I’m new to the Boot Hill rules and have little knowledge of guns. I’m looking closely at the 1e rules, skimming 2e, and keeping 3e at hand for reference. I have a couple of questions I could use help with:
1. As the rules are written in 1e, 2e, and 3e, there is no reason to have a Double Action Revolver over a Single Action Revolver. The only functional difference is the slower speed of the DAR vs the SAR, and the cost is virtually the same (in 1e, SAR = $14-$30, DAR = $13-$30; in 2e & 3e, they are $30 & $28 respectively). Even misfire chance is the same in all editions. My understanding is that Single Action Revolvers remained more popular (in the Old West) primarily because the first shot could be gotten off faster (I guess the other reason would be trust and familiarity), but that the Double Action Revolver would actually allow faster discharging of subsequent shots taken in succession. Is that right? Is this a potential good area for a house rule? (Or is there something already in the rules I'm missing?)
2. The Cap & Ball Revolver weapon speed is Below Average in 1e and 2e, but it gets bumped up to Fast in 3e. Is the 3e change a sensible (factual) correction or more likely a transcription error?
I only have the '75 edition (whichever one that is), and I'm not a firearms "expert", but I'll give it a crack.
Single action revolvers require the hammer to be pulled back (cocked) before firing, otherwise depressing the trigger does nothing. Double action revolvers can be operated similarly, but can also be fired by simply pulling the trigger without cocking the hammer (hence the term "double action"). As you point out, single action revolvers were well established, so there was a history of "trust". Also, there are fewer moving pieces in a SAR, so they were perceived as being more reliable (the difference is negligible I'm sure). In single action mode, DA revolvers are just as fast as SA guns with respect to ROF. In double action mode (just pulling the trigger), DA revolvers are slightly slower and less accurate than SA revolvers due to the long, heavy trigger pull. Soooo... yes, this is a great place for house ruling! I would say that (for game purposes) SA and DA revolvers would be the same for speed and ROF (even considering that gunfighters might cock the hammer while holstered to improve the speed of the first shot, as this applies equally to SAR and DAR). If firing DA, you could maybe drop ROF by one and/or impose a penalty to hit.
The big difference is in reloading. SA revolvers must be reloaded one cartridge at a time - open the loading gate, eject the spent case, insert a new round, repeat. With DA revolvers, one simply rotates the cylinder out of the frame, ejects all the rounds at once, then reloads (reloading could even be done with "moon clips" to increase loading time, but I'm not sure that they are appropriate to the time period). So maybe a good house rule would be to slow down the reload for SA or speed it up for DA.
Cap & ball is simply a type of SA revolver. The difference is that the components of the round are not combined into a single cartridge, but are separately loaded - powder, wadding, ball... much like a cannon. The "cap" is the primer that ignites the whole shebang when it is struck by the hammer after pulling the trigger. Because everything is not contained in a single cartridge, the CBR is subject to spoilage from the elements. Consequently, they were normally carried in an enclosed holster. So, they are very slow to draw (combined with the fact that their barrels were usually very long, which adds time to the draw since it need to clear the holster. As you can imagine, they take a while to reload (gunfighters would carry multiple CBR to offset this). The values in my table seem appropriate, so no house rule is necessary here, IMO (unless you're using the 3ed).
BTW, it was established practice to only load 5 rounds even though they could hold 6 because of the danger of having the hammer resting on a live round. Bumping the hammer would actually accidentally discharge the round, so the hammer would rest on the empty chamber in the cylinder. The guns would only ever see six rounds if it was an all-out gunfight and they were being reloaded after firing off the first 5.
An excellent historical reference (if it interests you) is Sixguns by Elmer Keith.
I apologize for the ramble; hopefully this was helpful.
Confirms that 3e cap and ball weapon speed was almost certainly a mistake.
I like the ideas of tweaking the DAR reload time and applying a small penalty to hit. Of course, I will need to play a few times before I go changing anything!
One thing I did notice after, from Blume’s “The Art of Gunfighting” in The Strategic Review v1 n3: “[The DAR] is Marginally slower than firing a single-action type, but on the first shot only.” So maybe a bump down to the DAR weapon speed in the first round in which it used.
