4e in the Wild West (Guns)

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I've always enjoyed Wild West RP settings, and so I'm going to adapt the 4E system for a few just-for-fun sessions with me and my friends. I've been impressed with the quality of constructive feedback I've seen in these forums, so I'm posting it here to hopefully get a conversation going! PS, if there is already a good thread on this (I couldn't find one) please let me know!

The first challenge in a Wild West adaptation is making gun combat, which always happens at a range, exciting. I like 4E's emphasis on tactics and movement, and when everyone uses a ranged weapon that's diluted. So I need to throw in some kind of system that rewards tactical thinking and makes encounters fun.

We'll flesh that out fully in a later post, but it's good to keep in mind from the beginning because it's the #1 thing to think about when designing the system. With that in mind, I've tentatively adapted the roles to better suit ranged combat.

My ideas on the roles:
Wild West Roles:

Gunslinger- Your typical bad***** cowboy, powers use any gun at relatively close range. Focuses on keeping enemies pinned down behind their cover while giving their allies support to move into position. "Fastest gun in the West". 4E analog-defender/controller
Sniper- A patient character who says little and only needs one bullet to get the job done. Best weapon is rifle. "Could shoot a fly off a horse's behind at 100 paces". 4E analog-striker
Sheriff- Needs a better name. Coordinates allies, granting bonuses and allowing the use of healing surges. 4E analog-leader

Keep in mind these are the roles, not necessarily the classes that will fill them.


OK, now for my ideas on guns. There are 3 basic types, each with its own advantages and each associated with a fighting style. Here they are so far, comment on balance.

4E Guns:

Revolver +2 1d8 10/20 Off hand, quickdraw
Shotgun +2 2d6 5/10 High crit, Kickback
Rifle +3 1d10 15/30

Revolvers are the staple of gunslingers. They hold 6 shots, do moderate damage at moderate range, and can be dual-wielded. They can be drawn as a free action. They are most effectively used by characters who want to be in the thick of the fight, **** and weaving behind cover while keeping a constant hail of bullets flying in the other direction.
Shotguns are intimidating and wounding weapons, but are mostly useful at close range. They hold only 2 rounds, so characters are advised to make their shots count. A variety of custom ammunition from buckshot (brutal 1) to Birdshot (2d4 dmg, +1 attack) makes the shotgun a versatile weapon. Shotguns are heavy weapons with a lot of kick, so wielders may substitute their Constitution for their Dex score with powers that list Shotgun in the Weapon entry. It is best used by characters who advance under their friends covering fire until they can end the fight quickly and brutally.
Rifles have exceptional range and accuracy. In the hands of a skilled marksman, a rifle supporting from the rear can be a major headache for the enemies. They are also effective mid-range weapons due to their high accuracy, and are favored by some gunslingers.


What I'm going for here is game balance and fun, not realism by a long shot. I realize that giving a shotgun a range of 10 squares is sort of silly, but it helps compress battle to reasonable distances (I want the normal range of gunfights to be no more than 8 squares avg.). I am working on the 3 starter classes right now, I'll post them soon. Hopefully there are other Wild West fans out there who can give me some feedback!

I've begun to post my Wild West classes! If you are interested, please visit and PEACH! Thank you.
Gunfighter, a defender class (only to level 5 for now)
Sharpshooter, a striker class (only to level 5 for now)
Tactician, a leader class (only to level 1 for now)
I see the biggest challenge to this system being how to create effective defenders against ranged attackers. Most of the defender attributes, like marking and combat challenge, are really only effective in melee. I am using the 4e system to update MCWOD, but since that still features lots of melee, it isn't really a problem for me. I'd be interested to see how you solve that.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
Point well taken, Gunslinger, I expanded my ideas for distance combat below.
With regards to making gun fights tactically interesting, and giving defenders a role. Combat will usually involve advancing to cover positions that are advantageous, essentially trying to pin down enemies while moving to flanking positions or to effective range for abilities.

To that end, I'm making the following new rules for cover.

Firearms generally target Ref instead of AC, since they penetrate most materials easily. This allows characters to opt out of wearing armor with little combat penalty, and I'll make some feats and powers that conditionally raise Ref to differentiate between classes.

Standing behind a common cover feature: barrel, crate, boulder, pillar and the like, grants +2 Ref automatically. Crouching behind it, a move action, makes it superior cover (+5 Ref).

Thus you can fire (standard) and crouch (move) in the same turn, giving you +5 Ref and an attack. If you use an action to actually move during a turn, you have the choice of either crouching once you get there standard used as a move action) for superior cover or taking a shot (standard) but only getting the +2 Ref that round.

Firearms have an optimal short range, and beyond that suffer a -4 instead of the normal -2 to hit penalty. Most powers are usable only within the firearm's optimal range, beyond that you use ranged basic attacks.

Height is also important: a character grants combat advantage to enemies that have a significant elevation (1 story or more) compared to them.

The Gunslinger (defender) marks targets by taking a shot at them, just like a fighter (assuming they are within optimal range). A marked target suffers -2 to hit against targets other than the Gunslinger. Additionally, if they move the Gunslinger gets a ranged basic attack against them.

Is this enough of a defender role, or should it be strengthened? Any comments?
Are you going to do anything with Races or Power Sources? Depending on how realistic you're going for, Race could instead be background, such as Townsperson, Frontiersman, Indian, etc. Power Sources, again depending on how realistic you're going, could have Magic or something (there really aren't any other power sources in most Wild West stories, actually.).

