Friday, February 20, 2009

Card-Based Character Creation in Deadlands

Classic Deadlands had this cool, though admittedly sometimes frustrating, character creation system. You drew a handful of playing cards, and they determined what you had available for stats and skills, and certain elements of your background. I don't remember exactly how it worked, as I only ever made one Deadlands PC, that for a campaign that never materialized. What I do recall is that I'd started out wanting to play a bad hombre gunslinger or huckster, and drew such miserable cards I had to settle for a one-trick-pony/grizzled-old-coot.

In prepping for my Deadlands Reloaded campaign, I briefly flirted with the simplified version of that system which is presented as a free PDF download on Pinnacles site. Two of my players had actually sort of requested that build method, and I'm generally very open to player requests going into a game. It was a stylish enough concept that I first I was willing to overlook the chance of very unbalanced character builds - one player drawing all deuces and threes cards while another got face cards and jokers would have complications I was willing to deal with if it was fun and cool and made for a memorable game.

Ultimately, though, I decided it was a bad match for this campaign at this time. Two factors stopped me:
  • My lack of experience GMing Deadlands. I already have one pretty big house-rule I plan to implement, and I've only GM'd about 20 hours of Savage Worlds. Deadlands Reloaded has far more complicated magic systems than straight-up Savage Worlds, so why make it even less familiar? Choosing to err on the side of caution. Maybe if character creation were several weeks from now, I'd have time to smooth down the rough edges, but this afternoon's my last chance at prepwork before we dive in, and I don't want to spend that time fixing something that ain't broke.
  • Deadlands already has a very effective Hindrance system. On top of that there's the Veteran O' The Weird West Edge. If someone wants to play a "been there, killed that, covered in Grits" character, that Edge will do it for them. If they want to play a PC that's a Tenderfoot, Elderly, or Young, the game already has provisions for that. Worse, what if someone gets the crap cards, decides to play a kid because of it, and then gets hosed by stacking the Hindrance on top of it. Again, with a few weeks to tweak it, we'd be golden, but today's the day I finalize things.
So, no card draws for character creation - except as provided in the default rules, such as if you take the Veteran O' The Weird West edge.

1 comment:

Lunatyk said...

I've never been a fan of randomised character creation... I like to make characters for some reason...

However, it is a nice way to make loads of NPCs in a short time...