|Welcome to the Wasted West!|
With both of these, I headed to the checkout counter happy as could be, as you might imagine, but I was somewhat unprepared for exactly what I picked up.
While I had been somewhat down on Hell on Earth for its seemingly odd continuation of the Deadlands metaplot, I've got to say: the mechanics and sheer uniqueness of the classic version more than make up for this! Just when you'd think that you can't do much more with a "Mad Max"-esque, post-apocalyptic setting, just add some Hell on Earth! So many possibilities, like my favorite, the Doompriests--believers in mutation and radioactivity as paths to power. With powers like "Atomic Blast" and "Nuke", how could you go wrong?
One of the big draws that Deadlands has for me is the unique magic system that each class has. Where, in a game like D&D, most magic-users felt the same--pick X spells of Y level; you have those memorized until you sleep next--Deadlands bucked that trend. Hucksters cast spells by playing poker against otherworldly demons, Shamen had to appease the Spirits by performing tribal medicine rites, while Blessed simply prayed for an answer.
But the real key comes in how different a Doompriest feels from any other arcane backround, even a Syker, though they use the same arcane resource: Strain. Where a Doompriest excels in combat, surviving in radioactive wastes, and in powering items and the like, the Syker's focus lies more--and fittingly so--on espionage, getting powers of disguise and subterfuge rather than straight-up damage. A New Templar, similarly, gets subtle 'divine gifts' that aren't even activated like the other powers. They're simply "always on", providing that extra divine edge to a Templar's abilities that push him into victory. Each arcane background has a different feel and focus, which makes them really unique and fun to play.
|From the upcoming "Deadlands" comic book...|
I find myself in a unique position right now, as Pinnacle Entertainment has already announced a "Reloaded" version of Hell on Earth, meant to use the generic Savage Worlds ruleset as a core mechanic. While I liked the newest incarnation of Deadlands: Reloaded, I do feel that some of the arcane backgrounds are a little too similar. Hucksters are fine, still using the poker-based mechanic, but the Martial Artist, the New Scientist, and the Shaman all use power points in some manner, and have quite a few commonalities in their available powers.
At one point, in "Follow the Walkin' Man", I had 5 characters with arcane backgrounds--a Huckster, two Blessed (a priest and a Voodoo houngan), a Martial Artist, and a New Scientist. Aside from the Huckster, there was little difference in the powers being slung about, which led to an almost "generic" feel.
Luckily, I had some really quality players in that game--the PlatinumChick, Will the ManMan, Chris the III, and DigitalKat, among others--that added their own descriptors and made the game really take shape. Plus, it seems like with Pinnacle's upcoming 1880 Smith and Robards' Catalog, there'll be some changes made to the Weird Science rules, making them a little more separated from the other backgrounds.
I really hope that Pinnacle, as they move forward into Hell on Earth, keeps the individual nature of the arcane characters. Seeing the high quality of the Deadlands products so far, I have little doubt that they're going to do their best, so it'll be interesting to see what comes next from them!