Wednesday, January 5, 2022

I&I for T6G: Dr. Potter's Medicine Show by Eric Scott Fischl

Another novel that can provide plenty of inspiration for The Sixth Gun campaigns is this one. 

-Nate


Doctor Potter's Medicine Show

This novel represents one of the reasons why I love having used book stores in the world. One day I was early for a dentist appointment, and so I popped into the nearby Half Price books to peruse the shelves. This novel was in the Sci-Fi Fantasy section and the title immediately caught my eye; otherwise, I might never have heard of it. Over winter break I finished reading the book, and here are my thoughts about it.

  • The premise is that a traveling medicine show is involved in searching for the Philosopher's Stone of alchemical fame, and so right away it involves plot elements that could work well, I think, in adventures and campaigns for The Sixth Gun.

  • There is a lot of swearing in it, which was off-putting for me. This was a stark contrast to, for example, Territory, in which most of the characters are pretty formal in their interactions.

  • The main antagonist is a really bad person. We're given a flashback to learn some of his story, but even then he is not a sympathetic character.

  • Along that line, because he does lots of bad things to people, the novel overall has a dark tone. It is definitely not for the squeamish.

  • The protagonists have their own flaws, one of which is drinking way too much alcohol. They do become likable, however, thanks in part to some nice and even tender moments between them.

  • There are also some real surprises, which do a good job of building up the conflict and thus making the reader root for the (relatively) good guys.

  • I'm not sure what I think about the ending, as it leaves some unanswered questions. It definitely provides some satisfying comeuppance, though.


Friday, December 31, 2021

My Methodology: Twists and Turns

Two and a half years ago I ran my first campaign using the Savage Worlds rules and the campaign setting from The Sixth Gun comics. I called it Manifested Destinies; we played every other Tuesday, and it ran for nineteen sessions from late August of 2018 until early June of 2019. Although I didn't have as strong a plan for finishing the campaign as I would have liked, all in all I think it went well and the players seemed to enjoy themselves.

Campaign Notes for Manifested Destinies

That summer, during a gathering of old friends connected to the Concordia College (Moorhead) Gaming Club, I ran a one-shot in that setting, “Truth or Consequences,” a scenario that took place after the events of Manifested Destinies. It went pretty well, in my opinion, and so I started to brainstorm more adventures which I could use to follow that one, hoping that it would become an annual event. That lead to three new ones, which I posted on this blog while waiting for a chance to run them.

Truth or Consequences

Fortune and Glory

Lead or Gold

Smoke and Mirrors

During that summer I also started working on some scenarios that I thought I might run at my favorite local gaming convention, Con of the North. I had been running space fantasy scenarios for the 1st edition Pathfinder RPG, but the arrival of a 2nd edition for that game meant fewer and fewer people were playing the old ruleset. I was having fun with The Sixth Gun, and started reading some history of the world in the year 1887. One event that jumped out at me was the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, which celebrated fifty years on the British throne for her. At that time, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show was performing in London, too, and it seemed like a great opportunity for adventure. Those scenarios eventually became “The Depths of Depravity” and “A Midsummer Nightmare.”

The Depths of Depravity

A Midsummer Nightmare

I never did have a chance to run those scenarios at Con of the North, however. For one, the Covid-19 pandemic hit America hard, meaning that in-person gaming came to a temporary halt. For another, my son was born in March of 2020. That gave me, for a while at least, more time for writing. I'd also been reading the new Savage World Adventure Edition, and really liking it. For those reasons I took the plunge and wrote Treasure Hunter Adventures, the first in a series of supplements and adventures in that genre. I channeled much of my hobby time and effort into that endeavor, starting with that publication on 6 June 2020 and continuing to this day.

Treasure Hunter Adventures for the Savage Worlds RPG

During that year I did join an online campaign playing the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I did enjoy it, although for me online gaming was definitely not as good as playing in person. It scratched the itch for a while, but at the same time I was contemplating what I might want to run next. That's when I realized that I had plenty of material ready to go, using the ideas for the five scenarios linked above. Starting with them, and working on some other ideas that seemed to connect with them, I had the foundation for my current campaign, which I call Eldritch Conspiracies.

Campaign Notes for Eldritch Conspiracies

That brings us to the present. I'm still hoping to see my old college friends again this summer, if the danger of Covid can be kept well enough in check. Only time will tell, of course, but I'm working on an adventure for that, if and when it is possible.

-Nate

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Notes from One-Shots for The Sixth Gun RPG

Detailed below are notes from a one-shot that I ran using the Savage Worlds RPG, taking place in the world of The Sixth Gun and Shadow Roads comics. I hope to run more such sessions in the near future. 

-Nate 

Truth or Consequences


15 June 2019—“Truth or Consequences”

For this session, the players selected character archetypes from “The Traveling Show.”

