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.

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!

BHAW – Night of the Atomic Snowmen

Night of the Atomic Snowmen is free adventure for Bounty Hunter of the Atomic Wastelands with a slight holiday season twist. While on the trail of the infamous Townsend gang the Bounty Hunters get caught up in a strange tale of greed, revenge and atomic snowmen.

Get Night of the Atomic Snowmen (pdf) here:

And, if you haven’t already, grab a copy of Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands here:

A Word From The Atomic Wastelands

Bounty Hunter of the Atomic Wastelands (BHAW) has been out for 3 months now,  to the day. In this time it’s been downloaded just over 250 times, so I’m pretty sure it’s not just friends and family who are checking it out. I have no idea whether any of these 250 downloaders have actually read let alone played the game . I’d like to think so but then I myself have got a few games I bought in November I haven’t  got round to yet, it’s just in the nature of things.

I do have further plans for BHAW but I’ll admit that there is a certain lack of urgency behind them. I put myself under a lot of pressure to finish the game and meet my self-imposed deadline. Now that this has been done I’m been feeling a lot relaxed about things.

The one thing I really want to do is to arrange for a limited print run of the book for just me and my friends, so I guess mentioning it here is a bit of a tease.  Sadly this isn’t quite a simple as sending the existing pdf to the printers as the document has to match the exact technical specifications for colour reproduction and there is a bit of a learning curve. This is a project I am committed to. It will happen.


Of more general interest perhaps, I have a couple adventures of BHAW I’ve written I’d plan to release. I just need to tidy up the text and possibly draw a few new pictures. BHAW makes for a great pick up game, a few canned adventures would only increase its usefulness in that role. I am reasonably confident I will get round to this eventually, it’s the sort of thing I can do with just a few afternoons here and there.

I am less confident about the next two BHAW related projects as they both represent a much larger commitment. This first is a source book for Big Fallout City which introduces a mini-game for the exploration of post-apocalyptic ruins. I’d originally planned to include this core rulebook but I ran out of time. The rules are already there, we used them in out campaign they just aren’t in a fit state to share and I figure making them presentable is a lot of work.

The other ‘maybe some day’ project is an expansion for the vehicle combat rules. BHAW already contains a perfectly good vehicle combat rules. The thing is when I run it for my group it also comes with a whole bunch of visual props in the form of vehicle tokens and a road template that really  jazz up this aspect of the game. Unfortunately these images for these props aren’t mine to share so I’d have to redo all the art myself and that’s a biggie. For starters I’d have to learn how to even draw cars!

I’d also like to introduce more variety in the type of vehicles and make generating road encounters even faster. That’s would be all brand new content, it’d need to think up and then test.  I can’t see that happening any time soon.

Also I may give Mutant Bikers of the Atomic Wastelands a little face lift. I posted about MBAW on this blog just because its historical link to BHAW. That, some 15+ years later, it still gets a handful of downloads each months makes me smile. I don’t plan to revise the text but pdf it comes in is pretty terrible. It deserves better.

Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands

Murdering gangs of mutants, outlaw desperados and crazed cyborg warlords; the Atomic Wastelands is home to the toughest, meanest, downright dangerous varmints the world’s ever seen.
You should know, you’re the guy who hunts them down.

>>Download the complete game for free now!

>>More Free Stuff From Polar Blues Press



Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands is a fast-paced, action-adventure roleplaying game in which the players take on the role of Bounty Hunters, banding together to hunt down bad guys for reputation and reward. It’s B-movie sci-fi meets spaghetti western, where drifters and gunslingers rub shoulders with killer robots, atomic horrors and deranged mutant supremacists.

Inside BHAW you’ll find…

  • Fast character creation rules using Backgrounds like Gunslinger, Psycher,  Genius and Cyborg
  • Over 40 unique Stunts like Rad Screen, Psychic Storm and Think!
  • Time-saving GM tools like The Critter Pool
  • Rules for vehicle combat
  • A ready-to-go campaign with out-of-the-box bounties to collect

BHAW uses a much-abridged version of the award-winning Fate system, tailored to make the system easy to learn and fast to play.

You may also want to check out the Critter Pool Machine to use with BHAW.

BHAW – Pretty, but is it Fate, Part II?

This is a follow-up on my previous  Pretty but is it Fate? 

One of the hardest parts in designing a game is selecting what goes in and what to cut out. Lot of great ideas have to get the chop because ultimately they don’t fit with the rest. And if working with Fate, the range of options you have available to include and discard is quite overwhelming.

One of the signature feature of Fate which has been getting ever-increasing attention is how Aspects can apply to anything or more accurately anything be it a ship, a sword or an entire country can be treated as a character.

In Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands I’ve chosen to take a step back and said, Aspects are cool, but I want them just to be for characters because it’s the characters I am interested in, the rest is furniture.

Every time I invoke an non-character Aspect I am saying “Look cool and dramatic this piece of furniture is” when I could be saying the same about a character instead. Of course you can do both but there is still an opportunity cost. At any one point in the game there are a limited amount of Fate points and a limited amount of spotlight available, who are you going to give it to, the player character or the furniture?

An example that comes up a lot is adding “Out of ammo” as an Aspect on a gun. Personally I find it more interesting if the out of ammo condition is a reflection on the character with an Aspect like “Always unprepared” or “Tight with money” than a property of gun itself. Sure

maybe Mjolnir, Excalibur and Vera warrant an Aspect or two, but to use it on regular equipment just seem wasteful to me.

The other reason behind this design choice is that Aspects to a large extent seem to confuse people new to Fate. I’m very keen that Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands remain a simple, accessible game. The fewer different uses of Aspects in the game the easier to understand I expect they will be for new players.

Of course, as I mention in my previous blog entry on the subject, veteran Fate players can easily add more involved uses of Aspects without breaking anything.