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Santa Shane Speaks with Sellner

Cackler Preview PieceVisionary’s C. Edward Sellner interviewed our own Shane Hensley for their website, and we thought you might be interested in what ol’ Shane had to say, too.

Interview With Santa Shane Hensley!

He may not actually be Kris Kringle, but this year Deadlands creator Shane Hensley is in a pretty joyous mood. As we ramp up the 20th Anniversary celebration, there’s lots of excitement and we thought it would be a good time for the two head honchos, from Pinnacle and Visionary, to dig a little more into Deadlands lore, and dish some more details on what’s coming up from the Pinnacle / Visionary Partnership!

CES: Alright Shanester, let’s start at the beginning for all the newbies. What’s Deadlands all about?

SH: Deadlands is a Weird Western where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, known as the Reckoners, are trying to bring about a Hell on Earth so they can walk upon it in the flesh. They do this by nurturing fear to drench the earth in dark, supernatural energy that can sustain their physical manifestation.

That’s the “meta level” and the back story that ties all the various Deadlands games together—the original Weird Western, the post-apocalyptic “Wasted” West” of Hell on Earth, Deadlands Noir, and Deadlands Lost Colony—which takes place on the far fringes of space.

CES: Sounds like real fun at your holiday party.

SH: Characters in the property rarely know any of this though. They’re focused on more local events and what’s right in front of their faces. Our heroes are usually concerned with the dead coming back to life or the haunt that lives in the old Jenkins’ place.

CES: I could see that.

SH: But by defeating even these local terrors, they’re slowly—bit by bit—battling the Reckoners as well. Besides lightning-fast gunslingers, brave Indian warriors, and other standards in the Weird West, Deadlands also has a number of “arcane backgrounds,” characters who have developed supernatural powers to fight the good fight. Hucksters make dark bargains for power, hurling playing cards charged with energy or casting other “hexes” and spells. Mad scientists use a super fuel called “ghost rock” to power infernal gizmos and weapons. Shamans channel power from nature spirits, and the blessed draw spiritual magic directly from the distant but always present powers of good.

Most importantly, in the world of Deadlands, those with particularly strong wills can come back from the dead—hence the name. The price is high though—the “Harrowed” crawl out of their graves by way of “manitous,” evil spirits that vie for control of their host. Those Harrowed who maintain “dominion” over their demonic rider can quickly develop additional supernatural powers as well.

CES: So, nice mix of Western, Horror, Mystical, and Steampunk. One reason we did the four one-shots originally, with each issue leaning more or less toward one of those foundational elements. Fantastic! How did this all come about? What made you create Deadlands?

SH: The original inspiration came from a Brom / White Wolf painting that was later used for their Vampire the Masquerade game. The book was Necropolis: Atlanta, and it featured a vampire with his crossed guns in front of a tattered rebel flag. (I originally saw it as the cover of their magazine though and didn’t realize he was a vampire.) I saw it at a convention (GenCon), and had a 16 hour drive home afterwards, through the long, dark night. I couldn’t get that image of the undead “cowboy” out of my head. I kept wondering “What was so important in life that he crawled up out of his grave for?”

Slowly, all the ideas began to take form. I eventually put the game together for my home group. Everyone seemed to love it, so I decided to do it for real.

 

CES: And everything grew from there?

SH: Yes. We were very fortunate. At first we were told that Westerns don’t sell, so we planned on a small print run, then we’d blow the world up and let the bad guys win—a story that would be told in the post-apocalyptic sequel, Hell on Earth. We did that, but as Deadlands proved successful we made it official that the Reckoners cheated…Hell on Earth wasn’t inevitable. Exactly how that works is best left to the books themselves, but we think it’s a pretty cool story. Short version? The Reckoners do lose and Hell on Earth is avoided—but then they cheat. At least in the official timeline.

CES: Sounds like a world and setting that would appeal to comics fans on multiple levels. You got your genre points, you got your epic backstory, you got your whole worlds of characters and even your own twisted timelines and alternate futures. We should do Deadlands comics! Oh, wait…

CES: Now…tell us about the Cackler.

SH: In college, I ran one of my favorite Dungeons & Dragons® campaign settings, Dark Sun. One of the villains was an albino elf with long, stringy hair and round, rose-colored sunglasses who giggled after he insulted the heroes. I did the laugh when I ran the games and my players hated that guy. It stuck with me years later when we created Deadlands.

We had always planned on Deadlands being a property, not just a roleplaying game, and one of the things we were excited about was pitching an animated series—something like HBO’s Spawn. We didn’t know it was going to be so short-lived at the time, of course, but we thought a dark, adult-oriented animated show would be a fantastic way to explore the Weird West. I did a treatment for it and knew that my villain would be my giggling fiend from so many years earlier. “The Giggler” didn’t sound particularly menacing, so I called him “the Cackler.”

