Saturday, September 2, 2017

Deadlands Prep: Into the Black River

So! Waaaaay back in 2011 when my stepsons were tweens, I started running a game of Deadlands. We played a few stories over the years, but never frequently (due to distance). Today, though, we are playing what might be the final story in the campaign (but you never know).

Michelle and Al feel that their characters' stories have kinda run down, so they made new characters. Teagan is joining us, so she made a character last night. Will and Sarah are sticking with their original characters, so today, we finally get to find out what really happened to Shortstop's parents.

Players, if you happen to be reading this, stop here.

So, the basic setup here is that Sam (Shortstop) and Suzi are taking a carriage west. They've got Deputy George with them as muscle. The real action for the game is going to be in Shan Fan, and I kind of want to start with an in medias res fight, both to show Teagan the system and help everyone else (including me) shake off the cobwebs. But I suppose I need a little setup.

Well, this is a mystery, so let's work backwards. Who really killed the Kelts, and why?

We established in the first story that Black River Rail was involved with the destruction of Sheriff Mark's town (Annabelle Portain was the real architect there, but she's dead) and with the death of Shortstop's parents. But that never went anywhere, largely because Will was a tween and didn't think to follow up, and his roleplaying style was mostly "look at me! Whee!" at the time.

But that's cool, because it means that while Mark, Lillie, and Suzi all got some pretty firm character arcs, Shortstop didn't. So. Master Chen/Shen (I spelled it both ways in the write-up) was a "family friend" of the Kelts, which dovetails nicely into this whole "Shan Fan" thing. The Black River Rail was responsible for driving the Kelts' stagecoach into a canyon, and Chen, bringing up the rear with Sam, saw it happen. He gave his notice and wound up in Novygrad, raising Sam. What he never revealed was that he'd been a member of the tong in Shan Fan as a younger man; that's where he learned kung fu. Back then he was known as Master Red Fist, for how he could split a man's head with a single punch.

So: I think we'll ride right past the scene where Suzi and Sam confront Mina Devlin and she tells them that if they want answers, they need to travel to Shan Fan (actually, I might want to play that out because it lets Mina ask Suzi for her whip back).

So WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED was that the Kelts were employees of Union Blue, scouting a route for a new railroad. Mina Devlin agreed to do a "favor" for Iron Dragon's Master Kang, killing the Kelts and delaying their work for long enough for Dragon to lay some track, which, in turn, Black River got to use for a predetermined amount of time. That amount of time expired recently, so Mina has no more incentive to keep Kang's secrets on the matter, but she also doesn't want to get on his bad side (no one wants a war), so she tells him only that he can find the answers he seeks in Shan Fan.

Sounds good. So.

First scene, I'll have Suzi and Sam have the conversation with Mina Devlin.

Second scene, cut to Shan Fan and a bunch of tong recognize Hart as a Pinkerton, start to rough him up. Probably I'll just go in medias res and have them answer why they joined the fray after the fact, so that I don't have to waste an hour getting them to interact.

Third scene, need to leave this up to Suzi and Sam (god help us) to do some detectin', but Specks can also use Mind Rider and he's small and sneaky, so hopefully Teagan will make him useful.

After that, pretty much need to wing it. Got tongs, Pinkertons, and martial artists as potential adversaries, but it kinda needs to culminate in a battle on a ship, because damned if I'm getting them all the way out here and not using the Maze. I think they could take on Red Petals Su, though I think they'll probably all die if I try to use Kang. Of course, if the ship gets crunched by a dragon or something...

Well, so let's wing it after that. I've got stats for Su and Kang and all kinds of monsters, so I can use them if I need to.