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

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The Civil War in the original version of Deadlands seems to be in a long stalemate. I don't think it's plausible the South would free its slaves in any capacity, let alone full emancipation, under such circumstances.

"By March 13, 1865, the situation was extremely dire as the relentless press of the armies under the command of Ulysses S. Grant drove into the heart of Virginia, threatening Richmond, the Confederate capital. After a plea from Robert E. Lee for black troops, the Confederate Congress, under siege in Richmond, that day authorized the recruitment of black slaves into the Southern Army.

Although this particular statute technically freed no slaves—under its terms only slaves who were voluntarily freed by their owners could enlist in the Confederate Army—opposition to the end of slavery was still so strong that the bill only passed by narrow 40-37 and 9-8 margins in the Confederate House and Senate...

The Confederate turn to the use of manumitted African-American troops in the last days of the Civil War was first and foremost an act of desperation and not likely the result of a newly found commitment to the cause of anti-slavery."​

Source
 

Derren

Adventurer
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.
That sounds rather silly to me.
Deadlands is obviously a fictional alternate history setting, so nothing presented in it has any meaning or connection with the real world. A alternate WW2 setting in which Staufenberg succeeded to assassinate Hitler and turn Germany back into a minarchy does in no way deny the crimes real world nazis have commited. And in the same way a CAS that eventually frees its skave dies not deny that real world slavery happened and sparked the civil war.

Also, from what I gather in this thread Deadlands never claims that the CAS didn't fight to keep slavery. Them freeing slaves only happened later after the setting deviated from history. So it is clearly fictional.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The Civil War in the original version of Deadlands seems to be in a long stalemate. I don't think it's plausible the South would free its slaves in any capacity, let alone full emancipation, under such circumstances.
You may not feel it is plausible, but in the canon setting, they did so in 1865. Remember, the war was more deadly than in our world.

And, ideas of this kind it was proposed in the real world: Early in 1864, General Patrick Cleburne proposed enlisting slaves in return for their freedom. And that proposal wasn't just roundly ignored.


So, figure that when the dead were walking around the battlefields maybe that suggestion seemed more acceptable...
 

macd21

Explorer
That sounds rather silly to me.
Deadlands is obviously a fictional alternate history setting, so nothing presented in it has any meaning or connection with the real world. A alternate WW2 setting in which Staufenberg succeeded to assassinate Hitler and turn Germany back into a minarchy does in no way deny the crimes real world nazis have commited. And in the same way a CAS that eventually frees its skave dies not deny that real world slavery happened and sparked the civil war.
Your alternate WW2 scenario is not equivalent. The equivalent WW2 scenario would be one in which the Holocaust never happened because the Nazis weren’t really that bad after all, Hitler was really nice when you get down to it, loved dogs and children etc. Jews proved their worth by valiantly fighting for National Socialism. Afterward the 3rd Reich ends up being a pretty progressive place.

Such a setting would be considered disgusting by many, it’s fictional nature notwithstanding.
 

Derren

Adventurer
Your alternate WW2 scenario is not equivalent. The equivalent WW2 scenario would be one in which the Holocaust never happened because the Nazis weren’t really that bad after all, Hitler was really nice when you get down to it, loved dogs and children etc. Jews proved their worth by valiantly fighting for National Socialism. Afterward the 3rd Reich ends up being a pretty progressive place.

Such a setting would be considered disgusting by many, it’s fictional nature notwithstanding.
That doesn't really match at all how others describe Deadlands and the CAS in this thread.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Deadlands is obviously a fictional alternate history setting, so nothing presented in it has any meaning or connection with the real world.
Fiction presents examinations of morals and ethics, what we find acceptable, and the nature of what it means to be human, using situations that didn't happen to allow that exploration. To say it is without meaning... basically invalidates fictional literature as human experience, which, sorry, is rather too far to go to defend a work, especially when there are better ways...

