Monday, June 10, 2019

The Traveling Show

I've been working on a Savage Worlds/The Sixth Gun scenario for a gaming weekend that my brother and I are planning with some old college buddies; presented here are the pregenerated characters that I've made for it.

-Nate




Using these Characters
First and foremost, these characters are designed to be pregenerated heroes for use with the scenario “Truth and Consequences” along with any others that might follow it. To that end, players should select one of the roles, and then make up a name, descriptive details and perhaps even a background for each character. On the other hand, a GM could provide that information and thus use them as interesting NPCs for adding to adventures and campaigns.



Character:
Strong Person
All your life you've been bigger and stronger than others. Sometimes this has been helpful, but at other times people have been afraid of you. For that reason, you were recruited to join a traveling show, in order to perform feats of strength such as bending bars, lifting heavy objects and even wrestling unsuspecting locals. In this way you've also been able to earn the respect of your fellow entertainers, sticking up for them in difficult situations and when conflict arises.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d4, Strength d10, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d10, Swimming d6, Throwing d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 7, Toughness: 6
Edges: Brawler, Brawny
Hindrances: Sluggish
Gear: Light clothing, folding knife (Range 3/6/12, Damage d10+d4, RoF 1), unarmed attack (Damage d10+2).

Notes




































Character:
Fortune Teller
You've always had a sense for things in this world beyond the perception of others, including magical auras and even the whispering voices of the dead. This has allowed you to gain valuable information for your own use—which has included convincing local dupes to pay you to hear word of their lost loved ones, unrealized aspirations, and the like. Your fellow entertainers do recognize that you've learned a lot, and thus are a fount of knowledge.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d4, Vigor d4
Skills: Fighting d4, Investigation d8, Knowledge d8, Notice d10, Persuasion d8, Spellcasting d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 5”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 4
Edges: Arcane Background (Sorcery)
Hindrances: Elderly
Powers: Detect/conceal arcana, dispel, grave speak; Power Points: 15.
Gear: Fancy clothing, spellbook, crystal ball, various spell components, walking stick—treat as a club (Damage d4+d4).

Notes


































Character:
Acrobat
You've always been quick on your feet, with fast reflexes and a light step. What is more, you're skilled at tumbling, juggling and similar feats, including the use of thrown weapons. You've even been able to turn that into viable employment, working as an acrobat in a traveling group of entertainers. Of course, the fact that you're good at climbing and as stealthy as a cat has also proven useful, albeit for less forthright endeavors in which you've been involved.
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d4, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d8, Stealth d10, Throwing d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Dodge, Quick
Hindrances: Overconfident
Gear: Light clothing, folding knife (Range 3/6/12, Damage d10+d4, RoF 1).

Notes




































Character:
Acrobat
You've always been quick on your feet, with fast reflexes and a light step. What is more, you're skilled at tumbling, juggling and similar feats, including the use of thrown weapons. You've even been able to turn that into viable employment, working as an acrobat in a traveling group of entertainers. Of course, the fact that you're good at climbing and as stealthy as a cat has also proven useful, albeit for less forthright endeavors in which you've been involved.
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d4, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d8, Stealth d10, Throwing d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Dodge, Quick
Hindrances: Overconfident
Gear: Light clothing, folding knife (Range 3/6/12, Damage d10+d4, RoF 1).

Notes




































Character:
Trick Shooter
Your pistols are like parts of your own body, extensions of your arms and hands. All your life you've had a knack for sharp shooting; you can hit a bird on the wing, and even shoot the aces out of a hurled deck of cards. You've put this skill to good use as a part of this traveling show. More recently, though, you've made good use of your guns in dealing with those locals who haven't taken a shine to the troupe's entertainments, or when you or one of your associates has committed some kind of offense.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Boating d8, Lockpicking d8, Riding d10, Shooting d8
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Marksman, Quick Draw
Hindrances: Impulsive
Gear: Cowboy clothing, two Colt Navy revolvers (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1).

