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Deadlands: Aces & Eights Soundtrack
by Raymond A C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2012 13:15:09
Game soundtracks seem to be a mixed bag at times. Some seem to miss the mark badly, others sound like they'd be better suited to a movie (*Insert Request For RPG Movies That Don't Suck*).

PEG, however, has done an excellent job of getting a group together to create an atmospheric feel that works perfectly for their own Deadlands: The Weird West game, as well as something the could be used for almost any "Slightly Off" Western game. Aces & Eights: Dead Man's Hand (A reference to the poker hand that "Wild" Bill Hickok held when he was shot in the back and died IRL and in the game history), picks up where the previous Deadlands: Weird Wailin's left off. A perfect thing to have playing softly in the background while the group is dealing with all the various horrors and claimjumpers that they're dealing with in game. It's very Western feel is touched off by being just slightly off in some fashion, such as a beat-up upright piano that slowly goes more and more out of tune.

Aces & Eights intersects its music with random effects, such as gunfire, fearful breathing, and other effects that, while not exactly music, do fit the atmosphere nicely.

With the inclusion of official MP3 options, this makes for a good ability for a GM to have the item playing in the background not just at home on their CD-Player, but also through small speakers and an MP3-Player, or on a Laptop/Tablet with the PDF books at hand.

I would suggest this product to any GM that enjoys a bit of atmosphere with their games.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands: Aces & Eights Soundtrack
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Deadlands Reloaded: Player's Guide Explorer's Edition
by Keith (. T. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/24/2012 22:18:57
Pinnacle Entertainment Group launched another in the line of their flagship setting, Deadlands. This release contains all the information you need to generate a character, from concept to creation.

Deadlands is a genre mashup of the Wild West, Horror, and Steampunk settings called the Weird West. It features card shark spell casters, mad scientist inventing infernal devices, quick draw gun men, fire and brimstone preachers that can call down actual fire and brimstone, and native American shamans on first name basis with their nature spirits. Oh, and lots of Kung-fu action as well.

The eight-time, award-winning setting began as it's own rule set back in 1996. It's been ported to d20 and GURPs, and finally settled into the Savage Worlds system with Deadlands:Reloaded. The most recent rule books, Player's Guide and Marshal's Handbook, come in the oh-so-convenient explorer's edition format.

So what makes the Weird West so weird? Perhaps a little alternate history is in order.

The Civil War ground on and on as brother fought against brother. As in our history, Lee lost at Gettysburg but that's where the world of Deadlands diverges from our own. Lee's men escaped to regroup and continue the fight. Some say dead soldiers rose and fired at the Union troops covering Lee’s retreat. I’m sure that’s just an old wive’s tale though.

From that point forward, despite the Union's greater number of men and guns, no battle on either side was decisive. Eventually the two American Nations formed a wary truce. Sensing Union weakness, the Western territories broke away with the Native Americans forming two nations: the Sioux Nations to the North and the Coyote Confederation to the South. The Mormons turned Utah into the nation of Deseret, and California (at least what’s left of it) became an independent Commonwealth.

The Great Quake of ‘68 sank huge portions of California into the Pacific Ocean leaving a patchwork of mesas standing above the sea. Folks took to calling it 'The Maze'. The shattered land revealed a new mineral that gained the name ‘Ghost Rock’. It looked like coal but, when burned, gave off a ghostly white vapor and howled ‘like the Devil himself.’ Ghost Rock burned five times hotter and 100 times longer than coal.

Inventors soon discovered the Ghost Rock could be used in place of coke to create a steel that was lighter, stronger, and had a higher melting point than traditional steel. This lead to an explosion in engineering advances such as horseless carriages, rocket powered flying machines, and fully automatic weapons all made of Ghost Steel. The rock was also used as a catalyst and reagent to create new chemical concoctions including tonics, salves, and elixirs.

The Confederacy was the first to make use of the new devices in war. The Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of Robert E. Lee, attacked Washington D. C. with steam powered tanks, flamethrowers, and other exotic devices. The attack was so devastating that the Confederates temporarily seized the Union Capitol.

The Confederate devices soon malfunctioned and their supply of Ghost Rock ran out but President Ulysses S. Grant realized that future wars would be fought with the power of the miracle mineral. Although Ghost Rock deposits were numerous, the greatest source was in the California Maze. Grant offered an exclusive transport contract to anyone that could build a transcontinental railroad to California. Confederate President Jefferson Davis did the same the following day. While the American Civil War raged on, a new war began between the two nation’s railroad companies using hired armies. The Great Rail Wars had begun.

The year is 1879. Despite the truce, Agents of the Union and Confederacy fight a shadow war while the disputed territories of Kansas, Colorado, and parts of Oklahoma flare into armed conflict from time to time. The Indian nations strive to remain in control of their lands, vowing never to have the white man rule over them again. The Republic of Deseret, under President Brigham Young, holds it's own against the Union thanks to the powerful inventions of Darius Hellstromme. The Commonwealth of California is ruled from the City of Lost Angels under the leadership of the Reverend Ezekiah Grimme to the South and the Chinese Warlord city of Shan Fan to the North.

Characters

Character creation in Deadlands follows the typical Savage Worlds procedure with the following changes:
The Guts skill is back - this was removed as a skill in Savage Worlds Deluxe edition but it is used in Deadlands.
Grit - a new derived skill. You get one point of Grit per rank
All characters in Deadlands are, or were once, human.
All PCs speak English unless you have the Outsider Hindrance.
Worst Nightmare - Each player must write down their character’s worst nightmare. It could be very important later.
Your Deadlands characters usually fall into one of the following archetypes. Though the list is far from complete, new players can use it for ideas.

