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

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Retreater

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?
I would describe Savage Worlds as a "rules medium" system. It's not like D&D 5E, but has about the same level of crunch. That said, combats usually go a lot faster, as the system relies heavily on minions who drop in one hit.

The basic mechanic is reach a target number of 4. The skills you're good at use higher value dice. So if you're not good at something - you need a 4 on a d4. If you're really good at something, roll a d12 and get a 4. (There are modifiers to the rule of 4, but this is the basics.)

Initiative is dealing out playing cards, with face cards going first, then in reverse numerical order.

It's a good system. I just started playing a few months ago, transitioning my groups from D&D to do so. There are many settings with all kinds of different flavors: horror, sci-fi, pulp, etc., all using the same system.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I would describe Savage Worlds as a "rules medium" system. It's not like D&D 5E, but has about the same level of crunch. That said, combats usually go a lot faster, as the system relies heavily on minions who drop in one hit.

The basic mechanic is reach a target number of 4. The skills you're good at use higher value dice. So if you're not good at something - you need a 4 on a d4. If you're really good at something, roll a d12 and get a 4. (There are modifiers to the rule of 4, but this is the basics.)

Initiative is dealing out playing cards, with face cards going first, then in reverse numerical order.

It's a good system. I just started playing a few months ago, transitioning my groups from D&D to do so. There are many settings with all kinds of different flavors: horror, sci-fi, pulp, etc., all using the same system.
Thank you! Very informative!
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
How heavy is the Savage Worlds system? Any people have experience with it and Deadland? I'm curious what the basic mechanics are like?
Well, the original, Classic Deadlands is the progenitor of Savage Worlds. The original game is... kinda baroque, honestly. They trimmed that game down significantly, to create Savage Worlds.

So, some elements of that origin remain - cards are used for initiative, for example. The base mechanic is a pretty simple. Savage Worlds, in my experience, runs pretty quickly and smoothly.
 

Celebrim

Legend
They say the South lost the War, but won the Peace...
It wasn't much like a peace, but more like a second civil war. But yes, the South won that one, Pyrrhic victory though it was. Exactly why is beyond the limits of the thread.

But I'll also assert that I don't think it fixes the problem which it seems intended to solve. Like Umbran, I don't understand how something like "In this game, no character can have a backstory based in the Confederacy?" could be enforced by this sort of thing, and if you can't enforce that, then you can't avoid situations where people will rightly or wrongly draw inferences about the beliefs of their fellow gamer based on the characters that they play. And he has a bit of a contradiction when he says, "Loyalists from both sides still skirmish, especially in the border states." and yet also, "Imagine the GM having to roleplay those [CSA loyalists]." Baffled bemusement on my part.

Ultimately I agree with the author, "Honestly, it's just not that big a deal...it really doesn't change much even in the Weird West. " His setting, he can do what he wants, for whatever reason he wants to. I wasn't inferring anything about his beliefs before, and I won't be afterwards. I hope he achieves what he wants to achieve.
 

Libertad

Explorer
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"?
Au contraire. Throughout both Classic and Reloaded there have been Edges and archetypes which grant you in-game boons based upon your time in the Confederate Army, both former and active. The Soldier and Texas Ranger Edges presume active-duty service, whilst the Rebel Yell Edge is a powerful AoE fear-based debuff which requires you to be from the Confederacy and implied to be a soldier given its origin.

Additionally, the Agency and Texas Ranger organizations can give your PC unique equipment based upon their rank and pull. Ranging from EVEN BIGGER GUNS to useful monster-hunting devices.

Celebrim said:
But I'll also assert that I don't think it fixes the problem which it seems intended to solve. Like Umbran, I don't understand how something like "In this game, no character can have a backstory based in the Confederacy?" could be enforced by this sort of thing, and if you can't enforce that, then you can't avoid situations where people will rightly or wrongly draw inferences about the beliefs of their fellow gamer based on the characters that they play. And he has a bit of a contradiction when he says, "Loyalists from both sides still skirmish, especially in the border states." and yet also, "Imagine the GM having to roleplay those [CSA loyalists]." Baffled bemusement on my part.
I posted this elsewhere, but it's a pretty good explanation for the meta-reasons.

