There’s genres that I just can’t seem to find what I consider a good RPG for. One of those genres has been the good old Wild West. The thing is saying a Wild West RPG is still vague like when people say Fantasy RPG. When people say fantasy they may mean JRR Tolkien and others think of Robert E Howard. When it comes to Westerns, some think of Louis L’Amour and think of Sergio Leone. I’m in the Leone camp. This leads us to Cowpunchers Reloaded.
The game had a lot of research go into it. There’s plenty of historical background in case you didn’t have those types of classes in school. And the guns section has about every odd ball firearm from the period. Yes, in case you didn’t know, there were lots of types guns. You could almost call it an arms race.
Let’s talk about the rules. I suppose the good thing is that it’s not a d20 based game. There’s lots of extra baggage both good and bad with the d20 system. In the case of Cowpunchers, it uses the Puncher System. Reading over the rules, I can see some influence from the d20 style games with the 3d6 based Attribute scores but the system itself uses d6 pool system for task resolution. It similar to the old d6 Legend system where you roll a pool of d6’s and look for successes (in Cowpunchers that’s a 5 or 6). There are no classes, it’s all Attribute and Skill based. That makes task resolution pretty simple and intuitive.
Combat can be pretty deadly. There are multiple methods for calculating Hit Points so that mitigates some of that. Firearm’s damage dice “explode” adding to their lethality. And when a character hits that 0 HP mark things start to go badly and characters start to take damage to their Attribute scores. That’s perfectly fine in my book. That’s what I’m looking for. Now there is another interesting mechanic with HP. Characters can burn HP to affect their die rolls. This is another cool bit that I really like. Oh and combat is simultaneous. Enjoy that one.
And rounding out the the book is a good section with adversaries, a starting adventure and some adventure seeds. So overall, it’s a solid game. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a couple of gripes. First, I looked and searched and maybe didn’t find but gambling (especially Poker) I feel is something that’s really key to the genre. There aren’t any rules for it. The other thing is that some of the examples seemed overly wordy or redundant with other examples. It took me a couple of readings to things straight in my head.
So you remember that whole OGL mess? Well, here’s another good thing. Cowpunchers is under a Creative Commons Share Alike license. So you can write stuff for it too. (Yes, I do have something that’s been bouncing around inside my head. You’ll just have to wait for it.) This is a really great thing and I appreciate it when a creator takes their work and lets other build upon it.
So yes. I do recommend Cowpunchers. There’s plenty of little dials to turn make the game fit your tastes of the Wile West genre. It’s a simple but robust system that newbies and experienced games can pick up quickly and start playing.
You can pick up Cowpunchers directly from the Basic Expert or at Big Geek Emporium. Remember folks. Go out there and support indie creators!
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