+Digression: This session was a bit short, as everyone had to make characters first. Fortunately, both MJ and JAZ were famliar enough that they could help JE finish his character relatively quickly. RC wasn’t here for this session, but she does get mentioned in passing as I wanted to work her in a bit. Since this was a short night and I had some folks not so familiar with the game, I ran it as a bit of a tutorial.
The game begins with, how else, our posse on a train. They don’t know each other yet, but future events are soon going to change this. In one of the cabins, we find our heroes. T. Saint John is busy talking with his cameraman, Johan Olegson, about the last big scoop. The two men are heading out west in search of mysteries and the rail barons undead son. T. Saint John, being the large man that he is, takes up most of the seat. Not too far away sits Sister Mary Katherine. She is calmly reading her bible, her blessed rifle sitting beside her. She has been joined by a rather quiet school teacher. Further back sits Juan Tomas Longknife, the Texas Ranger with the fancy shooting iron, searching for an escaped horse thief. And in the shadowiest, least seen corner sits Tens, trying her best to look utterly uninteresting.
The first few days of the rail journey from out East toward Denver are uneventful. Juan Tomas had to break up a fight between a Yank and a Reb. Sister Mary blessed the books of the young school teacher heading west to start a new life. T. Saint John interviewed a few of the passengers. And Tens mostly tinkered with her device.
+Digression: I tried to give each player one small little event where they could toss some dice. This was mostly all just funereal.
Things were going great until the train neared the station. There was the horrible sound of rending metal as the train derailed abruptly and with great force. Many of the passengers were thrown around, but Longknife, Sister Mary, and T. Saint John all managed to keep their footing enough to avoid serious injury. Poor Tens, however, was knocked out and unable to participate (as she was gone, but her retroactive roll was a natural 1, which I thought funny). They held on for dear life and when the train stopped moving they were able to take stock of the situation.
The situation was grim. Many of the passengers were trapped, wounded, or near death. But even worse was the thing that had derailed the train. Some strange plant had grown up right in the middle of the tracks! It was at least 12 feet tall and looked like a shaggy mound of thorny vines, topped by a snapping fly trap mouth. But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part were the pulsing blood-red fruits dangling from the vines. They seemed to beat like hearts, pulsing with an evil glow. Oh, and half-rotted bodies could be seen in the main mound of the body. Even a few severed heads.
The heroes took in the horror and managed to keep their lunch (time to introduce fear checks!). But poor Johan Olegson couldn’t hack it. The poor boy, fresh from Boston, saw the monstrosity and abruptly died of a heart attack!
+Digression: The heroes rolled well, but poor Olegson. JE rolled snake eyes, and then hit the fear table. Which was a natural 1. As he was an extra, I rolled he died on the spot.
The situation was dire, but our posse was up to the challenge. Sister Mary clambered atop one of the overturned cars and took careful aim at the strange creature. Juan Tomas, seeing that the station attendant was trapped in some horrifically painful looking vines, jumped out of the cabin in order to start rescuing him. And T. Saint John, that mountain of a man, popped out and started rushing right at the creature!
Things intensified quickly. The great strange plant shook itself and sent a few of the blood seeds flying. And when they hit the ground, they exploded and grew into small little vine creatures! Juan Tomas found himself beset, as did T. Saint John. And a few more were looking to snack on the wounded passengers! But Sister Mary was unaffected! She took careful aim and shot the strange plant, wounding it a bit!
Juan Tomas did his best to shoot down the plant monsters mobbing him, but with limited success. Still, he was able to eventually take care of them before working his way around the back of the station house in an effort to free the station attendant. Juan Tomas found him, badly injured from the strange burrowing vines. But a bit of knife work later, the poor attendant was unstrung and some intensive first aid kept him from dying.
+Digression: I have to hand it to MJ: he really played up the heroic. He spent what must have been two or three rounds working his way around the back of the station to free this poor schlub. Then he burned at least one bennie healing the guy up. It was awesome.
