Guns of Brimstone Set 1

 My first PDF. A set of ten figures. Perfect for Blackwater Gulch Gangs. I just hope the scaling came out right. I printed them and did a test build.
I think they came out decent...

Here's a couple of pics.


3:10 to Yuma

One of my favorite movies... So, I made one of my favorite characters.  I have a couple more "Movie Western" characters made.  I need to color them and post em. Like a Hollywood series or something. Well, except that some were Italian movies...

oh well.

Banner, Logo, T-Shirt?

I've got  no idea what I was thinking here. I'm not even sure what to use it for. All I can tell you is, for the past few days, I haven't been able to leave this alone.  I just kept adding stuff.


Saloon Girl 1 Update

I managed to finish up Lottie tonight. I don't think I've done her justice.  For some reason, this was the hardest back I've done yet.  The hair just.... wouldn't work for me. Maybe I'll return to her and re-work it a bit later.

Since she's only 30mm tall, this will work for now.

It looks like I'll have a bit of time off work coming up, so maybe I can get a few things done. I'd love to have a horde of these finished.

One thing I have done for these last few, I "borrowed" a color palette from RAFM Miniatures. Seems to help with the shading I think.  Helps me have consistent colors from one figure to the next, which is something I've had trouble with.  Anything that gives a touch of uniformity and style to them is a good thing in my opinion.


Paper Figures, Update

I've had a long several days. Including a great game session I pulled almost entirely out of my ass, with no prep at all.  Seat of the pants can be fun but wow... I came close to panic.  I dunno if my players caught on, or if they're too good of folks to mention it.  I think the latter.

I did get a few more figures done, and added them all to a file, so you can have them all at once.

Next, I'll finish my Saloon Girls. We've almost got enough here to have a gun fight.  After this, I've got 5 more PCs to finish, and a horde of NPCs from the "Guns of Brimstone" game.  I plan to re-draw my previous work, which looks so bad compered to these. Bad. Yuck.

I hope to post a bit more in the next few days, provided life calms down a bit. Riiight. That will happen. Well, enjoy these. More on the way.


Weird West Roleplaying Game

Crushingly disappointed. I'm bummed.  I saw this on DriveThruRpg. I was elated to see a rules light Western RPG. For a buck. Hell Yea!!

Evocative art, check. Awesome genre, check. Great price, check.

Oh God NO!!

Classes. They're called Paths, but yeah, its a Class. Damn..

Hit points. Stamina points in this game. Oh, and a different die type by class. At least you don't get harder to kill by going up in level. I like the re-roll at the start of each session. That I think is a cool idea. The 0 Stamina points table is not bad either. Tying stamina to the Grit attribute I like also.

Ahh... ok, well maybe it can still be cool. 

Uh oh, here's something like Armor Class. Damn. Okay, so its Defense score. And, armor somehow makes a person harder to hit.  Oh, sorry, "Armour". This right here is the other biggest gripe I have with the D&D combat system. Armor just doesn't work that way in my mind.  It makes a person harder to DAMAGE or hurt. Usually it makes someone EASIER to hit, as it slows them down, what with being heavy and all. Ah well.

Skill use and Tasks. Okay, cool, you roll against a difficulty on a D6, adding or subtracting for your skill levels. Ummm, okay. Reasonable. Er... What skills? We got some Paths.  No idea what each of these Paths should be able to do.  I realize its only 8 pages, so a skill list by Path was omitted. We can figure it out.

The Magic and Special abilities section I like. Got some very cool quirks and perks in there. Well done.

This ain't gonna work for me. I pretty much loathe D&D in all its incarnations.  I had no idea what this little game was going to be like before I bought it. Since then, I've been reading Stuart's blog, so, I could have known about Weird West if I'd found the blog first. No big deal, its only a buck, and I like to support people making "small press" type games.

I do wonder why I wouldn't just use the Sixguns and Sorcery section in the AD&D DMG though.

So, if you're in to D&D, and want to play a Western, these rules will be perfect for you.  Its really a cool little game.  I really really want to like it.  Its just not for me.

Name Change in Order?

I'm really thinking of changing the name of this blog. I haven't written a whole bunch about Wild West RPGs.
Mostly, I seem to be all about Paper Figures. They're made for RPGs.. Does that count?

