[Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

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[Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by Big Mac » Sun May 31, 2015 2:38 pm

Every so often, I bump into a mention of the cowboy RPG Boot Hill. I did a search for it on The Piazza, and can only find one topic (Boot Hill?).

Looking at that topic, it seems that there are not many fans of Boot Hill at The Piazza (or rather there were not many fans of it here 5 years ago).

But I don't seem to see any Boot Hill fansites, or Boot Hill forums. (That could be because "Boot Hill" is a bit flooded in the search engine results.) Does anyone know of a Boot Hill fansite that has fanon material or a Boot Hill forum, where people talk about this game?

Does anyone remember a time when there was a forum at TSR (or on the AOL thing that I sometimes hear about) connected to Boot Hill?

According to the Wikipedia article for Boot Hill, there were three editions of the game. So it could not have been a total turkey of a game, or it just wouldn't have lasted that long. Wikipedia cites sources that suggest that the high death rate and lack of alignment systems were things that reviewers criticised about the game. But, I would have thought that, if those things were problems, there would be someone out there (somewhere) making house rules to "deal" with perceived issues.

I read that Don Kaye was the big advocate for Boot Hill, and that he sadly died before it was published. I'm not familiar with his work. Does anyone know of any other products he worked on back in the early days? Do you think that Boot Hill might have evolved differently if Don Kaye had gotten the heart surgery he needed and made a full recovery?

Were there a lot of people who tried Boot Hill, decided they did not like the focus on combat and then gave up on it? Or was this never a big RPG in the first place? My gut tells me that it probably would have been a smaller RPG and that it should have generated a cult following of fans who still play it today. But I really have nothing to go on, other than my gut feeling that there are fans out there for every small RPG product line. :?

Was Boot Hill more popular with wargamers than with roleplayers? I can imagine that character death would be less important to wargamers, and that roleplaying in a game that was focused highly on combat might be more interesting to them than RPGs that have hundreds of pages of rules about things that do not involve fighting. I've never really been into wargaming. I've done a couple of things, but never looked for communities. Are there any wargamming communities out there that have support for Boot Hill fans?

EDIT: Despite the criticism that Wikipedia reports on, it looks like the 3rd Edition version of Boot Hill has good reviews on Amazon.
Image

Amazon says that was written by Steve Winter. He seems to make pretty good stuff. Do you think that he could have expanded the fanbase for Boot Hill, if he had been given more time?
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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by Havard » Sun May 31, 2015 3:59 pm

Great post Big Mac!

I have been interested in Boot Hill for a while now. Although there aren't many threads about Boot Hill here, the game also came up in my [Western] How many RPGs in this genre? thread as well.

There are also a few threads about Deadlands which fills into a similar niche.

With 3 editions, it does seem like Boot Hill has gotten its fair share of chances. The fact that TSR kept coming back to it does suggest that there was some interest in the game too.

I do find it interesting that it is hard to make a successful RPG outside of the fantasy genre. The problem I think alot of people have with a non-fantasy game is that you don't really know what you are supposed to do in those games. In D&D you know you are supposed to go out and kill monsters and take their stuff. I guess you could do the same in Boot Hill as well? Would it get stale if you aren't including any actual monsters?

I will have to say that playing the video game Red Dead Redemption really gave me alot of inspiration for running a Western genre game, even without any supernatural elements included.




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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by BlackBat242 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 5:03 am

The first two editions of Boot Hill (1E 1975 & 2E 1979/84) weren't really "RPGs" in any real sense - they were more "map&counter" board games with "character sheets" and more freedom of action.
wiki wrote:The first edition and second editions were specifically marketed as a miniatures combat game, but even in the third edition, most of the rules concerned combat resolution, with relatively few social interaction rules or information about settings.
The rules never really supported much beyond shooting (guns & bows), throwing (knives & hatchets & lit sticks of dynamite), and punching (with fists against humans, not cows with ropes).

To actually play them as an RPG you would need to import a lot of rules from somewhere else (as we did).

BH3E (1990) did try to address this somewhat, but they way it changed all the character rules and so on so that it wasn't very connected to the earlier editions, plus our burnout at the horde of "revised" game editions coming out at the time (Gamma World 3E, Top Secret/S.I., Megatraveller, AD&D2E, etc) meant we never even tried to play it.

