Oct 302015

+Digression: For those who are interested, here are the boons the players earned from the Navajo last session. This is something I like doing in my games, granting small bonuses to characters for good roleplay and diplomacy. These bonuses are also one way I can sort of tweak the power levels of individual characters. In this game, the obvious target for a bit of favoritism is T. Saint John. As the only character without an arcane background, he’s going to have the chance to learn a series of special moves. Since these are martial techniques, they’re not really something an arcane character can learn very easily. I find that giving the non-arcane folks a small list of cool moves really helps to level the playing field, fun-options-wise.
Navajo Boons

Cloud Stepper: Your run die is increased to 2d6.

Sister Mary
Native Lore: Gain a +2 to Knowledge: Occult rolls related to native legends and critters.

T. Saint John
Falcon Spirit Strike: Gain +2 to unarmed damage rolls when attacking supernaturally evil creatures. Your fists also count as magical weapons.

Juan Tomas Longknife
The Seventh Rune: Select one Seasoned Shootist bullet. You can carve that bullet as a Novice bullet. Once you reach the rank of Seasoned, you can carve that bullet for 1 less power point (minimum 1) than normal.

Upon arriving in Coffin Rock, the posse didn’t like the look of things at all. They could all feel an oppressive air of despair and fear. But they weren’t about to turn back. And so they hitched their horses at the Cry__a_ River Hotel. The inside of the place was just as depressing as the outside. The place was covered in a thin sheen of dust and filled with the scent of depression and booze. The proprietor, Carl Testeverde, was slumped behind the counter, looking utterly morose. He barely stirred when the posse entered, but quickly perked up when T. Saint John plopped down a bottle of nice Whiskey. A few shots later and T. Saint John was able to wheedle Carl’s story out of him.

It seemed that Carl and his bride, Dorothy, had moved to Coffin Rock to start a motel. They named it the Crystal River, after the place they first met. And for the first few weeks, things were going all right. But before long, Dorothy became obsessed with her appearance and growing own. Before long the worry had taken it’s toll, and she grew old well before her time. Then she died, leaving Carl a heartbroken and lonely man. Even worse, she hadn’t left after her death: she still haunted the place. And Carl was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to be long in waiting.

+Digression: So, one thing I really like about Coffin Rock is that they have a very nice difficulty slider: the fear level. Simply by adjusting the fear level upward, I can make things more difficult. Since my posse is pretty tough, I decided to run most of Coffin Rock at Fear level 5. That way things are a bit tougher.

The posse was worried about this, and promised they’d look into the problem that evening. But as it was still rather early in the day, the posse wanted to check out the rest of the town. Well, all of them except Tens. She was a bit saddle sore and wanted to do a bit of work in her room. Figuring that someone should keep an eye on Carl anyway, the posse agreed and four of them headed out into the town.

+Digression: RC was absent for this session, and so it was decided that Tens was doing research or something in her room. I’m going to run something short for her at the beginning of next session.

And so the posse rolled out into the town to see what they could see. They headed West on 3rd avenue, pausing to glance at the library and a bawdy house called the Jewel Theater. The women outside sent cat calls at the men, completely ignoring the fact that a nun was traveling when them. And then the posse saw it: streaks of blood and grasping shadowy hands in the grimy windows. But one blink and it was gone, leaving only the hungry looking soiled doves. Deciding that they didn’t have the need for some negotiable companionship, the heroes turned right down Main Street.

The heroes took little notice of the abandoned barber’s shop, where they all appeared wild and shaggy in the windows. Nor did they much care to investigate the Mayor’s Office, the Assay Office, or the abandoned Derelict. They continued down Main Street, past the Six Feet Under Saloon. They paused in front of the General Store, which had windows covered in some strange fungus. They continued to stroll past the Doctor’s office, toward their destination: the Sheriff’s Office.

The heroes stopped in front of the Sheriff’s office, where the door was closed and the shutters closed. There was a faint sound coming from inside, but the posse was immediately drawn to the wanted posters. Many of them had their faces scratched out, and it was no wonder: when they glanced closer, they could see their own faces above the “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” Even worse, the “Alive” was crossed out in red ink! But then they blinked and it was over. And while they were waiting outside, Juan Tomas spotted a nervous looking man with a shotgun. He was muttering to himself and glancing at the posters. But clever Juan Tomas convinced the poor guy that he should just go up and scratch the name out. And so the nervous man promptly rushed up and shot the poster with his shotgun! Another gentle word from Juan Tomas and he convinced the guy to use his knife.

+Digression: Thus begins the first amazing Persuasion roll of the night.

The man yelped when the office door open and one of the deputies stepped out. He let out an eek and rushed off, leaving the deputy to glance over the group. His eyes played around and then he spotted Juan Tomas. “Hey, boys, look what we got here. A Red N____r!” At which point Juan Tomas promptly drew his gun and started shooting.

