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  • Writer's pictureJames Kerr

Radio James Games 2024 Preview: Bettin’ Bullets

Updated: Jun 25

A new game from Radio James Games coming in 2024

It’s maybe a little strange to talk about the 2024 plans for Radio James Games now that it’s April, but, it’s entirely because I play things a little too close to the chest...I should do more marketing. With the Kickstarter for Solo Martial Blues ongoing, I’ve been able to finish several TTRPG books that’ll be released in 2024. Let’s go over them one at a time. This week it’s Bettin’ Bullets.

What is it?

Saddle up for the ride of your life! Bettin' Bullets is a tumbleweed of a TTRPG is about a generation of cowpokes in the small frontier town in the late 1800s, showing off and showing each other up, and rallying together to overcome dangers. Conflict resolution is all diceless—who needs dice? You've got bullets. You bet your life on the bullets themselves here in Bettin’ Bullets.

Cover for the Western TTRPG Bettin Bullets
Bettin' Bullets Cover Mockup

How is it different from other TTRPGs like it?

There’s a few Old West TTRPGs out there, and most of them are "Weird West"—as in, Old West meets something supernatural. That's neat, but, I want to do the Old West with a straight face, because I think there’s more than enough excitement in a cattle drive or a shoot out at high noon.

Even among straight-faced Old West TTRPGs I found they were either too story-driven without enough meat on the bone, or expect folks to act as a dungeoneering party even if they're hanging out in a small town saloon. 

So, Bettin’ Bullets offers a meaty, diceless experience where you bet tokens (Bullets! How fitting is that?) in an auction on the daring things you do. It’s a unique game. It takes place in one fixed town, so your consequences stay with you. Rivalries between PCs are mechanically reinforced. Horses are more than just furry motorcycles. I don’t know any other TTRPG where you could properly do Shane (1953) as easily as The Magnificent Seven (1960). So, it scratches an itch for me.

Bettin Bullets Interior Pages
Bettin Bullets Interior Pages

Why did I do this thing?

Mechanically, I am trying to sew the needle between an “everyone stays together as a party” TTRPG structure and a PvP structure. The most interesting space between those two, where I think is the most fecund conceptual play space, is where Amber Diceless Role-playing has its character creation auction. Most TTRPGs are two different systems, at least—a character creation system and a play system. Sometimes these two systems have nothing, or not much at all, to do with each other. At best they feed from one to the other. Amber Diceless was great for conceptually spring-boarding action from character creation into its play structure, but after the auction is done the duty of carrying those sentiments forward are only in the hearts of the players, and the nefarious plans of the GM, which is a conceptual burden that drifts the longer you play. The goal of Bettin’ Bullets, from a mechanical perspective at least, was to occupy that middling play space in a way that perpetuates play, so, conflict resolution is done by betting in auctions, player rivalries are real but not inherently deadly, and while you can ride off on a quest you know you're always coming back to your little town.

In my heart Bettin’ Bullets is marrying together my dear father’s love of cowboy movies and auctions into a unique TTRPG experience. Yee-haw.

What’s the plan, Stan?

Once Solo Martial Blues is done its time in the sun on Kickstarter, Bettin’ Bullets is probably, almost certainly, next. It’ll go up for a short round of, say, two or three weeks, looking for about $500, which as you know is a damn near fortune in the Old West. That's the plan right now. We'll see how much that shifts.

There’s more, a lot more on the horizon from Radio James Games. This article is only the first in a series of spotlights on upcoming projects. If you want to get in on these games from the ground floor, I do have a Patreon. The deal there is that you have a monthly subscription and then get all the games I release at-cost.

Next week: a preview of a cozy little game called The Psychic Danger Society.

James Kerr

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