A Deadlands: Hell on Earth Adventure by T. Jordan "Greywolf" Peacock
This is an adventure designed for the Deadlands: Hell on Earth environment, for an experienced Posse, preferably one that has a few members in it with at least moderate "people skills". While the situations presented here might be "resolved" through brute force, this adventure is primarily meant to present the Posse with a situation a little more complicated than "Kill the Horror, Save the Town".
If your Posse is comprised of heroes who shoot first and don't bother asking questions later, this adventure may not be for your group. It's not really all that hard for the Posse to just decide that all the mutants are evil and that therefore the best way to deal with them is to wipe out the camp and send the survivors running for the hills. That may well resolve the conflict, but for something that simple, you're not really going to need much of the source material presented here.
This adventure was intended, ideally, to provide enough action to fill an evening's session (of about five hours) if the Posse just went in with guns a'blazin', but if the Posse really got into the scenario, it could provide material for several sessions. In "playtesting", the adventure crossed two sessions, but the first session was actually another mini-adventure, followed by the introduction of this adventure ... and the second session was disrupted by an attack from a ridiculously powerful enemy hunting down one member of the Posse.
A large part of the work of defining this situation is not necessarily to predict how the Posse will try to deal with the situation, and provide appropriate encounters, but rather to determine the history behind the situation, and what the Posse may learn as they try to uncover more of it.
The short of it is that there is a "normie" (non-mutant) human settlement in the valley on what used to be "Victory Bible Camp", up in the mountains, and a group of mutant nomads moved into the valley. At first, the mutants kept their distance from the "normies", but a Doombringer by the name of Mortimer Crown sought to stir up a conflict. He intercepted a mutant hunting party, of which the tribe's chieftain, Chief Bob, was a part. Chief Bob wanted no part in senseless blood-letting, so Crown slew him and those with him ... then marched into the camp with the bodies and proclaimed that the hunting party had been murdered by the "normies".
With a bit of whipping up of the crowd (and disposing of naysayers), Doombringer Crown worked up the mutants into an anti-normie frenzy, and started sending them off to raid the "normies" and generally make life miserable. Eventually, an Anti-Templar passing through the area heard of the plight of the "normie" settlement, and joined sides with the normies to fight off the mutants.
When the Posse encounters the people of the valley, they witness a battle against forces from each settlement, one side led by a mutant, Vengant Slate, in the service of the Doombringer, and the other side led by Anti-Templar Kane.
As the Posse comes into the valley along an unpaved mountain trail, they are greeted by a panoramic view of a valley virtually untouched by the ravages of the Last War. Mountain streams cascade down the slopes, accumulating at the bottom into a small river that runs past two small settlements. One of these settlements, to the west, is a fortified town built around the remains of what once was a summer camp built on ground owned by a religious organization. To the east, upstream, is the camp of a band of nomadic mutants, who have set up more permanent residence in the valley now, with a few shacks and cabins of packed earth and wood and stone in addition to their tents.
Most of the valley is heavily wooded. While the people of Victory often cut down trees for wood, their numbers are adequately small enough that they haven't made much of an impact on their surroundings in the years since the Last War ... and, actually, nature has reclaimed a considerable portion of the land that the campgrounds once covered. Camp Bob, upstream, isn't any more noticeable, as it's essentially just a collection of tents pitched in the woods, though some trees have been cleared for the construction of a shrine at the bequest of Doombringer Crown.
There is an old dirt road leading out from the camp, and eventually on out of the mountains, and there is another road heading up deeper into the mountains -- and presumably the Posse would be coming in on one of these roads -- but there are no paved roads in this valley. Now, outside the valley, the dirt roads eventually meet up with paved ones, but the important point is that the valley is sufficiently "out in the middle of nowhere" that it has escaped being within the area of influence of any ghost rock or conventional nuclear warheads, and it's not downstream from any toxic waste dumps or nuclear power plants.
In an open clearing near the stream, about halfway between both camps, there is what has served as a battlefield in repeated clashes between the mutants and normies. It is pocked with craters (thanks to the occasional intervention of Crown, and some attempts by the normies at home-made explosives), trenches and other simple fortifications, and the remains of broken, primitive weapons. The battlefield is free of any lingering corpses, since the mutants have a policy of "waste not, want not", and they throw casualties into the stewpot. The significance of the location is that it lies in a part of the valley flanked by steep slopes on either side, "bottlenecking" travel along the stream for any large group of people (such as a mutant fighting force). Thus, it's a position that the Victory survivors typically use to fend off the mutant advances.
When the Posse first arrives in the valley, they'll be greeted by a battle between the mutants of Chief Bob's tribe, and the defenders of Victory. The combatants are, for the most part, equipped with primitive melee and projectile weapons, such as swords, clubs, axes, bows and slings. The exception would be that one Anti-Templar is riding a hoverbike, and is armed with a "power-lance" and a "power-sword", but even those are glorified melee weapons.
The forces are pretty much evenly matched -- the mutants are led by a Vengant by the name of Slate, while the forces from Victory are led by the Anti-Templar, Kane. The mutant party was on its way to Victory to attack the settlement, but a group of warriors set up a defensive position here in a bottleneck along the stream.
If the Posse should just sit this one out, eventually both sides will take enough casualties that the mutants will break off the attack and head back to their camp. By appearances alone, it should not be evident who is the aggressor and who is the defender, since this battle is taking place halfway between the camp and settlement. The Victory group will have taken enough damage that they are unable to press the advantage, though Kane is likely to try to lead them on anyway. If the Posse does not intervene, Kane charges after the retreating mutants, and gets knocked off his hoverbike by a swipe of the sword from Slate, then left behind as the mutants withdraw.
