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I’ve been really happy with the v1.0 reception so far! Let’s celebrate by enjoying a rather topical alternate history Photoshop (worth clicking for the full size):

Looks like a couple of Spanish sites picked up the fun idea of Dinosaur Cowboys and posted news and a forum topic about my game. Always great
to see interest from around the world:

Also the discussion on RPGnet finally picked up which I’m grateful for since I think there are a lot of clever gamers there. Similarly the topic on The Forge saw a bit of renewed interest thanks to v1.0…and also had some ideas for v1.1. Work is never done!

Dinosaur Cowboys v1.0 Released!

It’s with great joy that I announce version 1.0 of Dinosaur Cowboys, just in time for my self imposed Halloween deadline. The project has taken two years to reach this point plus numerous revisions and playtests. I’m really happy with the result and think the game is lots of fun.

Download the free v1.0 rulebook PDF!

I don’t know where Dinosaur Cowboys will go from here. With this release the core rules are done (unless I find some glaring omission I somehow missed during editing). I might add “expansion” rules (like vehicles, dinosaur equipment, flying units, etc.) but that would be far in the future. For now I’m going to focus on filling out the background of the world through Nanowrimo (which conveniently starts tomorrow).

As for this blog I won’t have as much to say on rules development, but I’ll try to post monthly battle reports at the very least, plus any cool pictures or fiction I stumble across.

Anyways if you have any feedback or ideas for the future let me know.

EDIT: The rules have been touched up and revised since this release. The core mechanics truly are complete and done with the v1.0 release, but I’d still recommend grabbing the latest version.

Tyrannosaurus West

So apparently the above was the cover image for “Tyrannosaurus West”. Image credit goes to Chris Moreno. Apparently this was a comic from a company called Silent Devil aimed for release in 2006. But besides that scrap of information I can’t find much else, including any details of the comic issue or other images. So maybe it was just a pipe dream that ran out of money. If anyone knows or finds anything out about this comic please leave a comment here as I’m interested to see more of the actual issue. But for now we’re left with a really neato looking image that captures the panic and fear a person fighting a prehistoric titan would feel.

UPDATE: According to a comment by Chris on the original art site the comic never got passed the development stages. I guess that explains why I haven’t been able to find the actual issue. Well, at least we have the cool title page to look at!

TV show Terra Nova

I’m a bit behind the times when it comes to TV shows, so some of you may already be keeping up with Terra Nova. The show is about a dystopia future filled with pollution and overpopulation. But mankind has discovered a time rift to an alternative past timeline wherein they can “start anew” and rebuild. Why am I mentioning this in relation to Dinosaur Cowboys? Because what better place to rebuild than the prehistoric age of dinosaurs.
First of all let’s get this out there: the TV show is cheesy. It’s light sci-fi with plenty of family drama and cliches. But at the same time I knew I’d have a soft spot for the show when the youths went “OTG” which stands for Outside the Gates. Almost like they live in a walled in facility…why that’s practically Neotechnoist of them! The rough and tumble society surviving outside the gates (called “Sixers”) are reminiscent of a less cowboy-ified gang of Dusters.
So yeah, the more parallels I draw between the show and Dinosaur Cowboys the more I enjoy it. Sure they use crude projectile guns (no lasers :( ) and drive vehicles around instead of riding dinosaurs, but maybe given enough time they will change the tone a bit. Check it out if you get a chance.

v1.0 Release Still on Schedule
Anyways I’m still on track for an end of October v1.0 release. I’m hoping to get one final battle report up of my playtests, perhaps this weekend (basically my last change regardless). After that I’ll be in the thick of Nanowrimo, but with luck fans will pick up my creative slack and have some great pictures and session reports for us.

Post apocalyptic fan made table

I’ve got a real treat today from Ross (who you might remember as the creator of two great looking Posses). He has pulled together a terrific looking Dinosaur Cowboys themed table replete with rusted cars, shattered roads, and overgrown ruins. Pictures speak louder than words, so enjoy:

Fanart of travelling methods

Got some more cool fanart today, this time from cody20 who has been a big proponent of the game. Always great to see works like this! Traditionally “fast” travel in Dinosaur Cowboys is done via Flappers (Pterosauria) and Swimmers (Nothosaurus), but USA 2285 is a big place so old fashion steam boats and blimps would be perfect for the cowboy feel!

Cool Aztec-style figure

From the great DakkaDakka thread brimming with cool dinosaur/cowboy related figures.

Gearing up for Fiction

Dedicated readers might remember that back in 2009 I had the spark of inspiration to make something with dinosaurs and cowboys in it. That spark was thanks to National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo), which is a great initiative where you try to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That’s 1,667 words a day. The genre and format can be anything, although normally a book is preferred.

