Monday, December 31, 2012

Deadlands, Part XXIX

When last we left our heroes, the group lost two months of time, wound up in Phoenix, and traveled to Sweet Water, Arizona, city of tomorrow!

The group (David, Father Seward, Jeb, Rex, Ruby, and Rufina) is taking the tour and passing beneath the statue of a grim, gaunt, gas-masked figure.  Eventually, the tour ends, depositing them in front of a random building.  When the group asks around for information regarding the city, they are told that the city is arranged in rings; The Doctor and The Well are located in the center ring, A, while people of the group's caliber would likely prefer to stay at a place such as the Ambassador, in B ring.  (And yes, you can hear residents capitalize "The Doctor" and "The Ring.")

Father Seward suspects the statue of the grim, gaunt, gas-masked man is The Doctor, and the same man who killed the original population of Sweet Water.

Armed with this information, the group goes to find the Ambassador.  Along the way, Ruby spots a commotion and alerts the others — several people are being pulled out of a bar by officers.  One is brought out on a stretcher as the peace officers lift a sheet over his face.  The others don't know the portly man on the stretcher, but Rex O'Malley instantly recognizes his cousin, Samuel O'Malley, a Texas Ranger.  Rex addresses the peace officers, and they take him aside so that he may identify the body.  When he positively identifies Samuel, the peace officers explain that the man apparently died of a heart attack and tell him to check the precinct later so that he can gather his cousin's personal effects.  The officer in question gives him a calling card printed on some strange material — the iridescence and feel of it is almost reminiscent of bone.

Rex returns, explaining this development and acknowledging that few O'Malleys go quietly.  The group then walks until they are directed to some manner of elevated trolley, which whizzes through the city.  From this vantage point, the group can plainly see that most of the city is uninhabited, apparently awaiting more occupants.  Dirigibles are tethered to some of the tallest buildings, although some are free-floating, and many of the buildings are positively enormous, certainly beyond the manufacturing abilities of any known to the group.

The group is deposited by the Ambassador and walks the rest of the way.  As they approach, a woman appears to be exiting a carriage; she seems pleased to see someone of such bearing as Ruby O'Flahertie (she is quite tickled to meet a Southern belle), and introduces herself as Duchess Abigail.  She invites David and Ruby to dinner later as she enters the hotel.

David checks into the hotel while the group examines the lobby.  Porters run to and fro, while strange doors slide open and closed, apparently depositing visitors in other portions of the hotel.  When David rejoins the group, a porter takes them into one of the chambers.  He closes the door and takes them to one of the higher floors — over 300 feet in the air! — before opening the doors and guiding them to their room.

The place is enormous.  The sitting room is heavily windowed, offering a grand view of Sweet Water.  The same sights of skyscrapers and dirigibles greet the party, but from this angle, a tower in the center of town is visible.  It is of unknown construction and tapers toward the top.  The various and irregularly-spaced windows are reminiscent of loopholes on a medieval turret.  Wide steps rise from street level and lead to a door at the tower's base; people swarm in and out of the tower, and some who leave appear to be in a state of almost religious ecstasy.

This, then, is The Well.

The room itself also bears a pneumatic tube system, as well as a pedestal that generates a field of cold to keep the ice block frozen.

Also, there's ice.  In the middle of Arizona.

As the group discusses things, Rex decides to get his cousin's effects.  He takes his leave.

Arriving at the police station, Rex speaks to the person at the reception desk and waits while Samuel O'Malley's effects are retrieved.  The police indicate that his cousin's body will be vacuum sealed for burial and await Rex at the front gate.  He also indicates that Sam had a billfold, a Bible, a telegram, a sidearm (the gun being held at the front gate for whenever Rex leaves) and several hundred rounds of ammunition.  Rex thanks the officer and returns to the Ambassador.

Meanwhile, the windows in the sitting room prompt a discussion of adding curtains, but after the other rooms are investigated (in addition to an indoor outhouse, the suite has eleven bedrooms, some of which are windowless) this is ultimately abandoned as drawing too much attention.  The group proceeds to claim rooms, and Jeb starts to remove the mirror from his room.  It is large, bulky, and strangely heavy; the group investigates the mirror, but can determine nothing additionally abnormal about it.

Rex returns to the hotel suite and starts going through Samuel's effects.  The Bible is almost unremarkable, although the first page of Revelation has the phrase "It ends where it began" written at the top.  The billfold contains some cash, as one might expect, and the ammunition is otherwise unremarkable.  It is quickly divided among the group.

The telegram, on the other hand, suggests that Rex sent his cousin to Sweet Water to aid three people (two women and a man, assumed by all involved to be the contingent of David, Ruby, and Rufina) while Rex was in Texas.

From this, the group surmises that it had some manner of plan currently lost to them.

