Deadlands is retconning the Confederacy away. They lost the war, no longer playable.

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Libertad

Explorer
So I found this on a Savage Worlds Facebook group of some other big changes coming to Deadlands. The Confederacy is being retconned so that it lost the war and is no longer a playable faction. This was listed as one of several things in an October update on the official site.

Shane Lacy Hensley said:
Hey friends! Let's talk about today's Deadlands announcement.

I'm going to try and keep it short, but...we'll see. (Edit: I failed. :) )

First off, the ultimate decision to ditch the CSA in the Deadlands timeline is mine and mine alone. I created the world, I run the world with the help of some excellent people, and I know where it's heading.

Some may not know my bona fides, so here they are to avoid that discussion. I have a Masters Degree in Political Science and Military History. I've read dozens of books on the Civil War, visited at least a dozen museums, and walked the battlefields from Gettysburg to Franklin, TN and even out here in Arizona (the furthest "battle" of the West fought at Picacho Peak!). I've written historical miniatures rules featuring the ACW, was raised in both Ohio AND Virginia, and studied and modeled numerous battles of the Civil War for various wargames. I'm happy to academically debate what the war was all about. But not here, and not in Deadlands.

So what are my politics and biases? I'm a fiscal conservative, social liberal...though there are LOTS of exceptions and nuances in between, like most everyone else. My main mottos are do unto others as you'd have them do unto you, and live and let live. I served in the US Army, went to Virginia Tech, and now live in the beautiful deserts of Arizona where I can be a little closer to the West I love so much.

Now back to the game stuff.

I made the decision to remove the CSA from Deadlands about two years ago as we were creating Deadlands Dark Ages, and I knew the "Morgana Effect" would be the story reason for this revision and other, lesser continuity issues. The fall of the CSA after the Battle of Washington (1871 in DL lore) is just the thing people are going to get riled about.

I talked over the idea with the core team way back then. They're northerners and southerners and Europeans and Westerners and conservatives and liberals of many backgrounds and perspectives...and we all agreed it was the way to go for a great number of reasons.

I'll tell you why below, but first, we knew there was no business "win" here. The folks who accused of us being Southern apologists for the last twenty years would continue doing so. Those who had defended the existence of the South as a far more complex story decision (and thanks, btw!) would say we sold out, were pandering, and leave.

We knew we would absolutely lose some fans and sales over this decision. So to say we're pandering for sales is incorrect. Again, we're going to lose sales. Certainly for a while.

I acknowledge that and am okay with it. I accept the fallout today's announcement will cause and am completely okay with it. Nothing said here will change our opinions or hurt my feelings.

But Deadlands is mine, friends. I get to make those decisions and decide what's in the sandbox.

I love the enthusiasm people have for the Weird West. I love what they add to it. I love how they dress up for it at LARPs (and have even taken over entire towns for them--check out our Russian partners at Studio101!), play the RPG, get tattoos of Hangin' Judges and Jackalopes, and even get married in Deadlands garb. It's amazing and awesome and humbling.

But it's still mine. And until I die, it will stay that way. I know what it is and where I want it to go.

I also get to see the big picture among communities all over the world. People love Deadlands in Spain and Italy and Russia and Poland and Brazil and Germany and Hungary and China and SO many other places.

So why make the change?

Because first, we don't need it for the grand story we want to tell. When I created the whole thing twenty years ago the existence of the CSA was War's main strategy for sewing chaos and division in the US (War is one of the Reckoners in DL for those who don't know). It was a hook to create the world of Deadlands that was relatively empty then, and certainly unladen with the 25 years of history and dozens of sourcebooks you know now.

Since that decision, the role of ghost rock, the various factions, the Cult of Lost Angels, the Rail Barons, the secret organizations, and all the other wonderful and cool stuff our core team and dozens of freelancers have added to the world since were FAR more interesting and colorful.

But there is a real world "cost" to keeping the CSA, and it's one I don't have to pay...someone else does. And I don't want that. Having characters loyal to the CSA...not just "Southerners" but actual loyalists to the cause, even if anti-slavery but loyal for some reason... can be incredibly uncomfortable for others at the table. Especially those of African-American descent. Imagine the GM having to roleplay those voices. That's not fun. That's not what our game's about. It's not what we want our game to be about.

I run Deadlands for people all around the world. I play with all ethnicities, genders, orientations, cultures, religions, and political outlooks. I've literally run thousands of games for probably about ten thousand people over the last 25 years, and met and talked to FAR more than that in various talks, panels, guest appearances, signings, etc. And I love meeting you all. I love learning about our similarities AND differences and then having a drink and throwing some dice and shooting zombies with you. :)

We just want to tell wild tales of the Weird West. Yes, we'll make an occasional statement...I slip my views into everything I write, intentionally or otherwise...who doesn't? But our main goal is for people to spend time with friends they'll probably know for decades and leave game night feeling like a hero. Hopefully with a big goofy smile on their face as they remember that weird encounter with the jackalope or tumblebleed or the called shot that rolled 34 damage. :)

***

So what about the story and history of Deadlands? How will Noir and Hell on Earth work? We answered those questions internally a long time ago, and think the post-Morgana Effect stories we're going to tell are FAR cooler and more interesting. :)

And honestly, I'll tell you a secret. it really doesn't change much even in the Weird West. We just haven't done much with the Civil War or the CSA outside of the "Dead Presidents" adventure or as occasional background.

