Dylan's Savage Worlds Nerdery

Geek life and custom content for Savage Worlds

Category Archives: Deadlands

Cryptozoologist Edge

One of the characters in my Deadlands game is a student of biology and the occult, in the vein of Charles Fort and other cryptozoologists. I wrote up this professional Edge for him.


Requirements: Knowledge (Biology) d8, Knowledge (Occult) d8, Survival d4

You have made an extensive study of unusual animals that some believe don’t exist, such as the Mojave rattler, prairie ticks, and the chupacabra. You know that such strange animals exist, and have learned something about how to deal with them. You gain a +2 bonus on Knowledge (Occult) checks to identify and answer questions about supernatural creatures. As an action, you may attempt to analyze such a creature (or group of creatures of the same type) with a Knowledge (Occult) roll. On a success, gain one of the following bonuses. On a raise, allies within 6″ of you that can understand your instruction gain the same bonus.

  • Gain a +1 to damage rolls against the creature or creatures.
  • Gain a +1 bonus on all Trait rolls to resist the creature’s inherent abilities.
  • Gain a +1 bonus on all Tests of Will or Trick checks against the creature.

Deadlands Noir Kickstarter

So Pinnacle has jumped in on the whole Kickstarter phenomenon with a new Deadlands setting, Deadlands Noir. Check out the Kickstarter page here.

Honestly, I can’t say I’m that enthused, as much as I love Deadlands. I can see the appeal of Deadlands + Raymond Chandler, but if I was in the mood for Raymond Chandler-esque, I’d probably just play Dresden Files – the actual time period doesn’t interest me much. Call of Cthulhu is already set around the same time and has a lot of the same feel. I don’t see what the Noir setting really brings to the table that Call of Cthulhu or Dresden Files doesn’t already have. The main setting is New Orleans, which I’ve used several times for Dresden Files games already, so I already have a version of the city in my head that feels like “mine”.

I’ll keep an eye on it as it comes closer, and very likely pick up a copy just to mine for ideas for the city if I ever run a DF game set in N’awlins again. I have faith in the writers, after all. The Pinnacle people put out good stuff.

Work Training and Zeppelin Maps

I’m spending the week in a virtual classroom, learning about Exchange 2010 for my job. It’s nice to be picking things up, since I started running an Exchange server without any formal training a couple of years ago. Most of it is things I’ve learned hands-on, but it’s certainly good to see what’s going to be available for our new server and get a better foundation on things I’ve mostly only inferred and read about on the Web.

In the evenings, I’ve been working on getting ahead of things a ways in my Deadlands game. I ran a fairly simple scenario last week (devil bats attack the PC’s ship and try to abduct people, PCs notice a small town also victimized by the devil bat nest, and go to help), though I was happy to get the group’s zeppelin, the Fourth Estate, mapped out. I’m going to put together a more thorough map of it, for which I’m experimenting with different mapping programs. Here’s what I drew on the board last Sunday, in order from the bottom of the gondola to the top (the engine room is actually inside the balloon part of the zeppelin; there are several cramped passageways leading out from the engine room to access the propellers and the top-mounted gun):

Obviously these are just rough maps, drawn with wet-erase markers so I could run the game. But I like the idea of putting out something nicer to look at. Along with the NPC cards, I’m trying to improve the ability of my players to visualize things, and so a nice map of their home base in the game – which will need maps here and there, since it will occasionally be involved in the action – does help.

I’m trying both Dundjinni and Campaign Cartographer for this. I’ve used CC in the past, and dug out my old CDs of it to see how well I remember it. Any other suggestions for map-making software I should use to turn these into game-usable battlemats? I’m going to try and set them up, print them at 1″ scale to 1 yard scale, and then mount that on some black foamboard I bought. I had a player do this once for a ship we were using as a home base, and I loved it – wish I still had them, it was great for a generic fantasy ship.

I’ll post what I have when I get something I feel happy with.

Deadlands Game Getting Started

I’m happy to report that my Deadlands Masks of Nyarlathotep game is getting off the ground.

The basic concept of the game, which I’m just loosely basing on the Chaosium Masks of Nyarlathotep mega-campaign at this point, is that the characters are going to be helping write the Tombstone Epitaph’s Gazetteer of the World. The Epitaph is a newspaper in the Deadlands setting that covers the weird and unexplained – think the National Inquirer if all the stuff they reported was real, and they were the only ones that got around the government Men in Black to actually publish anything.

