"No Noose is Good Noose" - Adventure for Deadlands
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A Deadlands: Hell on Earth Adventure by T. Jordan "Greywolf" Peacock

Top of Page The Hanging Tree


Brother Joy and Mountie Samuel Steele face off against the Hangin' Judge!

This is written as a Hell on Earth adventure that makes allusions to the Weird West by resurrecting an old nasty, the "Hangin' Judge", and giving it a slightly different twist. (After a couple of centuries, the Apocalypse and widespread devastation in the physical and supernatural realms ... even ghosts can change a bit.)

This was originally used as an introductory adventure for two beginning adventurers who had chosen the "Veteran" options: the Doomsayer was a "Veteran of the Wasted West", and a Mountie was "Veteran of the Weird West". Since it would be a bit frustrating to have a monster that only one member of the party could possibly affect, I tweaked the statistics a bit, as shown in the "Players" section at the bottom of this article. Plus, since this is being presented as a stand-alone adventure, and since I have the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight after running this, the adventure presented here has been embellished from the version that I presented to my players, which was handled in a single evening's session.

Foreword Welcome to Left Hand Springs

The Hanging Tree

Map of Adventure Area (near Geary, Oklahoma)

The heroes are journeying through what used to be Oklahoma, approaching an intersection between Interstate I-40 with the north-south running highway 281 -- which follows what was once known as the Chisholm Trail, though not many people would know or care about that these days. Not far to the north is what was once the town of Geary, located at the intersection of highways 281 and 270. (270 heads eastward straight into the Coyote Confederation, while 281 eventually cuts south across the Coyote Confederation toward Texas ... following, at least in part, the historic Chisholm Trail.)

It's still in the early daylight hours when it's light enough to see, but not far enough into the day to turn into a scorcher just yet. A blasted sign to one side of the debris-strewn highway they're traveling identifies it as part of a "Historical Route", but the sign is so blasted and twisted that it's practically impossible to find out just what's so historic from it.

(Well, not precisely. If some member of the Posse is dead determined to find out if there's anything more on the sign, let him take it down, clean it off best he can and spend some time fussing over it, then pass a Hard (7) Cognition check to be able to read "Grave of Jesse Chisholm" and make out an arrow. The sign, if put back where it used to be, indicates that this would be to the north.)

There's also another sign, wooden, that has been knocked over. If the Posse is driving by at a good pace, it would take a Hard (7) Cognition check to spot the sign unless someone in the Posse is specifically watching the ditches. Spotting it while just walking by is an Easy (3) Cognition check. If the sign is investigated, it reads, "Warning: Murderer Attacks At Night; Don't Stop for Pedestrians". It looks like someone kicked it over.

While most of the area along the highway is desolate and blasted, there are actually a few trees and stubborn bits of shrubbery here and there. In fact, there's an ancient, twisted oak growing to one side of the highway ... and hanging from the tree is the body of a boy, twelve years of age, with a sign around his neck, reading "Hunting Without a License".

The boy's name is/was Tommy Green, and he made the unwise decision to sneak out at night to hunt lizards with a sharpened stick, and ran into the Hangin' Judge. He has only been here up in the tree since just before sunrise -- If there are members of the Posse who seem dead set on trying to pull a miracle by saving the boy, there may still be a chance. A TN of 11 is recommended, if there is anyone in the group with miraculous powers of healing, or if someone in the group is a dedicated doctor type (3 levels or more in Medicine: General), and he or she attempts to revive the boy. In the event that he is revived, he's not going to be in any condition to talk just yet, and will need a few days of recovery at the very least (continued medical attention would help) before he can try to tell his story. (Or, if there's a Doomsayer in the group with "Deadspeak", or similar other miraculous means of speaking with the recently deceased, the heroes could learn of the presence of a Hangin' Judge as well.)

If anyone investigates the tree, not only is there the rope that the boy was hung on, but there are scraps of other ropes that may have been used for nooses, segments still tied around branches and the rest cut off -- to cut down bodies. One of the segments of rope is particularly old, and shows signs of the branch it is attached to having been stunted in its growth by the restriction of the rope. If anyone in the Posse has supernatural abilities to "read" objects and look into the past, within the last year, several victims have been hung on this tree ... and even earlier than that, over two centuries ago, a corrupt circuit judge was hung here on this very tree.

