Pay for your coffins…. (OSR in the American West)

Pay for your coffins…. (OSR in the American West)

This isn’t a “complete” game, you’ll need an OSR game like Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord to make use of it.

You can get the Swords & Wizardry rules for free here:

The game can be run one of two way: Traditional John Wayne, Randolph Scott westerns or the Clint Eastwood, Italian Spaghetti Westerns. Traditional is grounded in more ‘realism’ whereas the Spaghetti’s are all about style and violence.

Rolling Attributes
Pick your favorite method.

Attribute Bonuses/Penalties
Either the standard Swords & Wizardry +1 or Labyrinth Lord’s +1 to +3.
For Traditional: I prefer the S&W method.
For Spaghetti’s: I prefer the latter as it gives a wider range to class special abilities and to Fast Draw.

Armor Class
Normal Armor class, and modifiers are used.
Firearms ignore the first four points of personal armor. For example: Plate –6 [+6] would only give protection of –2 [+2].

Starting Money
Characters begin with 3d6 x $20 as first level characters. Characters starting off at higher levels receive an amount of beginning money equal to 3d6 + the characters level x $40 or whatever their DM feels is appropriate to the game.


Experience, Saving Throw, To Hit
Each class uses the Fighting Man experience table, Saving throw, and receives a +1 to hit at each level.

Level Limit
There are none beyond the standard 20th level. However, in Traditional westerns even the best heroes are rarely beyond level 10 or 12 in skill. Higher levels than this should be ultra-rare, perhaps the best in the West.

Hit Points
Traditional: HD limit of 5th level. Skills increase past this but HP’s are locked at fifth.
Spaghetti: Roll for them at each level as per normal rules. Spaghetti heroes take massive amounts of punishment before giving up the ghost.

The classes are constructed for the characters to easily multi-class between levels if they desire. As an option, the DM may want to limit multi-classing by only allowing the character to take a new class if they have an ability score bonus in the Prime Attribute of the new class.

Cowboy (Cowpoke, Gaucho, Cavalry, etc.)
Hit Die Type 1d6+2, After reaching 10 hit dice, the Cowboy gains only 2 hit point per level
Prime Attribute (5% xp bonus) Con 13+

Being proficient with firearms is a necessity on the trail. With snakes, coyotes, bandits, and hostile Indians you have to learn to defend yourself.
The Cowboy receives a +1 to hit and damage with all firearms.

At levels 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 the Cowboy gains a cumulative +1 bonus to his riding checks (Dex) for  basic riding maneuvers such as stay mounted while the horse is bucking or upset, calming and controlling the horse, guide it with his knees so the rider can shoot or rope.

In addition, the Cowboy can do the following:
Use his Dex bonus to increase his mount’s AC.

With a successful check, the Cowboy can drop along the side of the horse for cover, gaining a +4 cover bonus to his AC.

With a successful check the Cowboy can fall from a horse and take half damage (see Riding in Rules Clarifications: Miscellaneous.)

With a successful check the Cowboy can coax the horse to leap obstacles and the Cowboy can hang on while the animal is performing the maneuver.

The Cowboy receives a +2 bonus with the lariat (ranged attack).

Gambler (Gambler, Con-Man, Thief, etc.)
Hit Die Type 1d6, After reaching 10 hit dice, the Gambler gains only 1 hit point per level
Prime Attribute (5% xp bonus) Int 13+

When attacking with surprise, from behind, the Gambler gains +4 to hit and inflicts double damage. At levels 5-8, damage is tripled, and from a Gambler above level 8 such an attack inflicts quadruple damage.

Fast Talk
With a bit of conversation, the Gambler is able to attempt to befriend, persuade, charm, or outright con an individual to his way of thinking. After 2d6 minutes of cajoling, flattering, drinking, etc. the victim of the Fast Talk must make a Saving Throw. This Saving Throw has a cumulative -1 penalty roll for the Gambler levels 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20.

The Gambler is a cardsharp, making his living by the cards and his wits. At levels 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 the Gambler gains a cumulative +1 bonus to his gambling checks.

Hear Noise
The Gambler has honed his hearing to eavesdrop to hopefully pick up juicy bits of information or to listen for disturbances while on a bit of theivery. His chance to hear noise is 3 in 6 at first level increasting to 4 in 6 at 3rd level, 5 in 6 at 7th level, and 6 in 6 at 11th level. To use this ability he must stop all activity and concentrate.

Open Locks
Gamblers are skilled at picking locks, opening safes, etc. Some are diffucult and may require a penalty to the open roll.  The base chance for success is 10 + 1/2 level + Dex bonus on a d20. Superior tools may grant a small bonus just as inferior tools may incur a small penalty.

