Monday, January 28, 2019

Beyond the Veil

This post presents a number of encounters that the PCs could have while exploring the Winding Way, the realm that lies between places, time periods and possibilities.


The Winding Way is a realm that exists between different places and time periods. It can be a gateway to almost any possibility, including parallel worlds and alternate histories. The normal means of gaining entrance is to find a Crossroads, a place where the boundary between this world and others has worn thin. Failing that, it is sometimes possible to force open a portal using terrible magic, something that happened recently inside a US Army for on the American Frontier. 

Hell to Pay
For more information about the ritual that caused this rift to be opened, refer to the scenario in which it happened. 

Adventure Synopsis
This supplement presents a number of encounters that the PCs can experience as they make their way into and through the convoluted twists and turns of the Winding Way. As such, they can be run in any kind of order that the GM desires, as ways to add drama to the PCs' exploration of this realm. If the Player Characters are pursuing a specific objective inside the Winding Way, then these encounters could be run in order as a series of challenges as they pursue that goal.

For the Gun Master
GM's who wish to have more insight into the strange nature of the Winding Way, can reference the following comic books.
  • The story arc “Ghost Dance,” from issues 30-5 of The Sixth Gun, detail Becky Montcrief's journey into this realm in order to learn more about the power of the Six.
  • The spinoff series Valley of the Dead also ventures into the Winding Way, and details a battle against the aspiring God of Death known as Yum Kamil.
  • Finally, the first five issues of the spiritual successor to The Sixth Gun, Shadow Roads, shows how characters can using this realm to travel between locations on and beyond this earth.
Involving the Heroes
The PCs could decide to explore the Winding Way for any number of reasons, including the following.
  • An associate of theirs goes missing through the rift, and it's up to them to go find that unfortunate lost soul.
  • Alternately, an NPC who could hire the PCs to go in search of a friend or family member who has gone missing.
  • One or more of the PCs might wish to seek knowledge or some other objective by venturing into this realm and exploring the possibilities to which it leads.
  • Indeed, that endeavor could be based off plot elements revealed in stories told during one or more Interludes during previous adventures.
  • Finally, the PCs could have been present during the events of “Hell to Pay,” and seek to explore the rift following that battle, perhaps after some terrible creatures emerges from the rift.

Scene 1—The Rift
Beneath Fort Arneson lies a network of tunnels that were dug in the shape of a pentagram as part of Angelica Smith's attempt to summon and bind a Crossroads Demon. Assuming that the heroes succeeded in foiling her efforts, then there is a hole in the center created by the massive flux of magical energy. Narrow holes provide access to the tunnels, and they are pitch dark inside. In their middle is a gaping hole that descends one hundred feet to the surface of the water in the chamber below. 

Any efforts to climb down the hole require a successful trait check at a -2 penalty, due to the lack of handholds and slippery nature of the surface. That should be modified, of course, based on any equipment or other arrangements that the PCs can make at the entrance.

Scene 2—Underground Lake
The chamber underneath the rift is partially flooded, filled with water to a depth of thirty feet. The walls of this chamber are sheer, meaning that characters must make Swimming checks in order to move around it. There are only two areas that provide solid ground on which to stand; one is a narrow ledge in the middle of the chamber, which is also home to a constrictor snake that inhabits this area; the other is a platform that leads into the exit from here. Remember, too, that it's important to know what kinds of light sources the PCs have for illuminating the darkness.

Constrictor snake: Refer to pages 162-3 in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition for details.

Useful or Valuable Items
It's possible that previous visitors to the Winding Way—ones who did not survive the experience, that is—left behind some of their gear; this could include the following items.
  • In an old leather sheath there is a tarnished silver dagger, one with a moonstone embedded in the base of the hilt.
  • Wrapped in an old bit of cloth are three sticks of dynamite.
  • A gold pocketwatch has stopped, but resumes if it is wound. Additionally, there's a black-and-white photograph of a woman inside the hinged lid.
  • Finally, there's a letter. Its contents are left to the GM to determine, but can certainly provide a plot hook for some kind of unfinished business.

