Thursday, July 16, 2015

12 Games July: Deadlands (Week 3)

It's finally here the time where I can talk about mechanics and oddly enough I have both a ton to say and very little to say about them at the same time.  At its heart I feel like Deadlands shares a lot of ideological similarities with a game I reviewed earlier this year, Star Wars D6.  Now before I hear a thousand corrections about how this and that are nothing alike I'm not referring it a mentality that I feel like a lot of older games actually have or were house ruled into over the years.  What I'm talking about is the very basic idea that there s a single list of DCs ranging from very easy to near impossible, if you want to do something your GM tells you what to roll and if you hit it you succeed if you don't you fail.

This might sound like an obvious part of gaming, but let's not forget games of late that had DCs that scale with the players for some reason like climbing a cliff at level 2 if this hard while the same cliff is this hard at level 10.  A good GM will ignore that, but with a sliding DC based on level that's what happens.  Then the table based games can be stream lined if you have the tables memorized, but that doesn't help new players.  So any game with a single DC list and consistent rules for how you roll for that DC can go a long way.  I know this isn't any specifics about the system, but I felt it's still worth a mention as most of the more complex rules can be shifted for about 90% of your game when learning it.

Now onto the actual mechanics at play. Last week I had mentioned how I completely see how this lead to the mechanics in Savage Worlds while being completely different and now I can explain how.  You see in Savage Worlds your attributes and skills are linked the the size of a dice such as a d4 or d12.  As a hero in this system you are what's called a "Wild Card" these are the heroes and big villains of stores and thus more important and should be allowed to succeed more.  How this is conveyed is by having a "Wild Die" which s an extra d6 you roll along with you're other roll then you take the higher of the two.  I always found it interesting, but never understood how they came to a mechanic like this, that s until I read Deadlands.  You see in Deadlands there isn't a wild die, but skills and attributes have two governing factors instead of one.

First there is the level you roll which just like Savage Worlds is linked to the size of the dice, but the second factor is your rank in something.  Whatever your rank in a skill or attribute is determins how many of that dice you roll so if you were say rank 3 at shooting pistols then you roll 3 dice.  Something I found interesting is that you never actually upgrade the size of your dice for skills, instead they are always the same dice size as the attribute they are linked to just with their own rank (as attributes can have ranks as well).

When it comes to rolling you throw the number of a specific type of dice at the table and whatever one comes up the highest is the one you keep.  The dice are open ended (same as in Savage Worlds) which means if a dice rolls its maximum amount you get to roll again and add it and if it rolls max again you just keep on going.  Personally I like the standardized Wild Dice the game has evolved into, but I definitely see the more nuanced ability to make more individual characters with a system like this.

There's also rules for range and any interesting mechanic linking your characters ability to how many actions they get in a round, but honestly I would say to check the books out yourself as I feel like I'm not going to convey the subtleties as well as they do in there.  The only other mechanical note I will say is that again similar to Savage Worlds (It is its parent game after all) turns in combat are based on playing cards dealt by the GM, but unlike the single card you get now a days players instead get an entire hand of cards.  This really adds to the poker feel of the game and something I really want to look into converting to Savage Worlds as it let's you weigh actions gamble on how many people will be actually acting between your first action and your second and how to link up actions or interrupt plans.

Like I said, there's a ton more I could say about this mechanic or that, but honestly just get your hands on a copy because it's well worth the read.  Next week is my wrap up, but honestly it should be pretty obvious what I think of this one as I'm recommending it already.

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