Thursday, 24 December 2015

Deadlands Noir - Clowning Around

L to R: Deville, LeRalf, Prof Gordon...?
Following on from their meeting with the Black Hand, the detectives had another good night's sleep, before paying a visit to the offices of the Tombstone Epitaph. Here, they find Nate Braddock, the local editor, frantically typing and looking like he's not had much sleep recently. The Epitaph has a small, somewhat run down office in New Orleans and there was nobody else there at 9.30 in the morning.

Braddock had recently followed up a tip the detectives gave him to an old plantation in Jefferson County. Here he found no sign of the walking dead they battled in a previous episode, but he did spy on a ritual conducted on the grounds to summon the spirit of Baron Simone LeCroix. He tells the detectives that the ritual did not seem to be successful. He saw over a dozen people there, who arrived and left in expensive cars.

Braddock also confirms that Mike Braddock, author of the biography of LeCroix the detectives stole from Loyoal University, was his father. Braddock senior packed his bags and left New Orleans shortly after his book on LeCroix was published in 1911, never to be seen or heard from again. The elder Braddock was also a journalist, working for the Tombstone Epitaph in Louisiana.

Nate believes his father was threatened by the Red Sect. Nate is not able to shed a lot more light on LeCroix, apart from telling the detectives that it is still rumoured that LeCroix's daughter, Marie-Louise, was not killed, but is imprisoned somewhere in the city. He says some of the ongoing interest in the rail baron stems from fascination about his wealth, and whether his daughters got their hands on all of it when he vanished.

What are the secrets of the LeCroix family?

The detectives stop to buy some newspapers, and see in the Times Picayune that boxer Wayner 'The Battler' Barbeau has reached New York and given a press conference ahead of his upcoming fight with Lou Salica. The characters have $300 riding on the fight.

The detectives next return to the Emporium, to confront Daniel Cisek, its owner, who they last saw trying to break into the house of former Senator Cruzet the previous day. Cisek initially threatens them with a shotgun, but calms down enough to tell them he is also hunting for the masks. He wants to use one to communicate with a resident of the Hunting Grounds. He thinks the masks let users see into the Hunting Grounds and talk to lost souls there, but not actually travel within the spirit realm. Cisek believes that actual travel in the Hunting Grounds can only be achieved using a special formula of tobacco, concocted by Baron LeCroix. He says the secret of the tobacco, what it was made from and how, was lost with the Baron. He begs the detectives to let him borrow the mask they stole from Cruzet, and offers them $300. De Ville agrees to let him borrow the mask, once the detectives have finished with it.

Doc LeBoeuf is working on a theory about the use of asylums to make people vanish from public view, and remembers that the city still operates the old Isolation Hospital in Marigny Bywater, built originally to house the victims of major contagious disease outbreaks in New Orleans, including the Spanish flu in 1918-19. Now, as public health improves, it is used to detained lepers who have run away from the leper colony at Carville, 60 miles upriver from the city.

The Isolation Hospital, New Orleans

The detectives then decide to visit the hospital, a massive Victorian edifice which has seen better days. Pulling up outside, both De Ville and Prof Gordon think they see what looks like a clown's painted face staring at them from one of the fourth storey windows, but then it is gone again. Entering the hospital's vast and echoing precincts, they speak with the only nurse they can see - indeed, the only soul around. She seems deliberately obstructive and uncooperative, even when Doc LeBoeuf flashes his credentials at her. Eventually they are joined by a burly orderly who Gordon suspects is a man used to meting out violence.

A lengthy argument ensues, with the porter refusing to provide the detectives access to the handful of lepers he says are the only patients. Nor will he disclose the identities of the doctors supervising the hospital. It is only when LeBoeuf threatens to take up the matter with City Hall, that he finally agrees to let the detectives see the lepers.

The orderly takes the detectives through the large and rambling hospital, much of which seems to be dusty and neglected. There does not seem to be anyone there and much of it looks like it has not been inhabited for over a decade. Eventually they come across three patients wearing hooded gowns with hands wrapped in bandages. They seem to be clustered at one end of a long and echoing hallway. LeBoeuf tries to talk with them, but they initially shy away from him. Prof Gordon's cat McCavity (which he carries around with him always, as part of his patent scientist delusion) then reacts with fear as two more lepers approach the detectives from around the corner behind them.

LeBoeuf finally persuades one of the patients to lower his hood, whereupon he sees the man's features are strangely warped in a manner that has nothing to do with leprosy. It is then that he sees the face change, to one of a colourful and demonic clown (Fear checks all round). The lepers throw back their hoods, revealing bizarre blue or green or purple hair, also like clowns. Their grinning maws sport sharp teeth and they seem to grow in heigh right in front of the detectives.

With a cry, the orderly raises his baton and attacks Gordon...

GM note - We are making use of the Savage Worlds Adventure cards in this campaign. Each session, a player can opt to keep his card from the last session or draw a new one. If he played his card in the session, he draws a new one at the start of the next session. Two cards pertinent to the plot were played in this session - namely 'Enemy' and 'Battlefield Promotion', the latter coming right at the end.


  1. I am trying to think of a better gaming cliffhanger than this one, and nothing springs to mind. Great stuff!

  2. Indeed! Looking forward to the next installment! :)

  3. Indeed! Looking forward to the next installment! :)