Pick Pocket
The Gambler is often called upon to manipulate small objects, such as a card, coin, derringer, or small knife in his line of work, as well as picking the occasional pocket. The base chance for success is 10 + 1/2 level + Dex bonus on a d20.

If the Gamber fails his roll the victim has a 1-2 in 6 chance of detecting the manipulation, pick pocket attempt, etc. A Dex bonus will drop the chance to 1 in 6.

If the Gambler rolls a natural 20, he has been spotted by his victim or victims if he is picking a pocket, cheating, etc.

Gunslinger (Gunman, Bounty Hunter, etc)
Hit Die Type 1d6+2, After reaching 10 hit dice, the Gunslinger gains only 2 hit point per level
Prime Attribute (5% xp bonus) Dex 13+

Fast Draw
At levels 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 the Gunslinger gains a cumulative +1 bonus to initiative. If group initiative is used, the Gunslinger still rolls for individual.

Steely Gaze
At 1st level, the Gunslinger can intimidate a number of creatures with HD equal to his level. The creatures must be able to see the Gunslinger’s stare to be affected. The creatures are allowed a Saving Throw to avoid this effect. Those that fail suffer a –2 to all attacks on the Gunslinger. Most will flee; only the most determined will stay and fight.
This ability can be used 1 per day per Gunslinger level.

Extra Attacks
Receive an exra attack at levels 5 and 10.
The attacks can be a mix of both melee and ranged attacks (although pulling a ranged weapon and firing in the same round incurs a -4 penalty to all attacks taken after the ranged weapons is pulled.)

Off-hand penalties do not apply to the extra attacks, only the one off-hand attack from using a second weapon. The extra attacks are considered to be used with the primary hand,

Maneuvers such as fanning the hammer, fast firing double-action pistols with penalties, or auto-fire CAN be taken with the extra attacks. Each extra attack is at the same penalty as the maneuver attacks.

Lawman (Sheriff, Texas Ranger, Pinkerton, etc.)
Hit Die Type 1d6+2, After reaching 10 hit dice, the Lawman gains only 2 hit point per level
Prime Attribute (5% xp bonus) Cha 13+

The Lawman can use this ability to observe a person for a single round and then make a conclusion as to that persons age, character level, class, etc based on the experience and instinct. This comes in very handy when  dealing with outlaws and gunmen. Knowing when your out-gunned keeps a Lawman alive.
The base chance for success is 10+1/2 level+Wis Bonus on a 1d20.

The Lawman has an air of authority and can use it. He can arrest anyone who has committed a crime or who he suspects of committing a crime and hold them for trial. Once per day per level, he can attempt to use his authority to intimidate one person. If the victim fails a Saving Throw, he will obey the order given by the Lawman, be it drop his gun, come with the Lawman, etc. The victim will never do anything irrational, such as shooting himself or his friends.

Starting at third level, the Lawman  can deputize and pay a posse. The number of deputies is limited to the characters Cha score plus half of his level, and it is recommended that most are first level characters. The posse will stay with the Lawman for a number of days equal to his Cha bonus. They will be loyal up to a point: nobody is going to stick for very long with a man who is making poor decisions and probably leading them to their death.

Through both informants and official channels, the Lawman is often in the know on important information, both locally and territorially. Such pertinent information may include who a mysterious gunman may be, who started a feud with who, or if the mysterious stranger who just rode in town is wanted. The base chance for success is 10+ 1/2 level + Int bonus on a d20.

Scout (Army Scout, Mountain Man, Tracker, etc.)
Hit Die Type 1d6+1, After reaching 10 hit dice, the Scout gains only 1 hit point per level
Prime Attribute (5% xp bonus) Dex 13+

One of the most important abilities of the Scout is his sharp senses. The ability to detect danger is one of the key abilities of the Scout and can make the difference between life and death. Scouts can hear noise on a 1 or 2 on a d6.
They are also only surprised on a 1 on a 1d6.

The Scout, once he has found his target, is adept at attacking from surprise to kill the prey.
+4 to attack. x2 damage. x3 damage at levels 5-8. x4 damage at 9th level and above.
This also includes ranged attacks until the target(s) are aware they are being fired upon.

The Scout’s ability to live off of the land and survive, this check is rolled in addition to normal foraging rolls. The DM may modify this check for plentiful or exceptionally harsh terrain. The Scout makes a check at 10+ 1/2 level + Int bonus. This does not overlap with the Soldier’s ability, you use the best bonus of the two.

