Thursday, August 31, 2017

Deadlands: Burning Ring o' Gloom

The posse arrived in Salt Lake City Sunday, September 23rd.

To Hector's horror, no saloon was open; he hardly knew what to do with himself. Wilhelm found the small Catholic church, Dr. Seigal went to register for the Gizmo Faire, Abigail tagged along, and the paladin signed up for guard duty.

Eventually, church let out; Hector was further dismayed to discover that Salt Lake City was inhabited by rather a lot of Mormons. Luckily, none of them drank, so when the saloon opened at noon, he hurried inside to avoid them.

Eventually, he decided the best course of action was to explore the City o' Gloom - the strange, maze-like shanty-town surrounding the factories. Dr. Seigal brought his vehicle, and Kiri rode her smart horse. After a few hours of wandering around, they found two factories - one, mostly locked up tight, and sporting various sorts of armor, and a second, marked Factory #13. Inside, Hector and the good doctor were nearly beheaded by a falling gear, broke several things, and almost managed to catch sight of a whirling, flying machine; after several hours, they finally made their way out.

Just before Factory #13, however, Kiri manage to get herself separated from the others. Without the light of the steam-car's headlamps, she decided to light a match; the match flared brightly, and burned quickly, its flame large and wild. Surprised, Kiri tossed the match to the ground... where it ignited. As it turned out, tossing fire around in a place that gathers and stores ghostrock... isn't a good idea.

A wall of flame cutting her off from her companions, Kiri was forced to backtrack. Eventually, her horse grew tired of wandering around, and lead the two of them out to the exit.

Meanwhile, the paladin was making his way through the faire; he found a person selling a strange, green liquid, and dared to try a bit. Happily, it healed his wounds! Much pleased with the result, he promised to return again the next morning.

Monday morning rolled around. While the others stocked up on gas masks and breathing equipment, Abigail made a beeline to the tent of a young woman selling various elixers. After speaking with the woman for a while, she learned the secret of the alchemists - Philosophers Stone. The young woman also showed her how to make a simple healing potion, and sold her (and Wilhelm) some of her brews.

The paladin, true to his word, showed up for work, ready to go. He was shown to the most dangerous area, a central spot that most faire-goers gave a wide berth.

Deadlands: Cold Hard Crash

The paladin was approached by a member of the Texas Rangers, a fellow named Ketchum. Who's name should sound familiar - he was the guy that the Butcher stole an eye from. He congratulated the paladin on taking down the creature, but added, "We need you to keep an eye on this train. Sign up, get paid, but if anything strange happens... let us know." He provided two addresses, one in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the other in Salt Lake City.

Another member joined the posse - a young Apache woman named Kiri Haere. She speaks broken English, but enough to get by, at least.

The train ride was quite uneventful for the next two days; it trekked through Kansas, then eastern Colorado, before finally heading up the mountains. The posse got the know each other, as well as a dapper card player named Reginald Willis, a reporter named Sally Sawyer, who worked for the Tombstone Epitaph, and a rotund fellow named Jim Lunk. Hector grew fond of sharing his stories with Sally, who wrote down every word.

On Friday, early evening, there was a sudden crash, and the occupants of the train were tossed around like rag-dolls! Most of the posse managed to keep from sustaining any injury, but the rest of the passengers were not so fortunate. Wilhelm quickly began healing those he could, while Hector ran for the front of the train. At the end of the hallway, he opened the door - and ran smack into a solid wall of ice! The access to the next car was completely blocked! He chipped at the ice with his knife, but realized it was a good three inches thick - too thick to get through quickly. Running back for the side door, he jumped out and headed to the engine. The engineer was laying on the floor, bleeding badly from a headwound; his assistant was trying to stabilize him, but seemed to be suffering from a broken arm. Hector called Abigail, who grabbed her bag and began tending the engineer. Hector asked how he could help, and the assistant started pointing at knobs and levers - "Turn that - pull that and hold it ten seconds - crank that hard left!" The built up steam began releasing, and the groaning of the wheels stopped.

Meanwhile, Kiri pulled out her pick, and started chopping away at the iced-over door. After a few minutes of work, she managed to get enough cracked open to start prying it off. The paladin assisted, and together they opened the door.