Notes




































Character:
Witch Doctor
You come from a culture beyond the ken of most people who live in America. For that reason, people regard you as a curiosity at best, and a dangerous freak at the worst. While this in many places has led you to be ostracized and even persecuted, you've found acceptance among a traveling group of entertainers who all have their own unusual qualities. Additionally, your ability to enhance, protect and even heal the others has made you a valuable and trusted member of the group.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Healing d8, Survival d8, Tracking d6, Tribal Medicine d8
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), New Power
Hindrances: Outsider
Powers: Boost/lower Trait, deflection, healing; Power Points: 10.
Gear: Primitive clothing, totem (you pick the animal), tomahawk (Range 3/6/12, Damage d6+d6, RoF 1).

Notes



































Character:
Barker
You have a strong voice and a way with words, two qualities that you've paired to make yourself into quite the salesperson. That has also allowed you to gather around yourself a curious (some might say freakish) group of individuals, all of whom have special talents that you incorporate into your traveling show. Now, it's been alleged from time to time that your cohorts engage in less scrupulous of their talents, but so far you've usually been able to talk your way through such accusations.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Knowledge d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d10, Streetwise d8
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 4
Edges: Alertness, Command
Hindrances: Curious
Gear: Fancy clothing, Knuckleduster .22 (Range 5/10/20, Damage 2d6, RoF 1).

Notes



































Using the Traveling Show in The Sixth Gun Adventures and Campaigns
This group of interesting individuals can be used in many different ways, including the following possibilities.

  • They could stage their entertainments aboard the steamboat River Maiden, performing in each town at which it stops. This could be in conjunction with the Great River Poker Tournament, which is likely to attract people with bad intentions.
  • The New World Theater in Galveston, Texas is another good venue, although that could bring them into conflict with the Sisters of Salem—otherwise known as the Caliban Company—who are also agents of the Invisible College.
  • In this way, their acts might be paired with the Great River Poker Tournament or Miles Jameson's exhibition of Native American artifacts.
  • The characters' combined abilities make them capable retrieval specialists, ones who might be employed by the Pinkertons or the Black Stars.
  • Of course, they might also be in the thievery business for themselves, visiting various towns and pilfering what they can.
  • The traveling show would benefit from acquiring a collection of unusual items, such as the Hand of Glory, the aforementioned Native American artifacts, or the like.
  • Eventually this group will run afoul of nefarious people such as Angelica Smith or Edmond Sinclair, and conflict will ensue.    

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Good (Free) Stuff from Dog House Rules



My interest in western RPGs was first piqued when, at Gen Con a few years back, I found a copy of the Sidewinder Reloaded RPG for sale at a discount. That was back when 3rd Edition was giving way to 4th, and a game that used d20 Modern as its core rules was being phased out. That book proved to be a remarkably comprehensive set of rules for running adventures in the western genre, and I was intrigued. What is more, I learned that the game's publisher, Dog House Rules, also produced some high-quality supplemental material, especially the Fort Griffin Trilogy of setting books and the lovely little scenario Johnny Comes Marching Home. Even so, I was also gradually losing my taste for the mechanically heavy d20 Modern system, and so never ran much with that rulebook. 

Not long thereafter, on Free Comic Book Day in May of 2011, I found a free copy of Oni Publishing's The Sixth Gun #1. I was hooked, and went on to collect that series for the following five years. I was also excited when I saw the Kickstarter for a Sixth Gun RPG from Pinnacle Entertainment Group, using the Savage Worlds rules. While I'd dabbled in writing and running scenarios using that RPG, most notably in the Pirates of the Spanish Main setting, I didn't have much experience with it. That quickly changed as I began developing ideas for a series of adventures that developed into my current campaign, which I call Manifested Destinies. 

It was to my pleasant surprise, then, when I learned that Dog House Rules was converting much of its d20 material over to Savage Worlds. That had already been the case with Johnny and two other adventures, but now is also the case for Fort Griffin. It was in looking at that hefty text that I also found the following three free supplements, part of their Six Guns line, each of which presents a group of historical NPCs ready for use in any kind of Savage Worlds western game.

The first of these supplements presents the notorious James-Younger gang. It provides stats, naturally, for Frank and Jesse James; Cole and Jim Younger; as well as Clell Miller and Arthur McCoy. It also provides printable half-page reference sheets for the characters, along with half a page of works cited, which I appreciate. 