Blessed - Religious Spellcaster
Bounty Hunter - Gun for Hire
Commoner - tradesman, town folk, farmer, or rancher
Deserter - you were branded a coward and traitor by the military you left behind
Drifter - you never put down roots and do odd jobs, often involving a gun.
Escort - you make a living selling your bodily wares
Explorer - there’s always something over the next horizon and you aim to see what it is
Grifter - a con man making a living by liberating other’s money into your own pocket.
Huckster - card wielding magic user.
Immigrant - you are a stranger in a strange land.
Indian Brave - You hail from the Sioux Nations or the Coyote Confederation and are fiercely loyal to your tribe
Indian Shaman - Magic-using spiritual leader of an Indian tribe
Law Dog - Marshal, Sheriff, or Texas Ranger
Mad Scientist - You know the ways of Ghost Rock and use it to create infernal devices.
Muckraker - A reporter determined to share the truth
Outlaw - you have a price on your head and the law on your trail
Prospector - You seek coal, silver, gold, and ghost rock.
Soldier - you serve in the army of either the Confederacy or the Union.
Like all Savage Settings, Deadlands comes complete with additional Hindrances, Edges, Arcane Backgrounds, and Powers. Here’s a partial list of each.

Hindrances

Ailin’ - You’re a sickly cuss.
Bad Dreams - You're tormented sleep gives you one less bennie (Fate Chip) per session.
Grim Servant o’ Death - People die around you a lot. Sometimes it’s your friends.
Heavy Sleeper - You can sleep through almost anything, including your own death
Lyin’ Eyes - You don’t lie well
Old Ways Oath - You forsake modern devices
Slowpoke - You don’t move so quick
Tenderfoot - You aren’t very Gritty
Thin Skinned - You suffer an additional wound penalty
Wanted - Everyone wants to be wanted, unless it’s John Q. Law doing with wanting. You’re on the run and likely to wind up in jail.
Edges
Arcane Backgrounds - covered later in this article
Veteran o’ the Weird West - You enter the game as a Seasoned character but pay a price
Duelist - Expert gun slinger in a mano a mono setting.
Hip-Shooting - You can fan the hammer of a pistol to achieve autofire-like results.
Martial Arts - kung fu action grip
Rebel Yell - able to intimidate any Yankee in earshot
Card Sharp - You have a way with a deck of cards
Reputation - no, your not 'that kind of girl'. Folks know of you. You get bonuses to intimidate.
True Grit - Additions to your Grit score
Agent - Federal agent in charge of making sure the horrors of the Weird West are contained.
Scout - Your good at navigating around the Weird West
Snakeoil Salesman - You could sell salt to a Mormon and Buffalo hides to Indians. You get bonuses to non-combat Persuasion rolls
Soldier - You wear the uniform of either the CSA or USA army. Rank has privileges but also responsibilities
Tale Teller - You spin a good yarn and it helps folks get over their fear. This becomes really important the more you know about the Weird West.
Texas Ranger - Like a Federal Agent, you slay and contain the horrors the inhabit the Weird West. If you can't shoot then you recruit it.
Wilderness Man - You're adept at living on the wilderness and surviving nature's fury
Fate’s Favored - You're luckier than the average cow poke.
Knack - You were born under a lucky star that gives you a little something special.
Behold A Pale Horse - you have a mount with special abilities. Hi Ho Silver!
Damned - Death will not hold you. It'll kiss you, give you an evil hitchhiker, and send you back. You're doomed to become a Harrowed.
Fast As Lightning - You're really, really quick on the draw.
Right Hand of the Devil - You're weapon is a potent threat. Just don't lose it.

Arcane Backgrounds

The Blessed - The Miracles Arcance Background works differently in this Savage Setting. The Blessed don't use power points and don't receive new powers. They have access to all the Faith-based powers at any time. They simply pray to bring them into effect. The higher rank the power is, the more difficult it is to cast. Also, on a failure, the Blessed gains a Fatique level. On a critical failure they have a 'Crisis of Faith' and lose a die in their spell casting skill.


Voodoo - A Blessed can choose to be a Voodoo priest/priestess. They prepare their powers in advance casting them into charms and fetishes. This is a limitation when compared to the Blessed but Voodooist have access to more abilities and aren't bound by the Sin table they way the Blessed are. Voodoo priests gain their powers from powerful spirits called Ioa and must spend hours in rituals in order for thier charms to work.


Hucksters - Magic was still alive and well in the Dark Ages. For some reason it began to fade around the Age of Reason but all was not forgotten. In 1740 a fellow by the name of Edmund Hoyle traveled Europe collecting tidbits here and there. Some of it still worked. Rather than be burned at the stake for witchcraft, he buried the details in a book called Hoyle’s Book of Games. You can still buy it today but it's secrets have long been lost to an editor's pen.

In the world of Deadlands, all the little bits of knowledge Hoyle learned on his journey began working again. The key to power was dealing with creatures Hoyle called Jokers. These mischievous spirits could be bound to do the magician’s will if bested in a game of wits. The Indians called the Jokers 'Manitous' and warn against the games the Huckster's play to control the creatures.

Still, folks in the Weird West are a little touchy about witches and warlocks so Hucksters must keep their spell casting a secret. He or she usually hides the spell in the form of a card trick or some other slight of hand.

