Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gutshot Rules: Knocking the rifle off its throne

As I said last week, we solved one of our biggest problems in the first draft of Gutshot by arguing... er, discussing & debating outside Midnight Comics one night after a game. We invented the Retaliation Shot as a mechanism to solve one of the biggest problems we were having in the game: The fact that, because of our random initiative system, it was possible for you to die without ever firing s hot in self defense.

The Notorious Midnight Riders -- our first
long playtest that helped shape the game
into what it finally became.
Reaction to that rule has been mixed, with most of it being positive. There are a small, vocal group of people out there who don't like it at all. Of course, these are the same people who would prefer that everyone write down their actions and display them at the same time and then act them out simultaneously. In other words, these are old-schoolers from the "orders" style of gameplay used with armies and divisions. This is absolutely, 100% not the type of game we wanted to make. Gutshot is a skirmish game, and that sort of detailed order-giving has no place in the undisciplined, wild-n-woolly world of Western gaming.

Another group that dislikes this mechanic is people who have never actually played it. Although we've written and re-written it more than once, it just doesn't sound like it will work as well as it does when you just read the words. It seems a bit... odd, or different to them. When they play it, though, most of them join the the people who love the Retaliation Shot because it does a whiz-bang job of fixing the imbalance caused by our chaotic initiative system.

Taking the rifle down a notch or two
From Bushwhacked in Beaver Creek!
But back to the rifle. As I said Tuesday, with the way the first draft of rules was written, there was no reason on god's green earth not to choose the rifle as your primary weapon. It had damage, range, and held 15 rounds. By any reckoning, it was the weapon to beat.

So, we had to do some things to make it a more balanced weapon. The first thing we did was eliminate the "to hit" bonus at point blank range. The rationale behind this is sound, but most people don't like it: We figure that if you're bringing a rifle right up to a fella with intent to shoot 'em, they will grab the barrel and try to shove it away or dodge it in any way he can. It's a simple idea, but it helps a lot.

The next thing we did was more severe: we made it impossible to draw and fire a two-handed weapon in the same Action. This had a profound effect on the game. Suddenly rifles and shotguns -- still the most powerful death dealers in terms or range and damage, respectively -- were more unwieldy than the nimble Colt revolver or the sneaky Derringer.

This was an amazing change to the game balance, and the point at which we realized -- over the next four or five playtests with the Midnight Riders -- that we were really on to something great! Suddenly the combat was more balanced and players had a reason to think about their weapon choices. Now we could turn our attention onto other issues.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gutshot Rules: Retaliation Shots

Most of the time when you're working on a game as big as Gutshot, you don't exactly remember when and where certain rules came from. In the case of the Retaliation Shot, however, I remember when, where and -- most importantly -- why this rule came to be.

I recollect that it was a relatively mild summer evening in 2003. Paul Mauer and I were standing outside Midnight Comics in Houston, Texas. It was probably nearing 1 a.m. We had just finished running one of the highly successful playtests with the group known as the Midnight Riders. Now, the store was in its second location next to the Laser Quest and we were standing outside discussing and debriefing that night's game.

I couldn't tell you exactly which game it was without diving back into my notes, but it was probably somewhere around game four or five: Buzzard Bait at Buzzard Point! or Bloodbath in Rio Gato! Even though the night air was relatively cool (for Houston in the summertime, that is), our discussion had heated up.

You see, we had a problem. More than that, there was something seriously broken in this version of the game. Right now, the "Rifle is god," as Murphy had put it. Under that draft of the rules, there was no reason on earth to select any other weapon but the rifle: it had range, it had a 15-shot magazine, and it dealt a wicked load of Damage that was only topped by the super-deadly shotgun. And we had another problem: because of our random initiative system, it was possible to die before you had a chance to fire your weapon, even when someone was shooting at you. In an IGOUGO game, you can't really do much until it's your turn (after all, it is I go, you go... you know?).

I also recall that Rio Gato was the game where it really came to head about how I was adamant that you could not split your movement: In other words, you can't move half, shoot, then finish moving. You need to move/attack or attack move. But that's another topic for another time.

