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Jeff's Gameblog
Monday, 22 March 2004
TSR Fever #2 of 4: Gamma World
Gamma World occupies a similar place in my heart as Boot Hill. It was a TSR rpg that I never owned as a kid, but a member of my gaming group had a copy. This was back when we were all young and stupid. I'm not sure we realized that just buying an RPG wasn't enough. Someone had to break down and run the mofo. Usually that someone was the owner of the game. Gamma World and Boot Hill also share a connection in that official conversion rules to and from AD&D were provided in the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide in the wonderfully named sections "Sixguns & Sorcery" and "Mutants & Magic". I've sometimes wondered if a hybrid game of all three ("Sixguns & Mutants?") would be feasible.

According to informants on RPG.net the first two editions are very similar rules-wise, the second edition merely provided clarifications and an intro scenario. The 2nd is what Shawn Watson owned back in the day as well. Five additional products appear to be relevant, modules GW1 through GW4 and the inevitable judges screen and mini-module.

Posted by jrients at 12:53 PM CST
TSR Fever #1 of 4: Boot Hill
I already have a 2nd edition boxed set and the other editions don't particularly interest me, so I'll just look at the supplementary material. As I mentioned in my last post, I have 3 reference works available. [EDIT TO ADD: I have no idea why there is so much blank space between this text and the start of my table. I guess that's what I get for trying to get MS Word to help me make a table.]





Referee's Screen

"Mini-module included--Shootout in Northfield and Other Famous Gunfights"


Notes that it is designed for 2nd edition rules

BH1: Mad Mesa

"Solo or multi-player adventure"


"Solo scenario set in an exceedingly trigger-happy town, with rules for running it as a game-mastered group adventure."

BH2: Lost Conquistador Mine


"not only the best of the Boot Hill supplements, it's also the best Western adventure ever published"

"originally used for the Boot Hill tournament at Gen Con XIII. A treasure map leads the players to a lost gold mine - if they can get past bushwhackers, con men, bank robbers, Apaches, and aristocratic European hunters."

BH3: Ballots & Bullets



"7 miniscenarios, involving an election conducted with lead-slinging enthusiasm by thevoters of Promise City. Includes over 300 NPCs and instructions on how to conduct a crooked election: dirty tricks, stuffing ballot boxes, disrupting rallies, etc."

BH4: Burned Bush Wells


"a classic Western scenario set in the dead of Winter"

"Campaign setting that describes the town of Burned Bush Wells, the setting of a number of miniscenarios. It's the dead, and the town is divided between 2 rival factions."

BH5: Range War!



"a guide to the town of Promise Cityduring a cattlemen/sheepherder range war, with a town key, PC and NPC lists, and a number of miniscenarios."

Mad Mesa looks dubious, but between Swan and Schick they manage to sell me the rest of the product line. Range War is apparently rare enough to drive up the prices on the eBay, so I doubt I'll be getting that one unless I can find it at bargain price.

The three guides also note that Fantasy Games Unlimited made a competitor product called Wild West, with a single adventure module Trouble on Widow's Peak. Both look interesting enough to warrant a purchase at cheapy-cheap prices.

Given the fact that I'm going to get such a big chunk of the product line, I think I will bid these game systems consecutively rather than in parallel. I.e. once I'm done with Boot Hill, then I will move on to Gamma World.

Posted by jrients at 11:18 AM CST
Updated: Monday, 22 March 2004 11:33 AM CST

This morning I worked up a cheap-n-sleazy prototype board for my chess variant, Spacewarp 44. I'll scan it in a post it later. I need to get together with my sister to try it out.

Now that I got TSR fever, I figured I'd do some research into the old games Boot Hill, Gangbusters, Gamma World, and Dawn Patrol. I already have a sizable Star Frontiers collection and most other early TSR roleplaying games don't interest me, other than D&D of course.

So to help me peg down what edition and supplements and whatnot I should look at, I dug up my rpg reference books: Dicing With Dragons by Ian Livigstone, The Complete Guide To Role-Playing Games by Rick Swan, and Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games by Lawrence Schick. These books are great for learning about the early history of the hobby and they provide overview information for a LOT of rpg stuff. Heroic Worlds is especially good. Anyway, I hope to collate these three sources into a little guide to the early TSR rpg stuff I'm interested in.

While looking for these three volumes in my game room I stumbled across two other books about gaming, the Gary Gygax how-to guides Role Playing Mastery and Master of the Game. I really need to reread them.

Posted by jrients at 9:49 AM CST
Sunday, 21 March 2004

It occurred to me today that there are two other chess games I could do writes-up on to send to the Chess Variants page. Sid Sackson did a little chess variant in a book of games he wrote. Also, I have a copy of an ancient TSR game called 4th Dimension.

