Friday, April 9, 2021

Notes from the Manifested Destinies Campaign

We can file this one under "better late than never." I've finally typed up the notes from my campaign for The Sixth Gun that I ran during the 2018-19 school year, which I called "Manifested Destinies."

-Nate 


Notes from the Manifested Destinies Campaign

Player—Character—Description

Al—Bobby Gallagher—Young gunslinger

Aric—Lucian Boxton—Former Confederate officer; bounty hunter

Chad—Milton Jackson Hughes—Old sawbones

Geof—Chao Yun “Charlie” Lee—Sometime Triad member

Michael—Clement Bonesteel—Former prospector (now deceased)

Michael—Sawyer Hawkins—Old Pony Express rider


28 August 2018—“Reversal of Fortune”

The heroes—travelers who'd not yet made each other's acquaintance—fought off a zombie attack on the steamboat River Maiden.


11 September 2018—“Ill-Gotten Gains”

Bobby recognized some of the zombies as the remains of men who once served under Arthur “Mad Dog” Madigan, a Confederate raider. The heroes recruited Willie, a roustabout from the River Maiden, to bring a boat and help them track the zombies. Along the river bank they found a pig carcass and other traces of the zombies. An alligator attacked, but they killed it.

Eventually the trail led to a tunnel in the riverbank, the entrance to a hidden cache. While the others were preparing to enter, Milton used the Burrow power to go inside it. In this way they avoided the collapsing floor and spikes trap. A swarm of rats attacked, and Clement gave them a taste of dynamite. The heroes found little of value in the cache, but continued to follow the zombies' trail further inland.


25 September 2018—“Ill-Gotten Gains”

Lucian found the trail again and they continued to follow it, leading to an old plantation with an overgrown yard and a dilapidated house. While Milton and Lucian took covering positions, Bobby and Charlie snuck around the back. Lee saw movement in an upstairs window before two zombies came storming up out of the cellar. Clement shot one and Charlie blasted the other. Rushing into the house, the heroes fought off more zombies, and then managed corner and kill the Voodoo practitioner who'd been creating the zombies.

From the cellar the heroes recovered some cash and other valuable stolen goods, including a Gatling gun with the name Clementine engraved on it.


9 October 2018—“Blood on the Snow”

Following the business on the river, the heroes were approached by Terrence Taylor, the newly appointed Indian Agent bound for Fort Arneson. He recruited them to escort him—along with a sizable amount of cash intended as annuity payments for the Native people there—to the fort. They set out with Milton driving the wagon, Taylor riding shotgun, Charlie in the back with Clementine, and Bobby and Lucian as outriders.

As they traveled they encountered another wagon, with a horse running out of control in the opposite direction. Bobby managed to calm it, and the heroes met Ellie and Sam Clayton, two children bundled in blankets in the back of the wagon. Their mother, who was driving the wagon, had fallen unconscious from exposure to the cold. The children explained that she'd hustled them away from the family's farm because “they were in danger,” but they didn't know what happened. The heroes' efforts kept the mother alive, but in no condition to tell them anything.

The heroes took the children and their slowly recovering mother back to the farm to investigate. There they fought off a pack of wolves that had gathered, and found evidence of an attack—perhaps by the native people. They finished the journey to Fort Arneson, delivered Agent Taylor and sold Clementine, and then took the children and their mother, Nora, back to a settlement on the river known as Smith's Crossing, where she might stay for the winter. Bobby gave Nora $50 to help her get back on her feet, too.


23 October 2018—“Buried But Not Dead”

While resting in Smith's Crossing, the heroes saw posters recruiting “Capable, discreet and hardy individuals to undertake a journey into the Southwest, for shares of the anticipated profits.” Asking around led them to Alexandra Flynn, a Pinkerton who is doing the recruiting. She staged a series of contests to test the interested parties, in which the heroes were victorious. Clement won the riding competition, while Lucian out-shot and out-fought the others. After agreeing to terms with her, purchasing supplies and hiring some laborers, the party set out.

Along the way, the heroes recognized the signs of a coming storm, and so sought high ground to avoid flash floods. While they were encamped, they shared some of their stories.

  • Clement headed west because he was in love with a woman named Cora Jeffries; her Pa wanted him to make his fortune before he could marry her.

  • Charlie came east because his father and that of his love interest, Darlene, ran rival businesses. Darlene's father sent thugs to discourage Charlie's interest, and Charlie “settled it with my sixgun.”

As they approached the old abandoned mission that was Flynn's destination, the heroes noticed native people watching them from a distance; Charlie approached and made a good impression on them and their leader, Fast Horse.


