Saddle up partners, because we're about to ride off into the weird west.

America has become a strange and haunted place ever since the start of the war between the states, and folks of all stripes have been heading off past the Mississippi and crossing the great plains seeking fortune, glory, or salvations .

You can read a more detailed guide to the world of Deadlands in the players guide but I'll give you the basics here.

The civil war has raged on far longer then anyone expected. In 1868 a massive earthquake sundered the pacific coast, transforming most of California into The Maze of jagged cliffs and islands. The earthquake also revealed the presence of Ghost Rock, a strange ore that burns 10 times hotter than coal and has untold number of other unique and useful properties.

Map of the Weird West

Both the Union and the Confederacy sought after the material to build and power weapons of war, but the Latter Day Saints in the new Nation of Deseret utilized the ghost rock and turned the small town of Salt Lake City into a center of science and industry now called the City of Gloom and home to the high tech corporations of Smith & Robards and Hellstrome Industries.

The native tribes have experienced a spiritual awakening in the meantime, and with America divided, The Souix have been able to carve out an independent nation around the Black Hills – where another large deposit of ghost rock has been found.

Meanwhile an alliance of Cherokee, Comanche, Chocktaw, Seminole and Cree have organized the Indian Territory of Oklahoma into their own Coyote Confederation, and have been working in alliance with the CSA to harass the Union.

All this Ghost Rock moving back east and general anarchy in the lands beyond the Mississippi has led to 7 giant railroad cartels acting unbeholden to the law and engaging in all out warfare over rolling stock, crews and land rights. The Great Rail Wars gave been a long running violent struggle of shifting alliances between the Union Blue lines, Dixie Rails, the Iron Dragon, Bayou-Vermillion, Black River, Wasatch, and the Denver-Pacific

All the while, one cant help but notice that every day you hear more stories about dead rising from their graves, hairy beasts snatching folks in the dead of night, giant horse size insects that suck the blood out of entire herds and even worse stories, and the more time you spend out west chances are you'll probably see a few walking nightmares yourself.


To answer to this the various governments of this continent have dedicated special investigative agencies to the containment of these paranormal phenomena. The USA has the Pinkerton Agency – a secretive, bureaucratic organization workin' to keep such oddities covered up and hushed. The CSA sends in the Texas Rangers – a much more guns a blazin' and holy vengeance sort. These groups, along with the Canadian Mounties and do as much work keeping tabs on each other as they do prying into the unexplainable mysteries of this god-forsaken land.

Its not just Vague Yet Menacing Government Agencies that are deep into the supernatural, theres also regular folks imbued with powers beyond mortal understanding standing up to the madness, and more than likely making a little madness of their own.


Hucksters – a secretive cult of gamblers who use their affinity for games of chance to conjure magic

blessed - preachers who can make miracles and shake evil in its boots

Indian Shaman who can call upon totem spirits to do their bidding.

Mad Scientists who take science and technology far beyond where men should tread

theres even stories of voodoo doctors from the bayou and chinese martial arts Masters from out of Shan Fan

And still some brave folks who face evils with nothing more than a six shooter and their own grit.

Character creation [character sheet] is a little different than D&D, in that instead of selecting a race and class and building off of that – you come up with your own concept , use a draw of playing cards (how cool is that?) to get your traits (equivalent to D&Ds abilities). and use a point buy system to purchase your aptitudes and edges ( sort of equivalent of D&D skills) which include options for arcane abilities if thats where you want to take your character. You can get more aptitude points to build your character buy takin 'hindrances'  — character flaws  and disabilities which help your character stand out. has a good card shuffler if you don’t have a deck on hand.

Now in Deadlands magical abilities aren't all powerful, and a skilled gunslinger can take out a huckster or blessed without much trouble.

Along with buying aptitudes, you can use your points to buy edges and hindrances – which are unique character quirks that can help or hinder you. Hindrances, beyond giving you some extra points to spend on aptitudes and edges, give you an opportunity to earn fate chips when acted out in the story.

Fate chips are poker chips that you can earn by doing something interesting with you character, acting on a hindrance (within reason) , driving the story forward, or accomplishing a goal. Fate chips can then be spent to augment rolls, negate wounds, or permanently improve a trait or aptitude. I think this is one of the more colorful aspects of this game and incentivizes positive play.  

Combat is a bit chunkier than D&D and moves slower, however it is a lot deadlier, as even 1 good shot from a peacemaker can put most any character straight to boot hill.  You end up with rounds taking longer, but fewer total rounds.  For a quick breakdown of combat rules, look here Combat Cheat Sheet

The posse will be starting out on the Skyline Steamer, a west-bound Denver-Pacific train somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. So if you've got your reasons to head farther West, and maybe you know some of the other posse members. If you've got questions about the setting or ideas about a character concept let me know – I excised some of the Marshall-(game master)-only material from the Players Guide, but I will send over the relevant sections if you've got a character concept that needs the relevant information.

Somewhere I also have a hard drive that has a lot of additional source books on it, I just need to find a way to plug it in and get to it. If your impatient and curious most of the Deadlands classic books are less than $5 on

Deadlands Classic : The Adventure Party

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