stats for physical attributes, leaving all roleplaying up the players and referee. 3rd edition Boot Hill is an entirely different game going by the same name, with a wide focus for roleplaying in the Wild West, with a long list of appropriate skills and rules for different horses with different tricks and quirks and lots of other things of that type that you aren't going to find in a generic RPG. I found the Hero and GURPS Western sourcebooks to be largely useless; GURPS in particular because it tries to cover the entire frontier period from Lewis & Clark to the early 20th Century. BRP has two Western setting books (Devil's Gulch and Aces High), but they are geared toward the "Weird West" with American Indian magic and zombies and what not. Devil's Gulch, though, does have the advantage of laying out the paranormal stuff as an optional section after each character and location description rather than forcing it on you (although the scenarios provided are all pretty much dependent upon including magic and the supernatural unless you want to rewrite them). Additionally, Devil's Gulch has a pretty good town you can drop into any Western game. I don't think any of the generic RPGs do a very good job of emulating shootouts and Western adventure. The only advantage would be system familiarity. But both versions of Boot Hill are pretty simple to learn.
Oh, and if you want a more developed setting than Promise City without having to work it all up on your own, Devil's Gulch from Chaosium is pretty good as it has two listings for everything: one without and one with the supernatural junk I abhor. I have borrowed elements from it for use with 2nd edition Boot Hill; it has useful NPC ideas and the town map and layout is pretty good. It was written for BRP but adapting it is child's play.
It has a pretty good town set-up that you can use, plus NPCs to populate it, and it presents the "Weird West" stuff separately from the normal write-ups, which makes them very easy to discard if you don't want to go that route.
If anyone has specific questions I could dig out Devil's Gulch and/or Aces High and look for answers.

(Remember, though, I don't like "Weird West" in any way, shape, or form, so my answers will reflect that.)
 

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Well, if I were to work on something like this, it would run between the years 1870-1880. I’m not into spreading myself too thin.
 

TristramEvans

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Well, if I were to work on something like this, it would run between the years 1870-1880. I’m not into spreading myself too thin.

I like that - then you could have a timeline of major events and suggestions of ways the PCs could get involved
 

Simlasa

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If anyone has specific questions I could dig out Devil's Gulch and/or Aces High and look for answers.
(Remember, though, I don't like "Weird West" in any way, shape, or form, so my answers will reflect that.)
It's not worth the bother. I was just curious... but I was assuming there was more 'weird west' baked into Devil's Gulch than Aces High. Aces High touches on Native folklore and such but my impression (based mostly on the cover and description blurb) of Devil's Gulch was it went much further with the magic bits, having characters like the Hex Master and Mad Scientist.
 

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I like that - then you could have a timeline of major events and suggestions of ways the PCs could get involved
1870 is a good start because that’s when Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson were in Dodge City all the way to 1880, which is close to when Gunfight at the OK Corral happened in Tombstone.
 

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Is the cost in dollars or part of your soul?
there is a conversion guide, so por que no los dos?

Well, if I were to work on something like this, it would run between the years 1870-1880. I’m not into spreading myself too thin.
I like that - then you could have a timeline of major events and suggestions of ways the PCs could get involved
that's where I was thinking about it as well. Indian wars in there. Lots of good stuff. In fact, the weapons in the link i posted earlier aim (heh) to put the weapons right in that time frame (I think I was thinking 1876, but might be off). There were a number of firearms advancements in that era (and a fun read for me on the side)
 

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This is a good series. They cover a wide range of topics, some unlikely to figure into any Western RPG campaign but worth reading if you like learning for its own sake. They are by no means in-depth, though, as the subject is too wide and deep for even 26 volumes to cover every nook and cranny. They're a great starting point and all you need if you just want a general veneer of "Wild West," though. They're also rife with scenario ideas, though some only work in certain locations and times.


The Time-Life books are not master's thesis quality references, more on the level of the History Channel but they make great gaming resources unless you have some really hard core historians in your group. I got a bunch of the WW2 series for running a WW2 game and a few other misc ones. Pretty cheap too if you pick and choose, complete sets tend to cost a bit more and since each series tends to run 20-30 volumes they do add up even if cheap individually. Still not too hard to find a full set for about $100 if you are patient.

Of specific interest to this thread in addition to The Old West series, Time-Life also had a series on Native Americans, several different Civil War sets and Classics of the Old West a series of reprints of actual Western era fiction and non-fiction.


I wish the Time-Life books were available on DVD, as getting everything of possible interest would fill a wall.
 

