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The Great Deadlands Round Up! We hope you enjoy this absolutely free and complete version of the Deadlands Player’s Guide. To help you get more out of your trip into the Weird West, we’ve put together an incredible deal!
Deadlands™ is now available in four of the most popular gaming systems in the world—the original Deadlands Classic, Deadlands D20, GURPs® Deadlands, and detailed conversions for our new Savage Worlds™ game as well!* That means fans of the Weird, Wasted, or Way Out West can take advantage of over 75 different sourcebooks, character books, and boxed sets we’ve made over the last 7 years! We know that’s a passel of books and a whole lotta dinero, partner, and we want to help you get ‘em all, especially with the Deadlands computer game on the horizon. So we’re rounding up all our backstock into the best deals you’ll find north, south, east, OR west of the Pecos. But when they’re gone, they’re gone, so get ‘em now, amigo! These bundles are also available through your favorite local gaming store, so please give them your business if you’re able. If not, head on over to WWW.PEGINC.COM and order directly from us here at Pinnacle! Even better, look for brand new Deadlands books, including statistics for both classic Deadlands and Deadlands D20, on their way pronto through a unique partnership between the original creators of Deadlands and Mystic Eye (www.mysticeyegames.com)! (See www.peginc.com for all the details!) Conversion rules for D20 and Savage Worlds can be found at WWW.PEGINC.COM. GURPS is a trademark of Steve Jackson Games (www.SJGames.com). See www.wizards.com/d20 for complete information on the D20 license and logo. No, we don’t have any plans to bundle Deadlands D20, Weird Wars, or our other great games. We’re doing this to help all those new players we’ve brought in catch up on their backstock and fully enjoy the entire world of the Weird, Wasted, and Way Out West!
Deadlands: The Weird West
501 DL Marshal’s Bundle ($60) 1101 Marshal’s Handbook 1006 Rascals, Varmints, & Critters 1009 Marshal Law Screen 1018 Tales o’ Terror 1877 1022 Marshal’s Log
508 DL Epitaph Bundle ($25) 3001 Epitaph #1 3002 Epitaph #2 3003 Epitaph #3
603 HOE Character bundle II ($50) 6006 Toxic Tales 6009 The Junkman Cometh 6012 Cyborgs 6019 Spirit Warriors 6022 Waste Warriors
509 DL Dime Novel Bundle #1 ($10) 9002 Night Train 9003 Strange Bedfellows 9004 Savage Passage 9005 Ground Zero
604 HOE Setting Bundle ($45) 6013 Iron Oasis 6016 Shattered Coast 6017 Denver 6020 The City o’ Sin
510 DL Dime Novel Bundle #2 ($10) 9006 Forbidden God 9008 Skinners 9009 Worms
605 HOE Adventure Bundle ($25) 6004 Hell or High Water 6010 Something About a Sword 6014 The Boise Horror 6018 Urban Renewal
502 DL Character Book Bundle ($40) 1003 Book o’ the Dead 1004 Smith & Robards 1005 Hucksters & Hexes 1007 Twisted Tales 503 DL Character Book Bundle B ($40) 1010 Ghost Dancers 1011 Fire & Brimstone 1040 Lone Stars 1007 Twisted Tales 504 DL Setting Bundle ($40) 1019 The City of Lost Angels 1027 South o’ the Border 1028 The Canyon o’ Doom 1035 The Great Weird North 505 DL Doomtown Bundle ($30) 1030 The Agency 1033 The Collegium 1036 The Black Circle 506 DL Adventure Bundle ($30) 1024 Bloody Old Muddy 1031 Ghost Busters 1034 Rain o’ Terror 1037 Dead Presidents 507 DL Devil’s Tower Trilogy ($25) 1016 Road to Hell 1017 Heart o’ Darkness 1012 Fortress o’ Fear
511 DL Cardstock Cowboys Bundle ($25) 2701 Weird West Starter Pack 2702 Horrors of the Weird West 2703 Infernal Devices 512 DL Fiction Bundle ($20) 2100 A Fist Full o’ Dead Guys 2101 For a Few Dead Guys More 2102 The Good, the Bad, & the Dead
Hell on Earth 601 HOE Starter Set ($40) 6000 Hell on Earth 6001 Radiation Screen 6005 The Wasted West 6011 Monsters, Muties, & Misfits 602 HOE Character Bundle I ($50) 6002 Brainburners 6003 Children o’ the Atom 6006 Toxic Tales 6007 Road Warriors 6008 The Last Crusaders
606 HOE Dime Novel Bundle ($10) 9501 Leftovers 9502 Infestations 9503 Killer Clowns 607 HOE Cardstock Cowboy Bundle ($25) 2801 Wasted West Starter Pack 2802 Horrors of the Wasted West 2803 Road Wars!
Lost Colony 701 LC Lost Colony Bundle ($40) 4000 Lost Colony 2103 Banshee Screams 6021 The Unity
The Great Rail Wars 801 GRW Great Rail Wars Bundle ($35) 5500 The Great Rail Wars 5001 Derailed
By Shane Lacy Hensley
Deadlands: The Weird West Player’s Guide. Revised Edition Written & Designed by: Shane Lacy Hensley with John R. Hopler, Matt Forbeck, & Hal Mangold Additional Development by: Michelle Hensley, John Hopler, Matt Forbeck, Greg Gorden, Steve Long, Chris McGlothlin, Charles Ryan, Lester Smith, Tim Brown, Paul Beakley, Jay & Amy Kyle, Jason Nicols, Dave Wilson, Tim Link, Tammy Webb, and George and Nate Perkins. Revised Edition Developed by: Hal Mangold and Shane Lacy Hensley Editing: Matt Forbeck, Michelle Hensley, Jay Kyle, Jason Nichols & Hal Mangold Layout: Hal Mangold & Shane Lacy Hensley Cover Art: Brom Interior Art: Thomas Biondiolillo, Steve Bryant, Paul Daly, Kim DeMulder Tom Fowler, Don Hillsman, Ashe Marler, Allan Nunis, Andy Park, Jacob Rosen, Kevin Sharpe, Ron Spencer, Bryon Wackwitz and Loston Wallace Graphic Design by: Charles Ryan, Hal Mangold & Matt Forbeck Cover Design by: Hal Mangold & Zeke Sparkes Index by: Hal Mangold and Tom Huntington Logos: Ron Spencer, Zeke Sparkes & Charles Ryan Special Thanks to: AEG, Linda Sibold, Afterburner, Allen Seyberth, Tom Huntington, Tom Cashman, Mark Mentzer, John Fletcher, and Pat Phalen (the whole dog-gone listserv posse), Jenny Hise (booth babe!), Joe & Rose Wolf, Paris Crenshaw III. With a special thanks to the always patient Paul Daly and Paolo Parente. Deadlands created by Shane Lacy Hensley. Author’s Dedication: Michelle. My love. Editor’s Dedication: To John and Christopher, my oldest and best gaming buddies, my parents, and most of all, to Audrey Anne.
Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. P.O. Box 10908 Blacksburg, VA 24062–0908 www.peginc.com or [email protected]
(800) 214–5645 (orders only) Visit our web site for free updates!
Deadlands, Weird West, Dime Novel, the Great Rail Wars, the Deadlands logo, and the Pinnacle logo are Trademarks of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. © 1999 Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the USA.
Table o’ Contents Foreword ................. 4 Posse Territory ... 5 Prologue: The Tombstone Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West ....... 5
Chapter Three: Gear ........................... 73
El Cheapo Gear ........................... 73 Horses .................................................... 74 Common Gear .............................. 75 Shootin’ Irons ................................ 76 Equipment Notes ....................... 77
Chapter Seven: Mad Scientists .... 163
The Life of a Mad Scientist ................... 164 Creating Weird Gizmos ... 165 Weird Gizmos ............................... 168
Archetypes .................80 Chapter Four: Blowin’ Things All to Hell............... 113
Chapter One: The Basics .............. 21
Tools o’ the Trade .................... 23 Traits & Aptitudes ................... 24 Trait Levels ...................................... 24 Mixing Aptitudes ...................... 24 Aces ......................................................... 25 Target Numbers ......................... 25 Unskilled Checks ...................... 26 Goin’ Bust .......................................... 26
Chapter Two: The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of ..........29
One: Concept ................................. 29 Two: Traits ....................................... 34 Three: Aptitudes ........................ 38 Four: Hindrances ....................... 49 Five: Edges ....................................... 60 Six: Background .......................... 68 Seven: Gear ...................................... 68 Spaghetti…With Meat! .......... 68 Character Creation Summary ..................................... 69
Rounds ................................................. 113 The Action Deck ....................... 113 Actions ................................................. 114 Jokers ..................................................... 115 Moving .................................................. 116 Tests o’ Wills .................................. 117 Shootin’ Things ........................... 118 Reloading ........................................ 126 Throwin’ Things ...................... 126 Innocent Bystanders ........... 126 Fightin’ ................................................ 127 Vamoosin’ ........................................ 129 Hit Location .................................. 130 Damage ............................................. 132 Armor .................................................. 132 Bleedin’ & Squealin’ ............ 134 Wounds .............................................. 136 Stun ........................................................ 137 Wind ....................................................... 138 More Pain & Sufferin’ ........ 139 Healin’ ................................................... 141
Chapter Eight: The Blessed ......... 173
Chapter Five: Fate & Bounties ................ 143
Chapter Ten: Beyond the Pale .. 191
Fate ........................................................ 143 Improvin’ ........................................... 146
No Man’s Land .................. 149 Chapter Six: Hucksters............... 151
The Life of a Huckster .... 153 Casting the Hex ........................ 154 Hexes .................................................... 154
The Life of the Blessed ... 173 Invoking Miracles .................... 174 Miracles .............................................. 175
Chapter Nine: Shamans ................ 179
The Life of a Shaman ........ 179 Calling on the Spirits ........ 180 Rituals .................................................. 182 Favors .................................................... 185
The Unlife of the Harrowed ........................ 193 Common Powers ...................... 193 Counting Coup ........................... 195 Harrowed Powers .................... 195
Afterword ................ 202 Index .......................... 203 Character Sheet ...................... 206
Foreword Most likely, right now you’re standing in aisle three of Guy’s Game World in Boot Lick, Indiana, trying to decide whether to fork over part of your paycheck from Blockbuster Video to buy this book. Take heart, dear reader, it’s only money. Buy it fast, before a Game World clerk kicks you out of the store and bans you from, gasp, GAMING. In your darkest dreams, could you ever imagine that? A life away from Gaming? A life devoid of the indispensable information found in this revised edition of the Deadlands roleplaying game? I don’t think so. Of course, at first you’d try and kick the gaming habit. You’d buy a fist-full of self-help tapes (at a cost far exceeding this book) and listen to New Age music while you feverishly tried to meditate your addiction away. But it won’t do any good. Those weekend nights just wouldn’t be the same, staying home and actually interacting with your family instead of spending 48 straight hours trying to become “Harrowed.” The tremors will return, and the headaches will increase in frequency until you just can’t take it any more you’ve just got to be Ronan Lynch ONE MORE TIME!!! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you’d better cough up the moola and start reading, pardner. Let’s face it, your family doesn’t really miss you anyway, unless of course you’re 35, still live at home and the grass hasn’t been mowed in over a month. It really all depends on just how badly you need that 10-dollar allowance. Speaking of which, maybe you’d better take a weekend hiatus, cut the grass and use Dad’s cash to buy this book. Kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it? I can hear you whining from here—“Is this game really worth it?” What am I, a mind reader? I didn’t write the darned thing—buy it and find out for yourselves. There’s obviously a good reason why these fine people would harass me to write the foreword. Tell you what…I’ll make you a deal. If you buy this book and learn to master the game (I’ll know when you’re ready, because your personal hygiene will decline rapidly), I’ll personally come over to your house every other weekend (I do have a life, you know) and play the game with you. We’ll go at it, battling Raven and Dr. Darius Hellstromme until the cows come home. If, after this marathon session is concluded, I win—you pay me my full hourly rate, including fringes, per diem and bus fare to your small town. If you win (oh yeah, right), I’ll be your personal slave for a month, no questions asked. Just bear in mind that I don’t do windows. Sound like a good deal? I thought so. Now, you’re probably sitting in the parking lot of your local Strip Mall, tearing through these pages, trying to find out how to rectify Raven’s tragic mistake, aren’t you? Come on, admit it, I won’t tell anyone…just the whole world, that’s all! Well, Gamehead (that’s an affectionate term), I do hope Dad understands about the ratty-ass lawn you’re neglecting. Deadlands might just be the one game worth getting the health department to condemn your house for. Best to all you Knuckleheads, Bruce Campbell April, 1999
The Tombstone Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West
Everything a Greenhorn needs to know about surviving the Horrors of the Weird West—Don’t travel without it!
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West
A Word From The Editor Welcome, friends, to the Tombstone Epitaph’s latest attempt to educate the masses and illuminate the truth in the Newcomer’s Guide to the Weird West. My name is Lacy O’Malley, your erstwhile investigator and humble reporter. You might remember me from such guidebooks as our original Guide to the Weird West, the 1877 Update, the Guide to the City o’ Gloom, the Guide to the Mighty Mississippi, or the Back East North and South guidebooks. These are available in finer mercantiles everywhere, or for rush order from the fine folks at Smith & Robards. Many scoff at the bizarre tales we expound here in the pages of the Epitaph— stories more “distinguished” papers refuse to print. But experienced travelers know our reports are amazingly accurate, paranormally insightful, and uniquely designed to save the lives of those who venture into the often dangerous locales of the frontier. But many are only learning the dark truths about our fair continent and the mysterious things that crawl upon it. They have yet to feel sinister eyes upon them as they move
through the back alleys of Dodge City. They have not witnessed the awesome power, or the frightening intelligence of the rattlers. Nor have they heard the rustling grass of the High Plains as some feral creature stalks its prey. It is to these newcomers— greenhorns the frontiersmen call them—that we dedicate this issue. In the pages of this guide we have taken a step back from our wild proclamations and dire warnings to ease a new generation into the truth man was not meant to know. And for those foreign travelers who know little of our shores, we have briefly recounted the amazing history of our land—including the Great Quake of ‘68, the discovery of ghost rock, the state of our war-torn homeland, and the rise of the Indian nations. It is our hope to provide you with the basic information you must know to survive here in the West, dear newcomer. Good luck in your travels, and Godspeed. The Good Lord knows our cemeteries are full of those of you who have come before. Perhaps some tidbit here will save you from this dire fate.
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West
Welcome to the Weird West! We should begin our tale with the Great Quake of ‘68, for the quake—and what was revealed when it split the entire west coast of America apart—has shaped our country, and indeed our world, more than any other single event. California had long been a land of dreams. Gold was discovered there in ‘49 and the tales of those who had become millionaires overnight were the stuff of legend. The migration of hundreds of thousands of settlers looking to partake in this miracle was what formed the early history of the “Old West.” The dangers of the frontier, the Indians, outlaws, burning deserts, and freezing mountains, created the legendary gunfighters, adventurers, and heroes that so many read about in the dime novels and penny dreadfuls. Men like Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickock, and Bill Pickett were forged in this harsh land, drawn westward by the lure of gold or the notion they would bring law and order to this wild, reckless land.
This new fundament burns a hundred times hotter and longer than coal. When burned, the strange stuff gives off a ghostly-white vapor and howls like the Devil Himself, so the first survivors of the quake who discovered it called it “ghost rock.” The name stuck.
The Power of Ghost Rock While you have no doubt seen inventions powered by steam and ghost rock wherever you’re from, you must understand the impact this amazing mineral has had on California and the Maze. Immediately after its discovery, a great number of hopeful inventors headed to the Maze. In months, they had perfected devices powered by steam and fueled by ghost rock. Reports of horseless carriages, ghost-rock powered ships, and even weapons capable of spewing a torrent of bullets or spewing great gouts of flame became common.
The Great Quake of ‘68
The Battle of Washington
Now imagine the power of a mineral twice as valuable and a thousand times more useful than gold. That’s what happened in 1868 when California fell into the sea. An earthquake the likes of which he world has never seen before or since shattered the west coast from Mexicali to Oregon. In its wake was left the “Maze,” a labyrinth of jagged mesas towering over the flooded sea-channels below. Magnificent new beasts such as the Maze dragon, were discovered in those troubled waters, but more amazing was the discovery of what some at first thought was simple coal. In fact, the sundered landscape had cracked open to reveal a new mineral heretofore undiscovered.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis was the first to realize ghost rock’s potential value to his war effort. Under his supervision, a number of incredible devices were developed in a secret base near Roswell, New Mexico (the base has since been destroyed by an unfortunate accident). These secret weapons were shipped Back East and used in the South’s biggest offensive ever. In February of 1871, General Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia attacked the Union lines around Washington D.C. The attack, backed by weird science, was devastatingly effective, so effective, in fact, that Lee’s forces actually seized the Union’s capital!
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West
The struggle to build a transcontinental rail-line has often been punctuated by the sound of gunfire!
The Great Rail Wars
A Nation Sundered
The Yankees eventually took their city back as the Rebels’ devices began to malfunction or run out of ghost rock, but the message was clear—ghost rock powered weapons and devices were the way of the future. Though ghost rock had since been found all over the country, the greatest concentrations were still in the Maze, and no single rail line yet connected them to the battlefields of the East. Once back in the White House, President Grant offered the exclusive government contract for ghost rock to the first company to build a transcontinental rail line. The Confederates followed suit the next day. While a host of railroads answered the government’s call, the competition soon boiled down to just six. These six companies began a bloody war that has sometimes rivaled the one raging between the North and South themselves. I will return to the subject of the Rail Wars and the bloodthirsty participants who race to the coast later. For now, allow me to continue with the incredible impact ghost rock had on our nation.
As many of you know, the American Civil War began in 1861. The textbooks carried by most schoolmarms claim our nation was split in two, but that’s not exactly true. In fact, what used to be the United States of America is now six separate nations. Had it not been for the war, there is little doubt there would be no Sioux Nation, no Coyote Confederation, no Republic of Deseret, and certainly no City of Lost Angels.
The United States of America President Ulysses S. Grant has ruled the north since 1872. Many thought he would lose last year’s election, if he even ran. President Grant seems more suited to commanding the military on the battlefield than from the White House. Grant’s administration claims ownership of the entire country and refuses to acknowledge the existence of any other nations. The truth however, is that Washington has no authority, no control, and little or no presence in the other nations I will describe presently.
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West paranormal, the Agency is often well-equipped to deal with it, but do not be surprised if the price of their assistance is your silence.
President Grant Many thought Grant would lose the election after his troubled term—if he even ran for reelection. But last year’s “November Offensives” (so-called because each side stages a major military campaign prior to any election to win the incumbent votes) convinced the Yankees that the challenger, pro-peace candidate Samuel Tilden, would cave in to the Rebels. When a British column took Detroit, Michigan by force, seemingly in coordination with Confederate plans, the public was convinced “Unconditional Surrender” Grant was their man. Grant responded with his own campaign, bombing Richmond, Virginia with amazing air carriages. Simultaneously, his old friend General Sherman marched the Army of the Ohio through Kentucky, burning everything in his path as he had done in Georgia over a decade ago. But when the smoke of fall finally cleared, the Confederates had managed to defend themselves and not an inch of ground was gained. Now the president broods in his capital, watching his beloved nation fall apart around him. But though scattered, his military remains strong, and the fight isn’t over yet.
The Confederate States of America Our young and hot-blooded nation was born in blood and seems forever cursed to remain that way. Though the Civil War has had many lulls with no major battles, there has never been a day in this country’s history in which it wasn’t “at war.” I am afraid it is a curse we shall not soon lift, for Mexico seems ready to pounce upon us once again.
President Davis The leader of our violent land is President Jefferson Davis. He has ruled our nation unchallenged since the war began. He was reelected in the ‘67 campaign (after the mysterious death of his opponent, Senator Robert M.T. Hunter died mysteriously mere days before the election), but ruled by martial law until free elections were restored last year. His administration faltered more than once, and the devastated economy and inability to make the North recognize Southern independence made him the underdog. The Whig party nominated the beloved Robert E. Lee to challenge Davis. The election in the Confederate States made the old general the winner, but highly suspect votes from the territories swung the race in favor of Davis. Our leader has had one recent bit of true success. During last fall’s campaign, he seems to have convinced the British to finally enter the war in force. A column of troops marched on Detroit from Canada and took it in a day. The rumor is our European allies are preparing an even larger forth up North and may invade after winter. They would not likely attempt to “conquer” the Union, but would instead use their incredible military to force peace and recognition of the Confederacy. Unfortunately, recent news has come to me that the US has increased its diplomatic ties with France (which currently control Mexico, as well). It could well be that Grant hopes to counter the British invasion with a FrancoMexican invasion of the South.
The Agency One of President Grant’s most effective forces is the Agency, a shadowy organization formed in 1877. The US had formerly relied upon the Pinkerton Detective Agency for its intelligence gathering, but it gradually became clear a private company could not carry out all the actions a wartime government must perform. The men and women of the Agency now infiltrate, attack, and sabotage all perceived enemies of the state. Though I said we would stay away from the most controversial topics in this guide, I must also tell you that the Agency’s other function is to investigate bizarre and supernatural events. Just like the Texas Rangers, which I’ll discuss shortly, the Agents do not like people talking about these mysterious events. They have used bribes, blackmail, and even personal threats to keep these stories from appearing in the press. Should you find yourself involved with the
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West bright light of truth can only illuminate and strengthen. The Rangers do not agree, however, and use whatever means are necessary to keep their activities from the public.
The Sioux Nations Perhaps the people who have benefitted most from the Civil War are the Sioux. Since the Union Army’s attention has remained focused south, they have had little manpower to patrol and control their red neighbors in Dakota Territory.
Sitting Bull & Custer The leader, or “hunkpapa wicasa” of the Sioux is Sitting Bull, a wily old Indian chief who is far more belligerent than the rest of the wicasas (a council of elder chiefs, medicine men, and revered warriors). It was Sitting Bull who was responsible for defeating General George Armstrong Custer recently at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Since then, the Union has given the Sioux a little more respect Unfortunately, the headstrong Custer, who single-handedly survived his “last stand,” has not forgiven the Sioux for his humiliating defeat. He has pieced together a mercenary army and is threatening to invade when his band of claim jumpers, troublemakers, and freebooters is ready. Custer is acting without authority from Washington, but the Sioux don’t see it that way. Since he wears the rank of a US Army officer, to them, he is an officer.
Texas Rangers: Southern sentinels or enemies of the Truth?
The Texas Rangers The Texas Rangers were first used as spies and scouts in the Mexican War of ‘46-’48. Afterwards, they protected Texas against Mexican invasions, then later became the law throughout this wild young state. Early in the War, several detachments of Texas cavalry were dispatched East. They fought in many of the most important battles, including Gettysburg. It was there that the Rangers first began their new careers as monster hunters. That’s right, dear reader. This is not a typo. There are things out there you do not yet understand. The Texas Rangers hunt down these evils and destroy them. That is why they have jurisdiction throughout the South these days. Just like their counterparts in the Agency, the Rangers do not like news of the supernatural to get out. They feel it terrifies the public and somehow makes the forces of darkness that much stronger. As a journalist, I believe the
Deadwood Since ghost rock was discovered in the sacred Black Hills of the Sioux Nations, thousands of white prospectors violated the Indian’s borders in search of riches. This caused so much trouble that the wicasas finally allowed the whites to mine the Black Hills, but only if they would not stray from there, paid a fee to the Nations, and lived only in the treaty city of Deadwood. Those who strayed outside these boundaries were considered trespassers and subject to Sioux law for that charge—which is inevitably death.
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West Unfortunately, Custer and the greedy miners of Deadwood constantly violate the treaty. It is only a matter of time before an incident sets of a war between the Sioux and any white man who sets foot in Dakota Territory.
strong leader, some of the braves carry on the age-old tradition of raiding white settlements, a habit that brings them into frequent conflict with settlers in the Disputed Lands.
Brothers in Arms
The Old Ways
The Coyotes rarely raid into the Confederacy, and truth be told, rarely venture into towns in the Disputed Lands that are sympathetic to the Southern cause. This led many to believe the Confederation had a secret alliance with the Rebels. During the offensives of ‘76, this became very clear, and is now basically public knowledge. Presumably, the Indians believe we Southerners are an oppressed people, just as they are, making us brothers-in-arms.
Outnumbered as they are, the isolated whites of the area have one important advantage—or so they think. The wicasas claim things changed a little over a decade ago, that evil spirits had returned to the world to punish them for adopting some of the “polluted white man’s evils,” such as fire water and guns. This philosophy eventually came to mean the “People” were not to use any sort of technological device. They were supposed to return to the “Old Ways,” and the movement was born. Many young braves feel this is foolish. Why should they attack Gatling guns and cannons with arrows and tomahawks. The wicasas have forbid this kind of talk, but this only gave rise to a secret rebellion calling itself the “Order of the Raven.” The wicasas feel this poisons the People in the eyes of their gods, and so put to death any young brave found with the distinctive and hidden tattoo that marks them as a Ravenite.
The Republic of Deseret No doubt most of you know the story of the Mormons. They practice a different version of Christianity that didn’t seem to sit well with their neighbors Back East. Eventually, things got so bad the “Latter Day Saints,” as they call themselves, trekked west. Far west—to a desolate parcel of earth called Utah. There their new leader and prophet, Brigham Young, founded Salt Lake City in 1847.
The Coyote Confederation
President Brigham Young
Down south, in what used to be known as the “Indian Territory,” a coalition of Cherokee, Comanche, Creek, Seminole, Kiowa, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Indians saw the success of the Sioux and formed their own nation. The Confederation’s leader is a mysterious figure known only as “Coyote.” I suspect that since this leader remains cowled in a red cloak even among his own people, the tribe’s true leaders, Quanah Parker and Satanta, or one of their most trusted medicine men, act as Coyote. This would explain why Coyote has often been reported hundreds of miles apart on the same day. In either case, “Coyote” seems wiser than the sometimes hot-headed leader of the Sioux, but he does not take as active a hand in the Confederation’s affairs, leaving each tribe to its own devices. Because there is no single,
Young was a clever man, and he orchestrated Utah’s conversion to a territory rather quickly. The Mormons enjoyed isolation, anonymity, and even their own laws until the Gold Rush of ‘49. Though the Saints prospered financially as a waypoint for thousands of miners headed for California, the new “Gentiles” could not always live by their laws. Once again, the Mormons found themselves battling for their way of life, which included polygamy among other things— a practice the rest of the country couldn’t tolerate. The Saints muddled along until 1866. By that time, with no end insight for the Civil War and several unfortunate conflicts with nonMormons (including the Union Army), Brigham Young declared that the Mormons would rule themselves until such time as the
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West government had the time and resources to properly address the Saints concerns and complaints. The new nation is called “Deseret,” and encompasses all of Utah.
diseases. Starvation is a very real threat in the Maze. Or it would be if not for Reverend Grimme. Every Sunday, following his sermon, those who attended may join the congregation in a great feast. Fruit, vegetables, and especially meat (which is scarce and expensive but Grimme never seems to have any trouble finding) are all free for the taking. Even in a normal city, Grimme’s free feasts would make him a popular man. In the Maze, where a loaf of bread sometimes costs as much as a man makes in a week, Grimme seems but one step lower than the Almighty Himself. And that’s just what Grimed seems to believe.
The City of Gloom Salt Lake City is often called the “City of Gloom.” This is not some satirical comment on the Mormon’s lives. The city is called such because of its incredible factories. These factories build ghost-rock powered devices of steam and steel. The constant cloud of ghost-rock soot that hangs in the air and permeates certain sections of the city give it its less than cheerful moniker. If you want more information on Deseret, see the Tombstone Epitaph’s Guide to the City o’ Gloom for a more complete story.
The Edict Reverend Grimme believes a transcontinental railroad will bring only graft and corruption into his city. At least that’s what he tells his congregation. Most believe he is merely afraid that the rail lines would make food more available and spoil the source of his power. He preached against the coming of the railroads for years, but finally the iron horses must have come too close. In late 1877, Grimme took control of the city and declared it a sovereign state. I guess he figured if the Vatican could do it, so could he. In his famous “Edict of ‘77,” he proclaimed that only true believers in the Church of Lost Angels could live in the city (though thousands of hopefuls live in the “tent cities” outside). Those who do not recognize the Church’s sovereignty are not only exiled, but considered enemies of the state as well.
The City of Lost Angels Our last stop on this tour takes us back to the Maze. After the Great Quake of ‘68, one band of survivors who made it to shore from the deadly Maze was led by the Reverend Ezekiah Grimme. He provided a large band of survivors with both food and water during their arduous escape, and eventually came to call his followers his “Lost Angels.” The group founded a city where they came ashore and Grimme named it after his beloved flock—the City of Lost Angels.
Reverend Grimme Since then, Reverend Grimme has become a bit more stern. He had the city’s co-founders build its streets in a circular pattern with the “Church of Lost Angel’s” cathedral at the center. He claims he was inspired by a divine dream that told him to create the “Celestial City” that way. It wasn’t long before the city became the center of the ghost rock trade between the isolated boomtowns of the maze and the rest of the world. Grimme maintained his leadership for one simple reason. Food is incredibly scarce in the city. The high desert on the landward side of Lost Angels is arid and poorly suited for crops, and the few herds someone has tried to raise there are ravaged by a variety of natural
Grime’s Crusade Needless to say, no one liked seeing one man control the world’s largest supply of ghost rock. The USA, CSA, Deseret, and a host of other nations condemned the move and called Grime a despot. Even the zealous Grimme knows he cannot defeat the entire world. To convince people the Church of Lost Angels is acting in everyone’s best interests, he has sent small bands of missionaries out across the West to proselytize and recruit new followers. Of course, the railroads he keeps from fulfilling their dreams do not take kindly to
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West these believers, and their armed gangs attack them almost on sight. The Lost Angels have responded by arming their own faithful. This new war, between Grimme’s missionaries and the railroads, threatens to eventually turn into a battle smaller but far more bloody and vicious than the Great Rail Wars.
The Great Rail Wars Though the race in both the North and the South were open to everyone, only six companies have managed to survive until the present. With so much at stake, the competition proved fierce and violent. Just like the rail wars of the mid-60’s, the railroads hired gangs to “protect” their rolling stock and rail crews. One might ask “protect from whom?” The answer, of course, is each other. Grimme’s edict brought the lines, but not the war, to a grinding halt. The camps of their railheads now lie empty in the plains and deserts of the West. The rail barons gambled everything on their race, and some of them now lose hundreds of thousands of dollars a day due to the lull. How this chapter of the Great Rail Wars will end is anyone’s guess. Here is a little information on each of the railroads that remain in the race and their socalled Rail Barons.
Black River’s Wichita Witches are the scourge of the other railroads!
Perhaps because Union Blue also has a rightof-way through Dodge, Mina is rumored to have seduced the line’s president, Joshua Chamberlain. This reporter knows the “hero of Gettysburg” personally, however, and can vouch for his fidelity with his wife.
Bayou Vermillion Owned by the mysterious “Baron Simone LaCroix,” (a man, despite his first name), this New Orleans-based company runs due south through Texas and Arizona. It is here that the rail head stalled, both because of Grimme’s Edict and the constant attack of Apaches, who take a particular hatred to his rail crews for some reason.
Denver-Pacific The Denver-Pacific Railroad isn’t really capable of building a trans-continental line, but its owners are in a perfect position to sell their tracks between Denver and Salt Lake City to another. This could provide another of the Rail Barons with a quick, but likely very expensive, jump to the coast should the City of Lost Angels somehow be reopened to outside trade. The DP’s owners are none other than Jacob Smith and Clifton Robards, of the famous Smith & Robard’s catalog service. Their incredible devices are another factor in their favor, and have already helped them thwart violent takeovers of their rail lines.
Black River Owned by the beautiful and utterly ruthless Mina Devlin, Black River is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. Its line runs straight through heart of the Disputed Lands, with an especially notable station in Dodge City, Kansas.
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West Most amazingly, Kang somehow convinced the Sioux to let him run his line smack through the Dakotas. This is a clear violation of the Old Ways movement and no one is quite sure how he did it. It gave him a great advantage, however, for all the good routes south of the Nations were already taken when Kang entered the race. Now Iron Dragon is one of the most prosperous players in the Rail Wars.
Dixie Rails Though a private company, Dixie Rails is heavily funded by the Confederate government via its exclusive contracts to ship men and materiel from east to west. This provides the owner, Fitzhugh Lee, with a very important advantage. Perhaps an even greater advantage is the occasional leadership of his uncle, General Robert E. Lee. Dixie Rails has often called upon Rebel troops stationed out West and even Texas Rangers in its constant fights against the other rail barons.
Union Blue Perhaps the most noble of the Rail Barons is General Joshua Chamberlain. His spectacular performance at Gettysburg with 20th Maine won this former schoolteacher a spot on Grant’s command staff, then later command of the Union Blue railroad. Like Dixie Rails in the South, Union Blue is a private company in name only. The Army of the West gives Chamberlain all of its business, and its solid protection of passengers and cargoes—the best record of the railroads by far—means it gets the lion’s share of private business in the north as well.
Iron Dragon The most curious player in the Great Rail Wars is Iron Dragon, owned by a Chinese “warlord” of the maze named Kang. By all accounts, a pirate, opium lord, and thief, Kang has managed to enter the race and stay in it, most likely due to the respect he gives the thousands of Chinese workers who flock to his rail heads.
Wastach The Wasatch railroad is the property of the notorious Dr. Darius Hellstromme. His rail gangs dominated the early phases of the Rail Wars with his amazing “automatons,” clockwork men made of thick metal and wielding Gatling guns. They and other such devices prove that Hellstromme is the world’s leading “mad scientist.” But though his genius is without equal, he is also a ruthless man who uses violence and terror to secure right-of-ways when bribes and extortion fail. Hellstromme’s most significant obstacle is the Denver-Pacific. Smith & Robards are the professor’s arch-enemies, and will not likely sell him their line at any price. Unfortunately for Hellstromme, the Wasatch line was planned to run through his home town—Salt Lake City—but the DP lines have secured most of the passes through the Rockies. There has been talk that Hellstromme has another way through the Rockies. An incredible digging machine vanished beneath the mountains some time ago and hasn’t been seen since. Union Blue forces sometimes use actual Union Army troops!
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West bounce. Concords, by far the most popular model, fit nine in the passenger compartment and as many as can hold on up top. Six horses are typical, but stages used for shorter routes might only use four.
Go West, Young Man! Now you’re up on current events. But what you really need to survive the frontier is practical information. You have to know the best way to go west and how to pay for things once you get there. Forget the latter, and you’ll need to know how to avoid getting in trouble with the law. Forget that, and you’ll need to know how to wire home for Momma.
By Rail Taking a locomotive west is, in my opinion, the only sane choice a traveler can make, and even this is fraught with dangers. Bandits are common along the train routes. Most are two-bit thugs who are easily handled by the train’s guards. A few are a little more devious. The Wichita Witches, for example, have even been known to dynamite trestles, sending entire trainloads of honest folks to their dooms just for a safe full of gold. All the big companies keep armed guards on board these days to deal with trouble. Trains carrying payroll or gold shipments usually have a contingent of soldiers, Pinkertons, or hired gunmen. Passenger trains are more likely to have “troubleshooters” dressed in ordinary clothes on board. But bandits aren’t your greatest threat when you ride the rails west. That dubious distinction belongs to the companies themselves. Regardless of which rail company you choose to carry you west, remember you’re going to be riding right into the middle of the Great Rail Wars. You need to be able to budget how far you can get in a day to properly plan a trip. Here are some rough figures for you.
Getting Around If you’ve decided to head on out into the Weird West regardless of the dangers, you’d best know how to get here. For that, you need to pick a method of locomotion. Remember that the civilized world ends just west of the Mississippi. After that, you head into the Disputed Lands, the Sioux Nations, or the Coyote Confederation. Tread cautiously, and keep a six-shooter handy in case local disputes reach the monthly bloodletting stage while you’re passing through. Scared yet? Perhaps by the end of this guide. We don’t need any more victims out here. But if your heart’s still set on making the journey, you can get here by hoof or by rail.
Hoofing It Whether you ride in your own saddle alongside your compadres or in a spiffy new Concord stagecoach, hoofing it across the West is basically a bad idea. The ride is long and uncomfortable, and you’re very likely to be chased by angry Indians, road agents, or critters you don’t believe in even when your bones are coming out their kiesters. For long distances, stagecoaches are faster than riding alone. The drivers stick to wellknown routes (often likely places for ambush, by the way), and they change horses about every 15 miles to keep up a steady pace. In fact, most reputable lines average about 100 miles a day. Stagecoaches are more comfortable than riding your own animal. The coaches hang by leather straps to take away some of the
Travel Times Method Horse Stage Rail
Average Miles/Day 40 70 250
The above numbers are based on traveling about eight hours a day. A stage makes better time than a horse, by the way, because its animals are changed every 15 miles. If a lone rider somehow has the luxury of changing horses often (like a Pony Express rider), he can average about 80 miles a day.
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West Dinero
Now on to more pleasant topics. Let’s talk about money. Most merchants out West don’t like paper money. They aren’t sure whether the North or South will win the war, so they’re understandably nervous about getting stuck with a wad of useless currency. If a shopowner does take paper, he’ll probably charge you an “exchange tax” of 10–20%. Metal is always a safe bet. I’d advise you to convert your Union greenbacks or Confederate scrip to metal coins before heading out West. Here’s a list of coins in case you need a reminder or you’re foreign to our country.
There are basically two ways one communicates out West—via telegraph, US mail, or Pony Express.
Telegraph The telegraph is an amazing invention. As a reporter for the Epitaph, I could hardly survive without it. Who’d have ever guessed the miracles of modern technology would allow a man to write an article in Denver and have a decent chance of it reaching Tombstone the same day? The only trouble, of course, is actually receiving the darn things. Telegraph offices in both the North and South are forbidden by law to transmit messages over the border. You can still get it done by wiring someone in the Disputed Lands, but these “black market” telegraphers charge triple the normal cost. When you do send a telegram, ask for a confirmation from the other end. Messages are frequently garbled, misinterpreted, or just plain wrong—often with disastrous consequences. I have my own pet theory as to why—gremlins— but I promised my editor not to scare off all you greenhorns in this particular guide.
Money Coin Gold Eagle Half Eagle Quarter Eagle Silver Dollar Half Dollar Dime Half Dime Copper Cent
Value $10 $5 $2.50 $1 50¢ 10¢ 5¢ 1¢
The US Mail
There are a couple other types of “money” floating around the Weird Western economy. Most Indian tribes prefer barter, but some accept coins or paper at about a quarter its printed value. Indians of the Coyote Confederation honor Confederate scrip at half its value. Deseret also mints its own money, called “bank notes.” Long ago, there were some problems with so-called “Mormon money” and a lot of people lost their shirts (and pants and shoes). The problem seems to have been resolved since Deseret was formed, however. Grimme hasn’t done anything about money yet. Merchants in Lost Angels continue to take paper or coins just like everyone else. Out in the maze itself, ghost rock is a popular form of currency, a practice started in a little place called Gomorra.
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night keep the mailmen from their appointed rounds. It’s usually the highwaymen, or more specifically, their bullets that keep the mail from going through. Mail robbery is on the rise. You may only send a letter to Aunt Minnie, but the bandits who sort through the mail bag don’t tend to return the mail once they’ve pulled out any currency.
The Pony Express Much more reliable than the US Mail is the Pony Express. Its riders—all orphans or single men and women—are paid better and seem more suited to fighting off highwaymen. It’s more expensive, of course, but valuable documents and bank notes should not be sent any other way.
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West The Military Let’s take a quick look at the regular army units you’re likely to run into out here. Most of the units out here are cavalry forces, though there are a few infantry regiments stationed at key points along the borders. Both the North and the South use the same organization and ranks, as shown on the chart below. I’ve listed the order of things all the way up to the Commander-in-Chief, though you’ll rarely find more than a brigade out West.
Military Ranks Private Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs): Corporal Sergeant 1st Sergeant Ordnance-Sergeant Quartermaster-Sergeant Sergeant Major Military forces sometimes end up facing more than just gunfire!
Three or four Regiments make up a Brigade, usually under the command of a Brigadier General. Union brigades are designated by number within their Division (1st, 2nd, etc.); Confederate, by their commander’s surname (Garnett’s Brigade, for instance). Three or four Brigades make up a Division, usually under the command of a Major General. Union Divisions are designated by number within their Corps (1st, 2nd, etc.); Confederate, by their commander’s surname (Pickett’s Division, for example). Three or four Divisions make up a Corps , usually under the command of a Lieutenant General. Union Corps are designated by number within their Army (1st, 2nd, etc.); Confederate, by their commander’s surname. Three or four Corps made up an Army, usually under the command of a full General. Union Armies are named after major rivers in their area of operation (the Army of the Potomac); Confederates, after the state they were based in (the Army of Northern Virginia).
2nd Lieutenant 1st Lieutenant Captain, Major Lieutenant Colonel Colonel Brigadier General Major General Lieutenant General General Commander-in-Chief Confederate and Yankee ranks and organization are virtually identical. The basic rank is Private: your ordinary, ground-pounding grunts. 95 privates (plus NCOs and officers) made a Company (though very rarely does any Company achieve full strength), under command of a Captain. Ten Companies (designated A-J, usually) make a Regiment, usually under the command of a Lt. Colonel. Regiments on both sides are designated by a number and and their state of origin, for example: 18th Virginia Infantry Regiment.
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West self-defense after a fatal shooting, however, so abusive lawmen are eventually dismissed by the state or territorial government. Assuming there is no graft or corruption involved, which is unfortunately the case in too many counties.
The Law Hopefully most of you readers out there should have little reason to come into day-today contact with the lawmen out West. We like to think of our readership as fine, law-abiding folks. There are three tiers of the law in the West. Know them and respect these brave men and women. They’re the only thing that keeps the lawless frontier from becoming even worse.
US Marshals & Texas Rangers Now things get a little trickier depending on which side of the border you happen to be on. In Union states and territories, US Marshals have ultimate authority over the law. They can hire Deputy US Marshals, authorize posses, cross state and territorial lines, and even call on county sheriffs and town marshals if need be. US Marshals are usually based in the largest cities of the state or territory they happen to be stationed in, although some work out of a few district offices scattered in important areas elsewhere. When they leave their offices, it’s usually because they’ve been called on by a smaller town or they’re on the trail of some vicious desperado. Though they can call on these resources, most US Marshals work alone. Don’t ask me why; I’m just a journalist. If I was chasing down the most violent desperadoes in the country, I’d surround myself with an army of deputies. I imagine most US Marshals just aren’t the trusting sort. They need to move quietly in the wilderness and slip into towns without alerting their quarry. Inexperienced deputies with loud feet and loose lips probably cause them more harm than good, and in a US Marshal’s occupation, that kind of harm often adds up to an unmarked grave in Boot Hill. The Confederacy relies on the military or territorial rangers to do its interstate policing in the West. Regiments scattered throughout Rebel states and territories always have jurisdiction over local town marshals and county sheriffs. Then there are the South’s elite, the Texas Rangers. These surly fellows fought as regulars in the early years of the war, but they were later detached from the regular military to serve the Confederacy as mounted police officers. They continue to fulfill that function today throughout the South (in the east and west). They also track down any strange creatures reported in their domain and shoot them dead.
Town Marshal At the lowest level is a “town marshal.” Most large towns have such a person, as do a few smaller ones with delusions of grandeur or lots of local problems. They are usually elected by the people, though many towns allow the mayor or a town council to appoint them as well. Town marshals and their deputies have jurisdiction within town limits, though most county courts uphold their right to chase fleeing criminals short distances beyond the usual boundaries. The problem is most local troublemakers know just how little authority a town marshal has outside his jurisdiction. They commit a crime in town and then head for the hills where he has no official reach. Most town marshals ignore this technicality if they are in “hot pursuit,” however.
Sheriff A step above the town marshal is a county sheriff and any deputies he’s appointed. These men and women have authority over everyone who lives within the county. I would like to tell you that most county officers work in conjunction with the town marshals within their jurisdiction, but the opposite is all too frequently the truth. Lawmen, by their very nature, are a tough and independent breed, so they often butt heads when jurisdictions collide. Sheriffs are always elected by the people. Famous gunmen often hold such an office just to justify any killing they might have to do in and around town. Sheriffs must still prove
The Epitaph’s Newcomers Guide to the Weird West There’s an old saying that goes, “one riot, one Ranger.” This is true when they’re dealing with outlaws or lynch mobs. When they’re chasing something less natural, the wily Rangers travel in packs, much like wolves but twice as mean.
gets bushwhacked while he’s making his rounds, you’ll find yourself waiting until the state appoints a replacement. Some judges are a little too quick to hang a man. In the West, these men and women are called “hanging judges.” Most have more bark than bite, but there are some who’ll hang you for swearing on a Sunday. I highly advise you to avoid trouble in these areas, regardless of whether or not you started it.
The “Fourth” Level There is a secret fourth level of the law in both the North and South that operates under its own authority and agenda. I have already told you of the Agency and the Rangers. I have also mentioned that both believe spreading the strange tales one finds in the pages of the Tombstone Epitaph or that circulate along the frontier only serves to make things worse. Should you witness a strange occurrence, be careful where you repeat your tale. Both groups care nothing for civil rights, and they even have authority over any town marshals, sheriffs, US Marshals, and even judges and local politicians. They will do as they please in the interests of “national security,” including incarceration of innocents, blackmail, and perhaps even murder. Rather than repeating your tales to a possibly under-appreciative audience, it’s far better to contact a your dedicated reporters of the Tombstone Epitaph than to risk the wrath of the Agents or Rangers. Let us shoulder the burden for you. We reach a wider audience, and if you defeat whatever evil besets you, we can spread the tales of your daring deeds throughout the nation. And of course we’ll sell a few papers in the process.
Common Jail Times & Fines Offense Horse Thieving Rustling Murder Rape Attempted Murder Bank Robbing Train Robbing Stealing money from a widow Robbing someone of authority Grand Larceny (stealing $300 or more in goods or currency, besides horses or beeves) Stealing less than $300 Drunk in public Disorderly Carrying a weapon in a no-weapons zone
Judges and Courts Judges work the same in western states as they do Back East. Every county has its own judge, and the state usually has some sort of “superior” court for appeals or matters of state jurisdiction. In the territories, the men who interpret—or invent, some would say—the law of the West are the circuit judges. They’re called “circuit” judges because they make a circuit throughout the scattered towns of a territory. There just aren’t enough judges—or people—to maintain permanent courts. This means you might wait anywhere from 2 to 10 weeks for your “fair and speedy” trial. And if the judge
Sentence Hanging Hanging Hanging Hanging 20 years or 20 years or 20 years or 20 years or
more more more more
5 years or more 5 years or more
1 week to 1 year Overnight, $10 fine $10 fine Confiscation, $10 fine
A Final Word Well, there you have some of the basics of this big Weird West of ours. From the High Plains, to the shattered coast of the Great Maze, it’s the most interesting place on God’s Green Earth, of that I’m sure. We here at the Tombstone Epitaph hope to see you out here on the wild frontier soon, my friends. In the meantime, we shall continue our publishing efforts, bringing you the one thing that shines out like a beacon in this dark world of fear—the TRUTH!
The Basics Welcome to the Weird West, amigo! This is one part of a long story told through three different roleplaying games. It all begins here, in the Weird West, where some say strange creatures called the Reckoners have begun “terrorforming” the world in fear. The tale continues in Deadlands: Hell on Earth, a possible future where the bad guys have won. The villains’ efforts and the devastation of a supernatural nuclear war have turned the earth into a ravaged wasteland populated with horrible monsters and rugged survivors. Deadlands: Lost Colony explores the outer space colonies left behind by the pre-holocaust humans of Hell on Earth. Isolated in the desolate and savage Faraway system, the colonists must contend with other desperate survivors and an incredible invasion of beings bent on their destruction. All of these games are completely compatible, and should be available wherever you found this book (Deadlands: Lost Colony debuts in August 2000).
In all of these games, most of you take on the roles of “player characters”—the heroes and heroines of the story. Collectively, you are the “posse.” Each of you tries to accomplish your character’s goals, defeat nefarious villains, decipher the many mysteries of Deadlands, and avoid becoming lunch for some unsavory critter. One of your group becomes the game master, or as we say in Deadlands, the “Marshal.” He sets up the adventure and plays the parts of all the “extras” (called non-player characters in other games). This book you hold in your hands is the player’s guide for the Weird West. It contains as much background as the common cowpoke knows, plus all the rules you need to make your own characters and play the game. The Marshal’s Handbook contains more detailed world information as well as special rules intended for his eyes only. Both books are required to play.