Next up is a supplement dedicated to the Earps and Mastersons. It provides stats, of course, for Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp; and Bat, Ed and Jim Masterson. Once again there are half-page stat sheets and references for further reading. 


The third supplement is titled Wild and Woolly Women. The ladies presented in it include Calamity Jane, Belle Starr, Pearl Hart, Charley Parkhurst, Poker Alice Ivers, and Annie Oakley. This was the most interesting supplement to read, since the stories of these women were not as familiar as those of the preceding bandits and lawmen. Also, the list of references for this one is longer than those for the other two. 


Using These Supplements in Savage Worlds Western Adventures and Campaign
Presented below are just a few ways in which a GM (Judge) could work these characters into various plots.
  • As raiders and bank robbers, the members of the James-Younger Gang are synonymous with loot. This could include money or other items taken from various bank and train robberies, or even material from back during their days serving under the infamous Bill Quantrill during the heated conflicts of the Civil War.
  • Various members of the Earp and Masterson families served as deputies of the US Marshals; who is to say they weren't actually members of the Black Stars, tasked with investigating occult-related crimes and other such mysteries?
  • The women presented in the third supplement are such a colorful bunch that they could add drama to any adventure.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Manifested Destinies Campaign Guide

This year's campaign (for the 2018-19 school year) has been a bit different. For one thing, we've been playing every other week; for another, we switched it up a bit and played some Savage Worlds in the Sixth Gun campaign setting. I had a number of adventures ready to go from the start, with an idea of where I wanted to be at some point around the middle; the rest has evolved as we progressed. In the end, though, I wanted to provide something of an overview if a GM wanted to use this material in some kind of organized manner.



Connecting the Scenarios
The “Manifested Destinies” campaign connects a number of different adventures from the blog . While the development of a storyline, based on the actions of the Player Characters, can never be fully anticipated by the GM, the intended overall flow of the action is as follows. 

“Reversal of Fortune” provides an excellent means of bringing the PCs together for the first time, since they could be competitors, companions, spectators, would-be thieves, other passengers, or even crew members aboard the steamboat River Maiden for the big poker tournament. Then, finding those responsible for the strange attack can bring a common purpose, as detailed in “Ill-Gotten Gains.” A cryptic clue from that scenario leads to the little town of Smith's Crossing, where they can gain hints about one mystery. 

From there, too, they could be drawn into the events of “Blood on the Snow” and “Buried But Not Dead.” Those scenarios introduce two of the primary villains, the Pinkerton Alexandra Flynn and the werewolf Hugo Francois LeBlanc. The latter also allows the PCs to acquire a fabled grimoire, the Clavicula Salmonis, a text purportedly written by King Solomon himself and one that contains rituals for summoning demons and binding them to one's service. They could also thus be drawn into the events of “Restless Spirits,” which gives them the opportunity to win powerful allies. 

The plot thickens when Smith's Crossing is stricken by illness, as presented in “A Plague Among You.” Here the PCs can learn the truth about Mr. and Mrs. Smith and, based on what they learn there, rush off to prevent a calamity in “Hell to Pay.” From there, the scenario “South of the Border” can be used for a change of scenery, possibly letting the PCs come face to face with Alexandra Flynn, and even acquire two relics—the onyx mirror and a hand of glory

Once the end of the campaign approaches, the PCs can rush to stop a werewolf and his allies from unleashing a wicked and powerful loa, as described in “Unfettered,” and then face off once and for all with the Knights of Solomon.

Using the Supplements
Supplements from the blog connect directly to the different adventures, too.
  • The Steamboat,” of course, provides the setting and some of the NPCs for “Reversal of Fortune.”
  • Bad Medicine” details what the PCs can find during their first—and subsequent—visits to Smith's Crossing, especially during “A Plague Among You.” It is also the launching point for the scenario “Buried But Not Dead,” and possibly for “Blood on the Snow.”
  • The “Frontier Fort” becomes a focal point for the PCs, and is the center of the action for “Hell to Pay” as well as the point of entry for “Beyond the Veil” and, eventually, “Unfettered.”
  • Soldiers and Officers of the U.S. Army” and “Native People of the American Frontier” detail many of the NPCs who become important in the aforementioned scenarios, too.
  • The Dead Man's Hand” introduces another NPC, Small Raven, who could help the PCs in unraveling the greater mystery that they face.
  • Diablerie” inroduces a coven of witches who can add a lair of complication to these events, as allies, rivals or enemies.
  • Similarly, the “Black Stars” are meant to be employers for the PCs, unless they choose to pursue their own agendas.
  • The Train” is a setting for working in the PCs' own subplots, as detailed below.
  • Finally, “The Knights of Solomon” details the final foes for this campaign.

