In this mission, we had to patrol the map, waiting for the “suspects” (an ogrun bruiser, a gobber cutthroat, a Rhulic mercenary and a trollkin scout) to show up at one of the doors at the map’s edge. When a suspect showed up, they would then make a break for another door. If even one escaped, we’d lose. We therefore had to “apprehend” them (i.e. employ violence) before they managed to give us the slip, while also dealing with the roaming thugs; definitely a step up in difficulty. There was also two Side Quest cards in this mission, though one of them would’ve summoned a rampaging steamjack for us to deal with; we’d have to hope we picked the right one first.
Suspects don’t show up in the first turn; instead we started to mop up the thugs, something easily done with heavyweights like Gardek and Doorstop, and Milo’s explosive grenades. Em was starting to get the hang of using Canice as well; Pog and Doorstop are fairly straight-forward (charge Doorstop at an enemy, apply mace, repeat) compared to Canice’s various tricksy Feat abilities and different Rune Shots. However, Canice is still fairly fragile, and she started taking some hits.
The trollkin scout was the first to show up, and Milo easily took him out with an acid grenade. One down, three to go! On the next turn, the gobber cutthroat showed up but Em had set Doorstop up in a narrow corridor, and he lived up to his name, locking down that particular entry point and stopping the gobber from getting away; the little guy’s knives just couldn’t get through Doorstop’s armour. Pog meanwhile did what he does best; go after Side Quests! Thankfully we didn’t set off the rampaging steamjack, and with another lucky boosted STR check, we obtained a tonic that would help us in future adventures against medium- and large-sized enemies.
Meanwhile Gardek and Canice were clearing a path through the thugs. Canice was down to under half health after taking a bite from the Devil Rat Swarm that the Environment deck threw at us, but Gardek was still fighting fit. An interesting occurrence came up when Gardek was engaged with a sword thug and there were some crossbowmen near by; going by enemy tactics, they couldn’t actually do anything to him, as they couldn’t shoot into the square containing an ally, and even if they advanced into the same square, they still can’t shoot and have no melee attack. I read the rules later and we didn’t seem to have made a mistake. Very odd; it just seemed a bit too easy for one hero to be able to “soft-lock” three enemies like that.
Anyway, Doorstop smashed the gobber. The Rhulic mercenary turned up next, and walked straight into a bullet from Canice, and an acid grenade from Milo; down he went. One to go!
The ogrun bruiser showed up near Gardek, who was racking up the XP by smashing his way through thugs. The ogrun tried to sneak around Gardek, but I used a Counter Charge Feat card to head him off and do some damage. Gardek and the ogrun squared off, and Gardek did some more damage. The ogrun hit him back, and I used a Vengeance Feat card to make a counter-attack, do the last point of damage and win the mission!
We’d earned a lot more XP this time round, so it was time to buy new skills and abilities! (Em graciously let me, the “expert geek” pick the upgrades for her characters) The abilities are the expected mix of extra health, extra damage, improved accuracy, etc, and obviously the more powerful the ability is, the more XP is costs. We had 19 each, included the XP we’d saved up from the first mission.
The cool thing about learning new abilities in Undercity is that each character has several potential “builds”; Milo for example can choose to focus on improving his healing abilities, his grenades, or his knifework.
Canice took Armoured Greatcoat, improving her survivability, and Rune Shot: Accuracy, meaning that she’s not likely to miss. She has 5 XP remaining.
Milo took Potent Acid, increasing the Power of his acid grenades, and Anatomical Precision, one of my favourite abilities from Warmachine/Hordes; if he hits something, it’s definitely taking damage no matter how bad I roll. He has 1 XP remaining.
Pog took Drive: Ancillary Attack to let Doorstop make an extra attack during his turn, and Superior Control. Pog’s Feat cards specify if they affect him or Doorstop; with Superior Control, Feat cards that can normally only be used on Pog can now also be used on Doorstop. He has 1 XP remaining.
Gardek took Great Strength: Rapid Strike, allowing him to make an extra melee attack on his turn. He has 7 XP left, and I’m torn between saving up for Great Strength: Rusher (10 XP, makes him faster) or Legendary Hero (a whopping 18 XP, but lets him pick two Great Strength buffs per turn instead of one).
We’ll be taking a break from Undercity for a while as Em’s out of the country on holiday for three weeks (and yes, I am jealous), but we’ll be diving back in as soon as we can. The plot is thickening, and I think it may have something to do with the Cephalyx model waiting for me in the bottom of the box…
Monday’s session was fairly quick, and went in a direction I hadn’t planned for but definitely should’ve anticipated; still, it was all good fun, if you can call shoot-outs in the Fragmented States of Aurelia fun…
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev), Jebediah Underwood (Joe).
An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.
So after that little incident on the train, the Dwytes and Jeb eventually arrive in River’s End, the Dwyte’s hometown. Neither of them have been home since the family home was destroyed five years ago, but it seems that little has changed. Jeb is eager to get to old Dwyte mansion and look for the knife that he was promised years ago, but it’s been a long day, and besides, John’s already headed for the saloon.
They pass the night without incident; John drowns his sorrows, Magnus plays poker, and Jeb displays a talent for the piano. John lets it slip that he and his brother are back in town, and that causes a bit of a stir amongst the townsfolk. While playing poker, Magnus hears some mutterings about a young man who was brutally killed by the notorious Morgan “The Branded” and his Red Brands gang. This makes him nervous as the last time he saw Morgan, things got a little… heated.
The night wears on, and the group retires. Joe continues to play his miserly priest role to the hilt and demands free bed and board at the local church; his new catchphrase is a bombastic “YOU WOULD NOT DENY A MAN OF THE LORD…” and then insert whatever goods, services, etc as appropriate. It’s pretty damn funny so I’m letting him get away with it for now.
Oh yeah, that duergar relic they got from the Butler last time. Call me weird, but the first way I thought of describing it was like a chunky glass-fronted pocket watch, kind of like Rosette’s soul-watch from Chrono Crusade, which I may have rewatched in its entirety fairly recently, so shut up.
They poke and prod at the relic, but nothing happens. They clearly need to take it to one of the few experts on duergar relics in the Territories, such as at the Academy in New Varn, but that’s a job for another day.
They do a bit of shopping in town and Trev and Joe spend their hard-earned money; Trev gets some big bang bullets for his shiny new sawn-off and a speed loader, and Joe gets some knuckle dusters (he pays extra to get them inscribed with HOLY and WAR!) and a bullwhip even though he’s not proficient with it, because he loves to have his characters use weird weapons. If you haven’t read about his trident, you should.