The fact is, Paul and I were hot and upset because we each had different ideas on how to handle the dying-before-you-move and the rifle problems. We each suggested and then shot down each other's ideas until, at last something emerged: a slight break in the armor of the IGOUGO rule allowed for the person who is being shot at to instantly shoot back. Suddenly a light went on over our heads. This resolved the first issue, and (as it would turn out), this small change made the games deadlier and move faster.

I went home and wrote up some notes about the proposed change, and after much mulling it over, decided to call this mechanic the Retaliation Shot. Here's the actual text of the rule that wound up in the Gutshot Core Rule Book:

10.5 Retaliation ShotIn general, when someone purposefully shoots at you, you may instantly shoot back with any ready weapon (see below). This return fire is called a Retaliation Shot and it is the only time you get to pull the trigger during someone else's Action.
A ready weapon is a weapon that is loaded and in your hand at the moment you were shot at. This includes all derringers, pistols, rifles, shotguns, and sawed-off shotguns. You may not draw the weapon or pick it up off a shelf (as in a siege situation). It must be in your hand, ready to be used when someone purposefully targeted you.

There's some more text to explain certain limitations, of course. You can't use melee weapons, Two-Gun Shootists only get one Retaliation Shot, the weapon must have ammo in it, and so forth. The book also stresses that this is an optional shot. When someone shoots at you, you don't have to shoot back. Why wouldn't you, you might ask? Obvious things come into play: the shooter is out of range (he's got a rifle and you've got a pistol), or you just don't want to waste the bullet. I've also seen players balk at taking the shot if they can only hit their target with Boxcars. After all, statistically speaking, you've got as much chance of rolling Snake-eyes as you do of rolling Boxcars.

And trust me, that does happen!

Another interesting thing came out of this rule: We decided that all Damage is applied at the end of an Action. "This means that it’s possible for someone to shoot you and do enough Damage to kill you, yet you would still get to retaliate.  And if ya do enough Damage to him in return, you might even take yer killer with yuh! Honestly, we’ve seen it happen plenty of times."

We quickly realized that this helped us recreate one of the classic elements seen in countless Westerns: Someone is blasted away in a hail of bullets, only to turn and manage to squeeze off that final, heroic shot at his killer, taking that varmint with him! It's classic, it's dramatic, and we love seeing it in a game.

So, this one night of bashing ideas back and forth with each other really helped shape Gutshot and turn it into the game it is today.

Mosey on back Thursday and I'll tell you 
how we finally solved the "Rifle is God" problem.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gutshot Rules: Behind our random Initiative

As a game designer, I think one of the most important things you can do is to impose a sense of balance into the game mechanics. For every plus, there must be a minus. For everything that gives you power, there must be something to counteract it. From time to time I'm going to use this blog to explain some of the behind-the-scenes thinking that went into fine tuning some of the rules in Gutshot.

For example, here's a question I get asked at conventions a lot:

"Why do you guys use random initiative? Why not just roll dice or draw cards and let everyone go in order?"

A fair question, and one with a very simple answer. But first, for those of you who are not that familiar with our game, here's an explanation of how initiative works in Gutshot:

  • Each player creates a character and fills out a Character Sheet. Every character must have a name (sorry, but "Cowboy #1 in yellow shirt" is not a name)
  • Each player writes the character's name on three slips of paper
  • All the slips are placed into a hat or other suitable container (I actually had to stop using my cowboy hat because name slips kept getting caught under the rim -- nowadays I use the old gamer standby: the Crown Royal bag)
  • One at a time, a name is pulled from the hat/bag: the character named then takes his action (usually movement and shooting at someone)
  • This goes on, one at a time, until the hat/bag is empty. When that happens it is the End of the Turn.
  • Refill the hat/bag with the names of surviving characters and keep on repeating until the end of the game.
Every Gamer's Friend
Now, even a quick reading of that should make it apparent that your name is going to be pulled out in a completely random manner. You might even have two Actions in a row... or all three at the end of the Turn. Critics of this system argue that this cuts down a LOT on planning and coordination because you can't easily predict exactly when a character is going to have his name drawn. And that, saddle pals, is exactly what we like about it!

Let me go back in time and set the stage for you...
Way back in 1999 and 2000 when Mike Murphy sent me the first drafts for this game, I was NOT impressed by the initiative system he described. I came from a long and checkered past as an RPGer (D&D, Vampire, etc.) and I was used to the simple: "roll dice and let's go in order" method of doing things. Murph strongly suggested I playtest it the way he wrote it... and I did. And I wasn't super impressed for a few reasons, the main one being that it was possible for me to die without ever firing a shot or moving to defend myself. So, naturally, I tried it again with a simple, orderly initiative system. And it worked... but too well.

