Friday, March 22, 2013

Deadlands, Part XXXIV

When last we left our heroes, they started planning a party, went to dinner with The Doctor, and all hell broke loose as the city started collapsing.

The lift is between floors — one of which is the ground floor — when it suddenly shudders to a halt.  The group sees Jeb step out of a doorway.  He is wearing ill-fitting clothing and followed by a gaggle of albino children.  The group calls to him and he has enough time to turn and register everyone's presence before the lift is recalled and starts heading back up the shaft.

The lift travels back up and stops before a hallway filled with armed men — Sweet Water constables and automata, all armed.  They are aiming through the grate on the front of the lift, and they request that the group follows them.  With few (good) options, the group complies.

They are led before a door with Egyptian markings on it, and the door is opened to reveal a large, domed chamber with a raised balcony.  The walls appear to be made of the same green stone that composes much of the city (and runs it, as we now understand).  Some device rests at the far end, similar to a gyroscope or orrery.  Several constables and automata guard this room; several of the constables have burn scars.  The Doctor occupies the center of the room, cradling a woman whose skin seems to be swiftly turning into green gas.  He sobs, calling for "Marianna."  The Duchess and Mr. Thane stand calmly in the room, watching the scene.  The Mandragora reclines on a chaise lounge.

The field from The Well is also visible here; green threads crisscross the room.  Father Seward, now in The Well for the first time, is shown to have an ochre braid traveling from him, as well as a black and silver cord connecting him to Rufina.

The Doctor composes himself as Father Seward delivers an impromptu eulogy for The Doctor — evidently having some plan in mind — but apart from a mild shuddering in The Doctor's body, nothing happens.  The Doctor indicates his distaste at a vulgar display of devilry, and has guards take Dr. Morrow to fix and operate his machines.  He then begins flinging accusations at the group; it is clear that he believes them to be in league with the Devil himself.  They attempt to explain that they are as much Cobb's victims as he, but to no avail.  The Duchess keeps whispering to him to just kill the group, but he ignores her.  At one point, the group's claims of innocence seem to overwhelm and confuse him, but The Duchess tweaks a dial on the side of his gas mask and he regains his purpose of thought.  Father Seward concludes that The Doctor is an automaton, and that The Duchess runs this place.

Tremors continue in the background as The Doctor speaks.

Though it is clear that The Doctor wishes to use the group's bodies to repair the city and his machines, he sends them back down on the lift for unknown reasons.

Meanwhile, Jeb looks up the shaft for the lift where his traveling companions disappeared.  Unable to follow, he travels forward.  Seeing two guards, he readies his gun and starts firing.  The guards return fire, but Jeb is the better shot.  One, heavily wounded, begins running.  Jeb points at him and shouts, "BOOM!"  The children run after the man and descend upon him in a frenzy of tiny fists and savage mouths.  Jeb attacks the other man with his knife, punching through his belly.

With the two guards dispatched and only the city beyond, Jeb returns to the hallway and enters The Well proper.  He pokes around until another tremor shakes the room, and in the chaos, loses consciousness.

He awakens to find a figure standing over him.  It is a man in a blue top hat, blue coat, and white pants.  An inky blackness greets Jeb where a face should be.

Not this douchebag again.
Bashiel seems a little surprised to see Jeb without the others.  Jeb references his army of children, and Bashiel gestures to the pile of slain albino children in the room.  His ambulatory babies, armed with knives, advance on Jeb.  Jeb manages to dispatch several before running around the room to avoid the rest of the murderous, baby horde.  He utters a rebel yell as he goes.

The rest of the group hears his cries and goes to aid him.  They see Jeb on the run from Bashiel and his army of children.  The group addresses Bashiel as Father Seward drops and begins praying.  Rufina decides that tangling with Bashiel is a fool's errand, as the greater thing is to investigate what's happening with the city and to find Dr. Morrow.  David and Ruby follow her as they return to the hallways.  Father Seward and Rex remain to deal with Bashiel.