Including the PCs' Stories
The Savage Worlds game mechanic known as Interludes provides a good opportunity for the players to weave their characters more deeply into this story, by telling their own tales. Refer to page 105 of the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition book for details. Good opportunities for Interludes occur during the journey through the southwest during “Buried But Not Dead” and the voyage across the Gulf of Mexico that's part of “South of the Border.” At the GM's discretion, other scenarios could provide more chances for this kind of elaboration, too. 

On the one hand, characters who are developed from these stories could be substituted for NPCs from the published adventures. On the other hand, the GM could improvise entirely new encounters and scenarios based on those stories, too.


Building up to the Big Finale
Here are a few tips for building up a satisfying climax at the end of the campaign.
  • When possible, it's best to introduce villains and let them become familiar before the PCs can have a showdown with them. Such could be the case with Jacques Lemaire, Mordechai and Angelica Smith, Hugo Francois LeBlanc, Alexandra Flynn and any of her associates from the Pinkertons and the Knights of Solomon.
  • The same goes for any possible allies, too; they might include Herr Meier, many of the people from Smith's Crossing, any soldiers and officers from Fort Arneson, as well as some of the local Native Americans, such as Little Raven, Red Hawk and Standing Bear. Depending on the GM's preferences, they could aid the PCs in battles against their enemies.
  • It's also important to revisit familiar locations, too, so as to help weave them into the tapestry that is the campaign setting.
  • After each scenario, when the PCs receive their Experience Points, the NPCs who were involved should receive the same total, reflecting the fact that they are continuing to pursue their own plans.
  • Finally, the big finish—whether it's a showdown at the strange manor house in “Unfettered,” an assault on the stronghold of the Knights of Solomon, or something else entirely—provides an opportunity to settle old scores once and for all.

Heading in Other Directions?
As written, these scenarios should provide the PCs with enough Experience Points to receive from ten to twelve Advances, and thus to achieve Veteran or even Heroic rank. A GM who wants to take this campaign to the Legendary level might, therefor, need to supplement this material. One option for doing so is working in more side adventures based on the stories from the Interludes; this might include making journeys back east to visit family and friends, seeking lost loved ones who've come out to different parts of the frontier, or going to find vengeance against those who've done the PCs wrong. Another possibility is to let the PCs explore the myriad possible worlds that are accessible via the Winding Way, and thus even to pursue alternate realities that upset the status quo of the outside world.



Wednesday, May 1, 2019

My Methodology

Since I do a fair amount of writing for my home RPG campaigns, I thought it might be interesting if I shared a little about my methodology for it. I'm always interested to hear how other GMs plan for and keep record of their sessions.

Here goes.

-Nate


1. First, I try to have paper and a writing utensil on my person at all times. One never knows when inspiration will strike, and I like to be ready to jot down or develop an idea when that happens. To that end, I generate a list of bullet point ideas for future reference.


2. Once I have an idea for an adventure, I use a technique that I stole from my brother Nick. It's a flowchart that starts with the adversary's actions, draws in the PCs, and then leads through various possible developments to what one hopes is a satisfying conclusion. This all keeps in mind, of course, that no GM plan ever survives contact with the players.


3. Sometimes--and especially for my recent Sixth Gun campaign, I've wanted to develop a location for use in a particular campaign setting. For that purpose I use a chart, one that has sections for different elements of that place. This helps me organize my plan for it.


4. Finally, during each session I use my notes to keep track of damage to various characters in battle, skill checks that characters make for later reference, possible repercussions for future sessions, and the like. Here's an example of that.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Unfettered

This post presents one part of the finale for my Savage Worlds campaign in the Sixth Gun setting.