Loaded up, they go and see the local sheriff to inquire about the Red Brands and the safety of the area. The sheriff assures them that the rumours of Red Brand activity are exaggerations, and that everything’s fine. He gets a bit funny with them when they say they want to go up to the old Dwyte manor, but doesn’t stop them; he just thinks that it would be a waste of time. He also mentions the bounty on bringing in Red Brands, dead or alive, and the very sizeable bounty on the head of Morgan “the Branded”. Darryl gets dollar signs in his eyes…
They head out, and on the way out of town, John gets a shock when he sees a carriage pull up next to a dressmakers, and his ex-fiancee Mildred gets out! She doesn’t see him (and probably wouldn’t recognise him anyway) and heads into the dressmakers. Magnus stops his brother from rushing after her.
“John, now’s not the time!”
“I just miss her SO much!” He gets a hold of himself, and brushes himself down. He’s in a state; he’s exactly as dirty and disheveled as you’d imagine a drunken penniless ex-military gun-for-hire would be. “When we get back,” he says firmly, “I’m gettin’ a shave and a haircut, an’ a proper suit. You’re right; can’t have her seein’ me like this.” Magnus rolls his eyes, but humours his brother’s attempt to try and woo back his ex-fiancee. Jeb just wants them to get a move on.
They walk to the burned-out Dwyte manor which has remained standing for the past five years. I let Trev and Darryl describe it (it’s their characters’ home after all), though I cut them off when they inevitably get carried away and start getting into fucking Tracey Island territory.
They go into the house, and unsurprisingly it’s in pretty bad shape. They go down into the basement and after a bit of searching, they find a strongbox hidden in the old furnace (along with a crate full of unspoiled bottles of the family vineyard’s red, which they all take two bottles of). Jeb reveals he has a key for the strongbox, and he opens it to reveal that yes, it is the knife he’s been looking for. He immediately tucks it away in his pocket before either of the Dwytes can get a good look. Hmm…
With the knife retrieved, and no other reasons for staying, the three of them head back outside so that they can head back to town. And that’s when the Red Brands ride up; six of them, and the big guy at the front of the group has a very distinctive marking on his face…
“Well, well. Magnus and Jonathan Dwyte. This must be my lucky day.”
Yes, they come face-to-face with Morgan “the Branded” Redd. He and his goons aim their guns at Jeb and the Dwytes, and demand that the Dwytes surrender and come with them. Morgan drops some hints that although he’d love to string them up and fill them full of holes, his “employer” has requested otherwise. He also twists the knife and taunts Magnus about the “last time he visited the house”; remember, Darryl’s character John thinks that it was his superior officer in the military who burned down the house and killed their family, and Trev’s character Magnus has never told him otherwise.
“We’ll talk about this later, brother.”
John shoves both Magnus and Jeb back inside the house, then does a Max Payney bullet timey fall back-while-shooting thing. They’re going to make the Red Brands work for it!
The fight is over quickly, mostly because my dice sucked. The Red Brands missed their shots, Morgan fluffed both shots of his volcano gun, and the best I got was a lucky critical on Trev (which dropped him, but Joe was there to immediately heal him); meanwhile, from the cover of the house, the three of them managed to pick off all the Red Brands- Darryl got three of them by himself, three of which were with his shiny new revolver Songbird – and put a dent in Morgan, but not before I’d revealed that Morgan’s distinctive facial scar was actually a Stigmata… Morgan “the Branded” is an Apostle as well!
Seeing his men blown apart, Morgan decided to turn tail and run, shouting about revenge and blah blah blah.
“Huh. That was a thing.”
But smart quips won’t stop John smacking his brother in the face and demanding to know the truth. Magnus tells John was really happened, while Jeb stands around probably feeling a bit awkward. John clams up, and they head back into town. They turn in the bounty for the Red Brands they killed, sell the carbines that the outlaws were using, and go on a further spending spree. John keeps his promise and gets himself cleaned up, and upon exiting the tailors, looking all swish and suave, bumps into Mildred just as she’s leaving the dressmakers; what a coincidence!
“Jonathan? Is that you?”
Yes, we rp’d a “bumping-into-an-ex” conversation, because shut up. A brief but polite and pleasant chat was had (John only screamed “I LOVE YOU TAKE ME BACK” once), and Mildred invited John up to the house that evening so that they could catch up properly.
The Reaper’s Tally: 2 witches, 5 train robbers, 5 Red Brand gang members.
All in all, a resounding success. I mean, yeah, they were meant to lose that fight and get captured, but that’s how the dice fall. Now I’ve got to come up with a totally different plot! Now that Jeb has this mysterious dagger, what’s their next move? What does he need it for? And you can bet that Morgan Redd won’t take his defeat lightly, he’ll be back and with more men. And who’s this “employer” he’s talking about? So many questions, and so little time. That’s how it is out in the Territories.
So, our last session was more rp-focused and chatty… nothing wrong with that, but it was time to mix it up with some good old fashioned violence.
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev), Jebediah Underwood (Joe).
An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.
After causing havoc in Saint Pelor and being sort-of-but-not-actually-quite responsible for the death of a local rich girl (to be fair, she was plotting against her family, maybe-sort-of-possibly), the Dwytes rendezvous with Jebediah, who went off to do his own thing off-screen. Joe and I had talked out of the game to make sure he had a good backstory, and he finally came clean with the Dwytes; their family had promised to give him an ancient knife, a historical relic (though not of dwarf origin) of some significance. Jeb was under the impression that the knife was still in the family’s secret vault, in the basement of the Dwyte home back in River’s End.
With nothing keeping them in Saint Pelor, the group bought tickets for the next morning’s train (Jeb threatened the clerk with everlasting damnation if he didn’t get a discount). Trev also decided that he needed something with a bit more punch than his derringer, so bought a sawn-off shotgun from the local gunsmith (and ammunition when I reminded him). They spent the rest of the day in the saloon, drinking and playing poker. I’d actually forgotten that gambling and playing cards are covered as a tool proficiency, so after he won some more money, I let Trev gain that as a proficiency. D&D 5th is very tight about letting players gain new proficiencies if you’re not using feats; my rule is that if someone has succeeded multiple times, they’ve earned it. I did the same in Phandelver with Barry Arrers and Bluff, and Loki and History.
In the morning, they head to the station to catch their train. They’re asked to hand in their weapons – this may be my 21st century thinking, and it may not be exactly how train travel may have happened in the real Wild West, but I’d figured that there’d be reservations about letting heavily armed people onto public transport. The weapons are locked away in a secure carriage, along with other cargo. John manages to keep a hold of his knife, Magnus keeps his derringer in its concealed arm-slide a secret, and Jeb’s allowed to keep his bow, provided that he hands in the arrows.
