The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed - Coming in December and available for pre-order now
Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Exeter, UK

    Default Deadlands Classic advice

    I'm well on the way to acquiring a slew of Deadland books and they look to be using the original system. I know the classic rules involving cards and poker chips but beyond that I have no idea how well it plays when compared to the d20 or GURPS editions.

    Any first hand experience? If there are issues are they manageable? More importantly is it fun? I've heard the later editions lost a lot of the charm from the old system, but are there any pitfalls I should be wary of when running a game?
    Purveyor of Pies and the Iron Kingdoms!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Midwest, not Middle East
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    I've found the most important skill in Deadlands is Guts. Everyone needs Guts, or they'll be more likely to freak out, get phobias, and generally be useless. Watch for characters becoming bundles of neuroses.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Kobold

    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Somerville, MA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    I haven't played Deadlands in anything but the original system and I intend to keep it that way. The cards and poker chips add a lot to the feel of the game. They also add complexity that will be new and fun for players who are already used to D&D.
    If you like what I have to say, please check out my GMing Blog where I discuss writing and roleplaying in greater depth.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Exeter, UK

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    From what I've read thus far of the player's guide it looks pretty solid. The scaling dice seem nifty and as a few of us have already played around with GURPs the aptitudes and edges/hindrances lists don't seem that intimidating.
    Purveyor of Pies and the Iron Kingdoms!

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Swordguy's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Covington, KY
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    Deadlands is awesome. Runs very well, and has a feel unlike anything else I've played.

    About the only thing I can recall offhand that required real changing on the part of the GM was the Soul Blast spell that hucksters throw. A huckster will draw 7-10 cards on a given spellcasting attempt, and needs only an ace or better to cast the spell (in practice, the huckster is more or less guaranteed to cast the spell - an 83% chance of getting 2 of a kind when drawing 7 cards, and better with more drawn, obviously). A .45 revolver does 3d6 points of damage, has to successfully hit, and person will generally take 3-ish shots to die. The Soul Blast does something like 6d8 on a pair - which is instant-kill territory for almost any human in the game, and auto-hits on a successful casting.

    It makes non-magical gunslinger-type characters obsolete very quickly, even with the downside of possibly drawing a manitou card. Our solution was to drop the die type to d6s, which balanced it quite well. It now generally takes 2 hits to kill someone - better than the gunslinger with a .45 - but you can draw a manitou and screw yourself up.

    Hexslingers can be pretty nasty too (Kentucky Windage+Loaded for Bear=huge hit bonuses and d20's rolled for damage), but they end up with more points of failure than the huckster because they have to split XP between casting AND shooting, so they're both more likely to fail spellcastings and to miss shots. I'd still recommend allowing either Kentucky Windage OR Loaded for Bear on any given PC.

    Oh, and stay away from the d20 system Deadlands - it's everything that's wrong with d20 conversions. Copy-pasting from the 3.x books, mindless typos, and the complete loss of the gritty horror feel that made Deadlands (Cthuhlic horror+cowboys) unique - due almost entirely to the HP/BAB/ititerave attack mechanic.
    Last edited by Swordguy; 2008-08-18 at 04:37 AM. Reason: Hooray for early-morning dropped tags!
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag
    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin
    Thus, knowing none of us are Sun Tzu or Napoleon or Julius Caesar...
    No, but Swordguy appears to have studied people who are. And took notes.
    "I'd complain about killing catgirls, but they're dead already. You killed them with your 685 quadrillion damage." - Mikeejimbo, in reference to this

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Darrin's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Cleveland, OH
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    Great game, oozing with flavor... a good example where the theme is so cool it makes up for the klunky mechanics. (The rules system sometimes looks like the designers thought that games like Shadow Run or Exalted "just didn't use *enough* dice".)

    Guts is very important, but the Fear rules as-written can make the game unplayable. Most starting characters have a 2d6 Guts roll, and most of the mundane monsters/horrors you run into have guts check TNs that start at 9 and go up from there... AND the GM is supposed to add the fear level to all guts check TNs. If the GM doesn't tone down or modify the TNs/fear level, it's very easy for even veteran characters to roll a heart attack or something worse on the fear table just for seeing a dead body (he should be rerolling 6's on the fear table, and you also reroll 6's when you lose wind). The lower end of the fear table pretty much never gets used because you never run into anything with a guts check less than 9.