-Nate



Introduction
Some time ago, the Loa known as Marinette of the Dry Arms was banished from this world by a powerful Voodoo practitioner named Henri LeFournier, trapped in a specially empowered magical bottle, to a crossroads in an unearthly realm called the Winding Way. There she remained until such time as someone could set her free. Indeed, she might have languished in that place forever, if not for the insight gained by one of her followers. Having allied himself with the Knights of Solomon, the werewolf Hugo Francois LeBlanc has acquired the knowledge needed to release his goddess, and thus to set her free so that she can exert her will once again upon this world.


Adventure Synopsis
This adventure begins as the PCs are traveling back to the western frontier of the United States after business in other places. Depending upon their previous interactions with the parties involved in this scenario, they can learn about this plot in a number of different ways. Whatever the case, they somehow discover that Hugo has entered the rift beneath Fort Arneson that leads to the Winding Way, and what his intentions are there. At that point they're in a race against him to foil his plan—but that realm is tricky and treacherous, and they'll face numerous physical, mental and spiritual challenges as they navigate its myriad paths.


For the Gun Master
Henri Fournier placed the bottle in which Marinette of the Dry Arms is imprisoned at a crossroads inside the Winding Way. Hugo Francois LeBlanc has one goal: to reach that location, obtain the bottle, carry it out of the Winding Way and break it so that the loa is returned to this world. Only the PCs can stop him from accomplishing that goal, and they'll be hard pressed to do so.


Involving the Heroes
The PCs can become involved in this business in a number of different ways, including the following possibilities.
  • They could be soldiers stationed at Fort Arneson, as detailed in “Frontier Fort,” when someone or something emerges from the hole.
  • Alternately, they might be travelers on the frontier and learn of strange attacks on settlers' farms and Indian camps through the events of the scenario “Blood on the Snow.”
  • In either case, they could become aware of Mrs. Angelica Smith's efforts to access the Winding Way as detailed in the supplement “Bad Medicine” and the scenarios “A Plague Among You” and “Hell to Pay.”
  • If they have a history with the fort and its inhabitants, then they could be summoned directly (see below).
  • Finally, they could gain a hint of these developments by gazing into the ebony mirror, a relic that they might find in a Mayan pyramid while following or going to the aid of the Pinkerton agent Alexandra Flynn.

However it happens, the PCs should become aware that a means of accessing the Winding Way has been opened underneath Fort Arneson, and that someone wants to go in there against the wishes of the people who are guarding it.

Fort Arneson
Refer to the article “Frontier Fort” to find a layout for this location, and stats for the characters who can be found in it. Keep in mind, of course, that those details may have to be modified if the PCs took part in the events of the scenario “Hell to Pay.”


Scene 1—Bad Tidings
At some point while the PCs are close to the fort, they receive word that there presence is wanted. This can come in a variety of ways, including a hand-written note delivered by a rider, or a telegram, as represented below.



Your presence is requested—no, required—at Fort Arneson, as soon as possible.
I will tell more upon your arrival.





Your assistance is urgently need at Fort Arneson.
Please make all haste.



In either case, the missive is signed with the name of the ranking person at the fort. Given the events of “Hell to Pay,” this is probably the former cavalry Lieutenant (and now acting Captain) Danforth Jeffreys, assuming that Captain Anders Arneson III was killed in action. If that is not the case, then the GM can adjust accordingly. 

Alternately, if the PCs have access to magic such as the Divination power, or perhaps to the onyx mirror from the scenario “South of the Border,” then they could also learn of this matter through hints and visions granted by that magic.

Recent Developments
However it is that the PCs return to Fort Arneson, they are met by the very same officer who sent the message to them. He ushers them into the officers' quarters, where they are given food and drink, and then informs them of what has transpired. These details can be presented via conversation, or more in the form of a briefing, at the GM's discretion.
  • Recently a group of United States Marshals, led by Chief Deputy Andrew Llewellyn, arrived at the fort, looking to investigate “recent events of an occult nature.”
  • They said they were members of a special division, the Black Stars, who were tasked with investigating supernatural events and activities.
  • Accompanied by a squad of soldiers, Llewellyn and his men ventured down into the rift to do some exploring; only the Chief Deputy managed to return.
  • In fact, that individual is currently housed—but unconscious, as if caught in some kind of fever dream—in the fort's infirmary.

