Designer’s Notes: Outlaws and Arrows


I was one written article away from finishing the wish list in 2014. My brain was starting to become mush, and nothing in the Vault was working for the Wild West theme. Now, some of you might know this, but for the rest: I’m a huge fan of westerns. Huge. Old, new, whatever, their is something about that genre that stirs my imagination the way few things do. I briefly toyed around with the idea of muxing space and western to create a Firefly-like article, but trashed it because I’d only seen one episode of the series once. Instead, I started off with the idea of an alternate history american frontier where magic and monsters were real. Where the role of the gunslinger was taken over by the “bladeslinger,” a fierce swordsman bearing a magic weapon of his own making that gave him power and the ability to kill monsters and madmen alike who plagued towns. Bladeslinger duels would be fought in such a way that those who won gained the powers of their opponent’s weapon, making them better. It was sort of Highlander meets Young Guns meets Yojimbo in the weird west. I eventually discarded it because I just couldn’t make it work the way I wanted and instead sought some easier fare. At first, I thought “Men and Manitou” might be the way to go, an article on combining Monster Hunters and the wild west, but that opened more doors than I wanted to deal with so I settled on Action and the western genre instead. It took only around 40 hours between writing, a little research, book-checking, revision, and editing. After that I actually didn’t write anything for GURPS for a few months since the wish list was “done” as far as I was concerned. I had relatively few outtakes on this one, but I did chuck a single lens for cowboys (see below). One thing I really wanted to, but didn’t was detail rules for tracking, bounty-hunts, and rules for high-noon duels.

Outtake: Cowboy Lens
The following lens was removed due to lessened utility (frontiersmen covered it pretty well) and word count:

20 points
Buckaroo. Cowpoke. Midnight Rider. There is no other single figure that stirs up imagery of the Wild West more than the cowboy. Despite the glamorous depictions, a cowboy’s way of life was a hard one and bred a group of hard men.

Skills: Animal Handling (Horse or Bovine) (A) IQ [2]; Gun (Pistol) (E) DX+1 [2]; Lasso (A) DX [2]; Navigation (Land) (A) IQ [2]; Riding (Horse) (A) DX [2]. • Pick five of the following: Gun (Rifle or Shotgun) (E) DX+1 [2]; Whip or Stealth, both (A) DX [2]; Games (Card Games) (E) IQ+1 [2]; Fast-Talk, Gambling, Heraldry (Animal Brands), Navigation (Air), Packing, Teamster, Weather Sense, all (A) IQ [2]; Musical Instrument (any), Naturalist, or Veterinary, all (H) IQ-1 [2]; Carousing, Hobby Skill (Whistling), or Singing, both (E) HT+1 [1]; Observation, Survival (any), Tracking, all (A) Per [2]; You may also spend any number of points to raise another lens or template skill.
Advantages: Characters with this lens can put any number of character points into Increased HT [10/level], Animal Empathy [5], Animal Friend [5/level], Fit or Very Fit [5 or 15], Outdoorsman [10/level], or Rapid Healing or Very Rapid Healing [5 or 15], GMs with Power-Ups 2 can also allow the Good with (Animal), often specialized in horses, or Call of the Wild perks.
Disadvantages: Add Bowlegged [-1], Code of Honor (Cowboy’s) [-10], Odious Personal Habits [varies], Sense of Duty (any) [varies], and Wealth [varies].
Social Traits: Cowboys were often recruited into cavalry units to serve as irregulars and scouts; such characters will need to take their templates Duty and/or Rank. Despite the vital jobs they performed, most cowboys were disdained as uncultured layabouts. To represent this, cowboys can take a negative Reputation.
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