    If you have the points for it, the Nerves of Steel edge is only 1 point, and can be extremely helpful on a blown guts save. It prevents you from what we called "scree fleaming", although you still have to take the rest of the effects from the fear table.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordguy View Post
    About the only thing I can recall offhand that required real changing on the part of the GM was the Soul Blast spell that hucksters throw. A huckster will draw 7-10 cards on a given spellcasting attempt, and needs only an ace or better to cast the spell (in practice, the huckster is more or less guaranteed to cast the spell - an 83% chance of getting 2 of a kind when drawing 7 cards, and better with more drawn, obviously). A .45 revolver does 3d6 points of damage, has to successfully hit, and person will generally take 3-ish shots to die. The Soul Blast does something like 6d8 on a pair - which is instant-kill territory for almost any human in the game, and auto-hits on a successful casting.
    I don't recall Soul Blast ever being that effective. In order to draw 7 cards, the Huckster would have to roll a 15 on his hexslinging skill (a good, but not very common roll on 5d12, assuming the skill is maxed), and to draw 10 cards, he'd have to roll a 30. And if he does draw 7-10 cards, the odds of drawing a black joker go way up (and he *has* to draw all those cards, unless he has the Old Hand edge). Backlash at the very least winds the huckster, and often ruins the hex or leads to other disastrous results. Getting an Ace on a Soul Blast does 1d6 wind damage. Getting a simple pair is I think 1d4 or 1d6 real damage. To get up to 6d8 damage, you need something like a full house or straight, which is extremely unlikely even with 7-10 cards. A hand that good is only likely to happen maybe once per campaign, and the huckster is almost guaranteed to get backlash on it.

    There are a couple overpowered hexes in the game, but Soul Blast isn't one of them. It can be very effective, particularly because it ignores armor and cover, and sometimes the players may find themselves up against something that is immume to everything except supernatural damage, but the mechanics for huckstering are stacked against the huckster. He's more likely to have his brains bleed out of his ears on failed hexes, backlash, and ever-accumulating dementias well before he gets off a hex that actually *does something useful*. Hucksters can be very fun to play, but they tend to have short lifespans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swordguy View Post
    Hexslingers can be pretty nasty too (Kentucky Windage+Loaded for Bear=huge hit bonuses and d20's rolled for damage), but they end up with more points of failure than the huckster because they have to split XP between casting AND shooting, so they're both more likely to fail spellcastings and to miss shots. I'd still recommend allowing either Kentucky Windage OR Loaded for Bear on any given PC.
    Hexslingers don't tend to be all that effective, even with Kentucky Windage+Loaded For Bear. They have to spend even more points on two arcane backgrounds, a high quickness, a high hexslinging, and a high shootin' skill, which generally means they have no other useful skills (and tend to be very thin in the Guts, Vigor, and Wind department). Also, getting the Kentucky Windage and Loaded for Bear hexes up and running require actions. Up against a straight gunslinger with maximized shootin' and quickness, the gunslinger will most likely get two or three shots off before the hexslinger gets his hexes up and ready to fire, blowing away a wound location or a large chunk of the hexslinger's chips.

    The most powerful characters tend to be the Blessed. They usually have Spirit maxed out so they have a great Guts roll, they have unlimited healing, and they can get free chips on their skill checks with the Holy Roller miracle.

    Another bit of advice: unless you know what you're doing and have a huge stack of chips, *AVOID EXPLOSIVES* like nitroglycerin or dynamite. If they do come up in the game, check with your GM on how he wants to handle massive damage, since there were a couple rules changes on that since the original rulebook came out.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Exeter, UK

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    Well sheeyoot that wus some mighty fine review wranglin' there, pards!* Ahem. Seriously cheers for the update guys! It's nice to know that I've backed a good horse here. Will definitely check up on the Huckster's powers; I've got a couple of batman players here so the thought of playing a friggin' card shark batman may be too much for them.