The Man in the High Tower for example, uses an alternate history where the Axis won to explore what occupation and oppression is like, and how we might respond to it, in a setting that modern Americans have never had a chance to experience, but can likely identify with. Using this fictional conceit did not mean Philip K Dick was a Nazi sympathizer. It was a setting used for effect to say things against such regimes.

I will accept an argument that the mere fact that the setting has the Confederacy surviving is not necessarily meaningful - but what we then do with that is meaningful.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
So, figure that when the dead were walking around the battlefields maybe that suggestion seemed more acceptable...
No argument from the counter-factual carries much weight, but the introduction of magical horrors from beyond time and space would seem likely to alter peoples perceptions of what was important.

That said, we are doing exactly what I feared we do - make a bunch of trivial arguments about which outline of an imagined counter-factual history in a game is important to believe in.

The next step in this would be attacking people for which counter-factual view of an imagined history involving zombies and ghost dancers having real magical power they prefer based on how some nitpick of that history somehow proves the person they are yelling at cathartically is a White Supremacist who wants to ban people of color from gaming.
 

the Jester

Legend
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).
I honestly never got that sense, but I was a player, not the GM, and I didn't honestly read the setting, just play in it. So my sense of how it was treated was probably the result of how my GM ran it rather than the actual material.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That said, we are doing exactly what I feared we do - make a bunch of trivial arguments about which outline of an imagined counter-factual history in a game is important to believe in.
Um... do remember that your first post in the thread was to announce how you weren't a customer.

If you want to firmly establish that you lack investment in the topic, but want to then proclaim how those who do should go about it... I don't think that will turn out well.
 

macd21

Explorer
That doesn't really match at all how others describe Deadlands and the CAS in this thread.
I’m not sure where you’re getting that from, because that’s exactly what the CSA is like in Deadlands, particularly as described in the Back East supplement. The CSA basically wins the war by giving up on slavery and embracing equality. In the post-war CSA, racism is a thing of the past.

The Deadlands CSA is based on a flawed understanding of the real-world Confederacy, one that was (and in some places still is) commonly taught in schools in the South. This glorified, whitewashed version of the Confederacy was created by racists who wanted to reshape the narrative of the ‘War of Norther Aggression.’

Just to be clear: there is no indication that the authors were racist when they came up with the Deadlands setting: quite the opposite. But they seem to have fallen for what was at the time a commonly accepted, but completely inaccurate picture of the Confederacy. It is a depiction that is offensive, and that contributes to division and even violence to this day.
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
I’m not sure where you’re getting that from, because that’s exactly what the CSA is like in Deadlands, particularly as described in the Back East supplement. The CSA basically wins the war by giving up on slavery and embracing equality. In the post-war CSA, racism is a thing of the past.

The Deadlands CSA is based on a flawed understanding of the real-world Confederacy, one that was (and in some places still is) commonly taught in schools in the South. This glorified, whitewashed version of the Confederacy was created by racists who wanted to reshape the narrative of the ‘War of Norther Aggression.’

Just to be clear: there is no indication that the authors were racist when they came up with the Deadlands setting: quite the opposite. But they seem to have fallen for what was at the time a commonly accepted, but completely inaccurate picture of the Confederacy. It is a depiction that is offensive, and that contributes to division and even violence to this day.
Of course the Flag that people use as the Confederate Flag was not actually the Confederate Flag, it was the Battle Flag of Virginia.

After the war it served a dual purpose, one nefarious which people latch onto with today, and one which isn't quite as nefarious, though some would say it is not necessarily a good thing either.

The first was that it was resurrected by a band of terrorists and racists that, though they fell under the banner of the latter meaning (which I'll address), had another purpose of enforcing the idea of white supremacy. This idea of white supremacy is what their flag stood for, not actually the CSA.

Obviously, that is NOT why an African American would fly the flag or be proud of it, or I would think that would not be a reason.

The OTHER item the flag stood for was as a standard of state independence. It stood for the idea that even though defeated, they still had their identity and were still able to make decisions as states. Unfortunately this manifested itself in many of the wrong ways, but it stood as a defiance against a strong Federal Government after the carpet baggers and the Northern control left the South. It also represented the idea that one does not have to be ashamed of their ancestors, especially if they viewed them as having served loyally.

