View RSS Feed


Gunslinger: Quick and Dirty Western rules.

Rate this Entry

AKA: What am I doing with my life
Basically the idea is a gritty cowboy game.
Everybody gets 6d6 to roll.
They list three things their character is good at (see Good Things), two other things they're not so good with (Bad Things), one thing they're trying to escape or get rid of (Ugly Things) and one defining feature (like Blondie's trademark poncho). You have 12 Grit. Spend it wisely.

It's like stamina. Spend it on rolls, and you may not have it when you get shot. Don't, and you may have wish you did. It's that kind of world. You start with twelve, and twelve max. If you're brought to 0 or lower, you have to roll 1d6 and die on a 6, so try not to do that. If you don't die when you're reduced to 0, you can't spend any more Grit until you get more, and if you take any more damage, you have to roll again to not die. You regain Grit by doing cool stuff, by drinking, sleeping, relaxing, and eating. If you're too lazy, the DM can say your maximum Grit goes down- if you're particularly tough, they can say it goes up. Some DMs may let you not die if you run out of Grit, and instead your character might retire or get humiliated and run out of town like the lilly-livered scaredy-cat they are. You can also regain grit by putting forwards a 1 during a Shootout or Range.

Good Things:
You're pretty good at three things, to the point where it stands out. Be specific, don't make your Good Thing mysteriously apply to everything.
If you're undertaking a Range or Shootout that involves these things, you can choose to re-roll one of the dice you use in your dice pool, after you know the die's value but before the result is set.
For example, if you know a 3 missed on a Range, you can re-roll the next un-resolved 2 in your pool. You need to declare your die value and then roll, and you can take the better value.
If you're in a Shootout and the other person's Good Thing applies (and they haven't already used it), they can use it for the round and re-roll their own die in response to yours. Everyone's already considered a good gunslinger if their shooting isn't listed under Bad Things, so if you're going to put some sort of shooting under here, specify a type of firearm. You should probably be applying one of your Good Things to every other challenge.

Bad Things:

Basically like a Good Thing, but it's bad for you. You get two, make them reasonable. If the DM believes one of your Bad Things applies to a roll, or an enemy you're in a Shootout with exploits one of your Bad Things, they get to decide to make you re-roll one of your dice, after they see the value but before it's resolved. You take the worse value, of course.
However, if you use your Good Thing on a roll, they can't use it on that die after you've re-rolled. Instead, they can immediately interrupt you as long as one of your Bad Things hasn't been exploited earlier this round, and deny you your use of your Good Thing for that die. If they say they're exploiting your Bad Thing on a roll and you haven't used your Good Thing for the round, you can do the opposite and spend your Good Thing for the round to negate their abuse of your Bad Thing.
A Bad Thing should apply about a third as often as a Good Thing. After all, you're still quite skilled.

Ugly Things:

Something's in your way, or filling your mind, and it's something big. An addiction, an obligation, an obsession. Every time you apply a six to one of your Shootouts or Ranges, you mark it down on your sheet, up to a maximum of six marks at a time. Whenever your Ugly Thing directly applies to the current situation and you have at least two marks listed against your Ugly Thing, the DM can immediately clear out your marks and change all of your die values lower than the number of marks cleared off to ones. Your Good Things can't alter these values.
If for some reason all six marks are cleared or it reduces every die in the pool to a 1, this result is treated as a Sacrifice, which means that you're as good as dead. You can roll a Sacrifice normally by getting an astounding natural all-ones roll (0.002143347% chance of happening). More on Sacrifices below.
You can reduce Marks by keeping ones during a Shootout or Range (on a one-to-one basis), or by actively roleplaying to resolve your Ugly Thing (DM discretion). Whenever you reduce Marks, you regain Grit equal to the marks removed, up to your maximum. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.


You're dead, or run out of town, or humiliated, or else. Whatever the effect, your bad luck or vice has caught up with you in a tragic way, and you can't continue the way you are. NPCs can't be Sacrifices, only player characters. You can declare a Sacrifice if you believe an enemy is going to use the Devil's Own Luck trait, as described below, but if you're wrong, you suffer the consequences as normal. Anyone unlucky or courageous enough to trigger a Sacrifice with the correct timing has all their Grit restored and removes their Ugly Thing permanently.

Devil's Own Luck:

Roll three or more sixes without any modifications on a single roll, and you have the opportunity to take the Devil's Own Luck trait, which means that once and one time only, you can treat all six of your dice as sixes, virtually guaranteeing you victory. However, you have to silently write down that you intend to use it during a Shootout, and if the opponent happens to declare a Sacrifice, your luck boomerangs, and you suffer more than they would, while they get off redeemed.


When a player comes up against a challenge that doesn't involve another active person (like spooked cattle during a storm, or a wild wolf), and the outcome is in doubt, the player must roll their 6d6. They then choose which 5 of these dice they will apply to the challenge. One die at a time, the player may choose a die from their pool, then decide whether they want to spend their Good Thing on this die or not. If they do, they can't use it for the rest of the Range. At this timing, the DM may apply a Bad Thing, but, as mentioned before, no more than once per Range. After the die is either taken or re-rolled, the player may pay Grit to increase the value of the roll on a one-to-one basis.
After this final value has been settled, the DM checks whether the die's value is successful. Successful dice are equal to or greater than the value needed to partially pass a challenge (Difficulty Class, basically). The DM describes what the outcome of your attempt is, and moves on to the next die. If you pass enough challenges in the Range (usually 3 should be good enough), you succeed.

