Gold and Lead

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

Western 101

Dramatis Personae
  • Virgil Earp – US Marshal
  • Morgan Earp – Deputy Marshal
  • Wyatt Earp – Faro dealer at the Oriental (ex-Marshal, retired)
  • Doc Holliday – Gambler, gunman and dentist, dying slowly of tuberculosis.
  • Sheriff John Behan – County sheriff (elected)
  • Ike Clanton – Cowboy and loudmouth.
  • Billy Clanton – His younger brother
  • Tom Maclaury – Cowboy and rumoured cattle rustler
  • Frank Maclaury – Cowboy and bloody good shot – soon to be bloody well shot
  • Billy Claibourne – Cowboy

Scene 1 – The Oriental Saloon

The Oriental is quite a nicely appointed place with a long bar and a number of gaming tables to suit Poker and Faro. The evening is drawing to a close. Some folks’re ahead at cards, others are much poorer. Ike, in particular, is roaring drunk and near cleaned out by Doc at poker.

Fortunately, most people have handed their guns in behind the bar, in accordance with the town ordinances.

Scene 2 – The next morning…

Ike is sobering up in jail. Virgil is angry. Hot-headed words from the night before threatened violence towards the lawmen in Tombstone, if they was met on the street. Some of the Cowboys arrive in town to pick up Ike from the Jail.


Well, I think the first session went well, all in all, even if it was only a trial. I think with fewer players, more experiance and more familiarity with the characters it’ll all flow very quickly.

I also think it was useful to have a trial session, it re-inforced for everyone the lethality of combat, at least that which uses firearms. It’d be a bit of a pain to have put so much effort into character gen only to die in the first gunfight when we think “hey, we can take this one lone fella, even if he does have a shotgun….”

Regarding houserules, I think the rule of weapon damage adding directly to damage dealt on a succesful attack works well, it keeps the average damaage about right (it only really diverges when you have a high strength weapon and an already high dice pool, which this houserule does make more lethal). Sciolist was right (and my gut feel was wrong) to be concerned about the effect it has on defence though, it does make defence even better (obviously only when it applies). I suggest that this could be offset by houseruling defence to be one point lower than RAW indicate.

Oh, and the houserule reduces how much more deadly shotguns are compared to other guns, but I think we’ll all agree they’re still deadly enough!

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

When you add in the 9 Again rule for shotguns (instead of the 10 Again for all other guns) on top of the high base damage, it makes Shotguns incredibly lethal. Which is good.

Buck may have to get himself a shotgun for troublemakers. LOL.

I think falling/jumping rules need to be looked at though. When you dive through an upstairs window, trying not to let go of a hat full of money, landing safely should be an issue.

And maybe some kind of opportunity action. If you run past a man with a pool cue in his hands, it should be a risky proposition. Or if you’re facing down a man with a .45, from point blank range, attacking shouldn’t be a viable option (it only takes a muscle spasm to fire a cocked revolver…).

How about something like you can “react” to a situation at the cost of your next action. You can’t initiate an action, such as running, or anything that requres more than a split seconds motion. Thus “swinging a weapon that is in your hand”, “firing a gun that is already drawn”, “dropping prone” etc would be viable, as would “drawing a weapon”, if you already had the appropriate Quickdraw Merit. The cost would be your next action. So its actually a bad trade off, and would likely be used only in specific situations.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

Falling damage – definitely agreed. I didn’t bother much on Monday since Tom Maclaury had pretty much exited the fray and was unlikely to return.

Opportunity action – Yeah- I see what you mean. I need to think and work out whether or how much that messes with initiative order. Basically whether you can hold an action from a previous phase to ‘shoot him if he runs’ to borrowing an action from your future.

I was thinking Defense was pretty OK – Some folks are more defensive than others, maybe I’ll add a flavoursome bonus/penalty to attack to take into account fists vs polearms or whatever.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

Given my dramtic bleeding all over the place – I am kinda disappointed I wasn’t considered one of the Dramatis Personae …

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

There you go!

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

Oh, I’m not saying that shotguns aren’t incredibly lethal, they really are. What I was trying to say is that the difference between a shotgun and another strength 4 gun, say a rifle, is less under these house rules than the RAW because 9 again is worth less if you’re rolling less dice. I still think they’re more than nasty enough!

Defence isn’t a big deal, if you want to keep it as is I won’t complain.

I’m not so sure about the opportunity action thing. Whilst it feels odd after playing D&D, it makes sense given the initiative. Either you’re a fast guy slipping past your slower witted opponent, or you’re slower than your opponent and he’s already whacked you! The only odd thing is in the slower guy running past a fast guy who’s already taken a swing at him, the slow guy can do something that sacks his defence and the fast guy doesn’t get to capitalise on it.

