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Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 5, Pt. 2)

Here’s part Two of the Session Five notes for my Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign, adapted from notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”).

You can find Session One here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Two here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Three here.
Session Four here.
Session Five here: Part One.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

(Art by Jacob Blackmon)

Session Five (Part Two)

Still Day 13

The characters see that the heaviest traffic out of the Big Cavern is through the left-hand tunnel, which was clearly made by the Embanking Machine. This also shows signs of the svirfneblin-drawn sled they saw bring green ore out of the mine when observing the camp outside. This is the route the take.

  • There is a breach in the tunnel that clips some underground complex that was already there. (The players later learn this is the Svirfneblin Vault)
  • The end of that tunnel opens up beyond the breach
  • The centaur paladin, in the lead (with her darkvision) is attacked by monsters disguised as rocks at the entrance. They’re grick!

FIGHT!!!

  • The grick don’t seem to take electrical damage, fire damage either
  • The human soldier criminal grabs the Warhammer the Chimera Kid was using and uses that on the grick – bounces off. The magic fusion that was on the warhammer has already been moved to the mechanic robotisit’s drone’s bite attack (her drone looks like a mechanical dog).
  • The grick don’t do a lot of damage, but anyone near them has to make a Reflex save or take some damage from their flailing tentacles, on top of their bites or acid spit. And the grick are reducing every attack that hits them by 10 points of damage, so seem nearly invulnerable.
  • There are two Sverfneblin here. They speak some kind of old German. It takes Culture checks for people who know German to understand them.
  • The centaur paladin and fenrin operative work to asks the Svirfneblin to call off the beasts – the svirfneblin explain they do not control the gricks
  • The human soldier criminal called out the name Drungeldan Smyreonot – the name of one of the ‘neblins we talked to after death
  • Bullets don’t work against the gricks either
  • The half-orc technomancer cartographer makes a Mysticism check, and says it takes magic damage to hurt the grick. He then casts overcharge weapon on the paladin centaur’s lance.
  • The lance kills one. The human soldier has an automatic pistol with a magic rune on it, and he easily kills the other one.

AFTERMATH:

  • The centaur paladin casts a spell that allows her to speak to the Svirfneblin
  • They need to get to their Headman
    • He is being held hostage in the back
    • We will have to bypass the serpentfolk and some pact guardians
    • The Pact Guardians are varied – some mechanical, some monsters. They protect the svirfneblin, but also obey the pact, and thus don’t currently attack the serpent people who took over the pact by stealing blood of pact scion – Dwargus. Thus as long as Dwargus does not elave the area, the serpent people can come and go in the Svirfneblin Vault. (PCs realize this is why the manticore kept killing off Dwargus’s cattle–so he couln’t retire and leave).
    • Only the authority of the pact scion can get us to bypass the pact guardians
    • The PCs try the writ given to them by Dwargus allowing them to investigate the area on the door in this room, which is a Pact Guardian itself.
    • It works!
    • There are serpentfolk on the other side of the door!!

FIGHT!

  • There is a gorgeous small green snake, a serpentfolk with a gun and serrated jawbone of an ass sword, and a human carpetbagger with a staff and wearing a beautiful green operacloak
  • The two ‘neblin cast spells to aid the PCs
  • When the pretty cobra dies, it turns into a pool and evaporates
  • The soulstaff dissolves

LOOT: Sharpened jawbone of an ass that is bane vs humanoids (5,000- 10,000-year-old artifact); Who’s Who in Montana 1890; guardian greatcloak (Goes to the technomancer cartographer, and changes from venomous green to midnight blue with silver nautical symbols, route lines, and compass roses when he puts it on).)

Guardian Greatcloak (magic item, level 5): If you take an action that provokes an attack of opportunity, you may expend a Resolve Point without taking an action and not provoke the attack of opportunity

LOOT: One shotgun

PCs move through the rest of the Vault to get to the headman, using the Writ from Dwargus to bypass traps and guardians of the Pact. Final room. Locked and trapped door. The mechanic roboticist bypasses it, and recognizes the handiwork/design skills of Professor Barkane Adrameliche, whose handiwork was also found in the Martian Embanking machine.

  • The Svirfneblin Headman is inside
  • He asks if he can close the vault, using their authority with the Writ from Dwargus – PCs all say yes
  • The Headman explains Professor Barkane Adrameliche IS the Venom King (“Toxin Krieger”to the Sverneblin)
    • The Professor found the idea of a “Venom King” while studying Martian Black Gas, and began to hear whispers. As he experimented with and perfected ways to use the Black gas, the whispers grew louder and louder, and eventually the Professor became the Venom King as much as he is Barkane Adrameliche.
  • The Professor/Venom King is a Darkling — a human who has embraced the darkness so totally he is a native outsider, and on his way to becoming a demigod. He is one of six “Dread Fates,” six unspeakable ways to die.
  • The Professor had six Lts.
    • Dathaca (who was the Chimera Kid)
    • Gaotma – (the only one with a Doomstone)
    • Athath-ka
    • Venomancer (the spellcasters the PCs *just* killed)
    • Female serpentfolk in the other tunnel. Called “Her” in fearful tones by other serpent people.
    • One Unknown
  • The Professor and his six lts are the only ones who will ascend, becoming demigods
  • None of the other six Dread Fates currently has a physical body. The Professor is trying to bring about one of them, his closest ally, the Dread Fate of Torture (who has a drop of blood as his icon, like the blood cultists encountered earlier on Neblin Ridge).
  • The Professor is currently in Montana.
  • Sverfhaim is a Hollow World– a place that is as much a concept and planar pocket as it is a material place. So is the Serpent People home. Also, the serpentfolk seek another “Hollow World
  • Headman offers PC hospitality for the night
    • Sends his folk to watch the upper caverns
  • PCs need to get into the serpentfolk city, set up a mystical “door” (a device the Neblin headman can create), go through it, close the door
    • Then the serpent city will cease to have access to our world and we would be on Neblin Ridge

End of session. XPs: 2650

LEVEL UP to 6th!!

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Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 5, Pt. 1)

It looks like there is enough interest in session notes from my Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign for those to become a regular feature. So here’s a write-up adapted from notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report for Session Five!

You can find Session One here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Two here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Three here.
Session Four here.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

Session Five

Day 13

The fenrin operative bounty hunter takes the mask of inconsequence once used by the Chimera Kid. This magic item allows you to make Stealth checks, opposed by observer’s Perception or Sense Motive (whichever is greater) to appear to be no different form the majority of people around you. It only works when you are not in combat, and does not work against anyone directly interacting with you or who is in combat.

(Art by Jacob Blackmon)

So equipped, she heads into the mine to do Stealth recon. She overhears a conversation between two guards – they know there was a ight outside, and if anyone comes up they don’t recognize the guards will will shoot first, ask questions later. They are awaiting the return of “the Professor,” who the guards obviously fear. The Professor specifically warned them not to use the “embanking machine,” which is taken by the group to be a Martian embanking machine from the War of the Worlds.

