Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tommy's Take on tremulus playbooks I-III and cemetery expansion

tremulus was finally released recently, and you should totally run out and buy it. However, a number of expansions have also been released...such as three playbook sets and a cemetery expansion. What do those contain and are they worth your dough?

tremulus playbook set I: flexible thinkers

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This $5 PDF was free to Kickstarter backers above a certain level, and includes 5 new playbooks for your players to use:

The Adventurer - A man of action, whose Moves can give him options like constant Armor, bonus damage to attacks and acting using his Passion instead of his Reason (because he's a man of instinct and not book-smarts).

The Entertainer - An actor, musician, singer, dancer, what have you. The Entertainer may be wealthy and famous, or have a gift for manipulating other people. The one Entertainer we've seen in our games proved incredibly light on his feet, which was a huge boon for him.

The Handyman - A fixer. He may have a workshop that he builds things with, he can jury rig repairs and one Move humorously duplicates the idea of smacking something to make it work.

The Librarian - A thinker who can occasionally use their wits to their advantage in combat.

The Scientist - Generally far more reasonable than most, insulating them from mental distress...though one option makes The Scientist harder to relate to, but allows them to start with Lore points.

WHAT WORKS: A few nice, thematic options that stretch the field. Some of the Playbook tweaks make it even easier to get the end result you want, like a purely "rational" scientist versus one that's becoming a little more unhinged. The Handyman is another one that stands out.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: On one hand, The Entertainer seems to stand out more than the others (as being out of place here). On the other, it's the only one we've used thus far. If the aesthetics of tremulus didn't do it for you, then the hard to see, old-timey images in this set won't do you any favors, either.

CONCLUSION: The Adventurer, Librarian and Scientist all seem very suited for period Lovecraftian adventurer. $1 per playbook also seems to be a bit better than similar deals for similar games, though I haven't looked too closely. Good pick-up if you want some options just a step away from the standard playbooks.

tremulus playbook set II: on the fringes

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Same as above - $5 package of playbooks to expand your game, running the fine line of "acceptable society":

The Artist - Passion drives most of what the Artist does, and this can leave them vulnerable to shock, or make them off-putting to others.

The Criminal - Not generally a thug, the Criminal's Lore move allows them to formulate a Backup Plan, and other moves provide options like being sneaky or charming.

The Dreamer - No, this isn't just someone with their head in the clouds...The Dreamer can reach the actual Dreamlands! This can provide valuable insight at times.

The Drifter - A bonafide ramblin' man, who sometimes gets by on Luck as much as anything. Additionally, your Drifter may have witnessed a bit more in his day than most.

The Psychic - Full-blown having visions and communing with the spirit world.

WHAT WORKS: Some very oddball options for tremulus, stretching the boundaries further. We've used Drifter and Psychic both in play, so these are options proving popular over here.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The Psychic communing with spirits can get out of hand at times, and I would imagine from the reading that The Dreamer could get that way as well.

CONCLUSION: If you want more weirdness from your PCs in tremulus, this is a good step as especially The Dreamer and The Psychic are particularly oddball. Just watch out for them spending too much time using their Moves (which aren't even Lore moves, but which do have time constraints on them) as they can blow some of your mystery right off.

tremulus playbook set III: madmen

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Have you noticed a trend developing here? These entries have been a steady walk off the deep end, and the Madmen make the last set look normal.

The Chosen - No, not quite Buffy, or even Ash. The Chosen can be downright bizarre, perhaps touched by darkness in such a way that they now see in the dark or even breathe underwater.

The Escapee - You've lost your mind once, but you know there's crazy stuff out there. You may be hunted by the very things that led to your imprisonment, but you are powered by a desperate will now.

The Inventor - The Scientist and The Handyman pumped up to 11. More Frankenstein than Einstein.

The Sorcerer - You have a handful of magical effects on standby, and are more adept than most at casting rituals.

The Veteran - You experienced the horrors of war, but occasionally you still find glimpses of the man you once were, and unleash him against the darkness.

WHAT WORKS: One of the more unique sets (and the sets are usually pretty impressive). I particularly like the portrayals of The Veteran and The Escapee.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Not a lot. I like the balance on The Inventor and Sorcerer more than I do The Dreamer and The Psychic, and the character options are among the most interesting.