Although there is no obvious physical evidence of it, there is a secret buried beneath this road: the body of the aforementioned Judge has been interred in an unmarked coffin. The body is amazingly well-preserved, given the time that has passed, though it's none too pretty, and is obviously a corpse.

If Tommy can be interrogated, alive or through supernatural means, he can reveal that he's from the nearby settlement of Left Hand Springs, that he's too young to remember the "Last War", and that he's an orphan. He was out hunting lizards at night, when a tall and cowled person approached him, accusing him of "hunting without a license", and kept yelling "order in the court" when he tried to say anything in his own defense. Finally, the man found him "guilty", and strung him up on the tree, and that's the last thing he remembers before blacking out.


  • Figuring out that this highway follows the old Chisholm Trail: 1 white chip
  • Investigating the body and tree: 1 white chip per Posse member participating.
  • Attempting to save the boy: 1 red chip for those involved, whether successful or not.

  • Hanging Tree Trading

    Welcome to Left Hand Springs, Oklahoma

    If the Posse continues westward along the highway, they will eventually encounter the settlement of "Left Hand Springs", built around an old rest stop near a historical marker and the burial sites of a couple of important figures of the Old West: Chief Left Hand and Jesse Chisholm. Wrecked cars and trucks have been hauled from the highway to form walls around the settlement, to one side of the main road, and some school buses parked across the off-ramp and on-ramp serve as "gates". Trees cluster nearby, and an uncontaminated stream runs near the rest stop. There are even some small fields outside of the town.

    Tents and shacks have been set up on the cracked pavement of the old parking area, with the Welcome Center building at the heart of the settlement. The bathroom facilities, alas, stopped working long ago, so more primitive facilities have been erected at the far end of the town. Likewise, the water fountains have been taken down, but the hand-pumps in the "picnic area" still function, and the water table in this area is reasonably clear of pollutants.

    There's a room in the Welcome Center building that serves as a central location for the town -- town hall, school house, and a fortification in times of assault by road gangs. (Given that the settlement is located right on a highway, road gang assaults are a very real hazard ... but some recent encounters with the Hangin' Judge have prompted the road gangers to let off a bit for now.) The building still has a brochure station, and while several of them may have been emptied out for various reasons, there are still a few advertisements for various tourist traps, nature trail guides, and other bits of information that may be of interest to the Posse (dependng on whether the Marshal needs some sort of tie-in to another plot). More importantly, if any member of the Posse is intent upon searching through the pamphlets, there's one that describes the "History of the Chisholm Trail".

    There are some forty or so people sheltering in the settlement come nightfall, and venturing out to tend fields, hunt game or scavenge the highways during the daylight hours. Unless the Posse comes up burning the pavement on a squad of motorcycles or somehow gives the impression that they're a road gang, they won't be turned away outright. If they have Tommy Green (dead or alive, though naturally the latter would earn more goodwill), then they'll definitely be let into the settlement.

    Welcome to Left Hand Springs Story of the Hangin' Judge


    If the heroes wish to do any trading, the locals don't have much in the way of ammunition. They mostly make use of crossbows and compound bows with hand-made bolts and arrows, and other primitive, make-shift weapons. There are a few handguns amongst the truckers and travelers who were either here at the stop when the bombs dropped, or who stopped here thereafter, but no heavy weaponry. Common ammunition (shotgun shells, 10 mm, standard CSA calibers) will be accepted as payment at its regular rate. USA calibers of bullets, "exotic" ammunition (rockets without a rocket launcher) may be considered either useless or else valued at a fraction of the usual purchasing power. Foodstuffs and clothing are available for trade, and assorted tradeable knickknacks (old comics, magazines, decks of cards, candy bars, music CDs), and they may be interested in the same.

    One of the trucks was shipping products for a car audio store, so they've got plenty of items that might be of interest to Junkers, and they can install a complete stereo system with tape or CD player (the radio isn't much use these days, but it's still included) for $1000 worth of tradeable items.

    Thanks to the old soda machines, they still actually have some soda for trade. (It would have been consumed long ago, but the town has a fresh supply of water, warm soda just isn't all that appealing to some folks, and it tends to be more valuable for trading with travelers.) Cans of soda are available at 75% the normal going price, and the same is true for Dr. Pepper ($75 a can), of which they have 20 cans stored away. (Radiation isn't really a problem here.)

