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!