+Digression: GM Tip: you want to make it clear that your bad guys are bad? Make them racist.

What followed was a furious gun battle between the posse and the six deputies. Juan Tomas dropped the first couple of deputies in the blink of an eye, but soon the group was rushed by the rest. Two of the deputies, seized by a sort of madness, tried to pull Sister Mary down and take off her clothes. Which caused T. Saint John to see *red*. The big man stepped up and snapped one of the men’s necks with one giant hand, dropping him to the ground like the refuse he was. His girlfriend, Pearl, followed suit, leveling her shotgun at the back of the man’s head and blowing him away. After that it was all over for the deputies, as the posse finished them off without much trouble.

+Digression: This fight should have been tougher, especially since none of the posse really tried to find cover. But I just rolled abysmally. Except when it came to damage. I think I had a single hit and managed to deal a couple of wounds with that one shot. But due to the dice rolling, this fight was a pushover.

Now that the gunfire had died down, the posse had the chance to assess the situation. And the situation was bad. Inside the office they saw that one of the cells had been turned into a torture chamber! Even worse, there was a poor man strapped in a chair! He was barely alive and he’d been cut on something fierce. But Sister Mary’s skill and faith was mighty. A quick prayer sent the man into a merciful sleep and Sister Mary skillfully removed him from the vicious torture devices. And then she called upon her faith. Her hands glowed and soon she knew that the man would eventually recover. Except for the fingers that had been slowly cut from his right hand.

Meanwhile, Juan Tomas let the others tend to the victim while he searched the office. And it didn’t take him long to find what he needed. He found wanted posters for each of the deputies. It seems that they’d been part of the Rotten Catfish Gang, and each man had a bounty on his head, and all together the men were worth $600. But that wasn’t he most interesting thing. The most interesting thing were all of the deeds to most of Coffin Rock. Deeds in the name of John Daly, not the sheriff!

+Digression: What a time for a player to play the “Windfall” Adventure Card! The adventure card says that the players find EVERYTHING that can be found in the location. And to use it on the sheriff’s office was just a great stroke of thinking. I also let it spill over into the sheriff, below.

Just as Sister Mary was finishing her last prayer, Juan Tomas caught a glimpse of Sheriff Bryce through the window. And without hesitation he rushed out the door and sent six shots right at the varmint! But the Sheriff was a sturdy man, and took the hit with a grunt and a roar of rage. He then returned fire, and this time Juan Tomas wasn’t nearly as lucky. He took several shots right to the chest and slumped down in the doorway. The rest of the posse then jumped into the fray. T. Saint John rushed at the Sheriff, but he couldn’t land a blow. Pearl also missed and then ducked behind the window. Sister Mary tried to call down a miracle to heal Longknife, but her faith was rattled and the Almighty wasn’t listening at the moment.

The fracas continued, with the Sheriff managing to seriously wound T. Saint John with a gutshot. But eventually the sheriff was undone by sheer numbers. It was four against one. He took a vicious punch from T. Saint John, then a deadeye shot from Sister Mary, but it was the bullet of Juan Tomas who spelled his doom. Terribly wounded, he still managed to shoot the sheriff dead in the head, killing him. The trouble over, Juan Tomas searched the body of the fallen Sheriff, finding a bit more money and a strange necklace. It was a jet black shell casing on a leather thong. It felt heavier than it should, about the weight of six bullets. Throwing caution to the wind, he put it on and felt a momentary wave of anger that then washed away.

+Digression: This fight was a lot tougher. I beefed up the Sheriff just a bit, but only a little. I had him Fan the Hammer for 6 shots a round, with a free reload from his trinket. It was a vicious battle, and my dice aced multiple times on damage. The PCs were tossing a lot of bennies at soak rolls, which is always a sign of a good fight. Here’s the trinket that Juan Tomas got.

Shootist’s Charm
A strange black shell casing of an unknown caliber is strung on a leather thong. It feels heavier than it should, as if six rounds were strung instead of an empty casing. When activated, the shell casing burns hot, as if just ejected from a gun.
If you are a Hexslinger, you can cast the trinkets power as a free action, but only for the purposes of conjuring bullets into your firearm. In addition, you can cast the trinkets power for 1 power point less than normal.

The fight over, Sister Mary called upon her faith once more, and this time the Almighty had a willing ear. She managed to patch up the posse good as new. The posse then decided that the torture victim needed real medical treatment, and so the posse left the sheriff’s office and headed toward the doctor’s office. Once there, they heard terrible screaming coming from inside. Figuring maybe it was an amputation, the posse headed inside and asked for the doctor. The Doctor, looking crazed, poked his head out the door and told them to go away, he was far too busy. But a few of the posse spotted a woman on the table, being flayed alive!