    Trading Local Historical Interest

    The Story of the Hangin' Judge

    If the heroes get to asking around, they'll learn all about the Hangin' Judge. Here's the story of what's been happening in recent months:

    Many months ago, a mutant came by, with the peculiar distinction of having red skin and little nubby horns on his bald head, making him look like a stereotypical cartoony "devil". He called himself "Hot Stuff" and thought himself a regular Casanova, and was flirting with the womenfolk a bit more than was comfortable for three of the menfolk: Jake, Gus and Harry Ferguson.

    Some while later, "Hot Stuff" was found strung up on a big oak tree outside of town, with a sign around his neck reading "Letch" {sic}. These three men were suspected of being behind this, but there was no real proof, and the settlement's "sheriff" (a highway patrol officer by the name of Linda Graves) was reluctant to make accusations. First, these three had grown up at this settlement, originally being children on a school bus that had been stuck here when the bombs went off, and to groundlessly accuse them of murder would shake up the whole community. Secondly, this would be for the sake of a troublemaking mutant vagrant that nobody knew or cared about, and which maybe the world was better off without anyway.

    Aside from burning the mutant on a funeral pyre outside of town (Ever since those weird incidents with the Walkin' Dead, the bodies are burned around here.) nothing was ever done about the murder.

    But then, about a month later, Jake was found strung up in the old oak tree, with a sign around his neck reading "Murderer". The next month, it was Gus who was strung up. And then, at last, Harry. By this time, the sheriff was spending a lot of nights searching for the murderer, but when she thought to stake out the old oak tree ... she became the next victim, with a sign reading "Looked the Other Way".

    It didn't take long for the townsfolk to recall the legends of the Hangin' Judge, and to figure that this old restless spirit had somehow come back to haunt the Chisholm Trail, but for a while, there were some who suspected another itinerant mutant, a fellow by the name of Tarmac. (His skin looked burned and blackened to the point where it looked like he had been paved in asphalt.) These theories died a quick death when he was found strung up from the old oak tree, with "Vigilante" written on a sign around his neck.

    Since then, at a rate of approximately one a month, someone shows up strung up from the old oak tree. Sometimes, the victims are road gangers, with some genuine sounding crimes, such as "Murderer" or "Rapist". Other times, violations can be something like "Litterer" or "Jaywalker". The townsfolk have wisened up and (for the most part) don't venture out at night, in order to avoid the Hangin' Judge. But it always seems to find a victim, as travelers still use the old highway.

    Story of the Hangin' Judge The Hangin' Judge

    Local Historical Interest

    The following is some information gleaned from historical sources, but modified for the sake of the alternate Deadlands history. It's not really relevant to the adventure, but still might be of interest to "flesh out" the locale a bit.

    The Chisholm Trail was a route over which herds of cattle were driven from Texas, across the Coyote Confederation northward to railheads in Kansas. It was named after Jesse Chisholm (1805-1868), a trader who cut the trail by carting a heavy load all the way from Oklahoma to Kansas. For twenty years thereafter, many thousands of Texas longhorns traveled the trail, as celebrated in frontier stories and ballads. As the Great Rail Wars drew to a close, it fell into disuse, but traces of it survived even up to the time of the Last War.

    Jesse Chisholm himself was buried near the town of Geary, Oklahoma, with a small and broken grave marker to show the spot. A monument nearby, erected by the Oklahoma Historical Society, reads on one side:

    Born in Tennessee in 1805 of Scottish and Cherokee descent, Jesse Chisholm came to Indian Territory in the 1820s. For forty years, he operated trading posts near Asher, Purcell, Watonga, and Oklahoma City. Also a guide, freighter, interpretor, "salt" works owner and peacemaker, few men in the Territories were so well known by the Indian. Due to this, part of his freighting route became known as the Chisholm Trail. He died on March 4, 1868 after eating bear meat cooked in a copper kettle, and was buried near Left Hand Spring Allotment of his old friend Chief Left Hand NE of present Geary. The inscription on his grave, "No one left his home cold or hungry" is a tribute to the character of this rugged individual.