So with November almost here I thought what better topic than Dinosaur Cowboys? But instead of one long winded story I’m going to create various fictional short stories that help flesh out the background and history of the game. I’ll be uploading the fresh-off-the-presses (aka full of typos and grammatical errors) short stories as I go once November is here, so check back to the Fiction category often.

Anyways for now I have a few ideas for short stories, but some plot ideas, characters, or locations would be a great help:

  • Neotechnoist life inside The Wall and escaping into the wastes
  • Exploring the sunken ruins of San Francisco on the coast
  • Escorting a dinosaur caravan and defending it against bandits
  • Young Savage trying to hunt a Sabertooth Cat

I could basically keep typing story ideas forever because there is so much to do with the world. I think this initiative will be fun (because Nanowrimo always is, even if it’s a bunch of effort too!) and will help flesh out the background and give players and fans a better idea for their own campaigns or standalone games.

PS: Totally missed my self imposed October 10th deadline for releasing v1.0. Turns out Thanksgiving weekend is more about socializing instead of last minute playtesting. Look for v1.0 before November though, since I want to be able to focus on writing fiction not rules for that month.

Papo Dinosaur Gallery

I thought I’d post an updated picture of my collection of Papo toys. These are super detailed and durable toys that really it well with Dinosaur Cowboys. I’ve been hoping to find some inexpensive bulk collection for herd animals and the like, but I’m never happy with the quality of others. What I think would be fun would be modeling a saddle and other features onto a few of these, at the cost of durability since then I’d have to baby them just as much as miniatures.

Full collection as of September 2011:

Detail shots:

Say cheese!

UPDATE 2014: New collection picture viewable here.

Balance vs Realism

An older post on RPGNet about The RPG/Dinosaur Paradox got me thinking: are the dinosaurs in Dinosaur Cowboys different and unique and awesome enough compared to plain human posse members? Let’s look at what differentiates a dinosaur from a cowboy:

  • Tons of HP – Even the smallest vegetarian dinosaur (Runner) has 10 HP, which is 2 more than a starting cowboy. The top is a Longneck with 35 HP. This means dinosaurs take a huge amount of punishment, and can become a focal point of the battle in a way.
  • No Equipment – I’m still considering the possibility of dinosaur specific equipment like extra saddles, armor plating, etc. but for now dinosaurs can’t buy or use any equipment.
  • No Upgrading – Besides buying more HP dinosaurs can’t be improved in any way (for good or bad) using Improvement Points.
  • Can Transport – Dinosaurs can be mounted and can carry passengers, so they act like a vehicle in that regard.
  • Allow Lassos – While mounted a character can use a Lasso weapon, like a plain Rope Lasso or something exotic like a Barbed Lasso.
  • Different Natural Weapons – Instead of punching and kicking dinosaurs can Trample and Gore as natural weapons.

Besides these points dinosaurs, at their core, are treated the same as cowboys in regards to moving and attacking.
I wanted to post today about possibly changing this. I don’t think too drastically, as split rules are always annoying (see Warhammer 40k with it’s infantry / jump infantry / motorbikes / tanks / monstrous creature mess). In this case I ask: Should dinosaurs ignore Difficult Terrain? From a thematic and realism sense the answer is yes as they’d smash through trees and charge up hills without any problem or hassles that human sized characters have. But from a balance sense it means dinosaurs are faster and can reach close combat sooner, as well as transporting human members closer to the front earlier on.
Also I might change how Dinosaurs move slightly, like perhaps they can move a random distance (instead of preset) to represent them being a bit uncontrollable. Or maybe they have a “Fear Scale” that increases as they are attacked, instead of just a blanket Bravery Test.
Anyways maybe I just need to playtest this and see how it works out. I think it’ll really vary by posse and table layout and so on, which makes it hard to come to a definite conclusion.

The Great T-Rex Hunt

I think I had mentioned in the past that I wanted to do a custom type of Dinosaur Cowboys game where a group of big game hunters battle a single Tyrannosaurus Rex. Well I recently bought the Papo T-Rex toy, which looks awesome:

And then I mocked up some stats for him that are equal to a new Posse, that is $1,000 and 100 IP. Now I just need to make a themed hunting Posse to take him on. I’m thinking some old British style hunter like those that went to Africa on expeditions. Then maybe his loyal friend, his wife, and two porters or guards. A classical mix of shotguns and so forth would be perfect.