Scene 3—Columned Chamber
A series of natural stone columns connect the floor and ceiling in this chamber, which is on average about twenty feet high. Strung between many of the columns and the wall are thick webs, ones spun by the giant spiders that inhabit the chamber.

Giant spiders: Refer to page 163 in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition for details.

There is one spider for every two PCs (rounded up). They try to strike from above, hoping to trap victims in their webs, before moving in to bite.

Scene 4—Chasm and Rope Bridge
A robe bridge stretches more than one hundred feet in length from one end of this chamber to the other. The ceiling rises thirty feet overhead, while the floor plunges sixty feet below. There is also a narrow cave that is home to a wolf raptor, one of the more dangerous inhabitants of the Wind Way.

Wolf raptor: Refer to page 31 in the Winding Way adventure for details.

The wolf raptor waits until one or more characters have moved out onto the bridge before leaping out from its lair and attacking. It uses its Death from Above ability to lift PCs off the bridge and then drop them for a wicked fall.

Scene 5—Skinwalkers' Lair
At some point the tunnel opens up into a larger cavern. From the entrance (1) the PCs might be able to hear (with a Notice check) the presence of inhabitants. Beyond there is a broad chamber (2) with a firepit in the middle that serves as a common area. From there branches of the tunnel leads to a midden pit (3) in which the skinwalkers deposit their waste and refuse, as well as sleeping quarters for the clan's male and female members (4 and 5), respectively. Finally, the end of the branches into several different tunnels (6), each of which leads to more branches and, eventually, other places, times, and possible realities.

Skinwalkers: Refer to page 79 in the Sixth Gun RPG rulebook for details.

There are a number of skinwalkers present here equal to the PCs in the party. They are territorial, moving to challenge any interlopers when they become aware of them. Even so, the PCs might be able to negotiate safe passage with a successful Persuasion check, with bonuses or penalties assessed based on reasoning, roleplaying and other factors.

Moving Forward
Beyond this, the tunnels can lead to all kinds of destinations; here are a few suggestions.
  • Characters who have unfinished business of their own—such as elements revealed during characters' stories during Interludes or by other means—could have a chance to investigate those matters, perhaps gaining insight into those affairs.
  • They could also witness scenes from the past that impact on the current storyline, as observers who are not able to change the flow of history.
  • In either case, this could allow them to interact with people who are deceased, thereby gaining information that would otherwise have been lost, and especially if they missed some key detail during previous activity.
  • Finally, the PCs might also re-experience moments that did not go well for them, with a chance to learn what they could have done differently in order to have succeeded. At the GM's discretion, they could even be able to correct previous mistakes, finding that the outside world has changed once they emerge from the Winding Way.

Scene 6—Other Encounters
During their exploration of the Winding Way, the PCs could have numerous additional encounters; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • The ghost of the Indian boy Small Raven, unable to find eternal rest because his body's hand was cut off and turned into a Hand of Glory, is able to enter the Winding Way, and can act as a guide for the PCs. Use the stats for a haint from pages 75-6 of The Sixth Gun RPG.
  • At another point a wraith emerges from one of the tunnels, exploring this newly created rift. It is likely to attack the PCs, given its hunger for life energy. Refer to page 82 of The Sixth Gun RPG for details.
  • This activity also attracts a crossroads demon—possibly even Kalfu himself—who wishes to learn what has transpired. As long as the PCs are respectful, the demon can provide information about the Winding Way and perhaps even help navigate for them. Refer to page 74 of The Sixth Gun RPG for stats.
  • It's quite possible that the PCs encounter a dangerous swarm of vermin in these tunnels; refer to page 163 in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition rulebook for details.
  • The PCs might encounter other travelers making their way through the Winding Way; this can be a good way for the GM to introduce new NPCs and their stories into the campaign.
  • As the tunnels begin leading toward other places, time periods and possibilities, of course, any number of creatures might come wandering into the area.
  • The most dreaded inhabitant of the Winding Way is the dream stalker, detailed on page 30 of the Winding Way adventure.

Due to the unusual nature of the Winding Way, this scenario can end in countless different outcomes, depending on the desires of the players, the needs of the campaign and the whim of good or bad luck. As such, the myriad possible further adventures are already mentioned above.

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