[Let's Read] Deadlands Back East: the South

Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
Validated User
#21
3. The Carolinas

Hell yeah, we’re gonna be visiting my home state in this chapter! Covering both North and South Carolina, this chapter’s far larger than the preceding one, and is full of content.


North Carolina, the Tarheel State

North Carolina gets the above state nickname from the natural resources of vast pine forests teeming with tar, turpentine, and pitch. There are various stories for who coined the phrase, but during the American Civil War it became associated with bravery and standing firm as though one’s heels were stuck to the ground by tar, or a mocking phrase the North Carolinian troops made in joking about the cowardice of retreating Virginian soldiers. Back East, naturally, sticks with the one coined by Robert E. Lee.

The state is divided between the low-lying coastal plains to the east, the Piedmont plateau dominating the center full of rolling hills bursting with fertile clay-like soil, and the Appalachian Mountains in the west. The Cherokee and some small isolated bands of Native Americans still live in the west and central regions, although their numbers were brought low by a mysterious plague known as the Walking Death (which I could not find in a Google search so I presume it’s a Deadlands creation). In fact, North Carolina contains one of the country’s longest-lasting mysteries in the Lost Colony of Roanoke. British colonists made a small village in the sixteenth century here, and it was in fact the first attempt at a permanent English settlement on the continent. Lack of supplies and hostile relations with local indigenous people forced Sir Francis Drake and others to leave. After much delays and government red tape did Sir Drake return, only to find the colony abandoned, the word CROATOAN (the name of a local tribe) carved into a nearby tree as to the only possible clue. To this day there’s many theories as to what happened, but no conclusive evidence.

Marshal’s Territory: In the world of Deadlands, the white colonists went inland to live among the Croatoan tribes to survive and intermarried among them. However, their memories of the colonists who left them became bitter:

They didn’t go quietly, though; they told their children about how white men “abandoned” them. Today their degenerate, hate-filled ancestors still live there in the deep swamps, eager to capture and kill other whites as a way of getting revenge.
Unless there’s some undead chicanery going on, don’t they mean descendants, not ancestors? Also the degenerate swamp-people trope from “going native” isn’t a good look.

True South: Cherokee of North Carolina: During Andrew Jackson’s Presidency, the Cherokee and other tribes were forcefully driven off their land in a devastating event known as the Trail of Tears. The US military forcefully relocated them to various areas west of the Mississippi onto reservations, the tribe members forced to march without adequate food and supplies which lead to a high death rate. The Cherokee who remained behind in North Carolina managed to do so by assimilating into white society and renouncing tribal citizenship. As of today they live in the western portion of the state in a special reserve of territory which is not a reservation but a land trust. It’s also home to the only non-lottery form of legalized gambling in North Carolina via casinos which help tourism.

We get a detailed three-page write-up of North Carolinian history during the Civil War. To summarize it was home to many skilled blockade runners who helped deliver supplies to and from the Caribbean and Europe, and many runners made vast personal fortunes from this. The Union navy built seaside fortresses along the Outer Banks, a long-running chain of barrier islands covering most of the state’s coastline, which in turn made this process very difficult. But the Confederate victory on the Battle of Fort Fisher (the Union won IRL) destroyed one of the North’s most strategically important coastal strongholds in the region. The deployment of mechanized cavalry known as steam behemoths helped the Confederacy win a decisive battle in the capital city of Raleigh, leading to the surrender of a thousand disorganized Yankee soldiers.

As of now the Union holds the cities of Washington and Plymouth in the Northeast, and still control most of the Outer Banks. But besides this the rest of the state’s Rebel Country.


A Look at North Carolina: the Coastal Region

This is the most developed and populated region of the state*, and is home to many coastal villages and towns. The legendary pirate Blackbeard once prowled these waters, and many folktales and rumors claim that he still sails to this day in a ghost ship! Wilmington is the largest and busiest city in the state,** and its railways are active at all hours shipping supplies to the front lines of Virginia. Unfortunately the wealth flowing in, along with arms and ammo, has attracted many criminals and spies hoping to sabotage and profit by skimming off the top. The humidity of the place along with the high population of cities makes Wilmington vulnerable to epidemic outbreaks, and a nasty case of yellow fever hit the place a few years ago.