The players decide to make a blitz attack, since these guards and part of an operation that has used slave svirfneblin labor, and mercilessly killed and hid the bodies of a dozen or more of those.

  • The centaur paladin charges in to begin the fracas, impaling an enemy operative (one of two) with a critical hit on a lance change before he has a chance to do anything. (“Yep, that’s a crit. What IS the crit effect on your lance?” “He dies?”)
  • There is a spell-casting serpentfolk in here. It casts a defensive spell, then alternates between supercharge weapon and firing snakes as arrows from a 3-limbed bow.
  • The surviving operative sniper trick attacks the centaur, and gets his own critical hit on her before she rides him down.
  • The human soldier criminal PC exhcages fire with numerous gunslingers, and two axe-lords (people with magic rune brands in their hands allowing them to make special throw-and-return and multiple-target ace attacks, an old Nordic tradition). He gets shot with a snake arrow, but doesn’t go down
  • One crook, “Mr. Green Jacket” gets away out the front of the mine and since he agreed to flee “into the desert” and not come back, and the PCs took a lot of damage, they opt not to chase him down.

AFTERMATH

  • There is a Martian Embanking Machine here, which has been used to dig dozens of tunnels. It looks like a 20-ft. wide mechanical centipede, and has been converted to be steered by human controls. The human mechanic roboticist disables it by taking out aprt of thsoe adapted controls and in doing so finds a gear with a patent he reognizes–it was created by the infamous Professor Barkane Adrameliche, a citizen of the Ottoman Empire who helped create the first automatons. It is suspected he might have known Gaotma, the Manticore.
  • This room also has a series of Martian atomic batteries, which have been salvaged from other Embanking machines. These are not as powerful as a Tripod Generator (like the one serpentfolk tried to steal in Session One), but these three have been hooked to a capacitor designed to concentrate their power, though it takes several days to power up to a generator’s power level.
  • The capacitor is hooked to an array that clearly once had a spherical device hooked up inside it. This is right next to an empty storage area which the fenrin can tell 9with Scent) used to have Martian Black gas cannisters. Also, the iron box with the Doomstone taken from the manticore gets hot near the area.
  • The PCs conclude the Venom King is using the Martian Batteries to infuse Green Iron (taken from this mine) with the toxic properties of the Black Gas, the most virulent poison now known on Earth. This creates the “Doomstones,” such as the one they recovered, but can only make one every week or two. If the Venom King had a Tripod Generator, he could make a Doomstone every few hours.

LOOT from thsi fight: High-quality handaxes x4; Allin needle guns x2 (one for Liam); Ajax revolvers (x5); three-limbed serpent person bow (no arrows), bag with 8 snake eggs; golden bullet (magical) – put it in any projectile weapon and it has a one-shot built-in supercharge weapon (given to the fenrin operative bounty hunter); gallon of butane

Cast grave words on the bodies the Serpentfolk just hisses words at the PCs. The All of the rest of them talk about weird smells and weird dreams

There are two paths deeper into the mine. The PCs go left.

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Worldbuilding Through Language, Part 1

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary has a “Time Traveler” function, which allows you to see what words first saw print in a given year.

Which means if you have a campaign set in a real-world year, you can create a list of words that were first used in print that year. This becomes a list of the cutting edge of new discussions in various fields. If ‘antibiotic’ is first used as a word in 1891, and that’s the year of your campaign, that tells you something about the state of medicine and awareness of it as a concept. It also means you may want to look at the history of the word and see how it was being used. (Antibiotics, for example, were being explored as a concept in 1891, not yet available).

As an example of what I mean, here is a list of words first used in English in print in 1891, the year of my Really Wild West campaign.

(Art by Digital Storm)

addictive

antibiotic

anti-gang

antimicrobial

appendectomy

atmospherics

AWOL

balloon tire

batting cage

bipartisan

bodywash

collective bargaining

compass rose

diving board

domestic violence

electromagnetic radiation

electron

exhibitionism

eyedropper

fair catch

fair market value

fellatio

fine print

fingerprinting

flea market

frenemy

handheld

house detective

leatherneck

legwork

motion picture

multimillion

mystique

nationwide

neuron

prosciutto

reinforced concrete

secondhand smoke

seismogram

skeletonizer

slot machine

stinking smut

supersecret

supraliminal

synesthesia

table tennis

tabloid

Tasmanian tiger

tattersall

time card

torpedo tube

trade in

transpacific

traveler’s check

tuberculous

ultrarich

vaccination

wasabi

water cannon

wiretapper

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Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 4)

Since people still seem to be enjoying after-action reports of my Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign, here’s a write-up adapted from notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report for Session Four!

You can find Session One here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Two here: Part OnePart Two.
Session Three here.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

Day 12

  • Heroes spy on the enemy encampments on Neblin’s Ridge. There is a camp at a mine entrance at the base of the mesa, and on top an outpost with a tower and a wind sock, and a couple of miles away a telegraph hut with a wire trailing off to the East. There are multiple species present among the gang running the camps, including seprent-folk.
  • Using ask the wind their name, PCs determine the following:
    • A Large serpentfolk (with a snake lower body) wearing onyx armor is Aakath-ka (naga form). He is a Monstrous humanoid, venomous, spell caster
    • The human who seems to be a foreman is – Boston Bob (bowler hat)
      • No special powers, has a price on his head ($200)
      • Busted during the war for smuggling refugees out of cities on military trains for money
  • The PCs form the following plan
    • The human mechanic makes a timed cutter box to go off an hour before dawn, to be placed on the telegraph wires
    • Human soldier watches the camp for the day
    • Fenrin operative flies around to check the telegraph (using DaVinci wings), plants the cutter, looks for a way up, and checks the outpost
    • Centaur paladin keeps our camp safe, secure, and secret
    • When the cutter goes off, we immediately attack the outpost up on the mesa
    • Then, we attack the camp at the mineshaft at the base of the mesa within the hour
  • Recon
    • The fenrin operative finds a switchback good when it’s dry – will take 3 hours to get from there to the outpost
    • Set the cutter on a particularly difficult place to repair on the wire
    • Spot 3-4 criminals in the outpost watching the Western skies (the direction of the Circle Axe) – packing pistols
    • There is a manticore nest next to the house and a platformed tower with a crane and a windsock. Think this may be Gaotma‘s base of operations, and his minions don’t know he’s dead yet–just late.
  • The human soldier spends a day observing and notes
    • Sverfeblin come out of the mine, escourted by some humans and a snakefolk, and pulling a sledge. One of the sverfneblin appears to be in charge of them – has questions for Boston Bob, isn;t happy with the answers
    • Some kind of strange questioning going on – sverfneblin taken to a blackout tend and peered at from outside (are the gang member checking the deep gnomes for some radiation glow?)
    • There is an underground storage, with a trap door in the camp, and boxes from the sled (which seem to be very heavy) are lowered into it.
    • The rowdies who came out of the mine undergo some kind of procedure in a tent that takes 30 minutes
      • They come out rubbing their faces and somewhat cleaner
      • Different rowdies escort the sverfneblin back into the mine.

