Incredibly awesome figure “Ruby”

I was pointed to this on DakkaDakka, but it’s from Studio McVey. Although it’s not a recognizable dinosaur, the slightly sci-fi feel to the cowgirl takes it to the next level. I remember Mike McVey’s awesome Warhammer Quest diorama from White Dwarf way back in the day, so it’s great to see he’s still sculpting and producing fine works.

(Note: Scheduled vacation post. Back October 4th)

Zombie Dinosaurs?

The zombification doesn’t hugely interest me, but the concept art of cowboys and dinosaurs is, of course, great. This is from a canceled video game called Dinosaurs vs Alamo (of which there are but a few scant details around).

(Note: Scheduled vacation post. Back October 4th)

Preview of v0.91

NOTE: v1.0 was released on October 31st, 2011, so use that version instead.

Since I’ll be working hard on getting a final release out by October 10th I thought I’d show folks how the rulebook has been shaping up since v0.91.

There a bunch of minor changes and editing, but the biggest two changes are: Dinosaur rules have been hugely updated (Discipline, Breeds, new roster layout, etc.) and I tried putting in my historical sepia images. Here are some other highlights:

  • Added Dinosaur Discipline, Breed, and other rule changes and clarifications.
  • Added historical images throughout the rulebook for flavor.
  • Added fan made Overland Map thanks to Felix.
  • New headers and example box formatting and page numbering style.
  • Changed Stopped/Stunned to disallow the Movement/Action phase respectively.
  • Clarified Fleeing through an enemy entity is considered impossible so Stunned instead.
  • Added Fan the Hammer special ability to Six-Shooters.
  • Added Scattergun, 10-Pound Cannon, and Field Gun weapons.
  • Changed AR 4 armor to reduce MV by -1 (instead of 0), cascaded change down to AR 7.
  • Edited and updated the History section.
  • Capped Hitpoints at 50 instead of Unlimited.

Anyways I’d like some feedback on the image integration (does it look good, does it print well, how do you feel about the increased file size, etc.) and the new Dinosaur rules (does Discipline work over Bravery, is Panic Movement fun or tedious, etc.). If all the rules make sense and continue to playtest well this is probably what v1.0 will look like. I mean I’ll have some more eye-for-detail editing and dozens of re-reads to make sure everything makes sense and flows well, but yeah, getting close!

Download the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v0.91 Preview and let me know what you think!

(Note: Scheduled vacation post. Back October 4th)

Poking and prodding a finished game?

After mulling over the idea of Grit for a while, I realized something: Given a long enough timeline I’m going to prod this game to death (thus the dino-prod image to the right). What I mean is if I keep looking for stuff to change or improve or edit I’m going to find it…or fabricate it. Hitpoints worked perfectly well (as Red_Starrise pointed out yesterday), and yet here I am coming up with a different mechanic for them. Sure it’s a neat mechanic, but it’s also more complex (both to learn and to use), and that gets away from my original goals for the core rulebook.

So what does this mean for Dinosaur Cowboys? It means that I need to just say (in a western accent) “These here rules be done!”, release v1.0, and bask in the glory of completing a project. Otherwise I’ll keep coming up with new ideas and new mechanics that I’ll try to shoehorn into this game just because it’s my current project. Normally I’m so incredibly ready to be done with a game, but with Dinosaur Cowboys it’s different because I’ve really enjoyed the process, still like the setting, and generally think it’s one of the most solid rulesets I’ve come up with. But my brain keeps churning up new ideas, and forcing them into a nearly-finished project is probably not the best strategy.

I was aiming to release v1.0 by the end of Christmas, but instead I think I’ll try to wrangle ‘er up before the end of October. Maybe even by Canadian Thanksgiving (it’s kind of western…) which is October 10th. Having a deadline is a good idea since otherwise I could see floundering around, making small tweaks and needless changes and so forth until the year 2285.

The downside to finishing the rules is it’s hard to maintain outside interest and fans of the game without continually releasing or updating something. A game that never changes is kinda hard to get psyched about, I guess. Maybe that’s why splatbooks were so common for D&D and the like. I think this blog will be less active after v1.0, and probably more focused on battle reports and the like. We’ll see how that all pans out when I get there.

So what I’m saying is v1.0 of Dinosaur Cowboys will be available October 10th, 2011. Set your sun dials, boys and girls.
OCTOBER 11th EDIT: Whoops that was a lie. End of October instead!