The difference, I think would be game flavor. SA guns were popular in the States because of their simplicity and durability. Also the Colt SAA was the US military sidearm and we Americans have always been partial to the piece carried by our boys in uniform. DA guns were much more popular in England and the Continent, Tranters, Webleys and such. Over there sidearms were much more of a gentleman's thing. DA guns were more expensive and weren't exposed to the rigors they would be in the American West (for the most part). There were a few notable American users of DA pistols, Geo. Custer is the first to come to mind. One last thing, the modern swing out cylinder type DA revolvers weren't available until around 1890. Before then they were loaded singly like the Colt SAA or by breaking them open like a S&W Russian or Schofield. I doubt this added anything to the conversation, as I'm unfamiliar with BH and haven't played it (but would like to). However, I am a sucker for 19th Century history and firearms
Thanks, archersix, that does add to the discussion. Good to know those details, that's what makes the flavor really flavorful, as opposed to something more like caricature.
Do you have any info about the price differences? (I think even just a slightly bigger cost difference would put this issue to rest for me, and since 1e allows a cost range, it'd be done without any specific rule change.)
Fantastic discussion here. I'm not a gun expert, either, but have held and seen quite a few older weapons up close and I think that foxroe's answer pretty much hits all of the things I would have commented upon. (One advantage of a friend whose father is a history professor. They had all kinds of cool stuff around the house.)
As to cost, I suspect that those were chosen as "typical" values and the costs in your campaign can vary a lot if you choose without unbalancing the game. I think that it makes sense to have a cost-to-value adjustment so that weapon quality has a cost drawback. Otherwise, as you noted, the power gamer types will all load up on certain weapons regardless of historical rationale.
Marv / Finarvyn DCC playtester (2011) S&W WhiteBox author (2009) C&C playtester (2003) Builder of the TrollBridge for T&T; Amber Diceless player since 1993 OD&D Player since 1975; Metamorphosis Alpha since 1976
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!" - Dave Arneson
Ok, here we go... In the book "Freund &Bro, Pioneer Gunmakers to the West" there is a reproduction of their 1889 retail price list. Colt's DA .45 revolver cost $18 (oddly no SA Colt is listed). A S&W DA .44 is $18, the SA Smith in .44 goes for $16, and a smaller frame .38 SA is $10.The Remington .44 SA is $10 (Remington was really trying to cut into Colt's sales by selling really cheaply, but they didn't accomplish much). There is an interesting listing for "British and American Bulldog D.A. Revolvers in .32 to .44" for $4 to $6. These are interesting, and while advertised as "British and American" could be of American or Belgian make, with probably some cheaper British firearms in there somewhere. There are no listings for the more nicely made British handguns, the Webleys and such. Some light could be shed in the listing for shotguns. They list Belgian, English and Remington shotguns (these would be side by side doubles) with prices ranging from $12 to $35. And, "Greener, Clabrough and finer qualities to order only..." It would likely be the same for the more expensive handguns. Freund & Bro was a very interesting operation. The Freunds operated a series of Gunsmith shops at different places on the frontier throughout the wildest days of westward expansion. They sold everything from your normal firearms to sporting goods and hunting equipment. Today they are best known for their custom gunsmithing especially their embellished and accurized Sharps rifles. The Freunds could certainly be some interesting NPCs in a BH game, don't you think?
Finarvyn , thanks, appreciate your perspective. I do think I will handle this with price for now.
archersix , thanks for the catalog info. The prices seem in-line with the low end of the price ranges in 1e, which prefaces its list, though, with a caveat of sorts: “Prices and wages varied considerably in the Old West. Usually, the determining factor was how easily the items or labor could be obtained, or how great the demand was.”
For chargen I have typed up the weapons list with prices from 2e (because that edition has specific prices meant to be "typical" for "any sizable frontier town"). So below is what I have for the handguns, with a slight reduction to 2e's $28 DAR cost:
Last Edit: Oct 19, 2016 17:08:54 GMT -6 by magremore