[RPG] Preliminary rules prototype

As I mentioned in my last post this idea is on a bit of a hiatus. But I figured for completeness I’d share the rules so far. What’s funny is my favorite part is actually the combat resolution system, just like how that was one of the core features to survive in Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish from inception to today.

Anyway without further ado check out the very early Life of a Dinosaur Cowboy rules PDF

Some-RiflesAs for the resolution system I like, let me pour out some info on it:
The main idea is you roll 1D12 and try to get above a number. That number could be set, or based on the enemy skill, or against a statistic, etc. You can do the action quicker (“Hasty”) but then you roll 2D12 and choose the lowest, or take your time (“Focused”) and again roll 2D12 but choose the highest. In the case of combat there is a second step if you succeed on the roll. That is to allocate your Damage Pool between Fickle and Flat damage. Fickle means you roll dice, Flat means it’s added on. You’re rolling against the target’s Grit (say an 8). But the fun part, and where the mechanic really shines (and fulfills my hope of “resolution being as interesting as movement”) is you need to succeed with at least 1 Fickle roll to do any damage. But the Fickle rolls have a chance to fail, whereas Flat damage always comes through. Fickle can also Crit (on a 12), but can also Fumble (on a 1). So there’s a balancing act of how much Fickle vs Flat to choose depending on the target’s Grit.
That might have been a rambling explanation, but that’s why I’m posting the rules. So say I have a 6 Damage Pool and the target has 4 Grit. 4+ on a D12 is pretty easy odds, so I’d probably allocate only a single Fickle point and the remaining 5 pool to Flat, meaning I roll 1D12 looking for 4+, and if I succeed I do 1+5 damage. But what if their Grit was 9? Do I go all in Fickle? What if I had a skill that increased my Crit chance? Would I want more Fickle or would the potential Fumble not be worth the effort? So some neat decisions there.

v2.6 rules release – refine, refine, refine


Happy release day! I’m happy to report the v2.6 rules are now available for download and The Saloon has been updated accordingly. As I hoped I was able to squeeze the release in right before May starts.

Before I get into the big ol’ changelog, here are the links (of course just downloading from the main rules page works too):

Download the Dinosaur Cowboys v2.6 PDF Rulebook

or the 9-page Quickdraw Rules

So what are the highlights? Well my previous post what will v2.6 have covers the topic quite well, but I’ll repeat here.

Gameplay-Example-2The main focus is weapons. So those players who enjoy equipping their posses, humming and hawing over 6A-2D vs 2A-6D, and having a ton of variety will appreciate that. During development I’ve always had the rule of thumb that ranged weapons have a “top tier” of 9 possible damage, whether this is from 4A-5D, 7A-1D, 3A-6D, etc. and close combat weapons can go up to 10. However some branches or chains of weapons didn’t have a top tier variant. For example the Laserbow in v2.5 maxed out at 1A-6D, similarly the best Pump Shotgun was 3A-4D. This was fine and not really noticeable at the $1,000 posse range, but once you’re into $2k or higher the game boiled down to a whole lot of Lawstar Repeaters (6A-3D).
v2.6 fixes this. Now basically every weapon variant has a top tier equivalent. Do you love the attack pattern of double barrel shotguns? Welcome to the 2A-7D Coach Gun. How about the 1A-8D Laserbow 80 or 3A-6D Settler Defender shotgun? Another big push was to bring the same variety AND consistency to close combat weapons. Attack patterns make more sense, and you can progressively choose a 4A melee weapon right up to the top tier, for example. I also tweaked weapon special abilities. There is now Motivate, which can heal HP (basically the old “Sap” ability reworked and also applied to range weapons).
All in all the weapons are the best they’ve ever been. Think of this v2.6 release as a focus on refining the changes and knowledge gained from the old Battle to Seattle campaign, as well as the many weapons added during that time.

Traits_TotemsAnother big focus is Traits. Some of the Traits have been here since the early RPG versions, more or less, so it was time for a grand rework. Passive Traits now use the highest stage like Active traits, for consistency. Every Trait should be valuable and viable in different situations. Most importantly the “Shot” abilities (like Knee Shot) were renamed and reworked to “Attack”, such as “Attack – Marked” or “Attack – Vital”. Again, consistency!

The Saloon was cleaned up a bit with some nice quality of life features added. Namely weapon special abilities now display their name in the weapon box in addition to the old astericks. Previously you’d know a weapon had an ability, but it was easy to forget which. Now you’ll see “O’Sullivan Sixer*” with “Fan the Hammer” in smaller text in the bottom right. Handy! Brawl weapons can be “bought” now so you can see the stats on your roster, which is nice for people who take the (now awesome) Boxer trait. Speaking of traits previous stages of Active traits will now be “X”ed out, so you can tell you just have one usable version.

I added a section called “Tips for New Players” which gives some ideas and tricks that might not be evident just from reading the rules. Stuff like activating in a certain order, what to do about dinosaurs, etc. Four new sepia photos (featured throughout this post), two new gameplay images, a new Deployment type, a whole bunch of alternative weapon names, etc. Nothing too major, but again refine, refine, refine.

