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Video Game / Tin Star (Choice of Games)

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Saddle up, pardner! Tin Star is an independently produced Gamebook-style game by Allen Gies, previously known for his prior games, Marine Raider and Apex Patrol. It is hosted by Choice of Games' user submitted label Hosted Games.

After being convicted of murder and sentenced to hang, you are saved from the noose by Marshal Simon James. He's got an offer for you: take up his job as U.S. Marshal of Lander County, Nevada for a period of four years, or take six to the chest. Out in Nevada, you'll meet up with a colorful assortment of characters, fight bandits and Indians (or join them!), fight a bear, make strategic and moral decisions that will define your character, and maybe even find out what's really going on in Nevada, and what it all has to do with you.

Just be careful out there. None of the other Marshals in Lander County have lasted very long...

The game can be found here. The first few chapters are available as a free demo. (Beware, it ends on a cliffhanger!)

Not to be confused with a similarly-named Rail Shooter for the SNES.

Tin Star provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: You can kill any and every major character in the game, though some minor characters are guaranteed to survive.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The Brawling skill also covers your ability with hand weapons, and you can have a sword, mace, or more exotic weapon forged for yourself at the blacksmith. However, most people get by with pistol and rifle.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The transcontinental railroad features prominently in the game. You can't keep it from being completed, but you can make its completion into an overly-expensive mess or, conversely, be responsible for its easy success. Also, the financial problems of the Union Pacific were caused by Fredrick Upton's machinations.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The best possible endings for the Shoshone are this, because whatever happens, the Shoshone are going to have to give up their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle and settle down, probably on a reservation.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: You'd best be a real good shot to try this, but you can do it with Hungry Snake's gun.
  • Boom Town: Preston Springs, the setting of the game, is a rising town built on the gold rush. Preston, however, wants to make his mark on the desert and turn it into something that lasts, instead of letting it decay into a Ghost Town.
  • The Cavalry: It's the Wild West, of course the Cavalry are there at dramatically appropriate moments.
    • In the stagecoach ride, when you reach the Utah border, the Saints come in if you're still being pursued and drive off the Hartigan gang.
    • If you befriend a unit of US Cavalry, they can come back to help you later. They're the most powerful military unit in the game, and if they arrive at the right time, can win the battle for the railroad for you, allowing you to attack the train unopposed.
  • Courtroom Episode: In Chapter 5, when Marshal Steele comes into town and claims to be the real marshal for Lander County, one possible resolution is for you to investigate, then go into the Babylon Saloon and lay out your case against him. It's not quite a formal trial as there's no judge and only an ad-hoc jury, but it still fits. If you do exceptionally well, the trial can go into future law textbooks as an example of how to present a case.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Travis of the Saints scalps a dead Indian in the mistaken belief that he was a raider. You can punish him for that; with a fine if you've got low Law, or later, you can agree to one of several penalties when negotiating with the Paiute.
  • Egopolis: Preston Springs is named after its founder, sheriff and mayor, J.T. Preston.
  • Everyone Is Bi: None of the Love Interests you can romance care about your gender, though marrying into the Upton family is not possible for a homosexual character.
  • Evil Pays Better:
    • Boy howdy. A marshal's salary is barely enough to keep your horse shod. You can be honorable and subsist on that, or you can take bribes, extort businessmen, and generally grub for money and walk out of Lander County as the richest man in the northern hemisphere.
    • In the climax, working for the Uptons can get you multiple major boons (on the scale of a state Governorship or a marriage into the family), depending on how well you do. Taking a bribe can get you one, while you can literally make out like a bandit if you plunder Preston Springs or murder Fredrick Upton. A completely honest marshal will not get anything but Fredrick Upton's arrest.
  • Fiction 500:
    • Fredrick Upton is one of the wealthiest men in America, and is capable of building a city out of a goldless desert, squeezing the federal government into giving the Shoshone a wealthy reservation, or even buying the Marshal a governorship. One of these can be given as a simple, offhanded bribe just to get the Marshal to leave him alone, and he can give three such gifts to reward a competent lackey for a successful mission without damaging his fortune in the slightest.
    • The Marshal can also end up this wealthy. Takes a bit of corruption, though, or at least stealing the Uptons' fortune.
  • The Gunslinger: Among the game's characters, Caraway is the consummate master of gunfighting, unless your PC, Frank Spears or Sam Pitcavage proves to be better than she is.
  • Half-Arc Season: About half of what's going on in Lander County can be traced back to the Big Bads. The other's The Wild West, and there's always something going on that requires the Marshal's intervention.
  • Historical Domain Character: Your character can personally correspond with President Andrew Johnson at one point. Stanford and Durant, the heads of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, are also mentioned but remain offscreen. Ulysses S. Grant (as "the Grant administration") also gets a note in the epilogue.
  • I Can Rule Alone:
    • If you don't like being Regina and Reginald's lackey, then you can play along, then betray Reginald at the last minute, take over his bandits, and plunder Preston Springs for yourself, leaving Regina's plan for the transcontinental railroad to happen as it may.
    • If you kill Fredrick Upton quietly, you can change his will to disinherit any of his surviving children and take over his massive fortune for yourself. You can even use this to save the Shoshone or enrich Preston Springs, as Upton might do for his lackeys.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: J.T. Preston founded the town and owns most of it, and has reluctantly become the sheriff, which gives him jurisdiction over "town business." The Marshal has jurisdiction over "county business," which includes the town. Preston wants "an understanding" between the two of them where the Marshal defers to him on all town matters.