If the Posse should try to gather more information -- such as, for example, interrogating one of the wounded warriors fallen by the wayside -- they may be able to get a clearer picture of what is going on, though it will be colored by the perceptions of the teller. The Victory group believes that they are, with the help of Crusader Kane, driving off mutant invaders. The mutant group believes that they are, with the help of Doombringer Crown and his loyal followers, making the "normies" pay for murdering their chief.
If the Posse sneaks off to one camp or the other while the forces are at battle, they'll have the best opportunity they can find for snooping around, since most of the able-bodied fighters are gone. At the mutant camp, Doombringer Crown is still there, in his temple, accompanied by Rad Zombies ... so there's still quite a threat there should anyone alert him. At the "normie" settlement, anybody coming by way of the front gate won't be allowed entrance until "Crusader Kane and the P.K." get back, but it would be fairly easy to sneak in over a less well-guarded portion of the walls.
If the Posse is fairly powerful and joins one side or the other, the battle will likely be tipped accordingly, with either the mutant party getting wiped out if the Posse joins the Victory group ... or the Victory group being overwhelmed and the mutants pressing on to raid the settlement, should the Posse side with the mutants. Unless the Posse has a change of heart and tries to rein in the victorious side, the winning party is going to head to the enemy camp and attempt to wipe out everyone found there. The Victory group, driven on by Kane, fails to even recognize mutants as truly human. The mutant group -- driven on by Doombringer Crown -- is ready to slaughter the "normies" one part out of vengeance, one part out of fear of the Doombringer's wrath.
If the Posse joins one side or the other and is either fairly low-powered (Marshal's discretion) or isn't going all out to win the battle, then when the battle eventually breaks up, the Posse may be able to ride back with their new "allies" to either the mutant camp or the settlement, depending on what side they signed up with.
If the Posse just tries to stop the battle, there are various means of doing so. One way would be to take out the "field commanders" on each side -- Kane and Slate. If that happens, the remaining forces will be sufficiently disorganized and demoralized that the whole battle will break up and the parties rush for home (though the Posse may still have to fend off a few parting shots). Another way would be to make some sort of truly impressive display of power, followed by an Overawe of sufficient power to impress the locals ... one or two raises being sufficient to get their attention for a moment, and three or more sufficient to break their already teetering morale and send both sides to regroup. (Kane and Slate, however, would be harder to impress than their minions.)
Regardless of which side the Posse tries to side with, obvious mutants will be assumed to be enemies by the Victory side, unless they introduce themselves as obvious allies (such as by taking out several muties with a rocket launcher and then loudly yelling, "Hey, folks, I'm here to protect you from the muties!", or something similarly un-subtle). A Schismatic Doomsayer is likely to be assumed to be an enemy by both sides -- as the mutants have been told all about those purple-robed "heretics", and the Victory forces are likely to assume that all robed Nuke-lobbing mutants are alike, whether green or purple. Some delicacy may be required not to get both sides mad at the Posse, if they jump right into the thick of things.
The settlement of Victory is built on the remains of a summer camp formerly known as Victory Bible Camp. (There's still a sign that identifies it as such, for anyone coming on the road leading in from the west.) The camp had originally started with a bunch of "log cabins" for the campers to stay in, decades ago, but as the camp expanded, and new sections were added on, the construction loosely followed a theme of the "wild west", more or less. The present settlement is built around the most central surviving structures of the camp, with some fairly crude barricades erected to keep out predators, and to provide a modicum of defense against invaders. Most of the outlying buildings have been torn down and cannibalized for scrap materials, since the camp as a whole is too spread out to be effectively defended by a small force, and it hasn't exactly exploded in size over the last thirteen years.
The "military headquarters" of Victory is "Fort Victory", originally built as a playground with a token interest in "educational value", as evidenced by a few old worn plaques nailed here and there on the interior, which have a few blurbs about frontier life. The interior of the "fort" has been cleared of the old log see-saws and wooden merry-go-round, and has an open area in the center about large enough to play a game of volleyball, with wooden log walls that reach up about fifteen feet, with wooden-railed walkways on the inside that make it possible to actually stand "sentry" at the walls with some amount of cover. The fort may not have been actually built with combat in mind, but the treated lumber has held up well over time (and parts have been replaced as necessary) and it's thick and sturdy.
Next to Fort Victory is Ghost Town. This consists of several prefabricated housing units (i.e., trailers with bunks and washrooms inside) attached to big, flat, wooden facades meant to represent storefronts in an old western boomtown. Once, the wooden fronts were painted in bright, garish, primary colors, but much of the paint has flaked off or weathered, muting the effect considerably. Signs can still be read, identifying one of the cabins as the "Jail", another as the "General Store", and so forth. Though they never had any bearing on the actual function of those cabins back before the bombs, now many of them have been used for more "appropriate" purposes. The "Jail" cabin is actually used to stow away troublemakers, and the "General Store" houses what passes for a trading post.