The Epitaph has cocommissioned a zeppelin from Smith & Robards to travel the world and write about what’s going on in other parts of the world, since news has been hard to come by in the last two decades or so. These have been years of upheaval across the world, but most people only know what’s happened in the Americas. The PCs will be part of this team, traveling the world and maybe (just possibly) getting wind of a massive conspiracy that threatens the future of everyone.

The world of Deadlands outside the North American continent is pretty undefined, which allows me to have quite a bit of fun with what might be happening over the next horizon. I have some ideas already – I’ll be posting them on this blog as I write them up.

We had a session of character creation last weekend, and will be playing every two weeks starting in mid-February. So far the concepts I have are…

  • An Irish-American member of the Agency, recruited after the events of my Deadwood Winter campaign and looking for her brother, who has departed for foreign lands. The player liked her character well enough that she wants to continue her story.
  • A weird scientist focused on the biological sciences, using galvanic principles to heal and revive dead tissue. He’s also studied the cutting-edge idea of forensic science, and occasionally has acted as a consultant to help local constabulary solve particularly difficult cases. Rumors suggest that he can animate the dead and force him to tell their secrets, but who listens to rumors?
  • The scientist’s lovely assistant and an occasional contributor to the Tombstone Epitaph. She is a bit of an intrepid reporter, known to either charm or sneak her way to where she needs to be. Somewhat the Watson to the scientist’s Sherlock Holmes – most of her Epitaph contributions have been write-ups of forensic investigations that the doctor worked on.
  • A British lord, known for his interest in naturalism and the occult. Known to be a recluse for most of his life, he has recently come out of his self-imposed solitary life to act as a naturalist for the Tombstone Epitaph’s gazetteer.

I’m excited – I have a good group of players, and not having a huge eight-person group is going to help give everybody a chance to have the spotlight. I’m a bit concerned that we won’t have that much time for each session, but we’ll see how it works out.

Frozen-Heart and his Allies

Chagha’Chante aka Frozen Heart aka Seeks the Rivers

Harrowed Lakota Shaman
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d12, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d10, Guts d8, Healing d6, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Indian Lore) d12, Knowledge (Occult) d10, Notice d8, Persuasion d6, Survival d8, Tribal Medicine d12+1
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), Blessed of Waziya, Chill of the Grave, Claws, Combat Reflexes, New Power (Armor, Bolt, Entangle, Windstorm, Zombie), No Mercy, Power Points, Professional (Tribal Medicine), Soul Eater
Powers: Armor, Bolt, Burst, Deflection, Entangle, Obscure, Smite, Windstorm. 20 Power Points, Spellcasting Roll d12+1
Hindrances: Old Ways Oath (Major), Phobia (Fire), Vengeful
Vitals: Charisma 0, Grit 5, Pace 6″, Parry 8, Toughness 8
Gear: Thunderbird Feather Staff (+1 to all Fighting and damage rolls, +1 Parry in addition to normal bonus from a staff, allows bearer to control the thunderbird from which the staff’s feathers are taken)
Blessed of Waziya (New Edge)
Requirements: Harrowed, Veteran, died due to cold in the north
Your manitou owes its allegiance to Waziya, one of the powers of the frozen north. As such, it is a creature of wind and snow, dedicated to spreading the touch of winter throughout the world. You gain +2 damage to all powers with ice or cold-related trappings. You are completely immune to natural hazards related to cold weather or ice, and gain a +8 bonus to Toughness and opposed rolls against any supernatural abilities with ice, cold, or wind-related trappings.
Winter Beast (Claw of Waziya, Spawn of Ithaqua)
Wild Card Abomination
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d12+2, Vigor d10
Monster Abilities: Armor (+2 Toughness), Camouflage (+2 to Stealth checks in ice and snow), Claws (Str+1d6 damage), Elemental Manipulation (ice, at will), Fear (causes Guts check in those who see it), Fearless, Hardy (being Shaken when already Shaken doesn’t cause a Wound), Immunity (cold and wind), Intangibility (can turn back and forth into a dust-devil-like blizzard of ice and snow of its size as an action, gains fly speed of 15″, cannot use this ability within 6″ of fire or if temperature is above freezing), Invulnerability (fire and magical attacks deals normal damage), Low-Light Vision, Size +3, Weakness (fire deals double damage, must make Fatigue rolls every 10 minutes in temperatures above freezing)
Edges: Improved Frenzy, Quick
Skills: Fighting d10, Guts d8, Intimidation d10, Notice d8, Stealth d6+2, Survival d8, Tracking d10
Vitals: Charisma -4, Grit 4, Pace 8″ (fly 15″ in blizzard form), Parry 7, Toughness 13
Ravenite Brave