Finally deciding that he wishes to better determine what is happening around the city, particularly in the dirigibles, Jeb goes to get a spyglass.  After convincing the porter that he would rather do it on his own, and determining he is not an astronomer, he asks for directions and finds a hobbyist's shop.  After investigating the spyglasses and asking if he has anything stronger, the annoyed man directs him to an astronomer's shop.

At the astronomy shop, Jeb indicates he wants something weaker than a telescope.  The man directs him back to the hobby shop.

The annoyed man, seeing Jeb again, finally indicates that he can do something.  He directs Jeb to a private home whose occupant may have what he needs.

When he arrives at the home, a German butler greets him and ushers him inside.  He waits for a moment before a man comes out and greets him; he dimly recalls seeing the man at the poker game in San Francisco. The man is Herr Doktor Morrow, and he does not seem happy to see Jeb; his annoyance suggests he has encountered Jeb previously and considers him too oafish to trust in his house..  During the conversation, he inquires about Jeb's companions' arms — the group would later suspect that Morrow may have built them — and offers Jeb a spyglass of his own design as well as a slice of pie if he will get out of his house and not bother him again.  With the agreement struck, he gives Jeb the spyglass and is prepared to show him out when Jeb recalls that pie was mentioned.  He gets him a slice of pie, and has him eat quickly and leave.

Meanwhile, the group continues to settle into the hotel suite.  Ruby uses the pneumatic tubes to send a message to Duchess Abigail to confirm dinner plans; she does not receive a response from the Duchess, but she does receive a response from the hotel indicating the message was received.

A little bit later, there is a knock on the door.  The messenger has a package for delivery to Ruby Manning — which is odd because she did not register under that name — and drops it off.  After some deliberation, Father Seward opens it (figuring he would be most likely to survive a trapped parcel) and finds a set of strange-looking eggbeaters and a note.  He returns this to Ruby, and she reads the note, indicating that Brent Manning has sent them the "Richmond" eggbeaters they requested.  Close inspection reveals firearm components among the eggbeaters.

Apparently, part of the group's plan involved weapon smuggling.

When Jeb returns, the group shares their revelation and he tells them about visiting with Dr. Morrow.  The group is very perplexed about all the plans they seem to have made during their two months of missing time.

Jeb decides to look around the city using his new spyglass.  He first looks at the dirigibles, and sees nothing untoward on them.  In looking elsewhere, he catches a flash of movement, almost as if someone were watching him and fled before he could get a good look.

Finally, with Jeb's new spyglass, attention turns toward The Well.  There is some deliberation culminating in the decision that Rex and Rufina will go to the The Well to see what there is to see.

***********************************

Not a game note, just a generic update: posting continues to be slow, but will hopefully pick back up within the next month or so.  We'll see how things go.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crux of Eternity replay

Two replays for the price of one today: Crux of Eternity on Obsidian Portal is relatively up-to-date.  Read about it if you want.

The PCs are currently wandering the mean streets of Scandshar, attempting to learn about the fate of a missing abolitionist agent.  Also, by the sound of his voice, the most powerful crime lord in the city might be an undisputed champion of freestyle.

Also, I stuffed a Marx Brothers reference in my game in the person of Lydia the Tattooed Lady.  Naturally, you should probably hear the original song to add some culture to your bacterial culture:

Deadlands, Part XXVIII

When last we left our heroes, the group traveled to Buena Vista, and learns some things from Silas the angel at Catalina's Rose.  They decided to travel west to Sweet Water, Arizona.

Having just left Catalina's Rose, the group travels to the local inn to sleep.  They purchase three rooms; David and Father Seward occupy one, Jeb and Rex occupy another, and Ruby and Rufina occupy still another room.

Father Seward awakens first.  Light is already shining through the window, which is open and overlooking the...city.

The room is a fairly nice hotel room, evidently in some manner of city.  Judging by the view out the window, it is probably on the second story.  The general view and dry, desert air reminds Father Seward of Phoenix, although he would have been there so long ago that he would barely recognize the place.

Father Seward is tied, rather tightly, to a chair.  Jeb is also sitting in a chair across from the Father.  He is asleep with a rifle in his hand.  Rex is asleep in bed.  A chair is jammed under the doorknob to prevent the door from opening.

After collecting himself, Father Seward considers his options and decides to go with the simplest — he asks what he did.  Jeb and Rex awaken, with guns at the ready, to find much the same confusing scene.

They don't recall anything past sleeping in Buena Vista, either.

Father Seward convinces the pair to untie him, as he is just as confused as they are, and the group goes through their things.  Their items are more or less intact, although they appear to have seen use — a little money has been spent, clothes have been mended or are brand new, and the like.

Rex goes downstairs to get a paper, passing a well-dressed couple along the way, and returns to the room.  It appears that they are in Phoenix, Arizona, and that it is early December (although still 1877).  When last they were in Buena Vista, it was early October.