The "Saloon" is the only building constructed differently on this "street", as it was actually built as a two-story building. The lower level consists of a main dining area and lounge, with a countertop service area and queue line where the young campers would line up to get their daily meals. There's a still-working piano in one corner, and Stairs lead up to a balcony that runs around the main room, and opens into several rooms that were once used as classrooms and activity areas (for arts 'n crafts, mostly) for the campers. The Saloon serves as the primary gathering place for the campers to eat every night (every night, that is, when there's actually something to eat), and thanks to a traveler that helped the settlement build its first still, the Saloon serves alcoholic beverages that would have never been allowed by the original management. Some of the upper rooms have been turned into storage for books and other curios, as the bugs don't seem to get into things that are stored off of ground level quite as often. One of the rooms is stacked high with every Bible, hymnal and obviously religious book that could be found in the camp, and serves as a badly organized "library" of sorts ... though, truth be told, the books are pretty much left untouched and forgotten for the most part.
At the far end of the settlement is a corral that was still in the process of being constructed at the time the bombs dropped. It still provides ample shelter for a dozen horses from the Black Rain and other environmental hazards, but the materials that were going to be used to complete the building (mostly a matter of making it look nice) were devoted toward other, more pressing projects in the following years.
The other buildings in the camp consist of "log cabins" on concrete foundations, some outhouses, sheds, and washrooms. The camp has no electrical lines running in from outside, and it relies on pumped water and large water storage tanks. Although many things have broken down from lack of maintenance and supplies from the outside world, the settlement is self-sufficient, and receives few visitors.
The outer wall of the settlement is comprised of felled trees, boards salvaged from collapsed buildings, and the occasional scrapped vehicle. This is by no means a professional arrangement, and there are many gaps through which small critters slip through, and some sections of the wall are little more than big piles of logs, with spikes jutting out in an attempt to ward off any creatures or invaders that might simply climb over the pile. Even with the settlement "on alert" thanks to the clashes with the mutants, not all sections of the wall are diligently guarded -- especially those on the western side, facing away from the direction the mutants are in. Any diligent intruder with at least a modicum of ability to "sneak" should be able to infiltrate the grounds of the settlement ... but this is a sufficiently small group that a stranger wouldn't go unnoticed if he doesn't keep himself hidden.
Outside of the fortified area are a few outlying sheds, cabins and ruins thereof. Various forest critters have taken up residence in most of them, but it's possible that the Posse could set up in one of these forgotten buildings. They've all been scavenged for anything obviously valuable that wasn't nailed down, and quite a few things that were -- after all, nails themselves might be hard to come by out here. The buildings that have been left standing are either brick outbuildings or log cabins, empty save for benches and bunks built into the walls ... and nests and filth brought in by animals.
The population of Victory is close to but no greater than a hundred people, none of them any older than twenty-three years old -- assuming that you are setting this adventure thirteen years after the bombs were dropped. At the time that the Apocalypse happened, there was a summer camp program going on, with children no older than ten years old. There were several adults present -- teachers, counselors, the pastor, maintenance, the cooks, et cetera -- but all of the older generation died off within five years, with the last one being Pastor John Henderson (the father of the current leader of Victory). The first few were gone when they tried to drive off toward the nearest town for supplies ... and were never heard from again. Others died off while trying to defend the camp and the children from predators and raiders, and some of the adults were already advanced in age and/or on medication, and did not survive the rigors of the Wasted West.
By the time all the children were left on their own, the eldest among them were only fifteen years of age. Left to their own devices, the settlement suffered through violent internal "Lord-of-the-Flies"-esque internal conflicts. Although the religious origins of the camp had some influence on the children, the loss of faith of the most visible religious leader -- Pastor Henderson -- did much to shake the faith of the children, and many of them hadn't much of a strong faith to begin with. (A lot of the kids were just shunted off to camp by parents who didn't necessarily believe much of anything, except that having the kids away for a few weeks might "do them some good" ... or at least get them out of the house for a while.)
At the present, a good number of the people in the camp would claim to be Christian, and that they believe in angels and demons and so forth, but they don't necessarily have any Faith. (The current leader, Elijah "Bonebreaker Skullcrusher" Henderson often quotes his favorite "Bible verse": "God helps those who help themselves." If someone asks him what part of the Bible that comes from, he claims it's from "The Book of Elijah".)
The P.K.'s prejudices reflect, to a good extent, the sort of reception the Posse can expect from the town in general. The town was not necessarily "anti-mutant" before, but it most certainly has a low view of mutants now, and even mutants that come to the rescue of Victory are inevitably going to be watched with a certain degree of suspicion. Doomsayers who preach their standard message about normal humans being "the Doomed" and mutants being "the Chosen" run the very real risk of a violent reception.
Templars (not in disguise, of course) would be apprehended at the first opportunity or run out of town if possible, given Kane's account of them. Anti-Templars would be assumed to be kin to Kane ... unless, of course, they started acting in a contrary fashion, in which case they'll be assumed to be impostors. Of course, if they're asked if they're "Crusaders" and they answer in the negative, that'll settle it right then and there -- more Templars to be run out of town! Never mind that "Anti-" part.
Witches and most certainly Warlocks would earn ill treatment, particularly if they act up the part. Hucksters might get strung up (or the locals might try, at least) if they brag about consorting with evil spirits, but they'd probably do just fine so long as they stick to the traditional role of passing themselves off as hucksters. Another solution would be to try to explain away one's abilities as "super powers". These aren't a bunch of puritans by any means, and they're aware that strange things are possible in the world. However, they're also familiar with concepts of super heroes and the like. (Unfortunately for Witches in the Posse, they know all about how to deal with witches, with that "burn 'em at the stake" routine, thanks to the wonders of television.)