Hucksters work just like characters with the Magic Arcane Background in the rule book. However, if the character is out of power points he can deal with the devil, so to speak, to cast a spell anyway. Like most things in Deadlands, this is done with a card deck where you actually deal a hand with the Marshal to determine whether the spell works or not.

Shamans - Indian spiritualist who practice magic through nature spirits and avoid Manitous whenever they can. Mad Scientist deal directly with Manitous, though most deny it. Hucksters play games of wit with them to gain power. Voodooist deal with both Manitous and other spirits calling them Ioa. Shamans however only ever deal with the nature spirit who are pretty ambivalent concerning the fate of man. In order to get anything out of them, the Shaman must make a sacrifice of some sort of a promise to follow the nature spirit's way. In any event all of these spirits dwell in a place the Indians call the Hunting Ground.

Shamans must perform regular sacrifices to gain assistance from the nature spirits. This can be something simple like a period of fasting or a ritualistic dance or something more permanent like ritualistic scarring. The greatest of these sacrifices is the Old Ways Oath in which the Shaman forsakes any modern devices in favor of items used in the tribes past.


Mad Scientist - Or New Scientist as they preferred to be called, provide the world with incredible new devices. Unfortunately, in the hands of a novice, they often explode in dramatic effect. Mad Scientist use the Weird Science rules from Savage Worlds with a few changes: They start with more power points and every new power gives them a new psychiatric challenge, i.e. they eventually go mad.

Some say this is due to their intimate dealings with Ghost Rock, a mineral from Hell itself and that the sound of tortured souls being released during combustion drives them mad. Other’s state that some sort of fumes or chemical reaction must be the cause. In either case, if your mad scientist lives long enough, they eventually go mad.


Chi Mastery - Chinese immigrants to California brought with them stories of the Kung-fu masters who were capable of superhuman feats. As with most legends in the Weird West, this one is true. Chi Mastery works like Super Powers from the Savage Worlds rules except the Kung-fu master must also be a martial artist. Remember, my Kung-fu is superior!

New Powers
Exorcism - remove those pesky demonic hitchhikers
Gambler - gives you an additional fate chip
Hunch - get a glimpse into the past
Inspiration - remove a level of fear from an area
Mind Rider - see and hear what the spell’s target experiences
Sanctify - keeps supernatural creatures out.
Succor - removes fatigue
Trinkets - create temporary, small objects
Wilderness Walk - move stealthily with no trace through the outdoors.
Windstorm - create tornadoes

Setting Rules

Grit - used to modify Guts trait tests. Remember, just because you don't lose you head and run doesn't mean you shouldn't run anyway.

Fate Chips - Deadlands uses poker parts as props. Rather than Bennies, the setting uses Fate Chips which are, in fact, poker chips. At the beginning of the game, the Marshal (Deadlands GM) places a bunch of White, Red, and Blue poker chips into the 'Fate Pot'. Each character draws out a number of chips equal to his starting Bennies. The Marshal draws out one per PC. During the game these chips are used like Bennies with a few twists. Red Fate Chips can be used to roll and additional d6 and add to any trait roll but the Marshal gets to draw another chip out of the pot for the bad guys. Blue chips are like Red chips but the Marshal doesn't get an extra draw from the Fate Pot for the bad guys. White chips work just like standard Bennies. There's one other type of chip called a legend chip. They're very special and come when you defeat great evil.

Gunfights - There are over five pages with new gun fight setting rules which simulates the action in your favorite wild west shootout movies. Once again, this is very poker based with cards used to determine the fate of the duelists.


No Man's Land

The information below is meant for those with Arcane Backgrounds, possess the Edge 'Veteran of the Weird West', or serve in either the Texas Rangers or The Agency of the United States.

What makes the West Weird? Shamans tell of a time when malevolent and mischievous spirits called Manitous roamed a spiritual realm called the Hunting Ground. These spirits threatened to cast the world into darkness and fear.

The American Indian tribes took action. They gathered together their most powerful medicine men to beseeched other spirits, called nature spirits, to bind the Manitous. The nature spirits agreed but the bargain came at a great price. The medicine men had to sacrifice themselves to seal the bargain.

The shamans willingly left this realm and the Manitous were locked away deep in the Hunting Grounds but the price was greater than the Indian tribes imagined. The nature spirits used themselves to lock the Manitous away. All magic, including Shamanistic magic, faded leaving the tribes defenceless against the arrival of the white man.

At least that’s the way the Indians tell it.

Regardless of whether you believe them or not, on July 4th, 1863 the world changed. The dark gods returned after a long absence bringing magic and monsters back to the world.

These malevolent beings kept the Civil War going of hate's sake alone. Fear permeated the Weird West and the fear seemed to feed on itself. The more people lived in terror the greater the terrors became.

The Reckoning, as arcane folks called it, changed the world forever. The nature spirits returned with the release of the Manitous. The nature spirits said the deal was broken and all bets were off. The dead walked the Earth again, dragons appeared in the great California Maze, and monsters roamed the Great Plains. The new fundament, Ghost Rock, slowly drove people insane and the new infernal devices brought death and destruction on a grand scale. Evil is afoot and it seeks nothing less than to turn the Earth into a living hell.

Most people don't believe any of that nonsense. The infernal devices created with Ghost Rock are just a new form of science. The monsters that terrorize the West are just new species that no one had ever seen before. The dead that walk the Earth are, well, somethings are harder to explain than others. Still, most people turn a blind eye to the things they can't explain.