The Marshal is your best friend and your worst enemy. He knows the secrets of Deadlands, and sometimes he might use them to put your character through Hell—or worse. Survive, and he can be your best friend, rewarding your character with wealth, fame, and power. Die, and well…we’ll get to that later. If this is all entirely new to you, think of a roleplaying game as something like a play or a movie. The characters you and your friends roleplay are the stars of the show. The Marshal is the director, and the extras he controls are all the other characters in the film. Of course, the main differences between a roleplaying game and a movie is that in a game there is no script, and the heroes don’t always win. The posse and random chance (that’s where the dice and cards come in) determine whether you can manage to come up with any sort of a happy ending or not. With a little imagination and luck, your posse’s adventures will become the newest legends of the Weird West. And that’s what it’s all about, partner.
How to Use This Book The first section of this book (which you probably already read) is an introduction to the world of Deadlands: the Weird West. Your character is assumed to know most everything we told you. The next section, this chapter and the next two, teaches you the basic rules of the game and shows you how to blow chunks out of creepy crawlers. Every player, including the Marshal, should read through this part Read through this book until you see a big page marked No Man’s Land. This section features material that only certain players need (or should) know about. When you read about something Chapter covered in No Man’s Land, the totem symbol points you to the chapter it’s covered in. If you’re a player, you shouldn’t read any part of No Man’s Land without your Marshal’s permission. When you see a badge, that means there’s some secret tidbit or table hidden in The Marshal’s Handbook that relates to whatever you’re reading about. The number underneath tells the Marshal what page to look at in his book—not this one! Page
Tools o’ the Trade Besides some pencils, paper, and an overactive imagination, there are three things you need to play Deadlands: dice, cards, and poker chips.
Dice Because Deadlands is a game, we need some way of randomizing certain actions such as determining whether or not your gunslinger hears the varmint creeping up behind him. We pull off this neat little trick with dice. Deadlands uses 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- and sometimes 20-sided dice. These are abbreviated as d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20. If there’s a number in front of the type of die, such as 2d6, it means you should roll that many dice. If you see “5d8,” for example, you should roll five eight-sided dice. Sometimes there’s a number added to or taken away from the roll, like “2d12+2.” You always apply the modifier after you roll the dice. D10’s: A d10’s a bit special. It’s got a “0” in the 10s place, so if you roll a “0,” be sure to read that as a “10.” If you need dice, you should be able to get them where you got this book or in any good game store.
Cards Deadlands also uses a standard deck of playing cards with the Jokers left in (54 cards total). If your deck comes with identical Jokers, you need to come up with some way to distinguish between them. Official Deadlands card decks should be available wherever you purchased this book, but if you’re using other cards, make sure you designate one Joker red and the other black. The easiest way to do this is to simply mark one of the Jokers with a red marker. That way, you can never forget which is which. In combat, the cards are used as “Action Decks.” You need one deck for the posse and one for the Marshal. We’ll tell you how these work in Chapter Four.
The Basics Extra Decks: Certain special character types (like hucksters or mad scientists) need their own decks, so if you’re playing one of these, make sure you’ve got an extra deck or two handy. The decks used by hucksters and mad scientists are not Action Decks, by the way. They’re kind of their own animal.
Chips Deadlands uses standard poker chips to represent how a hero might control his own fate. The Marshal gets to use them for his extras as well. We’ll get into how this works in Chapter Four. All you need to know for now is that your group needs 50 white chips, 25 red chips, and 10 blue chips to play. Put all of these into a big cup or “Fate Pot” so you can draw them out of the pot without looking at them. Once you’ve set up the posse’s Fate Pot, put unused chips away. Only under special circumstances do you ever add new chips to the pot. Whenever you spend a chip (again, more later), toss it back into the Fate Pot. No Chips: We know some of you can’t find poker chips out there, especially you “ferners.” If this is the case in your part o’ the world, we recommend gaming stones or any other small tokens of different colors. It doesn’t really matter. Poker chips capture the flavor of the game best, but any kind of tokens work just as well.
Optional Accessories They’re not strictly necessary, but miniatures representing the characters and the villains are very handy. Using miniatures and a good sketch map of any fights that take place gives your players a better idea of what’s going on and encourages them to make use of their character’s surroundings. Pinnacle has a huge line of Deadlands miniatures available for just this purpose.
Trait Levels The Big Round Down There’s one universal rule in Deadlands. Whenever you’re told to round something, round down. That’s all there is to it. Remember this, and you’ll go far in the Weird West. For instance, if you’re told you do a wound for every 6 points of damage your character causes, a roll of 13 causes 2 wounds, not three. Got it? Good. That was easy.
Traits & Aptitudes Characters, varmints, and other critters are mostly made up of Traits and Aptitudes. Traits are things like Strength, Quickness and Smarts. These are always written in Capitalized Italics and are expressed as a type of die. A really strong critter might have a d12 Strength, while an elderly schoolmarm probably has a d6 or even a d4. Aptitudes are skills, talents, or trades learned during life (or sometimes unlife!) These are rated from 1 to 5 initially and tell you how many Trait dice to roll when using that Aptitude. Their names are always written in lowercase italics. Deadlands uses fairly broad Aptitude descriptions, so you often need to choose a “concentration.” The fightin’ Aptitude by itself, for example, is useless. You need to choose a concentration such as brawlin’, knives, or swords. The same is true for an Aptitude like science—you need to specialize in biology, chemistry, or engineering.
When you are asked to make a test of one of your character’s basic Traits, you roll a number of that Trait’s dice equal to its Trait Level, just like with Aptitudes. Trait tests are usually called for when the Marshal wants to test your character’s raw abilities, such as his Strength or Smarts. Quickness is another Trait that you’ll use often, especially in combat. For instance, Ronan Lynch, a legendary Deadlands gunslinger and the star of our nifty Dime Novels, has a Deftness of d10 with a Trait Level of 4, so he rolls 4d10 to make a Deftness test.
Mixing Aptitudes Aptitudes are normally associated with a particular Trait (and that’s how we list them on the character sheet). The big secret of our nifty system is that they don’t have to be. When the Marshal asks for an Aptitude test, such as a climbin’ roll, just use the Trait that climbin’ is listed under. But sometimes she might ask you for a climbin’/Knowledge roll. This means she wants to see how much your character knows about climbin’, not how well he can actually scale a sheer cliff.
Learnin’ to read the Bones A character’s Trait tells you what kind of dice to roll, and the Aptitude or Trait Level tells you how many dice to roll in any given check. Your result is the highest number you get when you roll all your dice together—don’t add them. If you roll 3d6 and get 2, 3, and 5, your result is a 5. If there are any modifiers, they are applied after the dice are rolled. Negative modifiers are penalties of some sort, and positive modifiers are bonuses.
Aces Trait and Aptitude rolls are openended. This means if you roll the maximum number on any of your dice, you can roll that die again and add the next roll to that die’s current total. The maximum number on a die is called the “Ace.” You can keep rolling the die and adding it to the running total as long as you keep getting Aces. If you should get Aces on several of your individual dice, you need to keep track of each series of dice rolls separately. When you’re done, the series that got the highest total is the number you should give to the Marshal. Ronan has been hired to find out what happened to a bunch of Texas cowboys who disappeared on a trail drive. He’s hot on their trail when his horse stumbles into a sandpit. The Marshal asks for a horse ridin’ roll. Ronan’s skill is 2d8. He gets lucky and rolls two 8s—both Aces! He rolls both d8s again and gets a 7 and another 8. These dice are hot! Ronan rolls the last d8 again and gets a 3 for a grand total of (8+8+3=) 19. The former cavalry officer avoids the deadly pit with ease.
Difficulty & Target Numbers Okay, you’ve got your result. How do you know exactly how well your hero’s done? Just look on the standard Difficulty Table below. The “difficulty” is a rough estimation of how hard a particular task might be for someone to actually accomplish. The “TN,” or Target Number, is the number you need to meet or beat on your dice roll to succeed at that task. It’s up to the Marshal to figure the difficulty of any given task.
Difficulty Difficulty Foolproof Fair Onerous Hard Incredible
Target Number 3 5 7 9 11
Summary The Trait tells you what kind of dice to roll. The Aptitude or Trait level tells you how many of those dice to roll. The total is the highest die that you rolled, plus or minus any modifiers. An Ace lets you roll that die again and add it to the current total.
Easy Checks Part of being a good Marshal is knowing when an Aptitude check is truly appropriate. Characters don’t need to make Aptitude rolls for every little thing they do. Climbing down a ladder isn’t all that hard (and shouldn’t require a roll) unless something in the hayloft above is chasing your cowpoke down. The very fact that a hero has an Aptitude at all denotes a certain amount of skill or knowledge. The Marshal will call for Aptitude checks whenever she wants, but remember, the standard difficulty numbers assume there is some level of stress or unknown difficulty involved in the task. It’s hardly heroic to break your neck crossing the street.
Unskilled Checks Sometimes you have to make an Aptitude check, when lo and behold, you discover you don’t actually have the Aptitude. In these cases, you get to roll one die just as if your character had 1 level in that skill. The downside is that he has to subtract –4, the unskilled penalty, from his final result
Related Skills: If your character has a skill that is very similar to the one he doesn’t have, he can roll that other skill instead, but he must still subtract the unskilled modifier of –4. Concentrations within an Aptitude are usually related—such as shootin’: pistols, shotguns, and rifles. Search and trackin’ are good examples of Aptitudes that are usually related, as are persuasion and bluff, assuming a few little white lies are involved. Other Aptitudes may be related depending on the situation. You and your Marshal have to figure out if an Aptitude might be used in place of another. Traits are never considered “related” to Aptitudes. Note that concentrations of the professional and trade Aptitudes are almost never considered related (see the next chapter).
Goin’ Bust Of course, there’s a bad side to all this dice-rolling business. If the majority of your dice come up “1s”, you’ve “gone bust.” This means a setback of some sort has occurred. The Marshal determines how bad the catastrophe is based on the situation (so be nice to him). Going bust while trying to eat in polite society might just mean all those beans on the trail finally caught up with your hero. If he goes bust while trying to snuff out a dynamite fuse, well, things might be even messier.
Raising the Pot Every time you beat your Target Number by 5 points, you get an extra success level. This is called a “raise.” Raises are sometimes used to show your character has done exceedingly well at whatever it was she was trying to accomplish.
Opposed Rolls Occasionally, someone your character is bamboozling, wrestling, or staring down might have the audacity to try to resist. If this is the case, both characters roll against a Fair (5)
difficulty. The character who beats the TN and his opponent wins. Raises are always used in opposed rolls, though they are counted from the opponent’s total. This is a very important mechanic and you’ll see it a lot, so pay attention. Opposed rolls are very common and characters often come into conflict with each other. Opposed rolls are used for things like wrestling, tests of wills, and simply trying to persuade some sodbuster to do what your character wants him to. The table below shows you just how much a success or raise should accomplish. Keep in mind that the Marshal’s still the boss, however. She may know something you don’t that changes the reaction of a bad guy your hero just beat the snot out of with half-a-dozen raises. A villain who knows a train is about to plunge off a trestle, for instance, won’t stop struggling to break your hombre’s grip no matter how tight he’s got him.
Raises Result Success
Effect You barely achieved the desired effect. If this is an opposed roll, the opponent continues to resist normally and you both should roll again next round. You manage to accomplish your goal with a little room to spare. If this is an opposed roll, your opponent loses or surrenders, at least until he can find another way to recover his loss. You make it look easy. If this is an opposed roll, your opponent surrenders and does not resist or attempt to recover without a major change in the situation.
The Deadlands Lexicon Ace: The maximum number on any particular type of die, such as the “6” on a d6, or the “0” on a d10. Whenever you get an Ace, you can roll the die again and add it to the previous roll. Aptitudes: Skills, talents, or trades a character has learned or developed. This includes skills like persuasion, shootin’, and sneak. Bust: You go bust when you roll more “1s” than anything else. This means your character failed catastrophically. Concentrations: Specializations within a broader Aptitude category. Each major type of firearm (pistol, rifle, shotgun), for instance, is a concentration of the shootin’ Aptitude. Extras: These are the non-player characters who populate the world of Deadlands. Extras include everything from loyal sidekicks to dastardly villains and strange critters. The Marshal plays the roles of the extras. Marshal: The game master, or the guy or gal responsible for setting up the adventure and guiding the posse through it. Opposed Roll: A contest between two characters, such as a staredown (overawe) or wrestling match (fightin’: wraslin’). Posse: The player characters and any sidekicks, allies, or other extras who happen to be tagging along. Raise: When you make a Trait or Aptitude check, every 5 points over the TN is an extra success level: a raise. Successes: Sometimes we say this to mean a success and any raises. Target Number (TN): The difficulty of a particular task. If your dice roll is greater than or equal to the Target Number, your character succeeds at whatever she was attempting. Traits: Raw physical and mental attributes such as Strength or Smarts. Trait Level: The number of Trait Dice you roll when making a pure Trait check, such as a Strength or Quickness roll.
The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of Making a character in Deadlands is easy. Just copy the character sheet found on pages 206-207 of this book and follow along as we explain how to fill it in. If you’re in a hurry or want to try the game out before making your own character from scratch, there are 22 archetypes on pages 81-102. If you want to use one of these, you need to give them a proper name, but other than that, these heroes are ready to hop off of the pages and into the world of Deadlands. One more thing. You might have guessed from our little prologue that death isn’t necessarily the end of your character. That’s true—but you’ve got to be careful because it isn’t all that easy to come back from the other side. And even when you do, unlife isn’t exactly a bed of roses. For now, let’s go ahead and make a living, breathing hero of the Weird West. To create your own hero, follow these seven basic steps:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Concept Traits Aptitudes Hindrances Edges Background Gear
One: Concept The first step in making your hero is to have some kind of idea who you want your character to be. There are hundreds of basic types of heroes available in the world of Deadlands, from gunslingers to explorers to saloon girls to hucksters. Let your imagination run wild. If you don’t have a good idea for the type of hero you’d like to play, look at the character sketches on the following pages. You can even mix them together if you want. There’s no reason you can’t be a former cavalry officer turned
marshal or a saloon girl who occasionally turns in her customers for bounty. At the end of each character sketch you’ll see listed a few Aptitudes, Traits, or Edges these character types usually have. These categories and terms are explained in their appropriate steps (later on in the book), so you can come back and check your character sketch’s recommendations again once you’ve read through the rest of the creation process. Finally, remember that these sketches are broad generalizations—you can alter a sketch to fit your own ideas any way you choose. Not all United States Marshals are brave and honorable, and there’s no reason an Indian brave can’t make his living as a gambler.
Bounty Hunters chase down outlaws and turn them in for the reward. This is a dangerous job, so your character needs some decent combat skills like shootin’ and fightin’. A good trackin’ skill is almost mandatory. Watch out, though. The hunter sometimes becomes the hunted if the prey gets wind someone’s on his trail. Buffalo Hunters saw a strange development in their trade in the last few years. The Sioux Nations herded most of the larger buffalo herds into their borders. This means buffalo meat and hides—once fairly cheap because they were so common—are now bringing in good prices at the few surviving and very secret skinning camps. The Sioux have warned off buffalo hunters on several occasions, but now they shoot on sight. Buffalo hunters need to be sneaky sorts with few scruples and steady hands for firing their Sharp’s Big Fifty rifles. Cattle Kings spend most of their time on their ranches raising hundreds of head of steers. Once a year, they have to drive the herd to a market of some sort, usually a railhead or stockyard. If you play a cattle king, your character needs some area knowledge of the land and trail routes. He’ll also need the dinero or belongin’s Edge for his herd, unless he’s recently lost it to rustlers or some kind of critter—natural or supernatural. Cavalrymen serve both the USA and CSA. They act as scouts, Indian fighters, and occasionally raiders. Officers need skills such as leadership and overawe, a high Mien to keep their troops in line, and some skill with a saber or pistol. Soldiers need good horse ridin’ skills, a high Vigor to survive long marches, and a decent aim with a rifle or carbine. Cowpokes spend most of their days out in the open range, tending to steers owned by cattle kings. They need to have good shootin’: rifles and horse ridin’ skills, and knowing how to use a lariat can come in just as handy for roping monsters as it does cattle. Of course, long horns are rarely known to
rip a fellow’s head off after they’re roped. A good Vigor also helps a cowpoke tough out those long weeks on drives through the open plains. Deserters have left their posts for various reasons. Some leave out of cowardice, some because their officers were insane, and others because they’ve seen their fair share of death and misery and just can’t be a party to it any more. Either way, deserters are branded cowards and traitors by the military branch they’ve left behind. In both the Union and Confederate armies, deserters are usually executed. Your character’s skills should fit the branch of service he deserted from, and the sneak and bluff Aptitudes might also serve him well. Explorers know there is no longer a true frontier, but many areas have yet to be fully explored. (Maybe there’s a reason for that.) They need a good Knowledge Trait and several different area knowledge concentrations as well as a way to defend themselves when they’re hundreds of miles from civilization. The sense o’ direction Edge might also come in handy. Greenhorns come West to see if all the wild stories they’ve heard Back East are true. As one of these pampered “dudes,” your character wouldn’t dream of touring the West in anything less than the comfort of 1st class. He has to figure out how he’s going to make his way through any trouble. Most do it by fast-talking the “yokels.” Gunslingers are feared killers and revered desperadoes. Some are tinhorn dandies with fancy New York target pistols; others are Texas outlaws looking to escape some past misdeed. A few are noble souls struggling to protect the weak; others work for crooked rail barons, terrorizing towns and ranches that won’t sell them the right-of-way. Regardless, these characters must have a high Quickness, a good Deftness, and be crack shots with a six-shooter. Hucksters are mysterious souls who have learned the secrets of Hoyle’s Book of Games. Some say that within this cryptic text are hidden messages detailing ancient incantations and rituals of the black arts. Others say
they are fakes and frauds, but some say a huckster’s hexes are just as deadly as a gunslinger’s bullets—or worse. If you wish to play one of these Weird West wizards, the first thing you’ll need to buy your hero is the arcane background: huckster Edge, as well as the academia: occult and hexslingin’ Aptitudes. Ask your Marshal to let you see Chapter six if Chapter 6 you’d like to play a huckster. Indian Braves have won new respect in the West. The long Civil War between the States means neither the USA nor the CSA has been able to gather the manpower to subjugate the new Sioux Nations or the Coyote Confederation. Most braves are fiercely loyal to their tribes and spend their time providing for them or patrolling their borders.
Other Books We’ve been doing this Weird West thing for a while now, and there are a few other books you might want to pick up once you’ve played a few times and decided you like what you see. Here’s a quick list of the most important. Fire & Brimstone: A guide for the blessed, with tons of new miracles and an entire new section on divine intervention. Ghost Dancers: Lots more on the Indian movement and their incredible rituals. Also includes new rules for guardian spirits. Hucksters & Hexes: Tons of new hexes and new types of spells called tricks. Law Dogs: The gunfighter’s handbook details some fancy gun-maneuvers, has tons of new firearms, and details some of the most famous gunslingers of the West. Smith & Robards: This book is for the mad scientists in the group, with a passel o’ new devices and things to go wrong with them!
The Fairer Sex In the world of Deadlands, the Civil War has dragged on for more than 16 years—from 1860 to the present date of 1877. Manpower in both the North and the South is at an alltime low. This is good news for women because now many of them are able to fill roles they could only dream about before. Women in Deadlands can play Marshals, gunslingers, gamblers, sheriffs, bank robbers, Indian medicine women and warriors, explorers, politicians (at local levels), and just about any other position you can imagine.
Even so, a few lone braves now wander outside their homelands to learn the ways of the white man. Others use their knowledge of the spirit world to seek out and defeat the evils awakened by the Reckoning. Indian braves need high sneak and guts Aptitudes, as well as some way to handle themselves in combat with horrors beyond imagining. Indian Shamans are often tragic figures. Their communion with strange spirits costs them dearly, isolating them from the rest of their tribe, and sometimes requiring painful ordeals and sacrifices. It is not an easy life. Yet they know it is their duty to use their knowledge of the true nature of things to protect humanity and the earth itself from the ravages of the Reckoning. Shamans need high Spirit Traits to deal with the nature spirits that grant them favors, as well as the ritual Aptitude and the arcane background: shaman Edge. Tell your Marshal you want to play a Chapter 9 shaman and he’ll let you read Chapter 9.
Mad Scientists are inventors and engineers who use ghost rock to create infernal devices of steam and steel. These often deranged individuals need high Knowledge and Smarts Traits as well as skill in one or more scientific fields and the tinkerin’ and mad science Aptitudes. The arcane background: mad scientist Edge is also a must. Ask your Marshal if you can read Chapter 7 if you think you might want to play one of these Chapter 7 demented tinkerers. Marshals chase hardened criminals all over the West. Though they have the authority to assemble posses on occasion, they usually have to work alone. Marshals need a decent trackin’ Aptitude as well as good combat skills. The friends in high places Edge should also help them keep track of fleeing bandits and outlaws. Muckrakers are journalists who believe in reporting the truth above all else—no matter who it offends. Yellow journalism is their stock and trade. These fellows are curious beyond belief, and it amazes them that common folk can’t see what’s going on right before their very eyes. The only paper willing to publish their wild stories is the notorious Tombstone Epitaph. The “truth” often needs some embellishment to appeal to the skeptical masses. Muckrakers need the professional: journalism and tale-tellin’ Aptitude to get their messages across. Many of them have extensive networks of friends in high places as well. Photographers are rare and often in great demand in the Weird West. Traditional cameras of the day are too slow to capture action, but they can certainly record the aftermath of a gunfight or an encounter with a strange critter. Of course, most people think the latter pictures are staged phonies, but at least the Tombstone Epitaph usually buys the plates. Photographers can also make a few bucks off famous outlaws looking to get their portrait made as well. It’s steady work, but occasionally dangerous. Your character needs the professional: photography Aptitude to operate her equipment.
Pirates are common in the Maze, a labyrinth of flooded sea canyons left in the aftermath of the Great Quake of ’68. These daring rogues might prey on honest miners, or they might fight for their country against Union or Confederate patrols or their common enemy: the Mexican Armada. The trade: seamanship Aptitude is their bread and butter, and the time-honored cutlass is what they spread it with. Preachers, whether they be pastors, reverends, rabbis, or leaders of any other flock, are often humanity’s most powerful weapons against the Reckoning. They need the arcane background: blessed Edge as well as a good Mien to deliver sermons of Hellfire and brimstone. A high Spirit Trait helps them call upon the power of their religion. Preachers should also be wellversed in the professional: theology Aptitude. See Chapter Eight should you choose to play Chapter 8 one of these pious individuals. Prospectors know there’s a fortune in gold, silver, and ghost rock out there—if they can just find it. These characters must be willing to endure many hardships to uncover the mother lode that will set them up for life. Then again, perhaps it’s not gold they’re digging for. Some prospectors claim to have heard about even more fantastic treasures out there—somewhere. Either way, they need the trade: minin’ Aptitude, as well as high Strength and Vigor Traits to help them dig for ghost rock or pan for gold for hours on end. Some form of the shootin’ Aptitude might come in handy as well, to deal with potential claim jumpers Saloon Gals know everyone—though their clients often claim they don’t. Sometimes these hard-working gals stay in a single saloon. Other times they travel from town to town, leaving when the locals get tired of them. But though saloon girls might seem innocent enough, they can be found in the roughest boomtowns in the West, so most have learned to handle themselves.
Makin’ Heroes As one of these ladies, your character needs a high Mien and persuasion to gather the locals’ secrets. The purty Edge also helps. Sheriffs have a tough job in the West. They are often the only thing that stands between a ruthless gang and the common citizens of the towns they’ve sworn to protect. Worse, their authority stops at the county limits, making it easy for outlaws to escape their limited grasp—unless, of course, the sheriff and his deputies are in hot pursuit. As a sheriff, your character needs a high Mien and overawe Aptitude to make troublemakers back down before gunplay begins. He needs a good shootin’ Aptitude for when all Hell breaks loose anyway.
Snake Oil Salesmen are sometimes called “hucksters,” but there’s a big difference between these fast-talking hawkers and their hexslinging counterparts. These fakes are known for their worthless elixirs of flavored water and extracts from dubious roots and herbs. But perhaps your character is different. He knows there are real “miracle cures” out there. If he can just find one, he can retire a wealthy man. Your character needs high persuasion and bluff Aptitudes, and “the voice” Edge might also help sell his wares. But make sure your salesman can protect himself somehow, because sometimes the suckers catch on, and they don’t like being snookered. Teamsters drive wagons, stagecoaches, and other beast-drawn vehicles. They act as couriers, messengers, and freight haulers, carrying valuable loads and passengers through hostile country. They often have to outrun warbands, robbers, and critters most folks don’t believe in. Most teamsters are well skilled in the aptly named teamster Aptitude and with some sort of shooting iron for “riding shotgun.”
Two: Traits Now that you have a concept for your Weird Western hero, its time to start defining them in terms of some hard numbers. The first thing we want to determine are your hero’s basic mental and physical abilities. In Deadlands, characters’ raw physical and mental abilities are defined by Traits. Each character has 10 basic Traits—five corporeal (physical) and five mental. These are rated on a scale from 4 to 12, with the average being a 6.
Trait Descriptions Die Type 4 6 8 10 12
Description Sorry Average Good Amazing Incredible
More than Human Sometimes you’re going to run into people or creatures who are more than human. If your character is a huckster or a shaman, he might even have “supernatural” Traits himself on occasion.
After reaching a d12 in a Trait, the Trait’s value rises in steps of 2. The next highest Trait after d12 is d12+2, then d12+4, and so on, until you end up running into some critters that could give nightmares to your nightmares.
Corporeal Traits Lets talk about your hero’s physical Traits first. Each of these Traits is described here, along with some of its related Aptitudes to help you understand the differences between them.
Deftness The Deftness trait defines your hero’s hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. No gunslinger should be without it—it’s great for shooting holes in things. Aptitudes associated with the Deftness Trait include such things as throwin’, filchin’ and, of course, shootin’.
Nimbleness Without a good Nimbleness Trait, your hero’s going to be tripping over her own boots. It covers agility and overall physical prowess. That means it’s real important to getting out of the way of things trying to do your hero in. Aptitudes associated with Nimbleness are such skills as climbin’, horse ridin’, and dodge. Oh, and fightin’. We’re pretty sure the Marshal’s going to get you real familiar with that last one.
Quickness It’s a brutal truth that there are two types of people in the Weird West: the quick and the dead. Of course, in Deadlands, that second option isn’t always as final as it could be… The Quickness trait defines your hero’s reflexes and speed. It’s not used very often for Aptitude checks, except for quick draw. It’s very important because you’ll be rolling it at the beginning of every combat round to determine how many actions your character gets. We’ll tell you more about it in Chapter Four.
Makin’ Heroes Strength Strength is a measure of a hero’s raw muscle and brawn. When it’s time to lift something heavy or punch someone out, Strength is your hero’s best friend. It’s not usually tied to particular Aptitudes, though the Marshal might call for certain skills to use the Strength Trait on occasion. For example, if two characters are wrestling for a gun, the Marshal might ask for fightin’: brawlin’ /Strength checks. Strength is also used to determine your damage when your character hits someone in hand-to-hand combat. You’ll see how this works in Chapter Four.
Vigor Vigor encompasses a hero’s endurance, constitution, and general fortitude. Vigor is another Trait that has no particular Aptitudes associated with it. The Marshal might use Vigor whenever your character’s endurance could determine the success of a particular Aptitude test, however. For example, a long arduous climb up a steep cliff might call for a Vigor/ climbin’ check. Also, a long ride to get help for a wounded comrade might be a horse ridin’/Vigor roll.
Mental Traits Now that you know a little about what your hero’s body can do, let’s talk about his mind. As with the corporeal Traits, we’ve described some of the Aptitudes linked to each.
Cognition If you’re going to keep your hero’s carcass out of the boneyard, they’d best be alert. A good Cognition is advisable. It covers perception and general alertness. Aptitudes covered by Cognition are things like search, scrutinize, and the hunter’s best friend, trackin’.
Few cowpokes wandering the High Plains are especially educated. Those who are have a high Knowledge. If your hero has garnered a lot of booklearning and experience, she’ll have a high Knowledge. Academia, professional, and trade Aptitudes are all Knowledge—based, as well as languages and the often important medicine skill.
The otherworldly pervades the lands and people of the Weird West, and a hero’s Spirit tells you how strong their connection to it is. It’s a hero’s psyche and spiritual presence. Only a very few Aptitudes are linked to the Spirit Trait, but they’re important ones, like faith and guts.
To generate your character’s Traits, you need a standard Deadlands deck (all 54 cards). Now deal yourself 12 cards and throw away any two except deuces (2s) and Jokers—you’re stuck with those. The 10 cards you have left are then assigned to each of your character’s ten Traits. The card you assign determines the type of die you get to roll when making rolls with that Trait. Trait Levels: Traits are essentially die types. A character’s Trait Level is how many of those dice you should roll when the Marshal calls for a Trait check. The card you assign to each Trait determines these values, as shown on the chart on the following page. Joker Values: Immediately after you draw a Joker (which has no suit of its own), draw another card and use its suit to determine the Joker’s Trait Level.
A hero’s Mien describes his presence and influence, as well as charisma and how the character is regarded by others. A high Mien is important when a hero needs to impress a crowd, intimidate an enemy, or train a wild bronco. Mien encompasses Aptitudes like leadership, overawe, and tale tellin’.
Smarts Gamblers and the like need to know how to think on their feet. A high Smarts is essential as it covers wits and deduction. This is also the ability used to figure things out or piece together clues. Survival and streetwise are a few of the more important Aptitudes covered by Smarts, as well as the mad scientist’s best friend, tinkerin’.
Luck o’ the Draw
Card 2 3–8 9–Jack Queen–King Ace
Trait d4 d6 d8 d10 d12
Suit Clubs Diamonds Hearts Spades
Level 1 2 3 4
Say you draw a 9 of Spades. Checking the Traits Table shows you get a d8 for that trait. Since it’s a spade, the Trait Level is 4. When using that Trait, you roll 4d8. Couldn’t be simpler.
Jokers Jokers count as d12s when making your character, but also means your character has a “mysterious past”. Tell the Marshal when this happens so he can figure out some secret fortune or long-forgotten calamity once you’ve finished making your hero. Either way, it’s sure to be a lot of fun. And, yes, if you draw a Joker, you’ve got to use it. You get the mysterious past either way, so you might as well enjoy it. After all, whatever Trait you apply it to is as high as it can get during 35 character creation.
Secondary Traits Now that your cowpoke has her basic Traits defined, we can derive a few others from them.
Grit As your hero experiences the terrors of the Weird West, he’s going to eventually get jaded to some of them. Characters with Grit can weather horrific sights and experiences better than those without it.
Your hero isn’t going to start with any Grit initially, but your Marshal may award it to you for defeating particularly nasty critters and villains. Just 22 put a big ol’ 0 in this spot for now. When you do get Grit, add each point to your hero’s guts checks.
Pace Your hero’s Pace determines how far they can move in a combat round. You’ll learn all about that in Chapter Four. For now, just write down your hero’s Nimbleness die type here. A character with a Nimbleness of d10 would have a Pace of 10. This number might be modified by Edges or Hindrances you buy. If so, don’t forget to change it.
Size Your hero’s Size is a measure of just how big she is. Unless she has a special Edge or Hindrance that modifies it, her Size is 6. When your character takes damage, each increment of her Size causes a wound. More on that in Chapter Four.
Wind Wind represents the amount of shock, fatigue, or trauma your character can take before he’s too beat to do anything else. It’s derived from your character’s Vigor + Spirit die types. If your hombre has a d8 Vigor and a d10 Spirit, her Wind is 8+10=18. Winded: When Wind is reduced to zero or less, the character is effectively out of the action. The Marshal might rarely allow your hero to crawl or conduct very simple actions depending on the circumstances, but in general, the poor cattle-puncher’s tuckered out, able only to bleed freely or quietly whimper for momma.
Three: Aptitudes Aptitudes are skills, talents, or trades a character has learned during his life. For most people, these skills range from 1 to 5, as shown on the Aptitude Level Table below.
Aptitude Level Level 1 2 3 4 5
Description Beginner Amateur Apprentice Professional Expert
Aptitude Points The sum of your character’s Knowledge, Smarts, and Cognition die types is the number of points you have to put into Aptitudes, to purchase skills with. If you’ve got a d8 Knowledge, d6 Smarts, and d12 Cognition, you have (8+6+12=) 26 points to spend on Aptitudes. During character creation, each Aptitude level costs 1 point, so a 1-point skill costs 1 point, and a 4-point skill costs 4 points. You can’t start the game with an Aptitude higher than 5, although you can raise your Aptitudes higher than that later if you really work at it. Basic Aptitudes: Every character starts with a few basic skills. These are free and aren’t taken out of your Aptitude points. If you want to increase any of these skills beyond their initial levels, you may add 1 level for 1 point, 2 levels for 2 points, and so on, up to the normal limit of 5. All heroes start with climbin’ 1, search 1, sneak 1 and area knowledge: home county 2
The Aptitudes The next few pages list the standard Aptitudes available in Deadlands, listed with the Trait they are normally associated with. Concentrations: “Concentrations” are listed in italics below some of these Aptitudes. If Concentrations are listed, then one must be chosen. Shootin’, for instance, must be followed by a pistol, rifle, or shotgun Concentration. Your character can learn additional concentrations of a skill for a flat 3 Bounty Points, regardless of how high the skill itself is. This counts during character creation and once play begins. If your hombre already has shootin’: pistol at level 5, he can pick up shootin’: shotgun at level 5 for 3 Bounty Points. New Aptitudes: Feel free to make up new Aptitudes or concentrations if none of the standard Aptitudes fit, and look for new ones in other Deadlands books. We’ve left space on the character sheet (see page 206) for these extra “specialty” skills.
Academia Philosophy, History, Occult, Others Associated Trait: Knowledge Bookworms are rarely appreciated in the Weird West until their obscure knowledge about what might kill a critter that’s already gobbled up half the posse comes in handy. The academia skill provides a hero with information about his chosen subject. A character might also choose a field within a more narrow subject, such as military history. The Marshal should take this into account when asking for academia Aptitude checks and modify the difficulty level accordingly. Academia concentrations are rarely related.
Animal Wranglin’ Bronco Busting, Dog Training Associated Trait: Mien Life in the Weird West often depends on the obedience of a good horse. Similarly, in the North, a pack of sled dogs might help an explorer escape the
wrath of some vicious abomination. In either case, this is the skill a character needs to teach an animal how to obey a human master. Animal wranglin’ skill checks are opposed rolls versus the animal’s Mien. Teaching a horse or dog a new trick usually takes 4–5 days.
Area Knowledge Town, County, State, Region Associated Trait: Knowledge You’d better know where to run when the bogeyman comes calling. Area knowledge is a measure of how much a character knows about a place. Every character in Deadlands has detailed knowledge of the town and county they spent most of their life in. Characters who travel a lot, such as scouts and bounty hunters, might have knowledge of other locales as well. A character always knows the basics of an area he’s traveled to or through before, but specific information requires the area knowledge skill. You can concentrate in any size region, but the bigger the region, the less specific the information.
Cannons, Gatling Guns, Rockets Associated Trait: Cognition When you want to blow sizable holes in critters, you need to haul out the heavy artillery. Cannons and rockets pack the biggest wallop. Gatling guns can hose down hordes of varmints. Sighting and placing any of these weapons in strategic locations is a matter of Cognition. For Gatling guns, a character uses the shootin’: automatics concentration when firing the weapon.
An artist should make an Aptitude check whenever he completes a work of art. This is the quality of the work, and it does not change unless the work itself is later altered in some way. The Marshal should determine the “value” of the piece based on the material it’s made of and the artist’s skill. The Tombstone Epitaph generally pays $10 for sketches of “unusual” events. Photos are worth more to the papers, but “news” photos aren’t considered art and so are covered under the professional: photographer Aptitude.
Painting, Sculpting, Sketching Associated Trait: Cognition Sketch artists who work for the army, pulp magazines, or the Tombstone Epitaph get some measure of respect in the Weird West. True “arteests” had best not take themselves too seriously, however, since frontier folk are generally too practical to appreciate these more artistic pursuits.
Associated Trait: Smarts In poker, a good bluff can win a $1000 pot on a pair of deuces. Telling lies, spinning tall tales, or making someone look behind them so you can get in a cheap shot is all part of the game. Bluffing is an opposed check versus an opponent’s scrutinize. The more raises you get, the more the opponent falls for it.
Demolition Associated Trait: Knowledge Sometimes you just have to blow the snot out of some giant creepy crawler. It’s usually best if you don’t catch your posse in the blast. A character with this skill knows how much explosive material, whatever the kind, is needed for the job at hand, where to place it, and how far away to stand. Going bust on a demolition roll usually has disastrous consequences.
Disguise Associated Trait: Knowledge Only actors and sneaky secret agents are actually trained in the art of disguise. Sometimes an outlaw has to learn on the fly, however, and knowing a fake beard from a hairpiece might keep you from looking too silly. When a character in disguise is spotted by someone who might catch on, the character makes an opposed disguise roll vs. the observer’s scrutinize Aptitude. One success on the part of the observer might make him suspicious, but a success with at least one raise is required to see through the disguise.
Bow Associated Trait: Deftness Firing an arrow’s a lot different than blasting away with a pistol. Braves need this skill to use ‘em.
Climbin’ Associated Trait: Nimbleness Not too many folks in the Weird West go out of their way to climb sheer rock faces. A few scoundrels have had to scamper down rose trellises on occasion, however. Either way, when it comes up, you’re gonna be glad you’ve got it. A fellow can climb at a Pace of 2 plus his climbin’ level, up to a maximum of 5 yards per round.
Dodge Associated Trait: Nimbleness No, we aren’t talking about the town in Kansas (as in “get the Hell out of…”). We’re talking about the ability to use cover and be where the bullets aren’t. The dodge skill is used as an “active” defense when your character is about to get drilled. We’ll tell you more about it in Chapter Four, under Vamoosin’.
Drivin’ Steam Boat, Ornithopter, Steam Wagon, Others Associated Trait: Nimbleness There’s a lot of strange gizmos in the Weird West. Horseless carriages and flying gadgets powered by steam require a new set of skills. This is the skill a character needs to drive a steam wagon, pilot an ornithopter, or steer a steam-powered boat. Driving a wagon pulled by animals uses the teamster Aptitude.
Faith Associated Trait: Spirit Faith is strange. Most folks have more of it when some nasty critter is about to stuff them in its pie-hole. Then they’re full of praise and promises. In the Weird West, faith can often have a real effect on creatures of the Reckoning. See Chapter Eight for more info if your character is one of the flock. Chapter 8
Fightin’ Brawlin’, Knife, Lariat, Sword, Whip, Wrasslin’ Associated Trait: Nimbleness Sometimes you don’t have enough bullets in your pistol to get the job done. If you find yourself in one of these situations, it’s time to whip out your trusty Bowie knife and start carving. Some skill with the thing might help. A character uses this Aptitude to make hand-to-hand attacks. We’ll tell you all about it in Chapter Four.
Filchin’ Associated Trait: Deftness When most people think of Western outlaws, they picture bank-robbing desperadoes. Light-fingered scoundrels are actually more common. This is the skill they use to practice their trade. Thieves can make an opposed filchin’ roll versus a target’s Cognition to lift objects from pockets, purses, or holsters. Modify either character’s roll based on the size of the object lifted, the situation, and whether or not the thief has managed to distract his prey first.
Gamblin’ Associated Trait: Smarts Most folks in the Weird West can hold their own in poker and other games of chance. Professional gamblers roam the boomtowns and can turn a few bucks into a small fortune. There are two ways to handle gambling in Deadlands. The first is for a single hand; the second is a quick way to sum up an hour’s worth of gambling.
Makin’ Heroes For a single hand, the gamblers first decide on the stakes. Then each character involved makes a Fair (5) gamblin’ skill. Every success and raise lets a gambler draw a card from a card deck. When everyone has their cards, each player flips over her highest. The players with the lowest cards put their stake in the pot, and the winner gets the pot. A Red Joker is the highest card and a Black Joker is the lowest. To sum up a longer period of gambling, use this method instead. The gamblers first decide on the average stakes. One to five bucks per hand is common for serious gambling. Then everyone makes a gamblin’ Aptitude check. The lowest total pays the highest total the difference times the stakes. The next lowest pays the second highest, and so on. If there’s an odd man left in the middle, he breaks even. For instance, “Velvet” Van Helter, a suave huckster and cardsharp from New Orleans, “One Eye” Ketchum, and Ronan Lynch play $5 poker for an hour. Velvet gets a 15 on his gamblin’ Aptitude check, One Eye gets a 10, and Ronan gets a 2. Ronan pays Velvet ((15–2=) 13 x $5=) $65. One Eye breaks even.
Guts Associated Trait: Spirit There’s a lot of strange stuff in the Weird West. When your character stumbles upon a slavering abomination or a gruesome scene, you need to make sure he’s got guts. It’s hard to fill a charging critter full of lead when you’re wetting your pants or losing your lunch. Failing a guts check can have serious consequences. Don’t worry about it right now. The Marshal’s got all the information she needs to inflict sheer terror on 20 your hapless character.
Associated Trait: Special If you’ve decided to make a huckster, then this Aptitude is your best friend. We can’t tell you much more than that here, hombre. Get your Marshal’s permission and turn to Chapter Six in No Man’s Land to learn more. Chapter 6
Associated Trait: Mien In the military, careers are often made on whether or not an officer can get his men to do as he tells them. Lawmen also use this skill to stare down mobs and lead their posses into hostile territory. Besides using leadership to control lackeys, this Aptitude has two important specific uses. A leadership roll can keep people from being surprised. Whenever a friendly hero fails a surprise roll (explained more in Chapter Four), you can attempt to make the roll for her as long as your character is not surprised as well. This counts as an action for your character. Every success and raise you get on your leadership check allows the leader to affect one other person. If you succeed, they may act normally for that round (meaning they get cards now, too, but must discard any that have already been called). You can also use your leadership Aptitude to actually trade Action Cards (used to determine when your hero acts) between friendly characters during combat. When it’s your turn to take an action, make a Fair (5) leadership roll. For every success and raise you get, you can help any two players (possibly even including yourself) trade a single Action Card in their hands to each other. The only catch is that in each trade, both players must agree to make the trade first.
Horse Ridin’ Associated Trait: Nimbleness No self-respecting cowpoke admits he can’t ride a horse. It’s an essential skill in the West. A tinhorn who can’t tell one end of a bit of horseflesh from another often finds his companions leaving him in the dust. The quality of the animal may also add or subtract from a character’s skill roll. See page 74 for more information about horses.
Languages Apache, French, Gaelic, German, Latin, Sign Language (Indian), Sioux, Spanish, Others Associated Trait: Knowledge Knowledge in foreign languages can often mean the difference between life and death in the Weird West. If you’re exploring an old Spanish gold mine called Casa del Diablo, you’d better know it means “House of the Devil.” All characters are assumed to be able to speak and read fluently in their native language, whatever that may be. A character with 1 point in another language can speak and communicate common verbs and nouns with little difficulty. At skill level 2 and higher, the character can read and write the language and has a larger vocabulary. Indian “sign language” is a very useful concentration. Nearly all tribes can communicate with this common system. Explorers and scouts working for the Army should consider this Aptitude a must.
Hank “One Eye” Ketchum joins Ronan Lynch in looking for a band of missing cowboys. The pair are following the trail when they’re jumped by a band of desperadoes. On Hank’s turn, he uses his leadership to trade some of his high Action Cards for Ronan’s lower ones, since Ronan’s got some dynamite. Hank yells for Ronan to throw the bundle and rolls his leadership for a 13, giving him a success and a raise. He can trade up to two cards with Ronan, as long as Ronan agrees. Ronan does, and the bad guys go boom in a big way.
Lockpickin’ Associated Trait: Deftness Good locks are hard to come by in the West, so if you find one, it’s probably protecting something worth getting at. A character with this skill and a set of lockpicks can try to open any door, chest, boudoir, chastity belt, or other valuable compartment protected by a lock. A character can attempt a failed lockpickin’ roll multiple times, but each try after the first incurs a cumulative –2 penalty, up to –8. After that, she’s stumped by that particular lock until she earns another lockpickin’ level. The difficulty of the task depends on the lock itself. This skill works on safes too.
Lock Difficulty Type of Lock Interior household door Desk drawer Front household door Padlock Safe Improvised lockpicks
TN 3 5 7 9 11 –2
Mad Science Associated Trait: Knowledge When it comes to creating a flying machine or a death ray, regular old science Aptitude just won’t cut it. As you might guess from its name, this Aptitude is essential if you’ve set your sights on your hero being one of the Weird West’s crazed tinkerers. Get your Marshal’s permission and see Chapter Seven for Chapter 7 more info.
Medicine General, Surgery, Veterinary Associated Trait: Knowledge A good “sawbones” knows when to cut your leg off and when to let it be. A general concentration in medicine means the doc can use herbs and make poultices, stop bleeding, set
broken bones, and perform simple surgery such as lancing boils or digging out a shallow bullet. This concentration lets a character heal up to heavy wounds. He can do nothing for serious and critical wounds and maimed limbs other than stop bleeding. A doc with the surgery concentration has had formal training in cutting people open. He must have the general concentration first to reflect his training. Surgeons can stop internal bleeding, perform operations, and dig bullets out of the deepest wounds. It’s a messy job, but somebody’s got to do it. Vets take care of wounds and ailments in animals. If pressed, a vet can treat a human as if he had the general concentration. Since this is a related skill, he has to subtract –4 from the roll. Regular doctors can also treat animals, but the wide variety of critters increases the usual penalty for a related skill to –6. For the actual nitty-gritty on healing wounds, see Chapter Four.
Associated Trait: Mien The most successful gunmen can back down their opponents before anyone slaps leather. An overawe attack might come in the form of a surly stare, a deadly threat, or the feel of cold iron in someone’s back. An overawe attack is an opposed roll versus a character’s guts. See Chapter Four for information on tests of will.
Associated Trait: Mien Fast-talking snake-oil salesmen, sultry saloon girls, and nosy muckrakers often depend on their powers of persuasion. Talking someone into providing aid or information in times of need can be as crucial as skill with a six-shooter. Persuasion attempts are opposed rolls versus the target’s scrutinize Aptitude.
Acting, Singing Associated Trait: Mien There isn’t a lot of entertainment in the West, so most people appreciate a good actor or a sexy singer. Frontier crowds are rough on the acts they don’t like, but they treat a good performer like gold. A good performance against a Fair (5) TN can net the character $2d6 plus $1d6 for every raise. Better wages can be earned with some planning, of course, but this rate works for impromptu performances and averagesized crowds.
Journalism, Law, Military, Photography, Politics, Theology, Others Associated Trait: Knowledge Gunslingers might rule the streets, but it’s the politicians who hire them, the journalists who make their reputations, and the lawyers who keep them from the gallows. The professional Aptitude is a catchall category for “social sciences” that require formal education of some sort, such as law, journalism, or theology. A character can use this Aptitude whenever he needs to recount a law or battle, write a news story, or compose a sermon on the evils of strong drink. Actually performing any of these tasks usually falls under another Trait. A minister who needs to deliver a sermon, for instance, would make a professional: theology / Mien roll.
Due to the grab-bag nature of this Aptitude, concentrations in the professional Aptitude are never considered related, and they must be purchased as separate Aptitudes.
Quick Draw Knife, Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Sword, Others Associated Trait: Quickness When one Peacemaker won’t get the job done, you might have to whip out another. You’d better be able to do it fast. It usually takes an action to draw a new weapon. If you’ve got this Aptitude, you can draw a new weapon and use it in the same action. The TN is usually Fair (5). If you fail, you draw the weapon normally and can’t use it that action. If you botch, you’ve dropped it. If you botch and you’ve got bad luck, you might blast or cut off your favorite body part.
Ridicule Associated Trait: Smarts There’s a fine art to making fun of someone in the Weird West where trigger fingers are itchier than saddle sores. Knowing when and just how far to push your opponent is the real skill. Using the ridicule Aptitude is an opposed roll versus an opponent’s ridicule. If the target doesn’t have ridicule, she’ll have to default to her Smarts. Someone with a good sense of humor can take a joke better than someone without. How to use tests of will in combat is covered in Chapter Four.
Ritual Associated Trait: Special Indian Shamans who want to talk to the spirits had better have this Aptitude—at least if they want the spirits to listen. See Chapter Nine for more Chapter 9 information.