In short, if a member of the Posse with supernatural powers acts big and bad and menacing, the locals are going to treat him accordingly. If he seems to be the sort who gets his kicks out of "weirding out the mundanes", the locals might size him up for a hemp necktie. If he puts a little effort into sugarcoating a presentation of his abilities, it shouldn't be that hard to satisfy the locals, especially if he does things that benefit them. They aren't out on a witch hunt, and they certainly aren't going to get hung up on finer points of theology. They are, however, fairly savage and impulsive, and don't spend much time reasoning things out.
The townspeople know about Law Dogs and -- at least to a certain degree -- Templars. What little they know about Doomsayers comes from their experiences with the mutants and the Doombringer. Their own experiences with the Walkin' Dead have been most unpleasant, and any revelation that a member of the Posse is Harrowed is likely to result in weapons being drawn and used on the hero in question before anyone stops to think and ask questions.
The town doesn't really have much to offer compared to many settlements. Food here is in the form of meat from deer, rabbits, squirrels and mostly small game, supplemented by garden-grown vegetables and fruit, and it's not in such abundance that the Posse can trade for it cheaply. The camp never had cause to have any guns here, and none of the travelers that have visited in the last thirteen years have donated any to the settlement. Therefore, bullets are of no use unless the guns to fire them are provided as well, and even then, the locals aren't bound to get too excited. Guns are nice, but when the bullets run out, they're not much use. The townsfolk aren't likely to give more than $1 worth of trade for any bullets, regardless of bells and whistles such as armor-piercing or frangible capability, and even then they won't have any use for bullets they can't fire. Guns will only bring half the regular value, on average, and extra clips will sell for no more than $5 each. (The locals don't have the experience to appreciate the importance of having a spare, fully-loaded clip handy in the middle of a firefight.)
Technological items are of little to no use, unless they come with their own batteries. Melee and throwing weapons fetch full price, if in decent condition. The same goes for armor. Horses and other beasts of burden are of use to the locals, as well as tools for farming, gardening, and carpentry. Toilet paper here is worth $50 in trade per roll. Candy, comic books and toys (for the kids, of course) can also find some value here. Just remember that the locals don't have bullets to use to pay for such things.
As for what the town has to offer other than vegetables and meat, it has a large selection of clubs and other primitive melee weapons (knives, mostly) for sale at the regular prices, and the equivalent of boiled leather armor. The large collection of Bibles and religious books might be of some interest to a Librarian or a Blessed, but they won't be offered up for sale -- Someone in the Posse would have to learn about them first, and assure the P.K. that they'll be put to good use.
If the Posse wishes to buy horses, the horses here are highly valued, and will cost $1000 in trade value (as opposed to the normal $300). All the horses are in perfect health, but they aren't war horses -- they will be skittish if exposed to the noise of gunfire, since they're not used to it.
The mutant camp is located upstream of Victory, located in a rocky ravine that the stream tumbles through. It's difficult to pinpoint the location of the camp without some tracking skill, unless one has viewed the camp from above (such as from up on the mountain slopes). Despite the difficulty in finding the camp, the ravine doesn't offer it that great of a defense against enemies, as the rocks give potential spies several places to hide behind.
The bulk of the camp consists of tents made from frames of wood and bone (there are some very large critters that the tribe has encountered in their wanderings), supplemented by two more permanent buildings built with rock walls that have been piled up and then fused together by the powers of the Doombringer. (The "Fusion" spell can be very useful for construction. Any Doomsayer or present or former member of the Cult o' Doom can figure out that "Fusion" has been used on the stones if they show any curiosity at all about the buildings and beat a TN of 7 on either an academia: occult or Knowledge roll, using whichever the player chooses. Any other character can attempt to beat a TN of 11 on an academa: occult roll to figure out the same thing.)
One of the stone buildings is the hut of the new leader of the tribe, Chief Bob the Second, son of the slain Chief Bob. Everyone calls him "Chief Bob-Two". The building was erected at the insistence of the Doombringer, who has styled himself both as "shaman" and "prophet", working to set up Chief Bob-Two as a puppet. (Doombringer Crown could probably do just fine by terrorizing the mutants into submission, but he likes to think of himself as being shrewd and clever, so he sometimes likes to do things the complicated way.)
The other building is a Shrine of the Glow, within which is an altar that has been coated with an enamel made from powdered ghost rock as a primary ingredient. The altar has a wide "bed" upon which the "supplicant" may lie (or be shackled, if necessary) and it all glows an eerie green and sets geiger counters clicking furiously.
This building has been constructed of rocks that have been blasted and warped into shape by Doombringer Crown and his servants, then fused together by the power of the Glow, and decorated with skulls (human and otherwise) and other macabre trophies. Inside is an altar that has been constructed, featuring a slab upon which a "supplicant" may lay -- or be chained down. The altar is covered in a special enamel made with powdered irradiated ghost rock, and it bathes the room in a greenish glow ... and enough radiation to set a geiger counter chattering. Anyone remaining in the chamber for an extended period of time must make a Vigor roll each hour. If the roll does not meet or beat a TN of 7, the person will lose 1 Wind from radiation, which cannot be recovered except by normal means of recovering from radiation (such as drinking Dr. Pepper or taking a shower). If the person in question happens to be on the altar itself, this roll must be made every round.
If any person should be reduced to zero Wind due to the radioactive effect in this chamber, he or she immediately suffers a Mutation. If the character remains in the chamber, he or she will suffer another Mutation each hour (or each round, if on the altar) -- the Vigor roll is still made, but this time failure means taking a light wound to the Guts. Any character that dies in this way becomes a Rad Zombie under control of Doombringer Crown. Any character that suffers three Mutations from this effect becomes a Trog under the control of Doombringer Crown.
