Return to That Godforsaken Country

3-18-2017 (Real Date) The Payroll
April 4-6, 1870

A group of 4 players and one observer met with Marshal Andy at Martin's house on 3-18-17 to continue the Deadlands adventures in "Return to that Godforsaken Country."

Martin (our convivial host) — Returned with Marquis Edward Fauntleroy III, a highly persuasive immigrant from the green and pleasant land of England.

James — Returned with Felix Panzer, an immigrant from Prussia blessed with the touch of, of all entities, Hades.

Melanie — A newcomer to Deadlands Reloaded, playing Beth St. Clair, an extremely charismatic Texan with a bent toward larceny.

Vincent — Another newcomer to Deadlands Reloaded (although a veteran of Deadlands Classic), playing Beth's older brother, Jack St. Clair, a private in the Texas Rangers.

In addition we were joined by Rick, who had not prepared a character but who wanted to observe; he may be joining in the next adventure.

This will be fun — we have a brother and sister who are a law dog and a lawbreaker. They also bicker constantly.

The group began in an ordinary saloon in Santa Fe, where the posse ended their previous activities. After meeting, Felix encountered a flunky for Oswald Masters, who is himself the COO of the Santa Fe Railroad, which Felix and some other folks had assisted before. The flunky gave the group an invitation to join Oswald for dinner later in the evening at L'Abode d'Enchantement, which is far and away the fanciest saloon-cum-restaurant in the entire territory. They agreed, and the flunky left to deliver the message.

Shortly after this happened, across the saloon an argument broke out over a card game. Blows were struck, and the accused was thrown into Felix, who stood up and slugged the guy. Before a full-scale brawl could begin, however, Edward managed to persuade the brawlers to calm down and stop the fisticuffs. (Note: I had intended for this to serve as a harmless trial run of Savage Worlds combat for the newcomers, but that was totally short circuited. This sort of thing happens a lot.) (GM Note: This should have earned Edward a Fate Chip.)

Once the brawl was over before it properly began, Beth asked if she could look over the saloon and find someone who was extremely intoxicated. (In a saloon? In the Weird West? Was she kidding?) Having found her mark she sashayed over to talk to the fellow (as a note, she was wearing her "I'm really attractive" dress rather than her "I'm a real badass" cowgirl outfit.) She spoke to the man for some time and managed to convince him that he owed her $20 for an encounter upstairs that had never happened! (She got about 4 raises on her Persuade roll.) She may have also persuaded him to mend his ways.

At l'Abode d'Enchantement the group enjoyed a fancy (and no doubt expensive) dinner at Oswald's expense he got down to business. The SFRR is laying track north, with an ultimate goal of reaching Denver. (Political note: In my version of the Weird West — and I believe this is actually the case in published versions — Colorado is disputed territory between the USA and the CSA, and west of the Mississippi it is largely impossible to control the borders anyway.) Oswald explained that the SFRR was prepared to jump either way with regard to the final political disposition of Colorado, and the project had been going well until some outlaws began intercepting the special trains that carried the workers' payroll. He asked if our intrepid heroes would be willing to accompany the next special payroll train to try and do something about it. Naturally, since there was a nice payday involved, they agreed.

Before leaving l'Abode the group heard a few rumors, one of which was that one of the young ladies who worked there saw something several days previously which frightened her so much that she hasn't come out of her room at the boarding house across the street since. Felix thought he smelled undead (he has a particular hatred of them) and so, accompanied by Edward, went to talk to the young lady. Edward's persuasive skills got them in, and they learned that Ana (the young lady in question) was sure she had seen her uncle Pepe several days previously, despite Pepe having died some 5 years previously. On the way to the churchyard to investigate they rejoined the St. Clair siblings, who had been doing a little shopping in the middle of their perpetual argument. The foursome then went to the graveyard, where they discovered that the grave of Jose "Pepe" Vasquez had an empty hole in front of the headstone. Felix began tracking, accompanied by Beth, while Jack and Edward repaired to a saloon to get in some more drinking (note: Jack has a drinking Habit.) 