The Traveling Show


Adam: Mr. Coburn, the barker

Al: Arnold, the strongman

Andrea: Madame Flaubert, the fortune teller

Breigh: Tommy “the Kid” Harrison, the acrobat

Brent: Bertram “Red” MacDill, the trickshooter—also known as “The Connecticut Cannon”

Nick: Standing Bear, the witch doctor


The heroes, a troupe of traveling entertainers, arrived via steamboat at The Crossing. There they encountered Sheriff Lawrence and his deputies, who were chasing an Indian brave, Red Hawk. They learned that Red Hawk was accused of stealing from the church, and prevented him from coming to any harm. From there they took rooms at the boarding house and then began exploring the town.


At the church, Madame Flaubert and Bertram met Reverend Edmond Bouchard, and she recognized that he wielded arcane power. Mr. Coburn went to talk to the sheriff, and arranged to stage two performances on that and the following night. At the saloon the heroes learned about the strange dreams that some of the townsfolk had been having, too. They staged their performance that evening, and then waited until the depth of night to continue their investigation.


Heading back to the church, they let themselves in the back door. They contemplated stealing the collection box, but decided better of it. There they also met Running Wolf, another brave who'd recently been converted to Christianity by Reverend Bouchard. He adopted the new religion, they learned, because of strange dreams that he'd been having, too.


From the church the heroes tracked Reverend Bouchard back to his home, where Tommy scouted the place and then Bertram forced entry. On the upper floor they encountered Sheriff Lawrence, and fought with him. The Reverend appeared behind them, too, and tried to cow them using the Fear power, but they resisted. The heroes defeated the villains, and in the basement found proof that the false preacher had been using Voodoo rituals to inflict nightmares on members of his congregation using items pilfered from them.


15 June 2019—“Truth or Consequences”

For this session, the players again selected—or continued playing—character archetypes from “The Traveling Show.”


Andrea: Madame Flaubert, the fortune teller

Charlotte: Inejkah (“Nej”), the acrobat

Karena: Jespin Sharpshot, the sharpshooter

Nick: Standing Bear, the witch doctor


While relaxing in The Crossing, the heroes were approached by a small raven. After determining that it could understand them, they let it lead them to a posted advertisement in the town square, one that promoted an exhibition of art and artifacts called “Civilization's Frontier.” They asked good questions, and then followed the raven out past the edge of town to where the Indian shaman Gray Buffalo was camped. The shaman led Standing Bear on a Spirit Walk, during which he learned that the bird is a vessel inhabited by the spirit of a young Indian brave named Small Raven, who wanted help taking back some native artifacts with arcane power that had been stolen and were now part of the exhibition. The heroes agreed to help.


Heading back to town, they met with Mr. Dexter, the barker who had come ahead of the traveling exhibition. Madame Flaubert talked up her group of entertainers; Nej showed off her acrobatics; Jespin shot a thrown coin out of the air; Standing Bear told a traditional story; and Madame Flaubert intrigued him with her mysticism. He offered them trial employment while the exhibition was at The Crossing, and they boarded the newly arriving steamboat, the River Maiden.


Once aboard the steamboat, Madame Flaubert checked out the cargo hold and confirmed that the artifacts weren't there. Back up on the main deck, in the space that was used for meals and as a lounge, the heroes encountered Miles Jameson, who was putting on the exhibition. Nej followed him when he headed back to his cabin, but he noticed her; she claimed to be an art student and they chatted. After he continued on his way, she climbed up the outside of the boat, and confirmed that his suite was #1 on the vessel's upper deck. She met back up with her associates and they made their plan.


Heading to the upper deck, Jespin picked the lock to Jameson's suite and the heroes pushed their way into it. They quickly took down Ezekiel Wainwright, Jameson's bodyguard. The philanthropist slipped out a window, however, taking the trunk of artifacts with him and calling for more guards. Jespin used some fancy shooting to disarm one guard and make Jameson drop the trunk; Nej knocked out another guard with some acrobatics and a swinging kick. Standing Bear counted coup twice during the fight. Grabbing the trunk, they escaped in a rowboat and delivered the goods to Gray Buffalo. He presented the coup stick to Standing Bear to show his appreciation.


Monday, December 27, 2021

A Midsummer Nightmare

 Here's the second adventure from my current campaign, set in the world of The Sixth Gun and Shadow Roads comics. 

-Nate

A Midsummer Nightmare


Introduction

The year 1887 brings a great celebration to the United Kingdom. It marks the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Victoria taking the throne, an almost unprecedented term of leadesrship. For that reason, notable people from around the British Empire have gathered in London for the festivities. Even so, not all is well in this nation. There is the matter of Ireland, and many wish that it could be granted independence from British control. To that end, a group of dissidents who see themselves as inheriting the legacy of the Druids has gathered at Stonehenge; their plan is to build and then burn a wicker man—one that contains effigies, of course—as a form of protest. What they don't know is that agents of the Cabal, a sinister occult secret society, have infiltrated their organization, and plan to usurp the proceedings for their own purpose.


