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.

Friday, October 22, 2021

First Trailer for the Uncharted Movie

We finally have the first trailer for the Uncharted movie, based on the video game franchise. I'll definitely want to see this when it is released. 


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Angels & Demons: Novel vs. Film

Angels & Demons
Novel vs. Film

From the beginning, it's important to remember that Angels & Demons is not a treasure hunter story. It is a thriller, but essentially a murder investigation. With that in mind, here are my thoughts as I watched the film and compared it to the novel.

  • The movie certainly streamlines the exposition in the story, eliminating the trip to Cern among other things.

  • There are numerous character changes, most notably changing the Camerlengo into an Irishman. I'm not sure why those changes were made.

  • All in all, this feels more like watching a Hannibal Lector movie than any kind of treasure hunt, especially with the string of gruesome deaths.

  • There is also a general sense of irreverence, especially when the motivation of the main villain is revealed. This really stands out when the film is compared to ones like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, something that I'll examine more closely when writing about The Da Vinci Code.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Reading Again--The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead

Here's the second series that I'm reading again, Days of the Dead


Days of the Dead 1-5

These three issues were originally published from August 2014 to February 2015. Here are my impressions:

  • Right away I have a question. How did the totem—a skull encased in blood amber—go from its location in Valley of Death to being found in Days of the Dead? Is the implication that a whale swallowed it and then revealed it to Zhang Ling?

  • It's cool to see a story set in Chinatown.

  • I'm curious that there is an incarnation of the God of Death in this story (as well as in the last one), but the Faith skill, and the Miracles Arcane Background, are not options for heroes in the RPG for this setting.

  • The comic provides a good example of how to narrate combat, especially the big battle on Alcatraz. There are a lot of combatants involved, and a big ritual being conducted; this is definitely fast, furious and fun stuff.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Reading Again--The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death

Presented below are some of my impressions and ideas from reading again the comic books from the series The Sixth Gun and Shadow Roads, with an emphasis on using their stories to inspire Savage Worlds RPG adventures and campaigns.


Valley of Death 1-3

These three issues were originally published from June to August in 2015. Here are my impressions:

  • Early in Issue 1 we are told that the Four Clans “gathered to face a common enemy” some 300 years before. If this story takes place in the early 1800s, then I wonder if Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortes or another explorer was that enemy.

  • Similarly, the four clans worked together more than 900 years prior “to save all of creation from the Six.” Two candidates come to mind as power brokers in the early 800s—Harun al-Rashid of Baghdad, famous in the Arabian Knights stories, and Charlemagne. Indeed, it is interesting to imagine that the Twelve Peers might have been searching for the Six.

  • It is cool to see a party of Native American characters, along with Kalfu.

  • I also enjoy learning some history of Screaming Crow, White Wolf and Buzzard Wife.

  • The idea that a place would be perceived differently by characters from different backgrounds is an intriguing one. I can imagine a scenario in which different heroes see a location as Fort Arneson, a Templar Castle, or even a Native village—and they must all find pieces to a puzzle in those seemingly different places.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Notes from the Eldritch Conspiracies Campaign

Last week we kicked off a new campaign using The Sixth Gun RPG; this was my first in-person session since we wrapped up Return to Freeport in March of 2020. I'll be posting my session notes here. 


Notes from the Eldritch Conspiracies Campaign


Al—Kris Ekerson—Sorcerer

Aric—Ollie Mitchell—London “gutter rat”

Brent—Pip Wallace—American cowboy

Geof—Arthur Lake—Detective

Michael—Alan Davies—British soldier

28 September 2021—“The Depths of Depravity”

The heroes found themselves late on an evening out in the streets of London. Shouts from the door of a public house brought them running to where a bear was chasing the keeper! The bear withstood several gunshots and a magical attack before Arthur Entangled it and somebody scored the kill shot. Closer examination revealed that it had started foaming at the mouth.

Inside the pub the heroes tracked the bear back through the premises to a snug (private room) in the corner, where a door led into the adjacent warehouse. There they found evidence of an animal fighting ring, with cages lined along one wall. Pip noticed—and put out of their misery—some dogs that were also infected.

Finally, a swarm of rats erupted from the sewer drain in the middle of the fighting pit. Arthur tried to Entangle them, too, and Pip started them on fire with a lantern, but they escaped and swarmed Alan. Kris finally slew them with a Bolt. A constable arrived on the scene, by the name of Frank Roode. He asked the heroes to help him investigate, fearing that this could disrupt the Queen's jubilee.