Now that the players knew who was going when -- and more importantly, that everyone would only get one Action in a row), they suddenly started using modern combat tactics like advancing in waves and securing entry/exit points. It was highly efficient... and not at all a Western. That type of initiative was just too predictable, which is why we went back and figured out how to fix the I-never-even-got-to-move-before-I-died problem.  This improvement would end up being The Retaliation Shot...

And we'll talk more about that next week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

S&S Voting Report

This weekend we passed the halfway point in our month-long Showdowns & Shootouts Jury Prize selection process. So far, response has been about what I expected it to be with about 50 people voting so far. What I did not expect was that there would be one runaway leader at this point. One of the entries has an almost 2-to-1 lead over its nearest competition.

After these two big leaders, there are several other adventures racking up impressive voting. In fact, every single adventure has received at least one vote (and no, it's not just from the author).

I'm not going to taint the results by publishing who the leaders are, but I will publish the top five at this time (and they are listed in order of their publication number, which does not coincide with who's leading):
  • SS001 - Ambush at Coyote Canyon! by Al Theobald
  • SS002 - Bullets for Breakfast! by Ross Edwards
  • SS003 - 1,000 Horses for Helen! by Carmen Cerra
  • SS004 - Hurrahin' the Sky Pilot! by Dan Hash
  • SS005 - Holed Up! by Lance Gamble
If you don't see your favorite adventure up there, it's time to vote or stat campaigning to convince your friends and family to agree with your choice and get them to cast a vote, too.

You can read the adventures here: http://www.hawgleg.com/2007_contest_winner.asp
You can cast your vote here: http://www.hawgleg.com/polls_vote.asp?PollID=1

By the way, remember that everyone cast a a vote is eligible to win a saddlebag full of cool prizes!

Voters’ Drawing Prize (valued at about $60) Randomly selected from everyone who votes

  • Whitewash City Starter CD ($15 value) 
  • One item from the Gutshot General Store (approx. $20 value) 
  • One copy of the collected S&S paperback book (approx. $20 value)
  • Gutshot miniature: ($5 value)

See yuh back here on Thursday fer our next, 
regularly scheduled pow wow.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rules Q&A: Movement rates and attack modifiers

We got a question through the Hawgleg Website last week, and I reckoned it would be a good idea to share it with ya'll, in case this has caused any of you to scratch yer heads.

"When taking an action, I attack 1st then move, do I still apply applicable movement modifier to shot even though I moved after shooting?"

Movement and combat is definitely a tricky matter, and it can cause some headaches unless you pay particular attention to tracking the movement rates for all miniatures during the game.

To the question above, the short answer is no, you would not apply the penalty in that instance.  Let's break it down:

  • Clem is running with a pistol in his hand down the street of the town because Jake is after him. Clem runs the full 12 inches and then stops. At this moment, until the start of his next action (when his name is pulled out of the hat) he is considered to be Running.
  • Jake's name is pulled from the hat. Since he has a rifle, he decides to Walk 3 inches and take a shot at Clem. Let's say they are 8 inches apart. Jake has a TN of 7 and rolls the dice and gets a 5. We now look at the modifiers: +2 for medium range with a rifle, but -3 because Clem is running. 5 + 2 - 2 = 5. It's a miss. Clem considers the range and modifiers and decides it's not worth it to waste the ammo (after all, with the rang
  • Clem's name is pulled from the hat. He is no longer considered to be running. In fact, as far as game play is concerned, he skids to a stop, turns around and takes a shot at Jake. Clem also has a TN of 7. Since he is no longer running, he does not have any movement modifiers. As for range, he is at 8 inches with a pistol, which puts him at long range and a -1 penalty. Jake is walking, so there are no movement penalties in that regard. So Clem rolls the dice and gets an 8. Looking at the numbers we see: 8 - 1 (for range) = 7: which means a hit! Clem rolls 1d6+1 damage and gets a 4.
  • Jake now decides to take his Retaliation Shot. Remember, Retaliation Shots are instantaneous -- so this happens before Clem can start moving again. Jake rolls a 5 (5 + 2 (range) = 7) and gets a hit! He rolls 1d6+2 for damage and gets a total of 8! Clem is now moderately wounded, which will affect his ability to move and shoot.
  • BUT, since all damage is applied at the END of the Action, it does not affect him right now. So Clem decides he'd better skeedaddle out of there as fast as he can, so he runs a full 12-inches away and hopes it's far enough to save his life, because now he's hurting.

