Sivad’s Sanctum recently released the Wild West RPG – In the Light of the Setting Sun: Bonanza Edition. It’s an update of the old Saddlebag edition of their OSR-inspired western RPG. I’ve always liked the system and was pleased to see a new version. Here’s some notes and a fillable version of the official character sheet.
Generally I’m a fan of the new version. It’s a lot better organized, with nicer art and layout, and much easier-to-run introductory adventure
The rules are minimal. Characters have these 3d6 stats: Iron, Reflexes, and Wits. The basic mechanic of the game is the save, in which the player needs to roll equal to or under a stat to succeed on a d20. The rolls can have advantage or disadvantage by adding one or two d20s.
Changes in the new version
The biggest change is that all saves are now rolled with a D20 rather than a 3d6. I’ve not yet run this new version, but I’d imagine this makes it a bit swingier.
Another change from the previous version is the initiative system. The old Saddlebag edition of the game used a 1d6 roll. This edition uses a deck of cards instead. Shades of Savage Worlds here.
The other big change is to the Renown die . In the old version the renown die ( a uasge die from D20 to D4) was just used to randomly determine if a player was called out to duel, random luck checks, and putting bounties on a player if they became outlaws.
In the new version, they can be used to modify any roll for an extra effect, determine how large of a posse a player can round up, and can be used to cause extra damage in a duel. The random roll to see if a player gets called out has been removed.
Hit Points have been renamed to Luck. I like this change, as it emphasizes that HP didn’t really represent physical damage.
The random tables have changed a bit. The new edition has tables such What’s in their pockets?, What have they done?, What will they do next? for generating plots. The old one had town generators, bounty hunter generators, and – my favorite – Old West curses (Boil my shirt! Go to Halifax!). I sort of prefer the old tables, and I’ll probably continue to use them with the new version.
The original adventure has been replaced with a simple hexcrawl – The Tupelo Two-Step. Players are prisoners, manacled together, breaking out of the Tupelo Territorial Prison during a riot. It looks like a fun way to start off a little campaign.
There’s a nice little system for wilderness hexcrawls. Weather, encounters, and hunting rules are provided. You could do a whole Lewis-and-Clark style campaign with these.
There are rules for Pilgrims (essentially hirelings) that the players can hire as “fly-by-night mercenaries and trail hands.” They have simplified stats, and most interestingly, take and give damage automatically in combat. This is designed to make bookkeeping easier on the GM.
The new edition provides a nice, well designed character sheet. I like my sheets to be fillable, so I’ve taken it and added fillable fields. You can also import an image. I’ve added this to my ever-growing list of character sheets.