Return to That Godforsaken Country
There are five Arcane Backgrounds in Deadlands Reloaded; this article will just provide a brief outline of how they work.
Blessed: Blessed are the DLR equivalent of clerics. They have some kind of connection to a much higher power (the exact nature of the higher power is fairly vague; Blessed can belong to just about any religion that is available in the setting.) Blessed have a skill called “Faith,” which is used for all their spellcasting attempts. Faith is linked to Spirit. For this campaign we are using the modifications to the rules for Blessed as outlined in the recent plot points "Stone and a Hard Place" and "Good Intentions," and so Blessed now, like the other arcane backgrounds, will be using power points and learned powers. (This should also make it easier for new players to play them.) Blessed start with 15 power points and the Protection power along with 2 other novice level powers of their choice. It should be noted that Blessed do not have to be ordained clergy, although that is a popular choice; they simply need to be touched by the divine. In addition, Blessed have to avoid whatever actions their faith considers to be sinful. If the Blessed rolls a 1 on his/her Faith die when attempting to use a power (s)he suffers from a Crisis of Faith, and his/her Faith die drops by one type (to a minimum of d4) until (s)he spends an hour meditating and praying to restore it.
Huckster: The Huckster is the Deadlands version of a wizard, although they normally need to be more subtle in the use of their powers than high fantasy wizards (due to the likelihood of torches and pitchforks.) Hucksters generally use a gambling persona; the Complete Book of Games by Hoyle is actually a coded book of magic. Hucksters do use power points (although they recover their power points much more slowly than in SW core rules.) Hucksters begin with 10 power points and knowing 3 powers. Any time a Huckster rolls a 1 on the Magic skill roll (s)he suffers “backlash” and is Shaken. If the Huckster runs out of power points, however, there is an option for using a gambling method for immediate points (by creating a poker hand from the Action Deck) to use a power. If the hand isn’t good enough, or if the Huckster uses a Joker in the hand, however, there is a random backlash determined by the Marshal. Note: Due to this capability it is recommended that anyone playing a huckster have his/her own separate deck of playing cards, including both jokers. This deck is reshuffled every time it is used.
Indian Shaman: The Shaman is a priest-type character, but unlike the Blessed the Shaman uses power points and has a limited set of powers. The Shaman begins with 15 power points and knowing two powers; the Shaman’s power points recharge more rapidly than normal as long as (s)he is in a natural environment. The Shaman must determine whether or not to begin with the Hindrance “Old Ways Oath,” which restricts what (s)he can use in terms of equipment but allows the Shaman to perform rituals (which are normally required and can take up a significant amount of the Shaman’s time) less frequently. The Shaman uses a skill called Tribal Medicine to activate powers; should (s)he roll a 1 on the Tribal Medicine die (s)he gains a point of Fatigue.
Weird Scientist: The Weird Scientist has arcane powers tied to devices and infernal machines that (s)he invents. The Weird Scientist begins with only one power, but it has 20 power points. In addition, each new power the Scientist gains has its own pool of 20 power points (or more if the character has taken the “more power points” Edge.) There is a price, however. Any time the character takes a new power (s)he gains a random derangement, although there is an Edge which can ameliorate that cost. Also, any time the Scientist rolls a 1 on the Weird Science roll the device fails spectacularly, causing 1d6 damage in a medium burst template, so it’s easy for allies to be caught in the explosion.
Martial Artists: This is the most complex of the Arcane Backgrounds. The Martial Artist must take the Edge Martial Arts (used for combat) and the Edge AB: Chi Mastery, which is used for the actual arcane parts. The Martial Artist begins with 20 power points and 2 powers. Each of these powers also has a skill associated with it (using the same name as the power) tied to Spirit (so it also behooves the Martial Artist to push his/her Spirit to a high level.) On the bright side, the Martial Artist doesn’t have the disadvantages the other AB’s have for poor rolls; for them a failure is just a failure.
Each of the Arcane Backgrounds additionally has several Edges which only its practitioners can take; in many cases these Edges can be used to reduce the harmful effects of failures. There are too many of them to be listed here. For additional details of how the powers themselves work, and particularly the importance of "Trappings," please see the Arcane Powers article.