And on that note I’m going on vacation, since nothing is as productive as not working, haha. I’ll be out next week, but have scheduled two image based posts for September 26th and 29th. Until then, cowboy…

Variant Rule: Grit instead of HP

Brainstormin’ on HP
Recently I’ve gotten a few discussions going around the web about alternatives to Hitpoints in games, specifically in this game. So I figured why not have one more discussion in the form of this post…

RPGs have an easier time of it because they can afford more complex rules (like the mess of addition the Green Ronin ‘Toughness save’ is). For skirmish I see a too-light version where a model can die pretty easily, such as the Knocked Down / Stunned / Out of Action approach of Mordheim or the Flesh Wound of Necromunda. I wanted to have SOME survivability to models, so I went for lower levels of Hitpoints. Now however I’m reconsidering that.

Variant Rule: Grit
Instead of Hitpoints each character has a new Grit statistic. This statistic would be a die type, with lower being worse, such as D4, D6, D8, D10, D12. When they take damage they make a “Grit Save” which succeeds if they roll their Grit die greater than or equal to the incoming damage. If the save succeeds nothing negative happens. If it fails or the damage exceeds their Grit die they need to mark a location as Hit. There are 4 locations: Legs, Left/Right Arm, Torso that correspond to a statistic on the roster, specifically: MV, RMC, MMC, AR. Tracking which location is hit would be done through checkboxes put underneath the statistic on the roster. When checked that location is damaged and they suffer a corresponding penalty of -1 MV, +1 RMC/MMC, or -1 AR. When all 4 locations are hit they are dead.
For Example: Peggy is hit for 5 damage and has D8 Grit. She rolls the D8 and gets a 7, which is successful (7 > 5). If she had rolled a 4 or less or had D4 Grit (too low to save) it would have failed. Upon failure she might choose to mark her Movement (Legs) as hit, which would make her have -1 MV for the rest of the game.

Analyzing the Rule
This might make people TOO hard to kill, since with a high enough Grit (for example D12) and crappy enough damage from the enemy you wouldn’t even be hit ever. I think balancing Grit and possible weapon damage would be the hardest part. High Armor was balanced by imposing Movement penalties, and high HP costs a ton of IP or Traits, and even still you can’t get a massive amount right away. But with Grit you could maybe power up to D12 early on by making huge sacrifices, but then they’d be invincible basically. Well I guess there is still the chance they roll poorly on the save itself.
I also don’t like the system because it’s one more roll. One of my biggest complaints with Warhammer 40k is how much WORK it is to shoot something. I don’t want DC to become like that too.
In all honesty I think I just really like this mechanic, so maybe I’ll use it in another game in the future instead of trying to force it into this game at such a late date. Either that or edit up and paste the above block into the rulebook as a variant, which is the most likely case.

In Other News…
I played through the The Great T-Rex Hunt I outlined a while ago. It was pretty fun and had a different feel to it, but was more a numbers game of whittling down the t-rex before he could one-hit-kill the entire Posse. I’ll be posting those pictures and write up soon, and hopefully getting a more traditional game in with the new Dinosaur Discipline / Breed rules. Ideally I’ll play and report on at least one DC game per month. If everything works for the latest revisions I think I might be almost at v1.0 too, woot (or “yeehaw!” if we’re going for flavor).

Feeling Famous Now

I’ve always been a fan of the website Board Game Geek. They certainly are Eurogame-centric (as most boardgamers are) but they still have great resources and communities for smaller, older, or out of print games. Plus it’s fun to read up on a game someone told you about and see what the buzz is around it.

So it’s with great pleasure I announce that Dinosaur Cowboys got added to the BGG database. That’s right, all approved and added and official looking. Feel free to see and contribute to the new Dinosaur Cowboys BGG item.

I’ve been asked a couple of times about possibly setting up forums somewhere for discussion. I try to get discussions going at half a dozen websites, so that’s definitely a valid request. To that end I’m making the BGG forum for Dinosaur Cowboys the de-facto place to discuss ideas, traits, adventures, game sessions, etc. The link is available at the above page or in the sidebar of this blog, or you can go directly to the official Dinosaur Cowboys Forum. Hopefully we can get some lively chatter going on in there.

Rule Changes for Dinosaurs (Discipline, Breeds, etc.)

You would have though v0.9 would be late in the game to change any rules significantly, and yet here we are! I just did some pretty major revisions around the rules for Dinosaurs.
This all started when I considered having dinosaurs ignore difficult terrain last week. I realized that they have some unique characteristics to differentiate a dinosaur from a human cowboy…but not really enough cool things about them. They were basically bulky melee fighters who had a lot of HP and could transport people.

