Macho Women With Guns: Retrospective

Blackburn Tactical Research Center‘s (now out of print) tongue-in-cheek comedy roleplaying game “Macho Women With Guns” (hereafter abbreviated to “MWWG”) is all about combining two things: badass women and heavy weaponry. In a game that might appear sexist at a glance, it is actually far from it in the fact that all the players will be playing female characters, in a world where all males are either useless or evil. Sure, the titular Macho Women may dress scantily, but they are heroes and the only ones with any agency or competency in the setting! The only centralized authority comes from valiant warrior nuns, while the only sympathetic villains (i.e. not despicable Mad Max style raiders, slobbering monsters or lawyers) are female succubus demons who just as often align uneasily with the forces of “good”.

I first came across MWWG via a catalog for Australian games wholesaler Military Simulations. Back in the 90’s, MilSim was one of the only way to get rare RPGs (this was pre-internet & eBay) unless you were lucky and a had a local game store that sold second-hand or obscure titles.

The catalog description labeled the game as “beer and pretzels” fun, but it wasn’t clear whether it was a boardgame or role-playing game. As both a teenager and a self-professed fan of movies with bad-ass female leads – be they sci-fi, action or kung-fu – I was definitely curious, but not enough to attempt to order it.

It would be a year or two later that I actually saw the game in a big city game store. It was the “second edition” single book version (the first edition was actually four short booklets that each added new character classes and rules) and I immediately bought it. It turned out that MWWG was both a roleplaying game and miniatures game. The first edition had been very much intended as a miniatures game with RPG-lite rules, while the second edition – while still strongly encouraging the use of maps and miniatures (or cardboard standees) for combat, also allowed the game to be played like a full RPG in the “theatre of the mind” (i.e. the players’ imaginations).

Only two of my regular gaming group were very interested in playing the game, but the rest wanted to keep playing the RPGs they were familiar with (Star Wars D6, Recon, Cyberpunk, etc.) so the game went unplayed. I didn’t regret purchasing it, though, as the rulebook was amusingly written and very unique, with lots of fun quirks and concepts.

I was very pleased – years later – to come across nearly a full set of first edition booklets in a local gaming store’s second-hand bin. With the help of eBay a few years later, my collection was finally complete.

Although very “rules lite” and with almost no setting, what little there was sparked my imagination and I ended up developing a detailed campaign world based the bare bones of what was in the book, as well as some new character classes, rules, gear and even adventures. All of this has sat on my hard drive… until now.

MWWG fansites are quite rare, and the game hasn’t received a new edition or supplement in years. I still like it, though, and still feel it is worth playing – either as a campaign or just “one-shot” adventures when your group want a change of pace from serious dungeon crawling or laser battles. I’ll therefore be posting my material – salvaged and cleaned up as best I can manage (some of the files were written on word processors requiring MS-DOS!).

I hope this will help add to your MWWG fun, or encourage you to seek out and try the game if you haven’t already. In today’s highly politically correct world, it can be a breath of fresh air, especially when approached with the right mindset and sense of humor.

Footnote: Mongoose obtained the rights to create and sell a D20-based RPG variant in the early 2000’s, however while some of the material was fun, the expensive hardcover never really gained ground (just one supplement was released), IMO due to the over-complexity of a concept better kept simple, as well as requiring a D20 rulebook as well (like a lot of smaller D20 games, the basic rules are not in the system’s core book, requiring an additional purchase of something like D20 Modern or AD&D). The fact that the book has – IMO – almost entirely terrible artwork for a game where the art (i.e. badass sexy ladies) is a big selling point really didn’t help, either.


Related Links:

The most comprehensive fan site for MWWG is Matt & Mav’s unofficial MWWG Homage Page. Lots of fun stuff!

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