Have no mistake, the Civil War was OVER Slavery, but States Rights vs. Federal Rights (or Amendment 10) was also VERY MUCH at the heart of the issue. For those Slave states that did NOT rebel (and there were slave states that were very much part of the union who were fighting to preserve the Union, NOT to get rid of slavery) in many ways it was more focused on this issue. Lincoln was no Saint and he had no desire to end slavery of his own accord.

The South's reason for going to War was absolutely over their fears of Slavery being ended (and you can blatantly see it in their secession proclamations). However, Lincoln and the North's original reason for going to war had NOTHING to do with Slavery, but with the right of the State to actually secede and whether it could do so. It was about the Union. It was only after several years and seeing that perhaps this purpose was not as strongly a unifier as needed that Lincoln issued the idea of freeing the slaves. At this, it was STILL NOT over slavery perse, as the slaves in the NORTH WERE NOT FREED by this. Slavery continued at full steam in the Northern slave states.

Which makes it ironic that AFTER the War, in many ways, things got reversed. While the North saw it as over Slavery, the South started to see it over States Rights. In this, things got a life of it's own. This also meant that the Battle Flag of Virginia descended into a representation of several things, one of which is that of those who felt firmly that the Federal Government had too much power. It also stood for having a regard for those who were ancestors of those who fought in the Confederacy, and not having to feel shame about those ancestors. More aptly, that those ancestors that one was descended from do NOT make you a bad person, just because of their actions (which is what some STILL want to paint anyone who is descended from people in the Confederacy today as, evil people, even if those descendants themselves are Black, or another ethnicity other than white).

This idea of states rights, with the fervent protests and demanding that the Confederate Flag (or more aptly the Battle Flag of Virginia) is connected to slavery still exists, it just has moved onto adopting other symbology rather than that particular symbol. One of the more popular ones is going back to the Revolutionary war and adopting the Don't Tread on Me Flag.

The issue I think is one where neither side is really listening to the other and instead of talking about a middle ground, each side is too busy arguing rather than listening. It's easier to label some group as racists and glorifying slavery rather than try to hear why their reasons for flying a certain flag or wishing to have a certain ideas. At the same time it's easier to label others in a different group rather than try to hear about the good things a solid federal government can do in helping those in need or promoting those from lower social and economic strata in climbing the ladder of economic and social mobility.

As I said, I don't know exactly what the reasons were for my neighbors flying the flag, but I do not feel it was ignorance. That is just as insulting to their intelligence as any other idea in that arena. I think they fully knew what and WHY they did so. Perhaps they had ancestors who fought in the Civil war, perhaps they felt that the issue of States Rights was an important thing, or perhaps they just wanted to feel pride in where they came from. I HIGHLY DOUBT African Americans who flew the flag did so out of ignorance, but in many cases probably were MORE educated about the issue than I am or many others.

However, it DOES highlight one item brought up which was also touched lightly upon by the Deadlands creator in their reasons to make the changes they did. In this thread we have different opinions on the issue of the CSA and the Civil War. Much of the focus has been regarding the Civil War rather than the game itself and the other ways this change may affect it. Some have lightly touched upon it (backgrounds for example), but a lot has also been focused on the Civil War as well.

The creator seems to explain (at least from what I read) that Deadlands is supposed to be a fun game to play, not some historical exposition to cause intense discussion of historical ramifications and historical context at the table. People are supposed to sit down together and have fun rather than have one point of game history bring up different opinions and possibly cause disagreements (or worse, rifts and falling out about it) at the game table. By changing this, I imagine the idea is to get people to focus less on what some may consider a controversial idea, and more on having fun in an Old West Fantasy Game.

