Friday, April 20, 2012

A Fistful of Groin Shots

Nearly 30 long years I ran my first and to date only Boot Hill campaign. For about 2-3 months our then-daily games left off the relentless AD&D and Traveller drumbeat and amped up the six-gun sound of the Hole in the Head gang.

I believe it was the one and only campaign that was more like a wargame campaign in that it had a defined, winnable objective—albeit a crude one, steal $100,000 and hightail it to down Mexico way. The last session featured the PCs stealing a Gatling gun from the local cavalry fort, setting it up in the main street of Promise City and for an hour of real-time play straight gunning down scores of NPCs as they looted the bank. Three of four the PC bandits fell to the guns of the infuriated posse leaving my brother, the lone bandito, the ultimate “winner” of the game.

In terms of pure cathartic psycho-tunes fun it rated up there in the pantheon. So recently when I got that need to shake off the D&D routine feeling, Boot Hill was among one of the top candidates for the one-shot. (No need to re-dish the scenario set-up you can see it here.)

I had set up the scenario to reward a Peckinpah götterdämmerung by providing for a scoring system based on “marauding points” (see below). The actual session not only delivered that heaping big pile of palate-cleansing nihilism, it did so in spades.

Marauding Points
Each “combatant” killed: 50
Each scalp of a combatant taken: 50
Each non-combatant killed: -50
Each $1 of loot taken: 1
Structural damage to a building: 50
Total destruction of a building: 150
Poor horse, mule, or donkey stolen: 25
Fair horse stolen: 50
Good horse stolen: 100
Excellent horse stolen: 200
Cattle per head rustled: 30

It probably helped that I picked out the amoral ruffians of our regular Google Plus group, the Nefarious Nine, as the play group. And just to add an extra twist, decided to parallel one of the stranger play group vs. play group violence moments by inviting in Brad from the home group to take the role as the mysterious (and back-stabbing) Drifter.

The Party”
Johnny Walker Texas Ranger, Mikah M.
“Crazy Elmo” Stuckey, Michael M.
“Pious Jack”, Peter R.
Buck “That Bastard” Parker, Robert P.
The Drifter, Brad E.

An obvious blotto Will Bill Hickok (second from left)
poses with members of the Nefarious Nine.
I deliver you these snapshots of the evening.

6:20 am-10:00 am
The Nine lay low on a ridge just east of town. The expected escalation of strange, unwieldly, and unworkable plans that will be undone in the friction of actual implementation supplemented by Texas drawling and yarn-spinning consumes half the session.

During the bull session, Crazy Elmo sneaks forward to roll the buckskin-jacketed, clay jug-toting drunk near a tipped wagon on the trade road only to find that he is eyeball to eyeball with no less than Wild Bill Hickok. He decides to get in with the erstwhile lawman, gambler and showman and takes up a drinking with him.

Meanwhile the Nine settle on a marauding plan that seems to entail pouring kerosene all over the cantina, draining a cabrito of its blood into a bucket, fetching the half-starved grizzly in the bear-baiting pit and leading him to the church (it's Sunday morning).

What could go wrong?
Click to embiggen crappy player's map.
Thanks to Migellito for prettifying.
10:05 am
Buck rambles down main street with his bucket of goat blood, kick opens the door of the church, and splatters the towns women and children (the men-folk of Cantones are not god-farin' people).

Since Boot Hill (second ed.) is a game nearly all combat rules and a sprinkling of random campaign subsystems, I begin a series of arbitrary rolls and rulings for various anomalies—which I of course love—with a “Bear Concentration” check to see if the bear will follow the trail and not the man providing. Unfortunately for Buck the bear blows it and instead concentrates on mauling him.

Meanwhile in the outhouse behind the canteen Crazy Elmo starts a-whoopin' on the former boxer now cattle foremen to the big bad in town. Boot Hill has a surprisingly fun and quick system for mixing it up with your fists that entails a simple 2d10 roll. Crazy Elmo starts to trade a couple rounds of

Meanwhile the Ranger who is supposed to cover Elmo from the ridge with his rifle decides to start shooting. Bullet one goes clean over the foreman and straight through the backdoor of the cantina instantly killing the barkeep--and sending a steady stream of now-irate cattle hands out in pursuit.

Buck is wrestling with the bear, Elmo with the foreman who still has his pants around his ankles. The rest of the gang comes running around to deal with the cow hands and their boss, the bolo-tied Captain. Pious Jack runs up, two guns a-blazing at point-blank range and miracolously misses all six shoots (you can typically get off 3 shots with a revolver in a round). Johnny Walker is still plugging away with the rifle and hitting Elmo as much as the other side.

Skip ahead a couple of rounds. Elmo is barely hang on to life having been shot or pummeled from just about every direction. He does manage to squeeze off a surprising number of groin shots, all serious taking down a few of the enemy. The Capatin goes down in a pink mist of head wounds. The Ranger comes running up and torches cantina those ensuring that she ends the evening having killed the maximum number of combatants who are bottlenecked inside.

Finally Buck manages his “Escape Bear Mauling” check and climbs up the cantina—just in time to have it go up in flames. He dives off next round. The Drifter meanwhile is calmly walking up the main street gunning down the gambler Earl Dandy and a few cowpokes as the bear contently mauls another.
With nearly all visible combatants down it looks like the gang (minus Crazy Elmo who took his fifth and fatal wound) now can start the serious ravaging of the town.


The Drifter decides this is his foreordained hour to turn on the rest of the gang. With a few choice throw-down words he calls out both the Ranger and Pious Jack. Despite having the best first shot speed he even let's the Ranger fire first. Hilariously she hits three times coming within 1 strength point of killing the turncoat. The Drifter also scores majorly lucky scoring mortal head wounds against both his opponents.

A barely alive Drifter misses seeing the notorious desperado Sam Bass step out from behind the church who promptly fills him up with three lead slugs. Stone cold killer he is Bass cooly saunters up to the lifeless anti-hero and crushes his skull with a boot.

Meanwhile Buck jumps down from the cantina after winning some gunplay with the dynamite loving town midget. Finding the TnT stash he manages to blow up the southeast corner of town before hightailing it back to their camp.

He sits down to drink corn liquor with Wild Bill over a few hands of cards and we fade to black. Seriously it was all over in six rounds, a minute of game time (two real hours).

Thoroughly satisfied, I believe we are now on for an on-again, off-again mini-campaign to be played on Google Plus. If you are hankering for some old school Western spaghetti western action come track us down there.  


  1. ha, Great fricking title. And I have been enjoying western themed things these days. Excellent timing and love the adventure.

  2. but.. but.. what's the tally?! :)

  3. Can I get extra points for killing PCs?

  4. Awesome! For an idea of what the territory around Cantones de los Montes looks like, go here.

  5. As much as I like my combats quick, I do rather enjoy that weird moment when you tally combat in your head and realize an evening of crazy, reckless combat lasted about a minute.

    I was running a Vampire game wherein the PCs got cornered by SWAT troopers and proceeded to massacre them all. One of the players started panicking that the sun was about to rise, when I said that the combat lasted less than a minute. Time to bug out before the feds arrive.