    Okla. Historical Society

    On the other side of the monument is an image of an Indian chieftain, and the following inscription:

    Born in the 1840s somewhere west of present Fort Supply, Left Hand ("Niwat", also "Niwathit") became principal chief of the Southern Arapahoes on the death of Little Raven in 1889. A noted buffalo hunter and warrior, he survived the Battle of Sand Creek in 1864 to 1867. He signed the treaty of Medicine Lodge, moving the Cheyennes and Arapahos to Oklahoma, and he and his people were at peace with the whites. Believing the Great Spirit would bring back the buffalo, and return the land to the Indians, Left Hand became deeply involved in the Ghost Dance Movement in 1889. However, in 1890, he actively backed the agreement to open their reservation to "settlement". He died in 1911 and was buried nearby on this land, which was his allotment. The springs bear his name, Left Hand Springs.

    Local Historical Interest Hangin' Judge Statistics

    The Hangin' Judge

    The townsfolk aren't being deceptive, but there's a little more behind the story of the Hangin' Judge that the Marshal should know (and the Posse might possibly find out, through further research by mundane or magical means).

    The story of the Hangin' Judge starts back from 1863 to 1869, when five Confederate circuit judges conspired together to use their authority for personal gain. Anyone who stood in their way was framed on "hangin' offenses," and dealt with permanently. With little opposition to stand against them, they were free to steal land and ruin their rivals. The locals, however, got tired of this and fought back. Eventually, these judges were strung up on trees along the Chisholm trail as warnings to other authorities who would abuse their power. The old oak tree just outside of Left Hand Springs is one of those trees -- and there's an unmarked grave of one of these Hangin' Judges underneath the pavement.

    The Hangin' Judges didn't stay dead. The Reckoners brought them back as abominations, and these unholy "judges" stalked the Chisholm trail by night, murdering whomever might cross their path -- and it was up to the Judge to decide whatever "offense" might be illegal. Spitting might be illegal, or maybe wearing green, or whistling. Being from Texas was always a heinous crime in their eyes. The sentence for any crime, of course, was always death.

    A Hangin' Judge would prove to be a relentless hunter, pursuing his quarry until he's dead or morning comes. If the quarry is killed or apprehended, he'd be strung up along the Chisholm Trail, with his "offense" painted on his forehead in blood. The Judge would never speak, save for to whisper his prey's offense over and over.

    Things have changed a bit over two hundred years or so.

    First of all, the Hangin' Judge materializes at night at the oak tree, and vanishes there, too, at the point right above its grave. It often shows up on a full moon simply because travelers tend to go out at night more often during the full moon phase. There's nothing stopping it from going out on any given night, but the Judge seeks to claim at least one victim every month.

    Back in the time of the old west, a Huckster by the name of Jackie King faced off against a Hangin' Judge with the help of his own Posse, and, rather than destroying the Hangin' Judge outright, sought to "make things better" by putting it under a magical compulsion. First of all, he dictated that the Hangin' Judge would only go after criminals. (Alas, he never specified exactly what crimes should deserve capital punishment.) Secondly, he bound the Judge to this tree (the very tree where he had been hung) to await a time when he would witness an injustice to be righted. (Alas, he never specified that the Judge should go into waiting again once that injustice was corrected. Jackie King was a powerful huckster, and he meant well, but he wasn't the most responsible of heroes.) And, thirdly, the Huckster really didn't like that business about the Judge writing the crime of the guilty in blood on his forehead, so that had to go, too.

    Basically, the Huckster had a good deal of power at his disposal and was pretty sloppy about his demands on the Judge. Thanks to the murder of "Hot Stuff", the Hangin' Judge is now loose again.

    The Hangin' Judge has the same statistics as it did in the Weird West (see the Marshal's Guide), but there are a few minor changes.

    First of all, the Hangin' Judge is now Size 10, a bit more imposing in appearance and more obviously unnatural. In addition to attacks made by a Law Dog or other law officer, the Hangin' Judge can take damage from supernatural attacks such as spells and enchanted weapons. On top of that, even if it doesn't take damage from mundane weapons not used by a law officer, Wind should be calculated, and when the Hangin' Judge has taken enough Wind, it should fall over as if "slain". However, after just an action of lying there and "recuperating", it can regain all its lost Wind and pop up again ... though if it can wait until someone comes over to investigate first, and allow it a surprise attack, it will do so.