It's a necessary change not so much for the "in-universe lore" so much as the out-of-universe implications. Without getting too far into politics, Back East: the South was the most pre-eminent sourcebook on the country in the setting. The book more or less relayed a lot of unfortunate implications on both an in-universe and meta-level. For one example, it had the Confederacy explicitly fight for slavery and thus white supremacy without so much as a mention of states' rights anywhere in the tome. While also having the Abrahamic God explicitly grant His divine powers to chaplains in the Confederate army before said nation even contemplated manumission. I actually wrote a review for said book here on ENWorld.

But all in all, I'm very happy for this change. I've both personally witnessed in online gaming spaces and among personal friends who say that they're more willing to check out Deadlands due to this. In all my years as a Savage Worlds fan this was the largest barrier of entry for new gamers. Most gamers don't care about the in-game metaplot politics that result from this so much as the big grey elephant in the room that is the above. I know they exist, but I haven't really met many Realmslorian purists in D&D sessions, or Noddist purists in Vampire games. The types of players who hold GM's feet over the fire for changing aspects of the metaplot generally have trouble finding reliable gaming groups outside their specialized branch of fictional scholarship.
 

Celebrim

Legend
@Libertad - Well, I'm glad it makes you happy, though frankly your explanation has left me even more confused, as I wasn't able to tell whether your criticism was coming from the far-Left or far-Right until I got to the end of your review and you went off on a discussion of recent political events. Apparently, I'm incapable of being educated.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
@Libertad - Well, I'm glad it makes you happy, though frankly your explanation has left me even more confused, as I wasn't able to tell whether your criticism was coming from the far-Left or far-Right until I got to the end of your review and you went off on a discussion of recent political events. Apparently, I'm incapable of being educated.
I really thought the second paragraph makes it incredibly clear where the critic stands on the general political spectrum. I mean, I have never in my entire life seen anyone on even the middle-right use half of those descriptors, much less the far right.
 

MGibster

Adventurer
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.
Another post was nice enough to point out that in Savage Deadlands there are Edges specifically related to Union or Confederate characters. But I've been a big fan of Deadlands since the beginning and have run many, many games over the years. I've never had any significant conflicts between the Confederacy and the Union in my Deadlands campaigns. Not a single time. I'm fine with the change. In fact I prefer it. Even with werewolves, prairie ticks, and a Mexican army of the dead, the most unrealistic thing about the setting was the existence of the Confederacy. And given recent controversies the Confederacy as a nation just isn't something I'd want to see in the game.

We'll still have former Confederates as playable characters I'm sure and there's nothing wrong with that. The Texas Rangers are still going to be around and we can't just pretend the war didn't happen at all.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
I wasn't a big fan of the setting - just enough to have read original and reloaded...

The CSA as presented doesn't mesh well with the CSA as recorded by history, nor with the common misperceptions of the CSA. It's several doses of "must educate the players befor CGen"...

My players, tho' rejected on grounds of the horror elements.
 

MGibster

Adventurer
But all in all, I'm very happy for this change. I've both personally witnessed in online gaming spaces and among personal friends who say that they're more willing to check out Deadlands due to this. In all my years as a Savage Worlds fan this was the largest barrier of entry for new gamers. Most gamers don't care about the in-game metaplot politics that result from this so much as the big grey elephant in the room that is the above.
As a long time fan of Deadlands, I'm completely onboard for the same reasons. Removing the Confederacy won't leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who might otherwise be interested in the game.
 

Derren

Adventurer
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.
That sadly seems to be the general trend these days.

If you apply the reasoning here to other RPGs you would gave to alter or even axe a lot of settings. Alternate WW2 settings where Germany won or at least still exist would be impossible as would be knock offs like the Coalition in (Savage) Rifts. Even ancient Rome would be critical as they were big slavers as well as were many other nations in history.
 
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MGibster

Adventurer
If you apply the reasoning here to other RPGs you would gave to alter or even axe a lot if settings. Alternate WW2 settings where Germany won ir at least still exist would be impossible as would be knock offs like the Coalition in (Savage) Rifts. Even ancient Rome would be critical as they were big slavers as well as were many other nations in history.
It's tough to discuss this without bringing up current political events. But the big difference is that most settings that show Germany having won the war don't encourage player characters who are members of the Wehrmacht or the SS. When Rifts was first released the Coalition was presented as the bad guy. You could play a Coalition soldier, SAMAS armor dude, or something else but it was generally presumed that you no longer were part of that particular organization. (I understand a Rifts book was later released depicting a more sympathetic view of the Coalition but I've never read it myself.)

