Needless to say, I’ve been absent for some time due to work demands. In fact, I really haven’t had a chance to pay attention to the gaming world since last summer.
I did, however, get a chance to watch a bunch of old westerns on AMC recently, which reminded me of how much fun that genre can be. As with most (old) gamers out there, my introduction to Wild West RPGs began with Boot Hill. It was an entertaining game for sure, but a stark reminder of the deadliness of guns.
I didn’t play in the Wild West again until PEG came out with Deadlands. Like a lot of concept games, I thought Deadlands was fun and interesting, but not quite the perfect fit for me. I was particularly fond of the blending of horror with the Wild West setting, but was less impressed with the Steampunk and magical aspect of the game. Not to belittle Steampunk and magic, I appreciate those genres as well; it’s just that I thought all of those elements pushed together were a bit too much.
After watching A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly this past week, my mind began to wander back to my initial fondness for Deadlands, and I started mentally picking over the bits I enjoyed. What kind of game would I have if I pulled out the parts I wanted? What would work and what would be harder to sell?
To me, the biggest draw is the setting. The Wild West has always had a mystique, and the blending of low-tech with rough conditions makes for an interesting backdrop. Yet, beyond that, I never appreciated the truly historic aspect of the genre, as I’ve always been a bigger fan of pitting my party against unholy, other-worldly, inhuman monstrosities. That was one of the big appeals of Deadlands.
So, if you pull out the Steampunk and the bulk of the magic, you’re essentially left with monsters in the Wild West. Depending on the tone and flavor, I think that would work well. Not to create a completely hackneyed response, but you would be left with what is basically a Western version of the X-Files.
It definitely deserves some thought.