When I started this, I has some ideas about writing out some of the plots from my Boot Hill game. For some reason, its tough to bring myself to post all that here.  I don't think any of my players read it. Hell, I'm only positive a couple of folks do.  So, I guess that isn't an excuse. I'll start adding that kind of stuff real soon.

Who knows, maybe it will help me keep stuff straight.  Some sessions I have trouble remembering what I was doing.

Paper Figure- Saloon Girl

I've been working on a few new figures. This is one.
I'm fairly proud of her.

Most of today, I hung up Christmas lights. Just in the past hour or so I was able to work on anything. I'm not sure about the boa.


Back in Business... Paper Figures

Thanks to some awesome friends I likely don't deserve, I'm back. Its not as fast as my old one but it works. One thing though, for some reason I can't get the monitor to look the same... Oh well, I'll work on that.

So, I found a couple I had been working on, lurking in my DropBox and here they are.

These guys are hired thugs, dressed in expensive suits.
The idea is, they are supposed to look uncomfortable...
and mean.

I feel that the poses are pretty generic, but, in my defense, they've been sitting around for a while. I may yet do some more work on these two. Not sure yet.

This whole mess has taught me the value of backing up my files. Working with GIMP, without my personal tweaks was kinda tough. I'll have to set this copy up like the other one was.

At this point, I'm uncertain how to proceed. I've been giving these away since I've been making them. I wasn't sure about going commercial, since I'm a niche within a niche here. I'm still not sure. I'll continue to make them in any case. Any ideas would be appreciated.

I'm thinking I'll re-color and possibly re-draw my previous work at this point. I need more figures... Hell, do any of us ever get enough figures?? I'm thinking about gangs for Blackwater Gulch, and characters for my Boot Hill game. I also have to create some terrain. I put that project on hold a bit when I lost my computer.  Since we're playing in New Mexico, I gotta have some adobe buildings. I'm figuring on re-texturing some stuff I've already got.  Otherwise, the Vulture Gulch I bought from Microtactics is wasted money. I'll write a review of that one day. Trouble is, my Grandpa taught me to say nothing if you can't say something nice..... That part will be tough.



My old computer gave up the ghost Friday night. I dunno if it was the processor or the video card, but it no longer works.

My friends that I game with were kind enough to set me up with a substitute. Its older than what I had, but at least it works. I was pretty astonished that they would do that. So, tonight I have little to add, but I'm back online again. I hope to have a couple of updates in the near future. I was in the middle of some new figures when it crashed, so I hope to get those finished and posted.


Knuckleduster Cowtown Creator

I just got the Cowtown Creator from Knuckleduster. I decided to buy it for myself for my birthday Sunday. It's one of the books I'd been hearing good things about but didn't have. $31.64 with shipping. It arrived Wednesday. I've had my nose in it since. Awesome, awesome source-book.

I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about the history of the period. I still managed to learn a lot. Its well written, with humor and a genuine love of the period. The "Events" section of each chapter is almost worth the price of the book alone. Someone just starting a game in the genre without knowing much about it could run an entire campaign out of this book alone. Its that detailed.

I've been reading Western novels and history as long as I've been able to read. I love the movies also. The Cowtown Creator explains some of the background, the hows and whys of the cattle business, the railroad, the stage lines, and the different types of saloon. This book gives a great feel for "how it really was". Maybe its not 100% accurate but its damn plausible.

There is also a lot on typical characters. I can see this going a long way toward believable NPCs. I was really impressed, and my strength as a GM is believable NPCs. So there. Its in here.

The first part of the book is nearly all forms. I'm not sure about if or how I'll actually use those. For one thing, I'd hate to damage my book to copy the forms. Maybe they could have been placed towards the back? I know I don't want to rip up the front of my book. I suppose I could put it in a ring binder, but...

I would have also loved to see Boot Hill stats instead of just Deadlands. I figure if you can re-use the encounter tables from Boot Hill... just sayin. Then I realize if I've got the Boot Hill rules... Yeah, I can just use the stats from there. It also includes some D20 stats and Fudge. I don't play either of those, so I can't say how well done they are. If its anything like the quality of the rest of the book, they are superb.

