I ran what turned out to be a fun gaming session this past weekend. I wanted to do something a bit different, so I dug through my stock of read-but-never-played games and settled on Shotguns-n-Saddles, a creation of David Bezio (also the original creator of X-plorers).
The rulebook is only about 60 pages of actual rules, including stat blocks for famous western villains/heroes and an intro adventure (which I ran), so it only took me a couple of hours to prepare. In the adventure, the PCs find themselves in the middle of a potentially deadly ranch land dispute in southern Texas. The rules encourage players and GMs to have fun with all the Old West tropes seen in TV and movies, and this we did. I ended up running it solo for one player, so I had to tone down the encounters and NPCs a bit, but this wasn’t all that difficult. We left the session at a cliffhanger for next time, the PC hiding in a corn field from a band of Mexican rancheros who were hunting for him after he shot and killed one of them.
I wouldn’t say the game is based on any existing games (it’s not OGL), but it will be quite familiar to anyone who has played old-school D&D. Much of the game centers around attribute checks – there are 12 attributes rolled 3d6 each, but only the bonus or penalty is recorded. A check means getting greater than or equal to a target number on a d20, adding the player’s level and relevant attribute to the roll (similar to Scarlet Heroes). Each PC picks or rolls for a background, which can give attribute bonuses, and starting PCs get one special ability. More can be had by leveling up. There are special rules for dynamite use and shootouts. All-in-all, Shotguns-n-Saddles is a fun, simple game. There is a supplement available (called Spirits-n-Spurs) that adds some supernatural elements to the game, and there are a couple of separate adventures available in PDF. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a change of genre.