Thursday, January 28, 2016

Campaign Idea 3: Mythic Old West (B/X or S&W)

Inspired by Deadlands, Stuart Robinson's Weird West, and the old Bruce Campbell TV show "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr."

Unlike my previous two campaign ideas, which assume you've purchased an OSR-authored book (JB's Complete B/X Adventurer). this campaign idea uses resources that you can get online for free. (Though a few have paid options if you feel like helping out the authors)

Disclaimer: I didn't write any of these resources, I have nothing vested in any of these resources, and I've never even had more than blog comment contact with any of the authors.

The backstory: Magic has returned to the world. In the American Old West, the San Andreas fault turns out to be a ley line of incredible power. A massive earthquake unleashes a wave of magical chaos. The Frontier begins reclaiming the land, monsters and strangeness pushing mankind back toward the East. Will the heroes take part in standing against the Frontier as it advances, or are they simply thieves and ne'er-do-wells taking advantage of the lawlessness that grips the edge of civilization?

Visual Reference: See the top of this post. The setting is meant to be more fantasy than horror, but y'all can flavor to taste. (I just figure that Deadlands already has that angle cornered)

Available Classes:   Doctor, Gambler, Inventor, Magician, Preacher, Pugilist, Shootist, Trailblazer


*The Blood & Bullets rules by Simon Washbourne. You can get them for free here, or you can get a Kindle version or a hard copy if you want to kick a few dollars at the author.

*The Medic class from Amityville Mike's 'Resistance' White Box post-apocalypse treatment. You can grab those classes here.
 Medic class gets the following adjustments:
-Renamed Doctor
-Add Defense Bonus (use the same progression as the Gambler class from B&B)
-Doctors can use any weapons, though most Doctors are loathe to take lives.
-Doctors receive a +2 to any Saving Throw vs. poison, disease, or death.

*The Scientist class by P. Armstrong from the (seemingly defunct?) Ode to Black Dougal Blog.
Scientist receives the following adjustments:
-Renamed Inventor
-Hit Die progression is changed to that of the Gambler.
-To Hit and Defense bonuses equal to the Shootist.
-Inventors can use any weapons
-Inventors get +2 to saving throws versus explosions and electricity, and their normal ST number is 15.
-Inventors get a Gadget slot at 1st level. Their slots do not improve until 3rd level.

*Add the Magic-User class from Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, which you can download free from Lulu or DriveThru. (Or, y'know, you can add it from White Box B/X D&D)
Magic-User gets the following adjustments:
-Renamed Magician
-Add Defense bonus of the Trailblazer.
-The Magician can use any weapon, though most Magicians prefer one-handed weapons to make spellcasting easier. Magicians often carry daggers.
-The Magician gets +2 to Saving Throws vs. deceit and vs. any magic spell or attack.
-Magician spells are drawn from Swords & Wizardry White Box.

*Two classes I am throwing into the mix: Pugilist and Preacher.


Level ... XP....... HD.....To-Hit....Def....ST
1            0          1+2        +0      +0     15
2         1750          2          +1     +1     14
3        3500         3+1        +2     +2     13
4        7000          4          +2     +2      12
5      14000           5         +3     +3      11
6       28000         6+1      +3    +4       10
7       56000         7          +4    +4        9
8        112000      8          +4    +5        8
9        224000      9+1      +5    +6        7
10      448000      10         +5    +6       6

Prime Requisite: Strength. A Pugilist receives an experience bonus for having a high Strength score.
Saving Throws: A Pugilist receives +2 to saves vs. alcohol or being stunned.
Weapons: Pugilists can use any weapon, but they typically prefer to fight unarmed.

Dodge: Once per round, the Pugilist can dodge a missile attack that hits him by making a ST (Dex)

Fists of Fury: Against opponents of 1 HD or fewer, the Pugilist can make a number of unarmed attacks per round equal to his level. For instance, a 5th level Pugilist surrounded by 1 HD townies can deliver five attacks per round.

Fisticuffs: A Pugilist inflicts 1d6 damage with unarmed attacks, rather than 1d3. In addition, he can choose to make damage from his unarmed attacks normal damage rather than temporary.

Haymaker: If a Pugilist rolls maximum damage on an unarmed attack, he can choose to forego the damage in order to stun the opponent for 1d12 rounds. The opponent may make a ST (Con) to only be knocked out for 1d6 rounds instead.

Second Wind: Once per day, a Pugilist can spend a round catching his breath to restore a number of Hit Points to himself equal to 1d6+ experience level. If the Pugilist makes a Saving Throw (Con), he can restore the Hit Points immediately without taking a round to do so. (In other words, the Pugilist could still attack or take any other action)

Thanks to JB's Holmes-style Monk and the Swords & Wizardry Companion White Box Monk for the inspiration.


