I just got season 3 of Deadwood from Amazon. I knew it was coming so for the last week I have been watching seasons 1 & 2 again to catch up. As I’ve been watching it I can’t help wishing that I had seen the show back when I was running Testament, my live-action role-playing game. It has so many elements that would work so well in that type of game.
The game I was running was White Wolf’s “Vampire the Masquerade”. Now if you don’t know anything about that particular game; throw away all those pre-conceived notions you just got. It’s not what you think and yes I know what you are thinking. Toss out the whole Ann Rice, Anita Blake, tight leather and lace, pansy ass, vampire images. See told you I knew what you were thinking.
When run correctly, a live-action game is a social-political one. It is basically a power struggle set in a social setting of people who don’t really like hanging out with each other in the first place.
I can so easily see setting up a Live-Action Role-Playing game right now based on Deadwood. I wouldn’t use the Deadwood setting exactly but instead maybe do it as either sci-fi or fantasy setting, but the set-up could be mimicked under both. The sci-fi or fantasy thing just lets you throw in some other magic or technology items that help role-playing games. For example things like healing potions/med-kits that allow injured characters to quickly recover from injuries.
But look at the set-up of the power structure in Deadwood. Most of the major characters in Deadwood are completely supported by the miners. They don’t mine themselves, but rather run casinos, brothels, and the like which are supported by the regular people aka the hoopla heads. I can easily see setting up the really good power players as owners of casino/brothels just like in Deadwood. In the show each of the major players then has a cast of secondary players which new major characters have to interact with to learn the lay of the land. This is how the two major players learn what is going on and how the goals of the new people fit in with their own goals and motivations. For example in the first few episodes where Bullock and Wild Bill first arrive in town, Swearenger is worried that Bullock and Wild Bill are together and will open a business that will compete with him. Bullock and Swearenger’s archetypes are already diametrically opposed to each other. That sets up some good role-playing. Both Swearenger and Bullock get to play off each other and interact with the secondary characters to establish themselves. Later when you have Hearst come in, look how he both opposes and aligns himself with the existing power players. I’m only a few episodes into the 3rd season and haven’t seen him interact too much with the secondary players but I can see how I would arrange that. Man I could do so much with that setting. Maybe I’ll just steal it for a short story or something.