12 October 2021—“The Depths of Depravity”

The heroes ventured down into the sewers; Ollie found tracks from the diseased rats. At a junction they found a cat that coughed up a demonoid like a furball! Arthur tried to jump the gap, but fell into the sewer channel. On seeing the demon, Pip was terrified and developed a phobia of cats. The demon attacked Arthur, but he managed to fend it off. When Frank Roode saw it, he had a heart attack! Pip attacked the demon with his tomahawk and slammed the hammer on his pistol, but failed to harm it. Finally Kris slew it with a big Bolt, and then Healed Frank.

The trail led to a junction beneath the privy in an apothecary's shop. Alan tried to sneak up into the place, but failed. The heroes were confronted by the inhabitants, including an occultist and a few mercenaries. Arthur invoked Fear in the toughs, and then slew the occultist with a Bolt.

In the aftermath, a pigeon landed outside the building; Alan saw and captured it, revealing the message that it carried:

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.

Kris recognized references to Stonehenge and the summer solstice, which would happen later that day. Given that, Constable Roode asked the heroes to help him investigate further, and they agreed to do so.

2 November 2021—“A Midsummer Nightmare”

After a bit of rest, and changes of clothes, the heroes boarded a train headed for Salisbury, the closest station to Stonehenge. During the trip, Pip noticed a pair of riders on horses approaching the train; one climbed atop it, while the other took the bridle of his horse and followed. Arthur used his Entangle power to stop the horses and remaining rider in their tracks. The other raider managed to cross the top of that passenger car, drop down onto the one in front of it, and then separate the cars. Ollie and Alan managed to jump the gap, however; Alan re-coupled the cars, with help from Pip, and Arthur inflicted Fear on the raider.

A quick interrogation revealed that the raider was a hired shepherd, Jean; he works for a landowner named Philip LeBlanc. Although the other passengers aboard the train were alarmed by these events, Pip convinced them that it was all a wild wet reenactment. Kris recognized the influence of the Cabal.

During the rest of the trip, Kris told a story about his aunt Myrtle, who taught him the ways of magic...

Arriving at Stonehenge, the heroes explored the scene, where numerous pro-Irish people were advocating for independence. Part of their protest involved burning a wicker man, ostensibly using dummies for the victims. Ollie noticed, however, that the “dummies” were actual people.

16 November 2021—“A Midsummer Nightmare”

The heroes confirmed that the false effigies were people who'd been drugged with some kind of sleeping potion. They surveyed the scene and made a plan. Ollie and Alan slipped into the tent in which the victims were being prepared, and attacked the occultist, but he survived. At the same time, Arthur killed one of the dogs guarding the wicker man using a bolt. Meanwhile, Pip approached the guards intending to distract them, but they started roughing him up. Ollie finished off the occultist, while Kris put down more mercenaries and one of the dogs. Inside the tent, Ollie grabbed the scrolls (copied from the Lesser Key of Solomon), vials containing a potion of Slumber and a cashbox.

Outside, the heroes set fire to the empty wicker man. When the assembled crowd protested, Arthur babbled about Celtic magic, while Pip revealed the “effigies” as real people—lower-class citizens of London. Once the crowd was mollified, the heroes took their loot and headed back to London.

30 November 2021—“Fortune & Glory”

Having received an invitation from Constable Roode, the heroes met at the Sign of the Dancing Bear. Kris, Ollie and Alan arrived first, and found that Roode was not there. They all noticed, however, when a street urchin entered the establishment, surveyed the scene, and then headed in their direction—and was followed by some tough-looking thugs. Pip came in late, behind the thugs. When the thugs tried to capture the urchin, Pip rushed to his aid; the cowboy took some punishment for it but kept them occupied. Kris used a Bolt and its target to clear the bar! The leader of the goons went after Ollie, who made him pay with some hatchet strikes. After that the heroes finished off the rest of the goons, and Pip paid the bartender to make up for the mess.

The urchin led the heroes down to a pier, where Roode was being held aboard a boat lying at anchor. The heroes marched down the pier to intervene, and Ollie shot down one of the guards before he could bring his shotgun to bear. Pip fanned the hammer! Kris took a blast from a shotgun, but was not seriously hurt. Alan leapt aboard, too, and managed to avoid some knife attacks. When Ollie joined the fray, he missed with his attacks, but found a downed goon's shotgun. Meanwhile, the occultist had used Boost Trait to increase shooting, and then tried to kill Roode. Kris healed the constable, however, after the heroes defeat the occultist. Among other loot, they found a mysterious cipher.

