Saturday, 21 April 2012

Boot Hill

If the cover of a game contained either of the phrase "Wild" or "West", I had to have it.  This started with TSR's Boot Hill, the second RPG I ever played.  Not only did it satisfy my love of Westerns but also my obsession with miniatures.  I have yet to find a better system to explore the certainties of deadly violence free of (to my mind) burdensome rules or a novelty genre-bending mash-up.  When two men throw down, they should mean to settle all accounts and neither should be absolutely certain of survival.  In short, Boot Hill ensured gunfights meant something.  Indeed the genre is big enough for every style, taste and ruleset.  I just want Unforgiven not Cowboys & Aliens, Deadwood not Bonanza, Cormac McCarthy not Zane Grey.

In some ways, BH was cumbersome and, frankly, scant.  This too has its charm, particularly if the waves of OSR roll over it.  But the true gift of OSR regeneration may come in the supporting material.  Even if the rules contained oddities et al, the TSR modules were some of the best non-D&D material they ever published.  Mad Mesa was innovative yet limited in appeal, Lost Conquistador Mine (BH2), Ballots and Bullets (BH3), Burned Bush Wells (BH4) and Range War! (BH5) were outstanding and each for different reasons.  Based on this standard, does enough interest in the OSR community exist to re-visit a game that everyone knew but few played?  I hope so.


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