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Review – The Sixth Shotgun

5 January, 2021

The Sixth Shotgun by Louis L’Amour is a short story of the same title and a novella The Sixth ShotgunThe Rider of the Ruby Hills” in one volume.  I am not much of a reader of Westerns but L’Amour is so well regarded I thought I would give this collection a try.  It is easy to see why his stories are so popular, he has an easy and readable style and a knack for describing characters in a short space that gives you a good sense of them.

If you like Westerns, you should like these stories.  However, they are a product of their time and genre and the women, while competent and more active than I had expected, are defined by their relationships to the men in the stories.

But I am going to put a roleplaying spin on my discussions about them:

The Sixth Shotgun has a light mystery mixed with its Western and is a good example of how to blend genres.  There are no real surprises but it is a fun story and could be adapted for a roleplaying adventure pretty easily.

The Rider of the Ruby Hills is virtually a masterclass on how to run a campaign based around a single character.  The main character is exceedingly competent and goes into the situation prepared and with a plan, unfortunately for him, the situation in the valley in not entirely what he expected . . .

I think this is a good model for single character campaigns, the primary character has to be competent because there is just them at the core of it, I think this should be leaned into.  Almost everyone like playing someone of heroic statue now and then and this sort of campaign structure is perfect for it.  In the story the main character finds allies which could be GMCs or even guest players depending on how you wanted to structure the campaign (and if you had people interested in “guest staring” in your game) but they are very much secondary and support to the drive of our hero.  One of the main role of GMCs will be to provide information and context for the player.

In The Rider of the Ruby Hills, our main character wants to claim land and cattle to build a house and settle down after a life of roaming and working for other people and he has a plan to do such.  Naturally, things do not work out as he had planned.   In this kind of campaign a character’s drive could be anything, restoring their family’s good name, overthrowing the evil duke, whatever but it should be clearly defined at the beginning and they should have the capability to achieve such, if things break their way.  Ultimately everything that happens in the game should be building toward that goal and its final achievement (or tragic failure).

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2 comments

  1. You know I have literally never thought of using a novel as the basis for an adventure or a campaign – for worldbuilding, yes – would you just transplant the events and characters from the story?


    • I would not directly transplant the scenario, especially as The Rider of the Ruby Hills is very tied to a place and time, using it as inspiration however, definitely. The lone protagonist coming in to claim their place in a nearly lawless frontier, however, that you can adapt to all sorts of settings and games.



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