So yeah! It’s been more or less 11 months since the last release, which is just insane for how quickly the time went. All in all I’m happy with the release, and it achieved my main hope for every release: improving the game to be the best it can be. Basically I never want people to think “Oh I liked this old version better”, and hopefully the slew of new weapons, tweaks, and touch ups should ensure that.

Not sure where we’ll go from here. The roadmap hasn’t been as clear since v2.0 to be honest, because in the back of my mind I keep thinking “this is the final release, there isn’t anything else I can tweak”. But somehow I find a bunch to poke and prod. I do want to continue focusing on painting new minis and getting battle reports up here, and really try to resist constantly tweaking the rules like I tend to.

Anyway time for the full changelog, which looks pretty overwhelming, and also might be missing a few changes here and there.

– Moved version to 2.6
– Added contact email to initial info table
– Finally fixed that annoying overlap of the cloud and text on the title page!
– Compressed table of contents and objects to a single page, and changed page style
– Made table of contents clickable links
– Clarified Cover to be at least 25% obscured, instead of the vague “partially obscured” that was used before
– Added a “Tips for New Players” section (after Standalone Game) with some tips and tricks written in a casual tone
– Changed Armor definitions from flat Defense to +X, to align with possible base Defense from IP
– Defined IRP and STF on Armor/Medical page
– Removed Autosurgeon and Doctor’s Bag, which were Medical Devices to heal Wound/Injuries. Renamed Defibrillator to Autosurgeon as well
– Added a new gameplay image since we had some space on the credits page
– Added a sepia toned Velociraptor amidst the trees image to the Dinosaur Breeds page
– Named Neotechnoist weapon refund aspect of the Allegiance “Wealth” to make it more like a feature
– Changed first History image to a Siberian crater instead of the old volcanic plain
– Updated some minor History text for consistency with what the game world has evolved to (rewriting history to suit the present!)
– Fixed capitalization of “kW” vs “kw” in Quickdraw rules
– Fixed spacing in “Handcannon” in weapons image
– Fixed missing space for Biosteel Lance in weapons chart
– Changed Unbalanced Posse chart to be cumulative instead of “take the highest”
– Added a +2 HP bonus to Leaders when playing the Assassinate objective
– Cleaned up “Yeehaw!” text in various Quick Reference sheets so it doesn’t reference taking a Bravery Test on Leader death
— Added a note under Leader (in creation) and Bravery Tests to note taking a test on Leader death
– Slight clarification on Quick Reference Sheet for “In Close” to be “Attacker/Target” instead of just “Target”
– Also touched up formatting, spacing, and headers of Quick Reference Sheet to closer match Quickdraw version
– Changed “or” for alternative weapons to a slash “/” to match Armor listing. So “Shiv / Shank” instead of “Shiv or Shank”
– Changed any math division (such as Bravery Test formula for Hitpoints) to a proper division (÷) sign instead of the old “/” approach
– Removed the old “Clever Girl” deployment and replaced it with “Diagonal”. Pop culture references are sorta kinda fun, but the deployment was overly complex
– Slight change to “Deep Edge” deployment so the scout is a single unmounted character only, instead of a single entity (since you could technically use your entire posse on a dinosaur as the scout)
– Changed “Delayed” deployment to give a roll bonus per turn for undeployed entities, so that they eventually come on for sure
– Changed hireable Dinosaur list to use XA-YD instead of old X-Y style
– Changed “Scatter” deployment to be a choice, instead of random locations.
– Clarified Push damage to note you only take damage for the distance you actually travelled (ie: no damage if you’re up against a wall)
– Some editing to Game Overview to give it slightly better flow when reading
– Added a sepia wounded image to the Wounds and Injuries table section
– Changed ‘By Air’ travel from 6 passengers to 8 to match dinosaur resizing
– Buffed Lifesaving IRP threshold from < 3 to < 4
– Slight nerf to "Trip" Brawl attack to be 1A-0D instead of 1A-1D to help balance with Boxer trait
– Brawl attacks can now be used against dinosaurs, mounted, etc. Cannot be used as Snap Attack or Charging still.
– Added a sepia image of a fancy house to the end of the Objectives section
– Removed the Wandering/Roving Enemies option from Features
– Clarified Traits so that Active/Passive stages apply the same, so every Passive now has +X/+X instead of cumulative application of successive stages
– Split Traits into two tables with more spacing, instead of jamming it into one. So a table for Active and one for Passive
– Reordered Trait list columns so "Who" is last, to make reading a Trait a bit easier with the Effect immediately apparent
– Added sepia totem image to page containing Passive Trait List table
– Tons of Trait balances, renames, reworks, and stage additions/removals
– Added Dilophosaurus as a possible Raptor type
– Dinosaur change: Horned buffed attack from 6A-1D to 6A-2D. This is because Horned has 2 worse CTN, 1 worse speed, and 2 worse damage (before change) than King in exchange for 6 HP.
– Dinosaur change: Longneck / Titan brought closer together. DEF buffed 2 to 3. DIS from 10 to 9. Longneck CTN from 5 to 4. Titan PSPD from D6-1 to D6 and SPD from 4 to 5. Longneck HP from 35 to 34. Titan HP from 30 to 32. Titan attack to 2A-10D from 1A-15D.