Most people who were critical of Deadlands' victorious Confederacy weren't upset by that one simple component. They were critical because of the game's portrayal of the CSA as a nation that elected to end slavery. I don't believe Shane Hensley is a Confederate apologist and the more unpleasant aspects of the Confederacy and the legacy of slavery and racism were excised from the game because he just wanted everyone to have a good time with cowboys and zombies. Unfortunately the CSA of Deadlands really plays into the Southern apologists' narratives that the war was not about slavery.

Mod Edit: Fixed incorrect quote attribution. ~Umbran
 
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Retreater

Adventurer
From what I've seen in Savage Rifts it takes away the focus from the Coalition and directs characters to join the Tomorrow Legion, a mostly altruistic faction. In the new Coalition themed playtest book it suggests if you start characters as Coalition members that they soon see the error of their ways and defect to the Tomorrow Legion.
The Rifts purist I know (granted not enough of a purist to use the Palladium rules set haha) doesn't use the Legion in his game. He claims that it doesn't feel like Rifts, so his characters are all unaffiliated mercenaries.
 

the Jester

Legend
Hmmm.

I get where they're coming from, but I have a longstanding hatred of retcons. So I have mixed feelings about this. If I was in, or running, an ongoing DL campaign, this would discourage me from buying new material because it wouldn't fit the setting I was running anymore. And just because a game features the CSA, that certainly doesn't mean it promotes it or the values it fought for.

On the other hand, I get where he's coming from and agree with a lot of his points. So... yeah, mixed feelings. My hate of retcons vs. my desire for- dare I say it- social justice is an interesting dilemma to face.
 

Derren

Adventurer
From what I've seen in Savage Rifts it takes away the focus from the Coalition and directs characters to join the Tomorrow Legion, a mostly altruistic faction. In the new Coalition themed playtest book it suggests if you start characters as Coalition members that they soon see the error of their ways and defect to the Tomorrow Legion.
The Rifts purist I know (granted not enough of a purist to use the Palladium rules set haha) doesn't use the Legion in his game. He claims that it doesn't feel like Rifts, so his characters are all unaffiliated mercenaries.
At least in the original Palladium rules Coalition campaigns were fully supported and in no way discouraged.
Not sure if the Legion fits or not, after all there are other "goody goody" organizations out there, but they do feel a bit artificial, but so does much of Rifts. I only dislike it when RPGs push you towards or assume membership in a specific organitation as imo that is needlessly limiting options.

I also dislike retcons alot, especially when done for non-game reasons like here. But as I am not american I don't get the "Confederacy scare". To me, that is ancient history, nothing more.

Luckily its unlikely that in Savage Rifts they will be allowed to retcon that Tolkeen won the war against the Coalition, even though some players would likely be very pleased by this.
 

macd21

Explorer
Hmmm.

I get where they're coming from, but I have a longstanding hatred of retcons. So I have mixed feelings about this. If I was in, or running, an ongoing DL campaign, this would discourage me from buying new material because it wouldn't fit the setting I was running anymore. And just because a game features the CSA, that certainly doesn't mean it promotes it or the values it fought for.
Sure, a game can feature the CSA without promoting it. The problem being that Deadlands did promote the Confederacy (though thankfully not the values it stood for).

Had the CSA been portrayed as a horrific regime on-par with Nazi Germany, it would have been far less problematic.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
Perceptions on things change as time passes.

I had some African American Friends that proudly flew a Confederate flag.

Why? They told me they were proud of their Southern roots and heritage.

Things change. It's interesting how people change the meanings of things at times, and try to force others to say that it HAS to mean a specific thing.

Ironically, these days I suppose white people would call them racist for flying that flag. Others might as well. It didn't mean that to them though. Not how they explained it to me.

I do not know what their perception of the Confederacy was, or exactly their purposes in flying the flag, just what they told me. They had a Confederate flag license plate as well. Was it there way of proclaiming they were from Georgia and not From Florida or the North USA, or something else? I don't know, it's been a little while since I talked to them (life moves on, I move, they move, etc...etc...etc).

Today, I suppose with how we are supposed to think, we'd be forced to think the worst of them, even though they were African Americans from the US South. I have no idea what others thought of them in their hometown.

It just seems to me that at times, people react the way they feel they should react, or that they feel others should have reacted rather than what many people, some who do not fit the stereotype.

