Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Deadlands Reloaded Actual Play: Night Train


Previous Sessions:
Volume 1
Volume 2

So with new additions to our gaming group, Tommy and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play Deadlands Reloaded, so I decided to run - for the first time - Night Train! We picked up after the events of Independence Day, with Tontchay on board a train back to Oklahoma, in hopes of finding someone in the Coyote Federation that could help him enter the Deadlands and find Marshal Kidd.

So last week I floated character concepts by the newbies and this week they came back with character ideas that make for an...interesting...party make-up: A Texas Ranger, and the grandson of William B. Travis, hunting for Jim Bowie's knife, for he is named James Bowie Travis. He's a Brawny Texan who believes that Texas borders extend to wherever he walks. His father was a worthless alcoholic, a trait that James picked up, and he's hoping to restore his family's good name. The other character is known only as Lana, and she's an operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. She's a bastard (in the Deadlands sense, this means she can see the invisible) who has been handed down a sword said to belong to her MIA father, which she keeps as her prized possession. She also has a Big Mouth, making her a HORRIBLE spy. She had been tracking mysterious disappearances at rail stations, placing the three of them on the train together.

Travis noticed Tontchay was wearing a Marshal's tin star on his chest and began questioning it, not being used to see an Indian wearing a badge before. He asked where the owner of the badge was and Tontchay, quite paranoid due to previous experiences in a train, was looking for safe places to hole up, just in case. Once Tontchay was satisfied, he told the Ranger that the Marshal that owned the badge was a friend, and that he was in a place that white people called "Hell". Travis was confused and commented about the Marshal being dead, but Tontchay replied that the Marshal wasn't dead...just trapped in Hell. Lana overheard this with interest, but quickly got into a shouting match with Travis (who thought she was a traveling whore, which WAS actually her cover). The train came to a stop around twilight at a station known as Barlowe Station.

Lana and Tontchay decided to stretch their legs at this remote little station, and looking around inside the station house, they discovered that there were a set of glasses on the counter but no one around. Looking closer, Lana discovered that the ink was still fresh and the logs had been filled out as of the day before. As Tontchay and Lana explored the area, Travis got curious and started looking for himself, following Tontchay to the nearby shack, while Lana headed to the outhouse.

As Tontchay knocked on the door, he saw grooves on the door. Looking around, he discovered that the ground had been trampled, including a garden right under a side window, which was busted in...and there were bulletholes in the wall under the window. The Ranger gave him a boost into the window and followed, and the two lawmen found that the bedroom was a mess. They did find a puddle of blood and a pistol that had discharged four shots (they did the math and realized that a target was probably hit), and looked outside to find tracks leading to the outhouse...

Meanwhile, Lana was peering into the outhouse and discovering that the boards were loose and the outhouse smelled atrocious...and that was before she caught a whiff of a dead body. She quickly beat feet to the shack.

Lana told Travis and Tontchay what she found and they compared notes. As Tontchay and Travis examined the outhouse closer, deciding something most be UNDER the outhouse, they lit a match and threw it in, before striking another to try to get a better look, with no success. The three of them headed to a nearby barn, finding a spooked mare and some happy pigs, and came away with a pitchfork and some rope. They managed to poke around, finding a body under the outhouse, and got a slipknot around the corpse, hefting it out. The posse then dragged the body to a watertower where the Ranger washed it off, allowing Lana to examine it closer, finding rat-like bites on corpse. (Incidentally, Tontchay lost his lunch at the smell during this, gaining a point of Fatigue.)

Once the posse told the conductor what had happened, he suggested they head to the next town, known as Varney Flats. There was a debate about what to do with the body, with Travis saying he had done enough and Tontchay ultimately told the Conductor that it would be his decision, being "one of your folk". The Conductor said he would take the body to Varney Flats if Tontchay would help him wrap the body up. Tontchay agreed, but asked the Conductor to make sure the car was secured in such a way that nothing could get out. The Conductor thought he misheard and asked Tontchay if he meant "get in", and Tontchay shrugged and said "That too."

