Today we’re going to take a bit of a break from our normal routine and drop off a gaming story that hopefully you find amusing and it gives you something to chuckle about while you gear up for your games as they come up this weekend. I’m going to talk about one of my personal favorite games, Deadlands, and the absolute horror show that our first few sessions turned out to be. Now i’ll give you a brief description of the principal characters, and start the mystery of mystery land. It’s been several years since i played this game, so bear with my faulty memory circuits in places.
In Deadlands, you’re playing a horror western, which means cowboys, indians, and big scary monsters around every turn in the road. Some of these things are astonishingly ugly, and can kill you with fright. Our game was set in the near east, around the Ohio Valley, and we really didn’t have a common pull together aside from we were strangers on a train, headed west. Let’s go over the cast of characters and then sort of figure out how this group came together.
I personally don’t like being the leader in a gaming group. I deliberately try to build characters that probably shouldn’t be in charge, and for this reason i made a character that had a mission to carry out. I rolled up a Law Dog (Fancy Deadlands Jargon for U.S. Marshal) with the benefits of being one of the Blessed (in Deadlands, certain characters wield heavenly powers that can heal the injured, banish the unclean and a host of other neat party tricks). I took a group of character flaws that made sure you never wanted my character to be in the front talking to people (something like i wasn’t skilled and had a total of a-8 penalty on a check i was rolling 1D4 for).
We also had an Irish Huckster, who was up to all sorts of mischief and looking for some people. He was built as the party face, and did all of the talking for the people who decided he needed to be followed.
The next two characters are fairly typical for the Old West, as we had a two gun pistols kid (literally a 15 year old kid) who had absolutely no regard for authority figures and a slightly neurotic cowboy who spent as much time as he could trying to harvest the naturally growing marijuana that we could “see” whenever the train stopped.
That brings us to probably the least functional member of our party, the Mad Scientist. In Deadlands, you can build a character who designs and builds wondrous devices that make a mockery of currently understood science. Want a steam powered robot? Want a pair of Rocket Boots? Come on down. Now our Mad Scientist had a well i’m not sure fetish is the right word for it, but he had an unhealthy attraction to pigeons, and built his entire gaggle of gadgets around pigeon based ideas. Highlights include:
- The Hindenpigeon: An airship that had a flotation bag that had been recovered to look like a giant pigeon.
- Pigeon goggles: They let him see better at a distance, because pigeons were renowned for their eyesight.
- Pigeon Bombs: Yeah, this one’s going to be an issue. Imagine a clockwork pigeon that can fly around in theoretically a specific direction. Neat idea, right? Now imagine it has the equivalent of 3 sticks of dynamite in its belly, and has an astonishingly ineffective guidance system.
So the premise of our adventure starts pretty simply. We’re all on a train headed West for various reasons. We have about a half an hour of talking to each other to sort of set the mood, and then one of us notices that there’s another train pulling up next to ours. That doesn’t seem good, since it’s coming from the other direction. The next thing we know the doors on the cargo cars open up and steam powered gatling guns open up on our train. Well, that’s going to ruin the luggage…
Guns are pulled, shots are exchanged, and we’re knee deep in combat. Team “Has Guns” me, the gunslinger and the cowboy do a fairly good job of clearing the car opposite our train car. Team “Wiggly Fingers” the Huckster, thought he heard people board our train. He takes off by himself to handle the situation. Team “Pigeon” promptly opens his coat, removes a pigeon bomb, winds it up, and sets it flying towards the other train, because blowing up a train is a good idea, right? Now gentle readers, you may be wondering why we’re riding on a train when the Mad Scientist has an airship, but logic like that is just going to need tylenol or liquor.
The Pigeon bomb detonates gloriously, and we all get to learn a wonderful lesson in physics. The blast of the pigeon bomb derailed the train full of bad guys, and, if not for some quick thinking by the cowboy and the gunslinger, would have derailed our train as well. (The clever boys pulled the pins connecting the train cars right before the bomb went off).
We manage to take care of the passengers we saved, and finally we manage to catch up to the Huckster who’s getting his ass kicked by the “Train Bandits.”We save the day and manage to get the Train, the people, and the remaining captives/bodies to the next town. We’re promptly arrested for disturbing the peace and destroying railroad company property.
And that’s how our first session ended, in jail, for doing the right thing. We earned our experience points, yelled at the Pigeon Bomber, and went on our merry way to the next session, where we escalated (through no fault of mine) the level of property damage. This is an escalating level of property damage that will end up with us levelling Kansas City with an Earthquake. Interested to hear more? Let me know, and we might make this a semi-regular feature.