|COPYRIGHT REDBRICK LLC|
WELL, as it turned out, the book is actually a self-contained roleplaying game. At that point, I thought, "Ho hum, just another old west rpg. But I'll flip through it."
And that's when I made the discovery that not only is Western City a tongue-in-cheek spaghetti western roleplaying game, but it's one where everyone is a player (no gamemaster needed!) Hells bells! So I bought it.
I've read a lot of it. It has some basic character creation. What I like about creating characters is that there is no skills list. You choose a profession, and with any skills related to that profession, you get a nice static rank. But you can also choose five skills not related to your profession (YOU get to make them up; there is no list to choose from except for a short list of examples.) You have these skills, but at lower ranks than your professional skills. You have three basic, generic attributes (Body, Mind and Charisma.) And main players all start with the same number of hit points.
After creating their own character, each player creates two "extras," a friend and a foe. The extras are placed in a pool, and players take one (to control) that they didn't create. Then the players use a simple bidding process to acquire more extras.
Then players decide on a day's worth of events (called the Line of Events) that will make up the game session(s). If a player wants to take over and add their own idea to an event being pitched, they can bid on the process (bidding is with a limited supply of poker chips.)
This is about as far as I've read in the book. Honestly, this is such a simple story-telling concept, but I think it's a Holy Grail of codifying the mechanics to get it done (at least I hadn't seen it done before.) But this is NOT a game for the "numbers" player -- that D&D player, for example, who creates a character who is built to deal the most damage possible. This game does include dice rolling, but its soul rest with the story, and all the players have a chance to steer the plot; It's a game that will reward the creative player more than the dice roller.
So, as I read the rules, I thought, "Hey, these rules are pretty generic. Honestly, you could use these rules to play in ANY genre you wanted: Pulp, Ancient, Fantasy, SciFi, Dungeon, etc." My first choice would be something Conan the Barbarian-ish. THAT'S when I discovered on the Redbrick LLC website (the folks who distribute Western City) ALSO have an rpg called Barbaren! Unfortunately, the game has not been translated from its original German yet. Looking at the descriptions here and there on the web, Barbaren is REALLY about stereotypes and silly "macho" play; Having sex with women and drinking mead is just as important as fighting in battle, apparently. (And every player is male, and starts with a "Manliness" score.) The game is definitely in bad taste, so it's not for everyone. But if you enjoy a rip-roaring good time and can read German, you should have a go.
I'd love to have a copy of Barbaren! in English even if I never play. The rules sound like they're going to be a hoot simply to read. For now, I'm gonna finish reading my Western City rules to get a grip on the mechanics before looking into alternate genres.