Day 13

The attack on the Outpost on top of the mesa takes too long and is too noisy, because half the player’s skill and attack rolls were 1 or 2. Even so, manage to defeat all the rowdies, including one dressed in red who apparently could cast spells, but only when accessing his own blood.

LOOT: Sawed off shotgun; 3 bowie knives; cultist wavy dagger; emblem (of a twisted barbed wire, held by pliers, blood drops coming off the barbs, similar in style to the poison emblems fund earlier); $50; piece of paper from a writing desk

Soldier/mystic talks to the dead. One says: “Dark days are coming, mortals will not survive, ascension is the only option”

The letter was as folows:

Dathaca,

I understand your doubts and concerns, but I assure you this venture is worth the risk. Allow me to address your concerns individually.

The Daemon Darklings are mortals best route to gain the powers needed to protect ourselves against the outer powers. Of the Six Dread Fates that have proven able to empower a Darkling, Venom seems most within my reach now that I have accessed the alchemical process of the Aresian War Clouds. That will not be enough, of course. I’ll need a Genus Foci, a Concept of Thought, to draw the lingering spirit of the Comte de Adalgiso back to the Material Plane.

The cost of such an operation will not be insignificant. But with the promise of unlocking the ability of Ascension, and the Theosophic formula to prove it possible? I believe I will be able to procure the needed patrons.

What I lack is the martial backing to ensure our patrons remain our allies rather than our masters. With backers from the Material world, I could perhaps just hire the needed defenders. But against the Scale of Aakath, I have no doubt more… experienced warriors will be needed to protect our interests. My belief is that your contacts, especially Gaotema and his band, will allow us to deal on equal footing.

And yes, old friend, there will be money in it well before we make our fel godlings. I have already received interest from numerous individuals of means, and am sure

This letter was handed to players as a prop, crumpled and stained. Also a few letters had a tiny drop of gold ink in them. The players noticed, and wrote out the gold-flecked letters to discover the spelled )-B-E-Y. With this information, they release the letter had a secret magic message OBEY that compelled the addressee.

Then, the PCs attacked the camp in front of the mine shaft at the base of the mesa.

And discover the Chimera Kid is there, even though they never noticed him in their recon.

(The Chimera Kid, Art by Jacob Blackmon)
  • The human solider opens by tossing sticks of dynamite into the tent area, taking out number ruffians.
  • Akatha-ka casts spells
  • Another red-clad cultists that uses blood magic, but has a neat wire on his wrist he can pull to just shed 1 drop of blood for each spell.
  • The Chimera Kid engages the Centaur Paladin, with ram’s head hammer, poison pistol, and fire pistol. He severely damages her, and she him, but then he flies away to engage other targets with his own DaVinci wings, and he drops.
  • Akatha-ka targets the fenrin operative with a psychic thrust attack – hate
  • The operative fenrin focuses on Akatha-ka with her awareness – she is able to see through his blur
  • The human mechanic and her dron Pinion use two sticks of dynomite to take out ruffians in a rifle position, then hold a spot in the middle of the camp for the rest of the conflict. She is poisoned by the Chimera Kid’s pistol as he flies by, though the centaur paladin’s lay on hands later fixes that.
  • The centaur paladin turns out Akatha-ka with her smite… and he is of the dragon type. He has significant DR, but the smite ignores it, and the centaur paladin takes him out, then takes out Boston Bob.
  • The human solider, rifle in hand, manages to take out the flying Chimera Kid

Aftermath:

  • There is an irradiated mutant plant behind a bulwark
    • It was growing out of Sverfeblin skull
    • Dug it up from a grave
    • PCs wonder why did the gang kept it? But decide to destroy it and the skull) with fire.
    • The soldier/mystic uses Grave Words on many of the bodies. The Chimera Kid’s corpse says – “You can’t confuse other worlds with other planes or you’re gonna have a bad time”
  • Within the storage under the trap door are twelve ammo boxes – all hooked together like it’s gonna be lifted all at once
    • They are all locked – no keys on any of these bodies
    • The human mechanic picks one open
    • Inside are lumps of unrefined green iron ore – it glows. And gets on her skin through her gloves. She has to clean her hands thoroughly to stop having glowing specks.

LOOT: Six miner hats (butane lights on them)

The PCs choose to pause here, recuperate, then go into the mine itself.

XPs: 2400

Bringing the PCs to 14,400 (15,000 to 6th)

Thanks to Our Sponsor!

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The “Damn” Manticore of Really Wild West (in Starfinder)

In yesterday’s session notes for my third Really Wild West Game, I mentioned the main villain was a modified manticore. I took the base stats from Legendary game’s excellent Alien Bestiary (name mentioned here with special permission from LG), and made some changes.

Some of those changes are stylistic. I wanted a scorpion-tailed manticore, rather than a spike-flinging tail. But some of the changes (higher will saves, flexible tail, flyby attack, advanced weaponry) are specifically designed to make it a more dangerous foe.

Essentially, I wanted a CR 7 threat to be an epic encounter for the five 5th level heroes, but I didn’t want to use a CR 7 monster. In Starfinder, the math is so tight, fighting something that is 2 CRs above you can be extremely frustraintg, ebcause it never misses, and you rarely hit. Using two CR 5 monsters as a CR 7 encounter works great, but here I experimented with boosting the combat effectiveness of a foe without boosting their HP, AC, attack values, and so on. I list this as CR 6 +1; it’s CR 7 for all purposes except it’s array.

Then at the end I list my GM notes on two of the bits of treasure Gaotema had. They helped tell this specific monster’s story — an Ottoman Turk manticore who has been around since the 1700s, and fought for the Confederates in the US Civil War, then turned mercenary and gang leader after the South lost.

Gaotema, sans hat, art by Jacob Blackmon

GAOTEMA, The “Damn” MANTICORE
Manticore           CR 6+1
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +13
DEFENSE              HP 95    
EAC
18; KAC 20
Fort +10, Ref +10, Will +10
OFFENSE
Speed
40 ft., fly 60 ft. (Ex, average)
Melee
claw +16 (1d8+11 S) or stinger +16 (1d8+11 P, Fort DC 17)
Ranged
grenade launcher +14 (“Puckle Gin,” See below)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with stinger)
Offensive Abilities Flexible Tail (Threaten foes in reach even if they have cover)
STATISTICS
Str
+5, Dex +2, Con +3, Int –1, Wis +0, Cha +0
Skills Survival +18 (+22 when tracking)
Feats Flyby Attack (as PF1), Mobility, Spring Attack
Languages Common, Ottoman Turkish
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Doomstone-Enhanced Poison – Uses track of target’s highest ability score. End State is Venom-Wight. DC 17 (7 points of damage)

Each state takes twice as long as the one before it
Immediate/1 round – Save or Weakened             
2 rounds – Save or Impaired                                       
4 rounds – Save or Staggered                                    
8 Rounds – Save or Immobile                                     
16 rounds – Save or Venom-Wight                        

Puckle Gun
2280 cr.               60 ft.     8 grenades         5 bulk    Analog, Expiramental
Grenades
Grey Smoke – Fortitude saving throw each round (DC = 13 + 1 per previous check) or spend that round choking and coughing; he can do nothing else. A character who chokes for 2 consecutive rounds takes 1d6 nonlethal damage. Concealment.
Silver Smoke – DC 14, or forget details of what you saw without confirmation afterward.
Black Smoke – As smoke + tail venom, above
Red Shell – 5d6 fire, half damage to targets within 20 feet (Ref negates)
Experimental — If damaged, roll d20 on the mishap chart, below.
1-5: Backfire, user takes 1d6 fire damage each time it fires.
6-10: Takes a full round action to attack.
11-15: Can’t load a new round without a DC 17 Engineering check
16-20: Inaccurate. Roll scatter for every attack.

