Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Being Off the Rails is Hard

We met for another exciting adventure in California. This marked the first session of Deadlands that was truly off the rails. Back when we started, I began in Colorado and used the adventure module Coffin Rock as an introduction to Deadlands. I did this because I was still reading The Flood, and I wasn’t ready to start. In hindsight, that was probably backwards. It would have made more sense to start The Flood and Throw in Coffin Rock as a Savage Tale (Savage Tales are Smaller Stories that happen between the main plot points).

So, the beginning of this evening was to finish off the plot point that was started last time. In prepping for the game, I really didn’t know what to prepare ahead of time. The Posse had a number of ways they could possibly go—they could choose to go to Virginia City, the destination they were headed toward when they were literally railroaded to California; or they could follow the plot point and head to Shan Fan; or they could decide to do something completely different.

I read half of the Shan Fan plot point. I had decided what to do if they went to Virginia City and read that Savage Tale (but apparently I skimmed a little too much—more on that later.) When the game started, I felt half prepared—which is more than I can usually expect for an off the rails session.

When the Posse was deciding what to do, I looked at the Map and realized that Virginia City was a lot further north than I thought it was.  Which kind of messed with the way I connected Coffin Rock and The Flood. . . but I didn’t mention that to my players. However, it did solve their question of where to go due to the fact that Shan Fan was closer than Virginia City, and they could take a train from Shan Fan to Virginia City.

Looking at the Distance between where they were, and where they were headed made me think about the way that other people must run these games. There were charts and tables in Zombie Run for traveling, and the book assumed that you would make the use of a map, choose the way to go, roll to determine what happens every ten mile stretch of road, or some nonsense like that. Old D&D has similar charts and tables for wilderness travel. Similarly, The Flood also has rules for traveling in California, which differ a bit from the charts in the base Deadlands book. I simplified a bit and tried the random encounter table.

Due to the Great Quake that occurred in the canon of Deadlands, California is an even harsher wilderness to travel than in other parts of Deadlands America. It’s supposed to take longer to get from point A to point B. The tables indicated that the Posse should encounter nothing—I ascribe to right of Game Master Fiat and moved the encounter planned for Virginia City to middle of nowhere California. I grabbed Saddle Sore and I was running one of the Savage Tales found in that Volume, but I definitely didn’t read it thoroughly enough. I had to retcon several times throughout the evening, and when I got lost, I found myself sitting there a little confounded—just reading. I feel bad about that, because it just leaves my players in limbo, so the conversation wanders to extra-game topics.

I have to apologize to P the most, since he had to leave before there were any mini-fig-on-battle-mat encounters. A creature did attack, during the day this time, in broad daylight, in the travelling show. I’ll have to think about how I’m going to use the outcome to my advantage.

Speaking of the encounter, I pulled the low card, and Brandon’s character is overpowered (for this part of the Plot Point) I don’t know what to do about that.  It’s not that my creatures keep feeling the wrath of his “razor sharp cloud of card shuriken” (Bolt), it’s that I had to finagle things just to give the group the clue that the encounter was to provide. How many power points do you have Brandon?—I think I need to look at your character sheet again.

All in all, it wasn't a bad session—but it wasn’t the greatest either. I think the person that gets the most impatient with me when I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, is my wife. . . that’s stressful to me.

I have to admit though, that the actions of certain Posse members have set in motion some very interesting possibilities. Mwa–ha–ha–ha–ha.


  1. Possibilities huh, I sense the evil GM in you coming out.
    Sorry I stress you out, I will work on being patient.

  2. Fifteen, which now means Mathias is flat out of power points. Well I suppose he may have one or two power points back. There was the night that nothing happened. So he should get back one point every two hours. I'm not sure how long we took during the day to get over to the show, depending on how long that was he may have one or more points regained from that. So Mathias my have as many as 4 power points left.

    You're welcome to look at my sheet anytime.