14 December 2021—“Fortune & Glory”

The heroes pondered the cipher, and recognized it as book-based. They considered the Bible as the possible key, but instead chose Romeo and Juliet because of the symbols on it. They deciphered the message and so headed to Cleopatra's Needle, on the west bank of the Thames. Kris granted Darksight to Pip and Alan, who went into the water and discovered a concealed niche. Inside that they found a map of an island, with another message.

Inside the Pillars of Hercules, between the Major and the Minor lies Prospero's Island.

Approach when the Major and the Minor stand one atop the other.

There, follow the serpent's track to his lair.”

Out of the blue an imp attacked, trying to steal the map. The heroes hit it with a barrage of attacks—Bolts from Kris and Arthur, and bullets from Pip and Alan—and slew it.

4 January 2022—“Fortune & Glory”

Ollie asked around about the Cabal, and botched a Streetwise check. The heroes made their travel plans: they booked tickets for a ship to cross the English channel; then went by train from Calais to Barcelona; and then bought tickets for another ship from there to Palma on Majorca.

On the train, Kris saw that someone was watching the party; upon confrontation, he identified himself as Gareth Hildebrand, a member of the Royal Society (and, in fact, the Invisible College). The heroes warily accepted his company, keeping an eye on him the whole time, and Pip confirmed his story via telegraph communication with Constable Roode during train stops.

Once on Majorca, they met and hired Manuel Gonzalez, a local captain, ostensibly to take them fishing. After setting sail, they directed him toward the location between Majorca and Minorca where, at the time of night when the Big Dipper seemed to stand atop the Little Dipper, they spotted the island, approached it, and dropped anchor in the harbor. There Ollie noticed humanoid figures swimming in the water.

Alan led the party ashore, moving through swampy terrain into the forest. Three boards attacked them, but the heroes won the day. Upon reaching the river they followed upstream, where it led them to a pool fed by a waterfall. Alan went into the water prepared with darksight from Kris; there he spotted a cave hidden behind the fall. At the same time, Ollie saw that another ship was approaching the island.

18 January 2022—“Fortune & Glory”

Kris used the wall walker power on Pip, and with that the cowboy ventured up the cliff face, behind the waterfall, and into the cave. They found the chest and guessed the combination; inside it they found the Cloak, Book and Staff of Prospero. The heroes took those items and Arthur worked to lay a false trail with a scrap of paper reading “...and has become the bellows and the fan to cool a gypsy's lust.” At the same time, travelers newly arriving at the island aboard the ship Unfathomable dropped anchor in the bay and sent two parties ashore in boats.

As the heroes emerged from behind the water fall, Amalthea confronted them. Kris recognized her as a dryad, and he and the others convinced her to help them. Then a sylph brought word that one team of Cabal mercenaries was heading upriver in their direction. The heroes moved to intercept them on the riverbank. Arthur caused them fear, but Kris suffered backlash! Alan charged the occultist in the longboat, Pip fired plenty of bullets and Ollie cut down a seasoned mercenary. One of the hired soldiers jumped into the river to flee, but he did not escape from the vodyanoi swimming in it.

1 February 2022—“Fortune & Glory”

The heroes met with Captain Gonzalez, who was still hiding aboard his fishing boat, and reassured him that they had the situation under control. Then they headed downstream toward the beach. The lead mercenary spotted Pip approaching and shot him, but Pip soaked it. Kris hit the occultist with a bolt, but he survived it and canceled Arthur's fear. Alan killed one of the panicked mercenaries first, though. The occultist shot at Pip, but was tomahawked for his troubles. Alan blasted him, and Arthur blasted two more mercenaries.

From there the heroes moved toward the Unfathomable, and the mercenaries aboard it opened fire immediately. There was plenty of melee combat and gunfire, and the heroes won the day. Having captured the Cabal's ship, the heroes offered it to Captain Gonzalez in exchange for taking them to Algiers to investigate a letter they'd found tucked into the back of Prospero's Book.

My Fellow Prospero,

I have made a Discovery regarding the History of the Witch whom you defeated there on your Island. She was part of a Coven active in the City of her Origin, and among other wicked Schemes they sought a valuable Treasure that was hidden in this Vicinity. Although I am unable to send you the Object which I've found that I believe is a clue to its Whereabouts, know this. A Mole in the City points at the End of the Day to the Place in which I have concealed it.

Your Servant,


15 February 2022—“Lead or Gold”

During their crossing of the Mediterranean Sea, Arthur shared a story. He was once in love with a woman named Gwen, but she betrayed him and had an affair with his good friend Lance. Hey, wait a minute...

