In the workshop, we play with game mechanics. Hacks, add-ons, modules, subsystems, and house rules.
So Savage Worlds has this funny little divide in the mechanics: There are two types of entities in the entire world. There are Wild Cards, and there are Extras. Extras go down in one wound, Wild Cards go down in three. Three or One. There’s nothing else. Adding wounds beyond three, or giving an Extra more wounds, is a cardinal sin of Savage Worlds hacking because it mucks with the mechanics so much. You’re going to significantly slow down the speed of play – which is one of Savage Worlds’ primary strengths.
So how, then, do you deal with a creature so vast, so immense, or so vicious that representing it as a Wild Card with a titanic size bonus just isn’t going to cut it? How do you even begin to challenge Legendary Characters? I’ve got what I think is the easiest solution for that.
In Actual Play, I write a bit about a game recently played. These posts are part reflection on the session, part system commentary, and part recounting of the events that happened ‘in-game.’
Deadlands: Reloaded is a Weird Western game with a horror twist. It’s played using the Savage Worlds generic system. We play the game basically as-is, using the “Canon” of the game. Deadlands is a setting with a lot of Metaplot, that means it has a canonical “history” and canonical “events.” For my part, that means that’s how things would go without any player character (referred to as the ‘posse’ to fit the western theme) intervention. The GM, that’s me, is the Marshal in Deadlands. So sit down and get acquainted, hombre.
We’ve been playing this game since mid-January 2012, and planning it since December 2011. There have been a lot of events so far, of course, because we’ve been playing it for over two months. So, a quick summary of the Posse’s exploits is in order, less a few little side jobs:
They started in Dodge City, Kansas and fought some local cattle rustlers with ties to the Bayou Vermilion rail company. From there, they pursued Bayou Vermilion’s schemes until they ran across a dead end. The dead end was a source of information they needed, a girl who had run off to Colorado with a notorious gang of outlaws led by one Hank Archer. The posse tracked Hank Archer to a little town called Coffin Rock. It turned out that Coffin Rock was much more than it seemed, because an evil preacher by the name of Cheval had bound the local earth spirits and was calling up demons. Fighting Cheval and the town’s corrupt marshal, Bryce, the posse managed to restore the town to its rightful owner – one Shelley Pearl Daley. In the battle, the “mad” scientist Dominick Raeburn, a member of the posse, was killed by one of his own exploding inventions. Returning from Coffin Rock to Dodge, the posse was hired by a Mr. Wulf to look into disappearances around the town. They tangled with a pack of ghouls, and a Fae Irish Vampire – a male baobhan sith – and in the process lost another party member, Marcus Ortiz, a boxer-turned-wizard. The fleeing vampire, bound by strange fae bargains, left a cryptic message to one of the party members about his ‘American Cousins.’ Investigating, the posse decided to set out for Salina…
And that’s current events. The characters, alive and dead, are or were:
- Dominick Raeburn (Deceased): An england-born “mad” scientist, Dominick had a rather frightening device with the ability to make things not be. He was the child of a rather strange and old occult family. Naturally, he was killed by one of his own experiments exploding in Coffin Rock.
- Marcus Ortiz (Deceased): Marcus was the son of a South of the Border cowboy and a runaway slave, raised in Oregon. He was an itinerant boxer and gambler, and strong as a horse. Unknown to most, he was also a learned Huckster, the wizards of the weird west, who gambled with spirits for arcane power.
- James Hawthorne: James is a kansas born and bred boy whose parents were staunch unionists. He lives in Dodge working the saloons for money, and has from time to time done jobs for Black River rail company. In fact, it was his need for freelancers on a job that first brought the posse together. He’s quite charming, and talks the party into much of the information they gather.
- Tom Strong: An ex-union cavalryman, Tom is the luckiest of the party by far. He has exceptionally strong moral principles, and sticks to them – much to the chagrin of the rest of the posse. Nonetheless, Tom’s exceptional hand in a gunfight has made him a useful ally for the posse to keep around. Since the bizarre events in coffin rock, and during the confrontation with the monsters there, Tom’s luck has taken on a practically miraculous nature. The more supernaturally minded of the party have decided that someone has started answering Tom’s prayers quite literally. Indeed, he has become one of the Blessed.
- Robert Holt: A member of an old Alabama family, it’s obvious to anyone that Robert’s a member of the Southern aristocracy. What’s less obvious is that the Holt’s pass down a secret art – wizardry! Indeed, the Holts are a particular group of Hucksters that play Billiards with the spirits for power. Robert disguises his magic with a cane, carried because of his prominent gained, uh, bear hunting during his childhood. Robert thinks the proper use of his powers are to protect those who cannot protect themselves from the supernatural.
- Felix Wulf: (Replaced Dominick) A shady man with connections to various powerful Union organizations, Mr. Wulf was a sapper during the war and has been ever since on several sides of the Rail Wars. He carries a gatling pistol and hired the party to work with him hunting down some ghouls in Dodge City. He has a penchant for dynamite and lots of it.
- Billy: (Replaced Marcus) A seeming friend or rival of Mr. Wulf’s, Billy is a congenial and fast talking Irishman with a nose for the supernatural. The posse has only known him for a few days, so we don’t know that much about him yet.
So there you have it, my Deadlands: Reloaded game in progress. I’ll post after every session we have as the game progresses with thoughts, commentary, and feelings.