Fate Chips and Bounties
Fate is a fickle bitch. Sometimes she smiles on you, and sometimes she spits the nastiest thing you’ve ever seen right on your head.
In Deadlands, characters can store up a little fate to save their kiesters in dire situations. Fate, in this case, is represented by poker chips.
The Marshal starts the first game session with a pot of 10 blue, 25 red, and 50 white chips. The mix doesn’t change, except under very special circumstances which we’ll tell the Marshal about later on.
At the start of each game session, every player gets to draw three Fate Chips at random from the pot. (That means no looking. Got it?) The Marshal also gets to draw three chips that he can use for all the extras and bad guys. Players also get rewarded with Fate Chips during play. We’ll tell you all about that next.
Chips can be saved between game sessions. Just write down how many your character had at the last game and get them out of the pot before anyone draws their new ones next time.
One last rule. You can never have more than 10 chips at one time. If you earn a chip and you already have 10, you can discard a lower-value chip to keep the new one if you want.
Otherwise, you have to discard it.
Let’s talk specifically about how you earn precious Fate Chips. The Marshal’s going to toss them to you when you do one of three things: roleplay, solve problems, or make him chuckle.
This is where your Hindrances start to shine.
Sure you get points for them when you make your character, but no one’s going to make you roleplay or suffer from those Hindrances later on. The Marshal might if she thinks of it, but truthfully, running a roleplaying game occupies enough brainpower that she may often forget about all your character’s problems. So we’re going to make you remember.
Roleplay your Hindrances, and you get chips. The more severe your disadvantage, the higher-value chip you get. It’s that simple.
Here’s the sweet part: You can’t. If you never play a Hindrance, you never get chips. It’s okay if you got points for it earlier. That was really just built into the system anyway.
The other extreme is if you milk a Hindrance for all it’s worth. Say your Law Dog has a hankerin’ for alcohol, and you say he drinks constantly so you can beg for chips.
The Marshal might fall for this trick a few times, but she’s only supposed to reward you when your character’s Hindrance is truly an inconvenience. If your Law Dog gets drunk, who cares? If he’s drunk when the scavvies attack, you might get some chips just before your hero bites the dust.
More on Roleplaying
Sometimes you might roleplay something that isn’t covered by one of your Hindrances. Maybe your Doomsayer isn’t particularly brave or heroic, but when he hears a weeping mother’s tale of her child being abducted, he feels he must act.
That’s okay. The Marshal should still reward you just as if your character actually had the heroic Hindrance. The reward is for roleplaying, after all, and that might not always fit the Hindrances you chose. It’s best if it does, but don’t feel too confined by them. Don’t decide your hero can’t be a hero just because he isn’t heroic.
If it becomes a habit—your hero is always running off to save folks — then you should pick up the heroic Hindrance and make it official.
Otherwise, just accept that the rules don’t always fit the situation and that your Marshal wants to reward you for helping create an interesting and memorable story.
The Marshal also rewards those who overcome the many obstacles in Deadlands. This includes defeating monsters, solving puzzles, and even working out the inevitable complications that arise when a bunch of hardened warriors with different attitudes adventure together.
Again, the chip the Marshal rewards you with depends on how great a problem you solved or clue you found. Find a journal that holds a few key clues, and you can expect a white or red chip. Help a town ward off a biker raid and you can expect a blue chip to fall from the sky.
The Marshal’s Whim
The last occasion a Marshal might give you chips is (drum roll, please): whenever he feels like it. Maybe he likes the way your gunslinger stylishly met his opponent in the street at high noon, grumbling a cool line in an overawe attempt. Or maybe you said something that’s got the whole group in stitches.
Sometimes your character just does something clever, like duct-taping a flashlight to his assault rifle when exploring a dark ruin.
That’s worth a white chip the first time someone does it.
When these things happen, maybe, just maybe, chips could fall from the sky, just for helping everyone have a good time.
And that’s what it’s all about.
Calling on Fate
Great. So now your gunslinger’s suffering from chronic tuberculosis, you figured out how to kill the blast shadow, and the group’s rolling around on the floor, laughing like idiots. You’ve got a stack of chips in front of you. What do you do with them? We’ll tell you.