When Hector dashed outside, he realized the air was bone-chillingly cold. As Kiri and the paladin opened the train car, they could feel the same cold radiating out of the room beyond, even though the air actually rushed past them, and into the frozen tomb. For tomb it was - the head porter was frozen solid. Well, the bits that remained. His body was cracked in half, part frozen to the wall, and part smashed against the front of the train car. The four other occupants were similarly frozen - absolutely solid, as if simply stopped in time. As Kiri searched the forward compartments, the paladin searched the first two rooms. One was empty, while the other was occupied by two frozen corpses. A quick search revealed the two were likely visiting their relative in the City of Lost Angels - as well as some loose jewels. The paladin accepted the jewels as payment for telling the dead woman's sister of her untimely demise.

Kiri, meanwhile, discovered a hollow bottom on a case, and found inside a letter, signed by Ulysses S. Grant himself - the man, it seems, was a Pinkerton! She also found some Union and Confederate money, as well as some gold coins.

Hector, finishing up with the knobs and dials, stepped back outside to see there were people beginning to mill about. A woman grabbed her husband's arm, pleading with him to go back into the warmth of the train, but he merely stood in place, staring blankly ahead. Hector tried to push him away, then tried hitting him, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, Hector convinced the woman to return to the train, and met up with the others. No one seemed to know what to do... until they heard a footstep on the roof of the train car. Hector pulled out his gun and stepped outside.

And came face-to-face with a terrible grin. The man staring down at him was missing a chunk of his side, exposed ribs white in the dim light of the train. Hector leaped back into the train and slammed the door. "There's no way I'm going back out there - it's that monster again!"

The paladin, hoping to break up whatever ritual was happening, shoved over one of the men, but he just stood back up again and returned to his place. Seeing the strange monster was weaving a track on the ground, the paladin braced himself. Hector poked his gun out, drawing a bead on the creature. Wilhelm, too, pulled out his gun and cracked a window. The three attacked together - Hector blew off the creature's head, Wilhelm nearly severed its leg, and the paladin finished the job... and the monster merely grinned at them.

Together, they kept fighting. It seemed the paladin's blade was about the only thing that could harm the creature; it slammed into the paladin, wounding him, but the paladin was better armored.

Finally, with a scream of frustration, the monster turned and ran. A final bullet stopped him in his tracks; a column of ice slammed into the ceiling, marking where the monster last stood.

Together, the posse gathered what tools they could, and set about chipping away at the ice locking the carriage to the ground. Hours later, the freed train began to move away from that dark place...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Deadlands: Constitution Day

The train limped into town - Dodge City, Kansas. While it is in for repairs, the posse split up.

Wilhelm headed to the Catholic church, and got a little information, and a free meal. Dr. Abigail Winston headed to the drugstore, where she picked out a few ingredients. She met a strange man wearing armor outside. Mr. Brag headed to the saloon, as did Hector.

It wasn't long before Hector met Ida Mae Hobart, a staunch teetotaler and leader of the Ladies Temperance Movement, who lectured him on the horrors of the devil's drink. Once she left (in a huff), Hector tried to stir up a bit of trouble - bringing some of the bar rabble over to harass Ida. They (mostly) declined, saying that the sheriff wouldn't be too pleased about people making trouble. Hector and his big mouth blurted out, "Well, why don't we just kill 'im, like we killed the last one?"

The room fell silent. Finally, one of the men patted Hector on the shoulder. "Y'might not want to go around sayin' that, son. I recon ol' Wyatt Earp wouldn't take kindly to that."

Hector quickly realized that maybe this wasn't the town to shoot up.

The "paladin", the strange man in armor, found a bill advertising a job - temporary deputy during Constitution Day celebrations. Abigail, visiting McCarty's City Drugstore, read the same poster; and Wilhelm came across the information through the priest he spoke to. Hector, meanwhile, decided to stay away. By the next day, each (except Hector) had each trooped through Earp's office, and were officially deputized. And a good thing, too...

After stopping a fight between Ralphie Simpkins, a local hothead, and Walter Jackson, a young black ex-Union soldier, the posse stopped over at Dog Eye's, the local saloon. Earlier, Hector met a tattered-looking fellow named Clayton Mansfield; well-spoken, if somewhat drunk.

