Idea for rulebook images

You know how I mentioned that I wanted to put more images in the rulebook to spice it up and break up the big walls of text? Well originally I had planned on using old, real-world photographs from the west thanks to the digitized Library of Congress archives. I would try to use the photo “as is”, but since I’d want some consistency I’d more likely end up applying Gimp’s “Old Photo filter”. Doing so would result in something like this:

However I was thinking more about this, and heck why not use photos from my playtests, or from actual photoshoots I could do (with a tripod and proper lighting). The result would be similar to this photo (which was actually from another project of mine):

Definitely worth considering, since with some tweaking I think I could get a really nice effect going on.

Posse: The Lost Platoon

Posse: The Lost Platoon
Level 2, IP 130, $1,500

I went for a higher starting Neodollar value for this gang, mainly so I could try out a Thickskull dinosaur ($500 on it’s own).

My theme for this Posse was a Neotechnoist patrol that got lost in the deep jungle near The Wall. Over time the patrol slowly lost men to dinosaurs, hostile savages, and jungle disease. Finally only a few remained, the “Lost Platoon” as it were. The Captain’s sanity dwindled alongside the patrol’s numbers, until they became an unreliable, rag tag mercenary band.

As before I looked in my figure case to get inspiration, and stumbled across an old set of 8 metal Warhammer 40,000 Imperial Guard figures (old enough that you’ll have to excuse my amateur paintjob). I went for a Captain (named Captain Gunfire…certainly a nickname of an insane man) with a fancy jacket and hat, a second-in-command looking fellow with his hand up (loyal, and slightly slow Colonel Higgins), a basic rank and file trooper (uncertain but dedicated Private Jacbos), and a special weapons soldier (The Phoenix, equally insane as Captain Gunfire). Definitely less of a “traditional” wild west gang, but they still have their place as Neotechnoist flavor.
As I mentioned I wanted to try out a Thickskull dinosaur, which I aptly named “The Ram”. The idea was he was harnessed and trained during the patrols long wanderings in the jungle.

For strategy I thought a split between range and close combat would be good. Captain Gunfire and Colonel Higgins would ride The Ram into combat, with Private Jacobs as midline support, and The Phoenix off on his own or back a bit to lay down suppressive fire.

Creating Captain Gunfire
As before I started with my Leader. I didn’t feel that I needed to sink a ton of IP into him, so I settled for -2 MMC (total of 25 IP) to ensure if he did reach combat, he’d have no problem hitting. I also decided to do a global +1 AR for each member, and a further +1 HP for the Captain for that little bit extra survivability. I figured that even if he started as a Neotechnoist, his Allegiance was now Bandit. In fact everyone but The Phoenix would be a Bandit. So his IP purchases were:

10 for -1 MMC
15 for -1 MMC
10 for +1 AR
6 for +1 HP

His finished statistics were: MV 4, AR 1, RMC 8, MMC 6, BRV 7, HP 11

Creating Colonel Higgins
Time for the second in command. He was basically a mini version of the Captain, so I mirrored the Allegiance and most of the improvements:

10 for -1 MMC
15 for -1 MMC
10 for +1 AR
6 for +1 HP

Like I said, basically a slightly weaker (because he lacks the Leader bonuses) version of Captain Gunfire. His finished statistics were: MV 4, AR 1, RMC 8, MMC 6, BRV 6, HP 9.

Creating Private Jacobs
My basic cadet, but someone who had also succumbed to the Bandit Allegiance. I didn’t want to spend a ton of points on him, so I settled for the global +1 AR and a -1 RMC so he’d at least be able to support kind of well. His improvements:

10 for -1 RMC
10 for +1 AR

Poor little Private, only 20 IP spent on him. Anyways his finished statistics were: MV 4, AR 1, RMC 7, MMC 8, BRV 6, HP 8.

Creating The Phoenix
You know all those points I saved on Private Jacobs? Time to blow the rest of them on The Phoenix. I visualized him as a quiet sharpshooter, which is a pretty standard stereotype in movies and books. Anyways since he wouldn’t need to be very mobile, I actually gave him Voluntary Weakness for Movement, so he dropped from 4 to 3 for a +5 IP benefit. I decided he’d stay semi-loyal to the Neotechnoist creed, so he went for that Allegiance instead of flat out Bandit. The IP purchases I made were:

+5 for -1 MV
15 for -1 RMC
10 for +1 AR
6 for +1 HP

A starting RMC of 6 certainly is nice, even if he has the classically weak HP of a Neotechnoist (7 total).

All said and done these choices left me with 2 IP leftover. Hooray?

Creating The Ram
Since dinosaurs can’t be improved using Improvement Points (their HP can be increased by paying though!) he had a standard set of Thickskull statistics:

MV 7, AR 1, RMC -, MMC 7, BRV 7, HP 18.

I certainly am digging that higher Bravery and big HP pool.