Human (Sioux Ravenite)
Abilities: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Climbing d4, Fighting d8, Guts d4, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Riding d8, Shooting d6 (+2 w shotgun), Survival d6, Tracking d4
Hindrances: Hatred (Whites)
Vitals: Charisma 0, Grit 1, Pace 6″, Parry 7, Toughness 6
Equipment: Tomahawk (Str+d6 damage), Medium Shield (+1 Parry, +1 Armor from ranged attacks), Colt Revolving Shotgun (Range 12/24/48, Dam 1-3d6, RoF 1, Shots 5, +2 to Shooting rolls)
Ravenite Berserker (Red Feather “Niyaha-luta”)
Human (Sioux Ravenite) Wild Card
Abilities: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Climbing d4, Fighting d10, Guts d6, Intimidation d8, Notice d6, Riding d6, Shooting d4, Survival d6, Tracking d4
Edges: Berserk (after being hit, +2 to Fighting, Strength, damage, Toughness, but can’t take other actions, Smarts-2 roll to end rage, hit adjacent targets on 1 on Fighting die), Hard to Kill, Two-Fisted
Hindrances: Bad Dreams, Big Mouth, Bloodthirsty, Hatred (Whites)
Vitals: Charisma -2, Grit 2, Pace 6″, Parry 7 (5 Berserk), Toughness 6 (8 Berserk) (+2 vs bullets, AP doesn’t apply)
Equipment: Tomahawk (Str+d6 damage), Coup Stick (Str+d6 damage), ghost medicine vest (gives +2 armor vs bullets, AP doesn’t apply, gives Bad Dreams hindrance if worn w dreams about whites slaughtering Indian tribes)
Ravenite Gunman
Human (Sioux Ravenite)
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d4, Fighting d6, Guts d4, Intimidation d4, Notice d6, Shooting d8, Survival d6, Throwing d6, Tracking d4
Edges: Steady Hands
Hindrances: Hatred (Whites)
Vitals: Charisma 0, Grit 1, Pace 6″, Parry 7, Toughness 6
Equipment: Tomahawk (Str+d6 damage), Winchester ’73 Rifle (Range 24/48/96, Dam 2d8, RoF 1, Shots 15, Min Str d6, AP 2), Molotov Cocktail (Throwing roll to hit, 2d6 to creatures in targeted square, 1d6 to adjacent targets, starts a fire)
Ravenite Shaman (Ghost Scar “Wanagi-owa”)
Human (Sioux Ravenite) Wild Card
Abilities: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d10, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Guts d8, Intimidation d8, Notice d6, Riding d6, Shooting d4, Survival d6, Tracking d4, Tribal Medicine d8
Edges: AB (Shamanism), Ghost Medicine Way, New Power x 2
Hindrances: Hatred (Whites), Haunted
Vitals: Charisma 0, Grit 2, Pace 6″, Parry 5, Toughness 5
Equipment: War club (Str+d6), dynamite (2 3-stick charges, each does 4d6 in 4″ radius when it goes off), Molotov cocktail
Powers: 15 PP, Tribal Medicine d8, Barrier, Entangle (PP: 2/4 for MBT, caster makes roll vs target(s) Agility. Success = partially restrained (-2 Pace and skills linked to Agility and Strength), raise = totally restrained), Fear (PP: 2, LBT, victims make Guts (-2 if cast w raise), WC in area who fail must roll on Fear table, non-WC who fail Panicked), Shape Change (3 PP for raven form)

