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.


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. 


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. 


A Midsummer Nightmare


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.


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.


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. 


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. 


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Reading Again--The Sixth Gun: Bound

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


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.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Special Branch of Scotland Yard

Here are stats for the agents who serve the Special Branch of Scotland Yard, along with suggestions for how to use them and their organization in adventures and campaigns set in the world of The Sixth Gun and Shadow Roads


Special Branch of Scotland Yard


Officially, the first Special Branch of London's Metropolitan Police was established in 1883 to deal with dangers presented by the Irish Republic Brotherhood. In truth, a Special Branch for Occult Investigations was actually created earlier, during the reorganization of Scotland Yard that occurred as a result of the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, under the leadership of Prime Minister Robert Peel, during the reign of King George IV. The king, in fact, had a very personal interest in pursuing occult investigations, since he believed that malign eldritch influence was the cause of his own father's debilitating madness. What is more, he had access to information acquired by his predecessors, most notably the material that King James I assembled while writing his treatise Daemonologie.


This Special Branch of Scotland Yard does not have its own headquarters or offices. Rather, they work alongside other agents of the Metropolitan Police—often with their colleagues being unaware that they have occult training. For Constables and Sergeants, typical activity is walking the beat—just like other Bobbies, but in a location where occult activity is expected to occur. Inspectors, on the other hand, are sent to investigate specific crimes. When they do, of course, they can always call upon the constables for assistance.


Presented below are stats for typical members of the Special Branch.

Constable (Novice)

Those London “bobbies” who experience occult or other supernatural events—and thus learn that such things are indeed real—are recruited to join the Special Branch. They are then assigned to walk specific beats, in neighborhoods where that kind of activity is known or suspected to occur. Note, too, that they are trained in the use of firearms, even though they do not usually carry them.

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).

Sergeant (Seasoned)

Constables who prove their mettle when it comes to dealing with problems—more often without using physical force, but able to do so when it's needed—are promoted to the rank of sergeant, giving them some command over their less experienced fellows.

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

Skills: Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d8, Driving d6, Fighting d8, Healing d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Shooting d6, Stealth d4

Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5

Edges: Alertness, Connections

Hindrances: Code of Honor

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

Inspector (Veteran)

As constables learn more an more about the supernatural elements in the world around them, they are eventually transitioned from walking a regular beat and given the assignment of investigating specific crimes and cases.

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

Skills: Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d8, Driving d6, Fighting d8, Healing d6, Notice d10, Occult d4, Persuasion d10, Research d4, Shooting d6, Stealth d4

Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5

Edges: Alertness, Connections

Hindrances: Code of Honor

Gear: Suit, whistle, casebook, billy club (Damage Str + 1d6), pistol (Damage 2d6, Range 12/24/36).

Chief Inspector (Heroic)

More experienced detectives can be promoted to the position of Chief Inspector, the individual who is in charge of an entire London borough. As such, the Chief Inspector gives assignments to the other Inspectors and Constables in that jurisdiction.

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

Skills: Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d8, Driving d6, Fighting d8, Healing d6, Notice d12, Occult d6, Persuasion d12, Research d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4

Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5

Edges: Alertness, Command, Connections

Hindrances: Code of Honor

Gear: Suit, whistle, casebook, billy club (Damage Str + 1d6), pistol (Damage 2d6, Range 12/24/36).

Chief Constable (Legendary)

More experienced detectives can be promoted to the position of Chief Inspector, the individual who is in charge of an entire London borough. As such, the Chief Inspector gives assignments to the other Inspectors and Constables in that jurisdiction.

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

Skills: Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d8, Driving d6, Fighting d8, Healing d6, Notice d12, Occult d6, Persuasion d12, Research d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4

Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5

Edges: Alertness, Command, Connections

Hindrances: Code of Honor

Gear: Suit, whistle, casebook, billy club (Damage Str + 1d6), pistol (Damage 2d6, Range 12/24/36).

Plot Hooks

The Special Branch of Scotland Yard might become involved with the heroes in any or all of the following ways.

  • If they become involved in any illicit activities, then the heroes would likely run afoul of the Metropolitan Police.

  • Alternately, they might be present for, and then become embroiled in, the pursuit by the Police of one or more suspects.

  • Taking that a step further, they could be drawn into a disaster, such as fighting a fire. Indeed, that would provide an opportunity for a Dramatic Task, one that involves moving buckets of water, coordinating the workers, and similar challenges.