Upon arriving in Algiers, Pip offered to stand guard aboard the Unfathomable so the others could take a stroll on the mole, the artificial wall built to protect the harbor. Gareth Hildebrand was there, too, and provided some more information—Prospero is a codename used by occult agents of the Queen or King, and one such agent gave up his pursuit of magical secrets because he believed that absolute power could corrupt absolutely.

The heroes hired a local boy, Ali, to row them out to the mole. There Kris noticed a symbol carved into one of the rocks below the waterline, which matched the one contained in the letter. Alan went into the water to investigate. From behind a movable slab he retrieved a locked strongbox, which Ollie unlocked. That held a scroll case containing the following message:

To find what was saved from the great fire, here is where you should inquire:

Look thirteen leagues to the west, in a place where to find their rest.

If you would set this knowledge free, then Julius Caesar holds the key.

Find the solution to find what was saved.

Out of the blue an erinyes attacked! The heroes met its assault with bolts and bullets, but not much by way of stabbing or chopping. They slew her and got rid of her body.

1 March 2022—“Lead or Gold”

The heroes found some curious tablets in the strongbox, too.

They deciphered the reference to the fire at the Library of Alexandria and its connection to the purported tomb of King Juba and Queen Cleopatra, located east of the city. With that in mind, Ollie hired some camels and a driver, Omar; after laying in provisions, they set off across the desert. Along the way they ran afoul of a poisonous snake, but Pip shot it. Arriving at the tomb, they dared to open it and a wasp swarm attacked. Kris nullified it with a blast.

Inside the tomb they noticed the numbers written on the pillars and thus found a secret door. In that chamber they found a collection of arcane scrolls. As they emerged from the tomb, another band of mercenaries, led by a succubus, attacked them! The succubus bit Ollie, but he soaked it. Kris blasted her. Alan and the others fought off the mercenaries, and the heroes made their way back to Algiers. They let Omar keep the camels.

15 March 2022—“Smoke and Mirrors”

Back in Algiers, the heroes were confronted by Ali ibn Ibrahim al-Saji, a local warrior; they convinced him, too, that they could be trusted. He suggested that they should seek out Sir Kenneth Allan in London, who could help translate the scrolls. Pip sent a telegram back to Constable Roode, who confirmed that Sir Kenneth was a trustworthy employee of the British Museum. Ollie bought some trinkets to take back to London. The heroes sailed for England aboard the newly rechristened Seňorita, and the voyage was uneventful.

Arriving back in London, Ollie rented some warehouse space as a base of operations. Then they headed to the Allan family's manor. There they found a servant and Lady Katherine Allan on the dining room table, with poisonous snakes on the floor! Kris used another blast, and then healed the servant, Bartholomew, afterward. They also found a message:

If you wish to see Sir Kenneth again, then bring the scrolls to the south bank of the Thames between the Westminster Street Bridge and the King's Arms Stairs at midnight tonight. Failure to cooperate will result in his death.

The heroes found alternate lodging for Lady Katherine, purchased some crates to use as a false cargo, and then went to keep the appointment.

29 March 2022—“Smoke and Mirrors”

Arriving at the King's Arms Stairs, the heroes walked into an ambush! Familiar-looking thugs rolled in aboard two horse-drawn wagons; they set loose a few attack dogs and even a trained bear, and then they also moved to attack. Arthur hit the goons with fear and some of them fled. There was lots of shooting, stabbing and spellcasting. The heroes defeated most of their foes, but captured an occultist and a thug. These they convinced to reveal the location of Sir Kenneth, whom they went and rescued.

12 April 2022—“Murder Most Foul”

Pip reviewed the party's history for the Allans, and Sir Kenneth examined the scrolls from the tomb outside of Algiers; he identified the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The heroes set out to find Gareth Hildebrand, but they ran into a scamp with a newspaper bearing the headline “Scotland Yard Constable Arrested for Murder!”

Further reading revealed that Roode was accused of murdered a woman believed to have been a prostitute. Some investigation confirmed that Roode was being held by a Vigilance Committee that operated out of the Sign of the Dancing Bear. The heroes left the Allans and the scrolls and went to settle the score. They entered the Dancing Bear aggressively; Alan used his intimidation and then Arthur caused fear. There was an all-out brawl, in which they were victorious. After setting Constable Roode free, they set fire to the establishment and departed.