The Black Stars
Refer to the supplement of this name to find background information about, and stats for the members of, this organization.


The Survivor
As mentioned above, the PCs can find Chief Deputy Llewellyn in the infirmary. He is sleeping in one of the beds, but his slumber is fitful, as if wracked by unpleasant dreams. Those fits become worse as the PCs arrive, turning into outright convulsions. Then he kicks aside the bedding and his clothes tear to shreds as he undergoes a horrific transformation. His fingers and toes become claws; gray fur grows out of his body; his face elongates into a snout full of fangs. He is, of course, a werewolf.

Werewolf: Refer to page 78 in The Sixth Gun RPG.

The werewolf, of course, rushes to attack the nearest possible victim. Given its immunity to weapons other than magic and those mage of silver, this should prove to be a daunting challenge. What is more, any characters injured by the werewolf have a 50% chance of being infected themselves. 

If he is slain, Chief Deputy Llewellyn collapses to the ground with a groan. Even so, he utters a short imperative: “Stop the shapechanger! Don't let the goddess be unleashed!” With that he tosses his US Marshal badge in their direction, and then he dies. Characters who succeed at a Voodoo check can identify this as a reference to the Loa Marinette of the Dry Arms, one who was trapped inside the Winding Way by the hougan Henri Fournier. She is—as can be confirmed by another check—the patron Loa of shapechangers.


Scene 2—Back into the Rift
As long as they are willing to undertake this assignment, the PCs should make any preparations that they deem necessary. While they probably have some connections with the soldiers of Fort Arneson, they don't have all that much to offer. At the GM's discretion, the PCs should have access to the following items.
  • Since each infantry soldier at the fort has been issued a Winchester '76 rifle, and each cavalry soldier a Colt Dragoon pistol and cavalry saber, there are plenty of those to be had.
  • The same goes for ammunition to load those firearms, within reason.
  • There's a fair amount of food and water, in the form of filled canteens, hardtack biscuits, salt pork and beans.
  • The soldiers can also provide blankets for bedrolls and even a couple of tents.
  • Common equipment items such as axes, hatches, lanterns, mess kits, pickaxes and shovels, rope and compasses are also available.
  • Explosives such as dynamite are not so easily obtained, but a few stick might be available at the GM's discretion.

Recruiting Some Help?
There's also the question of the PCs recruiting people to assist them. This is left entirely up to the GM, based upon the party's previous interactions with various NPCs and how convincing they can be in recruiting others to the cause.

The Rift
Refer to the scenario “Beyond the Veil” to find maps for some of the locations inside the Winding Way, along with a few of the hazards that the PCs might face there.


Going Back into Harm's Way
Once the PCs have made all of the preparations that they can or want, they can head back down into the rift. If this is the first time for them, then they could certainly face the various hazards detailed in the scenario mentioned above. Should they have been down this road before, on the other hand, they could find some new dangers lying in their path. A few possibilities, along with suggestions for where to include them, include the following.
  • While the underground lake is no longer home to a giant snake, the PCs must still manage to swim across if—after climbing down to or otherwise being lower into it—if they want to reach the rest of the tunnels.
  • Two Knights of Solomon with some bloodhounds patrol the area known as the Columns. They are on the lookout for intruders, and move to attack when they see the PCs. Should the tide of battle turn against them, however, they send a runner in the hopes of alerting their allies about this incursion.
  • One of the Knights has a paper on which cryptic clues are written, as detailed below.
  • At the chasm and rope bridge, a group of terracotta warriors, conjured up by the Knights, stand guard. They attempt to lurk in the shadows of the tunnel on the opposite end of the chamber before moving out to confront the PCs. What is more, if the battle doesn't go their way, then they try to cut the bridge's ropes in order to send the PCs plummeting to their doom, or leaving them to fight while clinging to the sides of the bridge.
  • Once they reach the old skinwalker lair, a crossroads demon (Kalfu himself) waits for the PCs. If they can earn his respect—such as by offering items such as rum and gunpowder or rotten eggs, or by making a case that they want to prevent villains from using the Winding Way for wicked purposes—then this individual can provide them with a good deal of information about this location and its unusual nature.
As always, of course, the GM should feel to add or modify encounters based on the desires of the players and the needs of the campaign.

