Set in the "Weird West", Deadlands is a genre-mixing alternate history roleplaying game which combines the Western and horror genres, with some steampunk elements.
Deadlands is a genre-mixing alternate history roleplaying game which combines the Western and horror genres, with some steampunk elements.
The canonical, basic setting is referred to as the "Weird West" due to the juxtaposition of the Western setting with the horrific and fantastical elements of the game. The history of the Weird West is identical to real-world history, up until July 3, 1863 when the dead began to rise from the dead after the battle of Gettysburg.
Deadlands features a unique way of creating playing characters for the game. Instead of spending character points, or randomly rolling dice, a character's abilities are determined by drawing cards from a standard 54-card poker deck (jokers included), which determine the character's Traits (their basic attributes). The game also uses polyhedral dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20) which are referred to as the "Bones", and a set of red, blue and white poker chips.
In a Deadlands game, the Game Master is called The Marshal, and the players are called The Posse.
To perform an action a player rolls for successes with a handful of dice and hopes that at least one of the dice rolls the Target Number or higher. Rolling the highest possible number on any of the dice is known as "rolling an ace", and that die may be re-rolled, with the total being added to the initial roll value. In most cases only the highest single die's value (with "aces" added) is compared to a target number. For each five points over the target number the character is considered to have a "raise" which typically makes the character's action more effective. When attacking someone, raises give the attacker more control over where on the victim's body the blow or bullet strikes. When attempting to quickly reload a gun, each raise allows another round of ammunition to be loaded in a single action.