THE WESTERN STARS
a posergang by Gary Astleford
Poser/Combat Gang with Nostalgia tendencies, circa 2020
[Mockery's Note: This gang is loosely based on the Western Stars posergang mentioned briefly in the Night City Sourcebook. Gary went apeshit one day, and here are the results. He says he only has about twenty more gangs to go... ]
Gang Name: Western Stars Members: @ 85+ Threat Level: D Threat Code: B3C (*) Average Member's Age: 21 years old Gang Age: 9 years old Controlled Turf: Several blocks in Night City's upper west side Expansion: Some controlled areas of South Night City Allies: Surprisingly, the Western Stars are allied strongly with the Brainiacs, who can procure hard-to-find old west vids and braindances. They also share a common hatred of the Slaughterhouse. Enemies: Several large turf disputes have occured between the Western Stars and the Slaughterhouse, as well as some smaller ones with the Mafia and VooDoo Boys. The gang does not get along with the Sacred Blades combat gang for aesthetic reasons, and several small squabbles have occured between them and the "Injuns." Tag: While not real big on tagging their turf, it seems that it's the only way to let other gangs know who's in control. When they do leave a tag, it's either a spraypainted cowboy hat, or a rattlesnake tail. The initials "WS" are generally likened to the gang, as well.
* : The Night City Sourcebook lists the Western Stars' armor code as a D. Though it is true that they use light armor when they use armor at all, I feel that a D rating is much too low in regards to this extrapolation of the gang and its activities, so I've raised it to a C. However, about 25% of the gang (purists, mostly) use little, if any, armor, and the D rating applies to them more than anyone else.
The Western Stars probably started out as a few buddies getting together to perform recreations of Old West gunfights for fun and entertainment. With the advent of bodysculpting and improvements in plastic surgery, they tailored themselves into their parts, using mid- and late-20th century movies and vidshows for inspiration.
Obviously, this infatuation with the Old West grew from fascination to obsession. The membership of the gang slowly grew. Like other posers, people who joined the Western Stars were looking for an escape from the depredations of the real world by immersing themselves into a living, interactive fantasy. Western films had always been popular, and the western philosophy had been ingrained into the American fabric since the early 1900's. Members found it easy and comfortable to assimilate themselves into the gunslinger mindset.
Sometime early on, the gang began to supplement its legal income (still being supplied by performances) with other less than legal sources. After long, it became obvious that the illegal methods paid a lot better than the legal methods, and scheduled performances stopped.
Now, the gang is an evolved force. While not as dangerous as other gangs, they are nonetheless a force to be reckoned with if angered. All members are proficient gunslingers with a kill or be killed mentality.
The Western Stars has a more complicated structure than most other gangs. The members are divided up into four distinct camps of various sizes. Each camp takes care of a certain type of gang business. Further, the Outlaw camp (easily the largest of the camps) is subdivided into seperate "gangs" which are almost indipendent entities in themselves.
Gang law is composed of old west philosophy, and members can be insulted easily if the proper etiquette is not observed. Insults can range from things such as refusing an offered drink or cigarette, to not making room for a member who is walking towards you on a sidewalk. Staring at a member is a good way to start a fight. Pulling a gun on a member, even if you don't intend to use it, is a good way to get killed. Gang Law stresses "fair fights" between members. Fighting fair with an actual enemy, however, is seen as a luxury that most members can't afford. If there is a dispute between members, the people involved are expected to "play by the rules." The rules include such niceties as announcing your presence before attacking to kill your foe, never shooting anyone in the back, and offering mercy if your opponent backs down.
Status in the gang is determined in a multitude of ways. At the lowest level, you have the faceless members of the Outlaw camp, where every member starts out. Faceless members who prove themselves are either named (when a position is made available), are promoted to join another camp which uses faceless members (like the Couriers), or move on to another Outlaw gang.
Gaining a name in the gang can take a long time, depending on the casualty rate. When a war is on, named Western Stars can be killed and replaced several times in the same month. Faceless members who are promoted to a named position don't usually get to choose which name and face they will get. When a named character in a positon of authority is killed or resigns, other named characters who wish to assume that character's position get first pick. In the case of multiple applicants, trials are held. The most popular of these is that of the "shoot-out," when two members contesting the same role stand thirty or forty feet apart and gun it out in true old west fashion. Needless to say, such activities usually cause more openings, which can lead to more shoot-outs.
There are no named female members in the Western Stars. The gang maintains a reletively chauvinistic metality that they feel is common with the era that they emulate. Women in the gang are only permitted to assume non-combatant roles. They are also predominantly white, though no particular race is excluded (after all, biosculpts make you the part). It is possible for women who undergo a sex change to join the gang as gunslingers, but if it has ever happened, no one knows about it.
