Deadlands: The Flood

The Flood, Part Four
Journey to Shan Fan

December 18th, 1879

After escaping the town of Progress, the posse decided to pursue their leads at the city of Shan Fan in the Northern part of the Maze, which also conveniently happened to be out of the sphere of influence of the religion they just pissed off.

William Church’s boat was a marvel of New Science. It was as fast as any other maze runner in its class, but was twice as efficient. It also had a secondary engine, though one that stubbornly refused to power itself. It had a separate power supply from the Ghost Rock boiler that was unlike anything Doc McGee had ever seen before, it looked like it required some sort of crystal or gemstone to be hooked up.

A few days later, the group put in at Lynchburg to restock on food and supplies. While stubbornly negotiating over the price of food in the maze (high, due to the extremely low quantity of arable land and difficulty of importing new food), and refusing to follow up on a bounty poster, there was a murder in the town’s local saloon!

Rushing to investigate, the parties on the spot and forward thinking attitude got them hired to look into the killing by the owner of the saloon, Mariposa Lil, the self-appointed boss of Lynchburg.

Careful investigation, interrogation and the use of magic revealed that the victim’s name was Professor Klauber, he’d been seeking additional investors to fund his desalination machine, and that he was murdered by a nun named Caroline DeCarlo from Shan Fan, who was part of the Church of Lost Angels. She used more of those bloody skeleton men that the group had fought in Lost Angels when fleeing from the Guardian Angels. DeCarlo had left town shortly before the group arrived.

The group pursued her up towards the criminal port, arriving on the 23rd of December. Along the way, they killed and skinned a giant crocodile and spotted some miners in need of assistance; but ignored them as they were in hot pursuit.

Shan Fan was a Chinese city through and through, most of the Chinese immigrant workers who had survived the Quake of ’68 wound up here, and more were arriving from China every day, in wake of the political troubles in Asia (IE, continued fallout from the Taiping Rebellion).

Investigating at Klauber’s boarding house revealed that he had fled the city after his hired bodyguards had been killed during an assassination attempt by him. Most of his records were gone, but the group figured out that he’d been meeting with a man named Rat Skinner Hou, a high ranking Lieutenant in the triad that ran Shan Fang, seeking funding for his project. He’d been meeting him at the Jade Pavalion.

So to the Jade Pavilion the group went! And who should they spy coming down the stairs at the building as they entered? None other than Caroline DeCarlo, who was apparently renting a room there; which explained how she had found out about Klauber. She, in turn, recognized the group and immediately opened fire.

A short ranged gun fight developed, which only ended when Doc McGee gassed DeCarlo unconscious. And then the police, led by Long Hair Tony, arrived… curious to find out about what was going on.

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The Flood, Part Three
Escape from Progress

December 16th, 1879

The town of progress was infamous for being a municipality built and run by New Scientists. They also made the best boats in the Maze. It was a logical spot to visit, being only five miles from Lost Angels.

The group made good time up the coast, and ran into a group of military men, being directed by a man in an Imperial German Navy Officer’s Uniform. He introduced himself as Captain William van Schlutz. He was what passed for the law in Progress, until Reverend Grimme marched his troops in yesterday to take the place over, given the town’s defiance of the Proclamation of ‘77. Schlutz asked the party if they would help him rescue the town council and get them to safety. He didn’t have enough men to secure the town, but the least he could do was save his employers.

The party agreed, especially since Jeremiah had a personal reason for visiting progress. Schlutz couldn’t afford to pay them up front, but he would be able to provide some recompense once the town council was rescued. There were two places to hit, the town hall/library and the jail. The jail was the harder target, so Schlutz would take his men to liberate it while the party rescued anybody being held at the town hall.

The groups took separate rowboats into town, Progress was built vertically on a series of plateaus on the mouth of the river. The whole place was a jumbled mish mash of buildings in various styles. The lower sections of the plateaus were mostly docks and shipyards. The group docked at one, and split up. Garret and Jeremiah took a cargo elevator up, while the rest took some nearby stairs.