26 April 2022—“Murder Most Foul”

In the aftermath of the fight at the Dancing Bear, Roode told his story. He had fallen in love with a woman named Claudia Williams, a “soiled dove” whom Scotland Yard had recruited to spy on a local brothel believed to be frequented by influential gentlemen—and possibly under occult influence. The heroes went there, posing as clients, and were graciously received. Pip spent some time talking with Alice, and Alan with Anna. Then Kris and Alan arranged a meeting with the proprietor, Lillian Whitmore. While they were engaged with her, Ollie snuck into her room. He found a ledger with records of business encounters, and thus learned that Claudia Williams was meeting with Sophie Delacroix of the New Globe Theatre on the night she was murdered. With that in mind, the heroes met with and briefed Constable Roode, and then bought tickets for a night at the Theatre.

10 May 2022—“Diablerie”

The heroes went to the theatre, finding seats on the upper level. They watched the show, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and mingled with the crowd afterward. Arthur caused a distraction while Ollie scoped out the area below the stage. Then, as the crowd departed, Kris used wall walk to let them go up the back of the outside wall to the upper level again. There they were spotted by an imp on guard duty, which alerted the other thespians. During the ensuing fight, Pip fanned the hammer on Margaret Jameson, and Arthur bolted Sophie—but Ollie managed to heal her.

24 May 2022—“Perils of the Winding Way”

The heroes searched the area beneath the stage and found what seemed to be a previously unknown sonnet by William Shakespeare. Kris used his power to detect arcana and realized that one of the wardrobes was magical; he gave the heroes environmental protection and then they passed through the wardrobe, which was actually an entrance to the Winding Way.

Inside there they found a clurichaun named Seamus who had been captured and put in a cage; Ollie picked the lock to free him. Seamus agreed to help guide them and they proceeded. During their passage the heroes encounter a will-o'-the-wisp that failed to charm them. When ghouls attacked, Kris bolted one and Pip fanned two more; Alan dropped the fourth with a shotgun blast. Alan also blasted a swarm of spiders, and Pip stomped another swarm after Arthur hit it with a burst. In the spiders' web-covered nest they found the body of a Black Stars officer who'd been dead for some time. Finally, at one exit from that realm, the heroes faced off against a shredder demon that was chained in the middle of a passage. It caused them a fair amount of harm, but they slew it with magic and gunfire. It may have been fatigued from punching Pip in the face!

7 June 2022—“The Cambion's Legacy”

The heroes emerged from the Winding Way into a mystical forest that Arthur identified as Broceliandé, home to the fairy Nimue. They found the trail of others who'd passed through the area recently and followed it. The trail led to a pack of wolves! Alan nearly walked into their ambush, but Ollie spotted it in time. Ollie shot one wolf, and Arthur hit two more with fear, causing them to flee. Pip fanned the hammer on the biggest one, Kris and Arthur attacked with bolts, and Alan opened up with his shotgun. One wolf bit Pip, but he tomahawked it. Ollie found the trail again, and they continued.

Finally the trail led to a huge oak tree standing atop a small hill. There the heroes found a large force of Cabal mercenaries and occultists stacking up wood to burn down the tree. They also had the fairy Nimue incapacitated and locked in a cage! The heroes rushed in to assist her using magical powers, firearms and melee weapons. They won the day, slaying the occultist Zerelda Williams, freeing Nimue and preventing the Cabal from releasing Merlin.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Influences and Inspirations for The Sixth Gun and Shadow Roads: Pale Rider

This series of posts—which I will heretofore refer to as I&I—will look at books, comics and movies related to the supernatural western genre, with reflection on how they could influence and inspire an RPG campaign.


Pale Rider

I have this 1985 Clint Eastwood western—with hints of the supernatural—on DVD, but watched it again because it's also available to stream on HBO Max. It left me with a number of impressions.

  • Michael Moriarty's character, Hull Barrett, does a great job of showing how an ordinary person can become a hero, just by standing up for what is right.

  • I'm a sucker for the storyline in which a seasoned warrior helps a community of ordinary people to stand up for themselves, bringing out the strengths that they already possessed.

  • This is also a good example of how increased danger in combat can lead to some great action. While the tried-and-true Challenge Rating system of Dungeons & Dragons makes sure that encounters don't overpower the heroes, there's something to be said for the “fast, furious and fun,” and not necessarily balanced, rules of Savage Worlds.

  • When the situation really becomes serious, don't hesitate to use some dynamite.

  • The movie does show its age by having the two main female characters—well played by Carrie Snodgress and Sydney Penny—have little role in the fighting.

  • I enjoy seeing Richard Kiel, who famously played the hulking henchman Jaws in two James Bond movies, in the role of an enforcer who is not such a bad person as he seems.

  • Finally, the end battle is a good demonstration of how a somewhat complex battle map, a small western mining town, can create a really dramatic last battle.