Father Seward wanders downstairs and tries his senile old man schtick on the innkeeper, trying to convince him that he does not precisely recall his traveling companions.  Didn't he come among five, with three other men and two women?  The innkeeper only recalls two others, both male.

When Father Seward rejoins Jeb and Rex, they begin discussing their options to reunite with the rest of the group, assuming they're in the same hotel and even the same city.

Ruby awakens as the urge to vomit overtakes her.  She hangs her head over the side of the bed and vomits into a bedpan set there for that purpose.  After the confusion subsides, she has the opportunity to see that she is sleeping in a fairly nice hotel room.  The window overlooks a city, evidently in the desert.  Rufina is sleeping in a chair, the sword held in her right hand.  The tip is dug into the floor with enough force that it could probably stand on its own were she not holding it.  David, much to Ruby's surprise, is sleeping next to her.

Even more shocking, she quickly notes that her missing left hand has been replaced with a mechanical one.  An object of clockwork, it bears gauges and tubes of all sorts.  It responds more slowly than her other hand, but otherwise reacts as one might expect.  As she moves it, a gauge vents and the needle goes from red to green.

Rufina also has a similar replacement for her missing left arm.  She also bears a notable scar on her face that disappears into the neckline of her shirt.  A trickle of blood flows down her left arm, over the mechanical one.

Ruby awakens David, who undergoes the same level of discovery as she.  Both surmise that the last thing they recall is going to sleep in Buena Vista in separate rooms.  David similarly discovers a mechanical left hand.

After the excitement dies down, both decide to awaken Rufina.  They get the sword away from her first, and noting the blood, check her arm.  The phrase "FORGOTTEN NOT FORGIVEN" is carved into her arm; the skin caked under the fingernails of her right hand suggests that she did the deed herself.  Finally, the pair awakens her.  She similarly last recalls sleeping in Buena Vista.  She investigates the phrase on her arm, the mechanical hand, and finally the scar on her face — the latter apparently travels down, around the curve of her breast before terminating at the navel.  Everyone begins discussing what to do before trying to find their bearings in this unknown desert city.

A knock at the door interrupts Father Seward, Jeb, and Rex.  It is a member of the hotel staff, informing them that breakfast is ready and their stagecoach leaves in two hours.

David, Ruby, and Rufina receive a similar knock, from a member of the hotel staff, informing them that breakfast is ready and their stagecoach leaves in two hours.  David asks for the destination; it is Sweet Water, as per his instructions.

At the sound of David's voice, the other door opens.  Father Seward, Jeb, and Rex evidently hold the room across from David, Ruby, and Rufina.  David convenes with them while the ladies get ready; he informs them of the mechanical hands, while they inform him of the fact that they're in Phoenix, and two months have passed.

Given the circumstances, everyone prepares for breakfast.  The two groups are seated separately in a large dining room; the two tables are not particularly close together.

Two things of note occur during breakfast — a man comes with a pitcher of water to pour into their mechanical arms.  Additionally, a man tells Ruby that appropriate arrangements have been made regarding her "condition."  David, having also been mentioned as her husband, is similarly referenced as the child's father.

Apparently, Ruby is pregnant.  David determines that she is, perhaps, around two months along, although it could be shorter.  If morning sickness stops within two weeks, it is likely Brent Manning's baby.  If not, well, then it could be David's.  Who knows, really?

Additionally, a man comes around and informs Rufina that due to scheduling, there will be only one stagecoach for two groups, and the man she doesn't like will be forced into the same stagecoach.  Is this acceptable?  She says it is.

Similarly, the man approaches Father Seward and indicates that the stagecoach will be shared with another party, and the woman he seems to dislike will be forced to ride with them.  Seward accepts this, saying that God teaches forgiveness.

Before the stagecoach disembarks, David acquires some more bullets and food for the group.  He also shares the information regarding Ruby, and Rufina mentions her message from the porter.  Since Father Seward received a similar message, he suspects they don't like each other.

Given the circumstances, Rufina decides to reveal her story before they disembark.  Once, long ago, she had a husband.  Children.  A whole family.  Her husband was not particularly wise, and after some failed ventures, ended up transplanting his whole family to the prairie.  They lived in a sod house on the prairie, but winter was most brutal that year.  A blizzard swept through and trapped the family.  Hunger and cabin fever took its toll; Rufina's husband went mad, and attacked the family.  Rufina lost her arm in the struggle, and her children...

Well, at the end of it, she torched the house and left.  Her dead husband, whatever he is now, is the spirit who resides in Father Seward.  She is Henrietta.  She doesn't know what his plans are, but that is her tale.

Additionally, her scar is referenced.  Examination and discussion suggests it is a knife wound, possibly a torture wound.  Rex asks if Seward carries a knife, and he says he does not.  Only Jeb routinely carries a knife, and given the state of their memories, it is unclear how it was inflicted.