Everywhere the group looked, there were signs of violence. It looked like Grimme’s men had moved through the town, killing anybody who resisted. Most of the townsfolk who weren’t dead or captured were keeping their heads down, waiting for the violence to pass.

At the top of the plateau, a trio of Guardian Angels came to investigate the noise, but a quick bit of bluffing from Ranger Garret got them looking the other way, whereupon the group dealt some reciprocal violence on them; and looted a ghost rock powered chainsaw.

Moving up towards the city hall, the group tried and failed to do this with some attempt at stealth, and were forced to gun down another patrol of Guardian Angels in a men’s clothing store.

After that bit of excitement, the group reached city hall, just in time to witness a group of guardian angels haul a man and a woman and a bunch of books outside of the building, and start affixing them to stakes. It seems that Grimme’s followers liked the classics when it came to punishments.

The posse sprung into action immediately. Doc McGee immediately disguised himself as a member of the Church, and went forward to distract the group. With him at the center of attention; Garret, Bonnie, Black Rabbit and Jemeriah snuck around, and got into an enfilade position. When things kicked off, they poured lead into the cultists from every direction.

It was a hard fought battle, and the leader of the Guardian Angels demonstrated that he had powers of his own when he called upon heavenly fire from on high against Bonnie Clyde, though once again, the piece of black marble warmed and showed a different vision; blasts of black hellfire scorching her flesh.

The survivors tried to run, but were quickly knocked out by Black Rabbit and gunned down by one of the liberated scientists, who had taken great offense at almost being burned at the stake.

As Doc McGee treated the group’s wounds, the two captives explained who they were. The red headed woman was Doctor Alpha Copperstone, a scientist in ballistics and armor. The middle aged, doughy man in a suit was Laurence Halbert, the mayor of the town and a student of electricity. He asked the group to escort the party out of the town, promising a reward when he could get access to his money. He also was able to tell Jeremiah where William’s lab was located, a small nautical facility on the north edge of the plateau.

Checking the bodies, they found orders on the leader. He was one of several Avenging Angels, tasked with securing the town so that it could start building ships for Grimme’s navy. They were also supposed to take special care to capture William Church’s laboratory, and capture the man himself. A man named Daniel Rottenbelly was running the show for Grimme’s troops here.

On their way to investigate the lab, they ran into the badly wounded Captain Shclutz. He’d attacked the prison with his men, but they’d been slaughtered almost entirely. Daniel Rottenbelly had turn his boys to pieces with just his bare hands.

Helping Schlutz along, the group made their way down to William’s lab. The place was deserted, but they find some ghost rock and the boat he was working on. There was also a note; William had been building the boat for Grimme, but had realized something horrible about the man’s intentions; and had fled to his ‘lab in the north’ to work on a weapon against Grimme.

Leaving Alpha, Laurence and Schlutz behind to get the boat ready, the group went to the prison to confront Daniel, as the rain storm picked up around them.

The rain proved to their advantage, the guards at the prison were staying inside, letting the group slip onto the roof; where some carefully placed explosives allowed the group to lure the guards out of the building, and slip inside.

Barring the door, to keep the guards out, the group confronted Daniel Rottenbelly, one of Grimme’s Lieutenants. He was a tough fighter, but outnumbered at six to one, he went down fairly quickly, though he took an insane amount of punishment, and even lived through a point blank detonation of a stick of dynamite. A bullet from Jeremiah’s rifle right in his brain pan settled the matters, however.

The group took the keys, and Daniel’s documents and released the scientists. One of them revealed the presence of a sewer line under the prison, which was quickly accessed via a carefully placed stick of dynamite.

Talking with the liberated scientists was fruitful, but they were all a little ‘off’. None of them seem quite right in the head, and they were prone to going off on odd tangents or spouting odd words. But at least they wouldn’t be building boats for Grimme.

Back at the docks, the two groups split up. The party went to Williams Boat, where Captain Schlutz, Alpha Copperstone and the mayor were waiting for them, having gotten it prepped to go. The rest of the liberated scientist stole a small freighter out of the shipyard and headed off into the Maze.

