Sunday, July 28, 2013
Deadlands Reloaded: But For The Grace of God Actual Play Volume 1
Continuing the archiving of my old Savage Worlds stuff from the Pinnacle boards onto my blog. This is the first of two archived actual plays, the third will be our most recent one, from last night, when we ran through the "Independence Day" dime novel. These are presented precisely as I posted them on the Pinnacle message boards.
Set-up: Tontchay and Tinhorn were characters played by my friends Tommy and Kenny in another Marshall's game. In that game, I played US Marshall "Ugly" Joe Kidd, who was also a Blessed and routinely deputized Tontchay. Marshall Kidd and Tontchay didn't much care for Tinhorn (in the "He's from Back East" kinda way), but the three were tossed together by fate, and so they remained side by side...until Marshall Kidd sacrificed himself to stop a shaman from The Order of the Raven from opening a portal to the Deadlands, tackling him and throwing them both into it. Tontchay closed the portal, leaving Kidd trapped inside so nothing else could come out.
Tontchay and Tinhorn searched in vain for some way of freeing him, but ultimately went their seperate ways...
Given that we don't game with said Marshall anymore, we have (ahem) Reloaded that game...and this was the first session.
In the meantime: Tontchay found himself wandering aimlessly. He had abandoned the Old Ways, turning his back on the path of a Shaman...though his Wolf spirit always seemed to be on his peripheral. Tinhorn, after aiding some Indians some months back, went Native and began living among them, regaling them with tales of the posse's exploits.
"Tontchay! Wake up, it's your watch!"
Tontchay felt a rough kick in his side and looked around, confused, seeing Tinhorn fast asleep with a very fluffy pillow and a warm sleeping bag. He looked up at the form kicking him, and seemed very shocked to see Marshall Kidd standing over him.
Tontchay, quite confused, told Marshall Kidd to go ahead and get some rest, then took watch. Peering out into the distance (Notice check), he saw a wolf stalking the camp, but felt at peace by this...until the wolf got speared in the side, and a dozen white-faced braves began advancing! Tontchay drew his gun and opened fire, when a spear clipped his shoulder, a hurled tomahawk struck him hard, and a brave pounced on him, stabbing him in the chest with another tomahawk!
Tontchay looked back, seeing Marshall Kidd strangling Tinhorn inside the now-blazing camp, screeching about heathens and heretics!
Tontchay awoke from the trail he'd been on, while Tinhorn snapped awake in his tent. Disoriented, each man set about their day...with the shaman of Tinhorn's tribe telling him he had a vision about Tinhorn...that he needed to seek out the Devil's Bowl in Oregon...and have gave Tinhorn three horses and sent him on his way.
Coincidentally, Tinhorn and Tontchay ran into one another a couple of days later, Tinhorn on horseback and leading two others, while Tontchay was afoot. The two former companions shared their dreams, and decided to seek out Oregon together.
Meanwhile, Seth Lawson had departed Gomorra, CA after stealing some magical tomes from his old friend Lazarus Whately. Seth didn't fear ol' Lazarus anyway...but he sure didn't think sticking around Gomorra made sense while one of the Whatelys was pissed at ya.
Staying in a small inn on the border of Idaho and Montana, Seth was studying the tomes when he heard a knock on the door.
Seth, annoyed, tried to ignore it, then told them to go away...he asked who it was, but still got nothing but knocks.
Seth opened the door, and saw nothing. He looked confused and closed the door, to find his lanterns had gone out, but moonlight flooded his room. A shadowy figure stood near the window and taunted him, in a voice that sounded like gravel being shoved in uncomfortable places: "Head to Crooked Branch, boy. That's where you need to be. I ain't askin'...I'm tellin'."
Seth tried to argue the point, when the man cut him off.
"You gotta go, boy...you're destined for greatness. You're needed there...unless you ain't man enough?"
The play on Seth's pride worked perfectly.
"Oh, I'll go. Don't worry about that."
The man moved into the moonlight, looking like a cowboy, except for the scaly skin, wide-open jaws, fangs and yellow eyes! The Cowboy offered "I'd warn you what's comin'...but that ain't gonna matter none." The Cowboy then struck from across the room, snapping Seth awake at the desk he had been reading at. The sun was now shining through the window.