CONCLUSION: If I were a player, I think I'd probably play The Veteran first and foremost above all of them, though The Escapee runs a close second. Probably my two favorite options among all the playbooks.

the cemetery (Ebon Eaves Expansion I)

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This expansion is a little different than the others, running $10 instead of $5. On top of that, it only includes three Playbooks:

The Bereaved - Someone in mourning, needing a shoulder to lean on. Definitely NOT one to play in a one-on-one game, as a few of their moves rely on other people being present...namely, gaining Trust with others and using their Lore moves.

The Grave Digger - You can pick Moves that make him a perfectly nice guy...or you can make him a scuzzy graverobber instead.

The Mortician - Somebody's gotta prepare the bodies. The Mortician comforts folks who have just suffered tragedy, which can come in handy in a horror game.

So if it's $10 and only has three playbooks, what's the deal? The deal is that it adds more info based off of the Town Lore questions at the beginning of the game, effectively blowing up the information combinations by adding a whole other set of mysteries to the town (all kinda cemetery based).

WHAT WORKS: A slew of new options for town generation. Three new playbooks, each of which are interesting and unique in their own way, yet still tied to the cemetery setting.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The minor complaint that the cemetery results are tied to the Town Lore, so those results will be bound together regardless (though there are soooo many possible results that this becomes a very minor quibble).

CONCLUSION: Well worth it if you're looking for more than just a one shot game, as a third plot thread should get you rolling nicely. If you're just in it for the playbooks, though, that price tag might be a tad steep.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Age Past Available Now!

I utterly failed to shamelessly promote this a couple of weeks ago, but the Age Past: The Incian Sphere RPG was released at the end of September.

Why is this a shameless promotion? Because the book contains my first published game fiction! I wrote two stories in it, one about a band of adventurers on an island when a raiding party led by a giant arrives, and the other is tale about the wizard who delves into the darkest practices in pursuit of power and knowledge.

A few years ago, I wrote a preview of the book, which you can get in PDF at RPGNow.
And it's really pretty, too!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tommy's Take on Monster of the Week

I have no problem with the Apocalypse World-inspired play, as noted by my various tremulus posts. Monster of the Week is an Apocalypse World-inspired RPG designed to emulate Badasses Who Kick Monster Butts, ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, The Winchesters from Supernatural and so on.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: It's 201 pages and only $10 in PDF at RPGNow. It's entirely front-facing, meaning the players do all of the rolling. They have "Moves" that they do, and when doing so, they roll 2d6 plus a stat. A 10 or better is a complete success. 7-9 is a success with a hitch. 6 or less is a failure. As with all "World" type games, everyone selects a Playbook that they then customize, but there is only meant to be one of each Playbook in the game (one Chosen, one Flake, one Mundane, one Spooky, and so on). If one dies, or leaves the game, you move on to another unused Playbook, and so on.

You can put the "team" together, emulating set-ups like Buffy and the Scooby Gang, The Winchesters, government monster hunters and so on.

The basic maneuvers characters get include Act Under Pressure, Kick Some Ass, Protect Someone, Investigate a Mystery and Use Magic. The ratings used are Cool, Tough, Charm, Sharp and Weird, and are generally ranked from -1 to +3. At the start of the mystery, two Ratings are highlighted (one by the player and one by the Keeper)...using those ratings nets you experience points regardless of success or failure.

Once the characters are selected, everyone uses a couple of History tags from their Playbook to make sure they are linked to other characters. For instance, The Chosen and The Monstrous might be rivals who came to a working arrangement, The Monstrous might have lost control and nearly killed The Mundane, but backed off and the Mundane might have been introduced to monsters by The Chosen.

Basically everything is done by performing moves. If you Act Under Pressure, for instance, on a 10 or better, you succeed at what you are doing, and on a 6 or worse, you fail. 7-9, you either pay a cost, make a hard choice or accept a worse outcome. If you are trying to kick ass, on a 6 or less, you get your ass kicked. On a 7-9, you swap damage with the opponent and on a 10 or better, you inflict damage and pick an additional effect (like taking less harm). Characters can even be raised from the dead using "Big Magic".

The Playbooks include:

The Chosen - Who has a destiny and will encounter it. The Chosen can also be a combat beast.

