Friday, February 20, 2009

1 hit = 1 wound, except for duels and drops

I want my Deadlands Reloaded campaign to feel cinematic, with PCs only dying at dramatically appropriate moments, not random first round of combat just 'cause of a lucky roll. So, I was considering using the 1 hit = 1 wound houserule. That, however, may be a little too cinematic as originally proposed, and it completely underplays the tension of duels at high noon and holding someone at gunpoint.

Duh, that has a simple solution. Here's what I'm running with. Any hit only does at most 1 wound, except in the following circumstances:
  • During a duel, when the poker-hand mechanism is in play. That way it's entirely possible that the first shot of a duel can result in death or disability against your stationary target. After the first shot, the 1 hit = 1 wound rule kicks back in for the rest of the fight.
  • When someone has The Drop on another character, their attacks ignore the rule, in addition to getting the +4 bonus to attack and damage. Stick a gun to someone's head, and they better play along.
  • Get caught in a "Mexican standoff" (my apologies for the racism-laced term, but it's a trope of the setting) - that's probably gonna use the duel rules unless there's a threeway (or more) standoff, then it'll be counted as everyone having The Drop. Roll the final scene of Reservoir Dogs... and get ready to make some new characters.
  • Anytime The Gun is present, as it's a harbinger of supernatural disaster. This will likely just be during the Season Finale, and players should have a good idea a few scenes ahead of when that's happening.
Note that Heavy Weapons are NOT on that list (unlike my previous version of this rule). Deadlands isn't military-heavy, so PCs won't be packing LAW rockets, and jumping away from a stick of dynamite unscathed fits the setting plenty well. I may however make exceptions for big nasty monsters that can't engage in a duel. Say - if there were a T-Rex attacking the party, I might suspend the rule. That sort of thing shouldn't come up often, though, and will be foreshadowed/announced while avoiding the combat is still an option. Just don't let ol' T-Rex get The Drop on you.

Other than those situations, no single attack can do more than 1 point of damage, and a Soak roll of a 4 will suck up the one and only wound. Not only does this protect PCs from random anticlimactic death, it also really reduces the math in the game, thus speeding up combat. "Fast! Furious! Fun!"

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