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)

Variant Rule: Fleeing Facing

Shot-in-the-BackHave you felt that failing a Bravery Test and Fleeing isn’t brutal enough? Well fear not, as I thought up a quick and easy rule to make it absolutely horrendous and most likely fatal to Flee.

Fleeing Facing: When a character is marked with a Fleeing token immediately change their Facing to be directly away from the most recent attacker.

In other words, free Surprise Hits to their back, meaning 10+ to Crit! This variant adds an extra tactical option of trying to force an enemy to Flee so that the rest of the posse can shoot them as they run. It’s such a simple and effective way to provide additional vulnerability to a Fleeing target. Plus I was able to achieve this using my favorite approach: leveraging existing rules (in this case Surprise Hit).

This makes Bravery much more important as Fleeing might mean a death sentence now.

This also differentiates Dinosaurs further since they aren’t affected by the rule, being based on Discipline instead and all.

Anyway this will be in the next version as an official variant, but feel free to give it a shot in your next game.

Variant Rule: Melee Disengage
This isn’t an official variant rule (yet, at least) but I was thinking today a good option for entities that wish to safely leave melee combat is to take a half Move which does not provoke a Snap Attack, whereas a full Move would. I also wish I had a better name for “Snap Attack”, but I can’t think of one. D&D did so well with Attack of Opportunity, haha.

Playtesting Information

This post is meant to introduce potential playtesters to the skirmish game of Dinosaur Cowboys, and to lower the barrier to play by providing some easy support material.

The Files
These files are based around the latest version of the rulebook, as compared to the copy available from the “Download Rulebook” link on this site.

Everything you need in a single file (rulebook and sample posses):

Dinosaur Cowboys Playtest Document (PDF)

Go-WestWhat is this Game
First of all, is this game going to interest you? If the mention of dinosaurs, futuristic cowboys, lasers, twelve sided dice, 28mm miniatures combat, and competing posses doesn’t strike your fancy, this game might not your kind of genre.
Dinosaur Cowboys uses miniature figurines like those from Games Workshop, Reaper Miniatures, Spartan Games, Privateer Press, or numerous other providers. Each player will build (or choose) a “Posse”, which is a gang of 2-5 humans and up to 1 dinosaur. The general structure and play will be familiar to anyone who has tabletop wargame experience.
Once both players have a Posse they will set up a table to play on. Generally this is filled with model terrain (styrofoam hills, fake trees, etc.). The players decide how to deploy their Posse by using the guidelines in the rulebook. They can also choose an objective for the game.
Then the game starts. Each turn players will roll Initiative to see who can activate first. However activation is done on a per-model basis, instead of an entire Posse acting before the opponent can do anything. So playing the game is involved and there isn’t much downtime between getting to do something on the table.
When activating a model they can move and perform an action with it (in either order). Generally the action would be shooting or attacking in melee. All combat is done using twelve sided dice (D12s) and the statistics of the units. There are many examples in the rulebook to help understand how everything fits together.

An idea of how the game looks when it’s being played is below. You can see terrain, various miniature figurines, a dinosaur, some dice, some tokens, etc. This was an actual game in progress, not a staged shot. Click for the full size.

Requirements to Play

  • A first game usually takes 60-90 minutes to play. Subsequent games where you are more familiar with the rules can take from 30-60 minutes.
  • The files above. There is a single rulebook PDF that has everything you need to play the game. If you want to avoid printing the document you can just view it on a laptop while you play.
  • Some posse rosters. The easiest approach is to choose from the provided examples above. Alternatively players can build their own posses (recruit members, upgrade them, equip them, etc.). To expedite this process you can use The Saloon online posse builder (with PDF export capabilities to easily print your creation).
  • Measuring tape, pencils and erasers
  • Miniature figurines, generally 28mm scale. I use a variety of miniature brands. Something to represent a dinosaur might also be necessary, depending on the Posse. I use inexpensive plastic toys (of the Papo brand).
  • A table with some kind of terrain on it, normally 4 feet by 3 feet. Smaller tables favor melee while larger tables favor ranged.
  • Twelve sided dice (D12s), a couple six sided dice (D6s). With certain dinosaurs a D4, D8, and D10 may be necessary, but you can get around this by rerolling a D6/D12 until the proper range comes up.


Both positive and negative feedback is much appreciated and can be done as a comment on this post or by emailing me at

I’m generally looking for people to read the rulebook for clarity, grammar, etc. You obviously don’t even need to play the game to do this. Really any additional eyes on the rulebook would be much appreciated!
As for playtesting, actually running through a game (alone or with a friend) would be extremely beneficial and interesting to me. If you could jot down notes of issues or confusion that came up during play that’d be even better.