Artilleryman’s Hat – Constant – Reduce effect of miss change from smoke/fog/vapor-base concealment by half, and it is never total concealment.
Standard Action – Grant 1 hour of immunity to inhaled smoke/fog/vapor effects. 1/day.
“A battered hat with many cuts and scrapes, there is a Confederate artillery pin stuck on top of a faded Union artillery patch.”

Compression Gear Harness
Standard to activate, 1/day, for 1 hour +4 to bulk carrying capacity, +2 damage with melee attacks
2 bulk, 5k credits, item level 5, must be custom fit with Engineering check

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Really Wild West “Doomstone” Campaign — After-Action Report (Game Session 3)

Since people still seem to be enjoying after-action reports of my Really Wild West: Doomstone campaign, here’s a write-up adapted from notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report for Session Three!

You can find Session One here: Part One, Part Two.
Session Two here: Part One, Part Two.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

Session 03:

Day 06

The players investigate the eponymous Circle Axe the Circle Axe Ranch is named for. It is 4ft tall, 30lbs. When the land was pioneered 50 or so years ago, Dwargus hardfist (the current foreman and a dwarf) was here with his grandmother. She had them stop here and dig up this axe, buried in the ground, because she could sense it. She believes it dates back to when a Hardfist was with Leif Erikson’s exploration of the area.

  • Discover it is a magic item, The Double Blade, which is Axiomatic, Bane vs. creatures aligned to, or serving humility or gluttony.
  • Serves Pride and Patience. “Pride and Pateince” is the Hardfist family motto. It dates back to Nordic days, when Pride was seen as a sin by the family, and patience their failing.
  • Can oversee an oath – is doing so right now. Therefore, that oath is still intact. Dwargus is sure no one has used it for an oath since it was buried. Since it was buried, the PCs think the oath might have been a treaty of some kind (for “Bury the hatchet’)
  • Made of steel alloyed with a star metal – noqual. Not usually compatible with steel.
    • Some magical process fused them
    • It weighs 2x-3x what it should
    • It has become a crystalline matrix of steel

Since the PCs are here to stop the Manticore only Dwargus has ever seen, which always kills of his (and ONLY his) cattle each time they are picked from the general hear, their plan is to have the cattle picked, put in buildings in a nearby abandoned town (Horse Creek), and wait for the Manticore to arrive. Sawyer (fenrin operative bounty hunter) buys a cow to mix in with Dwargus’ herd

Day 07 – At the ambush

  • The cows are in two buildings
  • Two ranch hands — Bohoss (an ogre) and Waterlily (an elf) are handling the cattle to keep them calm
  • PCs wait for the attack … and it comes!

FIGHT!

  • First there’s a distant “thump” then a silvery fog rolls in. Everyone needs to make a DC 10 Will save, and those who fail it can’t remember any element of the situation they aren’t currently seeing. Tess (human mechanic) fails her save… but asks her drone what she is doing in a building, at night, near cows, and when explains she rushes out to help.
  • Then the hossest-looking manticore flies in
    • Wearing a previously Union Artilleryman’s hat – debadged
    • Armored forearms with mechanical thumbs
    • Mounted, heavily modified and updated Puckle Gun on its shoulder
The Manticore, Gaotma, by Jacob Blackmon
  • He swoops in and fires at Anuthyr (centaur paladin) – same “thump” sound occurs
    • It’s his fog gun!!
    • MARTIAN BLACK GAS!!
    • He calls her a bad name in Ottoman Turkish – Pislick (“dirt” – piece of crap or asshole)
  • Sawyer flies up and shoots the manticore … real hard
  • Liam (human soldier) was in a sniper position behind the saloon sign on its roof. He drops his rifle and leaps upon he Manticore’s back in an attempt to sunder its gun harness.
    • Gets stung – poisoned
    • Extremely virulent (Doomstone does not use the normal Starfinder poison rules for common poisons, but DOES use them for this poison. Which, worse, uses the track of your HIGHEST ability score!)
    • Liam and damages the harness (As an Experimental weapon it rolls on a failure chart each time it is damaged — it is now a full action to use. So the manticore can no longer use it while flying, and must land).
    • Hangs on, dragging the Manticore to the ground
  • Anuthyr sets for charge and challenges the manticore
  • He shoots her, she stands strong and challenges again
  • Brone (Half-orc technomancer cartographer) tries to cast from cover and is stung and poisoned. The manticore’s tail has reach AND can make attacks of opportunity around corners!
  • Four serpentfolk teleport in, drop off masked bandits, then disappear
    • The bandits have sawed-off double-barrel shotguns, and mining picks with green rims
  • Liam sends up a flare so that Anuthyr can see the manticore on the other side of the black gas
    • Liam starts to succumb to the poison – Dex for him
  • Anuthyr charges – her attack glances off the Manticore’s shoulder armor
    • Manticore identifies himself as Gaotema
  • Gaotema stings and poisons Anuthyr
    • She begins to succumb to the poison – Str for her
  • Sawyer (flying with Davinci wings) keeps Gaotema flatfooted with successful trick attacks
  • Tess and Pinon take on the bandits
  • Brone begins to succumb to the poison – Int
  • The bandits finally get to take action
    • One of them takes on Tess
    • The other two enter the building with Waterlily and 6 cows
    • Lily is shot, but manages to keep the cows calm… during an active shootout right next to them!
  • Liam is stung a second time – poisoned
  • Lily kills a bandit
  • Anuthyr drops her lance, activates Smite, and smacks Gaotema with her sword
    • SMOTE!!
  • Gaotema flies by, attacking Anuthyr
  • Sawyer misses this time
  • Tess takes out another bandit
  • Brone throws a magic Missile at Gaotema
  • Liam shoots Gaotema, putting him on his last leg. Liam’s poison finally stops progressing.
  • Anuthyr charges
  • Gaotema attempts to fly away
  • The last remaining bandit wings a huge knife at Tess, injuring her and knocking her down with a critical hit
  • Liam shoots Gaotema one last time – finally killing him
  • Anuthyr steps up to remove his head saying “You shall see your master in hell.”
    • He responds “Kral Zenhiri is not in hell”

Aftermath:

  • Brone falls over
    • Anuthyr helps him
    • Brone is still in trouble
  • Waterlily is bleeding out
    • Sawyer helps her – stops the bleeding
  • Tess tries to make an anti-venon
    • We need to get his venom out to do so
    • There is something stuck inside the stinger
    • Bohoss smashes it with a rock and gets out a piece of glowing green iron
    • It’s a piece of green iron – radiated. “Doomstone” Get it far enough away from the poisoned, will help
    • Tess gives it to Pinon, who runs it far, far away
  • Brone is still in trouble
    • This isn’t gonna kill him… it’s final state will turn him into something
    • Finally, he stabilizes

We set watches and discuss what to do with the body. Bury them all.