Science Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Physics, Others Associated Trait: Knowledge The discovery of ghost rock changed the face of the world forever. Scientists
Makin’ Heroes can now make incredible devices of steam and steel they could barely dream of before. Even those who don’t use the strange new mineral benefit from its research and the inventions it has spawned. This Aptitude covers book learning, experience, and skill in all sorts of scientific pursuits, except mad science. That’s its own Aptitude. If your character is a mad scientist, you must take at least 5 levels in at least any one scientific concentration. Most science concentrations aren’t related to each other. It’s the Marshal’s call as to whether or not a particular type of science concentration is related to the one required.
Scrutinize Associated Trait: Cognition Any gambler worth his salt can tell when an opponent is lying through his teeth. Scrutinizing someone might not tell you everything about her, but it could tell you when the buffalo chips are starting to get thick. Scrutinize is the ability to judge another’s character, penetrate disguises, or detect lies. A character with this skill is also good at resisting bluff and persuasion attempts from other characters.
Search Associated Trait: Cognition Any fool can find an arrow sticking straight out of his backside, but a character with a good eye can find the proverbial needle in a haystack. This skill covers a hero whenever she’s specifically looking for items, clues, or evidence. Search is also used to detect hidden movement or creeping enemies. The latter is an opposed roll versus the opponent’s sneak Aptitude. Search rolls can be used to find obvious footprints, but to actually read a trail and follow it requires the trackin’ Aptitude.
Scroungin’ Associated Trait: Smarts Scroungin’ is the ability to find common items in a hurry. Sometimes this means settling for less than what is needed, but a good scrounger can usually come up with something that gets the job done. The Marshal sets the difficulty of finding a particular object depending on the item and the amount of time available.
Shootin’ Automatics, Flamethrower, Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun Associated Trait: Deftness There’s an old saying about there being only two types of gunslingers: the quick and the dead. In Deadlands, some characters are quick and dead. Shootin’ is the ability to fire guns quickly and accurately in stressful situations—such as when someone’s shooting back.
The automatics concentration is used with machines like Gatling guns. Weird devices (like flamethrowers) are their own individual concentrations.
Sleight of Hand Associated Trait: Deftness Cheating at cards can get you plugged in the Weird West—if you’re dumb enough to get caught. If you’re going to do it, you’d better make sure you’re good at it, or at least a heap faster than the people you’re playing with. Sleight of hand allows a character to draw small items out of his sleeve or pockets quickly and without notice. Sleight of hand can be used like the quick draw Aptitude on Derringers, small knives, or any other weapons smaller than a pistol. Treat this as a related skill.
Sneak Associated Trait: Nimbleness Sometimes charging into the face of death is a little more foolish than heroic. Occasionally more subtle tactics are called for. When your character wants to sneak past someone, make an opposed sneak roll against the search Aptitude of anyone who might detect her. The Marshal should dole out modifiers depending on the situation. It’s a lot easier to skulk about by the light of the moon than to avoid a murderous outlaw stalking you at high noon.
Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun Associated Trait: Deftness Speed-loading a gun helps serious gunslingers get those empty hoglegs smoking again. Reloading a single bullet in a pistol, rifle, or shotgun usually takes an entire action. A successful speed-load check allows a character to slam up to 3 rounds into a weapon during a single action. Check the weapon’s maximum number of shots to make sure you don’t load more rounds than it can hold. If a pistol has a speed-loading cylinder (a spare cylinder already loaded with bullets), a Fair (5) speed-
load roll slaps the entire thing in place in a single action. Otherwise, it takes two actions. Gunslingers that actually care for living usually carry a couple spare cylinders ready to load. If you fail at a regular speed-load roll, your hero still gets one bullet into the gun. If you fail with a speed-load cylinder, though, your cowpoke doesn’t get the cylinder in at all. Try again.
Speed-Load Rounds Loaded 2 rounds 3 rounds
TN 9 11
Streetwise Associated Trait: Smarts A streetwise character knows how to work the streets and get information from the seedier elements of towns and cities. This Aptitude is most often used to get illegal items or restricted information. The difficulty depends on the prize and the steps the character takes to secure it.
Survival Desert, Mountain, Other Associated Trait: Smarts A frontiersman can survive with minimal tools and supplies in hostile environments. This might mean eating the stringy meat of prairie dogs while on the high plains, but it beats starving. A successful survival roll feeds a person for one day. Every raise provides the bare necessities for one other person. The difficulty of the roll depends on the environment. An area with plentiful game and water has a difficulty of Foolproof (3), while it’s an Incredible (11) task to find vittles in the Mojave desert. You can only normally make one survival roll per day.
Swimmin’ Associated Trait: Nimbleness Few frontiersman can swim. Those who can’t, usually sink like stones just trying to take their annual baths.
Makin’ Heroes See your local watering hole or Chapter Four to find out about drowning. A character’s Pace while swimming is his swimmin’ level, up to a maximum Pace of 5.
Tale-Tellin’ Associated Trait: Mien Tale-tellin’ is the talent of capturing an audience’s attention with a ripping yarn or an exciting story. It’s a rare but valuable ability, the need for which come up a lot more often than you might think. Preachers use the skill to deliver their fiery Sunday sermons, and politicians use it all the time to get themselves reelected. Spreading the word of your posse’s deeds is very important to becoming a legend of the Weird West. You can find out why telling your tales are vital once you’ve adventured a while and your Marshal feels you’re up to handling 23 the awful truth.
Teamster Associated Trait: Nimbleness This skill lets your character drive wagons, stagecoaches, buggies, and carts and control the ornery animals that pull them. The basic movement rate for a wagon is that of the horse minus its load. See horses in the gear list and loads in Chapter Four.
Throwin’ Balanced, Unbalanced Associated Trait: Deftness If a cowpoke’s relying on throwing things at people, he’s probably already won the fight and just having a little fun. Balanced weapons are things like knives and hatchets. Unbalanced missiles are rocks, dynamite, and some magical spells.
Trackin’ Associated Trait: Cognition Good trackers usually find whoever or whatever they’re looking for. Of course, that’s not always a good thing in Deadlands. A successful trackin’ roll helps a character find a trail, stay on it, and maybe even figure out how many critters he’s following. The difficulty for following tracks is shown on the chart below.
Tinkerin’ Associated Trait: Smarts A steam wagon is fine to get you across the Mojave. If it breaks down, though, you’d better make sure you can fix it. Tinkerin’ is the ability to fix contraptions, gizmos, and gadgets. This Aptitude is a must for mad scientists who want to make or repair the infernal devices they devise. Mad science covers the conception and design of infernal machines, but tinkerin’ is the Aptitude that keeps them running. Note that plenty of normal folks have the tinkerin’ skill as well. You don’t have to be mad to futz around with Deadlands steampunk, but it helps!
People Trailed 1–2 3–4 5–8 9–15 16+
TN 11 9 7 5 3
Condition Snow Night Rain since tracks were made Rain before tracks were made High-traffic area
Modifier +4 –4 –4 +4 –4
Trade Blacksmithing, Carpentry, Seamanship, Mining, Telegraphy, Undertaking, Others Associated Trait: Knowledge Life as a gunslinger, a huckster, or a muckraker can be a real kick in the pants, but somebody’s got to actually do all the work. The hard jobs are done by the folks with the practical skills, and that’s what they get paid for. Trade is a catchall skill like the professional Aptitude. It covers hands-on jobs like blacksmithing and undertaking. The usual Aptitude used for trade checks is Knowledge, though this can change depending on the task. A sailor who needs to steer a sailing ship through the Maze, for instance, needs to make a Deftness/trade: seamanship roll to avoid disaster. Like its counterpart—the professional Aptitude—trade concentrations are never related.
Four: Hindrances Hindrances are physical or mental handicaps. You can take up to 10 points in Hindrances during character creation. The points from these can be used to buy Edges (which we’ll get to in a little bit) or more Aptitudes. The number of points each Hindrance is worth is listed next to its title. Ranges of numbers or numbers with slashes indicate that the Hindrance comes in more than one level of severity. The higher the number, the worse the Hindrance affects your hombre. Hindrances and Fate Chips: While you get points for Hindrances now, they’re far more important in helping you earn Fate Chips (more on that later). If you choose a Hindrance, you’d best be willing to roleplay it. That’s how you earn rewards (Fate Chips). We’ll tell you all about how to earn and use them in Chapter Five, amigo.
give him the shakes, etc. Subtract –2 from any persuasion rolls and sneak attempts. Chronic: Your hero has a chronic illness that causes constant agony and may eventually kill her. She suffers the penalties for a minor ailment, and at the start of each game session, she must make a Fair (5) Vigor roll. If she fails, she suffers –4 to all tasks she performs this session. The Marshal might modify your die roll depending on the weather and your particular illness Fatal: You’ve got a chronic illness that might kill your character at any time. Roll as above. If you go bust, your character must also make an Onerous (7) Vigor roll. Should she fail, Death’s door swings wide.
There are some things doctors just can’t cure. If you get a rash in your crotch from time to time, it’s damned inconvenient. If you’ve got consumption, you’d better make arrangements with the local undertaker. Diseased characters are affected by their ailments depending on the severity and the circumstances of their particular affliction. Lesser ailments are things like chronic allergies or colds, frequent lice, or worms. Some more serious diseases are consumption (tuberculosis), diabetes, and cancer. Remember this is the Weird West, so there are likely far worse ailments out there.
You don’t like machines, and they don’t seem to like you much either. Scientific and mechanical Aptitudes cost twice the normal points to learn or improve. All rolls made to use or repair machinery are made at –2.
Value Ailment 1 Minor: Your character has a minor but incurable ailment. This might cause him to cough at poor times, make social engagements difficult,
The quick and the deaf. Choose the level of bad hearing your character suffers from the chart below.
Status Mild: Subtract –2 from all Cognition tests based on hearing. Stone Deaf: Your character can’t hear at all.
3/5 Bad Luck
Sometimes it’s better not to see what’s coming after you. Bad eyes subtract from any Trait or Aptitude rolls you make for your hero to affect or see things at greater than 20 yards. The Marshal might sometimes allow you to use your bad eyes as a bonus to guts checks when viewing gruesome horrors at this range. If your hero wears spectacles, reduce the value of the Hindrance by 1.
Bad Eyes Value 3
Status Myopic: Subtract –2 from your character’s Trait and skill rolls made to see or affect things at greater than 20 yards. Near Blind: As above, but the penalty is –4.
Calamity Jane’s got nothing on you. If you go bust, whatever your character is doing has the absolute worst effect possible.
It’s good to be confident, but only a fool charges 600 cavalrymen into 5,000 Sioux. Your character is severely overconfident. He believes he can do anything, and he never turns down a challenge.
A little lip-flapping can cause a whole passel of trouble. Your hombre’s lips are looser than Miss Kitty’s drawstring. He always speaks before he thinks. Worse, he’s constantly blurting out the posse’s plans or telling the bad guys what they want to know. The hero also manages to put his boot in his mouth fairly often. No one ever trusts this habitual gossip twice.
Your horse really hates to see you coming. Fortunately, it’s pretty hard to bust up someone your size. The effects of a character’s bulk depend on whether he is merely husky or truly obese. Increasing your character’s Size affects the damage he can take. See Chapter Four for details.
Big ’Un Value 1
Status Husky: Add +1 to your hero’s Size and reduce his movement by one step (minimum is 4). His maximum Nimbleness is a d10 Obese: Add +2 to your hero’s Size and reduce her movement by two steps (minimum is 4). Her maximum Nimbleness is a d8.
Some folks are just plain mean. Others don’t believe in leaving their enemies alive to come back and haunt them later. Your character rarely takes prisoners, and she enjoys confrontations. If she’s forced to take prisoners, they don’t tend to live long when they’re no longer useful.
A good plan can turn a posse into an army. But no army ever won a war sitting on its kiester. Your character is a planner. He likes to plot things out long before any action is taken, often to the chagrin of his impulsive, gun-fighting companions. Of course, sometimes this can be a lifesaver. Custer could have used a little of this Edge.
If it killed the cat, think what it can do to you. Your hero wants to know all he can about just about everything he comes across. Anytime the character is confronted with a mystery, he must do everything in his power to try to solve it, no matter how dangerous the situation might be.
Some folks can’t find a needle in a haystack when they’re sitting on it. The needle, that is. Your cowpoke is about as alert as a lightpost. Whenever the Marshal asks for Cognition checks to notice things, you must subtract –2 from your roll. Yes, this includes surprise checks.
Sometimes a fellow just doesn’t want to go on. Maybe his family has fallen victim to some heinous creature. Maybe he’s got consumption and wants to go out in a violent blaze of glory. Or maybe he’s a young upstart who knows just enough about the Harrowed to be dangerous.
Your character wants to die for some reason (secret or otherwise), but only under certain circumstances. Most want to go out in a blaze of glory, such as saving a town or taking some major villain or critter to Hell with them. Your hombre won’t throw his life away for just any little thing (suicide is easy, after all). The Marshal should reward your character for taking extreme chances, but only when they help him attain his most important goal.
Some folks have a hard time believing in supernatural events even when they they’re halfway down some critters’ gullets. Doubting Thomases are skeptics. It’s hard not to believe in the supernatural after a few adventures, but these characters always look for some more mundane source than the blatantly paranormal.
The past has a nasty way of coming back to haunt a cowpoke. Remember that every foe you put down likely has some friends or family who might come looking for you later. Your character has an enemy or enemies of some sort. You and the Marshal should determine the value of any enemies based on their relative power level and frequency of appearance. A vengeful but inexperienced youth who is stalking the character, for example, would likely be worth two points, since her appearance would be fairly common but she is relatively weak, not really a threat. If your hero’s being hunted by Jesse James, that might be worth closer to five! A deserter should take an enemy as well, but neither the USA or the CSA have much time or interest, so this is usually only worth 2 points.
No man’s an island. Sooner or later, a fellow needs a hand, and if they can’t understand you, they can’t help you. “Ferners” are outsiders in the culture central to your adventure or campaign. Usually, the outsiders are Mexicans, Indians, or Chinese folks who have a difficult time adapting to the white man’s language and way of life. An Englishman who insists on bad-mouthing the “democracy” or a Chinese railroad worker who speaks little English are likely to be shunned by most folks on the frontier. Sometimes whites are the ferners. If your Marshal is running a campaign centered in the Sioux Nations, those who don’t know the Sioux’s practices and traditions will find themselves the subject of prejudice. As long as your character can communicate well in the culture he’s in and doesn’t go out of his way to prove himself an outsider, he will likely suffer little prejudice and you need not take this Hindrance. Foreign characters may sometimes suffer from individual intolerance, of course.
You may not have teeth, but you’ve still got a bite. You’re practically a fossil in the Weird West, and most cowpokes call you “old timer”. You’ve got one foot in the grave and the other in Hell. Not all older characters have this Hindrance—some folks are old at 40 and others are still young at 90. For 3 points, reduce your grandpa’s Vigor and Pace by –2. On the plus side, you get an extra 5 points to buy any Knowledge-based skills during character creation. For 5 points, reduce the character’s Vigor by two steps, Pace by –4 and take 10 extra points for Knowledgebased skills. Vigor cannot go lower than d4, and Pace cannot go lower than 2.
It’s one of the seven deadly sins. But while your mortal soul might be damned to Hell, you’ll sure have a good time here on earth rolling in loot. Money and power mean everything to your scoundrel, and she’ll do most anything to get more of it.
Grim Servant o’ Death 5 “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” — Revelations 6:8 Well, maybe that’s a bit much, but folks do seem to get dead around you. A lot. Maybe you look like a loser, and all the other losers like to pick on you. At least until they find out how quick you are. Or maybe you look like a dandy, but you’re really a huckster with a mean disposition. Whatever the story, your hombre gets picked on a lot, even when he isn’t looking for trouble. You aren’t even necessarily mean-tempered. You’re just trouble looking for a place to happen. Most of those troubles end up buried in Boot Hill while you’re being carted off to the hoosegow. As long as your hombre kills in selfdefense, juries usually find him innocent. Unfortunately, your character spends a lot of time locked up, on the run, or sitting in a courtroom proving his innocence. Needless to say, local lawmen aren’t fond of your hero. They usually know your character’s name and warn him about staying too long in their towns. Worse than the local lawmen are hanging judges. They hate the competition and will dream up just about any method imaginable to see you swing.
Folks aren’t much on cleanliness in the Weird West, but that doesn’t mean they like to watch some tinhorn shove his picker up his nose. Your character has a habit others find annoying or revolting. Besides putting off other characters, this Hindrance subtracts a number of points
from your character’s persuasion rolls equal to the value of the Hindrance. The value of the Hindrance depends on the frequency of the habit and just how gross and disgusting it is.
If you just can’t think without a stogie in your pie-hole, you’ve got yourself a habit. If it’s alcohol or opium you’re craving, welcome to Addiction City, population one. A mild hankerin’ means the character is highly addicted to some mildly harmful substance (such as tobacco), or slightly addicted to a more dangerous substance. A severe hankerin’ means the character is addicted to alcohol, opium, laudanum, peyote, or some other dangerous drug.
Logs wake up faster than you. Subtract –2 from your hero’s Cognition rolls made to wake up in an emergency or when some critter is sneaking up on him. He usually oversleeps.
Status Mild: Subtract –2 from Mental skills if the substance is not available after 24 hours. Severe: Your character suffers the same as above and also subtracts –4 (total) from Mental and Corporeal skills if the substance is not available every 48 hours.
High-falutin’ snobs turn up their noses so high they usually drown when it rains. Your character has no tolerance for those of a lesser class. Those who notice your upturned nose don’t like you. Subtract –2 from any friendly persuasion rolls you make toward those who know your hero thinks they are beneath him in social stature.
Hankerin’ Value 1
You’re a sucker for someone in trouble. Ever hear of nice guys finishing last? Heroes who go chasing down wild critters aren’t likely to finish at all. At least they’ll write something nice on your tombstone. Your character can’t turn down a plea for help. She doesn’t have to be cheery about it, and she doesn’t have to be a “nice” person, but she always helps those in need eventually.
It’s a terrible thing to come back from the dead and not be able to read the words on your own tombstone. Illiterates can’t read even the most basic words of their own language or any other they happen to speak.
There’s some folks you just can’t stand. They don’t cotton to you, and you’d like to push them off a tall cliff. Your character does not get along with certain kinds of people (Mexicans, white men, politicians, and so on) and has nothing to with them if possible. If forced to work with them, he insults and provokes them whenever he gets the chance. The value of the Hindrance depends on the frequency of encounters your character has with those he is intolerant of.
Some folks just can’t keep their pistol in their pants (no, not that pistol—that’s the randy Hindrance). We mean this one literally. Impulsive characters are doers, not thinkers. They tend to go off based on their own hunches even while the rest of the posse makes elaborate plans and preparations. Of course, quick action sometimes saves the day, but this Hindrance also gets your character into a lot of trouble, which the rest of the posse may not feel obligated to help her out of. Impulsive characters have a deep and abiding hatred for cautious pansies. The opposite, of course, is also true.
Don’t let that face fool you. A kid with a gun can still blow your guts out. Your character is a kid 8–15 years of age. Most people don’t take him seriously and call him “sawed-off,” “runt”, or “half-pint.” For two points, the kid is 11-15 years old. Reduce his Strength and Knowledge by one step to a minimum of d4. For four points, the kid is 8-10 years old. Reduce his Strength and Knowledge by two steps to a minimum of d4. As you character grows up, you must buy off this Hindrance with Bounty Points (see Chapter Five). When you do, increase his Traits as appropriate. Don’t worry about it too much. Most kids don’t live that long.
Law o’ the West
You’ve heard the expression “nice guys finish last?” There’s some truth to it. A true gentleman of the West won’t draw down on an enemy until the foe draws first. Boot Hill hides the bones of many of these honorable folks. Your hero must live by a code of honor that not everyone else subscribes to. He treats all women with respect even if they’re “soiled doves.” He won’t draw his gun on others who don’t have their own weapons drawn (unless he’s seriously outnumbered and even then he just uses the guns to threaten first). In a duel, he always lets his opponent go for her guns first. And he absolutely refuses to shoot someone in the back, or take a shot at a foe who’s distracted (unless he’s in a large firefight).
On the plus side, folks know your hombre is one of the white hats. You can add +2 to any negotiations or friendly persuasion attempts whenever your character’s honorable reputation is known and might make a difference.
There’s an old chestnut that says when something’s chasing you, you’ve only got to outrun one person. Unfortunately, you’re usually that one person. This Hindrance affects a character’s Pace and active defense (using the dodge or fightin’ skill—see Vamoosin’ in Chapter Four).
Lame Value 3
Status Limp: Your hero’s Pace is reduced by –2 to a minimum of 2. Subtract –2 from active dodge rolls and other tests requiring mobility. Crippled: One leg is missing or disabled. Your hero’s Pace is 2 with crutches, 1 without. Subtract –4 from active dodge rolls and other tests requiring mobility.
No one in their right mind would stand up to some of the critters in Deadlands. Maybe that’s why there are so many kooks wandering the High Plains. Loco covers all sorts of crazy. This can range from being absentminded to being a compulsive liar or suffering from phobias, delusions, depression, or schizophrenia. The illness is always present, and it rules your character’s actions most of the time. The value of the Hindrance depends on the severity of the illness and its effects on the character. You should discuss the exact dementia with the Marshal and work out the effects and penalties it has on your nutjob. Phobias, by the way, usually inflict a -2 penalty when in the presence of the
feared object or situation. This is usually a 2-point Hindrance unless the source of fear is very common, in which case the value is 3 or higher. Major phobias inflict a -4 penalty. The base cost is 3, with higher values for how common the source of fear is.
You may not be a hero, but your friends know they can count on you when the chips are down. Your character is extremely loyal to his friends. He willingly risks his life to defend them and protect them for danger.
You can’t hide those lyin’ eyes. Your character can’t tell a lie to save his life. Besides suffering a –4 to his bluff rolls, he cannot mislead, deceive, or even omit the truth from others without giving himself away. Maybe his eyes twitch, or he wrings his hands. Whatever he does, it’s a dead giveaway.
A miser knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Miserly characters must always buy the “cheapest” goods available and haggle incessantly over everything. Because of this, she can only buy “el cheapo” gear. See Chapter Three for more on “el cheapo” gear.
Mean as a Rattler
You think the whole world pissed in your canteen. Maybe it did. People tend not to like your hero. He’s hateful and mean-spirited. Besides making it hard for others to like your hombre, subtract –2 from friendly persuasion attempts. At the Marshal’s discretion, you may occasionally be allowed to add +2 to hostile persuasion or overawe rolls.
The Indians say nightmares are glimpses into the Hunting Grounds—a mad limbo where evil spirits devour the souls of the newly dead. Your nightmares make you think there might be some truth to this. Your character’s nightmares are far worse than most, something that keeps her from wanting to sleep much. Coffee is her best friend, and she usually only gets about 3–4 hours sleep at night. Make an Onerous (7) Spirit check at the beginning of each game session immediately after drawing Fate Chips. Chips left over from the previous session may be spent on this roll, but those you just drew cannot. Consider them “on loan.” If you fail, your character loses her lowest value chip. This represents the fatigue and strain the constant terror of sleep has on her. Go bust and your character loses her highest value Fate Chip.
Roleplay your character’s sluggishness and fear of sleep and your Marshal should reward you with chips as usual, but the real benefit of night terrors lies in the dreams themselves. A character who suffers from night terrors is actually a plaything of evil spirits. They drag her “dream self” into the “Hunting Grounds” and torment her with her own worst fears. Occasionally, however, these dreams reflect reality and can impart important clues into the heroine’s current predicament. The next time your character sleeps after failing her Spirit roll and losing her chip, the Marshal should take you aside and quickly describe your character’s last nightmare. Hidden within the symbolism and pseudoreality of the dream should be an important clue about something in the current adventure or the character’s own background. It’s up to you to interpret the dream, but the Marshal should give your tormented heroine something good for all her suffering.
A person is only as good as his word. Your hero has an oath to perform some important task or always react to certain conditions. The value of the oath depends on how often it might come into play and the risk it involves.
A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. Your character is obligated to his family, his job, the military, a town, or a duty of some sort. This should be frequently inconvenient, as he has to report to work or go off on an assignment from time to time. Note that this is not the same as an oath.
The only authority you abide by is the “law of the West.” And even that’s flexible when it suits your needs. Outlaws are lawbreakers by nature. They have little respect for the law and are wanted for everything from petty larceny to horse thieving. The point value depends on just how little respect
your character has for others. For 1 point, your “hero” swipes bottles of whisky from behind the counter when the bartender isn’t looking. For 5 points, your blackheart is a cold-blooded killer. The worst of these characters shouldn’t normally be heroes in the world of Deadlands, but sometimes Fate leads folks down strange roads. A jealous, drunken bastard might join a group of “white hats” who are fighting evil. Maybe he sees the monsters as a greater evil than the law. More likely, there’ some treasure or payment for putting an end to some varmint’s rampage. Be careful friend. Most outlaws meet bad ends.
There are a lot of folks who lost limbs in the war. Fortunately it only takes one finger to yank a trigger. Your character has only one hand or arm. You must subtract –4 from any skills that require the use of two hands.
Being a pacifist doesn’t mean a fellow is afraid of a fight. It’s just that he’d rather find a different way. Pacifists range from those who simply don’t like to kill until it’s absolutely (in their judgment) unavoidable (3 points) to those who won’t kill under any circumstances (5 points).
A fool and his money are soon parted, and what little cash you’ve got in your pocket is burning a hole straight through your jeans. Your character has a hard time saving, and he spends money like water. He starts with only $50 instead of the normal $250. Try “el cheapo” gear (see page 73) to get your pauper suitably armed.
Randy If it moves… School marms run in terror at the sight of your drooling lech. Your
Makin’ Heroes character wants sex and lots of it. He or she hits on every reasonably goodlooking member of the opposite gender in sight, usually more than once. Like it or not, men and women suffer this Hindrance differently. If your hero is a man, he’s wellknown in every bordello in the West. Polite society thinks he’s a pig, and “respectable” women avoid him like the plague. The lecherous hero has a –4 to any persuasion rolls made to influence “nice girls.” He suffers no penalties with ladies of lesser morals, but resists their charms at –4. If your character is a woman, all other women, respectable or not, call her all sorts of unpleasant names. She suffers the same penalty as a man around polite society, but other men might treat her differently., especially if the two of them are alone. Your heroine will likely never gain any real respect from “respectable folk” or be able to hold a position of authority if her sordid past becomes known. It may not be fair, but that’s just how it is in the Weird West. On the plus side, a female with this Hindrance actually gains +4 to any persuasion rolls she makes to seduce a fellow. This can have its own consequences, of course, but it can be really handy in getting out of jail, distracting guards, or the like.
Beanpoles are thicker than you, and in a stiff breeze, you feel like bending. At least your horse is happy about it— he can barely feel you up there on his back. Scrawny cowpokes (who usually run under the name “Slim”) are slight and weak and must subtract –1 from their Size. Their maximum Strength is a d10. A character’s slight frame might benefit him in certain situations, like crawling through a small cave or window, but usually it just gets him picked on.
If you’re not always right, then you’re at least sure the ignorant masses are always wrong. Given a chance, you’re sure you can prove it. Your character believes everything she does serves some greater cause (such as Christianity, the taming of the West, etc.). She never backs down from her beliefs.
You’d better learn to fight, ’cause you ain’t gonna get away from anything that’s chasing you. Your hombre is faster than a dead turtle. Barely. His Pace is reduced by 1 for each point in this Hindrance, down to a minimum base Pace of 2.
Your voice sounds like you swallowed a mouse. Actually, your voice and the mouse’s sound quite similar. Your character suffers –2 to any test of wills rolls he initiates (he can defend normally) that involve his voice.
You can’t hold your chow when you see blood and gore. It’s embarrassing compared to your gunslinger friends who don’t flinch even with half their guts hanging out. Guts checks caused by gory scenes are made at –2.
It’s your way or not at all. If the rest of the world is too stupid to realize you’re right, they can go hang themselves with an itchy rope. The hero is pigheaded and as stubborn as a mule. He always wants to do things his way and holds out until everyone agrees or some major concession to his idea has been made.
Owls never hoot “just for the Hell of it,” and black cats should be shot if they try to cross your path. You keep a rabbit’s foot in your pocket, and you rarely wonder why it didn’t seem to do the rabbit any kind of good. Your character believes in superstitions and tries to live his life by signs and omens. You should check out a book of superstitions from your local library to help you roleplay this Hindrance.
Dudes using “two-dollar words” are a dime a dozen in the Weird West after gold and ghost rock were discovered in California. Those who live on the frontier don’t take kindly to these fasttalking dudes and their New York ways. Tinhorns are big talkers, usually from back East. They use big words and brag about their families a lot.
You get splinters from your own pistol grip and won’t quit whining about it until you see a sawbones. Increase your character’s wound penalty by 1 whenever your hero is wounded (see Chapter Four).
A strong man can run a mile without getting winded. Others get tuckered out just getting up in the morning. Reduce your character’s Wind by 1 for each point of tuckered you take, down to a minimum of 4.
Ugly As Sin It’s too bad the old saying about “stopping a bullet with your face” isn’t true. If it was, you’d sure never have to worry about being shot. Subtract –2 from friendly persuasion rolls made whenever your character’s looks might intervene. On the up side, you can add +2 whenever his looks might help, such as when making overawe or hostile persuasion attempts.
The world needs to be taught a lesson, and you’re the schoolmarm. Your character must always attempt to right a wrong committed against her. Whether this revenge is violent or not depends on her nature.
Your hombre’s wanted for some crime. He may not be guilty, but he’s on the run and doesn’t want to be caught. Most folks who are wanted are outlaws as well, but they don’t have to be. Some are falsely accused of their crimes. The value of this Hindrance depends on how bad the authorities want your hero and where exactly he’s wanted. Below are a few examples to give you an idea of where your hombre might fit in.
Wanted! Value 1
Status Thief: Your hero is wanted for a petty crime in a single town or county, or he’s wanted for more serious charges in a foreign country. Swindler: Your hero is wanted for a host of crimes that could net him a few years in prison. Outlaw: Your hero once participated in a bank or train robbery and is wanted in either the North or the South, but not both. Desperado: Folks have read about your sidewinder’s life of crime in both the North and the South. He’s likely killed a few guards in his sordid career. Someday he’ll swing for his crimes. Villain: Congratulations. Everyone hates this bastard. He’s killed innocents and murdered in cold blood. He’s wanted throughout the North and South. He’s wanted dead, not alive.
Your character has a dream or goal of some sort. Maybe he wants to own his own cattle ranch or become the town marshal of Abilene. The more difficult and dangerous the goal, the more points the Hindrance is worth. It’s up to the player and the Marshal to come to an agreement as to exactly how many points this is worth. If the hero ever attains his goal, he might have to buy off this Hindrance.
You usually get shot in the backside and you’ve got the stitches to prove it. Cowards don’t have the heart for combat and try to avoid it whenever possible. “Real” men don’t like them much unless they’re female, in which case they might actually be more appealing. Subtract –2 from guts checks and persuasion rolls made on those with no respect for your character’s cowardly ways.
Five: Edges If you’re going to survive in the Weird West, you’re going to need an Edge— probably more than one, in fact. Edges are physical or mental bonuses or background advantages you can purchase for your character.
Most folks encounter the supernatural and get eaten by it. A rare few have survived the ordeal and come away from it with strange knowledge and sometimes powers beyond mortal ken. There are four types of arcane backgrounds available in Deadlands: hucksters, mad scientists, the blessed, and shamans. If you think might want to play one of these character types, choose the one that interest you most, then read the chapter that tells you all about your powers and abilities. It’s best if you don’t read all the arcane background abilities. Deadlands is very much a game of secrets and mysteries, and not knowing how all the character types work makes the posse as mysterious as some of the beings your hero is likely to encounter. Hucksters seem to be gamblers and cardsharps. Many claim they gamble with their lives as well by dabbling in the black arts. Rumors abound that they have decoded mystic Chapter 6 secrets concealed in Hoyles’ Book of Games and used them to unlock the secrets of tapping into the Hunting Grounds. Mad scientists build incredible devices of steam and steel, machines which often defy the laws of conventional reality. As with hucksters, there are Chapter 7 those who claim the
designs for their infernal devices come from dark spirits babbling in their absent-minded ears. Blessed characters are nuns, priests, or average folks who have been blessed by a divine entity. When the blessed are behaving themselves, they can invoke miracles Chapter 8 that help them fight the evils of the Weird West Shamans are Indian holy men and women and the keepers of tribal medicine. Their power comes from dealing with the demanding spirits of nature. When these Chapter 9 medicine men honor the spirits, they can accomplish amazing feats that make doubtful white men tremble.
If a cowboy’s gun is his best friend, his horse is his mistress. These two commodities satisfy most folks, but a few have something they consider equally valuable. This Edge covers all the unusual equipment you might want for your character. You need to work out the specific point cost of any given item with the Marshal, but the list below should give you some good ideas.
Belongin’s Cost 1
Sample Belongin’s $500 in cash; Some shares in a profitable railroad, a fast horse, a fancy pistol, 12 silver bullets. $1000 in cash; A boat, a work of art, a silver dagger, an incredibly fast horse. $5000 in cash; A pistol used by Jesse James, a tomahawk blessed by a powerful Indian shaman, a Gatling gun, a riverboat. $20,000 in cash; A ship, a saloon or other business, a
relic of specific but limited power. $50,000 in cash; A relic of power, a train, a pardon for all deeds past and present in a certain region or state.
Some folks got “head handles” as big as a donkey’s. Those who do can usually hear a soft-toed critter creeping over stone at 100 yards. A character with the big ears Edge adds +2 to Cognition rolls involving hearing things.
Some folks think a fellow as big as you is dumb as a post. They sometimes change their minds when you use your muscles to let them know what it feels like to be a post. Your character is big. Not obese, just big and chock full o’ muscles. He probably has a nickname like Hoss or Tiny. Your character must have at least a 2d8 Strength to take this Edge. If he does, you can add +1 to your hombre’s Size. Your hero can’t be brawny and a big ’un, by the way.
Money talks in the Weird West. If you can’t take out the bounty hunter after you, a little “dinero” might hire someone who can. Wealthy individuals start with additional funds and can sometimes wire “home” for money. A wealthy character can come up with a lot more dinero given enough time, collateral and a good excuse. Note that belongin’s gives a character a one-time cash infusion (or an item of suitable value). Dinero means the character always has access to some of the green stuff.
Dinero Cost Starting Funds 1 $250 2 $500 3 $1,000 4 $2,000 5 $5,000
Extra Funds $100 $500 $2,000 $5,000 $10,000
2 Don’t Get ‘Im Riled!
Most folks aren’t really brave—they’re just too stupid to know better. Maybe you’re different, but it’s doubtful. Characters with this Edge add +2 to their guts checks.
People shouldn’t get your hero mad. When they do, he fights like a cornered wildcat. Add Xd4 to your hero’s hand-to-hand damage, where X is her highest wound penalty (not counting Edges or abilities that ignore such penalties).
Sharp-eyed folks can spot a fly on a raisin cake at 20 paces. Others might just wonder what’s so chewy. You may add +2 to any Cognition rolls made for your character to spot or notice things at a distance.
There often comes a time when a cowpoke needs to hightail it away from some angry varmint. If that’s the case, remember the golden rule of skedaddling: you only have to outrun one person. Unless there’s a lot of angry varmints, of course. Then you better be fleet-footed enough to outrun the rest of your posse! For each point in this Edge, your character’s base Pace is 1 more than his Nimbleness. A character with a Nimbleness of d12, for example, and fleet-footed at level 3, would have a base Pace of 15.
Friends in High Places
German-speaking hermit asks you and your posse to dinner, you’d best make sure he wants to feed you instead of eat you. This Edge allows your character to pick up spoken languages very quickly. Given a few minutes of conversation, he has an effective oral skill of 1 in any language.
Frontier veterans expect the unexpected. Other folks are just jumpy. The thing they’ve got in common is that they can both sense a mountain lion creeping up on them from 50 yards away. A keen hero notices little details, sounds, and movements that others may ignore. She may add +2 to any Cognition, search, trackin’ or scrutinize rolls made under these circumstances. This covers raw observation, so include rolls made to hear, smell, taste, or otherwise sense whatever it is the hero is attempting to detect.
It’s not who you know—it’s who knows you. Your character has friends who occasionally help him out. The value of the friend(s) depends on how powerful they are and how often they show up. A Texas Ranger who shows up with the cavalry every other game or so is worth 3 points, or 1 if he usually shows up alone. A newspaper editor who bails your character out of jail most of the time might be worth 2. There are many ways to use this Edge, so work out the details with your Marshal before you determine the final point cost.
Gift of Gab
There are a lot of languages spoken in the Weird West. It helps to understand a few. If some strange
Anyone who wanders into the Sioux Nations or the Coyote Confederation better know how to say “howdy” without making anyone angry. Likewise, an Apache who doesn’t know to spit in the spittoon instead of on the floor probably won’t endear himself to the barkeep. Kemosabe gives the character knowledge of a culture and a few casual friends within it. The cost depends on how different the culture is from the hero’s native ways. The cost is 2 if the contacts are totally foreign, such as whites to Indians and vice-versa, or Chinese to most any other Westerners. Kemosabe costs only 1 point if your character knows the ways of a similar culture such as Protestants to Mormons or Sioux to Comanche.
A badge carries a lot of weight in the Weird West. It also bears responsibility. The common folk depend on you to fight off marauders, bandits, and stranger things.
While this Edge grants your character a great amount of authority, jurisdiction is always limited. Marshals operate only within the limits of their town, Sheriffs patrol counties, and US Marshals’ authority extends to their entire country. Most law dogs should have an obligation or an oath as well.
Law Man Cost 1
Authority Deputized for a specific but long-term purpose (like the capture of Jesse James or Geronimo). Agency operatives typically have no official lawenforcement powers of their own, but they are often given authority by the US Government in specific regions or situations. Sheriff of a county. Because this edge is only appropriate for a saga that takes place in a specific geographic area, it should only be bought with the Marshal’s permission. Federal Marshal or Texas Ranger. Your law dog has jurisdiction within the borders of the USA or CSA respectively.
Makin’ Heroes Level-Headed
Veteran gunmen claim speed and skill are vital, but they’re overrated compared to keeping your cool, aiming at your target, and putting it down. A hothead who empties his hogleg too fast soon finds himself taking root in the local bone orchard. Immediately after drawing Action Cards in combat, a character with this Edge can discard his lowest card and draw another. If the character draws a black Joker on the first draw, he’s out of luck and can’t draw again.
Sleep doesn’t always come easy in Deadlands, but this isn’t always a bad thing. While it might make you grouchy before your morning coffee, being a light sleeper can be handy when some slimy critter tries to slither into your bedroll. A character with the light sleeper Edge may add +2 to Cognition rolls made when he needs to wake up quickly.
Nerves o’ Steel
Some of the Weird West’s heroes are too darn stubborn to run even when their boots are full of “liquid fear.” Most of their skeletons lie bleaching in the desert, but a few are still fighting the horrors of the High Plains. Whenever the character fails a guts check and is forced to flee, the character can choose to stand his ground instead. He still suffers any other penalties, however. A character with nerves o’ steel isn’t necessarily brave. Sometimes he’s just more afraid of being branded a yellowbellied coward than he is of death. Some folks are funny that way.
They say an ugly fellow can stop a bullet with his face. A good-looking one might not get shot at in the first place. A purty character may add +2 to most persuasion rolls or other situations where her good looks might come into play.
Rank Luck o’ the Irish
Some folks are just born lucky. Rattle off a Gatling pistol at them and you just ruin their new duds. Characters with luck o’ the Irish get to draw an extra chip at the beginning of each session. This chip can be used normally except that it may not be converted into Bounty Points.
Mechanically Inclined Mechanical devices aren’t common on the frontier, and neither are those who know how to fix them. A character with this Edge adds +2 to rolls involving fixing or understanding machinery, including tinkering and mad science.
Soldiers are found all over the frontier. Most women like a man in uniform, and a little rank demands a certain amount of authority. The downside is that soldiers are the first people the locals come running to when something strange happens. Individuals who belong to a military outfit spend most of their time in the service of their country and so aren’t normally part of a Deadlands posse. If a posse tends to stay in one place, however, the local troops might frequently be part of their group. If the Marshal allows it, a character can buy military rank as an Edge. All of them have a 5 point obligation to their local post. This is already built into the cost of the rank (hence the low cost), so don’t take points for it again. Military types who gain promotions don’t have to pay additional points for the Edge—it’s just a reward for good play. Similarly, a character busted to a lower rank doesn’t get any points back for his demotion.
Rank Cost 1 2
Rank Enlisted Man: Private or Corporal. Enlisted Officer: Sergeant (commands a cavalry troop of 50, or an infantry company of 100). Young Officer: Lieutenant or Captain (commands 1 troop or company). High-Ranking Officer: Major or Colonel (commands a regiment of 8 troops or companies). Commander: General (commands an entire force, usually no more than a brigade, typically 2-4 regiments out West. Higher ranking generals should never be player characters).
A reputation’s a funny thing. The bigger it gets, the more most folks stay out of your way. But the fellows who don’t get out of the way are most likely gunning for you. Recognizing a famous person by looks is a Fair (5) task for most—a Foolproof (3) task for those in the character’s field, town, etc.
Renown Cost 1
Reputation Well-known among a small group (town, US Marshals, sportsmen). Well-known among a large group of people (county, minor celebrity). Known everywhere (major celebrity, war hero).
Sand, grit. You’d think the heroes of the Weird West never take baths. Well, most don’t, but that’s not the kind of
sand we’re talking about. We’re talking about the kind of hombre who keeps fighting even when his boots are full of his own blood. The kind of cowgirl who can punch the Grim Reaper in the face and then ask him to dance—who could drive los diablos themselves from Texas to Kansas. In short, a hero with sand has fire in his eyes and spit in his belly. Every level of sand allows the hero to add +1 to any stun and recovery checks he must make during combat.
Sense o’ direction
You can usually tell which direction is north—or south if you’re a Reb. To determine direction, make a Fair (5) Cognition roll. With a Hard (9) Smarts roll, your character also knows what time it is.
The dime novels paint the Weird West as being populated with lone-wolf gunslingers wandering around with nothing but their horses and sixshooters for company. If you buy that, you probably think the cavalry will come to your rescue when you need them, too. In the Weird West, no man stands alone when a passel of prairie ticks are on the rampage. Not when he can push his best buddy out in front of him, at least. There’s strength in numbers. Just try to make sure they add up in your favor instead of against you. Lots of western heroes have allies, best friends, guy or gal pals, and sidekicks. If your character gains a close companion during the course of the campaign, you don’t need to use these rules—that’s just one of the rewards of roleplaying. If you want your character to start with a genuine sidekick, however, you need to buy this Edge. The first thing you should do is write out a brief description of the companion and his relationship with
your hero. How did they meet? What incredible adventure forged such a strong and lasting friendship? What does either of them to make the other really mad? Once you’ve come up with the backstory, the Marshal should generate the character’s game statistics based on your description. A sidekick should never be more powerful than your character. Otherwise your hombre would be his sidekick. If your hombre’s sidekick isn’t around half the time, drop the cost by 1. If he only comes around when your hero calls for him—and that takes some time—then he has friends in high places instead. Sidekicks are more or less always in your hair. Before you imagine you’ve picked up a living shield for your hero, let’s get something straight: sidekicks are strictly under the control of the Marshal. Neither you nor your character control their every thought or action. Although they are very loyal, they probably won’t throw themselves in front of bullets for you, even if you ask real nice. Comprende, amigo? To reflect the relationship with your ally, both the sidekick and the character are loyal to one another. Don’t take any additional points for being loyal (and don’t count them against your 10 point Hindrance limit either). The Hindrance is free to both characters. No whining: it’s the price of having another pair of hands to help out in a pinch. One last thing. Take real good care of your hero’s companion. The world of Deadlands is a creepy place, and old friends make nasty enemies if left for dead. Imagine having an enemy that knows your every weakness and how to cause you the most grief humanly possible. Now imagine having that enemy come back from the grave with a vendetta because you sent him into certain death. It’s best to watch your sidekicks back just as vigilantly as he watches yours.
There’s something in your stare that makes others nervous. When your eye starts twitching, someone’s about to get carried to Boot Hill. Clint Eastwood has it, and so does your gunslinger. A character with “the stare” may add +2 to his overawe attacks as long as the intended victim is close enough to look into his steely gaze (usually less than 30 feet).
Whether he’s tough-as-nails or just plain dumb, a cowboy who can handle a little pain is a hombre who’s hard to beat. Tinhorns cry over a splinter. Thick-skinned gunslingers blaze away with both guns even when they’re up to their gunbelts in their own blood. Thick-skinned characters reduce their wound penalty by 1. A character with a serious wound would normally have a wound penalty of –3. A thickskinned hombre’s modifier would only be -2. See Chapter Four for more details on wound penalties.
Tough as Nails
Some folks keel over in a stiff wind, but you chew razor blades for breakfast. A real hero’s got to persevere no matter how hard things get. Every level of tough as nails adds +2 to your character’s Wind. She can tough out losing blood and getting banged around when others are curling up like babies with thumbs in their mouths.
A rare few are just as good with their left hand as they are their right. These folks make deadly gunfighters and better cheats. A two-fisted character ignores the –4 penalty for using his off hand. If he’s firing two guns or fighting with two hand-weapons, he’ll still have to deal with the –2 penalty for using a second weapon, however. You’ll learn all about that in Chapter Four. Trust us. A really skilled two-fisted gunman with a couple of double-action Peacemakers is one tough hombre.
Veteran o’ the Weird West
You can tell by the stare. Or the way her hand slowly eases down toward her six-gun when there’s trouble. Some folks have seen what humanity was not meant to know and lived to tell the tale. Your character has been around a while. She’s experienced the Weird West and said “howdy” to a few of its lessthan-friendly denizens with her sixguns blazing. You get an extra 15 points with which to buy Edges or Aptitudes or even improve your hero’s Traits (at the usual cost). Most veterans have encountered the supernatural and should have an academia: occult of at least 1. Characters without this skill may or may not have encountered the forces of darkness, but their mettle has been forged in more mundane but no less amazing adventures. Extra points sound great, huh? They are, but the hero’s past experience doesn’t come without a steep price. You need to write a brief story of your character’s past. The Marshal is going to use that to assign your hero a few haunting reminders of his past. Give him a good background so that whatever he comes up with fits your
hero and makes him a more interesting character. The price might be as simple as a new Hindrance gained from your character’s past encounters, such as an enemy or a terrible scar. More often, the price is much higher. Your hero might have lost a limb, be stalked by a nefarious creature, or find himself drawn into a struggle against evil far older than he ever have 43 imagined.
A gunslinger with a gravely voice is much more threatening when he calls out some scoundrel from Back East than some tinhorn with a voice like a mouse. You can choose what kind of voice your character has. A soothing voice adds +2 to persuasion rolls made in calm, seductive, or otherwise peaceful situations. A threatening voice adds +2 to overawe rolls. A grating voice adds +2 to ridicule rolls. You can buy multiple voices for your hero. Each one costs 1 point.
Six: Background Now it’s time to add the “meat” to your hero’s skeleton. You need to answer some basic questions about where he’s been, where he’s going, and what he wants out of life. Scratch these down on a separate piece of paper if you like, just so that you and the Marshal can keep it all straight. Pinnacle also makes character journals, called Twisted Tales, for this very purpose. Try to put a decent amount of effort into this. A well-developed background can help you play your character and get those much-needed Fate Chips from the Marshal. It also helps set your gunslinger apart from every other guntoting madman in the posse. Characters with arcane background need a little extra attention. You should figure out how your character first learned of the occult, what drew him toward it (instead of pushing him away as it does with most), and who taught him to master the eldritch forces of the
Hunting Grounds. Where is that teacher now? Is he or she alive? Did the two part on good terms? Veterans of the Weird West also need a good amount of detail. If you’re going to have a more experienced hero, you need to know exactly what he’s experienced. Was he hardened in the War? Was he a law man? Has he traveled? Answering these questions can help you play your character and convince others that your hombre is a little ahead of the game. Okay, we’ve beat you over the head with background stuff. But don’t sweat it if you can’t think of all the answers right away. Play a game or two and “try on” your hero. Once you’ve gotten a feel for him, come back and fill in whatever you’ve left out.
Seven: Gear Heroes start with $250 and the clothes on their back. Everything else— weapons, horses, ammunition— must be bought. We broke the list out into its own chapter to make it easy to refer to after you and your group have played a while. You’ll find all the guns, goods, and grub you can shake a totem pole at in the very next chapter, compadre. If you’re looking for something that’s not on the list, ask the Marshal to make it up or check an antique catalog. They’re usually available in large libraries or on the world wide web. It’s amazing how much you can find out there if you look.
Spaghetti… With Meat!