Not long after, Hector caught Dog Eye's saloon gal, Suzy Winger, talking with a man she called Paul in the alley; Paul hurried off, and Suzy escorted Hector back to the saloon.

Abigail, meanwhile, has begun to pay off the local kids as unofficial spies; handing out dollars like candy, she quickly formed a speedy spy ring of eager, if somewhat grubby, children. Which paid off - one of those children called her to the scene of a crime! She and the paladin looked over the body - a rather grisly scene! The man had been neatly decapitated; his arms, too, were severed at the shoulders. Abigail quickly checked him over, and could tell that whoever had killed him had done it very quickly, and must have had great strength. Rather than a large chopping blade, the wounds were incurred with a smallish blade...

A further search turned up a letter, sewed into his clothes - the man, Paul Goodwin, was a Union spy! Abigail kept that information to herself. The saloon's barman and owner, Dog Eye himself, took Suzy to the local doctor.

Not long afterward, Ralphie got into another fight with Walter; this time, he broke Walter's arm! Nobody spoke up to rescue Walter - too afraid of Ralphie and his brother, the leaders of the Wilderness Riders - but nonetheless, Wilhelm and Hector hauled the both of them to jail. Though not until after Wilhelm healed Walter's arm. Clayton, the drunk Hector had met earlier staggered over, peered at the man's arm, and muttered, "Huh. Looked like a good clean break..." before belching in Wilhelm's face.

Ida Mae arrived, and contradicted Ralphie's story of Walter starting trouble; Jake sneered, but before tension could raise any higher, Wyatt Earp arrived and dispersed the crowd. He was none too pleased with the posse, though, allowing themselves to get drawn into a fight with the Wilderness Riders...

The next day, Abigail went to Wyatt with the news that the murder victim, Paul, had been a Union spy; as it turned out, Wyatt knew it all along. As long as Paul hadn't made trouble, Wyatt wasn't about to intervene.

Abigail and the paladin went to visit Suzy, but she was still hysterical. However, the doctor motioned them over and verified Abigail's initial hunch - the killer was strong, and knew his way around the human body.

After following some clues - including finding a scrap of cloth at the crime scene, and verifying that it was silk - the posse was called to yet another grisly murder. This time, though, Abigail and the paladin had figured out who the likely suspect was - none other than Clayton, the drunk! They searched his room, and found a small case - empty - and a collection of trunks and carpet bags - filled with heads, arms, and legs, sewn together into horrible monsters! They didn't waste a moment, and gathered the body parts up and locked them into a cell, leaving a message for Earp as to what they likely were.

At the scene of the murder, they found Ralphie - or at least, what was left of him. Hector emptied his stomach, as did some of the other townsfolk. A search of the area turned up nothing; the posse was left to sleep - if they could. Wyatt spoke to them in private, and advised them to find the killer before he struck again...

The next morning, the posse was roused by a call from the town doctor; Suzy was felling well enough to speak, finally. She told them what happened - the killer shoved open the door, knocking her back against the desk. When she regained her senses, she saw the killer stuffing Paul's head into a carpet bag. He leaped out of the window, and vanished.

The doctor had his own story to tell - ten years ago, at the Battle of Gettysburg, he had been working with the rebels, tending the injured, when he heard gunshots. He ran to the hospital tent and saw a man severing arms, legs, anything he could. He shouted and ran, and guards fired, but the bullets didn't seem to harm him; his last victim, a man named Ketchum, was the one who shot at him, even as the Butcher was removing Ketchum's eye. Ketchum survived, but so did the Butcher...

Abigail realized that this Butcher was likely the same creature who had been following her, and indeed the same creature who was terrorizing the town! Abigail quickly rounded up her informants, and sent them all to the drugstore, with instructions to the owner to keep the kids safe.

The posse kept an eye out for any trouble. Finally, it struck - the Butcher jumped down from the building he was standing on, and pulled a scalpel from his arm! Abigail let loose with a blast, but the bullets didn't seem to do much harm. The paladin charged in, knocking the creature aside; while he was going toe-to-toe with the thing, he wasn't making much headway. He managed to nearly sever the creature's hand with his sword, and the thing howled; Hector and Wilhelm moved into rifle range, and with a barrage of gunfire, finally severed the creature's hand. Immediately, the form reverted to that of Clayton, the drunk; Hector, taking no chances, fire twice: once at Clayton, and once at the scalpel. Clayton died immediately; the scalpel, however, seemed untouched, but a slow hairline fracture darted across the blade, then suddenly, it shattered into dust. Finally, the town was safe.

The next morning, Earp shook their hands; the body parts in the cell, as it turns out, came alive when the Butcher was out and about. He had personally burned every last one of them. He handed out their pay, collected their badges, and thanked them for their service - they likely saved numerous lives, and with Ralphie out of the way, the Wilderness Gang would likely be less of a problem.

Meanwhile, it was finally time to leave. A message arrive from the train station - their train would depart in an hour.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Deadlands: Night Train Part II

The posse got together and headed out. They had one chance to save the citizens of the town - if they could make it to the train on time.

Thanks to Dr. Seigal's steam wagon, they made it in the nick of time; the train was plowing along at top speed. After a failed jump, the posse managed to rip up a rope; everyone but Ms. Winston clambered aboard the coal car. Oddly, there was no coal to be found, even though there were two coal cars; Hector suggested the train may be running on ghost rock, same as Dr. Seigal's wagon.

Hector, Ulysses, Ross, and the deputy made their way down the train; after some discussion, it was decided that Hector and Ross would rescue the prisoners, while Ulysses and the deputy would try to stop the train.

The first shotgun-blast to the face neatly removed the zombie's head; it fell to the ground... and then got up again! Abigail boarded the train, and managed to dodge behind the zombie engineer and start throwing levers, knocking him down. A few more shotgun blasts, and the engineer was in small enough pieces to be able to be thrown into the furnace. Which, indeed, contained a solitary piece of ghostrock. After some careful work decoding the controls for the train, Abigail and Ulysses managed to set the engine to full speed, and quickly disembarked.

Back at the rear of the train, Hector and Ross found the prisoners - most of them, anyway. Those that put up a fight were impaled on hooks, hanging from chains; the rest were dumped in piles on the floor. Closing the door, the two managed to decouple the box-car with the prisoners in it, slowing as the rest of the train took off.

However, their troubles weren't over; two of the nosferatu were on board! Hector's thick armor managed to protect him well enough, but Ross took a blow to the guts. The first monster went down, at least temporarily, but the second monster swiped a hole in Ross's insides. Ross fell, never to rise again. Hector quickly finished the second monster, then beheaded the two creatures before they could rise again. He began dragging the dead to one side of the train car, only to find his old friend, Abner Knaggs! Who, of course, was well on his way to transforming into another vampire. A few well-placed bullets fixed that.

After the engine was rigged, those aboard jumped down onto the steam wagon, which turned and headed back to the boxcar. Through the entire episode, the two cars full of sleeping vampires were never wakened; it was as if they went bust on every single roll they made.

As they were loading the victims onto the wagon, they heard an explosion in the distance - the engine! For a moment, it looked as if dawn came early; whatever was aboard was surely dead.

The trip back to town was slower, but uneventful; upon their return, the deputy made good on his word, and gave them each a reward for the rescued townspeople.

It wasn't long before the posse's own train arrived - but in a condition much the worse for wear! A huge scrape down the side of the engine resembled a giant claw mark; one of the secure box cars was gone (presumably delivered), but the other was grazed by scratches and bullet holes.

The guards were quiet about the damage, but said that they would need to make repairs in Dodge City. They welcomed Abigail aboard, after a bit of confusion when she asked for a room to perform experiments directly after stating she was a doctor. After she explained she was also a chemist, the guard looked relieved, and showed her to her berth.

With the steam wagon back aboard, the train huffed and wheezed, slowly pulling away from the station and heading towards Dodge City. A few miles up, the wreckage of the Night Train was still smoking; apart from a few badly-burned corpses and a lot of twisted metal, nothing salvageable remained. The train cleanly jumped the tracks, fell into a small valley, and burned everything inside a ghostrock-fueled fireball. The engine itself was little more than a pair of wheels.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Vampires and Vamoosin'

Last we left the heroes, they were facing a horde of rather nasty creatures - Nosferatu! The creatures streamed out of the black train...