Hope that answers the question. By the way, this might vary slightly from what you can read in the book. We've modified things since it was written, and subsequent editions and errata will correct that. The game is always evolving and this is how we actually handle this situation in games we play.

By the way, keeping up with movement can be a bit tricky, which is why we use red & yellow tokens under our minis to indicate movement. The yellow token indicates that the figure is trotting, a red token indicates he is running. This tends to help sort out a character's movement rate at any given time.


As you can see in this picture from an early playtest of Gutshot: Night of the Living Deadwood, two of the figures have reddish disks under them. These are used to indicate that they are running. The two figures (upper left) are on yellow disks to indicate that they are Trotting. Figures without any disks under them are Walking, and those three guys with the red splats under them are dead. Note that in the upper left corner it looks like two figures are on that one yellow disk (okay, it doesn't look that way, they are both on it), that's just because the zombie on the square base rushed the other figure and kinda knocked him off his disk. That sort of thing happens in games.

Although we do sell these tokens at our Website, you really can use anything you have on hand to help keep track of this. In a game with only a few minis, you can actually just leave it to memory, or have a notepad and jot down the current movement rate of each figure as it changes. But in a big, messy free-for-all like the one above? Movement tokens are probably the best way to go.


Hope this helps clear things up. See ya'll next Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

S&S: Why did it take so long? Part 3


The next gap is almost a year long, and it's harder to explain from the news headlines. I was almost put in the hospital again during that time, but was able to recover with bed rest. And Arnica started selling in earnest. And the 10th and 11th adventures we selected were BIG adventures. They were probably overly ambitious because they each included some really cool extras. Dion Duran's "I Hit a Vein!" has a PDF map for a poster-size underground gold mine that can be printed out, one page at a time, on your color printer. And Tom Reed's "White Water, Bloody Boulders!" comes with 13 pages of map tiles to simulate a wild escape on a white water rive raft. Both of these bonuses took extra time to flesh out... But I (for one) think the wait was worth it. These two adventure accessories will turn any game into an ace high fandango!

Remember, you can get all of these adventures for FREE over at our Website: http://www.hawgleg.com/2007_contest_winner.asp



The Last Hurrah
I think the hardest part to explain is the final big gaps. It took us almost a year to publish the 12th adventure, and then another year for the three of us to force the matter and actually vote on who won. That honor, of course, went to Tom Reed's "The Great Dry Gulch Bank Robbery!" Now, part of that delay did come from the fact that we had wanted to print a 13th adventure to make it a baker's dozen. But we finally realized that this had been sitting idle for far too long and we just had to end it. So, end it we did.

And then came the next delay, which is entirely on me. We needed to set up a software solution for people to vote on the winner of the Jury's Prize (that is to say, second place). The problem was, I couldn't find an available solution that we could afford (honestly $99 to run a contest for one month?). And the freebie solutions didn't have the functionality we needed to capture email addresses, or if they did, they limited us to 100 respondents. Since we couldn't find what we needed, we decided that I should write it myself.

The really sad thing is, I got about 80% finished with the coding and back-end tools in two weekends, and then my work schedule went crazy and my computer crashed (my work was safe online but I didn't have an ASP development environment set up on my new laptop). That's when things REALLY slowed to a snail's pace. Countless distractions and other issues just kept putting S&S on the back burner until -- you guys really should thank him -- Paul got me to focus on it again so we can finally put this puppy to bed.

And that's where we are: Finally putting it to bed after starting it five years ago. This puts us 3.5 to 4 years behind schedule. I've got to say... Hawgleg has the most patient fans on the face of the earth. I think they always knew we'd get it done... it was just a matter of when. And, of course, that "when" is now.