Generally, rank is determined by whichever character you assume. Some characters hold much more rank than others. Generally, any one of the justices carries a large amount of unspoken authority. The rest of the gang tends to do whatever the Justices say. There are some rivalries, particularly between members of the Justices and the Outlaw gangs. These conflicts are usually short-lived, and most involve a misunderstanding when it comes to interpretation of gang law. Many such disputes have come from the Clanton/McLowry gang.
Characters that are of exceptional authority and prestige within the gang include Wyatt Earp, "The Duke," "Wild" Bill Hickok, Jim Bowie, William Quantrill, Billy The Kid, Sam Bass, and Jesse James. Of course, all the other named members are well-respected, and any may rise someday to hold one of the more honored names.
Initiation into the gang generally involves several tests. Most of these tests are physical, requiring the tenderfoot to prove his skill at the fast draw, the knife fight, and riding a horse (ie, motorcycle). Knowledge of American history and movie trivia, especially regarding the old west, is looked highly apon.
Justices keep track of the gang laws, and interpret the rules therein. These members are easily some of the more dangerous in the gang. Each of them wears a badge, depicting their historical figure's role in the old west (be it marshall, sheriff, whatever). Most gang negotiations are performed by Justices.
Couriers are fast, and know the city better than any in the gang. They spread news to the other members and transport important gang articles between different camps.
The Scouts maintain a keen eye on happenings in the city. They explore the more dangerous areas, and keep their "ears to the tracks" looking for signs of trouble. Scouts rarely work together, preferring to remain loners.
Outlaws perform the more unscrupulous gang duties, such as assassinations, thefts, and kidnappings. They also act as the front-line soldiers for the rest of the gang. This is the largest camp, which is broken up into units called "gangs" (ie, "the Bass Gang", "the James/Younger Gang", etc). Each gang contains a few "named" members, with several of the "faceless" providing the bulk. If a "named" member ever dies or retires, a "faceless" member is promoted to the position in question.
The justices are all named characters who act as the undisputed government for the Western Stars. Replacement justices trickle in from the other camps when needed, and all have been named characters at one point or another. They tend to work together, or in small groups.
One of the more notable groups that has worked together since the start has been that of the Earps. The Earps, including "Doc" Holliday, are based on the protagonists in "Tombstone," and are sculpted to look the same. Their somber clothing and skill with firearms has given them a dangerous reputation among the rest of the Western Stars. They perform policing duties within the Western Stars gang itself, laying dissidents to rest by killing or banishing them.
Other justices, including "Bat" Masterson, "Shotgun" Collins, and "Mysterious" Dave Mather, act as the judges within the gang, deciding the more peaceful disputes between members. They also perform most of the gang's public relations, especially with other gangs in the city.
Pat Garrett and "The Duke" (who is sculpted to resemble a younger, physically fit John Wayne) are dispatched to find and capture (or kill) Western Stars members who have dropped out, performed treasonous activities, or have betrayed the gang.
"Mysterious" Dave Mather
"The Duke" (ie, any John Wayne role)
Couriers transmit messages between the different camps. All are proficient vehicle drivers, preferring light and fast transportation, and they know the city and the surrounding areas better than anyone else. The named members of this camp are modelled after famous riders of the Pony Express, which is where their nickname ("ponies") comes from.
"Buffalo" Bill Cody
"Wild" Bill Hickok
@ 3 faceless members
Scouts are loners by nature, who leave the gang for weeks or months at a time in order to keep their eyes and ears open. They watch the city, spy on enemies, and communicate important imformation to the justices. From time to time they help coordinate gang strategies. They are modelled after famous American frontiersmen.
The outlaw gangs are the Western Stars front line. While they spend most of their time keeping the criminal activities of the gang in high gear, they also fight wars against other gangs, police, and corporate forces, when such events arise. Each seperate gang is utilized differently, and they are described below.
QUANTRILL's IRREGULARS : William Quantrill, historically, led a group of confederates during and after the American Civil War. In the Western Stars, Quantrill leads a group of faceless members. The Irregulars are the largest unit in the Western Stars, totalling around 32 members. They specialize in street fighting, especially against other gangs. Most new Western Stars members start out in the Irregulars.
@ 31 faceless members
THE REGULATORS : This group, based on the outlaw cast of the movie "Young Guns," is used to perform enforcement duties and an occasional assassination to make an example out of someone (ie, necktie party). Each of the members is named after one of the movie characters. There are no faceless members in the Regulators. They are known to be a rowdy, fearless bunch.