Both the Union Agency and the Confederate Texas Rangers know things, dark things, are on the fringes of society and pose a great threat to man kind. Both groups believe keeping the darkness a secret is best for everyone while they go around wiping out evil where ever they find it. They also try to remove all traces of any evil force or creature to keep rumors down. Fear feeds the darkness so it's better to keep everyone in the dark about things that go bump in the night. You would think this would breed a cooperative relationship between the two but twenty years of war tends to breed a wee bit of contempt and hatred for the other side.

The Harrowed


Some heroes don't know when to stay dead. The Harrowed rise from the grave and live a life of psychic battle with an evil hitchhiker who wants nothing more than to take over the hero's body for good.

Manitous need to bond to a mortal soul in order to wreak havoc in the mortal world. Their favorite hosts are those people of notoriety who die in their prime. They love turning a beloved town marshal into an unholy terror. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you look at it, the Harrowed awake in control of their body. Over time, the Manitou attempts to psychically dominate the Harrowed until it can take over the body for good.

Harrowed have their own set of Edges to pick from including things like Claws, Soul Eater, and Whither. They also can't be killed in the normal way. Like many undead, they can only be killed by destroying their brain.

One of the more interesting aspects of a Harrowed is the ability to Count Coup. Basically if a powerful supernatural creature dies nearby, the Harrowed can steal some of its life force to gain new powers and abilities. Some of these come with a curse so be careful what you're near when it dies.

Conclusion

Pinnacle's flagship product is back and in the affordable/convenient Explorer's Edition format. This setting is rich in detail and supplements. With the release of the The Player's Guide, you can get a taste of the setting to see if you like. If so, the Marshal's Handbook is only a small additional investment.

The Troll says 'check it out.'
rptroll.blogspot.com

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: Player's Guide Explorer's Edition
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Deadlands Reloaded: Marshal's Handbook Explorer's Edition
by Keith (. T. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/24/2012 22:15:30
The only thing to fear is fear itself, unless you’re a character in Deadlands. In that case it isn’t Fear but the thing generating it you have to worry about.

In Deadlands, Fear feeds evil in a very real way. It generates energy to feed the Reckoners. The Manitous bring that energy to the Reckoners who use it to spawn even greater terrors.The Manitou’s job is to Terrorform the Earth for their masters. It’s a vicious cycle that ends when Earth has turned into a mirror image of the Reckoner's home, called The Deadlands so the they may walk the Earth and feast on humanities fear first hand.

It’s the job of the heroes - called a posse - to fight the plots, persons, and panics that infest the Weird West. Sadly, humanity generates a great deal of fear on its own. The two American nations may have a truce but their spies and provocateurs cause all sorts of mayhem, especially in the disputed territories of Kansas, Colorado, and what’s left of Oklahoma.


On top of that, the Weird West has bandits, murderers, mad men, outlaws, and toughs who make their way in life by scaring, intimidating, or killing others outright. Indian war parties threaten settlers, terrorizing them in order to stem the flood of the white man into their ancestral grounds. National pride runs high on both the Union and Confederacy causing folks to get harassed, or worse killed, just for being from the wrong part of the country. Worse still are the Great Rail Wars that know no boundary or allegiance outside the all mighty dollar. Woe to those that get between a rail baron and the West coast with all the Ghost Rock it contains.

Manitous love this. They do no work and get to reap the fear for free. Still, to get the absolute best terror, the Manitous seed abominations or raise the dead. They divide up the West into areas and give one or more creatures control. This being or beings are called the Fearmonger and it’s responsible for causing terror in the area. In most scenarios, this is the entity your Posse tries to defeat. Still, Manitou abominations aren't the worst thing your posse will face.

The Servitors

Early on, The Reckoners hitched their wagon to the Christian Faith as it spread through the Middle East and Europe. They adopted the guise of the Four Horsemen taking on the personas of Death, Famine, Pestilence, and War. The fear they generated grew as the faith spread but even back then they were small fries compared to the current Deadlands timeline.

Once unleashed back in '63, they adopted Servitors to act as their personal servants. The Reckoners have work to do before they can walk the Earth. Since they can't do the work themselves, they each picked a (mostly) human host to see their plans to fruition. Each of these servants are evil to the core.

Much of the Marshal's Handbook is dedicated to the Servitors plots, power bases, and personalities. Don't think your posse will simply walk up and kill these folks. Each has but a single weakness and that vulnerability will take an epic quest to exploit.

You didn't think the Reckoners would make it easy, did you?

Two of the four Servitors have plot point books out about them. The Flood concerns itself with Famine while The Last Sons takes on War. Given the quality of these books I can't wait for the plot point campaigns for Death and Pestilence.

Fear Levels

The Fear Level of an area affects any Guts check your players make. As the Fear Level rises, the terrain become twisted and horrific. Below is a list of Fear Levels for your quick perusal.

Level 0 - No noticeable scary stuff in the area. Life is pretty normal.
Level 1 - Most people believe in monsters but have never seen one.
Level 2 - The shadows are a little longer and deeper than normal. People are scared and don’t go out much at night. This is the prevailing Fear Level throughout most of the Weird West.
Level 3 - People occasionally disappear and there are probably weird creatures in the area. Shutters are closed tight each night and folks who do go out at night go armed with company.
Level 4 - Mysterious disappearances are common. Sometimes the bodies, or parts of the bodies, are found. Shadows start to appears as horrific faces, the corn rows always rustle when you walk by, and the wind might whisper your name.
Level 5 - Folks have seen monsters and almost everyone is terrified. Flowers wilt upon entering the area. Trees seem to have twisted faces with eyes the follow you through the forest.
Level 6 - Deadlands: the landscape turns nightmarish and monsters run wild. The wind whispers your name but it's the voice of your dead friend who blames you for an untimely end.