I've been reading Jonah Hex all day.
I'm going to go through the martial power sources first, but I am planning to have some alternate power sources. Wilderness tribes could have a Nature power source, there could be some kind of black magic or "voodoo" power source, and definitely a divine power source. I really like the archetype of an amoral gunslinger who wraps all of his actions in a literal, Old Testament understanding of the Bible- "the Wicked will be punished, and I've never met anyone that was truly innocent." Like d20 modern and other modern day RPG's, I also want to include demons and horror elements that are "behind the veil", in other words most people are ignorant or only dimly aware of the supernatural world lurking in the shadows.

I think I'll actually try introducing different races into the Wild West. I like the West as a theme, not necessarily a historical setting. The important thematic elements can all be preserved and still have some high fantasy elements like dragonfolk, dwarves, and magic weapons (a la the Colt in Supernatural). I do want to avoid high magic and steampunk, and have a more gritty, folklorish feel for supernatural occurences in the setting. Wizards for the most part won't exist, but the PCs might encounter people who have made a pact with a devil for money, fame, or romance.

My influences in this are of course any good Western, especially Tombstone and A Fistfull of Dollars. Firefly is a good example of superimposing Western elements, mood, and theme on an unexpected setting. I like Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker saga as an example of combining American historical and folklore elements with fantasy. Feel free to post your own favorite Western Influences, maybe I'll take a cue from one of them.
Another cue you could take from could be Steven King's "Dark Tower" series it literally is a western, dark-fantasy novel series.

From wiki:

In the story, Roland is the last living member of a knightly order known as gunslingers. The world he lives in is quite different from our own, yet it bears striking similarities to it. Politically organized along the lines of a feudal society, it shares technological and social characteristics with the American Old West, as well as bearing magical powers and the relics of a highly advanced, but long vanished, society. Roland's quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland's world is said to have "moved on," and indeed it appears to be coming apart at the seams — mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish from the face of the earth without a trace, time does not flow in an orderly fashion; even the sun sometimes rises in the north and sets in the east. As the series opens, Roland's motives, goals, and his age are unclear, though later installments shed light on these mysteries.
Ka is a wheel.

All roads lead to the tower.
I mostly watch a lot of John Wayne movies with my grandma, who's in love with him. Sometimes Clint Eastwood. My main wild west story inspirations are the anime Trigun, and the comic series Jonah Hex. Trigun is technically sci-fi, taking place on a planet which is basically a giant desert. Not only are gunslingers common, they almost always have a weird gimmick; for instance, the main character won't kill anyone, and is also the best gunman alive, there's the preacher/bounty hunter (my favorite Western archetype) who carries a cross that has pistols in one arm, ammo in the other, a rifle in the bottom, and a rocket launcher on the top. Etc.

Jonah Hex, for those who haven't had the pleasure, is a very good comic series, published variously by DC comics and their Vertigo imprint; the titular character is the most feared bounty hunter in the west; a former Confederate soldier, slight supernatural bent (although his Vertigo line had him fighting zombies, spirit-folk, etc.), mostly raised by Indians, who later melted half his face, hates God, plans to make good with the devil by sending as many evil souls to Hell as he can. No mercy for the wicked (in one issue, he delivers smallpox medicine to a man who had killed a tribe of indians, including a little girl; after he hands him the medicine, he shoots it out of his hand and leaves him to die). Very good. Some kind of reputation feat/score/whatever might be needed. All the really good gunmen/outlaws are always known far and wide.

I love the idea of fantasy races existing in a supernatural western setting. I would suggest staying away from Eladrin though; a little too high-magic. To go along with the setting, each race should have a slang term for it, that's offensive (i.e. Injun, chink...you know what I mean...)

Note: If you want a funny western video series, go to www.channel101.com and look up The Fastest Samurai in the West. It tells the story of Chinky Lee, and his quest to find his sister. Along the way, he fights vampires. Explicit langauge, but funny as hell.
Good point, Trigun is definitely a source of inspiration for preserving the tone of the Wild West while completely changing the details and reality of the campaign world. Thinking about it, the preacher/bounty hunter guy is probably where I got the idea for the religious gunman, too.

I like the idea of having a handful of legendary gunmen known far and wide; they (especially some sort of organization to do with them) would make good fodder for the higher levels of the campaign without necessarily having to resort to magical badguys.

Ditching the Eladrin is a good idea, though you could reflavor the ability if you wanted to preserve them. I haven't taken a look at individual races yet, though I like the idea of changing many of them to reflect more accurately Western stereotypes. Just off the top of my head:

Elves = Native Americans, natives who are fighting against the encroachment of "civilization" and are generally hunted by the other races. Some elves have been semi-assimilated into civilized Western society as workers and religious converts. Dragonborn would be a good fit for this niche as well.

Dwarves = Workers from south of the border. They have different accents, different customs, and are generally treated as second class citizens, but they are hard workers and total bad*****es when the occasion calls for it.

Halflings = Like the Chinese were, halflings are strangers in a strange land who are accepted even less than other second-class races out there. Because of their small stature they are physically dominated by the other races and tend to hold jobs building railroads and other dangerous occupations. They are heirs to an ancient and proud culture, and some find success as local merchants and frontier doctors.

Dragonborn = After the recent war, many of the Dragonborn who were previously held in bondage moved from their old plantations to the wide open lands out west. They are usually prevented from owning land, but some find good work as ranch hands (doing the toughest jobs) and sharecroppers working for a landlord.