So let’s make a character. The first thing we need is a concept. Let’s try the “good bad-man” character. The roguish, reluctant hero you see in the spaghetti westerns. Step One: Our hombre’s name is Ronan Lynch. He was a Lieutenant for the Union in the War between the States, during which time he learned he had nerves of steel. Lesser men fled the field of battle while he stood his ground, firing his six-guns until the barrels grew hot.
Character Creation Summary Aptitudes Aptitude Academia Animal Wranglin’ Area Knowledge Artillery Arts Bluff Bow Climbin’ Demolition Disguise Dodge Drivin’ Faith Fightin’ Filchin’ Gamblin’ Guts Hexslingin’ Horse Ridin’ Languages Leadership Lockpickin’ Mad Science Medicine Overawe Performin’ Persuasion Professional Quick Draw Ridicule Ritual Science Scrutinize Search Scroungin’ Shootin’ Sleight of Hand Sneak Speed-Load Streetwise Survival Swimmin’ Tale-Tellin’ Teamster Throwin’ Tinkerin’ Trackin’ Trade
Trait Knowledge Mien Knowledge Cognition Cognition Smarts Deftness Nimbleness Knowledge Knowledge Nimbleness Nimbleness Spirit Nimbleness Deftness Smarts Spirit Special Nimbleness Knowledge Mien Deftness Knowledge Knowledge Mien Mien Mien Knowledge Quickness Smarts Special Knowledge Cognition Cognition Smarts Deftness Deftness Nimbleness Deftness Smarts Smarts Nimbleness Mien Nimbleness Deftness Smarts Cognition Knowledge
Hindrances Hindrance Ailin’ All Thumbs Bad Ears Bad Eyes Bad Luck Big Britches Big Mouth Big ’Un Bloodthirsty Cautious Curious Clueless Death Wish Doubting Thomas Enemy Ferner Geezer Greedy Grim Servant o’ Death Habit Hankerin’ Heavy Sleeper Heroic High-Falutin’ Illiterate Impulsive Intolerance Kid Law o’ the West Lame Loco Loyal Lyin’ Eyes Miser Mean as a Rattler Night Terrors Oath Obligation Outlaw One-Armed Bandit Pacifist Poverty Randy Scrawny Self-Righteous
Cost –1/–3/–5 –2 –3/–5 –3/–5 –5 –3 –3 –1/–2 –2 –3 –3 –3 –5 –3 –1–5 –3 –3/–5 –2 –5 –1–3 –1/3 –1 –3 –2 –3 –3 –1–3 –2/–4 –3 –3/–5 –1–5 –3 –3 –3 –2 –5 –1–5 –1–5 –1–5 –3 –3/–5 –3 –3 –5 –3
Slowpoke Squeaky Squeamish Stubborn Superstitious Tinhorn Thin-Skinned Tuckered Ugly As Sin Vengeful Wanted Yearnin’ Yeller
–1-5 –2 –3 –2 –2 –2 –3 –1–5 –1 –3 –1-5 –1–5 –5
Edges Edge Arcane Background Belongin’s Big Ears Brave Brawny Dinero Don’t Get ‘Im Riled! Eagle Eyes Fleet-Footed Friends in High Places Gift of Gab Keen Kemosabe Law Man Level-Headed Light Sleeper Luck o’ the Irish Mechanically Inclined Nerves o’ Steel Purty Rank Renown Sand Sidekick “The Stare” Thick-Skinned Tough as Nails Two-Fisted Veteran o’ the Weird West “The Voice”
Cost 3 1–5 1 2 3 1–5 2 1 1-5 1–5 1 3 1/2 1/3/5 5 1 5 1 1 1 1-5 1/3/5 1–5 5 1 3 1–5 3 0 1
After his discharge—Was it honorable? We’ll figure that out later—Ronan headed west. He’s looking for something better than killing, but it seems his reputation always precedes him. Every cowtown he visits wants him to be their sheriff or clean up the local trouble. Step Two: We draw 12 cards for Ronan’s Traits. Here are the cards and the dice they give us:
Ronan’s Cards Card Trait Joker King of Hearts Queen of Spades Jack of Spades Ten of Hearts Ten of Diamonds Eight of Diamonds Seven of Clubs Six of Diamonds Five of Hearts Four of Clubs Three of Clubs
Die/Level ?d12 3d10 4d10 4d8 3d8 2d8 2d6 1d6 2d6 3d6 1d6 1d6
We ditch the Three and Four of Clubs, since they only give us 1d6 each. For our Joker, we immediately draw another card for the Trait Level and get a Diamond, for a final total of 2d12. Now we need to assign all these numbers to Ronan’s Traits. The most important Traits for a gunfighter like him are Quickness and Deftness. The former gets the 2d12, and the latter gets 4d10. Look on the character sheet to see where we put the rest of his dice. Mysterious Past: The Marshal sees us draw the Joker, meaning Ronan has a “mysterious past.” He draws a card and consults his secret, don’t-lookunder-pain-of-death, classified table in the Marshal’s Handbook and cackles maniacally. He wouldn’t normally tell us what our mysterious past is, but since this is an example character, he grins and reveals that Ronan is actually a dead man.
The Marshal wants to keep the mechanics of that secret for a while (and we don’t want to spoil any surprises for you either), but the story of Ronan’s death is told in the Dime Novel Perdition’s Daughter if you’re interested. Step Three: A character gets the grand total of his Cognition, Knowledge, and Smarts Trait die types in Aptitude points. For Ronan, this is 22. He gets 1 level in climbin’, search, and sneak for free. He gets 2 levels of area knowledge: home county as well. His first concern as a gunfighter is his shootin’: pistol Aptitude. We use 5 of our Aptitude points to bring this up to the starting maximum of 5. Ronan also wants a good quick draw skill, so we raise it to level 4. As a man who makes his living dispensing his own kind of justice from the end of a gun, Ronan is a student of all forms of slug throwing weaponry. For an additional 6 Aptitude points, we buy him two other shootin’ concentrations, shootin’ rifles and shootin’: shotguns. The rest of Ronan’s points are spent as you see on the character sheet. Step Four: Now it’s time for Hindrances. Let’s start with heroic for – 3 points. Ronan isn’t a goody two-shoes, but he can’t turn down a damsel in distress either. Ronan spends cash like water so give him poverty for –3 points. Vengeful and a hankerin’ for a good stiff drink after a gunfight bring him up to 10 total points in Hindrances. Step Five: We’ve got 3 points to buy some Edges. Ronan uses 2 Colt Peacemakers, so he needs the 3-point two-fisted Edge to avoid off-hand penalties in combat. Step Six: We already decided Ronan’s basic history in Step One, so we’re good for now. Step Seven: Our last task is to buy Ronan’s gear. Unfortunately, because Ronan has the poverty Hindrance, we only have $50 to spend on equipment. Ronan uses two Peacemakers. These costs $15 each, and we have to spend another $3 on a box of 50 shells. $33 of our $50 is already gone. With only $17 in his pocket, Ronan sets out into the Weird West. Wish him luck. He’s going to need it.
Ammo One 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
2 6 __d__
Artillery Arts ______________ Scrutinize Search (1) Trackin’ _____________
___ ___ 1d6 ___ ___ 1d6 ___ ___
4 10 __d__
Bow ___ Filchin’ ___ Lockpickin’ ___ 5d10 Shootin’ ___ Pistols, Rifles, Shotguns ______________ Sleight o’ Hand ___ Speed Load ___ Throwin’ ___ ______________ _____________ ___
Knowledge Ammo Three
Traits & Aptitudes
Deftness Ammo Two
___ ___ 2d6 ___
___ ___ ___ ___
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
4 __d__ 8
Animal Wranglin’ ______________ Leadership Overawe Performin’ ______________ Persuasion Tale Tellin’ _______________ _______________
2 6 __d__
Academia ___________ ___________ Area Knowledge Home County (2) ______________ Demolition Disguise Language ___________ ___________
Mad Science Medicine ______________ Professional ___________ ___________ Science ___________ ___________ Trade ___________ ___________ _______________ _______________
___ ___ ___ 2d8 ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
__d__ 2 8
Climbin’ (1) Dodge Drivin’ Fightin’ ___________ ___________
___ 2d8 ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Shootin’ Irons & Such Weapon __________ Peacemaker __________ __________
Shots _____ 6 _____ _____
RoF ___ 2 ___ ___
Range ____ 10 ____ ____
Damage _______ 3d6 _______ _______
Hand-to-Hand Weapons Weapon Fist _______ _______
Defense _ _______ _______
Speed 1 ____ ____
Damage ___________ STR (3d6) ___________ ___________
Horse Ridin’ Sneak (1) Swimmin’ Teamster _____________
___ ___ ___ ___ ___
2 __d__ 12
Quick Draw Pistols ______________ _____________
4d12 ___ ___
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
__d__ 3 10
Bluff Gamblin’ Ridicule Scroungin’ Streetwise Survival ______________ Tinkerin’ _____________ _____________
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Red Chips 1 2 3 4 5
__d__ 1 6
Spirit Faith Guts _____________ _____________
___ 2d6 ___ ___ ___
__d__ 1 6 ___
__d__ 2 8
Blue Chips 1 2 3 4 5
8 Pace: _____
Size: _____ 6
Wound Key Light Heavy Serious Critical Maimed
White Green Yeller Red Black
(mark wounds with colored paper clips)
Rt. Arm Lt. Arm Guts Rt. Leg Lt. Leg
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
Gear As was mentioned in the last chapter, each character normally starts with $250 to purchase gear. If you took the dinero or belongin’s Edge, you’ve got a whole lot more than that to play with. See the previous chapter for just how much extra money a hero with one of these Edges has on hand. There are all sorts of other things for sale in the Weird West—lots more than could possibly be listed in this book—but what follows on the next few pages should be enough to get you up and going. If a character wants to buy something not on the list, it’s up to the Marshal to set a reasonable price—or unreasonable, depending on the situation. Some of the tables on the following pages have all sorts of statistics for weapons. If this is your first time through the book, you may not understand them all right now. All becomes clear when you learn how to blow things all to Hell in Chapter Four.
El Cheapo Gear Most anything in the equipment tables can be bought at cheaper than normal prices. Common items such as clothes are ratty and torn, hats are crumpled, and playing cards are bent and can’t be used anywhere except by the campfire. The effects of these kinds of items are usually social and situational. Cheap guns, saddles, and the like can cause more life-threatening problems. These items have a malfunction number just like Gatling guns (see Chapter Four). For 75% of the normal price, these items have a malfunction number of 19. If your character buys his gear at half off, the malfunction number is 18. Whenever your character makes a Trait or Aptitude roll that somehow
relies on the equipment (like a horse ridin’ roll if your cowpoke has a cheap saddle), roll a d20 as well. If the result of your die roll is higher than the malfunction number, something’s gone wrong. The Marshal will let you know the consequences of your extreme thriftiness. Read on for some price lists and a few notes on some of the items your hombre might want to carry with him into the Weird West.
Horses While steamwagons and trains make it easier and easier to get around the Weird West these days, that noble animal, the horse, remains the most popular form of personal transportation. Horses come in all colors and qualities. The prices for them vary on the time of year, the location, and the demand, but an average horse sells for $150.
Animal Traits are relative, so don’t worry about your trusty mount outsmarting your gunslinger. A horse with a 1d6 Knowledge knows a few simple commands and can figure out a new rider’s instructions, but he won’t be performing simple math any time soon.
Profile: Typical Horse Corporeal: D:1d4, N:2d12, S:2d10, Q:1d8, V:2d10. Fightin’: brawlin’ 1d12, swimmin’ 4d12 Mental: C:2d6, K:1d6, M:1d6, Sm:1d6, Sp:1d4 Guts 2d4, overawe 1d6. Pace: 20 Size: 10 Wind: 14 Terror: 0 (5 when angered) Special Abilities: Damage: Kick (STR+2d6) Description: Horses come in a wide variety of colors and breeds.
Exceptional Horses Exceptional horses can be found on occasion, if the hero knows where to look or maybe even just gets lucky. If a cowpoke makes an Onerous (7) Cognition/horse ridin’ roll, she can tell if a horse she’s examining has any exceptional qualities about it or not. Exceptional horses cost an extra $150. Below are a few qualities that might be found among uncommon stock. Many more are possible Brave: This horse stands fast even in the face of extreme danger. The animal has a Spirit of 2d8 and a guts of 4d8. Fast: Too bad the Pony Express didn’t get a hold of this animal. The horse has a Pace of 24. Smart: The animal responds exceptionally well to its master’s commands. The horse’s owner can add +2 to her horse ridin’ rolls. Strong: Strap this horse to a plow and he’ll make any farmer proud. Huge and burly, the horse has 3d12 Strength. Surly: The horse is ill-tempered to those he isn’t used to. He kicks and bites with only a little provocation. Tough: The horse is made of tougher stuff than normal, and has 2d12 Vigor.
Common Gear Clothes Boots Chaps (Armor -2) Duster Longjohns Shirt/blouse, dress Shirt/blouse, work Silk stockings Shoes Suit/fancy dress Trousers/skirt Winter coat Explosives Blasting cap Dynamite (per stick) Fuse (per foot) Nitro (per pint) Food & Drink Bacon (per pound) Coffee (per pound) Restaurant, good Breakfast Lunch Dinner Restaurant, cheap Any meal Trail rations (per day) General Equipment Ax Backpack Barbed wire (per yard) Bed roll Camera Canteen Cigar Detonator, plunger Detonation wire (50’) Drill File Guitar Hammer Handcuffs Harmonica Hatchet Iron skillet Lantern Lantern oil (per gallon) Matches (box of 100) Mess kit Photographic plate Pick Pipe
$8 $4 $10 $2 $3 $1 $1 $2 $15 $2 $15 $1 $3 5¢ $2.50 15¢ 25¢ 50¢ 25¢ $1 25¢ 50¢ $2 $2 5¢ $4 $3 $1 5¢ $10 $2.50 $2 25¢ $8 50¢ $3.50 50¢ $1 50¢ $2.50 10¢ 50¢ $2 $1 $2 $2
Playing cards Rope (50’) Shovel Spectacles Tobacco, chewing (tin) Tobacco, smoking (pouch) Watch, standard Watch, gold Gun Accessories Gun belt Holster Quick-draw holster Rifle scabbard Shotgun thong Speed-load cylinder Hats Bonnet Derby
25¢ $5 $1.50 $5 50¢ 50¢ $2.50 $10
Fedora Sombrero Stetson Liquor Beer (glass) Cheap stuff Shot Bottle Good stuff Shot Bottle Transportation Buckboard Buggy/cab Conestoga wagon Horse Mule Riverboat (per mile) Saddle Saddle bags Stagecoach (per mile) Train ticket (per mile) Services Bath Burial Doctor visit Office House Call Photo Room (per day) Boarding house (w/meals) Low-class hotel High-class hotel Shave and a haircut Telegram (per word)
$3 $3.50 $5
$2 $3 $11 $3 25¢ $3 $2 $1.50
5¢ 10¢ $2 25¢ $5 $75 $200 $200 $150 $50 5¢ $25 $5 10¢ 5¢ $1 $5 $3 $5 $10 $3 $2 $10 25¢ 5¢
Shootin’ Irons Weapons Shots Caliber ROF Automatics Gatling Gun* 45 .36 3 Gatling Pistol* 12 .44 3 Carbines Sharps ‘55 1 .57 C&B 1 Spencer 7 .56 1 LeMat Carbine 9 .42 1 &Shotgun* 1 16-ga 1 Derringers & Pepperboxes Derringer 2 .44 2 English 1840 Model* 8 .36 C&B 1 Rupertus Pepperbox 8 .22 1 Wesson Dagger-Pistol 2 .41 1 Pistols, Single-Action Colt Army 6 .44 1 Colt Buntline Special* 6 .45 1 Colt Dragoon 6 .44* 1 Colt Navy 6 .36 1 Colt Peacemaker 6 .45 1 Knuckle-Duster* 5 .32 1 Lemat Grapeshot Pistol 9 .40 1 & Shotgun* 1 16-gauge 1 Pistols, Double-Action Colt Frontier 6 .32-20 2 Colt Lightning 6 .38 2 Colt Peacemaker 6 .45 2 Colt Thunderer 6 .41 2 Starr Revolver 6 .44 C&B 2 Rifles Ballard ‘72 1 .56 C&B 1 Bullard Express 11 .50 1 Colt-Paterson Model ‘36* 7 .69 C&B 1 Colt Revolving Rifle 5 .56 C&B 1 Enfield Musket* 1 .58 C&B 1 (muzzle-loader) Evans Old Model Sporter* 34 .44 Evans 1 Remington ‘71 1 .50-.70 1 Sharp’s Big 50 1 .50 1 Springfield* 1 .58 C&B 1 (muzzle-loader) Winchester ‘73 15 .44-40 1 Winchester ‘76 15 .45 1 Shotguns Colt Revolving Shotgun 5 12-gauge 1 Double barrel 2 12-gauge 2 Scattergun 2 12-gauge 2 Single barrel 1 12-gauge 1 Winchester Lever-Action 4 12-gauge 1 Other Flamethrower 30 — 1d6
Range Increment Price
5d8 4d8 3d6 Special
15 15 15 5
$18 $15 $35
3d6 2d6 2d4 2d6
5 5 5 5
$8 $5 $6 $6
3d6 3d6 3d6 2d6 3d6 2d6 2d6 Special
10 10 10 10 10 5 10 5
$12 Special $11 $10 $15 $8 $25 —
2d6 2d6 3d6 2d6 3d6
10 10 10 10 10
$8 $13 $15 $14 $9
5d10 5d8 5d8
20 20 10
$25 $24 $25
4d8 4d10 4d10 5d8
20 20 20 20
$30 $20 $20 $8
Special Special Special Special Special
10 10 5 10 10
$45 $35 $35 $25 $35
*See Individual weapon notes at the end of this chapter
Equipment Notes Some of the gear listed on the tables were not available in our world’s 1876. Remember this is not the Old West, it’s the Weird West. The appearance of mad scientists and ghost rock has ratcheted the technology level of the Deadlands world up a few notches.
Reliability Some weapons are subject to jams, misfires, and other malfunctions. To check a weapon’s “Reliability,” roll a d20 with the attack dice whenever you fire it. If the d20 comes up over the weapon’s Reliability, it suffers a malfunction. Unless the weapon has its own rules for misfires, the Marshal has a special table that tells him how bad the misfire is.
Fast-draw Holsters Fast-draw holsters add +2 to quick draw rolls. No gunfighter would be caught dead without one. Unless, of course, she’s already been on the wrong side of a headstone.
Firearms Each gun has a number of statistics listed below it. These are explained in detail in Chapter Four, but we’ll give you a quick overview. Shots is the number of bullets or shells the gun holds in its magazine. Caliber is the diameter (size) of the bullet used by the gun. You can’t switch ammo between guns that take different caliber rounds. ROF, or “rate of fire,” is the number of times the gun may fire each action. Damage is how many dice of damage the weapon does when you score a hit. Roll these dice and add them together, as instructed in Chapter Four. Range Increment is how accurate the weapon is. Divide the range from the shooter to the target by this number and add it to 5 to figure out the final TN of a ranged attack. Price. We think you can figure this one out.
Ammo Ammunition is plentiful in the West, but any given store might not have the caliber a cowpoke needs. Forty-five and .38 ammo is most common. Ammo for a gun like the Evans Old Model Sporter probably has to be special ordered.
Ammunition Ammo Number Arrow 20 Pistol (.22,-.38) 50 Pistol (.40-.50) 50 Rifle (.38-.52) 50 Rifle (.56+) 50 Powder & Shot 20 Percussion Caps 60 Shotgun shells 20
Price $2 $2 $3 $4 $5 $1 $.50 $2
Single and Double Action Revolvers If you’re not a gun nut, these terms may be strange to you. Single-action pistols require the user to cock the hammer before he can pull the trigger and fire. Double-actions allow the shooter to simply pull the trigger—the “action” cocks the gun for you if it wasn’t already. Double-actions are a little faster and more reliable in the late 1870s. Singleactions allow a gunslinger to fan, however, firing the entire load in one action if he wants. Chapter Four describes exactly how this is done in the game.
Cap & Ball Weapons Firearms using metallic cartridges are a fairly new development in the late 1870s. Many people still carry older capand-ball (percussion) weapons. No, your hero won’t want these antiquated guns for everyday use, but sometimes that’s all that’s available. Cap-and-ball weapons get their name from the way they’re fired. The bullet (ball) and gunpowder are loaded by hand into the gun’s chamber, and a small percussion cap is fitted onto a nipple on the outside of the chamber.
When the trigger is pulled, the hammer detonates the cap, which in turn ignites the powder in the chamber and fires the bullet. Because each chamber has to be individually charged with powder and ball, percussion weapons take much longer to reload than cartridge weapons: three actions for each chamber. It’s usually easier to simply pop out the empty cylinder and replace it with a fully loaded spare. This only takes two actions. Percussion weapons have a few quirks. Since there are so many “parts” involved in firing, it’s easy for them to misfire. To represent this, the shooter must make a Reliability check when he fires a percussion weapon. Most cap and ball guns have a Reliability of 19. When a misfire occurs, roll 2d6 to determine how bad it is.
Cap & Ball Misfires Roll Malfunction 2-5 Minor Malfunction: A spent cap drops off into the firing mechanism, jamming the gun. It’s easy to get at and can be cleared by spending a single action. 6-10 Major Malfunction: A spent cap drops into the mechanism and is crushed. Removing it requires a Fair (5) tinkerin’ or shootin’/Knowledge roll. This takes 1 round. 11-12 Catastrophe: The last shot touched off the other chambers, and the weapon explodes. Treat this as an explosion that harms only the firer and does 1d6 damage per unfired chamber.
Individual Firearm Notes Colt Buntline Special: The original model was made specially for Ned Buntline. It has a 16-inch barrel and a detachable shoulder stock. Buntline had
others made and gave them as gifts to prominent Western personalities. These pistols cannot normally be bought. They must be ordered directly from the Colt factory in New Jersey (for $500) or taken from one of the individuals that received one as a gift. Since this list includes Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Wild Bill Hickok, ordering one is likely the better option. When used with the stock, increase the weapon’s range increment to 15 as well. Buntlines are slow on the draw due to their long barrel (and even require a special holster). Subtract -2 from the shooter’s quick draw roll when he needs to whip out this hand-cannon. Colt-Paterson 1836 Rifle: This is a revolving cylinder rifle. It’s reloaded like a revolver. Evans Old Model Sporter: This high-capacity rifle has a four-column magazine in its stock. It uses special .44 caliber ammo made by the manufacturer. This is extremely hard to come by out West but can be ordered directly from the company (which takes about three weeks). English Model 1840 Pepperbox: Once you’ve emptied this gun’s eight barrels, you can cut yourself a good plug of chaw. A large knife blade juts out from between the weapon’s barrels. Gatling Guns: Gatling guns have become commercially available since the Great Rail Wars. Most towns won’t allow them (even pistols—there’s too much risk of hitting innocent bystanders). Gatlings have a Reliability of 19. LeMat Grapeshot Revolver: This unusual weapon mounts a 16-gauge scattergun barrel under the pistol barrel. A switch moves the hammer between the two, so only one or the other can be fired in a single action. Early models were cap-and-ball, but modern (1876) models use cartridges. Knuckle-Duster: This is a tiny revolver with a solid brass frame and handle. It has a ring grip that allows a character to use the pistol as a set of brass knuckles. Wesson Dagger-Pistol: Just like the English Model 1840, this gun has a small knife blade attached under the barrel.
Other Ranged W eapons Weapons Weapons Bolas Bow & arrow Dynamite* Nitro* Thrown knife Thrown spear
Ammo Bolo Arrow 1 stick 8 oz. bottle Knife Spear
ROF 1 1 1 1 1 1
Damage STR+1d4 STR+1d6 3d20 (BR 10) 3d20 (BR 10) STR+1d6 STR+2d6
Range Increment 5 10 5 5 5 5
Other Ranged Weapons
Ammo is the type of projectile the device fires. In most cases, the projectile is the weapon. ROF is the “rate of fire,” or how many attacks can be made in a single action with this weapon. Damage is how much devastation the weapon wreaks when it hits. Weapons powered by the user are figured by adding the weapon’s damage dice (added like a firearm’s) to a normal Strength roll. Range Increment is figured just like with a firearm. Price is how much each of the items in question costs.
Here’s a quick list of what those funny headers on the Fightin’ Weapons table mean. DB is the weapon’s Defensive Bonus. Anyone trying to hit a character with this weapon must add this to their TN. Damage is the damage the weapon does. Note that hand-to-hand damage is a normal Strength roll added to the weapon’s own damage (which is added together normally). Price is…oh, you know what that is.
Individual Weapon Notes Explosives: Some folks think it’s fun to wander around with a backpack full of dynamite, but as the saying goes, if you play with fire, you’re bound to get burned. Anytime a hero carrying dynamite is hit by a bullet, hand-to-hand weapon, or other physical force in a body area where he is carrying dynamite, roll a d6. On a 1, the dynamite is hit and detonates. Boom. Nitroglycerine is a very unstable liquid. The slightest impact might set it off. Nitro can be set off by stray hits just like dynamite. In addition, any time a hero carrying nitro tumbles, falls or takes a jolt of some sort, roll a d6. On a 1–3, it detonates. Boom. If a character ever takes a big fall, the nitro automatically explodes. Boom again.
Price $3 $3 $3 $1.25 $3 $3
Individual Weapon Notes Bolas, Whip, Lariat: Instead of doing damage, these weapons can entangle a character. See Chapter Four for details.
Fightin’ W eapons Weapons Weapon Bolo Brass Knuckles Club, small Club, large Fist Knife Knife, large (Bowie) Rapier Saber Spear Tomahawk Whip Lariat
— — +1 — +1 +1 +2 +2 +3 — +1 —
STR+1d4 STR+1d4 STR+1d6 STR STR+1d4 STR+1d6 STR+2d6 STR+2d8 STR+2d6 STR+2d6 STR —
$1 — — — $2 $4 $10 $15 $3 $3 $10 $4
Using the Archetypes The Archetypes Using the Character On the following pages you’ll find 22 pre-made archetype characters to get you started in the Weird West All of them have been designed for you to photocopy and use right out of the book. (We prefer color photocopies ourselves, but black-and-white ones work just fine). Each character has his Traits, Aptitudes, special abilities, gear, leftover cash, Edges, and Hindrances all picked out for you. The only things you really need to come up with are the character’s history and name. Be as creative as you like. Maybe your buffalo soldier was born in Haiti and had some dabbling with a voodoo priest that ran him off the island. He’s seen a lot stranger things since he joined up with the Union army. Or maybe your mad scientist was a respected researcher at a prestigious university Back East, until he felt the crazed inspiration that drives him today. Your saloon gal could be the only witness to a horrible crime or event, running for her life from the people—or things—who perpetrated it. Go nuts! After all, we don’t call this the “Weird” West for nothing!
What’s Yer Name, Partner… As for a name for your Weird Western wanderer, go for something colorful. Lots of heroes have nicknames that they’ve earned in the course of their lives, people like Hank “One-Eye” Ketchum or “Bad Luck” Betty McGrew. After all, who’s going to want to tell your tales around the campfire if they can’t remember your name?
Sheet You may still want to write your character down on a character sheet. That way you can keep track of wounds, Wind, and ammunition a little easier. Also, when you start improving your hero, you’re going to want somewhere to write all your new Aptitudes and powers You can always keep a color photocopy of the original around, though, if for nothing more than the pretty picture.
Modifying the Archetypes You can swap Traits and Aptitudes around if you want, just make sure the numbers add up when you’re done. You can also pick out new Edges and Hindrances that better suit your play style. All of the archetypes are balanced with the same numbers and types of dice. You might do a little better if you make your own character from scratch. Use the archetypes for your first foray into the Weird West or if you want to run a quick “pickup” game, or study them as an example of how you might build a Deadlands hero of your own. If you plan on playing a campaign—we call them “sagas”—you’ll probably want to make your own character from scratch.
A Little Legalese If your local copy center gives you grief over copying the archetypes out of your Deadlands book, show them this: We give you permission to photocopy the archetypes, character sheets, and mad scientist’s blueprint for your own personal use.
Buffalo Girl Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 4d10 Shootin’: rifle 4 Nimbleness 2d12 Climbin’ 1 Fightin’: whip 3 Horse ridin’ 2 Sneak 1 Quickness 2d10 Strength 2d6 Vigor 4d6 Cognition 1d8 Search 1 Scrutinize 2 Trackin’ 3 Knowledge 1d6 Area knowledge 2 Language: Indian sign 2 Mien 3d8 Animal wranglin’: bronco bustin’ 2 Persuasion 3 Smarts 2d6 Gamblin’ 2 Ridicule 2 Survival: plains 1 Spirit 3d6 Guts 2 Wind 12 Edges: Purty 1 Brave 2 Hindrances: Big Britches –3 Curious –3 Heroic –3 Intolerance –1: Feminine women. Gear: Winchester ’73, box of 50 shells, whip, horse, $61.
Personality Yee-hah! I’m the wildest thing this side o’ the Pecos. I’m a whip-crackin’, butt-kickin’, pistolpackin’ gal o’ the plains. I’ve seen some ornery lookin’ critters out here in the West, and I aim to rope me a few. Maybe I’ll catch one and sell it to a rodeo or one o’ them newfangled zoos. Or maybe I’ll just stuff the durn varmint and mount it on my wall. ‘Course, I don’t actually have a wall. The wide open prairie’s the place for me.
Quote: “Yeehah! Outta my way, boys!”
Cowpoke Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 4d10 Shootin’: pistol, rifle 3 Nimbleness 3d8 Climbin’ 1 Dodge 2 Fightin’: brawlin’ 2 Horse ridin’ 3 Sneak 1 Teamster 2 Quickness 4d6 Strength 2d10 Vigor 2d12 Cognition 3d6 Search 1 Knowledge 1d6 Area knowledge: home range 2 Mien 1d8 Animal wranglin’ 4 Overawe 2 Smarts 2d6 Gamblin’ 2 Scroungin’ 2 Survival: plains 2 Spirit 2d6 Wind: 18 Edges: Belongings 1: A brave horse (Spirit of 2d8, guts of 4d8, it’s used to cattle) Hindrances: All thumbs –2 Loyal –3 Poverty –3 Slowpoke –2 Gear: Winchester ’73, box of 50 shells, Bowie knife, bed roll, $14.
Personality I ain’t no hero. Just a cowpoke. I roam from job to job, following the herds, the railroads—whoever’s payin’ that month. But don’t count me out of a fight. Ridin’ the range hardens a person. And I don’t carry this Winchester just for show. Quote: “There’s somethin’ out there spookin’ the beeves. Somethin’ big. Somethin’ mean. Reckon it’s my turn for the watch.”
Coyote Brave Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 1d8 Shootin’: rifle 2 Throwin’: tomahawk 2 Nimbleness 4d10 Climbin’ 1 Fightin’: tomahawk 3 Horse ridin’ 2 Sneak 3 Swimmin’ 1 Strength 2d12 Quickness 2d10 Vigor 3d8 Cognition 4d6 Search 2 Trackin’ 3 Knowledge 3d6 Area knowledge 2 Language: Indian sign 2 Language: English 1 Mien 2d6 Smarts 1d6 Survival: plains 2 Spirit 3d6 Faith 1 Guts 2 Wind 14 Edges: Two-fisted 3 Hindrances: Ferner –3 Poverty –3 Stubborn –2 Superstitious –2 Special Abilities Ritual 1: Pledge Favor: Strength of the bear Gear: Two tomahawks, Winchester ’73, box of 50 shells, horse, $65 in white man’s cash.
Personality Yes, the spirits are powerful, but they do not always answer my calls. Bullets always listen. And they answer with thunder. My brothers and sisters believe your “Civil War” is an opportunity for us to strike back and reclaim our lands. I am not so sure. My elders say that a greater war rages in the Hunting Grounds. Our true enemies are there. We must unite and fight these evil spirits. Will you join me in my hunt? Quote: “It’s time to bury the hatchet. But let’s wait until it looks the other way.”
Gambler Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 4d10 Shootin’: pistol 3 Sleight o’ hand 3 Nimbleness 2d6 Climbin’ 1 Dodge 3 Horse ridin’ 1 Sneak 1 Quickness 4d6 Quick draw 2 Strength 1d6 Vigor 3d6 Cognition 2d10 Scrutinize 4 Search 2 Knowledge 1d8 Area knowledge 2 Mien 2d6 Persuasion 2 Smarts 2d12 Bluff 4 Gamblin’ 5 Ridicule 4 Spirit 2d6 Guts 2 Wind: 12 Edges: Dinero 2 Keen 3 Purty 1 Hindrances: Ailin’ –5: Chronic; you’re knocking on death’s door, probably from consumption, but maybe from something with more sinister origins. Death Wish –5 Gear: .36 Navy pistol, box of 50 shells, Rupertus pepperbox, horse, fancy suit, playing cards, $312.
Personality Life is a gamble. Want to play? I’ll bet you $100 I can ride through that ambush without taking a hit. Are you game? No, I’m not afraid of death. The Grim Reaper has been my constant companion for years now. When I shed this mortal coil, you’ll find me playing faro in Hell with the old boy. Now get your money ready. Here I go… Quote: “Would you like a game? I promise to lose for at least the first half-hour.”
Gaucho Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 4d10 Shootin’: shotgun 2 Throwin’: bolo 3 Nimbleness 2d12 Climbin’ 1 Dodge 3 Horse ridin’ 3 Sneak 1 Quickness 2d10 Strength 3d8 Vigor 1d8 Cognition 3d6 Scrutinize 2 Search 3 Trackin’ 3 Knowledge 1d6 Area knowledge 2 Language: English 2 (Spanish is native tongue) Mien 2d6 Animal wranglin’ 2 Smarts 2d6 Survival: plains 2 Spirit 4d6 Guts 2 Wind: 12 Edges: Purty 1 Hindrances: Illiterate –2: You never needed to read English, but you can read Spanish just fine. Law o’ the West –5 Heroic –3 Gear: Bolos, horse, chaps, bed roll, canteen, mess kit, rope (50’), $80.
Personality Hola, señor. Encantado. Si, I’ve worked the herds from Brazil to Texas, and I’ve seen things along the trail you wouldn’t believe. I did not believe them myself, at first, but when these horrors grab you about the waist, you hardly think to doubt, no? Now I ride the trails of norteamerica. It is my— how you say— mission to destroy the creatures that plague both our peoples. Give me a chance, and I will show you just how we handle such creatures south of your borders. Quote: “No problema.”
Gu nsli n ger Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 3d10 Shootin’: pistol, rifle 3 Speed load: pistol 2 Nimbleness 1d8 Climbin’ 1 Dodge 3 Fightin’: brawlin’ 2 Horse ridin’ 3 Sneak 1 Quickness 2d12 Quick draw 2 Strength 2d6 Vigor 2d6 Cognition 2d8 Search 1 Knowledge 1d6 Area knowledge 2 Mien 1d10 Overawe 3 Smarts 2d6 Spirit 1d8 Guts 2 Wind 14 Edges: Keen 3 Renown 1 Hindrances: Enemy –1: Someone’s always out to prove he’s faster than you. Heroic –3 Vengeful –3 Gear: Army pistol, Winchester ’73, box of 50 pistol shells, box of 50 rifle shells, horse, $56.
Personality I was brought here because I’m the best. You draw that pistol, and I’ll show you what I mean. You think you’re bad news? I’ve seen things that would make you wet your pants. Now put that gun away, kid. And do it real slow like. The only live gunslingers are jumpy gunslingers. Walk away. You don’t have to prove anything. And I’ve got enough notches on my pistol already.
Quote: “Are you going to skin that smokewagon or whistle Dixie?”
Huckster Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 2d8 Filchin’ 2 Sleight of hand 3 Nimbleness 2d6 Climbin’ 1 Strength 2d6 Quickness 3d6 Vigor 1d6 Cognition 2d8 Scrutinize 3 Search 3 Knowledge 2d10 Academia: occult 4 Area knowledge 2 Mien 2d6 Performin’ 2 Smarts 3d12 Bluff 3 Gamblin’ 4 Ridicule 2 Streetwise 2 Spirit 1d8 Guts 2 Wind 14 Edges: Arcane background: huckster 3 Gift of gab 1 Hindrances: Bad luck –5 Curious –3 Habit –1: You shuffle cards constantly, a habit that annoys most but helps hide your hexes. Outlaw –1: Some say you’re a shyster; you consider yourself a performer. Special Abilities: Hexslingin’ 4 Hexes: Missed me!, phantom fingers, shadow man, soul blast Gear: .44 Derringer, box of 50 shells, deck of cards, $238.75.
Personality Want to see a trick? I know a few that will make your head spin. I’ve dazzled some of the best, from New Orleans to the City of Lost Angels. You think that gunslinger’s fast? He’s moving in slow motion compared to me. Well, maybe not. But I can do things that make his Peacemakers look like pop guns. And I know things, too. Things man was not meant to know. I’ve looked into the depths of Hell and invited the demons into my very soul. The price is steep, but the power is incredible. It’s a gamble, but what’s life without a little chance? Quote: “Take a card. Any card.”
Kid Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 1d8 Filchin’ 2 Shootin’: pistol 2 Nimbleness 2d12 Climbin’ 2 Fightin: brawlin’ 1 Horse ridin’ 2 Sneak 3 Swimmin’ 1 Quickness 4d6 Quick draw 1 Strength 2d6 Vigor 3d6 Cognition 2d6 Scrutinize 2 Search 2 Knowledge 1d6 Area knowledge 2 Mien 4d10 Persuasion 2 Smarts 2d6 Bluff 1 Scroungin’ 2 Spirit 2d10 Guts 3 Wind: 12 Edges: Knack (child of the cat) 5 Hindrances: Big britches –3 Curious –3 Kid –2 Squeaky –2 Gear: Single-action Colt Army revolver, box of 50 shells, horse, knife, quickdraw holster, pet frog, $60.
Personality Don’t talk down ta me, mister. I may look young for my age, but I’m nearly 13. I’ve already seen more o’ this world than most people twice my age, ’n’ there’re things in it that would curl yer toenails afore they ripped them outta yer feet and used ’em to clean their teeth after feastin’ on yer innards. Course, I ain’t ’fraid o’ nuthin’. Not even them critters that killed my family while I was runnin’ around the back 40. I got back just in time ta see them runnin’ off with their spiky tails ’tween their legs, and I’ve been huntin’ them ever since. If’n you can help me, I might see fit to lend you a hand for a while. Like I said, I ain’t ’fraid o’ nuthin’.
Quote: “See? Ain’t nuthin’ to it, ya ol’ fogey.”
Mad Scientist Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 4d6 Shootin’: flamethrower 3 Nimbleness 1d6 Climbin’ 1 Drivin’: steamwagon 3 Sneak 1 Teamster 2 Strength 2d6 Quickness 3d6 Vigor 3d6 Cognition 2d10 Scrutinize 1 Search 3 Knowledge 2d12 Area knowledge 2 Demolition 2 Mad Science 4 Science: engineering 3 Science: chemistry 2 Science: physics 2 Mien 1d8 Smarts 4d10 Scroungin’ 3 Tinkerin’ 4 Spirit 3d8 Guts 2 Wind 14 Edges: Arcane background: mad scientist 3 Dinero 2 Mechanically inclined 1 Hindrances: Bad eyes –2: You have to wear spectacles to read and see things up close. Curious –3 Stubborn –2 Tinhorn –2 Gear: Flamethrower, tool kit, doctor’s bag full of strange chemicals, spectacles, $75.
Personality Just a minute, please. Let me put out this fire. Hair is so combustible, you know? Now what is it you wanted? A time travel device, perhaps? I’ve had a few ideas. Or how about a flamethrower? Too unstable? Then how about a Gatling pistol? No, that’s too common. Any two-bit tinkerer can build one of those. Let me show you something special I’ve been working on. Quote: “Don’t touch that!”
Man-In-Black Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 3d8 Lockpickin’ 2 Shootin’: automatics 3 Nimbleness 2d10 Climbin’ 1 Fightin’: brawlin’ 2 Sneak 3 Strength 1d6 Quickness 4d6 Vigor 2d6 Cognition 2d12 Scrutinize 3 Search 3 Knowledge 1d8 Academia: occult 3 Area knowledge 2 Professional: law 2 Mien 4d10 Leadership 2 Overawe 2 Persuasion 2 Smarts 3d6 Bluff 2 Streetwise 3 Spirit 2d6 Guts 2 Wind 12 Edges: Belongin’s 3: Gatling pistol Hindrances: Enemy: –2: Texas Rangers . Habit –3: You never tell your posse everything unless you have to. Obligation –3: You are frequently called on to investigate unnatural phenomenon. Tinhorn –2 Gear: Gatling pistol, derringer, pad and paper, two boxes of 50 shells, $235.
Personality Tell me all about the thing you say you saw. Not too loudly, please. The neighbors might hear. Were you drinking when you saw the creature? Calm down. I’m just trying to get the facts, you understand. Okay. If that’s all you know, I’ll round up my posse and take care of it. Sounds like a standard class-3 malevolent specter at work here. I’ve been classifying them myself, you know. I’m going to publish my findings someday. When this is all over. Until then, mum’s the word, got it? Word about something like this gets out, and everyone begins to panic. Then we’d have a real situation on our hands.
Quote: “The truth is out there. And I’m going to keep it from you.”
M uckraker Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 3d6 Shootin’: pistol 2 Lockpickin’ 2 Nimbleness 3d6 Climbin’ 1 Sneak 2 Strength 2d6 Quickness 4d6 Vigor 1d6 Cognition 2d12 Scrutinize 4 Search 3 Knowledge 2d10 Area knowledge 2 Disguise 2 Professional: journalism 4 Mien 3d8 Persuasion 4 Tale-tellin’ 4 Smarts 4d10 Bluff 3 Streetwise 3 Spirit 1d8 Guts 2 Wind 14 Edges: Friends in high places 2 More friends in high places 2 Even more friends in high places 2 Luck o’ the Irish 3 Gift of gab 1 Hindrances: Curious –3 Oath –5: It’s your vow to tell the truth, no matter what. Pacifist –3 Gear: Pad and paper, Navy pistol, box of 50 shells, $236.
Personality Tell me everything you can remember, but hurry. I’ve got to telegraph my story to the Epitaph by morning to make the Sunday edition. That pays the best, you know. Do you mind if I take a picture of the thing you killed? Good. A picture really does say a thousand words. Now I’ve just got to get the Sheriff to help us get the rest of these things. Could you come with me? I’ve been bugging him all week, and I’m afraid he’s getting a little annoyed. He even threw me in jail last night. Said my yammering was “disturbing the peace.” Hah! Disturbing the peace, indeed. If he’d only wake up and realize what’s going on, guys like me and you wouldn’t have to do all the dirty work. Quote: “Let’s check it out. I smell a story!”
Nun Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 1d6 Nimbleness 1d8 Climbin’ 1 Fightin’: brawlin’ 3 Sneak 1 Quickness 4d6 Strength 3d8 Vigor 3d6 Cognition 2d10 Scrutinize 2 Search 2 Knowledge 2d6 Language: Latin 2 Medicine: general 2 Professional: theology 2 Mien 4d10 Leadership 2 Overawe 3 Tale-tellin’ 3 Smarts 2d6 Spirit 2d12 Faith 5 Guts 3 Wind: 16 Edges: Arcane background: blessed 3 Hindrances: Big Mouth –3: You never lie. Poverty –3: You give everything to charity. Oath –5: Uphold the virtues of the Lord, including chastity, pacifism, and the Golden Rule. Special Abilities: Miracles: Holy roller, lay on hands, protection, sacrifice, smite, succor. Gear: Habit, silver crucifix, $10.
Personality Gather close, my friends. I have come to lead you against the horrors of the night, and I shall not be stopped in my holy crusade! I have seen the abominations that lurk in the shadows, and I know not fear, for the Lord’s might is within my arms as well as my soul. Together, with you at my side, we shall march into the darkness and hurl the light of the Lord against their blasphemous faces! Are you with me?
Quote: “Get your filthy hands off her, you unholy horror from Hell!”
Pony Express Rider Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 3d8 Shootin’: pistol 3 Nimbleness 4d10 Climbin’ 1 Dodge 4 Fightin’: brawlin’ 2 Horse ridin’ 5 Sneak 2 Teamster 1 Quickness 4d6 Quick draw 2 Strength 2d6 Vigor 2d10 Cognition 3d6 Search 2 Trackin’ 2 Knowledge 1d6 Area knowledge: major trails 3 Mien 3d6 Smarts 1d8 Survival 3 Spirit 2d6 Guts 2 Wind: 12 Edges: Belongings 1: fast horse Fleet-footed 2 (Pace 12) Hindrances: Scrawny –5 Obligation –5: Deliver the mail, no matter what Gear: Double-action Colt Peacemaker, a fast horse, $188.
Personality Sure I can be hired for “special” deliveries. Where do you want me to go? Where? You know how many bandits, hostile Indians, and worse I gotta go through to get that God-forsaken place? Wait a minute! I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it. There ain’t nowhere I won’t go. But it’s gonna cost ya. Quote: “Better put that hogleg down, mister! You don’t wanna see me go postal on you!”
Preacher Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 1d8 Shootin’: pistol 2 Nimbleness 1d6 Climbin’ 1 Fightin’: club 3 Horse ridin’ 2 Sneak 1 Strength 3d6 Quickness 3d6 Vigor 2d6 Cognition 4d6 Scrutinize 3 Search 2 Knowledge 3d8 Area knowledge 2 Language: Latin 2 Medicine: general 2 Professional: theology 3 Mien 4d10 Overawe 3 Persuasion 2 Smarts 2d10 Spirit 2d12 Faith 5 Guts 2 Wind 18 Edges: Arcane background: blessed 3 Hindrances: Heroic –3 Obligation –1: You must give a sermon every Sunday. Pacifist –3 Self-righteous –3 Special Abilities: Miracles: Protection, holy roller, inspiration, lay on hands, smite, succor. Gear: Hickory club (STR+1d6 damage), Peacemaker, 50 shells, Bible, cross, $227.
Personality There are devilish abominations loose in the world. We are being punished for our sins. But fear not. Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, my hickory rod and my Peacemaker will comfort thee. I am a vigilant crusader of the light. Remember the power of the Good Book in these times of darkness. In it you will find prayers and parables of salvation. Should you encounter the forces of darkness, my child, first try a simple prayer and a stout piece of hickory. If that doesn’t work, try a load of blessed buckshot. Quote: “Say yer prayers, varmint!”
Prospector Traits and Aptitudes Deftness 4d6 Shootin’: shotgun 3 Nimbleness 3d8 Climbin’ 3 Sneak 1 Swimmin’ 1 Teamster 2 Quickness 2d10 Strength 2d12 Vigor 4d8 Cognition 1d8 Search 4 Knowledge 1d6 Demolition 3 Language: Indian sign language 2 Trade: mining 3 Mien 3d6 Animal wranglin’ (for your mules) 2 Smarts 2d6 Gamblin’ 2 Survival: mountains 2 Spirit 2d6 Guts 2 Wind: 14 Edges: Thick-skinned 3 Hindrances: Bad Ears –3 Geezer –5 (Pace –2) Stubborn –2 Gear: Pick (STR+2d6), shovel, bed roll, 2 mules, cheapo buckboard (reliability 19), cheapo double-barreled shotgun (reliability 19), box of 20 shells, $58.
Personality This is my hole, ya’ doggone dirty claimjumper! Eh? Sorry, mister. These old ears don’t hear so well any more. You’re lookin’ for what? No, I ain’t never heard tell o’ that kind o’ critter. Not one that big, leastways. But I have seen other things deep in the bowels o’ the earth. Evil things. Varmints that’d turn a city-slicker’s hair white in a New York minute. Wanna hear about ’em? Quote: “Gold and ghost rock ain’t the only things hidin’ under the dirt.”
Saloon Gal Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 3d6 Lockpickin’ 2 Shootin’: pistol 2 Nimbleness 4d6 Climbin’ 1 Sneak 4 Strength 1d6 Quickness 3d6 Vigor 2d6 Cognition 4d10 Scrutinize 3 Search 3 Knowledge 1d8 Area knowledge 2 Medicine: general 3 Mien 2d12 Persuasion 4 Smarts 4d10 Bluff 3 Gamblin’ 3 Ridicule 2 Scroungin’ 3 Streetwise 3 Spirit 3d8 Guts 2 Wind 14 Edges: Light sleeper 1 Purty 1 The voice 1: soothing Hindrances: Curious –3 Greedy –2 Poverty –3 Vengeful –3 Gear: Derringer .44, box of 50 shells, fancy dress, $24.
