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DEAD OR ALIVE
© 2011 Edward H. Green III
A role-playing game inspired by the Boot Hill RPG, Law of the Gun and watching a zillion Westerns on TV.
Whenever there’s a chance of consequential failure the GM will call for an ability check. Simply roll 1d20 equal to or less than the appropriate ability score to succeed. If the check is particularly difficult the GM may apply a penalty to your ability score for that check; conversely, if the task is easier the GM may give you a bonus for the check.
Creating a Character
Five abilities: Fighting, Shooting, Throwing, Speed, and Grit. Fighting is used for face-punching and stabbing. Shooting is used for firing guns and bows. Throwing is used for chucking dynamite or tossing tomahawks. Speed is how fast you do all this. Grit is your courage and determination. Roll 3d6 for each ability. If you want the PCs to be a little more powerful, roll 4d6 and use the best three dice. Hit Points = Fighting + Grit Next, pick your current (or former) profession, or roll 1d20 to randomly determine a profession: D20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Random Profession Chart Profession D20 Profession Army Scout 11 Blacksmith Buffalo Hunter 12 Gunsmith Prospector 13 Doctor Gambler 14 Snake Oil Salesman Lawman 15 Preacher Outlaw 16 Professional Gunfighter Pinkerton Detective 17 Cavalry Trooper Bounty Hunter 18 Rancher Cowboy 19 Mortician Railroad Man 20 Veterinarian
Animal 1d6 Melee Knife 1d6 Melee Tomahawk 2D Melee/6 Spear 1d6+1 Melee/6 Bullwhip 1d3 Melee Bow 1d6+1 12 Derringer* 1d6 2 Revolver 2d6 6 LA Carbine 2d6 12 Coach Gun 4d6 6 LA Rifle 3d6 18 Hvy Rifle 4d6 24 LA Shotgun 4d6 6 Gatling Gun 3d6 24 Dynamite 4d6 6 L = Light (non-exploding) damage LA = Lever action * = Derringers are easily concealed Pistol (and Carbine) Ammo (50) = $2 Rifle Ammo (50) = $5 Shotgun Shells (50) = $5 Arrows (20) = $1
1 2 6 10 2 7 1 5 50 1
N/A $5 $15 $10 $20 $10 $10 $25 $50 $50 $75 $100 $100 $1000 $10
Rifle Scope = $50 Binoculars/Telescope = $50 Specialized Tools = $100 Doctor’s Bag = $100 Horse = $75 Mule = $50 Rations and Feed = $1 per day Cowboy Accoutrements (holster, bandoleer, duster, saddle, 10 gallon hat, etc.) = $10 each
Combat is fought in a series of rounds, each lasting only a few seconds. Use 1-inch hexes and figures to track positioning and movement (you can use grids too, with one or two minor adjustments). First Shot – Characters act in order of their Speed scores, from highest to lowest. If Speed scores are equal, use Grit to break ties. Each combat round a character can move and attack, or attack and move. Some other action may be performed in place of an attack, such as helping a friend, reloading a weapon, retrieving an item, moving again, etc. Surprise – If surprise is a possibility, make a Grit check to avoid losing your first action for the combat round. Moving – Characters have a base movement of 6 hexes or grids (henceforth called ‘spaces’) per combat round; burdened characters move 3 spaces per combat round. Characters can move through friendly occupied spaces but not through enemy occupied spaces. Movement through difficult terrain or over obstacles is halved.
It is assumed that a character can competently perform any task related to his or her profession. A few professions have specific mechanical benefits as well. Then roll 3d6x10 for the number of dollars available to spend on starting equipment (see below). Finally, give your character a name and a short description.