– Buffed Both Barrels special ability to +2 Damage instead of +2 Attacks
– Buffed Lance special ability to do +1 Attack and +1 Damage on Charge
– Changed Illuminate special ability to do -2 Defense instead of half, for simplicity
– Changed Pulled to use a set inches, like Pushed, instead of the distance of the weapon
– Also reworded Explosion, Fireline, Hail of Shots, Lance, Lasso, Open Choke, Opportunity, Pulled special ability for consistency
– Removed Defoliant Grenades, and as a result the “Cover Breaker” special ability
– Changed Retractable Lasso to 0-7 distance and 6″ Pulled, to fit the new approach
– Kaboom Grenades / Bundle of Dynamite range changed to 5-14 so you can’t hit yourself, also size to Small to match other Grenades
– Buffed Glue Grenades from range 2-12 to range 2-13
– Repriced Flux Rifle from $90 to $80 to be inline with basic Light Repeater
– Changed range bands of Specialty Pistol line (Derringer, LeDuce, Handcannon) to be 1-8, 9-11, 12-14 instead of X-7. This helps balance their $10 higher price
– Repriced Derringer from $40 to $50
– Changed Handcannon to 2A-7D (max) and repriced to $160, changed to Projectile
– Added “Yannigan Pistol” (means “war bag”) between LeDuc and Handcannon, at the $90 price
– Added “Big Iron” as a replacement for old Handcannon stats (2A-6D) and $120 price
– Split Derringer, LeDuc, Yannigan, Big Iron, and Handcannon to a “Custom Pistols” section at the top
– Added a “Boot Blade” specialty melee with 1A-3D and Opportunity
– Changed Laserbow 60 to Large size
– Added Laserbow 70 and 80 to finish the line to top tier
– Added 5GJ and 6GJ Pump Shotgun to finish the line to top tier
– Added Crossbow as next tier Dart Gun
– Added Serrated Knife as Machete alternative
– Renamed Axe to Mountain Man Axe
– Renamed Hammer to Sledgehammer and added Spike Driver as alternative
– Added Overcharged Dinoprod as top tier upgrade to Dinoprod
– Swapped Shiv / Shank for Hunting Knife, then swapped Skinning Knife for Hunting Knife
– Added 300kW Twin Rifle to complete the line
– Changed all Twin Rifles to have 5-18 range instead of high end being only 5-17, to compare to Peacemaker
– Added specialty Pepperbox Pistol / Octochambered that is a good single use attack
– Repriced Glue Grenades to $70, Tangle Grenades to $140, Stun Grenades to $170, Riot Grenades to $50
– Changed Stun Grenades range to 2-11
– Added Winterfrost Grenades as an alternative to Glue Grenades
– Added Dustbomb as an alternative to Stun Grenades
– Added Geyser Grenades as an alternative to Tangle Grenades
– Added Hurricane Grenades as an alternative to Riot Grenades
– Added Harmonica, War Horn / Bugle, Battle Drum that have ranged Sap
– Added The Tombstone, a powerful 1A-9D weapon with Armor Piercing and Slowed that is only effective at exactly 12 distance
– Repriced Grenade Launcher to $220
– Repriced Rotary Rifle to $220
– Added Tirador Rifle as top tier scoped, then switched it with Hunting Rifle so Hunting is top tier
– Added Streetsweeper Shotgun and Coach Gun to finish the line
– Changed Auto Shotgun range to 0-5/6-7/8-9, changed Pump Shotgun short to 0-4/5-6/7-11, because otherwise Auto had no advantage over Pump
– Made 4GJ Pump Shotgun size Large
– Changed generic Shotguns to range 0-3/4-5/6-9 (from 4-6/7-9) to balance their lower price
– Changed Sawed Off Shotgun range to 0-4/5-6/7-9 to fit Open Choke
– Added Clark Airgun and Lewis Airgun that have Pushed special
– Changed Riot Grenades to be D6+3″ Pushed instead of D6″
– Added Harpoon Gun and Dinocatcher with Pulled
– Added Totem as alternative to Sonic Gun
– Replaced Flamethrower with Badlands Burner, made Flamethrower a 6A-0D version. Added Wagon Blazer as 7A-0D version. Changed range to 0-9, reload to 1×1, prices
– Added “Cavalry” weapon special ability: Add +1 Damage while mounted.
– Added Carbines to leverage the new Cavalry ability
– Added three new melee weapons to leverage the new Cavalry ability, including renaming Saber for one
– Added Rustler Revolver as Handcannon alternative
– Changed Long Sword to be an alternative to Motor Blade, and replaced Long Sword with Rattlesnake Axe
– Changed Glaive to be an alternative to Cutlass
– Added Horned Axe as alternative to Scythe
– Added Lasher as alternative to Flail
– Renamed “Sap” special to “Motivate”, to better fit with what weapons use it
– Changed Motivate to “On a hit of 2+ total damage the attacker heals 1 HP to self or another ally in 8″.”
– Reworked close Sap weapons to 1A-3D Catalyst, 4A-0D Coup Stick, 5A-0D Tornado
– Reduced price of Lances, to match the fact that they are unusable once dismounted
– Added Howdah Pistol as alternative to Sawed Off Shotgun
– Added Equalizer Shotgun as alternative to Break Action Shotgun
– Renamed Break Action Shotgun to Break-Action Shotgun, to match Lever-Action
– Added “Bow and Arrows” as alternative Throwing Spear