That night, Tontchay woke up to something banging on a train car and made his way down to it, realizing it was coming from the car with the corpse. The banging got louder and louder and Tontchay reluctantly opened his car and moved to the other...when Marshal Kidd, eyes blazing red and teeth glistening, ripped through the door and grabbed Tontchay! Tontchay sat up in a sweat...and heard something banging. He crept to the car...and realized that part of the awning over the train car had come loose and was flapping. Travis offered a smart aleck remark to the startled Indian.

The train rolled into Varney Flats early in the morning and everyone - okay, Lana and Tontchay - agreed to tell the town Marshal what had happened, and Travis reluctantly went along with it (preferring instead to head to the saloon). There they met a bookish Deputy named Nathan Parrish who told them that Marshal McBride was away from town. Then Parrish got a bright idea, seeing as how Travis was a Texas Ranger and Tontchay has a badge: He asked them to help him guard his prisoner, Abner Knapp, who McBride had captured...because he's afraid that Mayor Varney is going to lead a lynching in order to show Knapp's people - a camp of buffalo hunters - that they couldn't just run wild in Varney Flats. Parrish knew that McBride wanted Knapp to swing at the Judge's orders, not Varney's. He offered to deputize Lana and give the posse the $100 bounty on Knapp's head if they would agree, which they did. Abner launched in, taunting and tormenting the posse, to little effect.

The posse became concerned that the missing Marshal might have been their dead guy, so Parrish and Lana went to examine the body while Tontchay checked out Varney Flats and Travis hung out, keeping an eye on Abner.

Parrish quickly confirmed that the body was not Marshall McBride.

Tontchay found out that the general store was in the process of becoming a a gunstore thanks to most of the real money coming from the buffalo hunters.

Abner failed to convince Travis to let him go.

Tontchay, nervous about his dreams, got a room to get some sleep, while Lana took over babysitting Abner and Travis decided to get a few drinks at the saloon.

As Travis was taking in his drinks, the saloon began to fill up with townsfolk...including the town's mayor, Sam Varney. Varney was trying to rile up the crowd to hunt down Knapp, but Travis moved to talk him down. Tontchay came downstairs as Travis and Varney were having a stand off...so Tontchay, who has quelled a few crowds, decided to head off Varney's accusations that the Deputy and the Ranger had been bought and paid for by somebody, and tried to scare him into backing off. To his complete surprise, it failed. (Tontchay is Strong Willed and his a good Intimidation, but Varney outrolled him by five points and surprised Tontchay's player). This got pretty intense, with Varney painting the posse as outsiders placing the interests of a murderer over the interests of Varney Flats.

Varney offered to back off, buy the posse's rooms and their food and drink during their stay, sarcastically noting that the Indian that probably killed the man that originally owned that badge and the big mouthed Texas Ranger clearly know what's best for Varney Flats.

Of course, this set the posse on edge and while Tontchay was milling about, he saw an angry mob heading towards the Marshal's office. Tontchay warned the group and they tried to work out a plan, including holing up inside the office (with Knapp asking for a gun of his own, but he was denied). Parrish tried to confront the mob, but was too quiet to be heard over them, and Lana tried to talk some sense into them...but that didn't work, so Travis stepped out of the office to confront them. A stand-off was brewing and the tension was rising...so Travis shot the out of Varney's mouth, stunning everyone! (Using an Adventure Card, "Shaking in Thar Boots")! Tontchay once more unleashed his force of will, asking the townsfolk if they were going to let everyone be lynched without due process, and forcing the town to back down!

Lana decided to wait up with Abner and Parrish, while Travis headed to bed after the mob dispersed, and Tontchay decided to ride out to find McBride. A few hours later, a scream pierced the night, and after a moment, Tontchay realized it was actually a train whistle. He rode hard back to Varney Flats.