While they’re waiting to embark, Magnus spots the Forrester butler, the one who was snooty to them. He has a suspicious looking briefcase with him. Magnus decides to keep an eye on him…
Meanwhile, there’s a disturbance at the station entrance. A group of Aurelian Army soldiers are refusing to hand in their weapons, and things look in danger of escalating as the officer argues with the station guards.
“These men are heroes returning from a long tour of duty, damn it! You can’t ask them to surrender their weapons! Have you no decency sir?”
John steps in and uses his military knowledge to support the station guards, and say that, yes, the soldiers absolutely have to give up their weapons if they’re not on duty. The soldiers grumble, but the officer settles them down and tries to make nice with John, asking him about his record of service and so on. John is wary of the officer, and mentions a regiment that sounds plausible but doesn’t actually exist. The officer doesn’t comment on this. Hmmm…
The train’s ready to depart, so the group settles in. There are two large passenger carriages, a dining carriage with a bar, a first class carriage at the rear of the train, and the cargo carriage at the front of the train. The Dwytes and Jeb sit in the same carriage as the butler. Once the train’s underway, a plan is devised.
“I don’t like the look of that butler. What’s he doing getting out of town so soon after his mistress has passed on?”
“And I don’t trust those soldiers. Somethin’ ain’t right about them.”
Thus begins a lot of back-and-forthing as each character tries to ingratiate themselves to each group. Magnus talks to the butler, who is frosty to say the least.
“I have no interest in working for a family such as the Forresters who have ties to organisations such as the Quiet Brothers. I have associates in River’s End; I am planning to obtain new employment there. Now, good day Mr. Dwyte. I have little wish to be disturbed further.”
John instead manages to get the officer away from the soldiers, apologising for causing a scene at the station and hoping there’s no hard feelings. He leads the officer away to the dining car for a drink. While he’s gone, Jeb ingratiates himself with the soldiers, blessing them and generally chatting to them; they’re grateful for the attention, and Joe hopes that he’ll be able to get some more information about them.
In the dining car, John proposes a common army drinking game, “Chase the Whore” (Darryl assured me that it’s a real game, but Google has come up with some results that, while making for interesting reading, are definitely *not* drinking games). A bit of world-building chat establishes that it’s a game that nearly all enlisted men would know, but the officer doesn’t seem to know the rules. John’s well-founded suspicions grow stronger…
(I also tell Darryl that the officer has a very fancy looking revolver with a mother-of-pearl inlaid handle… his eyes lit up at the prospect of loot).
During this time, Jeb and Magnus have swapped; Jeb is now trying to get some information out of the butler (with no luck) and Magnus does some card tricks and sleight of hand to entertain the soldiers. The officer returns after a few drinks with John, and doesn’t seem to mind Magnus’s presence. Meanwhile, John and Jeb discuss what little they’ve learned.
Things were starting to drag a little, so I time-skip ahead an hour or so and have a train guard come through with a hand bell, announcing that they’d be pulling into the next station in fifteen minutes. At a nod from the officer, three of the soldiers get up and go through to the cargo car, where all the weapons are being kept.
“Where are they going?”
(putting a heavy hand on Magnus’s shoulder to keep him seated) “Oh, don’t worry about them. You just stay there.”
Well, it doesn’t take an Insight check to read how the situation is probably going to unfold. Trev rolls a really good Acrobatics check to wriggle out of the officer’s grip, and lunges for the emergency brake cord, yanking it and bringing the train to an abrupt screeching halt. Passengers are thrown out of their seats, and the soldiers collapse in a pile. Trev nails a second Acrobatics check to sashay out of the crush, and runs back to the second carriage, where his the others are.
“Jonathan! VIOLENCE IS IMMINENT!”
“You always say the nicest things Magnus.”
Yes, the “soldiers” are actually here to rob the train! Fortunately Magnus has forced them to put their plan into motion before they were ready, but even so, they have access to guns and the heroes don’t. John has his knife, Magnus his derringer, and Jeb… umm… harsh language? Things are going to be tough…
For this session, I wanted to try out “Popcorn Initiative”, a rules variant proposed by The Angry DM. I won’t go into details (but you should absolutely follow that link and read the article, because it’s great stuff), but it’s essentially a diceless, more narrative method of determining the order in which participants in the encounter act.
The train guards come through, and Magnus points them to the soldiers in the next car. He goes with them since he has, you know, a gun. Jeb decides to go and raid the first class car (Joe was desperate to get into there all night only to be denied entrance by the guard) and try and scare a gun off a passenger. Darryl instead declares “screw this” and has John jump off the train and sneak along the outside to try and get the drop on the robbers.
As the guards and Magnus burst into the first carriage, they see the officer and his cronies roughing up passengers for money and valuables. The train guards raise their guns and order them to stop. The officer grabs a young woman as a hostage, holding a knife to her throat. Magnus acts the hero and cracks off a shot with his derringer, bursting a lamp above the officer and showering him with glass and oil. The officer is startled, and the young woman is able to get away to safety. At the sound of gunfire, the other passengers start panicking. It’s at that point when the other three soldiers come back with guns…
Jeb bursts into one of the first class compartments, and encounters a grumpy old rich man; exactly the kind of person who’d probably have a holdout pistol for self-defence. This is confirmed when he aims it at Jeb.
“Sir, I’m going to have to request that you give me that weapon.”
I get Joe to roll Intimidate, and he easily succeeds; we decide that Jeb flashes his golden Stigmata eye and proclaims he’s an agent of the Lord. The old man quickly hands over the derringer. It’s better than nothing…
The three thugs who have returned open fire with paired sixshooters, wounding and dropping one of the guards and injuring a few bystanders. Magnus dives for cover, snatching up the incapacitated guard’s sixshooter. Meanwhile, John has snuck down the side of the train, and throws himself at one of the thugs who’s taking cover in the gap between carriages. Darryl rolls really well on his check to grapple the guy, and I let him spend a Destiny point to instantly kill the unaware thug with a quick knife to the face. He snatches up the two sixshooters, and takes aim…
As he runs back to the firefight, Jeb bumps into the butler in the dining car. The butler is making a dignified retreat, his grip on the briefcase still strong.
“Gunfire and I don’t tend to mix well, sir.”
He brushes past Jeb without another word. Joe is itching to use his new Small Miracle ability that lets him read minds, so he reaches out in an attempt to find out what’s going on in the butler’s mind, and what might be in that mysterious case.
The butler doesn’t have a mind to read. Instead, there’s a horrifying black gulf of screaming oblivion where a mind should be.
Jeb actually takes damage from this, and it’s only a successful Will saving throw that stops him being knocked prone and temporarily stunned. Guess that butler’s not all he seems to be… Joe wisely decided to use his Holy Weapon ability on the derringer as the butler makes his escape.