As for the T-Rex here is how I built him. The original stats are:

MV: 5
AR: 2
MMC: 5
BRV: 7
HP: 24
A-D: 1-7
Cost: $500

The first thing I did to make him truly deadly was boost his weapon, for free. This was mostly a balance issue and also a fun issue, since I wanted an attack heavy roll instead of one focused on damage. So instead of 1-7 I made him 10-1. I figured this would balance with him being a single target and not having Leadership benefits. Plus it should be a BLAST to roll!

Then I started to make purchases. I opted for survivability and mobility as two priorities. I spent 10 IP to boost his AR from 2 to 3, which was a pretty obvious choice. I spent another 12 IP for +2 HP, and my remaining $500 for +10 HP for a total of 36 HP! Since his HP was so high I didn’t expect he’d ever need a Bravery Test, so I opted to voluntarily weaken his Bravery down to 3, which gave me +9 IP. Then came the big spenders, first MMC from 5 to 4 for 33 IP, just to ensure he never missed. Finally mobility which I achieved by spending 54 IP (wow!) to boost his MV from 5 to 8.

Next were his Traits. Normally a Posse gets 3 Traits, which is handy since that’s the maximum a single entity can have. So I needed to allocate 3 Traits to my T-Rex, which was a real treat. I wanted some hard hitters but some passive stat boosters would be nice too. For Passive I considered Bonus HP (always helps!), Charger (would hate to fall short), Runner (he’ll be using the Run action basically every turn he’s not in close combat), or Climber (ignoring terrain would really help his speed overall). There are a ton of Active options, like Clean Shot (pretty much guaranteed enemies won’t have previous damage when I hit them), Go For the Eyes (a classic, and with 10-1 guaranteed to help), Inspiring Shot (his only real way to heal), Lucky (could help against a brutal enemy shot), Rush (would help get to close combat, and then Slowed doesn’t matter since he’d be fighting), Shake it Off (helpful since here will likely be Slowed from Stun Guns or grenades), Try Again (re-rolling 10-1 would be sweet), Turtle (would be great when in combat already), and finally Whirlwind (if I could ever catch two enemies together).
So out of everything I opted for Runner, Inspiring Shot, and Turtle. This means he can move 8″+5″ Run, so 13″ arc. He’ll get 7 HP back after a kill one time. And finally he can boost his AR to 6 for a turn at the cost of being Stopped. Anyways that was definitely the toughest choice of the build.

His final stats were:

MV: 8
AR: 3
MMC: 4
BRV: 3
HP: 36
A-D: 10-1
Traits: Runner, Inspiring Shot, Turtle
Cost: $1,000, 100 IP

So yeah, against a new Posse he should be quite the menace. The downside is he’s likely to get shot all the time without Cover since he’s so big, but AR 3 against starting RMCs (normally 6 to 8 or so) should help a ton.
And I just wanted to say that at this rate of Papo dinosaur toy purchases I’m well on my way to being like this avid collector.

I’m hoping to write up the hunting expedition Posse tonight and then play the game sometime this weekend, so expect a battle report soon after!

Images of weapons

Thanks again to Felix for some weapon images. A lot of these (especially the six-shooter, lever-action rifle, and hand cannon) are exactly how I visualized them. They’ll eventually make their way into the rulebook under the weapon and equipment section, but for now here’s how they look.

Try to Survive (Dutch game)

I stumbled across a neat little game thanks to someone on their forum (originally in Dutch, translation here) stumbling across me. They have some great looking scenes with simple plastic dinosaurs that were painted to improve their appearance. The rules themselves are kind of interesting because the game is more about surviving for a certain amount of time (hard to tell for sure using a Google translated version of it :) ) during prehistoric times.
Regardless I thought it fit well with Dinosaur Cowboys, so here are two of their cool photos:

Anyways I’m out of here until the start of September. After that my life will have settled down enough to get steady battle reports going.

New fan made Overland Map

Felix helped me out again with a cool new Overland Map. It’s textured and really shows off the jungle feel to the area surrounding the volcano. I am fairly certain I’ll put it into the rulebook, my only concern being filesize bloat (it bumped the ODT file from ~700kb to 2.1mb). But sometimes style is worth it. I do like having consistent fonts on there (“Future West” and “West Test” that were used on the Posse Roster and Quick Reference Sheet), and I’ll likely apply them to my old, plain map as well.

See the results for yourself and let me know what you think!

PS: The full size is huge.

Dinotopia by James Gurney

Some more inspirational material, although less wild west and more Victorian era: Dinotopia. The book details a shipwrecked crew who find a lost island where humans and dinosaurs co-exist. It looks like some terrific art. I figure I might get the 20th anniversary edition when it’s released in September.

Not much else to say about that, but I did add it to the “recommended reading” section. Now to just resist the temptation to add airships (that is always, always a temptation).