The Temperance Union vs. the Drinkin’est Town in the West: A Wild West Miniatures Scenario


Woman's Christian Temperance Union, 1900

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1900 (Photo credit: State Library of South Australia)

I bumped into a friend of mine, Brian Whitaker, in the Vendor Hall at the recent Fall-IN! ’12.  I asked him for a copy of Viking Looters, which I now have Vikings for, and he reminded me about a very old Wild West game I ran back in the late 90s, when I was running Wild West games quite a bit.  Brian is famous for running “Women only” games, and remembered a game I had run way back in the day as a natural candidate.  This was the Temperance Union game, which was not your usual Wild West Shoot’em Up.  It was a goal-oriented game with essentially two sides, Temperance Crusaders and Drunks.  I was inspired by an old game we ran called “Prussia Needs Women” which we ran using GASLIGHT rules, which were all the rage back then.  The basic game involves scoring points by capturing drunks or destroying liquor.  I didn’t have anything written up that had survived 13 years and several computers, but I did have a decent recollection of this game, which I thought I’d pass on to you now if you’re interested.

The Ladies Temperance Union versus the Drinken’est Town in the West Scenario

If you already do Wild West, you have the buildings and terrain already.  This scenario is really aimed at someone who already likes Wild West Skirmish games.  If you have a few old ERTL Cow Town sets or some MBA adobe buildings, that should work for a town.  This is a town based scenario and the town should at least feature 2 saloons and a brothel or 3 saloons, a church, a sheriff’s office and the standard livery stables, stores, etc.

You’ll need some civilian figures, a town Sheriff, a few deputies and a big gang of drunks and a big gang of Temperance union ladies.   Suggestions for figure lines
For the Temperance League game are at the end of this post.  For mechanics, I basically took the core mechanics of turn sequence, timing, movement, firing, reaction etc from whatever I was using at the time, which was probably THE RULES WITH NO NAME, but it also should work with GASLIGHT which I was also monkeying around with back then.

League Women: First of all, find a whole ton of Western Females (See below).  You probably have them in your collection already.  They must be of the right sort– not saloon floozies but the proper respectable sort.   See if you can convert of some of them to carry axes.  Every female human player should run at least one if not two of these.  You can also add some dowdy and respectable male characters, like a reverend, or clerk.  A small marching band would also add a lot of color.

Barman with Whiskey

Drunks: In turn, look for a good set of drunks.  This may be harder than you think.  Most Western figures are firing pistols or rifles.. this game isn’t about gunfire (primarily). There’s still a few here and there (like guys dancing, drinking etc.from saloon sets that you can find here and there or even convert.  See the list at the end.

Lastly, make a bunch of whiskey barrels from little craft bits, and put them all over the town in strategic locations.  Of course there’s going to be a bunch at the saloon, but remember this is the Drinkin’est town in the West and everyone, including the pastor, has a stash.

Craft Barrels come in many sizes. Stain them Brown Wood colored and Ink in XXX on the side.

The Temperance Union is a giant gang of characters– you could make all the (female) players play them and play the drunks as the referee, or have a few (male players) run the drunks.   Considerations: if you have humans (preferably men) playing the opposition, they are prone to the chaos factor that makes the game more exciting.  As the referee, you kind of know the “right” way to play and will make decisions that way– it gets a little “stagey”.

OBJECTIVE: The League marches through town, seizing caches of that demon whiskey and destroying it on sight.  You can have them burn it (with impressive fireballs) or take an axe to it.  For each barrel destroyed the player got a reward token (I used pennies).  For each drunk captured (see rules exceptions below) to be dragged home by the ear, two pennies.

Rules exceptions  (above and beyond the rules you are using for game mechanics)

The Temperance Union Players

The women aren’t armed, except a few with axes for the barrels.  Instead, they use the power of SCOLDING versus a specific target 3″ away.  For each turn spent Scolding, the drunk will try to get away.  If he fails his Nerve test, he shuffles about looking uncomfortable and hangdog.  If he passes, he’ll move ten inches away from her and she will have to chase him.  Once “captured” the character will follow the League woman around docilely, his will broken and he just wants to go home and sleep it off.

I used a 3D6 method for starters, and modified it for other factors– level of drunkeness, whether the drunk was married to the Scolding woman, etc.  Looking for 5s and 6s to score a win.

