Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tommy's Take on Deadlands Reloaded: The Flood



Pinnacle is obviously a big fan of the Plot Point campaigns, but with Deadlands Reloaded they opted to do multiple PPCs, focusing on The Big Bads that had been looming around since Deadlands Classic...giving the PCs the chance to stuff it in the faces of the guys once deemed "unkillable" in the original Deadlands run. The Flood is the first of those...and the image on the cover gives away the primary antagonist: The Reverend Grimme.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This review is based off of the hardcover book and not the PDF, though the book is available in both formats. The cover price is $36.99, while the PDF is $19.99. Like all of the Reloaded books, The Flood is gorgeous, and nearly 200 pages of information.

The inside of the book includes a map of The Maze (the remnants of California), complete with notable spots in the PPC. Like many Deadlands books (and Savage Worlds books, especially by Pinnacle), the book is split into Player's and Marshal's sections.

The Player's Section begins with a Tombstone Epitah, moving the Deadlands timeline up to September 1879, noting the Great Rail Wars are picking up steam, that Santa Anna is moving agressive moves towards The Great Maze, and that The Maze is starving out. It's a great primer for the events of the PPC.

This is followed up with about four pages worth of new Edges and Hindrances, starting with new Martial Arts Edges. Many of these already existed in Deadlands Classic but were not carried over to Reloaded until now (like The Cup Runneth Over, which makes your chi VERY noticeable). There is also a sidebar geared at explaining how to use Trappings to fill out some of the "missing" powers (with some advice that I found useful, as one of my players loves playing a Martial Artist). There are a few non Martial Arts Edges (like Captains, for those who operate Maze Runners) and Nose for the Rock (allowing you to "sniff out" Ghost Rock), but the bulk is definitely focused on fleshing out Martial Artists.

The equipment section also adds new martial arts weapons (like the Flying Claw, which the PC mentioned above likes using), as well as a selection of boats and a few oddities like Diving Suits (which can have bursting helmets).

The best part about the Player's Section? It's available as a separate free download. You JUST want the new Edges? Go download them. You want everyone to read the Tombstone Epitaph? Go download the Player's section.

Next...the Marshal's Section. This start's with a look at Famine's Domain: What used to be California. There is some flavor here, including a page full of some of Grimme's favorite "teachings" from the Bible...many of which are Bible verses, many of which are brutal subversions and twisted additions by Grimme. This section also recounts the tale of Reverend Ezekiah Grimme and the horrible monstrosity that now wears his face.

Next are the Setting Rules: First off, stuff is a lot more expensive here. Second of all, no matter what, Famine will be gnawing at their bellies. Some diseases are provided, as well as Ghost Rock Fever. The Maze has hazards like riptides and whirlpools, and rules are included for rockslides, earthquakes, thunderstorms and even blizzards(!).

Strange Locales provides more indepth detail of the regions of The Great Maze, providing Fear Levels and price modifiers for the regions, as well as sidebars pointing out the page numbers for Savage Tales specific to given regions. Random encounter tables are provided to supplement the ones found in the Reloaded book (or Marshal's book, if you have the separate versions), as well a page long sidebar detailing just what happens to the region after the titular Flood wipes out a chunk of the region.

Adventures in the Maze includes modifiers and charts for actually traversing The Maze, including a table featuring the distances from port to port, and also including an Adventure Generator! It isn't just straight die rolls, either...but card draws which provide modifiers, based on both the value of the card and color of it.

The Flood PPC itself runs eight adventures, beginning with a train ride gone wrong and turning into the PCs hooking up with Dr. Darius Hellstromme and the Wasatch railroad as he reasserts himself into The Great Rail Wars. The PPC then takes the PCs into conflict with the Iron Dragon railroad before they witness an ally unleashing horrific devastation. They get to invade Rock Island Prison and also encounter the spirits of Blessed that have been tortured to insanity...before being tasked with finding glyphs that will unleash apocalyptic devastation on The Maze. The PPC lives up to its promise, as the grand finale is a huge battle involving the PCs against the final forces Grimme can muster as he and his Lost Angels try to save their city (and their lives).

A whopping 34 Savage Tales are also included, taking the PCs back to Gomorra, and a conflict with The Whateleys, into an underground pit fit, into battle with the Mexican army, in the middle of political elections, and much, much more.

New monsters include Blood Sharks, Chinese Ogres, Faminites as well as Famine's Servants, including Grimme's 13 Ghouls. The Tombstone Epitaph's Lacey O'Malley, General Santa Anna and whole slew of NPCs both benevolent and malevolent are also included. A sidebar is also included pointing out which creatures from Deadlands Reloaded are appropriate.

The book does also conclude with a full index.

WHAT WORKS: Epic conclusion? Check. Still leaves the setting intact? Check. Righteous butt-kicking of major NPC, entirely at the hands of the PCs? Check. Random Adventure Generator and expanded Martial Arts Edges are just very sweet icing on the cake.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I'm not really sure what you want. I mean, even if you have no use for the Plot Point Campaign, the entire player's section is free. New mechanics and all. That said, more than a few of the art pieces are recycled, and that does tend to bug some folks.

CONCLUSION: The book blows up Reloaded martial artists, provides 34 new Savage Tales and a plot point campaign that gives players the chance to get right up in the face of one of the Big Bads of the Deadlands setting and be Big Damn Heroes. $35 ain't much for a hardcover these days, and it's a gorgeous book to boot. The first of the Deadlands PPCs sets a high bar for the rest of the series.