Since we wanted this to be an animated series, I wanted the Cackler’s origin to be something that was unveiled over a long season, and when people found out—when they deciphered all the clues—the payoff would be worth it. That meant he had to come from a story we either set the groundwork for or was a story most people already knew. The albino angle stuck with me hard and I knew exactly who he was. Who he was defined what he was doing. What he was doing had the ability to change the world of Deadlands.

And just like with the Reckoners and Hell on Earth, I knew I wasn’t afraid to let the bad guys win. You’ll have to read the graphic novel to find out exactly what that means.

CES: Speaking of which, we got our first full-color tease from that, with art from legendary Bart Sears!

CES: Now, that’s just to whet your whistle! We’ll run the second half of this here interview next week amigos! And start looking for regular little teasers of art from the upcoming Kickstarter campaign! Bart is KILLING this! So, Shane, you gonna “HoHoHo” for us?

SH: No.

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Shop the Shane Hensley Spotlight Sale on DriveThruRPG

Shane Hensley Spotlight Sale on DriveThruRPGFor a limited time, DriveThruRPG is focusing on the works of our own illustrious leader with the Shane Hensley Spotlight Sale. This your chance to check out a wide variety of Shane’s work at deep discounts! In addition to the Savage Worlds and Deadlands fiction you’d expect, there’s also quite a bit of Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition material, Earthdawn, Army of Darkness, and countless other gems from Shane’s prolific past.

Don’t delay, though—nothing can stand in the spotlight forever! Check out the Shane Hensley Spotlight Sale today!

Savage Worlds Stocking Stuffers!

Savage Worlds Stocking StuffersNeed some last-minute gifts for those gamer friends of yours? The internet can be your friend in these hectic holiday times.

DriveThruRPG has a whole sleigh full of Savage Worlds products for $5 or less, including the just-released 5 Magic Items: Staves.

You can also get all your Pinnacle favorites directly from the Pinnacle Web Store—and we sell Pinnacle Gift Certificates in whatever denomination you want, too! Stock up early and make sure you’ve got something for everyone!

A Heap o’ Deadlands Comin’ at You!

Deadlands Volume 1: Dead Man's HandAre you ready for Dead Man’s Hand? It’s the first original collection of the Deadlands comics series produced by Visionary comics and IDW, and it’s chock-full of Weird West goodness. You get the original comics (Devil’s Six Gun, Massacre at Redwing, Death Was Silent, and Black Water) plus two new stories from Deadlands creator Shane Hensley (Vengeful) and Deadlands Big Bug Matt Cutter (What a Man’s Gotta Do). If that’s not enough, you’ll also get a first-anywhere sneak peek at Ghostwalkers, next year’s Tor novel from New York Times’ best-selling author Jonathan Maberry!

Dead Man’s Hand is coming to comic shops in March 2015, but you’ve got to get your orders in now to be sure that your store will have enough. That might seem weirder than a dead man throwin’ snakes, but that’s just how things work ’round those parts. Check January’s Previews Catalog with your local retailer.

But of course, there’s more! That’s right, friends and neighbors, as you’re pre-ordering Dead Man’s Hand, the Kickstarter for The Cackler graphic novel will launch. This is your chance to hitch your mule to the team bringing you the original story of the secret history behind Deadlands‘ biggest mystery villain, the Cackler! Shane Hensley himself will be writing this story twenty years in the making, and Death Was Silent artist Bart Sears will handle the illustration honors. This comic will change the world of Deadlands forever, in a way no licensed book ever has, and this is your chance at an exclusive edition available nowhere else!

These are excitin’ times in the Weird West, partner. Join us for the first step on the trail to the twentieth anniversary of Deadlands in 2016, and expect adventure and excitement all along the way!

Explore Scientorium’s Wonders in The Last Parsec

Scientorium PDF for The Last ParsecFind lost technological treasures and knowledge beyond Known Space’s understanding in the library of Scientorium. This mammoth artifact lies hidden by sheer distance and forever shrouded from the minds of the curious. It’s strange experience chambers offer passage to millions of histories on millions of worlds, secrets and technologies undreamed of. Mysteriously abandoned except for its automated security systems and enigmatic caretakers, its workings are strangely twisted and jealous, meting out reward and punishment in equal measure.

Scientorium is a setting book for The Last Parsec. It contains new locations and characters for the epic journey to find Scientorium, new Setting Rules for the library’s many wonders, a Plot Point Campaign, Savage Tales, and detailed insight into the world of the reclusive Librarians.