We did play a bunch of Boot Hill in 1983-85 (along with Car Wars, etc), but I haven't played any since - I would love to play BH 2E with AD&D1E rules as per the DMG and the BH combat rules - I think that would be very fun.

And yes - I have 2 sets of the BH2E rules, along with a couple of modules - and the BH3E rules - I would like to get a copy of BH1E - but that is too expensive for me at this time.

I also have the Western HERO rules (uses HERO system 4E), so that is also a possibility (I also have the Fantasy HERO rules, and Danger International, both of which also use the HERO4E rules - and I have that rulebook, so I might see about that if I wanted an integrated campaign running from Conan, through Billy the Kid, to Tales of the Flying Monkey*, to Batman*, Rambo, and James Bond.


* I also have Justice, Inc (1930s pulp adventures, HERO3E) & Champions (2E & 3E), so when FFE releases the Traveller HERO CD in a few months I can even go wandering through the stars!
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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by NPCDave » Tue Jun 02, 2015 5:54 am

I busted out my small Boot Hill collection last Friday so this thread is timely. As has been mentioned it was more of a wargame at first and your character never got better at anything unless you added the rules...until 3rd Edition came out.

The Western was already in decline by the 1980s though...only Clint Eastwood has been able to make it very successful since then. So the genre is just not as big these days, and I don't think many young people identify with the Western at all. There haven't been many Western RPGs, Aces & Eights by Kenzer is the only one I can think of that plays it without mixing in some fantasy like Deadlands or Werewolf did.

I was thinking about running a straight Boot Hill campaign or running a western game in Cimmaron County of the Savage Coast using the Boot Hill adventures as inspiration. Definitely something I want to run in the future. If I ran a straight Boot Hill campaign it would definitely be a short campaign, I would want to stay true to the genre by making it deadly.

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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:24 pm

Havard wrote:Great post Big Mac!

I have been interested in Boot Hill for a while now. Although there aren't many threads about Boot Hill here, the game also came up in my [Western] How many RPGs in this genre? thread as well.

There are also a few threads about Deadlands which fills into a similar niche.
It does seem like Deadlands is slightly more popular here. I don't know anything about either game. Has Deadlands got a bigger fanbase?

Are any of the designers of Deadlands, or any of the other games on your list, former Boot Hill designers?
Havard wrote:With 3 editions, it does seem like Boot Hill has gotten its fair share of chances. The fact that TSR kept coming back to it does suggest that there was some interest in the game too.

I do find it interesting that it is hard to make a successful RPG outside of the fantasy genre. The problem I think alot of people have with a non-fantasy game is that you don't really know what you are supposed to do in those games. In D&D you know you are supposed to go out and kill monsters and take their stuff. I guess you could do the same in Boot Hill as well? Would it get stale if you aren't including any actual monsters?
I think that one of the big things, that fantasy gaming has going for it, is that you have clerics that can turn things around, when it looks like a PC is getting into a situation where their PC might loose too many hit points and die. In a "realistic" RPG, the logical thing for a bunch of friends to do, would be to retreat, seek out a doctor or hospital and spend time waiting for their friend to recover. But RPG adventures tend to be designed in a way where the PCs need to push onwards. The cleric class gives fantasy gamers a "get out of jail free" card, that allows that PC to counter one or two bits of bad luck. With something like Boot Hill, one PC having bad luck could take them out of the game. And given that gunfights are all about shooting the enemy before they shoot you, a PC going down would allow the NPCs to concentrate their fire on the remaining PCs.

I'm not saying that TPKs should never happen - they are part of gaming. But if the players are trying to build backgrounds for their PCs, a TPK is going to cut off their development. And if a GM wants to run a campaign, and the entire group of PCs get killed, that kind of cuts off the plotline. So that aspect makes a gunfighting game feel like it is going to be harder to run.