Tiefling = As an aristocratic class in the "old world", tieflings are rarely seen on the frontier. Those that do find their way out there are resented immediately, but seem to have a preternatural talent for insinuating themselves into positions of power. Tieflings are especially well represented in the railroad companies, and tend to have few compunctions about what they are willing to do to amass wealth and power.

Obviously these racial backgrounds are pretty rooted in American folklore; you could change historical events like the civil war and the Mexican border and still get what you're looking for, but I typed these up quickly. What do you think?
...you've pretty much read my mind.

The only racial traits you'd really have to change would be...Dwarven Weapon Proficiency (doesn't really fit for them to be wielding hammers primarily in this setting...maybe trade for shotgun. I love the idea of a dwarf with a shotgun)...possibly Encumbered Speed, simply because they won't be wearing armor or anything...maybe Stand Your Ground, if there aren't many forced movement powers. Everybody else pretty much the same...although Fire Resistance seems a little out of place, as there won't be too much in the way of fire attack powers, will there? Maybe steal an Eladrin trait to make up for it, like Eladrin Education.
I think you do need to redefine the roles for a Wild West setting because as SteelMirror said, gunfights will involve finding cover and pinning your opponent down. So most people are ranged attackers.

I like the description of the Sniper. He'd be best at getting around cover, but only if he himself isn't under fire. He's the Striker and would replace Rangers.

The Gunslinger works okay, but I'd rather say he's able to fire at multiple targets from cover and keep them pinned. He's the Controller.

The Tactician (what you call the sheriff) can rally allies and gives people bonuses to moving while exposed. He's the Leader and would replace Warlords.

The Brawler is not so great with a gun. But he excels at moving quickly at open ground from concealed position to concealed position, until he gets within reach of an opponent, and then in hand-to-hand combat, he's unmatched. He's the Defender and his job is to get to the opponents while the Gunslinger has him pinned down, and then taking him out. He replaces Rogues.

I don't think there's a real place for Fighters in this world because melee combat isn't the same. A fighter would do fine in a tavern brawl, but otherwise is pretty useless in a gunfight.

This I think would better reflect the feeling of an Old West gunfight and gives everybody something productive to do.

Another thing to keep in mind is that gunshots are kind of like Save or Die effects. If you shoot someone in the open, they should probably be maimed or dead. That's why the first thing gunslingers do is take cover. Hit point loss, in this scenario would simply mean that your under fire under cover and represents luck or karma even more than it already does. I might even rename Bloodied to "Harried" to reflect that the person with less than half hit points still hasn't really been injured -- it's more psychological than physical.

Only with the final shot is the person wounded, incapacitated or dead. I'd let someone use an action point to turn a killing blow into a maiming blow, rendering them Slowed, unable to use Standard or Opportunity Actions, and able to use only one Move or Minor action per turn, so they can get out of the battle and to a doc.
Heck, I'd change all the Arcane casters as well.

Wizards become Wandslingers, using their wand implement like a pistol to keep opponents pinned using AoE attacks.

Warlocks become Staffslingers, using staff implements like rifles to blast at people.

Swordmages become the Illuminated. Instead of enchanted swords, they tatoo themselves with runes to make them better brawlers.

Artificers don't have to change as the Arcane Leaders they are.


Divine casters need a make over as well.

Clerics can stay as they are as divine healers.
Paladins, however, need to ditch the sword. They should be known as Cavalry and use their divine providence to protect themselves and their steed to cover ground quickly and get into close melee without getting hit by gunfire or spellfire.

The Primal classes should be reserved for the indigineous peoples, who I don't think should be limited to any race. There should be Dwarven brawlers and Dwarven braves (barbarians). There should be elven staffslingers and elven medicine men (druids). Human tacticians and human storytellers (bards).
Another thing to keep in mind is that gunshots are kind of like Save or Die effects. If you shoot someone in the open, they should probably be maimed or dead. That's why the first thing gunslingers do is take cover. Hit point loss, in this scenario would simply mean that your under fire under cover and represents luck or karma even more than it already does.

Good point. I realize that reasonably explaining the gun issue is a touchy point, because it seems like 1 shot should leave an opponent dead or incapacitated, and that some players might be ruined on the whole setting because that isn't so. That being said I'm hoping that my players aren't among them. Like you suggest, I'm just going to emphasize HP as representing your inherent luck and ability to dodge the worst of a bullet shot, and the closer you are to 0 the more exhausted you are getting. As for the action point to stay conscious, I'll keep that in mind as I go about designing the system, because it fits well with the Western Archetype. But I sort of like the idea that 4E doesn't have a weird "in between" status for not-quite-unconscious characters.

As for wizards, warlocks etc., I'm sure they could be used like that. Personally I want the setting to have a more gritty mundane feeling, so I'm ditching fireballs and eldritch blasts and their like altogether. Players won't have access to flashy magic of any sort, and might encounter NPCs like that a few times in the entire campaign. I want to have a divine class, but they will focus on the "divine wrath" aspect of religion and also have less flashy powers. They're powers will be flavored so that you can never be 100% sure that they are getting divine intervention, or it's all just luck/ coincidence/ extreme skill.

I might try to make the "brawler" concept an ability available to anyone willing to take a few feats. That's because I don't want there to be a melee dedicated class in the Wild West, but I think that it would be a fun character concept to have a ranged character that can close fast and take an enemy out under his friends covering fire. Barfights (a must in this setting) would also be a good reason to specialize in brawling. But the undisputed combat King of the west is the firearm, and every class should fundamentally reflect that.