Force Fields and Ropes

Just knocking around some variant ideas.

The first and simplest is additional rules for Ropes and Ladders. Basically if a rope or ladder is by a cliff face then a character doesn’t need to use double movement to climb (much like the “Climber” Trait). This would allow for some fun scenario scenery with ladders, or just bonus special abilities for some purchasable equipment. Hemp Rope and Micro Rope would fit in this case, and could be slung down a cliff from the top by a character in their Action Phase (to help anyone following them). If they have a Grappling Hook then they could throw the rope up from the base of the cliff in their Action Phase.
This gets back to my earlier idea of having equipment with additional special rules. Like instruments that inspire, or drinks/drugs that boost stats, etc.

The second idea is Shields, not in a “buckler on the arm” sense but more like an Force Field. Or Energy Shield, or Force Shield, or Power Field, or any of the other terms I could use. I think I’d stick with Force Field since that’s kind of pulpy sounding. There are two ideas how these would look, either a personal shield generator that surrounds the person in a globe or a thin layer of shielding, or the “modern buckler” idea of a holdable energy shield. Basically either of these (I would have loved to have found better pictures but I didn’t have much luck!):


The rules would be simple. Force Fields would have a Power and Frequency rating. Power would be a number of D12s to roll, Frequency would be an X+ value. Any Power rolls greater than or equal to the Frequency would negate 1 point of incoming damage. If the number of Critical Hits on the attack exceeds the Power rating the Force Field is overloaded and cannot be used for just that attack.
For example:

Small Force Field: Power 3, Frequency 6+

Peter is equipped with a Small Force Field and is fired at by Hank with an 80kW Six-Shooter. Hank hits for 4 damage. Peter rolls 3D12 for his Power, hoping for 6+. He gets a 10, 8, and 4, so two successes. That means the incoming damage is reduced from 4 to 2.
If Hank instead got lucky and rolled 8, 12, 12, 12, the 3 Criticals would overload the Power rating of 3, so the Force Field would not take effect. Peter would take his 7 damage.

Simple enough. I would make several such items with varying Power and Frequency ratings. A very basic Force Field would probably be Power 1, Frequency 8+. There are a couple of other options too, such as only having Force Fields block weapons with an “Energy” type. Or even Force Fields for each type of damage. Maybe Kinetic Fields for “Projectile” and “Grenade” types. There could be extra Traits to support this, or new weapon types with a “Piercing” or “Forcebreaker” special property that helps reduce the effectiveness of shields.
Although more complex (ie: additional rolling and tracking) I think these are a pretty neat idea. I had mentioned a while back wanting to play a robot/android invasion and I might use these Force Field rules for the invaders.

Rulebook v1.3 Released!

Well here we are again for another point release, in this case v1.3! It feels close on the heels of v1.2 but that’s because I haven’t been posting as much, since it’s actually been two months since a release.
Get the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v1.3 here.

Version 1.3 Rules Changes
The main reason for this new version was to get the Neotechnoist allegiance fixed (as mentioned), and also to fix a Saloon bug around Dusters. There are some other changes so check out the list:

– Added $10 Neotechnoist Wealth Refund on first weapon purchase as a bonus of the Allegiance, to balance with the other three. Also moved the version number up to 1.3 from 1.2
– Removed a lot of items from the table of contents to streamline its size. Might have gone too far though.
– Clarified Snap Attack to ensure it’s obvious that a melee weapon needs to be equipped to make a Snap Attack
– Minor reword around Facing to better clarify that if the attacker isn’t facing their target at the start of their Action Phase, they’d have to spend their Maneuver Phase to turn
– Reordered the combat modifiers table (also on the QRS) to be more readable and easier to follow a process, instead of a hodgepodge of modifiers.
– Another slight touchup of the Charge wording
– More minor editing, especially around the later sections that don’t get as much reading. Discipline, Variant Rules, etc.
– Made the close combat / melee combat writing consistent
– Minor change to remove a note about cauterizing

Version 1.3 Saloon Changes
As with every release The Saloon was updated to use the latest rules, and also had a few bugfixes of its own:

