Impressions of the Deadlands Noir Companion

I recently started running a Deadlands Noir game, and so once I finished reading the last book that I was working on, I picked up this one so that I would have more material to choose from. It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting before I saw it. I thought it would mostly be adding more material for the core time period of 1935 and just adding details for new locations. And while it did give some information on that, most of the book was focused on different locations and times. So instead of getting information on Chicago or Shan Fan in 1935, each of those locations get a different year. Anyway on to my thoughts on each of the chapters.

Troubling Times

This chapter covers how the different time periods used in the book impact some of the setting rules. For example, characters for the Chicago, Lost Angels, and the City of Gloom time periods do not suffer from the Poverty hindrance like the Shan Fan and New Orleans characters do because those settings are not set during the Great Depression. We also get a new Arcane Background and the re-introduction of an old one with the addition of the Blessed and Sykers. The last important thing that this chapter includes is the time line of events and how they were changed in the Deadlands universe. Also perhaps my favorite bit was the list of Presidents for both the CSA and the USA between 1913 – 1956. I just wished they had included the ones in Deseret. The only other thing that I felt was missing was some sort of list as to when certain devices became widely available to the public.

Chicago 1927

This is the first of the mini settings in the book and of course it would cover prohibition and the gang wars in Chicago. We start with a description of the city, and its institutions during the time period. Then we get a listing of the different regions complete with important locations in those regions. Some of those locations are tied to the various Savage Tales in this book. We also get an updated random locations table for use with the Deadlands Noir Case Generator specific to Chicago.

After all of that, we get into the Savage Tales for Chicago my favorite one was Mr. Electrico. Following the Savage Tales we get a mini plot point campaign. I liked the concept of the campaign, and might try to make use of some aspects of it in the game that I am currently running.

We end this section with write ups of the major characters of the setting and some new abominations. I particularly liked the Crawlies and Weeping Widow.

Shan Fan 1939

This is the second of the mini settings and takes place in the wild city of Shan Fan between the two World Wars. In the setting we have three different Asian criminal groups fighting for control, along with the granddaughter of Warlord Kang manipulating everything from behind the scenes. We start this section with some background on the city and its history focusing on things that have happened in the last handful of years, and then moving on to what life is like in the city. We also get a replacement for the Chi Mastery Arcane Background that is no longer available with the option of taking one of the nine new Kung Fu edges. These edges do give some nice abilities, but they are nowhere near as powerful as the arcane background was. We also get a run down on what Warlord Kang is up to currently.

After this we get a break down of the various areas of the city. Each of these regions has a selection of important locations. We also have another replacement for the location table. Then we move on to the Savage Tales. My favorite one of this bunch is Wolf in the Henhouse. After that we move on to the plot point campaign. This is another extremely good campaign. In fact I will point out that these campaigns are all very good, and I can’t decide which one is my favorite, each time that I look at one that becomes my favorite.

We finish off again with the write ups for the major characters and monsters. None of these monsters really grabbed my attention though.

Lost Angels 1946

This is the third of the mini settings and it takes place in the juxtaposition of Hollywood and a religious community that makes for a really odd setting. Again though we start off with what has happened basically since the events of The Flood Plot Point Campaign. In that campaign the city gets destroyed and most of the followers of Grimme’s church are wiped out. The one rebuilds everything was not a member of the inner circle and so did not know what was happening. She builds what is, at least according to the information a wonderful and faithful community and leads them well. As I read this section I kept waiting to find throw backs to Grimme’s cult in the basic setting but there are none.

Again this section follows what is the standard format in these chapters with sections on life, politics, and crime. We get descriptions of the major regions of the city each with important locations detailed. We also get a Lost Angels specific location table, and then move on to the Savage Tales. A couple of the tales that I particularly liked were Ring of Fear and Terror in the Neighborhood.

The plot point campaign is where we finally get the throw backs to Grimme’s cult with the villain of the piece wanting to take over the church and bring it back. We end this with the standard write ups of important characters and monsters and again there is nothing special in there.

The City of Gloom 1950

This is the final of the mini settings. Of course it deals with Hellstromme and his long running quest. Since I have read the Good Intentions Plot Point Campaign, it was nice seeing a number of different call backs to places that were mentioned in it. And yes, I know that since this book came out first, they used some of these places in the plot point campaign, instead of doing things chronologically. We get a little bit of information on what Hellstromme is up to in general, and we get a lot of information on Deseret. We follow this up with what life is like in Deseret and what the politics are like. This is also the only one of the settings that doesn’t have much of an organized criminal element. Instead it just has a decaying slum where random muggers and such live. So to replace the criminal element we get atomic age international spying.

We get the standard locations and place breakdowns that we have gotten in the previous chapters, followed by the locations table, and Savage Tales. Missing Persons, The Treasure of the Aztecs, Sludge’s Dark Heart, and The Eyes! They Glowed! were my favorite tales in this chapter, but to be clear most of these tales are less Noir and more 50s and 60s sci-fi monster horror moves.

The plot point campaign is again good, and again since we are in Deseret deals with Hellstromme. It is a very solid campaign to end this book on. As for the character write ups and monsters, I am very happy to see the Salt Rattler’s back, I just wish we also got the Wormlings as well.

There are many things that I liked a lot about this book, so I am very glad that I got it. I also really enjoyed learning more about the setting especially about the things that happened after the major events in Deadlands, but before the events of Hell on Earth.

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Author: Hours without Sleep

I am a professional software tester, who has an interest in programming, computers, role-playing games, history, and reading in general. This is my third attempt at keeping a blog, and I am going to try putting all of my thoughts in one place, and see how it goes.

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