  • Heroes who have Arcane Backgrounds could be asked to consult with the Police when an investigation involves their area of expertise.

Connections to Other Material

There are a few other supplements that have natural connections to the Special Branch of Scotland Yard; here are a few of the possibilities.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Reading Again--The Sixth Gun: Crossroads

 This post addresses the second story arc of the main comic series for The Sixth Gun


Crossroads 7-11

This story arc was unusual in that it only ran for five issues, published from December of 2010 through April of 2011. Here are my impressions:

  • The fact that this story takes place in and around New Orleans highlights, in my mind, one of the benefits of using the real world as the setting. That city comes with a lot of history and color, which is automatically woven into the background of this story.

  • Once again, the comics drop hints about other characters and events that are not actually used in this story. There are references to “Gutshot” O'Toole and a search for LaFitte's lost treasure, along with Albrecht Krieg and a few other occultists.

  • The conflict here provides a good example of how using numerous factions in a story can help make for dramatic combat. Such is the case when our heroes are pitted against not only Marinette of the Dry Arms, but also the thieving Kirby Hale.

  • It seemed to me that this battle ended rather abruptly—but isn't that also the case sometimes in the RPG, when when the GM doesn't have enough Bennies to overcome a lucky attack by one of the heroes?

Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Depths of Depravity

This full scenario, for use with the Savage Worlds RPG, takes place in the setting of the Shadow Roads and The Sixth Gun comics. 


The Depths of Depravity


The year 1887 brings a time of great celebration to the United Kingdom. It marks the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, drawing nobility and common folk from around the world—including a visit from Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show! What few know, however, is that there's a wicked plot afoot, one that threatens to spoil the festivities and kill many innocent people. Agents of an occult organization known as the Cabal have been studying diabolical lore, and one of their number has even managed to summon a plague spawn demon (page 75 of T6G). The demon has already begun to spread its corrupting disease, and it's only a matter of time before a diabolical epidemic erupts.

Adventure Synopsis

This adventure begins for the heroes late on a London evening, in the vicinity of a warehouse that is home to a bear fighting ring. They hear screaming and shouting, and upon investigating discover that a bear is on the loose and attacking passersby! Once the threat of the bear has ended, a constable at the scene asks their help with investigating further. If they are willing, then the trail leads them through a bear fighting ring, where they must deal with maddened dogs, and down into the sewers beneath London, where rats are helping to spread the disease. In the end, they can find the secret laboratory in which a Cabal occultist has summoned the demon, where they can end the threat once and for all.

For the Gun Master

Alastair Novak is the occultist who summoned the plague spawn demon. While he has it contained down in the sewer via a magic circle, the demon has infected a swarm of rats. They, in turn, infected a dog from the fighting ring, which attacked one of the caged bears. If the spread is not stopped, then all of London could soon be in danger.

Involving the Heroes

In this case, the heroes find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time—out in a London street on the evening of 19 June 1887—when they are caught in the middle of the unfolding plot.

Scene 1—Running Amok

It is late in the evening, and the streets of London are finally growing quiet. Although the windows of public houses and other establishments still glow warmly, outside is somewhat hushed. There are echoes of footfalls on the cobblestones and murmurs of distant conversations, but few other people to see. All of that changes, then, when shouts and screams erupt from somewhere nearby.

The Gun Master should deal for initiative. On their actions, characters who make Notice checks can recognize the direction from which the noise is coming, and then head that way if they so choose. Coming around the corner, they recognize the source of the disturbance—a local public house.

When the heroes arrive on the scene, they find the barkeep is hunkered down behind a toppled table in the corner by the door, with the bear on the other side of it. The bear is maddened by infection from the plague spawn demon; it has escaped from its cage in the fighting ring (see below) and seeks to feed on any possible victim. For that reason, it can only be stopped by incapacitating it.

Inside the public house is a broad common room (A), dominated by a bar against the far wall that is surrounded by stools, along with tables and chairs along the outside walls. Behind the bar is a small prep area (B), from which a door leads to storeroom (C). The walls of that room are lined with shelves containing all manner of bottles, extra glasses and the like. Beneath those shelves are barrels of beer and casks of wine. Finally, a small room (D) provides a checkpoint for people who wish to visit the bear fighting ring; another door in the back wall leads into the adjacent warehouse, in which the animal fights are staged.