Back in the first carriage, things are getting crazy. The officer retreats back behind his men, while the others now have to divide their attention between Magnus and John. For Trev, I apply the following rule while he’s shooting in the carriage; either make a normal attack roll, but a miss will hit a passenger, or make attack rolls with disadvantage and don’t risk hitting civilians. Trev decides to go ahead without the penalty. Given his average rolls, probably the smart move.
He wings one of the thugs, who rushes him and attempts a grapple. Natural 1, against Trev’s natural 20 to avoid it. I let him get a free pistol whip and instant headshot combo for that. Never say that I don’t let my players be badass. While that’s going on, John casually murders another thug with his “borrowed” guns. The robbers are down by three now, only the officer and two others are left. This heist is not exactly going as planned…
Jeb chases after the butler, and they swap shots. The butler jumps off the train and makes a run for it, but Joe gets a critical hit. I say that the butler drops his briefcase from the pain, and decides his cut his losses and make a run for it, but not without a hate-filled glare back at the preacher. Jeb sweeps in and snatches up the briefcase…
The Dwytes kill another thug between them, and then just as the “officer” has gotten his hands on a gun, John casually puts a bullet between his eyes, finishing him. The final “soldier” surrenders, but John gives him a smack in the mouth anyway.
Some order is restored; the two train guards and the wounded passengers are all treated, and the group questions the surviving robber, who confirms their suspicions; that they stole some uniforms and were planning to use the takings of this job to try and secure employment with a certain infamous gang boss who’s currently holed up in River’s End; Morgan “the Branded” Redd, someone who Magnus is unfortunately acquainted with…
The robber – who gives his name as Cletus Jackson – promises to go straight, and with Jeb’s blessing, becomes a born-again do-gooder on the spot. They drop him off in Dusty Gulch, where he promises that he’ll keep his ear to the ground and give them what information he can. The group’s web of contacts is growing.
The train then continues to River’s End. The three of them are given first class accommodation for their part in stopping the robbery, on top of the loot they take from the dead thugs; some money and ammunition, and Darryl calls dibs on the fancy mother-of-pearl revolver the officer had, which has the name Songbird inscribed on it; it’s a master-crafted (+1 to hit/damage) sixshooter, not that Darryl’s character needs help in either of those departments.
On the subject of loot, there’s also the briefcase taken from the butler. Upon opening it, they find a small ornate box… exactly the same kind that was taken from the Forrester vault last time. This basically confirms that the butler is working for the Quiet Brothers, and you can bet that he’ll want the contents back. The box is opened to reveal a mysterious duergar relic that can do…
Something. I haven’t decided yet. But I will.
New Ally Gained! Cletus Jackson, former criminal.
New Loot Gained! Songbird (master-crafted sixshooter), duergar relic.
The Reaper’s Tally: 2 witches, 5 train robbers.
A really good fun session; everyone got to shine using their various abilities, the plot is thickening, and the Popcorn Initiative went so well that we’re going to use it going forward; I think it helped that I was using playing cards and poker chips to keep track of things, which gave it a nice thematic touch.
Next session is on Monday, when the Dwytes will be heading home, and Jeb will be searching for what was promised to him. I can’t see any potential complications with –
I’ve been looking forward to getting my mitts on this bad boy for a while now, ever since I saw the teaser and how-to-play videos a few months ago. A co-operative dungeon crawler set in the Iron Kingdoms, with steamjacks and gunmages and trollkin and all the other cool shit from Warmachine and Hordes? Hell yes.
I managed to coerce convince Emma that she really wanted to play through the campaign, and we made a start on it today!
So, quick background. If you’re familiar with Descent, or any other kind of dungeon crawler, you know what to expect. Undercity is an RPG-lite experience, where each player takes control of a character (in this case a trollkin warrior, a human alchemist, a human gunmage, or a gobber mechanic and his pet steamjack) and completes quests in the catacombs of Corvis, one of the Iron Kingdom’s major cities. If you’ve played Warmahordes before, you’ll be familiar with the mechanics; 2D6 + modifers to beat target score. The rules are similar to the tabletop wargame version, but simplified slightly, especially in terms of movement and combat.
As it’s a co-op game, there’s no DM or Overlord equivalent controlling the enemies, but instead a deck of Villain cards that determine which enemies activate. How those enemies activate is worked out by looking at their tactics, checking their target priority, and so on. It’s all very thorough. It was a little tricky to get our heads round at first, but it quickly made sense.
So, we set up the map for the first mission, Body of Evidence, and then fought for room to put down tokens, cards, reference sheets, models… definitely a game that requires some time and significant space to set up!
In this mission, we had to get to the body of a dead City Watch agent and recover the evidence he had on him relating to an alchemic smuggling ring. Unfortunately a criminal gang were lying in wait to stop us…
Emma took Candice the gunmage, and Pog and Doorstop, the gobber ‘jack marshal and his steamjack. That left me with Gardek Stonebrow the trollkin warrior, and Milo Boggs the alchemist. And off we went!
We started off by storming straight ahead; the first Event caused fog that would make ranged attacks less accurate. Fine by me, all those crossbow thugs lining up against us was pretty intimidating. Some of the sword thugs rushed towards us, but Doorstop and Gardek made short work of them. Candice and Milo just twiddled their thumbs.
Next round, we got Clumsy Thugs as an Event, which meant that the thugs would do less damage with their attacks. Good stuff! Candice fluffed her shot, Milo melted a thug with an acid bomb, Doorstop continued to wreck house while Pog ran off to go and investigate the Side Quest card, and Gardek rushed closer towards the body.
As you can see in the photo, some sword thugs had ganged up on Doorstop, and were whittling him down. He could take it though, at least until Pog got back.
On the third round, our event was one that would’ve given the thugs boosted attack rolls. Emma used Pog’s Feat card Scout to disregard that card and draw another one; Ominous Silence, no effect! Canice and Milo continued their tradition of not getting much done, Doorstop smashed some more thugs, and the Side Quest card turned out to be a Fear Gas Grenade! Emma made a truly spectacular STR check for the weedy Pog and we had some new Loot! Meanwhile Gardek checked the body and recovered the evidence, which meant that the boss showed up. It was a 50/50 chance of being either an Ogrun bruiser or a Rhulic mercenary, and we got the short angry man, along with some more goons!
On our final round, Canice aimed and used a Perfect Aim Feat card to knock one health off the Rhulic gang boss, and Milo tried (and failed) to take out a crowd of thugs with a frag grenade. The mission came to an end though when Doorstop left the thugs he was fighting (taking some damage from a free strike) and after being buffed up by Feat cards, rolled so well on his attack against the Rhulic boss that he did SUPER DAMAGE and finished him off!
