This is the BEST setting idea I’ve seen in ages…

I’m blatantly cutting and pasting this from Pete Whalley’s thread on RPGnet. I often find myself agreeing with Pete and this one has really got me thinking.

“So given that I’m in the mood for some D&D, but not really feeling the traditional Tolkien stuff nor sword & sorcery that I tend towards, I’ve hit on a new and cunning plan.

I’m going to take the Great Maze map from DeadLands and call it a D&D world. It’s the new world, there’s a gold rush on and given that nothing interesting has happened in the old world for about a century, everyone with a sword and a spellbook has hopped on a ship and headed out west.

There’s monsters- from the D&D classics through to the DeadLands coolness of desert rattlers, maze dragons and wendigo. Natives run the gamut from decent folk to cannibal savage, and there are plenty of weird wilderness spots and occasional ruins left over from some olde civilization that has a lot of bat motifs that the natives don’t like to talk about. (Mostly because I keep smiling when Tori Berquist posts and I see that Camazotz the Bat God title).

There’s pirates, slavers, cults and corrupt businessfolk all looking for a piece of the pie, and decent folk looking to make a new life for themselves.

And adventurers tend to find themselves in high noon swordfights/spell duels as the gunslinger ethos of the wild west and the duelling kung fu masters of cinema just seem to have set up shop in my head and I want that shit in D&D.

So that’s it. The new world awaits, there’s adventures to be had and all I’m intending to do is unleash my players on the map and see what happens. It should be awesome.”

You see, I have a love/hate relationship with Deadlands. I’ve bought it in at least three rules incarnations, and tried running it at least twice too. Much as I want it to work I can never quite get it right. I’ve come round to thinking its because it doesn’t have a party dynamic that I can work with. Yes, there’s specialist classes, but actually I miss the whole fighter/cleric/wizard/rogue paradigm. So this idea has got me thinking, swords and sorcery wild west. Yes. Good.

For critters, I’m looking to Dark Sun to help me out. I probably won’t go back to a pure DS game any time soon, so this gets me more mileage from previous purchases. All it needs is a little reskinning and we’re off.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “This is the BEST setting idea I’ve seen in ages…

  1. Khopesh

    I loved the setting of Deadlands a lot, and have many of the original rulebooks and supplements, but my foremost memory of actually playing deadlands is that the mechanics were incredibly flavorful with regards to the setting, but frustratingly clunky.

    4E in a gold rush/wild west setting could be exiting, but I don’t think the ‘gunfights’ would work well, without special rules.

    • I wouldn’t have gunfights, that’s the point. I’d have crossbow duels. The rules are already there, skill challenge based on bluff, insight, endurance and intimidation, leading to initiative.

      • Khopesh

        Right, I don’t mean actual guns, but the wild west gunfight, and the samurai movie sword duel (at least in the cinematic sense), both usually end in a similar fashion. Duelists A and B face each other down, until Duelist A loses nerve. A draws (sword or gun), B reacts faster, and A is felled in battle.

        Systems like Deadlands and Legend of the Five Rings handle duels well, because a single attack in combat can be so devastating, if not outright fatal. 4th edition usually involves a lot more attacks needed to fell an enemy, with little to no reduction in combat capability between full health and zero. This doesn’t contribute to the cinematic feel of the duel. This is why I think that if the feel of the duel is to be preserved, it requires special rules.

        Were I to try to come up with special rules, I would rule that both combatants would be considered minions. One hit drops the target unconscious, or being hit first simply marks the ‘loser’ of the duel and stopping at that point is a matter of honor.

        The skill challenge leading to the initiative roll would grant accumulating bonuses to initiative, accuracy, or defense, against ever increasing target numbers, until someone fails three rolls. Then initiative, then the attack (and counterattack if the first misses), then the resolution.

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