    Another question though- the typical functional party has arcane, tank, skillmonkey & divine roles filled, but does that carry over in Deadlands or are there new roles to fill? Heck, are necessary roles even required? I'm not really sure how a typical deadlands party breaks down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    Great game, oozing with flavor... a good example where the theme is so cool it makes up for the klunky mechanics. (The rules system sometimes looks like the designers thought that games like Shadow Run or Exalted "just didn't use *enough* dice".)
    Heh, I seem to have a knack of finding games like these. Iron Kingdoms, too, can be cumbersome but the fleshed out world and its flavour got me and my group pretty much hooked to the steampunk goodness.

    *note to self: still need to learn how to speak like a cowboy..
    Purveyor of Pies and the Iron Kingdoms!

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Kansas
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    Deadlands will make use of your full dice set. . .but our posse loves the crunch. The hit locations/wounds system keeps even seasoned characters on their toes-which is a good thing for the setting.

    It can have a high character turnover, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in a horror genre. I have seen very simple adaptations made to keep a slightly more cinematic feel (and a couple trim up combat time.)

    -Ditch bleed and stun rules unless an attack should specifically induce them. (IE Jack the Rippers scalpel for bleed, or a lightning gun for stun.) Combat is still very lethal, and wind is still lost from wounds, but the heros stay on their toes a wee bit longer.

    -In similar fashion, if you feel guts checks are too difficult on average, only induce fear level modifiers to areas where that would specifically be part of the effect. (IE the abandoned ranch can get plenty of creepy flavor text for the players, but when an evil shaman pulls them into a nightmare world then they are actually hit with fear levels.)

    Only a couple little things-but they can help tremendously if you plan a longer running campaign.

    As for the different editions, I will stay forever enamored with the classic. I rather detested the d20 version as it lost a great deal of the cinematic gusto of visceral combat and exploding dice. The Savage Worlds rules are pretty easy, but like I said-we like the crunch in our horror.

    For what its worth, the Hell on Earth setting in the future of the same world is also fantastic. You can throw out about anything you want-aliens, knights, mutants, road warriors, etc.

    Its a great system that shouldn't disappoint.

    EDIT: In response to your last couple questions.
    -Class roles are semi-apparent in the arcane classes, but as a skill based system roles aren't strictly opposed. Nothing says your Blessed can't happen to be a great swordsman if he's willing to drop points in it. Your Mad Scientist could be some sort of US operative with a rank in the military and levels in stealth.

    -As for getting the lingo down, the books themselves are very helpful. Most of the flavor text is in character for the setting, and even basic vernacular matches. (Shooting=Shootin', Dodge=Vamoosin' outta the way)
    Last edited by HardboiledJJ; 2008-08-18 at 01:59 PM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Darrin's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Cleveland, OH
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Treguard View Post
    Will definitely check up on the Huckster's powers; I've got a couple of batman players here so the thought of playing a friggin' card shark batman may be too much for them.
    Hucksters are not like Batman. Batman (the comic book guy or the D&D spellcaster) would never use a system that 90% of the time does nothing, hurts himself, or hurts someone else in the party, and then every once in a while blows a cowpoke into a 30' radius mist of blood and bone fragments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Treguard View Post
    Another question though- the typical functional party has arcane, tank, skillmonkey & divine roles filled, but does that carry over in Deadlands or are there new roles to fill? Heck, are necessary roles even required? I'm not really sure how a typical deadlands party breaks down.
    Generally no... it depends on the type of scenarios you run. Most Deadlands scenarios tend to be "Monster of the Week" type investigations. Some BBEG shows up, kills a few villagers/livestock, and the first few days the PCs spend looking for clues, dealing with flunkies, talking to NPCs, and research/library stuff. They may get a run-in with the BBEG to demonstrate his powers and any invulnerabilities he may have. When the PCs find the magic artifact/secret tome/weak spot, then there's a showdown and the PCs exploit the BBEG's weakness to bring him down.

