Deadlands: The Flood

Guess Who's Coming to Donner
Not the best place to build a rail line...

Ranger Garret, Bonnie, Black Rabbit, Doc McGee and Jeremiah had put an end to the cult plaguing the town of Coffin Rock. A few hours after the final gun battle, the town was looking and feeling a lot better. The surviving cultists had fled to the hills, along with the proprietor of the Dance Hall and the remaining deputies.

Pearl Daly quickly took control, reclaiming the deeds to the property that Marshal Bryce had stolen from her father and declaring herself sheriff. Her gang moved back to town and became her deputies, a move well regarded by the population.

Looking through Cheval’s possessions, Garret was able to figure out how to get the safe open while McGee pursed through the dead man’s bible and made sense of his scrawling’s. The most notable things determined was that Cheval was an escaped lunatic who’d made his way out to the west coast, where someone had given him a cassock, cross and evil ritual and sent him back east. They also found a chunk of black marble built into his cross. Definitely non-standard and it certainly stood out.

Unable to determine anything else, the group boarded the train, and were given a reward in copper by the grateful townsfolk. The Pacific-Denver express rolled westwards again (it rolled eastwards on the upside down map), the tracks having finally been repaired.

The train made good time leaving Colorado and entering Utah (now the Mormon nation of Deseret), where Jeremiah had to do some fast talking to convince the booze patrol not to confiscate and destroy the many bottles of alcohol he was transporting.

It was once they hit the Sierra Madre Mountains that they ran into problems. The train reached a dead end. Scheduled work on a pass over the mountains had not been done. Conductor Davies explained that they were going to turn the train back and take an alternate route to the south, but it would take a few days for the rail lines to clear so they could fit in. In the meantime, he hired the posse to investigate the work camp to find out what had happened.

Once they agreed, he gave them some directions to the camp up in Donner Pass.

The posse stopped in at Johnson’s trading post on the way towards the camp, buying up some winter clothing, given how cold it was high in the mountains. While they were shopping, Johnson regaled them with the tale of the Donne Party, how they had been misled by con man Lansford Hastings and gotten trapped in the pass that would bear their name in a cold winter. How half the people trapped had to eat the other half to survive, and that their spirits haunted the mountains to this day. That was why he was hanging bottles on the tree outside. A ghost trap to keep them from getting to him.

Black Rabbit was familiar with the concept, and also familiar with how the ones hanging from Johnson’s tree were just bottles. You needed to do a little more than just hang bottles to make a ghost trap.

After that cheery story (and a few comments about why anybody would build a rail line through this place), the posse (including Lizzie Pearce, who was accompanying Ranger Garret), geared up and followed the path of trees that had been cleared to make way for the rails.

Along the way, the group was ambushed by a pack of wolves, who rushed in low and fast under the party’s guns, and were in among them before they could react. A vicious, close range fight erupted; and the wolves were all dispatched brutally. Examining the bodies revealed that the wolves were very well fed, and they fought to the death. Both extremely unusual, given that wolves usually avoided groups of humans unless they were starving.

At the same time, Black Rabbit and Garret began suffering from an incredible hunger, a hunger that was only just partially satiated by the rations they consumed.

Concerned by this supernatural affect, the group pressed on to the work site. The place was in ruins, bones lay around and everything that was remotely edible had been eaten. They quickly spotted someone spying on them from the woodline, and grabbed him. He turned out to be one of the workers, blaming the creatures in the cabin, before Doc McGee gassed him unconscious.

With the hunger slowly growing worse, it quickly became apparent that some effect was inducing a supernatural cannibalistic urge in the people in this region. Suspecting that it may be tied to the ghosts from Johnson’s story, the group headed north towards the lake where the last cabins from the Donner Party were still standing.

They thwarted another ambush along the way. A group of rail workers, driven insane by hunger, attacked them in a cannibalistic frenzy. One was shot dead, and the others rendered unconscious from bullet wounds or a burst of patented sleeping gas.

Figuring that the hunger was just going to get worse, the party continued on, despite the setting sun and the rising shadows. The vicinity around the cabins was dark and twisted, with shadows reaching out for them and forming disturbing shapes, with motion always on the edge of their eyes. Soon, they reached the only cabin still standing, right next to another tree with a ghost trap on it.

The cabin itself was a frozen abattoir, containing most of the rest of the rail crew, who had been butchered and partially eaten. A truly horrific sight. After controlling their stomachs (except for Black Rabbit and Garret, who weren’t as repulsed due to the curse they were suffering from), the group searched the cabin for clues.