The Expert - Isn't the frontline fighter, but the one that knows about the things the group's going to fight.

The Flake - Kind of like a Mulder.

The Initiate - Part of an order pledged to fight evil.

The Monstrous - A Monster fighting for the good guys, like a vampire or a werewolf or a demon.

The Mundane - A Xander-type that serves as the pillar for the Big Damn Heroes and occasionally lucks into stuff.

The Professional - The 9 to 5, badass monster hunters.

The Spooky - Like psychics and witches.

The Wronged - Think Dean Winchester. Someone with something to avenge.

As Hunters run out of Luck, they start to reach the end of their story, either because they die or because they bow out.

You can advance your characters as you go, like gaining a move from your Playbook, gaining a move from ANOTHER Playbook, gaining an Ally, gaining a Haven or taking a Rating improvement from your Playbook. Every five advances, however, give you bigger options, like removing spent Luck, adding a second Hunter (that you can play alongside your first, or you can swap around troupe-style), or even change your Hunter to a new type! (Maybe your Spooky loses her powers and becomes Mundane, or your Expert has his true love murdered and becomes Wronged.)

The GM section does a nice job of helping you set up the villain arcs, whether you want to do a "Rising Evil" type story, hunting a nemesis, the looming apocalypse, etc. That sorta thing. There's also advice on setting up your smaller mysteries (it IS "Monster of the Week"), and even one shot games (give them less Luck and an extra advance or two). One thing you shouldn't do is be an antagonistic "Killer GM". The advice in the book specifically says to "Be a fan of the hunters"...which doesn't mean it all has to be hunky-dory and they succeed at everything all the time, it just means that you don't set out to completely hose them. Let them be awesome at what they do, let failure happen when it happens.

A handful of generic monster types are included, but a bigger bestiary would have been appreciated. The *World games are utterly hackable, so there's a chapter on making your own Playbooks in case your favorite monster hunting archetype isn't represented, or maybe you're not a fan of The Flake representing a Mulder.

WHAT WORKS: The game closest to this that I have played is tremulus, and readers of the blog know I'm a big fan of that game (and I became a bigger fan after playing it with a group of three). The "Monster of the Week" genre is awesome (I love me some Buffy, Angel, Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural, etc), and this game does a nice job of tackling the "Kick the Monsters in the Teeth" approach that tremulus does not (by design). Most of your major archetypes are covered in the initial Playbooks, and other books since then have been released (like The Exile, which is spot on for Sleepy Hollow's Ichabod Crane, or Summoned, which does a fine Hellboy).

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: I would have liked a few more monsters, maybe, though monsters are defined as much by their motivations as they are their stats, and the three monster examples are probably broad enough to give you an idea how to make your own. The "no prep" approach can be exhausting at times, if you aren't used to thinking on your feet (though players who are on board with the genre conventions and narrative flow can help that immensely). Games like this always seem like they could extra clarity, as well. I'm not a big booster of the idea of "limited edition Playbooks", which is a movement that has gained traction in the World Engine community (though I believe I have been lucky enough to get all of the available playbooks for MotW). Lastly, I am really not a big fan of the art. Just doesn't work for me.

CONCLUSION: This is actually on top of the "Would Love To Run" list for me, especially after my two games of tremulus. We tend to fall into "Action Hero" mode in our games, and Monster of the Week is less likely to punish you for that, so I think it would be a good fit for that. Clarity is an issue in the book (when everyone is naming a history tag for the other Hunters, I wasn't 100% sure how you reconcile them - do both apply? Do the players pick the one they like best? Do you just work it out? Because it's pretty easy to get conflicting results, or seems like it would be...the author clarified that you do, in fact, take both options and work it out). In short, the game engine is a blast, especially if your players are bought in on the "Fiction First" approach, and it does a good, if not perfect, job of genre emulation (Angel and Oz, for instance, would both fall under The Monstrous, making it impossible to have them both in a group at the same time). If you wanna do a Buffy/Blade/Hellboy/Sleepy Hollow/Supernatural/X-Files mash-up and you haven't decided on a system yet, this would be a very good choice.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Super Colorado Flood Relief Bundle