Personality Howdy, sugar. You wanna tango? It’s a dime a dance. This is a high-class joint, you know. Oh, so you want information. That’ll cost you even more. Yeah, I’ve been “out” with the Mayor a few times. Though I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell his wife. Now that you mention it, he does act a little strange. Always carrying that black bag around. Was he with me the night of the murder? No. Not the whole night anyway. He’s got a short fuse—if you know what I mean. Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s set a trap. If he’s the culprit, I’ll get it out of him. I can get anything out of any man, sugar. Don’t worry about my safety. I’ve got a little something hidden up my garter for just such an emergency.
Quote: “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime, big boy?”
Sheriff Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 2d12 Shootin’: pistol, rifle, shotgun3 Nimbleness 2d10 Climbin’ 1 Dodge 3 Fightin’: brawlin’ 3 Horse ridin’ 3 Sneak 1 Swimmin’ 1 Quickness 4d10 Quick-draw 3 Strength 3d8 Vigor 4d6 Cognition 1d8 Scrutinize 3 Search 3 Knowledge 1d6 Professional: law 1 Mien 3d6 Leadership 3 Overawe 3 Smarts 2d6 Spirit 2d6 Guts 2 Wind: 12 Edges: Law Man 3 Level-Headed 5 Veteran o’ the Weird West Hindrances: Law o’ the West –5 Obligation –5 (to your town or county; pay is about $60 a month plus bounties) Gear: Smith & Wesson Frontier .44, box of 50 shells, horse, $82.
Personality How ya doin’, stranger? Like our little town? Peaceful, ain’t it? That’s the way we like it. Nice and quiet. Comprende? I’ve seen all types come through here. Loudmouthed preachers, gunfighters, even a weird cult headed for the desert. It don’t matter to me. Anyone causes trouble in my town, and I’ll haul their carcass before the circuit judge. Quote: “Hand over those six-guns, nice and easylike.”
Shyster Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 3d8 Filchin’ 3 Lockpickin’ 2 Sleight o’ hand 3 Nimbleness 3d6 Climbin’ 1 Sneak 3 Quickness 4d6 Strength 1d6 Vigor 2d6 Cognition 4d10 Scrutinize 3 Search 3 Knowledge 2d12 Disguise 2 Mien 2d10 Performin’ 3 Persuasion 4 Tale-tellin’ 3 Smarts 1d8 Bluff 4 Gamblin’ 3 Ridicule 3 Spirit 2d6 Guts 2 Wind: 12 Edges: “The voice” 1 (+2 to persuasion rolls made to sell or convince) Hindrances: Greedy –2 Outlaw –3: You’re wanted here and there for petty larceny. Scrawny –5 (size 5) Gear: A horse and cart full of junk worth about $10, but you can probably sell it for far more with a little effort, $15.
Personality Gather ’round, friends! Come gaze upon treasures and playthings gathered from the vaults of kings. I’ve skulked through ruins no white man has set foot in for a thousand years! I’ve bamboozled millionaires and pilfered the pockets of saints and savages. All so I could bring you the most ancient treasures and priceless relics in the West. What’s that? You’ve seen my picture before? On a poster? No, I’m sure it wasn’t me. Anyway, I must be going now. More ruins to plunder, you understand…
Quote: “No, sheriff, I never claimed this tonic cures tummy twisters! I said it was good for blisters!”
S io ux Shaman Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 2d6 Nimbleness 2d6 Climbin’ 3 Fightin’: spear 2 Sneak 3 Strength 1d6 Quickness 1d8 Vigor 3d6 Cognition 2d10 Scrutinize 2 Search 2 Knowledge 3d8 Academia: occult 3 Area knowledge: Dakotas 3 Language: Indian sign 2 Language: English 1 Medicine: general 3 Mien 2d10 Smarts 3d8 Survival: mountains 3 Spirit 4d12 Guts 3 Wind 18 Edges: Arcane background: shaman 3 Hindrances: Curious –3 Lame –3 Oath –4: You must follow the Old Ways. Special Abilities: Ritual 4: Dance, fast, paint, pledge Favors: Medicine, shapeshift, soar with eagles, wilderness walk. Gear: Spear (3d6), medicine bag filled with roots and herbs for healing, $240.
Personality I don’t speak often, so listen carefully to my words of wisdom. I have looked into the Hunting Grounds and talked with the spirits of nature, and I have made a discovery. The spirits are angry. They say we have forgotten the Old Ways. The simple ways. You young braves believe in bullets made by machines, not arrows made from living hands. Now I must go into the white man’s world and fight the abominations. Only then will you believe that the Old Ways are best. Quote: “Hmm. That looks painful. I will help you, but only if you promise to remember the Old Ways.”
Sold ier Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 2d12 Shootin’: rifle 4 Speed-load: rifle 2 Nimbleness 4d10 Climbin’ 1 Dodge 2 Fightin’: brawlin’ 2 Horse ridin’ 2 Sneak 1 Strength 2d10 Quickness 3d8 Vigor 1d8 Cognition 4d6 Artillery 2 Search 1 Trackin’ 2 Knowledge 1d6 Area knowledge 2 Language: Indian sign 2 Mien 3d6 Leadership 2 Smarts 2d6 Survival: any 2 Spirit 3d6 Guts 2 Wind 14 Edges: Brave 3 Rank 1: Private Hindrances: Intolerance –2: You’re not too fond of the soldiers on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line… Enemy –2: …and they’re not too fond of you either. Loyal –3: You’d never desert the unit or your friends. Obligation –3: Your duties are lighter than most, but you still have to report for duty for a few hours each day. Gear: Spencer carbine, 30 rounds of ammunition, horse, $75 (saved pay).
Personality The Captain told us to ride out and see what was killin’ all those folks. Well, we found it. And filled it full of holes, just like we was told. Only that didn’t kill it. Now it’s got us trapped here in the fort. No food; no water. We’re even runnin’ low on bullets, but I guess that don’t matter anyway. Bullets didn’t kill if the first time. Don’t ask what it looked like. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you anyway. I don’t know why I stay here. It sure ain’t the pay.
Quote: “What do you mean we are the cavalry?”
Spy Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 1d8 Filchin’ 3 Lockpickin’ 3 Shootin’: pistol 3 Nimbleness 2d6 Climbin’ 2 Horse ridin’ 2 Sneak 4 Swimmin’ 1 Quickness 4d6 Quick-draw 2 Strength 2d6 Vigor 3d6 Cognition 2d12 Scrutinize 4 Search 3 Knowledge 3d8 Area knowledge 2 Demolition 3 Disguise 4 Mien 4d10 Overawe 2 Performin’ 2 Persuasion 2 Smarts 2d10 Bluff 3 Gamblin’ 2 Scroungin’ 2 Tinkerin’ 2 Spirit 1d6 Guts 2 Wind: 12 Edges: Dinero 3: Your patron provides you with funds. Kemosabe 1: You’re versed in the ways of your enemy. Luck o’ the Irish 3 Veteran o’ the Weird West Hindrances: Curious –3 Enemy –5: If you’re caught, you’re dead. Obligation –2: You must carry out the wishes of your patron. Gear: Knuckle duster, fancy suit/dress, nitro disguised as perfume, $740.50.
Personality I could answer your questions, but then I’d have to kill you. All I can say is that this message has to get back to Washington, and I’ll pay double your usual fee. It’s a difficult life I lead. Infiltrating the most extravagant parties and courting the most handsome politicians doesn’t sound dangerous, but should the enemy discover I’ve been stealing their dirty little secrets, they’ll hang me without a second thought. Quote: “Why sir, I’d be delighted to see your new invention! Even if little ol’ me doesn’t understand a thing about steam engines!”
Texas Ranger Traits & Aptitudes Deftness 2d12 Shootin’: pistol, rifle 3 Nimbleness 2d10 Climbin’ 1 Dodge 2 Fightin’: knife 3 Horse ridin’ 2 Sneak 1 Strength 3d8 Quickness 4d10 Quick draw 2 Vigor 4d6 Cognition 1d8 Search 1 Trackin’ 2 Knowledge 1d6 Area knowledge 2 Language: Mexican Spanish 1 Mien 3d6 Leadership 1 Overawe 2 Smarts 2d6 Survival: any 2 Spirit 3d6 Guts 2 Wind 12 Edges: Law man 5 Hindrances: Big britches –3: One riot, one Texas Ranger. Enemy –2: Northerners don’t like you. Obligation –5: Hunt down the supernatural, and shoot it or recruit it. Gear: 2 Army pistols, box of 50 shells, horse, $73 in Confederate scrip.
Personality Hush up. That’s crazy talk. There’s no such thing as “jackalopes.” This paw around my neck? It’s a rabbit’s foot. I don’t care if you think it’s too long. They grow ’em big in Texas, you know. That carcass you gave me didn’t have horns. It was just some dumb hare that got all tangled up in some old deer antlers. And if you don’t quit arguing, I’m gonna let Jim Bowie settle my side o’ the discussion for me. I thought that’d shut you up. Now show me where you didn’t see Aunt Minnie crawl up outta her grave. I got some carvin’ to do.
Quote: “You shouldn’ta done that, varmint. You’re messin’ with the pride o’ Texas.”
Hank “One Eye” Ketchum teaches some bandits the true meaning of“one riot, one Ranger”
Dead Man’s Hand: The deadly drifter known only as Stone blows in to town.
Sinister cults infest the Weird West, worshipping their dark and perverted dieties.
Man versus Mad Science: Ronan Lynch faces Dr. Leopold Kludge and his Decimator Array!
High in the Cascade Mountains, a lone brave stalks the most terrifying prey: a wendigo!
A valiant group of Weird Western heroes face the might of a California Maze Dragon!
Death is just the beginning: the mysterious Prospector greets a newly rising Harrowed.
Blowin’ Things All to Hell Now you’ve got your character, and you know how to make Trait and Aptitude checks. If you’re like most gamers, you’re wondering how to blow things all to Hell and back.
Rounds When a firefight or a brawl erupts, the Marshal breaks the game down into “rounds” of 5 seconds each. Each round is further broken down into “segments.” Each Action Card (from Ace down to Deuce) represents these segments. The King is a segment, the Queen is a segment, and so on, all the way down to a Deuce. Now each side (the players and the Marshal) needs an Action Deck. Using the Action Deck lets us have all the action and tension of a gunfight in the Weird West without getting bogged down with lots of complicated rules. Read on, and we’ll show you how.
The Action Deck It doesn’t matter how good a shot you are if you’re slower than a onelegged tortoise on a cold day. Once the Marshal says the game is in combat rounds, you need to make a Quickness roll and compare it to a TN of Fair (5). You get to draw 1 card from the Action Deck plus 1 for every success and raise. If you go bust, you get no cards this round, though you might still use a card from up your sleeve (see page 114). Reshuffling: If an Action Deck runs out, reshuffle it immediately. If someone draws a Black Joker, finish the round, then reshuffle. Maximum Cards: No matter how high your Quickness total is, you can never have more than 5 Action Cards without supernatural aid (such as a huckster’s hex or a Harrowed power).
Surprise Most folks don’t just whip out their pistols and start firing when some blood-simple varmint comes jumping out of the bushes at them. They usually just stand there with their mouths open until their brain kicks in and tells them they’re in deep caa-caa. Anytime there’s a good chance your character might be surprised, the Marshal should ask for a Cognition check. The difficulty is Fair (5) if your character’s expecting some sort of danger—Incredible (11) if she’s not. If you don’t make the roll, you don’t get any cards and your character can’t act that round. She can act normally in the next round as long as she makes a Fair (5) guts check at the beginning of the round.
Actions Each round is only 5 seconds long, yet scores of actions may occur in that brief amount of time. We determine the order of these actions by the order of the cards everyone drew. Once everyone has their cards, the Marshal starts counting down from an Ace. If you have an Ace, you can take one action then. If not, you have to wait until one of your cards is called to take an action. When one of your cards is called, flip it over and tell the Marshal what your character is trying to do. Long Actions: Most things your hero does take one entire action— making an attack or a test of wills. A few things may take longer. Many spells and other powers have a “Speed” score that tells you the number of Action Cards it takes to prepare. Spend the required cards over as many rounds as it takes, then roll the dice and resolve the results of these tasks on the last Action Card spent. Suits: Compare suits to break ties with other characters who have the same cards. The ranking of suits is:
Suit Ranks Suit Spades Hearts Diamonds Clubs
Rank First Second Third Fourth
Action Card Ties: Since the Marshal has his own Action Deck, it’s possible for each side to have an action on the same card and suit. If so, these actions are simultaneous.
Cheatin’ Sometimes you might want to wait until something else happens before your hombre takes his action. Say you know some slavering beastie is about to come through a doorway and you want your hero to wait and blast a hole in it with her shotgun when it comes crashing through. The way to do this is by “cheating” and keeping a single card “up your sleeve.” When the card you want to put up your sleeve would normally be played, tell the Marshal you’re going to put it up your sleeve instead and place it face down under your Fate Chips. You can only ever have one card up your sleeve. Anytime you want to play the “cheat” card, including earlier than normal in the next round, whip it out, show it to the Marshal, take your action, and discard it. Interrupting an Action: If you want to interrupt someone else’s action with a card up your sleeve, you have to beat her in an opposed Quickness match. If your hero gets a success means the actions are simultaneous. If she gets a success and a raise, that means that character goes first. You’re never guaranteed to beat someone just because you’ve got a cheat card, but you’ve got a chance. Assuming you don’t use it, you can hold on to your cheat card until the fight is over, you draw a Black Joker (see below), or an opponent forces you to discard it through a test of wills (see page 117).
Jokers Here’s where you learn why we left the Jokers in the Action Deck, partner. Jokers are the two cards that can never be hidden up your sleeve, and as you might have guessed, drawing one has special effects.
The Red Joker The red Joker allows your character to go at any time during the round. He can even interrupt another character’s action without having to make a second Quickness check. In a nutshell, your hero can go whenever he wants this round. The downside is that since you can’t put a Joker up your sleeve, you only get this advantage for one round. If you don’t use it before the round is over, you have to discard it. You can still have a normal card up your sleeve, however, and you can even use them both at the same time if you like. The second advantage to drawing a red Joker is that you get to draw a random chip from the Fate Pot. Congratulations! The Marshal doesn’t get a draw from the Fate Pot by drawing a red Joker for the bad guys, but he does get one when the posse draws a black Joker (see below).
Combat Black Jokers The black Joker is bad news all around. It means your character hesitates for some reason. Maybe he’s starting to feel his wounds or he’s distracted by the bad guys. Or his gun suffers a minor jam that takes him a moment to clear. Whatever the reason, you must discard the Joker and any card up your sleeve as well. The other downside to the black Joker is it gives the bad guys (run by your Marshal) a draw from the Fate Pot. This represents the villains getting a little bit of a break from your hero’s hesitation or misstep. Your side doesn’t get a draw when the Marshal gets a black Joker, however. Who said life was fair? There’s one last side effect to drawing a black Joker. Your side’s Action Deck is reshuffled at the end of the round in which it was drawn. That puts the joker back in the mix, so you never know when this little sucker’s coming up. This counts for both the posse and the Marshal.
Moving It’s often important to know how far your hero can move each round. Remember the secondary trait called Pace we talked about in Chapter Two? Well, it’s time to learn how to use it. A character can move up to twice his Pace in yards in a given round. He can divide up this movement however he wants each action. Running: The only catch is that a character who moves more than his Pace on a single action is considered to be running. It’s hard to do most things while sprinting like los diablos were after you, though. Running characters subtract -4 from any skill rolls they make that action. Ronan’s Pace is 8. He can move a total of 16 yards over the course of a combat round. With 3 actions, he might move 10, 3, and 3, or 0, 0, and 16. Of course he’d be running on the latter action.
Carrying a Load No, we don’t mean the one in your pants. That’s a personal problem. What we’re talking about is the fact that outlaws trying to haul a heavy iron safe out of a bank aren’t going to run as fast as the angry sheriff who’s after them. A load is an estimate of how much the character, critter, or vehicle can carry before it starts inhibiting their movement. The relative loads on the table below show how much movement is lost from the hero’s base Pace.
Loads Load Light Medium Heavy
Weight 3 x Strength 6 x Strength 10 x Strength
Pace 3/4 1/2 1/4
For instance, Ronan’s Strength is 6. He can carry up to 18 pounds with no problems. From 18 pounds up to 36 pounds is a light load. From 36 pounds up to 60 pounds is a medium load. From 60 pounds on up is a heavy load.
Tests o’ Wills When most folks think of combat, they think of yanking triggers and beating things to a pulp. That’s a lot of fun, but sometimes it’s just as much fun to stare down some lily-livered tinhorn and send him running back to New York City. Or trick a Texas hombre into thinking some critter’s sneaking up on him so you can shoot him in the back. Of course, in Deadlands, there probably is some critter sneaking up behind him, so you might just want to keep your trap shut until the time is right. Bluff, overawe, and ridicule are tests of will that can be used to break an opponent’s nerve or concentration. Persuasion is also a test of wills, but it isn’t generally used in combat. Tests of will are a great roleplaying opportunity as well. Don’t be surprised if the Marshal asks you to describe exactly what your hero is saying or doing to his opponent to justify the test. It’s a lot more entertaining than just saying “I try to bluff him.” If the threat, insult, or steely glare is especially evocative, the Marshal might even give you a little bonus for your efforts. A test of wills is an opposed roll versus one of the target’s Aptitudes. If the test is being made against a group, use the leader’s Aptitude. Initiating a test of wills is an action. Resisting one is not and is done automatically. Tests of will can have additional effects besides just getting the bad guys to do what you want. The number of successes and raises determines the effect of the test of wills.
Tests o’ W ill Will Test Aptitude Opposed Aptitude Bluff Scrutinize Overawe Guts Ridicule Ridicule Result Success 1 raise 2 raises
Effect Unnerved Distracted Broken
Combat Unnerved Your character’s stern gaze or cruel taunt angers or upsets your opponent. The target suffers –4 to her next action. This includes any “passive” defense like their fightin’ skill or resisting further tests of wills.
Distracted The target is totally distracted by your hero’s jibe, trick, or surly stare. The target is unnerved, and in addition loses her highest Action Card. If she’s got a cheat card up her sleeve, she loses that instead.
Broken You’ve broken the bad guy’s will—for the moment at least. He’s unnerved and distracted and you get to draw a Fate Chip from the pot. Most villains start thinking about escape at this point. It’s up to the Marshal and the situation. Ronan finds himself facing a tough crowd of Reverend Grimme’s Guardian Angels. He knows he can’t gun down on thirty of the creeps, so he gives him his patented stare. This is an overawe attempt against the leader, one of the cult’s priests. She has a guts score of 3d8. Ronan rolls and gets a 17 after spending a few chips. The priestess blows it and gets a 6. That’s 2 raises, so Ronan gets a distracted result. Besides the game effects, the Marshal decides Ronan is too tough to take in a straight fight. She knows she’d win, but she’d lose many followers and might catch a bullet herself. She backs down, but plots to catch him unawares later on. With a broken result, she might leave town altogether!
Shootin’ Things There often comes a point when you need to turn some dastardly villain’s head into “high plains pudding.” You want to get some lead flyin’, and we’re going to tell you how. Just remember to think twice before your gunslinger draws that smokewagon out of its holster. The bad guys have guns too. In simple terms, all you need to do is figure out your Target Number and roll your shootin’ dice. If one of your bones comes up equal to or higher than the TN, you’ve hit. While you’re reading this part, remember that you should figure out all the modifiers for the Marshal instead of making her do it all for you. That frees her up to interpret the results in grisly detail and keep all the bad guys and all their modifiers straight.
The Shootin’ Roll The first thing you need to figure out when you want to blow something to Kingdom Come is what kind of weapon your character is going to fire. There are lots of pea-shooters in the Weird West—from Colt Peacemakers and Winchester repeaters to Gatling guns and flamethrowers powered by ghost rock. Most weapons fall into one of four concentrations: pistols, rifles, shotguns, and automatics. Flamethrowers and other weird gizmos have their own concentrations which cover each weapon exclusively. Whichever weapon your character uses, that’s the kind of shootin’ concentration he needs. Remember that your hero can fire a weapon he doesn’t have a concentration in, he just suffers the unskilled penalty.
Rate of Fire So how many shots can your hombre fire each action? That’s easy. Every weapon in Deadlands lists has a set of statistics that lists, among other things, its “rate of fire.” A character can fire up to that many times per action. Most weapons in Deadlands have a rate of fire of 1 or 2.
Standard ROFs Weapon Type Double-Action Pistol Single-Action Pistol Rifle Shotgun Double-Barreled Shotgun Gatling Guns
ROF 2 1 1 1 2 Burst of 3
We’ll tell you more about automatics like Gatlings after we lay down a few more basics.
The Attack Once you’ve figured out what kind of dice to roll and how many times you get to do it, it’s time to figure out the TN you need to make some dirt-slow loser do some daisy pushing.
Range The Target Number you’re looking for is Fair (5) plus the range modifier. To figure the modifier, count the number of yards between the shooter and the target and then divide it by the weapon’s Range Increment, rounding down as usual. The number you get is added to Fair (5) to get the base TN of the shot. Here are the standard Range Increments:
Standard Range Ranges Weapon Type Derringers Pistol Rifle Shotgun
Range 5 10 20 10
Modifiers Now that you’ve got your TN, you might have to add or subtract a couple of modifiers to your shootin’ roll. These things come up often in a gunfight, so be sure to keep track of them. Sometimes even stranger things can happen. Then it’s up to the Marshal to figure out a modifier for that situation.
Firer is Running It’s a lot harder to hit a target when you’re on the move. As you might remember from our little discussion on movement, your hero suffers a -4 penalty if he fires on the run.
Large Target Larger targets are easier to hit. A target that’s twice as big as a man gives the attacker a +1 bonus, a target three times the size of a man has a +2 modifier, and so on, up to a normal maximum of +6.
Small Target If a target is half the size of a man, subtract a penalty of –1. If it’s onequarter the size of a man, subtract –2, and so on, to a maximum of –10 for Size 1 or smaller pests.
Target is Moving It’s harder to hit a moving target than one that’s standing still. Any time a target is moving faster than a relative Pace of 20, subtract –4 from your roll. “Relative” means you need to figure how fast the target and the shooter are moving in relation to each other.
Visibility It’s hard to plug a fellow if you can’t see him. Generally, if you can see any part of your target, it isn’t really concealed. If some cowboy’s head is sticking up out of the prairie grass, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the rest of his body is. Partial concealment doesn’t modify an attack roll since you can usually figure out where the whole target is. If
a target is completely concealed but an attacker knows about where the target is (even a general direction), he can still attack at a –4. Bad lighting or poor visibility also make it a bit harder to tag your target. The penalties for partial lighting apply to targets greater than 10 yards away. Of course, if a target holds a lantern on a dark night, there’s no penalty to plug the sap.
Shootin’ Modifiers Situation Firer is walking Firer is running Firer is mounted Firer is wounded Size Target moving Pace 20+ Target totally concealed Torchlight, twilight Moonlight Blind, total darkness
Modifier –2 –6 –2 Varies Varies –4 –4 –4 –6 –8
Shotguns Shotguns and scatterguns (that’s a sawed-off shotgun) work a little differently than most weapons. The benefit of either is that one shell unleashes a half-dozen or so .38 caliber balls. This makes them ideal for unskilled shooters since they can make up for their lack of talent by filling the air with lead. Additionally, the closer the target, the more balls are likely to hit and the more damage they can cause. Anyone firing a shotgun adds +2 to her shootin’: shotgun roll. Double-Barrels: Most shotguns and scatterguns in the Weird West have two barrels, either or both of which can be fired on a single action. If a hero wants to fire both barrels, she simply makes two shootin’ rolls and figures the results separately. That’s why doublebarrels have a rate of fire of 2. Damage: The damage from a shotgun decreases as the balls spread (less actually hit the target). The further the range, the less damage a shotgun blast does to the blood bag on the other end.
You’ll notice the first range on the table below says “touching.” That means the barrel is right up against the target, such as in a hostage situation, and there’s no chance any of the buckshot misses. The Marshal has finally say on whether or not an attack gets this bonus or not. Even a hostage might jerk away fast enough to put himself in the 1-10 yard range bracket.
Shotguns Range Touching 1–10 11–20 21–30 31+
Damage 6d6 5d6 4d6 3d6 2d6
Ronan Lynch is creeping through a cemetery when a pile of shambling bones rises up just under 10 yards away. He’s carrying a scattergun and unloads both barrels at the thing. He adds +2 to his two shootin’ rolls and hits the unholy creature with both barrels. Ronan’s player checks the shotgun chart and sees that at this range, each shot does 5d6 damage! Chances are there’s one less crawly thing in the world.
Slugs Both shotguns and scatterguns can also fire slugs, which are basically huge, self-rifled hunks of lead. Slugs subtract –2 from the attacker’s roll. It’s hard to aim that huge chunk of lead properly. On the plus side, they do 6d6 damage regardless of range. That’s one big can of whup-ass.
Automatic Weapons Automatic weapons like Gatling guns and Gatling pistols are pretty new to the Weird West. While they can throw a lot of lead in the air, they tend to be expensive, inaccurate, and occasionally unreliable. Still, for sheer volume of fire, they can’t be beat. These weapons fire several rounds at once at the expense of accuracy. To make things easy, we don’t roll for every bullet. We roll for each burst of three bullets. Automatic weapons have Rates of Fire of 3, 6, 9, 12, and so on. (Standard Gatling weapons usually have a ROF of 3, but you might run into some mad science weapons with higher ones.) A character must fire all three shots of a burst. He can’t choose to fire only one or two shots unless the particular weapon’s description says otherwise. The character’s shootin’: automatics roll determines how many rounds from each burst actually hit the target. Make one shootin’ roll per burst. A success means the first bullet hits. Each raise after that means another bullet hit. Raises past the second are lost when firing full-auto. Multiple Targets: Multiple targets can be hit by a single burst. Each raise means another bullet found a target. Here’s how to figure it out. Choose a primary target. The first bullet hits this tinhorn. A raise could hit him again, or a second victim up to 2 yards away,—it’s the shooter’s call. Another raise could hit a third target 2 yards away from the second, or put a second bullet into the second target. To hit targets further than 2 yards from the primary target requires a second burst. (Others may be hit by the Innocent Bystanders rules: see page 124.)
Combat Determine each round’s hit location and damage separately. The player must assign his hits before rolling damage or resolving a second burst. In other words, roll all your attacks, assign hits to targets, then go back and roll hit location and damage for each. That way you can’t see if the first bullet in a burst kills some poor fool before assigning your second or third. Aiming and Called Shots: A character firing an automatic weapon can make called shots or benefit from drawing a bead on his first burst in an action only. Just add or subtract the modifiers to the usual TN and figure raises from there.
Recoil Firing off a hail of automatic fire is hard to control. Each burst fired after the first in a single action suffers a –2 recoil modifier. This is cumulative, so the third burst in a single action suffers a –4, and so on to a maximum of –6. Braces: A good brace such as a sling or a bipod reduces the recoil penalty to –1 or even 0. Mounted Gatling guns have stable platforms that reduce recoil to 0.
Reliability Gatling guns aren’t perfected technology. When your hero fires one, roll a d20 along with the shootin’ roll. This is called a Reliability check (as discussed in Chapter Three). Gatlings have a Reliability of 19, so if you roll a 20, it jams, requiring a Hard (9) shootin’: automatics/Smarts roll to clear it. A character can use tinkerin’ instead, reducing the TN to Fair (5). “Bad Luck” Betty McGrew is guarding a train running through Nevada from a band of desperadoes on steamwagons. She opens fire with the Gatling mounted in one of the train’s
boxcars and rolls a 12 on her first burst (and passes her Reliability check). The TN is 6 so that’s a success and a raise. She hits with 2 bullets. On her second burst, she rolls a 20 on her Reliability test (meaning her attack roll doesn’t matter). The gun jams and Betty starts banging on the thing in frustration.
Special Maneuvers Gunslingers use all kinds of tricks and techniques to make sure they get their man. Here are the details on the more esoteric aspects of gunplay.
Called Shots Occasionally you’ll run across some critter that just doesn’t want to die even after you’ve slung a ton of lead at it. Hopefully it’s got a weak spot somewhere, like an eyeball or the brainpan. Hitting a specific spot on your target is a “called shot,” and of course, it comes with a penalty. The smaller the target, the bigger the penalty. The table below is for targeting people, but it should give you an idea for blasting parts off nasty critters and abominations as well.
Called-Shots Size Guts Legs, arms Heads, hands, feet Eyeball, heart
Penalty –2 –4 –6 –10
Drawing A Bead A normal shot assumes your cowpoke aims his smokewagon only for a heartbeat before squeezing off a round. If a character spends an entire
action “drawing a bead,” she can add +2 to her shootin’ roll in the next action. Every action spent drawing a bead adds +2 to the hero’s next shootin’ roll, up to a maximum of +6. The modifier carries over to the next round if needed. Ronan winds up with 4 actions in a particular round. He aims his pistol for three of those and fires on the 4th with a +6 to his roll. With his skill, that’s a sure hit.
Fanning the Hammer Veteran gunslingers sometimes “fan” their sidearms. Fanning simply means holding the trigger down on a singleaction revolver and slapping the hammer repeatedly with the palm of the other hand. This puts a lot of lead in the air fast, but the individual shots aren’t very accurate. Fanning is a maneuver your hero can perform if he has at least 1 level in shootin’: pistol. The fanner also needs one free hand and a single-action revolver in the other. All you one-armed bandits are out of luck. The rate of fire is 1 to 6. It’s the shooter’s choice as to how many bullets he want to waste. Even if a gun holds more than six rounds, that’s the most a gunslinger can fan in one action. Fanning one shot isn’t really worth while, but it can be done. To resolve the attack, pick a target and figure out the TN based on the range and any other modifiers. Fanning a pistol isn’t very accurate, so the shooter has to subtract –2 from his roll for slapping his gun around like a redheaded stepchild. A success, and each raise thereafter, causes a bullet to hit. The firer chooses which targets he hits, though any after the first must be within 2 yards of the last target hit. Aiming and Called Shots: A shooter can’t draw a bead when fanning, though he can make a called shot on the first bullet only. Figure the TN for the first shot. Any raises after that hit random locations as normal. Fanning should only be used in close quarters and desperate circumstances, amigo.
One Eye Ketchum needs to drop three banditos. He has a shootin’: pistols skill of 4, and decides to fan 2 bullets at each bad guy. One Eye rolls an incredible 27 on his shootin’: pistols roll and needed a 7 to hit. Subtracting the fanning penalty of –2 drops his attack roll to a 25. That means he still got 3 raises. Four bullets hit. For the first 2 rounds that hit, he rolls hit locations of the leg and the noggin. The first bullet does a pitiful 4 points of damage. The second gets 2 extra dice for hitting the noggin and does a whopping 23. The first bandito goes down as One Eye rolls location and damage for his next two shots.
Quick Draw Drawing a weapon usually takes a cowpoke one action. If your hero makes his quick draw roll, he can draw and fire his weapon normally on a single action. Quick draw is also very important in a duel. Complete rules for these showdowns at High Noon can be found on page 124.
The Rifle Spin Generally speaking, you need two hands to operate a rifle, but if you’re good you can do it with only one. A really gonzo rifleman could even use two rifles at once. Subtract –4 from one-handed rifle attacks as the long-arm bobs up and down all over the place. (If the hero can brace his shot on a fence or something, the Marshal might let him ignore the penalty.) Cocking: The real problem comes from having to cock the rifle between shots. It’s difficult, but it can be done by spinning the rifle by its lever (it looks pretty damn manly, too!) If you’d like for your character to cock his lever-action rifle one-handed, make an Onerous (7) Deftness check (for each rifle if he has two). If you make the roll, your hombre can fire on
Combat the same action. If you fail, you can try again on your next action if you want. A bust means you drop the rifle. Characters with bad luck might break their fingers!
The Two-Gun Kid Some pistoleros like to fire two pistols at once. They usually don’t hit much, but they sure make a lot of noise. A character firing two guns suffers the two weapons penalty to begin with: –2 to each attack. Additionally, any action taken with an off hand is made at an additional –4 (for a total of –6). A cowpoke can fire with each hand up to the weapons’ usual rate of fire. Each shot is a separate roll.
The Art of The Duel Let’s take a break from all-out combat for a moment for a moment and talk a bit about something that’s a staple of most Western films: the classic “duel at High Noon.” In most normal fights, folks are running all over creation, emptying their hoglegs into anything with feet, teeth or claws. In dust-ups like that, it’s strictly a matter or surviving, by any means necessary. A duel is an entirely different affair. Duels are often as much a battle of willpower, guts and style as one of flying lead. Survival is still the top priority, but the gunfighter’s reputation is also at stake. When someone calls your hero out, he’d better stand tall with his six-gun in its holster. If he comes bolting out of the saloon crying like baby and firing a shotgun, folks will call him a lilylivered, yellow coward. Stay cool, and if you die at least you’ll get a kind epitaph.
“I’m Callin’ You Out!” There are two types of duels: timed and staredowns. In a timed duel, the shooters agree neither one will fire until a predetermined event: the count of three, when a handkerchief hits the ground, the sound of a clock’s bell, and so on. Both parties hold their actions until that moment and then commence putting holes in one another. Staredowns are a bit more common. In these duels, the combatants each wait for the other to go for his gun. You see, if you just skin your hogleg and shoot someone, it’s murder. Believe it or not, there’s some sense of law and order, even in the Weird West (not much, just some). The idea is to goad your opponent into going for his gun, then draw and fire yours before him. That way you can kill the son-of-a-gun all nice and legallike. Of course, it’s a risky game giving another gunfighter this kind of advantage, but it’s the only way to make sure you stay out of the hoosegow.
Timed Duels When two hardasses decide to be civilized about killing each other, they need an impartial party to provide the signal to start shooting. There are usually plenty of volunteers eager for a little taste of death from the sidelines.
When the duel begins, each fighter makes a Quickness roll and draws Action Cards as usual. Now the Marshal draws a single card (from his own deck) and looks at it secretly. If it’s a face card or a Joker, he draws again. Once the Marshal has a number card, he places it face down between the two gunslingers. Now the Marshal calls off cards just like in a normal round, starting with the Ace. As their Action Cards are called, the fighters may perform tests of will or hold their cards. When the Marshal gets to the “signal” card, he flips it face up and the fighters commence shooting. The duelists make a quick draw test, and the fastest gun fires first. Ties are considered simultaneous. The shot itself doesn’t actually require a card, but each held card (unused cards equal to or higher than the signal card) the duelist has adds +2 to his quick draw roll. Cards lower than the signal card have no effect and are discarded. Once the shots are resolved, the duelists toss in their cards and start off a new, normal combat round if they wish.
Staredowns Staredowns work just like timed duels except the Marshal draws no card. The gunslingers decide when to draw. To begin, each fighter makes a Quickness roll and draws cards as usual. The Marshal counts down from Ace. As their Action Cards are called, the fighters may perform tests of will, draw, or hold their cards. When either fighter draws, it’s time to commence with the shooting! Although the actual shot doesn’t require a fighter to expend a card, he can’t draw until at least one of his cards is called. Each “held” card (including the “draw” card) adds +2 to the quick draw roll. Cards lower than the draw card are discarded. If the count gets down to 2s without either fighter drawing, the opponents continue to stare at each other and discard all their cards (no cards can be held up the sleeve in a duel). Start again from the top.
Combat This can go on for a while, so good shootists quickly develop a stare or finger twitch (a bluff test of wills) to unnerve their opponents and make them draw first (see below). It’s the only way to stay alive and steer clear of the law.
Dueling Wills Before anyone draws a gun, duelists may use their cards for tests of will. This works normally but with the following effects: A distracted opponent suffers a –4 penalty to his quick draw roll. An unnerved opponent suffers –4 to his quick draw roll and his shot. In a staredown, he must draw on his next available Action Card or try to weasel his way out of the duel. A broken opponent suffers the same effects as an unnerved fighter, and in a staredown, he must draw immediately or turn tail and run. The draw card in this case is considered to be the card on which the test of wills took place. A shootist who used all his cards for tests of wills can still return fire (he can’t go for his gun first unless he’s broken), but he takes a –4 penalty to his quick draw roll.
Fate One last note. You rarely hear about two duelists taking more than a few shots at each other. When a man steps into a duel, he takes fate into his own hands. Fate, being a fickle bitch, takes a dim view of such shenanigans. Duelists may use Fate Chips to add to their action totals as usual, but they may not use them to negate wounds. This is why there aren’t too many old gunslingers. When a duel begins, one of the fighters will likely be carried off the street in a cheap pine box. Don’t worry too much about understanding Fate chips completely right now. It will all become crystal clear in Chapter Five.
Reloading Sooner or later, your six-gun’s going to run out of ammo. Professional gunslingers know how to get those smokewagons reloaded and firing again before someone sends them on a one way trip to Boot Hill. It takes one action to put a single bullet into a pistol or rifle, or a single shell in a shotgun. It also takes one action to remove a speed-load cylinder from a weapon and slap in a new one. Of course, you can always try the speed-loading skill (see Chapter Two.) Automatics: It takes two actions to reload a Gatling gun’s feed box. They cannot be speed-loaded. Gatling pistols take one action per chamber to reload. They can be speed-loaded normally. Black Powder Weapons: Black powder muzzle-loading weapons take forever to reload. Five actions, in fact. They can never be speed-loaded.
Throwin’ Things Ever heard of a Mojave rattler? If you cross the Mojave, they’ll hear you. When they do, you’d better warm up your arm, because the best way to kill one is to chuck a heap of dynamite down its gullet. The throwin’ skill works just like shootin’ for most weapons. The Range Increment for all thrown weapons is +1/ 5, so add +1 to the base TN of Fair (5) for every 5 yards distance. A target at 10 yards is TN 7. The maximum range a character can throw an average size weapon (1–2 pounds) is her Strength die type x 5 yards. Ronan’s Strength of 3d6 lets him chuck a stick of dynamite 30 yards, with a TN of 11. With a Target Number like that, let’s hope he has the throwin’: unbalanced Aptitude, or a really good Deftness!
Deviation Weapons like bombs and rockets, thrown weapons like dynamite or rocks, or even area-effect spells that have a chance to miss their target, deviate if they don’t hit their intended target (the attacker fails his skill roll). First determine the direction by rolling a d12 and reading the result as a clock facing centered on the target point. Thrown missiles deviate 1d20 yards in that direction. Projectiles fired from a launcher of some sort deviate 10% of the total range, plus 2d20 yards in the direction indicated by the d12. On a bust, the round jams or is dropped and detonates at the shooter’s feet. Max Deviation: If the shot deviates backward, it travels at least half the distance from the shooter to the target. Ronan misses with his dynamite. We roll a d12 and get a 6—it falls short of the target. The distance is 1d20 and we get a 20. Fortunately, Ronan was only throwing the dynamite at a target 10 yards away. The max deviation is half that—5 yards. That puts Ronan smack in the blast radius. We hope he left a long fuse on that TNT!
Innocent Bystanders First things first. No one is innocent. Some folks are just a little less guilty than others. Sometimes you want to know if a missed shot could hit someone near the path to the target. This doesn’t crop up often, so don’t worry about it if it’s not important. If a bystander is a few feet from the target and directly between it and the shooter—as in the classic hostage pose—use the Hit Location Table on page 128. If the bystander was covering up the part of the target that was hit, she’s hit instead. Figure out where the bystander gets hit based on the situation or another roll.
If the bystander isn’t right next to the target, use this system. For single shots that miss their target, a bullet has a 1 in 6 chance of hitting anyone within 1 yard of the bullet’s path. Start at the bystander closest to the shooter and roll a d6. If it comes up a 1, he’s hit. Roll hit location and damage normally. If the roll is anything but a 1, check any other bystanders in the path until you run out of bystanders or the bullet finds a home. Spray: A spray of bullets fired from a fanned single action revolver, shotgun, or Gatling gun or pistol hits bystanders on a 1 as normal, but with a 2 yard spread.. Continue to check each target until all the missed rounds have checked each bystander at least once. Shotguns: Since a shotgun fires shells instead of single bullets, a missed shotgun blast has a bit wider coverage than a single bullet (except when a gun is fanned). It can hit bystanders within 2 yards of the blast’s path. Miniatures: If you’re using the awesome Deadlands miniatures—and we don’t know why you wouldn’t be— you should have a very clear picture of who’s likely to get hit by a stray miss. Pinnacle has a whole line of Weird Western warriors just dying to hop in front of bullets for you. Put these out on a map of the battle area and you’ll be amazed at how much more clear the situation becomes for your posse.
Fightin’ It’s time to start carving. Whip out your Bowie knife and “stick” with us. We taught you how to shoot and we taught you how to throw. Now it’s time we taught you how to fight.
The Fightin’ Roll Making fightin’ Aptitude rolls is a lot like making shootin’ rolls. First figure out the concentration that matches the weapon you’re using. Some basic fightin’ concentrations are knives, swords, whips, and brawlin’. The last one, brawlin’, also covers clubs, hammers, and the like.
The Attack The Target Number of the attack is Fair (5) plus the opponent’s fightin’ Aptitude level for whatever weapon is currently in his hand. A cowboy gets his fightin’: brawlin’ skill if he is emptyhanded or is using some sort of improvised “club”—like a bottle or pistol butt.
Modifiers As with shootin’ attacks, many things can affect a fellow’s ability to pummel an opponent. Attacker is Running: The -4 running penalty applies to your hero’s fightin’ attacks as usual. Defensive Bonuses: Certain weapons are built to parry quickly, or are long enough to give the wielder a reach advantage. This is the weapon’s “Defensive Bonus.” The Defensive Bonus is applied directly to the attacker’s TN when he makes his fightin’ roll. See the equipment list for details about each weapon’s particular bonuses. Large Target: Larger targets are easier to hit. A target that’s twice as big as a man gives the attacker a +1 bonus, a target three times the size of a man has a +2 modifier, and so on, up to a normal maximum of +6. Small Target: If a target is half the size of a man, subtract a penalty of –1. If it’s one-quarter the size of a man, subtract –2, and so on, to a maximum of –10 for Size 1 or smaller pests.
Superior Position: Attacking from a superior position, like standing on a bar or riding on a horse, is a definite advantage in hand-to-hand combat. If the attacker is in a position at least 1 yard higher than his opponent he may add +2 to his attack roll. Visibility: Concealment works for fightin’ just like it does for shootin’. See page 92 for details.
Fightin’ Modifiers Situation Modifier Attacker is running –4 Attacker has high position –2 Attacker is wounded Varies Size Varies Target totally concealed –4 Torchlight, twilight –4 Moonlight –6 Blind, total darkness –8 Attacker Armed Weapon’s Defensive Bonus Ronan is creeping through Boot Hill when a walkin’ dead reaches up out of the ground and grabs his foot. He tries to slice the arm off with his trusty knife. The thing has a fightin’: brawlin’ skill of 3, so Ronan’s TN is (5+3=) 8.
Special Maneuvers We can’t let the gunslingers have all the fun. Here are a few maneuvers and special attacks for those who like their violence close-up.
Called Shots As with shootin’ , an attacker can make “called shots” to particular hit locations on an opponent, as shown on the table below.
Called-Shots Size Guts Legs, arms Heads, hands, feet Eyeball, heart
Penalty –2 –4 –6 –10
Two-fisted Fightin’ Some sidewinders just can’t get enough mayhem. If a character has a weapon in each hand, she can make two attacks during one action. Each of these are rolled separately with a penalty of –2 to each attack. The off-hand attack takes an additional –4 penalty too, so that attack suffers a total penalty of –6.
Bolas, Lariats, & Whips Bolas, lariats, whips and similar weapons can be used to entangle and trip a target. Doing either is an opposed roll of the attacker’s fightin’: whip, fightin’: lariat or throwin’: bolas skill versus the opponent’s dodge. A character can break out of an average whip or lariat with an Incredible (11) Strength roll, destroying the weapon in the process. Otherwise, she has to just plain wriggle her way out of it. This is an opposed Nimbleness roll versus the attacker’s skill with the weapon. The Marshal should feel free to apply bonuses and penalties according to the situation. Obviously, if your lassoed character is being dragged behind a horse, it’s going to be a bit tougher to break free than it might normally be.
Before we get into seeing where your hombre actually hit his target and how bad it hurt him, there’s one last thing you should know. If you really don’t want your character to get hit, he can make an “active defense.” This is called “vamoosin’.” Just because we love you, your hero can roll his vamoose after the bad guy’s attack has hit, but before damage has been resolved. The price is your highest remaining Action Card. Chuck it, amigo. If you’ve got a card up your sleeve, that’s your highest. Otherwise, this is the only time an Action Card lets you act before it’s your turn. Now you can make a dodge or fightin’ Aptitude roll as appropriate. Dodge is used against missile attacks, fightin’ is used against hand-to-hand attacks. Never allow one to be used for the other. If your dodge or fightin’ roll is higher than the bad guy’s attack total, he misses. If it’s lower, he gets hit as usual. Finally, your character actually has to do something to represent the vamoose. If he’s dodging, he needs to jump behind cover or throw himself to the ground. In hand-to-hand combat, a vamoosin’ character has to give ground by backing up 1 yard. If he can’t (or won’t), subtract –4 from his roll. Cheat Cards: You can use a cheat card to act before another character instead of vamoosing, but how it works all depends on your impeccable sense of timing. If you use your cheat card before the bad guy declares his action, you act normally. Resolve your character’s actions first. If you use the card after a bad guy has declared his action, you have to roll to interrupt him as we told you about in Chapter One. Finally, if the bad guy has already declared his action and rolled his dice, you’re stuck having to vamoose.
Hit Location 1d20 1–4 5–9 10 11–14 15–19 20 Modifiers +2 +/-2 +/-4 +2
Location Legs Lower Guts Gizzards Arms Upper Guts Noggin When fightin’ Waist-high height advantage when fightin’ Head-high height advantage when fightin’ Pont blank range when shootin’
Hit Location Before you can start rolling handfuls of damage dice, you need to see where the attack actually hit and whether or not any cover intervened. Too, where you hit a target is often more important than how hard. A good whack on the noggin hurts a lot more than getting your toes stepped on. Get a hit to the gizzards (vital areas) or the noggin (head) and you raise your chances of doing some pretty spectacular damage (see Bleedin’ & Squealin’ on page 132). For these reasons, you need to see where every successful attack hits the target. That will help you determine the effects of cover and any bonus damage for hitting a vital location. Roll 1d20 on the Hit Location table whenever the Marshal tells you you’ve scored a hit. When arms or legs are hit, roll another die. An odd roll hits the left limb, an even roll nails the right. Non-Humans: The Hit Location table works best with humans and things that like to think they’re human, but it can also be used for critters with a little tinkering. The Marshal may use a special chart for really weird varmints, but this one works most of the time.
Here are the standard modifiers to the Hit Location roll. We use these to make your hombre’s attacks a little more realistic. If he’s on a table doing the Zorro thing, he’s more likely to hit his opponent in the upper half of his body. Fightin’: The really nifty thing about this chart is that it starts at the legs and works its way up. Adding +2 to the die roll puts most hand-to-hand hits in the guts, head, or arms where they should be. (How many knife fights end in a pile of shorn toes?) Height: This modifier only counts in hand-to-hand combat. Add +2 to the roll if one character has a waist-high height advantage over another. Add +4 if the attacker’s boots are about equal with the other fellow’s head. Of course the opposite is also true. If one cowpoke is stabbing at another who is above him, subtract the modifiers from the Hit Location roll. Point-Blank Range: This modifier is only used for ranged combat. Point-blank range is used when one character is holding a gun on another, using him like a shield, holding him hostage, or shooting over a table they’re both sitting at. In general, the gun should be less than a foot or so away to count this modifier. This means that when a hostage tries to break free, his captor is more likely to shoot the victim in the guts or his flailing arms than in the toe. Occasionally you might want to subtract this modifier—such as when someone shoots somebody under a table. Raises: Every raise on an attack roll lets the attacker adjust his hit location by 1 point up or down. This way a really good attack is more likely to get a killing blow to the vitals. Sometimes you won’t want to add the entire bonus because it will actually make you miss due to cover. Don’t worry, you don’t have to use the bonus if you don’t want to. Add or subtract up to the total bonus Note that with enough raises, a character can overcome other modifiers if he chooses. Say your Maze pirate is climbing over the rails of an enemy ship and has the -4 height modifier. With enough raises, he could still get his saber into the foe’s brainpan.
Cover Using cover is one of the most important things a cowpoke can do to save his skin. A gunslinger who stands out in the open might inspire dime novels, but they’ll probably be published posthumously. Once you know where an attack has hit the target, you need to take into account any cover the target might have there. The Hit Location table is all set up to help you out. If the hit location is a character’s left arm and he’s leaning around a corner to fire with his right, the bullet hits the corner instead. The Hit Location table is also broken up into lower and upper guts, so if your character is behind a bar and a shot hits his lower guts, you know it’s probably going into the wood instead. That’s why it’s important you tell the Marshal exactly what your character is doing in a fight, so he can figure out if the hero should get the benefits of cover or not.