With that, the mission was won! The other thugs ran off, and all that was left was to divide up the XP. Each character ended up with 4 XP, which isn’t great; I suppose we could’ve farmed XP by killing more thugs… perhaps next time! After checking our character’s Ability decks, nothing really stands out; upgrades don’t start getting really good until the 8+ XP mark. The nice thing is that we can save XP between missions, but it does mean that we’ll be going into Mission 2 without any new tricks…
All in all, a great first game! There’s a lot to keep track of, what with enemy spawning, Feat cards (which is a great mechanic by the way), and Second Wind abilities (which we definitely forgot). Definitely looking forward to next Sunday where we’ll be following up on the evidence we retrieved…
Hey hey, I’m still here. It’s been a while, I know, I’m sorry. Been working on a story. Well, a novel. It’s pretty exciting. I’m gabbling. You look great, by the way. We should go for a drink later. You’re buying.
It’s been a bit of nightmare recently trying to get the guys together to continue our D&D Wild West game, but we managed to squeeze in a quick session on Monday, and it was good fun all round!
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev).
An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.
So, last time, there was an… altercation with a pair of witches, but that’s all in the past now! Jeb remains tight-lipped about what he needs from the Dwyte brothers as they head towards Saint Pelor, the closest large town. The journey’s uneventful, and when they arrive into town, Jeb hops down off the wagon and tells the boys he’ll meet them later, after he’s taken care of some business of his own. Hurray for convenient excuses as to why certain characters aren’t taking part in the adventure!
(As a sidenote, Jeb will basically be a Gandalf-like figure, disappearing to pursue his own agendas and then reappearing again; this is a compromise Joe and I worked out to accommodate his schedule, as he doesn’t live locally to me like Trev and Darryl do).
With the rest of the day to kill, the brothers park their wagon and hit the local saloon. John immediately sets to spending his witch-killin’ money on some fine whiskey, while Magnus joins in a poker game that’s going on between four rich-looking gents. I get Trev to do a round of Bluff, Insight and Perception checks, and after passing more than he fails, I declare that he rakes in a tidy $150.
As he’s playing, one of the players – the group’s leader – introduces himself as Dudley Sinclair. Yes, Dudley. Yes, I’d thought of a better name, but I couldn’t remember it, and I’d already described him as being a gentleman pugilist sort of guy, so it stuck…
Magnus gives his name, and Dudley declares that he’s heard of the Dwytes, and that they may have met years ago at some social function or another when the Dwyte family wasn’t, you know, all brutally murdered and financially ruined. They start to chat…
Meanwhile John is “gathering intelligence” by staring at the barmaid’s cleavage, and does the standard RPG thing of asking for local news. The barmaid mentions that there’s going to a duel at high noon tomorrow between two local rich men; Gabriel Forrester… and Dudley Sinclair. John asks why they’re duelling…
… and Dudley explains to Magnus. He was out for a stroll one evening, when Gabriel ran right into him, clearly agitated. The two are from rival families anyway, so tempers inevitably flared and they argued back and forth, until Gabriel accused Dudley of being a thief, and demanded he returned what he stole. Dudley claimed not to have any idea what Gabriel was talking about, and was naturally insulted to be accused. One thing led to another, and soon a duel was declared. Dudley is confident he’ll win, as he’s simply better than Gabriel, but he regrets having to go through with it, because…
… the barmaid tells John that Dudley is romantically involved with Gabriel’s sister, Miriam. Everyone in town (especially Gabriel) knows, but it’s not official yet so no-one talks about it. “It’s a shame,” says the barmaid. “Whoever wins, that poor sweet girl’s going to lose one of the men she loves.” Neither man will back down for fear of losing respect and gaining a reputation as a coward (which is a big deal).
So, we have a duel between two unwilling men, an innocent girl caught in the middle, and a thief on the loose!
John and Magnus decide to go and talk to Gabriel; they think that maybe if they can find the thief and return what was stolen, the matter will resolve itself without the need for a duel. Plus, currying favour with some rich families won’t hurt.
They head to the Forrester house, and the door is answered by Snooty McButlerson.
(looking the Dwytes up and down as if they’re something he stepped in) “And who may I say is calling?”
“Tell Mr Forrester the Dwytes are here to see him. We can help him with his problem.”
The butler sighs and disappears into the house, and returns a few minutes later.
“The Dwytes, you say? Of River’s End?” *aristocratic sniff* “Please sirs, come in.”
The brothers go inside and they’re greeted by Miriam Forrester, your standard Southern Belle archetype. Big fluffy dress, blonde ringlets, breathless exclamations of “oh mah stars!”… you get it.
“Mr. and Mr. Dwyte! What a privilege it is to welcome you into my home! Pappy had told me such horrible things about your sudden decline in fortune, but I am overjoyed to see that the Dwyte name is still strong and alive in you two fine gentlemen! My brother is attending to business in town, but perhaps I can be of service to you?”
(At this point Darryl mimed unzipping his jeans, because in his mind every line of dialogue is innuendo)
“We heard about the… ah… issue between your brother and Mr. Sinclair. We were wondering if we could help.”
“Well I’m glad that someone in this forsaken town will! All they seem to care about is placin’ bets on who will win. No one’s stoppin’ to think on just how pig-headed the two of them are being! I’m most distressed!” *lace hanky* (is it weird I had way too much fun roleplaying this?)
John cuts to the chase by asking what was stolen. Miriam takes them down into the family vault, which is your standard big safe door with combination lock jobby. Miriam tells them that only she, her brother, and their father know the combination. The vault door itself doesn’t show signs of being damaged or forced. When she opens the vault, the Dwytes see that the contents – gold bars, antiques, lockboxes, etc – are all untouched. Miriam tells them that the only thing that was taken was a small silver box, the kind that a lady may keep jewelry in. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know what was in the box, or why it was taken.
At that point, Gabriel arrives home and comes down to join them. He’s red-faced and clearly not in a great mood.
“Miriam! What’s going on here?” (to the Dwytes) “Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?”
John’s hard-wired instinct is to get a gun in Gabriel’s face, but Magnus smooths things out by explaining their presence. Gabriel calms down, and when he does it’s apparent that he’s in a state. He explains that he came downstairs one night and encountered a cloaked and hooded figure escaping the house, and he gave chase. While chasing, he lost them, bumped into Dudley, and things got out of hand, accusations were flung around, etc. He knows full well that Dudley probably isn’t the thief (at least not directly), and will probably kill him in the duel. Gabriel obviously doesn’t want to go ahead with the duel, but he doesn’t want to back down and admit he was wrong for fear of the consequences it would have for his family’s reputation. As mentioned, taking the sensible/cowardly way out is a big no-no in the Territories, what with their Wild West sense of values.
