Friday, March 29, 2013

Six Shooters, Dynamite, and Cigars part 3

Western , Historical for the Genre Tree...



There is a wealth of historical western adventures in film, radio, and television from which to draw inspiration. It is a poor GM who cannot cobble these readily available sources into encounter opportunities for your eager players.

You would be crazy to pass up Eric Hotz's "Published Wild West Wargames" page if you are a Western RPG Gamer thirsting for inspiration.

Here is a short list of additional sources if you are scrambling for ideas; 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly stands out in every way as a classic western adventure story, let alone true grit for your historical western campaign.  

I've never read any Louis L'amour, but I bet my last silver dollar there is plots to be had. 

The radio adventures of The Lone Ranger and the TV series Bonanza, and Gunsmoke can provide countless story hooks.

You will also notice I do not have any issue with utilizing an adventure for more than one location on my Genre Tree. 

I have no problem using the Cthulhu published adventure "The Spawn" as one of the Western, Horror adventure choices, as well as in this "Historical" branch of the Western genre tree. I even intend to use this same adventure as an option for the Espionage, Hard Boiled branch of the Genre Tree. This all will have the net effect of reducing prep time while trying to present this large grouping of genres and adventures to the players.


Western, Historical;
1.3.1Cthulhu Mythos1.3.2.1Bank Robbers1.3.3.1Civil War



1.3.2.2Cattle Rustlers1.3.3.2
French & Indian War




1.3.2.3
Mysterious Stranger

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Six Shooters, Dynamite, and Cigars (character interlude)

Western Character Creation example for the Genre Tree...

Was as easy as rolling on the random Boot Hill Character Background table. Rolling an Eighty Eight I came up with "Artist". Utilizing Charlie at The Semi-Retired Gamer's USR Character Sheets I quickly wrote up Henry Shaw from St. Louis, MO.


When I mean quickly, I created this character in under three minutes.

First I assigned his Attributes. The d10 was assigned to Ego. If you are going to be a successful artist you better have attitude, and confidence. Especially if you will find yourself out in the American West circa 1866. Wits I assign the d8, and Action gets d6. Rolling for hits he gets lucky with a total of 9.

For his three Specialisms I decide on Whitlin' (Wits +2), Knife Fightin' (Action +2), and Talkin' Shit (Ego +2). No rhyme or reason, but it seems I have now defined this characters medium in the visual arts.

Filling in the characters starting gear helps me finish off this 1st level character to my satisfaction. These items being a set of carving knives to sculpt figurines, a traveling pack designed to carry tools. An illustrated book of North American ducks, and rain gear declare my character creation process done! I should have no problem integrating this character concept into the group and the genre which we have all decided on for this new Western campaign.



Six Shooters, Dynamite, and Cigars part 2

Western, Planetary Romance from the Genre Tree



Planetery Romance, whether or not the protaganists come from a traditional wild west background, is characterized by players encountering strange new worlds and the ability to travel in between them, or not.

This is your John Carter of Mars books, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Hunters of the Red Moon, Stephen King's Gunslinger, and John Norman's Gor series. The mode of travel between the worlds is not what is important for the Planetary Romance genre, it is the relationships which the players create with this new, fantastic place.

Here is the table I created to flesh out this branch;

Western, Planetary Romance;
1 Stranded Visitor 2 The Gate 3 The Heritage 4 Kidnapped
1.1 Friendly 2.1 Open 3.1 Proud Member 4.1 Accidental
1.2 Hostile 2.2 Closed 3.2 Unaware 4.2 Purposeful
2.3 Rumored






Friday, March 22, 2013

Six Shooters, Dynamite, and Cigars

Western Game Options from the Genre Tree


I listed Horror, Planetary Romance, and Historical as my choices from the Western category of my new idea; the Genre Tree.

I would instruct the game group to chose one of these three to further define their Western choice for our new campaign. Once they have discussed, and have made their choice I would give relevant background information to aid the players in character creation, and let them at it!

For Western this information would consist of the time period they find themselves in, and their initial jobs, or roles in society. This would all be prompted by a roll on the Detail Table for the sub genre they have chosen.