– Updated version to 2.6
– Updated traits, weapons, and dinosaurs to match v2.6 rules
– Added weapon special abilities to beside their name, in the bottom right corner of the cell, so that at a glance players can see what something does beyond the astericks that was used before (and is still present)
– Added Brawl attacks as a buyable option, useful for players who want to track these attacks in their weapon slots
– Similarly added Rope Lasso as a buyable option
– Slight update to Lasso A-D size in the PDF output, so that the numbers are the proper size if set, otherwise smaller for DinoA/DinoD
– Changed old Armor list headers of “Armor Rating” to “Defense” and “MV Penalty” to “SPD Penalty”, whoops
– Also changed Armor Defense listing to “+X” instead of flat “X”
– Updated Passive traits to apply properly using the new approach
– Close store and trait list on posse load, to ensure a fresh state
– Fixed “Clear Sight” passive trait so it properly works with non-standard weapon ranges. For example it won’t change Repeater med from 0-13 to 1-14 anymore
– Automatically ‘X’ Active traits that have previous stages, to help signify that only the highest stage is used


You made it this far? Good on you! Onwards to v2.7!

Redone rulebook gameplay example art

As part of the upcoming v2.6 rules I ended up doing some re-organization of the table of contents/objects, which cleared up the following page and left me with a big blank spot. To fill that spot I put in a new gameplay image, actually from the recent Mountie Chase of Samurai Jack battle report.
This is the image:

The problem is the existing gameplay picture in the “Game Overview” section has a lot of similar features, specifically a T-Rex and the road sections. I didn’t think that reflected very well on the game, to have such duplication, so I recently re-took a gameplay photo to replace the old Game Overview one.
This is the result:

I made a concentrated effort to not use any minis or terrain from the Samurai Jack gameplay photo. The downside is I staged the photo, whereas the previous gameplay photos were taken during actual games. Either way I’m happy with the result, and I think showing the green table in the first and desert table in the second is a nice way to break them up.

So anyway v2.6 will get a nice facelift with these new photos. As I mentioned before, you can check out the latest, non-released rules on the Bleeding Edge Dropbox which is synced with my computer.

v2.5 Release with oodles of new weapons

Remember how the last release was the fastest update ever? Well I’m going to have to guess v2.5 is the slowest. After the Battle to Seattle campaign wrapped up I was pretty much out of energy. Summer had just started as well, so a week delay turned into a month and before you know it here we are in July. If you have been following the bleeding edge version of the rules there shouldn’t be any surprises here.

Without further ado: Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v2.5

train-mineAnyway v2.5 is quite a milestone release because I added a TON of weapons. There are now plenty of fun options for pistols (Six-Shooters, Volcanic, Walker, Peacemaker) to suit any playstyle. Rifles have been tweaked and balanced and expanded. Shotguns are actually viable now. Repeaters have an “end game” version. There are lots of new specialty weapons too (like the LeDuc Revolver). Melee weapons have been completely redone so any type of Attack-Damage pattern you can imagine is available.
There were numerous tweaks and fixes from the experience of running a 4 person campaign. I also took some of the knowledge gained from the quickstart rules and applied it back to the core rulebook, such as actually explaining and demonstrating a statline before talking about it.

All in all I’m really happy with this version, even if it took far too long to get that last 1% done.

I’ll probably go back into quiet mode for a while here though. Lots going on outside of tabletop games, so it can be tough to find the time. I am of course still hoping to post battle reports and the like. I’d especially like to build a few Lego buildings and play a game of Dinosaur Cowboys using Lego minifigs. That and use some of the new dinosaurs in greater depth. I have a few miniatures I’m in the process of painting as well that I’d like to get a game in with eventually.

