Monday, April 30, 2012

Review - Deadlands Reloaded: The Flood

Deadlands Reloaded - The Flood
Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Author: Shane Lacy Hensley, Matt Cutter
Price: $19.99 on DriveThruRPG

The Savage Troll continues its trek through Deadlands and I must admit, it's a scary journey. Those of you who read the reviews of the Player's Guide and Marshal's Handbook will be glad to know this review will ere on the side of brevity. While I believe in exhaustive reviews of rule books, adventures - such as this one - need to remain far more secretive. We don't want to give away any surprises to your posse.

Deadlands is easily the largest property in the Pinnacle Entertainment Group's product line. The 15+ year old setting has seen four RPG systems with a mountain of supplements including rule books, adventures, trail guides, and plot point campaigns. The Flood is a plot point campaign centering around the starved region of the West coast.

The campaign takes place in the 1880s and so would mesh well with other Victorian campaigns such as Rippers, Space 1889: Red Sands, or even The Kerberos Club. You could easily rip information and characters from The Flood to populate any of those settings. In fact, were I to ever run a Deadlands campaign, I suspect Ghost Rock powered ships would lead to a Space 1889-like setting with the characters encountering horrors on other planets as well.

Events Leading to The Flood

During the Quake of ‘68, California fractured as large ribbons of land dropped over fifty feet allowing the Pacific Ocean to rush in. The remaining landscape became a series of large mesas surrounded by brown, briny water flowing through canyons. The Maze, as it is now called, became a popular destination for those looking to strike it rich by mining the fundaments exposed on the new cliff faces.

Ghost Rock, the miracle mineral, is abundant in the Maze and the people and powers that make up the world are mad to have it. Ghost rock burns five times hotter and 100 times longer than coal. It’s also used in the production of Ghost Steel, which is lighter, stronger, and has a higher melting point than regular steel. On top of that, chemists and pharmaceutical makers use Ghost Rock to create all manner of potions, elixirs, and formulas for just about anything.

As the Rail Barons direct their employees to drive spikes and lay rail in order to reach the gold mine that is Ghost Rock, their soldiers and thugs fight it out in the Great Rail Wars. Greed and a thirst for power drives the Barons onwards as rail companies form the North, South, Deseret, and Shan Fan all compete to see who will reach the port city of Lost Angels first. Each company is only a few miles away from the de facto capital of California and it won’t be long before one of the biggest battles in history decides who will control the supply of Ghost Rock to the USA and/or CSA.

This is the setting for The Flood and your posse falls (literally) smack dab in the middle of it.

A Big Setting

The Flood contains a full plot point campaign centered around the Great Rail Wars, the Servitor of Famine, the Chinese Triads, Santa Anna’s undead army, and an intrepid reporter who seeks the assistance of your posse. It would be bad enough if that’s all the characters had to deal with. On top of that they must ply the dangers of the Maze which includes the effects of Famine. Food becomes a major concern on top of dodging merciless pirates, nations on the verge of war, and boom towns full of prospectors and those that prey on them.

The book has several new Edges and Hindrances and a greatly expanded selection of martial arts extras. With the city of Shan Fan and the Chinese Warlords being a major component to this supplement, the characters can expect a lot of Kung Fu action. The mafia thugs aren't the only martial artists, however. The Shaolin are present as well and work as a force for good in the area. Their hidden training ground sends out adepts to help fight the servants of the Reckoners. Mad Scientist, or New Scientist as they like to be called, should avoid this temple. The monks don't take kindly to Ghost Rock-powered devices.

The book includes all manner of waterborne vehicles. To get anywhere in the Maze you’ll need them. It also contains a nice section on Chinese fighting weapons. One word of warning, though. Due to the difficulties of getting goods into and out of the Maze, almost everything is 3-6 times more expensive than usual.

The Numbers

1 New Martial Arts Hindrance
17 Celestial Kung Fu Moves
1 New Hindrance for the non-Kung Fu types
11 New Edges
8 Martial Arts Weapons
10 New Ships
2 New Infernal Devices
27 Strange Locals
8 Plot Points in the Campaign
34 Savage Tales
12 New Critters
4 New Famine’s Servants
27 Famous Folks

That adds up to a lot of content.

To Live and Die in Lost Angels

Much of the action occurs in and around the city of Lost Angels. The Right Rev. Grimme is the ruler of this area and demands all city residents attend his church. Even without his edict, they would likely attend anyway. He has the only food in the area that satisfies the otherwise insatiable hunger people feel in Famine’s domain.

The book goes into great detail about the city and its surroundings. The characters even witness the creation of a Dealands ( Fear Level 6 ) during the adventure. This event will erase any doubt about the need for heroes to literally save the world. And that’s just in plot point two.

Your posse should be mindful of the Lost Angels laws. Violators are often sent to prison and never heard from again.

Shan Fan City, Here We Come

Shan Fan is Lost Angels equal in size and power and The Flood devotes a large section of the book to the city and its surroundings. It also adds a lot of flavor. Shan Fan is like the worlds largest Chinatown and the authors do a good job explaining what that means.

Like Lost Angels, Shan Fan is a city full of powerful personalities. You and your posse get to know the leaders of the Chinese mafias often coming into conflict with them. If you think this is all Kung Fu action you’re wrong. Most are gunslingers abandoning the ways of their ancestors for the favored weapons of the West.

Horrific Adventure Awaits

This book is chock full content. One of the problems I had was absorbing it all. Some things are stated in the Strange Locals that hop around in time. In some cases they are dependant on the plot point campaign so if you get confused, skip to the adventure then come back and read about each area.

Review Links
Deadlands Reloaded: Player's Guide
Deadlands Reloaded: Marshal's Handbook
Space:1889 - Red Sands
The Kerberos Club

Other Links
Deadlands on DriveThruRPG
Free Downloads from Pinnacle
Deadlands for the Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition

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