Ghostowns & Gunsmoke

From:  Crucifiction Games
Reviewed by:  Ron McClung

Ghostowns & Gunsmoke is a new Roleplaying Game Expansion from Crucifiction Games.

Some time ago, I reviewed Horror Rules, which is an outstanding product.  Since then, Crucifiction Games has released several expansions, one of which is Ghostowns & Gunsmoke (G&G) – their western horror setting book.  It is available in both PDF and softback book.

From page #1:
“Welcome to the Wild Wild Wicked West – Free Pine Box Fittings Every Thursday”

Assuming  you are familiar with Horror Rules (which you would have to be to play this game), G&G brings to the game new Character Types, new Western Skills, new Special Traits, new rules for Western Mayhem, new Western Bad Guys, new Western Weapons and Gear, Ghostown & Gunsmoke Character Sheets, background and source material, and a complete Ghostowns & Gunsmoke adventure, “A Fistful of Livers.”

Part One of G&G covers the additions it brings to Horror Rules.  The new Character Types include City Slicker, Doc, Gunslinger and Indian.  They each have their own unique character powers like the Gunslinger’s Dead Eye and the Doc’s Patching Holes. Character skills include some new skills as well as skills from the core book that are renamed “to sound more Old Westy.”  Of the skills, several are new, including Bows n’ Arrows, and Cowboy.  Some name changes include Hackin’ n’ Whackin’ (Melee Weapons), Shootin’ (Gun), and Sawbones (Medicine.)

G&G also adds a new set of Special Traits.  These include Deathwish, Gamblin’ Man, and No Speak’um English.  Like in the core rule book, these are used to spice up the character and give them more depth.  New Weapons & Equipment covers the obvious – guns, ammo and stuff for the Wild West setting.  This is a fairly comprehensive list, giving the players enough to work with.

G&G also brings something new to the game of Horror Rules.  Now a player can Take a Gamble, using a special set of rules presented in G&G.  These are used at a point when a player wants to take a gamble.  Any situation is applicable – attempting a task without a skill in it, trying something risky with an NPC, or trying something heroic. When the player wishes to use this option, he must state that he wants to “take a gamble that…” and state the gamble he is going to take.  For example, the player may say “I’m taking a gamble that there’s a back door to this saloon…”

The key part of any gamble is the Wager. Wagers can be any in-game commodity from weapons and gear to health, Grip, Second Thought Points or even character powers.  Once the wager is agreed upon between the GM and the player, then comes the moment of truth – Laying Down Your Cards.  The player makes a roll against his Gamblin’ skill.  If the player succeeds, he keeps his wager and succeeds at the task in question.  Otherwise, he loses the wager or he can Double Down – try again against his skill only by doubling his wager.  This in my mind, is brilliant.  It is a very cool and fun mechanic.

Another interesting mechanic is the good old-fashioned classic Wild West Quickdraw.  Players may find themselves in a situation similar to the classic Western face-off.  In this case, the game provides a quick and easy way to perform them in-game.  It gets quite comical when two Gunslingers with the Dead Eye power face off.  One option to determine who goes first in that case is whoever calls Deadeye out first wins the draw.

Setting the Scene is a short section on the Western setting, with a few historical references as well as few facts of life about the West in that time.  There is not a lot of detail but enough to give you an idea.  This game is not about historical accuracy and reenactment, it’s about having fun.  One area I think they did well in is the sensitive area of Native Americans and their role in the old West.

“During the Wild West era, Native Americans were largely misunderstood, mistreated, mistrusted and generally given the shaft. While we can’t be proud of how we treated our brothers, we can’t overlook or sanitize it either. Native Americans played an integral role in the settling of the West, and to fully embrace this epic time without including them would be a disservice.”

It shows guts that they did not sanitize it and kept it real.

This section also gets into the superstitions and supernatural of the West, a little.  It introduces a short description of the Society for Supernatural Inquiry, a group that can serve as an enemy or a ally to the players in their G&G adventures.

The Ruleskeeper section, like the core book, supplies the Ruleskeeper with all he needs to “scare the pants off people.”  The Ruleskeeper is reminded that the Old West was a violent and dangerous place and to make sure the players know it.  It sets the scene of a gritty and dark place that most everyone should be familiar with through movies or books, and then asks the Ruleskeeper to throw in the creepy and strange, the alien and weird.  It also encourages the use of player cards for a game a poker or blackjack if the adventure calls for it, to set the mood.  It also gives you general guidelines as to how to create a good Western Horror adventure, reminding the reader that they don’t have to know Old West history to have a good adventure.

At the end there are three creatures supplied (the haunting Buffalo Spirit, psychopathic Coyote Jack, and undead Miner 49er), and an adventure called A Fistful of Livers.  This adventure opens in a small town in Core Butte, Wyoming, where something dark and sinister is taking place.  It is a fun little introduction to the game of Horror Rules and the G&G setting.

The layout is fairly basic and nothing to go crazy about, but it is well written and a fun read.  The art is on par with the rest of the Horror Rules line, which is basic black and white sketches.  The art is better than some but not as good as most.  However, you are not buying this for the art, you are buying this for the fun.

In conclusion, I enjoyed Horror Rules because if its simplicity, its focus on ease of play and fun, and its general fun nature.  Ghostowns & Gunsmoke is not any different.  Old West cheesy horror is as much fun if not more than modern cheesy horror.  One of the things I like most about this and their other supplements is that it is very entertaining to read, especially from a gamer point of view.  These guys have a fun and goofy sense of humor.  It is a great expansion to a great game.

For more details on Crucifiction Games and their new Roleplaying Game Expansion “Ghostowns & Gunsmoke” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Ghostowns & Gunsmoke
From: Crucifiction Games
Type of Game: Roleplaying Game Expansion
Authors: Chris Weedin, Kelly Staymates, Christopher Staymates
Editor: Kimberly Weedin
Artwork: Chris Caprile
Number of Pages: 68
Game Components Included: 68 page PDF or softback book
Game Components Not Included: Horror Rules Core book
Retail Price: $ 6.00 (US)

Reviewed by: Ron McClung
Date: 9/5/2008