Putting it all into a nutshell
I've had time to think about what happened and why. There were some reasons for some of the delays, and hospitalization and hurricanes are darned good reasons as to why we got thrown off track. But (and you decide if this is a reason or an excuse), I think it comes down to this: We underestimated the time and resources we would need to complete all the projects we had lined up and, because of that, we lost momentum on the S&S contest. 

I think we've managed to lasso the momentum right now and will manage to keep it going for the last mile of this journey. We're going to get the prizes awarded and delivered to the patient winners. And then we're going to pull the material into a book for the people out there who would like to purchase a permanent hard copy for their records and, let's be honest, to give one final thrill and some serious bragging rights to the fine gents who entered this contest. When all is said and done, they will have their work printed in a game book that they can show off to their buddies and to woo the ladies (okay, I suspect it will be more showing off than wooing, but you never know...).

By the way, just because we are collecting the Showdowns & Shootouts material into a book does NOT mean we are taking the original adventures offline. Our intention is to keep those up there as free downloads for anyone who wants to mosey by and take a gander at them. After all it's taken to get them up there, it would be a downright sin to do anything else.

Tuesday, come back for a rules discussion on Movement & Modifiers. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

S&S: Why did it take so long, part 2

I think we really started off well. I had the idea for the Showdowns & Shootouts contest in December 2006 and when I ran it by Murphy and Paul, they loved the idea. I then set about getting the prize support for it and together we worked up the rules and came up with the general guidelines of what we were looking for: Class adventure ideas that would be easy to play with 1-4 teams and didn't require strange miniatures or terrain. We also weren't looking for someone to write high-quality prose that fit our house style; we wanted basic ideas, character names and game set-up (maps, objectives, and other cool stuff). We wrote this up on our Website and opened it up to both the Gutshot community and the general public.

Our goal was always to collect at least 12 high-quality adventures and put them online where they would always be available as a free download as a PDF. The idea was twofold:

  1. It's a reward for the people who have already shelled out their cash to buy our book.
  2. Potential customers might read these adventures and think they were cool enough to invest in buying a copy of Gutshot. (Yes, we're nice guys, but we ain't averse to capitalism!)
When we started, we had no idea what kind of reception we would get. We needed at least 12 good adventures to complete the contest... and in the end, we hand danged near 50 submissions, and there wasn't a stinker among them! Every single person who submitted an idea took our guidelines to heart and wrote something that -- with some level of editing -- could be published as a quality game that would be fun to play. To put it mildly, the only hard part for us was agreeing on which adventure to print next.


The S&S Timeline
The contest opened on Jan. 31, 2007. Our goal was to have all of the adventures published by the end of that year and then wrap the contest up by the first quarter of 2008. As you can see, that did not happen. Here's a breakdown of the timeline, as culled from the Hawgleg Website's news archives:

  • Showdows & Shootouts writing contest offers more than $500 in prizes , Jan. 31, 2007
  • First Showdowns & Shootouts adventure ready for download, April 26, 2007
  • Bullets for Breakfast -- New Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure Online, May 25, 2007
  • Sawbones release Mitchell from Hospital, June 26, 2007
  • 1,000 Horses for Helen -- New 'Showdowns & Shootouts' adventure now online!, July 20, 2007
  • Fourth Showdowns & Shootouts adventure released, Aug. 15, 2007
  • Holed Up: New S&S adventure ready for download!, Oct. 4, 2007
  • 6th S&S Adventure: Stand-off at Muckhole!, Oct. 14, 2007
  • 7th Showdowns & Shootouts adventure ready for download, Jan. 8, 2008
  • New S&S Adventure Released, Feb. 25, 2008
  • Hawgleg Publishing acquires Arnica Montana Real Estate, April 28, 2008
  • Klaus needs a Holiday New Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure online!, June 8, 2008
  • Ike Strike -- Hawgleg suspends operations due to hurricane, Sept. 22, 2008
  • Hawgleg reopens after Hurricane Ike, Oct. 22, 2008
  • I Hit a Vein 10th Showdowns & Shootouts adventure released, Nov. 12, 2008
  • Hawgleg announces Draw! RPG, Feb. 5, 2009
  • 11th Showddowns & Shootouts Adventure ready for download, May 4, 2009
  • Arnica Pre-Release Bonanza Sale!, Aug. 12, 2009
  • Pre-Release Sale Closes, Sept. 12, 2009
  • Final Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure published!, July 13, 2010
  • Showdowns & Shootouts winner announced, June 19, 2011
  • Vote now in the Showdowns & Shootouts Contest, March 1, 2012
I've highlighted the 12 adventures' release dates in red.