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I spent some time a few years back putting together a complete set of The Enchanted World. Lots of great stories, bits of folklore, and gorgeous artwork.
 

Mankcam

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Most fantasy games I've been in feel like westerns though. I mean, there are castles and monsters and magic... various ren faire trappings... but the assumptions about technology, freedom to travel, frequency of 'general stores', hotels to stay at, restaurants... all that feels more like a western.
But I'm in the U.S... so maybe it doesn't swing that way in other places.

I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy a pure western game... seeing as I live in the Mojave Desert with plenty of ghost towns (or-not-so-ghost towns) within a day's reach. The realities of how hot, dry, dusty and dull it was are on ready display. I think I'd have to move it north a bit, somewhere with trees.
As an aside, you're probably aware that Greg Stafford originally instilled alot of the spirit of Americana into Glorantha, even if it looked more like an ancient world setting (later a dark ages world, before returning to an ancient flavour).

The mountains in Dragon Pass were not an anlogy of the European Alps or the Scottish Highlands (as later authors interpreted), but were instead inspired by the Sierra Nevada.

The region of Prax was initially based off Arizona and Nevada. The city of Pavis had just as much Tombstone in it as it has Jerusalem or Knossos.

This is geography, but the americana spirit also pervaded much of his early vision, just as much as his love of the ancient mediterrean world.
 
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Mankcam

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If someone was looking to pitch a Western supplement, here's my preference for what such a supplement would support:

Historical accuracy...
...but still able to provide mechanics and atmosphere for:

  • John Ford-style sweeping epics
  • One-Man-Against-the-Odds-Gary-Cooper-Style
  • One-Man-Against-the-Odds-Edge-Style
  • Spaghetti Westerns, esp. Sergio Leone/Magnificent Seven
  • Saturday afternoon TV Saddle Soaps (The Virginian, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Alias Smith & Jones, etc)
  • Passing of the old guard, Wild Bunch style
  • The West as a Myth (as opposed to a Mythic West), in the style of Josie Wales, High Planes Drifter, Pale Rider, and Unforgiven
  • Frontier/Range survival and exploration, in the style of Open Range, Lonesome Dove

I wouldn't be interested in another Weird West, or anything that involved zombies/mythos monsters/aliens/steampunk or other assorted strangeness. I like Westerns when they're Westerns, and not a mash up of genres. All the above are things I loved to watch/read when growing up, and I never cared for 'Wild, Wild, West', 'Cowboys and Aliens', or even Deadlands. But there's plenty of room for gritty realism, the opera of the Man with No Name trilogy, and even the schlocky, pulpy, ultraviolence of Django and The Hateful Eight.
Now you are talking, I would love to have a Western rpg that captures the Spagetti Westerns and The West As Myth ethos.
Making me wanting to put of The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, followed by Unforgiven and The Hateful Eight now :thumbsup:
 

Mankcam

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I would also like to see Colonial Australia done as well. The early era is the penal colony and post-penal days, but the later era is pretty similar to USA's Wild West, yet with it's own distinctive elements, such as the vastness of the region, and the mythic-superstious elements associated with Indigineous lore.
If done right it could seem like an interesting take on the colonial/frontier period.
Needs to be serious, perhaps like The West As Myth, with the Interior viewed as a wild, mysterious place.

Mythras is a system that does 'gritty' very well...
Something like this:
 

AsenRG

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Most fantasy games I've been in feel like westerns though. I mean, there are castles and monsters and magic... various ren faire trappings... but the assumptions about technology, freedom to travel, frequency of 'general stores', hotels to stay at, restaurants... all that feels more like a western.
But I'm in the U.S... so maybe it doesn't swing that way in other places.

I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy a pure western game... seeing as I live in the Mojave Desert with plenty of ghost towns (or-not-so-ghost towns) within a day's reach. The realities of how hot, dry, dusty and dull it was are on ready display. I think I'd have to move it north a bit, somewhere with trees.
Well, @Gronan of Simmerya has said that their model for the fantasy towns were the boomtowns:smile:.
 

Dumarest

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I would also like to see Colonial Australia done as well. The early era is the penal colony and post-penal days, but the later era is pretty similar to USA's Wild West, yet with it's own distinctive elements, such as the vastness of the region, and the mythic-superstious elements associated with Indigineous lore.
quigley-down-under-french-movie-poster.jpg
 

Mankcam

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It has been recorded that Tom came out here for a month back in the late 70s, with an eye to catch Olivia Newton-John's attention.