The drunker the drunk (see below), the greater the bonus for Scolding.  Drunks might actually be married to some of the League characters (you have to set this up in advance, as GM) in which case they will seek to avoid being captured and run a greater distance of 15″ when they see their wives coming.  Wives get an additional scold dice when scolding husbands.  When five or more League women are in a group they can start a LOUD HYMN SINGING to anyone within 10 inch range (you might wish to get some of your female players to loudly sing “What a friend we have in Jesus” out loud at this point).  This gives an additional bonus for subsequent SCOLDING attempts– the men are willing to do anything if they just stop that caterwauling.   Women in the West didn’t usually get involved in gunfights (usually!).  So the Temperance Union will not do so either.  They are respectable women, after all.  Their last and best characteristic is WOMANLY VIRTUE.  Nobody who is playing their role correctly is going to shoot them.  The Code of the West states you can’t shoot a woman.  So even the drunkest drunk isn’t going to do that.. be he might grapple with them or Cuss them out but no gunfire.  Of course, younger (teenaged) Drunk players have a problem with that, being naturally bloodthirsty.  You’ll have to ride herd on that.

Drunks

Drunks can CUSS right back when they get scolded.  CUSSING doesn’t capture anyone but it repels women who must check nerve or back up out of SCOLD range.  In addition, drunks can get involved in a tussle with women actively involved in destroying alcohol stores.  This is GRAPPLING, resolved by the rules you’re using for melee and such.  Grappling is not hitting, it’s physically stopping a woman from taking an axe to a keg.  Code of the West and all that.

The drunks are always at the disadvantage in this game, I’ve found– and that’s the way it should be.  So I toss in a Sheriff and some deputies to balance things.  They will act in the interest of the business owner (e.g. saloon) and attempt to arrest the women.  If a woman character hits a deputy or sheriff, they can use physical force (of a non-deadly nature) to detain them and drag them off to jail.

VICTORY:

Add up the number of barrels at start and the number of drunks (x 2).  This number is the victory threshold
Each Temperance Union woman counts up pennies at the end of the game.  If the number of pennies captured is less than a quarter of the Victory Threshold, crusade was a failure, and the ladies will have to regroup and try again another day.  If the total is between a quarter and a half of the threshold, it was only a minor victory in the ceaseless battle against Demon Whiskey, and they will have to try again another day.   If they score more than half of the Victory Threshold, it was a Victory in the battle against Whiskey!!!  Of course, reading the results in reverse for the Drunks..

There were a few other things, but I’m not remembering them all that well.  That’s the core idea of this scenario, in any event.

Figure Sources (2012)

Wargames Foundry Miniatures

Temperance League:
Range Victoriana, VC002 pack: The Working Class (with minor mods), VC004 Ladies (no mods), VC006 Gentlemen Escorting Ladies,

Range Old West, OW11/3 Townspeople (School Marm) (Layabout makes a good drunk, Shopkeeper a good saloon owner)

Drunks:
Range Old West, OW115, Just Passing Through (all) OW118, Farmers and Cowhands, OW 114, Victorian Gents, OW112 Out on the Town

Brigade Miniatures

Temperance League:
Doesn’t have a lot of Western Civilian women, but Western Characters (5) could make excellent Temperance League MEN.

Dixon Miniatures

Range: Old West Line

Temperance League, single figs
WG10 Woman Walking, WG27 Lady standing looking stern, WG92 Mad Preacher (bible and shotgun), WG 37-40 (Pioneer women) all work very well converting rifles to axes for the barrels. Ditto for WGP 5  WG24 Young Lady with parasol, WG26 lady stepping up (with conversion)

Drunks
WG12 Gamble/Sutler, standing smoking cigar, WG93 Barman with whiskey bottle, WG95 Town gent waving hat, WG96 Town Chav, WGV 2 (violin player and man dancing jig) WGV 3 poker set, WGV 6 piano player and singer,

Old Glory Miniatures

WP-17 Wagon Train settlers has many women figures in it.  just the right sort.  The men can be decent Drunks, too.
WP-31 Country Doc with buggy
WBS-74 Civilians (Civil War Range) has tons of women and men that would be useful.

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One response to “The Temperance Union vs. the Drinkin’est Town in the West: A Wild West Miniatures Scenario

  1. Dennis Largess

    Walt, sounds like a lot of fun.
    If you ever try something along these lines again, Have you ever considered the movie, Hallelujah Trail?
    It sounds like you could have a lot of fun with that.