Twenty years ago Pinnacle Entertainment Group published the first edition of the Deadlands roleplaying game. Shane Hensley was inspired to create a game of Weird Western Horror after seeing a painting by Brom of a Confederate Vampire. The book would eventually become the cover of the Wraith: the Oblivion source book Necropolis: Atlanta. Shane had seen the painting at a major gaming convention called Gen Con and spent the 16 hour road trip home from the convention trying to answer a question that had been rolling around in his mind since he first saw the painting, “What was so important in life that he crawled up out of his grave for?” The answer would lead to a gaming franchise that defined a company.
It turns out that a band of evil interdimensional beings called “The Reckoners” intervened in the world of Deadlands and caused the history of that Earth to deviate from our own by “giving life to monsters and magic, causing history to divert from July 4th, 1863 forward. The South has won its independence, California has shattered into a labyrinth of flooded sea-canyons, and a mysterious super-fuel called “ghost rock” has spawned as much war and strife as it has “steampunk” devices.”
Players in the Deadlands universe take on the roles of steely-eyed gunfighters, card-slinging sorcerers called hucksters, mysterious shamans, savage braves, mad scientists, and more who battle against evil and attempt to prevent the “Reckoning”. Should the “Reckoning” occur, it would mean the creation of a Hell on Earth and the death of mankind.
The game was a critical and commercial success which gave birth to several licenses and spin-off products. There was a GURPS adaptation, a board game, several comic books, novels, a robust miniatures skirmish combat game, a collectible card game, a collectible “disc” game, and some work was done on an MMO. The MMO never came to fruition, but the Weird Wild West setting continues to inspire new ideas.
Most recently, the Deadlands setting had been adapted to the Savage Worlds role playing game, but there are still a number of players who continue to play the Classic version of the game twenty years after the initial publication. That first release was a single volume edition that was quickly updated with a second edition which divided those rules, along with some rules from a sourcebook, into a “Player’s Guide” and a “Marshal’s Guide.” Deadlands had a number of innovations that players enjoy that include an innovative initiative system and a remarkable magic system that models a world where Hucksters risk their souls playing psychic games of poker against demons to harness magical energy. It is a world where Hoyle’s Guide provides the knowledge from which one can cast magic.
It is a fun place to play and in celebration of the 20th Anniversary, Pinnacle Entertainment Group are launching a Kickstarter on September 13th to reprint the classic game in a new and beautiful edition. This version of the game will be in full color and include a wooden whiskey box containing the rules set. This Kickstarter will also fund “Good Intentions,” the final chapter of the Servitor Plot Line wherein the player’s posse can attempt to stop Dr. Darius Hellstromme from bringing doom to the world.