The Chaosium Digest

The Chaosium Digest supports the role-playing games produced by Chaosium Inc. and all content is fan submitted. Begun in 1994 by Shannon Appelcline who passed it to myself in 2000 and previously distributed via email, this is the newest incarnation of the Chaosium Digest. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chaosium Digest Classics: Draw!

As I've been short of submissions I've decided to break out some of the best of past issues, Chaosium Digest Classics if you will, to provide some content.


DRAW !!!
Wild West Showdowns in Call of Cthulhu
By Eamon Honan
Originally Published: Chaosium Digest vol. 27.6 on January 31, 1999

NOTE: This article is an expanded and adapted version of the gun-fighting rules in the Blood Brothers 2 scenario, "The Evil Gun." This is a relatively simple system for recreating the atmosphere of a spaghetti western gunfight for Call of Cthulhu games, because of this it makes no pretense to realism, it simply follows the conventions of the genre.

Firstly both players or the player and the Keeper, if the gunfight is between the player and an NPC, need a cup each and two percentile dice of different colors.

Each gunfighter has a Quick Draw score. This is equal to their Dexterity plus the tens digit of the weapon skill they’re using.

Example: Gary the Gringo Gunman has a DEX of 14 and a Handgun of 65%, his Quick Draw would be 14+6=3D20.

Since these rules are designed for westerns it is assumed most gunfighters will be using revolvers. Those using long-arms, rifles and shotguns, should subtract 5 from their quick draw skill because their weapons are more awkward to bring to bear. This does not apply to non-pistol weapons that are roughly pistol shaped and sized, like Mi-Go Electricity guns, .410 sawn-offs and Steve McQueen Wanted: Dead or Alive style shortened carbines. Players wanting to use Gattling Guns a la Django subtract fifteen form their Quick Draw score.

Once Quick Draw scores have been decided upon, each gunfighter takes a cup and a pair of dice. The dice are placed in the cup and the cup is then held with the palm directly over the top. At this point it is a good idea for the players to get up and begin to circle the table, glaring at each other. The cup should be held at waist height, so that the hand can be seen to be hovering over an imaginary six shooter. Rattling the dice is a good way to psyche out your opponent.

DRAW !!!
This staring down, circling and so on goes on for as long as the players can stand it. To finally draw, the player must slam his cup down on the table (best not to use paper cups for this, they crumple) so that the mouth of the cup is face down and the dice are concealed. The slower player now has a choice. He can let the faster player take his shot and then take a carefully aimed shot himself or he can try and out draw him.

The slower player lets the faster player take his shot, the faster player reveals his dice. The “to hit” roll is determined normally.

If the player hit, he rolls for damage. If he kills the slower player, well it was nice while it lasted. If he wounds the slower player, one of two things can happen.
- If the slower player took less than half his Size in damage, he may fire back at half skill. The player should slam his cup down and hope for the best. If the player was fanning, he wastes half as many shots as he was going to fire, with no hope of hitting.
- If the slower player took more than half his size in damage, he spins around and may fall to the floor or stand shocked and uncomprehending, whatever the Keeper thinks is appropriate.

If the faster player misses, the slower player can take his time for a carefully aimed shot. Point Blank range is doubled with the attendant bonus. The slower player slams his cup down and reveals his dice. The ”to hit” roll is as normal and damage is handled as above, though the faster player may not fire back regardless of damage.

If the slower player decides to try and outdraw his faster opponent, he slams his cup down and reveals his dice. The faster player does the same. Both players add the units digit of their “to hit“ roll to their Quick Draw. The player with the higher Quick Draw goes first. In case of ties, it is assumed that both gunslingers drew and fired simultaneously. What this means is that regardless of the damage done, both players can shoot.

Single action revolvers, that is revolvers that have to be cocked before each shot, can be fanned. Fanning involves the gunfighter running his hand quickly over the hammer and therefore being able to fire several shots quickly. This is inherently inaccurate as the gun is jerked up and down by the action of the hand. As a result the chance to hit is halved. A gunfighter can fan a number of shots equal to his Dexterity divided by four (rounding down).

Example: Gary would be able to fan three shots per round each at 33%.The player must announce that he wishes to fan his pistol before the dice go into the cup. If he wishes to fan, the procedure is changed slightly. The player puts in one dice to add to his Quick Draw and several dice of a different color, as many dice as shots. When dice are revealed, only the tens digits of his halved pistol skill count.

Example: Gary fans his pistol and fires three shots. His player reveals his dice. A seven for Quick Draw and a three, a six and a eight for his “to hit” roll. With a halved skill of 33%, scores of three or less are hits. Gary’s first shot connects, the others go wild.

The double action revolvers and automatics used in later westerns, like The Wild Bunch or A Cannon for Cordoba can fire several times in a round. The first shot is fired normally, if the shooter is Quick Drawing and his second shot is fired at half his Quick Draw. Third shots (if any) take place at the end of the round, after “carefully aimed“ shots. Fanned shots usually occur at the shooter’s Quick Draw, however if the shooter is trying to hit more than one target, the first shot is at the shooters Quick Draw and the other shots come later. Divide the shooters Quick Draw by the number of shots fired, subtract this from the users Quick Draw to find out when the second shot comes, subtract it again from the remainder for the third shot and so on.

Example: Ed and Louis, the two gunmen Gary was shooting at have Quick Draw totals (DEX + tens of pistols skill + 1d10) of 23 and 18 respectively. Neither man is fanning or aiming carefully, they both try to out draw Gary. Gary had a total of 27 and outdraws both of the other men. His first shot takes Ed right in the gut, the .45 slug doing 9 points of damage. Ed spins around and falls to the floor. Gary’s next shot will be at Quick Draw 18 (27/3 = 9, 27-9=18). Both he and Louis fire simultaneously. They both miss. Gary’sthird shot at Quick Draw 9 (18-9=9) also goes wild. Gary and Louis gaze at each other though the gun smoke and try and figure out what went wrong.

It is important that the Keeper makes sure of the distance between the gunfighters. Since most showdowns take place outdoors they are usually about 10-20 yards apart. Indoor showdowns are possible and are more advantageous to those with a high Dexterity as they will usually be at Point Blank range (Dexterity in feet).

Mood is what showdowns are all about, any western style music is good for setting up the mood (with the possible exception of tunes from Oklahoma). Myself, I think the opening of The Wild Bunch, the Harmonica tune from Once Upon A Time in the West or the theme from High Noon are all good.

This system has worked well in my games, some may find it a bit elaborate. It depends on how you want to deal with shootouts. This only really works if players are willing to get into the spirit of things and do the trembling trigger fingers, nervous licking of lips and facial tics of the great western showdown.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'll be damned. I didn't think anything I'd written would be considered a classic.

10:04 AM  

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