Doombringer Crown is having nightly "worship services" in the chamber, and the most faithful are strongly encouraged to attend. He is becoming more inclusive -- and demanding -- in his "invitation" to attend, and he's transforming the tribe into a bunch of Trogs, with the rejects becoming Rad Zombies ... all under his control, of course. The tribe so far has been obeying partly out of fear, and partly because a good number of them have been suckered into buying into Crown's promises of glory and power from the Glow.
The altar is sturdy enough to hold down a struggling person of normal human strength, but a deliberate attempt to damage the altar by smashing it with clubs, or using more potent weaponry can destroy it. The chamber itself is still harmful to be in, due to latent ghost rock radiation, so prolonged exposure will still result in Wind loss, but the altar itself will no longer result in an accelerated rate of irradiation and mutation, and the chamber will no longer produce Rad Zombies, nor slaves to the will of the Doombringer. The individual chunks of the altar have no real value in and of themselves -- though some ghost rock was used in the making of the enamel coating the altar, it is not enough to be of use to Junkers or Doomsayers.
Should the "reliquary" be raided, there are two 1-liter bottles of spook juice, a four 1-ounce chunks of irradiated ghost rock. The reliquary itself is a lead-lined box with handles, decorated with variations on the symbol of the Cult of Doom. There are also ten sets of green robes in a trunk, which Doombringer Crown gives out to his newly "initiated" Rad Zombies.
Doombringer Crown typically can be found here, meditating upon the Glow, when he's not out and up to no good. He is usually accompanied by two Rad Zombie "acolytes", dressed in green robes, and armed with "ceremonial daggers" (Big Knives: STR+1d6 damage, +1 DEF, Speed 1).
The following are profiles of major NPCs that the Posse may encounter, or which may prove important to setting up the history behind this scenario.
For the first five years, Pastor John Henderson was the undisputed leader of the group, and he did his best to keep up morale, despite the travails. Privately, however, he had lost his faith early on -- He had been of the school of religious thought that held that the "Second Coming" would happen before the terrible period known as the "Tribulation", and that all Christian believers would be miraculously taken away from the Earth directly to Heaven in an event known as the "Rapture". Although even within Christian circles, there was once considerable debate about exactly when this "Rapture" would happen, Pastor Henderson was very convicted in his beliefs on the matter, and so unyielding that when it was evident that the Apocalypse had happened and he was still on the Earth, he determined that all of his beliefs must therefore be considered questionable.
It didn't help matters when some of the dead rose and were hungry for brains -- Henderson knew nothing of Manitous, and privately came up with his own secret theory that in the war between Heaven and Hell, Hell had won, God was dead, Heaven was gone, and that's why spirits were coming back and reanimating dead bodies to wreak havoc here on Earth. In any case, Pastor Henderson instituted a policy of burning the bodies of the dead, outside the boundaries of the settlement, and that tradition has stayed intact to the present, greatly reducing incidents with the undead.
Henderson for the most part did a decent job of keeping things fairly calm and organized, though over time his progressive lack of faith became more obvious. For a while, when the settlement was under siege from some armed scavengers, Sunday services were skipped. When the scavengers were eventually defeated ... the services never resumed, and nobody asked about it. Eventually, Henderson became so caught up in a feeling of utter hopelessness and personal despair that he ended it all by committing suicide, by poisoning himself.
The trouble is, nobody found out about this immediately. They thought that he had locked himself up in his "prayer closet" for a period of "fasting". Before anyone thought to ask serious questions about how well the pastor was holding up in there, he came back out of the prayer closet ... as a Walkin' Dead. What followed was a fairly ugly episode in which several more children died, until Elijah Henderson -- the pastor's son -- took out his own undead father with a large scrap-made "battle-axe". The body was then, in accordance with tradition set by the pastor himself, burned on a pyre.
The idea that the pastor himself -- surely the most spiritual man in the entire place, for all anyone knew -- could come back as an undead monster had a severe impact on the morale of the settlement as a whole, and Elijah in particular.
Born Timothy Judah Kane in 2066, he was always a patriotic citizen of the United States of America, and he even served in the army, fighting alongside the Northern Alliance ... right up until the bombs dropped. His rank at the time was Colonel, but by the time all the madness had ended, he was on his own, with no forces under his command. He eventually met up with a survivor settlement -- What with the mixed allegiances of the survivors, he didn't bother letting anyone know about his rank or affiliation. It didn't really matter anymore, after all.
One of the big fears in this settlement was of mutants -- or "muties", in particular. A few bands of "muties" had attacked the settlement, and the people there had developed the idea that being a "mutie" meant not only that you looked ugly, but somehow insured that you became a crazed cannibal, too. Therefore, muties were something less than human, and the only kindness to be shown them was a quick and painless death before they ate anybody. This mindset led to more than a few otherwise sane mutants being run out of town or worse. One of these mutants happened to be a Templar who knew that a large horde of mutants led by a Doomsayers was headed that way. The Templar disguised herself as a vagabond, and she was run out of town by the local bullies. When the horde of mutants was at the gates, the Templar appeared again, this time in full regalia, and gave a big speech to the townsfolk about how unworthy they were -- and how, if they had shown kindness, the Templar and her comrades would have defended this town.
