Strange Western Tales

Strange Western Stories

“Weird West” Adventures

Pulp Example

  • Deputy Marshall Lee Winters, written by Lon Williams, appearing in Real Western Stories

Helpful Clichés

  • Western Lawman

  • Cowboy

  • Gambler

  • Bartender (Saloon keeper)

  • Native Guide (Indian Scout)

  • Clergyman (Preacher)

  • Banker

  • Bank Robber (Train robber)

  • Judge

  • Noble Savage (Indian Chief, Indian Brave)

Additional Clichés

  • Gunslinger

  • Bounty Hunter

  • Trick Rider

  • Rifleman

  • Cavalry Officer

  • Cavalry Trooper

  • Sod Buster

  • Ranch Hand

  • Prospector/Miner

  • Schoolmarm

  • Indian Medicine Man

Sample Character

Sheriff Hiram Parish

    • Steely-eyed Western Lawman (3)

    • Cowboy Horseman with an Uncanny Relationship with His Horse (3)

    • Rifle Marksman (2)

    • Rational Skeptic Who Sometimes Fears He May Be Wrong (1)

    • (Sidekick) Horse, Amigo

      • Trained Wild West Saddle Horse (2)

      • Stubborn Mule When Faced With Supernatural (1)

House Rules

Magic and The Supernatural in Strange Western Stories

The only “magic” available to players in Strange Western Stories is that gained from the “Medicine Man” cliché. The basic mechanic from Risus, Target Numbers, is used to determine the success or failure of the use of Indian “Medicine.” If more “magical” options are desired, please consult the more detailed rules contained in Weird Crime Report, as well as the notes for American Indian Medicine, below.

American Indian Medicine

American Indian “medicine” is a blending of folk magic, mysticism, luck, personal charisma, and a knowledge of treating illnesses and injuries.

For the individual Indian, it was seen as a charm of protection that would be unique to that person. Often, it took the form of an animal or other natural phenomena. Among many tribes, a boy approaching puberty would undergo a rite of passage that involved a solitary fast and ordeal. The first animal that appeared to the young man in his dreams during this vigil would become the totem of his “medicine.” This totem could sometimes be reflected in the name the boy chooses for himself upon entering adult society.

Occasionally, a totem may carry a ritual prohibition. Breaking this taboo would carry with it the penalty of negating the medicine. The medicine would be restore, but only after a lengthy and complicated purification ritual. In Risus terms, this prohibition would count as a Hook.

Medicine Men were those individuals within the tribe who understood and accessed the rituals of the tribe’s medicine in order to ensure the success of the tribe. They would be called upon to treat the sick and injured, drive away evil spirits and control the weather. They could also be accomplished and fierce warriors, and battle chiefs often looked to them for advice and inspiration in the face of battle.

Medicine Men were also responsible for producing “medicine bags,” which were pouches of various components produced in a ritual fashion as a protective amulet for the wearer. In Risus, should a medicine man wish to create a medicine bag, he would expend one die from his “medicine man” cliché for each medicine bag. The bag then functions as a temporary set of three “Lucky Shots.” Once the shots from the bag are used, they do not heal; after the third shot has been expended, the bag is depleted. The medicine man’s cliché can be healed at a rate set by the GM, or it can be “healed” using the character advancement rules from the main Risus rules at the end of the adventure.

Locale – Point Blank, pop. 312

Backstory – Point Blank is a small town nearby to Forlorn Gap, where Deputy Marshall Lee Winters is the chief lawman. Technically, Winters has jurisdiction over Lonesome Gulch, but tends to allow Sheriff Parish free range in enforcing the law in his county.


  • Saloon

  • Hotel/Stage Office

  • Telegraph Office

  • Jail/Sheriff’s Office

  • General Store

  • Assayer

  • Bank

  • Livery Stables

  • Newspaper Office

  • Schoolhouse

  • Church

  • Doctor’s Office

  • Barber

  • Shoenfrau House, or “Miss Violet's Home for Wayward Girls”

I am indebted to David E. North’s Risus adaptation Wild West!
and to Tim Ballew’s Silverlode 1908
For inspiration on this setting.