DMs, it basically works like this:
You have a number of challenges that you need to give the player character, and each one of those challenges has a DC. If they pass enough of the challenges, they can usually get what they're looking for. Depending on what you want to do, you can either have them complete specific DCs in order, just require they complete at least X DCs with value Y, or some combination.

Example: Tame a Horse
Dave wants to tame a horse.
The DM silently sets the bars for this Range: DC 3 (find a saddle), DC 5 (get on the horse safely), DC 6 (get the horse to listen to you)
Dave rolls 3, 2, 5, 3, 1, 4.
Dave thinks to himself and says, "Hm. I think I want to be able to spend Grit later on, so I'll get rid of the two- after all, it can't get much worse and it's not worth spending Grit on. Besides, I can risk one missed bar, so I'll play the one if I feel like I have the chance to spare. After all, the worst case scenario is I have to spend one more Grit than I would on the two." He keeps 3, 5, 3, 1, 4.
Dave is told he needs to find an appropriate saddle, and decides to test the waters by putting up his four first. It's a solid enough value, and it'll tell him if he needs to spend Grit, or at least, how much.
The DM (who is male for this example) decides he'll take that without a fight, as it's not dramatically appropriate enough for him to force the issue. He could have had Dave's Ugly Thing (Lecherous Attitude) show up if Dave had any Marks, indicating that an attractive young woman was also looking for a saddle, but Dave's been squeaky clean recently. He describes Dave going to the store and purchasing a saddle that's just the right size.
Now, Dave wants to ensure he succeeds on his next challenge. He puts up his five.
The DM sees an opportunity, and says that one of Dave's Bad Things (Clumsy) means that his attempt to put on the saddle is not taken well. Dave realizes that he has a 2/3 chance of getting a worse value, and that the DM probably wouldn't give him this obstruction if he wasn't close to the right amount. He takes a gamble and rolls again, scoring a three on the reroll. Dave gets lucky and guesses that the DM wants a DC 5, paying two Grit points to represent his will to put the saddle on the onery horse. The DM accepts this result, stating that with a little work Dave is able to ride but not control the horse.
Now, Dave is down to 3, 1, 3. He decides to put up his 1 for the Grit point. The DM describes this as the horse throwing Dave off a few times and generally making his life a pain.
With this extra Grit point, Dave decides to go for the gold and decides to use his Good Thing (Ranching) to declare that he's broken in meaner horses and he's not stopping with this one. Dave rolls and gets a 6, which is almost certainly good enough to pass. There are some situations in which the DC is higher, but most of those are nearly superhuman. Dave doesn't need to spend his Grit point, and states that he's confident in his roll to the DM. The DM says that the horse thrashes and thrashes, trying to throw Dave off, but eventually becomes too tired and lets Dave ride it.

Shootouts are for any challenge that involves a human who is actively trying to obstruct you. It is a direct confrontation, and one party loses if they're reduced to 0. There are lethal and nonlethal Shootouts. In nonlethal Shootouts (which are usually arguments), both targets start with double their maximum Grit and are not killed or grievously wounded if they lose.

During a Shootout, both players, or a player and the DM representing an NPC, silently bid Grit, in addition to using Good, Bad, and Ugly Things as normal.
After the total values are revealed, the loser loses 1d6 Grit and loses all the Grit they bid, while the winner spends half of the Grit they bid, rounded up. This encourages the high-stakes, quickly-ending confrontations that are common to Westerns, while forcing players to think about whether they should jump into a fight. It is entirely possible for a winner who is down to one Grit to bid it, win, and spend it, reducing them to 0, then roll a 6 and die- this can be explained by one shot being answered by another.

Depending on the situation, the First Blood rule can be in effect. First Blood means that the first die comparison decides the outcome, and is most common in nonlethal Shootouts. A DM must inform the player if they are taking part in a lethal First Blood Shootout, like a duel.

Offhand Suggestions and Variant Rules:

DMs should save a player's Ugly Thing for use in a Shootout with a main villain, as they will likely learn about and exploit the PCs' weaknesses.

Villains should have individual Grit, while several minions should be treated as a single person for Grit purposes. Villains should also have the Devil's Own Luck Trait inherently, because they're cheating scum.

Guns, tools, or other advantages can provide a bonus to every roll in a Shootout or Range. Generally, a +1 bonus is a superior tool, a +2 bonus comes from an extremely powerful tool, and a +3 bonus is enough to turn an ordinary person into an extraordinary person. A +3 advantage in a nonlethal Shootout could be the town backing the Mayor up during an argument. Only a particularly silver-tongued or infamous stranger could turn the tide of that Shootout.

Sacrifices rolled or imposed on an important character should give one other player or NPC the Soul Successor trait: The Sacrifice player character dies instantly though some twist of fate, and the Soul Successor is left to carry out some dying wish or revenge, gaining a permanent +1 to all rolls involving that goal and a permanent Grit and Grit maximum increase of 6. This does not carry through in the case that the enemy uses the Devil's Own Luck.

Updated 05-26-2019 at 09:35 PM by DarkisnotEvil



  1. theScrappy's Avatar
    Pretty goshdang'd cool.