Beth and Felix managed to track whatever had taken Pepe's body out past the edge of Santa Fe and into the mountains, eventually discovering three walkin' dead on a trail up into the mountains. They entered into combat with the abominations, and managed to slay the creatures without much difficulty, returning to Santa Fe in time to get some rest before boarding the SFRR's special payroll train the following morning.

The following morning it was determined that neither Jack nor Edward was adversely affected by the night of drinking (I had them make Vigor rolls; had either of them failed he would have been going with a point of Fatigue.) They boarded the special train, and discovered that when a second-tier railroad creates a "special" train it's because they don't want to use a good modern locomotive on a non-revenue project. The locomotive was a completely open one, a flatbed car with the actual engine on it, one car with some benches and the payroll box, and a crew of two (an engineer and a fireman/brakeman.) It was described as looking like George Stephenson's "Rocket." The trip to the construction site was a two day trip, with an overnight break (as the crew wasn't going to travel at night).

There was a brief interlude while Felix described to the posse how he had earlier in the year successfully laid a ghost to rest, and another incident in the morning in which he inadvertently put his hand on a rattlesnake (which failed to bite him) which was then shot dead by Jack immediately. Boarding the train, the posse continued on their efforts to guard the payroll. This was a good thing, as while the train was laboring up a grade it was attacked by six outlaws and their leader, one Big Joe Braswell. The outlaws planned to shoot near the engineer to force him to throttle the train down and give them a chance to board; however, by the time they successfully did so Edward (using a shotgun as an incentive) persuaded the engineer to throttle back up. In the meantime, as various outlaws and heroes were exchanging fire to little effect, Beth came up with a somewhat crazy plan. She leapt to the top of the wood in the tender and flashed the outlaws with some….flesh. (Taunt skill with +4 for being Very Attractive) This managed to shake them all. After this event it was not too much trouble for the rest of the posse to finish off the rest of the outlaws while the leader managed to escape. Our heroes rounded up the outlaws' horses and pursued. (GM Note: Beth should have earned a Fate Chip for her action here.)

The pursuit led to a small box canyon, surrounded by low hills. As the canyon curved after its entrance the posse was concerned about a possible ambush. In addition, they noticed some unusually colored rocks arranged in a pattern near the entrance. (This was a particularly difficult Notice roll.) Beth proceeded to dismount and climb up one of the hills as stealthily as she could to see if she could spot Big Joe. Felix threw a rock at one of the unusual rocks, but no reaction took place when he hit it. He then stealthily climbed up the hill on the other side of the canyon. Beth, who had gone up first, managed to spot both Big Joe's horse and also the barrel of Big Joe's rifle; Big Joe himself was in a nice hiding place inside the canyon. That was when Edward decided to fire at one of the unusual rocks.

A spider the size of a german shepherd came boiling up out of a concealed pit the rock had been marking and charged Edward and his horse. Edward put the spurs to the horse and led the terrantula away at a rather high rate of speed. And Felix had a plan for addressing Big Joe. A plan involving dropping dynamite on Joes's head. The dynamite drop was successful, but Joe somehow sensed it and managed to evade the attack (actually spending two blue Fate Chips to soak the damage). However, the dynamite woke up four other terrantulas. One went after Beth, one went after Jack, and two went for Felix. (A question emerged of whether spiders can climb up hills. This was amusing.) 

The spider after Beth caught up with her and wounded her severely (two wounds). The one after Jack shook his horse, while the two after Felix failed to hit him entirely. Beth intelligently fled, while Felix used the Beast Friend power to win over one of the terrantulas. Jack meanwhile shot the one he was engaged with and followed over to slay the one that was attacking his sister. Felix managed to kill the terrantula engaged with him, and then dropped off the hill with his new arachnid friend to engage with Big Joe. Felix and the terrantula incapacitated Big Joe without much difficulty, and then Jack's interrogation began.

