Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas...To Me!

Hope everyone's having a great holiday (or gearing up for a great holiday OR just gearing up for a nice weekend). Been busy all day...since the moment I got up. Which was fairly late, since I went to be bed LAST night around 1:30 or so.

However, the festivities this evening were quite nice, so no complaints about the business (or me sheer exhaustion...little Buddy the beagle, curled up on the couch snoring, has the right idea). But man o man am I behind in my blogging! I've got two to three posts that need to go up besides this one...and that's not even counting additional "happy Christmas" wishes.

And speaking of happy Christmas: last night was our regularly scheduled Thursday night game at the Baranof in Greenwood. Role-playing at Baranof's during the holidays is a little surreal. For one thing, they have several "holiday drinks" on the menu that mainly consist of five parts straight liquor and a splash of eggnog. For another, there's a giant tree in the middle of the dining room, which means we are playing under the glow of red Christmas lights all night. For a third thing, the tree is decorated with individually wrapped Twinkies (I kid you not...a Baranof patron works at the local Hostess factory and provides them with fresh cakes, which are then stashed amongst the tree branches). We snack liberally from the "Twinkie Tree" all night while drinking our Christmas cocktails...that's just nutty.

So we anticipated at least a few folks being gone last night for the such, the Goblin Wars game was being put on hold for at least a week or two. Instead, we figured we'd do a little one-off action. Since it's my table, I brought two options: we could play a one-off D&D adventure, or we could play Boot Hill, one of my all-time favorite RPGs (though I didn't tell them that at the time).

They opted for the western game. Fan-friggin-tastic!

So we rolled up characters...which in Boot Hill takes even less time than B/X D&D. Since I didn't have extra books to pass around, I just read off the short equipment list and let them make their own purchases, as I read (everyone starts with $150 in Boot Hill).

Before I go any further, I should point out that despite being "short-handed" we still had five people show up, with only Luke, Heron, and "new guy Dave" being absent. Even Josh put in an appearance (though he didn't stay to play...just out running some errands for the wife and new baby, and wanted to stop by and wish us all a merry-merry...very cool of him).

Considering the limited budget and even more limited stat line of characters, it's pretty amazing the range of different personalities that showed up. We didn't get much into "character development" (I just wanted to get characters made and "get to the game") but in the future, I think a few random tables similar to my "random headgear" and "relationships" for B/X would be a great way to set up some basic backstory for the characters. As it was we had:

- the older, slower, experienced gunfighter that was a Deadeye (natural "00") shot
- the younger, extremely fast (natural "00") double-fisted gun-fighter with pretty lousy aim
- the crazy as f*** Mexican carrying 10 or so throwing knifes known as "Machete"
- the crazy as f*** other guy who spent all his money on a horse and carried only one weapon: his trusty scattergun
- the medium fast, medium accuracy guy with the six-shot Winchester (he was also carrying a bunch of knives)

We ran a couple practice combats so that folks could see how it all worked out, as well as get an inkling of the deadliness of combat. We found that sometimes it was better to be more accurate than fast (as the Deadeye was able to take down Mr. Greased Lightning with only a minor scratch in return), and generally its downright silly to take a knife to a gunfight (when the crazy Mexican got blown away by Mr. Scattergun).

Anyway, they were fairly pleased with their guys and ready to rumble, so enter the adventure: module BH1: Mad Mesa.

Mad Mesa is a solo adventure that can be adapted to group role-playing. Having played it solo several times in the past, it was something I was familiar with for a one-off pick-up game like this. In the non-solo version, "Uncle Zeke" has contacted his nephew (the lightning-fast kid) to help his discern the mystery behind some harassing-type action that's taking place at his ranch...the culprit appears to be in Mad Mesa (a small fictional western town in 1870 Arizona).

After figuring out how much a leather duster cost (we decided $4), the party (hmm...we'll refer to them as "the posse" from now on) rolled into town and immediately began to stir up trouble. While Rifleman and Deadeye checked out the office of one suspicious attorney Matt Brady ("NOT the famous Civil War photographer"), Lightning drew dead at the assessor's office and Machete and Scattergun drank it up at the Mad Mesa Saloon. Or tried to...they were a little light on funds (and they had really wanted to join the poker game). Brady wasn't at his office, but was eating lunch over at the Lazy A Hotel. The posse converged on the place while Machete went around to the back and ambushed the skinny attorney coming out of the outhouse. Brandishing a knife and yelling threats caused Brady to turn and run...and Machete hit him in the back with a knife.