Anyway here are the specific changes around this edition:
– Tons of new weapons and special abilities
– Got rid of the old D4/D8/D10 usage which was JUST for Dinosaur panic. Now D6 or D12 ONLY is used, with modifiers where necessary
– Updated component picture to not have old dice, and also show more miniatures
– Added a new Statistics Overview section to give an idea of stats before we talk about them
– Added an example weapon to the start of Combat to give some context
– Default turn limit changed from 5 to 6
– “Explosion” special ability now does half damage to mounted characters
– Changed Wound/Injury table so that a roll of 1-1 is Bad Luck now, instead of having to re-roll 1s
– Buffed “Lend a Hand”, so HP transfer is done in a 1:1 ratio
– Added a +1 bonus to a Bravery Test roll while Mounted, to stop riders from being a huge weak link
– Changed dinosaur passenger size to Small 1, Medium 2, Large 3, Extra-Large 5 (up from 4)
– Updated Swimmer/Flyer notes so that Extra-Large dinos take 5 slots
– Changed Swimmer breeds to match actual length of dinosaurs, so larger versions are used for ferries compared to smaller “sloop” versions
– Moved where the Elevation rule is since it applies to both range/close
– Changed Movement attack modifier to be for All, and only apply if target moved 2″+
– Changed base distances to start at 0 instead of 1, for example Six-Shooter Short Distance is now 0-6″
– Added a ‘Who’ column to Traits, to specifically state whether a Human, Dinosaur, or Both can use a Trait
– Clarified that selling/replacing a dinosaur doesn’t refund training costs
– Reorganized Campaign section, added a note about Gentleman’s Agreements, and about two types of campaigns
– Armor changed to have Speed Penalty starting at +3 DEF instead of +4
– Eagle Eye is now an Active Trait, Clear Sight now has 1 Stage only
– Changed Pushed/Pulled to not affect dinosaurs in close combat
– Merged “Night” into “Sunset”, which also now includes a “Dusk” option
– Added Step totals, for example Step 1/6, 2/6, to give the reader an idea of how much they have left

Saloon Updates:
– Mirrored rule updates
– Added “Private Save” feature that will prevent a posse from being loaded in the Recent Posse List. Useful for campaigns with secret information
– Added a Number of Players link beside the Campaign Mode checkbox, which allows your PDF posse to have modified free Hitpoints for games with larger number of players

A rough and fun naval supplement for Dinosaur Cowboys

ShipsFor the Coos Bay campaign battle I knew I wanted to have the posses fight each other from the back of Swimmers. For those that aren’t familiar, traditional boats and ferries aren’t used in Dinosaur Cowboys. Instead in the spirit of the theme giant ferries and ship decks are strapped to the back of various dinosaurs, such as a ferry on a Thalassomedon or Mosasaurus, whereas a smaller sloop would be on a Nothosaurus.

Soooo you kind of end up with a ship deck, but in your imagination it’s on the back of a dinosaur. In terms of game mechanics that makes the boat MUCH more maneuverable since you can go backwards without momentum, cross small islands (since the dino can clamber across), etc.

Mockup of a Swimmer provided by Nathan, one of the campaign players

In terms of the rules I mapped out decks for the Sloop and Skiff (which can be launched from the Sloop). The actual passengers ferries would be much larger. You can see the layout of these to the right, or in the rules themselves.

Otherwise the rules provide a framework for moving the ship, using various stations on board (like going “Below Decks” to heal, firing Swivel Guns and Cannons, etc.). There are also rules for boarding via boarding planks or grappling hooks. Also for swimming in deep water, and everything else necessary to add boats to a standard game of Dinosaur Cowboys.

In terms of balance and tweaks, we’ve only played the rules once, but they seemed to work well. The biggest complaint was that there wasn’t much incentive to fire a Cannon. So I’d consider tweaking those to Reload None (instead of Auto), giving it a bigger arc, maybe a different damage scheme (like 1D12 Attacks, D6 Damage), etc.

Download the Swimmer Naval Rules PDF for Dinosaur Cowboys

Anyway the rules are fairly one off so I don’t think I’ll revisit them again. I’ve been loosely brainstorming a new naval game in the back of my mind so this was somewhat an outlet for that. Plus it’s fun to have a unique battle every now and then!

Reworked Panic Speed to remove D4, D8, D10

back-to-basic-diceThe image to the right basically sums up the latest change. In other words you no longer required 4-sided (D4), 8-sided (D8), or 10-sided (D10) dice for Dinosaur Cowboys! I had initially included these dice specifically for Panic Speed of certain dinosaurs, so that the random range was fairly close to the base Speed. For example a Runner has a Speed of 10, and used to have a Panic Speed of D10 (1-10).

With my v2.5 tweaks I went to ONLY D12s and D6s. To achieve a similar random range modifiers are used. So going back to the Runner, their Panic Speed is now D12-2. Obviously anything with a modifier to Panic Speed has a minimum of 1, so technically the range ends up being 1-10 still, just with 2/12 chances to end up with a total of 1 (since rolling a 2 or 3 would be modified to 1).

Overall this is a great change as it reduces the barrier to entry to play the game. I figure most players have some history of RPGs in their past so getting D4s and so on isn’t that tough, but there is always a chance there are new players who only have the basics.

I’ll be retaking the “Components of the Game” shot (which the above image was cropped and edited from), which also means I can include some new miniatures in there from my recently painted stuff. I also updated The Saloon code to use the new Panic Speed values (and adjust the font size on PDF export as necessary).

Anyway here are the current v2.5 dinosaurs with this change:

The latest batch of Dinosaur Cowboys changes also included some other big reworks, mostly around formatting. For example now there is a Statistics Overview section before “The Turn”, which I learned from the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game rulebook really helps give an idea of how a character is defined. This was especially necessary because I use a lot of the statistics in the combat section without the reader having much idea of what they do. Similarly I included an example Weapon statline at the start of the Combat section.
I also shifted around the Statistic Improvement Cost page, mainly compressing it by removing (now redundant) descriptive text. I also changed the Quidel “Creating a Character Example” end result to be a screenshot of the PDF posse roster instead of plain text.