Here is the full Genre Tree with the Western, Horror branch expanded in detail;



1
Western
2
Space Opera
3
Espionage
4
Fantasy
1.1
Horror
2.1
Post Apocalypse
3.1
Cyber Punk
4.1
High Fantasy
1.2
Planetary Romance
2.2
Comic Book
3.2
Hard Boiled
4.2
Dark Fantasy
1.3
Historical
2.3
Hard Sci-Fi
3.3
Time Travel
4.3
Sword & Sorcery

















Western, Horror;





1
Superstitous Indians
2
Alien Horrors
3
Tormented Townsfolk
4
Wild Animals
1.1
The Burial Site
2.1
Cthulhu Mythos
3.1
Cannibals
4.1
Hunter becomes the Hunted
1.2
A Tragic Accident


3.2
4.2
Town plagued by unknown animal(s)








This is when I would add a random element. This is when I would let fate decide our characters embarkation point into the game world. A 1d4 would be rolled for the top row, and then, if needed, an additional roll to establish the final option from the ones I've listed.







In the case of Horror the players will end up in one of seven possible plot lines. Each separate plot line would have an initial situation the players would find themselves in, and hopefully everyone is sufficiently invested at this point to easily start playing off the material offered. For example;

The indian burial site;

You are part of a survey team looking to stake a lucrative claim. Coming across an ancient burial site you trigger the wrath of a bloodthirsty indian tribe. Your party will have to survive their onslaught. Inspiration; the films Valhalla Rising, Pumpkinhead.

The "tragic" accident;

While apprehending an indian accused of horse stealing the brave is shot dead. The son of the tribe's shaman, the grief stricken mystic unleashes terrible forces in which to exact revenge. Inspiration; the film Pumpkinhead.


 Of course any of these initial embarkation points do not need to be created out of whole cloth, neither do they need to all be original. I have Chaosium's The Great Old Ones, and the adventure "The Spawn" could be easily hacked to take place in the 1860's instead of the 1920's. To further enhance the horror aspect make the characters company men sent to Coopertown to end the labor unrest, and find out why the Beasleys are allowing the quotas to slip. This adventure would also find itself used as presented as one of my "Hard Boiled" Espionage adventure choices with the players unaware of the underlying Cthulhu elements. This helps pare down the prep work this approach demands of the GM.




USR Genre Tree

Taking to heart all the discussion found on the blogs concerning railroads and sandboxes I believe the discriminating Game Master, concerned with delivering a high quality of play for his players, should both "play the game he wants to play", and provide as much "player agency" as he can.

This suggests to me the GM should be able to provide a wide array of genre choices for the players at the outset. I myself find all flavors of role playing with their charm and wouldn't mind having a host of choices on any given game night. What I do mind is having to learn entirely new game mechanics to make such a choice possible.

This has always sent me in search of a universal game engine in which to create adventures and settings which could accommodate my changing fancy, and offer play options which gave everyone around the table the most enjoyment too. Whatever universal game system you choose, I recommend some form of "rules-lite" generic set because a GM will be tasked with preparing multiple worlds in anticipation of a random genre choice. I'm also keen on as short of a character creation process as I can. I want to get the group into play as quickly as possible at this first game session. Myself I am designing adventures with Scott Malthouse's Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying System, and have it in mind as I continue here with the subject of this post; the Genre Tree.

The purpose of the Genre Tree is to provide a semi random table for choosing what game the group is all going to play. To create a pallet of intriguing adventure options, to start every ones creative juices flowing, and encourage player agency from the outset.

Here is my initial Genre Tree. I would let the players know they need to settle on one of the twelve possible genres listed under the four "meta-genres". Once the players had made this choice, say Post Apocalypse, we would then look at the choices available for this particular genre; anywhere from one, two or three, and make a final selection on the game world in which to adventure.



Space Opera
Espionage
Fantasy
Horror
Cyber Punk
High Fantasy
Planetary Romance
Comic Book
Dark Fantasy
Historical
Hard Sci-Fi
Time Travel
Sword & Sorcery


This would mean your players would be looking at from twelve to thirty six possible game worlds to start adventuring in! Of course you don't have to offer as many choices, but I feel I have enough source books and different rule books on the shelf (let alone sci-fi, and fantasy novels) I can sketch out an initial adventure for all. 

The goal here is to have at this point initial character ideas so your group can have at the simple character creation rules of a system like USR with gusto. This should also help spark ideas for story hooks to begin to populate your new born sandbox.

In upcoming posts I will go through each of the "meta-genres"choices I've thrown out, and give a detailed list of campaign worlds for each.