    Behavior-wise, the Hangin' Judge goes for a bit of showmanship before it starts raining lead on the Posse or whomever else it encounters. The Judge will first select a victim who has broken some sort of law, preferably the most severe one. Considering the nature of the Wasted West, odds are that members of your Posse have broken a law here or there, by the strictest measure. How many times have they trespassed on someone's private property, or looted a ruined house? Or, for that matter, how many members of your Posse have broken the speed limit?

    The Judge will likely waste actions spouting off such phrases as "Court is now in session," and then accusing the "defendant" of a primary crime and a list of others, and then, at last, going, "How does the defendant plead?" If the Judge is interrupted, he'll say something like "Order in the court!" If that doesn't silence the Posse, or someone actually attacks the Judge, then he'll declare, "I find you in contempt of court!" and use his guns to deal with the offender.

    In the unlikely case that just one member of the Posse tries to attack the Judge, the Judge will only focus his attacks on the "offender." In the event that the Judge accuses his victim, and the rest of the Posse just stands aside, he will go after his victim and only him, unless opposed. If he's successful, he'll leave the rest of the Posse alone ... for now.

    It is conceivable for some other member of the Posse to stall for time by, for instance, claiming to represent the accused, trying to demand proper procedure and all of that. This might buy enough time for the Posse to draw its pistols, click off the safeties and get ready for a fight, but it's not going to work for long; though the Judge might put on a show, he's not really concerned with proper court procedure. Still, if you've got a member of the Posse who has actually invested skill points into being a lawyer, this is a grand chance to let him make use of his skill!

    As for defeating the Judge, it is possible to "kill" the Judge with attacks by a Law Dog, or supernatural damage, but the Judge will be back again (and looking for revenge) the next night. If the Posse manages to evade the Judge until morning, the Judge will vanish, but reappear the next night, for as many nights as it takes to reach its chosen victim. Each time, it rematerializes, though, it will appear at the oak tree (or what's left of it, in case the Posse tries to destroy it), and then proceed to walk in the direction of the victim. If the victim should get so far away that the Judge cannot reach it even if it spends all night walking, then the Judge will have to give up and seek new prey (until the Posse gets back into town again).

    The Judge can be truly defeated only by hanging him. If the Judge is shot down by a Law Dog, there will still be a body to be hung. If the Judge is taken out by explosive or supernatural means, then the body will disappear entirely, rather than leaving little chunky bits for the Posse to try to piece together and hang. In this case, the Posse will just have to try again another night for something they can hang ... or else they can somehow figure out to dig underneath the highway and unearth the Judge's coffin, and hang his corporeal body. Once the body is hung, the body (real and projection) will crumble away to dust.

    The Hangin' Judge Defeating the Judge

    "Left Hand Springs" Hangin' Judge Statistics

    Deftness: 2d10
    shootin': pistol: 5d10

    Nimbleness: 2d8

    fightin': scythe: 5d8
    ridin': horse: 3d8
    sneak: 3d8

    Strength: 3d12

    Quickness: 2d12

    Vigor: 2d8

    Cognition: 2d10
    scrutinize: 2d10
    search: 6d10
    trackin': 5d10

    Knowledge: 3d6

    area knowledge:
    Chisholm Trail: 3d6

    Mien: 4d12

    overawe: 5d12

    Smarts: 3d6

    Spirit: 2d8

    Pace: 8
    Size: 10
    Wind: 16
    Terror: 11

    Note: The Hangin' Judge takes "Wind" even from attacks that don't normally harm it, such as bullets. When the Judge drops to 0 Wind, it "falls unconscious", but while it is "unconscious", one action may be spent to totally regain all of its Wind. The Judge may then get up again. Thereafter, no Wind is calculated for the remainder of the encounter -- the Judge won't go down again, unless slain.

    Special Abilities:

    Damage: Single-Action Colt .44 Army Revolvers (Shots: 6; ROF: 1; Damage: 3d6; Range: 10; Speed: 2). These weapons entirely reload themselves 1 round after they've been emptied. On the ends of the two pistols are scythes. The Judge can use these in hand-to-hand combat to cause STR+2d6 damage.


    The Judge is unaffected by fear, but an Overawe attack from a lawman may possibly give it pause, especially if it's an appeal to a sense of justice, and a censure of the Judge for his corrupt ways. The Judge, however, was low-down dirty scum in life, and he hasn't reformed his ways in death, so this will only cause him to lose an action at most.

