BHAW – The Ballad of Bad Bob McKlusky

The Ballad of Bad Bob McKlusky is a free adventure for Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands. The Bounty Hunters are on the trail of a notorious cattle rustler but in the Atomic Wastelands things are never quite that simple.

The adventure is presented in a non-linear fashion as a collection of Clues, Locations and Complications for the GM to assemble as he or she sees fit.

>  Download the Ballad of Bad Bob McKlusky today!

More free stuff from Polar Blues Press here:


Polar Blues Press Downloads

A collection of free games and adventures to download from Polar Blues Press. More product specific information can be found at

Full Games

>  Lawmen v Outlaws (Fudge)
Cyberblues City Deluxe (Fudge)
Bounty Hunters of the Atomic (Fate)
Mutant Bikers of the Atomic Wastelands (Fudge)

Adventures For Cyberblues City

>  Going The Distance
A Very Cyber Christmas

 Adventures for BHAW

Night of the Atomic Snowmen
> The Ballad of Bad Bob McKlusky

The Bounty Hunters are Two

It’s an anniversary that matters only to me, but today marks two years since I released Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands.

I’ve not done much with BHAW in this past year as I’ve been occupied with Cyberblues City, however I can share an interesting statistic: the number of downloads of the game in its second year match almost exactly those for the first year. Roughly speaking as BHAW is approaching the 1000 download mark and I can see there about 500 last year and 500 this year; one or two each day, every day over two years.

If BHAW weren’t entirely free, I’d be feeling rather smug.

This consistency does surprise me. I would have expected the game’s downloads would have run out of steam by now, especially as I’m not really out there actively promoting it.

There are two things I can point as having boosted interest in the BHAW. The first, earlier this year, was the Mad Max movie. I posted about that before. I found it quite amusing that the spike in download matched the film release so closely.

The other was getting my games listed on E. Chris Garrison’s The Compendium of Free Role Playing Games ( This site has been going since 1994 and has clearly quite a following. So much so that it has quickly supplanted RPGNet as the main source of referrals for BHAW.

I suspect it doesn’t hurt that BHAW as awarded the “Cool Game” icon on The Compendium of Free Role Playing Games, which puts the Bounty Hunters on the same category as Ars Magica, GURPS Lite and the current (basic) edition of D&D!

The Mad Max Effect

Must have been about a month ago when it occurred to me that with a new Mad Max movie coming out it would make sense to put out something new for Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands to promote the game and ride the post-apocalyptic hype the movie was likely to generate. I chose not to as my head was on a different project (Cyberblues City) and the only thing for BHAW that I had ready in a state close enough to was an adventure that wasn’t all that Mad Maxy.

In hindsight I’m glad. BHAW has pretty decent vehicle combat rules. I’d happily play the previous Mad Max movies with those rules. Mad Max Fury Road however takes things to a whole new level. There is such imagination and loving attention to detail in Fury Road’s vehicle mods and weaponry it makes BHAW road combat look rather tame.

Still even without any new promotion BHAW is clearly enjoying the Mad Max Effect. Downloads of BHAW have picked up significantly since the movie was released. Nothing crazy, we’re just talking a couple of downloads per day, every day over the last week or so, but I figure for small game that has been out now for well over a year that’s pretty good going.

But the real moral is this: if you haven’t already, go see Mad Max Fury Road on the big screen. You won’t regret it.

A little thing I like to call Cyberblues City

I’ve been working on a new roleplaying game I call Cyberblues City. Cyberblues is sort of like cyberpunk, only more mellow.

I got me the notion a short while back of writing a cyberpunk conversion of Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands (BHAW). I figured it would just be a simple lift and shift, turned out it required a substantial rethink.

One concept that really grabbed me while thinking about this project the idea of terseness. There is something beautifully immediate about a terse set of rules, provided of course you are already a seasoned gamer. I wanted to keep Cyberblues City terse as a style choice (terse is the right tone for the Cyberblues) but also as a design goal. To achieve this terseness all rules that were either confusing until you’ve got used to them, require a lot of explaining or read well but didn’t get much use in actual play had to be removed.

The result ended up looking a lot more like Fudge than Fate. But I was OK with that. I had not written anything for Fudge since Mutant Bikers of the Atomic Wastelands. There scores of folk writing Fate games these days, maybe it was time to go back to my roots.

The first draft of Cyberblues City is currently in play test phase. So far I like what I am seeing. It’s got some new dice mechanics I am very pleased with, I might even blog about them. I haven’t started with illustrations yet but I have some ideas and try something different this time.

As with BHAW when it’s all done, it will be released as a free pdf so keep checking here for updates!

Happy Birthday Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wasteland

Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands is a year old today. Actually it’s a lot, lot older than that but January 6 2014 marks the day BHAW graduated from homebrew game I occasionally enjoy running to homebrew game I occasionally enjoy running and that can now also be downloaded as a free pdf. A lot of work went into making that step of converting notes designed private consumption into a clearly documented and lovingly illustrated book. But this was a really good game, my thinking went, it deserved a wider audience.

Twelve months on, has BHAW found a wider audience?

Looking at the site stats I can see that BHAW has been downloaded some 520 times. I’m not sure whether that counts as a wider audience in our small, fragmented hobby. Were these actual sales I’d probably say yes, but in this instance I think you have to discount a large portion of people who might have grabbed the pdf because it was free but never actually got round to reading it. Anecdotally I feel BHAW hasn’t really got a whole lot of traction yet. To put this into context I’m still more likely to spot in the various roleplaying fora a reference or recommendation for Mutant Bikers of the Atomic Wastelands, a tiny Fudge-based roleplaying game I released in the 90s and pretty much neglected thereafter, than BHAW. There is still a way to go.

There are a couple of interesting trends though that I gleam from the site stats. The rate of new downloads of the game has remained steady throughout the year. After the initial spike the rate of new download settled down to something like 4 or 5 new downloads each week throughout. A year later, people are still discovering BHAW.

Also the main source of hits has changed. Initially I could see most hits on the BHAW page came directly from the roleplaying fora I regularly frequent (I have a link to BHAW in my signature, that is pretty much the extent of my promotional efforts). In the latter part of the year visitors to the BHAW page were more likely to come from a search engines like Google. This suggest that not only are people still discovering BHAW, now they are doing it even when I am not directly or indirectly plugging the game.

Back in April I wrote a short post about future plans for BHAW. A birthday is a good time to revisit these I think. My main objective for the year was arrange a limited print run of the BHAW in book form for me and my friends. That was the one thing I was absolutely committed to doing and it has been done. It was more work than I expected but book is a beauty and to be able to run BHAW with a real, physical book at the table gives me a lot of satisfaction.

I mentioned I was hoping to release some BHAW adventures, I just managed to get one out before the year ended. I have a couple more in an advanced state for which I need to do some art and layout work. I think there is a fair chance I will complete these in 2015. But that is likely to be it. I had mentioned plans in that post for a couple of BHAW expansions. I was dubious about them at the time due to the amount they would entail, I remain dubious now.

So that is the state BHAW after its first year. In closing I’ll just mentioning how recently I had the chance to run a few BHAW game after an extended break. I was instantly reminded of just how good it really is and how well all the it fit together. So to anyone still reading, if you’ve not tired BHAW yet, you really ought to (

Happy birthday Bounty Hunters!