However, before I continue the tale, I must tell of three new characters tat have joined the ranks:

First, Dr. Abigail Winston, a skilled surgeon; while somewhat elderly, the good doctor is actually quite adept at scaling walls. Oddly so, even.

Next is Slain Ross, a somewhat cowardly fellow with some interesting tricks up his sleeves.

And finally, Ulyssess Brag... a failed politician.

Now, back to the action!

Dr. Robert Seigal's Steam Wagon
The nose-ferrets - er, Nosferatu - streamed off the train. As they reached the streets of Varney Flats, they began splitting up, heading into the various homes and businesses. Abigail and Slain heard the whistle of the train and awoke; Abigail climbed out her window onto the roof, and Slain headed for the stairs, hoping to get a good view. Though Hector and Wilhelm weren't sure what the creatures were, they knew they were bad news. Dr. Seigal, meanwhile, took his steam-car out for a quick spin in the prairie, and missed all the action...

Varney Flats, KS; population: less than yesterday
Wilhelm and Hector had climbed onto the Land Office; as the creatures began running down the street, they started picking them off, though they quickly realized the creatures could take a lot of damage! Four entered the saloon, and began grabbing people; Wilhelm shot one of the creatures, attracting its attention, and soon he and Hector were in a battle for their lives! Two of the creatures grabbed the bartender and a drunk customer and high-tailed it back to the train; another took a chest full of buckshot and went down. The third had its leg shot out from under it, then its other leg, then the first leg again, then an arm... it was having a bad day. It's day didn't get better, either.

Meanwhile, at the Palace Saloon, Slain decided he was having none of this, and shadow-walked over to the top of the Dentist, where he covered himself in straw and blended in like a chameleon.

Dr. Abigail was having a little worse luck. Her first sight of the creatures spooked her; it took quite a while until she could get he breath, and by the time she did, one of the creatures had come up the stairs and grabbed her! Using her knowledge of medicine, she pulled out a large knife and, with two quick chops, severed the creature's spine. The light went out of its eyes, and it sank to the ground, ungracefully dumping the doctor to the floor.

The creature Wilhelm shot began to move, slowly getting to its feet. Wilhelm coolly emptied his shotgun into the creature's face, splattering it all over the walls. That'll take some time to clean up - and the creature wasn't coming back from that, either. The now-headless body slumped to the ground. Hector returned his attention to the previously disabled creature outside the saloon.

The townsfolk finally managed to pull themselves together, and began fighting back; as shots rang out, the train whistle blew again, and the creatures scurried back to the train.

Hector caught sight of the engineer - and recognized him! His old train-robbing buddy, "Redeye" Dawson! Last he'd heard, ol' Redeye was headed to New Mexico with his ill-gotten gains. Hector decided that a bullet through the brain-pan was the best hope for his old friend; living as a zombie was worse than no life at all.

The entire town held an impromptu meeting in front of the Palace Saloon; people went door to door, waking anyone who slept through the noise (including Mr. Brag). A dozen people had been kidnapped, and two more had been killed by the creatures - Clarence Johnson, the telegraph operator, and Keat Busterson, a buffalo hunter who was in the Land Office. Among those kidnapped was - of course - Abner Knaggs, the good-for-nothing criminal the posse had protected from lynching just a few hours earlier.

Parrish, the deputy, turned to the newcomers for help. "I'll offer you the same deal on Knaggs - the whole $100 in gold eagles, if you can bring him back alive. More importantly, I'll pay you $20 each for any citizens you can rescue. And... and I'm goin' with you." It seems the deputy had grown a backbone after all.

The posse agreed - if somewhat reluctantly. The money was good, and the creatures needed stopped. Dr. Seigal, in a somewhat serendipitous occasion, returned from his test drive just in time. The posse began to load up to chase the train. The tracks curve to get around a large hill; a hard ride (or drive) across four miles of prairie should intercept the train.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Deadlands: The Adventure Begins

A gunfighter, a mad scientist, and a Catholic priest walk into a train station...

That's how our adventure began; the scientist was looking for a way west, and trying to save his fuel. The priest was heading west to save the lost. The gunfighter... well, he was bored, probably.

The three met up on a train out of Longview, Texas, and headed to Dallas; on the way, they encountered a drifter who had been possessed by... something. He killed a child, then engaged them in a fight, ranging across the top of the train. Though he took quite a few shots, he seemed hardly phased by them; finally, they shot him hard enough to knock him off the train.