Scouts are also capable trackers, often employed as guides and hunters. The base chance for success is 10 + 1/2 level + Wis bonus. This roll can be modified by the DM for circumstances such as tracking across soft mud, tracking across snow, the quarry is trying to hide their tracks, etc.

Soldier (Military, Fighter, Brawler, etc.)
Hit Die Type 1d6+2, After reaching 10 hit dice, the Soldier gains only 2 hit points per level
Prime Attribute (5% xp bonus) Dex 13+

AC Bonus
Increased chance to to parry or dodge attacks, +1 AC

Combat Expertise
Either through training or natural ability Soldier’s know how to fight. They gain +1 to hit and +1 damage with firearms and melee weapons, including unarmed attacks.

Extra Attacks
Receive an exra attack at levels 5 and 10.
The attacks can be a mix of both melee and ranged attacks (although pulling a ranged weapon and firing in the same round incurs a -4 penalty to all attacks taken after the ranged weapons is pulled.)

Off-hand penalties do not apply to the extra attacks, only the one off-hand attack from using a second weapon. The extra attacks are considered to be used with the primary hand,

Maneuvers such as fanning the hammer, fast firing double-action pistols with penalties, or auto-fire CAN be taken with the extra attacks. Each extra attack is at the same penalty as the maneuver attacks.

The firearm categories have been kept as generic as possible. Unless the weapon is a gimmick, it does not matter what make or model it is. Only that it is a lethal weapon in the hands of the hero. For game purposes we are only concerned with initiative, rate of fire, range, damage, type of ammunition for reloading times, and how many bullets/charges the firearm holds.

Normal combat initiative is 1d6 + Dex bonus. The Gunslinger’s Fast Draw bonus only applies to Fast Draw initiative.

Fast Draw Initiative
Fast Draw initiative is different than normal initiative. Roll 1d6 + Dex bonus + Gunslinger bonus. However, against opponents who already have their weapons in hand, the initiative total is considered to be half (round up.) The usually high Gunslinger Dex and the Gunslinger’s Fast Draw bonus will still beat many foes who are already armed and ready, even at half the normal value. Therefore, if facing down a Gunslinger who has a holstered weapon and his partner who has a pistol in hand, you would have your full Fast Draw initiative vs. the holstered gun, but only half of the number vs. the pistol already in hand.

Equipment Modifiers to Fast Draw Initiative
Short Barrel +1 Fast Draw Initiative, extra –1 to range penalties
Long Barrel -1 to Fast Draw Initiative, +1 bonus to range penalties
Flap/Army Holster -1 to Fast Draw Initiative
Fast Draw Holster 0 penalty to Fast Draw Initiative
Swivel Rig 0 penalty to Fast Draw Initiative
Spring-sleeve Holster +1 to Fast Draw Initiative

Rate of Fire
Anyone can make one attack per round with no penalty.

Fan the Hammer/Flick the Lever
Holding down on the trigger and fanning the hammer of a single-action revolver with your off hand or quickly flicking the lever and pulling the trigger of a lever-action carbine or rifle to fire rapidly.
3 attacks, -4 per attack.

Double Action Pistols
With a double-action pistol, the gunman cannot fan the hammer, but he can take two shots per round with a –2 per shot.

Can fire 3 either at a rate of  or 6  per combat round. At 6 each shot is at a –4 penalty to hit.

Aiming with Firearms
Take a round, gain a +2 bonus to one shot. This can be done for two straight rounds for a total bonus of +4.

Two Weapons
-2 primary hand, -4 off hand.

Firearms have five range increments, and suffer the standard –2 penalty per increment after the first.

The damage for firearms depends on which type of Western you are running.
For Traditional use the standard multi-polyhedron dice for non-open ended damage.
For Spaghetti’s the damage uses d6’s and is open-ended: if you roll a six on the dice, roll it again and add the dice. Do this until you don’t get anymore sixes.
The damage listed before the backslash is for Traditional, damage after is for Spaghetti’s.

Ammunition Type and Reloading
A cartridge weapon can be reloaded with three bullets per round. No other action except movement can be attempted while reloading. However, a shooter can, if desperate, reload one shell and attack with a –4 penalty for rushing the attack.

Cap and ball firearms require two rounds to load a single load, or one round to replace a cylinder. No other action except movement may be attempted when reloading. If you’re reloading pistol loads one at a time, you cannot move faster than a walk and still reload. Cylinders can be reloaded on the run,

Firearms which require a magazine (Gatling) take only one round to reload and ready. However a desperate shooter can hurry the reload and attack with a –2 penalty for rushing the attack.