So yeah, lots of touchups that should help make the game more accessible to new players.

As I said before, look for v2.5 near the end of this month. In the meantime you can still get the latest rulebook copy synced from my computer on my bleeding edge Dropbox.
But yeah look for the official release after the Battle to Seattle campaign is done. Speaking of which, Lake Tahoe battle tomorrow night woo hoo!

v2.2 – The fastest re-release in the west

Dino-Breeds_sepiaWell then, 5 days after v2.1 here is v2.2. Haha, sort of embarrassing really to have releases so close together. But a few factors meant I ended up getting a lot of important updates done soon than I expected.

First of all I created the Quickdraw rules, which are basically the core mechanics of the game compressed down into 4 pages, plus a few sample posses. But in doing so I realized there are some…structural problems with the full rulebook. So then I did a pretty big re-organization of the contents of the full rulebook. For example why was Creating a Posse stuck in the middle between combat and traits? I’ll tell you why: probably because this game was once an RPG and I haven’t really taken a fresh look at the overall organization since! But the Quickdraw rules inspired me to clean up the layout, so I did exactly that.
I also cleaned up the Turn structure to use terms that are a bit easier to remember, so it goes Refresh, Initiative, Activation, Repeat now. Maybe playing the Fantasy Flight Star Wars card game inspired me to do the term change.
With the re-organization I had some dead space on a page where I didn’t have dead space before. So I decided to put in a sepia toned picture of actual dinosaur toys. Now I originally wanted to keep the interior art purely to Library of Congress images…but good luck finding any of dinosaurs :) The image is what you see to the right.
Then some minor updates like rewording the Game Overview section (again it was pretty RPG-centric, and I realized hadn’t been rewritten or touched up since v0.3, haha).

So enjoy the fastest new version ever. I think this beats the pace I was going even in the early development days.

Download the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v2.2
Quickdraw Rules v2.2 (PDF)
Quickdraw Rules v2.2 (ODT)

But hey, better to have the changes up than not. I’m also going to start mentioning the Quickdraw rules around different forums, so hopefully that generates some more interest.

“Quickdraw” rules – 9-page beginner version!

quickdraw-previewAre you new to tabletop miniature skirmish games? Does the thought of a 70 page rulebook replete with equipment lists, campaign rules, and low level character customization scare you off? Would you rather just sit down with two Posses and try out this “Dinosaur Cowboys” game you have heard about? Then you are in luck, as I’ve created a set of “Quickdraw Rules” that promise to be just the core concepts of the game, and include pre-built Posses and simple instructions for getting a game going.

Download Dinosaur Cowboys Quickdraw PDF (v2.1)

Note: If you visit this page a while after it’s posted, make sure you have the latest version! I’d recommend checking the main Download Rulebook page which always has the latest rules.

v2.1 Released – Trait balance, new Features, Campaign Record Sheet, and more

Features_ContainerVersion 2.1 Released!
Well I bet you didn’t expect this! After almost 4 months since the big 2.0 release I thought I’d release v2.1, which has a lot more fixes and improvements (some long overdue) than you’d expect from that little itty bitty .1 version change. Some of these were motivated by the upcoming Battle to Seattle campaign with my friends, while others were on the TODO list for a long time…but weren’t much fun so I didn’t do them :)

First of all though, get the PDF of it!
Download the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v2.1

Now for the changes. Instead of dumping a big list of the changes I thought I’d take some time talking about each one:
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Dinosaur Cowboys v2.0 Released!

It’s with great joy that I announce version 2.0 of Dinosaur Cowboys! After nearly two years of changes, tweaks, and edits, I feel that this version is finally done and polished enough to replace the old v1.0. I’m going to the v2.0 line because there have been enough core changes to the rules (which I sheepishly remember saying I’d never do). You can see a general idea of the biggest changes from the v1.9 release notes. Anyone who has been following the bleeding edge version knows pretty well what v2.0 has shaped up to be.

Download the free v2.0 rulebook PDF!

I think the rules are absolutely great at this point. I have numerous playtests under my belt, I’ve encountered and fixed/clarified a lot of corner cases that really only come up during repeated play, and most of all I’ve created the type of game I enjoy playing!
I’ll keep my eye on rule tweaks and fixes as I go, and I do want to reformat the rulebook to two columns at some point, but otherwise I don’t foresee any large changes. Then again I said the same thing for v1.0, so who knows! I do have a few ideas of “expansions” to the rules (like an armor system for Dinosaurs) but those would all be separate documents.
You can expect to see lots more campaign reports and general matches, since like I said I really enjoy actually sitting down to play the game.

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Bleeding edge rulebook on Dropbox

Dropbox-LogoI’ve started using Dropbox for some personal file syncing and organization. I think eventually I might setup an instance of ownCloud on my personal server (the same one that runs The Saloon), just because I like free software services like that.

Anyway as part of my Dropbox usage I’ve started synchronizing the latest Dinosaur Cowboys rulebook (both in ODT and PDF format) directly from the internal Subversion repository I use.