*but in modern times the Piedmont has the honor of this designation, **while Charlotte would become the state’s most populous city today.

Marshal’s Territory: A monster known as a Pox Walker is responsible for the yellow fever outbreak. Its form has been seen creeping about at night by some locals, but as most see it through the windows of shuttered homes precious few know of its true nature.


A Look at North Carolina: the Piedmont

The literal heartland of the Tarheel State, the Piedmont boasts the most prosperous farming territory as well as Raleigh, the city’s capital. The latter boasts the proud St. Mary’s College, and the Dorothea Dix Hospital for the insane. Johnston County to the south holds a huge amount of ghosts and spectres due to hosting the most vicious battles in the state. Unable to find closure, uniformed Yanks and Rebs will rise from their shallow graves to play out their deaths again and again, sometimes adding unlucky living souls to the number of casualties.

Marshal’s Territory: An insane asylum escapee by the name of Dr. Abbington broke out of Dorothea Dix hospital and is now a serial rapist abusing his authority at St. Mary’s College. He uses social connections to get his victims committed to the asylum. The restless ded in Johnston County have a supernatural pull on living people to commit to the fighting on a failed Spirit roll, where they will join one of the spectral sides.

The other notable population centers include the university town of Chapel Hill which draws in a huge amount of students from across the country, and Greensboro which houses the Alspaugh Armory that develops some of the biggest advancements in Confederate military technology. A barren circle of land in a forest known as the Devil’s Tramping Ground is rumored to be the regular vacation spot of Satan himself when he chooses to visit the mortal world. The Uwharrie Mountains are home to culturally isolated villages who set up shop to mine for gold in the 1850s, and later ghost rock during the 1870s. Uwharries inhabitants have a peculiar kind of healers known as thrash doctors. They are children who’ve never seen their father’s face and thus gain supernatural powers as a result.

Marshal’s Territory: Most of the ghost rock mines are owned by the Knights of the Golden Circle who use the profits to finance their evil schemes. The Circle’s leader in the region is an Alabama aristocrat well-versed in Appalachian witchcraft. Being a Thrash Doctor is a 3-point Edge where you can spend a fate chip to cure illnesses (with more serious maladies corresponding to higher ranks of said chips), but are slower-acting than typical magic and thus the healing takes place in 24-48 hours. One of the urban legends around Chapel Hill involves a student by the name of Peter Droomgoole, who died in a duel fought over a woman’s hand. He was ironically buried underneath a rock where he and his lover regularly met. In Deadlands this is true, but he did not die; he was left for dead but dug himself out of his grave, becoming a crazed cannibal who hunts people in the nearby woods.


A Look at North Carolina: the Mountains

The least-populated region of North Carolina is home to tough, rural mountain folk and the Cherokee tribespeople. The mountain folk are descendants of Scots-Irish immigrants along with people from many other walks of life. They’re more likely to have Union sympathies than the rest of the population, and typically make their living farming, hunting, fishing, and mining where mineral veins are rich. The mountain folk are often ruled over by the richest inhabitant known as a “King,” and the most isolated reaches of the mountains are home to witches who can curse farmland and livestock. But what’s even more monstrous are literal giants, some multi-headed but all standing between 14 to 30 feet tall. Old Fire Dragaman is the largest and angriest of his kind, who lives in a gigantic hole in the ground complete with its own fields and cabin. True to his name, he can also breathe fire if he gets really mad. Although the rest of the population regards such monsters as tall tales by superstitious Appalachians, in the world of Deadlands these beings are all too real.

True South: Appalachian Folklore The concept of a “granny witch” dates from Scots-Irish immigrant traditions, of elderly women skilled in herbalism and trial and error home remedies. Due to geographical isolation, poverty, and lack of roads, hospitals were rare and hard to reach. This forced Appalachian people to rely on granny witches for succor. Many of these women were regarded as having magical powers, but this did not necessarily conflict with Christian traditions due to their sheer necessity and they were more akin to “cunning folk healers” of medieval times.

Archeological expeditions in the 1700s and 1800s unearthed the bones of very tall humans, creating rumors that a race of giants lived in eastern North America. They ranged from a more realistic 6.5 to 7 feet tall than the towering creatures in Deadlands.

True South: Bushwackers and Scalawags: The mountainous country of the Appalachian Mountains were ill-suited to the slave economies of the traditional Antebellum, meaning that the Planters more or less let the land be given over to Poor Whites. Although not necessarily abolitionists, the wealth and infrastructural development of state appropriations afforded to their lowland neighbors created no small amount of resentment among the mountain folk. West Virginia was formed in no small part due to this, and the largest amount of native white Southern soldiers serving in the Union army were located in states touching the Mountain range. The partisan warfare in Appalachia was less conventional armies and more scattered groups of guerrilla scouts tracking down or avoiding each other in the wilderness for days and weeks at a time. Pro-Union Appalachians were called Scalawags, and pro-Confederate ones Bushwhackers.

Other interesting sights here include the mysteries of Bald Mountains, barren stretches of land where trees do not grow for unknown reasons. A legendary Cherokee monster known as Spearfinger is an old woman perpetually surrounded by flies, and one sharp overgrown nail on her index finger can be used to stab people; Cherokee children are her favorite meal. Less antagonistic creatures known as Nunnehi are invisible spirits which live all over the mountains and sometimes come to the aid of lost travelers. The Yunwi Tsusdi (Little People) bitterly guard their tiny secret dwellings by placing death curses on intruders. Hickory Nut Gorge is a place feared by Cherokee tribes and is filled with the spirits of ghostly mystical warriors of an unknown tribe who attack intruders on sight.

Marshal’s Territory: The secrets of Bald Mountain are meant for the GM to develop, although the aforementioned monsters are given stats. Spearfinger is an ambush-oriented shape=changing monster, while Nunnehi and Yunwi Tsusdi can appear and disappear at will although they have their own strengths and weaknesses: Nunnehi can be made visible via a “fairy cross” relic, while the Yunwi Tsusdi can cast a Death Curse which acts as a slow-acting withering malady which can only be lifted by magic.


South Carolina, the Palmetto State

In comparison to the rich level of detail in places, folklore, monsters, and adventure hooks of North Carolina, South Carolina is positively lacking by comparison. The lion’s share of words are dedicated to the city of Charleston. Even the in-universe writer admits that he knows less about said state than the preceding one!

Overall South Carolina is a lowland country, with difficult-to-traverse marshlands nearer the coasts. The western regions hug the Appalachian Mountains and are the least-populated. The Confederate caste system is strongest here, and the aristocracy pretty much runs the place with the lower social classes having little influence in politics:

Below the aristocrats are the small farmers. Some of them make a good living, but they do not own as much land or control as much wealth as the planters. The “brown elite”—the mulatto children of interracial marriages—often belong to this class.


Lowest of all on the social ladder are tenant farmers, servants, and the like. Most blacks fall into this category. South Carolina was, in the years of slavery, one of the greatest slave-owning states. Having 300 or more slaves was considered the mark of true wealth, and even some free blacks owned slaves.


When slavery was abolished, a large class of freed, poor blacks was created overnight. Many have since managed to acquire farms, jobs in manufacturing concerns, or positions in the Confederate Army, and have prospered, but most still have a long way to go before they leave poverty behind.
True South: Antebellum Black Slave Owners While it is true that there were African-Americans who owned their own kind, this is a case of lying by omission. While there were doubtlessly some who exploited and profited from free labor (particularly light-skinned mixed-race ones who sought to ingratiate themselves into white society), many slaves owned by African-Americans were family members and friends purchased by their freed brethren but could not legally be granted manumission. The next best thing was that if they were legally owned by their parents, sisters, cousins, etc who were freedmen then this will prevent said family and social units from being broken apart. It should be noted that in contemporary times the “black slaver” claims are often misleading propagated by Lost Causer and reactionary types who seek to downplay the racism inherent in American slavery.

In addition to its strong caste system, South Carolina is also known as the Cradle of Secession for being the first state to declare its independence from the Union. It is also where the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter when the Union tried to resupply the soldiers there. The heaviest fighting in the battles that followed were around Charleston and across the coastline. Charleston suffered greatly during 1863 during a prolonged siege, where both sides used captured soldiers as human shields (the Epitaph only mentions the Union’s use) to prevent artillery fire from being used on the city or the invading army. Food was short and many starved, although by 1865 the removal of the blockade from Confederate reinforcements resulted in a Union route. Besides from bands of Yankees, Confederate deserters, and bandits in the 1870s, South Carolina has been more or less peaceful.

Now we cover Charleston itself, which is large and notable enough that many Confederates count it as the “South’s second capital.” And it certainly has its own culture: many doors from homes and buildings are painted blue from an old folk tradition which claims that the color wards off evil spirits. Like the rest of South Carolina, the Planter class rules the city and has weathered the siege best, and in spite of lean times find many occasions to host cotillions, horse races, and social events although they’re less happy-feeling now given recent grim times. The city is also home to a large amount of black freedmen, although in spite of the claim that “the only color most Confederates perceive in their Army being grey,” they still suffer their share of racism. Over the past half year a serial killer has been preying on the most wealthy of the black community, and the local police and politicians aren’t as concerned about pursuing leads as they ought to.

Wow, it’s almost like in spite of the post-racial claims of manumission and the default setting assumption, racism is still systemic and not just the province of individual villains!

But what the citizenry of Charleston regards as properly scandalous is some immoral cur who is preying off of the widows of aristocratic women who lost their husbands in war. After manipulating their grief and getting some wealth from their estates by disguising themselves as their miraculous “long-lost lover,” the figure vanishes with newfound wealth in tow.

Marshal’s Territory: The racist serial killers are a small group of pro-slavery advocates populated by Planters angry at the increased social welfare. Calling themselves the Guinea Captains after the sailors of old slave ships, they ambush, torture, and kill beloved African-Americans in the city. Charleston’s widows are being preyed on by a monster known as a Grieve, a shape-changing monster which derives sustenance from mortal misery.

Our section ends with a one-page description of some other South Carolinian cities, such as Georgetown which sits at the confluence of several rivers by the coast, or the capital of Columbia which holds an extensive prison camp of Union soldiers. The short life expectancies of said prisoners caused the warden to resort to dumping the bodies into mass graves...

Marshal’s Territory:...which is contributing to a growing zombie problem, who for now harass and eat farmers outside the city.

Thoughts So Far: This may be my personal bias, but this is my favorite chapter of the book. My home state of North Carolina is so far the coolest place in the South to have adventures: you got witches and monsters in the mountains, you got Blackbeard’s ghost menacing the high seas, you have folkloric monsters and ghosts animated by past injustices, you have ghost rock mines to feed your mad science devices and some Cherokee folkloric elements mixed in. But even that cannot save South Carolina’s Charleston-centric write-up, which just doesn’t compare at all to the Tarheel State.

Join us next time as we complete our tour with a round trip across Florida and the Deep South!
 

Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
Validated User
#22
Let's just say the Sentinel has a motivation to paint a rosier picture.
Given that not all of us have the luxury of weaving through the Deadlands metaplot scattered through various books, and that the one I'm reviewing does not delve into said character's origins or "true intentions," may you have the courtesy of pointing out the Southern Sentinel's backstory for the rest of us? It can be help in further contextualizing this review.
 

Davies

Registered User
Validated User
#24
This is revealed in Dead Presidents, an adventure written by one of the current text's authors, Professor McGlothlin.
 

Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
Validated User
#25

4. The Deep South

Our final regional chapter covers Florida along with a portion of the Southeast United States known as the Bible Belt. Although Louisiana and Texas are part of this region, as they’re west of the Mississippi they’ve been covered in other sourcebooks. So named for the strong bastion of socially conservative politics and a rather zealous interpretation of Christianity, this region is what most foreigners (and quite a few Americans) think of when they think about the South. The text also acknowledges this, in a rather wistful manner:

The True South said:
Although Virginians may (or rather, are guaranteed to) boast and bray, the true heart of the Confederacy lies in the row of states from Mississippi to Georgia: the Deep South. In these nearly subtropical climates grow the magnolias and cotton fields that the world thinks of as quintessentially Southern. Barring Atlanta (and the new growth in central Alabama), the Deep South is rural and agricultural. It has the great preponderance of the fine plantations and the scrappily independent yeomen that together set the Southron character apart.

This Black Belt of agrarian wonder (so called because of the soil) seems almost torn from a past time. Whether that time is the antebellum days of prosperity (and slavery), the romantic England of Sir Walter Scott and King Arthur, or even the days of the forest primeval before human foot trod the sandy hills—well, maybe there’s something of all three in it.

Whatever it is, the romance, the fertility (or simply the heat and humidity), there’s something about the true South that nothing else can replace. And that’s coming from a proud Son of Erin, true enough. I owe Mr. Lincoln’s “Railsplitter” thugs some thanks for running me out of Chicago and letting me find the America I came looking for.
I like how the Epitaph writer’s painting a rosy picture, briefly delves into the legacy of human bondage, and then without missing a beat continues on the nostalgia trip.


Mississippi, the Magnolia State

So named for the abundant white flowers which bloom on trees, Mississippi is a hot and wet state upon which the river’s mouth of the same name stretches across its western perimeter. Swamplands are common particularly in the Delta and Natchez regions. The capital of Jackson sits in the relative geographical center, and more traffic comes here by riverboat than rail. Northern Mississippi is heavily forested with farmland, and the university of Oxford is the major center of learning.

True South: Cotton Kings of the South: Cotton and other slave-harvested crops were so profitable in this region that the state was home to the highest number of individual millionaires in the country during the Antebellum period.

In southern Mississippi there’s a group of pro-Unionists in Jones County. But another famed resident here is High John the Conqueror, an African-American dashing rogue dubbed the “Black Robin Hood.” His favorite targets include proud and haughty white men in positions of power, usually humiliating them in some non-lethal fashion although he is not averse to violence:

Sometimes he just puts the mojo on a traveler or he brings a gang of maroons to whale the tar out of some plantation foreman who’s too handy with the whip and needs to be reminded about Jubilee. Other times, he tricks his mark into a game of cards, some wild gambling scheme, or even more grandiose notions which always turn out to cost a pretty penny.
So even though African-Americans are supposedly equal and respected by the text’s author’s assessment, there’s still white supervisors who act like slavery’s never ended. Hmmm, I’m starting to see why the Planter class wasn’t as vicious in curtailing what social progress was supposedly being made.

And even though it’s most certainly not because the Confederacy sees any color other than grey, a high bounty is on High John’s head, and the Knights of the Golden Circle have an even higher one!

Marshal’s Territory: High John the Conqueror is a supernatural being of justice. He may be an aspect of Anansi, and has been called Br’er Rabbit for his ability to take the form of a large gray hare. High John has the ability to teleport any distance as long as a “child of Africa” is playing drums at his intended destination. He cannot be hurt or killed with mundane weapons, and there’s quite a number of black highwaymen who take up his name. He only intervenes in the latter case if they target innocents or cause collateral damage, seeking to not let wrongdoers exploit his name.

True South: Free State of Jones: A group of people in Jones County, Mississippi led a guerilla military campaign against the Confederacy. Little is known about the motives and rationale of the rebels besides the fact that they declared their county the Free State of Jones and raided Confederate supply wagons to take back tax money and grain seized from residents. The microstate entered the public conscious when a 2016 period film was released for it.

The other two towns of note in Mississippi include Biloxi, which has good food but dangerous swamps where the black people are well-versed in voodoo and thus it’s dangerous to go out alone (yes really the book says this), and Beauvoir which sees high activity from the Nightwatchers due to the fact that President Davis is rumored to use the town as a private retreat.

Marshal’s Territory: A group of hucksters use Oxford for magical research studied in secret. The Knights of the Golden Circle are using alchemy to brew a facsimile of President Davis’ doppelganger (the irony is not lost on them) in hopes of installing a sympathetic puppet in the Confederate White House.


Alabama, the Heart of Dixie

Alabama is perhaps the most patriotic out of all the states of the Confederacy, and it’s a common joke that residents say that Montgomery’s the true capital and “Richmond’s just holding onto it for a while.” Some people figure that their gungho pro-war attitude is because they’re so far south of the front lines. The town of Mobile has a group of strange bluish-gray standing stones which even the Native Americans know nothing about, and some people claim to spot a literal ghost ship sailing up the Tombigbee River. Tuscaloosa and Moundville are foggy, weatherbeaten settlements where locals believe that European druids or a Lost Tribe of Israel once sailed to in ancient times. The capital city of Montgomery is perhaps the most “Western” of Confederate cities on account that some cattle and saloons with gambling are present.

The slave trade made many planters rich here, and an entire street is lined with their mansions. In fact, the most powerful group in the city is not the government, but a secret society pulling strings: the Knights of the Golden Circle.