Thanks for all the feedback, things are moving along great! I'll post the first three classes as soon as possible. One thing I'm working on now is trying to play down the importance of Dex, which in a ranged combat only setting becomes exceedingly important! Any ideas? :/
Glad you like the ideas!

Well, some attacks -- particularly those that help ameliorate the penalties of cover (which becomes huge in this world) -- could use Wisdom (i.e., perceptive ability to see weak points in cover or when someone's hat just peeks up over the fence post). Snipers -- folks who take their time to set up a single shot in a round -- might use Int on a lot of attacks. I like using Con, not Str, on being able to shoot a shotgun accurately at close distance by compensating for kickback.

Str is key in close brawls.

Cha, as usual, is a skill reserved mostly for leaders.

As for defenses, I'm thinking you need to adjust them for the setting. You can't dodge a bullet, so Reflex should be lessened in importance. How's this...

AC/Reflex (Dex) (usually the same, since few people wear armor) for brawls/melee, and ocassionally for firearm attacks
Will (Wis) for psychic attacks (which would be few and far between) and possibly some firearm attacks that involve feints (such as drawing two guns, firing one as an intentional miss, and then firing the second where you anticipate the person is going to starle to -- Will resists the startle)
Fort (Con) for disease and poison, rarely used.
Luck (Cha) applies to firearm attacks at close quarters. By all rights you should be dead -- only your Luck defense can save you (and plenty of folks managed fluke escapes in gunfights at close quarters)
Position (Int) defense applies against attacks that try to hit you around superior cover. Position allows you to find the best place to minimize your exposure.
As for defenses, I'm thinking you need to adjust them for the setting.

You know, I never though about that. You make a good point, since Will is unlikely to be targeted and Ref and AC are very similar if you don't use armor.

I like the idea of having AC and three other defenses, to keep things simple, and pairing ability scores on defenses so that every ability score is at least useful. Purely as brainstorming:

AC: Int and Ref as usual, Targeted by your standard ranged attacks. +1 or +2 AC armors are available, though they reduce mobility and even accuracy when worn, so are generally unpopular.
Fort: Str and Con. Resists attacks that have debilitating effects like ongoing damage or physical status effects.
Ref: Area of effect attacks often target reflex, as do many special gun attacks, esp those from snipers and accuracy minded character builds.
Luck: Awesome idea! Big whopper attacks target luck, as well as many of the more bizarre enemy abilities like magic.

I know you can't dodge bullets, but . . . game balance and all. Reflex reflects inherent "quickness", ducking under cover after taking a shot, moving quickly etc.

I'm going to go ahead and throw Con at the shotgun for now, see how it works out. Probably a good idea, it feels right.

Thanks!
As for defenses, I'm thinking you need to adjust them for the setting. You can't dodge a bullet, so Reflex should be lessened in importance. How's this...

AC/Reflex (Dex) (usually the same, since few people wear armor) for brawls/melee, and ocassionally for firearm attacks
Will (Wis) for psychic attacks (which would be few and far between) and possibly some firearm attacks that involve feints (such as drawing two guns, firing one as an intentional miss, and then firing the second where you anticipate the person is going to starle to -- Will resists the startle)
Fort (Con) for disease and poison, rarely used.
Luck (Cha) applies to firearm attacks at close quarters. By all rights you should be dead -- only your Luck defense can save you (and plenty of folks managed fluke escapes in gunfights at close quarters)
Position (Int) defense applies against attacks that try to hit you around superior cover. Position allows you to find the best place to minimize your exposure.

I dunno if that would work...powers should determine which defense is attacked, not the situation. If you want to keep that concept, maybe make Luck and Position feats that increase your proper defense when in that situation.

Other than that, AC and Reflex should be folded together, as in general no one will be wearing armor; also, remember that in 4E, each defense keys to 2 ability scores; Str or Con for Fort, Dex or Int for Ref, and Wis or Cha for Will. That represents better in my opinion a guy that uses his brain to avoid attacks.

EDIT: Now that I see SteelMirror has posted (and found we apparently keep very similar forum-viewing hours), I have some stuff for that too.

I like the idea of Luck replacing Will. That makes it a little easier to justify having. As for armor, there might be a little, but it still seems a waste to have both an AC and a Reflex. Star Wars just combined them, I think that works better.

Oh yeah, and as for a Brawler base class...I think it might need to be addressed, or at least each class should have a Brawler feature they can choose or something...Elves would still use melee weapons like spears sometimes, and I still think Dwarves should use/carry hammers and axes, I just think it would be kinda a racial ability to give them. Also, Dragonborn seem to me that they'd often use improvised farming tools, maybe halflings still using weapons from their homeland, and I can see Tieflings using dueling weapons, like rapiers and other swords. Yes, I just went into a lot of stereotypes there, so sue me; RPGs are one thing you kinda have to do that. It's just as racist to think that all Eladrins know how to use longswords, and that all dragonborn get angry when they're bloodied.
I might try to make the "brawler" concept an ability available to anyone willing to take a few feats. That's because I don't want there to be a melee dedicated class in the Wild West, but I think that it would be a fun character concept to have a ranged character that can close fast and take an enemy out under his friends covering fire.