The posse charged into the operating room without hesitation. What followed was a vicious fight between the posse and the mad Dr. William Osgood. No longer a man of healing, he had gone inside and he was skinning a poor woman live to make a skin suit! Instead he was a hulking brute who nearly cut off T. Saint John’s arm and wounded the rest of the posse. But after a furious but brief scuffle, Pearl finished the crazed doctor off with a well-placed shotgun blast. The mad doctor dispatched, Sister Mary rushed to the side of the poor woman. Instructing the rest of the posse with a difficult task, she had them place the flayed skin back on the woman and start applying more salves. And then the sister began to pray and pray. She prayed for most of an hour, while the rest of the posse did what they could with mundane skill. But as the sister’s prayer came to a close, the room was bathed in brilliant golden light and the sister called down a great miracle. Light played over the poor woman and, lo, she was healed.

+Digression: This fight was BRUTAL. T. Saint John actually went to down to Incap and rolled an arm injury, but not permanent. I was rolling like gangbusters, and the heroes barely made it out of this one without someone dying. But the real hero here was the Extra, Pearl. JE rolled like gangbusters for her, and it was unanimous that she be elevated to a Wild Card and gain an advance.

Now burdened with two invalids, the posse thought about holing up in the doctor’s office. But they soon realized that they’d left Tens alone at the Crystal River, and so they decided to head back to the Crystal River. The way back was somber, as dusk had fallen and the town was feeling quite terrifying. But the posse paused when they spotted the Newspaper Office. T. Saint John needed plates for his camera, and perhaps it would hold some secrets. And so the posse checked out the newspaper office quickly, deftly avoiding the rotten floor boards. Led by T. Saint John, the party soon found the true story behind Coffin Rock. A man, John Daly, bought the Cooked Earth Mine and soon started setting up a town. But his luck went bad, he started chasing money, and soon was paying people to stay in town. Then he hired Sheriff Bryce. Then he died, at which point the town started getting worse. Then Reverend Cheval arrived and things got really bad. And best of all, T. Saint John found some camera plates!

+Digression: This was a time for T. Saint John to shine. He has Knowledge: Journalism, and this was his chance to use it! Not only did he get some camera plates, the posse also learned the true story behind coffin rock. Which was nice.

Now armed with more knowledge, the party returned to the Crystal River and holed up in the largest room upstairs. Sister Mary did her best to tend to the wounded, while the rest of the posse managed to scratch together some sort of dinner. Juan Tomas went through the place and covered up all of the reflective surfaces. After a palatable but uninspired meal, the posse holed up and tried to sleep. But they were quickly awakened in the night by the screaming of Dorothy’s Ghost haranguing poor Carl. And so the posse rushed downstairs, ready to do battle. And in this battle, Sister Mary’s faith was the only weapon they needed. Juan Tomas and T. Saint John, both raised catholic, started chanting while Sister Mary brought her impressive faith to bear. Dorothy’s ghost did all she could to harm the posse, but in the end she wasn’t a match for Sister Mary. Dorothy’s ghost was put to rest, for good, all by the power of faith.

+Digression: So this fight was a little bit different. When Sister Mary said she was going to exorcise the ghost, I thought it was cool. And so I run it as a modified test of Wills. I had Sister Mary and the ghost roll oppose Spirit rolls, with the loser taking wounds equal to raises. Since Juan Tomas and T. Saint John were chanting, I had them roll Spirit, with each hit and raise adding +2 to Sister Mary’s roll. It actually worked really well, and it turned what could have been a tedious fight into something fun and memorable.

Dorothy’s ghost dispatched, Juan Tomas grabbed a fine bottle of Tequila and proceeded to sit down and talk with Carl. The two men talked long into the night, but by the end Carl had found all the closure he needed. The posse then slept in, only to awakened to a feeling of deep contentment and peace. And the smell of biscuits. And actual talk and LAUGHTER. It seems that Juan Tomas’s talk had done a great deal of good. The posse went downstairs and found that both the woman and man were eating and in relative good health, scars and missing fingers aside. The woman was Cora, the new school marm, and it was plain that she and Carl had found a lot in common. Cora had lost her husband a few years ago, and it was clear to all that she and Carl were hitting it off. The man was Ezekiel, and his story was a bit more bitter. Carl was a gunsmith, and the torture had taken away his skilled fingers. But the posse had plans to help him. And the rest of the town.

+Digression: MJ rolled amazing on his Persuasion roll to help Carl. Like 20+ on a d4. With a roll that good, coming on the great rolls of Sister Mary, it had amazing results. Carl and Cora will eventually be married. Zeke and Cora will heal much faster and better than normal. And the fear level at the Crystal River dropped to ZERO. The posse has earned a friend for life.