The following short story is a tale that unfolded during a Wild West game that we played using our 54mm (1/32 scale) figures and buildings.
All of the events happened as written, and movement and firing was made in strict accordance to the 'rules' of the game.
The rules we used were our own. We've found a lot of sets of western gunfight rules on the Internet. Some simple, some complex. Some for solo games, some for large groups of players. None of these sets of rules gave us the kind of game we wanted. So we took bits from here and there and devised our own stuff too. Ultimately we wound up with a set of gunfight rules that suited us and our style of play. We revise the rules from time to time as and when we hit snags or create scenarios that are not already covered. We try to limit the use of dice since they tend to create the notion of everything being down to luck. This also saves knocking things over with dice rolls.
Suffice it to say that we played this game strictly to our rules, so the events and final outcome were unknown until they actually transpired. I guess this is interactive fiction. Best of all it's a way to bring life (and maybe death) to our plastic heroes and villains.
The scenario for this game, Bank Raid In Someplace Else was set up as follows:
A main street was created on the table using around ten Timpo and Britains buildings and accessories.
The bank was at one end, the sheriff's office was at the other on the other side of the street. The Banker and his clerk were in the bank. The Sheriff was in his office. The deputy was in Grace's general store opposite the Sheriff's office.
Rondo and his two fellow outlaws started at the livery stable opposite the bank.
For this scenario, neither of the lawmen could make a move until they either heard gunshots or were alerted to the bank raid by the bank clerk.
Bad guy Rondo was an excellent shot, his comrades were fair shots too. The Sheriff was an excellent shot, his deputy was pretty good too.
The Banker however was a very poor shot and his clerk had never used a gun at all.
So, Rondo and his men ride into town, and the odds are stacked in their favour...
It was the usual hot, dusty arid kind of day in Someplace Else, Clay County.
Someplace Else wasn't a very big town, but it was big enough to attract strangers. Some brought money into the town and were welcome. Others sometimes wanted to take money out of the town, but these folks weren't so well liked, though they were often wanted.
In the First National Stock Bank, the manager, Nathaniel West was looking through a sheaf of wanted posters he'd just received from head office. He adjusted his spectacles as he looked disapprovingly at each one.
"Eyes too close together...You can tell he's an outlaw. I'm a very shrewd judge of character you know Doyle...."
He addressed his remark to young Frank Doyle, his clerk, who was cleaning the inside of the bank's front windows. West looked at another poster and grunted.
"Doyle! I've told you not to draw stupid moustaches on these posters - they are important bank property!"
Frank Doyle turned from his work and said with some indignation, "But I didn't draw any moustaches Mr West... He must really look like that. It's quite fashionable you know. I might grow one like that myself."
"Stupid boy." West chided, "Nobody has a moustache like that - looks quite ridiculous - look at the size of it."
"He's got one like it." Doyle muttered.
"Don't be insolent! What..." West stared through the windows in the direction Doyle had pointed and then back at the poster in his hand. "Good grief!"
"What is it Mr West? You look awfully pale."
Nat West, Bank Manager, thought quickly.
"Doyle, get up to the Sheriff's office right away. Tell Mr Steel that Johnny Rondo is about to rob my bank."
"Alright Mr West." Doyle replied calmly. "I'll just finish this win...Johnny Rondo?!! I'll go right away!"
"Wait!" Yelled West. "Use the back door you stupid boy - or they'll see you."
"Sorry Mr West. I'll fetch the Sheriff right away."
"And act casual if they see you - or they might be suspicious."
From the window Nat West watched as three rough looking men dismounted from their horses at the livery stable opposite.
"Good luck Doyle.... I'm counting on you."
"Yes Mr West" said Doyle hurriedly leaving via the back door of the bank
"This'll be a cinch." Johnny Rondo was telling his men confidently as he brushed trail dust from his flamboyant moustache and side-whiskers. "Now just act casual like good law-abiding citizens - until we get in the bank!"
The street was quiet, almost.
"Who's that?" Billy Fury asked when he saw a figure sauntering up to the general store whistling to himself.
Jim Colt shrugged, "How the hell should I know? Don't be so jumpy you're making me nervous."
Rondo was impatient, Yeah, just concentrate on the job Billy, its just some errand boy."
Inside the bank West was wondering what to do next. He had a revolver hidden in a desk drawer. Should he get it? Did he have the nerve to protect his own bank? Would he be killed for standing in the outlaws' way? Would he be killed anyway?"
The outlaws began crossing the street towards the bank.
West nervously opened the desk drawer and picked up the six shooter. He also pulled a small two shot derringer pistol from his jacket pocket. He walked to the back of the office and moved behind the wooden panelled cashier's desk and screen. With both hands resting on the desk he aimed his guns at the closed door.
Over in Grace's General Store, Bob Masters was talking with the beautiful daughter of the owner. She looked at Bob with admiration in her eyes.
"You are a fine Deputy Sheriff Bob."
"Yeah." said Bob, who was a man of few words.
"Oh Bob." She said breathlessly, "You are so manly!"
"Yeah..." said Bob.
"Hold me Bob."
"Yeah!" said Bob.
"My pa will be out of town until sundown Bob."
"Yeah?" said Bob.
Across the street, the Sheriff was in his office discussing town matters with Ned Taylor, a business man.
"An' what are ya gonna do to clean up this town Sheriff? You've been here more 'en three months now and there's still litter in the streets an' filth in the saloons."
The Sheriff looked up from his desk, "Well Ned. Can I call you Ned, Ned? I guess I have cleaned up this town. There ain't been a single robbery since more'n three weeks. And I like the saloons the way they is."
