Steampunk Old West: Cowboys and Aliens

This is a series of updated blog articles, based on my original article on Steampunk Old West. I will be posting a few blog articles over the next week or so on my experiences and thoughts on taking the old west and adding a dash of victorian science fiction. I have painted and have been painting up some Foundry Old West figures for use with the Legends of the Old West Warhammer Historical rules. I liked the concept of a traditional Old West game, however the film Cowboys and Aliens got me thinking about “different” old west backgrounds. I did first start thinking about adding Victorian Science Fiction or Steampunk elements to the games. Taking aspects such as steam tanks, electric rifles, and aether flyers and adding them to the old west.

Probably the key inspiration for this article was the film, Cowboys and Aliens.

Cowboys & Aliens is a 2011 American science fiction Western film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde. The film is based on the 2006 graphic novel of the same name created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The main plot revolves around an amnesiac outlaw (Craig), a wealthy cattleman (Ford), and a mysterious traveler (Wilde) who must ally to save a group of townspeople abducted by aliens.

Obviously adding aliens into the mix is pretty simple, having now seen the film, there are some nice ideas in there with alien tech, flying saucers, and fighting aliens with only a six shooter or a rifle.

The film has quite a few ideas for scenarios that would be easy to transfer to the gaming table. You could of course “copy” the aliens from the film, or use ailens of your choice. They could be “friendly”, similar to humans, or totally alien (as in insectoid or monstrous).

You could add flying alien craft attacking an old west town or men on horses, who try and defend themselves with their antiquated pistols and carbines.

You could avoid having aliens, and just add alien tech to games, a cowboy finds a phaser or laser rifle.

One aspect that would need to be taken into consideration is the “shock” of seeing aliens, as 19th Century America probably didn’t have the cultural references that we have today. I am pretty sure that if aliens did in fact invade Arizona today, most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Back then, a very different reaction…