William H. Bonney ("Billy The Kid")
Josiah G. "Doc" Scurlock
Jose Chavez Y Chavez
"Dirty Steve" Stephens
THE BASS GANG : Based on Sam Bass' group of bank robbers, the Bass Gang is used to perform small-scale heists. Most recently, they have started to intercept drug and weapon shipments intended for other gangs.
THE BASS GANG
@ 7 faceless members
THE JAMES/YOUNGER GANG : Another gang made up of mostly named members. While based largely on historical fact, the members of this outlaw gang tend to idolize the characters of the 1980's movie "The Long Riders." In fact, the named members are sculpted to look like the movie characters. Faceless members are usually picked from Quantrill's Irregulars, and serve in the James/Younger gang for life, and may eventually be promoted to a named role within the gang. This gang is mostly famous for large-scale heists against government and corporate groups. They also dabble in the black market, their most notable involvments being in illegal braindance and the drug trade.
THE JAMES/YOUNGER GANG
@ 2 faceless members
THE CLANTON/MCLOWRY GANG : Based on the Clanton/McLowry gang of Tombstone, famous for their fight against the Earps at the OK Korral. The named members of this gang tend to emulate the visages of the villains in the movie "Tombstone," though they are based in part on actual historical fact. These fellows specialize in intimidation primarily, but also deal in illegal cyberware and stolen vehicles.
THE CLANTON/MCLOWRY GANG
@ 5 faceless members
MAVERICK OUTLAWS : There are very few maverick outlaws. There is one, however, of note, going by name of Josie Wales, a role played by Clint Eastwood in "The Outlaw Josie Wales". He is noted for his incredible savvy and his shooting skills, which he uses when performing the occasional assassination for the gang.
WEAPONS AND TACTICS
The Western Stars are none too subtle when it comes to tactics. They prefer to use massive amounts of force to distract an enemy, while a smaller unit of well-armed men circle around to flank their foes from an unexpected venue. When facing numerically superior forces, they tend to set traps and ambushes, then lead their pursuers through them. In the case of extremely cybered-up or otherwise dangerous foes, it is common for the Stars to seperate the object of their malice from his allies and "dry gultch" him in a place where there is no help to be found.
As mentioned in the Night City Sourcebook, the Western Stars are big on revolvers, since they look and feel more like a real cowboy's weapon. They will not shun the use of more modern revolvers, though, such as the popular .454 Super Chief, Nova Arms 338 Citygun, or the Constitution Arms 12mm Multiple Ammunition Pistol. Some Stars carry authentic weapons common during the civil war and shortly after. Most do not, since these weapons are rare and extremely hard to come by in fireable condition.
Most gunslinger-style weapons utilized by the Stars are modern copies, rechambered for new ammuntion and modified with state-of-the-art materials, like J.G. Kelley's modernized Spencer Carbine (RIF +2 N R 7D6 (.52 Center Fire) 7 1 VR 150m.). The carbine, which Kelley originally found at an estate auction in south Texas, was hardly workable. After many hours of reconditioning, Kelley was able to rework the wood, replace the barrel, and reconfigure the firing mechanism to work with powerful centerfire cartidges (which are specially made for the weapon by an undisclosed gunsmith in South Night City). Check out the Old West Weapons Conversions for some ideas. Try beefing them up with options from Solo of Fortune 1. Most cap and ball weapons can be converted to a centerfire assembly fairly easily by anyone trained in weaponsmithing.
During disputes amongst members, old-fashioned weapons are all that gang law allows. The Stars quickly realized in their dealings with other gangs that they needed more firepower than single-action revolvers and lever action rifles would offer them. Most, if not all, will own and use modern weapons, though not proudly. The bravest continue to use their old-fashioned ordinance, and are therefore looked highly apon by other members.
Most members have no qualms about using cyberware, as long as it isn't apparent and doesn't detract from the "cowboy" image. Cyberlimbs are perfectly accepted, as long as they have a realskin covering. Neuralware and cyberoptics are almost the unwritten rule. Of course, no cowboy would be caught dead using something like rippers or wolvers.
Heavy armor is disdained, since most of it doesn't conform to the image. Armored dusters (SP14-18) and Mexican style ponchos (SP10-14) are standard. Suit jackets are usually kevlar-lined as well, in the case of most Justices. Some Stars don't even wear armor, and contend that they will die when their time is up.
WHERE THE COWBOYS ROOST
The Western Stars keep their turf in South Night City's upper west side. Some of their area spills over into what is now mafia controlled, which produces some interesting fireworks displays every once in a while. The Stars have remained, like a group of tight-knit wood ticks, firmly under the mob's skin, despite repeated attempts to wipe the gang out.
