New Player Rules Primer

Spending Bounty Points

Bounty points are what you use to improve your character's skills and Traits (Traits are stats, like Deftness and Spirit). There are two ways to earn Bounty Points:

1. You get some Bounty Points after a session just for playing (usually 3 or 4).

2. You can convert Fate Chips to Bounty Points. Whites are worth 1, Reds are worth 2, Blues are worth 3, and Legend Chips are worth 5.

Bounty Points can only be spent between sessions unless you have the Marshal's permission, and you can't raise a skill or Trait by more than one step per session.

Most skills cost the new level in Bounty Points to improve. For example, if you are raising your Bluff skill from 2 to 3, it costs 3 points. It would cost 4 points to go from 3 to 4, and 5 points to go from 4 to 5. After level 5 in a skill the cost doubles (going from 5 to 6 would cost 12 Bounty Points). Some things, especially arcane powers, may have different Bounty Point costs.

You can also spend bounty points to raise your Traits, but it's expensive:

To increase number of dice: 2 X new number of dice (4d8 to 5d8 or 4d12 to 5d12 would cost 10 points)

To increase die type: 3 X new die type (4d8 to 4d10 would cost 30 points)

NOTE: When buying skills with creation points — those gained from Cognition + Knowledge + Smarts die types, a character history, hindrances, or the Veteran edge — skills are bought on a 1 to 1 ratio (ie, starting with rank 5 in a skill costs 5 creation points). Creation points are gained at character creation only. Bounty points are spent as per the instructions above.

Fate Chips

Fate Chips are used to alter Fate in your favor. You earn Fate Chips for good roleplaying, defeating foes, and discovering clues. You also get three draws from the Fate Pot at the beginning of each session. Fate Chips are extremely valuable, so use them wisely!

When you take a hit in battle, you can use Fate Chips to negate some or all of the damage. You must use your Fate Chips when you receive the wound; you can't cancel a wound that has already hit later. Using Fate Chips represents your character ducking in the nick of time or otherwise getting lucky. Chips have the following values:

White: Cancels 1 wound or 5 Wind
Red: Cancels 2 wounds or 10 Wind
Blue: Cancels 3 wounds or 15 Wind
Legend: Cancels 5 wounds or all Wind

You can also use Fate Chips to improve skill rolls:

White: You get to roll another die, as if you had another rank in a skill.

Red: You roll another die and add it to the highest die you already rolled. The Marshal gets a draw from the Fate Pot, though! Only one red chip can be spent on a single skill roll.

Blue: Same as red, but the Marshal can't draw. Only one blue chip can be spent on a single skill roll.

Legend: Spent as a blue chip. You can reroll anything, even if you have gone Bust (see below for information about going Bust). You can also give it to another player at no penalty. After using it, roll a die. Odd, it goes back in the Fate Pot. Even, and it's gone forever. You can use this chip at anytime, even if you have already spent other chips.

You have to spend chips in order (White/Red/Blue). Once you spend a red, you can't go back and spend a white. You can skip ahead in the order as far as you want, but you can't go back.

Skill Usage

Unlike in D20/DnD, you don't always add dice together in this game. Let's say your Deftness is 2d12 and your Shootin': Pistol skill is 5. You would roll 5d12 when you shoot (the number of Deftness die is only important for raw Deftness checks; skills that are keyed to Deftness use the d12 die type, but a number of them equal to the skill rank…this applies to all stats). You roll a 4, 5, 6, 9, and 11. Your result is 11. You don't add all the d12's together, you just take the highest number.

Almost all die rolls are open ended. If you roll the highest number on a die, you roll it again and add the numbers together. Take the above example, but turn the 11 into a 12. You would roll that d12 again (the other numbers are irrelevant—you take the highest number only, remember?) and add it up. If you rolled a 5 on the second roll, your result would be 12+5=17. This is called an "Ace." You can "Ace" a die an unlimited number of times, so you can theoretically get a very high result.

If you are ever rolling something and most (not just half, but the majority) of your dice come up 1's, you have gone Bust. This means that you messed up real bad, and could be in trouble.

For each 5 points you beat the TN (target number) by, you get one "raise." A raise is an extra success, and means you did your job especially well. It can have various effects, depending on exactly what you were doing.

Combat Initiative

At the beginning of each round, you make a Quickness check:

Quickness Result # of Cards
Bust No Cards
4 or less 1 Card
5-14 2 Cards
15+ 3 Cards

Combat starts with Aces, then Kings, and keeps going down to 2's. The following is also true:

If people have the same number (say two people have 6's), the suit determines action order. From first to last: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs.

If you draw a red joker, you can act anytime you want, and can interrupt another action without fail.

If you draw a black joker, that card is effectively a waste. You have to discard it along with your next highest action card, which is the card up your sleeve if you have one (see below).

You can also put a card "up your sleeve." This is similar to holding an action in D20. You can use this card to act anytime you want, but if you want to interrupt someone else's action you have to beat them on an opposed Quickness check.

Determining Damage

Unlike most rolls, you ADD DAMAGE DICE TOGETHER. If your pistol deals 3d6 damage and you roll a 3, 4, and 5, then you have dealt 12 damage.

