Sunday, 8 December 2013

Wound Cards for "The Rules With No Name"


Every time we play The Rules With No Name, we have difficulty tracking the effects of injury to those gunslingers who are unfortunate enough to be shot.  The data for the effect of each wound is all there, but it's embedded within the various tables and charts, or sometimes in the body text of the rules.  This makes it difficult to remember which modifiers apply to each test.

In the past, I had a bunch of small, paper slips printed, each with the effect of a single wound.  However, these were not ideal because:
  1. We'd have to spend quite a while looking for just the right card to match the injury just received.  It always seemed that you couldn't easily find a "serious chest wound" chit when needed!
  2. Each slip had all the relevant penalties printed on it, but this data was presented as a list.  This meant that every wound chit needed to be read for every test, just in case it had a relevant modifier.  Distinctly tedious!

After gaining some experience with this earlier method of tracking wounds, I decided to design a deck of "wound" cards instead.  This article describes my new approach.

TRWNN Wound Cards

The idea behind these is very straightforward: when your character is shot, draw a card and keep the card to remind you of the effects.  Simple, yes?

The 4 classes of wound: Graze, Flesh wound, Serious wound, Dead
OK, this needs a little more description, I think:
  • Firstly, the card has a location listed on it (one of head, chest, gun arm, other arm, belly or legs).  If that location is behind cover then the injury may not occur; see the main rulebook for penetration of wooden structures and the like.
  • Secondly, the Graze and Dead cards don't require any extra data; their effects are immediate and not progressive.
  • The 54 cards in the deck are obviously more than the 36 possible results on the wound location/severity table.  Indeed, there are exactly 1.5 times as many possibilities with this deck.  To achieve that, I doubled the effects of every second column in the table.  In other words, there are 6 cards for a severity roll of '1' (one for each location), but 12 cards for a severity roll of '2' (i.e. 2 duplicate cards for each location) and so on.
  • Obviously if we keep cards out of the deck to record injuries that have already occurred then it will alter the probabilities for further draws.  Without having done the maths, I don't think that this will be too much of a problem as long as games result in 10 or fewer wounds in total: the deck is large enough that the odds won't be changed by much.  It's a trade-off that I'm prepared to make in order to simplify things.
  • Some characters have skills that allow them to adjust the severity or location of a hit, either in the shooter's favour or to benefit the injured model.  Again, I haven't worked out the statistics for these effects, but I think we'll just draw 2 cards together and allow the beneficiary to choose the one they prefer.  This will still give a bonus to such a character, though without making things too complicated.
  • If wounds are acquired in other ways (melee, falling...) then of course this deck won't give the correct results either in the distribution of severities or locations.  In our games, these are very rare events; maybe we'll just roll the injury as normal and then search through the deck for a card with the correct description.
  • The cards are designed so that they can be stacked to represent the cumulative effect on the injured cowboy.  In the example above, the poor fellow has a total of -3 firing, -5 brawling and so on; this can be seen at a glance.  He won't be doing anything much even if he recovers from the "knocked out" effect of the last card, I think!

Acquiring the Deck

For my own reference, as well as for anyone else who is interested in getting hold of a set of these cards, they can be found here.

[Edit: I've uploaded the original PowerPoint source file here, if anyone prefers that instead].


  1. They look to be a great addition to your games for the ease of play and the players.
    The "artwork" fits how I imagine the game to run, in a fun and quirky style but as for the mathematics involved, if if you've considered most things (as you seemed to have done) then I doubt it'll alter the outcomes that much, after all who is to say that the original odds are any better than the ones you've ended up with ?
    I'm guessing you can't wait to see how they play out and how they're received by your players.
    I'm sure, like many others I'm keen to see the write-up with their use.

    1. Yes, indeed - I am looking forward to trying these out. I think (hope!) that they should make play much easier, but we'll never be quite sure until after that first game or two.

  2. A nice and valuable addition to the rules. I have now purchased these gunfight rules but alas not tried them yet. However I can see the benefits of your card wound system and look forward to your next Gunfight AAR.

    1. Thanks, Clint. I'm sure you'll get a lot of enjoyment from TRWNN!

  3. What a very clever idea! Well done.

    1. Again, thanks. Seems like everyone now wants to see the cards in action, though :-) ...

  4. Very nice cards. Bring on the battle report!

    1. OK, I'm working on it. Need to come up with a decent scenario...

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Dave. I just hope I haven't missed anything off them!

  6. Another good idea. I think playability trumps probability in this instance. I suppose you could also just use multiple decks as well.

    1. You could indeed. The more decks you use, the less the probabilities will be altered by keeping cards out of them. Obviously this costs more, though :-) ...