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Subject: Dinosaur Cowboys - my skirmish game rss

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Carlo
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Site: http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/
Latest Rules (as of June 14 2011): v0.8 PDF

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EDIT: New stuff further down the thread, as this info is now out of date.
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I've been developing a RPG/skirmish game for the last couple of months, and now that I've found BGG I thought I'd post here for advice on rules, mechanics, etc. Quick overview:

World
General world is pretty simple: futuristic cowboys riding dinosaurs in the year 2285. There's a semi-logical (as logical as dinosaurs still existing can be...) background to getting to that point though.

Play is similar to most RPGs as you wander from town to town in the futuristic world, doing jobs and killing stuff and so on. Mostly up to the GM. I imagine solo play against mindless "charge the player" creatures would be possible, but then you miss out on story and roleplaying elements.

Characters
You get one main Cowboy, plus up to 3 followers. Some customization like Traits (Lethal Shot, Lucky, Adrenaline, etc.) plus the usual stat increases.
Dinomounts boost most of your stats so you move faster, have more HP, etc. Lots of variety between mounts, so you can have a fast, quick, weak dinosaur, or a big ponderous easily-spooked one.

Combat
Combat scales fairly well (in one playtest I got 7 bandits + leader + 2 dinosaurs attacking a town of 14 townsfolk + sheriff, and the battle concluded in an hour). I'm happy with how the mechanics turned out, especially since the same basic 3-step process can be applied to ranged or melee.

Each weapon has an Attacks and Damage stat. Attacks represents how many D12s you roll to hit, and can be modified by +1 Attack at Short range, or -1 Attack at Long range.
You roll your Attacks and determine the number of hits. Any dice higher than the Armor Rating of your target counts as 1 hit. 12s are Criticals and count as 2 hits.
Total all hits, add the Damage of the weapon, and reduce the target HP by that much.

This is sort of like Advanced Heroquest...mainly because a bunch of D12s are involved. I personally love rolling a big handful of 5+ D12s.

Reloading is another mechanic I like, mainly because I avoided the tedious "mark off your ammo!" aspect that happens in some systems. Basically each weapon has a Reload Value (such as 2x1), and if you roll as many 1s (during your attack) as the Reload Value, the gun can't be fired until you spend an Action reloading. Simple and effective.

Misc
Then there are some more rules for world travel, break tests, money, etc. I tried to remove a lot of the boring bookkeeping aspects like food, equipment weight, ammo management, etc.

I'm pretty happy with the end result, and intend on posting a report of a fight sometime soon. I still need to generate a bunch of cool enemies to fight, since during games so far I've mostly generated them on the fly.

Anyways, I'd love to get more eyes on the ruleset, and suggestions from anyone about anything. You can grab the latest bunch of rules here, plus also read my old entries as I devised the different mechanics.

And some pictures to entice you to check it out ;P

Character Sheet


The USA in 2285


"Ducky" Dinomount


Thanks!
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Vincent Appel
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
What could be cooler than Dino riding cowboys?!?! I'll give this a look when I get a chance.

-v
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
Dino-riding Cowboys is great.

I've always wanted to make a board game based on the Xenozoic Tales/Cadillacs & Dinosaurs comic books by Mark Schultz and published by Kitchen Sink and Top. That would be so cool.


Edits for fumbled fingers
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Diz Hooper
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
Dino riding cowboys is at the pinnacle of awesomeness.

However. . .

You've destroyed Florida in you future America you fool!
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Gary Bacchus
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
I think the only way you could cram more awesome into this concept is if hoverboards were involved somehow.
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Kai Bettzieche
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
jakal323 wrote:
I think the only way you could cram more awesome into this concept is if hoverboards were involved somehow.


And Ninjas!

And Pirates!

No .. wait ..
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Carlo
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
I actually couldn't believe how limited the existing material on dinosaurs + cowboys was (besides Valley of Gwangi). It always seemed like such a natural fit. I expected to find hundreds of pictures of a dusty Billy the Kid riding a t-rex, but alas.

@CleverMojo: I did read through a bunch of Xenozoic Tales for inspiration, which is why Dinomounts are categorized by human-readable names like "Ripper" and "Thickskull" instead of "Saurornithoides" and "Pachycephalosaurus", haha. It was hard to avoid the temptation to put more focus on cars / alternative transporation.