Level ... XP....... HD.....To-Hit....Def....ST
1            0           1        +0          +0     14
2         1500         2         +0         +1     13
3        3000         2+1      +1         +1     12
4        6000          3         +1         +2     11
5      12000           4        +2         +2     10
6       24000         4+1      +2        +3      9
7       48000         5         +3         +3      8
8        96000        6          +3        +4      7
9       192000       6+1      +4        +4      6
10      384000      7          +4         +5     5

Prime Requisite: Charisma. A Preacher receives an experience bonus for having a high Charisma score.
Saving Throws: A Preacher receives +2 to saving throws vs. deceit and fear
Weapons: Preachers can use any weapon, though most of them prefer not to harm innocents or living humans.
Alignment: If you use the alignment system in Blood & Bullets, Preachers may not be Evil. A Preacher who starts down the path of Evil will lose the Banish Evil ability and cannot advance any further in this class.

Banish Evil: Preachers can present their holy symbol to drive away undead, demons, and devils. They use the rules and procedures from Swords & Wizardry White Box. Demons and Devils aren't destroyed, but rather send back to Hell.

Flock: Starting at 3rd level, again at 6th and 9th level, a Preacher attracts a follower. The followers needn't be paid, but they gain 1/2 experience and they are not replaced if killed. Followers are the same alignment and religious tradition as the Preacher they have chosen to follow.

Preacher Level.....Follower Level....
3                             1st
6                             2nd
9                             3rd

Roll randomly to determine the class of each follower.

Roll (d20) ......Class
1-5                  Preacher
6-10                Shootist
11-14              Trailblazer
15-17              Pugilist
18-19              Gambler  (reformed)
 20                  Inventor

Inspire: A Preacher can use his presence to rouse his allies to action, giving them +1 to hit and damage and all Saving Throws for 1d4+1 rounds. A Preacher may do this once per day for every experience level. The Preacher's confers a +2 bonus on NPCs who are part of his Flock. (See above)

Minister (Cha): A Preacher who spends 1 round tending to someone who isn't involved in combat may do one of the following: stabilize a dying comrade, allow a comrade a second Saving Throw vs. disease, poison, or curses. A single person may only be ministered to once per day, and the Preacher can only minister to a total number of individuals equal to his experience level.

Sway Crowd (Cha): A Preacher may appease (or agitate) a mob by giving a rousing speech or other encouragement. A Preacher may affect a crowd of up to 5 x level. (A 4th level Preacher can affect a crowd of up to 20.) This only works on ordinary folks, and cannot be used in combat.

Variation: For a non-Mythic/Weird game, you can remove the Banish Evil ability and add:

Upstanding: Most communities welcome Preachers. A Preacher who wears the vestments of his trade can expect reasonable hospitality from most towns and cities for free. Whether this extends to his companions or not depends entirely on their conduct.

You may also reflavor Minster as simply the psychosomatic power of prayer.

Thanks to the Swords & Wizardry Companion White Box Bard for inspiration.


  1. For further inspiration read Abercrombie's novel, "Red Country". It's a stand-alone story in his larger omnibus fantasy series whose name I can't remember, and it wears its wild west inspiration on its sleeve. It's got wild prairie, a gold rush town, and a High Noon duel in the streets, mixed in with swords and armor, clockwork dragons, Black Company style mercenaries, and massive treasure hoards. It's a pretty dark and dreary book, so I don't generally recommend it as fun reading, but it should serve as excellent inspiration.

    1. I will take a look for it next time I'm at the library. Thanks for the recommendation.

      ...though I wonder how a story with that description could be dull. :P

  2. This would be good inspiration for this idea.

    The story is about the town of Hangman's Corners, its eccentric population and the peculiar and somewhat terrifying complications visited upon them by a variety of beings.

  3. Interesting ideas! The Preacher in particular stands out to me as something that should have been a major part of RPGs for a while; after all, a priest might be wise and knowledgeable, but they won't win too many converts the old-fashioned way unless they have a lot of natural Charisma.

  4. Is Blood and Bullets significantly different from Go Fer Yer Gun? I'll have to check it out and see. I've considered a Labyrinth Lord/Mutant Future/GFYG Dark Tower game before. If B&B has some different stuff, I might want to use it instead. Some day.

  5. @UncleSam- I will give that a read... probably from my phone while I wait in line at the DMV today...

    @Fuzzy- Yeah, I used the White Box Bard as a starting point for the Preacher, rather than the Cleric. He ended up being a hybrid, but without the magic.

    @Dennis- I'd never heard of GFYG until today...interesting to see it's from the same author. Whereas Blood & Bullets aims to be White Box-esque, GFYG seems more just general OSR, with variable hit points and higher level caps and such. I think GFYG would work better, mechanics-wise, with Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future.