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Deadlands: Hell on Earth

Deadlands™: Hell on Earth™ is one possible chapter in a story that begins in the year 1863 with an event called the “Reckoning.” That tale was told in our sister game, Deadlands: The Weird West™. If you aren’t familiar with it, here’s a quick summary of the story so far.

The Reckoning began when a vengeful Indian shaman named Raven released long-imprisoned evil spirits back into the world. The Indians call them manitous; Westerners call them demons. Their purpose is to carry fear and other negative energy to the Hunting Grounds, where the forces of destruction, in the form of the Four Horsemen, feed upon it. The Reckoners regularly reinvest some of their precious energy to create new horrors, which in turn create even more fear.

Unfortunately, the return of the Reckoners occurred during one of the most violent times in human history, especially in America, where the Civil War raged. (The Reckoning began July 3, 1863.) That war eventually ended and established the Confederacy as a new nation. The two countries even mended their wounds and fought side-by-side in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and even a war in space.

During this time, a secret war was taking place between the Reckoners and those who had learned of their existence. Pinkertons, Texas Rangers, other national security forces around the world, and independent heroes battled the horrible creations of the Reckoners until they had nearly been banished from the Earth. Chapter Two:

Because of their efforts, the forces of evil were nearly defeated. But the vanishing Reckoners did not give up easily. They broke the cosmic rules and cheated. The Four Horsemen used the last of their power in a one-shot effort to make a rift in the Hunting Grounds. Through this they sent their most deadly agent, Stone, back to the Weird West. The undead gunslinger hunted down heroes and helped create Deadlands until the Reckoners won the next time around through history’s timeline.

The combined efforts of Stone and his dark masters culminated in the “Last War” of 2081, a massive, worldwide conflict that ended in an incredible conflagration of irradiated ghost-rock bombs. Billions died. Worse, the bombs created Deadlands, areas where fear was so strong it actually warped the landscape and gave life to obscene horrors drawn from humanity’s worst nightmares. With most of the world one vast Deadland, the Reckoners had “terrorformed” the Earth in fear and could walk upon it as physical beings.

The Four Horsemen first appeared in the American West. There they slaughtered thousands, then stalked off across the Mississippi and haven’t been heard from in nearly 13 years. Rumors persist they are “touring” the world, reveling in the destruction they’ve caused. If true, they will inevitably return to the Wasted West. And soon.

Hell on Earth combines four great genres in one big glowing package: post-apocalyptic, fantasy, horror, and western.

It’s a world in ruins, and that means lofty goals are distant dreams. Most folks are concerned with simple survival. There are treasures to find, people to save, and monsters to slay, but by and large, a hero’s number-one concern is keeping his skin out of the mouth of some sharp-toothed mutie.

Where’s the horror in a world like this? What could be more fearful than the end of the world? Plenty. Your character is still alive (well, maybe not, but we’ll get to that later). He might have heard of the walkin’ dead before, but that doesn’t mean he won’t pee green when he gets rushed by a pack of groaning zombies.

What kind of lunatic goes looking for trouble in a world like this? Westerners, that’s who! Heroes in Hell on Earth are like those of the Wild West. They’re bigger, bolder, and badder than life. They wear cowboy hats and dusters not just because they keep off the fallout, but also because they reflect their attitude.

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Deadlands Campaign JamesMarshall