An Area at Fear Level 6 - Deadlands

The Weird West and Regions Thereabouts

The Marshal’s handbook describes each region in the former United States. Indeed, the greatest thing about this venerable setting is its depth and color. Add to that both the real and fictional heroes of the Wild West and you have a very enjoyable setting.

Each area has important places, personalities, and plots along with the prevailing Fear Level and encounter tables. We’ll list the highlights below but no short list will ever do this setting justice. Although even the short list is pretty long, it's worth the read to get a feel for where your posse is heading.

Back East

A 'civilized' area with folks who present a more genteel demeanour. This section details the governments of both North and South along with who’s been infiltrated by the minions of darkness. With Santa Anna pressing the Confederacy from the South and the British pressing their advantage from occupied Detroit, both governments have their work cut out for them. While each would love to return to the Civil War, they realize a new conflict would end their nations. The truce continues but a shadow war remains. The Manitous love this.


The Disputed Territories

By agreement, neither the Union nor the Confederacy may send troops into Colorado or Kansas which makes the region ripe for bandits, outlaws, and raiders that would normally be tracked down by government troops. Thus the Disputed Territories are one of the more lawless regions in the Weird West. To make matters worse, both North and South sponsor guerrilla actions in the region to make sure the other side doesn’t get too firm a foothold.

Dodge City, Kansas is a city of intrigue, murder, revenge, strict gun laws, two railroads, and contingents of both Texas Rangers and Union Agents to keep things stirred up. There’s also a pack of ghouls that inhabit Boot Hill. In short, it’s a big mess but there’s lots of money to be made so folks keep moving in.

The two railroads, Union Blue from the North and Black River from the South, keep a steady stream of immigrants pouring into the city as both railroads war against each other in their race to the West Coast. All the while Indian tribes send war parties to kill the buffalo hunters that poach their land, Cowboys end their cattle drives and seek to spend their hard earned money, Rangers and Agents go at each other trying to give their governments the advantage, and adventurers stage expeditions into the Weird West for fame and fortune.

‘Peacetown’, as its founder called it, contains a bunch of folks looking to do harm to each other for a wide variety of reasons including necessity, fun, profit, nationalism, revenge, and hunger. The violence would be worse if not for Marshal Larry Deger's strict enforcement of the no-gun policy passed by the Mayor and City Council. Even with that, seldom does a night go by where someone doesn’t disappear without a trace. Yep, Kansas City is the city that never sleeps. After all, ghouls don’t need to sleep.

The Great Basin

The region covering Southern California and the Nevada is hostile to most mortal life. The Confederates hold a tenuous grasp on the region but are hounded by Santa Anna and his undead army. Santa Anna isn’t the only undead wrangler in the area as one of the rail Baron’s cuts a line toward the City of Lost Angels through Death Valley using workers that don’t sleep. Other features of the Great Basin include Fort 51 - the Unions secret research facility, the Ghost Trail - used to bring Ghost Rock to Roswell for the Confederates experiments, and the Mojave Desert - barren wasteland with all sorts of monsters.


The Great Maze

During the Quake of 68, large portions of California sunk into the oceans leaving a mazework of canyons and mesas. The area is a mineral treasure trove with four factions vying for power. Reverend Grimme rules from the city of Lost Angels, the Union and Confederates keep numerous naval bases for their brown water navies, and Chinese Warlords, lead by the mysterious Kang, rule from Shan Fan. All seek to control the supply of Ghost Rock, silver, and gold found in the exposed walls of the canyons.

To make matters worse, Mexico claims California as well. Santa Anna has an ancient Aztec necromancer supplying him with an army of undead. His plans are to conquer California for his emperor, Maximilian, so he can have another shot at Texas.




The Great Northwest

The region made up of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho actually has one of the lowest default Fear Levels in the game. You just have to avoid the Sasquatch, Wendigos, Wolflings, and other horrors found in the wilderness. People often starve to death during the fierce winters that have gripped the area since the Reckoning.

The High Plains

Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska make up this region of rolling hills and tall grass. While this may seem all pleasant, two areas of interest will strike fear into any mortal. The Bad Lands, South of the Sioux Nation, are twisted foothills to the Rocky Mountains and contain all manner of critters that will eat you alive. As bad as the Bad Lands are, however, they pale in comparison to a region as its center called Worm Canyon. Here an evil sorceress rules a coven of witches who worship the giant creatures known as Rattlers. The insane witch sacrifices any intruders to the giant worms.


Deseret

The former state of Utah proclaimed its independence in 1866 and allied itself with the Union. In 1870 that changed with the arrival of Dr. Darius Hellstromme. The Doctor founded Hellstromme industries bringing wealth and jobs to the Mormons. The fact his inventions help wipe out the giant rattlers of the salt flats just added to his popularity. Soon his inventions added the Nauvoo Legion, the Deseret army, making it a power in the region.

His presence had other effects however. Salt Lake City became the City o’ Gloom as huge factories belched pollution into the air day and night. Thousands of high voltage wires and natural gas pipes crisscross the city bring light, heat, and power the to residents that can afford it.

The city is a haven to those looking for work in the city’s huge factory district, known as the Junkyard. The Junkyard’s cost of living is high and workers often become trapped in wage slavery thanks to their company’s ‘help’. Blood sports are common with workers often waging a week’s salary in hopes of getting ahead.


