As expected, the final session of Boot Hill was a blast. My character (Wild James Riley) played some cards, got into a brawl in the saloon, threw a stunned opponent over a table and into another fella, and nearly blew up a mounted gang with dynamite. All in all, a pretty eventful session. Then, right at the end as we were rounding up the wounded gang, Zeke Proctor jumped out of hiding and the two of us blasted holes into each other. The doc tried his best, but the wounds were too great. Wild James Riley takes his place in the bone orchard up on Boot Hill.
Honestly, I was surprised that Riley had avoided death for so long. I had rolled him up for the first gunfight of the campaign, and he survived five or six shoot outs. Gentleman Jim was the only character from the first session to survive the entire campaign. So, faux-history remembers Gentleman Jim as one of the greatest lawmen of the old west. I imagine that Riley is also remembered, but as more of a ruthless SOB. Riley was on the wrong side of the law about as often as he wore a badge. For example, Gentleman Jim shot and killed Jesse James shortly before Wild James Riley (and another PC, Josey?) killed Frank James. The difference was that Riley was helping the James brothers rob the bank while Jim was trying to prevent the robbery. After we escaped, with Jesse dead and Frank wounded, it just seemed easier to kill Frank and take his share of the loot. Getting medical attention is problematic when you're on the run.
I had a lot of fun playing Boot Hill, more fun than I expected. Apparently I find participating in westerns more fun than watching them. Most of the credit goes to Jeff obviously, his free-wheeling "anything goes, especially if I think it sounds awesome" style can make any game enjoyable. Mixing that with his research and presentation of historical gunfights resulted in some of my favorite scenarios. He would lay out a hand drawn grid map of a saloon, small town, or whatever. We'd get a short history lesson about that particular gunfight, date and location, the events leading up to the bloodshed, who was involved, who lived and died, and any repercussions from the battle. Then it was like "It's up to you guys if you want to try to reenact the battle or change history. Pick which side you want to be on, you can all be buddies or fight against each other". We'd roll to determine our starting location on the grid, then the fight was on. It was a nice bit of edutainment.
Sadly, the rules themselves were a little below my expectations, with one big exception. The rules for drunkenness seemed cumbersome. The gambling rules were kinda lackluster (highest percentage roll wins). The brawling and grappling charts are interesting, but I felt the canned results took some of the creative license away from the players and GM. Still, it works better than most RPG unarmed combat.
The "one big exception" was the rules for shooting. I had originally thought the 3 separate percentage rolls for each shot (to-hit, location, severity) were going to slow the game to a boring crawl. Instead, it was enthralling to watch each shot unfold. Interest was probably helped by the fact that each shot was potentially deadly. It's cool enough that I want to play around with it some more. So I'm going to use the Boot Hill hit location/severity charts (which I haven't actually seen) as an inspiration for similar charts to use in my Ezzin game whenever someone finds and uses instant attack devices like ray guns, muskets, or magic wands.
I'm thinking that these charts will only be used for projectiles/beams moving too fast to be seen. Bows and crossbows will still use normal attack and damage rolls.