In all, it was 30 bucks well spent. I'll use this a lot.


Terrain Boards

Last night, I started on my Terrain Board project. I gathered up some foam-core. Wow, its gone up since I last worked with it. $2.89 each at Target. So, 4 sheets purchased. I am making this map.
So, I started with the cliff to the north. In scale, its about 15 feet tall. So 3 inches. I figured paper mache would be the way to go. Plus, my 10 year old girl seemed to have fun with the whole "mess" aspect of it. I miscalculated or something. The "hill" never got rigid enough to build on at all. The foam-board warped like mad too. Damn. The results are totally un-usable. I guess plan B is some sort of styro-foam.

I do want to build all the terrain out of paper if possible though. You know, paper mini's, paper terrain... its a theme. I'll keep ya posted.

Hired Gun Figure

Well, I actually got one finished. I'm not sure if its too dark or not. I built one, just to check my work.  One issue is that I'm unsure on the scale. It measures out to 30mm to the eyes, both in GIMP and printed and based. I dunno. Seems small to me. In any case, I'm starting to move on my miniatures project again. I've got my coloring style figured out. Finally.

Here it is based... I kinda left my built terrain pieces over at the Gaming Place. Oops. So no cool little vignette this time....

 Oh, yeah... If you aren't aware of OneMonk, you'll need to know how to base these. Here is a link to some free bases. Pretty self explanatory.  Bases  Be sure and check out the rest of the site while you're there. Very cool stuff if you like paper figures.

Here is the finished miniature. Like I said before, I'm seeing the scale as correct but it looks small to me. Oh well, rulers don't lie.
It looks like this...


New Western Figures

I think I've decided on the style I want to make my figures with. I watched Open Range again tonight, and a movie called Appaloosa. That inspired this.


I Hate D&D

I've got to be honest. I do. I HATE it.

I've been so disappointed with the game since the late 80's I have to talk myself in to even playing it.  Even if there is going be an excellent GM running it.  So, if I've sat at your table and played D&D or AD&D with you, I think you're an awesome GM.

At one time, I could quote you long passages of the Dungeon Master's Guide. I knew it backwards and forward. I knew AC, Hit Dice, and Treasure Type of hundreds of monsters. I loved the game. I studied that book. Hell, I even had a special "bathroom copy" I read on the toilet.

It was like.. those of us that played had some kind of arcane knowledge. It was so amazing and wondrous. I remember my first set of dice. They looked like gems lying there in my hand. I learned better English just from trying to decipher Gygaxian prose. Well, weirder English anyway.

One night, the game betrayed me though. It utterly destroyed one of my most dramatic in game moments.
I almost wept. This was in the days of Thac0 and non-weapon proficiency.  I realize, now,  that the campaign kill was totally my fault. Instead of letting the clunky, time wasting, boring combat system kill my scene,
I should have just winged it. I didn't know how. AD&D was all I knew.

"Rain poured down on the Tower roof, the clouds almost low enough to touch.  Flashes of lightning lit the midnight sky with almost a strobe effect. The Countess turned, her foul ritual interrupted, and readied her mace. Baron Kormar charged across the rain-slick stones of the watchtower, his hand and a half sword raised to strike the evil Cleric down...." 

And then... "roll d20."
"What you got?"
"Okay that will hit... Damage?"
"ummm.... <rolls> I got a 6."
"umm.. okay  <makes 6 little tick marks> She's still got 47 hit-points left."


It was "Combat, The Whittling". They fought back and forth, paltry damage after paltry damage...for two and a half hours. All drama came to a screeching halt. After the first hour, I almost ruled that she got struck by lightning JUST SO IT COULD BE OVER!

But no, I didn't. I didn't want to rob my good friend of his chance to take her out. She had poisoned his people, burned his villages, blighted his crops, starving his province. She had addicted his army to magical drugs. She had spread vile lies at court about him, and turned his vassals against him. She had murdered his bride to be. I wanted him to strike the final blow. I remember the other players telling him, "Push her over the edge!...Jeez.. do Something! Just END THIS!"

"No!" He said, "I want to look her in the eyes when she dies!"

We played it by the book.