– Factored in the Neotechnoist Wealth Refund for their first weapon purchase, and also remembered it for remote url loading
– Added a Save to Text option that will export the Posse in a consistent plain text format, useful for battle reports or posting directly to forums.
– Fixed three main bugs. First of all a Leader decreasing their BRV from 7 to 6 rewards no IP, as compared to the previous of +6. Also now a Duster costs 10 IP to change from MV 3 to 4, instead of the previous incorrect 5 IP. Finally a remote loaded posse will have their stat flags mirrored so that flags like hasIncreasedArmor will still apply, which stops an AR 1 character from increasing their AR to 2
– Changed the recent posse list to have a scheduled executor that will check the posses.txt file for changes and re-load the recent list in memory. This is necessary in case I want to make changes manually to the file (like deleting a junk posse someone created) but don’t want to have to restart the app. Also we now write the posses.txt file on every new addition, instead of just on shutdown
– Cleaned up the validation of a posse to ensure a name and author are always present both when saving and when loading, and the general logic has been compressed into a single method

Next Up
I still have the general idea of writing a basic campaign for players to try out some linked, story driven battles. I’ll also keep on keepin’ on with my battle reports and post those when I can. As usual more minor editing and fixes are always in my mind. I wouldn’t mind getting someone to update the rulebook formatting to be more professional instead of a plain black-and-white document.

Neotechnoist Allegiance balancing

I found a bug in The Saloon design program that caused me to re-evaluate some of the math around Allegiances.

First of all the bug: On the Statistic Improvement Costs page going from 3 MV to 4 MV is 10 IP. However because of how I have to handle refunds in The Saloon, Dusters were only paying 5 IP to go from 3 to 4 MV. What this bug meant was Dusters were getting 12 IP worth of bonuses (+2 HP) but only 5 IP worth of penalties (-1 MV). Instead it should have cost Dusters the correct 10 IP to go from 3 MV to 4 MV.
This lead me to look at the math around Allegiances in general. Luckily it worked out better than I had expected, but it still exposed a glaring problem with Neotechnoists.

Here are the bonuses and penalties each Allegiance (besides the no effect Bandit) apply, as well as the IP cost to restore any penalties to the level of the default statistics.

Duster: +2 HP (12 IP), -1 MV (10 IP to restore)
Savage: +1 MV (12 IP), -1 RMC (10 IP to restore)
Neotechnoist: -1 RMC (10 IP), -2 HP (12 IP to restore)

What this shows is that Neotechnoists lose out in the sense that their bonus is only 10 IP worth (compared to 12 for Duster and Savage) and their penalty costs 12 IP to restore (as compared to 10 IP for the other two).

The end result is the current v1.2 (and earlier) Neotechnoist Allegiance is weaker than the other three.

Now for the fix. I could try to redo the math and make it all work out, or I could go for the easier, more flavorful approach. And that is to give the Neotechnoists another benefit that will take effect in v1.3 of the rules:

Neotechnoist Allegiance in v1.3: -1 RMC, -2 HP, $10 Wealth Refund from first weapon purchase

So basically the very first weapon a Neotechnoist purchases will be $10 cheaper to represent their wealth and easy access to technology, armor, weapons, equipment, etc. I think this is a great mechanism to further differentiate the Allegiances and to draw an even bigger line between the “well off” people inside The Wall and the struggling folks outside it.

Technically if we’re going by the 1 IP = $10 rule of thumb the Neotechnoist is still unbalanced, but I think the math doesn’t have to match up exactly, especially when RMC is one of the main statistics people are always eager to improve, so if the Neotechnoist became a clear Allegiance choice without any drawbacks you’d just see Posses brimming with them. This brings the Allegiance up to a similar power level, but still doesn’t dominate as a “must have” choice (which I always dislike seeing in games).

In other news look for v1.3 of the rules coming to a PDF link in the near future!

Rulebook v1.2 Released!

Well after some more tweaking, balances, and editing I am releasing Dinosaur Cowboys v1.2. Hooray!
Get the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v1.2 here.

