The stories and traditions of the Old West are as ingrained in most American psyches as baseball and barbecue. In that case, you’d think it would be a snap to sit down and start running a western RPG. After all, most of us were bombarded with western TV shows and movies growing up. In fact, when trying to explain how a role-playing game works to a non-gamer, the example of "it's like playing 'cowboys and Indians' only with rules" is one of the best you can turn to.
Surprisingly, many experienced role-players look a little lost after rolling up their first characters for a western RPG. Most likely they've been weaned for years on fantasy role-play, where racking up a body count and looting the corpses was the surest way to get ahead and move up in levels, achieving almost god-like powers and becoming more or less untouchable as their careers progress.
They're used to running characters that have been pigeon-holed into pre-defined character classes or templates. The thief character picks pockets. The mage casts spells. The fighter fights. A character's chosen class more or less dictates how the character behaves and how he earns his keep for life. It's understandable that many players find it a little unsettling, at first, that most of that is gone in Aces & Eights.
In addition, some players quickly learn that they really don’t know nearly as much about day to day life in the Old West as they thought they did. Other than acting out the plots of their favorite western movies and television shows, they find they really don't know what to do or where to turn once their character is dropped into the game.
Aces & Eights will help nudge you in the right direction and arm you with some ideas. In addition, it will provide a wealth of useful information for both the player and GM to get started. ★