Adventure Synopsis

This adventure is a direct sequel to the scenario The Depths of Depravity; it begins while the heroes are still present, along with agents from the Special Branch of Scotland Yard, investigating the apothecary shop in which the Cabal was operating. There they can intercept a message sent via pigeon, which hopefully sends them in a race to Stonehenge to foil that occult group's next vile plot. Along the way they face more challenges, too.


For the Gun Master

The agents of the Cabal who have infiltrated this ritualistic protest plan to conduct an actual demonic summoning; to that end, they have kidnapped real victims—urchins from London and others who aren't likely to be missed—and drugged them with Slumber draughts. Those will be burned alive, then, instead of the effigies. All the while they will chant their occult rites, thereby bringing something truly terrifying into this world.


Involving the Heroes

As is mentioned above, this scenario assumes that the heroes participated in the events of The Depths of Depravity, and thus are present when a messenger pigeon arrives outside of the apothecary shop. If that is not the case, then perhaps they are simply nearby when Constable Roode and others raid that establishment, and are watching the aftermath of those events when the bird in questions makes its appearance.


Related Material

This scenario references the previous adventure, The Depths of Depravity, along with supplements called The Cabal and The Train. They can be found via the following links.



Scene 1—The Laboratory

Those heroes who are present at the apothecary shop should make Notice checks; success recognizes that one of the pigeons pecking around at the ground outside the building has a message tied to its leg. While catching the bird should be a relatively easy matter, the GM should deal out cards for initiative as usual; one never knows what shenanigans might ensue during the attempt.


Messenger Pigeon

This small bird is quick and agile if not very bright. It has the uncanny ability to find its way home.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4(A), Spirit d8, Strength d4, Vigor d4

Skills: Athletics d4, Fighting d4, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Survival d8

Pace: 4, Parry: 4, Toughness: 4

Special Abilities

  • Size: -1

  • Flight: Pigeons have a flying pace of 12.

  • Direction Sense: Messenger pigeons have an innate ability to find their way back to a particular location (in this case, the apothecary shop).

Gear: Message (tied to its leg).


As long as the heroes can catch the bird, they can untie and read the message slip.

The members of the Order are in place, ready to usurp the ceremony for our own ritual.

We will strike during the high point of summer, in the ancient and revered location.

Common Knowledge checks, or Academics at +2, let characters recognize that “the high point of summer” refers to the summer solstice, which occurs on that very same day. Similarly, “the ancient and revered location” is a reference to Stonehenge, which lies some two hours from London via train. Having already seen what the Cabal is capable of doing to harm others, Constable Roode implores the heroes to help investigate this new danger. Although they don't have much time to do so, they should be able to purchase some supplies or make other preparations before catching the next train bound for Salisbury.


Constable Frank Roode (Novice)

This London “bobby” takes his duty quite seriously—especially at a time as important as this, what with Her Majesty's Jubilee taking place, and important people from all around the Empire attending. Roode has definitely experienced the rougher side of the city, since he patrols the streets of the less genteel neighborhoods at night, but even he is not prepared to see what the Cabal has unleashed down in the sewers.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6

Skills: Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d6, Driving d6, Fighting d6, Healing d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4

Pace: 6, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5

Edges: Alertness, Connections

Hindrances: Code of Honor

Gear: Uniform, whistle, lantern, billy club (Damage Str + 1d6).


Scene 2—The Train

Refer to the supplement The Train, cited above, to find a layout for these events. The first part of the train ride goes smoothly, and is perhaps even pleasant; there is something of a festival atmosphere, as many of the people aboard the train are heading out to Salisbury for the gathering taking place there. In fact, this might be a good opportunity for the GM to introduce other NPCs, perhaps characters with past connections to the heroes, or ones who might provide links to future adventures.

At about the halfway point, however, heroes who are in a position to do so should make Notice checks to spot riders on horseback approaching from one side of the train, ones who come alongside one of the cars and begin climbing aboard. At this point, the GM should deal for initiative.


Cabal Thieves: Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

The bandits' plan is a relatively simple one. They've been asked to prevent the heroes from reaching Stonehenge, and so intend to uncouple their passenger car from the rest of the train, leaving them stranded in the middle of Salisbury Plain. Accomplishing this requires a series of successful actions:

  • Riding, to bring their horses alongside the train

  • Athletics, to climb aboard it

  • Repair, to uncouple the cars

Success in all three of these efforts leaves the heroes' car—and all of the ones behind it—stranded. No doubt the heroes have something to say about this, too. This should make for some exciting action, inside, between and perhaps even on top of the moving train cars.