Day 08

  • Brone’s good
  • Bury the bodies – the bandits are all branded with a manticore, and they used to have bounties on them
    • Each had a token of one drop of poison – likely used to locate them by the serpentfolk. We give them all to Anuthyr.
    • The manticore had a flower stuck in his gear (cliff dandelion) that locally is only found on Neblin Ridge – in the disputed territory between the Circle Axe and Vicious Hippogriff ranches.
  • Bury all the items tainted with radiation
  • Leave it unmarked for now

LOOT: Artilleryman’s hat (magical), compression gear harness, Puckle gun (original to 1700s, and upgraded by the Confederates and again recently with Martian-derived tech), one black gas shell, one silver shell, two gray shells. Four sawed-off double-barreled shot guns, four bowie knives, 400 credits worth of Vicious Hippogryph script. Lead case for the Doomstone.

  • The hat
    • The bones and fangs cover up the Union marks
    • Brone mends it
    • It helps the wearer see through smoke, fog, and vapor
    • Gives wearer immunity to smoke, fog, and vapor effects once per day for an hour
  • Harness
    • Once per day, for one hour, allows +4 to bulk carrying capacity, and +2 damage with melee attacks (2 bulk)
  • Puckle gun
    • Grenade launcher – custom made (5 bulk)
  • Lead case
    • Designed to hold the green radiated rock Domstone
    • Inscribed with

Mark II

Doomstone

Go out and get the stone and put it in the case. All the vegetation around it has died.

The rock doesn’t want to be enclosed. It *fights* being put in the lead case, but Tess forces it in.

Anuthyr and Liam can both tell where it is. Brone can too.

PCs return to Dwargus

  • His cattle are fine
  • Bring back the manticore head
  • They cheer, feed us, put us to bed
  • We take watches

Day 09

Everyone’s healed up. Now, only Anuthyr and Brone can feel it where the Doomstone is.

LOOT: 200 credits each for the bounty

Dwargus gives the PCs a writ to legally explore Neblin Ridge, in the disputed territory, as there is enough evidence to suggest criminals are operating out of there.

  • Wants to send the Puckle gun ammo to the Speaker of the State House
  • Wants to buy the Puckle gun for 1500 credits
  • Tess wants to keep the tech

The Plan

  • Stay here tonight
  • Send the ammo to Fontz and Bizmark to take to the State Speaker of the House, who Dwargus trusts, as evidence of criminals with access to martian tech, in the hopes of getting state or federal peacekeepers out here… in 3-4 weeks.
    • Sawyer and Tess write letters of witness for Dwargus
  • PC’s keep the stone with us and head to Neblin Ridge first thing in the morning
  • Use the VH scrip to buy some anti-toxins here at Circle Axe. (Medicinals cost 1/10th list price in Really Wild West)
    • One tier 2 anti-venon
    • Six tier 1 anti-venons
    • One tier 1 sedative

Day 10 – 2 days to Neblin Ridge

Brone says if we take the direct route, the PCs will be seen.

  • However, he says they can take a dry creek bed, not be seen, and take three days instead of two. So they do.
  • As we approach the entrance to the gully, Sawyer finds a trip wire made of spider silk.
  • Loud gunshot goes off – green iron shot
    • Not radioactive, not poisonous, but it would sicken you if shot with it
    • They must have a green iron mine
    • Tess gathers up the pellets

LOOT: Shotgun w/a manticore symbol in the butt

  • We notice that this gully is wide enough for the manticore
  • They have a trail-craft expert with them
  • Find his half-way campsite
  • Used in the last week 5-20 people, possibly the manticore
  • It’s been here weeks, months, maybe years
  • PCs camp aways off so we can watch the camp

As we settle down to camp …

  • Sawyer’s hackles raise
  • Tess sees impact terms in her tea
  • Something is vibrating. Underground?
  • The local fauna doesn’t seem to care
  • Tess determines it’s happening at Neblin’s Ridge, whatever it is
    • Ten to twenty miles away
  • For the next 3-4 hours, the vibration goes off for one minute every half hour
    • Tess gets no sleep

Day 11

On toward Neblin Ridge. Find another trip wire. This time the PCs disarm it and rig it back up to appear to be set up.

LOOT: green iron shot, shotgun

Tess determines these are very well-made shotguns made by a master engineer, but using an extremely simple design, as if he’d never made guns before.

That night, the PCs find another camp site, with a shallow grave next to it.

  • At least three sverfneblin. Dead for awhile.
  • Liam talks to them.
    • In olde German, the corpse will say
    • “They said it was part of the pact. Why are they killing us? They said it was part of the pact. I didn’t know they were killing us.”
    • The body turns to dirt. Released?
    • They were on their way to becoming undead, but being allowed to speak after death has given them epace.
  • We dig them up to give them proper burial.
    • Find a total of 9 bodies
    • Looks like they were buried every three months
  • Other relevant things they say
    • “They do not respect the ore. They do not respect the old ways of mining.”
    • “Damn the pact. Damn the traders. We should have closed the vault.”

XPs: 950

PCs at 12,000 total (15,000 to 6th)

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Starting With Ideas: Really Wild West “Oddities” (for Starfinder)

Fairly often, I get asked how I START a big project. Like, if I know I want a chapter of magic items for the Really Wild West, where would I begin organizing my thoughts and planning that out?

Assuming the pagination and wordcounts was already done by someone else, I’d start with ideas.

Especially for a series of elements using the same basic rules subsystem (such as the features of one character class, a series of magic items for one campaign, feats, spells, new superpowers, whatever), I like to start the conceptual work by spitballing ideas to myself. This isn’t an effort to create completed rules elements yet, just to begin filling out what kinds of ideas I want those rules elements to cover.

There are numerous advantages to this for me. First, I can begin to hash out a tone and flavor for the section. Second, I find it easier to figure out how to use rules to model concepts if I have several of those concepts already in a hopper. Third, often coming up with interesting ideas is the important part of a project for me.  I can’t do it all in one sitting. By making a list early on, I give myself time to iterate, modify, and even reconsider if I need to.