PS: It should be noted that although the Battle Flag of Virginia was what was used as representing the Confederate flag later on, though it was not the Confederate flag in practice, DID appear on the Confederate flag in a smaller design. It was normally on the top Left corner or on the Left side against a Field of White, or later a Field of White with a red Stripe to the Right. The Battle Flag used later to represent those who had a Southern Background also was used more fully as the Naval Flag of the time, which was more the size used today in those types of flags, rather than the more square banner utilized otherwise in Virginia and later on by rebellious groups. One difference that is missed is the KKK flag originally was the square version of the crossbars and stars, while the Naval Flag was the more rectangle version which is more in line with the dimensions of the flags we use today, if I understand them right (not a specific flag historian myself). The misconception today is mixing up the flag the KKK used (the battle flag of Virginia which is square) with the Naval Flag (which is rectangular). They traditionally represented separate things though they appeared very similar, one representing more racism in the past, the other representing the idea of states rights and pride in a southern heritage.
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Have no mistake, the Civil War was OVER Slavery, but States Rights vs. Federal Rights (or Amendment 10) was also VERY MUCH at the heart of the issue.
And yet the Confederate Constitution was a very mixed bag with regards to states' rights, compared to the United States Constitution. The CSA version gave states a few more rights, but also added a roughly equal number of new restrictions as well.
 

Derren

Adventurer
I’m not sure where you’re getting that from, because that’s exactly what the CSA is like in Deadlands, particularly as described in the Back East supplement. The CSA basically wins the war by giving up on slavery and embracing equality. In the post-war CSA, racism is a thing of the past.
Yes, slavery is abolished as response of alternate history and supernatural events. In the beginning of the war the situation and war goals were as in history which includes slavery. (Not to mention that their decision to free slaves in exchange for military service isn't quite as alternate as one first thinks as people have shown).

That is a completely different scenario than "Hitler was a nice guy and the Holocaust never happened" what you posted above.

But I do see why this decision was made even though I still think its silly.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
It should be noted that the states right argument*, once you scratch the surface, ultimately traces back to slavery.
Not that it matters for the fictional zombie haunted CSA, but the real Lost Causers don't make a 'states rights' the focus of their argument anyway. What they make is an even more fantastic, torturous and ridiculous claim that I really don't want to get into. With the exception of the whole issue of whether States were part of a voluntary free association, talk about 'states rights' as it if was core to the Lost Cause tends to mostly be a red herring by anyone that uses it, both in the sense that it no version of it actually traces back in such a way to be the core cause of the war (as you note) nor is it key to any sort of modern neo-Confederate position, but that 'states rights' in the larger sense is not even a controversial or particularly partisan US political position - just ask the State of New York about it's state rights with respect to gun control, or California about it's state rights with respect to environmental regulation, for example.

I don't think there is any question that slavery was the fundamental institution of the Confederacy, and that the war was fought to defend it. John C. Calhoun is definitely the beating ideological heart of what would be the CSA. The real complexity here is that regardless of the fundamental philosophical differences between the abolitionists and the slave holders, and regardless of the fact that the hypocrisy of trying to be a free nation and a slave holding nation at the same time was bound to lead to conflict, the actual people who fought the war on both sides for the most part could have cared less about slavery or the welfare of Americans of African heritage. Lincoln had to move the North ideologically to where it could even contemplate that, and it really didn't stick after his death.

As with so many conflicts, ultimately the average soldier in the fight was just fighting over tribal affiliation with no great philosophical depth behind it (though in an army of millions, the average or mode is misleading as well). American tribal identity as such that we would recognize was very weak, and primary tribal loyalties were to the states. Most of the soldiers were fighting primarily over the same sort of identity, but one a more serious scale, that leads people from Ohio and Michigan to slander each other during football season (though, the origins of that rivalry are worth investigating, as the two states did fight a war against each other).
 

GreyLord

Adventurer
It should be noted that the states right argument*, once you scratch the surface, ultimately traces back to slavery.


* and all the other justifications.
Not necessarily. I agree that the War was over Slavery ultimately, and though one could corner the justifications down to slavery, that was not actually the reason everyone gave for the War. It is undeniable that the South seceded over slavery, but the issue that war was actually declared came over the power of dominion, and whether a State could declare certain areas of the US no longer part of the Sovereign nation.
The States rights argument actually does NOT stem from the Southern reasons for the War.