As you can see, we did really well up until the sixth adventure, and even the seventh & eighth weren't too far off schedule, especially when you consider I spent about a week in the hospital in early 2007 and had a few subsequent relapses of a health issue that kept me bed ridden during that year. No, in spite of that, we were doing okay.

And then we bought Arnica Montana from Mike McGraw. Honest to gosh, we had no idea how much of our time and resources that would take up. This was new territory for us and we don't regret it at all, but it was something new and the learning curve was tougher than we expected. Being honest again, I don't think we're masters of this technology or business model even to this day. But that's another story.

By the Ninth Adventure -- Klaus Needs a Holiday! -- we were almost back on track, and then Hurricane Ike hit. My home was severely damaged and we were without power for 16 days. We left town for part of it (my folks up in the hill country had power and my brother was getting married, so what the heck, we rode out part of the aftermath with my kinfolk). And there was some serious aftermath. 

Hurricane Ike Damage

Yes, that is a tree on the side of our house. If you look closely, you can see the other tree that smashed the corner of our garage... tapping our cars inside (fortunately, our other cars were at my wife's folks' house, so we got a ride over there and were able to drive around the devastated city while Houston limped back to life.

Ike took a lot of wind out of sails and scuttled us for months (hmmm, maybe I should stick to Western lingo and say, this really put us off our feed). There was so much to deal with in the aftermath that we didn't even think about the contest for a while. Hawgleg actually closed for an entire month, and we didn't get our next adventure out until a month after that.


I wrap it all up next Tuesday in Part 3

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

S&S: Why did it take so long? Part 1

Quite a number of years ago, I was working at a newspaper in the upper Rio Grande valley as a layout artist, typesetter and editor (yup, it was a small newspaper and we all did a variety of things). When I wasn't working on the next issue, the shop also took in additional print jobs to fill the time between our weekly editions. One of these projects was a book for a local author.

As part of the design, he asked for separate left/right page footers so the page number would always be on the outside. This was time consuming and ate up more time than was budget for. When he asked us why we were behind schedule, we told him of this reason and he said, "I don't want to hear excuses." I replied that this wasn't an excuse, but a reason." "There's no difference," he said. "You're wrong," I said. "Very wrong. An excuse is trying to explain why something happened or didn't happen and shift the blame around. But a reason is just a statement of fact. If you asked me why I couldn't make it to a meeting 150 miles away on time, an excuse would be that I didn't leave in time or that I had a flat tire. A reason would be that, you only told me about the meeting one hour ago and my Ford Pinto does not drive 150 miles an hour."

He conceded that there was, in fact, a difference between an excuse and a reason.

What you're about to read here is a combination of excuses and reasons. Some are just saying why we didn't do things when we should have, but I'm also going to state a few solid reasons why it took us so danged long to finish the Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure Writing Contest.

It all seemed like a good idea at the time
For those of you who have met us at conventions or visited the Hawgleg Forums on a regular basis, it won't come as news to you that we've been planning to release a Gutshot Campaign Guide. There were several ideas that we were fleshing out at the time when we published the Gutshot Core Rule Book and, because they weren't finished, we didn't include them. In short, the Campaign Guide in the core book is about one-third of the material we would have liked to include. But, some of it was only half baked at the time and if we had delayed publication in order to work on it, I doubt Gutshot would have seen print until 2007.

So, Gutshot comes out in 2005 and wins the Origins Award for Historical Miniatures Game of the Year in 2006. We suddenly had a lot of interest in our game and, consequently, we had a lot of people visiting our Website looking for game ideas. We needed some additional content to help generate interest in our game and to support the people who had already bought it. We talked about it and decided that we should post some free adventures online for people to download and print as PDFs.

Fortunately, we had a lot of great ideas and they were posted on the site as game reports. I started working on some to put on the site and then it hit me... this was the content for the Campaign Guide. Simply put, the adventures by the Midnight Riders and the Red Leg Gang (which were based actual campaigns) perfectly illustrated the concepts we wanted to include in the campaign guide. So that meant we couldn't use these for that purpose.

