Deadlands, The Weird West
Of all the Old West roleplaying games I’ve played, Deadlands was the most creative. You would look down the list of character archetypes and immediately want to play every one of them. The premise of the Deadlands setting was first rate, while the art was excellent.
Pinnacle Entertainment is the company behind the Deadlands setting and games, and it’s still run by Shane Lacy Hensley, who created the game and its setting. The first edition of Deadlands was published in 1996. As collectible and/or vintage roleplaying games go, Deadlands is pretty new still.
Deadlands remains a fan favorite. The remaining interest in the game setting means there’s still a brisk market for Deadlands collectors.
Deadlands 10th Anniversary Limited Edition
The Tenth Anniversay Deadlands Rulebook was produced for Deadlands Reloaded. New players can buy this product to learn an updated version of the rules, but this is a product mainly for collectors. The cover has a hooded man holding a pair of pistols fitted with bayonets. It also has “Shane Lacy Hensley”, the creator of Deadlands, displayed prominently across the top of the front cover.
That name evokes an image of an evil town on the Texas-Arkansas border, but Hexarcana is the Deadlands book which covers voodoo magic. You’ll also find some huckster magic, miracles for the Blessed, and other feats for the various magical character options. Hexarcana is one of the essential books to have for any group of players.
One of the most coveted books in the series is the Marshalls Handbook, which is what White Wolf would call a “Storytellers Guide” and the rest of us would call a “GM Companion” book.
The Marshalls Handbook provides additional monsters and antagonists, advice for running a Deadlands campaign, and other nasty surprises for the characters. You might get confused because you’ll find a monster with a jack-o-lantern on the cover, but that’s the right book. Beware that there’s an inferior (less sturdy) version of this book that sells sometimes, so be certain what you’re getting.
Deadlands: Hell on Earth
Hell on Earth, sometimes called the Wasted West, was an alternate Deadlands setting which took place after the Confederate States of America learned about nuclear fission, resulting in the atomic devastation of most of North America.
This led to the appearance of the “Reckoners”, who happen to be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Imagine the Weird West combined with toxic shamen, anti-templars, and cyborgs.
My favorite character class in Hell on Earth was the “Junker”, which was a hybrid of my two favorite character archetypes from the original setting–the Huckster and the Mad Scientist. A signed copy of Hell on Earth might go for $150 online, but this is a must-have setting book.
Boomtown is a map and guide to four different Weird West towns: Liberty, Montana; Laramie, Wyoming; Bonasco, New Mexico and Tuscon, Arizona. You also get plot seeds from the Tombstone Epitaph, a fictional newspaper sometimes appearing in the background material. Another addition is a Marshall’s Log, which is mainly for gamemaster notes, maps, and tidbits.
Law Dogs is a resource about Texas Rangers, Pinkertons, sheriffs, and other lawmen of the Weird West. There are two versions, one for the First Edition game and a revised edition for the new Deadlands Reloaded setting.
Another of the great character classes is the Texas Ranger, who has law enforcement status anywhere in the Confedaracy. In Deadlands, the Pinkerton detectives are the Union equivalent of the Texas Rangers.
After much of California sank below the waves, Reverand Grimme turned Los Angeles into the city of “Lost Angels”. Learn about this twisted city amidst the Maze (California). Find out what happens when prisoners get shipped to the island named “Room 101”–it’s grizzly, my friend. Learn more about the ghost rock that makes this part of the world so important. Lost Angels is one of those places even veteran Deadlands characters is going to feel stranded in.
“One Riot, One Ranger”, is the slogan of the real and the Deadlands Texas Rangers. It’s inevitable that at least one character in your group is going to play a ranger, so Lone Star gives a Marshall everything he needs to tell tales about the Weird West’s baddest law enforcement officers. Included are the ranks of the Deadlands‘ rangers hierarchy, along with an expanded list of martial arts maneuvers that makes these guys stand out from the rest of the gunslingers.
The Deadlands Collectible Card Game
It seems that all products from a certain era had their own collectible card game, and the original Deadlands fit in that era. You’ll also find the Deadlands collectible card game online.
Since 1996, dozens of supplements for Deadlands have been published. Collecting all of them is no mean feat.