So, Deadlands. Interesting system – uses playing cards for stat generation and some game systems (magic comes to mind). Skills, merits and flaws are a pretty standard point-buy system, with fancy (read Texas slang) names for the skills and merits and flaws; skill and attribute tests seem to be target-number tests using exploding dice and margin of success, rather than sum totals or number of successes (that is, how well a roll succeeds is determined by the largest single result, with rolling max permitting a reroll and adding to the prior result. Rolling 6, 6, 3 on a single die would mean that die scored 15 points). Character advancement is gained by not using ‘fate chips’, a form of hero points – every chip retained converts to a ‘bounty point’ that can be used to purchase skill incresaes, merits, buy off flaws, etc. There is, in my view, a lot of subtlety in how this plays out, and regrettably, we did not have time nor a group to try for a play session.

The game’s intended setting is an alternative history Wild West – several years before the game’s present, a major earthquake sunk much of the Californian coast and revealed a new mineral powering ‘mad science’ to the world. It also caused assorted spirits and supernatural creatures to awaken and begin roaming the world, and the events of history took a different turn than we know. The US Civil War ended in a truce, rather than the surrender of the CSA; as a result of that protracted war, there was no manpower to successfully pursue the Indian Wars, leading to the formation of Sioux and Comanche independent nations. The setting doesn’t go into much detail, but I get the impression Mexico remains a Habsburgian empire and Canada never became independent from Britain. Alaska, I imagine, remains a possession of House Romanov…