Weapon Fisticuffs Damage 1d3 Opt. Rng Melee Shots Cost Free
Your movement ends as soon as you move adjacent to an enemy occupied space.
not killed. however. if you roll a 6 on the damage. that person gets a Speed check to avoid your attempt. If the dynamite throw misses. you can fire every shot in the revolver in a single attack. but subtracts 2 points from each of the 4 damage dice. a character is just KO’d. Other Stuff Falling – Every 10 feet fallen inflicts a cumulative 1d6 points damage. Tomahawk Axe – A tomahawk axe rolls 2 six-sided dice for damage. Most thrown weapons have an optimal range of 6. However. You can rapid fire for two shots per round (provided you have enough ammo in your gun). Coach Gun/Shotgun – Each space between you and your target gives you a +1 bonus on the shooting check. Use Fighting for melee attacks. Make an attack roll for each weapon. Cover– If a target is behind some cover. keep rolling. re-roll those dice and add the result to the total damage. use the higher result. each space of distance also subtracts 1 from each damage die rolled. but incur a -4 penalty on each attack roll. incurring a -4 penalty for each. the healing rate is doubled. Bows and thrown weapons have a maximum rate of fire of 1 attack per round. Fanning requires two hands. If you’re trying to lasso a person. but is allowed a Speed check for ½ damage. . When fanning. Everyone caught in the radius takes 4d6 points of damage. If you have a second person to reload the weapon you can keep firing as long as your ammo holds out. However. For example. If treated by a doctor. Trick Shots – Making any kind of trick or called shot incurs a 6 penalty to the attack roll. Healing – Lost hit points are healed at the rate of 1 HP per day of complete rest. you’ll probably take falling damage. If hit. Falling inflicts non-exploding damage. Each space beyond optimal range incurs a cumulative -1 penalty on the attack check. Attacking – To make an attack roll. A roll of 1 always hits. Pistol Whipping – Pistol whipping some poor fool is a Fighting check with a -4 penalty. If you drop down and miss. and use up an entire box of rifle ammo with each attack. By spending a combat round aiming through the scope you can double the weapon’s optimal range for a single attack. Shooting for guns and bows. Lassoed people cannot escape on their own. If a 6 is rolled on any damage dice. not to life-and-death combats. the total penalty is -8 for each attack. roll damage. If you want to spring into the saddle. or a pistol and a lever-action carbine). say 30 to 60 feet across. A tomahawk may also be thrown. so you can make one attack per round. roll 1d6 to determine the number of bullets that hit that target. Attacks made against targets within this optimal range suffer no penalty. doubling the damage dice and attack bonus. This is called an exploding dice roll. simply roll 1d20 equal to or less than the appropriate stat score. you’ll need to make a successful Grit check. hard cover (such as stone or water trough) has a Cover Rating of 10. If you also rapid fire. Quick Mounting – Normally getting into the saddle of a horse takes a full combat round. Dual Wielding – Characters can opt to wield a light weapon in each hand (such as two knives or two pistols. Death – Characters reduced to 0 or fewer hit points are dead. Gatling Gun – Gatling guns fire a ridiculous number of shots per combat round (at least by Old West standards). make a successful Speed check. Soft cover (such as wood) has a Cover Rating of 5. like jumping over a railing. the subject of your tender affections has to make a Grit check to avoid being knocked out immediately. if a 6 is rolled on the damage die. make a Cover check to see if the shot hit the cover instead of the target. Note. this rule only applies to friendly bar fights. attacks inflict 1d6 points of non-lethal damage. You still subtract damage for distance from every damage die rolled. and Throwing for thrown weapons (like dynamite). Lassoing – Using a lasso is a Throwing check. With a coach gun. If hit points are reduced to 0 or less. They affect a cone shaped area. Range – Guns. Make a separate attack roll for each shot with a -6 penalty. Cover only works against ranged attacks. or drop onto it from above. a roll of 20 always misses. Gatling guns cannot be carried by hand. bows and thrown weapons have an optimal range. Damage – When an attack hits.Movement must end in an empty space. If you want to urge your faithful steed to do something risky. inflicting 1d6 damage. If you get more sixes. but instead of adding them together. this is called fanning. Dynamite – Dynamite has a blast radius of 20 feet. they need to make a Grit check to avoid being knocked unconscious. Anyone caught in the cone of fire has to make a Speed check to avoid being hit (and a Cover check. Barroom Brawling – In a barroom brawl. two spaces between you and Nevada Bob gives you a +2 bonus on the shooting roll. Riding Stunts – The game assumes that all PCs are competent riders. and then roll damage for each bullet. Make a single attack roll. you can fire both barrels simultaneously at the same target. Rate of Fire – These rules assume you are taking your time and picking your shots carefully. Scopes – Scopes may be mounted on rifles and carbines. roll 1d6 to determine which direction the stick deviates (use 1d8 if playing with grids instead of hexes) and another 1d3 to determine how many spaces it is off. if applicable). Fanning Fire – Revolvers can be fired very rapidly. every 6 rolled on a damage die means you broke one of your bones.