So what does this mumbo jumbo mean for you? It means you can download the absolutely latest rulebook at any time. Remember this rulebook is the bleeding edge, not a finalized release, so there may be half finished rules or changes in the document. But hopefully this approach is a handy option for everyone! I know it’ll be a lot easier for me to keep the rulebook up to date. Obviously I’ll still also be following my original release schedule of versioned rulebooks every now and then. I should have done this right from the start, but alas, hindsight!

Bleeding Edge Rulebook: http://bleedingedge.mine.nu/

For example the most recent copy (as of this writing) has minor changes to the stat table, typo in the D4 dice table, and tons of edits from Brandon on Boardgamegeek, and the start of implementing the art from spohniscool. At this point the rules are fairly stable, so not a ton of crazy changes, but it’s the thought that counts!

Release of Rulebook v1.9 with massive changes

Big-ChangesWell the last release was a little over nine months ago, how crazy is that? You’ll notice with this release I jumped a bunch of version numbers. The reason for that is because of all the massive changes. I know I had said the core rules were solidified at the v1.0 release, and in a sense they still are, but yeah, v1.9 and forward will be different than prior releases.
What I’m planning to do is release v1.9, let it simmer for a bit, and then release the “final” version as v2.0. This is because I might have missed typos or other errors just due to the sheer size of the changes.

First of all, here is the brand new Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v1.9.

Anyway, I keep talking about big changes, so let’s hear them (ordered biggest change to smallest)!

Version 1.9 Rules Changes
– Renamed the statline, which is now: DEF, RTN, CTN, BTN, SPD, HP. That would be Defense (Armor Rating), Range Target Number (Ranged Miss Chance), Close Target Number (Melee Miss Chance), Bravery Targer Number (Bravery/Gutless), Speed (Movement), Panic Speed (Panic Movement). The reason for this was to apply a consistent naming to the lower-is-better stats (RTN, CTN, BTN). Also Defense makes more sense in terms of dinosaurs and lightly armored cowboys. Speed also sounds better since then the Maneuever Phase can become Movement Phase instead. Also Defense is written as +X, and Speed as X” instead of both being flat X. The use of these statistics doesn’t change much, it’s more just a redone naming and reorder of the stat line. To get an idea of what the new statline looks like see this example posse roster.
– In the same vein of renaming for theme, Run was changed to Hustle
– Split Speed on the Posse Roster (similar to Hitpoints) to easily see what the Hustle distance would be
– Dinosaurs now ignore Difficult Terrain, due to their massive size. This also makes moving a big dinosaur toy MUCH easier on a cramped table.
– Dinosaur balancing: King DIS 9 to 8, King A-D 1-9 to 1-8, Raptor A-D 1-6 to 1-5, Fin HP to 17, Terror A-D 1-7 to 1-6, Terror MV 5 to 6, Plated HP 23 to 22, Runner HP 10 to 11, Thickskull A-D 5-1 to 4-2, Horned MV 6 to 5, Horned A-D 4-3 to 6-1, Ripper HP 12 to 13, Longneck HP 37 to 35, Titan HP 32 to 30
– Added 10 Deployments to spice up games beyond “line up on opposing sides”
– Added 11 Objectives to help move away from plain “kill everything” matches
– Added 40 Features to provide some extra variety to games, such as Duststorms, Volcanos, Traps, Weapon Emplacements, etc.
– Added a Forced March rule to allow posses to travel longer per day at the cost of Initiative
– Added an underdog table for unbalanced battles in a campaign
– Added rules for Overland Difficult Terrain
– Added after encounter Wound and Injury rules for an ongoing campaign
– Updated Variant Rules to have 19 solid options, instead of old brainstorm info
– Renamed Surprise Hit to Shot in the Back (for flavor)
– Added a Custom Game Sheet that helps track Variant Rules and Features in a game
– Added a game component and game example image to the Game Overview
– Buffed Lassos so they are a little more viable. Now they base the attacks-damage off the dinosaur being ridden. This basically gives a mounted dinosaur a slight ranged attack
– Added a new image based on an old Pony Express ad
– Improved Dinosaur page by making it landscape and adding silhouettes to give an idea of each dinosaur
– Minor change to Minimum Range to be 0-X instead of 1-X to clarify that it can’t be used in melee
– Lowered Voluntary Weakness for Bravery to make it less profitable. Now it goes 2, 2, 3, 4 to stop getting 14 IP from dropping Bravery by two
– Made a note about maximum Traits (which is 13 at 400 IP)
– Reworded Neotechnoist wealth refund to be clearer
– Embed fonts in exported PDF, very important for Dingosaurus font (used in Dinosaur list for silhouettes)
– Cut the PDF size down to ~2.5mb (even with all the new images) by changing from Lossless image export to 100% quality
– Added an example completed posse roster to help players understand how they should look
– Added a note that dinosaurs block Line of Sight
– Added a D12 Random Direction table (demonstrating using the faces of a clock)
– Cleaned up item lists to use alternative colored rows and some green garnish
– Add a note that only a single Panic token can be added at once, regardless of double or triple damage
– Added Dice Tables for D4, D8, D10 in case players only have D12s
– Removed the Crossfire rule and diagram. It was never used, was overly clunky and complex, and didn’t add much
– Added Hatchet as an alternative to Hammer
– Trait “Runner” was renamed to “Racer” to avoid confusion with the dinosaur
– Ten grammar and typo edits from user Grusome99 on Boardgamegeek, many thanks

Peaceful-BeachLike I said, a TON of changes. I maybe should have done an intermediate release, now that I realize how far out of date the old v1.3 was compared to the current.