Indian Country

In Dakota and Oklahoma, the Indians came together to form two nations. The Sioux formed the Sioux Nation to the North while numerous tribes formed the Coyote Confederation to the South. Another group, the Apache, hold power in the Southwest but they must constantly fight for control with the Confederates and Mexico.

To the North, the Sioux are ruled by a council of old wise men that hold to the old ways. Sitting Bull is a power in the region but not even he is able to keep the tribes together well enough to hold the Union at bay. Although he doesn’t see a problem with using the white man’s technology, the council decrees that the Sioux will hold to the ways of their fathers.

The Sioux are far from xenophobic, however. Smack dab in the middle of the Sioux Nation sits the city of Deadwood. It's fed steady stream of of prospectors and materials by the Iron Dragon rail line out of Shan Fan on the West coast. People are drawn to the area by the allure of a huge deposit of Ghost Rock in the Black Hills as well as the money to be made from the prospector’s pay. Wild Bill Hickok also resides here trying to kill the man who killed him. He’s a Harrowed and seeks revenge on Jack McCall.

The Coyote Confederation is ruled by a warrior named Coyote. It is a loose government of tribes living in Oklahoma. No one knows who the enigmatic Coyote is, or at least no one who’s talking. He always appears with his face covered. For whatever reason, the Confederation seems to favor the Confederacy leaving those towns alone while sending raiding parties into Union territory.

The Apache are a strong, proud people lead by Geronimo living in Southern Arizona. After the Great Quake of ‘68, the Union soldiers deserted the area leaving the Apache back in charge. Then the Confederacy showed up claiming the Apache land was part of the CSA. On top of that, the Apache must fight both Santa Anna from Mexico and other undead horrors of the Reckoning. Life ain’t good but the Apache are accustomed to hardship.


The Wild Southwest

Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona make up this region. Tombstone Arizona is a likely setting for your posse. What started as a failed silver mining community boomed when the Bayou Vermillion railway came through and the Confederacy put it on its Ghost Rock route to Roswell, New Mexico. Add to that the fact that Santa Anna regularly pushes through the area on his way to California and you have one active town.

The Confederates claim it but their control is anything but absolute. Geronimo and his Apaches control the country side while the Cowboy Gang, made up of the Clantons, run the town when there aren’t Confederate Soldiers around. Doc Holliday, alone, stand against the Clantons. He’s dieing of consumption and has no fear of the brutes. He keeps threatening to bring his friend Wyatt Earp to town for a while. Thus far it ain’t happened but it keeps the Clantons on their toes.

The Tombstone Epitaph is the most widely read paper in North America. It features stories of monsters and other strangeness. If your heroes are looking for an evil to battle, the Epitaph should be their first choice in reading material.



Creepy Critters and Characters

The Marshal’s Handbook features over 80 monsters to populate your horrid haunts. Some of my favorites include the Jackalope, Texas Skeeter, ‘Glom, Chupakabra, Rattler, and Aztec Mummy. While the monsters have a wild west feel, you should be able to use anything out of the Horror Companion in Deadlands.

Special attention is given to those creatures that you can count coup against. A Harrowed may gain additional powers and abilities when a powerful creature is slain. Sometimes they gain a curse, however, so keep your players guessing.

Creatures aren’t the only danger in Deadlands. Plain old humans are as likely to end your hero’s career as anything the Manitous control. You’ll find everything from Union Agents to Maze Pirates listed giving you plenty to work with no matter where your players end up.

Probably the funnest section of the Marshal’s Handbook is the section with Notable Folks. You get to see the stats of all the people you’ve read about in the Player’s Guide and Marshal’s Handbook. Included are many of the heroes and villains our the wild west we’ve read about since children. It’s nice to see how they appear in the Weird West.

This book gives all the stats for the Reckoner’s Servitors. Death, Famine, Pestilence, and War are all present and accounted for along with the regions of the country they control. Each of these beings is damn hard to kill so your posse will have their work cut out for them. As of this writing, Pinnacle has two separate books dedicated to plot point campaigns revolving around Famine and War. I’m sure the plot points for the remaining Reckoners isn’t far behind.


Other Resources

For more about the setting, check out our review of the Deadlands Reloaded Player's Guide. For other Deadlands Reloaded products, check out DriveThruRPG. Deadlands has a great deal of fiction written for it as well. If you're in a reading mood, check out the Deadlands Dime Novels. There are even a set of Deadlands Comics to read if you're into both art and story.


Conclusion

Deadlands is a rich setting that's been around for over 15 years. The setting has a ton of background material that’s easily converted to Savage Worlds but it appears we won’t have to. Matthew Cutter, Deadlands Brand Manager, keeps pumping out new supplements at such a rate that I won’t have time to play the Savage Worlds material much less go back to Deadlands Classic or Deadlands d20 to convert. This setting, much like 50 Fathoms, is one I can’t wait to jump into.

If you’re looking for a great setting, I can’t recommend one higher than Deadlands. The Harrowed Captain Stone awaits.
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Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: Marshal's Handbook Explorer's Edition
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Deadlands Reloaded: The Last Sons
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/22/2012 23:11:33
WHAT WORKS: The book opens with a special thanks to Deadlands fans for keeping the setting around for 16 years...and with all the shoutouts to the history of the setting, it feels reeeeaaally appropriate. I don't know if all of those callouts were were planned that way or not, but a ton of the stuff included in this book are the things I think of when I think "Deadlands". Throw in the setting rules for the Hunting Grounds, an epic plot point campaign that again brings major change to the game world and the fact that they once more made the Player's Guide a freebie, and Pinnacle nails the mark again.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The art was my major gripe. Some of itwas recycled from classic books (though appropriately placed to draw attention to the callouts) and some of it was just a bit too comic booky for what I want out of Deadlands comics.