Pleas for help from the townspeople fell on deaf ears, followed by the screams of the dying. The Templar left the town to its doom -- Although many mutants died, they eventually overwhelmed the defenses, and fell upon the citizens -- man, woman and child -- and a horrible slaughter followed. Everyone would have died ... except that the Templar showed up again, with her comrades, and they hacked and shot their way through the cannibals, driving off the force. The mutant Templar again spoke before the survivors, letting them know that this was not an act of mercy, but a determination that there would be someone left to learn a lesson from all of this, and proof that the potential aid offered by the Templars was, in fact, real. And then they left the town to deal with the dead and dying.
The settlement was so gravely damaged that it was doomed. The weak and badly wounded may have survived the battle, but they were sure to die, come the winter. However, a man in black robes and armor arrived, and started healing people, and helped to hunt for food. He eventually revealed himself to be an Anti-Templar, in some ways similar to the Templars in purpose and power, but wishing to help all, rather than just those deemed "worthy".
The difference wasn't quite as simple as that, but it was enough for Kane. Although he was far from being a young boy anymore, he humbled himself and became a squire under the tutelage of the Anti-Templar. Eventually, he went out on his own, and has been following the ideal of trying to help those in need, regardless of whether they might be deemed "worthy" enough. As a matter of attitude, and a thumbing of the nose to the tendency of some Templars to go by Biblical-sounding names (or to take on the names of important figures from other religions), the new Anti-Templar modified his name, going by "Judas Kane" instead.
During his adventures, Kane came across the ruins of a movie-theme restaurant where some props from the action movie "Void Crusaders" were on display. He liked the look of a suit of "Void Crusader" armor, and adopted it for himself. He also took up the sword, lance and prop "gravbike" ... and found, to his amazement, that the items were actually functional. He had learned enough of the paranormal to realize that from time to time, items of historical significance had developed magical properties ... and now, it seemed that this might extend to such seemingly mundane -- but still famous -- items such as props from movies.
The trouble is, in this particular movie, even though the "Void Crusaders" were fairly noble as far as bad guys go, and even though they were far more popular than the generic "hero with dashing good looks" who was destined to defeat them, they were still the villains, and they still lost out in the end. While these items carry magical bonuses, they are also tainted in very significant ways.
Namely, if the "Void Crusader" (that is, the person wearing the armor or using these items) is faced with an "ideologue warrior", the armor and weapons suffer dramatic reductions in utility. An "ideologue warrior", in this case, is someone who -- at least superficially -- represents some grand cause and plays the part of the "hero" to the Void Crusader's "villain", taking the time to make some moralistic speech either before or during battle. The exact definition of who might qualify as this "ideologue warrior" is up to the Marshal -- it could be a Templar who chastises the Void Crusader's morals in between sword blows, or it could be a Vengant of the Cult o' Doom who moralizes about the power of the Glow and the fate of the Doomed. In other words, this "ideologue warrior" could indeed be warped or evil, but as long as he puts on a shallow front of making himself out to be the "good guy", then the taint on these items will kick in, to the detriment of whomever is using them.
So long as the entire costume -- face-obscuring helmet included -- is worn, it offers AV 2 protection to all locations, and counts as an environmentally sealed suit. However, if the wearer should be showing his face -- something a Void Crusader would never do in the movie -- then the suit confers no protective bonuses whatsoever. The helmet cannot be removed by anyone but the wearer, except by extraordinary means (as determined by the Marshal).
The taint on this armor is that the Void Crusaders, for all their might, seemed to get smacked around by the hero awfully easily. Any weapon attack from an "ideologue warrior" that actually strikes the Void Crusader will inflict triple Wind.
When used to hit a target while driving by with the gravbike, the weapon inflicts STR+3d8 damage, plus 1d6 for every 5 mph the gravbike is moving at the time of impact. The wielder must make a Strength test against the wound level TN (as on a healing roll) against the wound level inflicted on the target. If the wielder does not pass the Strength test, the lance is ejected from the harness and wrenched from the wielder's hand, left impaled in the target's body as he passes.
Kane has a profile identical to the "Templar" archetype in the main rulesbook, except that he has a fightin' level of 6, and Nimbleness of 4d10, with concentrations in brawlin', sword, axe, lance, and knives. He doesn't presently carry a gun, though he knows how to use one. He has Lay on Hands at level 3, and Armor of the Saints at level 2. He never calls upon the power of the Reckoners -- He is an Anti-Templar purely because of his bad experiences with Templars and his vengeful approach to setting things right, not out of any desire to "use the power of the Reckoners against themselves".
Born Frank Schmidt back in 2077, this mutant was among the multitudes who scratched out a living in what is now known as "Lost Vegas", only a child back when the bombs dropped. He showed promise at an early age, and was trained in the ways of war. He has developed a peculiar mutation, in that the features of his face became vestigal and then faded away entirely -- He has no eyes, no nose, no mouth. He has developed substitutes, though, that allow him to survive.
Fightin': brawlin', sword, Florentine 3
Area knowledge: Lost Vegas 2
Language: English 2
Survival: urban, desert
Nerves o' Steel 1
The Voice: Threatening 1
Law o' the West -5
Oath: serve Cult o' Doom -5
|Pace: 10||Wind: 18|
One bonus is that Slate can detect sources of harmful radiation nearby. He's also pretty good at picking out Doomsayers just by the levels of radiation in their bodies.
It should be noted that Slate technically can't tell the purple robes of a Schismatic from the green robes of a true Doomsayer. However, he's pretty confident that a strange Doomsayer that might pop up that Crown didn't tell him about isn't supposed to be there -- If he encounters a Doomsayer during the battle with the Victory forces, he'll attack first, then ask questions later ... unless the Doomsayer starts lobbing spells against the Victory forces, or otherwise demonstrates himself to be on the side of the mutants. In that case, he'll give the stranger the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he's of the green-robed variety. If he's encountered while in the presence of Crown, he'll wait for Crown to give the order before making any decisions on unknown Doomsayers.