There is also the fact that the other parts of fantasy - different classes, as well as different races, are...fun. What are you going to get in a gunfighting game, set on Earth? Humans? Gunfighters? Can they actually do anything else (without crossing the genre with something else)?
Havard wrote:I will have to say that playing the video game Red Dead Redemption really gave me alot of inspiration for running a Western genre game, even without any supernatural elements included.
I've never played that. Does it have some roleplaying elements to it?
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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by Havard » Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:51 pm

Big Mac wrote:It does seem like Deadlands is slightly more popular here. I don't know anything about either game. Has Deadlands got a bigger fanbase?

Are any of the designers of Deadlands, or any of the other games on your list, former Boot Hill designers?
Deadlands may have the advantage of being published and supported, as well as having had two systems support it over the last couple of decades.

Shane Lacy Hensley created Deadlands. He is also the creator of Savage Worlds and the current version of Deadlands is powered by Savage Worlds. I don't think he was involved with any of the versions of Boot Hill.
I think that one of the big things, that fantasy gaming has going for it, is that you have clerics that can turn things around, when it looks like a PC is getting into a situation where their PC might loose too many hit points and die. In a "realistic" RPG, the logical thing for a bunch of friends to do, would be to retreat, seek out a doctor or hospital and spend time waiting for their friend to recover. But RPG adventures tend to be designed in a way where the PCs need to push onwards. The cleric class gives fantasy gamers a "get out of jail free" card, that allows that PC to counter one or two bits of bad luck. With something like Boot Hill, one PC having bad luck could take them out of the game. And given that gunfights are all about shooting the enemy before they shoot you, a PC going down would allow the NPCs to concentrate their fire on the remaining PCs.

I'm not saying that TPKs should never happen - they are part of gaming. But if the players are trying to build backgrounds for their PCs, a TPK is going to cut off their development. And if a GM wants to run a campaign, and the entire group of PCs get killed, that kind of cuts off the plotline. So that aspect makes a gunfighting game feel like it is going to be harder to run.
I never thought about that, but I guess you are right about Clerics and magical healing. For my modern games I do like having Luck Points or similar mechanics that can get your character out of trouble. I guess that sort of helps. Unless you want a really gritty game like Call of Cthulhu or something of course.


There is also the fact that the other parts of fantasy - different classes, as well as different races, are...fun. What are you going to get in a gunfighting game, set on Earth? Humans? Gunfighters? Can they actually do anything else (without crossing the genre with something else)?
Well, there are many different character types you could have in a Western Game:

Gunslinger
Native Brave
Native Medicine Man
Gambler
Snake-oil Salesman
Preacher
Bounty Hunter
Gold Digger
Lawman
Entertainer/Dancer
Bar Owner
Hunter/Trapper
Mexican Bandido
Rancher/Cowboy
Soldier/Officer
Doctor

Each could come with its own set of abilities and activites linked to it. The fact that you are asking about it though does prove that these things need to be adressed in detail. I think that various games could have done a much better job at that.



Havard wrote:I will have to say that playing the video game Red Dead Redemption really gave me alot of inspiration for running a Western genre game, even without any supernatural elements included.
I've never played that. Does it have some roleplaying elements to it?
Not sure what you mean by that, but I would probably say yes no matter what you mean. There is alot of character interraction, story oriented quests and character advancement.

One feature I really like is the Honor system. It allows you to choose whether you want to seek fame as a Good guy or a Villain or try to remain more or less anonymous. Both fame as a hero of the west and a villain comes with certain benefits and drawbacks, although it is generally better to be a good guy. I do love how if you get enough of a reputation as a villain you get access to a unique black horse though :cool:

Anyway, one reason why I brought up this game is that I think many of the questlines, NPCs and other items can be raided and used directly into a Boot Hill game.

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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by shesheyan » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:07 pm

Never got around the play BootHill even if I was willing to buy and GM. Our group wasn't interested in Westerns. We did play a few games of Star Frontiers, Gamma World and Top Secret. Each bought and GMed by a different player of our 80s group. But the appeal of D&D was just too strong... until Call of Cthulhu came out. We had «the big split». Half stayed with me and D&D the other went for CoC. The reasons mentioned specifically were the «unrealistic healing» of characters and the constant power creep.

If I were to run a Western campaign I would probably choose the BRP (Chaosium) engine rather than Savage World's Deadlands.

(Edit : someone in the group bought Gangbusters but we never played it).