6 November 2018—“Buried But Not Dead”

The heroes ventured into the mission and found, inside the old church, a secret staircase leading downward. Milton used his Burrow power to find and avoid a rattlesnake and a trapped corridor at the bottom of the stairs. He was also able to circumvent a complicated puzzle mechanism and recover items from a hidden cache. The items included a stash of gold coins, an old black powder pistol, twelve blessed pistol cartridges—known as Apostles—and an elaborate scroll case containing a copy of the Clavicula Salmonis—the grimoire known as the Key of Solomon, believed to contains spells for summoning and even binding demons.

Outside the mission, Fast Horse and his people attacked the party, but the heroes defeated them handily. They set back out for Smith's Crossing, intending for Milton to try studying the scroll and see what he could learn from it.


20 November 2018—“Restless Spirits”

Milton was not able to read the scroll, so they gave it to Flynn for the promised price. Before departing, she gave them a Pinkerton's business card for a Galveston office.

Some time later, the heroes noticed that a raven seemed to be following them; Charlie shot his bow at the bird, but missed it. In the morning some of the heroes went to church, which was interrupted when Dr. and Mrs. Smith announced their departure for Fort Arneson. The heroes seized this opportunity for some breaking and entering. They had some difficulty wrangling the servant girl, Meghan, but Clement managed to cow her with a shotgun blast. They found the secret entrance to the basement and discovered there evidence of Mrs. Smith making poppets to control the locals—including some of the soldiers at Fort Arneson—and translating passages from the Clavicular Salmonis. Outside the house the noise of the shotgun blast had drawn a crowd, but Charlie handled them diplomatically.

Understandably suspicious, the heroes decided to follow the Smiths to Fort Arneson.


4 December 2018—“Hell to Pay”

En route to Fort Arneson, two more heroes shared their stories.

  • Bobby was a runaway indentured servant; he inherited his alcoholic father's indenture to a disreputable employer back east. He was enamored with dime novels, and so he decided to go pursue that kind of life.

  • Lucian told how his sister had been killed during the War, and he was traveling the country trying to find and kill the man who did it.

Along the way, the heroes notice the raven following them again; Lucian shot the bird on the wing and killed it.

The party reached Fort Arneson, where they reported a fire in Smith's Crossing, along with tales of locals suffering all manner of torment. Hearing this, Lt. Jeffreys and Dr. Smith agreed to accompany them back to town. While they were camped out along the way, Bobby let it slip that the heroes were suspicious; during the ensuing fight, the heroes killed Dr. Smith. They headed back for the fort but, cresting a hill, witnessed a huge explosion inside it.


18 December 2018—“Hell to Pay”

Arriving at the fort, the heroes were granted entrance when Lt. Jeffreys vouched for them. Inside they found the remains of a treaty meeting between the soldiers and representatives of various native tribes, along with collapsed ground that implied the existence of tunnels beneath the surface. Charlie, Bobby and Milton ventured into the tunnels. There they ran into three ghouls; Charlie killed one, but then was forced to flee another. Aided by Milton's use of the Deflection power, Bobby slew the other two.

Back up on the surface, Clement took cover and then tried to create a distraction by throwing a stick of dynamite behind the storehouse. It blew a hole in the stockade wall, however, and the native people who were attacking started to stream in through it. A huge running battle erupted. Lucian was on his horse, sniping with his rifle. A native person attacked Clement with a tomahawk and killed him. Rushing to him, Milton felt a strange throbbing in the soil; he confirmed that Clement could not be saved, and then ducked into the storehouse for cover—where he found the Gatling gun, Clemetine.

Lucian, meanwhile, made a charge for the officers' quarters, at which point Capt. Arneson tried to shoot him but failed. At the same time, Bobby and Charlie emerged from the tunnels. Mrs. Smith, in the officers' quarters, tried to chase them away with the Fear power, but failed. Bobby shot out the building's front window, and then Charlie ended Mrs. Smith with a double-barreled shotgun blast.


8 January 2019—“Hell to Pay”

Lucian and Bobby combined to shoot down Capt. Arneson; Milton, Sawyer and Charlie—in a flurry of gunfire—helped cut down the attacking native people. A couple of soldiers managed to close the gate, stemming the tide of the attack. In the aftermath, the heroes gathered evidence of a fiendish plot to detonate explosives as part of a ritualistic sacrifice; Sawyer and Charlie helped Lt. Jeffreys negotiate a truce with the native people, with Running Fox acting as the translator.

While investigating the pentagram-shaped tunnels, Charlie fell into the pit at their center!