Crossroads demon: Refer to page 74 in The Sixth Gun RPG for details.

Knight of Solomon: Refer to that supplement for details.

Bloodhound: Refer to page 77 in The Sixth Gun RPG for details.

Terracotta Warrior: Use the stats for a Bodyguard from page 137 from the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer's Edition for details.

The crossroads point the way.
The mother of all holds the key.
Look when the boundaries are open.

Many Roads to Follow
Beyond the skinwalkers' lair, numerous passages lead further into the Winding Way. Those can open up into limitless possibilities, ones based upon the background stories—especially from Interludes—and other interactions of the PCs, as detailed in the next scene.


Scene 3—Brave New Worlds?
While there are at least four paths leading further beyond the skinwalker lair, characters who make a Notice check can see that the footprints in the area lead down the third path from the left. What is more, a raise on that check reveals the nature of those who left the footprints, including a few pairs of booted feet that seem normal for humans, as well as some deeper—and thus, as the PCs may recognize, caused by heavier creatures like the terracotta warriors—along with prints from any others who survived previous encounters, or from other NPCs whom the GM decides to add. 

As the PCs explore this deeper part of the tunnels, they might need to deal with any previous encounters that weren't completely resolved during combat or other interactions.

Trials and Tribulations
The various twists and turns of the tunnels that make up the Winding Way can lead to various places, times and possibilities; some options are detailed below.
  • One character's lost love might appear down one of the tunnels.
  • The same can be said for an old enemy with a score to settle.
  • Characters' family members could appear, too.
  • A series of clues indicate the present of a long-lost treasure, one that consists either of ordinary valuables or magical relics or lore.
  • Similarly, an NPC with a similar arcane background could offer to teach one or more PCs new and impressive powers.
  • Certain characters could see themselves in positions of power or command, with the ability to make influential decisions to change the course of events. This is especially the case for those who fought in the Civil War, and who might wish to see different outcomes for the various battles which made up that conflict.
  • The same can be for major moments in American or world history, such as the assassination of President Lincoln.
  • The PCs might witness a challenge that they previously faced, during a different adventure or session, with the chance to make different decisions—and thus have different outcomes—this time around.
  • The glimpsed world could be the “happily ever after” ending that a particular PC wishes to see, even if that means leaving this current life of adventure behind in order to pursue that new end.
  • In a similar vein, the reality glimpsed could represent total physical fulfillment for a character, with an abundance of food, drink and companionship.
Keep in mind that these other realities exist down the myriad branching paths of the tunnels in the Winding Way; characters must follow them to their ends in order to see the possibilities. Keep in mind, however, that following one of those paths leads to an entirely different reality, separate from the one in which this adventure or campaign has taken place, and thus one that could have unexpected—and, thus, unpleasant—differences from what is familiar to the characters.


Scene 4—Breaking Point
Eventually the paths lead to a broad cavern that is open to the sky above, one that has four entrances. In the center of it stands a manor house, two stories in height, surrounded by a grove of trees. The front door faces to the south (the bottom of the map). While there are no signs of movement in the house itself, characters who make Notice checks could see wolves that are prowling around the edges of the chamber. They are followers of the werewolf who is assisting the Knights of Solomon, as detailed below.

The Manor
Refer to the maps below for the following location descriptions. 


Everything about the manor house seems opulent, but with a sinister twist. Inside the double front doors is the entry (1), with two staircases leading upward, hallways leading to the left and right, and another set of double doors leading to the middle of the house. Along the left corridor are the parlor (2), an office (3) and a closet (4). Beyond another staircase are the smoking room (5), dining room (6) and kitchen (7), which also has a back door leading outside. Another doorway from the kitchen leads into the pantry (8) and wine closet (9). From the kitchen, a second hallway leads past quarters for the butler (10), servants (11) and maids (12). At the end of it is the library (13), before it leads back into the entry.


In the center of the house is the courtyard (14), which is open to the sky above and which is important for finding the hidden bottle, as detailed below.