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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by The Dark » Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:01 am

I have a copy of Boot Hill 3rd, but have never played it. I got it right before moving, and while my old group had some interest in doing Western gunfights, I haven't had a group since that had the same interest.

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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by BlackBat242 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:58 am

My favorite of the BH characters I ran was Duunn. It was in an ~1884 campaign, in northern Arizona.

That was how everyone spelled it - someone said "Dee Double-u, eN, eN" and it stuck... "Dwarf With No Name" (DWNN).

Yes, he was inspired by both the "Man with no name" movies and the "Dwarf With No Name" miniature from Ral Partha.

I had cut off the arms of the crossbow so it looked like a carbine, and made up a back-story - he was following a thin vein of silver deep inside his clan's mining territory when he unexpectedly broke out of the side of a hill into the open air. Shortly after he climbed out, there was a slight earthquake, and the tunnel collapsed, with all his digging tools inside.

He figures that the spot along the silver vein where he got dizzy and almost passed out was where he went through the portal to this non-magical world.

By the time he had managed to find a town to buy new tools, he had suffered heatstroke, and had forgotten where the entrance was. He doesn't mind, though - he likes not having to worry about magic, Drow, giants, dragons, etc - Indians are not bad compared to some of the things he had fought back home.

His name came from the fact that no one could pronounce his name (he had never before had contact with humans, so all he spoke was dwarven, and names in dwarven are rather longer than their "common" language versions).

He originally used the dwarven name for "elf" when he referred to Indians, and called Mexicans by the dwarven name for"orcs" - but he now accepts that they are just "humans of a different color".

His weapons are: a "buffalo gun" (.50 Sharps muzzleloader), a lever-action carbine (Winchester M1876 in .45-75), a pistol-gripped "scattergun" (Remington M1875 10ga. double-barrel shotgun with the barrels cut down to 12"), a 4-shot custom-made revolver (.75 cal), a logging axe (double-bladed) with a cut-down handle for 1-handed use, and a Bowie knife. He thinks dynamite looks fun - but hasn't bought or played with any.

This is the original version of the mini I used:

Image

Image



They also made another version:

Image
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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by Michael Tumey » Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:43 pm

I'm working on an old west gothic horror (with some steampunk) setting using Pathfinder RPG, set in an alternate US western territories, supported by a series of one-shot modules, called Gothic Western.

I've already created a magus archetype called the Shootist which is posted in the Crunch/Pathfinder board here at the Piazza, and have plans for Journalist (bard archetype), Cabalist (inquisitor archetype), and the Pinkerton (investigator archetype), with plans for many more, but will release them as appendices within each released one-shot module.

The first one-shot module I am currently working on is called Horror on the Gila Express, with the entire one-shot occurring aboard a steam train on its way from El Paso to Yuma. I've already created purchaseable player-friendly map sets for an 1880's train set and a train station, that will be used in that one-shot.

Of course its not Boothill, per se, and while certainly influenced by Deadlands, its completely my own development and take on gothic old west using Pathfinder RPG and the gunslinger rules with revolvers, repeating rifles, cartridge ammo and sticks of dynamite.

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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by Havard » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:40 pm

To those who have played Boot Hill, what was this game like? What were the basic game mechanics and whats was the general atmosphere of the game?

Is there something you missed in that game that could have made it into a more developed Roleplaying Game?

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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by Havard » Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:36 pm

a nice blog article on Boot Hill here:

http://forbiddenpanel.com/PanelCast/boot-hill-rpg/

Some neat illustrations too. :)

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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:51 am

The Dwarf With No Name sounds awesome! And I love that someone painted it up to look like Clint Eastwood's character. :)

"My pit pony thinks you are laughing at him!" :lol:

Was that mini created for Boot Hill or for something else?
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Re: [Boot Hill] What happened to the Boot Hill fans?

Post by BlackBat242 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:18 am

Big Mac wrote:The Dwarf With No Name sounds awesome! And I love that someone painted it up to look like Clint Eastwood's character. :)

"My pit pony thinks you are laughing at him!" :lol:

Was that mini created for Boot Hill or for something else?
I don't know, but it fit perfectly for that!
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