Thursday, July 9, 2015
12 Games July: Deadlands (Week 2)
The real secret to what makes Deadlands unlike any game I've played before is in how a player generates their stats. It all starts with a hand of cards, the poker theme is strong in this game. A player gets a hand of twelve cards for their ten attributes, yes this is a lot of attributes and that will be covered later. This lets them ditch two cards, however as I have a player that actually spent years with this system he pointed out the side rule that a player can't ditch either 2s or Jokers.
Those cards then translate into your attributes with the value of the card turning into a dice size and the suite of the card turning into how many of that dice you get to rool. This means stats can range anywhere from 1d4 to 4d12. This isn't as big of a gap in final numbers of the roll, but that's something that will have to wait till next week when we talk about the mechanics.
After that you have about half a dozen of derived stats including your health, wind (basically how much non lethal damage you can take), and skill points. The skill points have their own name, but for simplicity's sake I'm just going to call them what they are. This actually brings in another interesting way the game mechanics play off each other as the amount of points you put in a skill (Max 5 at character creation) determines how many dice you roll for that skill, but what dice you will be rolling is linked the the dice of a corresponding attribute. This means if you were to have anything from 4d10 or 1d10 Strength and strength skill would roll a d10s with the number of them rolled tied to your investment in the skill. I really like this because it makes the attribute matter but can still have characters that are better at a flat attribute roll than a skill that happens to be links to that attribute or vice versa.
There's also an advantage disadvantage system where players can take set backs like being unlucky or bad eye sight to get pint to buy other perks like quick drawing or ambidextrous. Its a somewhat complicated system as different aspects grant or cost different amounts, but the core idea is you hurt your character in some way to be better in others. This isn't exactly a unique system, but something I like to see none the less as it makes for a much much wider range of interesting characters.
The last part I want to talk about actually goes back the attribute generation, but I feel like it deserves special mention. When drawing cards a player has a chance at a joker (either red or black). These are extra interesting as they count the same as an Ace (d12s) with another card draw to see what suite you get, but they also add something extra to your character. If you drew a black joker you're more than likely going to regret it while a red one has chances of some serious good luck, but either way the GM then draws on a joker table and that character gets either an advantage such as someones owing them a favor, a disadvantage that can be as gruesome as not having a limb, or even a rare chance (Drawing another joker) of being an undead cowboy with extra powers and a demon in their head. The GM draws this because unless it's something that a character would have to know (such as a missing arm) they don't actually have to know what is going on. This means a character could be that said undead and have no idea or be haunted by ghosts or even have an enemy out in the west hunting them down.
All in all this is a system I'm loving, but I definitely appreciate the streamlined nature of Savage Worlds that this game gave birth to. Next week we'll go into the more nitty gritty of the mechanics and start to see just where this game pulls further and further from it's child Savage Worlds.