The gang's success at staying alive despite the mob's continued assaults is due in part to the fact that not all the members live in one place, as is the case with many other gangs. The Outlaw gangs live apart from each other, and most control one or two blocks independantly of the rest of the gang. The Justices tend to live alone or in small groups, meeting once or twice weekly with each other and other gang leaders. The Couriers don't have any set living quarters, and generally stay with whatever camp they reported to last. As for the Scouts, not even the top echelon Stars know where they reside.
Members commonly hang out in several bar/nightclubs that cater to the enjoyer of fine Country/Western music and entertainment. One of the more popular nightspots is Jesse James' Non-Kosher Deli, an establishment that many members look upon with a great deal of affection (Note : While the CP2020 rulebook lists Jesse James' Non-Kosher Deli on its city map, somewhere just north of the Corp Center, it is not listed in the Night City Sourebook. Specifically, this should lie in one of the buildings on the block where #16, #20, and #38 are placed. While not of great concern, it is an option for most GMs to include the Deli as part of #16's sub-basements, if they wish.). Members who can't abide by country music (and there are several of them) congregate in several industrial watering holes, including the Afterlife.
TERMS - Western Star Slang
Boot Hill : The place where members of the Western Stars are buried/disposed of after they die, the location of which only named members know. Buffalo Hunting : Hunting the members of other gangs for sport. Only allowed in times of war. Camp : A separate group in the Western Stars that handles a particular aspect of the gang's activities. Cavalry, The : Local police. Cayuse : A motorcycle. Specifically, any Japanese motorcycle that is built for speed. Chaps : Leg armor. Character : A named member of the Western Stars. Chuck : Used as a common slang term in relation to combat drugs. Chuckwagon : A place where one can buy combat, or other, drugs. Couriers : High speed transport and communications specialists. Dry Gulch : To ambush an enemy in a remote, isolated place. Faceless : To be a member of the Western Stars who is not yet "named". Frontiersmen : Scouts. Gang : A subdivision of the Outlaw camp. Gangs are usually named after their leaders, and tend to specialize in certain areas of criminal operations. Horse : A motorcycle. Injuns : Members of other gangs. Iron : A gun, specifically a pistol. Justices : The leaders and lawmen of the Western Stars gang. Lawmen : Justices. Maverick : Any named Outlaw who is not a member of an outlaw gang. Named : To be a member of the Western Stars who actually carries the name, looks, and persona of a historical or fictional character. Necktie Party : An outlaw gang that specializes in assassination and wetwork. Outlaws : The criminal camp of the Western Stars. Ponies : Couriers. Posse : A group of people, esp. police, looking to shake down and/or arrest troublemakers. Rodeo : An occasion when Western Stars members go out on the town, looking for a good time (ie, sex). Roy Rogers : Derogatory term for wannabe cowboys. Rustler : A member of the Western Stars who specializes in the theft of vehicles. Sasparilla : A weak drink, similar to a SoCal Special. Scalp : To take something from a fallen enemy, be it equipment or a body part, as proof that you killed him. Scouts : Loners in the gang who keep watch for signs of trouble or unusual occurances. Used to perform recon of the local area. Tenderfoot : A prospective member of the Western Stars who has not yet been initiated. Toothpick : Slang for a knife of any size. Townsfolk : Anyone who is not a gang member. White Buffalo : A legendary opponent who can never be broken or destroyed. Yankees : Coporate or government employees. Yosemite Sam : Derogatory term for anyone who screws up with great frequency.
Dances With Wolves - Not really a standard cowboy flick. Still, a great tale.
High Plains Drifter - One of my favorite Clint Eastwood films.
Lonesome Dove - A miniseries that details a cattle drive from Texas to Montana (?).
The Long Riders - A wonderful film depicting a (largely) factual account of the James/Younger gang.
The Outlaw Josie Wales - A masterpiece, starring Clint Eastwood, about a confederate rebel.
Silverado - A feel-good western that captures the flavor that the Western Stars yearn for.
Tombstone - A popular movie depicting the Earps versus the dastardly Clanton/McLowry gang.
Unforgiven - One of Clint Eastwood's best western roles. Realistic and gritty.
Young Guns - An entertaining account of William Bonney. Also see the sequel.
Just about any western starring Clint Eastwood is worth checking out. Most of them are classics, such as "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly." I've listed the ones that I like above. Though I'm not a huge fan of John Wayne, you may want to see "True Grit." For an object lesson in parody of the western tale that stars Tom Berenger, check out "Rustler's Rhapsody," which takes every western stereotype to the extreme. Another western comedy, but with more serious undertones, is "The Frisco Kid" which stars Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford.