Art Magic Voodoo for Burning Deadlands

In my Burning Deadlands game I’ve got a player playing an escaped slave turned huckster who plays cards with a malevolent spirit he perceives as Baron Samedi, the voodoo loa, betting bits of his soul in exchange for magic powers. In the first session we just had him use Sorcery from the BWG book, but now I’ve got my hands on the Magic Burner and I cooked this up for him. It uses Art Magic as the base, with a little bit stolen from Spirit Binding and Death Art and a little bit cooked up on my own.

The biggest difference is the addition of the poker mechanic. It’s modified from Deadlands and meant to give a little Wild West flavor and remind the player that he’s gambling with the devil.

Huckster Voodoo

The Game

When you “cast a spell,” your consciousness splits in two for a brief time. Part of you remains in your body while another part is transported to some mystical space to contest with Baron Samedi, the loa with whom you gamble your soul.

The casting time for the spell is a number of actions equal to the Ob of the intended effect (see The Stakes, below). During this time you must have a free hand and be able to speak. Your eyes turn white and playing cards appear in your hand. You may be heard speaking a language no one understands… perhaps some African language?

If you are locked, injured, knocked prone, or fail a Steel test while you are “casting,” your spell is lost and you count as having folded in the Game (see below).

When you gamble against Baron Samedi, you determine each other’s stake. As you demand a higher stake of Samedi, he will demand a higher stake from you. For the most powerful spells (Ob 10 and up), Baron Samedi can demand you put your very soul on the table.

You can always decline a stake before the game begins. In this case you haven’t lost anything.

If you accept the stake, the game begins. First, roll Gambling as an Open-ended test. The Ob for the Gambling check is normally a base Ob determined by the effect, plus a modifier for Duration and Breadth. Your margin of success indicates how many extra cards you get “up your sleeve.” If you fail, your margin of failure indicates how many extra cards Baron Samedi has “up his sleeve.” Cards are dealt for 5-card draw, including “up your sleeve” cards.

In the draw you may exchange any or all of the cards in your hand, but not the cards “up your sleeve.” After the draw, but before the showdown, you may fold. If you fold, Baron Samedi does not get his stake, but you suffer Tax. When you suffer Tax you must test Forte against an Ob equal to the spell’s Ob. If you fail, your margin of failure translates into a dice penalty to your Forte. If your dice penalty exceeds your Forte, you will suffer damage as the guede wracks your body to extract the ante for the game.

If you do not fold, proceed to the showdown. You may present any five cards you hold in your hand or “up your sleeve.” If you win the showdown, you get your stake. If you lose, Baron Samedi gets his stake.

The Stakes

Good Juju: This is Advantage, from Art Magic, with the minor change that it creates a token (a bag filled with bones and half a lemon, maybe, or a split beef tongue wrapped in brown paper and filled with salt) that the target must keep on his person to enjoy the benefits. The token is called a gris-gris.

Bad Juju: This is Hinder, from Art Magic. It also creates a gris-gris and Baron Samedi will tell the huckster where the gris-gris must be hidden (typically under a bed, in a closet, under a porch, etc.). If it’s discovered before the duration expires, the duration ends early.

Wisdom of the Loa: This is The Spirits are Wise, from Spirit Binding, but they use the Breadth and Duration modifiers from Art Magic. General wises (Sea-wise, Politics-wise) are base Ob 2, specific wises (Gunslinger-wise, Hotel-wise) are Ob 3, and narrow wises (Jack Lowell-wise, Benny’s Saloon-wise) are Ob 5.

Weird Gift: This is Trait, from Art Magic. Only traits that fit the voodoo idiom may be bestowed or inflicted.

Zombi: This is Rise! from Death Art, but it uses the Breadth and Duration modifiers from Art Magic. Death of the Spirit is also possible for skilled voodoo practitioners, but the PC in question is an escaped slave who made a pact, not a skilled houngan or mambo.

Ward: Similar to Bad Juju, but ward hinders the use of a particular ability performed by anyone against its target. You can create a gris-gris to protect you from Sorcery, or a gris-gris that makes its bearer harder to shoot with guns, or a gris-gris that makes you hard to lie to. The Obs follow the Hinder table, but they’re all one Ob higher since they offer broader protection.