After I have a fair percentage of the ideas I think I need, I’ll go back and begin turning the ones I like best into full rules elements. this lets me see how much wordcount those take up, which lets me know how many ideas I’ll need to fit the space.*

*(Unless the project is based on a specific number of items– like a list of 100 NPC catchphrases or 2 things to do in a dungeon when you’re dead, in which case I still like this process but the thing I learn at this stage is if I need to modify how much info I am putting in each entry to the pre-determined number of items will fill up the pre-determined wordcount. IN this case the feedback loop may be more likely to tell me if my concepts need to change to be more of less detailed.)

I often do ideas in three big waves–when I first start a project, when I run out of those ideas I started with, and when I have a good idea how many ideas I’ll need to finish it. Sometimes one or more of those waves isn’t needed–occasionally I find my first brainstorm gave me everything that will fit, for example. I also jot down ideas as they come to me when I am working on other parts of the work, or even other projects.

So, what do I mean by spitballing ideas?

I just want some sense of what the item is going to be. Maybe a name, maybe a description. If I have some idea of how the rules for the idea should work, I jot that down.

Here’s an example of those spitball ideas (cleaned up to a standard format for presentation on its own, rather than as notes only I will see). These are concepts for “Oddities,” magic items that occur as a result of weird events and energies, rather than being created intentionally, for my Really Wild West setting. Each of these gives enough info to see how it might work in game, but doesn’t yet worry about things like item level, cost, and any special rules Oddities may have as opposed to typical magic items.

RWW Glass Eye

(Art by i-pciture. Of the Eye by the Witch Hazel Pentafaust)

01. Weathered copy of a leather-bound book titled “Diplomacy Through Other Means.” It has hardness 20, 20 hp, and can be used as a light simple melee weapon dealing 1d4 damage (+1d4 per 4 ranks of Culture you have). You can’t add Strength (or any other any ability score modifiers) to damage dealt, but do add you ranks in Culture.

02. Pearl-Handled corkscrew. When screwed into people (normally a full round action that requires they be restrained and which deals 1-2 hp) it forces them to reveal their name, even if they don’t know it themselves.

03. Small hourglass filled with dark blue sand. If flipped and allowed to run normally without being moved, when it goes off it casts a random summon creature (or a random spell level) which no one has any control over. It lasts 1 hour if not otherwise damaged or dispelled.

04. Single old scarf about a yard long, with a smoke stain near top. Does not conduct heat (but can burn), thus can be used as perfect oven mitt or grant fire resist 20 for a thing you touch with it.

05. Zippo lighter with the kanji for “stork” on the side. If used to illuminate a written word medium (scroll, book, so on), the text within it slowly scrolls by in the shadow created by the flame.

06. Wire-frame glasses. If kept tucked in a pocket, halves falling damage for possessor.

07. Stained paper map of Fort Harrison, Indiana, from 1823. If mis-folded and then opened, it creates a fog cloud (as the spell). The map itself is always torn free by a gust of wind that brings in the fog, and normally takes (4d4 – 1d4) x 10 minutes to find.

08. An 1888 John J. Loud ball point pen with green ink. Rapidly (and loudly) clicking the pen gives a +5 bonus to Perception checks, but only against people using Stealth.

09. Small box of “Court Orlock” brand safety matches. If thrown at someone within 15 feet they must make a Will save (DC equal to the touch attack roll to hit them) or spend 1 round picking up the matches. Has 1d4 uses per day.

10. Wicker Picnic Basket, with its own plates, cutlery, and stacking cups as service for 6. If loaded with food and taken out of any settlement and then used for an hourlong or longer picnic, the ort remaining can be interpreted as a diving device. It may act as augurydivination, or commune, as randomly determined by the GM. One of the picnic participants will then have an encounter within 1 week of a high enough CR that average treasure for that encounter would pay for a spell gem of the divination spell gained. The basket don’t work again until the creature using them has had this encounter, which doesn’t have any actual treasure associated with it.

11. Tortoiseshell make-up compact. Anyone who has the powder from the compact (requiring an successful EAC attack against an adjacent creature) blown on them is slowed (as the spell) for 1 minute, and the person who used it is slowed for 10 minutes. Only a creature not slowed can use it.

12. Dried pea. If placed up your nose, it grants a +4 bonus to saving throws against poison, and a successful save always ends the poison. Someone who knows you have it up there can get you to shoot it out with a successful dirty trick maneuver (replacing the normal options for dirty trick).

13. Cork table coaster. Anything placed on it doesn’t experience any passage of time as long nothing else is touching it but air. This DOES keep drinks cold (or hot) much longer, but it also prevents fruit from spoiling, dynamite from exploding, radioactive isotopes from decaying, and so on.

14. Wooden, obviously-toy pistol. When pointed at an animal and the trigger pulled, causes the animal to talk randomly in French for 1 round. There is a 10% chance the first time it  is used each day the animal says something useful and relevant to the user holder.

15. Worn leather coin purse. As long as nothing but coins are stuffed into it there does not seem to be a limit how many fit in, but they can only be added or removed at a rate of 4 credits per round.

16. Tablecloth-sized parchment with complex diagram for an unidentified steam engine. If placed on a stationary, prone creature the piping diagram changes to represent the organs (and injuries) or that creature, granting a +5 bonus to Medicine checks with that creature.

17. Old-style iron key. Fits in any lock. Can’t unlock a lock, but can lock it. If it was already locked, the next person to touch it takes 1 point of electricity damage.

18. Small pot of glossy black lipstick. Never runs out. The first time each day someone wearing the lipstick is damaged by an attacker the wearer has not ever damaged, the wearer may kiss a weapon. That weapon delivers critical hit effects (but not critical hit damage) against that attacker the first time it successfully hits and damages the attacker.

19. A granite die with 20 sides, numbered 7-26. Anyone with this on their person is lucky (gain one reroll each day, rerolling after you see the result of a roll and taking the better of the two results) except in games of chance (always roll twice and take the worst result for all games of chance).

20. Carved whalebone whistle. If blown directly in someone’s ear is heals them for 1d8+1 damage, and they are deafened for 1 hour per hp healed. If the deafness is removed early, the healing is also removed. It cannot heal someone temporarily deaf from this effect. The healing appears to be the revelation the wound wasn’t that bad to begin with — there’s never any actual sign of improved health. A person cannot benefit from this again until after they next expend 1 RP to regain SP after a 10-minute rest.

21. The Sinister Glass Eye of the Witch Hazel Pentafaust. This cracked, yellow glass eye spins and looks about of its own accord. When held in a closed fist, it causes you to be shaken (despite any immunities you might have) and automatically be able to identify any spell you see being cast.

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Cephalephants for Starfinder

So, the amazing Jacob Blackmon (support his Patreon!) illustrated a cephalopod – elephant creature, and I was so taken with it I knew I had to write it up for Starfinder. The flavor text below is geared around the really Wild West setting, but you could equally well use it as a mutation in a GammeFinder game, or just a weird creature for a typical Starfinder science-fantasy campaign.

RWW Cephlephant

Cephalephants are native to the shores of the Kingdom of Orungu, on the western equatorial coast of Africa. They are amphibious, able to breath both air and water, and powerful swimmers. They mate for life, and give birth in the water, with young cephalephants not bale to move onto land until they are 7-8 weeks old.