With Schlutz piloting, the posse boarded William’s Boat and headed into the maze after them…

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The Flood, Part Two
The Battle of Lost Angels

The Battle of Lost Angels

 

December 15th, 1879

As the battle between four factions raged out on the plains in front of Lost Angels, the posse and Lacy O’Malley skirted the edges of the fighting to get down to the city. An artillery shell nearly landed on the group, but was deflected in time due to a miraculous dodge by Black Rabbit.

They group made their way in through Ghost Town as the battle raged behind them. Ghost Town was a shanty town, where all those who failed in California wound up, trying to scrape up a shell of a living at the edge of the most prosperous city in the Maze, a place where food was harder to come by than gold. They stopped to chat with a few members of the Lion’s Roar Triad, but ultimately decided to press on towards Lost Angels.

There were no guards at the edge of the city, it seems the bulk of Reverend Grimme’s forces were out on the battlefield. Inside, there were a few patrols, but the group either evaded or talked their way past them.

One stuck out though. They saw a group of Grimme’s Soldiers on their way back from the battle, walking wounded and near death, who ran into a larger group of Guardian Angels, being led by a nun and escorting a wagon. The soldiers initially addressed her as Sister Andrea, expecting her to help, but instead, she and the other Guardian Angels brutally clubbed them to the ground, and threw them into the wagon, which appeared to be full of bodies, despite their pleas ‘Don’t take us there, anywhere but there!’

Deciding to take things slow, they made their way to a hotel and purchased some rooms to rent. The rooms were overpriced, the food was sparse and the service non-existent. A fine welcoming to the city.

Just before bed time, the battle of the Rail Barons ended, when a zeppelin bearing the markings of Hellstromme Industries appeared over the mountains. It flew over the battlefield, and dropped three barrel sized objects, that detonated into massive, skull shaped explosions, wiping the battlefield clean of life. However, one of the ghost rock bombs missed its target and landed in the middle of ghost town, turning the whole slum into a raging inferno.

December 16th, 1879

The next morning, the group gathered up, and went out to investigate the missing Sam Hellman. Acting casually, and convincing a curious group of Guardian Angels that they were members of the faithful, they went over to the boarding house Lacy said he was staying at.

The man at the front desk was happy to help them find Sam’s room, and directed them on up. Unfortunately, when they investigated the room, they found that it hadn’t been lived in in months. They found signs of a struggle, and when they looked out the window, they found the building being surrounded by Guardian Angels.

A desperate chase erupted, with the posse escaping over the rooftops in the neighborhood, trading the occasional shot with their pursuers and using distractions to trick and mislead them. At one point, the leader of the raiders summoned what appeared to be a dingy looking angel to strike the posse down. But then the black marble chunk that Doc McGee was carrying around warmed up, and the angel was briefly revealed to be an animated skeleton with fiery blood pouring out of its skull.

Either way, angel or skeleton, it didn’t survive with a chunk of lead, about .45 inches in diameter, punched through its forehead.

After managing to evade their pursuers. Lacy thanked the party for their help. He was going to look into Sam’s disappearance, and said he’d be in touch. He also said that he was a member of a sort of Gentleman’s Club, the Explorer’s Society. A group devoted to tracking down, exposing and destroying the darker elements of the world that had been popping up in the west. He said that there was a brit named Roderic Pennington-Smythe in Shan Fan who could tell them more. He then bid the group adieu, and went their separate ways.

After all this, the group decided it was team to beat feet and get out of the city. Retrieving their horses and luggage from the hotel, they tried to figure out the best way to evade Grimme’s men. They would need a boat to get to Shan Fan or anywhere else in the Maze, and there were boats aplenty at the docks. But it would also be heavily patrolled. Instead, the group decided to quit town via the smoldering remnants of Ghost Town and make their way up to the town of Progress to acquire a vessel there.

Ghost Town’s name was more fitting now. The Ghost Rock bomb had done something strange to the buildings, and they all still burned without burning down. Pits of fire were present, smoke and ash was everywhere. It was a horrific journey. And then the dead rose from the grave.

Zombies, the walkin’ dead, tormented and tortured by fires that wouldn’t go out, charged at the group from every direction. A fierce battle erupted, and the creatures took a copious amount of lead before they went down. The central crater itself was surrounded by hundreds of them and even more dangerous beasts.

They were pursued out of Ghost Town, but fortunately, the creatures seem uninclined to leave the boundaries of the flaming slum. With that particular hell behind them, they spurred on their horses and headed north towards Progress…

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The Flood, Part One
Hellstrome’s Hellbore​​​​​​​

December 4th, 1879

After resolving the issue of the Wendigo in Donner Valley, the train reversed course east and stopped at a Denver-Pacific depot, where the retrieved rail workers disembarked. After a few days, the train was back on the trip westwards, through the alternate route that the rail line was building through the mountains.

Along the way, Bonnie had a strange run in on the train. A main, who she instinctively recognized as a fellow huckster and Whatley, introduced himself as her cousin James Whatley. He told her that the patriarch of the Whatley clan on the west coast, Nicodemeous Whatley, was aware that she was coming and that she should introduce herself to him at the family manor in Gomorra at the earliest possible convenience. He didn’t quite by Bonnie’s claims that she was just ‘passing through’.

After that, he vanished from the train, as if by magic.

It was much later that evening, when Conductor Davies entered the car, causing comments along the lines ‘it’s never good when we see you’. He produced a gatling rifle from a hidden compartment and lowered some armored shielding around the windows. Outlaws were attacking the train.

The party prepped their weapons and got ready to defend themselves, but before anything could happen, they heard the screeching of the train’s brakes and a sudden sense of vertigo. With a horrendous crash and the rending of metal, the train fell thirty feet into a pit.

 

The posse came to amongst the wreckage of the passenger cart to a vision out of hell itself. Outlaws on the ridge were picking off passengers with gunfire and ghost rock was burning with unearthly screams around them as the boiler melted on the wrecked car.

Stumbling out of the wreckage, the group immediately went to work. Garret and Jeremiah lay down gunfire on the sharpshooters, while Bonnie put her shotgun to work on the closest ones. Black Rabbit started hauling passengers into cover and Doc McGee began extinguishing fires to save the ghost rock!

The gun battle was short but bloody, and the party prevailed, managing to save their horses and two passengers only, however.

Studying their surroundings, they found that the train had fallen into a sink hole that had another rail line running through it. Only this one went underground! Scavenging food and supplies from the wreck, including the deceased Davies Gatling rifle, the party headed into the westward tunnel. They had to take the tunnels, as they had no real way of getting the horses out of the wreck.

A quick check on the outlaw leader’s body found a bounty notice. Someone had put a hit out on Denver-Pacific trains heading west, hired outlaws all over the Sierra Madre to wreck them and kill the passengers.

 Gathering up their food and trudging into the tunnel, lit by the light from Garret’s lantern, the group advanced into the darkness, in hopes of finding an exit.

December 7th, 1879

Three days later, after being passed by a train, the party arrived at the end of the tunnel, a work site being run by Wasatch Rail Lines. The tunnel was not yet complete, it turned out. The railline was tunneling under the Sierra Madre Mountains in order to byass the treacherous routes that the other rail lines were having such trouble with.

The foreman and head of the security detail, Charley Bill Buckner, met the party and discussed the situation. He was a friendly sort, for a rail warrior. He quickly figured that they weren’t saboteurs and took them to see his boss. None other than Dr Darius Hellstromme, the most infamous mad scientist on the planet.

Dr Hellstromme had apparently designed the digging machine being used to make the tunnel, and it was a device of such complexity that only he could maintain it. Jeremiah interjected to ask if Hellstromme had heard of his son, William Church, another new scientist who had gone missing out west. Hellstromme had not, but he did direct Jeremiah towards the town of Progress near the city of Lost Angels; a place where scientists congregated to study what they could do with ghost rock. He also was interested in Doc McGee’s theories on Ghost Rock, and extended him an offer to come work for Hellstromme Industries.