Bustin’ Through Cover does two things to an attack: it deflects it and it reduces some portion of its inertia (which is what ends up causing the damage in the end). Let’s cover the first bit first. When an attack hits some kind of cover, you should first roll a die. Odd,
Combat the round is deflected and doesn’t hit whatever is behind it. Even, it goes through the cover and hits the target beyond. Even though the attack hits, the damage it can do is reduced by the “Armor” value of the intervening cover, which we’ll explain in the next section. One Armed Bandits & Such: Some folks (and some abominations) are missing parts of the bodies the Good Lord gave ‘em at birth. There is an upside to this, which you might be glad to hear about if your hero is a onearmed bandit When the roll for hit location designates a body part that your hero hasn’t got (like say, an arm) the attack misses. You can’t shoot what ain’t there. It’s as simple as that. Prone Targets: A cowboy laying down is much harder to hit than a tinhorn standing up in the middle of a street. When you make a successful attack roll against a prone target, roll hit location normally. Unless the attack hits the arms, upper guts, or noggin, it’s a miss. An attacker above a prone opponent or within 5 yards of him can ignore this—the target’s no smaller from this vantage point.
Damage It’s time for the fun stuff. Come on. Admit it. You love to roll big handfuls of dice and see how bad your gunslinger blew some Hellish abomination back to Perdition. You aim for the head, partner, we’ll aim to please. It’s time to talk about damage.
Damage Steps Traits above the human norm go from a d12 to a d12+2, then d12+4, and so on. Damage dice work a bit differently. After a d12, the next die type is a d20. This lets us assign weapon damages to a general category of die type based on penetration, as shown on the table below. For damage steps
Armor Armor Light 1 2 3 4 5 6
Material Boiled leather, heavy cloth Wood less than 1” thick 1–3” of solid wood, tin 4–6” of solid wood, thin metal A small tree, bricks, an iron pan A large tree, armored train walls Inch-thick steel plate
higher than d20, just add +2 points of damage to the total per level, just as with Trait dice.
Damage Steps Die d4 d6 d8 d10 d12 d20
Weapon Types Light clubs, small knives Arrows, heavy clubs, pistols, large knives Rifles, sabers Buffalo rifles, flamethrowers Small artillery Dynamite, cannon balls
Armor Now it’s time to show you why we cleverly grouped weapon damage values by die types. A .45 caliber Peacemaker and a .36 caliber Derringer are both d6-based weapons, but the Peacemaker’s going to roll more d6s than the derringer. If you’re talking about penetration, both weapons go through an inch-thick board about the same. The Peacemaker still does more damage to whatever’s on the other side, however. When bullets, knives, or anything else go through an obstacle, they lose some energy. The thicker the obstacle, the more damage is absorbed.
Armor Ratings Obstacles and some critters have Armor ratings. The table above and left lists some common obstacles and their Armor levels. Each level of Armor reduces the die type of the damage. An attack that uses d20s (like dynamite) is reduced to d12s by a single level of Armor. Two levels of Armor drops the damage to d10s, and so on. If the die type is dropped below d4, drop the number of dice instead. An attack reduced to 0d4 does no damage. A 3d6 bullet that goes through something with an Armor of 1, for instance, is reduced to 3d4. A 3d6 bullet that hits something with an Armor of 2 is reduced to 2d4.
Armor & Fightin’ As we’ll show you in just a bit, damage in hand-to-hand combat is a character’s Strength roll plus the weapon’s damage dice. Apply armor to the weapon’s die type, not the hero’s Strength. If the armor stops the weapon’s damage dice, it stops the character’s Strength roll as well. Natural Weapons: If a critter’s weapon is its teeth or claws, subtract dice from them just as if they were weapons. A wolf with a bite of STR+2d4, for instance, does STR+1d4 to someone wearing an Armor value 1 vest. No Weapons: When a character has no weapon, or in the rare case a critter has no additional damage dice besides its Strength, it simply cannot penetrate anything with an Armor value of 1 or more. Occasionally the Marshal may rule that really massive varmints can cause damage anyway, but such exceptions should be covered in the monster’s description.
Light Armor Light armor is armor that isn’t thick enough to stop damage cold, but it does afford some sort of protection. A negative Armor number such as –2 means the armor is light protection such as leather hides or thick, winter
Combat clothes. Armor –4 is heavier, such as boiled leather. Deduct this number directly from the damage total. A 14– point attack that hits a cultist wearing thick leather (–4) does 10 points. Get it? Good.
Layering Armor There’s a lot of lead flying around out there. Some of you more paranoid types may want a bit more protection than one type of armor provide you. You can layer armor and light armor for a bit of extra protection if you like. The way it works is simple. First, reduce the attack’s die type by the Armor Value of the actual armor, just like normal. Then roll damage and subtract the light armor’s protection value for the final total. Be reasonable when layering armor. Your hero can wear an iron suit over his chain mail, leather chaps, and buffalo coat, but he’s going to get tuckered out right quick in the hot deserts of the American West. Marshal, if the posse starts abusing these rules, feel free to discipline them. Give them a few points of Wind damage for the heat and fatigue. And don’t forget the movement penalties for all that weight. Anyone dressed up in more armor than one of Dr. Helstromme’s automatons is going to draw a bit of fire, as well.
Armor-Piercing Ammunition A very few rare mad science weapons have armor-piercing ammunition. Each AP level reduces the Armor level by –1. Thus a weapon with AP 3 ammunition reduces a target with 6 levels of Armor to Armor level 3. Reducing the target’s Armor Value to a negative number has no additional effect on damage. AP ammo completely ignores Light Armor.
Firearms Damage Firearms have fixed damage, such as 3d6 for large-caliber pistols. When you’ve hit your target, roll this many dice, but don’t read them like a normal Trait or Aptitude check. Damage dice are always added together. You can still reroll any Aces and add them to the final total, however. Ronan plugs a devil bat in its mangy, brown backside with his Peacemaker. The Colt .45 does 3d6 damage. Ronan’s player rolls a 4, 3, 6. That’s 13. He rolls his Ace again (the 6) and gets another 5 points for a total damage roll of 18. That’s one hurtin’ abomination.
Bleedin’ & Squealin’ Once you’ve hit your target, you need to know just how big a hole you made. Whether you’ve just put an artillery shell into some ornery critter or sank your cavalry saber up to the hilt in its backside, figuring damage is handled in the same way. Once you’ve figured out where an attack hit, it’s time to roll the damage dice. Every weapon in Deadlands has a listing for “damage.” This is the number of dice you roll when you score a hit. Fate Chips: You can never spend Fate Chips on damage without a supernatural power of some sort. Fate Chips are explained in the next chapter.
Weapons that rely on muscle—like arrows, spears, or knives—have fixed damage dice to which you add the result of a regular Strength check. Roll the weapon’s dice and add them to a normal Strength roll. A character with 4d6 Strength will probably do more damage than one with 1d6 Strength. Ronan gets picked up by an angry devil bat he shot earlier, dropping his Peacemaker. He whips out his knife and stabs the thing in its leg. The damage for a knife is STR+1d6. Ronan’s Strength is 3d6. He gets a 3, 5, 5, for a Strength total of 5 (remember it’s a normal Trait roll). For the knife, he rolls his d6 and gets another 5. Adding that to his Strength total of 5 gives him 10 points of damage.
Noggins & Gizzards A hit to a vital spot causes more trouble than a hit to the little finger. Whenever a character is hit in the gizzards, you can add 1 extra die to the damage roll. A hit to the noggin adds 2 extra dice.
The die type is the same as whatever other dice you’re rolling. For hand-to-hand weapons (where you add your character’s Strength die to the roll), use the weapon’s die type. Natural Weapons: Creatures with natural weapons (claws and teeth) do get an extra die of damage when they nail a cowpoke in one of these sensitive places. No Weapon: If the attacker doesn’t have a weapon, he gets no extra damage dice for noggin or gizzard hits.
Size Matters (Ahem.) Once you have your final damage total, tell the Marshal. For every full multiple of your target’s Size you do in damage, your attack causes one wound. As always, remember to round down any fractions. Size 0 critters are killed with but a single point of damage (but they usually come in swarms, so watch yourself). Most humans have a Size of 6, but critters vary considerably. Unless you’ve taken the scrawny or big ’un Hindrance, your character has a Size of 6 as well. The target takes the wound(s) in the area rolled on the Hit Location Table. A cowpoke draws a knife on Ronan. With lightning speed, our hero strips the hapless sod of the blade and turns it on him, stabbing him in the leg. The attack does 14 points of damage. Since the cowpoke is Size 6, that causes 2 wounds.
Massive Damage Certain things, like explosions and fire, cause “massive damage” to many parts of the body in one fell swoop. You don’t get extra dice for hits to the head or gizzards from massive damage. It’s just too spread out to hit something important. Explosives with shrapnel or other penetrating types of massive damage have special rules telling you how to handle them. Disperse massive damage by rolling the damage, determining the total number of wounds, then assigning
Combat them by rolling various hit locations for each. Remember, there are no bonus dice for head or gizzards!
Armor & Massive Damage So how does armor protect against massive damage? Easy. After you’ve assigned all the damage from an attack, reduce the total number of wounds by –1 for each level of Armor in that location. When all is said and done, a hero with four wounds to the head and 1 point of Armor there (due to a helmet of some sort) would end up with only three wounds. Light Armor & Massive Damage: For light armor, roll a d6. If the roll is less than or equal to the protection the light armor provides, it reduces –1 wound level. For example, thick leather chaps reduce damage rolls to the legs by –2. A cowpoke who got his shins singed by fire and took four wounds to the legs would roll a d6. On a result of 1–2, the wounds are reduced by –1 for a total of three wounds.
Brawlin’ Damage Certain kinds of attacks, like fightin’: brawlin’, are generally considered nonlethal. They can be used to put someone down without killing her. When one fellow hits another with his bare hands or a light club (like a chair leg or a bottle) he rolls his damage dice (usually his Strength plus 1d4 if he’s using a light club). Other types of damage listed as nonlethal or brawlin’ damage generate a normal total as well. Unlike lethal attacks, you don’t get any extra dice when hitting someone in the head or gizzards. The target then makes a Vigor roll. If the damage is greater, the victim takes the difference in Wind. No wounds are usually caused by nonlethal damage. Heavy clubs like pistol butts, axe handles, or entire chairs allow the
attacker to choose whether she would like to cause lethal or nonlethal damage. If she just wants to cause wind and try to knock an opponent out without causing serious injury, she can do so. Or she can bash the other fellow’s brains out to her heart’s content. Hey, it’s a harsh world out there. In the middle of a bar fight, Ronan smacks a cowpoke upside the head with a chair. It connects nicely. Checking for damage (a chair is treated as a large club, doing Strength+1d6), Ronan rolls his Strength (3d6) and the weapon’s damage die (1d6). He gets 3, 5, and 11 on his Strength dice, plus 3 for the chair. The cowpoke takes (11+3=) 14 points of damage. If Ronan wanted to do lethal damage, the poor slob would take 2 wounds. As it is, Ronan just wants the man unconscious. The Marshal makes a Vigor roll for Ronan’s opponent and gets a 5. The belligerent cowboy takes 9 Wind.
Wounds Everyone—outlaws, critters, and schoolmarms alike—can take the same number of wounds in each body part: five to be exact. Most cowpokes can shrug off a single wound, but more than that starts causing some serious trouble. Check out another of our famous tables to get a better picture of what we’re talking about. Light wounds are bruises, shallow but irritating cuts, and muscle strains. They’re painful but not life-threatening. Heavy wounds are sprains, deep but nonthreatening cuts, or multiple bruises to sensitive places. Serious wounds encompass fractured or broken bones, deep and bloody cuts, or slight concussions.
Critical wounds are life-threatening cuts across major arteries, compound fractures, or internal bleeding. Maimed is, well…maimed. If a character’s wounds reach the maimed mark in his guts or noggin, he’s kicking buckets, pushing daisies, buying farms, and the like. You get the idea. If a limb becomes maimed, it is severed, crushed, burned to a cinder, or otherwise out of action forever.
Wound Severities Wound Level 1 2 3 4 5
Description Light Heavy Serious Critical Maimed
Wound Effects Now things get a little trickier. You need to keep track of damage in six different locations—your character’s head, guts, right arm, left arm, left leg, and right leg. Wounds taken to the gizzards and upper and lower guts add to those in the guts area. The character sheet in the back of this very book has a place on it that you can use to keep track of how close your hero is getting to filling a pine box. Wounds are only added together when they’re taken in the same location. For instance, a character who takes a light wound to the right arm in one round and a heavy wound in the same arm later would then have a serious wound in that arm. If a character takes a light wound to the head and then takes a heavy wound to his leg, they aren’t added together. A character can’t be killed by wounds to the arms or legs. She can take enough Wind (see below) to put her out of action, but she can’t die until she bleeds to death (see page 136) or someone plugs her in the head or guts. This makes it possible for a hero to get cut and shot to pieces, but one more scratch to the arm can’t kill her unless she bleeds to death. Only a hit to the noggin or guts directly plants a fellow in Boot Hill.
Extra wounds beyond 5 in a location are counted as far as damage prevention and Fate Chip use go (see Chapter Five), but a location can never actually be more than maimed. There’s only so much flesh and bone there to lose, after all.
Wound Modifiers Wounds are not pleasant company. Blood dripping in your eyes spoils your hero’s aim, broken fingers make it hard to pull triggers, and crunchy ankles make it a real pain to run from angry varmints. As you might have guessed, the pain and suffering that are the result of wounds subtract from a character’s dice rolls. The exact penalties for each level of wounds are shown on the table at right. Wound penalties are never subtracted from “effect” totals such as damage or hex effects, but they do apply to everything else. The lone exception to this is that wound modifiers are subtracted from Strength based damage rolls. The penalty depends on the highestlevel wound your hero has suffered. If he has a light and a serious wound, for instance, you have to subtract the penalty for serious wounds (–3) from all your action totals. Where the wound is doesn’t really matter.
Wound Ef fects Effects Wound Light Heavy Serious Critical Maimed (limbs)
Modifier –1 –2 –3 –4 –5
Stun Another word on all this pain and suffering business. Whenever a character takes damage, there’s a chance he might miss the next action or two kissing his missing finger or holding in his entrails. When your character takes damage, he has to make a “stun” check. Stun checks are made by rolling the character’s Vigor against the wound’s level, as shown on the Stun & Recovery table. Don’t forget to apply the penalty for the worst wound your hombre’s taken so far as well. If you make the roll, nothing happens. If you fail it, your character’s stunned and can’t do anything besides limp a few yards and cry like a baby until he makes a recovery check. Your character needs to make a stun check every time he takes a wound unless he’s already stunned.
Recovery Checks You can try to recover from being stunned during any action. This is called a “recovery check,” and it takes one entire action. A recovery roll is made just like a stun check, except the difficulty is your highest current wound level. One last thing. Your character goes unconscious immediately if you go bust on any stun check. The amount of time he stays down is 1d6 hours or until someone makes a Fair (5) medicine roll to wake him up.
Stun & Recovery Wound Level Wind Light Heavy Serious Critical Maimed
TN 3 5 7 9 11 13
Wind It just keeps getting better. Every time your character takes a wound, she also takes Wind. Wind is shock, fatigue, and—in the case of wounds—trauma associated with losing bits and pieces of your favorite anatomy.
For every wound level your hero suffers, she also takes 1d6 Wind. If she’s hit by an attack but doesn’t take a wound (because the damage was less than her size), she still takes at least 1d6 Wind. This roll is open-ended.
Gettin’ Winded When a character is reduced to 0 Wind or lower, he becomes “winded.” This doesn’t necessarily mean he passes out, but he does feel like crawling into a hole and dying or curling up into a ball and whining like a baby. Winded characters might lose consciousness for a few minutes, fall to the ground trying to catch their breath, or collapse from sheer fatigue and exhaustion. It really depends on the situation. Most of the time, characters winded from wounds collapse into a corner and vainly try to stop their bleeding and spurting. Winded characters get no cards and can perform no actions unless the Marshal feels like letting them whisper or crawl a short ways at the end of the round. Fortunately, winded characters generally fall by the wayside and don’t get beaten on anymore. Negative Wind: Cowpokes who continue to take Wind after they run out might die. This is usually caused by things like bleeding or drowning.
Every time a character’s negative Wind is equal to his starting Wind, he takes another wound to the guts. A hero with 12 Wind, for example, takes a wound when his Wind reaches –12.
More Pain & Sufferin’ There are lots of ways to buy the farm. Here’s a few more ways to maim and dismember the bad guys.
Bleedin’ Serious damage is likely to start a fellow bleeding like a sieve. Whenever a character takes a serious wound, he begins bleeding, losing 1 Wind per round. Critically wounded characters bleed 2 Wind per round. Severed (maimed) limbs bleed 3 Wind per round.
Boom! Dynamite, nitroglycerin, and all other explosives really hurt any fool near them when they blow up. Everyone within the Burst Radius of the explosive takes full damage. After that, the damage drops by –1 die type each time it crosses a Burst Radius. Once the die type is reduced to d4, subtract the number of dice. The explosion has no force once it reaches 0d4. A single stick of dynamite, for instance, does 3d20 damage. Adding extra sticks to a dynamite bundle adds 1d20 to the total damage, up to a maximum of 10d20. The damage might be more under certain special circumstances, but this simplistic formula works best for most situations. A cowpoke standing up to 5 yards away from a single stick of dynamite (its Burst Radius) would take all 3d20. The damage at 6–10 yards would be 3d12, 11–15 yards is a 3d10, and so on. Targets at greater than 45 yards take no damage. Though they might get a little deaf. Once you’ve figured how many wounds the characters take and given them the chance to cancel some or all of the wounds with Fate Chips (see Chapter Five), you need to see where
the characters take the wounds. See Massive Damage on page 133 to find out how to disperse these wounds.
Drownin’ It’s a lousy way to go, but it happens. Every round a character swims in rough water, his first action must be a swimmin’ roll. The TN depends on the water as shown below. If the swimmer doesn’t make the TN, he takes the difference in Wind. A character without the swimmin’ Aptitude is in big trouble. When he’s in any kind of water over his noggin, he has to go through the steps above, and he has to default to his Nimbleness Trait at the standard –4 for unskilled checks.
Drownin’ Water Swift creek Rapid river Rough ocean Stormy seas
TN 3 5 7 9
Fallin’ A fellow might walk away from falling a few yards with no more than a bruise or at worst a broken limb. Take a dive off a cliff in the Grand Canyon, and he’s smashed flatter than a pancake. A character takes 1d6+5 damage for every 5 yards fallen, up to a maximum of 20d6+100. Any wounds are applied randomly to separate body areas, ignoring extra damage for noggins and gizzards. Landing in water reduces the damage by half or quarters it if the character makes a Fair (5) swimmin’ roll. Landing on a haystack, awning, or other soft obstacle reduces the damage by half if the character makes an Onerous (7) Nimbleness roll.
Where There’s Smoke…: Characters in dense smoke have to make an Onerous (7) Vigor check during their first action each round. A wet cloth over the mouth and nose—or similar makeshift protection—adds +2 to the roll. If the character fails the Vigor roll, she takes the difference between her roll and the Target Number in Wind. Should she even happen to fall unconscious, she continues to lose Wind in this way every round until she dies. …There’s Fire!: The damage applied to a character who is actually on fire depends on just how big the flames are. A small fire, such as a burning sleeve, causes 1d6 damage at the beginning of every turn to whatever area is on fire. A larger fire, like a coat that’s blazing causes 2d8 to the affected areas. A character totally consumed by flames takes 3d12 massive damage. Stop, Drop, & Roll: A character can put himself out by rolling on the ground or dousing himself with water. Rolling requires a Nimbleness check against a (5) TN, +1 added to the difficulty per area the Marshal thinks is on fire. Water acts immediately, but the Marshal has to decide if there’s enough to put out the blaze.
Fire In the dry and wooden West, heroes often have to enter burning buildings or the flaming wreckage of a derailed train, often to save the lives of people they don’t even know. It sure makes the bad guys seem a lot brighter, doesn’t it? The damage of the actual fire depends on how big the blaze is and how close your hombre gets to it. The Marshal can figure this out, but a good guide is 1d6 per round from a small torch or burning stick, 2d8 for a campfire-sized blaze, and a whole mess o’ damage (2d20 or more) if your characters finds himself at the center of a bonfire. Damage from fire and flame is considered massive damage.
Hangin’ Deadlands taking place in the Weird West and all, we thought you might occasionally need to know what happens when a character is fitted with a hemp necktie. Assuming a character is first dropped a few feet, he must make a Hard (9) Vigor roll. Take –4 from the roll if he’s a big un’. Failure means the character’s neck snaps and he’s dead. Going bust does exactly what you might think. Needless to say, a hero without his noggin can’t come back from the grave. Assuming the character’s body is still attached to his brainpan and the rest of his noggin, he has to make Hard (9) Vigor rolls every round he swings. If he fails, he takes the difference in Wind until he suffocates. Good luck, Stretch.
Healin’ A fellow using his intestines as a belt probably ought to see a sawbones— and don’t bother waiting for office hours. With a little luck (and if the cowpoke gets there in time), a good doctor can shove the poor sodbuster’s squirmy insides back in his gut and sew him up tight as a Thanksgiving turkey, all in time for chow. Healin’ Wind: On a Foolproof (3) medicine roll of any kind (including a default roll from someone who couldn’t tell one end of a scalpel from another), someone can bandage scrapes or give the sufferer some water to eliminate all Wind. The hero can even do this for himself in a pinch. This takes about five minutes. Otherwise your hero gets his Wind back at the rate of 1 per minute. Healin’ Wounds: Real wounds are trickier. A medicine roll can be made for an attempt to offer aid to someone up to one hour after an injury. A character with the medicine: general Aptitude can heal light and heavy wounds. Only a sawbones with medicine: surgery can heal more severe wounds. The doctor has to roll once for each wounded area. If successful, the roll reduces the area’s wounds by one level. The TN depends on the wound level. Maimed limbs cannot be healed by normal means, but you can still try to stop the bleeding. After the “golden hour” has passed, a wound can only be healed by time or certain arcane processes. Doctors really can’t do a whole lot for a broken bone that’s surrounded by swollen tissue or a gash that’s already started to heal on it’s own. Still, you have to take what’s available.
Healing Difficulties Wound Level Wind Light Heavy Serious Critical Maimed (limbs)
TN 3 5 7 9 11 13
Combat Arcane Healing A cowpoke lucky enough to have access to supernatural help should probably take it. It’s a lot faster and less painful on the whole. These arcane means can work long after the golden hour is a memory. Permanent Wounds: There’s one universal rule all healing must accept, even the magical variety. Failure when trying to heal a maimed limb means it’s a permanent wound. Casting another miracle, hex, or spell on it won’t do a bit of good (except make the victim feel special!) Okay, to be honest, there are a few ways to regain a lost limb. Really powerful magic can do anything. We’re talking like the kind of magic that comes from the Almighty Himself or a magic lamp with a big blue genie inside ready to grant three wishes. The blessed’s book, Fire & Brimstone, has a few ways of getting around this rule as well, but it’s still a ground-breaking, earth-shaking type event.
Natural Healing A character heals naturally by making a Vigor roll every five days. The TN of the roll is the same as those on the Healing Difficulties Table. If the roll succeeds, the wound improves a level. Natural healing rolls are made for each area. A character with wounds to an arm and his guts rolls twice, possibly improving both, one, or neither.
Death Don’t tear up that character sheet when your hero’s boots suddenly point up at the full moon. Death isn’t always the end of a great hero’s tale in Deadlands. You can read Chapter Ten only if this happens and the Chapter 10 Marshal tells you it’s time.
Fate & Bounties Fate Fate is a fickle bitch. Sometimes she smiles on you, and sometimes she spits the biggest, nastiest thing you’ve ever seen right on your head. In Deadlands, both the good guys and the bad guys can store up a little bit of fate to save their kiesters in dire situations. Fate, in this case, is represented by poker chips which come in three colors (usually blue, red, and white). The first game starts with a pot of 10 blue, 25 red, and 50 white chips. At the start of each session, every player gets to draw three Fate Chips at random from the pot (no looking, partner!) The Marshal also gets to draw three chips that he can use for all the extras and bad guys. Between Sessions: Between game sessions, everyone needs to write down the type and number of chips they had so they can pull them out of the Fate Pot the next time.
There’s a space provided on your character sheet for just this purpose. Make sure everyone gets their old chips from the fate pot before anyone draws their three new ones before the next session. There are other ways to get Fate Chips besides drawing them at the beginning of the game. We’ll tell you about that after we tell you just what all you can do with them.
Legend Chips There’s one more type of chip your group might see after it becomes a little better acquainted with the Weird West’s dark underbelly. These suckers aren’t put in the pot when you start the game. They’re gained when your group beats a really nasty critter of the Weird West and lives to tell about it. The Marshal has the complete info. Just remember they exist when one winds up in your hand.
Calling on Fate
Nobody likes a miser. Start hoarding Fate Chips and your posse will hate you for it. Just to keep anyone from ignoring us, no player can ever have more than 10 chips. If you get more than that, trade in the excess for Bounty Points (see the next page).
A character can use his Fate Chips in any one of three ways: to improve Trait and Aptitude checks, to save his skin by canceling wounds, and to trade them in for Bounty Points. Legend chips have one additional function as well (see below). What follows is a description of what each chip can do for you in each of these roles. Trait and Aptitude tells you how to use each type of chip to increase those Trait and Aptitude rolls your hero has some control over—those he can put a little extra “oomph” into. This includes the Strength portion of a hand-to-hand damage roll, by the way. That’s a neat “cheat” of the rules since Fate chips can’t normally be spent on damage rolls. Wounds lists the number of wounds or Wind that can be negated by the chip. Spending a Fate Chip doesn’t make wounds “heal” or stop an attack— it just reduces the effects or makes it so it never happened in the first place. Whenever your character takes damage, you can spend Fate Chips to negate some of the wounds. This must be done immediately after the wounds have been assigned and before any Wind is rolled or further attacks are resolved. Wounds can be negated from multiple locations with a single chip. Two wounds to the arm and one to the guts could be canceled with a single blue Fate Chip, for example. Wind: A character can also spend chips to regain Wind he’s lost. Assume new Wind damage is negated before it has any adverse effects (such as knocking a hero out or killing him). This can be done as it’s taken (such as when a wound is taken or brawling damage is dealt), or even later on in a fight several rounds after the Wind was lost. Hey, we’re talking heroes here. Bounty Points is the value of the chip when it is turned in for—you guessed it—Bounty Points. We’ll tell you how to spend those in just a moment. Some chips have special effects as well, like the Legend chip’s Reroll ability. Just check the last line of each chip description for any quirks.
Trading Chips A player can give another player Fate Chips, but it’s expensive. The giver has to give an equal value of chips to the pot for whatever chip he gives to someone else. Figure the value of the chip by the number of Bounty Points they’re worth (see below). Give a player a blue chip, and you have to pay the pot 3 “points” worth of chips. Three whites would work, as would a red and two whites, or a single blue. If you put in chips worth more than what you gave another player, that’s okay, but you don’t get “change” from the Fate Pot. The generous player who gives another his chips should explain exactly how his character helps his companion—whether it’s by distracting a bad guy or simply offering a few colorful words of encouragement. If the character can’t do anything to help (or the player can’t come up with a suitable explanation), the Marshal probably shouldn’t allow it. There’s no need to be too strict here—a simple “watch out for that zombie” or a quick glance at the tentacle sliding towards the cowpoke’s boot are good enough reasons to let a real hero do his compadre a favor.
Going Bust You can’t spend white, red, or blue Fate Chips if you go bust on a roll. Fate turns her back on even the most heroic souls from time to time.
White Trait & Aptitude Rolls: White chips give the character one extra die per chip spent, just as if he had an extra point of Aptitude or Trait Level. The player can spend these chips one at a time until he is happy with the result. Wounds: 1 wound or 5 Wind. Bounty Points: 1 No Going Back: When used on a Trait or Aptitude roll, the player cannot spend any more white chips once he has spent a red, blue, or Legend chip (that way you can’t spend a white chip on the result of another chip).
Red Trait & Aptitude Rolls: Red chips let you roll a bonus die and add it to your highest current die. This is like an Ace except that the first die isn’t necessarily the highest it can be. Only one red chip may ever be spent on a single action. Wounds: 2 wounds or 10 Wind. Bounty Points: 2 Marshal’s Tithe: The downside is that whenever a hero uses a red chip for a Trait or Aptitude roll, the Marshal gets a draw from the Fate Pot. Marshals only get draws when red chips are spent on Trait or Aptitude rolls, not when they’re used to negate wounds or cash them in for Bounty Points.
Fate & Bounties Blue Trait & Aptitude Rolls: Blue chips are just like red chips except they don’t give the Marshal a draw. Only one blue chip may ever be spent on a single action. Wounds: 3 wounds or 15 Wind. Bounty Points: 3
Legend Trait & Aptitude Rolls: Legend chips can be used as blue Fate Chips. Wounds: 5 or all Wind. Bounty Points: 5 Reroll: You can also use a Legend chip to reroll any die roll. That includes rerolling a Trait or Aptitude check from scratch (ignore any previous rolls or chips spent), even if the roll went bust. A Legend chip could also be used to reroll a result on a table, a Reliability check, or even damage. It doesn’t grant any rerolls (like a blue chip) when used on a roll like this, however. The downside is that when a Legend Chip is used in this manner, it’s gone forever. Discard it from the pot, friend.
Improvin’ About now you might be wondering how to improve your hero—how to make them better, stronger, faster and more skilled. Here’s the way it works. Between game sessions, you can convert your Fate Chips into Bounty Points and use them to improve your character. Each chip is worth a certain amount of bounty points, as shown on the previous page. Remember, chips are usually the only way you get Bounty Points, so don’t blow them all in the game if you can help it!
Spending Bounty Points So you’ve been playing for a while, you’ve got some Fate Chips saved up, and you want to make some changes and improvements to your character’s abilities (Traits, Edges, Hindrances, Aptitudes and the like). No problem. This section tells you all about how to do it and how much it costs.
First off, you can usually only modify your character before or after a game session. This helps keep the Fate Chip supply flowing during the game and prevents a character from suddenly learning how to drive the steam wagon he just came across even though he’s never seen one before. If you can afford the changes you want all at once (because you’ve got enough Bounty Points), do it. Otherwise, keep your Bounty Points noted on your hero’s character sheet so you can use them later when you’ve got enough of them to make a difference. Once they’re yours, they’re yours forever. They can’t be taken away, and they can’t be converted back into Fate Chips.
Raising Traits Most folks are stuck with the mind and body (and Traits) that the Good Lord gave ‘em. Player characters are different. Through hard work, determination and Bounty Points, your hero can improve her Traits. Be warned though—it‘s going to cost you. Raising Trait Die Types: Raising a Trait’s die type costs triple the new die type in Bounty Points . To go from a d4 to a d6 costs 18 Bounty Points, for example. You might have to save up for a while to pull this off.
You don’t have to, but it makes for a better story if you say exactly how your character starts getting stronger or smarter while you’re saving Bounty Points. Maybe your hero spends his off hours lifting calves or reading something besides dime novels. Raising Trait Levels: Trait Levels cost double the new level. So to go from 4d6 Strength to 5d6 costs 10 points (2 x 5=10). Time: There is no particular amount of time it takes to raise your character’s Traits. The length of time it takes you to save up Bounty Points accounts for that well enough on its own. And if you really come into some Bounty Points, you can’t raise a Trait or Coordination (or an Aptitude for that matter) more than once per game session. The Marshal can always allow you to do more if she wants, especially if your hero has a lot of down time. Maybe he works on a ranch for a couple of months and you say all that hard labor builds up his muscles. Or he plays baseball with the other cowhands and becomes more nimble.
Raising Aptitudes You’ll be relieved to hear that Aptitudes are a lot cheaper to raise than Traits. You may not have enough spare chips to raise your cowpoke’s Deftness, but improving his shootin’ is probably within even the poorest sodbuster’s budget. New Aptitude levels cost whatever the new level is in Bounty Points. If you want your character’s shootin’ to go from 3 to 4, it costs you 4 Bounty Points. Until your gunslinger become an expert, that is (that is).
Expert Aptitudes Once you’ve raised an Aptitude to level 5, your hero is considered an expert. Learning more and getting better from this point is a lot harder. To reflect this, it costs twice as many points to raise it again. A level–6 skill costs 12 Bounty Points, going to level 7 costs 14, and so on. Being one of the best in the West is expensive, amigo.
Fate & Bounties Gaining New Aptitudes So, what if you want to buy a whole new Aptitude after you’ve made your character? No problem. You can buy a new Aptitude with Bounty Points. It just costs you 1 point to get the first Aptitude level in that skill. Most corporeal Aptitudes don’t require training to pick up and start using right away, but some mental Aptitudes do. Use common sense. Your hombre can learn to scrutinize on his own, but he can’t pick up professional: law without some kind of formal training (or a lot of time in front of a judge!). Talk to the Marshal if you’re unsure whether or not you should buy a skill without any formal training.
Edges & Hindrances Sometimes your character can overcome his sordid past. Maybe he started out a kid and now he’s a fullgrown cowboy. Or perhaps your hombre finally kicked that peyote habit. Or maybe you decided a Hindrance you took when you created your character just doesn’t fit any more. It might be time to buy off that Hindrance.
Buying off a Hindrance A character can buy off a Hindrance by doing two things. The first thing she must do is figure out why or how the Hindrance goes away. The Marshal has to approve of your rationale, and he might require you to buy it off gradually or right away. You and your Marshal need to decide these things based on the storyline and the Hindrance itself. Once the roleplaying conditions have been met, the character must pay back double the original cost in Bounty Points. From this point on, your
character no longer receives Fate Chip awards for roleplaying these Hindrances. That’s all there is to buying off a Hindrance. Do you feel all better now? Good. Now let’s talk about picking up new ones.
Gaining New Hindrances Gaining new Hindrances is much easier. Lose an arm tussling with a dust devil and you’ve suddenly picked up the one-armed bandit Hindrance. The bad news is your character doesn’t gain any points when he acquires a new Hindrance. The good news is she starts receiving Fate Chip awards for roleplaying the handicap immediately. Don’t look at those night terrors your hero developed as a Fate Chip pit, look at it as an opportunity to roleplay your character’s slow trip into insanity and milk the Marshal for far more chips than you’ll ever lose. Choosing New Hindrances: You can actually choose to pick up new Hindrances if you want. If your hero gets a hankerin’ for whiskey after a few journeys into the Weird West, who can blame her? We don’t recommend going overboard, but if things just happen that way (because of things like phobias she picked up from failed guts checks), that’s another matter.
Gaining New Edges So you’ve got a ton of points, and you want to buy an Edge. How do you do it? Normally, the only way you gain new Edges is if something fantastic happens to your hero during play. Say your heroine discovers the sword of Joan of Arc, and the Marshal says she becomes blessed as long as she lives up to St. Joan’s standards. These kinds of events don’t cost you a thing—they’re purely the reward of playing and surviving in the Weird West. But say your muckraker has been hanging around a sly huckster for a while and wants to start learning his crafty ways. He can do it, but it’s going to take some time and lot of Bounty Points. It’s tough to make a hard and fast rule for this kind of thing. It might take someone a few weeks to become keen, while developing a good voice might only take a couple of days. So here’s the deal. You can take a new Edge if you have a good roleplaying rationale for it and your Marshal approves. After that, you have to pay triple the Edge’s cost in Bounty Points. The Marshal decides how long it takes to your hero to learn or develop the new skill. Once you’ve paid enough Bounty Points, that Edge is yours.
No Man’s Land
Hucksters A few chapters back, we mentioned that there were sorcerers in the Weird West. Assuming you’ve gotten your Marshal’s permission, the time has come for you to learn all about ‘em, compadre.
Ancient Mysteries Recent strange events may have replenished the world’s supernatural energy, but that doesn’t mean magic and spooks didn’t exist for centuries beforehand. A few rare mortals have learned to tap into the power of the supernatural. These people and their followers have been doing so for thousands of years. Some of them used their knowledge for good, and others for evil. Most just used it to help them clean their houses. But other folks, being the superstitious and jealous bunch they are, usually hung or burned those who could make a broom sweep a kitchen all by itself. Over the years, this hasn’t improved much.
Hoyle’s Book of Games The root of the huckster’s art lies in the Eighteenth Century. Along about 1740, a fellow named Edmond Hoyle wandered Europe, learning arcane secrets and processes—what most of us would call “sorcery.” But Hoyle wasn’t fond of being burned at the stake in some backwater village in France, so he came up with a cover story that would help him travel and talk to people about such things as Tarot cards—which, incidentally, were used for games before word got out that some folks used them to tell fortunes. Hoyle’s cover story was that he was compiling a book of games for publication. Soon he had learned more about the world of the supernatural than any mortal alive. Needless to say, he also picked up a thing or two about cards and other games.
What Hoyle learned was that casting spells was a function of communicating with certain mischievous spirits—he called them “Jokers” to confuse unwanted listeners. The Jokers were malicious and evil, but if one could best them in a mental duel of sorts, they were forced to carry out some kind of task. Hoyle eventually refined his mental duels by visualizing them as games of skill. Poker was a relatively new game at the time, and this quickly became Hoyle’s game of choice whenever he cast his spells—or hexes, as he preferred to call them. Before he died, Hoyle encoded everything he learned throughout the years in the 1769 edition of Hoyle’s Book of Games. A person who knows what to look for in the complex bridge diagrams, numeric codes written into card play examples, and sample scores that litter the book can discover secrets beyond their imagining. Other editions of the tome exist, corrupted by unknowing editors work, but they’re not as complete.
Hoyle’s Hucksters Those who knew the secrets of Hoyle’s Book of Games benefited greatly from the Reckoning. The number of spirits in the world before 1863 was low, and they were weak. Afterward, a flood of spirits with links to a much stronger supernatural plane made it much easier to make use of Hoyle’s formulas. “Witches” and “warlocks” are still considered evil by common folks, and suspected dabblers are still swung from the gallows poles on occasion. While the Reckoning has given sorcerers more energy to work with, the evil it’s caused has made people even more fearful and superstitious. In the civilized world, “sorcerers” are forced to keep their abilities secret lest they be hunted by overzealous priests, the Union’s Agency operatives, or the Confederacy’s Texas Rangers. The wizards of the Weird West call themselves “hucksters” after the snake-oil salesmen who so successfully pull the wool over the collective public’s eyes. Other terms were borrowed from the American Indians, who had a different view of the way things worked. Jokers became “manitous,” and the supernatural plane in which they lived became known as the “Hunting Grounds.”
Becoming a huckster isn’t easy. Before a person can get them to do his bidding, he must first learn how to communicate with manitous. Never an easy task, this is especially difficult because he’s trying to do more than yell at them to leave him alone (like most well-balanced individuals would in the same circumstances). Assuming the manitous don’t drive him insane, the huckster must then treat with the ornery spirits and somehow or another get them to agree to engage with him in a game of wits. The game takes place in the Hunting Grounds and might seem to take minutes, hours, or even days. But time in the physical world moves much faster, so engaging a manitou usually takes a huckster only a few seconds. A really good (and lucky) huckster can have a manitou licked fast enough in the Hunting Grounds to beat a gunslinger in a fair draw back in the real world.
A Hellish Game of Wits The game the huckster plays with a manitou is entirely cerebral, but humans perform much better at such things by visualizing an actual game that is familiar to them. The most common game among hucksters in the Weird West is poker. If the huckster loses his game, nothing happens. Should he win, the manitou is forced to do his bidding. The drawback is that a manitou cannot normally affect the physical world directly, so the huckster must actually allow the spirit to inhabit his body for a short time in order to accomplish its task. Beating the manitou means it is “controlled” and cannot harm the huckster while it enters her body. From there, it can manipulate the energy it needs to do the huckster’s bidding. But a manitou is a sly creature. Sometimes it tricks the huckster into thinking she’s won so she allows it into her body uncontrolled. When an out of control manitou cuts loose, it can cause massive damage, insanity, and even death.
The Life of a Huckster Hucksters are some of the most powerful characters in the Weird West. When things go their way, they can hide in plain sight, summon storms, or squeeze a man’s heart so hard it bursts. When a manitou gets its way, the huckster’s going to be hip deep in it. It’s all a matter of playing the odds, but a smart huckster learns to hedge his bets before diving into a deal with these unfathomable spirits. A character must purchase the arcane background Edge and have at least 1 point in the academia: occult and hexslingin’ Aptitudes to become a huckster. That’s it.
Gettin’ Caught Casting a hex is a relatively subtle matter. The caster simply concentrates for a few moments as she stares into the Hunting Grounds and makes her deal with the devils that live there. If the huckster wins her mental duel, a number of cards appear in her right hand (or left if she’s a lefty). The huckster must actually look at the cards to draw the manitou into her body and make the hex take effect. Since cards materialize in a huckster’s hand when she casts a hex, someone who knows what they’re looking for can spot a huckster with relative ease. If a huckster wants to hide what she’s doing, she usually keeps a real deck of cards in her hand and makes an opposed sleight of hand roll versus anyone who happens to be watching. This fools common folk most of the time, and it’s why most hucksters pose as gamblers. Of course, it’s also gotten a lot of “innocent” gamblers mistaken for powerful hucksters by people in the know about such things.
Casting the Hex To cast a hex, the huckster must first make a hexslingin’ Aptitude check.
Hexslingin’ The hexslingin’ Aptitude is rarely used by itself. It works a little differently than normal (as you might expect). Each hex that a huckster learns has an associated Trait. When a huckster casts a hex, he uses his hexslingin’ Aptitude level, paired with the die type of the Trait that the hex is associated with. (We talked about something similar under Mixing Aptitudes in Chapter One.) Velvet Van Helter wants to cast the hex phantom fingers. Phantom fingers uses the Spirit Trait. Velvet has a hexslingin’ skill of 5 and a Spirit die type of d10. When casting the hex, he rolls 5d10.
Making Contact If you get at least one Fair (5) success on your hexslingin’ roll, your huckster has managed to contact a manitou and engaged it in a game of wits. The next step is to draw 5 cards from a 54-card deck (leave the Jokers in). You also get one extra card for every raise on your hex roll. Your goal is to put together the best poker hand possible with all the cards you drew. (See the sidebar on page 131 if you aren’t familiar with poker hands.) Jokers are counted as wild cards. The Red Joker you get for free, but the Black Joker has a high price (see Manitous, below). Most hexes require a certain minimum card hand to accomplish. If your hand isn’t up to snuff, the hex is unsuccessful.
Learning to `Sling Since your hexslingin’ Aptitude is your huckster’s bread-and-butter, you’ll probably be looking into improving it as soon as possible. Not a bad idea. Raising your Weird Western wizard’s Aptitude level works just like raising any other Aptitude. Going from level 1 to level 2 costs 2 points. After level 5, the huckster is considered an expert and each level costs double the new rank (so level 6 costs 12 Bounty Points).
Manitous Hexslinging is dangerous business. The chaotic denizens of the Hunting Grounds are always looking for ways to get into the huckster uncontrolled, and casting a hex is the perfect portal. Whenever your character botches a hex roll or draws a Black Joker, the manitou has tricked the huckster into letting it in uncontrolled. The black Joker still counts as a wild card, so your hero might get his spell off, but if your character can’t survive the manitou’s mischief, it doesn’t really matter. For him anyway. Tell the Marshal whenever you go bust or draw a Joker while attempting to cast a hex. He then rolls on a special chart tucked away in the Marshal’s Handbook to give him some idea what the manitou is up to. 45
Hexes The next few pages are loaded with some of the hexes detailed in full in Hoyle’s Book of Games. Hoyle came up with a bunch more, but there’s not enough space to put all of what’s in his old book in this book. Here are the basic hexes to get you started. More hexes (and how to go about creating new ones) are detailed in the Hucksters & Hexes book. Starting Hexes: Every huckster starts out with as many hexes as his hexslingin’ Aptitude level. A huckster with hexslingin’ 4, for instance, starts the game with four hexes.
New Hexes: Hucksters can buy any of the hexes that follow by spending 5 Bounty Points. These are considered the basic spells found in any modern copy of Hoyles. Other hexes have to be learned from other hucksters, arcane books or forgotten scrolls. We give you some ideas on how to find and learn this forbidden lore in the Hucksters and Hexes book.
Hex Descriptions Hexes have five entries: Trait, Hand, Speed, Duration, and Range. Trait is the mental Trait used to cast the hex. Unlike normal Aptitudes, hexes are always tied to a specific Trait. Hand refers to the minimum poker hand the huckster must draw to empower the hex. Better hands might mean the hex is stronger or lasts longer, depending on the particular hex. Speed is the number of actions it takes to finish a hex,. A few rare hexes might take much longer and aren’t really suitable for combat. These hexes have their speeds listed in minutes, hours, or days as appropriate. Duration is the length of time the hex stays in effect. Concentration means the huckster must maintain concentration and can take only simple actions such as moving. Other hexes might require Wind to maintain. A few hexes use a combination of both. This means that as long as a huckster maintains concentration or pays a point of Wind, the hex stays in effect. Range is the distance at which the hex can take effect.
Call o’ the Wild Trait: Knowledge Hand: Two Pair Speed: 2 Duration: Concentration Range: 1 mile/hexslingin’ level This hex lets the huckster talk to critters and varmints. He can’t talk to monstrous abominations, only natural animals. The call goes out to specific types of creatures, such as bats, rats, wolves, bears, etc. When the animals show up, they do the caster’s bidding as long as he continues to concentrate. The moment
A Huckster’s Lexicon Hex: A spell. Huckster: A sorcerer using Hoyle’s method. Hunting Grounds: The supernatural plane where manitous and other spirits roam. Hoyle: The book of games, or the man who wrote it. Hucksters often speak in awe of this man. When they tell you something is “according to Hoyle,” you’d better believe it. Joker: Another term for a manitou. Manitous: The Indian word for malignant spirits (demons) and the source of a huckster’s power.
he lets go, vermin and lesser varmints vanish. Wolves, bears, and the like either flee or attack the closest target depending on the situation. Varmints aren’t too smart. They do whatever the huckster wants to the best of their abilities, about like a welltrained dog. Don’t expect them to figure out how to fire a weapon or start speaking Portuguese. Varmints also have to make guts checks against supernatural opponents, just like anyone else. That’s why it’s not much use to throw wolves at some creature from the grave. They just run away with their tails between their legs. The huckster doesn’t actually summon the varmints—he just calls to them. If there are none around, nothing happens, even if he draws a Royal Flush. The Marshal has to determine if the type of creatures the huckster is calling are within his range. The type and number of creatures the huckster wants to call determines the hand he needs.
Call o’ The Wild Hand Two Pairs Straight Flush
Varmint 3d6 rates, bats, snakes 2d6 wolves, mountain lions 1d4 bears
Trait: Smarts Hand: Pair Speed: 1 Duration: Concentration or 1 Wind/ round Range: 5 yards/hexslingin’ level This hex allows a huckster to enhance a target’s (or his own) physical abilities, making him stronger, faster, nimbler, tougher, or more dexterous. The huckster decides which one of the target’s physical Traits he wants to tweak before casting. The hex raises a target’s Traits by a number of steps according to the hands listed on the table below.
Trait: Smarts Hand: Pair Speed: 1 Duration: Concentration or 1 Wind/ round Range: 5 yards/hexslingin’ level Corporeal twist is the opposite of corporeal tweak. It lowers a target’s Traits by one die type for each of the hands listed under corporeal tweak. Once the die type has dropped to a d4, the Trait Level drops by 1 for each level to a minimum of 1d4.
Corporeal T weak Tweak Hand Pair Two Pairs Straight Flush Full House
Bonus +1 step +2 steps +3 steps +4 steps +5 steps
Earshot Trait: Cognition Hand: Pair Speed: 1 Duration: Concentration or 1 Wind/ round Range: 1 mile/hexslingin’ level A huckster can use this hex to hear through a subject’s ears. If the victim makes an Onerous (7) Spirit roll when the hex is first cast, he knows something’s wrong. He can try to eject the huckster by engaging him in a contest of Spirit versus the huckster’s hexslingin’/Spirit level each round. The huckster can cast this spell on an unseen target if he has an object the subject has touched within the last week.