    Immunity to Normal Weapons:

    Normal attacks don't do damage to the Hangin' Judge, but "wounds" inflicted still subtract Wind, which may cause the Judge to keel over at least momentarily. Once the Judge gets back up, though, he's done pretending to be mortal, and will keep standing until he's actually put down by supernatural means. Bullets fired by the gun of a lawman do normal damage to the Judge, as does any other attack by a lawman. Supernatural attacks (spells, etc.) do full damage, too.

    However, if a Judge is "killed" in this way, it won't stay that way. Only if the Judge is strung up and hung will he be permanently slain. Otherwise, the Judge will appear again, fully reconstituted (no matter how badly the Posse tries to mangle the corpse) the next night, ready to seek vengeance.


    When the Judge is finally defeated, all that's left of him is his gunbelt and the two Colt Army Revolvers. It is possible for one of the Posse to take the guns and use them -- even if he's not Harrowed. The whole world has been saturated with the supernatural, so the guns won't disappear because they're used by a mere mortal. However, they are a bit picky. If the guns are sold or given away, they'll vanish. The Marshal may decide to make exceptions, if the guns are "legitimately" given away. (For example, if one of the Posse decides to give the guns to someone in the town who is being groomed to become the new sheriff to replace Linda Graves, that'd be a nice gesture and the guns wouldn't vanish.)

    However, this is no longer the coup. If the Posse wants to count coup, the Marshal should ask them if they're sure they want to count coup. If the Posse tries to count coup after "killing" the Judge, but not doing it "properly", then just let them roll, and let the winner know that "nothing happens ... yet".

    Once the Judge is finally defeated, though, the combination of the original Judge's spirit and the badly wrought binding magics of Jackie King result in a weird "blessing" for any mortal who counts coup on the Judge. This is complicated enough to warrant its own section below.

    Hangin' Judge Miniature Appearance:

    The Hangin' Judge's appearance may vary (depending on what kind of miniature you have to represent him!), but his face is hidden in a cowl or hood, and he has a gunbelt with holsters for his two single-action Army revolvers.

    To represent the character with a miniature, I used an old Heartbreaker Hobbies "liche" model, which was originally sculpted to hold a scythe in one hand and with an upright fist on the other side. The hand holding the scythe was a separate piece, so it was an easy matter to just leave that off. I sawed the skull head off with a hobby saw (and kept that for later -- never know when you might need a skull). I took a couple of handguns from a spare weapons pack for some "Space Orks", and superglued one (minus the handle) to the left, upright hand, and the other gun was glued to the stump of the right hand.

    For the scythes, I took some plastic bayonets clipped off of some Necromutant figures from the Milton Bradley "Siege of the Citadel" board game, and glued those under the barrels. I then used some epoxy putty (the kind that comes in blue and yellow strips) and made a "cowl" to replace the head, and made a right hand, using an exacto knife and a pick to define the fingers. The whole figure was given a base coat of solid black, then drybrushed dark brown and "flesh tone" (which came across as light brown highlights). The guns were brushed in silver, giving them a "dark metal" look.

    Hangin' Judge Stats Counting Coup

    Defeating the Judge

    If the Posse manages to defeat the Hangin' Judge once and for all, they'll be rewarded however the town can manage -- which, alas, isn't much. They will be happy to offer the Posse food and shelter for as long as they need to rest up and recuperate from wounds suffered in the fights, and if it will help, they can scrounge together and offer a clip of bullets per Posse member.

    Of course, if there are any Tale-Tellers in the party, this is a great time to bring down the Fear Level a notch.

    If, during the course of trying to deal with the Hangin' Judge, the Posse needs assistance from the townsfolk, they'll be willing to pitch in. During the daytime, for instance, if the Posse gets an idea that the Judge might be buried nearby, the townsfolk could help by digging in the area, searching for graves. A "posse" of up to five men armed with pump shotguns (2d6 to all Traits, 3d6 to shootin': shotgun, survival: desert, area knowledge: Left Hand Springs and vicinity and fightin': brawlin') can assist the group. The town will be more generous if the Judge can be defeated without any more casualties on the part of the townsfolk in the process, naturally.


