Deadlands: On the Trail
The World of Deadlands
The game is played in a timeframe around 1879 in the Wild West. There are some major differences, though:
- Due to some weird events, the North never decisively beat the South in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. There are even rumors of the dead rising during the battle. The Civil War got prolonged by a fair deal and currently there exists an uneasy ceasefire between North and South.
- So, there exist two separate American states: The United States (or Union) and the Confederation. Utah is an independent state with the name Desseret, home to the world’s most illustrious inventor, Darius Hellstromme. Kansas, Colorado and other states not absorbed into the Union when war broke out remain as disputed territories. California declared itself independent as a “Commonwealth.” The British took Detroit. Both the Sioux and Coyote have formed independent nations. There’s a lot of uneasy tension between all those nations. Plus the Mexicans threaten from the South under the command of General Santa Anna.
- In 1868 a major Earthquake hit California, splintering the whole coastline into a waterfilled labyrinth of canals called The Maze. A wondrous substance named Ghostrock is found. It looks like impure coal, burns a lot hotter, a hundred times longer and releases a ghastly wail while doing so. Ghostrock has been found in other places, but nowhere as richly as in the Maze. It is the super fuel of the new super-sciences, leading to all kinds of weird gizmos.
- They scoff at it back east, but people in the West know there is more out there than just some Injuns. There’s veritable monsters and possibly the living dead, waiting to prey on the living. The West has become a fearful place.
- Some people (not exactly common knowledge) work magic – the weird scientists, the Indian shamans, the religious Blessed, the Chi-powered oriental martial art masters, the voodoo witches of Lousiana and the card-trick magicians named hucksters. They all tap into much more mysterious forces than most folk chose to believe in.
- Beyond that is the known assortment of cowboys, indians, snake-oil salesmen, prospectors, miners, cavalrymen, gunmen, dancing girls, scouts, bandits, killers and railroad crews that the west was always known for.
- A little extra about railroads though – beyond Union Pacific there are several other contenders for becoming the most important railway on the continent – Wasatch headed by Hellstrome, the Denver-Pacific, Lousiana’s Bayou Vermillion, the Confederation’s Black River, etc. All of these fight each other for hegemony in the Great Rail Wars. Whoever reaches the City of Lost Angels first wins major contracts from both nation states for Ghost Rock transportation – winner takes it all, baby! (Better not to get into the way of each railway’s enforcers.)