Slate is adorned in plate armor that gives him AV 2 to all body locations except half of his left arm, and his head. He has a chain-mail hood that he pulls over his head in battle, giving it AV 1, but it interferes somewhat with his Geiger Vision, negating his +6 bonus to spot sneakin' characters when it is worn. His left arm is withered and sickly-looking, the hand having been replaced with a nasty-looking hook. His face is featureless and bald, with only faint indentations that hint at where eyes and mouth used to be. The armor is black, save for the emblem of the Cult o' Doom that has been painted on his right shoulder pauldron, front and back, clearly denoting his allegiance.
Slate carries a large sword that inflicts STR+3d8 damage, with a DEF of +2. It has no DEF bonus and counts as a Speed 2 weapon if wielded by someone with less than 3d10 Strength, in either die type or coordination. His hook hand can be used as a weapon, and he uses it with the "Florentine" Concentration. If he gets a Raise on his roll to hit a target, he also hits with his "hook" hand, inflicting STR+1d6 damage.
Despite his lack of a mouth, Slate is still able to speak -- It's just that you can't see his mouth move, and his voice has an artificial, "filtered" quality to it, and the skin over where his mouth should be vibrates when he speaks.
Although the Cult o' Doom is hardly a benevolent organization, Slate believes fervently in his cause, and typically spouts out propaganda about the Glow when he engages enemies in battle. He would most certainly qualify as an "ideologue" for the purposes of triggering the taints on Anti-Templar Kane's weapons and armor.
Elijah Henderson is a muscular young man with a thick neck, bald head, and a penchant for dressing up like a "barbarian". He and many of the men in the village have a somewhat "savage" disposition -- or else they just come across as a bunch of none-too-bright college frats with battle-axes and home-made moonshine.
Elijah has dubbed himself "Bonebreaker Skullcrusher" for the time being, but he changes that name every once in a while -- sometimes just making up a bunch of "primitive-sounding" titles for himself on the fly, and then promptly forgetting them the next time he introduces himself. He was a fan of the Pinhed the Barbarian cartoon series when there was still television to watch, and he never quite caught on that "Pinhed" (pronounced "Pin-Head") was meant to be funny -- or at least off-the-wall -- not serious. Pinhed is his hero, and woe to anyone who dares make light of it.
Elijah is the leader of Victory, partly by virtue of being one of the bigger and older "kids", but largely simply for being the "P.K." (Pastor's Kid). In fact, "P.K." has become his "title of office". Some of his buddies joke that it stands for such things as "Pinhed Knight", "Pyromaniac King" or "People Killer". Elijah is not very forgiving of outsiders who think that they can crack jokes, too, unless they've done a lot to earn his favor.
The P.K. was never particularly religious (though he could, of course, "talk the talk"), and in fact as a kid he was something of a bully, but he still has some respect for religious authority-types and he idolizes "cops". Therefore, he's likely to be partial to anyone who looks like a law enforcer or a religious authority, in his eyes. Law Dogs who actually wear a uniform -- or easily identifiable portions thereof -- and a badge will be easily granted access to the settlement and a personal audience with the P.K. himself. The same holds true for Blessed who wear a clergyman's collar and dress in black, or else walk around with a big heavy KJV tucked under one arm ... or, for that matter, any ordinary fellow who dresses up like that and claims to be of the faith. The exact denomination won't matter, and Elijah won't be asking for miracles as proof -- his own father, after all, never called down fire from the heavens or raised the dead ... not intentionally, anyway. He's fairly flexible when it comes to Blessed of other religions or even Shamans and the sort, so long as it doesn't radiate impressions of "witchcraft".
Elijah would have probably rolled out the red carpet for the first Templar to roll into town -- provided the Templar was wearing his robes visibly -- had it not been for the fact that an Anti-Templar got there first. Kane the Anti-Templar was able to piece together the history of Victory pretty quickly when he saw the "Victory Bible Camp" sign on his way in, and noticed how young all the townspeople were. He presented himself as a "Crusader" rather than calling himself an Anti-Templar. As for the fact that he wore black robes and armor with a white cross ... well, so far as Elijah and his buddies were concerned, that just made this guy all the more cool. (After all, it's not like he was wearing pentagrams or upside-down crosses or any such thing.) Kane has presented the Templars as a bunch of "New Agers" and blasphemers, and not to be trusted. Any Posse that comes into town with a Templar in full battle dress is going to make a bad first impression on Elijah and his people.
In battle, Elijah wears a mish-mash of pieces of makeshift armor that collectively give him -4 AV to all hit locations except his head. He typically wears a great horned helmet that gives him 50% AV 2 to his head, but it usually falls off pretty soon into any serious battle (or else it gets knocked out of alignment and Elijah spends an action to yank it off so it doesn't block his vision). His great axe is unwieldy enough that it is always a Speed 2 weapon, but it has a DEF of +2 and inflicts STR+2d10 damage on a successful hit.
