Last time, the group found out that their target, the Quiet Brother who had somehow influenced the aelfar clans into infighting, was at the local saloon, the Water Bucket. He wasn’t alone either; apparently Bernie “Dutchie” Dutch, the local Red Brand gang leader was with him. Obviously the guys didn’t want to just roll in through the front door; they’d seen how big Dutchie was, and there was no telling what Mr. Locke had up his sleeve…
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev), Father Jeb Underwood (Joe).
An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.
The guys approached the saloon and scoped it out from outside, not noticing anything suspicious; they did however see that there were lights on in some of the guest rooms on the second floor. They went round the back, out of sight of the main street, and managed to clamber up onto the veranda. They weren’t entirely quiet, but thankfully they didn’t draw any unwanted attention.
They went inside, and saw two Red Brands waiting outside one of the room doors, looking worried. Jeb snuck out and went to listen at the window of the room, and heard Mr. Locke and Dutchie talking; the Quiet Brother wasn’t happy that the aelfar prisoner had escaped, and Dutchie, a big no-nonsense brick shithouse of a man, was getting a stern telling-off and mumbling sheepish apologies.
Jeb went back round to where John and Magnus were hiding.
“He’s in that room, him and the big fella.”
Time for a sneak attack! Jeb holy weaponed his revolver, handed Magnus a hellfire bomb, and he and John went back onto the veranda; John waited by the window, and Jeb jimmied open the window to the empty neighbouring room and crawled in, shotgun ready. Satisfied everything was ready, Magnus hurled the hellfire bomb at the door, setting fire to it and splashing the two waiting Red Brands with burning chemicals. Jeb then swung out of the room and unloaded both barrels of his shotgun (loaded with incendiary shells, because apparently there’s no such thing as too much fire), putting down the Red Brands.
It was, as you can imagine, anarchy. Dutchie smashed down the burning door, and seeing no one around, rushed downstairs to get the rest of his lads. Mr. Locke – who was revealed to have two bodyguards – seemed mildly annoyed more than anything and started to calmly leave. One of his bodyguards peeled off to investigate the room that Jeb was hiding in, and then it all kicked off. Jeb and John ganged up on the bodyguard and got rid of him, and Magnus (who had doubled round the veranda) snuck back inside just as Dutchie ran back upstairs, fuming.
Ah, Dutchie. I’d spent time crafting his stat-block, making him tough and giving all kinds of attacks and synergistic abilities to make him a threatening grappler; in an ideal world, he’d corner one of the guys, knock them down, and then bear-hug them into oblivion. Well, turns out I wasted my fucking time doing that, because John pretty much took him down from 35 to 0 HP in a single turn. Sure, Darryl had to burn his limited-use abilities to squeeze out extra attacks and damage, but I was pissed. I basically threw my toys out of my pram and said “I don’t care how much damage you’ve done, he’s still got enough momentum run at you and throw a punch before he dies.” Guess how that went?
So Dutchie fluffed it, went blundering past, through the wall, and over the edge of the veranda. Yay. The quest to mildly challenge Darryl’s character continues.
Some Red Brands had followed Dutchie up, and followed their boss’s examples by failing at everything. Seriously, my rolls were such fucking garbage; one guy had Jeb dead to rights with two sixshooters. Two attack rolls, two 1s, staring up at me from the table. Fucking dice gods.
Down in the street outside the Water Bucket, Locke had sent a third bodyguard to go and get his stagecoach. He saw Jeb casually cheat death up on the veranda and started taking pot shots with a fancy-looking revolver. He winged Jeb, who responded with his eye for an eye ability, blasting Locke and taking him down to half HP after a failed Will save. Again, I was not happy. I mean, yeah, it’s great when your players are kicking ass and things are going great for them, but this was starting to take the piss.
The guys easily took care of the Red Brands, and ran downstairs just as Locke jumped into his stagecoach and sped away. Thankfully there were some horses tied up outside the saloon…
So, finally, we managed to have one of the archetypal Wild West action scenes; a stagecoach chase! But how do you run a good vehicle-level chase in D&D? Some rule books suggest doing lots of opposed skill checks and describing it all narratively, but that’s hella boring. My suggestion? Rolling road. Now, what is a rolling road? Well, I feel that may be a post for another time because it’ll take a while to explain (and I couldn’t find a good link to an article with a better explanation), but you essentially reset the map at the end of each round, keeping the action focused on those involved in the chase. All you need to know is that it works great for vehicle chases. Fans of old Games Workshop game Gorkamorka know what I’m talking about.
The group race after the stagecoach through the streets of Tributary Falls. John tries to bring the coach to a halt by shooting at the horses, spooking them and forcing the driver to take multiple checks to keep the animals in line. Jeb meanwhile rides as close as he can and jumps on the back and just manages to hang on. He starts to climb up onto the roof as the coach as, from inside, Locke and his remaining bodyguard keep taking pot shots at the Dwytes, failing miserably as their aim keeps getting ruined by the swerving coach.
John kills one of the horses, and, not wanting to be the one who doesn’t contribute, Magnus rides up alongside the coach to see if he can jump on and wrestle the reins away from the driver. However, he falters when he recognises the driver; it’s Jace Garrett, an old friend of his! Jeb meanwhile is now on the roof of the coach, and barely keeping his footing; I was calling for a lot of Acrobatics checks and Reflex saves. John rides up to the coach and tries to shoot Locke point-blank, but the Quiet Brother has all kinds of sneaky tricks and throws up a shield of infernal energy to deflect the bullets intended for him. John makes up for it by killing the remaining bodyguard.
By now, Magnus has leapt aboard the coach and he and Jeb are both grappling with Jace. Together, they drag him off the reins; Magnus orders Jeb not to kill him as he takes control of the coach, bringing the one surviving horse to a stop in the middle of the street (the abrupt stop knocks Jeb and Jace off the roof and onto the ground).
By now, Locke is furious and jumps out of the coach as John levels his gun at him.
“You damn Dwyte brothers! You always have to interfere! If only you knew what we’re trying to do, you would stay out of our way and stop your meddling ways!”
“You sure talk a lot for a dead man.”
“And you not enough, sir. I’m sure that if we could just converse, man to man, you would understand…”
But John’s not in the mood to chat, interrupting Locke with a bullet in the dust near his foot. Locke just sighs, irritated, swings his cane around, and smashes the Very Suspicious Jewel ™ at the end of it on the ground. Immediately, the air around him is filled with thick stinking green-brown vapour, and something starts to materialise and take form within the vapour…
“Aww, that ain’t good…”
Out of the fog comes a disgusting, bloated creature; a filth demon! John’s horse knocks him off and immediately scarpers, but John doesn’t seem bothered by the sight or smell of the creature. The same can’t be said for Magnus, who immediately starts retching. The filth demon shambles towards John, its diseased claws outstretched…
The Reaper’s Tally: 2 witches, 5 train robbers, 20 Red Brand gang members, 1 guard dog, Silas Thorn, Jenny the Razor, 4 Fihanna-Fimh warriors, Stone Bear, 6 Biel-Tan warriors, Bernie Dutch, 2 Quiet Brother henchmen, 1 horse.
This is the first clearly supernatural enemy the guys have faced since the witches waaaay back in our first session, and we would’ve continued the fight there and then, but unfortunately some of us had trains to catch. Still, it means that we have an exciting fight for the start of the next session!