They searched high and low, including underneath the train, but there were no signs of the creature. Hopefully, that is the last they would see if him.

At the station in Dallas, Hector (the gunfighter) found a flyer, asking for assistance in guarding a shipment. The mad scientist (Dr. Robert Seigal) saw a different flyer, advertising a science fair in Salt Lake City! Overjoyed, he had his car loaded back onto the train, and was happy to assist Hector in guarding the train. The priest, realizing they would need spiritual oversight, signed on as well.

The trip headed back east, to where the Dixie Line met up with the Black River Line. At that station, Hector spotted a familiar face - on a wanted poster. Two friends of his were wanted for $500, and a third gunman - likely Hector - was wanted for $1000! He shrugged, grabbed the posters as a souvenir, and boarded the train. The details of the train hold-up he was wanted for were a bit hazy, but the name Baron Simone LaCroix seemed familiar.

The journey as far as Kansas's border was uneventful. Once they were there, though, the first water station they encountered was unmanned; they found signs of a struggle, and eventually, the station-master, stuffed into the lone outhouse. Spooked, they finally gave the train the go-ahead, refueled, and headed onward.

Their next encounter was in Varney Flats, a one-horse town run by a mayor with lofty goals but lowly means. The engineer told the posse they should stay in town; the train had a few pick-ups and drop-offs to make, and their presence wasn't needed. They left the passenger cars on a side track, taking the other cars with them.

Meanwhile, the sheriff of Varney Flats was missing, and the deputy was worried that the Mayor would try to lynch his prisoner - a nasty brute. Hector and the mad scientist went searching for the sheriff, but only found an abandoned homestead, and some familiar tracks - the same they had seen at the water station!

Returning to town, they learned from the priest (Wilhelm Metzger) that the mayor was planning on lynching the lone prisoner - a nasty fellow, to be sure. Hector was all for standing aside, but the priest talked him out of it. As the deputy headed for hills, the mayor stepped up to argue with the posse...

It didn't go well. The mayor, surrounded by friends, was sure he had the fighters outnumbered; but the fast guns of Hector and the mounted gatling gun on the mad scientist's steam-wagon proved far overwhelming to the meager weapons of the townsfolk. In seconds, the mayor and all but two of his thugs were dead.

Hector trussed up the minions, then headed to the saloon. The mad scientist returned to tinkering with his wagon, and the priest kept an eye on the three prisoners. Near 1 AM, a shriek broke the quiet night. Five minutes later, it sounded again, closer - a train whistle! The train pulled into the station, and as the brakes hissed, a shrill scream tore through the night air. A moment later, the train's doors opened, and a flood of pale, sharp-toothed creatures poured out - vampires!

The Night Train had reached the station!

Welcome!

This blog is a catch-all, a holding spot for the various RPGs I am, have, and will be running. The first RPG I ran, Shifting Horizon, ran its course in August of 2016. The ongoing (as of the time of this blog, anyway) RPG I'm running, Mareten: ACKS, picked up from there, and has been running nigh-on weekly ever since.

However, as much as I love RPGs, I'm feeling a little guilty about starting so many blogs. What I really need is a catch-all, and thus, this blog was born. Don't worry - I'm still going to keep up with the ACKS blog. This is for everything else. Right now, I've got a few things planned for the future, and plenty more to follow up with:
  • Currently Running:
    • ACKS
    • Deadlands Classic
  • Campaigns planned for:
    • Paranoia
    • Caveman (yes, I'm still working on it, it'll happen one day)
    • Dreamworld (working on this, too!)
    • Dresden Files
  • Manuals for:
    • AtomicRobo
    • Mistborn
    • Laundry Files
    • LEGO Wars
    • Savage Worlds
This summer, I'm running my ACKS campaign and a new Deadlands Classic campaign, and will likely do a few one-shots with Paranoia and others. However... I can't keep up a blog for each, as interesting as that would be. Instead, I'm going to keep ACKS on its own blog, and use this for everything else.

And with that, I'm off to write a Deadlands blog! Well, eventually. I don't have power (or internet) at home, because of the recent storms. But I'll get around to it!