Colorado has been hit with some pretty nasty flooding recently, and gamers being the great people they are, a relief bundle has come together to help out. Headed up by Mike Lafferty and Fainting Goat Games (based out of Colorado), this astonishing bundle consists of $268 worth of RPGs and products for only $20. Some of the gems include"
$20 for a crapton of awesome stuff and a good cause. Why would you NOT do it? The bundle is available through October 22.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Deadlands Reloaded Actual Play: For The Grace of God Volume 5

Previous Sessions:
Volume 1
Volume 2

Picking up where we left off last week, I decided to run the "Devil's Night" adventure, but I scrubbed the "Devil's Night" references, since we were pretty solidly established as being in July, 1876 (It's been a few weeks since the Independence Day dime novel and all).

We picked up almost immediately after the close of "Night Train", with Deputy Parrish dead and Tontchay badly wounded. Lana quickly moved to provide him aid, but Jim Travis, somewhat surprisingly, tried to help him out with some success. (He managed to drop Tontchay from 3 wounds to 2.)

Travis and Lana each discretely reported back to their superiors, with Travis receiving word that he needed to check on a disturbance in Witchita, KS...but Lana not receiving anything back from her superiors. Travis told Tontchay he was heading to Witchita and the Deputy decided to go with him...Lana decided to tag along because she's becoming fond of Tontchay.

(Travis also played the Enemy Adventure Deck card at this point, setting himself up for some kind of rival later on, but getting him another card to work with.)

As the posse was riding along, Travis and Lana caught wind of something moving in the prairie...when they were attacked by fist-sized Prairie Ticks! Four of the little buggers attacked them, with one scurrying down the gullet of Travis' horse and another latching onto his mouth! Tontchay lined up his shot...and blew the tick apart on Travis' face! Lana managed to stab down at another tick and killed it, while Tontchay blasted the remaining exposed tick. The posse all looked nervous at Travis' horse, which he fought to get under control.

Later, as they were riding on, the horse clearly seemed to wear down and Tontchay saw movement in its belly. Travis dismounted, sighed, and shot the horse in the head. He and Tontchay immediately went to work setting a fire to cook the horse, in hopes of preventing the tick (or more ticks, as Lana feared) escaping the horse.

(Lana's player was REALLY creeped out by the Prairie Ticks, especially the one exploding on Travis' face, and was absolutely convinced that it had began replicating inside of the horse and another slew of ticks were coming.)

The next morning Travis, being a douche, stole Tontchay's horse as they rode out, leaving Tontchay on foot, walking along injured, next to Travis and Lana. As they entered a small settlement outside of Witchita, the town Doc told them he had three boys in comas here, and he asked them if they could maybe investigate. Travis agreed on the condition that the Doc take a look at Tontchay. Doc felt compelled to give Tontchay his cross, which he had taken from a departed friend. Tontchay seemed nervous at this, but remember Marshal Kidd's faith, agreed.

(The upside of having two of the posse members clearly displaying badges.)

After hearing that they were found unconscious and cold by the Hanging Tree, Lana immediately set out to investigate the boys while Tontchay and Travis set course for the Hanging Tree.

Lana went to see the first boy, "Little" Jimmy Peck, and spoke with his daddy, "Big" Jim Peck, who stood nearly 7 foot tall. Lana became convinced that the boy was a vampire of some sort, and asked Big Jim if they'd had any vampires around. Jim scoffed and said that his boy had clearly been cursed by a witch that Big Jim used to date. Lana said she might come back by, and Big Jim said he would be glad to have her come back. (Wink, wink.)

Tontchay and Travis went to the Hanging Tree and were unsettled by the complete, eerie silence at the tree. Travis investigated the markings on the tree to determine that it looked like it had maybe been used as target practice for knife throwers, while Tontchay found wagon tracks and hoof prints, as well as the impressions made by the boys when they hit the ground.

As Tontchay and Travis headed back to the settlement, they spotted a fancy, red wagon by the pond. As they approached it, they noted that it had "Professor Mathias' Old Time Elixers" painted on the side...and so they moved closer. Travis poked his head in to see the good Professor digging around in the wagon and spooked him. They asked the Professor if he had seen or heard anything from the night before, but he implied that he had been heavily inebriated. He did offer his miracle elixer to cure the boys, but was charing $50 for it. Noting Tontchay's injuries, he offered him a potion to heal him right up, for only $5, but when the guys suspected he was up to no good, they threatened him into backing down. (To save face, he just said that sometimes Indians and his potions don't agree). After coercion from Travis and Tontchay, he decided to head on for Witchita, but Travis strongly suggested that he should stay there until the posse left town, and they would accompany him.