Here's a crazy idea... each character gets two roles -- a ranged role (Gunslinger (controller), Sniper (striker), Ringleader (leader)) -- and a melee role (Wrastler (defender), Brawler (striker), Instigator (leader)). You get a set of Powers useful for guns and a set of powers useful in melee combat. There are no ranged defenders and no melee controllers.

If you want to add low-grade magic, I'd make it a multiclass only class. For instance a "shaman" would take multiclass feats to get shamanistic powers, but you wouldn't have anybody take a shaman-level class. Multiclass powers would be designated Ranged or Melee and could only be swapped out for a ranged or melee role's power, respectively.

Some multiclassing I'd allow...
Wandslinger (arcane ranged striker)
Artifcer (arcane ranger leader)
Medicine Man (divine ranged leader)
Shaman (divine ranged controller)
Preacher (divine ranged striker)
You need a combat mechanic that approximates being pinned by gunfire. Otherwise, given how 4E combat mechanics work, there's no reason people couldn't simply run and tackle someone on their turn. I'd say if you've been targeted by a gun-based attack, until the end of your next turn, your movement is limited to shifting. That makes a gunslinger's ability to target multiple opponents key -- he can keep opponents pinned down by gunfire. Alternately, that can be the class ability of the gunslinger class.
If you want to keep that concept, maybe make Luck and Position feats that increase your proper defense when in that situation.

I like this better than my suggestion
Other than that, AC and Reflex should be folded together, as in general no one will be wearing armor; also, remember that in 4E, each defense keys to 2 ability scores; Str or Con for Fort, Dex or Int for Ref, and Wis or Cha for Will. That represents better in my opinion a guy that uses his brain to avoid attacks.

I like that, it simplifies things, and in general simpler=better.

So now we have:
Fort: based on Str or Con
Ref: based on Dex or Int
Luck: based on Wis or Cha

I'll toss out some feats soon that conditionally provide bonuses to certain defenses.

You need a combat mechanic that approximates being pinned by gunfire.

I've tried to do that with the Gunfighter, linked to here. Essentially if the enemy moves out from cover, the Gunfighter gets to make a free attack against them. Should I make it even more restrictive? I was trying to be careful and not make the defender too good at his job, for fear that he will always lock down the enemies and only the PCs will ever have mobility. If you have the time, please take a look at this class (I've only made the 1st level so far) and tell me what you think!
Oh yeah, and as for a Brawler base class...I think it might need to be addressed, or at least each class should have a Brawler feature they can choose or something...Elves would still use melee weapons like spears sometimes, and I still think Dwarves should use/carry hammers and axes, I just think it would be kinda a racial ability to give them. Also, Dragonborn seem to me that they'd often use improvised farming tools, maybe halflings still using weapons from their homeland, and I can see Tieflings using dueling weapons, like rapiers and other swords. Yes, I just went into a lot of stereotypes there, so sue me; RPGs are one thing you kinda have to do that. It's just as racist to think that all Eladrins know how to use longswords, and that all dragonborn get angry when they're bloodied.

Yeah . . . you guys have convinced me on the melee thing. I'll have to figure that out after I get the 3 starter classes out there. . .

btw Azrael, I like the way you think. And wrecan, thanks for the advice! I'm officially crediting you from now on in the genesis of the 4E Wild West RPG, thanks for all the input!
Okay...I've been thinking a bit...here's a (very very) rough weapons guide:

Weapon (Group)
Simple Melee
Club (Improvised, Blunt)
Knife [as Dagger] (Blade)
Bayonet [as Dagger, but can attach to Rifle] (Blade)
Javelin (Spear)
War Club [as Mace] (Blunt)
Sickle (Improvised, Blade)
Spear (Spear)
Axe [as Battleaxe, but 1d8 dmg] (Improvised, Axe)
Hammer [as Warhammer, but 1d8 dmg] (Improvised, Blunt)
Pick [as War pick, but 1d6 dmg] (Improvised, Axe*)
Chain [+2 prof, 1d8 dmg, reach)
Greatclub (Blunt)
Scythe (Improvised, Blade)
Rifle with Bayonet [as Bayonet, but with Reach] (Blade, Spear)

Simple Ranged
Sling (Sling)
Long Bow (Bow)
Short Bow (Bow)

Archaic Melee
Tomahawk [as Hand Axe] (Axe)
Sword [as Longsword] (Blade)
Short Sword (Blade)
Rapier (Blade)
Saber [as Scimitar] (Blade)
Maul (Blunt)
Longspear (Spear)

Archaic Ranged
Hand Crossbow (Bow)
Shuriken (Blade)

Common Firearms
Revolver
Shotgun
Rifle
(Wasn't sure what you were wanting to do for weapon groups on these...all just firearms? Handgun/longarm? Each to their own? Etc.)

Exotic Firearms
Gatling Gun
Musket Pistol [or maybe in Archaic Ranged]
Musket [as above; can also mount a Bayonet]
Cannon
...okay, I know that there should be more, but I can't think of any.

I also did a little work on feats, but its late, I'll post it tomorrow.
I was thinking of making 3 firearms categories, one for simple weapons of the type a farmer might be familiar with, one for weapons that are really most useful for killing people, and one for big**s guns like a gat.

Simple firearms:
musket (pistol and large)
shotgun
Winchester Rifle (small caliber, large mag)

Common firearms:
revolver
.50 Rifle (large caliber, bolt action)

Each type of firearm would of course have its own variants. For example, the revolver proficiency lets you use a Colt .45, a .38 revolver, or the Peacemaker uber-revolver. Small differences in stats (or abilities like a magic wpn) would differentiate them.

