This is an interesting book for Savage Worlds and it moves to plot arch of the setting to after the Reckoners have come. I continue to be impressed by how the various settings in the Deadlands saga have tie backs to the other time periods (the Deadlands Reloaded and Deadlands Noir). Anyway this is probably going to be my last Deadlands setting review for a while (at least until I get a new book in the setting). Anyway here are my thoughts on Deadlands Hell on Earth Reloaded.
This is the first chapter and it focuses mostly on back story and setting elements. We get a pretty good rundown of the events that occur after the turn of the 21st century. Which means that when combined with the Deadlands Noir Companion, you have an idea of the major events for all bout about a 100 years (between the 1950s and 2044). After finishing with the events that lead to a full on ghost rock enhanced nuclear exchange, followed by the Reckoners rampage.
After that we stop with the history and get some notes on the setting, survivor settlements, transportation, money, communication, natural/weather, and the important players in the setting. After that we get a rundown of current and recent past events up till the setting start date.
We finish off this chapter with a rundown of the various locations and regions in North America and what everyone knows about them. All of this information is very important for new players in the setting.
This chapter covers the rules tweaks for making characters in this setting. Like Deadlands Noir, this setting doesn’t make use of the Guts skill. It does have some new hindrances such as Mutant and Rad Intolerant. It also has some new edges and a new set of Arcane Backgrounds. Most of the backgrounds use Faith as their skill, and while we get a new name for the Mad Scientists, they are still mostly the same as they always were. We do however seem to be without an analog to the Grifter or Hucksters in this setting.
This chapter covers equipment and we get some rules for determining if an item is available for sell based on the item’s rarity and the size of the community. After that we get the list of weapons and gear along with prices which are in the abstract barter units that are described at the beginning of the chapter.
Following that we get the rules on vehicles along with some information on customizing your ride Roadwarrior style.
Here we get some of the custom rules for this setting. For example unlike the other Deadlands settings non harrowed characters get the benefit of Counting Coup. We still have the Death might not be the end, you can come back harrowed. We also get rules on Ghost Storms (the ring created around a ghost rock atomic bomb detonation site) that surround most major cities. And finally most of the information on Scavenging which is probably my favorite new rule and would be useful if you wanted to run a Fallout game.
No Man’s Land
This chapter gives more information on the different arcane backgrounds and being harrowed. So we get sections on the Doomsayers, mutants who believe that the time of humans have passed and it is the mutants time now. We get the Junkers which are this settings name for Mad Scientists. We get the Sykers psionic warriors some who returned from Faraway and others that stayed on Earth. Templars which are the holy warriors who will only aid those that aid themselves. Finally we get the Toxic Shamans who work with the power of the corrupted nature spirits either spreading the corruption or trying to weaken them so that the uncorrupted nature spirits can defeat them. And as I said earlier, most of these powers use the Faith skill, the Sykers use psionic and the Junkers use Weird Science.
This chapter gives more information on the setting rules. Here we find rules on Fear Levels which in this setting also increase the difficulty of Survival rolls, we get the tables for the various draws such as Mutations, Veteran of the Wasted West, more specific rules on becoming Harrowed during play and the Dominion rules (nothing new here). We also get the tables for Scrounging, and again I must say that the Scrounging rules are almost worth the price of admission by them self.
The Wasted West
This section covers more of the details about the different regions, with encounter tables and the general fear levels. Lets just say that there are a number of Deadlands now and don’t even think of trying to head east of the Mississippi River. I liked a lot of this information, but it is quite high level information and tended to leave me not knowing what I would do if I tried to run a game in this world. So of the Deadlands books that I have read this is probably the one that would be hardest for me to run just because I don’t have enough information in this book, and while it is similar to the information in the Deadlands Reloaded book, I don’t have history to fill in some of the details for this setting. So yes, I do wish that had padded this section out with another 50 to 100 pages of information.
Monsters & Misfits
Finally we get the monsters. There is a fairly good selection of monsters and basic people who you can encounter in this section starting with a number of different types of Automatons and ending with various types of zombies. There are some that I particularly liked like the Gore storm, Scrawler, the Willow Wight, and the Wormling. Some of these monsters are putting in a return appearance from earlier versions of Deadlands such as the Wendigo, Wall Crawler, and Devil Bats. All in all, I liked the monsters quite a bit.
We then move on to the setting named characters starting with Darius Hellstromme (yes he is still around, though now in a robotic body). Some of these characters are the villains of the setting such as Silas Rasmussen and Samuel Throckmorton, and some are the good guys such as Ike Taylor, Joan, and Jo Wales.
All in all, this is another book that I really liked a lot even if what I have of the setting seems to be lacking in detail. I know I could get some of the pre Savage Worlds Hell on Earth books to get more details on the setting, and I will get the Companion at some point, but this might be as far into the future for the Deadlands setting as I go.