Parrish was the one that heard the train roll into town and he pulled Lana to the door just in time for the demonic train to come to a stop, the whistle to blow (waking Travis up in his bed) and the terror to wash over the town. The doors slide open and the crazed, animalistic nosferatu burst forth. Lana panicked and ran, but one of them ran her down, forcing her to draw her sword and fight...and a brutal swing took its head off! She looked around to see dozens of nosferatu flooding out of the train.

Travis was more rattled than he would admit, sitting in bed as a nosferatu clawed at his door, eventually busting in. Travis fought with the nosferatu on his bed, trying to get shots off at at and having his face clawed up by it. With his guns having no effect, as soon as he got free, Travis dove from the second story window and to the street below!

Lana saw nosferatu dragging townsfolk to the train, so she tried to intervene, only to be rushed by other vampires (though she did successfully take another couple down).

Travis opened fire on the nosferatu trying to drag people away, but didn't even slow them down. The sounds of people fighting back began to fill up the town, and the vampires piled onto the train, which fired up and began to roll away!

The townsfolk gathered 'round, with Parrish screaming that he nosferatu managed to get Abner Knapp out of his cage! He asked Travis and Lana if they would retrieve him...and Varney even offered a bounty on the heads of his missing townsfolk. Parrish brought up horses and said they could cut across the prairie in order to run the train down...and he hoped they were going with him.

As they chased the train from the rear and tried to pin it down, Tontchay raced it head on. He could see the ghost rock steam rising out of the engine and the demonic appearance of the train...so he tried to ride alongside and fired off a shot at the conductor, who was clearly among the undead! This attempt failed, so Tontchay rode close to jump aboard the train! Parrish, Lana and Travis closed in, as Tontchay stomped across the train and tried to shoot the conductor again! This time, he got its attention, and the conductor blew the whistle, causing nosferatu to climb up on the train! As Tontchay tried to make his stand against the rising tide of nosferatu, Lana jumped aboard the train!

One of the nosferatu tumbled to its doom, trying to get to Tontchay, and Lana helped get the attention of some of the others. Parrish and Travis managed to jump aboard as well, and the heroes got a break when the engine car snapped free (Lana's player played the Malfunction car), and the engine rolled screaming away. The cars came to a slow halt, but more and more nosferatu kept pouring out of the car, shrugging off the bullets, though a few more got cut down by Lana's sword. Parrish managed to obliterate the upper half of one's body with his shotgun, but nearly got his throat ripped out with another. Even more nosferatu poured out of the cabins while Travis finally figured out what he needed to do, blasting nosferatu in the hearts. When he realized the odds were overwhelming, he dove from the train, and Lana joined him...grabbing Parrish and jumping with him! Tontchay dove as well...as he fired into the store of ghost rock, igniting it and causing the train to explode!  Lana and Travis managed to scurry free, but Parrish was killed by the explosion, and Tontchay was hurled end over end, very nearly killed. (I gave him a chip for his effort, which he used to soak, only soaking a single wound, enough to only hit three wounds instead of pushing death.)

In the aftermath, Mayor Varney (who seemed genuinely shaken at the loss of his deputy and the townsfolk) thanked the posse for their efforts, and offered to allow them to remain in town for as long as they liked...which Tontchay desperately needed.

NOTES: Night Train really is a vicious bugger, and the posse does a great job of constantly getting separated. This party make-up could be a disaster, but the entire group is aware of the dynamic they have created and are playing up the "antagonistic team" feel...fighting before coming together in the end, that kind of thing, so I don't mind.

Adventure decks can make all the difference in the world, and I am probably a bit loose with the definitions of the cards...that said, I wasn't pulling any punches on the attacks. The main reason Travis held up as well as he did is because he's Brawny, while Lana is the melee monster on this squad. The new players enjoyed themselves, so I think we have more Deadlands this weekend, though I'm not planning on a canned adventure, if I can avoid it.