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"Realistic rules for stagecoach and train hold ups??" Topic

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897 hits since 8 Aug 2022
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Comments or corrections?

huevans01108 Aug 2022 5:34 a.m. PST

Any set of rules out there about driving stagecoaches, losing control of the horses, axles breaking and wheels spinning off, firing from a stage, etc?

Ditto re driving and holding up trains?


DyeHard08 Aug 2022 8:15 a.m. PST

I suspect you are setting yourself up for disappointment with the term "Realistic".

The actual number of stage or train holdups were small, and I suspect you will not find meaningful statistics to approach Realistic outcomes.

Most real cases did not involve shooting or chasing anything, but more like a mugging than as seen in films.
A few famous train robberies:

I suspect your really want cinematic style train robberies.

While stage holdups were greater in number, still not the exciting affairs as in the movies.

Sage holdups background:

Some famous ones:
1916, Jarbidge, Nevada

July 1875 California (no shots or chase)

The Last Stagecoach Robber in Michigan

July 29, 1914 Yellowstone

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2022 9:37 a.m. PST

I always require PCs trying to stop a stagecoach to say, "stand and deliver!" in their best in-character voice, at least for games set in Merrie Olde Englande.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2022 9:59 a.m. PST

The two staples of Westerns.
1) If someone ride in a stagecoach
it is robbed.
2) If someone is playing poker someone is cheating.

huevans01108 Aug 2022 10:09 a.m. PST

Thanks, DyeHard. Interesting stuff and I appreciate the effort.

I'm trying to write small skirmish rules for the 1850-70 period and some scenarios might involve assassination attempts and robberies where the targets are in a coach or carriage. (Or train).

The lore I seek is probably long lost, since no one has driven a Landau or Brougham at far too high a speed with a skittish team of thoroughbreds and a mounted villain firing a Colt at you at point blank range for well over 100 years.

I'm trying to figure out any rules for losing control of the vehicle and the team, etc. I suspect there really aren't any out there.

advocate08 Aug 2022 11:00 a.m. PST

I'd be surprised if it weren't covered in Two Hour Wargames' Six Gun Sound.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2022 11:03 a.m. PST

I'll confess the "realistic" requirement puzzled me. Always worth keeping in mind, especially in skirmish/RPG gaming, that we want something either side might win, and with enough decisions to be made to keep both sides entertained. The whole point of serious banditry and murder is to ensure this is not the case. The typical stage coach robbery is probably "two men ride out of concealment: one holds a gun on the victims while the other collects the loot. Both then ride off." Not much of a game. The assassination version would be "someone fires three shots unexpectedly: if he did this from ambush, he runs away. If he did this with a pistol, the bodyguards then kill or subdue him according to taste." That's even worse.

I think Francisco Pizzaro's assassination might be the only one which would make a decent game, which is why Bob Howard stole it--twice.

Hey You08 Aug 2022 12:53 p.m. PST

Warhammer-Historical Legends of the Old West. Page 72 – Stagecoach scenario. Not sure if you can get the rulebook anymore though for a reasonable price.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2022 1:06 p.m. PST

Roll a D6 for direction and 2 or 3 dice for the number of inches moved works as well as anything for a coach or wagon.

Thresher0108 Aug 2022 2:44 p.m. PST

Hitting anything while firing from a galloping horse, or a fast moving stagecoach will be a veritable miracle, except perhaps at the closest ranges, Hollywood notwithstanding.

That should work well for cinematic gameplay, and add a lot of tension to the games.

There's always a small chance of a hit, but not much of one, which could make life interesting, assuming you have the ammunition to burn.

Throw in a tribe of indians to the mix, once most of the ammo is expended, just for grins, since they heard all of the commotion and are drawn to it, if you are an evil GM like me.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Aug 2022 3:29 p.m. PST

Again, if you can find one, grab a copy of "Rules for Western Gunfights" by Steve Curtiss, Ian Colwill, and "Botch" Blake out of the UK. From the early 70's, the most recent edition had detailed rules for most Western Scenarios, including Cattle Stampedes, etc.

Can't actually recall any specific rules for Train/Coach Robberies, but there were fine rules for moving atop trains and related stuff.

The game mechanics are Mesozoic by modern standards, but the reference materials and specialty rules are invaluable.

Another set (also UK) is "Once Upon A Time In The West," a staggering 4 volume rules set, it covered just about everything. Again, the game mechanics are a "no go" now, but rules for all manner of situations were included, and, like the above title, written with love and respect for the subject.

Best of Luck!


Thresher0108 Aug 2022 5:34 p.m. PST

I'm thinking something like 5% to hit, per round of fire, for multiple shots, and that is probably being very generous.

A D20 is perfect for this sort of thing.

Houdini08 Aug 2022 6:49 p.m. PST

The "Gutshot" rules have a little bit; Effects of stumble of a stagecoach,
Roll 2 D6 – 6 and up – Horse stumbles but is not hurt, it will continue running- 3-5 – A horse stumbles and is lame, it can barely move at 3" per action. Stage comes to a halt. Make an action check to see if stage topples over (2D6 pain to drivers and passengers, make stun check.) 2 – Stage topples! (2D6 pain to drivers and passengers, make stun check.) Roll a die to determine which horse stumbles.

Hey You08 Aug 2022 6:53 p.m. PST has all the GorkaMorka books. Maybe treat a stage as a Trukk with Engine hits being the horses with some modifications to the results of course. There's rules for boarding actions, collisions and crashes. I think you could use the thruster rules for when the driver tries to make the horses run fast.

I think TSATF could be used with some modifications. I have seen train rules in The Courier #61 (TALL WHITE MANSIONS AND LITTIE SHACKS, by NICK NASCATI with a variation on The Sword and The Flame for ACW) although I haven't played that specific variation before. The Courier can be picked up at the Wargame Vault.

Houdini08 Aug 2022 6:58 p.m. PST

I would think a "jump test" would be important in rules for both train and stagecoach scenarios.

advocate09 Aug 2022 11:05 a.m. PST

Good spot, TVAG! I played those rules a lot in the day, but we never had a stagecoach…

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