  • First time the Posse "defeats" the Hangin' Judge: 1 white chip each
  • Attempts by Posse to assist townsfolk to recover from damage done by the Hangin' Judge (i.e., Law Dog in the group trains a replacement sheriff): 1 red chip each
  • Hangin' Judge actually defeated: 1 blue chip each, plus put a Legend chip in the pot

  • Defeating the Hangin' Judge

    Counting Coup

    The following is a wild idea that I haven't actually used. The Posse was just being too selfless (training one of the townsfolk to become a new sheriff, and then giving him the nifty self-reloading revolvers since the people were short on bullets) for me to saddle them with some kind of wacked-out curse for daring to count coup. This may be highly imbalancing, and the important things to consider would be:

  • Would this player be able to handle this?
  • Would the rest of the Posse be able to handle this?
  • Will I regret this later?
  • On the plus side, this won't come into play until someone in your group actually dies. In some groups (such as mine), that doesn't happen very often. (I'm amazed it hasn't happened more often, but that's the way it is. I guess I'm a softie.)

    On the downside, you'd be giving a character a whole list of special abilities and drawbacks that would drastically affect his character concept. He may not want to play this sort of character. And this isn't guaranteed to be "balanced".

    Now, on to the important stuff:

    If the Hangin' Judge is genuinely defeated, once and for all, and someone in the Posse counts coup and succeeds, there will be no obvious effect ... just yet.

    If the character who wins counting coup is a Harrowed, he's automatically disqualified from the running, because his own Manitou doesn't want company. Give the coup to the next person in the contest. (If there are no mortals trying to count coup ... too bad. Maybe something cool will happen with the next abomination they put to rest.)

    The "winner" is told that nothing happens ... that he knows of. If the Posse has been repeatedly counting coup after "killing" the Judge and getting this result, they're bound to worry that maybe the Judge isn't dead after all ... but that's their problem. The Posse shouldn't rely on "counting coup" as a way to find out if something is really dead or not.

    However, this time, something actually has happened. Basically, that mortal is doomed to come back from the grave -- whenever he dies -- as a special sort of Harrowed. Roll for Dominion and all that when the time comes, but he'll come back as a "Hangin' Judge" -- sort of.

    In a way, the character is now a "ghost" that takes corporeal form every night. At nightfall, the character appears with his equipment. At daylight, he vanishes, and becomes an invisible, noncorporeal ghost. (Poof.) In this state, he is at the Marshal's mercy as to where he can go and what he can observe, but he can't actually do anything. The Marshal can use this as a plot device for the "ghost" player to at least be able to sit at the table and listen in on the group, and maybe someone with supernatural powers could even communicate with him ... but he can't go walking through walls and spying for the group. This is a nuisance, not a power.

    Exactly where he appears the next night is at the Marshal's discretion. He may either appear exactly where he vanished, or else he may appear with the Posse he was traveling with, even if they've moved since then. Basically, it's a case of "whatever is more convenient", and the Marshal should feel free to bend the rules every once in a while to keep things mysterious.

    This will require some work on the Marshal's part to set up. First off, there needs to be a list of the character's "personal inventory" that joins him in quasi-ghosthood -- these items stick with the character, get "regenerated" whenever the character does, and can't be given away. (They can be temporarily loaned, but they'll disappear when the character does.)

    This includes such items as weapons carried by the character, and ammunition for said weapons -- and it incidentally means that the character's ammunition supply is replenished every night. The Marshal may see fit to "tweak" this a bit: For instance, any "loose change" bullets may be lost in this process, and instead the character just gets a full clip for each weapon in his possession. If one of those weapons happens to be a rocket launcher, the Marshal should carefully consider whether giving the Posse a limitless supply of rockets is a good idea. (Probably not.) It's the Marshal's discretion which items will end up in the character's "personal inventory" and which don't.

    On the flip side, if the character died because he ran out of bullets and then got mauled by a monster, the Marshal might be kind enough to let him have a full load of bullets instead of going around with empty chambers in the afterlife.

    In any case, one of the weapons in the possession of the hero gains the power of the Hangin' Judge's Army Colt Revolvers. (If the character happened to have a penchant for using paired guns, then the Marshal might opt to have both those guns get the special treatment.) Namely, his pistol automatically replenishes its ammunition a round after being emptied. If the character doesn't have a pistol, then consider other options. If the character used a bow or crossbow, then his quiver replenishes itself. A pump shotgun or hunting rifle can replenish its shells or bullets. (As noted above, a self-replenishing rocket launcher, however, is probably a very bad idea.)

