Saturday, October 2, 2021

Influences and Inspirations for The Sixth Gun and Shadow Roads: Pale Rider

This series of posts—which I will heretofore refer to as I&I—will look at books, comics and movies related to the supernatural western genre, with reflection on how they could influence and inspire an RPG campaign.


Pale Rider

I have this 1985 Clint Eastwood western—with hints of the supernatural—on DVD, but watched it again because it's also available to stream on HBO Max. It left me with a number of impressions.

  • Michael Moriarty's character, Hull Barrett, does a great job of showing how an ordinary person can become a hero, just by standing up for what is right.

  • I'm a sucker for the storyline in which a seasoned warrior helps a community of ordinary people to stand up for themselves, bringing out the strengths that they already possessed.

  • This is also a good example of how increased danger in combat can lead to some great action. While the tried-and-true Challenge Rating system of Dungeons & Dragons makes sure that encounters don't overpower the heroes, there's something to be said for the “fast, furious and fun,” and not necessarily balanced, rules of Savage Worlds.

  • When the situation really becomes serious, don't hesitate to use some dynamite.

  • The movie does show its age by having the two main female characters—well played by Carrie Snodgress and Sydney Penny—have little role in the fighting.

  • I enjoy seeing Richard Kiel, who famously played the hulking henchman Jaws in two James Bond movies, in the role of an enforcer who is not such a bad person as he seems.

  • Finally, the end battle is a good demonstration of how a somewhat complex battle map, a small western mining town, can create a really dramatic last battle.

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