Scene 3—The Gathering

There is a sizable crowd gathered at Stonehenge if and when the heroes arrive there. Some have set out picnic meals, while others have been consuming alcoholic beverages for much of the afternoon. While many are just curious, there is a strong anti-government feeling among a fair number. The sun is just beginning to set, and so anticipation for the coming ritual is growing. 


The Encampment

To the west of Stonehenge is the protesters' encampment, which consists of numerous tents. Some are smaller, for a few individuals; others are larger, used in staging this event. A few are presented below, and the Appendix contains printable layouts that can be customized and used on the tabletop. The GM should feel free to modify the arrangement depending on how much exploring the heroes do prior to a confrontation, and how creative they might be once that occurs. Here are some suggestions for what would be included:

  • Most common are the personal tents for individuals, groups and families—these likely have bedrolls and other gear in them.

  • There is a big supply tent which holds barrels, crates and sacks of foodstuffs and beverages, along with lanterns, casks of oil, rope, tools, and the like.

  • A small cook tent has a couple of stoves and tables for preparing food.

  • There is also a big mess tent with long tables surrounded by benches, where people can gather to eat or drink.

  • The tent in which the effigies are being prepared is similar to the mess tent, except that the tables hold bodies wrapped in cloth that makes them look like effigies.

  • A big pile of wood is stacked to one side, ready for the bonfire.

  • In one open spot, four dogs are tethered at the corners of a rough square; they guard the spot where the wicker man is being assembled.


The Opposition

Here again, the GM can tailor the level of opposition based on how combat-focused the heroes are. There are a number of toughs, hired muscle who help haul supplies and act as enforcers, along with the occultists who will be conducting the ritual.

Mercenary (Novice): Refer to The Cabal for stats.

Mercenary (Seasoned): Refer to The Cabal for stats.

Occultists (Novice): Refer to The Cabal for stats.

Occultist (Veteran): Refer to The Cabal for stats.

The Crowd: Use the stats for Common Folk from page 83 of The Sixth Gun RPG.

The crowd members might become involved in this confrontation, if they think the heroes are trying to disrupt this act of protest.


Loot

In addition to their personal weapons and equipment, the Cabal agents possess a few items of value.

  • In the tent in which the victims are prepared there is a box of potions, which are imbued with the Slumber power.

  • The lead occultist also possesses texts copied from the Lesser Key of Solomon, which provide access to powers such as Banish, Barrier, Divination and Summon Ally.

  • Finally, there is a cash box that holds the Cabal's funds for this operation, with mixed bills and coin worth the equivalent of $1000.


Epilogue

Success here prevents another great tragedy, in this case one that would have specific victims who are quite grateful for having been rescued. The crowd of protesters, too, can be mollified if they are presented with suitable explanations and/or evidence. Finally, Constable Roode can always vouch for the heroes if they find themselves over their heads.


Further Adventures

Detailed here are just a few of the possibilities for additional business in which the heroes could become entangled.

  • Some of the intended sacrifices, urchins who have little by the way of friends or family back in London, might even latch on to the heroes, trying to repay them in some way. At the GM's discretion, this could be legitimately helpful, tedious and even troublesome, or a combination of the two.

  • Impressed by the heroes' display of ability, Constable Roode—or even a passenger from the train, or one of the assembled protesters—could recruit them for other business.

  • By now the Cabal is becoming more familiar with the heroes, too, meaning that they're likely to seek revenge in the future.



Appendix—Maps for the Encampment

Presented here are one-inch scale maps that the GM can print and use on the tabletop.



Thursday, December 23, 2021

Second Trailer for the Uncharted Movie

 This trailer provides a little more insight into a big action sequence. 

-Nate 




Saturday, December 18, 2021

Trailer for The Lost City

I had not been aware of this movie until I saw the trailer today. My first impression was that it's going for a Romancing the Stone vibe, with Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum and Daniel Radcliffe stepping in for Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito. We shall see. 

-Nate




Thursday, December 16, 2021

Reading Again--The Sixth Gun: Bound

 Here's my reflection on the third arc of this series. 

-Nate


Bound 12-17

This story arc ran for six issues, published from June to November of 2011. Here are my impressions:

  • One of the opening scenes, with the displayed coffins of convicted and executed criminals, really helps to set the scene.

  • We meet the Mystery Mummy, a character who was already foreshadowed earlier in the series. He even receives a whole issue for his back story.

  • The attack by bandits against a train definitely checks one of the “What Do I Need to See in a Western Adventure” boxes.

  • This arc definitely showcases how interesting many of the characters are. We can have separate, parallel stories for Becky and Gord, and Drake is missing, and it's great.

  • Along that line, the two elements of the Sixth Gun (for Becky) and a haunted house (for Gord) allow for some really intriguing moments in which those characters meet others who are long gone, and even themselves.