Also present at the meeting was Lacy O’Malley, a reporter for the Tombstone Epitaph, a newspaper notorious for reporting on the weirder events in the west. Frequently disdained by those to the east as being ‘pure fiction’, it had a much wider circulation in the west among people who felt it was accurately reporting the darker events of the world. He was accompanying Hellstromme for an exclusive on Wasatch Rail Lines winning the Rail Wars. He seemed fascinated by the posse, and tried to get them to open up about their stories.

The discussion concluded; Hellstromme extended an invitation to the party to accompany him as they finished the tunnel; they were almost through the mountain. He predicted no more than a week until the crew surfaced in eastern California.

With nothing better to do, they agreed and left to find a place to rest, and then go check out the drill; which Doc McGee was interested in. Most of the guards were heading east in the tunnel to sort out some problem that had come up with the automaton guard. Lacy noted that throughout the journey underground, they had met all sorts of weird and hostile creatures.

An example of such was soon discovered to be attacking the drill. Some sort of enormous insects had tunneled through the mountains and were trying to break into the cockpit of the massive three drilled digging machine.

A whiff of sleeping gas and a handful of gun shots later, and the beasts were dispatched without problem. The crew of rail warriors showed up a few minutes later, and burned the bodies.

Meanwhile, the pilot of the awesome machine, Dr “Hap” Haggerty, was more than willing to expound upon the potential of the digging device. It was called the Hellbore, apparently because if you turned it downwards, it would tunnel straight to hell itself. Of course, right now, they were using it to go to California; though many people would probably find the climate in hell to be superior.

December 13th, 1879

After a week underground, the digging crews finally hit the surface. They’d come up right next to the Wasatch camp near Lost Angels, with impeccable accuracy. Hellstromme claimed it was due to good math and careful calculations, and invited the party to accompany him to the railhead where the final push to Lost Angels would be made. Unfortunately, Wasatch was going to have to fight their way in through Reverend Grimme’s Guardian Angels, as Grimme had long been decrying the sins of the rail barons. And no doubt the other Rail Barons would want to try to stop him from winning the transcontinental prize as well.

These words would prove to be a prophecy. About halfway to the railahead, Rail Warriors from the Iron Dragon Railroad ambushed Hellstromme’s train, the Good Intentions, and attempted to destroy it with attacks from maze rats and martial arts on two wagons and a gyrocopter.

A vicious gun battle erupted, and the party managed to dispatch most of the land bound pirates. The gyrocopter was still causing trouble, until Black Rabbit took up his bow, closed his eyes, and fired a shot guided by his spirit. There didn’t appear to be any effect, and then the gyrocopter went spiraling out of the sky, its ghost rock engine destroyed by a single arrow in the right spot.

After that little dust up, Charley Bill paid the group a bonus for helping out, and Dr Hellstromme gave McGee a schematic from his personal collection. And then, there was little time for conversation, because they arrived.

The group split off from Dr Hellstromme at his advice, as he had no desire to see them caught up in the violence to come. The forces of Dixie Rails and Bayou Vermillion had gathered to the south and Union Blue and Black River to the north. And Reverend Grimme was whipping his followers into a frenzy outside of Lost Angels. It seems the last miles of track would be hard won. Dr Hellstromme stood up on his train car to give an impassioned speech, requesting that the others foreswear the violence and allow history’s progress to happen peacefully.

Lacy O’Malley would later describe it as the shot heard around the world. A sharpshooter in the Dixie Rail lines took a shot at Hellstormme, and the scientist collapsed backwards into the Good Intentions. Instantly, the lines of battle erupted in this final, bloody chapter of the rail wars as six armies and four factions immediately began shooting at each other, determined to leave the field clear of their enemies.

Lacy met the posse as they left, and asked if they could help him find a friend of his who had gone missing in the City of Lost Angels. With Reverend Grimme’s army out on the field, this would be the best time to sneak into the city unnoticed.

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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!
A blog for your campaign

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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