Seth, confused, noticed a scrap of paper in the book and opened it, finding a crude map showing a town(?) in Montana named Crooked Branch. He packed his things and headed out.
Asleep on the trail, Tontchay and Tinhorn are visited once more by Marshall Kidd, this time talking about old times when a large, fiery demon walks up behind him and peels his head open...then begins eating his brains. Kidd keeps talking as blood runs down his face, and Tontchay and Tinhorn snap awake again, this time with Tinhorn having fallen asleep on his watch and the two again sharing a dream.
They begin arguing about the watch (when Kidd was around, he and Tontchay took the watches because they didn't trust Tinhorn), and Seth walks up on them, cutting them off so he can ask if they know if he's headed the right way to Crooked Branch.
Tinhorn, the font of knowledge that he is, immediately says that the only Crooked Branch around is the lone tree that survived a wildfire a couple of days North of there about three years ago. Then Tinhorn and Tontchay break into an argument about breakfast (because Tinhorn hasn't started cooking it and because Tontchay hasn't started a fire yet and they would have a fire if Tinhorn hadn't fallen asleep and Tinhorn refuses to feed the new guy.)
The argument is interrupted by gunshots in the distance and moments later smoke begins to roil up into the sky. Seth wryly comments "They got a fire going."
Seth begins heading toward the fire (on foot), and when Tinhorn won't shut up, Tontchay follows. Tinhorn begins putting the breakfast stuff away and follows, and the three ride up right onto five indian braves searching the wreckage of a wagon train where nearly a dozen people have been killed. The braves are taken by surprise when Seth unleashes a flurry of playing cards that tear one of the braves apart.
The braves scattered and tried to get away, but Tontchay and Tinhorn opened fire, and Seth moved into with another 54 Card Pickup.
Two braves escaped, three went down. Two were still alive, but hurt...but the first one Seth blasted was dead. Examining the wreckage, Tontchay and Tinhorn realized the braves probably weren't the attackers, and glumly realized they attacked too soon. Tinhorn moved to tend the wounds of the fallen indians, and Tontchay took a couple of surviving horses from the wagon tried and tied them up for the indians. Tontchay checked for tracks in the area and found three sets of cloven hooves...so they marked the tracks.
Tinhorn looked for a shovel and told Tontchay they should dig graves...after all, Marshall Kidd always made them give the fallen a proper burial.
A mass grave later, they picked up and trail. They discovered the tracks moved around an unnamed village, and as they got close they noticed a lynch mob in the town! Tontchay pinned his Deputy's badge onto his shirt and moved in, getting the attention of the mob. All three members of the posse recognized the mob's target as a Blackfoot Indian, with Tontchay and Tinhorn also recognizing the trappings of a shaman!
Tontchay confronted the crowd, who said they were gonna hang the indian for sending his people to raid their town and belongings...but Tontchay said he had evidence that the indians weren't responsible.
One of the townsfolk, feeling brave, basically called Tontchay a liar...so Tontchay stared a hole through him and backed the whole crowd down! As the town turned the Indian over to Tontchay and backed off, the posse and the shaman, introducing himself as Laughing Calf, conversed.
Laughing Calf told them that the Buffalo Spirit had sent him out with a warband to find these twisted abominations, but the band had seperated to cover more ground, most of the braves had been killed by townsfolk, and he had been captured as well. Tontchay agreed to help Laughing Calf find these abominations and hunt them down, with the two hucksters agreeing as well. The four men caught the trail and hunted the abominations, finding them in the plains, seeking out more places to damage.
The Buffalo Soldiers moved in on the posse, but Laughing Calf drew white buffalos on the heads of the heroes and began singing. Tontchay drew his rifle and blasted one of them, doing no harm! Seth unleashed his signature hex again, doing little harm himself, while Tinhorn fired a well placed shot that utterly stunned one of them!
These beasts, not used to being harmed, were furious and headed toward Laughing Calf, while Tinhorn kept one at bay with repeated shots! Seth smile and drew a knife from his pocket (a knife that wasn't there a moment ago - the Trinkets hex) and lunged at the beast in front of him, driving the knife into the eye of the beast! The demonic ichor washed over the blade, but Seth kept up his assault, driving the creature back!