He accepts the Dwyte’s help in locating the thief and the stolen object.
“And what exactly was taken, Mr Forrester? Seems that the thief was mighty particular.”
Gabriel is reluctant to spill the beans, but Magnus gets it out of him by simply refusing to help until he has more information. Eventually Gabriel tells him; the silver box contained a relic of the duergar.
Background Break! The duergar are the setting’s equivalent of dwarfs. They came to the Territories a few centuries ago to settle, but something Really Bad happened (no-one knows what but some think it’s something to do with the Silent City across the Dry Sea to the west). Now it’s believed that the duergar are extinct, though some of their old strongholds are still standing. They were also very technologically advanced; while the humans were just about getting the hang of gunpowder, the duergar had mage-tech ray guns and power armour.
A duergar relic is big news, and regardless of what it is or what it does, there’s plenty of people who’d want to get their hands on it. Trev’s Insight check is pretty good, so I let him know that there’s something else that Gabriel isn’t telling them, but they decide to leave it for now. Gabriel tells them that there’s some other matters he has to take care of in town (a telegram to his father, coffin measurements, etc) and he leaves.
The Dwytes start their investigation in true Agatha Christie style by questioning the staff; the butler, and some maids. Unsurprisingly, none of them know anything about the theft, all of them claiming to be asleep in the servant’s quarters. Miriam sits with them during the questioning to offer moral support to the staff. John then gets the idea to question Miriam, who may know a bit more than she’s let on. However, whereas Magnus has been getting answers with gentle questions and empathy, John decides to just go ahead and grab Miriam and shake an answer out of her. Eesh.
Miriam admits that her brother and father had some shady business dealings; apparently the Forresters weren’t doing so well, so they got help from the Quiet Brothers.
Background Break! When I was sketching up background details for the game, at first I imagined the Quiet Brothers to be a standard Mafia-style organisation. Then I decided to go all out and make them an all-powerful “man pulling the strings” Illuminanti-esque group, i.e. the sort of thing that everyone talks about and suspects exists, but may or may not *actually* exist. Put it this way; I asked for Superstition checks to find out about them, rather than any other knowledge-related skill.
John doesn’t really know too much about the Brothers, but we decide that Magnus may have had brushes with them before; his old friend/rival Jace Garrett happens to know a guy who knows a guy who may work for them. The Brothers are definitely the group who’d want to get a duergar relic; the implication that the thief is someone who was working for the Brothers, and they decided that the relic in the vault was suitable payment.
Miriam collapses after that, mumbling something about how she’s said too much. John and Magnus ignore her and head out to find Gabriel and Dudley so that they can talk the whole thing out. Dudley’s still at the saloon, and Gabriel’s at the telegram office. The Dwytes keep the peace by telling them that they’re onto some new information, and make the two promise that if they can find the thief that they’ll call off the duel. Both of them agree, and try not to sound too grateful about it.
Upon returning to the Forrester house, the servants are gone and Miriam’s nowhere to be found. The four of them search the house, Gabriel grabbing a few derringers from a desk drawer so that he and Dudley both have guns.
With a sense of grim finality, they go down into the basement, to the vault. It’s locked, and Gabriel opens it.
Inside, they find Miriam. She’s dead. There’s not a mark on her, so it looks like she’s died of natural causes. However, Magnus knows enough about the Quiet Brothers to know that some of their agents know Diabolic Arts (which I make sure that Trev and Darryl know are *very* different from witchcraft like they encountered last time) which could be used to kill someone without leaving a mark on the body.
Miriam’s holding a scrap of paper. Written on it is “Consider the debt repaid.” Was she a loose end, or was she killed purely to send a message?
Both Gabriel and Dudley are understandably devastated at Miriam’s death. Gabriel tries to vain to revive her.
“This is your fault, Gabriel! You and your damn father’s! She’s dead because of you! My sweet Miriam…” He aims the gun at Gabriel. “Looks like I won’t have to wait until high noon!”
I call for Trev and Darryl to make initiative checks (in hindsight, Reflex would’ve been more suitable. Eh). Neither of them are faster than Dudley, and he shoots Gabriel in the chest at point blank range. Magnus immediately goes to help Gabriel, who hasn’t died instantly (because, come on… derringer) while John grapples with Dudley and smacks some sense into him (amusingly, that was the only attack roll made in the entire session).
Things are looking for bad for Gabriel; Magnus tears some material from Miriam’s dress and uses it to put pressure on the wound, but he’s losing a lot of blood. Thankfully at that moment, Jeb shows up as if from nowhere!
“Step aside son.”
He uses his powers as an Apostle to miraculously heal Gabriel’s wound. Gabriel scrambles up and begs Jeb to do the same for his sister. Jeb just shakes his head sadly.
“Don’t work that way. Today was her day. I’m sorry.”
By now Dudley has recovered a bit, and after cursing Gabriel’s name, he storms off. Gabriel pulls himself together a bit, and thanks the Dwytes and Jeb. He reckons that the duel’s off; after all, Dudley did just shoot him. He’s grateful for their willingness to help, even though what happened was almost certainly going to happen anyway, with or without their involvement. He also tells the group that they can count on his family as allies if they ever need a favour.
“But for now, I have to make arrangements for my sister. So get the hell out of my house.”
They take the cue and leave. Later, in the saloon, as they’re contemplating the consequence of getting drawn into something involving the Quiet Brothers, Jeb finally comes clean and explains his agenda…
Which we’ll find out about next time!
New Ally Gained! Gabriel Forrester. Not so sure about his dad though…
The Reaper’s Tally: Still at 2. That’ll change…
Really good session this one, lots of social encounters and fun roleplaying which let Darryl and Trev develop their characters further as a gruff, no-nonsense problem solver and a smooth-talking people-person respectively. Next session will be bit a more action-y though; I’m not sure what the gunfighting equivalent of blue balls is, but Darryl was definitely suffering from it!
Updated 2nd-level character sheets by the way, if you’re interested in that sort of thing!
Despite the swarming of stinging insects in the room, John blasts the bee-vomiting Henrietta in the stomach. She stops hurling up bees, screams, and rolls off the bed.
Out in the street, Magnus, the girl’s parents, and the town elder all hear the gun shots. Magnus leaps down off the wagon and runs to help his brother. Because, you know, he’s got a derringer. Ooo, look out!