Finding a thirty year old skull (which they guessed belonged to one of the original Donner Party members), and some notes; the party came to a few conclusions. That Lansford Hastings had deliberately misled the Donner Party with the intent of forcing them into cannibalism, and that he was responsible for the curse on this valley. A few members of the group recalled old legends of a cannibalistic spirit known as a Wendigo…

And that’s when Hastings made his entry, accompanied by the corpses of the railworkers the group had entered. The fearmonger had found their unconscious buddies, slain them and raised them as the walkin’ dead.

Believing that he completely and totally outmatched the hapless heroes, he began boasting of everything he’d done, of how he’d led the Donner Party into destruction, and how he had turned this particular piece of land into a sanctuary for hunger, starvation and cannibalism.

It made him a great target for the posse, who promptly lit him up with their rifles and magically enhanced throwing cards, sending him tumbling into the foot deep snow.

However, he rose a few second later, arrogantly boasting that the party weren’t the first ones to try killing him with bullets, then he and the zombies charged on the attack. Dead body parts from the cabin also reanimated and started clawing at the posse. Black Rabbit charged ahead to hold the walkin’ dead off, and managed to keep them busy, though he suffered grievous wounds in the process.

Fortunately, Doc McGee had a sudden inspiration, or possibly an act of desperation. He started shattering bottles on the tree. This had an immediate effect of causing ghostly spirits to fly from the bottles and enter the skull he was holding. This caused an immediate reaction from Hastings, who tried to kill McGee and stop him. The rest of the group started helping, and as soon as all seven bottles were shattered, the ghost of the Donner Party were released.

For while the ghosts of the Donner Party were indeed real, angry and haunting this valley, their anger was reserved for one target: the monster that had led them to their deaths. The skull flew towards Hastings, who held up his hands in a vain effort to defend himself and screamed in terror. The angry spirits of the dead whirled around him, ripping his body and soul to pieces; scattering him around the mountain; destroying him utterly. Then, their final work done, the spirits departed this plane of existence for whatever lies beyond the veil of death.

With Hastings dead, the party rounded up the six survivors of the rail crew and returned to the train to report to Conductor Davies. He was horrified by what happened, and thanked the group for resolving it; and paid them both to reward their work and asked them not to tell anybody.

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Coffin Rock, Part Two
A story of mud and blood

Having retired for the night, and secured Lizzie Pearce, the group made a food run to the saloon, to retrieve a bucket of stew. On the way, they saw more signs of the towns decay, and met yet another quaint citizen, the chief of the assay office, who was delightfully paranoid. However, once they got past the shotgun, he confirmed more of what they'd been hearing. Everything had gone to hell once Daly had died, in a fire set by some drunk miner. Marshal Bryce had hung the man, and apparently became the owner of half the town in the wake of the incident.

Returning to the hotel, the posse downed their suppers, then headed to bed, deciding to keep watch. At around midnight, the mayor showed up, and threw some rocks at the windows to wake them up. He'd heard how they stood up to the Marshal's deputies. He explained that Father Cheval was the one responsible for all the problems in the town, that he showed up shortly before Daly died, and then things started going wrong. That Cheval sent his followers to dynamite the rail tracks to get the train stopped in town.

At that point, Marshal Bryce and a few of his deputies showed up; holding the mayor and the posse at gunpoint. He was going to bring them to Cheval, but a brutal gunfight erupted instead.

The team saved the mayor, captured the Marshal and ran off the deputies. The mayor, after a bracing drink, thanked the posse profusely, and then offered up some more information. An Indian Shaman came to town a few weeks ago with information about the evil doings that were happening, but Bryce ran him off. He went towards Coffin Rock after he left town.

In the morning, the team hauled the Marshal over to the Blacksmith’s (one of the few people the mayor trusted), and had him clapped in irons until a judge could arrive. The Blacksmith had also recognized the essential problems with the town, and had started manufacturing weapons to fight back. The conductor also reported that the telegraph machine had been smashed by parties unknown. And that some of the passengers were missing.

And with that, Garret retrieved the groups’ horses for them from the livery car on the train, and they rode out into the morning sun.

As they closed on Coffin Rock, the sounds of gunfire and screams alerted them that something was wrong, and when they rounded a bend in a canyon, found a horrific site. A young woman on a horse was being attacked by this massive monstrosity, a walking human corpse that was coated in boiling mud.

Leaping into action, the party was quickly able to dispatch the monstrosity in a hail of gunfire and tomahawk blows. Bonnie used her mysterious huckster powers to study the corpse, and was rewarded with a horrific vision of a man being boiled alive in mud and reanimated. Interrogating the woman revealed that she was Shelly Pearl Daly, the daughter of the founder of Coffin Rock. She had come out west to collect her inheritance, but instead found that the Marshal had stolen it from her and then he tried to kill her. She was particularly pleased to hear that he’d been arrested. She’d been camping out in the hills ever since, and had started seeing the mud men show up about six months ago, coming out of the mine. They had started roaming closer and closer towards the town.

