May. 21st, 2010

theron: My Dice Are Probably Older Than You (Default)
So, recently (since last weekend or so), I've been all obsessed over Westerns.  It might be due to the trailers and commercials for "Red Dead Redemption," a very sweet looking video game I'll never play (because I don't own a console capable of running it and am not about to spend that sort of money just for a game I'd likely suck at).  It may be a really spurious piece I saw on The History Channel about Jesse James.  Doubtlessly the episodes of "Gunsmoke," and "The Six-Shooter" I hear on XM Radio Classics have a bit to do with it as well. Whatever the reason, in the past week, I've read two novels and pulled out a bunch of my Western genre RPGs to look over.

It's a lot of stuff, to tell the truth.  Of course, I've been accumulating RPGs since god was a corporal, so that's part of it.  For instance, I still have all three editions of Boot Hill , plus all of the modules for it.  I've got KenzerCo's Aces & Eights, a beautiful book housing a system that just seems impossibly complex.  I've got Coyote Trail, Wild West Cinema, and Dogs in the Vineyard.  I've got tons of every iteration of Deadlands (a game I've still only managed to play once, and what a horrid experience that was), Six Guns and Sorcery for Castle Falkenstein, Six Gun, Dust Devils, Sidewinder, and who knows what else hiding in storage.

That having been said, I've played very few Western games and only slightly more game sessions.  Because the Western genre seems a very hard sell to most gamers I've known.  Many consider a straight-up historical-style game "boring."  Even "cinematic" games run the risk of crossed wires as to what the term actually means.  An inevitable response to this is to start adding to the genre: magic it up, weird it up, tech it up, monster it up (Deadlands does all of the above), until you're looking at something that's more "Western-shaped"  than actual Western.  And that's fine if it's what floats your boat.  But such approaches run the risk of alienating as many people as they include.  

For instance, I don't mind mixing the West with Supernatural Horror and Magic.  Nor do I mind mixing it with "Wild Wild West"-style gadgetry and low-end Steampunk elements.  But for some reason, I really dislike the idea of putting all three in the mix.  Another downer for me is the alt-history approach both Deadlands and Aces & Eights take that leaves the Confederacy more or less intact.  As a student of history (I won't flatter myself with the title 'historian'), I just don't see the purpose for this.  In Deadlandsit does serve to provide one more competing faction in the Great Rail Wars, but I find the whole matter of romanticizing the Confederacy horribly distasteful.  Not to mention the fact that the way the Civil War ended had a good deal to do with the birth of the so-called "Wild West" in the first place.  The whole thing reminds me of how 7th Sea tried to present a pirate setting without a New World.

Anyway, I'm not sure where I'm going with this.  My gaming attention span is horribly short, and by next week I may be obsessed with something else entirely.  At least I've gotten a couple of good reads out of the deal.


theron: My Dice Are Probably Older Than You (Default)

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