however. If the game is still tied. Gambling – Roll 2d6 for each participant. If the Tracking scores are equal. 28 36 45 55 66 Etc.) and the faster the pursuer catches up to the pursued. Spaghetti Points – If you want your games to have a more cinematic feel. Highest total wins the pot. or to latch onto a person or object. unless both are already at 19. compare their relative Tracking scores to determine success: City Slickers = Tracking 0 Cowboys/Pinkertons = Tracking 1 Indians/Lawman/Bounty Hunter = Tracking 2 Hunter/Scout = Tracking 3 PC w/ Indian Blood = +1 Tracking (i. roll off to determine who wins. instead of improving an ability score. As an optional rule. how old the trail is. a player-character Indian Scout would have Tracking 4. Targets Name Fight Shoot Townsfolk 7 7 Hardened 9 9 Professional 11 11 Notorious 13 13 Legendary 15 15 Mythic 17 17 Mean Dog 8 0 Coyote 9 0 Bear* 12 0 Wildcat 10 0 * = Bears inflict 2d6 damage Throw 7 9 11 13 15 17 0 0 0 0 Spd 7 9 11 13 15 17 12 13 12 14 Grit 7 9 11 13 15 17 8 10 18 12 HP 14 18 22 26 35 40 16 19 30 22 Optional Rules Cashing Out – If you play a lot it’s likely the PCs will accumulate large sums of cash and have little to spend it on. A ratio of $1. Gamblers always spot non-Gamblers at cheating. the Tracking score of the ‘prey. Simply make a successful Fighting check. then the odds of successfully tracking are 50/50 (resolved however the GM likes). followed by PCs. you can pick a second profession. +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 Etc. how much spare change they’re carrying.Whips – Whips may be used to knock something out of a person’s hand. give your players a certain number of Spaghetti points (generally 1 to 5). Each round of being dragged inflicts 1d6 points of damage.’ if the hunter’s total is greater. but it’s usually better to improve Fighting or Grit instead. nor do barroom brawls). Gamblers add +1 to their roll. 1 Spaghetti point may be spent to do any of the following: Automatically pass one check Add +1d6 exploding damage to any attack (may spend multiple points on the same attack) Reduce damage from a single attack to just a 1 point scratch (no Shock roll required) Double your movement rate for one combat round Anything else you can think of.e. etc. Unspent points may not be saved for later use. Anyone can attempt to cheat by making a successful Speed check to avoid being caught. Green III Advancement You earn 1 experience point (XP) for each combat you survive. unsuccessful cheating will likely result in a gunfight. Successful cheating adds +1 to your roll. Compare total accumulated XP to the following chart to see when an ability score bonus is earned: Total XP 1 3 6 10 15 21 Ability Score Bonus +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 . Wanted Dead or Alive RPG © 2011 Edward H. Tracking – When you need to track someone down. an Indian Bounty Hunter would have Tracking 3) Compare the Tracking score of the ‘hunter’ vs. The greater the discrepancy the more details are learned (i. You may choose to increase hit points directly.e. If you’re trying to latch onto a person. if they have a lame horse.000 for 1 XP is a good starting point. tracking is successful. they get a Speed check to avoid your attempt. However. Optionally. Dragging – Horse dragging a lassoed person through fields of cactus and rock is a time-honored tradition of the Old West. number present. A combat has to be an encounter where there’s a risk the character could be injured or killed (i. killing sleeping enemies doesn’t count. Earning XP allows you to improve ability scores. up to a maximum score of 19. it hurts. or whenever the GM decides they do. you can let them spend some of that money to purchase experience points. subject to GM approval Spaghetti points refresh at the start of every play session.e. Gamblers always win ties.
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