I got a new Monster Cards page up today at The Erol Otus Shrine. I need to remember to scan in the pictures in the Fiend Folio. Here are my short term plans for the Shrine:

1) Updated index page, with new logo

2) Update to the DDG page, with better cover art

3) Add missing non-Otus minigame covers to the minigame page

4) Otus miscellany page, I might be able to spin this into 2 pages, with one devoted to just module art

5) Links page

6) Non Otus art page, with a piece or two from TSR contemporaries

I also had an idea for a webpage dedicated to my brother-in-law-in-law's old school munchkin character Zal. Stuff like 30th level wizards with superpowers and artifact swords need to be preserved for gaming posterity.

Posted by jrients at 5:44 PM CST

So it turns out that two of the Ancients scenarios I'm interested use blank maps (Leuctra, a Sprtan/Thebes throwdown and Sambre, featuring Julius Caesar in a steel cage against some Gallic types). This turn of events allows me to concentrate on producing some counters, since I can use my old BattleTech megamat for the map. I just have to make up my mind whether I want to take the time to do custom counters, or maybe I should just concentrate on a workable set of generic guys with sword type counters.

Posted by jrients at 10:16 AM CST
Saturday, 20 March 2004

After years of on-again off-again dinking around with it, I finally figured out how to print out some usable full-color components for Ancients, a light an easy pre-gunpowder wargame with a metric buttload of scenarios. I think I'll be able to produce maps and counters larger than the teeny weeny standard size. I may even try to integrate some of Patrick's Cardboard Warriors. I've even got a large sheet of green felt and some iron-on hexes if I wanted to go that route.

One of the nice things about Ancients is that I can really wrap my Dungeons & Dragons-wired brain around it. Heck, you could use Ancients as the super-large scale combat system in a low magic campaign.

Posted by jrients at 6:47 PM CST

I read the Boot Hill 2nd edition rulebook today. It has been at least 15 years since I last read it, maybe 20. I guess the couple of decades of gaming helped, because I think I finally understand the combat system. I'm seriously thinking about tracking down some modules for this puppy. Only 5 adventures and maybe a screen were published for it. I suppose other western games could be of some use, like the old Western Hero supplement from I.C.E. And Dragon issue #71, IIRC, had a great module called The Taming of Brimstone, complete with a nifty little tactical map. I reread most of it off the good ol' Dragon CD-ROM. About the only changes I would make would be to stretch out the time scale (two murders a day seems to be the average situation as written!) and maybe add a a few buildings to the map. I believe a brothel is conspicuously absent, thanks to the political climate of the era the module was published in.

Gave some more thought to my chess variant, Spacewarp 44. I think the warp squares will work like this: Any piece that starts its move on a red 'warp' square may forgo its normal move/capture rules and instead leap to any other warp square, capturing any enemy piece occupying the destination square.

Posted by jrients at 1:54 PM CST
Still awake
Managed to make use of this time to finish my two new submissions for the Star Trek Star Ship Tactical Combat Simulator Millennium Update & Archive. I sent Brad, the site owner/operator stats for two Romulan vessels: the V-24 "Great Bird" class cruiser and the P-8 "Deathsting" class corvette. The V-24 is yet another Bird of Prey lookalike, with the special mission of hunting down Klingon Bird of Prey ripoffs! The P-8 looks like the perfect vessels for a small group of Romulans stirring up trouble in the triangle: its small, has a cloak, atmo-capable, and has some guns. It would be a perfect starter vessels for an Romulan PC group.

Hopefully Brad will eb able to get them up on the site soon.

Posted by jrients at 5:31 AM CST
TSR fever

Can't sleep.

Pat slipping me this copy of Boot Hill second edition made me long to play some of those games my old junior high/high school group owned back in the eighties but really never got much use out of. Mostly they were TSR games; it took us a while to acknowledge that other RPG companies mattered. (Kinda like the way we were Marvel zombies. We just didn't know better.) Anyway, I now find myself searching the web (especially eBay) for 2nd edition Boot Hill modules, 2nd edition Gamma World, 1st edition Gangbusters, even Dawn Patrol! These games had extremely small products lines, so getting a complete set for each is not out of the question.

Pat also expressed his interest in the Star Frontiers miniatures line. I'm trying to figure out how exploitive it would be of me to get him to paint some figs for me for Starmada Frontiers. They're not hard to find and not very expensive. TSR seemed to overestimate interest in them. Basing would be the only big issue. Getting him to stick to any sort of schedule is doubtful, but man it would make for a sweet con game to actually have figures for Starmada.

Posted by jrients at 3:56 AM CST
Friday, 19 March 2004

Got a new page up at the Erol Otus Shrine.

Pat was over tonight. We shot the breeze about gaming, mostly discussing his ideas for recreating the entirety of the 1982 Anglo-Argentinian war in the Falkland Islands. He also gave me that copy of Boot Hill he had snagged for me. Its the edition I was looking for and in great shape. Yippee!

Posted by jrients at 10:06 PM CST
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 10:07 PM CST

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