Oh, and the lack of falling damage wasn’t a problem in the playtest, he’d taken no damage before then, and afterwards was away scott free, and I don’t think that sort of fall should have ko’d him outright so it had the same effect as real falling damage would have.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

If fats guy belts slow guy, and then slow guy runs past the fast guy with no defense – on the fast guy’s next action – the slow guy still has no defense.

If you do something that sacrifices your defense – it sacrifices it until your next action, not until the end of the round (otherwise, yes the last to act could do it with impunity).

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

The way it currently seems to work, which is what I was having an issue with, is that slow guy can move past fast guy (or fast guy past slow guy) and not get hit, given that it is possible to move your normal MOVE distance (not even run!) and start outside of melee reach, and END outside of melee reach, without needing to run. When, in reality, walking past someone with a weapon in their hands is pretty risky in a fight. If, for example you have a move of 11, you can start 5 squares in front of someone, move past them, and end 5 squares behind them. All in absolute safety, unless they happen to share your initiative order.

And as for falling damage, It may not have been important on the playtest, but it would have been useful to know how it worked for the actual game, to see how viable jumping out of a window to catch someone or avoid something would be.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

I see what you mean, but. If the ‘fast’ guy holds his action against slapping someone moving past – that’s valid. If the fast guy is busy beating up on someone else, or doing some other action, then the slow guy can move past him unmolested. It’s a brief combat round, so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. D+D has 10 second rounds, I think, so the idea of landing a blow on your opponent, and one on a passer by seems more understandable in that period.

As to falling – RAW say 1 level of bashing damage per 3 yard fall – I think that’s about a storey. It also allows dex+Athletics to reduce fall damage by up to 3 levels by cunning stuff.

Movement – Speed 10 (yards/3secs) == about 7mph – so that’s likely a fast move or jog. Speed 25 will do 100 yards in 12secs (a reasonable sprint). Speed 6 corresponds roughly to 4mph. We may need to reassess what a valid ‘combat’ move is and what speedmove is one that sacrifices defense.

As with anything – we can tweak it if need be later on.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

Oops – My Bad. Defence applies for the initiative round. A victim receiving multiple attacks in a round loses a point of defense for each attack after the first.

If you use your defence out of sequence because someone attacks you, it precludes you performing any ‘loses Defense’ actions on your turn, because you already have used it.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

Hmm, how specific do held actions have to be? If in the trial game I’d sauntered over from the pool table, brandishing my cue as I did, but specified that I was holding an action, could I have taken a swing at the fella who ran after Doc? Or would I have had to specify my intent to swing for someone coming within reach? Or even specify which person?

Falling damage doesn’t seem high enough. If it’s 1 bashing per story, you won’t ever be knocked out by a 5 story fall (if you start on full health that is!), much less suffer any lethal damage. I don’t really want to google it, but I’m pretty sure that 5 story falls tend to be fatal…

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

As to holding actions – I think declaring some sort of intent is useful. You’re either waiting for someone to do something triggering or you’re not. It’s that ‘What’re you doing’ question at your initiative point. Looking threatening and waiting to thump a miscreant if they wander past seems fine to me without specifying which miscreant, necessarily. Ideally – with by declaring action with slowest first – a faster person knows whether a slower guy is likely to come past.

Falling damage does seem light. Easiest is to double it to 2 bashing per 3 yards for an ‘average’ fall. Maybe 1 bashing per yard – but that means that an average guy who jumps off a kitchen worksurface 6-7 times will likely become unconscious with the trauma. Maybe the trick is to consider the difference between ‘jump’ and ‘fall’ and increase the damage and rely on the jumper’s dex/athletics to mitigate the damage by landing well.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

I like that plan, DECLARE in reverse order, so faster people who “react” better, can respond to slower folk, but then PROGRES in normal order. Though that will drastically slow down the course of play.

Apologies for late response, I was doing a full system wipe yesterday, spent most of the day without access to the Net. LOL.

Maybe in addition to the 2 per 3yds, also make it Lethal Damage instead of Bludgeoning for falling.

And say that you can “Jump” down a ways (say, number of yards equal to pips in Athletics…?) quite safely, but if its more than that, or uncontrolled, its falling.

This would signify the high risk of breaking something if you fall/jump too far down. Thus you can scale a fence relatively easily, but jumping out of a 3 story window is going to SERIOUSLY hurt ( X X X X X X base ). Survivable, just, for the average man.