    Any character, be it gunslinger, preacher, or muckraker, can have high cognition or a good search skill just by spending a few points on the right skill (or even with a lousy skill get an amazing roll), although you can certainly build a character that specializes in digging up occult knowledge or persuading clues out of NPCs. A party isn't necessarily punished for not having a Tank or a Skillmonkey. A group with diverse backgrounds and a wide variety of skills works best for most investigation scenarios.

    The theme of the game borrows heavily from both Western and Horror movies, so the players tend to pick archetypes from those types of movies. In my experience, most players pick an archetype based almost entirely on how cool they think it is, rather than what the party needs. If the party is deficient in some area... the GM should provide a work-around or helpful NPC.

    Given the cinematic style, the players may fall into something that looks like the A-Team or the Five Man Rule:

    1) The straight-shooter leader
    2) His best friend/rival (either a scoundrel or "face")
    3) The princess
    4) Hulking brute
    5) The kid/midget/scientist/mascot

    Given the open-ended and flexible chargen rules, though, where a gunslinger can be an ancient history buff or a reformed preacher can smoke a hogleg just as fast as anybody else, you may have characters combining roles or able to hold their own even in areas outside of their specialty.

    Quote Originally Posted by Treguard View Post
    *note to self: still need to learn how to speak like a cowboy..
    Oh gawd... That's one of the side-effects of the game... "Deadlands-speak" can be infectious. The rulebook is laden with slang-like technical terms (Vamoose, Purty, Greenhorn, etc.). There's no real need to learn independently... it'll happen spontaneously during play.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WalkingTarget's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Central Iowa
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    I loved this game.

    We had a regular game that a friend ran weekly (excepting summer vacation) for 3.5 years in college.

    Some things to keep in mind.

    Size categories matter. My Blessed zombie-smasher was both Brawny and had the Spiritual Giant gift (so was 2 sizes bigger than normal for the purpose of determining damage), he was just a monster.

    On that note: a Blessed character who's loaded up on gifts is just crazy powerful in general as they're always on and don't cost anything to operate, just the XP/Bounty to buy them in the first place.

    Be wary of Harrowed Hucksters. I forget what the name of it was, but there's a Harrowed power that for each point just gives a flat bonus of an extra card when casting. It's almost game-breakingly powerful, IMO. I mean, if they have 5 points worth, they get to draw 10 cards without rolling the dice, if they roll decently they'll be taking a quarter of the deck for every hex(granted, that's also more chance for backlash).

    As for the system in general. There is something of a steep learning curve for the system (and all of the various arcane backgrounds have their own interesting bits), but even after everyone knows exactly how things work, combat can take a very long time. Maybe our problem was just that we typically had something like 6 players (and the Marshall) and sometimes up to 10, but if there's several players with high quickness scores even a single round can take a while.

    Our system of character generation was handy, but I forget if it was an "official" variant. Instead of dealing out one stack of cards and using that one, deal out four (which is the most a single deck will allow) and then pick the one you like. Gives you some options while still cutting back on the "roll until you get stats you like" effect.
    Take your best shot, everyone else does.
    Avatar by Guildorn Tanaleth. See other avatars below.

    Spoiler
    Show
    My original avatar and much better ones by groundhog22 and a Winter Olympics one by Rae Artemi.


  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Swordguy's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Covington, KY
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    Update: After reading Darrin's post, I went and called our GM, because it completely didn't mesh with my experience. As it turns out, the guy who was running the huckster (and who dropped abruptly out of the group) has been running a stacked deck, and the GM caught him on it.

    So...ignore my advice. Except for the part being an awesome game.

    ...and this part, where I second Darrin's advice about explosives.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag
    Quote Originally Posted by kpenguin
    Thus, knowing none of us are Sun Tzu or Napoleon or Julius Caesar...
    No, but Swordguy appears to have studied people who are. And took notes.
    "I'd complain about killing catgirls, but they're dead already. You killed them with your 685 quadrillion damage." - Mikeejimbo, in reference to this

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Exeter, UK

    Default Re: Deadlands Classic advice

    ^ Was he run out on a rail?
    Purveyor of Pies and the Iron Kingdoms!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •