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

Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
Validated User
Have to say I agree with the premise, the South are the bad guys, just like Nazi Germany. I could never portray them as anything other then what they are
Well, you could play as one of the many white Appalachians who were pro-Union, or the Jonsers in Mississippi, who were culturally Southern but were aligned against the Confederate government. This is of course in addition to the obvious African-Americans fighting for their freedoms and Northerners.

A Deadlands game where you're guerrilla hillbilly Scalawags conducting raids against Confederate military stations and Bushwhackers could make for a fun campaign.
 

Dave999

Registered User
Validated User
Well, you could play as one of the many white Appalachians who were pro-Union, or the Jonsers in Mississippi, who were culturally Southern but were aligned against the Confederate government. This is of course in addition to the obvious African-Americans fighting for their freedoms and Northerners.

A Deadlands game where you're guerrilla hillbilly Scalawags conducting raids against Confederate military stations and Bushwhackers could make for a fun campaign.
The South as a continuing bad guy state to fight like Mordor or Thay isn't an inherently bad idea in a game as weird as Deadlands.

But that's clearly not the tone they went for....and thus it is bizarre and offensive.
 

Boris

I am invincible?
Validated User
It's like the writers wanted all the social structures and aesthetics of the pre-war South/ the Confederacy, and have PCs come from there but make it all morally ok. So most people just stop doing all the immoral things (that they fought a war to keep doing) and just give up their entrenched political power (no-one does that) and you have social structures that look the same but, for sure, they're all equal underneath and it's fine.

Which manages to deprive us of both a genuine examination of the evils done by the Confederacy and a villain that the PCs can oppose. It's stunning! And there's even a side dish - portraying abolitionists as vicious or ineffectual so you can give moral triumphs to a state formed for the purpose of perpetuating human bondage.
 

Dave999

Registered User
Validated User
It's like the writers wanted all the social structures and aesthetics of the pre-war South/ the Confederacy, and have PCs come from there but make it all morally ok. So most people just stop doing all the immoral things (that they fought a war to keep doing) and just give up their entrenched political power (no-one does that) and you have social structures that look the same but, for sure, they're all equal underneath and it's fine.

Which manages to deprive us of both a genuine examination of the evils done by the Confederacy and a villain that the PCs can oppose. It's stunning! And there's even a side dish - portraying abolitionists as vicious or ineffectual so you can give moral triumphs to a state formed for the purpose of perpetuating human bondage.
It's also a weird thing IN the Weird West because a large portion of the Wild West's Wildness is actually driven by people wanting to get the fuck out of the South. While plenty of white dudes were among them, there were also a rather significant number of black ones.

And the Underground Railroad as a PC organization is a major missed opportunity for Southern games. You could make it the full on Rebel Alliance led by General Harriet Tubman.

The "John Brown is evil" thing actively pisses me off too.
 

Boris

I am invincible?
Validated User
I prefer to use the Kerberos Club version of the CSA
I was going to mention them! They're pretty much The Confederacy as a pariah state with the Knights of the Golden Circle doing overseas mischief and a side order of worshipping Shub-Niggurath. And they are destroyed in a massive slave revolt. The only thing to avoid is letting their worship of pre-human things get them off the hook - they adopted that later. It's human evil.
 

Libertad

Knight in tarnished armor
Validated User
I do not have a direct link, but there were quite a few Southern slave-owners IRL who believed that their brutality towards their slaves would earn them a place in Hell. But as they genuinely feared a Black Uprising if they "acted soft" they chose to keep their temporal luxury on Earth than earning possible salvation in the afterlife.

I can very easily see said slave-owners turning to dark magic as a means of averting God's judgment, like say vampirism. An alternate Bayou Vermilion of white vampire slavers who contacted evil Vodoun spirits to profit off of undead labor while living in their old estates would make a great villainous organization.
 

King Snarf

Registered User
Validated User
The "John Brown is evil" thing actively pisses me off too.
If you think that's bad, just wait until you read about Nathan Bedford Forrest. Y'see, the worst of his actions? All that was from a CURSED SABRE. Otherwise, he'd be an generally okay guy with the occasional temper. I'll cut Deadlands quite a bit of slack, but FUCK THAT SHIT.
 

Dave999

Registered User
Validated User
If you think that's bad, just wait until you read about Nathan Bedford Forrest. Y'see, the worst of his actions? All that was from a CURSED SABRE. Otherwise, he'd be an generally okay guy with the occasional temper. I'll cut Deadlands quite a bit of slack, but FUCK THAT SHIT.
That is some "Osama Bin Ladin is possessed by a magic coin" or "Hitler is a demonically possessed painter" levels of shit.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Disclaimer: I am not an American, nor am I as well versed as most of the other people in this thread. That being said, if you want more free black Americans in the Confederacy without revising the inherently racist structures of the Confederacy into something less shitty than they were, here is how I would do it:


After the first few years, the Confederate leadership realize that they have a serious shortage in the manpower department for fighting the war. Thus, they promise any black slave freedman status if they complete a four year term of service.

Of course, for their loss the slave owners must be compensated by the Confederate government. This compensation is calculated according to a complex formula based on the slave's age, fitness, and other characteristics with the results boiling down to "how politically connected is the owner"? (Some slave owners are so well-connected that the recruiters somehow never get near their plantations...)

The result is rather predictable - "poorer" slave owners with only a few slaves and without political connections quickly lose their young, fit male slaves while the rich plantation owners use this as an opportunity to dump their older, less fit, or "troublesome" slaves into the Confederate Army at above market prices - all paid for by the Confederate taxpayers.

The leadership of the Confederacy initially tells itself: "Yes, this is less an ideal, but it's just a temporary fix that won't lead to long-term problems. For one thing, they are cannon fodder - they won't live long anyway. For another, with our latest pushes and strategies surely the war will be over in one year - two years at the most. And then we can send them back to their owners, since they haven't completed their term! Aren't we brilliant?"

But then the war did go on and on, quite a few of the black solders did survive, and suddenly the Confederate leadership was faced with the awkward prospect that they would have to turn many of these black soldiers free. The Confederate Army then started an unofficial policy of discharging (and thus re-enslaving) black soldiers close to the end of their terms on trumped-up charges or sending them on suicide missions to prevent them from becoming free.

This lasted until the first black unit shot their white officers and deserted en masse. Some of them escaped to Northern territories while many others turned to banditry - they knew how to fight, they were extremely resourceful and knew how to live off the land (because they were always the last to get supplies during their campaigns), and they had no pretensions of "fair, honorable fights". They became such a huge problem that they bound up a lot of regular army forces for a long time, and after that the Confederate Army has switched to honoring their initial promise. For the most part.

Thus, there are now an increasingly large number of freed blacks in the Confederacy. But being "free" doesn't mean that they are respected, or treated very well - some of them try to just live their lives and assist their families (many of whom are still slaves), but organized and unorganized attacks by assorted racists remain very common. Thus, many of these freedmen have started their own secret (and obviously illegal) self-defense militias - putting the skills they learned during the war to good use. Which in turn increases the hysteria of the white slave owners about the black population of the Confederacy.

As for the Reckoners? They are equal opportunity haters, and anything which creates more chaos, hate, and fighting is fine with them.
 
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