The last few months on the blog I’ve been rambling about creative projects, but most of my actual project time has been spent on re-working a game system, which (at least late in the project) is more about structure and math than creativity. So this week I’m going to take a break and give the creative part of my brain some exercise with a random one-shot. Usually I give the script one spin and make myself do one of the two random ideas it comes up with, but this time I cheated and kept reloading until something caught my interest. It’s been a while since I’ve played with a new idea, so I figured I should ease into it. The one that finally stuck was “A Western Version of The Princess Bride as directed by Robert Rodriguez.” Let’s do it.
The Bad Guy
Humperdink Prince is the richest cattle baron in Florin, Texas, but a big herd needs a lot of land to really flourish. Prince has bought up what land he could get for a price he deemed reasonable (it rarely was) and, with the help of his brute squad, has managed to scare off most of those who wouldn’t sell or wanted too much. There’s just one hold-out: The Gilder clan. Jacob Gilder won’t sell for any reasonable price and every time Humperdink’s thugs have tried to intimidate the Gilders, they’ve come back bloody.
Humperdink has recently convinced the local school teacher, Miss Bonita Flores, to be his bride. In addition to teaching the town’s youth, Bonita works tirelessly to help the less fortunate, which has won her the love and respect of the people of Florin. She’s been selected Cattle Drive Queen for the last three years running. Bonita’s popularity is exactly why Humperdink has decided she’s of more use to him dead than alive. If she were to die and the hands of the Gilders, the whole clan would be strung up as soon as the posse caught up with them, leaving their land up for grabs. Luckily, Humperdink knows just the man for the job.
We’re going to have to depart from the original story structure a bit, if only to avoid a situation where genre and style demand that one of the protagonists be reduced to a fine gooey pulp. Fezzik and Inigo can’t be part of the plot to capture and kill Bonita. They’re either working with Westley at the beginning of the story or, if you prefer to do the “getting the band back together” (maybe with the sword fight and wrestling match from the original as flashbacks or part of the convincing) thing, they’re old friends who Westley turns to when he finds out about Buttercup.The guys working for Vizzini are a future fine mist.
Since the whole gang is there from the beginning and we don’t want to lock into the plot of the movie, we’re also going to get rid of the part where Westley and Buttercup get captured. If you really want to work in Count Rugen’s torture machine and the abino, start the game with Westley as the Count’s prisoner. Maybe overhearing Humperdink’s plan is what forces him to make a daring escape and track down his old friends to save his love.
For our purposes, the plot is broken down into two main segments: rescue and revenge. The first part of the story is about rescuing the princess from Vizzini. The assault on the castle is about taking Humpedink down, not rescuing Buttercup again. In fact, Buttercup may be the one who’s leading the charge. In fact, if you don’t mind playing the first half with a split party, she should probably be a PC.
I’m going to give the hero’s stats in Cinemechanix rules (which you can get your hands on by joining the playtest group).
The Man In Black aka The Dread Bandito Roberto aka Farm Boy*
Role: Dashing Man of Action
Backstory: Ranch hand kidnapped by The Dread Bandito Roberto and trained as his replacement.
Fatal Flaw: Overconfidence: The Man In Black has never been bested, and assumes he never will. He rushes headlong into danger, never considering the odds.
Trademarks: Gunfighting 2, Highly Intelligent 2, Brawling 2
Special Effects: Immune to Rattlesnake Venom
Hero Factor: 6
Tag Line: “Como tu desees.”
WWPHITM? Wilmer Valderrama
Plot Devices: True Love, Fearsome Reputation (Dread Bandito Roberto)
Trivia: Not Left-Handed
*Not Westley. Giving him an actual name seems genre-inappropriate.
Role: Flamboyant Gunfighter
Backstory: Gunsmith’s son who’s spent his whole life preparing for his revenge
Fatal Flaw: Vengeance: Diego is consumed by his need for revenge and will stop at nothing to even the score when someone has wronged him.
Trademarks: Gunfighting 3, Drinking 2
Hero Factor: 5
Tag Line: “Hello. My name is Diego Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
WWPHITM? Benicio Del Toro
Trivia: Also Not Left-Handed
Role: Reluctant Hired Muscle
Backstory: Gifted with enormous physical ability, found a way to earn a living from it.
Fatal Flaw: Conflicted: Fuerto doesn’t really want to hurt people, it’s just his job. Fuerto doesn’t have a problem thrashing faceless hordes, but even the slightest display of humanity from an opponent will make Fuerto feel bad about hurting them and possibly even hold back.
Trademarks: Strongman 3, Brawling 2
Special Effects: Used to fighting groups. Fuerto never suffers a penalty to defense rolls no matter how many times he’s attacked in a round. However he suffers 1 Drop when fighting against a single opponent.
Hero Factor: 5
Tag Line: “I just want you to feel you’re doing well”
WWPHTIM? Danny Trejo
Trivia: Enjoys Rhyming
The Princess is kind of bland, so we’re going to have to punch her up a little to make her worthy of a Rodriguez heroine.
Role: Dedicated Community Activist
Backstory: Grew up on a farm.
Fatal Flaw: Too Much Empathy: Bonita feels everyone’s pain and feels obligated to help them in any way possible.
Trademarks: Resourceful 2, Charm 1, Well-Educated 1, Can Take Care of Herself 1
Hero Factor: 5
Tag Line: “When I say you are a coward it is only because you are one of the slimiest weaklings to ever walk the earth!” WWPHTIM? Jessica Alba
Plot Devices: True Love, Beloved By Everyone (except that one old lady) Trivia: Only agreed to marry Prince in hopes of convincing him to use some of his wealth and power for good.
The Bad Guys
Role: Rich Jerk
Trademarks: Dirty Tricks 2, Throw Money At It 2
Hero Factor: 4
Tag Line: “Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got the Cattle Drive Hoe-Down to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and the Gilders to frame for it. I’m swamped!”
WWPHITM? Josh Brolin
Plot Devices: Rich & Powerful
Role: Weaselly Criminal Mastermind
Trademarks: Dizzying Intellect 3, Crime 2, Strategy 1
Hero Factor: 6
Tag Line: "Inconceivable!"
WWPHITM? John Turturro
Sheriff Tyrone Rugan
Role: Dirty Cop
Trademarks: Tracking 2, Gunfighting 2, Torture 2
Hero Factor: 6
Tag Line: “How Marvelous.”
WWPHITM? Don Johnson
Trivia: Has 6 fingers on his right hand.
- If a character winds up Mostly Dead (“Broken” in game terms), they PC’s may decide to look up Professor Maximillian, a travelling snake-oil salesman and purveyor of Maximillian’s Miracle Elixir, which he claims can do anything from cure baldness to raise the mostly dead. They’ll have to find him in his nearby farmstead. He avoids Florin ever since the stinking sheriff had him ridden out of town on a rail. (WWPHITM? Cheech)
- Should the characters venture into Hell’s Canyon during the adventure, they’ll have to deal with rock slides, dust devils, and B.O.U.S.es (Buzzards of Unusual Size)
- Vicente will probably have more men than Vizzini did in the movie, and they should all have a Hero Factor of 5. You should make them distinctive and interesting.
- The king’s brutes are mooks.
- If the party finds out Prince’s motivation, they might decide to get the Gilder clan involved. This would probably be a good spot for a Michael Madsen or Harvey Keitel cameo.