Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Which The Warlock Stirs the Proverbial Campfire...

I've made no real secret of the fact that I've become a massive fan of Deadlands. But, what you may not know is the fact that I'm in not one, but two separate Deadlands campaign right now.

Our final destination?
Time will tell!

As I'd mentioned a few entries ago, Will the ManMan--also known as The Journeyman GM --has started running an updated version of the classic Deadlands trilogy known as "The Devil's Tower".  However, I've actually begun a second game on Friday nights, replacing our on-again, off-again Eberron game.  With ChaoticFrederick in California for a few months and CincinAdam still on the Appalachian Trail, I found it much easier to run a game like Deadlands over D&D 4e, which all but requires group balance, whereas Deadlands does not. 

Okay--full confession time.  Quite a while ago, the immortal game designer Robin Laws came up with a categorization for player motivations.  You might be familiar with some of these:  Power Gamer, Tactician, Storyteller, and the like.

As much as I like to think I'm a Tactician and Storyteller.  I'm not.  I'm absolutely an Instigator.  I thrive on conflict, and would much rather put my character at a significant disadvantage or the like, for the sake of dramatic development, than to "play it safe" and avoid such a conflict.  Sometimes things don't turn out as I plan, but that's not a problem in my book--that's just opportunity!

When generating characters for the ManMan's "Devil's Tower" game, then, my first question was "Are you going to allow Veteran of the Weird West?"  Veteran..., for those of you non-DL players out there, is an edge that can be taken, which grants the character "free" experience...with some unseen consequences.  Sometimes those consequences are negligible.  Other times, they can be all but crippling--maimed limbs, severe injuries or diseases, psychoses, or an utter betrayal by fate! 

Lose the mask and one arm,
add some magic, and you've got
Ramon Perez Francisco Villa-Nueva!
In building my swashbuckling Huckster, Ramon Perez Francisco Villa-Nueva, I was absolutely ready to roll the bones, even with Will warning us about his "new and improved" chart of doom...which ended up with Ramon having only one arm!  While this didn't change my character concept too much--one part Zorro, one part Highlander, and one part Inigo Montoya--it's definitely made Ramon's adventures a little more interesting, and difficult.  I've had to be exceptionally careful in monitoring what weapon is in my hands at any given time, as switching between Ramon's whip and his relic saber--the Cutlass of Estevanico--is a little harder than I'd like!

The PlatinumChick, similarly, decided to take Veteran..., but ended up with an entirely different set of problems!  Her steam-augmented "scrapper", Ruby 'Thunderbird' Spencer ended up with an infamous doppelganger, which provided some confusion for the rest of the party, while the PlatinumChick and I were out of town.

So, where does this leave us now?  Well, with my Friday night group about to start making their way across the Sierra Nevadas, in preparation for The Flood, it just so happens that Chris II decided to take Veteran of the Weird West for his hexslinger, Angus Cole.  I'd warned him that I was using Will the ManMan's special chart, but that extra experience was simply too tempting for him.  Twenty free experience points?  Who wouldn't be tempted?!

But, the devil's in the details...and I found a great irony in cards I pulled for Angus's "unforseeen circumstances".  One Black Ace, and one Red Eight. 

Veteran of the Weird West!
While I'm not at liberty to tell exactly what those cards actually do yet--though, never fear!  I'll divulge the dirty details after Chris II's hexslinger finds out the hard way!--I've got to say, the results are pretty fitting...We'll just see how accurate the "Dead Man's Hand" really is!

It all goes to show that a little reward is all it takes to turn a normal player into another conflict-loving Instigator like me.  There's always a price to be paid, as Will the ManMan said in his own assessment of the situation, but when that price leads to some great moments of role-playing...that's a big win, right there!

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