They South really only had one argument, which was slavery.

The States rights argument comes from the North and THEIR reasons for War. Lincoln himself was never interested in actually abolishing slavery, despite the South's preconceptions of it. Indeed, when given the chance during the War he instead emancipated the Slaves of the South, but let the Slave States of the North keep merrily going on (and when they finally DID have that abolished in those states, we see a conflict that is basically ignored [if you can even find books or articles on it today] due to the North's emphasis in later years that they had to be the good guys because the slave holders were in the south (which was untrue). The North had another conflict later over the issue of the abolition of slavery, which though passed in Congress, was heavily contested in some areas leading to some rather large issues NOT covered these days in US history (or at least a majority seem ignorant of the remaining slave states that were part of the North and the issues that came in ending slavery in those areas after the War).

The reason the North went to war was over the question of whether the Southern States actually had the right or power to secede. Lincolns argument was that they DID NOT have that power, and that when they tried to do so, the Federal Government, or Central Government could override such decisions. However, this would end up with having to use force to do so. It was the entire a House Divided and unifying the nation creeds that popped up.

This was not the most successful theme to hold many to the war effort, and the morale surrounding this was flagging. Lincoln eventually brought a more unified theme of freeing those slaves in the Rebellious states, but showed no desire at the time to abolishing it in those states that had NOT seceded. Kentucky in fact refused to support the amendment abolishing slavery, which leads to an interesting historical conflict of a Northern State still trying to hold onto the idea of States rights, which invariably they lost due to the preponderance of evidence from the Civil War regarding the Federal Government over-riding a States power in many issues (and we still see this type of local vs. Sovereign govt. today with Sanctuary cities that refuse to support the Federal Government mandates and the issues surrounding this).

This is why it is, in many ways very IRONIC that these positions on what the war was about reversed sides after the War in the 20th century. At that point the North would say it was all about Slavery, and the south would say it was about States Rights, specifically, whether a State could take power in itself to secede and ignore Federal mandates with the Civil War showing that the Federal Govt. held sovereignty and if nothing else, utilize force to make a State follow those mandates.

The North's reason to go to war was NOT actually about Slavery at all. The reversal of how each side saw the war in the 20th century is perhaps a bigger irony, in that it was the South then looking at it form the States Rights angle, and the North looking at it from the Slavery angle.

Anyways, waaay off topic. I do enjoy history, especially on this, but I think it also illustrates one of the reasons the Creator of Deadlands pointed out to retconning things. Instead of discussing the game, we are discussing the history of the US and perhaps conflicting views of it. Maybe it did not happen at a lot of tables, but invariably there were probably a few that got derailed on this very topic. Rather than playing the game and having fun, they got caught up in the minutia of history and historical differences. With that in mind, it convinces me that perhaps the decision to recon was even more wise that I thought at first, as it hopefully makes people have more fun focusing on the game itself, rather than variances with history.
 

Libertad

Explorer
For the people in this thread arguing that slavery wasn't the South's primary factor in the Civil War, I recommend this educational video.

Also the rationale in the Articles of Secession here.

Also the Vice President's Speech on the foundation of said Confederacy.

These all solidly confirm that the enslavement of an entire race of people was what its leaders and rank and file soldiers at the time fought for. Just as what happened in Deadlands pre-1865, with no mention of States' Rights anywhere that didn't involve slavery.
 

MGibster

Adventurer
If I might interrupt for a moment to discuss how the changes affect the game. I always enjoyed the Reckoners and their representatives on Earth in the form of Hellstrome, Raven, Grimm, and Stone. I'm not sure how keen I am on a time traveling Morgan le Fay. But since the stories of those Reckoners servants has been told I suppose they've got to do something if they want to continue selling games for the Weird West. I haven't kept up with the story line in a while and I'm not quite sure who or what The Cackler is.
 
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