On the upper level of the house are numerous guest rooms (15), along with the master bedroom (16) and an office (17).

Disturbing and Dangerous Details
To establish the atmosphere of this location, the GM should mention the following details.
  • Ivy has grown up over the exterior walls, not with deliberation but with neglect.
  • The house is lit by gaslights, albeit ones fueled with swamp gas generated in the ground beneath the manor, giving the whole place a sickly, burning, rotten egg smell.
  • Much of the interior is covered in cobwebs and dust.
  • A coffin sits in the parlor, as if for viewing; it contains an unpleasant surprise, as detailed below.
  • The dining room table is set with a full banquet of food that is now mouldering and covered with insects.
  • Against one wall in the entry there is an elaborate grandfather clock. While that might seem to be unimportant at first, it should become crucial to the PCs' efforts to find the bottle—as is detailed below.
The GM should, of course, feel free to improvise additional details in order to establish a suitably creepy atmosphere.

Finding the Bottle
To find the bottle in which Marinette is trapped, the PCs need to follow the three clues taken from one of the Knights.
  • The first, “The crossroads point the way,” refers to the fact that, if one draws mental lines between the cavern's four entrances, they cross at a point in back left part of the courtyard. A Smarts check can identify the correct spot.
  • Buried at that spot, then, is a small leather pouch that holds a similarly small key.
  • That key fits into a slot on the aforementioned grandfather clock, which has wound down. What is more, its motionless hands point to a quarter past six; if the key is inserted and turned, and the hands are moved to twelve o'clock, then a hidden compartment pops open to reveal a single glass bottle—the one that contains Marinette.

The Knights' Gambit
While the PCs are exploring the manor, the wolves continue to stalk around outside the manor. If they find the bottle, then the knights make their move. One of the wolves gives a howl, alerting everyone else, starting the attack. Then the wolves attack the house, jumping in through the windows to reach the PCs. Among their number is the werewolf—either Hugo Francois LeBlanc or Samuel Clayton, depending on previous developments—who seeks to to unleash his patron loa.

Wolves (5): Refer to page 157 of the Savage Worlds rulebook for stats.

Werewolf: Refer to page 78 of the Sixth Gun RPG for stats.

Once that assault begins, the Knights bring the second wave. They have two squads of five knights, each led by a commander, in reserve, with a master giving them their orders. Desperate to gain the patronage of Marinette, they make an all-out attack.

Knights of Solomon (13): Refer to that supplement to find stats for these characters.

Pinkertons: If Alexandra Flynn has survived the PCs' previous adventures, then she might also
be present for this business; use the stats from page page 85 of the Sixth Gun RPG.

Anyone Else?: This showdown provides a good opportunity to bring back any other old foes
whom the PCs have faced, such as one of the Smiths or a character connected to a PC's
background.

Developments
The Knights' foremost objective is to acquire the bottle in which Marinette is trapped.
If it becomes apparent that they can't win this assault, then they attempt an organized retreat toward the entrance from which they arrived—the one to the northwest. That leads back to the Knights' stronghold, as detailed in the aforementioned supplement.

Epilogue
This battle should be a real test for the PCs, and one in which they can prove their mettle. Victory means that they can prevent the Knights from unleashing Marinette of the Dry Arms, but still leaves a number of unanswered questions and unexplored possibilities.

Further Adventures
Here are just a few of the turns that this story might take.
  • One or more of the PCs could always decide to unleash Marinette in order to gain from her patronage. If that happens, then it's left up to the GM to decide just what kinds of powers she would provide. Refer to pages 35-6 of the Sixth Gun RPG to find rules for voodoo practitioners; Marinette could grant access to any of those powers. Of course, she has her own agenda, which includes taking revenge on the one who trapped her in the bottle in the first place.
  • As long as the PCs possess the bottle in which she is trapped, the Knights of Solomon and others would continue trying to take it from them.
  • If they want to settle the score with the Knights once and for all, then the PCs must venture toward their stronghold to do so.
  • The library in the manor house presents a great opportunity for the GM to introduce new plot hooks and potential storylines.

Appendix—The Note


The crossroads point the way.
The mother of all holds the key.
Look when the boundaries are open.