Barkeeper: Refer to Common Folk on page 83 of The Sixth Gun RPG for stats.

Bear: Refer to page 180 of SWADE for stats.

If they save his life, the barkeep can tell the heroes that the bear came charging through Area D, and will even confess to the illicit nature of the matches which are staged there. What is more, heroes who succeed at Notice checks see that the bear has lots of foamy saliva around its mouth.

The animal fighting ring is built from an old warehouse, one that is two stories in height. It has three points of entry; two are doors at ground level (1), while the third sits atop a loading dock (2) from which a ramp leads down to the ground. In the middle of the building is a waist-high ring (3) in which the matches take place. Against one wall are positioned a handful of cages (4), all but one of which are currently empty. That last one is now home to a few dogs (mastiffs) that were used in the bear baiting.

Mastiffs: Refer to page 181 of SWADE for stats.

After they have dealt with the mastiffs, the heroes can learn more by investigating. Notice checks reveal a number of dead rats inside the cage that held the mastiffs; Survival efforts can track the rats back to a grate centered in the floor of the fighting ring. A Healing check, or Notice or Survival at -2, reveals that the dogs look emaciated, as if they had been starving. Similarly, both the dogs and the rats have traces of foam around their mouths.

Scene 2—Going Underground

Once the heroes have had a chance to look around a bit, a local constable named Francis Roode arrives on the scene. He asks the heroes to explain what has happened, and can even attempt some of the skill checks to learn more if they have not been successful. Then he considers the matter for a bit before making a proposal: “Given all the hullabaloo for Her Majesty's jubilee, will you help me make sure that there's no threat to London here?”

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).

The heroes, of course, have put themselves at risk twice already, and Roode can't offer much by way of a reward. (“You'd be doing a service to me, the Metropolitan Police, and to Her Majesty.”) Even so, if the heroes do agree to help, then they can investigate further by venturing into the network of sewer tunnels beneath London.

Refer to the map above for the following descriptions. The sewers consist primarily of long tunnels, twelve feet in diameter. A narrow walkway extends along one side of the tunnel, about six feet above the bottom of the channel. The channel itself is filled with water containing all manner of putrid materials—everything that is dumped in by the Londoners, including the contents of chamber pots, unused parts of animals and other foodstuffs, and the like.

Occasionally two tunnels converge, in a circular chamber that is twice as wide and tall. There the contents of the two streams swirl together before flowing onward, toward the Thames. Note that in these chambers the stone walkways sometimes end, but stout boards have been laid across those gaps. It takes an Agility check to cross those boards, with no penalty for failure unless the result of the check is a Botch. Jumping the span requires crossing a nine-foot gap.

Finally, at periodic locations along the tunnel there is a recess in which a ladder leads up to the surface. It is in one such place that Roode accompanies any willing heroes down into the sewers.


The heroes have various options when it comes to tracking the infected rats, including the following possibilities.

  • Given that the creatures are foaming at the mouth, just like the previously encounter bear and dogs, a Survival check at -2 allows the heroes to find and follow traces of saliva throughout the tunnels.

  • At one point, the plank that normally bridges a gap in a T-junction has been removed, forcing characters to make Athletics tests to jump across it.

  • Finally, at one point a cat wanders around the corner, hunches down, begins hacking, and then coughs up something much worse than a hairball: a plague spawn demon.

Plague Spawn Demon: Refer to page 75 of The Sixth Gun RPG for stats.

Scene 3—Finding the Source

Eventually the trail leads to a stretch of sewer tunnel in which the side passage sits beneath the privy of an apothecary's shop. This is where the agents of the Cabal summoned the plague spawn demon, and unleashed it upon London. Refer to the map above for the following location descriptions.

The front door of the shop opens into the front room (1), where most business is conducted. It has a counter behind which the clerk stands, and the walls are lined with shelves containing various elixirs, powders and other items of a mundane nature. Behind the counter a door leads back into the storeroom (2), where more innocuous wares, along with a few truly magical ones, are kept. From there one door leads into the workroom (3), which has a fireplace in the corner, a work table in the middle, and cabinets and barrels along the walls. This is where the actual magic happens. The other door from the storeroom leads into a small bedroom (4), which is furnished with a bed, storage trunk and wardrobe. Finally, a door from there leads to the privy (5), which could be where the heroes first enter this establishment. 