Although mentioned earlier in prior chapters, we get a detailed write-up on this group here. Basically much like in real life they were formed in the 1850s as a reaction to the growing abolitionist sentiment. Looking south across the Gulf of Mexico, they proposed a separate nation of slave-states, encompassing a “golden circle” spanning conquered Central American nations, the US South, and Caribbean Island countries with Havana, Cuba as their capital. Inspired by the Freemasons they created their own members-only chapterhouses, secret symbols and handshakes, and loyalty oaths made by men willing to take up arms to realize this reality.

Naturally they were big supporters of the Confederacy, and ingratiated themselves into Davis’ cabinet. Once the war stretched on, the Knights reorganized into a council known as the Kuklos Khrysos: Greek for Golden Circle, and a nod to the real-world KKK’s “Kuklos Kuklos” fraternity motto from which they got their name. They even adopted esoteric titles such as the Imperial Grand Master, which more or less confirms that in Deadlands the Knights of the Golden Circle absorbed what would have become the country’s most notable white supremacist terrorist group. Beyond the Knights “owning Senators like they used to own slaves” and controlling the ghost rock trade in North Carolina, they are regular arms suppliers in Latin America, control most of Haiti’s economy, own many slave plantations in Brazil, and replaced and bought out every port official and provincial governor in the Caribbean that matters.

In fact, the Knights still have black slaves right here in the South! Selma, Alabama is one of their strongholds, a polluted industrial hell where the blood and sweat of black laborers work night and day. The workers are fenced in via barbed wire walls manned by gunmen and live in deplorable shacks and shanties. The factory owners who also operate cotton plantations claim that the walls are for their safety, but the rifles point inwards not out.

See, it’s a bit hard to swallow the post-racial nature of the Confederacy when a white supremacist organization is secretly dominating economic and social affairs on an international level. One other thing that does get me is that the Knights are willing to ally out of convenience with other evil groups in the setting, such as Baron LaCroix of Bayou Vermillion railroad. The last part makes no sense: LaCroix is a black, well-educated Haitian man of wealthy background and a practitioner of Vodou. Given that Haiti was formed due to a nationwide slave rebellion and Vodou was regarded as a “savage faith” by white slave-owners, LaCroix is literally everything the Knights stand against. Unless Bayou Vermilion is unaware of the Knights’ true nature and have the wool pulled over their eyes, I can’t see the Golden Circle making nice with him. But the “allies of convenience” statement makes it sound like they’re aware of each other’s existence. I also cannot view LaCroix feeling that his aid as something that will help his organization in the long run: other Deadlands sourcebooks note that the rail company has African-Americans in positions of power throughout its administration.

The last place of note to cover in Alabama includes the famed Montevallo College where even students from Europe attend, and one of its science professors is delving into the theories of electricity. Too bad for him, for the Mormons of Deseret already have a working electrical grid and tram cars in Salt Lake City.

Marshal’s Territory: A mad scientist is creating electric-powered machine-corpse hybrids from the bodies of prisoners of war in Camp Morgan. He currently uses them to rob gin mills and beat up the local loan shark he owes money to rather than practical military applications. Priorities!


Georgia, Empire State of the South

The site of Sherman’s March to the Sea, it is a not uncommon sentiment that Georgia has fought and bled more for the Confederacy than any other state. In spite of that they are extremely independent to the point that the government places its state’s matters first at a level that would make its neighbors blush, much to the chagrin of the Davis Administration. The state is also the headquarters of the Confederate States Mint, and the capital of Atlanta is heavily industrialized with ironworks and sawmills galore. In fact, the heavy confluence of rail lines means that there’s a growing number of ghost rock-powered personal vehicles such as steam wagons and velocipedes owned by a growing number of residents. In fact, it’s one of the few cities in North America that’s experiencing the wonder of traffic jams several decades early!

Altanta’s bad part of town is Murrel’s Row, where all manner of lowlives ply illegal and semi-legal trades. In fact, the place is named after the bandit John Murell who back in the 1830s sought to start a slave rebellion against the Southern Aristocracy.