@thdizzy: Sorry to wreck your fave state, but the coast had to go
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
@Bosky...I'm not much for RPGs these days, but if you want any help designing a board game version of this concept please let em know.

I also loved The Valley of Gwangi (and just about anything else from Ray Harryhausen) as a youngster.
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Diz Hooper
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
bosky wrote:
I actually couldn't believe how limited the existing material on dinosaurs + cowboys was (besides Valley of Gwangi). It always seemed like such a natural fit. I expected to find hundreds of pictures of a dusty Billy the Kid riding a t-rex, but alas.

@CleverMojo: I did read through a bunch of Xenozoic Tales for inspiration, which is why Dinomounts are categorized by human-readable names like "Ripper" and "Thickskull" instead of "Saurornithoides" and "Pachycephalosaurus", haha. It was hard to avoid the temptation to put more focus on cars / alternative transporation.

@thdizzy: Sorry to wreck your fave state, but the coast had to go



Well, since it is Dinosaurs and Cowboys, I'm in a forgiving mood. I'll just have to be careful not to buy any beachfront property.
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James Hutchings
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
Rules for gambling would be good.

Armour doesn't really fit the setting (although it makes technological sense).
 
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Lauren Neeff
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
Wouldn't they be called DinoBoys? When I play this, every time I dismount my Dino, I want to slide down its neck, Fred Flintstone style.
Also congrats for centering it around Wyoming. Go us!
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Kai Bettzieche
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
I think, it would have rather been called "Dino Riders"
 
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
bosky wrote:
I actually couldn't believe how limited the existing material on dinosaurs + cowboys was (besides Valley of Gwangi).


There is a d20 setting/variant called Broncosaurus Rex.

It may include hoverboards.
 
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Carlo
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
@apeloverage: Good call, I hadn't considered gambling rules, but it certainly fits in with a wild west / saloon feel. Any recommendations for how to go about it, or perhaps existing rulesets that implement gambling well? I haven't had much experience with those kind of rules.

Also I tried to make the armor either crude (wood blocks, dinohide, etc.) or fancy shirts / vests (biosteel, etc.), to avoid people tromping around in full power armor. Maybe I'll take a look at revising it though, but it's tough to find a balance between what Dusters (aka cowboys) would wear and what Neotechnoists (aka civilized people) would wear.

PS: Dino Riders was a fun show, and tempted me to have options to strap guns and armor onto Dinomounts to make them into walking tanks.
 
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Kai Bettzieche
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
In a world where you have lasers cutting through everything - where is the point in having armor?
 
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Carlo
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
Cause the lasers don't cut through everything, especially equally sci-fi armor materials.
Plus I kind of like to think of the armor as deflecting (not absorbing) shots, that's why it affects the difficulty of hitting a target instead of reducing incoming damage.
 
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
CleverMojo wrote:
Dino-riding Cowboys is great.

I've always wanted to make a board game based on the Xenozoic Tales/Cadillacs & Dinosaurs comic books by Mark Schultz and published by Kitchen Sink and Top. That would be so cool.


Edits for fumbled fingers :p


Wow! I was just reading this today. What a fun series by a truly wonderful comic artist; very old school but incredibly beautiful.
 
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
Your post makes me think of this- http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10790

Dinosaur Kingdom is a roadside attraction of what would happen if palentologists had discovered dinosaurs living during the Civil War, and then the evil Union soldiers (ah Southern Virginia) had tried to kidnap the dinosaurs for use in war.

Of course, this is brought to us by the same luminary that made "Foamhenge"
 
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ɹǝpun uʍop ʞǝǝƃ
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
jakal323 wrote:
I think the only way you could cram more awesome into this concept is if hoverboards were involved somehow.

Nah... giant fighty robots!

 
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Carlo
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
@4th stringer: Oh man if only Virginia wasn't a 30 hour drive for me, I'd totally go see that thing.

