Deadlands is a genre-mixing alternate history roleplaying game which combines the Western and horror genres, with some steampunk elements. It was written by Shane Lacy Hensley and published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group.
The eight-times Origins Award-winning setting has been converted to many other systems over the years and is available in the original Classic Rules, the revised Classic Rules, d20 System, GURPS, as well as a Savage Worlds version called Deadlands: Reloaded.
The game is set in the United States in the last quarter of the 19th century. The canonical year for the first edition of Deadlands is 1876. A later supplement, Tales o' Terror, advances the game's backstory and metaplot ahead one year, to 1877. The second edition of Deadlands uses the updated backstory of 1877 as the canonical starting point. Deadlands: Reloaded further updates the backstory and advances the canonical starting point to 1879.
The basic rules provide for characters and settings that could be expected to appear in the "Wild West" genre of movies and pulp fiction, and most of the in-game action is presumed to occur in the wild frontiers of the American West, or in barely tamed frontier towns like Tombstone, Arizona or Dodge City, Kansas. However, later supplements expanded the in-game adventuring area to include places such as the Deep South, the Mississippi River, Mexico, and the Northeastern United States. These supplements often provide for adventures set in urban areas such as New Orleans, New York City, or Boston.
The canonical, basic setting is referred to as the "Weird West" due to the juxtaposition of the Western setting with the horrific and fantastical elements of the game. The history of the Weird West is identical to real-world history, up until July 3, 1863. On this date in the fictional universe, a group of American Indians from various tribes, led by a Sioux shaman known as "Raven," performed a ritual in an effort to drive out the European settlers. This ritual created a conduit to a spiritual realm populated by powerful malicious entities known as the "Reckoners." The events surrounding and immediately subsequent to Raven's ritual is known as "The Reckoning."