Helpin’ Hand Trait: Smarts Hand: Ace Speed: 10 minutes Duration: Permanent Range: 1 yard Helpin’ hand allows a huckster to heal a companion’s wounds (not his own). Each successful casting reduces the wounds in all areas by 1 level each. During this time, the caster can do nothing other than sit near the patient and play hand after hand of solitaire poker. The hand needed depends on the victim’s highest total wound level. Note that helpin’ hand can’t heal more than one level of wounds at a time. The huckster can treat several wound levels by casting the hex more than once, however. Helpin’ hand also can’t restore maimed limbs. Only the favors of shamans and miracles of the blessed can pull off that trick.
Helpin’ Hand Hand Ace Jacks Two Pairs Three of a Kind Straight
Wound All Wind Light Heavy Serious Critical
Poker Hands The object of poker is to build a hand consisting of certain card combinations. The more rare the combination, the more valuable the hand is. You can consult a good encyclopedia if you need to know more. You can also read Hoyle’s Book of Games, but be careful—some say there’s strange messages hidden between the lines. If you aren’t familiar with poker hands, here’s a handy cheat sheet. Hand Royal Flush Straight Flush Four of a Kind Full House Flush Straight Three of a Kind Two Pair Jacks Pair Ace
Cards 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of one suit Five sequential cards all of one suit Four cards of the same value and any suit Three of one card, two of another Five cards of one suit Five sequential cards Three cards of the same value and any suit Two sets of two cards A pair of Jacks or better Two cards of the same value and any suit A single Ace
Hunch Trait: Cognition Hand: Two Pair Speed: 2 rounds (10 seconds) Duration: Instant Range: Self A huckster can gain insight into the past with the hunch hex. To cast this spell, the huckster places his hand on a person, place, or thing and closes his eyes. If the hex is successful, the magician has a brief vision, feeling, or “hunch” about some event that happened in the target’s past. The better the huckster’s hand, the better the information she gets about the target’s history. The huckster can concentrate on a specific question, but the target doesn’t “know” about events that did not happen in its presence.
Mind Tweak Trait: Smarts Hand: Pair Speed: 1 Duration: Concentration or 1 Wind/ round Range: 5 yards/hexslingin’ level Mind tweak is the mental version of corporeal tweak. The huckster can affect any mental Trait with this handy ritual. This can come in handy for those times when you need just a little more brainpower or even peace of mind. As with corporeal tweak, a huckster can cast this hex on herself.
Witch Hunters Common folks in the Weird West have never heard of the Reckoning. Most people believe in spooks in general, but anyone who actually claims to have seen something supernatural is considered a raving lunatic. Most of them read the Tombstone Epitaph but laugh at the stories within—at least publicly. Witches and warlocks, on the other hand, are thought to consort with the Devil—which most everyone believes in. For that reason, hucksters know better than to cast their hexes in public. If it becomes known that someone deals in the “black arts,” the locals are likely to put together a posse and hang the tainted soul before he or she can cause them harm. If the locals are too terrified to come after a huckster, word soon gets out to the Agency operatives in the North or the Texas Rangers in the South. Neither of these groups treat “warlocks and witches” kindly. The Agency has a general policy of removing any “occult” creatures or people and dragging them Back East for study. Or using them for one of its most dangerous missions. Texas Rangers are a bit more open-minded about it all. They know the best way to fight fire is to light a little kindling yourself. If they run across a huckster, they might be willing to talk before shooting. Still, past experiences have taught them that it’s best to enter such conversations with their pistols cocked. Consider yourself warned.
of the hands listed under corporeal tweak. Once the die type has dropped to a d4, the Trait Level is dropped by 1 level to a minimum of 1d4. There’s nothing like lowering another gambler’s Smarts to nearly nothing and then taking the fool for all he’s got.
Missed Me! Trait: Spirit Hand: Two Pairs Speed: 1 Duration: Concentration or 1 Wind/ round Range: Self This hex forces a manitou to deflect bullets and other physical projectile attacks that would otherwise hit the huckster’s body. The effect is to add +5 to the TN of anyone trying to shoot the huckster. Explosives, fire from a flamethrower, and other area-effect attacks cannot be deflected, but hexes and other supernatural effects usually can be pushed aside.
Phantom Fingers Trait: Spirit Hand: Ace Speed: 1 Duration: 1 Wind/round Range: 5 yards/hexslingin’ level Hucksters often use this hex to cheat at cards or pull an enemy’s gun from his holster. Phantom fingers can perform relatively complex manipulations with an object (such as turning a key or firing a gun), but this taxes the huckster and causes him 1d4 Wind per action.
Mind Twist Trait: Smarts Hand: Pair Speed: 1 Duration: Concentration or 1 Wind/ round Range: 5 yards/hexslingin’ level Mind twist is the opposite of mind tweak. It actually lowers a target’s mental Traits by one die type for each
Phantom Fingers Hand Ace Pair Jacks Two Pairs Three of a Kind Straight Flush Full House Four of a Kind Straight Flush Royal Flush
Size/Weight Baseball Pistol Rifle Gatling gun Person Iron safe Wagon Oak tree Freight car Manor house Train
Private Eye Trait: Cognition Hand: Pair Speed: 1 Duration: Concentration or 1 Wind/ round Range: 1 mile/hexslingin’ level Private eye allow a huckster to see through another’s eyes. See the earshot hex to see how it works.
Shadow Man Trait: Smarts Hand: Pair Speed: 2 Duration: Concentration Range: Self Shadow Man creates a pocket of shadow around the huckster. It does not make the huckster invisible, but it does add to his sneak rolls. A pair adds +5 to the huckster’s sneak rolls. Better hands add an additional +2 per level.
Shadow Walk Trait: Smarts Hand: Jacks Speed: 1 Duration: Instant Range: Self Hucksters with this hex can step into one shadow and emerge from another. The shadows they enter and leave from
must be large and dark enough to engulf their entire form. The Marshal gets the final call as to what works. The hand needed to shadow walk depends on the distance between the two shadows. The huckster has to be able to actually see the shadow he wants to emerge from.
Shadow W alk Walk Hand Jacks Two Pairs Three of a Kind Straight Flush Full House Four of a Kind Straight Flush Royal Flush
Distance 2 yards 5 yards 10 yards 20 yards 40 yards 100 yards 500 yards 1 mile Line of sight
Soul Blast Trait: Spirit Hand: Pair Speed: 1 Duration: Instant Range: 50 yards/hexslingin’ level (maximum) The hexslinger’s best friend is the soul blast hex. When cast, an almost invisible stream of ghostly white energy races from the huckster’s palm
8s, and a Jack of Diamonds) kills the target automatically. Velvet Van Helter, New Orleans gentleman and a dedicated student of Hoyle, hurls a soul blast at a scoundrel abusing a young lady’s honor. The ruffian is in plain sight, and the hex has no range increment, so the TN to hit the man with the soul blast is 5, the same as the hex’s TN for figuring the number of cards (the same with hex for that matter). Velvet rolls an 11. For the raise, he gets to draw one extra card to figure the hex’s effect. He also uses the 11 for his attack roll. He gets a raise there too, so when he rolls for hit location, he can add or subtract 1 from his roll, as he prefers.
toward his target. The stream slams into the victim like a bullet. This hex has no effect on inanimate objects. Just because the hex comes off doesn’t mean it hits its target. Determine the Target Number like a gunshot— starting with an Easy (5) TN—but ignore range. The caster could attempt a called shot, affecting the Target Number that way, and other factors (like wound effects) may come into play. Use the huckster’s hexslingin’ roll as both your attack roll and to figure how many cards you get to draw. If the soul blast hits, damage depends on the hand drawn, as shown on the table. This damages does get extra dice for hit location, and ignores all armor, including cover. For some reason, drawing a Dead Man’s Hand (two black Aces, two black
Hand Pair Jacks Two Pairs Three of a Kind Straight Flush Full House Four of a Kind Straight Flush Royal Flush
Damage 1d6 Wind 3d6 4d8 5d8 6d8 7d10 8d10 9d10 10d12 10d20
Texas Twister Trait: Knowledge Hand: Jacks Speed: 2 Duration: Concentration Range: 20 yards/hex level This hex conjures up a minor whirlwind. In the outdoors, a Texas twister kicks up dirt and sand, blinding everyone within a 10-yard radius. Those in the twister’s radius must make a Hard (9) Vigor roll every round to do anything but move. If they move out of the twister’s radius they are free to act normally. Any attacks crossing the twister’s radius suffer a –2 penalty.
Indoors, the twister is more limited in effect. Everyone in the area indoors suffers a –2 penalty to all actions unless they leave the area or make Vigor rolls as above. It also makes a mess. The huckster can move the twister in any way she likes, as long as she concentrates and keeps it in sight and range. It has a Pace of 20.
Trinkets Trait: Knowledge Hand: Ace Speed: 2 Duration: 1 round/hex level Range: Touch The trinket hex allows the huckster to reach into a pocket, pouch, or bag of some sort and pull forth a minor mundane object. The hand required depends on the item the huckster hopes to find. Money can be conjured with this hex, but like anything else created by the hex, it only lasts 1 round for every level the huckster has in hexslingin’.
Hands higher than two pair are required to get very special trinkets— such as a key to open a specific lock. The Marshal must set the hands for these items himself.
Trinkets Hand Ace Pair
Type of Item Match, penny Scarf, random playing card, nickel Derringer, knife, two bits (25¢)
Pistol, $5 coin, specific playing card
Huckster Hexes Hex Trait Hand Call o’ the Wild Knowledge Two Pair Corporeal Tweak Smarts Pair Corporeal Twist
Speed 2 1
Helpin’ Hand Hunch Mind Tweak
Smarts Cognition Smarts
Ace 10 minutes Two Pair 10 Seconds Pair 1
Spirit Knowledge Knowledge
Pair Jacks Ace
1 2 2
Phantom Fingers Private Eye Shadow Man Shadow Walk Soul Blast Texas Twister Trinkets
Duration Concentration Concentration or 1 Wind/round Concentration or 1 Wind/round Concentration or 1 Wind/round Permanent Instant Concentration or 1 Wind/round Concentration or 1 Wind/round Concentration or 1 Wind/round 1 Wind/round Concentration or 1 Wind/round
Instant Concentration 1 round/ hexslingin’ level
Range 1 mile/hexslingin’ level 5 yards/hexslingin’ level 5 yards/hexslingin’ level 1 mile/hexslingin’ level 1 yard Touch 5 yards/hexslingin’ level 5 yards/hexslingin’ level Self 5 yards/hexslingin’ level 1 mile/hexslingin’ level
50 yds/hexslingin’ level 20 yards/hexslingin’ level Touch
Mad Scientists Tons of gold and silver were discovered when California fell into the sea in 1868. But neither of those were the most valuable mineral exposed by the Great Quake. There was a lining on the cloud of this disaster, but you can bet your bottom dollar it wasn’t silver. It was many miles better than that. Short seams of black stone showed up a few hundred feet below the former surface of the new state. It was a while before anyone even decided to go after the stuff, seeing as how precarious the canyon walls of California were directly after the quake. Many miners lusting after silver and gold lost their lives in the aftershocks that tumbled even more of the land into the sea. Still, eventually someone decided to dig some of this strange material out of the walls of the channels of the Maze and then haul it on home to figure out just what it was. Most thought it was coal, but when they tried to burn it, they discovered it was something else entirely.
Ghost Rock The new mineral burns for days, and its dark stain lasts even longer. Miners who handle the rock claim it takes months to wash it from their hands. Of course, few of them can say this for sure, since they rarely give up on a strike until it’s entirely played out. Stranger still—the stone “groans” and emits strange, ghostly vapors when burned. For obvious reasons, Californians took to calling it “ghost rock.” The amazing burning properties of ghost rock drew scientists from all over the world to California and the West. Clever entrepreneurs began mining and selling cartloads of the stuff to the scientists and their backers. Soon, “ghost rock frenzy” took hold of the West, and prospectors began searching for it everywhere. Many found old seams previously thought to be coal in Colorado, Arizona, and scattered throughout the Rockies.
But there is a price to be paid by those who build bizarre gadgets and gizmos.
Dementia Some suggest that creating fantastic devices is actually a form of sorcery. They believe that scientists are consorting with the same spirits as witches, warlocks, and hucksters. If this is true, the scientists seem blissfully unaware of it. They see their new creations as things inspired by a great scientific revolution, and they scoff at the idea that they are dealing with demons and devils. But there seems to be some truth to the matter, for there is a reason these wild academicians are collectively called “mad scientists.” Those who create fantastic devices tend to lose their grip on reality. Most eventually become neurotic hermits or raving lunatics, though they leave a legacy of amazing gadgets in their frantic wake.
Weird Science Ever since, scientists have been experimenting with this new substance, trying to divine its secrets. The first really high profile breakthroughs occurred in Utah in 1870. Professor Darius Hellstromme, a nowfamous English scientist, created and put into use a steam engine fueled by ghost rock that could power a horseless carriage across the Salt Flats. “Steam wagons,” as they have come to be called, are still in great use among the Mormons of the region. Hellstromme’s success inspired countless other black-fingered scientists. Soon scores of fantastic devices were making reputations that rivaled that of the great gunslingers and outlaws.
The Life of a Mad Scientist Playing a mad scientist can be a lot of fun, especially if you like playing around with strange gadgets. Your character gets to create “weird gizmos” and blow things up with them (if he’s lucky). The downside is that he might also go a little insane in the process. Oh, and he might blow his friends up as well. Mad scientist characters must take the arcane background: mad scientist Edge, and at least one level in the mad science Aptitude. They should also have the tinkerin’ Aptitude if they want to actually build the weird gizmos they design. They must also have at least 1 level in at least one scientific concentration, such as science: general, biology, chemistry, engineering, or physics. This represents the basic knowledge that a scientist has to have to make the cognitive (and fairly crazy) leap to mad scientific thinking. Higher science Aptitudes will come in handy to a mad scientist, but they are not strictly speaking, required.
Creating Weird Gizmos Making gadgets that defy common sense is easier than some might expect—for a mad scientist at least. There are four steps that a deranged inventor must complete to create a weird gizmo. 1. 2. 3. 4.
My Blueprint My Theory
Concoct the theory. Devise a blueprint. Gather the components. Construct the device.
As you complete each of the steps, fill in any relevant information on a “Weird Gizmo” blueprint like the one we’ve provided on the next page.
Concoct The Theory The first thing a mad scientist has to do is decide just what kind of weird gizmo he’s trying to make. This means the scientist’s player—that’s you—should write down the name of the device followed by a paragraph or two describing the “scientific principles” (as nutty as they may be) your character employs to make it work. It’s more fun to write the theory from the perspective of the character, by the way. And be sure to share it with your posse. Mad scientists can never keep their traps shut about their inventions.
Devise The Blueprint Now it’s time to draft a blueprint. Though the mad scientist doesn’t know it, he actually consorts with manitous as he drafts his fantastic creations. Occasionally, contact with these malicious spirits might push him over the edge. The mad scientist must now make a mad science roll. Compare the total against a Fair (5) TN. If the scientist does not have a science concentration directly related to the design task, the TN is Hard (9). We told you those science Aptitudes would come in handy.
If you fail, the inventor is stymied and can’t try to build any other devices for the next 8 hours while he clears his head. If you are successful, draw 5 cards from your Action Deck plus 1 for every raise. The scientist also may take one free card for each science Aptitude she has at level 5 or greater. She doesn’t have to take these extra cards if she does not wish to. Jokers count as wild cards, but the black Joker means a manitou has driven the mad scientist insane. Let the Marshal know when this happens 49 He’ll know what to do.
Gizmo Construction T able Table Hand Jacks
Description Simple repair of device created by these rules, or of current top-of-the-line technology Slight improvement on existing technology
Three of a Kind
Straight Flush Full House Four of a Kind Straight Flush Royal Flush
Major improvement on existing technology
Relatively simple but new use of existing technology New use of cutting-edge technology Entirely new but “realistic” technology New technology that flaunts the laws of science New technology that alters the laws of science Technology that defies the laws of science
Item Gatling gun
Base Time 10–60 minutes
Faster printing press, 10% faster locomotive (a “tune-up”) Gatling pistol, bulletproof vest, automatic weapon, 25% faster locomotive (total reconfiguration) Flamethrower, automatic machine-gun Steam wagon, land ship
Ornithopter, submersible Heat or freeze ray, sleep gas Mind-control ray Dimension or time control device
Careful Design Pays Every raise on this roll adds +2 to the device’s base “Reliability” of 10. The Reliability is built into the blueprint, so other devices constructed from this blueprint also benefit from a good design. See page 77 for how Reliability functions.
Hand o’ Fate The hand you need in order to succeed at creating the device depends on the nature of the device your character is trying to construct and how far above the normal technology curve it is. Should you fail to get the hand you need, your character spends half the time required and must start again from scratch.
The Gizmo Construction Table The Gizmo Construction Table has all the details that you kneed to know about building your device. Hand is the minimum hand needed to devise the device on your blueprint. Description is a guideline for how far the gizmo is above the normal technology level. Item is an example of some common weird gizmos in use in the Weird West. Construction TN is the roll needed to actually create the device. Base Time is a rough guideline for how long weird gizmos in a particular category tend to take. This can change drastically depending on the machine. You and the Marshal should discuss the actual building of the gadget and how long you both think it should take, or simply roll randomly based on the suggested time spans.
Gather The Components Once the scientist has concocted a theory and drawn a blueprint for his weird gizmo, he knows what materials he needs to actually build the thing. Now it’s time for a scavenger hunt. Write down the major components below the device’s theory on the gizmo sheet. Your character then needs to go out and actually buy or find the parts he needs. Mad science devices sometimes require some strange components, and acquiring them is sometimes an adventure in and of itself.
Construct the Device Now that you’ve gathered your components, it’s time to actually build the gadget. Your character needs to make a tinkerin’ roll against the construction TN of the item (see the Gizmo Construction Table, partner). As long as the builder gets at least one success, the item is built. Every raise on the construction roll raises the Reliability by +2. Some scientists bring in expert tinkerers to help them out on the tough jobs.
Mad Scientists Rushing the Job The evils of the Weird West rarely wait patiently while a mad scientist invents something to destroy them. When a weird gizmo is needed in a hurry, the inventor can attempt to rush the job. Every hand above the one needed for a job halves the construction time. That does mean that a device requiring a Royal Flush can’t be rushed, by the way.
Reliability Even the best weird gizmos are forged in the energies of the Hunting Grounds. This means pesky manitous and the limits of the human mind can occasionally cause gadgets to malfunction. The base chance for a malfunction of any weird gizmo is 10. Each raise rolled when devising the blueprint or constructing the device adds +2 to its Reliability, as explained above, up to a maximum of 19. A weird science device can never have a Reliability higher than 19. There is always that chance of malfunction, no matter how small.
Reliability Checks When your character uses a mad science gizmo, you have to make a Reliability check. As usual, if the d20 roll comes up over the device’s Reliability, the gizmo malfunctions in some way (a result of 20 always fails with these kinds of devices). This means a train powered by a ghost-rock engine usually has to roll for Reliability only when it starts and stops (or if someone messes with the engine for some other reason). A Gatling pistol, however, has to check Reliability every time it’s fired. With a bullet-proof vest, you’d roll each time it absorbed damage. If you roll a malfunction, the Marshal lets you know how catastrophic the results are. Most times the gizmo just conks out, but you’d better back up a bit in case it malfunctions more spectacularly. These things can leave a mark. 46
Device Descriptions The listed cost is that charged by Smith & Robards, a famous mail-order firm out of Salt Lake City (also known as the City o’ Gloom for the cloud of pollution that hangs over it). They custom-make weird gizmos and other devices for clients around the world. Since each of these items is unique and cannot be made on an assembly line, the cost is usually quite steep.
Weird Gizmos To get your scientist started down the path of weird science, we’ve provided descriptions of some devices over the next few pages. All these gizmos barely scratch the surface of what mad science has to offer, however. A large selection of additional devices, as well as some nifty new rules for mad scientists can be found in the Smith & Robards sourcebook. Starting Gizmos: A mad scientist player character starts the game with one of the devices described on the following pages. Alternatively, she can begin with one of her own creations of similar power (built by the mad scientist and approved by the Marshal of course). The mad scientist hero gets this first device for absolutely free. Anyone else who wants one of these devices must purchase it.
Bullet Proof Vest
Bullet-Proof Vest It’s said a mysterious, unnamed gunslinger asked a mad scientist friend to concoct this simple but effective device. It beats a steel plate because it’s light and easily concealable. The vest covers the upper and lower guts area with an Armor value of 2. This drops any attack’s die type by two levels. Price: $1,800 Reliability: 19
The Epitaph Camera
The Tombstone Epitaph publishes weekly reports of bizarre creatures and events. Everyone reads them, but few believe them.
Epitaph Camera A picture, however, is worth a thousand words. The problem is that movement of any sort ruins pictures taken by most cameras of the period. So John Clum, the editor of the Epitaph, commissioned Smith & Robard’s to manufacture a camera that could take pictures of moving subjects. The result is the Epitaph camera. Unfortunately, the very success of these cameras makes skeptics believe the images are faked by the people who claim to have taken them. Price: $1,600 Reliability: 19
Flamethrower These clever devices were pioneered by Confederate munitions experts. The galvanized tank is filled with methane stored under high pressure. When the trigger of the rifle stock is pulled, the methane shoots out and is lit by a bit of burning ghost rock. When filled with methane, a flamethrower has 30 “shots” in its holding tank. Every time the user depresses the trigger, he fires 1 to 6 shots (his choice). The flame’s range is 20 yards. The flame is shaped like a cone 2 inches wide at the barrel of the flamethrower and 3 yards wide at the other end. The scientist rolls his shootin’: flamethrower attack (an Easy (5) roll) against every target in the cone. The damage caused to everyone hit by the flame is 1d10 times the number of shots. The damage dice are added
together, but any wounds caused are applied to separate hit locations as massive damage (see Chapter Four). A major drawback of the weapon is the methane tank itself. Bullets that hit the user in the upper guts from the side or behind have a 1 in 6 chance of detonating the device. When this happens, the tank explodes causing 1d10 damage times the number of shots remaining inside. The number of damage dice drops by half every 10 yards after the first. Professors make the most interesting fireworks. The flamethrower’s statistics are: ROF: 1; Range: Special; Damage: 1-6x1d10. Price: $2,000 Reliability: 18 Professor Spencer is surrounded by prairie ticks. He cuts loose with his flamethrower and rolls his shootin’: flamethrower dice against each tick. The TN is 5 at less than 10 yards. Spencer hits 10 of them. He used 6 “shots”, so all the disgusting critters take 6d10 damage. It’s time to break out the toothpicks and hot sauce.
Gatling Pistol The Agency has long looked for ways to give its agents an edge against the horrors of the Reckoning. The “Gatling pistol,” the common name for several brands of multi-barreled rotating pistols, has proven their favorite. A windup gear releases 3 shots every time the trigger is pulled. A Gatling pistol fires on automatic (see Chapter Four), just like a Gatling gun. The Gatling pistol’s stats are: Shots 12; ROF 3; Range 10; Damage: 3d6. Price: $800 Reliability: 18
Marshal Law The damage, range, or other specific statistics of an item are determined by the Marshal and the theory the scientist has devised. The flamethrower described later on in this chapter, for instance, uses methane gas as fuel. This causes the weapon to have a very short range, since it’s hard to make clouds of gas travel as far as a bullet. When figuring the rules for a device, the Marshal should evaluate the mad scientist’s theory and fill in the “rules” at the bottom of the blueprint. If a mad scientist is after a specific effect, such as a flamethrower that shoots twice as far as normal, the Marshal should raise the hand required to design it by an appropriate number of levels. Finally, mad scientists can only build upon the materials and technologies available to them. Galvanized engines powered by ghost rock can do a lot of things. They can’t make “guided” bombs or synthetic humans, but they can make trains that go twice as fast as usual or clunky mechanoids of some sort. We recommend that Marshal’s err on the side of caution when setting statistics. Otherwise, you may end up with mad scientists wandering around the Weird West with doomsday weapons of terrible power. The devices on the following pages are good examples of what should be possible.
Rocket Pack The buffalo soldiers stationed at Fort Apache, New Mexico, were always getting ambushed by Apaches firing from high passes. Their commander was browsing through the latest Smith & Robard’s catalog when he saw an amazing device. The catalog advertised an experimental “rocket pack” that could lift a man high into the air. The commander thought this would be a great way to clear the passes of Apaches, and he used his own personal fortune to order five of them. He assigned them to the best men of the regiment. These men came to call themselves the “Flying Buffaloes.” The rocket pack can lift up to 300 pounds (over the weight of the pack) for up to 20 minutes. The stove body is made of iron galvanized in one of Smith & Robard’s special kilns. When the fuse atop it is lit, the ghost rock “rod” at the center is ignited and heats the water stored inside the boiler. The steam pushes the wearer suddenly into the air. He can control the amount of thrust by venting extra steam from a large side panel. The Pace of the rocket pack is 20. Vertical movement costs 2 yards of movement for every yard climbed, or 1 yard for every yard dropped in elevation.
Controlling the rocket pack is done by a “fishing rod” handle that changes the angle of the pack’s thrusters. This requires a new Aptitude—flight: rocket pack—which is normally based off Nimbleness since the wearer must twist and turn to get the thing to go where he wants. If the wearer ever goes bust on a flight: rocket pack roll, he heads for the nearest obstacle. If there isn’t a vertical obstacle within range of his current move, he takes a steep dive at the ground instead. If the user hits something horizontally, divide the character’s last Pace by 2 and add that to a 2d6 damage roll. This is Massive Damage as discussed in Chapter Four. An in-air crash causes the wearer to make a second flight: rocket pack roll immediately against a Fair (5) or Hard (9) TN, depending on speed. If the wearer fails this roll, he plummets to the ground, taking falling damage as usual (see page 137). Price: $2,100 Reliability: 18
Steam Wagon When the Mormons first settled Salt Lake City, they found the denizens of the Reckoning waiting for them in the form of giant creatures called salt rattlers. Getting across the Salt Flats was one of the most dangerous trials they faced. In 1870, the infamous Professor Darius Hellstromme visited their community and offered them the secret to a new invention: the steam wagon. This steam-powered horseless carriage could dash across the flats in no time. The devices don’t work well in uneven terrain and can’t enter rocky areas at all, but in the desert they can easily outpace a horse over long distances. Steam wagons gained such fame that bandits in Nevada and other relatively flat areas started using them to rob trains. Some of these bandits even mount Gatling guns on their steam wagons. The Texas Rangers have a particular grudge against these desperadoes, since it often falls upon them to protect the Confederacy’s trains. Steam wagons have a Pace of 20. Price: $1,500 Reliability: 18
The Blessed Faith is a funny thing. Most folks seem to have more of it when they’re about to get munched on by something with jaws the size of Kansas. Seems they’ve got some notion they can redeem themselves at the last minute. If that really worked, most fellows would keep drinking, gambling, and carousing right up to the minute they’re about to expire. Then they could say a couple of holy apologies and march right on through the Pearly Gates. But we all know better in the end. Genuine faith is a rare thing. Most people claim one religion or another as their own, but they don’t really stop sinning until they get in trouble. A few blessed souls are more noble, however. The pure can sometimes call on divine aid against the minions of the Reckoning. Of course, sometimes they’re just the first to get eaten. This section deals with western religions, particularly those Christian in nature. If you want to play an Indian holy person, see Chapter Nine.
The Life of the Blessed The faithful have certain miracles they can call upon in times of need. Which ones depends on the traditions and teachings of the religion. Regardless of the religion however, invoking a miracle requires at least one level of faith, and all but the miracle of protection require the user to have the blessed Edge. Simply taking the arcane background: blessed Edge and the faith Aptitude and claiming to be a devout follower isn’t always enough. True faith requires a little work, even if the religion’s practices might seem strange to others. Sinners aren’t apt to be shined upon by their chosen higher power. Baptists lose faith if they don’t dunk their “young ’uns,” Jews can’t get hitched without breaking somebody’s best crystal, and
Roman Catholics can’t eat meat on certain Fridays without getting dirty looks from on high. If your character isn’t following the tenets of his religion, he starts losing his faith, slowly but surely. Divine entities are easily angered when their servants don’t uphold their ideals or traditions, especially if they’ve been designated as something special in the public eye. There’s little more embarrassing to a deity than a chosen one making a mockery of its holy name.
Tests of Faith Whenever a blessed character commits a sin of some sort, she must make a Spirit roll. If she fails, she loses a point of her faith Aptitude. She does not lose her miracles, but her ability to use them may be severely hampered. That means your character should be on her best behavior at all times or the Marshal may make you remember just exactly what your hero’s job is supposed to be. Remember, this
character is on a mission “from God.” If your priest is helping the posse execute prisoners, the Almighty will not look happily upon him. Even relatively minor sins, such as swearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain, might get your hero in trouble. The worse the sin, the harder that faith roll will be. This is the cost the blessed must pay for the ability to cast miracles without the aid of manitous and with no chance of backlash. The Target Number of the Spirit roll depends on the sin. The Marshal has 45 the particulars.
Atonement Lost faith doesn’t just return on its own. A lamb that’s lost its way doesn’t just wander home. This is something that has to be worked at. If a blessed character loses all her faith, it costs her 5 Bounty Points to purchase the first level again. Restoring other lost levels can be done at normal cost. The Marshal might also make the blessed character fulfill some special goal or go on a quest for atonement.
Invoking Miracles Calling on a character’s savior is easy. Getting him, her, or it to listen is a little more difficult. Whenever the blessed wants to invoke a miracle, she must make a faith roll and compare it to the TN of the miracle she’s attempting to perform. If she’s successful, the deity smiles on her, and the miracle goes off as desired. If she’s unsuccessful, the blessed hasn’t convinced her deity that she’s deserving of aid in this particular case. Put bluntly, nothing happens, except the blessed might end up with a deep blush on her face. This doesn’t mean that the blessed individual is necessarily unfaithful. Other circumstances—such as watching one’s companions get wrapped up in a thorny tumblebleed—may just have distracted the pious fellow for a few critical moments, or the patron might just be testing its acolyte today.
Miracles Every character with faith knows the protection miracle. Other miracles take years of study and practice in rituals and meditation to perfect. The deeper mysteries of the blessed, as well as a mess of new miracles and such can be found in our blessed sourcebook, Fire & Brimstone. Starting Miracles: A starting blessed character knows protection plus one additional miracle for every level in the higher of her professional: theology and faith Aptitudes. New Miracles: A blessed may select a new miracle by spending 5 Bounty points.
Miracle Descriptions Miracles have four elements you need to know before your character tries an invocation. TN is the Target Number the blessed needs on a faith roll to accomplish the miracle. Speed is the number of actions it takes to complete the invocation. Duration is the length of time the invocation stays in effect. Range is the distance at which the miracle can take effect.
Exorcism TN: Special Speed: 8 hours Duration: Permanent Range: 1 yard Evicting evil spirits from a mortal host is a slow and painful process. Once the ritual has begun, the spirit is wracked by holy energy and begins an appalling display. It speaks in tongues, vomits all kinds of foulness, and curses the blessed up and down a blue streak. Attempting to exorcise a manitou (called a demon in western religions) is a test of the blessed’s faith versus the creature’s Spirit. At the end of the 8hour ritual, both sides roll. The manitou’s Spirit is determined by a draw of the cards—just like during character creation.
The Blessed If the blessed is successful, the manitou is banished and leaves the host body immediately. If the manitou wins, it gets +2 to resist further exorcism attempts by the same exorcist. This puts a Harrowed character to rest, by the way.
Holy Roller TN: 5 Speed: 1 Duration: Permanent Range: Self The blessed know asking for holy power is normally off-limits. But sometimes the horrors of the Weird West call for desperate measures. A blessed character can use this miracle to gain a chip from the Fate Pot. The chip must be used on her next action. If the character meets the difficulty, she gains a white chip. A raise nets her a red chip, and two raises gets her a blue chip. The downside is that if the blessed fails the roll, her patron takes her highest chip (put it back in the pot) as penance. It’s a gamble—that’s why the blessed call this miracle “holy roller.”
Inspiration TN: 5 Speed: 1-minute sermon Duration: Special Range: Special The Reckoners thrive on fear. Only a few folks know this, but it seems the blessed often find out quicker than others. Their good-natured tendencies to help those in need usually bring them face-to-face with things that sometimes don’t even have something you’d recognize as a face. When the blessed are fortunate enough to survive their adventures, their tales often inspire those around them. The next part won’t make sense until your character figures out how fear works for the Reckoners, but that’s okay for now. Feel free to take the miracle anyway, and know that you
should use it after defeating some major villainous presence to relay the inspiring story of your posses’ good deeds, natures, and accomplishments to the desperate and bedeviled masses. Every success and raise adds +2 to the blessed’s tale-tellin’ roll to reduce the Fear Level (which the Marshal can tell you all about). The blessed has to tell his tale immediately. He can’t “save up” an inspiration bonus to use later on.
Lay on Hands TN: Special Speed: 1 minute Duration: Permanent Range: Touch Holy healers have been around since ancient times. They’ve just never been in such demand. The blessed use this miracle to heal the wounds and afflictions of others (not themselves). The problem is that it can only be used to cure significant ailments. Worse, if the healer is not truly faithful, he takes on the subject’s malady as well. The base TN for healing a subject’s wounds is shown on the table below. The entry for “Maimed” applies to severed limbs, diseases, blindness, and the like. Maimed gizzards and noggins cannot be healed. The blessed can never bring back the truly dead. Or undead, for that matter. Once a person’s breathed his last, there’s little that can be done for him. The blessed actually feel the victim’s pain, so they must subtract the patient’s total wound modifiers from their faith roll. They must also add the victim’s faith level if he is of the same basic religion, or subtract it if he is not. If the healer is successful, the victim is completely healed in all areas. The patient maintains his wound modifiers for the next hour, but he is not otherwise considered wounded. The bad news is that if the healer fails the roll, the patient isn’t cured and the healer takes on the same maladies
or wounds. If these are wounds, the blessed takes the victim’s highest wound level to his own guts area.
Healing Difficulties Wound Level Wind Light Heavy Serious Critical Maimed (limbs)
TN 3 5 7 9 11 13
Protection TN: Opposed Speed: 1 Duration: 1 round Range: Self One miracle used by all major religions is protection. This is simply reliance on one’s deity or deities to protect the faithful from supernatural evil. Any character with at least one level in the faith Aptitude may attempt this miracle by presenting her holy symbol or otherwise declaring the power of her deity. A supernaturally evil opponent must make a Spirit total versus the hero’s faith. Should it lose, the creature cannot touch the character or otherwise cause her direct harm. It could still push over a bookshelf the blessed happened to be standing under, but it couldn’t fire a weapon, cast a hex, or use its special abilities on her until it wins the spiritual contest. Of course, this doesn’t do the blessed’s companion a bit of good. They’re still fair game. Truly valiant heroes who have protection often find they can help the rest of their posse by standing directly between the horrific creature and their hapless friends. Be careful, though. This can be a really awkward place to be should the miracle suddenly fail. Faithful characters shouldn’t rely on this miracle too often since the winner of the contest is likely to waver back and forth. And any creature affected by protection probably doesn’t need more than one opening to finish the fight permanently.
Sacrifice TN: 5 Speed: 1 Duration: Permanent Range: Sight One important central belief in most religions is that of sacrifice. The blessed can call upon this intervention to give one of his own chips to any other character in sight. He doesn’t have to pay the usual “equal” cost of trading chips. The blessed can give chips to nonbelievers as well as members of his own flock, unless the recipient’s beliefs run counter to his own (such as an evil cultist). Failure means no chips are transferred.
Sanctify TN: 11 Speed: 1 week Duration: Permanent Range: Touch The blessed are able to ask their deity to consecrate hallowed ground, making it painful for evil creatures to walk upon it. To work this miracle, the blessed must remain in the place to be sanctified for an entire week. Once the ritual is completed, a circle with a radius equal to 10 times the blessed’s faith is hallowed. When an evil creature steps upon sanctified ground, it must make an Incredible (11) Spirit total every round. If it fails, it begins to smoke and steam as
if burning and takes the difference in Wind. This damage is spiritual and so can actually affect undead as well as other abominations.
Smite TN: 5 Speed: 1 Duration: 12 rounds Range: Touch With this miracle, the blessed heroes of the Weird West can smite the evils of the Reckoning back into the last century. When invoked, the caster’s deity fills the blessed with holy power, raising his Strength by one step for every success and raise.
Succor TN: 5 Speed: 1 Duration: Permanent Range: Touch There’s one born every minute. Someone who’s always getting beat up, that is. This is the blessed’s quick and dirty version of lay on hands. When invoked, it instantly rids the recipient of 1d6 Wind per success and raise. The blessed, being the pious and altruistic individuals they are, can never grant succor to themselves.
Blessed Miracles Description Exorcism Holy Roller Inspiration Lay On Hands Protection Sacrifice Sanctify Smite Succor
TN Special 5 5 Special Opposed 5 11 5 5
Speed 8 hours 1 1 minute sermon 1 1 1 1 week 1 1
Duration Permanent Permanent Special Permanent 1 round Permanent Permanent 12 rounds Permanent
Range 1 yard Self Special Touch Self Sight Touch Touch Touch
Shamans Indians see the world differently than white folks. They’ve known about spirits for hundreds—maybe even thousands of years. The most spiritual members of a tribe are often called “medicine men,” but since some are females, we call them “shamans.” Mad scientists deal directly with manitous, though most often they do so unwittingly. Hucksters are foolish enough, in a shaman’s opinion, to actually contact them on purpose. Shamans consider themselves far wiser in the ways of spirits. They never deal with manitous except by accident. They rely instead on asking other denizens of the Hunting Grounds, the nature spirits, for “favors.” These spirits are sometimes seen as good or evil depending on their function, but in truth, nature spirits are ambivalent toward the affairs of humanity. They sometimes help those who know how to call upon them, but only in exchange for some sort of sacrifice or a commitment to the spirit’s ways.
The Life of a Shaman An Indian shaman must have the arcane background Edge. This means that the character had a mystical experience of some sort in his past. Some shamans had near-death experiences. Others gained their status from visions or dreams. He also needs at least one point in a concentration of the ritual Aptitude. The life of a shaman is dedicated to the ideals of his tribe. Most are spiritual leaders and healers for their people. Some are feared, but all are respected. All must set an example for their people and live a life that pleases the spirits that give them power. Shaman characters who do not uphold these beliefs find the spirits rarely listen to their pleas, as you will see further on in this chapter.
Calling on the Spirits Obtaining favors from the supernatural inhabitants of the Hunting Grounds requires three steps: selecting a favor, performing a ritual, and appeasing a nature spirit.
The Favor Favors are based on ancient traditions and relationships with particular spirits. They are not based on the shaman’s whims of the moment, so the rituals used to ask for them—and the effects they have on the physical world—are already determined. A list of rituals and favors commonly asked for by the Plains Indians and the Indians of the Southwest is presented on the following pages. More rituals, favors, deeper mysteries of shamanism, and information on specific tribes can be found in the Ghost Dancers sourcebook.
The Ritual Once the shaman has selected a favor, he must attract the attention of a nature spirit. This is done by conducting a ritual of some sort, such as a chant or some form of self-sacrifice. The
more important or powerful the favor, the greater the ritual must be. Simple favors usually require only a pledge to the spirit’s ideals. Greater favors may require fasting, scarring, or even mutilation. Different rituals require different concentrations in the ritual Aptitude. The rituals themselves are discussed on the following pages.
Approval When the ritual required for the favor is complete, the shaman’s skill and knowledge is tested by the nature spirit. The shaman should make a ritual Aptitude roll immediately after completing the ritual. The spirit grants the favor only if the shaman has performed the ritual with proper form and respect. Each ritual generates “Appeasement points” based on the number of successes obtained. If the character cannot generate enough Appeasement points for the favor he has asked for, the spirit turns its distant attentions back to the chaotic Hunting Grounds. If the number of Appeasement points generated is equal to or greater than the minimum listed to obtain the favor, it is granted by the spirit. The favor can affect either the shaman or some other individual in her presence as she chooses.
Use It or Lose It: Appeasement points can’t be stored up. Your shaman asks for the favor, and then he performs the ritual. If he doesn’t ask for a favor beforehand, none is granted.
Angering the Spirits Although the spirits aid those who show them proper respect, they do so reluctantly. If a shaman continuously disturbs them for the same favor, they grow angry. For this reason, the base Appeasement cost of a favor is increased by +1 each time after the first that a shaman requests it in a 24-hour period.
The Old Ways To nature spirits, “natural” clothing, weapons, or other belongings made by and for a particular human being have a history and carry a bit of the maker’s soul. This is why they dislike massproduced items with no past, things that are so commonly used by the white men and are symbolic of their ways. Shamans are also repulsed by machines that pollute and ravage the earth, such as steam-powered trains and wagons, particularly since they have been created exclusively by mad scientists who have had contact with manitous in the building of their unnatural creations. These are the worst of the artificial things to be found upon the earth. Shamans believe the spirits’ disapproval of such things has weakened their relationship with the People. Many shamans are attempting to remedy this by urging their tribes to resort to the “old ways.” Not everyone is heeding their call, particularly the younger braves, but their voice is still a strong one, not to be ignored.
Ordeals A shaman who requests a very powerful favor may need to combine a number of rituals to appease the spirits. The many sacrifices made
Shamans during one of these extended rituals are collectively called an “ordeal.” To begin an ordeal, the shaman must first select which rituals are to be performed. No single ritual type may be used more than once during the trial. Most rituals must be performed consecutively, but some, such as fasting, may be performed simultaneously with other rituals. Any interruption between rituals causes the ordeal to fail. A going bust on any ritual roll also causes the entire ordeal to fail. To make another attempt at the ordeal, the shaman must start entirely over again. After all parts of an ordeal have been performed, the Appeasement points from each ritual are totaled and applied to the favor.
Manitous Speaking with the denizens of the Hunting Grounds is a tricky process. The rituals performed by shamans are intended to attract the attention of the nature spirits, but every once in a while a shaman is duped into communicating with a clever manitou. Worse, performing a ritual opens the shaman to spiritual forms of attack. And the manitous have little love for shamans since the Great Spirit War. If a shaman ever goes bust while making a ritual Aptitude roll, he has been tricked into treating with a manitou instead of a nature spirit. The evil spirit’s attack is an opposed Spirit roll. Since manitous come in all shapes and sizes, the Marshal has a handy chart in his section to help him figure out the manitou’s power. He’ll make the roll for the manitou, and tell you how much trouble your 51 shaman’s in. If the shaman wins, the manitou retreats to the Hunting Grounds in search of easier prey. If the manitou
wins, the shaman takes 3d6 points of damage to his guts area, plus an additional 1d6 for every raise the spirit got in the opposed roll.
Non-Shaman Favors Although only shamans can perform powerful medicine, knowledge of the spirits is an important part of most Indian cultures. Warriors, for example, call on the spirits to help them in battle, while successful hunters give thanks to the animal spirits for providing food. This means that even non-shaman Indians may ask minor favors of the spirits. The warrior asking the favor must have at least 1 level of faith and know an appropriate ritual concentration (purchased normally). Non-shamans may not request favors that have a minimum Appeasement greater than 1, but any and all Appeasement points generated by a ritual may be applied to a requested favor. Indians with faith do not have access to the blessed protection miracle, unless that faith is in a non-Indian religion. In which case, they shouldn’t have access to shamanic favors
Shamans & Faith You may have noticed that shamans themselves don’t need the faith Aptitude to commune with the spirits. That’s because the shaman talks to the spirits every day, and has total confidence in their power. Nature spirits are part of the real everyday world for the shaman, as real as horses and guns to the white man Whenever a shaman is called upon to make a faith roll, he may use his ritual skill instead. Non-shaman Indians may have faith. If so, they are believers in their tribe’s ways but not practitioners. These types usually cannot ask for favors of any sort.
Rituals Each ritual is a concentration of the ritual Aptitude. The individual descriptions also list the Trait the ritual is associated with. Use the shaman’s level in ritual along with the ritual concentration’s Trait type to figure out what dice to roll. Starting Rituals: A shaman may start the game with as many ritual concentrations as he cares to spend character points for. Each ritual type is a concentration, and costs 3 character points. Learning New Rituals: A shaman may learn new rituals at any time, simply by spending 3 Bounty Points for a new concentration.
Reading the Rituals Trait is the Trait the ritual Aptitude uses. Speed is the time it takes to complete the ritual. TN is the Target Number of the ritual. Appeasement is the number of Appeasement points awarded per success and raise on the shaman’s ritual Aptitude roll.
Dance Trait: Nimbleness Speed: Varies TN: Varies Appeasement: 1 Few things attract the attention of the spirits like the energy of a rousing dance. Keeping their attention is another matter and depends on the quality of the performance. Dances may be simple, complex, or elaborate. A simple dance is one performed by a solitary dancer with simple repetitive steps and chanting. In a complex dance, the dancer performs complex footwork and a series of athletic maneuvers. An elaborate dance consists of complex steps combined with special costumes and perhaps multiple dancers.
Dance Dance Simple Complex Elaborate
Speed 1 hour 2 hours 4 hours
TN 9 7 5
Fast Trait: Spirit Speed: Variable TN: 13–the number of days fasted Appeasement: Varies Physical discomfort is a sign of great loyalty to the spirits. Going several days without eating (i.e., fasting) is a common way of invoking powerful medicine. Each day the shaman fasts, she must make a Vigor roll versus a TN of 5 plus the number of days she has fasted. Failure means the shaman takes 1d6 Wind. This Wind may only be restored by eating. Even magical healing cannot restore the Wind until she eats—that’s part of the sacrifice. At the end of the fasting, the shaman makes the ritual roll. The TN is 13 minus the number of days fasted. The minimum TN is Foolproof (3). Every success and raise on the roll nets 3 Appeasement points.
Maim Trait: Vigor Speed: 1 TN: Varies Appeasement: 3 One of the most frightening Indian rituals—especially to non-Indians—is self-mutilation. This involves burning, cutting, or even removing certain body parts. While the shaman is hurt, the Marshal should give him penalties or Hindrances to match any major damage or collective minor damage. If he cuts off a finger, for instance, the character should subtract –1 from future Deftness totals. If he eventually removes all of his fingers, he gets the one-armed bandit Hindrance and all the penalties that go along with it. Shamans with blessed friends can often have major “incurable” damage
healed. That’s fine. The risks involved for the healer far outweigh the benefits of picking up a couple of quick Appeasement points, so such undertakings are rarely made lightly by savvy heroes. Minor curable damage is an injury at least equivalent to a light wound. Minor incurable damage is removal or disfigurement of a small body part that may apply penalties to certain actions. The immediate effect is a heavy injury to the body area. Major incurable damage debilitates the shaman in some way. He loses a finger, eye, tongue, or other important body part. Major damage also causes an critical wound to the affected area.
Maim Action Speed Minor curable damage 1 Minor incurable damage 2 Major incurable damage 3
TN 11 7 5
Trait: Cognition Speed: Varies TN: Varies Appeasement: 2 Sand paintings, cliff paintings, and ceremonial markings on the body are other ways of showing the shaman’s commitment to the spirit world. The larger and more elaborate they happen to be, the better. When requesting a favor for another, body painting is applied to the recipient of the favor. Of course, only natural tools and pigments can be used in this ritual. Artificial substitutes just don’t cut it. The time required for this ritual depends on the level of Appeasement desired.
Trait: Knowledge Speed: 1 TN: 9 Appeasement: 1 A pledge is a promise to a particular spirit of nature. The promise is to respect and honor the spirit and its “sphere of influence.” An eagle spirit, for example, would want the shaman’s promise to respect it, the air, and the wind itself. A good-natured shaman likely lives up to these values daily, and so can call upon the spirits without pledging any additional or specific tasks. If he doesn’t, the Marshal should feel free to penalize the wayward shaman whenever she tries to call on the spirits in the future. This damage can be repaired by fulfilling the pledge at any time.
Paint Scar Painting Simple Complex Elaborate
Time 10 minutes 30 minutes 2 hours
TN 11 9 7
Trait: Vigor Speed: Varies TN: Varies Appeasement: 1 Scarring is far less drastic than mutilation. (See the maim ritual for details about appeasing the spirits in that particularly drastic way.) A shaman need only mar his skin, not destroy or lop off parts of his anatomy.
When requesting a favor for another, the scarring is applied to the recipient instead of the shaman. The shaman requesting the favor from the spirits must be the one wielding the knife in any case. Scarring does no actual wounds to the recipient, but they do take some wind. The only lasting damage is cosmetic. An Indian with several large and visible scars (at least three) automatically has the ugly as sin Hindrance.
