Old West in Shadows

I got an interesting comment recently. Here is the comment:

Hi, love your book by the way, but I was wondering how would I use it for a Western game?

First let me say, thank you for your comment and I’m glad you enjoy the book so far. So I’m thinking, well it’s Eternal Shadows, so it’s modern horror gaming. Old West doesn’t really change that. But it does change a couple of assumptions and even perhaps makes things more interesting at the same time. So the first thing to look at is at the top of page 3. The Old West is usually concerned with the time around 1845 to 1910. Needless to say that means it’s before 1920, so if you have the right background, learning how to use a sword is possible.

There really isn’t anything you need to change about the classes. They were written to fit most time periods, not just the ’70s through now. So let’s move on to the Focuses. Obviously certain Focuses don’t exist, specifically Automatics, Computers and Piloting. The rest are still viable in this time period, with Artillery applying to new advances like gatling guns as well as the old standbys of ship cannons, Driving applies equally well to carriages and carts, and even Photography is present although it isn’t the sort of thing you can use without a tripod, a plate of flash powder and a willing subject. I dare say that most people wouldn’t have very good locks either, so the TNs for the Security Focus are probably a bit lower than the average ES adventure.

The following talent is not available: Ace Pilot.

The following talents are available but are probably less useful: Crack Driver, Linguistics. Carriages aren’t known for their maneuverability, and tricks are probably right out. Also, while there are hundreds of different languages in the setting, few settlers and the like bother to learn them, and if they do learn a language beyond their native one(s) they rarely pick up more than one, maybe two at most.

The following specializations are viable, but rare: Media Personality, Shrink.

As far as gear goes, most of it is still available. The following weapons haven’t been invented yet: Sawed-Off Shotgun, Light SMG, Heavy SMG, Assault Rifle, Mortar, Flame Thrower, Flash Bomb and Grenade. The Light Machine Gun will stand in for the Gatling Gun, but it has to be mounted on a tripod. None of the armor except the Biker Jacket is viable, and it stands in for the duster, or leather long coat. Obviously you’ll need to prune the gear list as well. As far as cost goes, you would do well to consult a source on the cost of goods in the time period, but a rough guideline would be to divide everything by 20 to 30, including the money people start with. I seem to remember that a cheap handgun was not likely to cost $20, so that’s what I came up with as an “inflation guess”. If someone figures up a better divisor I’ll put it on this post.

Nothing else changes for the players. I’ve thought about Victorian and even Viking scenarios using this rules subset, so while you could easily come up with new Specializations such as Gunslinger or Marshall, they aren’t necessary to play a few games. Victorian wouldn’t be much different from what I wrote above in any case. I’d probably also try to replicate some Native American myths as adversaries, but this is where I’d start.

About Byron D. Molix

I am an information technology professional in Missouri. I've been an avid fan of fantasy and science fiction novels, comic books, pen and paper role-playing games, computer games and console video games for the last two decades. My dream would be to one day make a comfortable living while having the time to pursue writing (novels, rpgs, etc.) as a full-time hobby.

Posted on July 24, 2012, in AGE, Gaming and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Cool, thanks for the info, but How would you do the specializations or Career Paths?


    • Unless I wanted to generate new specializations for niches, I wouldn’t change the specializations much. Career Criminal is just as good for an outlaw bank robber as it is for a mafioso. Surgeon doesn’t need to change to fit a frontier doctor. Guardian doesn’t have to change, because it’s written to be pretty timeless, as are all the restricted specializations, Wiseacre, Investigative Reporter, and Detective. Cat Burglar is odd only in the name. If one were a master thief in the old west the worst you’d have to deal with regularly would be safes and guard dogs. Martial Artist even sounds like a special case because few Americans would fit the assumptions implied, but nothing in the actual descriptions prevents it going for a native american brave, a bare knuckle boxer or a dedicated warrior.

      There isn’t a need to change the Career Paths in my opinion. It’s just as unlikely that a Professor from Harvard would be much different in 1850 than in 1990 as far as what weapons they know how to use or how much money they have. You might restrict Criminal to those who actually hail from large cities, as most outlaws are from a rural environment and don’t have a lot of criminal contacts.

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