Henrietta springs up off the floor, and she’s… changed… in the last few seconds. Her eyes have gone compound, like an insect’s, and there’s weird bristles on her arms. In my 6S&S settings, I wanted witches to be more than just “naughty people with magical powers”. Hence, witches in the setting are more like mutants from the Marvel universe, specifically the Grant Morrison New X-Men run, when not all the mutants looked like Famke Janssen.
So yeah, witches are basically baby eldritch abominations, and no, I’ve never heard of Puella Magi Madoka Magica (bless you!), why do you ask?
She shrieks at them, and spits a gob of acid at John’s face, though thankfully he manages to dodge it. In response, Jeb blasts her with his holy weaponed six-shooter, blasting straight through her innate damage resistances to mortal weapons and leaving her on low health. The bees still keep swarming them though, and it’s starting to look bad.
By now, Magnus has run into the house. He sees the room full of bees and puts a shot through the window. John follows up by smashing out the glass, meaning that the bees have somewhere to go. Sure enough, the swarm starts filtering out of the window. Henrietta, seeing that Jeb has got a weapon that can definitely hurt her, takes her chances by leaping out of the window. As the watch, she dissolves into a swarm of bees herself, and drifts off. As she leaves, all the bees in the room fall to the floor, dead.
“Figger we should be askin’ her folks a few questions.”
The three of them confront Henrietta’s parents, and ask them all sorts of questions; how long was she ill, did anything out of the ordinary happen before she was sick, that sort of thing. The parents are in shock, and have no answers.
Magnus, sensing an opportunity to make some money, sidles up to the town elder.
“You know sir, we could track down that witch and get rid of it… for a price.”
Magnus and the town elder haggle back and forth, and it’s decided that they’ll each be paid $50 for killing the witch. There’s no sense capturing her, or trying to save her; when a person becomes a witch, they’re no longer themselves. There’s no cure, except for a high velocity metal injection between the eyes.
The parents come forward, and suggest a place where they may find Henrietta; a field of wild flowers about an hour’s walk from the town. People don’t usually go there even though it’s very pretty, but Henrietta usually went there and spent hours picking flowers. It’s not much, but it’s a start; it makes sense that she’d probably go somewhere familiar to recover from her injuries, plus she has that whole bee theme going any way. And yes, there was a near-endless parade of bee-related puns from Joe, Trev and Darryl.
The Dwytes leave their wagon as collateral. To ensure that the job’s done properly, the town sheriff orders his deputy/son Wyatt to go with the group. Wyatt is your stereotypical dumb, fat, “aww shucks Pa!” kind of character, but who knows, he may prove useful.
Henrietta’s parents are locked up while the town elder decides what to do with them (hint: it may involve a noose). They may have been ignorant of their daughter’s condition, but they were still sheltering a witch and in law-abiding places in the Territories, that’s a big no-no.
After taking a quick rest to heal up from the stings they received, the group borrow some horses and ride out. Eventually they find the field, which is full of red and white flowers. There’s also a wood cabin at the centre.
“Damn it Wyatt, why didn’t you say there was someone livin’ here?”
Oh, that cabin? It’s just where some crazy old lady lives, but that’s not relevant, is it?
The group surrounds the cabin; the Dwytes go round the back and Jeb and Wyatt take the front. As they advance, guns ready, a screechy woman’s voice comes from inside the cabin;
“Well well, look at you fine gen’lmen! I must say, you flatter an old girl with your visitations, but I must insist you vacate my property before I become a-vexed with you!”
“We’re here for the girl, ma’am. She’s a witch.”
“And there ain’t nothing wrong with that! You move along now, you hear, and leave her and me be.”
While this exchange has been happening, Magnus has snuck up to one of the windows at the back and peered into the cabin. It’s just one big room, cluttered with junk. At the centre of the room, hunched over, is Henrietta. She’s changed a bit more, and become even more of a strange human-insect hybrid.
An old lady appears at the window then, jump-scaring Magnus.
“Hell with this.”
John takes a shot at the old lady through the window, but a wall of vines grows up from the ground and blocks the window, deflecting the bullet. So we have two witches here, one with bees and one who can control plants. Great.
Swarms of bees smash through the windows and start circling the cabin. I know that the Monster Manual treats swarms of insects like normal monsters, but I ran them differently. In the MM, swarms have attack rolls and can be damaged by weapons, like normal creatures, which just seems… wrong. If you’re in the same space as a swarm of bees, you’re getting stung. If you shoot a gun at a swarm of bees, guess what, nothing happens. The bees were essentially roaming 5-foot cubes of GTFO. The group would have to take down the queen bee.
Magnus dodges the bees but is just in time to get body-slammed by Henrietta as she leaps out of the window at him, grappling him and knocking him down. Then she spits a load of acid on his face. Lovely. John rushes to the aid of his brother, narrowly avoiding some thorny vines that whip out of the ground and try to ensnare him.
Jeb and Wyatt burst in the cabin, guns blazing. Jeb misses his shot at the old lady, but Wyatt hits her, which she’s not happy about.
Magnus manages to break free of the grapple and rolls away in time for John to boot the younger witch in the ribs and shoot her at point blank range. She’s hurting, but still going; her thick insect-like exoskeleton absorbs most of the damage. She gets to her feet, and the bees start swarming round…
Inside the cabin, the old lady shrieks with rage and slashes Jeb with her razor-sharp nails. Jeb goes for a point-blank shot but misses. Bet he wished he’d saved his holy weapon ability for this fight. Wyatt takes another crack at her, and hits her again. Boy’s getting pretty damn good at this. It’s even funnier because we all decided that Wyatt would have disadvantage on his attack rolls to represent how incompetent he was.
The bees descend on the Dwyte brothers, but the two of them get clear before they’re stung to death. John finishes off Henrietta with two shots from his sixshooters, knocking her down into the flowers. Like before, all the bees instantly die and fall to the floor. That’s one down.
Back inside, the old lady screams as she feels the death of Henrietta. She commands the vines that were blocking the cabin window to fly inside and form a barrier between her, Jeb and Wyatt. The vines rush in, but unfortunately Wyatt’s to slow to dodge them, and he gets crushed and impaled against the far wall. Jeb takes a shot, but the vine-barrier blocks the shot. The old lady then whips the vines round like a wrecking ball, smashing down the rear wall of her cabin in a bid to hit all three of them; Jeb’s hit and knocked down, but the Dwytes manage to dodge it.
Magnus and John both manage to hit the old lady with a few more shots, but it’s Jeb who delivers the final shot from prone. Even better, it’s a critical, which is always nice for overkill. The old witch dies with a earsplitting scream. Just as with Henrietta and the bees, the old lady’s death has it’s own consequences; all the flowers in the field instantly wither and die. Guess it’s not going to be much of a picnic spot now.