(I still have no idea what game they are playing with "recruiting" Professor Mathias.)

Lana had little extra luck investigating the two other boys, though both of their families were convinced there was a rational explanation, but one of them thought Professor Mathias might have a cure.

Lana bumped into Tontchay, Travis and Mathias, who offered to sell her the cure for the boys for $100. The Posse headed into the Dead Horse Road House (noticing the irony after the events of last evening) and decided to partake of food and drink. Travis lost his butt playing Faro with a junk trader in town, but the trader did note that there was a mansion in the woods near an old Black River junkyard. The posse pressed the bartender on the matter, and he told them that a fella from Back East lived there, but he didn't know much else. He redirected them to Doc, who should know more. The gambler told Travis to pay up, but Travis threw the weight of his badge around to back him off.

Lana and Tontchay went to talk to the Doc, while Travis headed straight for the house in the woods.

Lana and Tontchay discovered that the house used to belong to a Whateley (Shudder), but that Herbert Langston from Back East had taken it over, bringing an invention with him and his daughter. However, his daughter had left about a year ago and Langston had gone into seclusion.

Travis examined the house and found it locked, so he busted in the back door. Looking around the house, he found that it only parts of it had been lived in, and he found a room that seemed like it had belonged to a girl, and a master bedroom that had personal effects belonging to Herbert Langston, including a patent on a clockwork man! Travis also found a series of child's drawings and a lock of hair. Pretty much running out of useful stuff, he prepared to leave the house when he saw movement down the hill from the house, at a junkyard.

As he headed to the junkyard, a coach came rolling up, as Professor Mathias brought him Lana and Tontchay (at Tontchay's request/demand). The three posse members headed into the junkyard. There, they spotted a large, hulking, mechanical man! Travis yelled out that he was a Texas Ranger and told it to halt, but it instead turned and charged him, smacking the Ranger, but the burly Travis held firm. However, the posse saw a body slumped in a chair, and Lana bolted to it, her curiosity getting the better of her. Tontchay rotated back and used his wolf spirit's aid to assist him as he opened fire on the mechanical man, while Travis (aided by the Payback adventure card) unloaded with both pistols in hopes of stopping it. Lana found a crushed man and pried a book out of his hands, which enraged the mechanical man! As the mechanical man charged at Lana, it left itself open to Travis (who had already damaged it), and Travis managed to gun it down! (Travis was running off a Joker and the Payback card, which essentially give him +4 on his attacks and +4 to his damage, allowing him to get past the armor of the clockwork man pretty easily).

As the clockwork man dropped to its knees in front of Lana, it pushed her aside and laid its head on its "father's" lap, "dying" with him.

Lana discovered that the book was a German grimoire designed to summon an entity called The Black Coachman, who takes the souls of those it encounters. Lana figured out right away that this is what happened to the boys. It also had instructions on how to stop the Coachman...and so the posse gathered up the necessary ingredients to make the Coachman whole and summon it to them!

Once they had done their work and got their ingredients in place, they went to the junkyard and Lana began casting the spell! Travis stood in the middle of the junkyard and began to turn in a circle, listening for the Black Coachman. Tontchay mounted a junkpile and prepared his Spencer.

They heard hooves.

They heard the wagon wheels bounce on the ground.

Tontchay saw fiery lights flickering in the distance.

Hellhounds began to bay in the night!

The Black Coachman erupted into the junkyard, pulled by nightmarish black horses and surrounded by hellhounds! Travis yelled for the Coachman to "come and get me!" as Lana completed the ritual and made it whole...and Tontchay opened fire, exploding the Coachman's head!!

(Tontchay used an Adventure Deck card to double his damage, and the Coachman was incapable of Soaking the damage done by the attack.)

The fiery ground opened up and claws pulled the Coachman screaming back to Hell! Three ethereal forms escaped the coach and the hounds followed the Coachman into Hell before the ground closed up. Travis told Tontchay that they were even now (for...something...Travis is kind of arrogant).