The Myènè speaking people of Orungu accept cephalephants as sapient equals, and local law has always given them right-of-way through Orungu lands and waters, as long as they do not do significant damage to an area. However, as the tentacled pachyderms are not tool-users and depend on telepathy and memory-ivory to communicate and pass down their culture, many other nations see them as no more intelligent than a typical dog or camel. There are only two places they are commonly found outside of Orungu — Germany (where a expedition herd migrated to petition for inclusion in the Paderborn Edicts, but arrived decades too late and are now waiting for the 1896 council), and Montana, U.S. (where a small herd has maintained itself while searching for some mammoth-related item they consider to be of great importance.

While cephalephants are as sapient as typical humanoids, they are also insular and slow to trust. When they are threatened or attacked, or those they think of as allies of the herd are, they are quick to respond with overwhelming force (especially bulls). The long-term safety and security of the herd–often as defined by its matrons and young–are considered much more important than the life of a single member.

Cephalephants eschew tool use not out of stupidity, but because their own tool-making is limited by a nomadic lifestyle that includes spending a great deal of time in water, and a focus on training as mystics. Most cephalephants prefer to learn magic that augments their daily needs, rather than become proficient with objects.

CEPHALEPHANT
Cephalephant     CR 6
XP 2,400
N Huge magical beast (aquatic)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +13

DEFENSE              HP 90
EAC 18; KAC 20
Fort +10; Ref +10; Will +5
Defensive Abilities Camouflage

OFFENSE
Speed 50 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee gore +13 (3d4+13 P, critical bleed 1d6)
tentacle +15 (1d8+13 B, grab)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (20 ft., tentacle)
Offensive Abilities Ink cloud (DC 14)

STATISTICS
Str +5; Dex +2; Con +3; Int +1; Wis +2; Cha +1
Skills Athletics +13 (+21 when swimming), Profession +13, Stealth +22, Survival +13
Other Abilities amphibious

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Camouflage (Ex) A cephalephant can change its exterior to match the coloration of its surroundings. This allows it to hide even when they do not have cover or concealment.
Ink Cloud (Ex) A cephalephant can create a 20-foot radius cloud of ink that works in air or underwater. this acts as a smoke grenade (DC 14). All cephalephants are immune to a cephalephant’s ink cloud.

ECOLOGY
Environment temperate coasts
Organization solitary, pair, family (3-5), or herd (6-30)

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Second Really Wild West Session — After-Action Report (Part Two)

After the first Really Wild West: Doomstone game session After-Action Report, and its Part Two follow-up, numerous people indicated they were excited to keep learning about the campaign as I run it. So, it’s two weeks later, I’ve run another session, and adapted notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report.

We did Part One yesterday. Here’s Part two. If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

RWW Jerico Pistol

Still Day 4

After recuperating from the fight with monstrous Jerusalem Bugs, the PCs come to a fork in the road. One path leads to the Circle Axe Ranch, the other to the Vicious Hippogriff. There are five people on horses hanging out there, in the middle of the road.

  • When they get close enough, the PCs can see they are cowpokes, the one covered weapons and collar that covers his face, stopping the PCs. They won’t let the PCs pass. Nor will they tell us who they work for (just insisting it’s “the Ranch” without saying which one.)
  • The PCs move away to talk about our options. They glean some information about the cowpoke’s leader. -James “Burning Jack” Byrne,  a gun-for-hire. Wears fire-retardant gear and then covers himself in flammable material. Also, carries dynamite.
  • Burning Jack is clearly crazy.
  • PCs decide to go around, trusting their map and Brone Mallory the half-orc cartographmancer to get them through the badlands. T’ll come back later.

The map indicates that along the route to get to the Circle Axe while avoiding the trail there is–in the middle of nowhere, with no trail or nearby town or even apparent water sources–an inn the PCs can stay at called Tombspider Inn. Skill checks tell the PCs that a Tombspider is spider-based flesh golem construct with built in melee weapons for legs.

  • On the way there they find a ridge that has collapsed about  2 miles shorter than it should be accordign to the otherwise VERY recent and accurate map. Earthquake?

Tombspider Inn

The Inn is veru large and well-maintained… but tumbleweeds blow by right in front of it.

  • Kobold greets us at the door. Seems confused as to why we are here. Says he’s never actually had a customer. His name is Mr. Scrapgnaw.
  • Apparently, this inn was built so that people can fight “the Tombspider” when it returns. It’s been 110 years since the last appearance. Ulysses S. Abernathy was the last, and only, other name in the log book. This is the name of an engineer whose name is a brand of thingamabobs (UPBs) and who created the “phantom pocketwatch” spell. He also built this Inn, and corresponds by mail once every quarter or so.
  • Rooms are free since the PCs are on a quest. Tinned food. Room-temp drinks. Will take awhile to heat up the water for baths.
  • We all partake in the dark gray liquid from a keg marked with a dead dog. Tastes like rum and coke. Not bad!
  • Mr. Scrapgnaw says there’s not been an earthquake per se. Instead, he’s had wonky feelings over several nights recently. He thought it was just tommy-knockers.
  • Scrapgnaw shows the PCs where the Tombspider will supposedly appear in 1936. It’s down below the Inn in a cavern.
  • A rock covered in blood shows the symbol of the spider, but with guns for legs instead of blades.
  • Each Inn room is set up for many people, weapons, wash tubs, curtains, radiators, and gas lamps.
  • We forget to set watches and just enjoy the sleep and the fluffy beds.

Day 05

  • Breakfast: strong coffee, strong tea, cookies.
  • A few Pcs mention they now plan to retire here.

The PCs arrive at the Circle Axe Ranch

  • Sprawling fenced compound.
  • PCs stop at the gate where there is a tall, lanky elf woman. Waterlily.
  • She gets “Bo-hoss” a large ogre to take her post. He sports a rock bandoleer. (A broad leather strap with pockets for 8-10-inch smooth rocks perfect for him to throw)
  • Waterlily takes us to Forman Dwargus Hardfist
    • Hardfist carries a hand cannon (1-shot, 8-gauge shotgun pistol)
    • Has a complex timepiece with multiple functions
  • His family helped establish the ranch, and it was Hardfist’s mother who found the circle-axe the ranch is named for. She claimed it was an old Nordic relic, perhaps tied to the Hardfist family members who helped Leif Erikson explore North America.
  • As a stakeholder, he gets a cut of each Roundup. For the past three years, each time his cattle are separated out they, and not anyone else’s, keep getting eaten by a manticore. No one else ever sees it. If Hardfist can get one more good sale of his share of a roundup, he plans to retire.
  • It’s not the ranch owner’s family doing it.
  • Doesn’t seem to be a curse.
  • This all seems to have started when Felspark, the East Hudson Fur Trading Company representative, arrived as a guest at the Vicious Hippogriff ranch, which is also when relations between the two ranches went bad.
  • Not an illusion.
  • The fighter/mystic, who can both speak to animals and cast grave words, speaks with the skull 0.o
    • PCs hear scared moos from the skull
    • The fighter/mystic hears “Ow! Danger! Danger to the herd! I die.”
  • The skull shows signs of poison. The fenrin;s scent ability allows her to determine the poison is the same as that used by the serpentfolk on the train.

