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.