My interest in western RPGs was first piqued when, at Gen Con a few years back, I found a copy of the Sidewinder Reloaded RPG for sale at a discount. That was back when 3rd Edition was giving way to 4th, and a game that used d20 Modern as its core rules was being phased out. That book proved to be a remarkably comprehensive set of rules for running adventures in the western genre, and I was intrigued. What is more, I learned that the game's publisher, Dog House Rules, also produced some high-quality supplemental material, especially the Fort Griffin Trilogy of setting books and the lovely little scenario Johnny Comes Marching Home. Even so, I was also gradually losing my taste for the mechanically heavy d20 Modern system, and so never ran much with that rulebook.
Not long thereafter, on Free Comic Book Day in May of 2011, I found a free copy of Oni Publishing's The Sixth Gun #1. I was hooked, and went on to collect that series for the following five years. I was also excited when I saw the Kickstarter for a Sixth Gun RPG from Pinnacle Entertainment Group, using the Savage Worlds rules. While I'd dabbled in writing and running scenarios using that RPG, most notably in the Pirates of the Spanish Main setting, I didn't have much experience with it. That quickly changed as I began developing ideas for a series of adventures that developed into my current campaign, which I call Manifested Destinies.
It was to my pleasant surprise, then, when I learned that Dog House Rules was converting much of its d20 material over to Savage Worlds. That had already been the case with Johnny and two other adventures, but now is also the case for Fort Griffin. It was in looking at that hefty text that I also found the following three free supplements, part of their Six Guns line, each of which presents a group of historical NPCs ready for use in any kind of Savage Worlds western game.
The first of these supplements presents the notorious James-Younger gang. It provides stats, naturally, for Frank and Jesse James; Cole and Jim Younger; as well as Clell Miller and Arthur McCoy. It also provides printable half-page reference sheets for the characters, along with half a page of works cited, which I appreciate.
Next up is a supplement dedicated to the Earps and Mastersons. It provides stats, of course, for Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp; and Bat, Ed and Jim Masterson. Once again there are half-page stat sheets and references for further reading.
The third supplement is titled Wild and Woolly Women. The ladies presented in it include Calamity Jane, Belle Starr, Pearl Hart, Charley Parkhurst, Poker Alice Ivers, and Annie Oakley. This was the most interesting supplement to read, since the stories of these women were not as familiar as those of the preceding bandits and lawmen. Also, the list of references for this one is longer than those for the other two.
Using These Supplements in Savage Worlds Western Adventures and Campaign
Presented below are just a few ways in which a GM (Judge) could work these characters into various plots.
- As raiders and bank robbers, the members of the James-Younger Gang are synonymous with loot. This could include money or other items taken from various bank and train robberies, or even material from back during their days serving under the infamous Bill Quantrill during the heated conflicts of the Civil War.
- Various members of the Earp and Masterson families served as deputies of the US Marshals; who is to say they weren't actually members of the Black Stars, tasked with investigating occult-related crimes and other such mysteries?
- The women presented in the third supplement are such a colorful bunch that they could add drama to any adventure.