Military firearms:
Gatling gun
Cannon
Introducing: Shotgun revolver! (thanks sigil)
. . .
. . .
you're right, there have to be more!
I would put the Winchester Repeating Rifle under both Simple and Common. As one of the most diverse and abundant guns in the West I would say it would fall under both. Since the farmer yeah would have it, but many, many people used it as their primary firearm when trying to kill someone.

As for more guns in general. There are also the fun LeMat Revolver; it was a revolver that had a separate 16 gauge barrel underneath that could fire buckshot.

You could divide cannon into; Smoothbore Gun, Howiters, Mortars, Naval Guns, Rifled Guns.

You could add as a separate group not part of firearms; dynamite, mines, torpedoes, rockets, grenades.
I would put the Winchester Repeating Rifle under both Simple and Common. As one of the most diverse and abundant guns in the West I would say it would fall under both. Since the farmer yeah would have it, but many, many people used it as their primary firearm when trying to kill someone.

As for more guns in general. There are also the fun LeMat Revolver; it was a revolver that had a separate 16 gauge barrel underneath that could fire buckshot.

You could divide cannon into; Smoothbore Gun, Howiters, Mortars, Naval Guns, Rifled Guns.

You could add as a separate group not part of firearms; dynamite, mines, torpedoes, rockets, grenades.

Pretty much everyone in the setting will have prof with simple firearms, and certainly everyone who has Common firearm prof will already have simple. I agree, every Wild West character should be able to do some damage with "the gun that won the West"!

Revolver shotgun sounds bad**s, /added to military firearms. I do want to add explosives eventually, but I don't want them to be used as grenades commonly by the PCs because that doesn't fit my concept of the Wild West archetype. Rules would probably be simple enough to make, though.
I would mainly keep the materials to build explosives on short-supply, so say dynamite would be hoarded till you really need to break into that one bank.

This would be more something that a villain would use, but the use of chlorine gas was explored around the time of the Civil War, never used but the idea and method of use was there.

I would also delve into accessories like scopes and stocks for revolvers (be little bonuses).
I was thinking that scopes would reduce the range penalty for being outside optimum from -4 to -2.

Rifle and Big Revolver only, of course. No sniper-shotgun.
OOOO, extra-long barrel Navy Colt with a scope (forgot who it was, but one famous outlaw used to whack people over the head with his Navy Colts barrels since they were extra-long).
OOOO, extra-long barrel Navy Colt with a scope (forgot who it was, but one famous outlaw used to whack people over the head with his Navy Colts barrels since they were extra-long).

Awesome. That reminds me, I need to think about melee rules . . .
If you want to keep the gunfights at a distance then have the firearms deal additional damage if the target is within a certain number of squares. Something like +1d6 if 5 squares away +2d6 if 4 squares +3d6 if 3 squares etc. Or maybe increase to hit the closer an opponent is +1 if 5, +2 if 4, +3 if 3 etc. I didn't actually crunch any numbers, just tossing the idea out to the dogs. I really don't like one shot kill mechanics. You could step up the damage on the weapons so that HP are reduced more quickly but to change that strays even farther from core 4th edition doctrine (not a bad thing just something to note see my last paragraph).

Or maybe Shotguns deal increased damage while other weapons gain bonuses to hit. This could also work in your favor for some of the various classes abilities. Like the sniper like class getting a to hit bonus starting at 10 squares (or more) away and becoming a penalty at 5 or closer squares. Showing that she is used to shooting at things farther away and gets nervous when people get in her face.

The setting sounds like a lot of fun. Be careful not to stray too far away from core ideas though or it will take too long to explain to your players.
No, I don't think having guns deal more damage at range is necessarily a good thing...technically speaking, they would have more power up front. The system rewards you for staying away in other ways, such as not provoking opportunity attacks (which can be done at range). And also, HP is not a literal "number of times you can get shot and still go". Its more like vitality and wounds in the old Star Wars RPG; it represents how you can turn a hit into a near-miss, or a glancing blow; unfortunately, you after while, you get too tired and finally, a bullet with your name on it comes up.
Azrael_Macool: The system rewards you for staying away in other ways, such as not provoking opportunity attacks (which can be done at range).

iamajackalope: Be careful not to stray too far away from core ideas though or it will take too long to explain to your players.

Agreed to both. I want to use existing mechanics of OA and marking, etc., adapted to work in ranged combat, as a way to keep gunfights from devolving into charge-the-enemy melee brawls (though some characters might indeed adopt this strategy, it wouldn't be optimal for the entire group to do so). Bonus damage, on the other hand, is potentially unbalancing and a complete departure from existing weapon treatment in 4E. I think the system as outlined preserves the feel of 4E while making a distinct gun combat system.
Firearms have an optimal short range, and beyond that suffer a -4 instead of the normal -2 to hit penalty. Most powers are usable only within the firearm's optimal range, beyond that you use ranged basic attacks.

I like that. Guns can shoot quite a ways, but that doesn't mean that you can effectively employ them at that distance. For example, a 9mm bullet can travel up to 2 miles (if fired at the exact right trajectory, under perfect conditions, with a tail wind, etc), but you'll never hit anything at anywhere near that distance with a pistol.

The Gunslinger (defender) marks targets by taking a shot at them, just like a fighter (assuming they are within optimal range). A marked target suffers -2 to hit against targets other than the Gunslinger. Additionally, if they move or end a round without superior cover, the Gunslinger gets a ranged basic attack against them.