CONCLUSION: A beefy, beefy tome that outstrips The Flood by almost 150 pages, and much of that is new content that can be used outside of the PPC, which is impressive in its own right. As a Deadlands fanboy, I'm very pleased. The Stone and Hellstromme PPCs have big shoes to fill.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/04/tommys-take-o-
n-deadlands-reloaded-last.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: The Last Sons
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Savage Worlds: Test Drive
by Wayne B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2012 09:17:14
This is a great high level introduction to the Savage Worlds Core rules. It will make you want to get the SW:Deluxe rules and at $10 for the pdf of the SW:Deluxe rules you can't go wrong!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds: Test Drive
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Savage Worlds Deluxe
by Wayne B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2012 09:14:15
This is one of my favorite gaming system to play, ever, and that is after 25 years of playing RPGs. You buy this, especially at $10, you won't go wrong. I have both the print and pdf now and LOVE the system! I can't say enough good things about Savage Worlds.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Deluxe
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Deadlands Reloaded: The Flood
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/14/2012 23:11:14
WHAT WORKS: Epic conclusion? Check. Still leaves the setting intact? Check. Righteous butt-kicking of major NPC, entirely at the hands of the PCs? Check. Random Adventure Generator and expanded Martial Arts Edges are just very sweet icing on the cake.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I'm not really sure what you want. I mean, even if you have no use for the Plot Point Campaign, the entire player's section is free. New mechanics and all. That said, more than a few of the art pieces are recycled, and that does tend to bug some folks.

CONCLUSION: The book blows up Reloaded martial artists, provides 34 new Savage Tales and a plot point campaign that gives players the chance to get right up in the face of one of the Big Bads of the Deadlands setting and be Big Damn Heroes. $35 ain't much for a hardcover these days, and it's a gorgeous book to boot. The first of the Deadlands PPCs sets a high bar for the rest of the series.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/04/tommys-take-o-
n-deadlands-reloaded-flood.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: The Flood
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Deadlands Reloaded: Player's Guide Explorer's Edition
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/14/2012 18:38:13
I must say that Pinnacle / Studio 2 certainly know how to put beautiful RPG books together. The art in the Deadland's Reloaded Player's Guide is nothing short of amazing - everything evokes the atmosphere of the setting. You are given express permission to print the PDF for personal use, but the ink cost would be insane. Still, its a nice gesture.

From a technical standpoint, the Deadland Reloaded Player's Guide PDF is aces. Not only is it bookmarked, but the Table of Contents is hyperlinked. Huzzah!

As for the contents of the book, we get the setting background from the player character's POV. It should be enough to get most players IN character. Character generation (including new hindrances and edges), gear and goodies, unique setting rules... it's all there. Some GMs may feel there is too much there for the players, but as this is an alternate history setting, and the PCs are living it, I think it's perfectly fine to bring the players (mostly) up to speed.

This coupled with the Gamemaster's Guide and the core Savage Worlds rules are all that are needed to run a Deadlands game (and from what I've heard, you probably want the Horror Companion too). I'm hoping to run a story arc or two using the Deadlands setting starting in the summer. Hopefully it's enough time to bring me up to speed ;)

But that's okay, as the Deadlands Player's Guide doesn't read so much like an RPG sourcebook but more like an actual guide to the "Weird West". Therein lies half the fun ;)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: Player's Guide Explorer's Edition
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GM Screen Inserts--Deadlands Classic
by larry m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2012 16:17:07
Excellent Screen, Works perfectly in my gm screen. Great info well presented.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM Screen Inserts--Deadlands Classic
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Low Life
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/09/2012 21:46:47
WHAT WORKS: It is, by far, the most unique setting I have ever read...for better or for worse. A common complaint about the plot point campaigns is that they tend to wreck the setting...this one really doesn't. Atmosphere is jam packed into the book, with the extensive listings of trappings for the powers as well as one of the most eclectic sets of Edges and Hindrances I've ever seen.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The setting DEFINITELY isn't going to be for everyone. Snot Goblin Pimps are a bit harder to get into, usually, than something more "basic".

CONCLUSION: Andy Hopp's artwork has a bizarre, yet charming feel to it. The book has a lot of things that you just can't re-skin from Savage Worlds, and does a nice job filling in the gaps. It's definitely the book I would most like to use but am the least likely to ever be able to do so, because I cannot get anyone to take it seriously when I describe it. A shame, really, because I think a lot of fun could be had with it.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/04/tommys-take-o-
n-low-life.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Low Life
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GM Screen Inserts--Tour of Darkness
by Thomas R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/06/2012 16:15:46
Buy it mostly for the artwork.

This set features good artwork that will make for a decent looking screen. However there are lots of setting-specific references that should be and could be part of this set.

The tables and such chosen for this set of inserts seem like they were chosen by someone who knows the game very well indeed and only needs a bit of privacy, not quick reference to setting specific details. I needed to make my own inserts to go with this set.

Tour of Darkness is filled with groovy potential, and like some of the best classic horror RPG settings, the GM can use a hand getting the flavour-rich environment details right.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
GM Screen Inserts--Tour of Darkness
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Deadlands Reloaded: Smith & Robards 1880 Catalog
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2012 23:29:44
WHAT WORKS: I love it when awesome stuff from Classic gets updated to Reloaded...and that's what this is. The Scrappers aren't going to be for everybody, but the insane elements of Deadlands are part of what I love about it. Plus the random tables, customization options and so on...and yeah. Good stuff here.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: We've never used a ton of Weird Science devices in our games, but MAN they seem like they would be an almost pointless money pit sometimes.