Version 1.2 Rules Changes
In terms of changes here are the highlights, straight from the Subversion commit log. The biggest change was around the stats of the dinosaurs, plus the two new classes (Terror and Fin), plus some new weapons.
– Increase Wrangler trait damage to +2 per stage for Lasso
– Renamed Aimed Shot to Placed Shot and made Aimed Shot now hit at -1 RMC
– Switched the Advancing a Posse and Statistic Improvement Cost pages
– Changed mx HP from 50 to 40
– Reduced Needler weapon cost from 400 to 250
– Added Spine Blade (Motor Blade equivalent)
– Added Skinning Knife as an alternative for Machete, and renamed Knife to Hunting Knife
– Reduced Armored HP from 22 to 20, and Plated from 24 to 23. Going to stop poking at them now
– Changed the Panic MV header to PMV in the dinosaur list to better match how the roster sheet and other abbreviations are used.
– A bunch of dinosaur changes. First of all King was moved to a new class, and the old version was renamed Terror. A new Fin dinosaur was added. A bunch of stats were modified as well, mainly HP and MV adjustments to balance everyone.
– Renamed the Game Master (GM) to the Sheriff to add a bit more flavor
– Added an Aimed Shot variant rule, made a note of recommended variant rules, re-added the brainstorming variant rules.
– Added a new rule for multiplayer games where each entity gets +2 HP per player beyond 2, to increase survivability against more enemies.
– Also added a combined image of the common weapons to the Weapon Description section.
– Cleaned up the table of contents to remove some superflous items
– Clarified some of the combat modifiers since there was a description for Crossfire but not Cover or Elevation
– Renamed the Movement Phase to Maneuver Phase, since the Action Phase isn’t called the RMC Phase, so the Movement/Maneuver Phase shouldn’t be named after a stat too. The downside is it’s tougher to spell.
– Cleaned up Charge wording
– Cleaned up Activating an Entity and the Uneven Activation example since they were written a long time ago
– In the Falling Damage example removed the specific 4 inch distance of the knockback, since it’s confusing when we just want to focus on the 3 inch fall

Version 1.2 Saloon Changes
Also The Saloon received a bunch of bugfixes which I’m really happy with, plus of course all the v1.2 changes were ported into it.
– Added an asterick after a weapon name if it has a special ability. Also added the Spine Blade (Motor Blade equivalent)
– Fixed a really annoying bug around Bonus RMC trait, where it would miscalculate the IP cost
– Fixed a silly mistake where the wrong ‘I’ was being cut because I did indexOf instead of lastIndexOf, so something like ‘Inspiring Shot I’ would cut the first ‘I’ instead of the proper stage ‘I’
– Glaring remote url load error where the 4th member would be ignored (used < instead of <= in the loop)
– Changed the PDF export so excess weapons (over 2) are listed in the inventory instead of being lost to the ether
– Lots of changes around Traits. Previously some of the non-stat Passive traits weren't being applied, such as Clear Sight which modifies ranges of weapons. This actually ended up being a bit of a hassle because we needed to clone the Weapon object, manage string based range brackets, etc.
– Improved some title text for weapons and the allegiance/breed
– Ensured we have an author in the field
– Put version number in intro message

Next Step
As before I don’t have any drastic plans for the rulebook. Maybe some tweaking and formatting and editing here and there, but as I promised with v1.0 the core mechanics will stay the same. I’ve been thinking of adding some items that have more of an in-game effect, like a Bugle or Trumpet that let’s a non-character use the Yeehaw! ability. Maybe various types of alcohol that can be used like drugs in other games to provide bonuses for a turn.
One goal I do have is to make a standalone campaign module for Dinosaur Cowboys, complete with Hexographer maps, scenarios for each location, general plot twists, etc. That might be more of a pipe dream than a goal, but I could see it being fun and adding a lot of value to the game.

v1.2 Dinosaur Changes

I’ve been making some minor changes to the current rules, and as I’ve mentioned in the past this will eventually result in a v1.2 release of the Dinosaur Cowboys rulebook. The most recent change was adding two new classes of Dinosaurs, a $400 herbivore (to match the Raptor) called “Fin” (aka Dimetrodon). The second big class change was reworking King to be Tyrannosaurus specific, and cost $700 (to match the Horned dinosaur which also costs $700), and then I made the old King class into “Terror” and had it focus on the Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, etc. So basically more options for the “in between” priced dinosaurs.
I also added a note to the start of the Dinosaurs section in the rulebook stating how totally scientifically inaccurate everything around the dinosaurs are. I made the tough choice a while back to not try to be too accurate in my representations of dinosaurs, I went for the popular culture view of the main ones instead of getting into nitty gritty differences. I think for a game with cowboys and lasers it should be fine though :) But yeah, the Dimetrodon especially highlighted this since it’s not even a dinosaur! Haha, yeah.