The others quickly figured out there was a clusterf*** going on and made their way out behind the hotel where a little hard questioning resulted in the attorney fainting. Dragging him across the street to the local Doctor's they dropped him off for treatment and went looking for the one name Brady fingered before passing out: "Old Man" Russell, a local ranch owner with a lot of hired guns.

The posse was eventually pointed in the direction of the Babe Saloon, where they found 8 men, 4 women, a player piano (not a piano player), and a bartender. The men were in a heated discussion when Deadeye and Lightning came through the door, and they were asked to leave.

Deadeye tried the Fistful of Dollars approach, telling Old Man Russell "Matt Brady's been killed by a mysterious crazy murderer. You can hire us and we'll help you track down the killer."

"I've already got my boys," Russell gestured to the three men sitting close to him at the table, "and my friends," (he gestured to the other gents). "Haven't you ever heard of "Buckshot" Blume? I don't need any more 'help.'"

Lightning challenges Buckshot to a duel, "If I kill him can I take his place?"

The Old Man smiles wide, "Sure you can, sonny." Buckshot leans over to whisper something to Russell.

Lightning decides to pull his piece and smoke Buckshot right there and then. "Hey, he said 'duel on.' He's fair game!" Deadeye: "Whoa crap." Having complete surprise, Lightning manages to put two bullets in Buckshot, including one between the eyes, effectively backshooting the fastest draw in Mad Mesa. Deadeye skins his smokewagon and begins blazing away at the Russells as all hell breaks loose. "we're all going to die aren't we?"

Machete, hearing gunfire, comes in through the back door and puts a knife in Old Man Russell's back. Scattergun comes in through the front door and fires both barrels into the Russells' table, killing the Old Man and two or three of his sons. Winchester is right behind him, pumping bullets into the crowd.

A lone rifleman that the posse had been ignoring, lifts his piece and calmly blows scattergun all to hell, before putting a bullet into Winchester. "Skins" MacGregor is the second best gunfighter in the Russell's employ, and a deadeye shot with the rifle. Before anyone else can knock him dead, Skins pumps several bullets into Deadeye, killing him. I don't remember if Lightning put him down or Rifleman...but eventually, everyone was dead except for the women and the bartender (who fled the scene).

The posse decided it was time to get the hell out of Dodge (or rather, Mad Mesa) before the sheriff showed up to investigate. Having killed "Old Man" Russell, they weren't sure if they had managed to solve Uncle Zeke's mystery or not. But they knew that this particular county of Arizona was done for them.

Oh, of the saloon girls hit Machete with a knife of her own when they were fleeing the bar.

Yeah...that was the whole evening. Man, I love Boot Hill. Personally, if I'd known the players were open to trying it, I would have planned something a bit more engaging. But how can you not be engaged when hot lead starts flying? Having the opportunity to run a little BH...even as short and ridiculous as this, was a tasty little Christmas present for Yours Truly. Certainly a lot tastier than those Twinkies in the tree!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


  1. Love the Once Upon a Time in the West pic, one of my favorites! Sounds like a fun game.

  2. damn, sorry I missed it. I had some good times with Boot Hill. We used those rules for everything from a Road Warrior knock-off to a weird Cthulhu/Western hybrid (before any of us had heard of the term Weird West).

    I still think it would be fun to run an adventure based on The Valley of Gwangi.

  3. Merry Christmas!

    Sounds like a plan. My wife and I have been ewatching 'Deadwood' recently, so I've been in the mood to run either "Boot Hill" or "Aces & Eights." Now if I could just convince my group they want to play....

    Actually, the otherGM would love to and I'm sure that he's play an Al Swearengen type. :)

  4. This is great! I never heard of Boot Hill until this year, if you can believe it. I pretty much only heard of it on the gaming blogosphere! Do you think Boot Hill would be good for a Dark Tower game based in Roland's world? I know you're a fan of the books.

  5. @ IG: Maybe when everyone is back, we can try running something with Boot Hill. I'm sorry you and Luke missed out on the lead-slinging madness...didn't realize it would be such a hit (the beer certainly helped).

    @ Drance: COULD be used for the Dark Tower, but it would be tough to some of the more supernatural aspects (for example, the giant bear cyborg, Walter/Merlin's sorcery, high-tech weapons, etc.). While it wouldn't be impossible (especially if using the extra non-human animal rules found in the modules) I'm not sure it's the best game system for modeling King's series.