A character can use his Fate Chips in one of three ways: to improve Trait and skill checks, to save his skin by canceling wounds, and to trade them in for Bounty Points (keep reading).
Trait & Aptitude Checks
White Fate Chips give the character + 1 extra die per chip spent, just as if he had an extra point of Aptitude or Coordination. The player can spend these chips one at a time until he’s happy with the result or decides not to spend any more (or runs out of chips).
Red Fate Chips let you roll a bonus die and add it to your highest current die. The downside is that using a red chip for a Trait or Aptitude check gives the Marshal a draw from the Fate Pot. Only one red Fate Chip can ever be spent on a single action.
Blue chips are just like red chips, except they don’t give the Marshal any draws. Good deal, huh? Only one blue chip may ever be spent on a single action.
Spending Chips on Damage
You can’t spend chips on damage, but there’s a slight loophole you can use. See, damage in hand-to-hand combat is a weapon’s fixed dice plus a regular Strength Trait roll. You can use chips on the Strength part of the roll (but not on the weapon’s dice). The point is, whenever your character can exert a little extra will, you can spend a chip on his Trait or Aptitude roll.
Upping the Ante
When you use chips to improve a Trait or Aptitude roll, you must spend any white chips you care to use first, then a red if you want, and then a blue. You can’t spend a red chip and then spend a white to reroll it if you don’t like the result. You also can’t spend a blue chip and then go back and spend a red or a white. Once the stakes are raised, there’s no going back.
Just to be perfectly clear, you can jump right to a blue chip on a roll. You just can’t go backward and spend a white or red chip after the blue’s been spent.
Going Bust & Fate Chips
There’s one big catch to spending chips.
You can’t spend Fate Chips on a Trait or Aptitude roll once you go bust, even if you have luck o’ the Irish. Fate turns its back on even the most heroic souls from time to time.
Legend Chips are an exception. You’ll find out about these once you adventure for a while. When you do, remember that if you have one of those rare prizes, you can spend it to pick up all your dice and start over from scratch.
By the way, you can’t go bust on the Strength part of a fightin’ damage roll. You just add nothing to the weapon’s regular damage.
Savin’ Your Skin
Fate Chips can also be used to avoid getting your character’s noggin or other important parts of his anatomy blown off. Spending a Fate Chip doesn’t make wounds “heal” or stop an attack. It just reduces the effect or makes it so it never happened in the first place.
Whenever your character takes damage, you can spend chips to negate some of it. This applies to damage from a single attack. If your hero’s shot twice in the same round, you have to reduce each attack separately.
These wounds are negated before any Wind is rolled. If you need to negate Wind (after taking damage from bleeding, drowning, brawling or something else), each level of Fate Chip negates 5 points of Wind as shown below.
|Chip||Wounds Negated||Wind Negated|
|White||Up to 1||5|
|Red||Up to 2||10|
|Blue||Up to 3||15|
A player can give another player Fate Chips, but it’s expensive. The giver has to put one like-colored chip in the pot for every chip he gives another player. The giver should also explain how his hero helps his friend, whether it’s by distracting a bad guy or simply offering a few colorful words of encouragement in time of need.
After your hero tussles with the creepy inhabitants of the Wasted West, he’s likely going to get either a whole lot smarter or a whole lot dead. This experience and savvy is represented by Bounty Points. You can use these to raise your character’s abilities.
Between game sessions, you can convert your Fate Chips into Bounty Points and use or save them to improve your character. Whites are worth 1 Bounty Point, reds 2, and blues 3. Chips are usually the only way you get Bounty Points, so don’t blow them all in the game if you can help it!
It’s time to tell you how to spend those hardearned Bounty Points to raise your survivor’s Aptitudes, Coordinations, or Traits.
It doesn’t take your character any particular amount of time to do so, other than the rate you can acquire and spend your points, but no ability should be raised more than + 1 level between game sessions.
New Aptitude levels cost whatever the new level is. If you want your character’s shootin’ to go from 3 to 4, it costs 4 Bounty Points. You can’t “skip” a level and buy level 5 without first buying level 4. Nice try, brainer.
Once an Aptitude gets to level 5, your hero is considered an expert, and it costs twice as many points to raise it again. A level 6 skill costs 12 Bounty Points, level 7 is 14, and so on.