I tried to provide a narrative to the combat. I really did. For about the first 45 minutes. I described the sparks of the steel on steel, and the slippery footing, and the fear of the lightning. More even, the crashing blows, the low cuts, the dirty tricks... Hell,  I've read all of  R. E. Howard. I like swordplay. I studied Kinjitsu. After a while though,  I was just... tired. That was the culmination of a 2 year game. After that, no one wanted to play anymore that night. The next week, people had "stuff that came up" to do.

A week after that, I get a phone call, its Kormar's player. He's asking me
"Hey, is there another game we could play?"
"Like something with a deadlier, maybe more dramatic combat system?"
"No one wants to play AD&D now. Its like we were robbed."

So I started reading systems like normal people read novels. Trying to find something that would work.
I finally settled on a re-worked and re-fluffed Harnmaster. A lot of work. I wasn't ready to write my own system then. Honestly, I was but I didn't think I was.

We played that system for 13 years. Then, my "Break from Gaming" happened.

During my break, with all my traveling and living the life of a modern day cattle drive Cowboy, I fell in love with the Wild West.

Now days, if you show me a system that is class based, with hit-points, I just say no. No thank you.

Really, thank God for D&D. If it hadn't existed, none of the other games would have either. I wouldn't know about the amazing hobby that is Role-playing Games. All those that still love the game, more power to you. I'm just not interested in walking that path again. Ever.

Well okay, my Dad did buy me 2nd Edition Boot Hill to get me away from "all that weird sorcery sh!t" so I might have still been a gamer. I dunno. That's another post.

You Gotta Read This...

I LOVE web-comics. I'll waste whole days when I find a new one, just reading the archives. One thing I love is when I find one with a huge archive, that's been running for a while. Usually, that isn't too hard, since I'm still pretty ignorant as far as the interwebz go.

Even better is if I find one with any kind of Western connotation. Or even 19th Century. I'll settle for Steam-Punk. The few Westerns I have found haven't been updated in a while. Sad.

Lady Sable and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether

Its Steam-Punk. Or... 19th Century Sci-fi, or, Wellesean, or, I dunno, its damn cool. Go read it.


The Western Campaign, Part 2

This ( Our Guns Of Brimstone Campaign) started out as a take on the Boot Hill 2nd Edition Module "Brimstone" that was published in Dragon Magazine back in the day. Well, it didn't stay that way. One of the biggest problems people seem to have with a Western Game is "What do we do?" Ride in to town, shoot the place up, rob the bank and everyone dies. How do you keep from doing the same old same old tired Western Movie cliches as adventures? I wanted to go in a different direction.

Not everyone on the Frontier was a cowboy or a lawman.  The time between 1865 and 1900 was a time of huge, sweeping changes in American life. All kinds of folks came West. What I did with Brimstone was to take a detailed view. I focused in on the details of daily life as best I could figure them out. People's petty little plots, and who's cheating on who. A cast of gray characters with different goals and agendas. The closest analog would be to running a Fantasy Urban Campaign, where everyone lives in the same city. I crossed Thieves World with Deadwood.

Between the cast of NPCs that live in town, and the cast that wander through, there's a lot going on. Almost more than I can keep up with. One thing that has helped, and has also added more plots, was having a newspaper for the Town. This way, I can foreshadow events, and introduce new characters without having to role play the meetings. You know how players are. If it seems to be important, they'll focus on it. As an article in a newspaper, it might be important, or it might not.

Keeping the players in suspense is a big part of my style of GMing. Anything my players focus on has something attached to it. A big plot, a small plot, I dunno, but it has to be something. All threads lead somewhere. Its a huge challenge to me to think on my feet so to speak. I really enjoy it.

Here are a couple of issues of the Devil's Advocate, the newspaper of Brimstone, New Mexico Territory. Currently, there are just two issues, since the printing press was trashed in a riot the PCs caused in game.

Volume One, Issue One

Volume One, Issue Two

Blackwater Gulch

Several months ago I ran across a link to some folks making a new Western Shootout type game. I signed up as a play-tester. I tried it out then, with a few of my paper figures. I liked the rules pretty well then. It was a fast, elegant system then. They've revised it though, and you can go get a free copy of it here. I was really impressed, and I'm kind of jaded. It's a bit warhammer-y, but not in a too derivative way. I did a little fight between 10 figures (5 on a side) inside a Saloon and it got real bloody, real quick. Close range is bad for your health. As soon as my Brimstone town terrain boards are made, I intend to have some gunfights with Blackwater Gulch on a larger scale, to see how the game moves, etc. I like the hell out of that name too... very evocative.