Marshal’s Territory: Murrel’s son is the most prominent crime boss of Atlanta. He is training a secret army of African-Americans in hidden swamp and coal tunnel hideouts to “liberate” Atlanta by razing the city and killing its Planter class. Along with the “liberate” word in quotes and describing his private army as indoctrinated, I’m getting flashbacks to Bioshock Infinite’s Vox Populi. Said group was made up of oppressed black and Irish laborers who were portrayed as “just as bad” as the white supremacist slavers they sought to overthrow. The fact that Bioshock made them anti-Christian and wanting to rape white women in the “your homes, your lives, your wives are ours!” didn’t do the narrative any favors. While Back East’s black revolutionaries aren’t as gauche as Bioshock’s, the whole black criminal/radical archetype feels downright unpleasant when you consider the fact that the book expects you to thwart their efforts to preserve...the Confederacy.

The other character of note in Atlanta is a John Wilkes Booth impersonator, who formed a Knights of the White Camellia chapterhouse in town. The charade did not live on for long, when it turned out that the man was a local reverend. A conspiracy theorist newspaper owner by the name of Yammerin’ Ned has pieced the truth together about the Reckoners, but his sensationalism and paranoia make most not take him seriously.



Marshal’s Territory: This John Wilkes Booth is the real deal. The Reckoners were mighty impressed at his brass balls and the fear he generated from assassinating Lincoln, so they returned him to life as a Harrowed. Now Booth is training a secret order of assassins among the White Camelia Knights to strike up into the North to sow fear and discord among the Union.

Our last stop in Georgia is the multicultural town of Savannah, home to many European and Jewish immigrants from various nations. The Tybee Island Amusement Park hosts minstrel shows which the book is quick to point out are “only with real Negroes, for the whole park is run by free blacks.”

True South: Minstrel Shows with Actual Black People: Although the racist blackface plays were by far the most popular, there was a small amount of African-American performers who sought to popularize on the trend. Although said plays also delved into stereotypes, many of these actors sought to provide a more authentic and less propagandized look into their culture, sort of akin to how some Arab and Muslim actors today take on terrorist roles in Hollywood in the belief that they can mute the damage an outside actor would otherwise do in their role. For example, the common minstrel show trope of the scared, confused former slave happily reuniting with their old master was largely absent among plays with black actors.


Florida, the Sunshine State

The author’s bias shows through when he talks about Florida. The entire state is on top of a giant limestone cave and tunnel system, but North Florida is described as a veritable paradise of great food and beautiful cities and landscape. South Florida on the other hand is “the section of Hell that Lucifer saves for people who divide Florida wrong,” a reference to the British dividing it by east and west. Florida’s south is full of mosquito-filled swamps and holds the Everglades.

St. Augustine is a creepy city which was burned down no less than three times over the course of its history, and every nook and cranny cannot help but give the feel that it once held a hidden body. The town has some of the largest rats, and its sewers go straight into underground limestone caves.

Speaking of which, Devil’s Den is an enormous limestone cave under a hot spring, while the Devil’s Millhopper is a gigantic sinkhole 120 feet deep and 500 feet across. It’s not uncommon for shifty land speculators to buy up land around sinkholes for literal pennies, then turn around and sell it as prime real estate to gullible buyers.

The Apalachicola Forest is a huge territory of pine, oak, and cypress woods which are mostly untracked. Locales speak of “Apalachicola Smoke” seemingly from natural geysers which confounded Union and Confederate troops alike who believed them to be military smoke signals. A secret base of Confederate aerial soldiers are somewhere near the town of Pensacola, and Tampa-Town is the chief importer of fine Cuban cigars the Southern Aristocracy loves to smoke.

Marshal’s Territory: St. Augustine's creepiness is due to a higher than usual number of ghosts. The giant rats are abominations known as ratkin who are conducting a subterranean war against the spiderkin who hunt and feed off of them in the sewers and caverns. The smoke in the Apalachicola Forest are actually secret signals used by moonshiners operating illegal distilleries. A skunk ape addicted to cigars hangs around the outskirts of Tampa-Town to steal its favorite vice.



This is my favorite picture in the entire book.

The Union military has a presence on the island of Key West in a veritable naval fortress. The North claimed it near the beginning of the Civil War, recognizing its strategic value in the Gulf of Mexico. But in response, the Confederate war department is working on a Great Gun Project at Cape Canaveral, a gigantic cannon hundreds of feet long. Its ghost-rock powered design is theoretically capable of shooting Key West from 400 miles away, and can be aimed in any direction.

