I'm a player in a regular Deadlands game. Sessions usually run 4-5 hours, and it seems like at least an hour gets dedicated to a single combat encounter. We have several characters with high dice for Quickness, often resulting in 3 or 4 action cards per round. We also have a Huckster - things always get interesting when he's lobbing spells around.

We've been kicking around the idea of simply converting the campaign to the Savage Worlds system, which is similar but a lot more streamlined. Short of that, are there any suggestions for streamlining Deadlands combat?


I play a Buffalo Hunter with 4d6 Quickness and a speed 2 rifle. On average, I get two cards per round: one to ready the next shot and one to fire. Our party usually has 6 or 7 people, so I'm often stuck sitting around waiting while everyone else does more complicated stuff. Granted, that's per my character's design, but it still feels like a drag.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm also in a regular Deadlands campaign, as it happens. Can you describe where the action hangs up for you? (Admittedly, spending an hour on a combat encounter doesn't sound over-long to me, so I could use some grounding in answering your query.) \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Sep 1 '10 at 16:55

To be quite honest, I think this is fairly unavoidable in a group with 6 or 7 people. Just about any RPG with any kind of mechanical depth is going to really slow down when you have that many people; I don't a copy of the Deadlands rulebook handy, but if it has any player number guidelines, that's probably more than the listed reccomendation for group size.

Different encounter design could help - I'm stating the obvious here, but the fewer monsters you're fighting, the fewer actions they take.


Does your GM/Marshall take each player one at a time? IE could the game be speeded up if players not yet announcing thier action turn to one another and roll thier results in readiness?

Combat goes much quicker for the ST/marshall if he just turns to each player and they can quickly say "I shoot X gun for X success and did X damage, Charlie saw me" than if he has to ask "what do you do, OK roll for that, what did you get? Ok thats a hit ... and damage ..."

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think there's an big potential for players to abuse this. Would players get to re-roll and/or do something different based on what other players do? What if your target was incapacitated by someone with a higher card? It's not too far from there to players silently re-rolling results they don't like. \$\endgroup\$ – Kristo Sep 7 '10 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ thats usually why players tend to do it with a witness, however I have developed a belief that if they want to cheat, let them. Usually you just turn to the guy/guys next to you or roll as openly as usual and people will soon spot a cheat. There are always going to be situation which mean the prepared roll no longer counts, it happens, you will have to roll again based on the new circumstances. however they are uncommon and mostly the Gm will find he can whizz round the group muchmuch faster then a plodding method. \$\endgroup\$ – Spikey Sep 8 '10 at 12:35

You have my sympathies. It sounds like you've chosen a character that's slow but effective, and you're tired of having the enemies dead by the time your turn comes. (This happens to me a lot.) Are you playing the action cards "open handed"? Having the action cards visible and accessible to the play group can help keep things flowing by cutting out the "do I have any sixes?" factor, and make the countdown flow more smoothly. Otherwise, I'd recommend banking your bounty chips and boosting your initiative as soon as is practical.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, we started playing action cards open on the first night. It's not my own initiative that I'm worried about. It just takes so long in clock time to resolve everything that our characters do that the game really bogs down in a large combat encounter. \$\endgroup\$ – Kristo Sep 1 '10 at 18:10

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