It's not always clear cut, right and wrong. I would argue that the Civil War ultimately was about Slavery, but ironically Slavery was never outlawed for the North (yes, there were slave states fighting on the North's side and while it got outlawed in the south by the Federal Government, it was NOT outlawed in the North until LATER with amendments to force the change, one could say it was even a particularly messy situation that propped up that the US has basically ignored in it's history books in trying to paint the South as the Slavers and the North as the Good guys...ignoring later conflicts in these same slave states in regards to getting the slavery out of them). Things tend to be more complex in actual history than simply black and white, and maybe it was this grey area where these neighbors of mine were at with their Flag and Southern heritage.

I have a feeling that the more current stereotypes rather than the more traditional values and ideas espoused by these neighbors are what have influenced this change in the DL books. Many seem to latch onto the modern telling of what the Confederacy was and what the Flag stood for rather than what some of those (even my neighbors, who seemed particularly proud of a Southern Heritage) seem to hold in the past.

That said, this change to the Deadlands doesn't really bother me at all. In fact, I feel I strongly support the idea. I ALSO feel STRONGLY that the original author and creator (and I imagine that this is who this guy is) SHOULD RETAIN the ability to say WHAT IS CANON and WHAT IS NOT in their creations. (for example, I feel George Lucas, far more than Disney or even the approved authors and fiction he had with the original EU, has a say one what is actually Star Wars Canon...and what is not). (In the same light, whether Gygax or Arneson, I would have rather they remained in control of their creation [jointly??? as unlikely as that may have been] rather than have lost it. Who knows what we may have ended up with today if such had occurred?).

No fan or others should be able to tell the original creators how their created world should be if the original creator is still around. If this is what the creator of Deadlands wants...GOOD for them. I hope they have a GREAT deal of success and do NOT lose sales. In fact, in exerting their own ability to define the background and canon of their creation is terrific in my view. I hope that they would be rewarded for standing on that and holding onto what they feel they should and CAN do. I hope his sales actually increase.

Unfortunately, I've never really been into the Deadland RPG. It's not an area that particularly interested me. I hope he has a massive amount of success in exerting his control over his creation, and I hope his thoughts that they will lose money for this move are unfounded. Hopefully, this is a good change and his core audience is very receptive to it. I hope them the best of luck and fortune.
 

macd21

Explorer
Perceptions on things change as time passes.

I had some African American Friends that proudly flew a Confederate flag.

Why? They told me they were proud of their Southern roots and heritage.

Things change. It's interesting how people change the meanings of things at times, and try to force others to say that it HAS to mean a specific thing.

Ironically, these days I suppose white people would call them racist for flying that flag. Others might as well. It didn't mean that to them though. Not how they explained it to me.

I do not know what their perception of the Confederacy was, or exactly their purposes in flying the flag, just what they told me. They had a Confederate flag license plate as well. Was it there way of proclaiming they were from Georgia and not From Florida or the North USA, or something else? I don't know, it's been a little while since I talked to them (life moves on, I move, they move, etc...etc...etc).

Today, I suppose with how we are supposed to think, we'd be forced to think the worst of them, even though they were African Americans from the US South. I have no idea what others thought of them in their hometown.

It just seems to me that at times, people react the way they feel they should react, or that they feel others should have reacted rather than what many people, some who do not fit the stereotype.

It's not always clear cut, right and wrong. I would argue that the Civil War ultimately was about Slavery, but ironically Slavery was never outlawed for the North (yes, there were slave states fighting on the North's side and while it got outlawed in the south by the Federal Government, it was NOT outlawed in the North until LATER with amendments to force the change, one could say it was even a particularly messy situation that propped up that the US has basically ignored in it's history books in trying to paint the South as the Slavers and the North as the Good guys...ignoring later conflicts in these same slave states in regards to getting the slavery out of them). Things tend to be more complex in actual history than simply black and white, and maybe it was this grey area where these neighbors of mine were at with their Flag and Southern heritage.

I have a feeling that the more current stereotypes rather than the more traditional values and ideas espoused by these neighbors are what have influenced this change in the DL books. Many seem to latch onto the modern telling of what the Confederacy was and what the Flag stood for rather than what some of those (even my neighbors, who seemed particularly proud of a Southern Heritage) seem to hold in the past.
But this is exactly the problem: ‘what the Flag stood for’ was slavery, but confederate apologists spent decades lying about that fact, to convince people it was about states rights and southern pride. Which is why you get a bunch of black guys proudly flying it, and why you get a whitewashed CSA in a weird-west RPG. And to people who know the truth, that’s offensive.

It’s like someone claiming the swastika is a symbol of white-pride rather than murder and oppression. It doesn’t matter if they honestly believe that, it’s still a lie.
 
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