Meanwhile, T. Saint John started going after the other blood seedlings who were threatening the passengers. One great leap into an overgrown cabin and he started mowing down the things with his mighty fists. It was too bad that his cameraman had died, as it would have made a great shot. But he did win the affections of many a lady passenger. And when that task was done, he scrambled to find some alcohol and a rag. The ginger giant had an idea!
Outside, Sister Mary continued to lay down fire with his blessed rifle. Few who saw it could believe it, as her aim was true and her bullets blessed by the Almighty. And thought she was able to clear the way for Juan Tomas, she was unable to fully take down the great plant. Not without help that is. The poor station attendant rescued, Juan Tomas made his way toward the creature, his sixgun crackling like the fires of doom. The barrel belched hellfire as he poured magically enhanced bullets into the creature. It was reeling when T. Saint John popped out of the train, moltov cocktail in hand. He rushed at the wounded thing and shoved the thing into the center mass with his own fists. Only his fast reflexes saved him as the corpsejack strangler went up in flames!
+Digression: This was just some great teamwork. Sister Mary was up on the high ground, using her amazing range and Marksman ability to full effect. When she figured that damaging the big plant was tough, she instead started blasting away some of the seedlings, freeing up Longknife to work around. Longknife finally got to use his Shootist bullets, and he took the thing down to like 2 or 3 wounds. But it was T. Saint John who killed it. The player didn’t have any throwing, and so asked me about making it a melee attack. I told him he could use Fighting, but he’d also take the damage from the moltov. He took the option and proceeded to roll like a madman on his soak, taking zero wounds. And I rolled like ass.
With that, the strange plant creature crumbled and died and the heroes were left with the wreckage of the train. But they were quick to spring into action. T. Saint John used his incredible strength to clear the debris, letting Juan Tomas perform triage for Sister Mary. The heroes acted with such precision and speed that the death toll was only 2! But they could plainly see that the tracks were well and truly screwed up. They’d have to find an alternate route to Denver. But at least Juan Tomas found his bounty inside the vegetation of the strange plant.
+Digression: Instead of doing a bunch of rolls, I just asked the plays what they were doing and had them roll once. They all tossed bennies at the problem, but also rolled well, so the death toll was really low. Turns out having a nun who can heal people really does keep the fatalities down. All in all, this was a great capper to the intro session.
So, this monster was something I came up with on the fly. He’s sort of a combination of the Shambling Mound and the fungus critters from Magic: the Gathering. They grown in areas with fresh corpses, sucking their blood to make seedlings. They can move around a bit (Pace: 2), but are mostly burrowing critters. They like to pop up and send out their seedlings before using their tentacles to drag more bodies into their main mass.
The seedlings are nothing at sneeze at. D6 physicals, d4 mentals, Fighting d6, Notice d4. Or whatever you use for mooks in your game.
Name: Corpsejack Strangler
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d10, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d6, Intimidation d6, Notice d6, Stealth d4
Parry: 6, Toughness: 12(2), Grit: 5
Gear: Natural Weapon d8 (Vine Tentacle), Natural Armor +2 (+2)
•Burrowing 4″: Surprise on Stealth vs. Notice (+2 attack; +4 raise)
•Camouflage: +2 Stealth in woods/brush
•Fear -1: Enemies roll Guts check with Fear rating as modifier
•Huge: Attackers gain +4 on attack rolls
•Natural Armor +2: Natural defenses
•Natural Weapon (Vine Tentacle): Str+d8; Reach 3″
•Poison +2: Roll Vigor when Shaken/Wounded or suffer effects
•Size +4: Adjustment to Toughness based on creature’s mass
•Spawn Seedling: For every corpse the Corpsejack Menace has devoured, they can spawn a Seedling. The Corpsejack menace can spawn 1d6 seedlings a round.
•Weakness: Fire: Special susceptibility for the creature