The dead walk at Winter WarFAIR
It was the kind of heist that makes legends: back in the final days of the War Between the States, Old Barton La Croix and his gang stole $100,000 in gold from a Union Army convoy. The blue coats caught up with Old Barton, but they never found the gold and it slipped into legend… until the fateful night two gangs converged on the Deadwood Cemetery to find out if the gold was buried with Barton in his grave!
That was the set up for the Gutshot game, “Grave Consequences,” run by Gutshot co-creator Mike Mitchell at the first Winter WarFAIR game day hosted by Little Wars game store.
“This game was the first public playtest for some new rules and modifications to the Gutshot game,” Mitchell said. “I had originally wanted to have this ready for Halloween, but my illness earlier this year delayed that. So, just in time for Christmas, I finally got to run my Halloween adventure.”
“Grave Consequences” marked a serious departure for the game, Mitchell revealed.
“Very early in the creation of Gutshot, my partner and game co-creator, Mike Murphy, and I had long discussions about the direction we wanted to take this game. We both agreed that we would eventually create material to play Lone Ranger type games with masked heroes (shooting guns out of hands, slashing the letter “Z” on someone’s chest, and all that fun TV and pulp-era daring-do),” he said. “We also decided that we didn’t want to introduce werewolves, monsters, and other supernatural creatures. There’s already a Deadlands game, and we certainly don’t see the need to duplicate their efforts.
It started off as a simple game of two outlaw gangs fighting each other in a cemetery. There were 15 graves on the board and they had to search each one, while dodging the gunfire of the other gang, to find Old Barton’s grave. It took the players three Turns to find it, during which time three of the gang members were killed (and one grave digger who made the mistake of opening his door to someone with a shotgun).
Once the grave was found, however, the gates of hell yawned open and the dead burst from their graves to defend the gold. And, more chillingly, everyone who had just died got back up and was ready to fight again!
“OH, COOL!” shouted Adam when he saw the undead gunfighters placed on the game table. The other players had similar reactions. The game continued at a brisk pace as Mitchell playtested the rules unique to this situation.
“There are a lot of rules that will only be used in this special Halloween Adventure,” Mitchell explained. “Things like called shots to the head, knockdown from gun blasts, and – of course – the zombies themselves are only designed for this one, special adventure. They have no place in a ‘regular’ game of Gutshot.”
That was actually one of the most difficult and heated aspects of the debate behind this adventure, Mitchell revealed.
“We were all really reluctant to add zombies to the ‘Gutshot Universe,’ especially this early in the game’s release,” said posse leader and game developer Paul Mauer. “We don’t want people to think this is just another supernatural game like Deadlands. But we think people are pretty smart (especially gamers) and they’ll get that this is just a special Halloween game.”
Playtest results knock ‘em dead
“The game went very smoothly, which was to be expected because I had three experienced players who knew the core system,” Mitchell said after the game. “They played smart and they played well, particularly Brook who put one of his players in a sniper’s position. This allowed him to get off some good shots while staying out of reach of the undead.”
“All in all, this was another great playtest,” Mitchell said. “I learned a lot about how the zombies will work on the playing field during real game conditions. It also identified some potential problems with called shots and how our new swarming and grappling rules might need some tweaking.”
Mitchell said he will continue to playtest the rules a few more times before releasing a preliminary PDF of the adventure online for public download.
“This is a Halloween adventure,” Mitchell said, “not a full-blown rule book. It doesn’t merit the same level of playtesting and shaking down that we gave to the Gutshot Core Rule Book. But, nevertheless, we do want it to be a solid product, so I think a little more playtesting is in order.”
Right now current playtests include an unspecified date in January and another playtest at the upcoming OwlCon game convention in February 2006. More details will be posted as they become available.
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