    If, however, the character in question prefered to use something that can spray lead effortlessly, such as an assault rifle, the Marshal will need to put a bit more of a restriction on this, or else you'll have a maniac who can spray bullets with impunity. A recommendation would be to allow him a fresh clip of ammunition if he's willing to sacrifice a White Chip. (If he's only got Red or Blue, offer him change in White Chips.)

    With whatever you do, feel free to err on the side of giving the character the short end of the stick if it looks like things might get out of hand. After all, he's getting a bit of a break anyway by being able to come back from the dead. If he doesn't like it, he can retire the character and write up a new one. Better that than giving him a bunch of over-powered goodies that make everyone else in the group look like wimps, and that you can't take away without killing his character once again.

    In addition to the effects listed above, here are some other rules to keep in mind:

  • Increased Size: The character is now Size 10, larger than life. The upside is that he can take a little more punishment. The downside is that he's now a bigger target.
  • Limited Mortality: Unlike a Hangin' Judge, he can be harmed by anyone. Unlike most Harrowed, he does suffer Wind loss, though after an action of lying prone, he pops back up to full Wind again. Unlike the Hangin' Judge, he keeps doing this whenever Wind drops to zero. It stinks, yeah, but that's un-life for you.
  • Judge in the Back Seat: The Manitou animating his corpse is none other than the spirit of the Hangin' Judge he counted coup on. When the Manitou is in control, use the Hangin' Judge's Cognitive Traits and skills, though he's still stuck with whatever weapons the Harrowed character is carrying around -- and he just might not be able to figure out how to use them to their fullest potential.
  • No Face: It's impossible to see the character's face. It is supernaturally hidden under a hood or cowl. If the character normally wore a helmet in life, then the cowl is over the helmet. It does not affect his ability to see things at all, but he can't remove it. This may affect any Purty or Ugly as Sin Edges the character had in life, at the Marshal's discretion.
  • Regeneration: The character cannot heal by chowing down on meat. However, he's got a deal that's better in some ways: when he vanishes and then appears again the next evening, he's back, good as new.
  • No Cyborgs: The character cannot be turned into a cyborg. The "vanishing act" rules that out.
  • No Harrowed Powers: The character cannot attain Harrowed powers. This is the package he's got, and he's stuck with it.
  • Can Only Attack Criminals: The character cannot attack anyone but criminals. Not that this really rules much of anyone out anymore.
  • Scrounging: The character gets +4 to scroungin' for the express purpose of finding rope or something to make a sign out of.
  • Charges: The Manitou occasionally whispers into the character's ear the criminal misdeeds, great or small, of those he encounters. Thus, he has a supernatural way of knowing the most foul crime committed by any given person. However, Manitous are, by nature, unreliable, so this is wholly up to the whim of the Marshal.
  • No Scent: The Harrowed character doesn't suffer from the embarrassment of undead body odor, and doesn't need to souse himself up to cover the smell. He pretty much doesn't have any scent at all, save for that of his possessions and the dust of the road. However, anyone but the most clueless should be able to tell by the lack of a visible face and the glowing red eyes that this guy isn't "normal".
  • General Creepiness: Alas, he doesn't gain the Terror rating of the Hangin' Judge unless the Manitou is in control. There's just something about that aura of pure evil. He does, however, get a +2 to overawe thanks to his unearthly-sounding voice and general creepiness. On the flip side, he gets a -2 to persuasion, since he's not exactly the comforting sort anymore.
  • "Death": Even if it's not a shot to the head, the character can be "killed" by shots fired by a lawman, and by supernatural attacks. Unless the Manitou is in charge, he suffers normal damage from regular attacks. Unless the head is destroyed, he'll be back, good as new, the next night. Even limbs that have been hacked off will be back in place.
  • Hangin': In addition to death the normal way (by destroying the head, or being Exorcised by a Blessed, etc.), hanging will permanently put the character to rest.
  • Grit: Coming back from the dead does something to you. As with any Harrowed, the character comes back with +1 Grit. No, alas, unlike a real Hangin' Judge, he's not Fearless.
  • Sleep: The daily vanishing effect satisfies any requirement for "sleep" that Harrowed have.

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