Raising your hero’s Coordination in a Trait costs two times the new level. So to go from 4d6 Strength to 5d6 would cost 10 points (2 × 5=10).
As with Aptitudes, you can’t skip a level.
Traits can be raised as well. The cost is equal to three times the die type of the new level. To go from a d4 to a d6 costs 18 Bounty Points. No skipping die types in between, friend.
You don’t have to, but it makes for a better story if you say exactly how your character gets stronger or smarter. Maybe he spends his off hours lifting engine blocks or studying.
You can purchase a new concentration in an Aptitude for 3 Bounty Points. You can’t (and wouldn’t want to) raise a second concentration as a whole new skill. That would be far more expensive, so this trick saves you a bundle.
Gaining New Aptitudes
So what if you want to buy a new Aptitude after you’ve made your character?
No problem. You can buy a new Aptitude with Bounty Points. It just costs you 1 point to get the first Aptitude level in that skill as usual.
Most Corporeal Aptitudes don’t require training to pick up and start using right away, but some mental Aptitudes do. Use common sense. Your hombre can learn to scrutinize on his own, but he can’t pick up professional: law without some kind of formal training (or a lot of time in front of a Law Dog!). That’s when the Marshal might also come up with some time requirements for you. Learning the basics of ridin’ can be done in a single lesson. If you want to learn to be a junker, you can, but it’s going to take a few years of study.
The Marshal should judge each request on a case-by-case basis. Don’t beat her up over it.
Buying Off Hindrances
Sometimes your character can overcome his sordid past. Maybe he started out a kid and now he’s full-grown. Or perhaps something made your one-armed bandit whole again (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Maybe your hero’s quest for vengeance against the bandits who murdered his family is finally over. Or you decide a Hindrance you took when you created your character just doesn’t fit any more.
No sweat, muchacho. We’ve got you covered.
A character can buy off a Hindrance by doing two things. The first thing she must do is figure out why or how the Hindrance goes away. The Marshal has to approve of your rationale, and she might require you to buy it off gradually or right away. You and your Marshal need to decide these things based on the storyline and the Hindrance itself.
Once the roleplaying conditions have been met, the character must pay back double the original cost in Bounty Points. From this point on, your character shouldn’t usually receive Fate Chip awards for roleplaying the Hindrances.
That’s all there is to it. Do you feel all better now? Good. Now let’s talk about picking up new personality flaws.
Gaining New Hindrances
Gaining new Hindrances is easier. Lose an arm tussling with a dust devil, and your hero’s a one-armed bandit. The bad news is your character doesn’t gain any points when he acquires it. The good news is she starts receiving Fate Chip awards for roleplaying the handicap immediately.
You can actually choose to pick up new Hindrances, but keep it reasonable. If your hero gets a hankerin’ for whiskey after a few journeys into the Wasted West, who can blame her? We don’t recommend letting a hero choose more than 5 points worth of “extra” Hindrances. If things just happen that way (such as phobias from failed guts checks), that’s another matter.
Gaining New Edges
So you’ve got a ton of Bounty Points, and you want to buy an Edge. How do you do it?
Normally, the only way to gain new Edges is if something fantastic happens during play. Say your heroine gets a sidekick, or she comes into possession of a valuable piece of hardware, like a hover tank. These events don’t cost a thing.
They’re the reward of playing and surviving.
But say your gunslinger has been hanging around a syker for a while and wants to learn his tricks. He can do it, but it’s going to take some time and Bounty Points.
It’s tough to make a hard and fast rule for this kind of thing. It might take someone a few weeks to become keen, while developing a good voice might only take a couple of days.
Becoming a syker or Templar should take years.
Becoming a Doomsayer really requires only a few months and lots of radiation!
So here’s the deal. You can take a new Edge if you have a good roleplaying rationale for it, and your Marshal approves. After that, you have to pay triple the Edge’s cost in Bounty Points, and you can only put 1 point per “game week” into the Edge as you develop it. The Marshal might decide to change the time it takes to 1 point per game day, month, week, or whatever she feels makes the most sense. Once you’ve paid the Bounty Points, the Edge is yours.
If you change your mind while investing, too bad. You can’t get the points back, but they’re still there if you change your mind.
New Powers & Abilities
If your hero has an unusual power, check out the proper section to learn how to improve her abilities or gain new ones.