Anyways I also made a bunch of other stat tweaks, so let me talk about them below in detail, and then show you how the new Dinosaur List looks!
Plated HP 28 to 24, Armored HP 26 to 22, Armored MV 4 to 3, Horned HP 24 to 26: Basically tweaking the $500 herbivores to be a bit fairer. Previously Armored was clearly the best choice because that AR 4 just DOMINATES. Now he’s a bit weaker to compensate for that.
King (now Terror) HP 24 to 20: With the “nerfs” to the herbivores I thought the King (now named Terror) needed to be reduced a bit. I figured changing any of his other stats would give him a different feel, so I opted for reducing the HP.
Ducky HP 17 to 18: With the new Fin class and a close look at the Ducky vs the Raptor I thought he needed a slight boost, so +1 HP it was. I mean his DIS 3 is already crippling enough, but what can you expect for $300!
Ripper HP 11 to 12: This boost was done to differentiate the Ripper a bit more from the Runner. Previously the comparison looked fair on paper, but in practice the Runner’s MV 10 is a significant advantage, similar to how the Armored looked fine until you really start thinking about AR 4.
Raptor attack from 2A-4D to 1A-6D: I changed this to make the Raptor act similar to the other carnivorous dinosaurs, with one single attack that does a lot of damage. I really think that helps distinguish their style from the herbivores. I visual it as the herbivores stomping and slamming the target, whereas the carnivores go for the neck in a powerful bite or claw.
Thickskull HP 18 to 21, MV 7 to 8, DIS 7 to 6, MMC 7 to 6: I needed to make Thickskull a viable $500 alternative, and still give him a unique feel. Due to his smaller size I figured making him an “advanced Runner” (aka slower but buffer) would be an interesting approach. So he got a few more HP, a bit more MV, better MMC, and slightly worse DIS.
Renamed King to Terror and made a new $700 carnivore and Fin ($400) class: I wanted a $400 Herbivore and a $700 Carnivore so an option was available for each price bracket, so these guys were created. I had a tough choice finding a way to split King and Terror, but focusing on the Tyrannosaurus a bit more doesn’t seem like a particularly unpopular choice.

And here is the list from the upcoming v1.2 rulebook. Eventually The Saloon will reflect these changes as well, and have the new classes. I imagine once I actually release v1.2 I’ll do that, since there is no point having new rules that are different than the PDF.

So as you can see some minor tweaks, and some exciting new additions. I don’t think anything of these changes really modify how the game is played, which is great because at this point (really since v1.0) I just want to make minor tweaks and improvements, and save anything drastic for a Variant Rule.

Website News
In other news my recent posts about Dino Storm have really helped traffic (some of which came from Facebook, which makes me consider making a Facebook page for Dinosaur Cowboys sometime in the future?). Most importantly today beat my all time record for “Views Today” with 193 (previous record was 132), and best of all my total views broke 10,000 late last night! Hooray! Thanks to everyone for their support and interest in the game, I’m happy to report that this blog is now dominating the search results for “dinosaur cowboy”, which makes me quite happy!

Multiplayer battles and some variant rules

Hitpoints in Big Games
So I’m trying to organize a 4 person game of Dinosaur Cowboys, which would be incredibly fun. It would also be the first match I’ve played with more than 2 people total.
I think the rules will hold up just fine. Activation was written from the start with larger games in mind, so besides having to re-roll a few ties (or use a larger dice to avoid that) it will work okay. Posse building, combat, etc. should translate well into a 4 person game.
The only concern I have is one small facet: Hitpoints. You see the base 8 HP sounds great, until you have two more players shooting at you. If you look at my past games you can see a few cowboys that met an untimely end in a single attack or shot, and that was just against one player.
Regardless of whether this game gets off the ground, I’m going to add a note (probably in the Standalone Game section) about multiplayer battles along the lines of:

For each additional player beyond two add +2 HP to every entity in your posse (for example +6 HP for a 5 player game).

In other words with 4 total players a basic member would start with 12 HP instead of 8 HP. This should make for a bit more of a tactical game since everything will live longer, and doesn’t throw off IP costs since HP is on a flat cost scale.

Speaking of multiplayer battles I was thinking a fun objective would be a series of dinosaur eggs around the map and a big, unaligned T-Rex in the middle. Whoever holds the most dinosaur eggs can vaguely control the T-Rex. As usual an objective that does something beneficial will actually motivate players to capture it, similar to what I did with the fight for the cannon.