Maybe add boxes depending uponm what you are landing. Concrete +3, Stuntmans air mattress -4, etc, and/or also make the Athletics roll to land it well, to reduce it to B instead of L

(As an aside, in Shadowrun, where there are 4 grades of Damage (Light, Moderate, Severe and Deadly), ANY fall is Deadly, only the target number (TN1 per Meter) to resist changes. Making the onus on resisting the impact more than incurring the damage, a person with Bod 3 (Human Average) IS going to take damage, and probably Serious if not Deadly as it takes 2 Successes to move it down ONE category, D, S, M, L – Bod 3 cannot HOPE to get more than 2 Successes! Downgrading it to Serious, even for a relatively low fall of 2m (6.5ft))

Sorry for the rambling, was thinking as I typed. Hope it makes sense.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

I am confused about the difference between dodge and defence.

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

There’s 3 levels of ‘defensiveness’ roughly depending on what you’re doing.

  1. No defence – You’re doing something complex or tricky or active that you’re not paying attention to the fight enough to limit the effectiveness of attacks against you.
  2. Defence – You’re acting, but also keeping enough awareness on your immediate situation that you can duck and weave, maybe try and fend people off with your hands or what you’re holding.
  3. Dodge (Defence x2) – This is a full round action where you devote yourself to not getting hit at the expense of taking other action (except normal movement). You can declare a dodge at any point in the turn, even before your usual initiative.
Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

Erm, the formatting got mangled. Sciolist, please could you delete my previous message, I’ve re-posted it here:

I think Sciolist had expressed a preference for not doing the full declare in reverse order initiative system on a regular basis, and I agree with that. I’d rather not slow gameplay down that much. In fact I’d go one step further and say I don’t want to do it the full way at all, it seems too counter intuitive to swap to a slower and more rules focused system for the very scenes that should be fastest or most story focused.

I think a good compromise would be to allow high init people to defer a reaction, and to allow that to interupt the slower person’s action rather than follow it. It’s not something I’d expect to come up often though (as it’ll only come up if you don’t already know what you want to do before knowing what your opponent’s going to do. eg In a gunfight it’s a fair bet he’ll be trying to shoot you!), so hopefully this wouldn’t slow or distract from the story too much, but would still get the right sort of feel.

Regarding defence, is there a generic “focus” action? Should there be? I’m invisaging something like the two handed shooting stance that looses your defence but grants a bonus dice (or two?). After all, jumping down from the kitchen worktop is one thing, but I’d wager doing it while trying to stop a thug from pummeling you significantly increases the chance of spraining your ankle…

As to falling, 1 bashing per yard is better, but maybe still not dangerous enough for long falls. 1 lethal per yard seems a bit too harsh for low falls. In the interests of only rolling one set of dice I don’t think we should be rolling for damage and resistance. How about 2 x distance (in yards) – defence, and – # of successes on (dex + athletics) in bashing if you jumped in a controlled fashion?

Eg Abe (dex 2, athletics 1, defence 2) jumps off the roof of a train, a distance of 4 yards. He rolls 3 dice for his dex + athletics, getting one success. he takes 4×2 – 2 – 1 = 5 bashing damage.

Re-enacting his adventure in the pub later, Abe jumps off a table, a distance of 1 yard. In his drunken state he gets no successes, but luckily takes 1×2 – 2 = 0 damage.

Billy (dex, defence and athletics 3) jumps out of inn from a first floor window, a 5 yard fall. He gets 2 successes from his 6 dice and so takes 5×2 – 3 – 2 = 5 bashing.

Billy, (recovered from his adventures at the inn) is atop a stagecoach when a cowboy lasoos him, pulling him off for a 3 yard fall. Since this isn’t a controlled jump he doesn’t get to roll. He also used his defence trying to dodge being roped in the first place, so this is the second time in a round that he’s used his defence, so is only at defence 2 for this. He takes 3×2 – 2 – 0 = 4 bashing.

Clint (athletics, defence and dex 4) is atop a horse, 2 yards up, when he rides headlong into a low hanging tree branch, knocking him out cold and swiping him from the saddle. He falls 2 yards, but can’t subtract any damage since he’s KO’d, taking 4 bashing. Since he’s allready KO’d, this isn’t going to be good for Clint…

Clint (again after he’s recovered) jumps out of a third story window, a 10 yard fall (3 yards for each floor below him, plus a yard for the height of the windowsill. He gets 3 successes on his dex & athletics roll, so takes 2×10 – 4 – 3 = 13 bashing damage. So long as he’s got health 7 he won’t be dead or dying, but he’s not far off, and Clint is a pretty tough cookie.

Hmm, seems to be about right. Thoughts?

Setting the Scene - Tombstone 1881

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.