Wanted: Suggestions for great "Western" games/mechanics

I’m looking for suggestions on games with an American West setting or mechanics to help shape the feel of an idea I have for a PbtA game set either on a post-event Earth or another planet, so sci-fi lens. I know that there can be some troubling tropes and I hope to avoid those and yet still capture a certain feeling about the frontier, justice, community in a different way.

Deadlands (either original or the reboot) has both a western and post-apocalyptic scifi western settings

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The Mustang, Dust devils, Dogs in the Vineyard, Law’s out, Leadtown, Gentleman bandit, Bandits, Betula, Bloody forks of the Ohio, Carolina death crawl, Frost devils, Bandits, Lonesome World, The Duel have western themes. Setting books for Gurps, Hero, et alii are also pertinent.

A round of bets, then a round of blind bets, to setup a shootout and resolve it in a second.
Also, from Leadtown, Good shots get to see the cards, Quick shots get to pick them first, then best scores pick their card in order. = the tension reading each other’s.

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The noble savage is a trope to avoid.


Other than that, I would focus on “bart forth western” mantras, like “Describe everything like it’s been dragged through dirt meanwhile being exposed to hot sunlight”.

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I keep forgetting about Deadlands for some reason. Thanks!

Many new games to me here–thank you!

Great suggestions. Thanks!

Those frontier, justice, and community keywords in particular in the American West setting make me think right off the bat of Seco Creek Vigilance Committee!

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That’s great, @flatvurm. I have a copy of SCVC that is on my list of games to review.

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Technically, Great Soul Train Robbery is set in the American West (and, err, aboard the train to Hell).

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Do you play only on the train or do you also play in a frontier town as well, like in the territories surrounding hell?

Play begins on the train, but characters can call for flashbacks to show how their lives of vice led them to becoming Desperados robbing the train to Hell.

A Fistful of Darkness by Stefan Struck is a weird-west Forged in the Dark game, worth checking out.

I started on my own FitD western game, Blood Red Clouds in the Western Sky. I haven’t worked on it in a couple of years though.

Here’s my first attempt at guidance around handling sensitive issues in this time/place (loosely based on Jason’s “mind control in Dungeon World” rules, actually). Let me know what you think!

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I haven’t read Cowboy World with great attention, but it seems to be worth a look. It’s got some interesting mechanical takes.

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I took a look at an early version of Gun (Tom Parkinson-Morgan) which might offer some ideas. It acknowledges a debt to FitD so it’s in the same family.

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