As one of the beasts approached Laughing Calf and attacked, Seth turned his attentions toward him and made sure he failed...(the Buffalo Soldier missed its attack, tried to chip to reroll, and Seth - a Seventh Son - intervened and kept it from doing so).
Tontchay roared and opened fire, landing several shots at the head of the one attacking Laughing Calf, wounding it and staggering it back. Tinhorn brought down the one he was fighting, and Seth sent his on the defensive with another 54 Card Pickup.
Tinhorn, sensing victory, prepared a Soul Blast, when a manitou whispering in his ear began goading him to play a hand, take a chance...use some free power! Tinhorn agreed, and needed two pair to fire off two bolts, one at each remaining monster...what he got was fried with eldritch energy! Tinhorn, being no rookie, managed to suck it up (chipping repeatedly), but was left smoldering and humiliated.
Seth, seeing his beast wounded and staggering, unleashed another hex, tapping into a manitou himself, and proving successful, bringing the monster down!
Tinhorn, his pride damaged more than his body, entered the Hunting Grounds again, seeking out the manitou that had tricked him, and forced him to power up a single Soul Blast at the remaining beast, dropping it!
To the surprise of the posse, the monsters transformed into US Army soldiers!
Tontchay, confused, asked Laughing Calf if he should finish them off, to which Laughing Calf replied: "I sense The Buffalo's enemy is gone from these men. My work here is done. You do as you will."
Tontchay began questioning the hurt, but conscious, soldiers about just what had happened...and they told him how they had deserted the Army, headed west, came upon a burial ground and decided to search for trinkets and the like. They unleashed something that had been trapped in there, and it offered them immortality and invulnerability...and they accepted. They were all suitably horrified with what they had become, but Tontchay decided to take them back to the ramshackle town to let the townsfolk decide their fates.
Tontchay then asked Laughing Calf about the Devil's Bowl, which Laughing Calf blew off, calling it a myth. He explained that legend held that it was a gateway to the Deadlands, one guarded by bat-winged demons, the walking dead, wendigos and manitous...but more importantly, it wasn't real.
Tontchay, upon hearing that it was supposed to be a gate, locked a singleminded focus on it. Laughing Calf, offering Tinhorn and Seth a strong warning that they were playing with dangerous forces, departed.
One of the calvary, Jameson Matthews, a young boy of maybe 18, asked Tontchay about the Devil's Bowl and Laughing Calf's warning. He said that they could go with him, help him out, to which he and Tinhorn called them grave-robbing deserters that couldn't be trusted. Jameson countered by pointing out that they didn't know about things like the demon they accidentally set free before, and Tontchay stared the men down (yay for Intimidation!) and asked them if they really thought they could stand against the darkest evils Hell could spew forth.
The two veteran soldiers flinched, but Jameson - his cheeks flushed and his eyes wet - held firm and said he didn't know...but he'd sure try. Tontchay sent Seth and Tinhorn back to town with the two veteran soldiers while he and Waylon checked the trail ahead.
In town, Tinhorn tried to regale the town with tales of their triumphs, but it didn't go exactly as planned...the town called for the lynchings of the soldiers, but still feared what might happen if more monsters like that emerged...
OH...and Seth seemed quite surprised when the knife he drew from the Trinkets hex didn't disappear! Must have something to do with the demonic ichor that had covered it...(the use of the Relic card played after the posse beat the Buffalo Soldiers...now his temporary knife has turned into a permanent Relic!)
Notes: First session of the new campaign, which will probably run on and off around our Necessary Evil campaign.
I think everybody had fun. We used the one-sheet Buffalo Soldiers, framed by my own handiwork. When next we resume, Tontchay and Tinhorn will be getting less and less sleep...they are being stalked by Nightmare Ravens and - though they don't know it - Devil Bats. With Seth feeling the need to check out the Crooked Branch, I largely expect the posse to detour out that way before they set course back for Oregon.
We played heavily with cliches and the overuse of them...from the "fated crossing" to the mysterious man haunting Seth...I was being lazy setting up the posse (we weren't planning on Deadlands today, it just happened that way) and they gamely played along. Rather cool having two Hucksters in the posse and them feeling completely different...an almost competitive vibe between them, though it is largely driven by the more experienced of the two. Looks like they get a new ally as well, in Jameson Matthews...whom I'm sure will wind up as cannon fodder sometime...but not until, hopefully, I can make them care about him.