Variant Rules – Shooting Position and Aimed Shot
Currently the combat modifiers table has 10 entries: Armor, In Melee, Short Range, Long Range, Movement, Cover, Crossfire, Elevation, and Charge. Sounds like a lot eh? Well in practice it isn’t, since you basically check range and the target’s armor and roll to attack.
What I struggled with when I first wrote the rules was whether to include Crouch and Prone as alternative shooting stances. In the end I decided it would add too much additional complexity, especially with tracking who is in what stance. But a recent sampling of the classic Jagged Alliance 2 game (thanks to the v1.13 mod) made me reconsider it as a Variant Rule.
Also along that line of thought is the idea of an Aimed Shot. Basically you don’t Move at all and declare you’re using an Aimed Shot, which then gives some positive effect.
The problem with both of these Variant Rules is I don’t want to just have them modify RMC. Crouch -1 RMC, Prone -2 RMC, Aimed Shot -1 RMC is simple enough, I guess. But it’s also extremely bland.
What I think I’d do instead is leverage Critical Hits, similar to how Surprise Hit is handled (when shooting at a targets back you get a Critical Hit on 10+ instead of 12). Perhaps Aimed Shot could reduce the Critical Hit chance by a further 1. So just doing an Aimed Shot would mean you Critical on 11+. Aimed Shot from behind (Surprise Hit) would be 9+ to Critical. Crouch could be a further 1 and Prone would be 2. So Prone (+2), Aimed Shot (+1), Surprise Hit (+2) would be 7+ to Critical!
Anyways I think I’ll leave Crouch and Prone out for now, but I’m going to add Aimed Shot in there.

Other News
Anyways I’ve been doing some further edits and clarifications of the rules. Not changing any core mechanics or anything, instead just editing or cleaning up certain aspects that might be confusing. I find revisiting the rules after an extensive break helps since I can look at them with fresh eyes, and then see how some sections can be confusing.
I also want to add the old images of weapons into the rules somewhere (probably before the description section).
Then the above changes around multiplayer games and Aimed Shot. Basically what I’m saying is I’ll probably have a v1.2 release sometime in the distant future.

Variant Rule: Dual Wielding

I decided to add a new official Variant Rule for Dual Wielding, as such:

Dual Wield: Two identical Small melee or ranged weapons can be dual wielded, which uses the same statistics with a +1 Attack bonus.

So yeah, a character could have two 80kW Six-Shooters and would use 5A-0D instead of 4A-0D, or similarly two Brass Knuckles at 3A-3D instead of 2A-3D. Simple and flavorful, and an excuse to post a wicked Clint Eastwood picture, plus you can technically have a character with two Sawed Off Shotguns. Just saying…

Rules Release v1.1

v1.1 is here with two very small changes (although one of them affects posse building quite a bit) plus various edits. The first is moving the Game Overview above the History section so new players can see what exactly they are getting into before they are overwhelmed with a few pages of background information. The second and most important is recruiting the first Member is now free, and the second and beyond still cost $200 (or $250 later) as before. So basically this gives you $200 more to equip your posse with! Players who intend to use their posse in a long, ongoing campaign can always modify this, of course. But for one off games I find $1,000 with the old rules to be a bit low, whereas now there is plenty of money for equipment and weapons beyond a basic loadout of six-shooters.

As for the edits here’s the list:
– Noted that PMV doesn’t affect Run or Charge.
– Noted that Dinosaurs can move too after being dismounted.
– Fixed copy-paste duplication on Fan the Hammer ability.
– Changed how Fleeing while Mounted works, now Flee with the mount instead of dismounting.
– Noted the minimum Run of 1 inch.
– Added three variant rules: Last Man Standing (no Bravery or Discipline for last entity of a posse that is alive), Initiative Choice (choose to activate first or last when winning initiative), and Fast Target (additional +1 to hit if target moved 10 inches or more)

So yeah, small changes but they affect the game enough (and are reflected in The Saloon) so I thought I’d release the PDF:
Get the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v1.1.

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.

Caught in the Crossfire

A new rule for your reading pleasure today. The basic idea is if you can draw a line between two allies and there is a target in between they are “caught in a Crossfire” and both allies get +2 bonus Attacks. That bonus is pretty high, but that helps act as a motivator to maneuver and position Posse members on the battlefield. This one will require some testing before it makes it into v1.0, but it should be a fun improvement if it works out okay. My main motivator was Flanking in Dungeons and Dragons and all the player focus around achieving a flank. I think rewarding tactical play (already done with Surprise Hit where a bonus is given for attacks from behind) is a good method for ensuring the match doesn’t turn into a slug fest of entrenched characters.

When trying to catch a target in a Crossfire first measure a straight line between the attacker, the target, and an allied character. If both attackers have ranged weapons (that are in range) and none of the entities involved are in Melee then the target is in a Crossfire.
While the target remains in a Crossfire both attackers gain +2 Attacks.

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)

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 :)