22 January 2019—“Beyond the Veil”

The other party members ventured into the pit to rescue Charlie. They faced off against a constrictor snake in an underground lake, giant spiders in a web-strewn cavern filled with natural columns, a wolf raptor during the crossing of a rope bridge, and then a band of skinwalkers who were trying to use Charlie for a sacrifice. Beyond the skinwalkers' lair, they saw more tunnels leading to other, unknown destinations...


19 February 2019—“South of the Border”

While helping to guard the Pit, the heroes met Marshall Llewellyn and told him their story. They agreed to undertake a search for Alexandra Flynn, accepting $500 apiece up front and future assistance from the Black Stars. Bobby paid a visit to Mrs. Clayton in Smith's Crossing, and then the party set sail on the River Maiden heading south for Galveston. There Charlie paid a visit to the local Pinkerton's office, where he learned that Flynn had gone to the small Mexcian town Akumal, on the Yucatan Peninsula. For that reason the party hired Captain Danielson, and his bark the Intrepid, to take them there. Before departing, the heroes deposited money in the National Bank of Galveston.

En route the vessel encountered a storm, and the main mast collapsed, threatening to capsize the ship! Charlie and Bobby ran out on deck with axes, trying to cut it free, but struggled with the waves rolling over the deck. In the end, Lucian shot away the remaining timber with his pistols!

At Akumal, the heroes went to the cantina and met Jorge, a local who had worked with Flynn. They hired Pablo, an interpreter, who helped them talk down some heavies who showed up at the cantina looking to collect money from Jorge.


5 March 2019—“South of the Border”

With information from Jorge, the heroes set out into the Yucatan jungle to track Flynn. Along the way they ran into a poisonous snake, which bit Hawkins; Lucian blasted it with his rifle. During the trek, Hawkins shared some of his story.

  • He was a scout with Jim “Hot Lead” Crenshaw, leading groups of pioneers. Crenshaw sent him and a party of settlers into Indian territory, but they ran into hostile natives. All of the settlers were killed, but Hawkins survived by agreeing to a trial by combat against a native warrior.

After more hiking the next day, the party reached a Mayan pyramid. They climbed to the top and then ventured inside it, being stealthy as they did so. Charlie saw and killed the panther, and then the party fought with the resident priest, Shadow Jaguar, and defeated him handily. They found Flynn, who was his prisoner, and then questioned and killed her.


26 March 2019—“The Train”

Having concluded their assignment for the Black Stars, the heroes decided to head east to help Bobby with a personal matter—freeing his sister, Molly, from her indenture. To that end they traveled by steamboat to Pittsburgh, and headed by train from there for New York. During the trip a party of Pinkertons tried to bushwhack them, but the heroes managed to fight their way out of it.

In New York City they found an establishment run by Boss Tilden, the Sign of the Fortunate; there they roughed up a bunch of Tilden's thugs, freed Molly and a few other indentured servants, and then headed out of town.


9 April 2019—“Unfettered”

Bobby left Molly with $900 to start a stable and livery in Smith's Crossing. While there, they received word that Marshal Llewellyn wanted them back at Fort Arneson, so they headed there. When a squad of terracotta warriors erupted from the Rift, the heroes were ready and defeated them.


23 April 2019—“Unfettered”

Following the attack, the heroes ventured into the Rift. They struggled some with the underground lake, but nobody drowned. In the columned chamber they heard the bloodhounds led by the Knights of Solomon, were not surprised, and thus defeated them. At the chasm, Lucian sniped the waiting knight; Sawyer rushed out to face the terracotta warriors, and benefitted from supporting fire. In the skinwalkers' lair, they met Kalfu and learned the tale of Marinette of the Dry Arms—Milton could see the ghosts of the children heading toward the Crossroads, and so they headed there.


7 May 2019—“Unfettered”

The heroes surveyed the situation at the manor house before using the Hand of Glory to approach it, dropping a stick of dynamite and then entering. Milton slew the revenant that occupied the place from a comfortable chair. After some exploring they found the hidden key, wound and set the clock, and found the bottle inside it. That's when wolves attacked, followed by Samuel Clayton—now a werewolf—who called out Bobby. Clayton hurt Charlie, but was badly wounded by Lucian before Bobby slew him.

That was when the heroes heard the sound of marching feet approaching.


21 May 2019—“Unfettered”

The heroes took up positions on the upper level of the house and prepared to defend it. Sawyer noticed that a patch of darkness seemed to be moving, so they opened fire on it. At that the Knights sent their terracotta warriors to charge their house and push their way inside it. A huge battle ensued, at the end of which the heroes were victorious.