Highly recommended.


Paper Miniatures

I have a love for miniatures games also. Sometimes, its as much fun to just have a battle or two. I love terrain, and I love building it. Years ago, I had a huge collection of miniatures, and a lot of home built terrain I was really proud of. It was almost all Fantasy or Sci-Fi stuff though. After ten years of moving, and driving a cattle truck for a living, I left pieces of my collection all over, from Oklahoma City to Hereford Texas, to Clovis New Mexico.

My ex-wife, an amazing mini painter in her own right, wound up with the bulk of our figure collection.  I hope she's still enjoying them.  Now days, I have much less space, both for storage and workspace. A couple of years ago, I discovered the OneMonk Miniatures Forum . I love the place, and the people there. I've learned a huge amount from those talented folks. You should go check it out.

In any case, I've switched my miniatures collecting over to Paper Figures.  I've drawn several sets, but as I haven't gotten them colored in as of yet, I haven't shared much.
A few things I've been working on.

Its mostly just line art at this point. I'm still undecided as to how I want to color them. I was really worried they would lose all the detail printed out at 28-30mm. So far so good. I need to figure out my coloring style.

At this point, I still don't have enough figures or terrain made up to have an actual game. Sad. Here's a little of what I have gotten made up.

 The Parlour Saloon is a Whitewash City building I modified. Pretty simple stuff.


How to GM a Western

The Western is my favorite type of game. I'm from the Texas Panhandle, so I grew up with these kinds of characters. The lifestyle where I grew up ain't changed that much.

The first thing you've gotta do when running a Western is know your material. Are you going for historical accuracy? Pick a spot you can either find a map of or lots of information on. Google-fu helps here. Making things up is okay too. As long as it seems plausible. The West was a varied place, with lots of mystery and action.

The biggest problem with a straight Western is you have very little in the way of "monsters". I get around this by using major NPC development. Make them HATE your villains. Make them love your victims or "normal folk". Find a book on NPC's. Johnn Four has a great one on his RPGtips site. Big help. Lots of realistic characters offset the lack of the fantastic. Then, if you throw the fantastic in, it seems so much more real against your realistic backdrop. Its jarring and strange, as it should be.  Most Western game systems have pretty deadly combat, or should. I play Boot Hill 3rd Edition. It has scary combat. Make the players realize how deadly it is for their beloved characters. Give them opportunity to be heroic.

Do not allow your villains to be killed off easily. Keep them around as long as possible, by playing them as smart as they would be. No encounter with a villain should be on equal footing. They always stack the deck. Many players will attack them anyway. Then, its no mercy time. The Western Genre should have that in common with Horror. Remember that you have no "high hit dice" monsters. All you've got is a person, with skills, intelligence, and a horde of minions. Use that. Any crazy combat tactic the players might use, your villain should too. Dynamite. Snipers. Poison. Have different NPCs give the players different stories. Lie. Make the players figure out what is going on.

What I do is use an event timeline, as in, my NPC's are gonna do these things at this time. If the PC's don't interfere, the villainous plot happens. Find stuff your players hate in real life and have your villains do that. I shock my players. They can't wait to kill my villains... or worse. . I'm a sandboxy GM so YMMV. I almost never do a linear plot. I do my best to get the players emotionally involved. At that point, the characters naturally follow.

Go watch "Deadwood". "Open Range" is good too. All the Spaghetti Western type stuff. Anything to get you that movie type story structure. That works awesomely for a Western. Start with conflict early, in Media Res if possible. Throw in a huge setback at about the 75% mark. Make it look bad... then more conflict. Westerns should move fast... don't spend a lot of time on investigation unless it builds suspense. Bogging down with "dungeon" type play, mapping, etc, will destroy a Western. Its all about the feel and flavor and pace. Try to keep the game from slowing down. Most people have seen a Western or two. Its part of American cultural identity. Its iconic. Use that to your advantage, and give your players a ride.