That seems like it might be a little excessive. I would say that they have to be under cover, but not necessarily superior cover, and eliminate the thing about them moving. Otherwise, someone who moves will get hit twice, once for moving, and another for not being under superior cover because they already used their move action and didnt want to give up an attack. I also think that restricting movement shouldnt be limited entirely to defenders (see comment below and my proposed fix).

You need a combat mechanic that approximates being pinned by gunfire. Otherwise, given how 4E combat mechanics work, there's no reason people couldn't simply run and tackle someone on their turn. I'd say if you've been targeted by a gun-based attack, until the end of your next turn, your movement is limited to shifting. That makes a gunslinger's ability to target multiple opponents key -- he can keep opponents pinned down by gunfire. Alternately, that can be the class ability of the gunslinger class.

I would use the gunslinger ability suggested above. Then implement a rule that guns threaten targets within their optimal range who are not under superior cover. That way, enemies will think twice about charging anyone with a gun, not just defenders. It also fits with the idea of people popping up to take shots at their enemies, then crouching back down (taking superior cover) to reload.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
Here's a crazy idea... each character gets two roles -- a ranged role (Gunslinger (controller), Sniper (striker), Ringleader (leader)) -- and a melee role (Wrastler (defender), Brawler (striker), Instigator (leader)). You get a set of Powers useful for guns and a set of powers useful in melee combat. There are no ranged defenders and no melee controllers.

If you want to add low-grade magic, I'd make it a multiclass only class. For instance a "shaman" would take multiclass feats to get shamanistic powers, but you wouldn't have anybody take a shaman-level class. Multiclass powers would be designated Ranged or Melee and could only be swapped out for a ranged or melee role's power, respectively.

Both very good ideas. I used the multiclass-only idea for psionics. I didn't want telepaths that rivaled archmages, just characters of other professions that were more "sensitive" to the supernatural than other humans.

The two roles idea isn't entirely new, as the paladin definitely seems like a dual role class, primarily a defender with a little bit of leader thrown in, although I like the take of separating the roles the way you did so the player can just pick (I want ranged striker and melee defender) instead of creating all the classes that would be needed to fill the potential combinations and hoping you created what the player wants.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
That seems like it might be a little excessive. I would say that they have to be under cover, but not necessarily superior cover, and eliminate the thing about them moving. Otherwise, someone who moves will get hit twice, once for moving, and another for not being under superior cover because they already used their move action and didnt want to give up an attack. I also think that restricting movement shouldnt be limited entirely to defenders (see comment below and my proposed fix).

It's an opportunity attack, so the gunslinger can only take 1 per turn no matter how many are provoked. You did convince me to eliminate the OA for characters not behind superior cover, however.

I would use the gunslinger ability suggested above. Then implement a rule that guns threaten targets within their optimal range who are not under superior cover. That way, enemies will think twice about charging anyone with a gun, not just defenders. It also fits with the idea of people popping up to take shots at their enemies, then crouching back down (taking superior cover) to reload.

The problem with that is that then all characters act very much like defenders, and get off a lot of shots. Plus, any time an enemy jumps out from under cover every single PC will take a shot at him, which quickly gets overwhelming. I like the idea of spending a standard action to essentially "threaten" a field of fire in front of you, allowing you to make OA's against moving opponents. Gunfighters (the class) improve on this somewhat by automatically threatening a marked opponent and getting some bonuses to OA's.

Opponents are unlikely to try and charge you and go to melee because an opponent moving into a square adjacent to a character provokes an OA, and if that hits the rest of their turn is canceled.
The two roles idea isn't entirely new, as the paladin definitely seems like a dual role class, primarily a defender with a little bit of leader thrown in, although I like the take of separating the roles the way you did so the player can just pick (I want ranged striker and melee defender) instead of creating all the classes that would be needed to fill the potential combinations and hoping you created what the player wants.

Instead of every character choosing a close and long range role, I'm thinking about the following.

Your long range role of striker, defender, leader etc. is clearly a result of your class. Some classes might have features that can be creatively adapted for use in melee situations, but the design process won't try and emphasize any class as excelling in any role in melee combat. (Edit: apparently I lied. The Tactician has adopted a minor penchant for melee as part of his design).

You can decide to emphasize the melee aspect of your character through the selection of a few simple feats. Your "role" in melee combat isn't the result of choosing one rigidly designed archetype, but is rather an outgrowth of your ability and feat selection combined with the tactics you employ. If you want to be a melee striker, you choose a high Str score for high damage and employ damaging melee weapons. Since the enemy will likely have no melee weapons at all, you will be able to do a lot of damage and prevent them from firing back. If you would rather be a melee "Controller" type, you focus on bull rushing or tripping opponents from behind their cover, leaving them easy targets for your teammates to single out with firearms. As a melee defender choose abilities and feats that give you high defenses, then attempt to grapple enemies (aided by feat bonuses).

In all of these examples the primary benefit that you gain from melee combat is that most enemies are simply not trained or prepared to face you in close quarters, where guns are unreliable weapons and their powers don't help much. The downside is that they shoot at you while you are trying to get up close, and its a lot easier to kill someone with bullets than it is with fists or knives. So melee combat would usually be the result of a specialized character build (but one that needs to be supported by other characters' cover fire) or accidental situations where two opponents find themselves in close quarters having run out of bullets, and the only choice is to move in swinging.

That's my take on it so far, obviously the mechanics are currently lagging behind the concepts.

