Monday, 5 December 2016

Deadlands: Looking For Lucy Redux

As is fast becoming a habit for me, I ran a game at Dragonmeet in London last weekend. My morning was looking a little unpredictable, so in the end I went with the afternoon slot. I wish I'd had a little more time to see the rest of the show and maybe go to some seminars. I hope that I can make it to UK Games Expo this year and run some games there.

For my slot I reprised an adventure from my Deadlands Noir campaign, using the same characters. I walked them backwards a bit in terms of experience, as some of them are Veteran level, and the adventure was originally written for Novice characters. Ultimately, I think they were probably still a little too tough for the challenges.

As a reminder to readers, the characters were:

  • Nukara Vestal - a journalist from New York
  • Lee DeVille - a Harrowed private eye
  • Le Ralf - a dilettante voodoo priest from France
  • Gordon Ramsey - a patent scientist who thinks he can talk to cats
  • Doctor LeBoeuf - a doctor with a comatose wife and an issue with technology
 I had a full slate of five players on the day, including two who registered in advance. As ever with Dragonmeet, the games tended to get filled very quickly on the day (a portion of player slots can be booked in advance, but even these disappear rapidly). My advice is book in advance or turn up early on the day if you're thinking of going next year.

I decided this time around to keep DeVille's Harrowed status a secret. His player managed to keep this secret to himself, relying on a flask of whisky to help him hide the smell of decay. In the character notes I specified this, leaving it up to the player as to whether he wanted to come clean, so to speak.

I would suggest reading my write up of the first time I ran this to familiarise yourself with the plot. As before, the detectives met with wealthy widow Kitty Hayes, and were shown around the garden and the dog kennels by Oliver Tournier, her attractive young butler. They noticed the various clues available, including the Italian cigarette stub and drugged salami. They spent quite some time searching the gardens, and discovered the footprints of the undead Colonel Hayes in the flower beds, but suspected it was just an ordinary intruder (in the original story he was photographed incidentally by Vestal while peeping in through a window).

A further interview was conducted with the butler, at which point the detectives learned that he had succeeded Herman Whelan, the colonel's previous butler, who had been let go by Mrs Hayes. They also began to suspect that Tournier and the widow Hayes had a more than professional relationship. It was at this point that Tournier told them about the intruder he had disturbed in the colonel's study a few weeks earlier.

The detectives had a look around the study while DeVille kept the widow Hayes entertained, and Doctor LeBoeuf tried to rifle through the colonel's papers, but was prevented from doing so by Tournier. LeBoeuf tried a Persuade roll on the butler with his d10 in the skill, but fluffed it. He decided it was not worth a bennie for the re-roll.

LeBoeuf persuaded Tournier to let the detectives take the widow's other dog for a walk around the area, following their usual walking route. He took Vestal and LeRalf with him. Meanwhile DeVille had made a connection between the cigarette and the Black Hand crime syndicate using his Streetwise, and he and Gordon headed over to Sanzone's restaurant in the Central District.

"Mister Ricci doesn't like his lunch being interrupted."
Here they breezed into Sanzone's and had a sit down with Claudio Ricci (Mike 'the Stick' Whelan re-cast by GM fiat). Ricci proved to be obdurate, denying all knowledge of poodle-napping, but eventually offering the detectives a deal on cheap (smuggled) cigarettes. DeVille decided to return to the Hayes mansion in the Garden District.

While walking the dog, Vestal's player asked to burn a bennie to find a clue. The dog stopped and started barking at something over a cemetery wall. The detectives found their way into the locked and disused boneyard, picking the lock to get in. Here they found some river slime on the inside of the wall. While LeBoeuf examined it, LeRalf climbed up onto the wall for a look around, and spotted a large, rotund figure in a trench coat and trilby sneaking away through the cemetery. He directed Vestal to give chase, and then followed himself, with LeBoeuf and the dog, Bob, further behind.

I used the Savage Worlds chase rules, and Vestal proved to be a surprisingly nimble pursuer. Her quarry reached the far wall of the cemetery, and started climbing it. The reporter caught up with the figure and jumped for its foot, grabbing it by the ankle, at which point it was revealed to be a Bloat (the undead colonel). Vestal passed her Fear check at TN 5. At this point LeRalf arrived, spending a bennie to still be in possession of his violin case with its Thompson .45 SMG. He opened the case and proceeded to spray the Bloat with gunfire - luckily not rolling any 1s, which could have been problematic! Vestal now managed to beat the Bloat/Hayes in an opposed Strength test to drag it back into the cemetery, whereupon she jumped up and started shooting it.

LeRalf - not your ordinary voodoo priest...
DeVille's player then burned a bennie to have himself and Gordon returning from the CBD as the shooting started (they had noted that it was not far by car from Sanzone's back to the Garden District). As they pulled up on the other side of the cemetery, they could hear the shooting going on from inside. LeRalf now used his Occult knowledge to identify the Bloat's vulnerability to alcohol (it was proving a tough nut for the detectives to hurt with a hail of gunfire). As DeVille and Gordon climbed onto the wall, LeRalf shouted to DeVille, who promptly opened his whisky flask and poured it onto the Bloat (2d6 damage). LeBoeuf followed up with some surgical spirit  and set it on fire with a lighter (3d6 damage, in this case exploding). This proved to be the end of the Bloat, which was soon a blob of scorched flesh against the cemetery wall.

Vestal had already identified the Bloat as Colonel Hayes, having seen his photo back in the mansion. The detectives removed a gold wedding ring from its finger, and returned to the mansion with further questions...

Next time - Showdown At Sanzone's


  1. A little bit of Gumshoe sneaking in with those bennies being burned for clues, or is that a Noir feature we haven't used?

  2. It is the Sleuth edge. Vestal had it but Maya rarely used it. I also allowed players a degree of influence over the plot if they burned bennies.

    1. Using bennies to seize narrative control is such an obvious idea that I'm surprised it's not official. Perhaps it is and I just haven't noticed!