The group take a scrap of Henrietta’s dress as proof of her death, and recover Wyatt’s corpse. He was only with them for a while, but they got attached to the guy, and he contributed more than any of us were expecting. Upon return to the town, the group collect their reward and deliver Wyatt’s body; they actually lie and say that Wyatt was the one who killed both witches, ensuring that the townsfolk will honour his memory.
With nothing left to do in Rusty Creek, Jeb and the Dwytes mount up and hit the trail for Saint Pelor.
“Preacher, what about the girl’s parents? Ain’t you gonna try and help them?”
“Their lives for you two, fair’s fair. Besides, she weren’t no girl.”
Damn Jeb, that’s cold.
So the three of them ride off into the sunset, off to start a grand adventure? What does Jeb need them for? We’ll find out next time. Unfortunately we’ll have a short hiatus due to summer holidays and whatnot, but rest assured we’ll be returning to the Territories to catch up with Father Jeb and the Dwyte brothers soon. The next session will be a bit more grounded in reality, and more “traditional” Wild West; some poker, a saloon brawl, a showdown… all that good stuff.
Level Up! More HP! Everyone’s proficiency bonus goes up to +2! John gets Ignore Pain (a 1/day healing ability), Magnus gets Lucky (a 1/day re-roll for an attack, skill check or saving throw), and Jeb gets Small Miracle (a 1/day manifestation of divine power, such as reading someone’s mind, moving an object, or creating water).
Ongoing Quests: Get to Saint Pelor.
Darryl hasn’t expressed his usual penchant for collecting grisly trophies (I was so certain he’d want to scalp people), so in lieu of that, I’m going to keep an account of everything these three have directly killed. I wonder if we’ll break triple digits by campaign’s end?
Alright, so let’s finally get some Wild West D&D underway!
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev), Jebediah Underwood (Joe).
An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman (that’s Wild West talk for Dungeon Master).
We begin our story in the sleepy little town of Rusty Creek, where’s there’s a lynching about to go down. Unfortunately, it’s the Dwyte boys who are being led up to the gallows. See, the folks of Rusty Creek don’t take kindly to strangers coming into town and scamming them out of their money. Magnus and John have been rumbled, and an angry mob has gathered to watch ’em swing.
While the mayor demonises them, Magnus spots a preacher in the crowd, and thinking quickly…
“Wait now! You wouldn’t condemn us to fiery damnation without a man of the Lord saying a few words for our immortal souls first now, would you?”
The town elder grumbles a bit, but allows it. The preacher, obviously, is Jebediah Underwood, who steps up onto the gallows. He looks the Dwyte boys up and down, then turns to the crowd. Joe nails his Perform check, and Jeb delivers an impassioned sermon about guilt and sin and redemption. He says that he knows the Dwytes have done wrong, but maybe there’s some good they can do in the world before their time comes. He then demands that they be freed, and that he’ll take full responsibility for them.
The town elder isn’t too keen on that, and is about to protest, but Jeb over-rules him by whipping off his eyepatch and displaying his glowing eye Stigmata, showing that he is an Apostle and blessed with divine powers and authority. The townspeople can’t really argue with that, and after much bowing and scraping, John and Magnus are freed, and their possessions returned. The town elder, still butt-hurt (he really wanted to see ’em swing) gives them an ultimatum; they may be free, but he wants them out of town by nightfall. John and Magnus are happy to oblige, eager to put this redneck murder-village behind them.
They get to talking with Jeb. Everyone puts on a broad Southern state accent. Lols are had.
“Preacher, why’d you save us?”
“Shit son, I can ask them to string you up again if you’re disappointed.”
“I been a lot of places and seen a lot of things preacher, and I ain’t never seen nobody doin’ somethin’ for free in these parts.”
“Damn right. You boys are stickin’ with me. I got a long damn journey ahead of me. Reckon I can count on a pair of Dwytes.”
“As long there’s cash and booze, I’m in.”
“Dang it John! You ain’t even worried about how this preacher knows who we are?”
“Son, I knew your folks, back in the day. Damn shame what happened to ’em. But I could always count on ’em, and I figure I can count on you two as well.”
They’re packing the wagon ready to go, when one of the townsfolk nervously approaches Jeb, and asks if he could say a prayer for his daughter, who’s been ill for the past few days. He’s heard that Apostles like Jeb have some kind of healing powers, and if it’s not too much trouble…? Jeb umms and aahs, but gives in when the man says that his wife will provide dinner.
The three of them go to the man’s house (he’s not happy about the Dwyte brothers coming along, but Jeb assures him that they’re harmless) and go to see the daughter, Henrietta. The family dog isn’t happy to see Jeb, and starts barking.
“Ah, don’t you fret. It’s the power I got. Spooks ’em.”
The girl is in bed, and looks ill and feverish. Jeb uses his healing touch, and there seems to be an instant change; the girl stops tossing and turning and groaning, and seems to settle down. Grateful, the man and his wife give Jeb and the Dwytes a meal of stew (though the Dwytes get less, along with disapproving glares from their hosts), and the group take their leave.
They go back to the wagon.
“So where we headin’, preacher? The more miles my brother and I put between ourselves and these folks, the better.”
“Saint Pelor. Maybe along the way I’ll tell you the reasons why.”
The town elder sidles up along with the town lawman to make sure the brothers leave, and make a few threats about what’ll happen if they ever show up in Rusty Creek again.
Suddenly the man they helped comes running down the street, and telling them to come quickly. “It’s my little Hetty!” he screams.
John and Jeb dismount. John’s already got his guns out.
“Now Magnus, you stay with these nice gentlemen.”
“Fine, you do mindless violence better’n me anyhow.”
John and Jeb burst into the house, and the first thing they notice is the screaming coming from upstairs. Jeb roars at the wife to get out, and she seems happy to oblige. Expecting the worst, Jeb uses his holy weapon ability on his sixshooter.
“I thought you healed her!”
Jeb just shrugs, as confused as John is. They go up the stairs, weapons ready. They don’t know what to expect, but the screams definitely don’t sound normal.
As they reach the top of the stairs, the screaming suddenly stops.
“Well shit, that can’t be good.”
Instead of screaming, they can hear a different noise now, like buzzing. John, having had quite enough for one day, decides to boot the door down, and gets a face full of BEES.
John gets the full brunt of it, and takes some damage. Jeb, at the back, gets off a little better. John blunders through into the girl’s room, and finds her on the bed, mouth wide open and vomiting forth an ever-expanding cloud of stinging insects.
“She’s a goddamn witch!”
Witches are very much Bad News in the Territories, and all bets are off if you find yourself up against one. Swatting away the bees that are mobbing him, John takes aim at Henrietta…