Everything up to the Battle of Washington stays the same. The Agents and Texas Rangers still fight with each other over the best way to handle the Reckoning. The Great Rail Wars still happen.

We described the USA / CSA a bit more in Back East North and South in Deadlands Classic, but the "north and south" still exist. The South just isn't its own government anymore. Tensions still exist. Loyalists from both sides still skirmish, especially in the border states. Fort 51 and Roswell compete with each other just like the Agents and Rangers. Honestly, it's just not that big a deal.

(The Last War in Hell on Earth gets a little weirder but a LOT more fun and Deadlands-y! :) )

***

Maybe you'll agree. Maybe you won't. That's okay. We're doing it anyway. We hope you'll join us, of course. Every creator wants to see their works loved and appreciated and our team is no different...but ultimately, and I'll just speak for myself here, I create the worlds I want. I know who I am and what I stand for, and can say the same for our team...even those with vastly different viewpoints. Meet me in person in a casual environment and I might even have a political conversation with you if you seem genuinely interested in a conversation. Just be warned. You might like what I have to say...you might not. But if I say anything, it'll be honest.

And by the way, I expected some to say I was pandering in SWADE with Red and Gabe. Think that if you want, but they're just who I saw in my head the entire time I was writing it. That's what I did and I'm happy with it. I hope you are too, but it's okay if you aren't. That's your business. I know my mind and my heart and I'm sure you know yours.

***

Thanks for reading this long post. We knew this would be a controversial topic, and that's okay. But we aren't going to answer to it anymore. I might point people to this post, I might just delete new threads if the tone is going to derail and poison the community we've ALL worked so hard to build. Fair warning.

If you want to talk about or critique the decision further, feel free to do so elsewhere. Our decision was made long ago and we're moving on. Nothing will change that opinion.

Our efforts are focused on making the best game and worlds we know how to make. If they don't fit your tastes, that's okay. We're all lucky to live in a golden age of gaming right now where there are hundreds of other choices for you to patronize. I'm very happy to see any of my friends at other companies get your business and for you to find whatever game / company / system makes YOU and your friends happy. Truly. :)

Thanks again for reading, friends, whether you like what I had to say or not. We'll see (most of) you on Banshee, where you can find out just what happened to the Reckoners after the Unity adventure. We think it's pretty cool, and hope you think so too!
 
I know very little about Deadlands. How much racism, sexism, and bigotry exists in the setting relative to the real world 1870s?

If the South now lost the war in 1871, do white supremacist organisations such as the 1st Klan exist?
 

Celebrim

Legend
Meh. Was never a customer anyway. The decision one way or the other doesn't and won't effect my decision to be a customer in the future, should it ever come up.

I want to do a little eye rolling at this announcement because a lot of people are going to pick sides and argue some variation on "this is a really important move that says something important", but mostly I think it's trivial and inflating the importance of the trivial. The only thing that bothers me about it is the continuing drip drip of the idea that people can't tell the difference between the imaginary and the real, and shouldn't be expected to. But, if that is going to become the new cultural norm, well I can't say that I'm entirely opposed to it.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I know very little about Deadlands. How much racism, sexism, and bigotry exists in the setting relative to the real world 1870s?
The answer to that is - how much do you want?

In the setting, in a major way the Civil War never really ended - it simply ground down to the point where it wasn't really supportable by either side. Both sides lost so many men that women stepped into traditionally male roles. The Confederacy had to liberate their slaves or face having no workforce and be unable to repress a rebellion. In all that, the Native Americans were able to force both sides into yielding territory to them.

Plus, the dead walked on the fields of Gettysburg. And the base game is set west of most of the combat of the war that happened in the real world. It is extremely easy to play the game leaving most of the racism, sexism, and bigotry behind, and cause no real cognitive dissonance.

I ran the game as my main campaign for... more than 5 years, I think. Out in the West, where there are monsters and stuff, people don't have a lot of time for such foolishness. Those that do still act on such... became my villains. General George Custer did not fare well at the hands of the PCs, let me tell you.

If the South now lost the war in 1871, do white supremacist organizations such as the 1st Klan exist?
I'm going to guess that we will see that as new materials are released.

Edit to add:

I do have to say, "they are no longer playable" or calling them a "playable faction" seems a bit weird. The Confederacy was not like a Vampire clan. The game did not ask players to "choose a faction" for their characters that had mechanical impact, or something. The Confederacy was a nation that existed in the setting, that's all. The core game didn't detail what it was like within that nation, even - that was in a later supplement.

Are they going to say, "In this game, no character can have a backstory based in the Confederacy"?
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Good. This Southern-born and bred individual says screw the Confederacy and settings that propogates its imagined continued existence.
If it helps... in the original setting, they were kind of screwed...