What PCs want to know

  • When is the next cattle round up? (Anytime — it’s been delayed until hardfist could get some help)
  • Where could the serpentfolk and a manticore be hiding?
  • What’re the forces that link the serpentfolk, manticore, and East Hudson Fur Trading Company together after? Water rights aren’t enough for this much trouble.
    • Other ranch may want the water, so they let the manticore folk use the land.
    • Venom King … what’s he after?
    • What have the tripods awoken? Did the black gas seep down and wake something up?
    • What if they’re headed to the hollow world?
    • And the Trading Co would have a monopoly on the passage to the hollow world from the USA.
  • Hardfist is convinced none of his people are leaking information.
  • There were supposedly invisible rattlesnakes in these parts. “Smoke snakes.”
  • The are given the seasonal bunk house to work out of.

XPs: 400 each (PCs now at  11,050, need 15,000 to reach 6th)

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Second Really Wild West Session — After-Action Report (Part One)

After the first Really Wild West: Doomstone game session After-Action Report, and its Part Two follow-up, numerous people indicated they were excited to keep learning about the campaign as I run it. So, it’s two weeks later, I’ve run another session, and adapted notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report.

If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

Chimera Kid

(Sketch of the Chimera Kid by Jacob Blackmon. The Kid is a figure in RWW: Doomstone the PCs have heard about, but not yet me. Jacob is awesome at capturing character designs in sketches like this, and you can hire him to do it for your characters!)

Session 02

The player running the human mechanic roboticist can’t make it to the game session, but wants us to proceed. That character is determined to have to stay behind in Cheyenne to repair her drone, and will be escorted to the ranch the PCs are heading to in a few days, when the Fonts & Bismark patrol comes back into town so they have spare people to do it. Since everyone wants to play, no one picks at the logic of this too much.

Most PCs stay at Mr. Satin’s Satin’s House of Refined Delights. Discover there is a bastet Norwegian Forest Cat named Caesar who is a professional cuddler. Fantastic purrer and snuggler. From a line of French pillow warmers (on his mother’s side) and a Bostonian chimney-sweet (literally crawls into a chimney and cleans it by moving through it, using token Spell to clean himself off when he’s done).

Day 3

PCs gather at the Fonts & Bismark station-house in Cheyenne to pick up the gear they are being given. Station Chief Adler introduces them to a new potential companion — Brone Mallory, a half-orc cartographer technomancer with a Doctorate in Theosophy from Oxbridge University, who is a mail-order theosopher who was hired to help survey the border between the Circle Axe and Vicious Hippogriff ranches. But the survey company went bankrupt while Mallory was in transit, so now he is between jobs. PCs agree to bring him along.

PC skill checks suggest he may have connections to the “Brone,” Normandy orc warcasters from the 900s AD, and possible the Mallory family of humanblooded spells-for-hire that operate around the Appalachians.

PCs decide to head to Circle Axe first. On their way north out of town, they are accosted by a human man with 4 mechanical arms run by a steam abckpack (in addition to his own 2 arms) grooming utensils. He declares he is “Beardcutter Ben, the Shaver’s Friend,” and makes his sales-pitch

  • He claims to be able to solve any problem we have.
  • Centaur Paladin buys a ring of oral hygene
  • Human Fighter/Mystic buys ten water pills (each pill turns into 1 gallon of water)
  • PCs get Beardcutter Ben’s calling card – a small gear-clockwork that when plugged into the Babbage-Bell grid tells you his last known location (he’s a wandering peddler)
  • He offers us a free sample of “Walking Meat” (gum). Says he can;t get anyone to buy it, but it makes long foot travel more pleasant. The human fighter/mystic accepts a piece. It tastes like unseasoned pot roast.

The PCs head north. It’s two day’s travel to the Circle Axe.

Brone writes down the lyrics to a song Sawyer sings on the trail, and does a couple of sketch portraits of her.

At camp the first night, shortly after sundown, the PCs see a figure approach them, with points of light for its eyes, and his mount’s eyes.

  • Skeletal male, humanoid, casually walking toward us. Rifle on shoulder. Pauses at 100ft.
  • He comes from the North, and is headed into town.
  • Wears a deputy’s badge with a skull on it — not a symbol anyone recognizes
  • Smells of turned earth, ashes, and heather
  • PCs can’t identify what he IS, but conclude he’s not an undead
  • He says he is “Deputy B. Hill,” works for “The Marshall.” Someone has “grave jumped,” and he thought it might be one of them — but now that he is here, he sees they are all on “the right side of the dirt.” His prey keeps covering its tracks, “Like a snake shedding its skin fer feathers.”
  • PCs suggest he (might*be hunting the same foe they are looking for. Offer to maybe help. Deputy Hill says he’ll mention the PCs to The Marshall. If Deputy Hill can’t track down the grave-jumper himself, the Marshal may send a less discerning senior deputy, Or a full posse, which can cause “collateral damage.”
  • Deputy Hill rides off, calmly. Later, his horse’s footprints disappear with soft, eerie sounds.

Day 04

A green meteor crosses the sky in the morning. East to West. In the Northern sky. No one is sure what it is, though it could be sky metal.

  • The human fighter/mystic seems to be permeated with a carrion smell, though only the fenrin operative bounty hunter can smell it (has scent).Fighter/mystic’s mouth is dry and foul.
  • Token Spell doesn’t help.
  • The cavalier’s ring of oral hygiene doesn’t help either.
  • Players determine this is an affect-effect of the Walking Meat gum, Determine to Have Words with Beardcutter Ben when they get back to town.

About half a day from the ranches, monstrous Jerusalem Bug (size Small) burst from the ground and attack, focusing on the fighter/mystic at first. PCs ID that these bugs burrow and eat carrion.

  • PCs look at real-world pictures of Jerusalem Bugs, and declare them “A Big ol Bucket of Nope”
  • The PCs identify these eight creatures are Rowdies (first time I have used those rules in a game).
  • They bite and spit entangling resin. Also, rub their legs together making static electric jolts and dust clouds.
  • Fighter/mystic moves to not be surrounded, suffers a knockdown crit. Draws a long knife to fight rather than pistol (has Cleave and there are many AoO possible with so many melee foes)
  • PCs roll BADLY, and the Jerusalem Bugs get multiple knockdown crits.
  • Brone Mallory, the half-orc technomancer, mostly just maintains microbot assault through the whole fight, but the margin makes a difference several times.
  • Tough fight. The fenrin operative bounty hunter loses all Stamina Points, though the player identified she kept taking unnecessary risks.
  • PCs win. Fighter-Mystic heals fenrin operative bounty hunter’s Wound damage, and then most characters take 10 minutes and expend Resolve to regain Stamina Points.

End Part One!

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