Li Bao and the Thunder Dragons

Li Bao
Human (Chinese) Martial Artist Wild Card
Abilities: Agility d10, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d10, Vigor d8
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d10 (+1 with meteor hammer), Guts d10, Intimidation d8+2, Language (English, Lakota), Notice d8, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6
Edges: Acrobat, Arcane Background (Chi Mastery), Block, First Strike, Martial Artist, Superior Kung Fu (Tan Tui), Sweep, Trademark Weapon (meteor hammer)
Hindrances: Arrogance, Bloodthirsty, Outsider
Vitals: Charisma -2, Grit 3, Pace 6″, Parry 9, Toughness 6
Powers: Armor d6, Quickness d8, Speed d8
Equipment: Fang of Winter gives Smite, Deflection, and Elemental Manipulation (ice) powers at d8, 10 power points per day, removing it deals 3d6 damage without armor, meteor hammer (Str+1d6+2 damage, Reach 1, ignore shield and cover bonus to Parry)
Li Bao is the head of the Thunder Dragon gang in Deadwood’s Chinatown, one of several gangs that split the area up. Li formed the gang after arriving in town as a laborer, working first for the Hellstromme Yards and later for Feng Tzu, the head mine owner in Chinatown. Li Bao was born in China, though he was brought over to the Maze quite early in his life, when he was around ten. He’s been a worker or combatant in the Rail Wars off and on for most of his adult life, but settled in Deadwood when he tired of constantly being on the move. Now he is the leader of a small gang that controls the shantytown in Chinatown, extorting a living from the lowest of the low and fighting with the two other gangs that exist in Chinatown, the Two Rivers gang and the Black Tigers.
Recently, Li Bao was approached by a powerful entity that he doesn’t pretend to understand. This being promised Li Bao’s gang power and prestige, and gave each gang member who swore fealty to it a talisman – a great, jagged fang that they wear around their necks. This amulet has given them power, allowing them to use ice to augment their attacks or block incoming weapons, as well as giving them a portion of Satan’s Garden mine to use as a base of operations. So far, the entity has asked them to steal several spirit traps and use them to unleash several ghosts from the disaster at the Satan’s Garden mine into the town of Deadwood, strategically placed to destroy the town’s food supplies. They’ve also been asked to guard an object for their mysterious benefactor – a small girl encased in a block of ice.
In combat, Li Bao typically activates defensive powers beforehand, then activates Quickness and moves to the center of the fray. He uses his meteor hammer and Tan Tui kicks to control the battlefield around him, using Improved Sweep as often as possible against groups, and a vicious combination of kicks and meteor hammer strikes against particularly troublesome opponents. Against enemies with ranged weapons, he prefers to seek cover then use Quickness to close and eliminate them as quickly as possible.
Chiaoshi Min
Human (Chinese) Assassin Wild Card
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Gambling d6, Guts d6, Knowledge (Poisons) d10, Languages (English, Japanese, Lakota), Lockpicking d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d10 (+4 for Very Attractive), Stealth d8, Streetwise d6, Taunt d8
Edges: Martial Artist, Poisoner, Very Attractive
Hindrances: Greedy, Small
Vitals: Charisma +4, Grit 2, Pace 6″, Parry 6, Toughness 5
Equipment: Stiletto (As knife but AP 1), fancy jewelry, several concealed poison vials
Poisons (Vigor check to resist, most are Injury or Ingested)
  • Numbing Blade: Vigor roll (-2 if attack had raise or substance ingested) to resist on Shaken or better injury with weapon, victim suffers -2 penalty to all Agility-based Trait checks and -1″ Pace  while poison lasts (1 hour). If penalty = Agility die type, victim paralyzed.
  • Draught of Madness: Vigor roll at -2 if ingested, drinker suffers -2 penalty to all Smarts rolls and Smarts-based Traits, gains the Berserk edge, but must make Smarts roll to tell friend from foe if Berserk. Lasts 2d4 hours.
  • Screaming Death: Ingested, 2d6 damage/minute, Vigor-2 roll for half, lasts until two successful Vigor rolls in a row.
  • Serpent Venom: Each exposure requires Vigor roll, failing roll imposes a level of Fatigue.

Poisoner (Professional Edge)

Requirements: Novice, Knowledge (Poisons) d6, Stealth d6

You are adept at using poison, and know how to dose poisons efficiently and apply them to their best effect. All Vigor and Heal rolls made to resist or remove poisons you apply through weapons or subtler methods suffer a -1 penalty. You are also experienced at getting poison where it needs to go, and gain a +2 bonus on all Stealth rolls related to applying poison surreptitiously.

Min is the owner of the Lotus Blossom Theater, a high-quality brothel in Deadwood. She was trained as a courtesan and assassin from a young age by a small group of assassins in Shan Fan, taught to use her beauty to manipulate men and eliminate them. She proved very efficient at this task, though she eventually made enough enemies that she felt it best to move on to newer pastures, after she eliminated the leader of her small group of assassins after he repeatedly tried to force himself on her.

Deadwood is an unpleasant compromise, in Min’s mind. She kn0ws that if she travels to a larger town that might be more profitable and fit her tastes better, she’s also more likely to be found and eliminated by her enemies. She is in Deadwood because it has a decent Chinese population, but it’s a small and unpleasant enough location that her enemies shouldn’t think to look for her. She has managed to charm a local tough, Li Bao, so that she has some muscle if her enemies should ever catch up to her. She’s beginning to consider allying herself to Al Swearengen, who is clearly the town’s most powerful and influential citizen.