The Everglades cover a third of of Florida, a veritable lush expanse of dangerous marshland crawling with all sorts of life with alligators being the most well-known. The ever-changing grass sea makes map-making useless, and the Seminole Indians live here. No stranger to fighting, they still strike out at Confederate fortresses from time to time. Most white people who live in the Everglades are creepy inbred families who teem with physical and mental deformities.

Errrrr...wait, are we going to end on that politically incorrect description? Hold on a second-

A Fond Farewell to Dixie!

Oh God, we are. The Tombstone Epitaph finishes its in-character write-up here, hoping that we as readers enjoyed this little trip through the heart of the Confederacy, and that we use the knowledge provided to keep us safe from the dark forces menacing the South.

Marshal’s Territory: The Great Gun Project is being sabotaged by the Reckoners to not only be able to shoot up to 1,500 miles, but will only be effective against devastating civilian population centers and not troop movements. Finally, many of the Seminole Remnant forces have turned to voodoo black magic to better fight the Confederacy.

Thoughts So Far: Although thematically appropriate given that the region was a veritable stronghold of white supremacy, the Knights of the Golden Circle and High John the Conqueror show cracks in the foundations of the supposed progressivism of the Confederacy. I do like the idea of a folkloric hero such as High John showing up, but he’s far too good to be in a book such as this.

Although Deadlands always had a bit of a steampunk vibe, the traffic jams of Atlanta and the super long range cannon of the Great Gun Project feel a bit too advanced on account that even the steampunk Mormons do not have an equivalent weapon in the latter case. Hellstromme’s ghost rock bombs come the closest, but they have to be dropped via airship rather than a missile which can shoot targets several states away.

As a villainous organization, the Knights of the Golden Circle can be a good antagonistic faction in theory, but like High John's existence is odds with the suddenly magnanimous nature of Confederates who “saw the light to manumission.” They are too prominent, too powerful, and embedded power structure cannot result in anything but systemic racism rather than the individualized bigotries Deadlands wishes to promote. You can’t have white supremacists control every Caribbean port and the ghost rock trade in an entire State and somehow be brushed off as “a few bad apples.”

Join us next time as we cover new player and GM-specific rules, options and monsters in the Southern Soldier and the True South!
 
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Dave999

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#26
There's literally no point in the CSA existing without racism as cosplaying as Confederates doesn't make a very interesting story.

It feels like the developers were obsessed with THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES.

Except they didn't realize the guy who wrote that was a member of the KKK who Clint Eastwood came to despise after meeting him (and threatened to kill the man after he threatened a female member of the crew with a knife).
 

Davies

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#27
The cannon is, of course, a reference to Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, most probably as a result of the 1958 movie adaptation, which tied the plot very much to the Civil War, specifically turning the Nicholls character from the book into a religiously devout ex-Confederate.
 

NobodyImportant

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Validated User
#28
Thinking about these giants, I can’t help but feel like Deadlands missed an opportunity by making everything an “abomination”. By my understanding of the setting, every monster that isn’t walkin’ dead, a manitou, a rattler, or an automaton was magicked into existence last week by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse for the sole purpose of eating babies, which is a shame, because the stories behind walkin’ dead, manitous, rattlers, and automatons are actually interesting.
 

DarkMoc

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#29


Richmond, City of Graves
On the grand scheme of things this is a very minor complaint compared to the terrible alt-history, but this map is bad. Tredegar is maybe a dozen blocks southwest of the Capitol (not west-northwest), Belle Isle is right next to Tredegar, Chimborazo Hospital is just barely southeast of the Capitol, and Trinity Church is northwest of the Capitol, not southeast. Castle Thunder was between 17th and 18th streets on E Cary Street, a block from Libby Prison (which was north of the river, not south). Just about the only thing this map is good for is identifying places of interest, because the geographical relationships between them are totally wrong.
 

Davies

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Validated User
#30
Thinking about these giants, I can’t help but feel like Deadlands missed an opportunity by making everything an “abomination”. By my understanding of the setting, every monster that isn’t walkin’ dead, a manitou, a rattler, or an automaton was magicked into existence last week by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse for the sole purpose of eating babies
Not quite, and certainly not in the current version of the game's continuity, where you have at least one major villain who dates back to the 500s or so.
 
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