Rex fires on the murderous babies from the balcony as Jeb advances on them with his knife.  The babies have Jeb on the ropes, but he and Rex manage to take enough down that Bashiel withdraws.  As he prepares to exit and wreak havoc elsewhere, Father Seward rises and puts a bullet in his chest.  There is a keening wail and a flash of light as Bashiel is dispelled.

Meanwhile, David, Ruby, and Rufina have been contacted by the ghostly gentleman, who appears leaning against a wall.  He informs them that Dr. Morrow doesn't know what he's doing, and they need to stop him lest the whole thing blows.  The trio finds a staircase and starts descending into the bowels of the tower.  As the tower crumbles, the stairwell cracks and separates from the wall; Ruby manages to hang onto it and start picking her way back up the staircase.

With a green gas filling The Well, Father Seward, Jeb, and Rex start running in the direction the other three were last seen.  An open door suggests their next destination; Rex goes through while Father Seward waits behind to pray over the badly-injured Jeb.  At the last moment, Father Seward's faith falters; a bleeding wound erupts from his chest and Jeb is left unhealed.

As Rex goes down the staircase, Ruby comes up.  He sends her to meet Father Seward, above.

Rufina reaches a room with broken crates.  She dons a gas mask and grabs several more before entering the room below.  She finds Dr. Morrow, wearing a gas mask, smashing equipment.

David soon joins the two of them, and Rufina gives him a gas mask.  At the ghostly gentleman's behest, he explains the problem with Dr. Morrow's plan — that an explosion and widespread death will result either way.  Dr. Morrow thinks, and decides it may be possible to melt the city over top of the reactor to form a copper pot.  As such, the pressure will be contained and a massive explosion will be averted.  Rufina sets to assisting Dr. Morrow in this task.

Rex soon joins them, having jumped the gap left by the broken staircase.  As the situation is explained, he and David decide to return to the surface to regroup.  To their surprise, they find the broken staircase is repaired.

Meanwhile, Ruby meets with Father Seward and Jeb.  Jeb tells them to flee; that he will hold off whatever comes.  They wish him the best and leave the tower.

The city outside the tower is crumbled, but apparently starting to rebuild itself of its own accord.  Just as they start to leave the front steps, a mechanical pterodactyl with two constables riding — one piloting, the other armed with a gun — tries to swoop over them.  Father Seward fires at the thing as he and Ruby retreat to The Well.

Once inside, they meet with Jeb again and explain the patrol outside.  As they do so, the lift descends to reveal Mr. Thane.  Words are exchanged, and he pulls a gun.  Ruby fires and takes cover as Jeb, Seward, and Thane exchange gunfire.  In the shootout, Jeb falls and Thane shoots out much of Seward's midsection.  Realizing that Father Seward is a revenant — and revealing himself as the same — he starts aiming for the head.  Father Seward does likewise.

Despite blowing off a piece of Seward's skull, Thane decides that it is not worth it and flees.  Father Seward runs to the lift to deliver a parting shot, but misses.  He returns to check on Jeb as David and Rex arrive.  Father Seward prays over Jeb to no avail.

It appears that Jeb is dead.

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

No real dramatic irony in this game.  A lot of strange things happened without full explanation.  Why did The Doctor let us go?  What was Bashiel's plan?  Where has Jeb been?

There is a rather unfortunate chance that we'll learn what precisely is happening next session, when we all die and our GM explains the plot of the game to us.  I'm not planning for a TPK, but things are grim enough that it's in the back of my mind.

I've pretty much made my peace with the idea that Father Seward won't survive this, though.  If you know anything about Deadlands combat, know that Father Seward has one wound in his right leg, three wounds in his right arm, five wounds in his guts, and four wounds in his head.  One more head wound will kill him (that's any one attack dealing five or more points of damage to his head, because he's Scrawny).

Although I've been expecting Father Seward to die (permanently) for much of the game now, so we'll see.

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