Firearms Categories
Most pistols of the mid-to-late 1800’s are single-action revolvers. Double-actions exist, but are not as common and are more costly, not replacing the single-action until the end of the century. Most pistols hold six bullets, although some rare models, such as the LeMat revolver, held up to 9 shots. Most of these non-six shooters suffered from delicate mechanical parts or odd caliber bullets which were difficult to find and purchase. Almost all revolvers during the Civil War are cap and ball, with the rare exception such as the LeMat and it’s hard to find ammo. Derringers were fairly common, multi-barreled small pocket pistols, easily hidden and often used as a means of last resort self defense.

Rifles come in a large variety of forms and are chambered for large rifle rounds. Civil war rifles were almost universally cap and ball single shot rifles. Later, when metallic cartridges became widely available, many of the older single shot were modified to accept the new ammunition. Unlike the smaller cartridge repeating rifles below, those chambered for rifle cartridges held only six shots.

The first widely produced repeating rifles were the smaller cartridge 7 shot Spencer rifle and the 15 shot Henry. Before these came about, there was the rare cap and ball revolving rifle such as the 6 shot Colt Revolving Rifle, and the Spencer and Henry Rifles gave way to the more reliable 15 shot Winchester Rifles.

The Buffalo rifle is a powerful weapon, often used to bring down large game such as bear, elk, and most famously, buffalo. The most common such rifle is the Sharps big single shot .50. European models exist as large-bore elephant rifles (1 shot or 2 shot for double barrel models) used for safari to bring down big game such as rhino and elephant.

Carbines are essentially shortened rifles, often chambered with pistol cartridges, and made for ease of use while in the saddle or on a wagon. During the Civil War, many were cap and ball models, with the occasional metallic cartridge carbine. Like rifles, carbines come in all types: single shot (1 shot Military Carbine), revolving cylinder (6 shot Colt Revolving Carbine), and lever action (7 shot Spencer Carbine, 12 shot Winchester).

Heavy carbines are carbines chambered with a larger cartridges, specifically lower-velocity rifle rounds. The larger rounds only allow for 6 bullets to be loaded in the repeating models.

Most common shotguns were 16 gauge. Models are single barrel, double barrel, or the very rare 5 shot revolving shotgun (Colt.) In the late 1880’s lever action shotguns were introduced (5 shot) and in the 1890’s pump, or slide-action, shotguns first appeared (5 shots).

Coach guns were shorter barrel versions of the shotgun, named so because of their use on guards riding “shotgun” on stagecoaches. They are much easier to use on horseback than a regular shotgun, and most shotguns in the hands of gunmen, outlaws, and lawmen will be these shorter models.

Sawed off shotguns have their barrels cut extremely short, often with most of the stock removed, to form a lethal pistol sized shotgun.

Gatling Gun
The most famous repeat-fire weapon of the west. Capable of throwing out a tremendous amount of bullets, it was hand-crank operated, had multiple rotating barrels which facilitated cooling and synchronized the load-fire process, and had a top fed 50 shot magazine. After 1871 a 400 shot ammo drum was available.
Expensive and deadly, it is rarely seen outside of the military.

Binding Wounds
As this is inherently a no magic setting, it is recommended that this optional rule is used, allowing characters to regain 1d4 hit points  immediately after combats.

1d6 + Int modifier, highest roll wins. Modifiers such as the Gamblers gambling ability apply.

Dexterity check for a +1 bonus. Roll a 20 and you’re caught cheating.

Dexterity check with modifiers as decided by the DM.
Falling off a moving horse or wagon does damage depending on the horses movement. For careful the damage is 1d4, for walking the damage is 1d6, and for running the damage is 2d6.

Normal ranged attack roll with a range of 30’. Once roped, the target can immediately make a Saving Throw at –4 to slip out of the lariat. If the victim fails, he or it is hooked on the cowboys line and can be dragged for 1d6 make a Str check (-4) vs. the cowboy’s Str to pull the rope out of the cowboy’s hands.

A called shot at –4 can be made to rope a leg, weapon, etc. The victim must make a penalized Str roll, as above, vs. the cowboy’s strength to retain a weapon, not have a leg pulled out from under him, etc.

If the character is caught in a stampede, he can either take cover or get stomped.
Sturdy cover such as a large boulder, tree, or a good thick wall will protect the character.
If no cover is available, the character can try to kill one of the stampeding animals and take cover behind its carcass. If this happens, the character automatically takes only half damage and can make a Saving Throw to take no damage at all.

If no cover is available the character takes 6d6 damage as he is stomped and gored by the panicked herd.

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