As you might have heard, the new version of Deadlands: The Weird West changes the timeline in places. Of course some of this has to do with managing a 24-year old line and revising it to fit today’s audience, but we always try to give these chances story-based reasons as well.
In this case, it’s the “Morgana Effect,” which occurred after the events of The Cackler graphic novel. One of the changes, and the one we knew would cause a little ruckus, is that the Confederate States of America is no longer around. In the real world, the CSA fell in 1865. In Deadlands, the titanic Battle of Washington was the the last big battle in regular continuity. After Morgana’s meddling, the CSA just can’t recover and formally surrenders soon after.
Here’s the original (updated) announcement for those who want to know a little more about this decision. After that is a more personal (also updated) post Shane made on the Savage Worlds Facebook page shortly thereafter.
SOME BIG, BIG DEADLANDS NEWS!
Events in the upcoming Deadlands Dark Ages create a ripple effect throughout the entire Deadlands line. If you’ve read our graphic novel, The Cackler, you’ll know that Morgan le Fay is loose in the Weird West, and her mojo allows her to take a little revenge on her long-dead brother and his mentor, Merlin. We’ll explore this tale of arcane vengeance in both settings, but most important is that they create a sort of “butterfly effect” we’re calling the “Morgana Effect.”
The main result of all this timeline tinkering is that the Confederacy now falls after the Battle of Washington in 1871. There’s an in-game reason behind this change, but we’ll also confess it’s just something the design team wanted to do. The ongoing American Civil War in Deadlands was originally designed to further the Reckoners’ plan of hate, fear, and carnage, but as the setting grew so much bigger than originally envisioned and numerous factions and villains arose, we just didn’t need it.
The Morgana Effect gives us a chance to make this change as we also fix little contradictions and other issues that have cropped up over 24 years and hundreds of products.
The new worlds of Deadlands — Noir, Lost Colony, and Dark Ages, and the further development of Hell on Earth — have also given us new ideas and plot lines to seed into the Weird West, so we’re doing that as we go too.
Now it’s just before the Kickstarter and the new Weird West book is almost done. Those of you who had issues with the ongoing war before won’t have to worry about the repercussions cropping up in your game. We think those of you who are skeptical will find the same thing our team did — you won’t even notice.
The Civil War was rarely more than background in the old game. Deadlands is about horrific spaghetti Western action, small town mysteries, epic villains, monster hunting, and sudden and savage violence. It’s about cowboys and zombies and card-slinging hucksters. It’s about steampunk and mad science. The war was always just a backdrop, and it still is.
We think it’s a win-win, and believe that if you’ll give it a chance you will too. If not, we appreciate the love and support you’ve given the game in the past and hope that maybe our trails will cross again someday, amigo!
A Note from Shane
The decision for the CSA to fall in the Deadlands timeline after 1871 (1865 in the real world) is mine and mine alone. I created the world, I run the world with the help of some excellent people, and I know where it’s heading.
I’m a fiscal conservative and social liberal, have an MA in Military History, and am well-versed in the Civil War, the West, and the 19th century in general. I stand by the original decision to use the war to create the fear and terror of Deadlands (the same theme we explore in our Weird Wars line), and I stand by the decision now to change course.
Here’s why. Having characters loyal to the CSA…not just “Southerners” but actual loyalists to the cause, even if anti-slavery but loyal for some reason, can be *incredibly* uncomfortable for others at the table. Imagine the GM having to roleplay those voices. That’s not fun. That’s not what our game’s about. We want you to laugh and smile and roll Aces and get excited about your next session. And if you and your group want to explore heavier themes, go for it! But that’s something you and your friends can handle better than we can do in print where we deal with players and Marshals all over the world.
Feedback is important to me, I do listen, and I do care what all of you think about Deadlands. But the decisions are mine, the world is mine, and it will stay that way until I die. I know what it is, what it stands for, and where I want it to go.
Deadlands is spaghetti Western with horror. It’s cowboys and zombies. That’s the heart and soul of the Weird West. Everything else is background, real or imagined, cool or mundane.
So what about the story and history of Deadlands? How will the Last War in Hell on Earth start? We answered those questions internally a long time ago, and are excited to share them with you when the time comes.
The end of the Civil War 13 years prior to the current timeline still carries all the weight it did before. Heroes can be veterans of either side, harbor resentments, reminiscence about their experience at Gettysburg, and so on.
Everything up to the Battle of Washington (a huge steampunk battle in the world of Deadlands) stays the same. Not much happened after that in the official timeline anyway.
The Agents and Texas Rangers have been working together for a while under the Twilight Protocol, and they still do in the new edition (and fight with each other just like today’s government agencies).
The Great Rail Wars still happened just as it did before… it’s just the Union offering the contract rather than the Union and the CSA.
The Servitor series happens just as in those four EPIC Plot Point Campaigns.
Doomtown rose, fell, rose, fell, and well…it’s Doomtown. It never really dies!
Honestly, we think even the most dedicated fan won’t even notice the difference. We haven’t in our playtests, writings, and reviews.
Maybe you’ll agree. Maybe you won’t. That’s okay. We’re doing it anyway.
We’ve said everything we care to say on the issue, so our efforts from here forward are focused on making the best game and worlds we know how to make. If they don’t fit your tastes, that’s okay. We’re all lucky to live in a golden age of gaming right now and you have hundreds of choices. I’m very happy to see any of my friends at other companies get your business and for you to find whatever game, company, or system makes YOU and your friends happy. Truly.
Thanks again for reading, friends, and I hope to see you in the Weird West for one more ride!