What's the best Western RPG?

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MattyHelms

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Shooting Iron arrived today and I have thumbed through it. It is based on the OGL, it is class and level based, ascending AC, lots of special abilities for each class, and a skill system that you roll against a GM set DC. If that is what you want it looks like a decent version of that. I personally don't like class and level for more modern games so I probably won't get it to the table. There is a ton of background material in the book if you don't already have that covered. If someone was used to D20 games and only had a passing knowledge of westerns this looks like it would be a good game to go with.

Here is a review from Amazon that goes into more depth, it was posted by a reviewer named Brent Wolke

"Shooting Iron is the dark horse of Western RPGs. It's very likely you never heard of it, or seen it. I've only ever found it for sale on Amazon. What it lacks in fancy layout or overproduced art it makes up for it by packing in a walloping solid 244 pages of tight, lean, gaming material with a veritable treasure trove of extras to cover darn near anything you'd need to know or have a rule to cover. By the author's own admission, there are still elements missing - such as greater depth on Indians - and hoped to cover those elements in future books (though 3 years on, that looks like it isn't happening).

All that being said, it's not a rule's heavy system at all. In fact, chances are, you already know it quite well. Shooting Iron is built on the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons OGL, with abundant streamlining and revised focus' on a straight, non-weird, old west. There are many Old West games built on the d20 system. This is the superior product.

There are the usual 6 attributes, and 8 tailored-to-the-old-west classess such as Cowboy and Gambler - must haves - but also less obvious classes like Pioneer and Townie. There is also an elegant skill system that has a light touch on the rules, but with vast implications to a character's knowledge and abilities.

The equipment section leaves you wanting nothing else to name. It's chock full of weapons and gear and everyday items, and I appreciate the rarity codes which handles whether Item A is likely to be found at an isolated fort (for example) for sale.

The combat section is less convoluted than the 3rd edition game it's based on, and takes nought but 2 dozen or so pages to cover and that includes optional rules.

There is a section on critters (and their stats) but an amazing thing is the section on horses with loads of random tables to determine an individual horse almost as if it was a separate character - complete with levels and abilities! A really nice touch!

The next 100 or so pages is all random tables for everything from the kind of encounters you might stumble across in the Alaskan wilderness, to the kinds of rolling stock attached to a train, to the chances a judge might be corrupt, to the make up of a cavalry unit. None of it is required for game play, but it stands ready to fill in blanks the moment a GM needs details he or she hadn't planned on. My absolute favorite part is - what is essentially - a hex crawling system to wander the wilds and see what you might encounter.

I will put this part in bold if I could: Even if you have no interest in the game itself, the last 100 pages are worth the price to get access to all the research the author has condensed into useful bits that can be used in any game.

The Nitty Gritty
Total Page Count: 244 Pages
Character Creation: 35 Pages
Game Mechanics: 21 Pages
Everything Else: 188 Pages

Judgement: I cannot recommend this one enough. It sits atop all other Western RPGs I own as my go-to game.

BONUS!: The fine people over at BoxToad Creations, using the OGL, created a beautifully produced adventure called The Quicksilver Express for Shooting Iron. It is a work of art. It clocks in between 32 to 62 pages depending on how you print it. It's free, and therefore a must have to go with Shooting Iron."
Thanks for checking it out. Like you, I don't know that the system will work for me and my group. I may pick it up at some point just for the reference material.


Thanks!
 

Rob Necronomicon

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Anyone here familiar with this game?


I checked out the reviews on drivethru. They were pretty good but didn't go into much depth.

Hm.. but for 14 euro I'd be expecting a higher page count (at 44).
 

MoonHunter

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Having played a good number of western games, I have to say Western Hero (choose your favorite edition I would go with Hero 4th (which is second) ed western hero). It gives you all the things you want to do in a western game without any klunky bolt on mechanics. You can go chronicles from dirty and realistic to near pulp heroes. You can do your western in the Old West, but move it to Victorian England, Canada, or other places, with little work.

Plus you have the option to add other weirdness... kung fu, dinosaurs, superpowers, subterranean cultures (there is an actual serial that did this), aliens (cowboys vs aliens), or monsters (there have been westerns with vampires, were, and aztec mummies)... through hero system. I have to admit, I like westerns plus weird.

I have to state that "human level games" are the sweet spot for Hero system... and avoids any of the complaints people have about the system. As long as you have human level stats, speeds under five, and no open powers (things players build, not bought "as is" from a list), there is not "complicated math" or serious crunch. (Biggest hero system complaints.) It is just adding roughly 10 numbers twice at this point. And people see the core rule books, but don't realize that only 70 pages of the 400 pages are used for character creation.
 

sharps54

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Western Hero is one of the ones I don't have, sounds like 4E is the one to track down.
 

Picaroon Jack

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It's not the best western, but mine is being released to Gauntlet publishing's Patreon members this summer, then Drivethru this fall. It's called Ghosts of El Paso and it is a re-skin of the Between. The only supernatural elements are ghosts. It's based in historical El Paso around 1880 right before it becomes a boomtown. The town is being afflicted by a reoccurring "Blood Moon" curse and players are members of the vigilance committee who are trying sort out the hauntings and figure out the cause of the curse.

I had a blast with three different playtest groups and it has changed quite a bit from when I first started. In a nut shell, it just became darker and the player characters picked up more supernatural aspects (like cursed revolvers).

If you're interested, I go through the process, characters, and threats over in the Design & Development thread.
 

Rob Necronomicon

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It's not the best western, but mine is being released to Gauntlet publishing's Patreon members this summer, then Drivethru this fall. It's called Ghosts of El Paso and it is a re-skin of the Between. The only supernatural elements are ghosts. It's based in historical El Paso around 1880 right before it becomes a boomtown. The town is being afflicted by a reoccurring "Blood Moon" curse and players are members of the vigilance committee who are trying sort out the hauntings and figure out the cause of the curse.

I had a blast with three different playtest groups and it has changed quite a bit from when I first started. In a nut shell, it just became darker and the player characters picked up more supernatural aspects (like cursed revolvers).

If you're interested, I go through the process, characters, and threats over in the Design & Development thread.
Okay! Consider me very interested in this one. :smile:

And I love the Between too!
 

Picaroon Jack

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Okay! Consider me very interested in this one. :smile:

And I love the Between too!
When it comes out, I'll definitely post links.

My favorite part of the playtesting is how everyone really leaned into the characters. Some of them had 3 different players and they all took different approaches to them.
 
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