Sure, I played Gloomhaven again and the Sentient boardgame.
Sentient comes across to me as elegant but dry. Math is something I see a surprising number of gamers struggle with, so I figure some will get turned off by how much number manipulation there is. Reminds me of playing Splendor in that it’s about acquiring synergistic cards. I’d play it again, but I don’t know how much I’d want to keep playing it as it seems fairly repetitive just from one play.
But, that’s not the inspiration for today.
I’ve been watching a bunch of The Big Valley episodes this weekend due to a marathon. Yes, the 1965-1969 western.
Top things I recall from watching some episodes when I was young (some episodes, wasn’t like other shows where I watched a lot of episodes when I was young)?
Young Linda Evans.
Well, actually, Lee Majors being in the show before his Six Million Dollar Man stint (interestingly, I watched a couple of Six Million Dollar Man episodes in recent months) was more memorable as Heath had way more going on than the orphanage loving, dancing driven Audra.
Tangent time (TM). There were some really good looking people in shows from the ’60s. May seem like an obvious comment, but whether it’s how shows were filmed or some other aesthetics related reason, the beautiful people from the ’60s stand out more in various cases from the beautiful people of the ’70s, ’80s, etc.
Miss Barbara Stanwyck. Not that the youthful me had any idea about her movie career or that she was such a big movie star in the ’40s. The white hair and strong show presence made her more notable than Nick and Jarrod.
Then, a dropoff to the other sons. Well, other sons besides Eugene. I had either forgotten or never knew that Eugene Barkley was a Barkley boy.
What I don’t recall at all from this show I didn’t watch a lot of was how sinister their world was.
I kind of have in mind that westerns from that age were more positive and black and white. I watched more Bonanza than The Big Valley, I think, but I don’t really remember Bonanza very well, so it may have been darker than I thought, too. The Wild Wild West was, I thought, far darker in tone than the norm. Though, I watched a good amount of TWWW in my 20s, so it’s hard to remember what I thought when I watched it at a younger age. Interesting that they both ran the same years, though …
According to the internet, in all of it’s pristine perfection of precision, the reason TBV got dropped was the desire of TV execs to phase out westerns for other stuff.
Anyway, sinisterism. These episodes aren’t the easiest thing to watch as my nostalgic interests are in watching comfort shows like shows about WW2 prison camp prisoners who occasionally impersonate Hitler, et al.
Now, having the rather reserved Lee Majors actually speak lines of dialogue is kind of interesting. But, the show just seems harsh on mains and guest stars.
Finally, we get to how this relates to gaming.
So, obviously, you want to challenge PCs in a RPG. Now, dungeon crawling doesn’t come across as terribly sinister unless you do insane stuff like use level drain effects … or rip out the eyes of a PC … or have a PC sold into sex slavery (if curious, a male PC) for some food. Not that those last two were in a dungeon crawling campaign, but I digress.
TBV had a seemingly large amount of episodes with serious challenges. Sure, there are some weird endings, like when a kid gets orphaned but is happy at the end of the episode or where science saves the day in a rather hokey way.
So, I gets to thinkin’ ’bout how a western campaign would be run. Fistfights and fast draw. Ahem. Fistfights & Fast Draw (TM) will now be something I totally passed on to posterity as a game name, a campaign name, a defining term for a genre of entertainment, and whatever else I won’t get paid to slap the term on to.
And, young Linda Evans (or Dynasty Linda Evans).
Anyway, these shows that I just kind of think of as being formulaic and similar to each other probably aren’t so much either … except in those cases where some show was. Can mine them thar T-V for gold.
But, would it work?
Would what work?
Would it work to try to steal a lot of ideas for sessions of a campaign from TBV or another western?
Jarrod’s legalin’ seems like a NPC role. Nick and Heath do the bulk of the F&FDin’.
Guest star William Shatner before he Kirks? I found it funny how people term him young in 1965. Would have been around 34 years old when he guest starred in TBV.
Martin Landau as a scuzzy Mexican friend of the Barkleys? One worries about the parody factor.
I quite liked TWWW, but, then, I quite liked James Bond stuff and always found Robert Conrad’s characters appealing. Now, that show got fairly ludicrous at times where it mixed casual death with silliness.
I think it would work for the obvious reason that the reason you play a western RPG is because you liked westerns, for a lot of people the westerns that were on T-V back in the day.
But, as seemingly with so many other genres, need discipline. Star Wars fails so often (in my play) because there’s no discipline when it comes to RPGing it. Not coherent thought put into Force use versus doing other stuff.
I could see quickly spiraling out of control if you overplayed the illegitimate son PC’s hang ups about joining an existing family or if you got too much into economic politics of being an obscenely rich family with fairly liberal leanings (odd in a way due to Ruby Stevens supposedly being rather conservative, but we are talking about the late ’60s).
Then, what do you do about guns? I mean, for any western campaign, what do you do about guns?
Oh, I’m sure systems deal with it. A 7th Sea philosophy (with hopefully a more intuitive mechanic) of superficial wounds from taking bullets in various locations would be an assumed way to go, with mooks being mowed down like, um, six-shooter fodder. I haven’t looked at how Western Hero or Deadlands or whatever deals with it as I don’t often RPG westerns.
One thing about TBV is that the episodes I’ve recently watched aren’t all about the same thing. Oh, sure, there are similar themes of moral ambiguity and family relationships and similar scenes of punchin’ and ridin’ and shootin’ in the vicinity of someone. Don’t want a game to just keep repeatin’ the same thangs unless of course you are dungeon crawlin’ or whateverin’. Too much bouncin’ ’round, however, smacks of how I have a hard time focusin’ on just one idear long ‘nough for them thar players to be feelin’ all comfortable like.
Discipline. Yup, that’s what this blog has in … spades.