Scar Size Speed Small (1–3") 1 Large (4"+) 2
TN 7 5
Damage 1d6 Wind 2d6 Wind
Tattoo Trait: Deftness Speed: Varies TN: Varies Appeasement: 2 This ritual proves the shaman’s dedication to the spirit world by permanently inscribing a tribute directly on human flesh. The greater this tribute is, the more likely the spirits are to honor it with favors. Tattoos have three basic sizes: small, medium, and large. Small tattoos are only a few inches square. Medium tattoos cover a sizable portion of the shaman’s body, such as the forearm. Large tattoos cover the majority of a major body part, such as the back or chest. New tattoos may not be placed over existing tattoos. When requesting the favor for another individual, the tattoo is inscribed on the recipient of the favor.
Tattoo Tattoo Size Small Medium Large
Speed 1 hour 2 hours 8 hours
TN 9 7 5
Favors Below are some common favors that may be granted by the spirits of nature. Starting Favors: A shaman knows 1 favor for every level she has in the ritual Aptitude. Gaining New Favors: Shamans can learn additional favors for 5 Bounty Points each. Check out the Ghost Dancers sourcebook for a ton of new favors, as well as rules for gaining Appeasement points faster and easier through Guardian Spirits.
Reading the Favors Favors have only 3 elements: Appeasement is the minimum number of Appeasement points it takes to garner the favor. Duration is how long the favor lasts. Range is the distance at which the favor takes place or the “reach” of the shaman’s effect, depending on the favor. As with a huckster’s magic, a shaman must be able to see his target to affect it, unless a favor says otherwise.
Curse Appeasement: 3/5/7 Duration: Permanent Range: 10 yards/Appeasement This favor is powerful medicine that calls down the wrath of the spirit world upon a shaman’s enemy. When granted, the target suffers a malady of some sort. The number of Appeasement points used to ask for the favor determines the power of the curse. The nature of the disease or affliction may vary, but the effects are the same as for the ailin’ Hindrance. Three Appeasement points causes a minor ailment, five points causes a chronic affliction, and seven Appeasement points inflicts a fatal condition on the victim.
Earth Speak Appeasement: 1 Duration: Concentration Range: Touch This favor calls upon the spirits of the earth to guide the shaman along the path of her quarry. Unlike most favors, the shaman does not have to see her quarry to receive this boon. Each Appeasement applied to the favor gives the recipient an extra level of trackin’. A mystical glow surrounds marks made by the target’s path, though only the shaman can see it (as long as he’s close enough).
Guiding Wind Appeasement: 1 Duration: 5 rounds Range: Touch Using this favor, the shaman calls upon the wind spirits to guide the flight of an arrow, spear, or other “natural” weapon to its target. Each Appeasement point applied to the favor grants the recipient a +1 bonus to hit with a thrown weapon or arrow for the next 5 rounds.
The curse may be lifted at any time by the shaman who first invoked it. Other shamans may lift the curse by generating more Appeasement points than were used to place the curse and then asking the spirits to check their anger. Most shamans don’t use this favor lightly. Curses are not to be trifled with.
Appeasement: 2 Duration: Instant Range: 50 yards/Appeasement This favor calls upon the spirits of the storm to strike the shaman’s enemy with lightning. Though powerful, lightning strike may only be used during a thunderstorm. If the ritual is successful, the target is automatically hit for 3d10 points of damage to the guts area. Every Appeasement point beyond the minimum increases the damage by an extra d10.
Medicine Appeasement: Varies Duration: Permanent Range: Touch This favor calls upon the spirits to accelerate Nature’s course and speed a patient’s healing. The number of Appeasement points required to heal a wound depends on
the highest level of wounds the character to be healed has sustained. (A serious wound requires 4 Appeasement points, for instance.) If the shaman achieves that many Appeasement points, the character in her care is healed completely. If not, he remains wounded. The shaman can try again if she’d like, with the usual penalties.
Medicine Wound Level Light Heavy Serious Critical Maimed (limb)
AP 2 3 4 5 6
Pact Appeasement: Varies Duration: Until used Range: Self This favor allows the shaman to make a sacred pact with a nature spirit which the spirit promises to honor at a later time. In effect, the shaman uses this favor to store another favor in some sort of token or fetish for later use. Spirits dislike being bound in this way and require high levels of Appeasement for such a service. For this reason, the Appeasement needed to forge such a pact is equal to twice the Appeasement normally required for the requested favor. The shaman must use some small token such as a feather or other fetish in the ritual. This fetish serves as a symbol of the spirit’s obligation and is needed to redeem it later. When the pact is forged, record the number of Appeasement points that were used. Half this number is used to determine the power of the promised favor when the fetish is redeemed. Keep in mind that if the shaman loses the fetish before the favor is used, those points are gone. Anyone possessing an unredeemed fetish may activate it (if they know what it is) as a simple action by touching it and making a Fair (5) Spirit roll. The person
Shamans does not have to know the particular favor that is stored in a fetish to activate it—but it’s usually best to find out, if possible. Activating a fetish with a curse bound in it could be inconvenient, to say the least. Even favors that can normally be used only by shamans can be granted in this way to non-shamans or even non-Indians. Spirits tend to avoid shamans who habitually bind them. For this reason, a shaman is at –2 per unredeemed promise to all ritual Aptitude rolls.
Shapeshift Appeasement: 4 Duration: 1 hour per Appeasement point Range: Self A shaman may use this favor to assume the form of an ordinary animal. The most common are the wolf, eagle, coyote, and fish. The Marshal has stats for some common critters in his book. Only the shaman’s body is affected by this transformation. Clothing and equipment carried by the shapeshifter are dropped unless they can be fitted to his new form. This favor may not be used to transform into any form of supernatural creature. Throughout the experience, the shaman retains his sense of self. He can return to his own form at any time he wishes, but he must then perform another ritual to take on an animal’s form once again.
Soar with Eagles Appeasement: 2/4 Duration: Concentration Range: Self The shaman’s spirit is guided by nature spirits into the body of the nearest raptor—a bird of prey. The shaman may see through the bird’s eyes. If 4 Appeasement points are used, the shaman has full control of the bird’s actions.
Spirit Warrior Appeasement: 1 Duration: 4 hours Range: Touch This favor allows a shaman or warrior to call upon the spirits for aid in battle. Unlike other favors, this one is tied to a particular ritual: body painting. The warrior must paint herself conspicuously to show that she is on the warpath prior to engaging in a fight. The recipient of the favor may add 1 level to her dodge, fightin’, or shootin’: bow Aptitude per Appeasement point. The one who asks for the favor must select the Aptitude that receives the bonus at the moment the favor is requested.
Strength of the Bear
If the bird is hurt while inhabited by the shaman, make a Spirit roll against the TN of the wound received by the animal. Failure means the shaman takes the same wounds to his own body. The shaman is in a trancelike state for the entire duration of the favor and may take no actions.
Speed of the Wolf Appeasement: 1 Duration: 6 rounds Range: Touch Speed of the wolf endows the recipient with the graceful speed of a running wolf. He may add 1d6 yards to his basic Pace per Appeasement point spent. Treat this as if it were his normal Pace—meaning he may run up to twice this amount in a round.
Appeasement: 1 Duration: 6 rounds Range: Touch The recipient of this favor is imbued with the powerful strength of a massive bear spirit. Indians with at least one level of faith can see the hazy outline of a huge grizzly around the warrior. The target’s Strength is increased by 1 step for each Appeasement point.
Vision Quest Appeasement: Varies Duration: Instant Range: Self A vision quest is a plea to the spirits for a glimpse into the outcome of a future action or event. Spirits don’t like to grant these requests. They are wild and chaotic beings themselves, and they realize the future can change in less than a heartbeat. Still, they can be talked into providing the most likely answer to a particular question if they are sufficiently appeased. The shaman may ask the spirits a single question. The importance of the question determines the Appeasement points needed. The Marshal has the final say on how much it costs. Nature spirits’ answers are always strange and indecipherable, but they never lie. The Marshal should concoct a
story that somehow communicates the answer to the question without directly giving it away.
Vision Quest Wilderness Walk AP 2
Information Requested A minor matter such as the success of a crop, marriage, birth, etc. A matter of import, such as a clue to the identity of a murderer or a hint as to the weakness of an abomination. A major matter such as the outcome of a proposed raid or whether someone might speak the truth at an important negotiation.
Appeasement: 2 Duration: Concentration Range: Touch Wilderness walk allows the shaman to move through the outdoors quietly and without leaving a trace. The earth spirits quiet the sound of the shaman’s footsteps, giving +8 to sneak rolls. They also make it impossible for someone to track the walker without magical aid. The nature spirits that perform this service refuse to enter villages, towns, or any other inhabited area. The shaman loses any benefits of the favor if he gets within 50 yards of such a place.
Shamanic Rituals Ritual Dance Fast Maim Paint Pledge Scar Tattoo
Trait Nimbleness Spirit Vigor Cognition Knowledge Vigor Deftness
Speed Varies Varies 1 Varies 1 1/2 Varies
Target Number Appeasement Varies 1 13-number of days fasting 3/success and raise Varies 3 Varies 2 9 1 7/5 1 Varies 2
Shamanic Favors Favor Appeasement Curse 3/5/7 Earth Speak 1 Guiding Wind 1 Lightning Strike 2 Medecine Varies Pact Varies Shapeshift 4 Soar With Eagles 2/4 Speed of the Wolf 1 Spirit Warrior 1 Strength of the Bear 1 Vision Quest Varies Wilderness Walk 2
Duration Range Permanent 10 Yards/Appeasement Concentration Touch 5 rounds Touch Instant 50 yards/Appeasement Permanent Touch Until Used Self 1 hour/Appeasement Self Concentration Self 6 rounds Touch 4 hours Touch 6 rounds Touch Instant Self Concentration Touch
Beyond the Pale There’s nothing worse to a gunfighter than having to scratch a notch off his pistol. In Deadlands, however, it just might happen. You see, death isn’t always the last you might hear of a really tough hombre. The Marshal should let you read this chapter whenever your character kicks the bucket and digs himself out of his hole.
The Harrowed Strong-willed individuals sometimes come back from the grave. As the Agency and Texas Rangers have learned (sometimes the hard way), these individuals are actually possessed by manitous, evil spirits who use the host’s mind and body to affect the physical world. These undead are called the “Harrowed,” which means “dragged forth from the earth.” Fortunately, a manitou in an undead host is slain if the brain is destroyed (one of the few ways they
can be killed), so they only risk their otherwise eternal souls on individuals with exceptional abilities. Weak or infirm mortals are only possessed when it suits some more diabolical purpose. Whenever a player character dies in the game and her body is mostly intact (especially the head), she draws 1 card from a fresh deck of cards plus 1 for every level she has in Grit. If the player draws a Joker of either color, her character is coming back from beyond the pale. Otherwise, the manitous are not interested in the character’s spirit and it passes unmolested through the Hunting Grounds to the Great Beyond. Most Harrowed stay in the hole 1d6 days. It takes a while to fight for the hero’s soul and then another 10–12 hours to dig herself out—assuming she was buried properly. Some come back quicker, some take longer—especially if the body was mangled worse than usual.
Few characters come back from the dead, so your hombre shouldn’t go catching bullets hoping to come back with cool powers. Unless your hero has a lot of Grit, odds are he’s just wormfood. If you’re really “dying” to play a Harrowed character, The Book o’ the Dead lets you create an undead from scratch and details all kinds of new powers and abilities.
Voices in your Head Manitous need a mortal soul to survive in the physical world. This means they must keep their host’s soul around. When they inhabit a Harrowed, they fight with the soul inside for control. Harrowed heroes remain in control of themselves most of the time (otherwise the Marshal would be running your character for you). But, from time to time the demon squirming around inside his head tries to hop into the driver’s seat. If
the manitou is strong enough, it can take control of your hero for a couple of minutes. If it gets too strong, it can take control of the body forever.
Dominion Points We represent this struggle for control with Dominion points. Harrowed characters have a total number of Dominion points equal to their Spirit. Having Dominion is pretty important. The more you have, the better your hero will be able to keep the demon inside him from coming out to play. When do you check for Dominion? Well, as you’ll learn in a minute, Harrowed do need to “sleep” for a couple of hours a night, and the manitou uses that opportunity to torment its host with nightmares and visions of evil deeds. While the hero’s mind is still reeling from the psychic assault, the manitou tries to sap a little of its host’s will, stealing Dominion. So, at the beginning of each game session, both the manitou and the hero should make an opposed Spirit check, adding their Dominion to their roll when they struggle for control.. The winner gains a point of Dominion for every success and raise he gets 53 over his opponent.
Manitous first battle for Dominion moments after snatching mortal souls as they pass through the Hunting Grounds. This spiritual test of wills manifests as a horrible nightmare drawn from your character’s past. That’s why we had you fill in the “worst nightmare” box on the back of your character sheet. When your character has his nightmare, the Marshal has two ways to carry it out. One way is quick and dirty and gets you back in the game quickly. In the other, you actually have to struggle through a solo adventure inspired by your hero’s nightmare. The result determines who’s in charge when your character’s corpse comes crawling up out of the earth. 52
The Unlife of the Harrowed So what’s it like being undead? It’s a mixed blessing. A walking corpse is a tough hombre in a fight, but he doesn’t have an easy time making friends. The first few hours an undead crawls back into the world aren’t pleasant. His last memories are of whatever caused his death, and then he usually finds himself waking up in a grave or some other strange place. Whatever wounds the cowpoke died of don’t seem as bad as they should, but he bears a scar or some other evidence of his death wound that never goes away. The Harrowed’s body doesn’t adjust to its new state quickly. At first, rigor mortis causes the character seizures, and his mind is fuzzy as well. The first day after returning from the grave, the Harrowed suffers a -4 to all actions. The second day, the modifier is -3, and so on. Things aren’t much better once the fog clears a bit. The character still doesn’t know why he thought he died and has now come back. Even more confusing, if he listens for a heartbeat, he hears one, though it sounds more like a pregnant flutter than a heartbeat (that’s the manitou wiggling around inside). If he tries to cut himself, he bleeds, but the blood is thick and dark and clots quickly. After a while, a new Harrowed eventually figure out he’s undead. When someone blows a hole through your gizzard and it’s healed up a few days later, it’s hard to deny something’s up. That’s when a fellow starts learning the up side of being a zombie.
Common Powers There a whole passel of powers common to all Harrowed characters, and they’re listed below. Harrowed characters can eventually learn two other types of powers: those they gain from defeating abominations, called Coup Powers, and those that are extensions of their own personality, called Harrowed Powers. More on both of those in a little bit.
Harrowed Death Wounds As you‘ll see in a bit, Harrowed regenerate. Slit one’s belly open and he’ll be fine in just a few days—you’d never even know he was wounded. The exception to this is the hero’s “death wound.” The wound that finally puts a fellow down never “sets” quite right. Those in the know can sometimes spot a Harrowed just by looking for these nasty wounds. Most Harrowed do the best they can to cover up their death wounds—the living don’t cotton to seeing other folks guts falling out of their bodies. Some wounds are easier to cover than others. A Harrowed who was strangled might just have to start wearing high-collared shirts after death.. If your hero gets her chest blown out by a double-barrel shotgun blast, she might have a bit more trouble.
Decay Undead characters always have pale, sallow skin. They don’t rot, since the manitous inside them sustain their bodies with magical energy, but they don’t exactly smell like roses either. Anyone dumb enough to put their nose up to a Harrowed character can detect the smell of decay on a Moderate (5) Cognition roll. Drinking about a quart or so of alcohol “pickles” the Harrowed for a day or so, raising the TN to an Incredible (11). Animals always react poorly to a piece of rotting meat that has the audacity to walk around on two legs. All horse ridin’, animal wranglin’, and teamster rolls are made at –2.
Drugs & Alcohol Harrowed can’t be poisoned, catch non-supernatural diseases, get drunk, or be affected by normal drugs. Some of them still think they can get drunk or drugged, and act accordingly. Habits of a lifetime die hard.
Food You might think death would put a serious crimp in a cowpoke’s appetite, but surprisingly, the undead do need to eat—at least if they want to repair any damage to their carcasses. Harrowed need meat. Fresh or carrion, it doesn’t really matter. The manitous draw energy from the meat and use it to repair the Harrowed’s body. (See Regeneration below). Harrowed don’t need water, but whiskey keeps the scent of the grave off of them a bit (see Decay).
Grit Becoming a member of the walking dead hardens the mind. Seeing a werewolf loping across a moonlit plain is still unnerving, but a fellow who can shoot himself in the heart and keep laughing learns to accept these things. Add +1 to your character’s Grit after returning from the grave.
Pain Undead don’t feel much pain, but they still can’t shoot as well if half their shooting hand is blown off. This allows them to ignore 2 levels of wound modifiers per area. In other words, serious wounds inflict a –1 penalty per area. Lesser wound modifiers are ignored. This is cumulative with Edges like thickskinned. The Harrowed can also ignore stun as well—unless the source is magical. Then they have to roll like anyone else.
Regeneration The same ability to suspend natural decay actually helps the undead regenerate their wounds as well. Harrowed characters may make natural healing rolls once per day instead of once per week.
As we mentioned under Food above, the Harrowed has to supply the manitou with some raw material in the form of meat. No meat, no healing roll. A Harrowed who’s been dismembered and can’t find anyone to feed him food is still “alive”—he’s just not real mobile. The only thing that can kill a Harrowed is if his brain is destroyed, so a dismembered undead is in his own personal little Hell. Harrowed can even survive beheading— but they really hate it. Harrowed can even heal severed body parts. It takes time of course, but if the harrowed can reattach the severed limb to the body, they may start making healing rolls normally. Once the wound is healed from maimed to critical, the limb can be used again. By the way, undead can’t benefit from any sort of healing that heals living flesh. Medicine, and even magical healing have no effect the Harrowed.
Sleep The manitous inside the Harrowed’s head need a little down time each night, usually about 1d6 hours for every 24 hour day. When it’s time to go night-night, the manitous usually just shuts the Harrowed down. This can be fought, but it’s not easy. Every hour that the hero wants to stay awake, he must make an opposed Spirit check with the manitou. If he wins, he’s up for another hour. If he loses, time to go sleepy-by. Fighting the manitou like this is pretty exhausting, The Harrowed loses 1d4 Wind for every 24 hour period that she doesn’t go dormant. When she finally does let the manitou put her down for a nap, she regains lost Wind at a rate of 1 per hour of sleep. Harrowed who drop to 0 Wind by resisting sleep drop like a—well, like a corpse. Once the body returns to 1 Wind, the manitou puts the hero to sleep for 1d6 hours as normal. Sleeping Harrowed aren’t totally oblivious to their surrounding, by the way. The manitou keeps an eye out for trouble. Should someone sneak up on the hero, allow him a Cognition roll versus the opponents sneak. Apply any modifiers for light sleepers as well.
Undeath The undead can ignore bleeding and Wind caused by physical damage, drowning, or other indirect damage that affects the body’s organs. The Harrowed still take Wind caused by magical or mental strain, such as failed guts checks or miscast hexes, however. They can also be hurt by magical means. Soul blast hexes work well, for instance. The Harrowed take wounds normally, but they can’t be killed except by destroying the brain—the manitou needs that to make the body function. If the noggin takes a killing blow (is maimed), the undead and the manitou inside it are destroyed. Killing blows to the guts area put a Harrowed down until the manitou inside heals the damage back to critical or less.
Counting Coup The greatest abominations are filled with supernatural essences that give them their power. Harrowed characters can steal this energy by standing over the creature as it dies and absorbing its essence. The Harrowed call this “counting coup” after the Indian tradition of touching their enemies. The particular power gained from an abomination is called its “coup.” Any Harrowed characters within a few feet
of the creature when it dies absorb its coup automatically. It’s impossible to tell ahead of time if a critter has a coup or, if it has one, what that power is. Only the most powerful abominations—singular “named” creatures such as the Headless Horseman, Dracula, or the like— generally have coup. The Marshal will tell you all about it when your hero puts down an abomination with a coup. Don’t worry too much about it ‘til then.
Harrowed Powers The Harrowed first emerge from the grave with only the powers common to all undead. After a while, however, they inevitably find themselves in danger and inadvertently tap into the manitou inside them. Below are a few powers to get your undead characters moving once they’re out of the wormhole. There’s a bunch more in the Book o’ the Dead, as well as rules for creating an undead character from scratch.
Buying Powers A Harrowed can buy a new power by spending 10 Bounty Points. He can choose any power for which he has a
recommended Edge or Hindrance. With the Marshal’s permission, he can also buy a power that fits his background or personality. The intent is for the Harrowed’s power to be an extension of his character. If the rules don’t fit the situation, break ‘em. We’ll call the rules police off this time. If the new power has multiple levels, the character starts at level 1. Additional levels may be bought with Bounty Points. Improving a power is like raising a Trait Level, but the cost is 2 times the new level. Raising claws from level 3 to level 4, for example, costs 8 Bounty Points. The powers available to an undead character are determined by the Marshal’s call alone. The best guide to go by is the character’s own Hindrances, Edges, background, and personality as a whole. The powers that the Harrowed can gain should be natural extensions of these factors. A character who is bloodthirsty, for example, might be able to raise her Strength or grow claws.
Harrowed Power Descriptions Each Harrowed power listed power has three elements: Speed, Duration, and Dispositions. Speed is the number of actions it takes to activate the power. Some powers, such as supernatural trait, are “always on” and don’t require any kind of activation. Duration is how long the power lasts. Concentration means the Harrowed must maintain her concentration on the power instead of other things and meanwhile can only perform simple actions like move or resist enemy tests of will. Dispositions are Edges and Hindrances that fit most easily with a particular power. You can use these to easily determine powers for a new Harrowed.
When choosing powers, try to choose those that make sense. A really nasty knife-fighter, for instance, might come back with claws. A huckster probably comes back with supernatural Smarts. Remember, these Dispositions are guidelines, not rules. You should feel free to pick powers you think fit best for a hero, regardless of Edges and Hindrances. Aptitudes and background stories are just as important, probably more so, but we can’t list those as easily.
Cat Eyes Speed: 2 Duration: Concentration Dispositions: Keen, “the stare,” bad eyes, curious Cat eyes grants an undead character the ability to see things others cannot, even stare directly into the murky depths of a man’s soul (to a certain extent). When used, the Harrowed’s eyes glow slightly, as an animal’s do when they catch the moonlight just right. The undead actually has to concentrate to use the ability. It is not considered “always on.” Harrowed characters with this power should be careful how and when they decide to use it. Sometimes the glowing side-effect can show an enemy just where to put his bullet if a Harrowed with cat eyes is trying to sneak up on him in the middle of a dark night. The ability gained at each level is shown on the table. The Harrowed has the abilities of his level and any levels below that too.
Cat Eyes Level Power 1 Distance: The character can see twice as far as anyone else. Add +4 to Cognition or search checks made to spot distant sights. 2 Heat: The Harrowed can detect heat sources at least as warm as a normal human at 50 yards. Note that background heat might obscure lesser sources.
Night: As long as there is any light source at all (including starlight), the character can see in almost total darkness as if it were daylight. Darkness: The character can see in complete darkness as if it were daylight. Soul Sight: The final stage allows the Harrowed to look directly into another’s soul. When activated, he can tell a person’s general inclination, if he’s lying, or if he’s an abomination or Harrowed by making a Hard (9) scrutinize roll. He can also add +4 to all his normal scrutinize rolls.
Claws Speed: 1 Duration: As desired Dispositions: Two-fisted, all thumbs, bloodthirsty, one-armed bandit, ugly as sin, vengeful Saloon gals can leave vicious scratches down a fellow’s back, but that’s nothing. These claws can go right through a spine. The character’s hands turn into cruel claws at will. The higher the level, the bigger the claws. The damage of the claws is added to the character’s Strength roll whenever she hits using
Harrowed fightin’: brawlin’, just like the claws were a hand-held blade. The character can retract the claws by simply thinking about it. Keeping them out or in requires absolutely no concentration on the Harrowed’s part.
Claws Level 1 2 3 4 5
Damage +1d4 +1d6 +1d8 +1d10 +1d12
Ghost Speed: 2 Duration: Concentration (Varies) Dispositions: Ailin’, bad eyes, curious, haunted, night terrors, pacifist, thin skinned Some people seem to have walked through life untouched by anything. Sometimes that continues even after death.
The character and any objects he wears or carries can become completely insubstantial at will. This allows him to walk through walls and ignore physical attacks. Of course, he cannot affect the physical world without materializing himself by ending his use of the power The Harrowed can be affected by supernatural attacks, like the huckster hex soul blast. A “ghosted” undead is not invisible, however. He appears just as a solid as ever, right up until somebody tries to grab his shoulder and winds up sticking her hand straight through him. The amount of Wind it requires to remain immaterial depends on the level of the power.
Ghost Level 1 2 3 4 5
Wind per Round 5 4 3 2 1
Soul Eater Speed: 1 Duration: Special Dispositions: Ailin’, greedy, hankerin’ Those who hungered in life—whether for power, money or simple creature comforts—can continue to hunger after death. Of course, the hunger takes a different and more sinister form. Soul eater is one of the undead’s cruelest weapons. The Harrowed grasps her victim by the throat and squeezes as if trying to choke him. In a heartbeat, the victim’s life force is drawn from his body and consumed by the hungry undead. A soul eating undead must first get at least one raise on an opposed fightin’: brawlin’ roll. When she does, she has the victim by the throat and can begin to drain out his life force. This is an opposed Spirit roll. The difference is the amount of Wind the Harrowed drains if successful. If he fails, nothing happens. The Harrowed can use the stolen life force to revitalize herself in some way. As her skill in the power grows, she has more options to choose from. The amount of Wind the power steals is determined by the level of the power the Harrowed is using. Stolen Wind fades if not used immediately.
Soul Eater Level 1
Power Restoration: Stolen Wind restores the undead’s Wind on a 1 for 1 basis. Regeneration: Every 5 points of stolen Wind regenerates a wound level in one area on the Harrowed’s body. Bolster: Every 5 points of stolen Wind raises the undead’s Strength by one step. A step of the stolen Strength is lost every 10 minutes until it eventually returns to normal.
table below is how exactly often the undead with this power can attempt a healing roll.
Stitchin’ Level 1 2 3 4 5
Healing Roll Frequency Every 12 hours Every 6 hours Every 3 hours Every hour Every 10 minutes
Supernatural Trait Stitchin’ Speed: Special Duration: Permanent Dispositions: Thick skinned, big ’un, overconfident Undead can heal themselves faster than ordinary folks. The manitous inside them draw supernatural energy from the air around them to stitch up their holes and keep them looking awful pretty. As pretty as a warmedover, strutting corpse can get, anyway. Stitchin’ allows undead to regenerate their wounds even faster than the Harrowed normally can. The rate at which they do so depends on the level of the power. The time shown on the
Speed: Always on Duration: Permanent Dispositions: Any A gunslinger with supernatural Quickness is deadlier than a Gatling gun. A mad scientist with paranormal Smarts can make an awful lot of Gatling guns, however. This power raises any one Trait (chosen when the power is awarded or purchased) by one step per level. The power is tied to a particular Trait, though a character can have multiple supernatural traits. The trait raised should somehow reflect the character’s personality or past. A gunslinger might gain supernatural Quickness, for instance.
Harrowed Powers Power Cat’s Eyes Claws
Soul Eater Stitchin’ Supernatural Trait
Speed 2 1
Duration Concentration As desired
Dispositions Keen, “the stare,” bad eyes, curious Two-fisted, all thumbs, bloodthirsty, one-armed bandit, ugly as sin, vengeful 2 Concentration (Varies) Ailin’, bad eyes, curious, haunted, night terrors, pacifist, thin skinned 1 Special Ailin’, greedy, hankerin’ Special Permanent thick skinned, big ‘un, overconfident Always on Permanent Any appropriate to raised Trait
Shootin’ Irons Weapons Shots Caliber ROF Automatics Gatling Gun* 45 .36 3 Gatling Pistol* 12 .44 3 Carbines Sharps ‘55 1 .57 C&B 1 Spencer 7 .56 1 LeMat Carbine 9 .42 1 &Shotgun* 1 16-ga 1 Derringers & Pepperboxes Derringer 2 .44 2 English 1840 Model* 8 .36 C&B 1 Rupertus Pepperbox 8 .22 1 Wesson Dagger-Pistol 2 .41 1 Pistols, Single-Action Colt Army 6 .44 1 Colt Buntline Special* 6 .45 1 Colt Dragoon 6 .44* 1 Colt Navy 6 .36 1 Colt Peacemaker 6 .45 1 Knuckle-Duster* 5 .32 1 Lemat Grapeshot Pistol 9 .40 1 & Shotgun* 1 16-gauge 1 Pistols, Double-Action Colt Frontier 6 .32-20 2 Colt Lightning 6 .38 2 Colt Peacemaker 6 .45 2 Colt Thunderer 6 .41 2 Starr Revolver 6 .44 C&B 2 Rifles Ballard ‘72 1 .56 C&B 1 Bullard Express 11 .50 1 Colt-Paterson Model ‘36* 7 .69 C&B 1 Colt Revolving Rifle 5 .56 C&B 1 Enfield Musket* 1 .58 C&B 1 (muzzle-loader) Evans Old Model Sporter* 34 .44 Evans 1 Remington ‘71 1 .50-.70 1 Sharp’s Big 50 1 .50 1 Springfield* 1 .58 C&B 1 (muzzle-loader) Winchester ‘73 15 .44-40 1 Winchester ‘76 15 .45 1 Shotguns Colt Revolving Shotgun 5 12-gauge 1 Double barrel 2 12-gauge 2 Scattergun 2 12-gauge 2 Single barrel 1 12-gauge 1 Winchester Lever-Action 4 12-gauge 1 Other Flamethrower 30 — 1d6
Range Increment Price
5d8 4d8 3d6 Special
15 15 15 5
$18 $15 $35
3d6 2d6 2d4 2d6
5 5 5 5
$8 $5 $6 $6
3d6 3d6 3d6 2d6 3d6 2d6 2d6 Special
10 10 10 10 10 5 10 5
$12 Special $11 $10 $15 $8 $25 —
2d6 2d6 3d6 2d6 3d6
10 10 10 10 10
$8 $13 $15 $14 $9
5d10 5d8 5d8
20 20 10
$25 $24 $25
4d8 4d10 4d10 5d8
20 20 20 20
$30 $20 $20 $8
Special Special Special Special Special
10 10 5 10 10
$45 $35 $35 $25 $35
*See Individual weapon notes at the end of this chapter
Hit Location 1d20 1–4 5–9 10 11–14 15–19 20 +2 +/-2
Location Legs Lower Guts Gizzards Arms Upper Guts Noggin
Fightin’ W eapons Weapons
When fightin’ Waist-high height advantage when fightin’ Head-high height advantage when fightin’ Pont blank range when shootin’
Weapon Bolo Brass Knuckles Club, small Club, large Fist Knife Knife, large (Bowie) Rapier Saber Spear Tomahawk Whip Lariat
Shootin’ Mods Situation Modifier Firer is walking –2 Firer is running –6 Firer is mounted –2 Size Varies Target moving Pace 20+ –4 Target totally concealed –4 Torchlight, twilight –4 Moonlight –6 Blind, total darkness –8
Called-Shots Size Penalty Guts –2 Legs, arms –4 Heads, hands, feet –6 Eyeball, heart –10
— — +1 — +1 +1 +2 +2 +3 — +1 —
STR+1d4 STR+1d4 STR+1d6 STR STR+1d4 STR+1d6 STR+2d6 STR+2d8 STR+2d6 STR+2d6 STR —
$1 — — — $2 $4 $10 $15 $3 $3 $10 $4
Fightin’ Mods Situation Modifier Attacker is running –4 Attacker has high position –2 Size Varies Target totally concealed –4 Torchlight, twilight –4 Moonlight –6 Blind, total darkness –8 Attacker Armed Weapon’s DB
Armor Armor Light 1 2 3 4 5 6
Material Boiled leather, heavy cloth Wood less than 1” thick 1–3” of solid wood, tin 4–6” of solid wood, thin metal A small tree, bricks, an iron pan A large tree, armored train walls Inch-thick steel plate
Other Ranged W eapons Weapons Weapons Bolas Bow & arrow Dynamite* Nitro* Thrown knife Thrown spear
Ammo Bolo Arrow 1 stick 8 oz. bottle Knife Spear
ROF 1 1 1 1 1 1
Damage STR+1d4 STR+1d6 3d20 (BR 10) 3d20 (BR 10) STR+1d6 STR+2d6
Range Increment 5 10 5 5 5 5
Price $3 $3 $3 $1.25 $3 $3
Author’s Afterword It all began on that 14-hour trip home from GenCon. That long drive through the night, after five days of heavy carousing and over-stimulation from all the incredible games, was always good for ideas on the many freelance projects I got to work on. But there was something about this one. I saw a painting by Brom (the Undead Confederate Rebel) and the idea of zombie cowboys just wouldn’t leave me. It was well over a year later that I ran this game. I made up some quick rules and told my friends we were going to play an historical rpg. They were Union spies infiltrating Rebel raiders in the hills of Kentucky. I kept up the charade for 2-3 sessions, before the Rebels discovered their true identities. Then I hung ‘em all. The gang thought it was all over and started packing up their dice. Then I put each of them in separate rooms and told them they had somehow survived, but were buried alive! Slowly, each player clawed his way back to the surface and found themselves in Boot Hill overlooking the town of Tombstone. They ventured down into town and found it had been wiped out by murderous desperadoes. The carnage was thick and gruesome. When they got to the offices of the Epitaph, they found the editor run through the printing press. The newspaper talked about the gang that was coming to town, revealing two startling facts. First, the date on the paper was 1876, thirteen years after they had been hung. Second, the bloodthirsty bandits the paper talked about was none other than the player characters themselves. They learned they were dead a little later that night, when a posse of Union cavalry came to deal with them. That was rough, for these were good characters who didn’t want to fight their fellow bluebellies. It was the next session before they figured out their “unlife” continued only because a malevolent demon was squirming around inside their guts. That’s how it all started. Another year went by and the freelancing pool started drying up. I had already published a historical miniatures game (Fields of Honor) and John Hopler’s The Last Crusade card game under the Pinnacle label. Now I wanted to do Deadlands, but a roleplaying game is different than the previous “one-shots” I’d done before. It would require a full-time company, and a few employees. To help me make things right, I called on my “mentor,” Greg Gorden, who had published my first professional work, The Temple of Rec Stalek for TORG (West End Games). Then I called one of the most prolific freelancers in the industry, Matt Forbeck. The two liked the idea enough that they wanted to be part of the company as well. We sealed the deal on my snow-covered trampoline in December of ‘95 (and yes, my wife Michelle took video!) Greg had to bow out soon after, but Matt stayed on. Soon after, my long-time friend John Hopler joined the team. Thanks to him and Matt, Greg Gorden (Fate Chips), a few comic pages by Allan Nunis (which spawned the idea for hucksters), and my always supportive wife, Michelle, we were able to get the game out for GenCon ‘96. We couldn’t believe the response. Since then, we’ve done well enough that Deadlands peaked in April ‘99 as the 3rd best-selling rpg on the market. Last year, I moved on to our sequel, Hell on Earth, leaving the talented and always enthusiastic Hal Mangold in charge of my baby. I remain a rabid fan of our own line, and to me, that’s the greatest compliment I can give Hal, my old game master, John Goff, John Hopler, Matt Forbeck, and all the other writers and artists who have contributed to this incredible story. The gaming industry is rough sometimes, friends. But the friends and fans I’ve made have made any harships suffered worth every minute of it. I thank you all for that, and hope to see you in person at the summer conventions. Until then, happy trails. Or as we like to say, twisted trails.
Shane May 19, 1999
Note! Subtract 2 if you’re looking for a page number in the free PDF to account for the cover and ad page we added. Thanks!
A Academia 38 Aces 25 Action Cards 113 Action Deck 113 Actions 114-115 Active Defense 129 Ailin’ 49 Aiming 122 All Thumbs 49 Ammunition 77 Animal Wranglin’ 38-39 Appeasement 180, 182 Aptitudes 38-48 Arcane Background 60 Archetypes 81-102 Area Knowledge 39 Armor 132-133 Arrows 77 Artillery 39 Arts 39 Automatic Weapons 121-122
B Background Bad Ears Bad Eyes Bad Luck Basic Skills Belongings Big ‘Un Big Britches Big Ears Bleedin’ Blessed Bloodthirsty Blueprints Bluff Bolas Bounty Points Bow Brave Brawlin’ Damage Brawny Broken Bullet-Proof Vest Burst Radius
68 49 50 50 38 60-61 50 50 61 139 173-177 51 165-166 39 129 145, 146 40 61 135-136 61 117 168 139
C Call o’ the Wild Called Shots, Fightin’ Called Shots, Shootin’ Cards Carrying a Load Cat Eyes Cheatin’ Claws Climbin’ Cognition Components, Gizmo Concealment Construction Time Corporeal Traits Corporeal Tweak Corporeal Twist Counting Coup Coup Cover Curious Curse
155 129 122 23 116 196 114 197 40 35 167 119 167 35 156 156 195 195 131 51 185
D Damage 132, 134-140 Dance 182 Death Wish 51 Defense Bonuses 128 Deftness 35 Dementia 164 Demolition 40 Deviation 126 Dice 23 Dinero 61 Disguise 40 Distracted 117 Dodge 40 Dominion 192 Don’t Get `Im Riled! 61
Doubting Thomas Drawing A Bead Drivin’ Drownin’
51 122 40 139
Duels Dying Dynamite
124 141 79, 139
E Easgle Eyes 62 Earshot 156-157 Earth Speak 186 Edges 60-67 El Cheapo Gear 73-74 Enemy 51 Epitaph Camera 168-169 Exceptional Horses 74 Exorcism 175 Experience 146 Expert Aptitudes 147 Explosives 79-139
F Faith 41, 173-175 Fallin’ 139 Fannin’ 122 Fast 183 Fast-Draw Holsters 77 Fate Chips 143-148 Favors 185-189 Ferner 52 Fightin’, Aptitude 41 Fightin, in combat 127-129 Filchin’ 41 Fire 169 Flamethrowers 169 Fleet Footed 62 Friends in High Places 62
G Gamblin’ Gatling Gun Gatling Pistol Gear Geezer Ghost
41 75 170 73-79 52 197-198
Ghost Rock 7 Gift of Gab 62 Gizmos 68-71 Gizzards 130, 134-135 Going Bust 26 Greedy 52 Grim Servant o’ Death 52 Grit 37 Guiding Wind 186 Guns 77-79 Guts 41
H Habit 52-53 Hangin’ 140 Hankerin’ 53 Harrowed 191-199 Harrowed Powers 196-199 Healin’ 141 Heavy Sleeper 53 Helpin’ Hand 157 Heroic 53 Hexes 154-161 Hexslingin’ 153-154 High Falutin 53 Hindrances 49-59 History 7-14 Hit Locations 130 Holy Roller 175 Horses 42 Horse Ridin’
Hoyle’s Book Of Games Hoyle, Edmund Huckster Hunch
152-153 151-153 151-161 157
I Illiterate Improvin’ Innocent Bystanders Inspiration
53 146-148 126-127 175
J Jokers, Action Deck Jokers, Character Creation
K Keen Kemosabe Kid Knowledge
62 62 54 36
L Lame 55 Languages 42 Lariats 129 Law 18-19 Law Man 62-63 Law o’ the West 54 Lay On Hands 176 Leadership 42 Legend Chips 143, 145 Level Headed 63 Light Sleeper 63 Lightning Strike 186 Lockpickin’ 43 Loco 55 Loyal 55 Luck O’ The Draw 36-37 Luck of the Irish 64 Lyin’ Eyes 55
M Mad Scientists 163-171 Mad Science 43, 164-166 Maim 183 Maimed Locations 136 Malfunctions 168 Map 108-109
Marshals 18 Massive Damage 135 Mean As A Rattler 55 Mechanically Inclined 64 Medicine, Aptitude 43 Medecine, Favor 186-187 Mental Traits 35-36 Mien 36 Mind Tweak 157 Mind Twist 158 Miracles 175-177 Miser 55 Missed Me! 158 Modifiers, Fightin’ 128 Modifiers, Shootin’ 119 Movement 116 Mysterious Past 37
N Native Tongue 42 Nerves o’ Steel 64 Night Terrors 56 Nightmare 192 Nimbleness 35 Nitroglycerine 79, 139 Noggin’ 130,134-135 Nonlethal Damage 135-136
O Oath 56 Obligation 56 Old Ways 181 One-Armed Bandit 57 Opposed Roll 26-27 Ordeals 181 Outlaw 55-57 Overawe 44
P Pace Pacifist Pact Paint Performin’ Persuasion Phantom Fingers Pledge Poker Chips
36, 116 57 187 184 44 44 158 184 23
Poker Hands Poverty Price List Private Eye Professional Prone Protection Purty
157 57 75 159 44-45 131 176 64
Q Quick Draw Quickness
R Raise 26 Randy 57 Range 118 Rank 64-65 Rate of Fire 118 Recoil 121 Recovery Checks 138 Related Aptitudes 26 Reliability 121, 168 Reloadin’ 126 Renown 65 Ridicule 45 Rifle Spin 123 Ritual 45, 180-182 Rituals 1182-185 Rocket Pack 170-171 Rounding Down 24 Rounds 113 Running 116
S Sacrifice 177 Sanctify 177 Sand 65 Scar 184-185 Science 45 Scrawny 57 Scroungin’ 45 Scrutinize 45 Search 45 Self-Righteous 57 Sense of Direction 65 Shadow Man 159 Shadow Walk 159
Shamans 179-189 Shapeshift 187 Shootin’, Aptitude 46 Shootin’, in combat 118-127 Shootin’ Irons 77-79 Shotguns 120 Sdiekick 65-66 Size 37, 135 Sleight of Hand 45 Slowpoke 58 Smarts 36 Smite 177 Sneak 46 Soar With Eagles 187-188 Soul Blast 159-160 Soul Eater 198-199 Speed Of The Wolf 188 Speed-Load 46 Spirit 36 Spirit Warrior 188 Squeaky 58 Squeamish 58 Stare, The 66 Steam Wagon 171 Stitchin’ 199 Streetwise 47 Strength 35 Strength Of The Bear 188 Stubborn 58 Stun 137-138 Succor 177 Supernatural Trait 199 Superstitious 58 Surprise 114 Survival 47 Swimmin’ 47
T Tale-Tellin’ Target Numbers Tattoo Teamster Test of Wills
47 25 185 47 117
Texas Twister Theory Thick-Skinned Thin Skinned Throwin’ Tinhorn Tinkerin’ Tough As Nails Trackin’ Trade Traits Travel Speed Trinkets Tuckered Two-Fisted Two-Gun Kid
160-161 165 66 58 47 58 48 66 48 48 34-37 15 161 58 66 123
U Ugly As Sin Unnerved Unskilled Checks
58 117 26
V Vamoosin’ Vengeful Veteran of the Weird West Vigor Vision Quest Voice, The
129 59 67 35 188-189 67
W Weird Science 164 Whips 129 Wilderness Walk 189 Wind 37, 138-139 Witch Hunters 158 Wounds 136-137
X, Y, Z Yearnin’ Yeller
Ammo One 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Bow Filchin’ Lockpickin’ Shootin’ ______________ Sleight o’ Hand Speed Load Throwin’ ______________ _____________
Knowledge Ammo Three
Artillery Arts ______________ Scrutinize Search (1) Trackin’ _____________
Deftness Ammo Two
Traits & Aptitudes
___ ___ ___ ___
___ ___ ___
___ ___ ___ ___
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Animal Wranglin’ ______________ Leadership Overawe Performin’ ______________ Persuasion Tale Tellin’ _______________ _______________
___ ___ ___
Academia ___________ ___________ Area Knowledge Home County (2) ______________ Demolition Disguise Language ___________ ___________
Mad Science Medicine ______________ Professional ___________ ___________ Science ___________ ___________ Trade ___________ ___________ _______________ _______________
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Climbin’ (1) Dodge Drivin’ Fightin’ ___________ ___________
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Shootin’ Irons & Such Weapon __________ __________ __________
Shots _____ _____ _____
RoF ___ ___ ___
Range ____ ____ ____
Damage _______ _______ _______
Hand-to-Hand Weapons Weapon Fist _______ _______
Defense _ _______ _______
Speed 1 ____ ____
Damage ___________ ___________ ___________
___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Horse Ridin’ Sneak (1) Swimmin’ Teamster _____________
Quick Draw ______________ _____________
2 3 4
Bluff Gamblin’ Ridicule Scroungin’ Streetwise Survival ______________ Tinkerin’ _____________ _____________
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Red Chips 1 2 3 4 5
Faith Guts _____________ _____________
___ ___ ___ ___
Blue Chips 1 2 3 4 5
Wound Key Light Heavy Serious Critical Maimed
White Green Yeller Red Black
(mark wounds with colored paper clips)
Rt. Arm Lt. Arm Guts Rt. Leg Lt. Leg
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
Arcane Abilities White Chips 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Red Chips 1
Hexslingin’ ___ Ritual
Power _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________
Duration _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______ _______
Speed ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
Range ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
Trait _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
TN ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Notes _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________
Edges & Hindrances
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5 6
Ammo Two 1 2 3 4
_____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________
Wounds Head Rt. Arm Lt. Arm Guts Rt. Leg Lt. Leg
Character Notes ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________
Equipment _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________
Ammo Three 1 2 3 4 5
Your Worst Nightmare
_____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________ _____________________________________
10 11 12 13 14 15
Wind (Vigor ’n’ Spirit)
34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Changes We’d like to thank those of you who have journeyed through the Weird West before. We hope you feel the changes we’ve made were worth your money, and we deeply appreciate the hard-earned dinero. To make things easy as possible on you veterans of the Weird West, here are the most significant changes to the game from this book. Trait Checks (36): Coordinations have always bugged us, so we got rid of them. Sort of. They’re now called “Trait Levels,” which in itself isn’t a big change, but it changes the mindset of those who are frustrated that their Trait is often better than their skill, particularly when making the old-style default rolls (see the change to those below). We also draw attention from the controlling Trait by having you list your character’s Aptitudes with the die type. It’s subtle, but it makes the game much easier for new players to learn. Default Skill Rolls (26): Along with the change to Trait checks, we made default rolls diffferent so that players aren’t looking at their 1d12 search and wondering why they wouldn’t want to always roll their 4d12 Deftness instead, even with the old “unskilled” penalty of -8. Changing the way unskilled rolls works to a single die with a -4 penalty also changes the mindset of those who think it’s better to be unskilled at something and suffer the modifier than to get less dice. (Statistically, it’s true in some cases and not in others.) Skill Lists (38-48): These are now alphabetized instead of listed with individual Traits. Throwin’ (46): Who wants a concentration for all the different things you can throw? Like with Hell on Earth, we divided the concentrations up into balanced and unbalanced. Night Terrors (56): Everyone hated the way this Hindrance worked, and it was a pain in the saddlesore to keep up with. The new night terrors works like this. Make a Spirit roll at the beginning of each session or lose your lowest chip. If you do lose a chip, however, your character experiences a prescient dream as before.
Gift o’ Gab (62): Characters now get to pick up languages as if they had a skill of 1 after a few minutes of conversation. This cleared up some ambiguities on the old system. Luck o’ the Irish (63): This Edge now give the character an extra Fate Chip per session. Much simpler. Knacks (Quick & the Dead): These are no longer Edges. Your character can get them only by gaining a mysterious past (drawing a Joker during character creation). Movement (116): In earlier editions, movement was broken up over your actions. That was mainly done to figure out when a character was running or not. It was clunky and made for some strange situations (characters with more actions moved in small increments while slower characters raced around the battle area). We changed it so that your hero can still move up to twice his Pace in a round, but you can break it up however you want. Move over his Pace in a single action and he gets the running penalty. Weapon Speed (118): The biggest change to combat is that we got rid of weapon speeds. We originally did this so that there was a difference between single- and double-action pistols. It’s a very slight difference in the real world, and hard to model in a game. We started with the most realistic but it made single-actions, rifles, and shotguns slow and a pain to remember the “shootin’ from the hip” modifier. So we ditched all that and did this instead: double-actions get to fire twice each action while single-actions fire once (but can fan). Rifles and shotguns can fire once per action. Fate Chips (145): Chips can be spent on the Strength portion ofhand-to-hand damage rolls. Legend chips can be used to reroll anything, including table results like backlash. They’re also discarded once used! Use ‘em wisely! Hexes (154): Hucksters have gotten a rock from the start. Not only did they have to buy each hex as its own skill, they then had to make a skill roll, draw cards, and risk getting their heads blown off by manitous as well. They still have to do the card business, but red Jokers are always good, and all their hexes now use a single skill—hexslingin’. That means they can get better at their craft and have better chances to pull off their spells. Mad Scientists (165): Red Jokers are always good and no longer cause madness. Rituals (182): Shamans got the same makeover that hucksters did. Their various rituals are now one skill with several concentrations.