Tuesday Jan 02, 2024

How to play Desperado Quickdraw

A GM’s thoughts on how to play Desperado Quickdraw.


Hi everyone, this is a special episode of Firebreathing Kittens. I’m the game master for an upcoming session using the rules for Desperado Quickdraw. In this episode, I’ll share my thoughts after reading the rule book. Hopefully this episode will be a handy guide for how to play for my players, will help me organize myself, and will be useful for you listeners, too, who are looking to play Desperado Quickdraw yourselves.


The sections I’ll talk about are character creation, how to move, how to attack, alternatives to character death,how to use skills, how to help your allies, and spellcasting.


Character creation: Desperado Quickdraw provides some handy dandy character creation randomizers using a deck of cards. Don’t know what character you’re going to play? Draw from a standard playing card deck to generate your character’s name, background, combat stats, feats, starting items, and ammo. For example if you draw a diamond your background is the gambler, who has 2 grit, 4 wit, a firearm aim of 2d12, and a melee aim of 2d12. Here in Firebreathing Kittens, for my players, because we are the same character all season, please feel free to pick from these random lists to build your character. You can also change the flavor; a ranged weapon can be called a bullet, arrow, fireball, etc.


How to move: You can move as many yards as your grit score at the start of your turn. If you move while attacking it makes you less accurate, decreasing your aim DC.


How to attack: Here’s an example melee weapon, the dagger. You can either pierce or cut with a dagger. If you’re piercing, it takes one action to draw the dagger from its sheath, and one action to attack. A dagger gets plus two steps to its accuracy and has a wound DC of 3. Here’s an example attack: You are standing within a yard of an enemy. Your dagger is drawn. You try to stab the enemy with the dagger, so, being a gambler, you roll your melee aim of two d12 dice. The dice result is 12 overall. You add plus two for the dagger’s accuracy, so that’s 14. The person’s right next to you, so your aim DC was zero, so you hit them. The wound DC is plus 14. The 3 wound DC of the dagger is increased to 17. That’s not twenty over, so you didn’t insta-kill your target. They are wounded and must make a fortitude check. They roll grit and compare it versus their total wounds received overall, which so far is just this one stab. Your GM announces they failed their roll, so they take one grit damage. Remember your gambler statted player characters has 2 grit, so taking one grit damage means this NPC probably is pretty badly injured.

Next, let’s talk about ranged attacks. Desperado Quickdraw requires you to draw your weapon, load it, chamber a new round, cock the weapon, fire, and eject the round. That’s about five rounds of preparation for one round of dealing damage, which is different than other tabletop roleplaying game systems you might be used to. Here’s an example weapon, the Baron Lawman single action revolving pistol. This is a short barrel weapon that can hold six shots. Its ammo is 0.44 magnum. It has a wound DC of 6. To fire this weapon, you’d need to first spend one action to draw it from the holster, three actions per cartridge being loaded (one to draw ammo, one to load, and one to rotate the cylinder), an action to fire it, and then three actions per shell expelled to open and eject and rotate the cylinder. Here’s an example of an attack with a single action revolving pistol made by the friend of the gambler. Friend of the gambler, fellow player, your target is ten yards away from the party, which is about thirty feet, so the Aim DC is 4. You make an aim check, which since you’re a gambler means you roll 2d12. The result is a 14. You beat the aim DC by 10, so your wound DC is increased by plus 10. The six wound DC of the pistol is increased to 16. The GM does the fortitude check for the enemy, and announces they’ve taken one grit damage. This is the second grit damage that NPC has taken, so they drop to zero grit. At zero grit, they fall unconscious.


Alternatives to character death: When you fall to zero grit, you’re unconscious but not necessarily dead. Desperado Quickdraw has a list of lasting wounds you can take such as injured arm, leg, eye, etc, which affect your stats. I like systems that have alternatives to permanent character death. It makes me less stressed out as a GM. I don’t have to worry as much about my player needing to make a new character unless they want to.


How to use skills: Desperado Quickdraw lets you hide, listen, spot, bluff, charm, use medicine, and make insight checks. Roll a size of dice based on your ability level, like d2, d4, d6, d8, etc. Then add either grit or wit as a modifier, depending on the skill.


How to help your allies: You can do a first aid check. That’s the medicine skill. If your check is higher than your friend’s wound DC, they can ignore that wound for now. Beware: later first aid checks don’t stack, so if you try to medicine check their next wound, you have to roll against your friend’s total wound DC including that first wound they had been ignoring.


Spellcasting: Desperado Quickdraw is only a portion of the rules that Desperado has to offer. If you’d like to learn about spellcasting, check out the full version of the rules. Based upon all the cool backgrounds and items in the Quickdraw rules, the spells in the full rulebook are probably really fun, too.


I’m looking forward to playing Desperado Quickdraw in an upcoming adventure. Hopefully this little rules chat helps my players build their characters and understand combat a bit. And for everyone listening, hopefully now you’re excited to find the Desperado Quickdraw rule book yourself, and play a game with friends.

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