Martial Artist Thug

Human (Chinese) Martial Artist Minions
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d8, Guts d6, Intimidation d6+2, Language (English), Notice d6, Streetwise d6
Edges: Acrobat, Martial Artist, Superior Kung Fu (Shaolin Temple (Fighting attacks do Str+1d6 dmg), Tan Tui (Kicks do Str+1d6 damage, rise from prone without movement cost), or Wing Chun (two Fighting attacks per turn without penalty, damage just Str roll))
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty, Outsider
Vitals: Charisma -2, Grit 1, Pace 6″, Parry 7, Toughness 5
Equipment: Fang of Winter gives Smite, Deflection,  and Elemental Manipulation (ice) powers at d8, 10 power points per day, removing it deals 3d6 damage without armor

Index Cards for NPCs

Something that I’m doing with my current Deadlands game that I haven’t tried before is creating index cards for NPCs. These are an image of the NPC, as well as their name and a brief description of their role. When they’re interacting with that NPC, I’ll put the card up in front of me in a card holder, so they can see it at all times. It’s something I’ve implemented to allow my players to better visualize the people they’re interacting with.

For my current Deadwood game, I found a bunch of graphite drawings of the main characters of the Deadwood TV show, which I’m using as one of my big influences. These were perfect for my NPC cards. I’ve found several web sites with other graphite portraits, so I’m trying to keep the look of them consistent. When I have to, I’ll use GIMP (a free Photoshop analogue), as well as a free sketch plugin I found, to make a photo approximate a graphite sketch, and then use that. The players seem to have really liked these, and several times they’ve asked for cards for NPCs they meet.

I think I’ll retain this idea for any future games I run – I like how it works out. There are a number of excellent sources for fantasy portraits, so any future fantasy games I run this will be easy for. I need to start finding portraits for my upcoming Deadlands Masks of Nyarlathotep game, as well.

Here’s a link to my current NPC Cards for the Deadwood game.

Anybody do anything similar to this? How do you help your players visualize NPCs?

Deadlands PCs

Here are the PCs for the Deadlands game I’m currently running. They’re in Deadwood, trying to sort out all the things that seem to be going wrong in town – why winter got such a powerful start so early, who’s sabotaging the town’s food supplies, what that weird howling is in the wilderness outside town, what’s going on in the Satan’s Garden Mine, how Al Swearengen has such a powerful grip on the townsfolk, why the Sioux dynamited a bridge leading into town, and why one of the gangs in Chinatown suddenly seems more powerful than all the rest. There’s a heap of trouble facing this posse.

  • Ciks, a half-Lakota marksman who is looking for his mother’s tribe.
  • Jin Shan, also known as Chow Chow, a Buddhist monk on a quest for redemption, his family, and the perfect pork dumpling.
  • Kate Dulé, former outlaw and bandit, who wants to settle down now that her beloved Sam has returned to her. Just one problem… he’s dead.
  • Liu Chen, a white orphan raised by a martial artist and educated as a Chinese doctor in Shan Fan. He’s a master of both needle and katana.
  • Mick O’Shaugnessey, deputy of Deadwood. Mick is a short, hot-tempered deputy with a whole passel of secrets, on the run from one brother while chasing after another.
  • Natasha Burgherhoff, a scientist with a powerful hatred for Hellstromme and all his doings.
  • Sam Dulé, former bandit, formerly living. Some fellows down Texas way didn’t take too well to a black man romancing a white schoolmarm, and filled Sam full of holes. That drove Kate right around the bend, but Sam eventually found his way back to her – after she’d adopted a life of crime and revenge.

Deadlands Character Sheet

This is the Deadlands character sheet I put together for my current Deadlands game. It’s in Excel 2007 format. There are several sheets – the character sheet itself is the sheet called “Pretty Character Sheet”, the rest is just for tracking advances and character generation and such. I hope people find it useful.

It’s a new blog!

I’m putting this together because I wanted a place to write down ideas for my games, as well as a permanent home for any custom content I post – I’ve written several things over the years that have just been living in my Dropbox public folder and only show up if you happen to search through ENWorld archives, and I figured they might get more exposure if I gave them a more permanent home.

This blog will primarily be devoted to Pathfinder and Savage Worlds content. I have a Pathfinder setting I’m slowly fleshing out for use, mostly as a thought exercise and because I like tinkering with mechanics. I’m also starting the planning stages of adapting the Complete Masks of Nyarlatholtep to Deadlands using the Savage Worlds system. I’m a born tinkerer, though, so I’ll be changing a substantial amount of the adventure to fit into my preferences and the Deadlands setting.