To +AR or Not
I’ve been facing the interesting conundrum with my recent Posse creation tests on whether to give members the +1 AR for 10 IP or not. I find money is normally scarce enough that $50 for basic Cloth armor isn’t always an option, whereas IP tend to be fairly abundant (once the obvious choices are out of the way).
Forcing the enemy to take a +1 penalty to hit sure is nice, and turns an average 8+ into a painful sounding 9+. All you need is to move and be at long range and suddenly they’re hitting on 11+. I mean, unless they have a sick 5 RMC like The Phoenix, haha.

Allocating Traits
Since this Posse was starting at Level 2 I got to allocate 4 Traits (3 base plus 1 for the Level Up). There was one obvious choice, and that was “Bonus RMC I” for The Phoenix, which put his RMC at 5! Definitely a nice alternative to paying the increasing IP costs to move from 6 to 5. Anyways after that obvious choice I was kind of stuck on what to do. I went for another Passive, this time “Bonus MV I” for The Ram, since it put him at 8 MV instead of 7. What’s nice about this is a Run action nets him an additional 4″ instead of 3″ (due to rounding), so a 10″ (7+3) run turns into a 12″ (8+4) run, which is a big difference. Anyways I wanted to have someone hit a bit harder, so I went for Strain Weapon with Colonel Higgins. It’s a handy Active Trait that gives him +2 damage, and is versatile enough to be either a ranged or melee weapon. Finally I went for “Go For the Eyes” (blatant Baldur’s Gate 1/2 reference) for The Phoenix, since it allows him to Critical on 10+.

Throwing Some Dough Around
Time to spend some Neodollars! Actually I didn’t have a huge pool of cash available after recruitment costs. My 3 Members totaled $600, and the Thickskull was a further $500, so already I was down to $400. I can’t complain too hard at that though.
Similarly to the creation process, I opted to buy from the top down. It seemed like the clear military patrol chain of command choice after all. The Captain and Colonel got basic 80KW Six-Shooters (still the best $10 money can buy). I gave the Captain a Shudder Lance, it does a respectable 3A-5D, but also has Knockback! The Colonel got a Long Sword (mainly to match his figure, which had a sheathed blade), which was slightly worse at 2A-4D.
Private Jacobs got a Light Pistol which I find is a nice, cheap alternative to a rifle. The high maximum long range (16-17″) certainly helps if I get in a duel with a six-shooter armed foe.
The Phoenix was next, and I sprung for a Light Repeater (I love the name so much). It’s the same stats as a Low Burst Rifle, and similar to the projectile based Assault Rifle (except it barely ever has to reload – 4×1!). Otherwise the stats are what you’d expect, 6A-1D, so a big pool of dice available (which should help get his “Go For the Eyes” Trait going).
I had $40 left over, so I sprung for Small IRPs for everyone. These handy medical packs can heal 1D6hp instantly, so basically a better Whiskey Drop.

The Lost Platoon is Ready
Another Posse all done and ready to dive into the sweltering jungle. Let’s hope I can pit them against a leveled up version of the Drylands United Cattle Company in a playtest soon…

Document formatting and fonts

Progress and Document Changes
Although I wanted to get to another playtest yesterday, I played D&D and then formatted the rules document instead. So still some progress, just not on the core rules themselves. The good news is the docs are looking a lot more professional.
First of all I put the new logo on the title page, added a table of contents and table of figures, added page number footers, and merged the Items.odt and Sheet-Posse-Roster.odt into the main rules document (including proper landscape formatting and margins). So yeah, going forward I’ll be distributing a single document called “Dinosaur-Cowboys-Rulebook”.

Fonts
In addition to all that tedious (but necessary) formatting work, I had some fun and added neater fonts for the main title and overall headers. The two fonts used are:

Future West (used for title)
Original: dafont.com
Mirror: Mediafire


West Test (used for headers)
Original: dafont.com
Mirror: Mediafire

So if you plan to view the non-PDF version of future rules, you’ll want to download those fonts, otherwise the title page and headers won’t look nearly as impressive. PDFs of course will have the proper fonts, and I’ll mainly be stressing that format for distribution going forward. I mean you really only need the ODT if you plan on making changes.

Anyways my “Document TODO” from yesterday is now down to a single item: a Quick Reference sheet. I realized there might not even be enough to put on it, since besides the Modifiers table you don’t need much else. We’ll see going forward though.

Next Up
Well this weekend is shot for Dinosaur Cowboys development, since I’m hitting the ol’ dusty trail for most of it. I hope to get another playtest in next week to tweak the Initiative rules.

I might also try a Posse Roster using the new fonts, to add that little bit of additional flavor. I care about readability over style though, so the smaller size might not work well for the fonts. We’ll see though.
Speaking of the Posse Roster I’ll probably make a version that is an editable PDF (or “PDF form”). I also had a wild, feverish idea of making a “Posse Builder” web application where you can spend IP and buy equipment and have the result be a nicely populated Posse Roster (since I could use the Java library iText to fill in my planned PDF form version.
Finalizing the rules comes first, but yeah, could be something fun to think about in the future.

Also as I hoped the battle report helped generate interest in the game, as did getting the rules posted on freewargamesrules.co.uk (thanks!). Hopefully I can use the forums to discuss different ideas, instead of having to blunder through and decide on the best way myself.