IIRC, the President of the Confederacy had been replaced by a doppelganger, under the influence of one of the major BBEGs of the setting.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If there was one thing I'd want changed in the setting, though, it would have been a major issue of the metaplot....

The whole setting is kicked off by one Native American finally getting incredibly cheesed off at how his people are treated, managing some real magic, and bringing horrors into the world. But, his position is set as being... on the of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This forces him to be aligned as a piece of Christian mythology when the character who is cheesed off... at white folks imposing on his people. The irony is astounding. [/color]
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I’m honestly more interested in Deadlands now than I was before. But, that is the fault of a GM several years ago, by the sound of it, who liked the whole Confederacy still being around thing a bit too much.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
Deadlands is a Savage Setting I've never gotten into, or even been curious about.
That said, if I were running Deadlands (or any other Western-themed game), I would expect the CSA to be in the backstory. Not necessarily that it survived in an alternate history way.
I think this is the idea of what they're changing with this revision. I'm okay with it.
I live in a battleground state that was a part of the Union that has shifted to Confederate sympathy since the 20th Century, largely through efforts of groups like the Daughters of the Confederacy. We have a Confederate statue outside our Courthouse to commemorate - when the Confederacy destroyed our previous courthouse.
For me, the alternate history of the CSA lasting beyond its time is a tired trope. And for those of us living in these areas, that "alternate" history is published in text books, displayed in bronze on courthouse lawns, and waved on flags in yards.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I played in a Deadlands game in the mid-90's, the GM lifted the setting from Tex-Arcana (Tex Arcana - Wikipedia) and Blood Meridian (Blood Meridian - Wikipedia); I don't think he included the part of the South winning, there were ex-Confederates, but it wasn't a big part of the game, just chrome like Jesse James stuff. That said, we also didn't include any overt racism or sexism, not as main themes. I think dropping the whole Confederacy wins thing is actually better for the setting in general. One gets more drama out of the defeated.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I’m honestly more interested in Deadlands now than I was before. But, that is the fault of a GM several years ago, by the sound of it, who liked the whole Confederacy still being around thing a bit too much.
Yikes.

Deadlands is a Savage Setting I've never gotten into, or even been curious about.
That said, if I were running Deadlands (or any other Western-themed game), I would expect the CSA to be in the backstory. Not necessarily that it survived in an alternate history way.
I think this is the idea of what they're changing with this revision. I'm okay with it.
I live in a battleground state that was a part of the Union that has shifted to Confederate sympathy since the 20th Century, largely through efforts of groups like the Daughters of the Confederacy. We have a Confederate statue outside our Courthouse to commemorate - when the Confederacy destroyed our previous courthouse.
For me, the alternate history of the CSA lasting beyond its time is a tired trope. And for those of us living in these areas, that "alternate" history is published in text books, displayed in bronze on courthouse lawns, and waved on flags in yards.
They say the South lost the War, but won the Peace...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Please note: This thread should steer away from discussion of real-world political situations or movements. That's outside our scope, folks.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
So steering it back to Deadland...

How heavy is the Savage Worlds system? Any people have experience with it and Deadland? I'm curious what the basic mechanics are like?
 
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Retreater

Adventurer
So steering it back to Deadland...

How heavy is the system? Any people have experience with it? I'm curious what the basic mechanics are like?
Are you asking about Savage Worlds, in general? I can speak to that, but not to the Deadlands setting.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
The base game is set west of most of the combat of the war that happened in the real world. It is extremely easy to play the game leaving most of the racism, sexism, and bigotry behind, and cause no real cognitive dissonance.
Having read Shane's detailed comments, I completely understand why they did this. It's too easy for people with a strong real-world attachment to issues the CSA stood for to project them into the game, making games unfriendly to a large group of people. Even if it's only a small fraction of your customers, it's not a good look and it's a sensible decision to stop giving people that opportunity.

Having said that, I agree with Umbran -- it's extremely easy to play without those issues surfacing. I'm actually in the middle of running a Classic Deadlands campaign right now. My PCs are a mix (as always!) but do include two southern players who are both very happy playing Texas Rangers. No slavery or racism issues have been in our campaign -- which has mostly been using published material, adapted by me -- and that feels like the default tone of the campaign. It's a game that is clearly about ridin', shootin' and getting rid of bad thangs that threaten civilization. To bring in racial justice issues in any sense would feel like a big switch in genre. Deadlands has never taken itself very seriously (last night they fought a giant spider -- a "terrantula"), not a way to explore important issues.

Now, I fully understand that this POV could feel like I'm implicitly supporting a system of thought that oppressed many and still causes pain to many today. I'm not a fan of the "this is just good, clean harmless fun in an imaginary world" self-absolution claim, so I understand if you feel I'm starting into that and of apologetics. For the group I am in, and the style of play we are running, I don't feel I am, but, yeah, maybe I'm wrong. And if I were starting a new campaign, I'd probably go for the ret-con version.
 
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