Once all arrangements are made, the group loads into the stagecoach.  The journey to Sweet Water is a couple of days.

The ride is uneventful.  One night, Rex causes quite a stir as he awakens suddenly.  He says he will explain in the light.  The next day, he says he had a dream — a memory.  In his hotel room, Father Seward tied to a chair, struggling against his bonds.  Struggling to get at Cobb, whose hands are covered in some purple fluid, just as he reaches into Rex's brain.

Evidently, Cobb manipulated their memories, likely causing them to forget.  This comforts absolutely no one.

Particularly when they contemplate the possibility that Cobb is the father of Ruby's baby.

Finally, they arrive in terrain where sandy desert turns to salt flat.  The cracked land resembles dried riverbed.  A city of spires reaches heavenward in the distance.  Past the city, is appears that a waterway has been appropriated for municipal use.  As the group approaches, it is obvious that Sweet Water is apparently built as a series of concentric circles, and the whole architecture moves, allowing the rings to rotate independently of each other.  Father Seward suggests it might be some manner of ritual apparatus, assuming Sweet Water is built on occult principles.

The stagecoach arrives outside the gate — more like an aperture or porthole — and allows the group to disembark.  Several others are entering the city, and the group follows suit.

Inside, there is a line bound by velvet ropes.  Eventually, the group arrives at the front.  Individuals are allowed to bring one weapon, or two if they are applying for residency.  The attendant asks for the reason of the visit: business, pleasure, or residency.  Father Seward goes first, declaring "pleasure" (my comment being that "spreading the Good News is always joyful.")  He then walks through without declaring his sidearm.

The open doorway leads down a long, circular hallway.  Made of glass, rotating gears are clearly visible within the hallway.  As Father Seward walks down, some sort of alarm is triggered as he is eventually overcome by the weight of his metal objects and pulled to the floor.  The line is stopped, and several guardsmen escort him out.  He again invokes his senile old man schtick, and is allowed to attempt again.  This time, he checks his rifle with the front, retaining his sidearm for the trip into Sweet Water.

Having seen the example, the others similarly rearrange their weapons.  Ruby briefly considers residency to retain both her guns, but is convinced otherwise.  Finally, everyone is appropriately arranged to enter Sweet Water.  They mostly declare "business."

The group arrives in the city, and finds it just the wonder one would expect.  Several people flit about on moving walkways.  Automata clean the streets of refuse.  As they go on the tour for newcomers, a statue of a grim, gaunt man wearing a gas mask looms triumphantly overhead.  Father Seward idly wonders if it is the man he saw in vision back in San Francisco, although he would be hard-pressed to say.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Secret Santicore 2012: Random Equipment

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Secret Santicore 2012 will not be released.  Wampus Country details the affair here.

But, individual Santicorians (Santicorons? Santicoids?) are posting their stuff, so I figured I might as well do the same.

I was requested to make a random chart for starting equipment.  This was rather daunting as there are several excellent starting equipment charts currently available — Hill Cantons made one, Untimately made one, and Abulafia has one (I'm sure I missed some good ones, but those form a good starting point).

Anyway, without further ado, here it is.  If you have need of a random equipment list for starting-level old-school D&D characters, hopefully it meets your needs.

Secret Santicore 2012: Random Starting Equipment

Addendum: In lieu of a pdf, Santicore articles will be released by the production staff on http://santicore.blogspot.com/.  Read 'em, they're good for you!

Addendum 2, Electric Boogaloo: Here's my entry, evidently from another Secret Santicore blog.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Convention Book: NWO

I did come across this the other day: White Wolf just released Convention Book: N.W.O. for Mage: the Ascension.

This is incredibly exciting news.

Back before White Wolf ended the classic World of Darkness line, they only published Convention Book: Iteration X, leaving the other Technocracy Conventions without revised books.  Although I never really delved into the splatbooks for World of Darkness, the fact that a new Mage: the Ascension book is being published after eight years is notable.

What with Mage being one of my favorite games and all.

Incidentally, I suspect we'll probably see a 20th anniversary edition of Mage within the next year or so; White Wolf already released one for Vampire, and they successfully Kickstarted one for Werewolf, so that's a thing for doin'.  I'm also aware that they're doing an Ascension/Awakening translation guide as they did for Vampire and Werewolf, so that's a thing, too.

A Quick Update

I still have been otherwise engaged, although gaming has continued as usual.  There should be a Deadlands replay next week, for example, and I'll likely be updating the Crux of Eternity page within the very near future, but there probably won't be any additional game resources at the moment.

I will say, though, that I learned I could take a fair number of baboons in a fight.  So there's that.

How many baboons could you take in a fight? (armed only with a giant dildo)
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