A Setting Element for use with GURPS Deadlands
The creative process that created this piece was entirely unreasonably byzantine. In 2002, I wrote a book called GURPS Deadlands: Hexes. Hexes is mostly adaptations to GURPS of spells (“hexes,” in Deadlands parlance) that appeared in original Deadlands publications, but I created a number of new hexes that appeared with stats for both GURPS and original Deadlands. It also includes rules for magic books, because I’m a big Ars Magica dork, which I elaborated on the Designer’s Notes for Hexes.
After Hexes came out, my editor, the esteemed Andrew Hackard, suggested that I adapt the new material in Hexes to the Deadlands d20 rules, and that was published in Pyramid Magazine as The Hand You’re Dealt. The framing device that I used for that article alluded to a book containing the hexes described, and it seemed a) obvious to work that book up using my book rules, and b) kind of dumb to put GURPS book stats into an article of d20 material. So I wrote the book up, and present that here.
The Rock Springs Society for Games of Chance and Skill
The Rock Springs Society for Games of Chance and Skill operated in Wyoming from 1867 to 1869. To the world at large, it appeared to be a flimsy excuse for the biggest scoundrels in six states to get together and hone their skills by trying to pull their best cheats on one another. That’s true as far as it goes, but like so many things in post-Reckoning America, there was more to the Society than met the eye. Four of the Society’s seven members were hucksters, and damn good ones at that. Besides meeting to exchange their mundane innovations, they exchanged hexes and other occult lore at their get-togethers until that cold February day when the Agency adjourned the Society for the last time.
The Society’s Proceedings, published in 1867 and 1868, are avidly searched after by hucksters and ordinary swindlers alike. Only a dozen copies of each volume were ever printed (and several of those have been captured by the Agency), but the demand for them is great enough to have inspired several unauthorized reprints. On its face, the book is merely a record of what games the Society played, how the games went, and who was there. The attentive reader, however, may notice a variety of swindles and cheats leaving their traces between the lines. Many readers hope to learn some new shenanigans by poring over its pages. For those with the eyes to look even closer, however, the Proceedings contain potent hexes committed to code by the members of the Society.
Some aficionados of the Proceedings claim that there a draft of the 1869 Proceedings existed, and that it included an extremely deadly hex by the legendary “Red” York; the search for that manuscript has become many a huckster’s obsession. Skeptics note that if “York’s Last Hex” did exist, it wasn’t enough to keep the Agency from gunning him down in the bathtub.
Proceedings of the Rock Springs Society for Games of Chance and Skill, Vol. 1 (1867)
Vol. 1 of the Proceedings contains the hexes Burning Death (p. D:H39), Hidey-Hole (p. D:H40), Phantom Amputation (p. D:H41), Rabbit Foot (p. D:H43), and Shift Wounds (p. D:H42). It may be used to study any of these hexes to a maximum level of 10 (the Rock Springs Society were good hucksters, but indifferent teachers). There is a -1 penalty to Cryptography to decipher the hexes.
The 1867 Proceedings is worth a whopping 18 library points in Streetwise.
Volume 1 of the Proceedings is avidly sought after for its relations of the stories the members told and the sneaky tricks they played on each other during the meeting — it’s considered a sort of scoundrel’s primer. It is, for this reason, very difficult to find; non-hucksters are just as eager as hucksters to get their mitts on it.
Proceedings of the Rock Springs Society for Games of Chance and Skill, Vol. 2 (1868)
Vol. 2 of the Proceedings contains the hexes Blink (p. D:H38), Ecstasy (p. D:H39), Hell’s Arsenal (p.D:H40), and I Want Answers (p. D:H41). It may be used to study any of these hexes to a maximum level of 11. There is a -2 penalty to Cryptography to decipher the hexes.
The 1868 Proceedings is worth 12 library points in Streetwise, and 4 library points in Politics.
Volume 2 of the Proceedings is more sedate than Volume 1. By 1868, the members had tested each other’s skills thoroughly and exhausted the best of their stories. They were also concerned with the first stirrings of official interest in the Society, and a hefty chunk of the Proceedings is taken up by discussions of how to get the authorities off their back. Volume 2 is therefore less attractive to scalawags than its predecessor. Hucksters, however, are extremely eager to get hold of I Want Answers! Volume 2, therefore, is almost as rare as its predecessor.
Proceedings of the Rock Springs Society for Games of Chance and Skill, Vol. 3 (1869)
The third volume of the Proceedings may be apocryphal; the supposed drafts and partial copies that circulate have no usable hexes, but the decipherable fragments suggest that the full text would contain hexes called Manitou Gate, Eruption, and Seducing Lady Luck.
Hucksters who believe that volume 3 exists want it bad.
This setting element is intended for use with GURPS Deadlands from Steve Jackson Games. It is not official, nor is it endorsed by Steve Jackson Games. GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.