Anyways on the update front I started on a few "Hired Dusters" that are used in one-off skirmish style games, since I've kind of focused on the RPG campaign elements so far. But I figure a simple pitched battle scenario with two opposing forces would work beautifully.
Say each player could have a pool of money to create and deck out a Level 4 main character (using the full sheet), and then spend the rest on these Level 2 Hired Dusters (using the compressed sheet) to fill in the ranks.
The Hired Dusters themselves (9 of them in total) are stuff like shotgunners, pistol duelers, close combat veterans, etc. Just quick "canned troops" with a little available customization to make assembling a force pretty easy.
I might try to fight out something like this between 6-10 models a side and see how it goes. I imagine it'd work smoothly and be under an hour playtime considering how my big "Bandits vs. Town" battle went a while back.
 
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
I stumbled upon this thread when I was searching to see if there's a licenced game based upon the awesome Dino-Riders TV show. I was shocked to discover that as far as I can tell there is no such game! Has anyone ever heard of a proposal to make one?
 
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Kai Bettzieche
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
nope .. this is as close as it gets ..

oh btw:



I wonder what has become of bosky's game idea ..
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Carlo
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
Well the game ended up being fully playable, and I had a campaign going for a while. I never did get around to a big book of enemies, so most of the encounters had to be relatively planned out in advance. Otherwise all the character generation, weapons, combat, etc. were done and played pretty well (in my opinion).

Recently I considered moving towards a pure skirmish game instead of the RPG/skirmish hybrid (since it's hard to do both well, as compared to just focusing on one). I started reworking the rules for that before Christmas, and hope to get back to it soon.
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Re: Dinosaur Cowboys - my nearly completed RPG/skirmish game
YAY
 
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Well instead of starting a new thread with updates I thought I'd resurrect this old one. How time flies, considering it's been nearly a year and a half. Recently I got back to this ruleset and my desire to change it to pure skirmish instead of an RPG/skirmish hybrid (which unfortunately did neither well). I know this doesn't technically fit into the "board game" part of this forum, but all the feedback I get on other topics is spot on so I thought I'd keep talking here.

Anyways I recently posted a session report of one of my playtests (with painstakingly formatted pictures) so if you're interested to see how the latest rules iteration plays check it out: Session Report: Encounter at Bosler, Wyoming. Fun picture from it:


The latest rules (download link) feel pretty solid, quick playing, thematic, and fun, but I have two outstanding issues that I'd like to get some input on:

Help: Initiative / Activation
In skirmish scale games the "You Go, I Go" turn rotation doesn't work as well as it does in larger army based games. Instead most use an Activation system, where it's unit-by-unit.
Currently I have each player roll Initiative (1D12 roll off) at the start of the Turn, and whoever wins gets to Activate one figure last. This scheme works okay most of the time, until the teams are numerically uneven. It falls apart further if someone dies during the turn and that skews the numbers even more.
So what I'm thinking of doing now is having the Initiative roll at the start of each Activation, instead of each Turn. Then the number of units are compared, if teams are even (or close to even) then whoever wins the roll off Activates 1 unit. If the teams are 2vs1, the numerically superior player Activates 2 units, 3vs1 would be 3, etc.
I think rolling more often will help keep the winning Initiative more "up to date", since deaths won't factor in as much.
I've considered other schemes instead of a rolloff, like drawing playing cards (The Sword and the Flame style), flipping a coin, etc. Those will probably just be variants to the core roll off mechanism.

Help: Simultaneous Attacks
The second issue is when to remove a unit that is killed. Currently when a person is reduced to 0 HP they are immediately removed from the game and don't get to act or fire again.
What I'm considering is closer to Battletech, where shooting is supposed to be simultaneous. This means that when a unit "dies", they simply are placed face down but still get to act until the end of the turn, at which point they're removed.
I'm torn on which approach to use, as there are upsides and drawbacks to both.

Help: Rule Writing and Formatting
The rules make sense in my mind, but to a total stranger I don't know how well they read. I tried to be concise and to the point with each topic, but also include examples as I go.
In terms of formatting I always end up with a similar style, but I'm hoping to inject some old western pioneer pictures to spice up the pages.
But yeah any advice on either of these fronts would be great, since in this case (where I'm not doing custom components or pieces or anything) rules really are all there is to the game, and they can make or break it.

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Anyways yeah, tweaking and improving the rules has been lots of fun, as have the creative art side of fonts and images and document formatting. I'm hoping to get some more eyes and brains involved in the process, so any advice on the above topics, the game in general, how to make the rulebook look more professional, etc. are all welcome.

Thanks!
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