He ended up staying in a backpackers hostel with Mel Gibson, beefed up on the beaches at Bondi and Surfers Paradise, drank beer with Bryan Brown, went on an Outback safari with Paul Hogan, grew a moustache after one conversation with Jack Thompson, then returned to LA, and the rest is history.

It's a common occurence down here :grin:
 
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I've always been disappointed that there never were enough Western games on the market. Westerns are one of the greatest genres to do gaming in, in my opinion. Everybody feels the need to stuff extras in there, like magic and monsters. Isn't there enough "mundane" in the Old West?
There have actually been a fair number of entirely mundane Western RPGs (and Western supplements for generic systems) over the years. I own quite a few of these in PDF (and a handful in print):

Aces & Eights (1st and 2nd editions)
Blood & Bullets
Boot Hill
(1st, 2nd, and 3rd editions)
Coyote Trail
d20 (Sidewinder Recoiled, OGL Wild West)
Devil's Crossroad
Dust Devils
(1st and 2nd editions)
Go Fer Yer Gun!
Gunslingers and Gamblers
Gunslingers: Wild West Action!

GURPS (GURPS Old West)
HERO System (Western HERO)
Mud, Blood & Glory
Print the Legend

Rolemaster (Outlaw)
Shotguns & Saddles
Six Gun
Song of the Six Gun
Tall Tales: Wild West B/X
Tombstone: Roleplaying in the Wild West

Traveller (Under Western Skies)
US Marshals
Western
(still trapped in Kickstarter purgatory, but getting there...)
Wild West
Wild West Cinema


Of course, I also have no qualms about stripping the supernatural elements out of a rules set like Deadlands Reloaded or Down Darker Trails, but their adventures and source material are certainly much less useful.
 

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There have actually been a fair number of entirely mundane Western RPGs (and Western supplements for generic systems) over the years. I own quite a few of these in PDF (and a handful in print):

Aces & Eights (1st and 2nd editions)
Blood & Bullets
Boot Hill
(1st, 2nd, and 3rd editions)
Coyote Trail
d20 (Sidewinder Recoiled, OGL Wild West)
Devil's Crossroad
Dust Devils
(1st and 2nd editions)
Go Fer Yer Gun!
Gunslingers and Gamblers
Gunslingers: Wild West Action!

GURPS (GURPS Old West)
HERO System (Western HERO)
Mud, Blood & Glory
Print the Legend

Rolemaster (Outlaw)
Shotguns & Saddles
Six Gun
Song of the Six Gun
Tall Tales: Wild West B/X
Tombstone: Roleplaying in the Wild West

Traveller (Under Western Skies)
US Marshals
Western
(still trapped in Kickstarter purgatory, but getting there...)
Wild West
Wild West Cinema


Of course, I also have no qualms about stripping the supernatural elements out of a rules set like Deadlands Reloaded or Down Darker Trails, but their adventures and source material are certainly much less useful.

Western HERO was actually very well done, I consider it one of the best 4E supplements. It is a shame it was only released a short time before HERO went into cryo-sleep and never got any support.
 

Dumarest

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Western HERO was actually very well done, I consider it one of the best 4E supplements. It is a shame it was only released a short time before HERO went into cryo-sleep and never got any support.
Interesting. I found GURPS Old West almost completely useless and would not have thought Hero would do a better sourcebook than GURPS. What did you like about it?
 

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Western HERO was actually very well done, I consider it one of the best 4E supplements. It is a shame it was only released a short time before HERO went into cryo-sleep and never got any support.
The PDF of Forbeck's original is available, and there's a third party working on a 6E Western Hero and supplements to be released this summer.
 

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Interesting. I found GURPS Old West almost completely useless and would not have thought Hero would do a better sourcebook than GURPS. What did you like about it?
It was more rules expansion / interpretation oriented than setting, so it wouldn't be particularly useful for another game system, but it did a good job of making HERO fit the genre and avoid supers with cowboy hats. It spent a lot more time on the elements that make a good western game rather than filling a bunch of the book with detailed history. There is a decent filmography, bibliography where GMs can go for more substantial information on the setting.

I think what I really like about it is, the author clearly likes the genre, knows it and makes the rules fit the setting, instead of setting fit the rules.
 

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after @AsenRG made me go look back through my other stuff (curse him!) and one of my players made me look through western stuff, I realized that if you take the mythras core price list and divide by 10, that's extremely close to the historical prices in dollars and cents around 1870 or so in the US.
 

Dumarest

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...if you take the mythras core price list and divide by 10, that's extremely close to the historical prices in dollars and cents around 1870 or so in the US.
Where in the U.S. would be key.
 
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