Saturday Seed ~ 46 (Deadlands)

This week I guess it is finally time to plant a little seed destined to sprout tendrils seeking to consume unwary Deadlands campaigns.


This seed is suitable for use with a small or divided group, and can be all or part of an introductory story designed to bring characters together.


Planting the seed

People die all the time. Some of them even stay that way. Not all of them are famous, eccentric, rich, and feared. This seed begins with the spread of reports that such a figure has been found dead – apparently of natural causes – in several towns scattered across several states and territories, perhaps 55 locations in all. Pictorial evidence and the release of the news on broadsheets from each of the townships bear a strong enough resemblance that little doubt remains that at least one of them must be the real man.


While such an event is peripherally interesting, the dead man will of course have lots of story hooks to draw in the curious, the vengeful, and the greedy… you know – the characters, (and those blackguards who may one day become their hated enemies).


The Dead Man

Go with whatever works for your campaign idea – even if that means not having a clear description of the man of multiple corpses. I see having an amalgam of the characters’ own traits form the basis of this famous frontiersman as a good place to start. He is someone they would have heard about growing up, and in large or small part, would have emulated consciously or unconsciously. He is someone who perhaps a family member of their father’s generation or a little older ran across once, and that relative still tells the tale (bad or good). It is by this tale that he is interpreted by the characters. Perhaps some of his exploits were detailed in a dime novel more recently, and these wildly exaggerated events have triggered another set of reactions to the idea of the man.


An example of such a character might be an on-again off-again professional gambler, with a history of owning saloons, hotels, and mines, rising and falling from one fortune to the next, surviving all the horrors and trials the West has to offer by dint of his wits, his iconic six-shooter, and a small leather-bound volume with an H stamped on the spine in faded gold-leaf that he always keeps close to his chest.


Using such a man to hook the characters would be to have his more well-known accoutrements dovetail with elements in the characters’ emerging backgrounds. Perhaps the grandfather of one was slain for his pistol by our renowned multi-corpsed cardsharp, and our new hero wants to get it back. Perhaps the book is a very early edition by Hoyle – with marginalia by a set of talented followers. Perhaps this book used to reside in the possession of a dear friend or teacher, but was lost under suspicious circumstances, only to turn up in the possession of our dead celebrity. He may have saved the character’s life during childhood, and the news of his death has prompted a desire to see him properly laid to rest… if the real corpse can be identified. Uncle Wilt might have owed this fellow money, and now with the time on the debt run out, sends the character to find a next of kin with whom to settle the debt.


You get the idea~


What’s going on

Again, all manner of things might be going on, and you’d be the best judge of how far you want to take the weird in your west. One idea that I am quite partial to is that the dead man, became obsessed with the idea of cheating Death in the same manner with which he had cheated Fate his whole life. As he felt the cold hands of the reaper beginning to close around his lungs last winter, he hatched a devious plot to sidestep the natural close of the game of life. Working tirelessly on a Hex the first drafts of which seem suspiciously like Deuces Wild, he concocted a formula that had entirely unexpected and undesirable results. When he was ready to enact his plan, he took one last tour of the country, racked up some more incredible adventures and paid out hundreds of dollars for laundry men to plant all 54 cards of his favorite deck (two jokers as well as the 4 suits) in the linings of strangers’ Sunday best top coats. When his trip was complete, he to a town to which he had never been, went on a bender, kissed a pretty girl, sold his horse, and then – on Sunday morning, he cast his hex, expecting to escape Death. Instead, he got to experience its agony 55 times, and each man slain by the hex ended up wearing another man’s face.


The trail to find the real man, and obtain any sought for artifacts, can be as long or short as you like or need. Characters can start on the trail together, in cooperation or competition, or separately. It’s entirely up to you~






2 Responses to “Saturday Seed ~ 46 (Deadlands)”
  1. Adrian says:

    I really want to play Deadlands, but not yet had the chance — and I must say, this adventure/campaign seed is AMAZING! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Runeslinger says:

      Thanks for the kind words~
      Deadlands is a very rich setting; I hope you get the chance to play it. If you ever get the chance to use this seed, let me know how it goes~

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