Anyone ever play Deadlands?


I remember it being a very expansive franchise back in the late 90s. It was basically a fantasy Western setting, with the premise that in the middle of the Civil War, dead soldiers suddenly became re-animated on the battlefields. There were steampunk elements, evil preachers, ghosts, magic-slinging hucksters, and everything in between.

There were expansions set in the near future and even one set in the far future with space travel. The regular game was my first tabletop RPG experience and easily the one I spent the most time with. It also had a trading card game, which I collected for awhile.

So anyone else have memories playing Deadlands?


I ran a pretty lengthy Deadlands game back in college (party: Harrowed ex-Marshal, Hooker-With-A-Heart-of-Gold and her Miracle Worker nun sister, ex-Confederate bounty hunter, ex-Union bounty hunter). I think it’s a great game, and I will always love how the skeumorphic elements of the game (playing cards, poker chips) enrich the gameplay and drive the design of gameplay. Old-school 7th Sea is the only other game I can think of that sells its aesthetic/setting on a similar level (though not necessarily in the same way Deadlands does).


I played the CCG back in the day. But now I have the re-released version and have yet to even open it. Such a cool setting, though.


I ran it about 15 years back using a mishmash of Deadlands rules and the playing card rules system from Castle Falkenstein (which I was obsessed with at the time). We had an actual undead gentleman who lost control of the spirit inside him and turned against the party for a while; an old west take on a Marvel superhero team with a frankly unsafe “human torch” embedded with a bunch of flamethrowers; and a possessed Abe Lincoln who was saved from the evil spirit in him by removing his brain and placing in into a robot body (because why stop at zombie Lincoln when you can have robot zombie Lincoln). It was a pretty wacky fun setting as long as you didn’t think too hard about the political implications of the Civil War just ending the way it did…


As a card-carrying member of the ‘westerns and horror are the best genres’ club, you better believe I’ve played a lot of Deadlands. Favorite thing I’ve ever made in a tabletop game was a boss character pretty clearly based on Franco Nero’s Django, but instead of lugging around a machine gun in his coffin, it was an undead conquistador. Also tried working in a supernatural version of Sartana, to lesser effect.


Skeumorphic is just a great word.