She had also seen the shaman the Mayor mentioned. Following her directions, the group made their way to the kiva where he had been hiding. The shaman was a mysterious indian by the name of Laughs at Darkness, and he had come to this place, to await for someone specific. When he confirmed it was the party, he took them on a spiritual journey with the help of some applied narcotics.

The party had an out of body experience, and found themselves under the mountain, speaking to a spirit who claimed to be a spirit of the land. That he had been trapped by magics of air and was being abused to create horrors. He implored the party to help.

When they awoke, Laughs at Darkness was gone. Unsure if what they had seen was real or some sort of induced delusion, the group loaded their guns and descended into the mine. They tripped a trap, but avoided the rocks and soon found themselves in a chamber, after following several veins of blood flowing through the rock.

In a horrific scene that played out before them, more of the bloody mud men were present, and attempting to force the missing passengers from the train into a pit of blood and mud. The entrapped spirit of the earth hovered above this gruesome sight, apparently being used to fuel the dark magics.

Once again, the team dove head first into danger. They took some hits, but managed to gun down the mud men. Doc McGee managed to destroy the pit by introducing a lump of ghost rock to it, upsetting the delicate balance of substances in the alchemical brew. However, Reverand Cheval managed to escape by diving into the mud pit, which turned out to also function as a portal.

The spirit, freed, opened the portal again to allow them to follow. The party landed on the street in front of the church back in town for the final confrontation. An ominious red glow shone out of the windows and a guttural chanting was heard

Breaking in, they found that Reverend Cheval and his cultists were performing some sort of ritual around a pentagram formed in blood. With a scream of rage, and an out of context quote from the bible, he ordered his followers to kill the interlopers.

A brutal fight followed, with several of our heroes being badly injured during the confrontation, but ultimately managing to prevail. Reverand Cheval lay dead, Ranger Garret having blown his head off, and most of the cultists were dead, fled or unconscious. The heroes took a moment to sigh in relief, bandage their wounds and calm the townsfolk who had heard the epic confrontation.

With the ritual disrupted and the corrupt priest slain, it felt like a pall had been lifted from town. The heroes began to go through the Reverend’s possessions…

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First Session: Coffin Rock, Part One
The Most Depressing Town in the West

Last time, in the Deadlands

A group of strangers on a train heading West out of Denver had the good fortune to make each other’s acquaintance when the train had to make an unscheduled stop in Coffin Rock due to damage to the rails.

The conductor asked them to find a hotel room, and pick him up a bottle of whiskey. They soon found that the town was one of the most abandoned and depressing places they had ever visited. The streets were clear, the hotel owner was suicidally depressed and the permanent occupant of the saloon was the mayor, drinking himself into a grave. The only person who truly acknowledged their presence was Marshal Bryce and his deputies, who provided a couple of veiled threats.

Later, after taking care of their tasks and helping the conductor hire some unemployed local miners to assist with the repairs, a showgirl named Lizzie Pierce asked the posse to help her retrieve a pendant from her mother. She fled from the Jewel Theatre when the owner and the other girls turned dark, planning to rob and murder patrons.

The group headed on over to the theater, and retrieved the pendant thanks to some fast talking and some fast thinking. Unfortunately, Jeremiah was drugged unconscious, robbed, stripped and dumped in the cemetery.

Vowing vengeance, Jeremiah retrieved his rifle, but was persuaded by the others to use legal means, so they went to the Marshal’s office (meanwhile, Doc McGee went to check out the library, but found that the name of the building was very, very misleading). The Marshal wasn’t in, but his deputy was, and he was counting Jeremiah’s money, having been bribed by Belle at the Jewel. When the posse heard Lizzie being beaten up in the cells, they took to violence.

With a flick of her wrist, Bonnie threw a card to disarm the deputy that ended up stopping his heart with a burst of arcane energy. The two deputies in the back tried to stop the group, but a blast from Garret’s rifle took off one of their heads, and the other man threw down his gun after some absolutely horrible shooting.

Rescuing Lizzie (and retrieving Jeremiah’s gun), she revealed that the Marshal had arrested her shortly after the group had left, that he had gone almost completely around the bend, and had been insanely paranoid about how she’d been talking to outsiders. He wanted to know why she was sending people to mess with the Jewel Theatre.

Garret made the decision that Lizzie was going to go with them on the train as soon as the tracks were repaired, and the group went back to the hotel to hole up for the night.

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Welcome to your campaign!
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Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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