11 June 2019—“The Knights of Solomon”

The heroes staged a counterattack against the Knights of Solomon, raiding their castle via the Winding Way. Bobby shot and killed the High Inquisitor. 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

THA5: Saints & Sinners

Available now on DriveThruRPG.com is Treasure Hunter Adventures 5: Saints & Sinners. This supplement presents five new prizes; an atlas of holy places in the world; a criminal syndicate with character stats; a nightclub with a map and area descriptions; and stats for agents of the Vatican Secret Archives. 

-Nate 

THA5: Saints & Sinners



Friday, April 2, 2021

Second Preview of Saints & Sinners: Two Maps

Here's another preview of Treasure Hunter Adventures: Saints & Sinners. It presents two maps that are included in the supplement. The first is an atlas of holy places in the world, while the second is for a nightclub in which all kinds of action might transpire. 

-Nate


Atlas of Holy Places

Each of the locations indicated on the map above is a place that is sacred to one of the world's religions.


1. The Black Hills

Known in the Lakota language as Paha Sapa, or “the heart of everything that is,” this area of rugged terrain lies in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming. According to traditional tales, they were home to a “wind cave” from which the Lakota people first emerged onto the earth. They were also the location of a gold rush in the late 1800s that led to much conflict between the US Army and the native people.




Thursday, April 1, 2021

First Preview of Saints & Sinners: A Relic

Here's the first preview of Treasure Hunter Adventures 5: Saints & Sinners. It presents one of the five relics from the supplement, the Palladium. 

-Nate



The Palladium

Tales of the Trojan War tell of how some of the Greek warriors, led by Odysseus and Diomedes, snuck into the city to steal a wooden statue of Athena that had granted protection to Troy. Some maintain that Diomedes carried it away, eventually to Rome—where it granted its blessing to that city and was cared for by the Vestal virgins—while others claim that it was stolen from him while he sailed across the Mediterranean. Whatever the case, it is widely agreed that the loss of the Palladium helped turn the tide of the War, eventually leading to the downfall caused by the stratagem of the Trojan horse.

Game Information

The Palladium has the following attributes.

  • Those who revere the goddess and possess the statue gain the benefits of the Luck Edge; this stacks with the actual Edge.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

My Methodology--The "Campaign Bible"

Nearly two years ago I posted about the methods I use for planning adventures and campaigns; here's a link to that post. 

My Methodology

This post builds upon that one, sharing my version of what some people call the "campaign Bible." For me it comes in two forms, my campaign binder and my collected PDFs. 


The campaign binder is pretty straightforward; it's a typical three-ring binder divided into sections for Resources, Scenarios, Conventions and Session Notes.


Because I'm writing for my blog, I also print the PDFs, three-hole punch them, and then use binder rings to collect them. This gives me a physical reference for sessions. 

-Nate

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Story Elements from the Google VTT Video

Last week I shared a video about using Google as a virtual tabletop; this post presents some of the images and other story elements from it. 

-Nate


Here is the letter that launches this quest. 


This is the Colonel Lawrence mentioned in the letter. 


Here's a map of the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia--treacherous territory, indeed. 


This map depicts the oasis at which a notable encounter occurs. 


Here is the cave at the oasis. 


Finally, this picture represents the sliding dials (three on each end) on the coded message cylinder that the heroes can find in the cave. 


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Using Google as a VTT



While there are a number of good virtual tabletops (VTTs) designed specifically for playing RPGs—I have had good experiences playing in a campaign on Foundry, and have read recommendations for Fantasy Grounds—I admit that I am a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to mixing technology with gaming. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it a bad idea to play together in person, however, and one can only hold out for so long while waiting for the vaccine. For that reason, and because I wanted to playtest my scenario for this year's Con of the North, I decided to try a session using Google as my platform. Here is now I did it.

  • The first step is to open your Google Drive and create a new folder for that session. This helps to keep everything organized.

  • After that, upload into that folder any files that you want to share with the players. I recommend quick rule reference sheets, pre-generated characters if you're using them, handouts with background information, notes from previous sessions, and the like.

  • Create a link to share this folder with your players.

  • Next, create a Google Drawing in that shared folder. This will be your battle map.

  • In that drawing, upload the map that you want to use for the opening encounter (Insert > Image > Upload from computer).

  • Be sure to set that map as the background for this Google Drawing (right-click > Order > Send to back.) This makes sure that the map doesn't cover up character markers.

  • You can create character markers using cropped images of the heroes and NPCs. Add them to the Google Drawing just like you did with the map; you'll probably need to resize them to fit.

  • This sets up a battle map that you as the GM control. If you want to let the players move their own heroes on the map, then you just need to change the sharing settings for the Google Drawing (Share > Change > Anyone with the link).

  • You can add clues to the shared folder as you go.

  • Finally, you can add features to the battle map, too, as the heroes discover them.