Thanks for the posts!
I worked up some feats for this, but right now they're all on paper, and I really don't want to type them right now. I recommend for guns, to take the simple route; instead of making seperate stats for all the different models, mayb e something like:

Simple Firearms:
Musket Pistol
Musket
Shotgun
Rifle

Common Firearms:
Revolver
Heavy Revolver
Long Rifle


Etc. Making minor adjustments based on models, while kinda cool, is a pain in the ass.

Oh, also, Derringer should be on there somewhere.

Oh, I'll post some of the feats.

Dwarven Weapon Training: +2 dmg and Prof with Hammer, Throwing Hammer, and improvised weapons

Elven Warrior: +2 dmg and Prof with Longbow, Shortbow, and all spears.

Tieflin Duelist: +2 dmg and prof with Rapier, Saber, and Musket Pistol (this might need some more, bu I dunno what else would be considered dueling weapons. Maybe Revolver, but it would get so much use as to be unbalancing, I think, maybe. i dunno. I'm tired.)
Etc. Making minor adjustments based on models, while kinda cool, is a pain in the ass.

Oh, also, Derringer should be on there somewhere.

I was thinking, for other models of revolvers etc, of treating them like magical weapons. They cost as much as magic weapons and give you bonus attack and damage, more crit damage, and an ability. For example the Peacemaker is an intimidating weapon, I see it as being the Holy Avenger of firearms (without the religious claptrap, of course).

Derringers are awesome, they'll definitely end up there somewhere. Feats look good, it'll be fun to see how racial archtypes evolve when placed in the West.
I was thinking about it, and I want there to be some monster type fights to set the game apart from more historical settings. I'm going to toss out a couple of monster ideas for Western adaptation, tell me what you think. The goal here is to recast monsters in slightly different roles that makes them fit with the mood of the world.

I also gave in to temptation and posted a very short adventure arc summary, I hid it in the spoiler so if you don't care don't read it and just comment on the monster ideas .

Dinosaurs: I like the idea of using an arid, unexplored wasteland just being settled as the default region of choice. The inclusion of a few roaming dinosaurs in the wilderness helps the "lost world" feel, and they are especially concentrated around rivers and natural watering holes. This makes conflict with encroaching settlers inevitable, and they are pushed back a little more every year. Still a hazard for travelers off the beaten path. Railroads finance their extermination (possible early level adventure hook) since they are a collision hazard to quickly moving trains, especially at night. The native elves rely on them as a food source.

Brown Dragon: (Brown Dragon Article) I loved this monster as soon as I saw its pic, and it occurred to me that it would be an excellent high level addition to the Western campaign because of its emphasis on sandstorms as fluff. I thought of the following adventure arc outline to star the Dragon.

Brown Dragon Arc:

PCs are called to defend frontier town from aggressive elves making off with settlers nearby. They track the elves into a camp and defeat them, to learn that they were a hunting band sent out by an alliance of elf tribes serving a mysterious new leader.

The PCs report back and a cavalry detachment is sent to establish a fort and defend the town. PCs hired as scouts for cavalry, but are disenchanted with them when they scout a peaceful tribe of elves in the area that is later annihilated by the army detachment, down to the last child. PCs must decide whether to side with the cavalry in the next raid (killing innocent civilians) or fighting the "legitimate" authorities.

PCs (hopefully) defend the innocent tribe, and get information as a thanks. Or they get the information from tortured prisoners, if it comes to that. The leader of the tribal alliance is planning to oust settlers from their land, and is based in a sacred mesa in the middle of the deep desert. PCs travel there, fight the leader and his minions who reveals that the kidnapped victims were to be sacraficed to their god. The god is the brown dragon, which leaves the mesa for parts unknown when it doesn't get the snacks it was expecting. PCs wander back to civilization.

The army fort is destroyed when the PCs get back, shell-shocked witnesses describe the dragon as the culprit. Dragon is digesting its meal for now, but every few days it wipes out another couple of settlements, slowly approaching the main town. Now PCs must stop it before it destroys and consumes the entire town.


Brown dragons are powerful spirits of the desert that personify the fury of this wild land. Elves often worship them and sacrifice captives in return for mild weather. No settler has ever seen one of these (and survived anyway) so elven legends of dragon gods are dismissed as myth, and their sacrifices as barbarous superstition.

Demons: I wouldn't include the big bad ugly demons as presented in the MM, but would instead have them possess humanoids and through them wield wild and inexplicable powers. Like the Brown Dragon, most people don't believe in them. Unlike the dragons, the demons followed the settlers from the old world and are new to the Western land. Demons are immortal and follow their own unfathomable plans to amass souls and increase their own power and influence. Some are merely violent, psychotic, and unbelievably dangerous serial killers.

I specifically avoided any monstrous humanoids because any adventure that involves them could substitute one of the existing PC races and be fine. I'm sure there are many more monsters that could be quickly adapted, but as has been said it's late and I'll maybe post some more later.
Azrael's brother here, he left himself logged in on my computer and I couldn't help but note what you're working on here.

Just a toss-out thought to that last bit you have there, Steel: Maybe things like your conventional monstrous humanoids, if you wanted to include them, would fit in more as a one-off Demonic possession mutation? Not anything one would need pre-made stats for, just a thought for GMs who's want to include a familiar face. Personally I agree that your current race list is just fine, no need to throw in entire race additions when you can, for the most part, play with differing tribes, settlements, and colonies.