  • Karma Meter: There are three. Order represents how firmly you keep the peace in Lander County. Honor represents how fairly you deal with others and whether you refrain from creaming off money for yourself. Law represents how closely you stick to the law.
  • Kangaroo Court: Marshal James mentions that the PC's lawyer argued their case well, but the jury was already bought and paid for by Fredrick Upton, who wanted to see the Marshal hang.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: In one encounter, Hungry Snake can agree to fight the Marshal in "the old ways," with melee weapons. The Marshal may genuinely agree to that, or may bring out their pistol after Hungry Snake's chosen his weapon.
  • Magic Realism: The story has a distinct feel of the supernatural to it in many places, fitting the tall tales of the Western dime novels. The Marshal can develop a tendency to spark after being struck with lightning, but it's mostly just one more legend about the Marshal's life.
  • Modular Epilogue: The epilogue lists the effects of your actions on just about everyone in Lander County. Even your horse and a mouse you can adopt.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Reginald does not approve of Hungry Snake sleeping with his sister, and they can be manipulated into killing each other over her on the train.
  • Noble Savage: Most of the Indians shown in this game are very honest fellows, albeit with very little use for white people's customs or their forked tongues. Yiska plays with this, however, in that many of his noble traits come from a comprehensive legal education, and part of his character arc involves the struggle between the traditional Shoshone lifestyle, and how the coming of the railroad and the white man are bringing that to an end.
  • Real Men Love Jesus:
    • The Latter-Day Saints are devout followers of their faith and true enough to their word that they can buy on credit in a Western town. To a one, they are also some of the finest riflemen in Lander County. Ben Carson himself is the clearest example.
    • If you so choose, the PC can be a religious individual. Your PC will be a badass in some way.
  • Refusal of the Call: The game does allow you to refuse Marshal James' offer. Of course, that's a fatal decision, but you can do it.
  • Romance Sidequest: There are five possible Love Interests, each with their own romance. You can also marry into the Upton family, though this isn't a romance so much as a business deal.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Brought up if you have a high-relationship Dan Schmidt with you the first time you visit Hartigan and refuse to make a deal. Schmidt will convince Hartigan to let you leave unharmed, because he has sat at Hartigan's fire and drunk his whiskey.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: At three points, you can decide to abandon your job voluntarily.
    • When Roger Steele declares himself the Marshal of Lander County, you can let him have the job. He'll shoot you and claim you were pulling your gun on him.
    • Cutting a deal with the villains allows you to abandon your job in one of two ways. Either you can work with them, allowing you to abandon Preston Springs after completing their plot, or you can cut and run from the villains' job, take control of their hired bandits, and loot and burn Preston Springs.
    • It's perfectly possible to skip the final chapter and not go to New York, instead either staying on as Marshal of Lander County or dropping your tin star and moving out. The only thing you miss is closure to the story and the rewards available in the finale.
  • The Sheriff: Not you. The town sheriff is Preston, though he doesn't wear the badge and he tries to manage in a very hands-off way, and he wants you to keep your nose out of "town business" and stick to "county business." This is a fancy word for "serving as his muscle and not interfering with his governance of the town."
  • Shining City: In the epilogue, Preston Springs can grow into this if you've developed it enough and have high morality in on all three axes.
  • Shoot the Hostage: It's possible to do this should Regina decide to take one in the battle with her in Chapter 8.
  • Skeleton Government: You (a U.S. Marshal) can personally correspond with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the United States to clear up a jurisdictional kerfluffle, and there's no staff between you and the individuals in question.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: There is an Explosives skill. It sees a fair bit of use, both with black powder charges and, in one scene, a liquid nitroglycerin bomb that will do a fair imitation of Michael Bay if you use it.
  • U.S. Marshal: Besides the PC, there's also Marshal Simon James, who's responsible for getting you sent out to Lander County, and Marshal Steele, who comes into your town with his own papers declaring him a Marshal. Actually, Steele's a fraud and a puppet of the Uptons.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Averted. Though they're not villainous, you can kill each of your three possible companions on your first meeting when their skills aren't all that exceptional. You can also anger them later and have showdowns with them near the end, in which case they will be the deadliest opponents in the game.
  • We Can Rule Together: Two examples.
    • At the end of the game, if you're playing the good or renegade route, Fredrick Upton offers your PC almost anything in exchange for letting him live out his days in peace instead of shooting or arresting him. This isn't necessarily just money, though that's an option; he also offers to help you resolve the Shoshone's problems, invest in building up Preston Springs, or give you a governorship in America or Mexico. Most fitting this trope, you can also force him to let you marry into the Upton family, if you're okay with the conditions.
    • Earlier on, if you're evil or persuasive enough, you can agree to work with Regina and Reginald Upton to derail the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Success earns you a trip to New York to meet with Fredrick Upton, who is extremely generous with lackeys who have served him well; he can offer up to three of the above deals.
  • The Western: As the Marshal, you're to work a four-year stint in Lander County, Nevada in 1867, shortly before the completion of the first trans-continental rail-line.
  • The Wild West: Marshal James expects the Marshal to make their mark in Preston Springs, a town that isn't exactly kind to its law officials. He's rather hoping you'll do better and spare him the cost of a pine box.