I know it feels like this has been a light blogging week for the old Blackrazor…at least it’s felt that way to me. I know I have a tendency to throw up pages and pages of posts…I’m not trying to be “prolific” or compete with Grognardia or anything, I just happen to have diarrhea of the brain a lot. Plus I tend to be a pretty self-centered naval-gazing bastard, which leads to a lot “of reflection” and (ranty) blog posts. Got another of those latter types getting teed up in my brain as I type this little missive.
ANYway…while I haven’t been blogging, I HAVE been working/writing this week, though you won’t like what it’s about: more B/X Star Wars mischief. In fact, I’ve written two looong Star Wars/Experience Point posts and have published neither, because every time I read back over them they just read like whine-whine-whine. F that noise…you folks have better things to do with your time than read about my frigging lightsaber fetish.
On the other hand, I’m seriously considering just writing up the damn game as an actual Star Wars RPG and giving it away as a free download. My understanding is Lucas doesn’t have a gripe about “fan-based derivatives” unless one tries to make money off them? It would certainly save on production costs if I could go the West End Games route and stick film photos in the book (instead of illustrations).
All right, all right…I DID say “no Star Wars,” and I meant it…that’s a whole ‘nother week’s worth of posts. Instead, I wanted to talk about a different fetish of mine: Texas Rangers.
No, not the baseball team. I’m not a huge fan of baseball anyway (I enjoy it, but it ain’t the NFL), but if I was rooting for any team in the World Series it would have to be the Giants. How can you not love a team that has Kelly from the Bad News Bears?
No, no, I’m talking about the REAL (so to speak) Texas Rangers…you know, the law men with the six-shooters?
When I was a kid, long before I discovered D&D and knights and armor, I dug the Lone Ranger. “Long before” is, of course, extremely subjective but there’s a lot of growth and development occurring between the ages of, say, 5 and 8…enough that they seem like two different lifetimes.
Guys who are older than me probably have even better/stronger memories of the masked hero and his horse, Silver. I never saw the old black and white serial, but I most definitely watched the Saturday Morning Cartoon (where do you think I learned that you extinguish an oil derrick fire with dynamite? Lots of useful lessons back before they started adding “morals” to the epilogue!). I also had a large action figure or two that I believe was made in response to a feature film done in the early 80s (THAT I don’t remember at all).
The toy was only “okay” (if memory serves I actually had Tonto and my brother had the LR for some reason), due in large part to the limited number of supporting cast dolls. At least, with my Star Wars figures (sorry) I had Storm Troopers and Darth to “fight” with my Han Solo and Luke, etc.
What WAS cool was the little mini-comic that must have accompanied the toy (I don’t recall where else I would have acquired such a thing) detailing the origin of the Lone Ranger. How he and a huge posse got bushwhacked in a box canyon (was the bad guy’s name “Black Bart?” Maybe), and he alone survived…hence the moniker: The LONE Ranger.
Now, I have no idea why he decided to don a mask (shame at being out-smarted by such a low-down sidewinder? Maybe), nor why he decided to go it alone rather than put the badge back on (isn’t that kind of like desertion? And he probably didn’t get the Texas Ranger salary after turning vigilante).
We won’t bother to ask how he could be considered “lone” with his faithful (Apache?) companion.
Anyway, far from the current mythology of the tough as nails “One Riot, One Texas Ranger” kind of guy, the Lone Ranger was more of classic (ancient) hero paradigm. There’s a bit about him that calls to mind Roland, or perhaps Theseus…I don’t know.
I just liked the mask, myself.
When I picked up Deadlands (1st edition only…D20 Re-Loaded and Savage Worlds ain’t my thang), the first archetype to which I was immediately drawn was the Texas Ranger. THIS was “my dude,” mask or not. Some folks might be drawn to the more “fantasy-trope” characters (mad scientists, hucksters, shamans) and some want to base their character off of the typical western badass (Jonah Hex, the Two Gun Kid, the Outlaw Josey Wales or any of Eastwood’s “no name characters”). Me, I wanted a Texas Ranger…and if he could get dry gulched and left for dead and come back Harrowed…well, so much the better.
[and just by the way, I HATE “rangers” in D&D, every edition. They make me want to vomit]
I like Deadlands a lot but, to me, the game feels nearly un-playable and is problematic for all sorts of reasons, design-wise (probably a major impetus behind later editions moving to different game systems). The Weird West setting is probably the main thing I enjoy, though at times it does seem a bit “kitchen sink-ish” (especially with Lincoln as a superhero).
The western genre in general is NOT especially conducive to the “adventuring party.” Buddy pictures, sure. Solo gunmen, you bet. D&D-type crawls? No. And yet that’s what a DL game is apt to be like…take 3 to 5 players, make characters and then set off in a Wagon Train-like serial? That’s kind of dumb…for a role-playing game.
If single player role-playing wasn’t such an exercise in narcissism, the Deadlands world would be ideal for a Lone Texas Ranger (undead or not) to ride around exploring. But even if a 2nd player was down with playing 2nd fiddle Tonto, I’m not sure how long one could sustain a DL campaign.
Of course, the Wild Wild West serial lasted quite a few episodes before being cancelled.