Returning to town proper, the posse found out that the boys had recovered, and now Little Jimmy was willing to talk, telling them about how he and his cronies had vandalized Langston's machine when a Dixie Rails rep was supposed to arrive, and basically ruined his life and opportunity. From there, Lana pieced together that he had come into possession of the grimoire and used it to summon the Black Coachman to get revenge.

Notes: This was a free Deadlands adventure released for Halloween...last year? I think. It was great. It was also designed to use the Horror Companion, which was already my favorite companion before I used it in play, and I dig it even more now. The posse is gelling nicely, with Travis' player playing an antagonistic jerk, but doing it in such a way that it's not disrupting the forward progress of the group. The Adventure Deck came up big time again (and I am totally okay with it, as are the players). I am absolutely at a loss as to why they recruited Professor Mathias, though...but whatever...we'll roll with it!

No game next week for sure, as I'm in Tulsa for a convention, and we may be down two the following week...but Regular Deadlands is certainly in the offing, given player reactions.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Deadlands Reloaded Actual Play: Night Train

Previous Sessions:
Volume 1
Volume 2

So with new additions to our gaming group, Tommy and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play Deadlands Reloaded, so I decided to run - for the first time - Night Train! We picked up after the events of Independence Day, with Tontchay on board a train back to Oklahoma, in hopes of finding someone in the Coyote Federation that could help him enter the Deadlands and find Marshal Kidd.

So last week I floated character concepts by the newbies and this week they came back with character ideas that make for make-up: A Texas Ranger, and the grandson of William B. Travis, hunting for Jim Bowie's knife, for he is named James Bowie Travis. He's a Brawny Texan who believes that Texas borders extend to wherever he walks. His father was a worthless alcoholic, a trait that James picked up, and he's hoping to restore his family's good name. The other character is known only as Lana, and she's an operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. She's a bastard (in the Deadlands sense, this means she can see the invisible) who has been handed down a sword said to belong to her MIA father, which she keeps as her prized possession. She also has a Big Mouth, making her a HORRIBLE spy. She had been tracking mysterious disappearances at rail stations, placing the three of them on the train together.

Travis noticed Tontchay was wearing a Marshal's tin star on his chest and began questioning it, not being used to see an Indian wearing a badge before. He asked where the owner of the badge was and Tontchay, quite paranoid due to previous experiences in a train, was looking for safe places to hole up, just in case. Once Tontchay was satisfied, he told the Ranger that the Marshal that owned the badge was a friend, and that he was in a place that white people called "Hell". Travis was confused and commented about the Marshal being dead, but Tontchay replied that the Marshal wasn't dead...just trapped in Hell. Lana overheard this with interest, but quickly got into a shouting match with Travis (who thought she was a traveling whore, which WAS actually her cover). The train came to a stop around twilight at a station known as Barlowe Station.

Lana and Tontchay decided to stretch their legs at this remote little station, and looking around inside the station house, they discovered that there were a set of glasses on the counter but no one around. Looking closer, Lana discovered that the ink was still fresh and the logs had been filled out as of the day before. As Tontchay and Lana explored the area, Travis got curious and started looking for himself, following Tontchay to the nearby shack, while Lana headed to the outhouse.

As Tontchay knocked on the door, he saw grooves on the door. Looking around, he discovered that the ground had been trampled, including a garden right under a side window, which was busted in...and there were bulletholes in the wall under the window. The Ranger gave him a boost into the window and followed, and the two lawmen found that the bedroom was a mess. They did find a puddle of blood and a pistol that had discharged four shots (they did the math and realized that a target was probably hit), and looked outside to find tracks leading to the outhouse...

Meanwhile, Lana was peering into the outhouse and discovering that the boards were loose and the outhouse smelled atrocious...and that was before she caught a whiff of a dead body. She quickly beat feet to the shack.

Lana told Travis and Tontchay what she found and they compared notes. As Tontchay and Travis examined the outhouse closer, deciding something most be UNDER the outhouse, they lit a match and threw it in, before striking another to try to get a better look, with no success. The three of them headed to a nearby barn, finding a spooked mare and some happy pigs, and came away with a pitchfork and some rope. They managed to poke around, finding a body under the outhouse, and got a slipknot around the corpse, hefting it out. The posse then dragged the body to a watertower where the Ranger washed it off, allowing Lana to examine it closer, finding rat-like bites on corpse. (Incidentally, Tontchay lost his lunch at the smell during this, gaining a point of Fatigue.)

