(DLR) How to start it right?

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Sweeper
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(DLR) How to start it right?

#1 Postby Sweeper » Sat Oct 13, 2012 11:31 am

The last time I played Deadlands was the first time I played and it didn't go over so well due to misplaced expectations.

Here's what happened:
There were 4 players and a GM and I was one of the players. I'm a fan of Western as was another player and we were expecting a western game with some horrific aspects; don't know what the other two players thought. The GM was a fan of horror and set up an adventure that reflected that.

So we go into the game expecting a gritty western adventure and ended up with a gore fest in the first session. Play kind of broke down after that, we weren't crying fowl or anything, but it didn't really work out.

Now I would like start up a game of Deadlands myself, but want it to primarily be a Western and slowly add the horrific aspects as the game goes on. From what I see of the background, the majority of people are pretty clueless about what's going on; so why should a posse of Novice characters be any different?

What I'd like to do is do a minor rules tweak and make Guts unavailable until Seasoned. I figure by the time get to that level, the posse would have seen and possibly dealt with some nasty stuff and have toughened up.

Opinions?
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#2 Postby Fildrigar » Sat Oct 13, 2012 11:44 am

Why would you need Guts unavailable? Why not just not throw anything supernaturally scary at them until later?

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#3 Postby Wibbs » Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:47 pm

I agree. I wouldn't make Guts unavailable myself, instead tailoring the content and progression of the adventures at the start. I don't think I threw anything truely horrific at my players until they were Seasoned anyway.

If you are going to tweak things then it's absolutely essential you tell the players, so they come into the game with the right expectations themselves.

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#4 Postby Kaspar » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:59 pm

I'll second the opinion that Guts should be kept.

Overall I think what you need to do is to really communicate what you see the Deadlands setting as. Tell your players about it or even better tell them what western films you like and that this is how you see the setting.

I personally don't like the steam punk aspect of the setting, so I have toned it down dramatically. It's still there but limited to large machines and not really as common. The horror aspect I have enhanced and I have yet to run an adventure that has not included a weird horror effect.

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Re: (DLR) How to start it right?

#5 Postby robert4818 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:52 pm

Sweeper wrote:The last time I played Deadlands was the first time I played and it didn't go over so well due to misplaced expectations.

Here's what happened:
There were 4 players and a GM and I was one of the players. I'm a fan of Western as was another player and we were expecting a western game with some horrific aspects; don't know what the other two players thought. The GM was a fan of horror and set up an adventure that reflected that.

So we go into the game expecting a gritty western adventure and ended up with a gore fest in the first session. Play kind of broke down after that, we weren't crying fowl or anything, but it didn't really work out.

Now I would like start up a game of Deadlands myself, but want it to primarily be a Western and slowly add the horrific aspects as the game goes on. From what I see of the background, the majority of people are pretty clueless about what's going on; so why should a posse of Novice characters be any different?

What I'd like to do is do a minor rules tweak and make Guts unavailable until Seasoned. I figure by the time get to that level, the posse would have seen and possibly dealt with some nasty stuff and have toughened up.

Opinions?


Keep Guts.

As for starting out right. Here is my advice.

First, sit and talk with the players. Find out what their expectations are, and explain what your view of the game is. Get everyone to get on the same page for expectations. Don't run "western with a little horror" if you players want "Cthullu in the old west". There isn't a right way to run the game, so long as everyone comes in with the same expectation what they'll be getting.

Next, I recommend having the players create the Posse FIRST and characters SECOND. So, they sit down, create the posse concept, figure out how they all know each other. Then they come up with names and character concepts. Only after they reach that spot do they need to open the books and construct the characters. It'll help in the long run.
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#6 Postby otherdoc » Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:30 pm

Yeah, having Guts from the start is helpful because when you DO run into supernatural horror, you don't want the players to feel as though you've unfairly withheld it from them. Even with Guts, seeing these things can be pretty brutal - especially if you're using the Fear Levels. I've seen even Seasoned characters rack up multiple phobias in rapid succession.
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#7 Postby Clash957 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:04 pm

I wouldn't restrict the Guts skill. I use it to resist Intimidation attempts (the most common duel Stare Down skill). I think a better thing to do is secretly give the Posse a -2 to their Guts rolls when dealing with supernatural horror for the first couple of times unless they have Knowledge: Occult. But before that, talk with your players and get everyone on board and agree on the type of game you want. If you get a western game that will start with very little supernatural things early on. That should keep the Knowledge: Occult Skill largely not taken as it won't come up much, but when it does, the character will benefit greatly from doing so.

Ultimately, I think you will be fine if you just talk with the players, and tell them that they don't need to worry to much about the horror part early on as you want to run more of a western. Be up front that you do intend to unravel the weird part eventually, but the characters won't have to worry about it until about, say 30-35 XP (12-14 sessions).
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#8 Postby Sweeper » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:22 am

Clash957 wrote:I wouldn't restrict the Guts skill. I use it to resist Intimidation attempts (the most common duel Stare Down skill). I think a better thing to do is secretly give the Posse a -2 to their Guts rolls when dealing with supernatural horror for the first couple of times unless they have Knowledge: Occult. .


I like that.
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#9 Postby Snate56 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:25 am

Also, play up the aspects of the surroundings. Describe the blast of heat in the breeze when they exit the saloon, the creeking wooden walkways, the lingo of the times, even the trusty tumbleweed that blows up against their shins.
Don't know if your GM was doing this or not.
Even the Cthulhu stories start mild and build up the weirdness gradualy.



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#10 Postby Sweeper » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:43 am

I talked to friend of mine about it and he gave me some modules from the old Boothill RPG. Need to check these out for inspiration.
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#11 Postby The Stray » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:56 pm

I'm on the bandwagon for not restricting Guts...though in my game I take it a bit further and cut out Guts entirely, and rely on Spirit checks for Fear rolls.

The main thing you can do is look at who the bad guys are. The villains of the piece are the ones that are going to be doing the bad stuff, and their motivations and resources at hand will determine how horrific things get.

In an example from my own campaign, the characters are in a cowtown where the local cattle baron employs an army of enforcers and stock regulators to keep people out of his business. He's a wizard and uses magic on his stock to protect them from Texas fever, and he's got a couple of abominations on his payroll, but his motivations and goals are still tied to the realm of human interests and concerns. He doesn't know he's being played for a patsy by the local Sealed Evil In A Can, he's not aware that those who eat the beef he's been treating will rise as zombies or Harrowed after they die, he's mostly just concerned with running his own personal fiefdom in Texas without government interference in his actions, and keeping competitors from setting up shop.

Another villain from this same game is a Ravenite shaman who has been looking for ways to protect his warriors from the white man's weapons. He started out with simple "ghost dance" shirts which act as armor against bullets, but as the campaign has progressed and he's gotten more mystical tools, he's managed to expand his magical protections. Now he's got a magical photograph that holds the souls of his braves and keeps them from harm. It makes them practically immortal and they're raising cain all over the campaign area thanks to this escalation, but at heart they are still human beings with human desires.
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