Version 1.9 Saloon Changes
As usual I updated The Saloon to match the current version. This was a lot of work because of all the PDF export work that needed to be done. Otherwise there were a few minor changes:

– Changed NeodollarFormatter to cut off the decimal places
– Changed fonts and also embedded them in the PDF. This roughly doubled the file size (~185kb to ~350kb) but will ensure the PDFs display properly on all operating systems regardless of what fonts they have available

Next Up
For now I’m going to take a break, play some Dinosaur Cowboys, and make sure v1.9 is solid and there aren’t any unconverted stats or other typos. I have a 4-player game lined up tomorrow so that will be fun. With luck v2.0 will be out in the next month or two.

Old rulebooks now available

ArchiveI’m a big fan of looking back at the progression of a ruleset and seeing how it evolved over the many months. So I combed through this blog to find every Dinosaur Cowboys release I’ve done, and have now linked to them on the main download page. For easy access here is the list repeated as of the v1.3a release. These are links directly to the PDF file. I definitely like perusing those pre-v1.0 releases and seeing all the big TODO chunks. Also fun to see what sections I’ve rewritten and a few of the sentences that have made it all the way from the first version.

Old Versions: 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 0.91b, 1.0, 1.1, 1.1b, 1.2, 1.3, 1.3a

Speaking of rules the development version of v1.4 was generously edited for typos, grammar, and structure by a fellow Boardgamegeek website user named Grusome99. I’ve rolled his changes into the document so those nine or ten fixes will be part of the next release.

In terms of the next release I am thinking sooner is better. This has been one of the larger gaps between releases, but more importantly v1.3a is getting fairly far behind the current v1.4. There were enough changes with campaigns, objectives/deployments/features, Gutless, etc. that you can expect a new version early March.

Custom Game Sheet

Clever-GirlI recently played a game using the new Deployment, Objective, and Feature rules. We had a “Clever Girl” deployment with an “Assassination” objective. The Clever Girl deployment is supposed to mimic the namesake situation in Jurassic Park. So the defender has to split their posse and deploy between the back and middle of the board. Then attacker deploys at the back and puts two entities to either flank of the defender’s forward element (ie: the flanking Velociraptors from the movie). This was already a fun deployment, but the Assassination objective meant the defender (who had unknowingly exposed their Leader as a forward element) was immediately on their toes. The game looked like it’d be over in a few turns as the defender’s Leader was down to 2 HP! But they managed to get into cover and push back with the rest of their force, eventually driving the attacker back and winning the game. Quite a good time.

Anyway during this game we also had planned to use the “Carnivorous Plants” setup Feature, which basically meant vegetation could attack people standing beside it. However I forgot to use this rule the entire game.
So what I decided to do to is create a quick Custom Game Sheet. The purpose of this is to help remember what Variant Rules and Features are used in the heat of a battle. Silent Death had a similar approach, and with the growing number of Variant Rules and massive number of Features I figured such a tool would be very handy. So I made a one page sheet and inserted it in the latest rulebook (which I’ll release after some more testing and editing of the campaign rules).

Here is how it looks:
And here is the download: Custom Game Sheet (PDF).

I also added alternating shading to the various item charts. I am honestly not sure why I didn’t have that right from the start. Reading wide tables without any color differentiation is rather tough. I also added a splash of green color to match the blank posse roster. Anyway a quick preview of the old vs new chart:
Now that I looked at the lists from this view I realized the name should have a trailing space or padding to break it up a bit from the divider.

I’m busy travelling for a while here, but I do want to sit down and play some campaign battles for my test Windy River setup.

Preview of upcoming v1.4 rules

Yesterday I had mentioned me and my friend were brainstorming Deployments, Objectives, and Features. Well I finished formatting what we came up with, and now there are a bunch of new pages in the current rulebook. Also I had done some campaign extensions with injury tables and other neato new stuff.

So I thought I’d let everyone take a look at the progress. I exported an excerpt of the changes which basically ended up as the Standalone Game and Campaign Game sections. These rules have (hopefully) been edited, but haven’t had any rigorous playtesting yet. I’m going to play a few games using them in the upcoming weeks, as well as try to get outside playtesters involved (most likely from BGG).
With luck there will be a new rulebook release late February. Although I’ve been using v1.4 as the next version, I might bump it up to v1.5 or v2.0 because of how much additional content and changes were added.

But for now take a look at the most recent changes, and be sure to let me know what you think: New Features Preview PDF which contains 10 deployments, 11 objectives, 40 features, night fighting, forced march overland travel rules, difficult overland terrain, underdog bonuses, and wounds and injuries including 2 new tables. Lots to check out!

Genre-Killer_by-delirious_smem(Photo Credit)