"That's as maybe Sheriff. But as a decent, honest upstanding citizen of this town..."
"Sheriff!!! Sheriff!!!" called Frank Doyle bursting into the office.
"Didn't nobody teach you it was polite to knock before enterin'?" asked Sheriff John Steel in annoyance.
"Sheriff..." Doyle tried to calm down. "Sheriff...the bank...Johnny Rondo.... He's going to rob the bank."
"Yeah." said the Sheriff. "Well if he ever does.... I'll be ready for him. Now vamoose!"
A shot rang out.
Startled the Sheriff rushed to the window.
"Doyle - go tell the Deputy - he's in the general store. Taylor - I hereby swear you in as a deputy."
"But... but...." Taylor protested.
"Fine upstanding citizen - here's a badge and a rifle for you."
Meanwhile, back at the bank...
As Nat West stood trembling behind the expensive oak counter, Johnny Rondo had kicked open the door brandishing two revolvers.
Colt and Fury stood behind Rondo, waiting to enter.
In sheer panic, West had fired - and missed. "Drop your guns and surrender." West said weakly trying to pass off his poor shooting as a warning shot.
Rondo laughed mirthlessly.
"Bad move Mr Banker. You is gonna die."
Rondo aimed his guns.
At the General Store, someone was banging on the door.
"We're closed!" shouted the shop keeper's daughter.
"Yeah!" shouted Bob.
The Sheriff sprinted down the main street clutching his trusty rifle.
"Trouble!" yelled Billy to Colt. "I told you!"
"Shut up!" retorted Colt as the Sheriff dived for cover behind a water trough.
Inside the bank a shot rang out.
Johnny Rondo clutched at his chest in disbelief and slumped back against the door frame.
"Why you no good..." he grunted once more taking aim.
West fired a second shot and Rondo fell dead.
The banker stood behind the desk in a state of shock.
Across the street, behind the water trough, the Sheriff aimed his rifle and fired. Jim Colt fell to the ground outside the bank as a bullet struck him in the stomach.
Unable to move to cover inside the bank, Fury began firing furiously at the Sheriff who was still under cover behind the water trough.
Wondering whether the gunfire and the hammering on the door was connected, Bob Masters yelled from behind the closed door, "Who is it?"
"It's me, Frank Doyle." called Doyle, "The Sheriff sent me - Johnny Rondo is holding up the bank!"
The door opened and a hand grabbed Doyle and pulled him inside. "Lock and bolt this door after I've gone kid." Bob ordered, as he hastily made adjustments to his clothing and put on his gunbelt.
"Be careful Bob - you are my hero!" Bob's girlfriend called as he headed out of the store.
"Yeah." said Bob grimly, and began running towards the bank, keeping close to the walls of buildings.
"Don't worry Lucy.," said Doyle, "I'll look after you."
"Yeah." said Lucy.
Lying on the ground with a fatal wound, Jim Colt was determined to take someone with him. He aimed his gun through the open doorway into the bank. Nat West was still standing there, as if in shock. "Bye bye banker..." said Colt softly as he squeezed the trigger.
In the Sheriff's office, Taylor looked nervously out of the open doorway. This really wasn't his kind of thing. Maybe he should stay put?
Down at the bank, Jim Colt fired his gun at West who was still standing at the bank counter. The bullet struck West's revolver, sending it spinning from his hand. The banker fainted - or as he would later put it, he hurled himself to the ground behind the heavy wooden counter.
Outside the bank, Bob Masters was getting off a few shots at the outlaws with his pistol - using the side of a nearby building as cover. Soon Colt was dead.
The Sheriff hit Fury with another shot from his rifle. Fury fired another shot at the Sheriff and missed. He died when the Sheriff fired one final shot.
The Sheriff and Masters carefully headed over to the bank. The three outlaws were dead.
"West?" called the Sheriff, fearing the worst.
"Just reloading...." called West from behind the counter.
"No need for that..." the Sheriff called back, "It's all over - job for the undertaker now."
"Really?" asked West peering nervously over the counter.
"Yup." confirmed the Sheriff. "Looks like you sent Johnny Rondo off to Boot Hill - that must have been some fancy shooting."
"Yes...I suppose it was...You know, I'm pretty handy with a gun."
"Reckon you'll be needing a new one Mr West. " Masters remarked, handing him the shattered remains of his six shooter.
"Yeah." said the hero of Someplace Else.
We hope you enjoyed the story. It was a fun game to play.
We don't play 'competitively' we just play. It's not about winning or losing, it's more like being involved in a film or t.v. show.
When 'my' Bank manager saw the gang arrive, I was unsure as to what to do. The banker was such a poor shot that discretion may have been the better part of valour. But then, I didn't know how ruthless my 'opponent' might be. Two players make events far more unpredictable than a solo game.
The clerk got some lucky breaks and made it up the high street very quickly, even acting 'casual'. However, the deputy's movement card took a very long time to come up - and the hastily sworn in deputy never got a move at all. Sometimes, due to luck characters don't get as many 'moves' as others. That's where we find plenty of scope for 'explaining' why the heck they didn't show up when they were supposed to. It gives the characters far more individuality than if they all just obeyed the whims of the players themselves. If a character just stands there and doesn't run or shoot - is he transfixed with terror or just waiting for the right moment? Part of the fun for us is figuring out why our characters behave the way they do.
We were both surprised that the Banker wasn't even injured. He did get that gun shot out of his hand, per the rules, when by all rights he should have been shot.
If you collect wild west figures and have never tried a 'wargame', we recommend you give it a try. Just search the Internet for things like 'Western Gunfight Rules' and see what you can find. You can also find printed sets of rules you can buy online.
We'll be writing up some more of our games soon.