CONCLUSION: This book really is just an updating of material from Deadlands Classic, bringing it in line with Deadlands Reloaded, but as far as I'm concerned, that's not a bad thing. As more and more Deadlands Classic stuff is brought up, the less people can complain about the alleged "lack of flavor" Reloaded has, and the less work I have to do converting Classic stuff to Reloaded. Thumbs up. A MUST BUY? No...but I am sure pleased with it.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/04/tommys-take-o-
n-deadlands-smith-robards.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: Smith & Robards 1880 Catalog
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Deadlands: Toxic Tunes Soundtrack
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2012 18:52:39
“The Last War,” the first track in this collection, perfectly blends rock music with melodies straight out of old (spaghetti) westerns for seven and a half minutes of pure listening pleasure. Unfortunately, the other tracks don’t match the excellence of “The Last War.” “After the Bombs” (track 2) is pretty good, though it has some parts that drag and it’s unsuitable for looping, making it inconvenient to use in the background. “The Rock Hard Saloon” doesn’t imply a “saloon” at all, musically; it’s more like “the irradiated disco lounge,” with nice enough music but violating genre expectations if you’re listening to the album in track order. “Denver” made me think of 60s sci-fi movie and TV scenes where explorers interact with an unfamiliar computer. I didn’t care much for “Drifter,” and although I liked the middle four minutes of “Junker’s Jam,” those strange two minutes on the outside really diminished it for me. The first six minutes or so of “The Ruins” would make great ambience music for post-apocalyptic desert scenes, but the track gets weird and almost literally painful (due to the specific tones and pitches used) for about a couple of minutes starting around the six-minute mark. “Law Dogs” has the right tempo, beat, and energy for a good chase scene, but it lacks the western vibe that I liked so much in “The Last War.” “Welcome to Hell” is only a minute long; “The Fight Goes On” is good, but feels more like “the song that plays under the credits.” This collection turns out to be very much a mixed bag for me. Given a chance, I’d rate it as three and a half stars. Since half-stars aren’t available, I rounded down just to be on the “safe” side.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands: Toxic Tunes Soundtrack
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Deadlands Reloaded: Marshal's Handbook Explorer's Edition
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/31/2012 19:24:57
I first found Deadlands when it was it's own stand alone system. For all intent and purposes, it was the precursor to the Savage Worlds system.

Now I find myself looking at it through a new lens - Deadlands Reloaded: Marshall's Handbook (Explorer's Edition) for Savage Worlds. In a way, we've come full circle.

I still love the divergent history that is the setting of Deadlands. American Western movies are pretty much our version of Avalon, King Arthur and the rest of the English / Celtic legends. Deadlands starts with that Western assumption, throws in undead and magic, changes some major historical events and gives us a huge amount of awesomeness - if your players like Westerns.

Some folks don't like sci-fi, some don't like fantasy, some don't like westerns and others don't like horror. Deadlands is a fantastical western horror setting (with some steampunkish elements), so it will either hit a lot of buttons for your group or miss a lot. It hits all of the sweet spots for me.

The Marshal's Handbook gives us background and history, the major players, critters, new rules for the setting - pretty much everything you need to get the game moving from the GM's side of the table.

The PDF itself is well bookmarked and hyperlinked. For a PDF coming in over 175 pages, these are pretty much necessities. Heck, they even give permission to print the document for personal use. You can even use layer controls to efficiently print the pages, which is nice.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands Reloaded: Marshal's Handbook Explorer's Edition
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Savage Worlds Deluxe
by David G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2012 12:33:11
We played this for the first time the other night. I like the quick character creation and swift combat rules. We picked up the system very quickly. The inclusion of poker chips and playing cards as aids was fun and it was nice as GM to give out "benny" awards rather than having to give XP.

Why not five stars?

The character progress is much steadier than than D&D or GURPS, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but will probably upset power gamers. The high level combat also gets a bit broken. With raises being given out for every 4 points beyond the target number dice rolls with large variance are going to cause wildly different effects. I'd like to see the threshold for raises scale in relation to toughness so a high level creature/npc/vehicle/pc would have to have maybe 6 or more to get a raise to wound them. I'll try it out a bit more but I think that will undoubtedly become a house rule. A simple table of toughness to raise threshold fixes that without complicating the rules.

The book itself is laid out well and includes a beastiary without needing to buy a supplement. Yay! It would have been nice to have some more npc stats too, such as a mixture of guards, common people (or whatever) as standard but I suppose those will be in the supplements. It doesn't take long to knock them up but GMs are lazy. There are sample wild card characters in there to start play quickly which means you could be starting a game from scratch in minutes.

The vehicle/items list as more than sufficient for instant play but I would have liked to have seen some rules for flying/space combat. It felt like those were missing especially in my Sci-fi campaign.

Overall a very flexible and fun system. I emphasize the "fun" aspect. Having been playing GURPS for two years it's very nice to get away from the simulation style game to something more swashbuckly. I noticed my players were just having fun rather than adding up stats and modifiers even in the first session. I'd happily recommend it to any level of gamer and expect to get a lot of use out of it. If Pinnacle just did one of two of the tweaks I mentioned I'd happily have given this five stars.

Easy and fun without sacrificing flexibility.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Worlds Deluxe
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