Sunday, December 04, 2011

In Which The Warlock Compares Editions...

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I'd been prepping my Friday night Deadlands group for a what I've been terming an "interlude".

You see, we finally reached the halfway point of our exploits in "The Flood", with the posse gaining several significant allies and having gained a massive enemy in General Kwan, to say nothing of their ongoing struggle against the Church of Lost Angels.  Taking some rest and relaxation in Shan Fan, the posse got to kick up their heels, while I prepped my players for a fast foward.

I'd been itching to break out Hell on Earth for quite a while, but I'd never managed to play the original game that led to Savage Worlds.  That, naturally, has changed.

"All the way to Reno..."
I spent the last two weeks--in amongst some ongoing illness--writing up six experienced pre-gens in the Hell on Earth rules, as well as something of an "alternate timeline" scenario, in which the players' actual Deadlands posse had failed, and Reverend Grimme was free to spread his cult all the way into the 21st Century.  With a horde of Grimme's Faminites heading towards Reno, it was up to our far-future posse to lead the defense of the Biggest Little City in the Wasted West.

Our new posse included:
  • Edward Castellan--a New Templar from Boise, wielding a massive sword and a sub-machine gun.
  • "The Main Man" Marlow--a self-styled road warrior out of Junkyard, complete with chainsaw!
  • Leslie K. Marvin--a Junker from Junkyard, and the creator of several robotic combat drones.
  • Garret Walker--a Librarian from Sacramento, with his pet bobcat, Felix.
  • "Doc Neutron"--a heretic Doomsayer from Carson City, capable of blasting foes with raw radiation.
  • Carrie Ann Waltrip--a Harrowed bounty hunter, who's traveled all over the Wasted West...
While the group loved the change in feel--moving from the steampunk craziness of Deadlands to the desperate post-apocalypse of Hell on Earth--it's the change in rules that really stood out the most.  Playing Savage Worlds before this rules-set made the flaws in it stand out particularly highly.

A result of the hit locations
in Hell on Earth...
Particularly, the multiple damage systems were particularly difficult to remember.  While I don't have issues increasing the wound modifiers up to -5, I kept forgetting to deal Wind damage on normal attacks.  Also, I had to keep reminding my players to roll a d20 for hit location for every damaging attack, which added an additional roll and slowed down combat significantly.  FridayNightWill had a great moment while fighting against some undead Faminites:  playing as "The Main Man", he chainsawed off a Faminites legs and right arm, before finally managing to get a head shot.  It looked like infamous "Black Knight" scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as the undead thing would Not.  Give.  Up.

Also, the sheer number of stats seemed to be really excessive.  Hell on Earth has a separate stat for "Scrounging" and "Survival", which seemed to be a pretty large disconnect for some of my players.  But, on top of those, there's also a "Search" stat.  What does one do when you're looking for a spare part?  Is it "Scrounging" or is it "Search"?  The streamlining done in Savage Worlds--looking for that spare part would be a straight up "Notice" check--seems much needed.

While our foray into the original rules for Hell on Earth is going to be short-lived, it's been an interesting (and fun!) experience.  I purchased Hell on Earth primarily for the plot points and the setting info, and that hasn't disappointed me in the slightest.  When the "Reloaded" version comes out, though, I'll be the first in line to switch over.


  1. I was a HARDCORE Deadlands guy back in the day (I love Reloaded), but I was not a fan of Wind. It just got annoying after a while, and it tended to encouraging players to approach combats with the least amount of drama and heroism possible, as it didn't take much to make your Wind go away.

    I own the entire Deadlands Classic collection and have no real desire to ever run it again.

  2. I have the vast majority of the line in PDF, with the corebooks for Deadlands and HoE in hard-copy.

    And, you much as I love the backstory and the fluff, the system shows its age.

    I much prefer the Savage Worlds version, and definitely can't wait for the Reloaded version of HoE.

    Thanks for the comment, brother!

  3. I definitely want to try Hell on Earth at WittCon more for the setting than the old-school rules, but I am sure after a round or two of combat everything will make sense!

  4. I hate to break it to you, but if the HoE Reloaded rules are out by then, I'm converting the scenario.

    But, if not, original rules it is!

  5. If HoE is reloaded by WittCon believe me, I would be stoked!!

    I am would be impressed if HoE reloaded is out by then! Pinnacle has promised a lot of stuff, but my best guess would be that HoE reloaded would be out for GenCon.

  6. We shall see, I suppose. Judging right now, though, it's looking like I'll be rolling with the original rules, barring some really fast developments on Pinnacle's part.

    That said, you never know! :D