Some weapons, particularly melee weapons, deal extra damage based on your Strength. Let's use a spear (STR+2d6 damage) as an example.

EXAMPLE: Your Strength is 3d8, and you are fighting with a spear. You hit with your spear (STR+2d6 damage). You roll the following:

Strength Roll (3d8): 3, 4, 7
Damage (2d6): 2, 5

The Strength part of the roll IS NOT added together, so you deal 7 damage from Strength (ignoring the 3 and 4). The spear's 2d6 damage IS added together, so you deal 7 from the spear. 7+7=14, so you deal 14 damage.

Taking/Dealing Damage

Every creature has a Size rating. Most humans are Size 6, though a few are Scrawny (Size 5), Brawny/Big Un' Husky (Size 7), or Big Un' Obese (Size 8). Creatures and other abominations have a wide range of Sizes. Size is used to determine how many Wounds you suffer from an amount of damage.

An attack deals one wound per multiple of Size rating in damage. An attack that deals 12 damage would deal 2 wounds to a Size 6 creature. A Size 7 creature would only take one wound (ALWAYS ROUND DOWN). Bigger creatures are harder to wound.

Regardless of Size, each creature can only take 5 wounds to any location (Noggin, Guts, Left Arm, Right Arm, Left Leg, Right Leg):

Wounds Relative Damage Base Penalty
1 Wound (Light) -1
2 Wounds (Heavy) -2
3 Wounds (Serious) -3
4 Wounds (Critical) -4
5 Wounds (Maimed) -5

If you reach Maimed in the Noggin or Guts (torso), you're dead. Some creatures (and even some characters!) may work differently.

Wound penalties are applied to all of your skill/Trait rolls (but not weapon damage rolls). Only your highest wound matters. If you have one Critical wound and a Light wound everywhere else, you take a -4 penalty for the Critical wound and nothing from the Light wounds. Some characters and creatures may take fewer wound penalties based off of Edges or other special abilities.

Stun Checks

If you suffer a Serious or worse wound in one shot, you have to make a Stun check. Stun checks are base Vigor checks. If you fail, you are stunned and can't act, but you can try your Stun check again on your next action.

Wounds Stun Recovery TN
Serious 7
Critical 9
Maimed 11


Wind is a measure of your stamina. You take Wind when doing strenuous tasks, take damage, or bleed. If your Wind is reduced to 0, you collapse until you can rest for a while.

When you are wounded, you suffer an amount of Wind damage equal to 1d6 per level of the wound. Canceling all or part of the wound with fate chips will reduce or negate the associated Wind damage. Unlike the book rules, we do not reroll Aces on this Wind damage.

Determining Traits

There's a certain trick to placing your stats in Deadlands. Some Traits you'll be rolling raw check with often, while for others that is rarely the case. Quickness, for example, is rolled every round of combat to determine how many actions you get; therefore, both a large number of dice and a high die type are desireable. On the other hand, Deftness is useful for a lot of skills (so a high die type is useful), but you'll only rarely need to make a raw Deftness check, so putting a 2d12 instead of 4d12 in Deftness would be a good idea. A summary of stats:



High die type; number of dice less important. This Trait is very important for anyone who wants to use a ranged weapon or be good at stealing and lockpicking. You can set it lower if you don't intend to use ranged weapons at all, but a minimum of d8 is recommended.


High die type; number of dice a little more relevant than Deftness, but not too much. Nimbleness determines your accuracy with melee attacks and your Pace is equal to your Nimbleness die type. Throw at least a d8 here.


Putting both a high die type AND a high number of dice in this is important. 4d8 is the bare minimum.


If you fight in melee, both number of dice and die type are important. Otherwise, not so much. You could even put 4d4 in this, if you don't intend to do much melee fighting.


Your "fortitude save", and determines half your Wind. Lots of dice are good in case you ever get poisoned or diseased, but you might get away with only a moderate die type if you don't need the extra Wind.



Your spot/listen ability. Putting a moderate die type and high number of dice would be a good idea; it also helps determine your starting skill points. 2d8, 4d8, 2d10, or maybe 4d10 are good candidates.


Only important if you want to use the skills it's tied to; raw Knowledge checks are rare. Along with Cognition and Smarts, determines your starting skill points. You may not want to completely tank it if you can avoid it. If you don't want to use Knowledge skills, the only thing you lose out on is a few skill ranks. Skill ranks are good, but Smarts and Cognition give you skill ranks too, so this is only one part of the equation.


Basically, your charisma. If you aren't doing social skills you can put your 4d4 in this one and never look back…though be aware, it's often better to talk your way out of a fight than to risk catching bullets. So long as at least one person in the group is a good talker, you should be okay.


Helps determine your starting skill points, and there are more raw Smarts checks than raw Knowledge checks. There are also some good skills keyed to it. Definitely deserves at least a 4d8, if not 4d10.


The incredibly important Guts skill is keyed to Spirit, so you'll want at least a d10 here. There are a few but not too many raw Spirit checks. It's also used in conjunction with Vigor die type to determine your maximum Wind. 2d10 or 4d10 is a good choice, unless you have an Arcane Background in which case a d12 might be better.

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