The Cabal

The apothecary, Alastair Novak, is an agent of the Cabal. He is accompanied by mercenaries who also serve that organization. Their exact number is left up to the GM, depending on how many heroes are in the party. Whatever the case, they do not take kindly to intruders, and should be treated as hostile in regard to Persuasion efforts used against them. More than likely, there's going to be a fight.

Alastair Novak: Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

Mercenaries: Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

For his part, Novak uses the Armor power first to protect himself, and then Boost Trait to support the mercenaries. If he runs out of power points, then he opens fire with his pistol. The mercenaries rush to attack, using their pistols first and then pulling their knives when needed.


In addition to the items carried by Alistair Novak and his mercenaries, in the workroom the heroes can find pages of arcane symbols and ritual passages copied from the Lesser Key of Solomon, a text that describes rituals for communing with, summoning and binding demons. Note that these are not the original text itself, but rather Alistair's transcription and notes from that text.


Success here over Novak and his mercenaries means that the heroes have won an important victory, preventing the spread of a terrible plague. What is more, they've gained their first glimpse into an even wider conspiracy that still threatens London and England. That, combined with the fact that they've (hopefully) made an ally in the form of Constable Frank Roode, means that they're likely to have more adventures again soon.

Further Adventures

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

  • As mentioned above, the text copied from the Clavicula Salmonis (Lesser Key of Solomon) can be used to acquire Powers relating to demons. That could grant the heroes access to knowledge and influence from beyond this world—but at a price.

  • There could be evidence of other plots to be found in the apothecary's shop, such as letters or even a telegram.

  • Finally, the Cabal does not take kindly to this disruption of its plans, and likely sends other agents to take revenge on the heroes.

The Cabal

Refer to the supplement provided at the link below to find more information about this wicked and ruthless occult organization.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

I&I for T6G: Territory by Emma Bull

Here's a novel that can provide inspiration for adventures and campaigns set in the world of The Sixth Gun and Shadow Roads; it is Territory by Emma Bull. 



I I first read this novel back around 2010, after a trip to the Grand Canyon, when I was starting to take an interest in supernatural westerns. Coincidentally, that was also when Oni Press released Issue #1 of The Sixth Gun for Free Comic Book Day. Here are a few of the impressions that it left on me after this second reading.

  • This novel is a slow burn, taking its time in building up the conflict.

  • It provides an interesting look at (mostly) everyday life in a small western town, which I liked.

  • Taking that a step further, it also provides insight into how characters can gain influence and build names for themselves and their associates, possibly leading up to a political campaign or the pursuit of other offices, such as Sheriff or Marshal.

  • The fire provides an excellent example of a dramatic scene that does not involve combat, but still puts the heroes in real danger.

  • It's an interesting take on relatively subtle magic, too, a setting in which ordinary people don't know about or believe in the occult. Some of the drama, then, comes from how they react when they see it for themselves firsthand.

  • Dog House Rules provides some excellent content that relates to this story, including some of the following PDFs. There's a free one that presents stats for the Earp brothers, which would need some adjustment to reflect the use of magic in this novel; the second is a comprehensive writeup for a town that was frequented by Doc Holliday and Big Nose Kate, which could be an excellent backdrop for a story like this one.



Saturday, November 20, 2021

Skulduggery for Treasure Hunter Adventures

Skulduggery, the newest scenario for Treasure Hunter Adventures, is available now from DrivethruRPG. 



Thursday, November 18, 2021

Third Preview of Skulduggery: Two Maps

The third and final preview for the forthcoming scenario Skulduggery is a pair of maps that are central to the action. 


First is a layout for a modern train, including engines, passenger cars, box cars and flatcars. 

Second is a railroad crossing in an isolated area. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Second Preview of Skulduggery: Updates to Appendix N

Presented here are two updates to the Appendix N for Treasure Hunter Adventures. Together with the previous addition, Thieves of Baghdad, they are the three texts that most influenced Skulduggery

Appendix N for Treasure Hunter Adventures


Title: Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer

Author: Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer

Publisher and Date: Harper & Rowe, Publishers, 1983


While perhaps not as well known as the Epic of Gilgamesh (see below), these stories and hymns provide a fascinating glimpse into the importance of the goddess Inanna in ancient Mesopotamian culture. What is more, it differs from many other publications about mythology in that it combines the talents of a cuneiform scholar (Kramer) with those of a folklorist (Wolkestein). The result is an engaging and informative read.

