Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wild West Rules - Boot Hill - TSR

This was my first introduction to gaming in the wild west with my friends Larry Armin and Jim Lurvey (and a host of others over the years). This particular copy is obviously not mine and its missing the chart from the back (which was conveniently perforated for ease of removal). If you happen to have an old copy with the chart I would love to get a scanned copy of it. 

Boot Hill
TSR, 1975 1st Edition 
Out of Print
8 1/2" x 5", softcover, 33 pages with basic rules, advanced rules, optional rules and appendices
Original Price $5

Movement: Boot Hill uses a movement rate table so all "characters" move at the same rate. In the basic game movement is done sequentially although it doesn't actually say how you determine who moves first. Characters move and then can initiate combat (shooting or brawling). In the advanced rules movement is simultaneous with players writing orders for the "characters" each turn.

Combat: Shooting and melee combat are both handled with percentile dice (quite unusual at the time, we used 2 D20s as the D10 wouldn't be introduced by TSR until 1980). Shooting order is determined by a character's "speed" plus a number of other modifiers based on the situation and weapon being used.

Wounds: A percentage chart for hit location and then wound severity. A light wound meant you lost 3 points from your strength, a serious wound was -7, the other possible result on the table is mortal wound. If strength was reduced to 0 then the character was unconscious. Additional modifiers are applied based on the hit location and severity of the wound.

Weapon List: A generic list with types of weapons that can be used rather than specific weapons. You have a generic single action revolver as opposed to a .45 caliber single action Colt.

Campaign rules: There are all of three pages dedicated to the campaign section. They are pretty wide open and offer suggestions more than actual rules. It even says that campaigns should be tailored to suit the preferences of the players.

Rules Bling: These rules are about as plain jane as they come and pretty standard for 1970s era rules. There are a few poor to average drawings in the book and little else except charts to break up the single column pages. In other words its all about the rules. Fortunately its not a big book so you are unlikely to fall asleep while reading it. Also like many rules sets at the time there are some missing pieces that you will need to puzzle out or write a house rule for.

Unique: Players (or the referee) actually generate a character for a game unless otherwise specified by a scenario. Surviving characters could be used for future games so it has a bit of an RPG feel to it. Unlike D&D percentile dice are rolled and a chart consulted to determine the characteristics; Speed, Personal Bravery, Personal Accuracy and Strength.
Speed ranged from Slow to Greased Lightning, Personal Bravery went from Coward to Foolhardy, Personal Accuracy went from Very Poor to Dead Eye and Strength went from Feeble to Mighty. If you were rolling for your primary character there would be modifiers added based on your roll. If you rolled from 01-50 then you would add 10, 51-70 add 5, 71-00 add 0. While you could still have a bad character, they wouldn't be horrendous.

My Thoughts: The rules are pretty wide open and certainly subject to some interpretation so most games featured at least some house rules made up over the years. Probably one of my favorite rule sets from a nostalgic point of view. There are three editions of the game floating around on the market and they seem to be getting harder to find these days. If you stumble across it for a good price then they are worth picking up. I wouldn't go searching for them though.

I'm not quite sure how I managed to get the funky lighting on this one but I'm unwilling to go back and take another picture.

Classic early TSR layout

Note the stellar artwork!

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