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Boot Hill - Wild West RPG - TSR

See also: Westworld ~ Wild West ~ Gunslinger


Boot Hill (1st edition)
Boot Hill was one of TSR's oldest role playing games, dating back to the beginnings of Dungeons & Dragons itself. The Wild West setting never really caught on in its time. Ironically, Boot Hill is probably more popular now, and copies are scarce.

The 1st edition booklet was was published in TSR's early years, and would be familiar to owners of the D&D brown books.
1st print (1975) on the left, 2nd print on the right.
1st printing has a folded sheet (map) leafed in the booklet, plus a perforated, fold-out charts page in the back. 2nd printing jettisoned the map, but retained the perforated fold-out.

Many more photos at my game blog:
BOOT HILL 1st Ed (1975): Simple and Freeform early TSR RPG


1975, 1977 ... Brian Blume & Gary Gygax ... 34 pages ... Tactical Studies Rules

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1st printing (1975): Amazon

2nd printing (1977): Amazon

Boot Hill (2nd edition) [BOX SET]

Boot Hill 2e is the best-known. The rules are reorganized and expanded from 1e Boot Hill, but are still simple and freeform.

The box contains the 36-page rulebook, poster map, and 70 counters (68 + 2 blanks).

The orange box set was in print for years, so earlier and later printings have some minor differences. I compare them over at the Game Gallery blog.

I've seen a later print of the 1979 set, with an RPGA flyer dated 1982, which gives an idea of its print run.

The 2nd edition box set was re-released in 1984, featuring all-new box graphics (Frederic Remington's "The Cow Puncher" is the lid art). Contents are identical, save the rulebook's cover matches the box. Maps have slight ink variations and differing TSR logos and numbering. The 1984 version is more rare.

See my video unboxing the 1984 set, contrasted with a 1979 set


"You step from the cool shade of the Long Branch Saloon into the midday heat of Promise City. Loosening your Colt in its bolster, you look down Main Street and spot the leather and denim-clad stranger who called you out. Citizens of the town scramble for cover as they sense the forthcoming battle. The outlaw doesn't look fast enough to match your draw, but... wait! Your keen eyes catch the unmistakable glint of the sun against gun metal from the roof of the dance hall - the yellow coward has a buddy who's going to shoot you in the back! What will you do? Think fast, or you'll be the next resident of... BOOT HILL!
BOOT HILL is the game of role-playing in the Wild West of history and legend. Each player adopts the persona of their character, becoming a shiftless outlaw robbing banks and stages, a renegade half-breed leading Indians on the warpath, straight-shooting sheriff determined to clean up the town, and so on. This boxed version contains a revised and expanded rules booklet (which now includes ratings for many of the real-life "fastest guns that ever lived"), a campaign map for El Dorado County ("Somewhere in the Southwest"), percentile dice, and a 34" X 22" map of Promise City, including a movement grid which can be used with the counters provided (70, including 2 blanks) or by miniatures, and detailed structure drawings showing door, window, and stair locations as well as the height of the buildings! BOOT HILL merges the West of movies, television, and literature with reality to form the locale for endless hours of adventure and fun. Strap on your gunbelt, and enter the world of BOOT HILL!"

1979, 1984 ... Brian Blume & Gary Gygax ... TSR 7005 ... ISBN 0394518756

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Amazon | DriveThruRPG (PDF / Reprint)

Boot Hill (3rd edition)
The last edition of Boot Hill was released as a 128-page paperback, with the map attached in the back. The rule system in 3e is unrelated to 2e Boot Hill. A much more detailed RPG system, if that is your style.


"This 3rd edition of the classic BOOT HILL game is thoroughly revised and updated. It includes:
• Fully rounded characters with over 60 skills to choose from;
• Revised rules for shootouts and fistfights emphasizing quick thinking and quick action;
• Extensive campaign guidelines plus historical background and a timeline of the Old West;
• Two historical gunfight scenarios plus numerous short adventures;
• Fold-out maps of Promise City and the surrounding territory."

1990 ... Steve Winter (adapted from 1st & 2nd eds by Brian Blume & Gary Gygax ... 128 pages + fold-out map ... TSR 7005 ... ISBN 0880389761

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Amazon | DriveThruRPG (PDF / reprint)

The Boot Hill RPG product line's appearance changed dramatically over the relatively short time period of 1981-4. -W

Referee's Screen and Mini-Module
"Shootout in Northfield is a game using all the basic BOOT HILL rules except Random Movement Determination. No advanced or optional rules are used unless specifically mentioned (see Morale). There are two sides, the James-Younger gang and the citizens of Northfield, Minn. For convenience, one side will be called the James-Younger Player and the other will be called the Northfield Player. Any number of people can play, but one player should act as leader for each side. If there are more than two players, each player should control one or more historical characters in the shoot-out. Players may want to create BOOT HILL characters of their own to join one side or the other. The Northfield scenario also is an excellent solitaire game."

1981 ... 2-panel screen + 8 page mini-module ... TSR 6701 ... ISBN 0935696776

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Mad Mesa (BH1)
"As you approach the small town of Mad Mesa you hear the loud, explosive bursts of guns being fired. Passing the road sign indicating the town of Mad Mesa, you notice that the population number on the sign has been written over and reduced more than once. You realize that maybe a night's stay in Mad Mesa might not be as restful as you had hoped it would be. Yet, you and your horse are tired, so you cautiously enter Mad Mesa wondering what to expect next.
Mad Mesa is the first in the series of modules for use with the Boot Hill™ game system. This module not only offers the usual multi-player, role-playing adventure, but also a special solo game."

