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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