The group successfully recovered the bulk of the missing payroll, which was split between the posse and the railroad per their earlier deal, and Jack brought in a wanted outlaw alive (Big Joe). Unfortunately, Jack didn't get a promotion out of the deal, but the group did end up with a fair amount of cash as a result.

It is possible, if not likely, that Rick will be joining next time, and possibly additional characters. A mystery has come up, however — why were walkin' dead showing up in Santa Fe? Will there be any issues sending Big Joe back to Texas where he is wanted for murder? Will Jack and Beth kill each other, or will Jack be forced to arrest his own sister?

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The Story So Far

The Story So Far

 

Here are some of the highlights of what has gone before in “That Godforsaken Country:”

 

A number of characters have moved in and out of the posse: a swami, an agent of Deseret, a master of steam power, a mistress of electrical power, a hexslinger, a gun collector, and others. Some of their more prominent discoveries have included:

 

The railroad companies’ competition has become extremely cutthroat. There are several railroads attempting to create a transcontinental connection across the south, including Bayou Vermilion, headquartered in New Orleans, Black River, headquartered in Memphis, and Wasatch (a division of Hellstromme Industries), headquartered in Salt Lake City. The posse has performed some troubleshooting for one of the more minor railroads, the Santa Fe Railroad, which has run afoul of some of the larger players. In addition, some members of the posse were involved in throwing a major wrench into the efforts of Wasatch to expand past eastern Colorado. More recently the posse has stopped efforts by Bayou Vermilion to prevent the Santa Fe RR from expanding to El Paso.

 

The Wasatch Railroad and its associated industries use automata — artificial workers made from metal and powered by ghost rock — to perform most of the grunt work and keep their costs down. Generally these automata are managed by brains harvested from dead animals (horses or dogs) but in at least one case a human brain has been used. The automaton in question (commonly referred to as “Robbie”) has gone to work for HI’s competitor, Davenport Industries, and will probably not be seen again. His son has started working for Tesla Stalin, the weird scientist, as a driver/hand, and Rob’s wife continues to operate their ranch near Espia. Davenport also has the knowledge to create and maintain automata, and agreed to pay Rob some cash along with keeping him functional; Rob sends the cash back to his wife.

 

A number of towns throughout the Territory of New Mexico have been beset with what can only be described as “walking dead:” dead people who apparently get up to go take a walk and prey upon the living. The posse has encountered them in Espia, Santa Fe, and other towns. In Espia they encountered a priest, Michael Flynn, who reported that he had been in a monastery down in Mexico which had been attacked by a large group of them; Father Michael was traveling around the territory to warn people of the threat. He was seen in Santa Fe before the incident there, but has not been seen since. Some members of the posse suspected him of knowing more about that than he let on.

 

Also in Santa Fe is the most expensive saloon in the territory, the “Abode of Enchantment,” which is run by a lady named Belinda Gentry. All manner of diversions are available here, though the prices are quite steep (it’s $10.00 just to walk in the door.) Some underhanded business gets done there; the posse has learned that Belinda — and at least one of the Texas Rangers stationed here — has some contact with US Agent Philip Sheridan. Recently the posse assisted both Sheridan and the Rangers in stopping Pedro Castillo, an agent of the Porfiristas in Mexico’s three-cornered civil war, from smuggling a large load of cannons, gatling guns, and ammunition across the border, so it is likely that Sheridan considers the posse — or some members anyway — as possible allies.

 

Finally, the posse is acquainted with a professor from Boston, one Ezekiel Ambrose. Ezekiel is a student of Native American antiquities, and hired members of the posse to help him explore a set of petroglyphs near Santa Fe. There the posse fought what appeared to be a demonic bear. With the help of the shaman Taza, Ezekiel translated the petroglyphs, which told a tale of the last great shaman of the Anasazi, who traveled far to the east with his apprentice in order to stop evil demons, known as “manitous,” from continuing to flood into the world. The shaman did not return, although the apprentice did, but the apprentice feared that the shaman’s solution was likely only temporary.

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