Two rows of unpainted wooden buildings face each other across the wide, dirt street. A signboard creaks mournfully in the hot wind. Down this track rides a lone figures, tired but alert. His boots, hat, and buckskin jacket are alayered with dust. But the ivory-handled revolver on his hip is spotless and cool. Neither a beacon nor a threat, it's simply there, a part of the man.
Drift back to the days of cattle drives, dance halls, range wars, and gunslingers. The BOOT HILL Wild west role-Playing Game lets you relive the grand adventure of the American Frontier. It's a wide open land where a man with strength, determination, and courage can carve a place for himself.
The Original Western Role-Playing Game [ edit ]
Dungeons and Dragons was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studios Rules (better known as TSR). The very next year TSR released their first Western-themed role-playing game ... although "role-playing game" held a very different meaning back then. The entire genre had just only just evolved as an offshoot of miniature wargames, and so their focus was almost exclusively on combat.
Thus, even after going through both a revision and a second edition, Boot Hill remained essentially just a game about fighting in the Wild West. There were detailed rules for those fights, so (for instance) a shotgun fired at close range was mechanically more deadly in other systems ... but (just as with early D&D) it was essentially just about fighting.
Then, in 1990, TSR released a 3rd edition of the game, and this version actually added rules for things like social interactions and non-combat encounters. However, this version was released shortly after AD&D 2nd Edition was released, and that game's design heavily influenced Boot Hill's.
This is not to say that Boot Hill is a bad game ... but with even its 3rd edition being more than 30 years old, it's probably safe to say this game won't immediately appeal to many modern gamers.
Boot Hill, 3rd Edition - Rules SummaryCollapse
A Game About History That's Gaming History [ edit ]
Because it's so old (and a collectible TSR product), acquiring a hard copy of any edition of the game can be a bit of a challenge, but it is possible thanks to sites like EBay and Noble Knight that sell used games. However, most fans looking to check this game out will want to pick up a digital copy or newly re-printed copy from Drive Thru RPG.
Again, you shouldn't expect a modern/refined RPG system, but, perhaps a bit surprisingly, the game does have a high 4.7/5 score on Drive Thru RPG, suggesting that fans are having fun with it even today. So if you're looking for an RPG that's both historical in content, and itself a piece of RPG history, check out Boot Hill.
Resources [ edit ]
As an older RPG there are few modern resources available for Boot Hill. However, at least two which are worth noting are:
- The Long Island Crew's Boot Hill Page - A group of Boot Hill fans created this great site which offers a deluxe character sheet, expanded item lists, maps, and a lot more.
- Cameron Waggoner's Boot Hill Campaign Outline - This Google Doc of one fan's plans for a Boot Hill Campaign is more than just a campaign plan (although it has a very well-detailed one): it also has expanded character creation instructions, feats, NPCs, and more.