Once the posse told the conductor what had happened, he suggested they head to the next town, known as Varney Flats. There was a debate about what to do with the body, with Travis saying he had done enough and Tontchay ultimately told the Conductor that it would be his decision, being "one of your folk". The Conductor said he would take the body to Varney Flats if Tontchay would help him wrap the body up. Tontchay agreed, but asked the Conductor to make sure the car was secured in such a way that nothing could get out. The Conductor thought he misheard and asked Tontchay if he meant "get in", and Tontchay shrugged and said "That too."

That night, Tontchay woke up to something banging on a train car and made his way down to it, realizing it was coming from the car with the corpse. The banging got louder and louder and Tontchay reluctantly opened his car and moved to the other...when Marshal Kidd, eyes blazing red and teeth glistening, ripped through the door and grabbed Tontchay! Tontchay sat up in a sweat...and heard something banging. He crept to the car...and realized that part of the awning over the train car had come loose and was flapping. Travis offered a smart aleck remark to the startled Indian.

The train rolled into Varney Flats early in the morning and everyone - okay, Lana and Tontchay - agreed to tell the town Marshal what had happened, and Travis reluctantly went along with it (preferring instead to head to the saloon). There they met a bookish Deputy named Nathan Parrish who told them that Marshal McBride was away from town. Then Parrish got a bright idea, seeing as how Travis was a Texas Ranger and Tontchay has a badge: He asked them to help him guard his prisoner, Abner Knapp, who McBride had captured...because he's afraid that Mayor Varney is going to lead a lynching in order to show Knapp's people - a camp of buffalo hunters - that they couldn't just run wild in Varney Flats. Parrish knew that McBride wanted Knapp to swing at the Judge's orders, not Varney's. He offered to deputize Lana and give the posse the $100 bounty on Knapp's head if they would agree, which they did. Abner launched in, taunting and tormenting the posse, to little effect.

The posse became concerned that the missing Marshal might have been their dead guy, so Parrish and Lana went to examine the body while Tontchay checked out Varney Flats and Travis hung out, keeping an eye on Abner.

Parrish quickly confirmed that the body was not Marshall McBride.

Tontchay found out that the general store was in the process of becoming a a gunstore thanks to most of the real money coming from the buffalo hunters.

Abner failed to convince Travis to let him go.

Tontchay, nervous about his dreams, got a room to get some sleep, while Lana took over babysitting Abner and Travis decided to get a few drinks at the saloon.

As Travis was taking in his drinks, the saloon began to fill up with townsfolk...including the town's mayor, Sam Varney. Varney was trying to rile up the crowd to hunt down Knapp, but Travis moved to talk him down. Tontchay came downstairs as Travis and Varney were having a stand Tontchay, who has quelled a few crowds, decided to head off Varney's accusations that the Deputy and the Ranger had been bought and paid for by somebody, and tried to scare him into backing off. To his complete surprise, it failed. (Tontchay is Strong Willed and his a good Intimidation, but Varney outrolled him by five points and surprised Tontchay's player). This got pretty intense, with Varney painting the posse as outsiders placing the interests of a murderer over the interests of Varney Flats.

Varney offered to back off, buy the posse's rooms and their food and drink during their stay, sarcastically noting that the Indian that probably killed the man that originally owned that badge and the big mouthed Texas Ranger clearly know what's best for Varney Flats.

Of course, this set the posse on edge and while Tontchay was milling about, he saw an angry mob heading towards the Marshal's office. Tontchay warned the group and they tried to work out a plan, including holing up inside the office (with Knapp asking for a gun of his own, but he was denied). Parrish tried to confront the mob, but was too quiet to be heard over them, and Lana tried to talk some sense into them...but that didn't work, so Travis stepped out of the office to confront them. A stand-off was brewing and the tension was Travis shot the out of Varney's mouth, stunning everyone! (Using an Adventure Card, "Shaking in Thar Boots")! Tontchay once more unleashed his force of will, asking the townsfolk if they were going to let everyone be lynched without due process, and forcing the town to back down!