1981, 1983 ... Jerry Epperson & Tom Moldvay ... 32 pages ... TSR 7701 ... ISBN 0935696717 / 0394527054

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Amazon | DriveThruRPG (PDF / reprint)

Lost Conquistador Mine (BH2)
"A dead man's cryptic treasure map may lead to a fortune in Spanish gold — or to quick death. Can you elude Indians, claim jumpers, bandits, and vigilantes and find the lost gold of Mendoza?
Lost Conquistador Mine was originally used as a tournament module at the GEN CON® XIII Game Convention. The module contains town and wilderness scenarios that can be combined to create a series of exciting adventures.
For the best in adventure gaming products, look for the TSR logo on games, modules, and playing aids."

1982 ... David Cook & Tom Moldvay ... 32 pages ... TSR 7702 ... ISBN 093569689X / 0394525949

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Amazon | DriveThruRPG (PDF / reprint)

Ballots and Bullets (BH3)
"'They’re stealin’ the ballot box...'

And vote theft is only one of the perils stalking the town when the folks of Promise City must choose between BALLOTS... and BULLETS.

It's 1882 and Cochise County, Arizona is the wildest part of the wild west. Rustlers are everywhere. Indians and badmen lurk in the hills. Robberies are common. Against this setting, two hostile political factions struggle for control of tiny Promise City. And YOU are there... as a gunman or lawman, a hired hand or campaign worker ... OR as a candidate for office.

Inside this module, you'll find...
• Complete material for a 12 week political campaign.
• 213 detailed building descriptions and a map of Promise City.
• 300 Individual character descriptions of the town's residents.
• Seven fast-playing scenarios.

You’ll also discover...
• How to scare off opposition voters.
• How to handle loud-mouthed hecklers.
• How to hold political rallies.
• How to stuff the ballot box.
— And much, much more —"

1982 ... David James Ritchie ... 32 pages ... TSR 7703 ... ISBN 0935696903

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Amazon | DriveThruRPG (PDF / reprint)

Burned Bush Wells (BH4)
A comparison of the original BH4 vs the reprint over at our Game Gallery

"No two ways about it: the town of Burned Bush Wells sits snugly in the back pocket of Mr. Lyle Underhay, businessman. Now, unlike some of the other merchants in the town, Underhay's dealings have been pretty underhanded.
Now your hand of riders stands at the edge of town, a cold norther at your back that cuts through even the wolf pelts slung across your saddles. The skins will draw a decent price in the general store, and you'll draw attention: from the good citizens; from a group of tough-looking rounders that seem to walk into trouble before it starts; from a small, spunky band of shop-owners; perhaps from Underhay himself.
Burned Bush Wells is a BOOT HILL Wild West Module that provides both town and wilderness adventures set in the dead of winter."

1984 ... Jeff Grubb & Allen Hammack & Brian Blume & Larry Elmore (cover) ... 32 pages ... TSR 7704 ... ISBN 0880380446

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Amazon | DriveThruRPG (PDF / reprint)

Range War! (BH5)
"GOOD NEWS: The Civil War is over and you have inherited 640 acres of wheat fields, apple orchards, and Douglas firs in Grant County, Oregon. A family legend leads you to believe your great-uncle buried his fortune somewhere on the land.
BAD NEWS: Your farm lies between the powerful, gun-slinging cattle ranchers and the stubborn, angry sheepherders. Both sides want your land, cattle rustlers want your barn, townspeople want your business, and the sheriff wants your help.
Will you take a job as a hired gun, turn to crime, become a deputy, or settle down to pick apples and thresh wheat? This decision and many more await you in this Special Campaign Module, RANGE WAR!
RANGE WAR! simulates the Old West conflict between cattle ranchers and sheepherders, rivals for grassland and water. This module for BOOT HILL Wild West Game includes:
* 12 action-provoking scenarios
* 6 pregenerated player characters.
* Over 200 nonplayer characters.
* A city map of Promise City, Oregon using the BOOT HILL Street Map repeatedly.
* Detailed building, ranch, settlement, and farm descriptions.
Plus. . .
* Background material for starting your own BOOT HILL campaign."

1984 ... Philip Taterczynski & Larry Elmore (cover) ... 32 pages ... TSR 7705 ... ISBN 0880381051

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Amazon | DriveThruRPG (PDF / reprint)

The Taming of Brimstone
Taming of Brimstone was the only Dragon Magazine centerfold module for the Boot Hill RPG. It appeared in Dragon issue 71.

March 1983 ... Donald Mumma

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Check Wayne's Books Inventory for Dragon 71


I couldn't resist adding a favorite book/movie: Westworld. Note to directors & movie studios: Please do a remake! [EDIT: I wrote this many years before the HBO series.] I'd love to see this movie done with modern standards and a good budget. Plus, to explore Romanworld and Medievalworld in more detail.

The book, by Michael Crichton. It is written in movie script form.

"Live out your fantasies for $1,000 a day at Westworld — the ultimate resort!
Murder, violence, wild sexual abandon, any human desire is fulfilled by totally computerized, humanoid robots programmed for your pleasure alone... Until a small computer casualty spreads like wildfire and one man stands alone against the berserk machines bent on total slaughter!"

1974 ... 108 pages ... ISBN 0553084410

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The DVD.

"A amusement park for rich vacationers. The park provides its customers a way to live out their fantasies through the use of robots that provide anything they want. Two of the vacationers choose a wild west adventure. However, after a computer breakdown, they find that they are now being stalked by a rogue robot gun-slinger."

1973 (2000)

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