Design Diary for 18XX Outlaw

18XX Outlaw is a game about gunslingers (who MAY be outlaws depending to who you ask) in weird west performing jobs 

In here I've disclaimed my current game design process. I'll use that as a frame work to keep things organized here


Different than Muramasa, I've decided to make gunslinger theme before looking for a cover, Maybe East reminded me of west and there I went. I was actively searching for a gunslinger cover. In the cover you see above, actually the hat is me tweaking the original art. So now we have a gunslinger! 

Why is the place so alien? Maybe it's weird west, not old west?  Does he look cool doing it? Like ' I rather be doing something else but this pays'?  Maybe they don't care about the law, just wanna get on with their lives?


At this part, first, I started researching what else could be made in the 1800s. I recalled a reddit post about having a party of a samurai, a gunslinger, a pirate, an ex-incquisitor and a steampunk scientist would be historically accurate in the 19th century.

That was good because because Outlaw and Muramasa could coexist but also made me realized I wanted to extend the series to 5 games.

So naive looking back after 10 games lol
Regarding design, I had many things on my database (many western movies, Steel Ball Run, Mandalorian, Trigun...)


 Since Muramasa had Magic Seals of allowing freeform actions, I wanted to make freeform reactions. So I remembered Lightning Jack, Paul Hogan's character full of charms that supposedly protected him from specific harms. I had my items.

Regarding special abilities I was not sure what to add to the characters. So, I tried to give them more personality and see what could pop up or leave at Cutting. Nicknames, custom weapons and rides came here. Names were created base on the most common backgrounds.

To give more narrative power to the players, I end up adding the option of breaking a Charm to temporarily get control of the harm. That would make some interesting scenes. 

GM tables were specially interesting because I wanted the opportunities to be really open. In the sense that you could work attacking, protecting, transporting...etc.  If the opportunity is a poker championship with a grand prize. What can the players do? Compete, cheat, be bodyguards,  try to steal the prize....

If the character follow no laws, they don't HAVE to keep stealing stuff. It's about just making a living in a huge wasteland where you can be sure even the ones who upholds the law are probably faulty too.


First thing to change was some tropes. This was being submitted to a 24XX Jam and the host was kind enough to point out I accidentally let pass some harmful tropes along the way. This was really eye opening. If you're meddling with tropes, you ned to be more careful with what problems that tropes entail.

Another thing was the rides. Originally it were tables to create horses only. After some players wanted to ride a lizard or a bird I realized why da hell I'm aiming low here. Updated the table and it felt more right. 

Combining with other 18XX games

Since the players are for hire, with the right coin it's reasonable to assume they would be up for any mission, maybe even against characters from another party.

  • Muramasa a blade may be related to a missing relative of an important politician in the western
  • Locker an escapee could be trouble to wealthy port merchants
  • Night organization could be short-handed and mustered professional back up
  • Victorian mastermind could hire the outlaws to do his bid, maybe under false pretenses
  • Dreams there's a reward for rescuing someone who went to sleep using magical herbs and never woke up
  • Ragnarok teleporting runes could be anywhere even here in the desert
  • Solomon an everyday issue in a town is a demon
  • Richelieu France is not keen to guns, maybe the rebellion could use a distraction
  • Rail Way trains have always crossed the desert bringing all sorts of goods..what if is the cause of some troubles?

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