So... If we couldn't use the material we already had, then where would we get new material? We decided to have a contest and ask our readers to create some ideas for us. And so, the idea of a contest was born.



We get by with a LOT of help from our friends
What's a contest without prizes? Nothing, that's what. So we asked some of our friends in the gaming community and got a LOT of enthusiastic help from the following fine folks, who promptly offered to donate some very cool stuff to our cause. In all, they ponied up about $400 in prize donations!


Contest sponsors:
Arnica, Montana Real Estate
Knuckleduster
Scale Creep Miniatures
Whitewash City / Hotz Game Mats
Click on the sponsor's logo to visit their Website.


By the way, when we started the contest, Arnica was a separate company. We bought the company while the contest was ongoing, and that was a factor in why it took so long to finish. In addition to Arnica, we also appeared at conventions and started work on two other project in the interim: the Draw! RPG and Gutshot: Night of the Living Deadwood.

It seems my dad was right all those years ago... you should focus on doing one thing at a time and try to do it to the best of your ability. Excuse #1: We didn't do that. We jumped into new products and projects and didn't always account for the amount of time they would take, nor fully appreciate the impact they would have on our overall progress.

And yet, through all these changes, we just kept plugging along, knowing we'd get it together and have something really great when we finished. And we'll get into that more on Thursday.

Continued this Thursday when we show the entire S&S timeline.
Join us next Thursday for a change of pace with an example of combat movement rates.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Showdowns & Shootouts: Vote Now to Pick a Winner


As I said Tuesday, the time has finally come, mi amigos. We have finally opened the voting for the second-place prize in our long-running and much-delayed Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure Writing Contest. The details are all over on our Website, so you really should mosey over there and read it in detail.

Here's a relatively short version of what's going on:

  • Back in 2007 we started a contest where people would send us ideas for adventures suitable for use with Gutshot. Some were real short (set-up and some loose ideas), others were real detailed with character names, stats, and detailed maps and game objectives. The contest is, of course, called Showdowns & Shootouts.
  • We selected 12 of them, rewrote them into a standard format and posted them online as free PDFs for people to download for free.
  • We got some of our gaming buddies to help sponsor the contest: Arnica Montana, Hotz Game Mats, Whitewash City, Knuckleduster Productions, and Scale Creep Miniatures all donated prizes... in fact, all told we've got more than $500 in prizes! Again, check out the main site for a list of all the goodies.
  • Back in last summer (yup, summer 2010) we finally printed the last adventure. Yeah... there was a HUGE delay, which I'm gonna talk about shortly. Then in Summer 2011 we finally got around to decided who won the Grand Prize (we call it the Judge's Prize). It was awarded to Tom Reed for his adventure, "The Great Dry Gulch Bank Robbery!"
  • Now it's time to select the second prize, which we call the Jury's Prize. This one will be selected by the general public at the Hawgleg Website. It's a contest that's open to anyone who will (hopefully) take the time to read the adventures and pick the best of the group (not counting Tom's two entries -- he's already earned one prize). You can get the adventures for free here:  http://www.hawgleg.com/2007_contest_winner.asp
  • The author who receives the most votes will win the Jury's Prize and get more goodies than he can fit in his saddle bags (again, hit the main site for a full list).
  • Now, here's the cool part, everyone who votes in this contest is eligible to win a $60 prize package. Yup, just for taking the time to vote, you could cash in on some cool stuff!
Everyone who casts a vote in this contest will be eligible for a special Voter’s Prize package valued at about $60. The Voter’s Prize includes:
  • Whitewash City Starter CD ($15 value)
  • One item from the Gutshot General Store (T-shirt, mug, etc. approx. $20 value)
  • One copy of the collected S&S paperback book (approx. $20 value)
  • Gutshot miniature: ($5 value)

Not bad, eh? To vote in the contest, just head on over to the Hawgleg Website, kick back and read some great adventures, and then cast your vote for the one you like best.

You know, what, folks? It's late, I'm more than a little tuckered out from getting things ready (wrote the news story at the Website, created that graphic you see above, and even cleaned up a few coding errors I found in the back-end software that tracks your votes). So, I'm gonna sit back and finish my beer and we can palaver about the contest and why it took so danged long to finish during the next blog update on Tuesday.

Thanks fer yer patience, I'm beholdin' to ya. See ya Tuesday.
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