With this in mind I changed two main features of Dinosaurs: Discipline and Breed. Before I get into those let me dazzle you with the new Dinosaur Type List from the updated rules:

Dinosaur Discipline
Bravery didn’t make a ton of sense with Dinosaurs because they hardly ever took over half damage from a single attack (like in the case of a 30+HP monster). I still wanted a way to show how controlled and trained a Dinosaur was, so I added the “Discipline” stat as a replacement. Instead of duplicating a description of this stat I’ll just paste an excerpt from the rulebook:

Discipline represents a dinosaur’s ability to perform in combat while suffering pain, surprise, fear, and other trying emotions of battle. A higher discipline means a dinosaur will be able to maintain a consistent pace and direction and obey any rider’s commands. A lower discipline means the dinosaur is more likely to circle in panic and stumble around in fear.

How to use Discipline
If a dinosaur suffers damage greater than or equal to their Discipline value from a single ranged or melee attack they will panic.
Mark them with a “Panic” token. Multiple Panic tokens can be placed on each dinosaur.
For example a Horned Dinosaur has a Discipline of 8. They are hit by a Rotary Rifle for 11 damage and are therefore marked with a Panic token. During the next Activation they are hit by a Bundle of Dynamite for a further 8 damage, so another Panic token is added.

Effect of Panic
When marked with one or more Panic token dinosaurs will use their Panic Movement, as recorded on the Posse Roster.
For example a Runner Dinosaur has a Movement statistic of 10 and a Panic Movement of D10. If they were marked with a Panic token they would have to roll D10 to decide how far they can Standard Move, instead of using the static 10 value.

Recovering from Panic
At the end of the dinosaur’s Activation remove 1 Panic token.
If the dinosaur is mounted remove an additional 1 Panic token.
For example a King Dinosaur (with two passengers) has 3 Panic tokens at the start of the turn. Eventually it Activates, rolls D6 for it’s Panic Movement with a result of 2. The King performs a 2″ Standard Move and then a rider fires. The King’s Activation is done, so 2 Panic tokens are removed (1 default with a bonus 1 removed because the King is mounted).

What this means is if a dinosaur takes damage >= Discipline they use Panic Movement instead, which is a random amount similar to their maximum static Movement (so a MV 6 dino gets D6 Panic MV). Nice and simple, and the idea of stacking multiple Panic tokens is fun because it really rewards pouring fire into a dinosaur. Plus it’s an elegant way to have an easy benefit if there is a rider present (as compared to having to manually modify the Discipline stat).
To support this I had originally aimed for Trained/Untrained as a choice you could make when buying a Dinosaur. Trained would give +1 DIS, -2 HP and Untrained would be -1 DIS, +2 HP. But then Kyles Games on The Forge forums pointed out that having a version that doesn’t modify stats at all would be nice. I instantly thought of the Bandit Allegiance for humans, and then I thought “Hey why not have Allegiances for dinosaurs!” After I had completed a preliminary sketch of those rules I changed the name from Allegiance to Breed, to once again distinguish dinosaurs that little bit more.

Dinosaur Breed
Again an excerpt from the rulebook is probably easiest for this:

Choose a Breed for the dinosaur (similar to Allegiance for a human) from the available four detailed below. Apply any modifiers to the default base values for each statistic.
When marking the Breed on the Posse Roster, circle the corresponding letter in the box to the left of the Dinosaur Name field (for example “T” for Trained).

Trained dinosaurs are born in captivity or raised in a human environment soon after birth and make ideal companions. They are disciplined mounts well versed in accepting a rider and carrying them safely through battle. However they are slightly gentler after having their primal instincts suppressed.

Effect: +1 DIS, -2 HP

Untrained dinosaurs have some exposure to humans but not enough to be fully broken into a saddle and harness. This majority of dinosaurs are this type of breed, and such an upbringing has no positive or negative effect on their performance.

Effect: None

Feral dinosaurs are wild and free and hunt through the jungles and deserts of the world. They tend to be tougher and less disciplined and think more with their stomachs than brains.

Effect: -1 DIS, +2 HP

Plains dinosaurs roam across the flat scrub land, desert, and dust bowls outside the volcanic jungle. As a result they are exceptionally fast and agile, but are less competent in a fight because of their tendency to outrun foes instead.

Effect: +1 MV, +1 MMC

After all these changes I also hugely cleaned up and edited the Dinosaur section in general to be clearer. I also had to update the Dinosaur Type List table to include Panic MV, Discipline, etc. as you saw above. And then of course the Posse Roster needed to be changed to handle all this new dinosaur info, which worked out great because it makes the Dinosaur section at the bottom just a tiny bit different looking…I’m going to laugh if later I go “Ugh these rules are ALMOST the same why don’t I just merge them?” and basically undo all my work.

But anyways here’s an example of the Dinosaur statline on the Posse Roster:

Now I’ll just playtest these rules and then you might see a v0.91 or v0.95 coming to a download near you :)