Title: The Epic of Gilgamesh

Author: N. K. Sandars

Publisher and Date: Penguin Books Ltd., 1972


This story is one of the oldest myths in human history, and this slim paperback provides an excellent translation of it. It tells of cultural heroes striving to overcome powerful foes, and then shifts into focusing on the human struggle with mortality. It also contains a story of a world-destroying flood with parallels to the one presented in the Bible.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

First Preview of Skulduggery: Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals

As a first preview of the upcoming scenario Skulduggery, here's a link to a short but informative video about ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seals. 


Monday, November 8, 2021

Reading Again--The Sixth Gun: Cold Dead Fingers

 This post addresses the first story arc of the main comic series for The Sixth Gun


Cold Dead Fingers 1-6

These six issues were originally published from May to November of 2010. Issue 1 was first released for Free Comic Book Day that year, and then reissued to launch the series in July. Here are my impressions:

  • Issue 1 starts with a montage of mysterious relics, locations and people. This just begs to be turned into an RPG!

  • Gatling gun!

  • Saloon fight! That makes three great battle sequences in two issues. Also, the complexity seems to reflect the “Fast, Furious, Fun” nature of Savage Worlds. There are a lot of extras in each of the battles.

  • The flashbacks to events taking place during the Civil War make me think there could be a whole other series dedicated to telling that story. What is more, it would be fun to run some scenarios set during that time period.

  • Some of the killshots make me think of the exploding dice mechanic in the RPG, too.

  • General Hume's four henchmen, along with his wife, serve as a reminder that the Wild Card villains should each be interesting in their own right.

  • Along those lines, the Maw provides a great location for a rollicking battle.

  • Finally, I'll say that the Battle of the Maw could have been a great finish to an entire series—but in this case, it just the end of the first story arc!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Reading Again--The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust

Since we started the month with the first of these prequel comic series, it seems appropriate to finish with the fourth of them. This one is perhaps my favorite. 


Dust to Dust 1-3

These three issues were originally published from March to May of 2015. Here are my impressions:

  • It is nice to see more of Billjohn O'Henry, since his character was effectively silenced early in the story arc of the main comic.

  • These comics give us another interesting look at two more character groups—Kid Bedlam's gang of not-so-tough hombres, and the traveling show run by Rev. Mad Dog Murray.

  • There's a potential plot hook in the fact that Kid Bedlam apparently hid a statue, perhaps with other loot, and the Pinkertons are looking for it.

  • Billjohn's encounter with Silas “Bitter Ridge” Hedgepeth makes for some ironic foreshadowing. Also, since Silas is traveling by himself, does that mean this series takes place before Sons of the Gun?

  • We also get to see Abigail Redmayne! That means this series must take place before Days of the Dead.

  • Another potential plot hook involves the Reverend's newest elixir, which he threatens to test on Billjohn. Does it have an actual Power?

  • Finally, this short arc is a great of example of how characters' connections can make for a really personal, meaningful tale.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Reading Again--The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun

The third series that I'm reading again is Sons of the Gun


Sons of the Gun 1-5

These five issues were originally published from February to July of 2013. Here are my impressions:

  • I should say right away that I struggle with stories that focus on the bad guys. For example, recent movies like Joker and Cruella just don't appeal to me.

  • In Issue 1, the location called Azad's Fountain has a lot of potential for use in The Sixth Gun RPG adventures and campaigns.

  • Similarly, it's interesting to see “Bloodthirsty” Bill Sumter join another band of adventurers, giving readers a look at what another character party—along with Pagan Sam, Vikram and Worts—might be.

  • I also like the format of starting with flashbacks to the time of General Oliander Bedford Hume's death, and then moving ahead to the present time.

  • The love story for “Filthy” Ben Kinney, and the family history for Will Arcene (in Issues 2 and 3)—are interesting, but I don't feel much investment in those characters.

  • Issues 4 and 5 introduce a great monster, the plague spawn demon, which I used for the first scenario of my current campaign.

  • There's also a good example of how the band of “heroes” might be called upon to work with the inhabitants of a town, working against a shared enemy.