A long time back I was running a weird west game that was a lot of fun. I dig Deadlands but wanted to work on my own setting, an alternate history of sorts that dabbled in the supernatural. There were zombies and werewolves out west, just not quite dominating the setting like what you’d see in Deadlands.
I latched onto the 6th Gun comic as a theme and think it’s fitting that it got scooped up officially for a Savage Worlds treatment. Deadlands is solid, but there is so much material out there, it might be a little overwhelming trying to get into the world. The 6th Gun setting just seems to be an easier launching pad for a campaign and something a bit more ‘grounded’ of a setting.
The setting book takes that spirit to heart. There is a smattering of edges and hindrances. As rules go it highlights a few magical systems as either shamanism, sorcery, or voodoo with a few additional spell powers. There aren’t full fledged archetypes, rather a nice selection of character themes for players to mine for ideas.
You do get a pretty comprehensive list of equipment, gear, and weapons. Along with this is a small section of magical artifacts, a bestiary, and a roster of NPCs which are in both flavors of villains or allies. Mind you the allies might be a loose term for some of them, and might offer more complications than assistance to the players.
The book provides a brief description of some key locations, along with the town of Brimstone. Brimstone is a locale that offers a good start to a longer campaign. There are a lot of fleshed out town locations along with suggested adventure seeds and thumbnail sketches of key NPCs. It gives a good staging area for GMs that are looking to quickly get a game running.
Being a western setting with a bit of a supernatural twist means that it’s not saddled down with too much world information. There is a brief background of the campaign setting which revolves mainly around the presence of six magical pistols that grant the wielders powers. True to the setting name, each of the 6 guns and their effects are provided in detail.
There is an involved synopsis of the comic series at the beginning of the book. This provides a fair look into the world of the 6th gun. It might not give the most coherent means of a campaign background but it does provide a GM with a bunch of ideas on the types of adventures players would likely have in the setting, especially if the 6 guns are part of the main plot. Another plus is that it provides some more insight to how particular NPC characters might act (if lifted from the comic series as inspiration).
A decent adventure generator is included in the book. Along with this are five more fleshed out adventure offerings. They are presented as a series of encounters and trials for players to tackle along with brief descriptions of NPCs, villains, and locations.
As new rules go there are fortunately very few. They all seem to embrace pushing the game into epic tales of adventure quickly. Players can freely pick edges and aren’t limited to ones based on the current level of character advancement. Critical failures can’t be rerolled by spending a benny, giving the GM opportunities to really muck up a situation. Lastly whenever a Joker is drawn, all players get a bennie. This allows for even more boons of fortune and encourages players to take risks.
The Good – The setting offers a framework for running a supernatural western that matches well with the deluxe rules. There is a fair amount of creatures, NPCs, magical items, and lists of gear and weapons to allow a GM to run a game. The material is presented well and the layout and art of the book promotes the spooky western theme nicely (much of it taken from the excellent comic series).
The Bad – The setting is a bit light on background. While westerns are staples of adventures, the supernatural setting might offer some difficulty getting the right tone. The setting obviously can center around obtaining the 6 guns, but there really isn’t a structured plot point campaign to cover that. In that sense the book seems more a toolset than a fully fleshed out campaign setting. Rewarding the 6 guns might also be an issue. Not all of them are equal in power and as they can have such a central role to the setting, giving players one (or some) might ramp up the power curve of the game too much.
The Verdict – The 6th Gun campaign setting isn’t a bad book. I certainly feel that if you were looking for a western with an occult twist, this is a better choice over Deadlands. Fortunately the setting isn’t encumbered with tons of new rules and options for players.
I think what best sums it up is that overall the book provides tools for running a supernatural western. A GM has the option to delve into the mythology of the 6 guns deeply, or keep them peripheral to the game. At first glance the setting has a lot more going for it to provide for one shot or shorter campaign games. Long, epic campaigns might need more work, especially if seeking out the 6 guns won’t be a key part of the story. Regardless, if wanting a western that’s slightly off kilter with ghosts and supernatural creatures, the 6th Gun setting delivers.