The Scientorium PDF is available immediately, but the printed versions of the book are still on the Last Parsec Preorder Page! You can still preorder the whole Last Parsec line-up, including adventures, the GM Screen, tokens, all three system books (Eris Beta-V, Leviathan, and Scientorum, each with its own Plot Point Campaign), and custom dice, Bennies, and miniatures! Check it out today.

Hungarian Classic MAGUS Reborn as Savage Ynev with the Fan License!

Savage Worlds Fan License ProjectsHave you ever wondered what you can really do with the Savage Worlds Fan License? How about bringing a classic RPG back to new life? That’s exactly what Hungarian Savage Worlds fan Bulldy did!

MAGUS – Chronicles of Adventure Roleplaying Game and its world of Ynev was a major RPG in Hungary in the 90s. Last summer, a contest was proposed on a Hungarian roleplaying forum to rework Ynev, the classic world of MAGUS, into a newer system. Five developers submitted their works: a modified d20 game, a FATE version, a unique custom system, a revised Hun system, and a Savage Worlds version. With votes from all participants tallied, Savage Ynev was named the winner!

If you can speak Hungarian (or have a translator you’re happy with), be sure to check out Savage Ynev. Even if you can’t, follow its lead—use Savage Worlds to breathe new life into an old setting today, and use the Savage Worlds Fan License to share it with your friends and fellow fans!

Leviathan Now Unleashed for The Last Parsec

Leviathan for The Last ParsecThe jungle planet Leviathan teems with mammoth lacerauns—savage beasts of enormous size and cunning, potential trophies unmatched in other star systems. Left intentionally undeveloped beyond a few tourist-oriented settlements, Leviathan still draws more than just adventure-seeking hunters. Researchers and those who would see the world left completely untouched are both willing to turn the tables on any would-be hunters.

Leviathan is a setting book for The Last Parsec. It contains new locations and characters for the planetary system, new Setting Rules for Leviathan’s natural dangers, a Plot Point Campaign, Savage Tales, and a host of new creatures–especially the lacerauns.

The Leviathan PDF is available immediately, but the printed versions of the book are still on the Last Parsec Preorder Page! You can still preorder the whole Last Parsec line-up, including adventures, the GM Screen, tokens, the two other system books (Eris Beta-V and Scientorum, each with its own Plot Point Campaign), and custom dice, Bennies, and miniatures! Check it out today.

Big Deadlands News Brewin’

DeadlandsThe Pony Express was a fantastic advance in getting news into and out of the Weird West. Then things noticed a steady supply of food traveling overland, and they even started eating the ponies! It’s probably easiest and safest to keep your eyes on this space for all the upcoming Deadlands news—and there’s a few ponies’ worth a-comin’, partner.

You’ll be getting more details about the upcoming release for Stone and a Hard Place, the third Plot Point Campaign that puts you face-first into the spaghetti Western roots of Deadlands and up close and personal with the hardest of hard-nose killers—Stone.

For all you literary types, keep a lookout for news about the upcoming Ghostwalkers, the Tor novel by Jonathan Maberry! That’s right, the bonafide New York Times Bestselling author has taken a walk on the Weird side, and we’ll be giving you some sneak peeks soon.

And, possibly most satisfyingly, you’ll hear something next week that’ll scratch a most peculiar itch that some of you have, and might have had for decades now. Just remember, scratching isn’t always advised…

Game Registration Open for ChupacabraCon II

ChupacabraConGame registration for ChupacabraCon II is now open—rush on over and sign yourself up today! Join in on the Savage Saturday Night hosted by the Lone Star Savages or at any point in this fine festival of gaming, January 9-11, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

You can also catch Shane Hensley, Clint Black, Ed Wetterman, Ross Watson, and Sean Patrick Fannon there. If you want to think of them as Pokemon, go ahead and catch ’em all. I wouldn’t try putting any of them in my pocket, though. You can also see Jeff Dee, Ken Hite, Robin D. Laws, John Wick, and many others—check the Convention Guests page for a full listing.

It’s only a month away—register today!

Get the Fabled Environment Limited-Time Discount Bundle!

Fabled Environments Game MapsCheck out the Fabled Enviroments Savage Worlds Module Bundle, Volume 1. It includes four different Fabled Environments maps, a Savage Worlds adventure for each one, and additional extras for a few of them. Our own Clint Black wrote Throwdown at the North Pole, and Cake Walk comes from John Beattie (of Weird Wars Rome’s Wellspring).

If that’s not enough for you, there’s a larger bundle—the Fabled Enviroments 12/14 Catalog Bundle includes nearly forty* fine Fabled Environments products, including everything from the Savage Worlds Module Bundle, Volume 1. With this kind of discounted value, what are you waiting for?

* I kept miscounting as I scrolled through. My most common number was in the 36-38 area, with one 41. I leave the determination of the actual number as an exercise to the reader.