Lana decided to wait up with Abner and Parrish, while Travis headed to bed after the mob dispersed, and Tontchay decided to ride out to find McBride. A few hours later, a scream pierced the night, and after a moment, Tontchay realized it was actually a train whistle. He rode hard back to Varney Flats.

Parrish was the one that heard the train roll into town and he pulled Lana to the door just in time for the demonic train to come to a stop, the whistle to blow (waking Travis up in his bed) and the terror to wash over the town. The doors slide open and the crazed, animalistic nosferatu burst forth. Lana panicked and ran, but one of them ran her down, forcing her to draw her sword and fight...and a brutal swing took its head off! She looked around to see dozens of nosferatu flooding out of the train.

Travis was more rattled than he would admit, sitting in bed as a nosferatu clawed at his door, eventually busting in. Travis fought with the nosferatu on his bed, trying to get shots off at at and having his face clawed up by it. With his guns having no effect, as soon as he got free, Travis dove from the second story window and to the street below!

Lana saw nosferatu dragging townsfolk to the train, so she tried to intervene, only to be rushed by other vampires (though she did successfully take another couple down).

Travis opened fire on the nosferatu trying to drag people away, but didn't even slow them down. The sounds of people fighting back began to fill up the town, and the vampires piled onto the train, which fired up and began to roll away!

The townsfolk gathered 'round, with Parrish screaming that he nosferatu managed to get Abner Knapp out of his cage! He asked Travis and Lana if they would retrieve him...and Varney even offered a bounty on the heads of his missing townsfolk. Parrish brought up horses and said they could cut across the prairie in order to run the train down...and he hoped they were going with him.

As they chased the train from the rear and tried to pin it down, Tontchay raced it head on. He could see the ghost rock steam rising out of the engine and the demonic appearance of the he tried to ride alongside and fired off a shot at the conductor, who was clearly among the undead! This attempt failed, so Tontchay rode close to jump aboard the train! Parrish, Lana and Travis closed in, as Tontchay stomped across the train and tried to shoot the conductor again! This time, he got its attention, and the conductor blew the whistle, causing nosferatu to climb up on the train! As Tontchay tried to make his stand against the rising tide of nosferatu, Lana jumped aboard the train!

One of the nosferatu tumbled to its doom, trying to get to Tontchay, and Lana helped get the attention of some of the others. Parrish and Travis managed to jump aboard as well, and the heroes got a break when the engine car snapped free (Lana's player played the Malfunction car), and the engine rolled screaming away. The cars came to a slow halt, but more and more nosferatu kept pouring out of the car, shrugging off the bullets, though a few more got cut down by Lana's sword. Parrish managed to obliterate the upper half of one's body with his shotgun, but nearly got his throat ripped out with another. Even more nosferatu poured out of the cabins while Travis finally figured out what he needed to do, blasting nosferatu in the hearts. When he realized the odds were overwhelming, he dove from the train, and Lana joined him...grabbing Parrish and jumping with him! Tontchay dove as he fired into the store of ghost rock, igniting it and causing the train to explode!  Lana and Travis managed to scurry free, but Parrish was killed by the explosion, and Tontchay was hurled end over end, very nearly killed. (I gave him a chip for his effort, which he used to soak, only soaking a single wound, enough to only hit three wounds instead of pushing death.)

In the aftermath, Mayor Varney (who seemed genuinely shaken at the loss of his deputy and the townsfolk) thanked the posse for their efforts, and offered to allow them to remain in town for as long as they liked...which Tontchay desperately needed.

NOTES: Night Train really is a vicious bugger, and the posse does a great job of constantly getting separated. This party make-up could be a disaster, but the entire group is aware of the dynamic they have created and are playing up the "antagonistic team" feel...fighting before coming together in the end, that kind of thing, so I don't mind.

Adventure decks can make all the difference in the world, and I am probably a bit loose with the definitions of the cards...that said, I wasn't pulling any punches on the attacks. The main reason Travis held up as well as he did is because he's Brawny, while Lana is the melee monster on this squad. The new players enjoyed themselves, so I think we have more Deadlands this weekend, though I'm not planning on a canned adventure, if I can avoid it.