Fightin': brawlin', axe 5
Area knowledge: vicinity of Victory 2
Language: English 2
Nerves o' Steel 1
Tough as Nails 2
|Pace: 10||Wind: 18|
The late Chief Bob was once a contract computer programmer, traveling from site to site, working on a project and then moving on to the next job. He happened to be up on one of the expressways of Montana when the bombs dropped, accompanied by his family: his wife, Carla, and his son, Bob Jr. While he was spared from the initial devastation, he and many other motorists were lacking in basic survival equipment and supplies, and eventually they had to brave the dangers of a maelstrom to search a city for what might be scavenged. Carla did not survive the experience. Bob and Bob Junior managed to eke out a life, but they succumbed to the warping influences of ghost rock radiation, and mutated. Bob Senior turned into a warty but muscular giant of a man. Bob Junior grew up to be thin and gangly, with a pale complexion and clammy skin, able to pass for a corpse if it weren't for his loud and tortured-sounding breathing and wheezing.
Chief Bob eventually became the leader of a group of mutant nomads. At first, they all traveled by car, but as vehicles broke down and fuel ran out, they eventually continued by foot (or tentacle or hoof or whatever it was that was available). Due to the brutal nature of survival, and strange urges that mutants sometimes have, the tribe has often resorted to cannibalism, though Chief Bob has been very pragmatic about it -- the tribe has not murdered for the sake of food ... at least, not with Chief Bob's knowledge. Only already dead bodies have been consumed.
Chief Bob still held to certain moral ideas when Doombringer Crown approached him, trying to persuade him to attack the "normies", and promising him the support of a powerful ally if he would do so. Chief Bob refused, and paid for it with his life.
Chief Bob-Two is a tall, gangly-looking, pale-skinned, dark-haired young man of about twenty years of age who looks weak and frail, and could easily pass for a corpse ... except that his breaths come loudly and harshly, which suggest that he's not quite a corpse just yet, but perhaps almost there. He is not so weak and frail as he looks, but he's no powerhouse, either, and cannot command the same respect that his father did with the tribe. With Doombringer Crown, however, as long as the Doombringer supports him, he suddenly has power and a very vocal proponent of his position as leader of the tribe. Bob-Two, therefore, has had ample reason to openly embrace the "wonder" of the Cult o' Doom, and has gone ahead with all "suggestions" made by Crown so far. Without the Doombringer's support, he would likely be ousted from his position or worse by a more physically powerful contender. The tribe hasn't established any sort of hereditary succession of rulership, but Doombringer Crown has argued in that direction, seemingly on Bob-Two's behalf.
In actuality, Bob-Two is repulsed by other mutants, and he rationalizes to himself that he's not like the others ... at least, he still looks human, and he has exactly ten fingers, ten toes, two ears, two eyes, one mouth, one nose (with two nostrils) and so forth. Even so, he would do just about anything to be cured of his mutation, though he wouldn't dare openly voice this desire. If he were to encounter a Radiation Shaman (Toxic Shaman), he would do everything in his power to sneak in for a private meeting with the Shaman in question, and bargain, cajole or plead out of him a use of the "Mutate!" Favor to try to cure his illness. Bob-Two would rather starve than eat human flesh, and he has indeed gone without food for long periods of time on multiple occasions. That is about the extent of his endurance, however. He hasn't the backbone to stand up to Doombringer Crown, nor the inclination to do so. If he were offered a chance to become "normal" again, however, desperation would grant him a certain degree of bravery ... and recklessness.
Lacking some sort of miracle like that, he'd also jump at an opportunity to get away from the tribe. He has started to realize just how flimsy his hold on "power" here is. Doombringer Crown is insane and evil, and hasn't a really strong and good reason for favoring Bob-Two over any other able-bodied member of the tribe -- except, that is, that Bob-Two is probably the single most pathetic member of the tribe and the least likely to be able to survive on his own. He would have died long ago, if not for Chief Bob's ability to garner himself a high position and shelter his son. Bob-Two has mixed feelings about the sacrifices his father made in that regard -- While he is certainly grateful for the chance to live, he is not very happy with what sort of life he has here. In his mind, the mutants are only a step above becoming like animals, and he fears that he may be on that downward spiral as well.
Bob-Two could very well be an ally to the Posse or an enemy, depending on whether he sees them as a means of escape, or as rivals. With the death of his mother and father, there's nobody left that he really cares about, save for himself, so his motivations are wholly selfish -- He has no sense of loyalty beyond pragmatism (He won't betray someone just for the sake of doing so) and if he were caught helping the Posse, he would be quick to come up with a story to try to make it look as if this were all part of his plan to capture these "traitors" and turn them over to Crown ... or something along those lines. He's not a coward, per se, as he's faced the prospect of death many times, but there just isn't much left to motivate him to demonstrate bravery.
There is, however, one very strong motivator that could be brought to play that would make Bob-Two suddenly seem a changed man -- and that would be to persuade him that his father was not killed by the people of Victory, but rather by Doombringer Crown himself. Bob-Two does his part to carry the battle against Victory, but he's not particularly vengeful -- the tribe has already inflicted casualties, and, in his mind, enough damage has been done to the "normies" to pay blood for blood. However, if he learned that his father were betrayed by Crown, he would want to do anything in his power to make Crown pay ... momentarily forgetting, perhaps, the mortal danger he would put himself in, in the process. His first inclination would be reveal this news to the tribe ... and what with all the promoting of Bob-Two that Crown has been doing, Crown would be hard-pressed to so quickly wave off any accusations that the Chieftain might make against him. The result would likely be a fight between Crown and his "faithful few" against the rest of the tribe. That, however, would probably result in death to most if not all of the tribe, and a more ideal result would require a bit more subtlety and planning. (Trying to slip Dr. Pepper into the Doombringer's next meal would do wonders, but might be too much to ask for.)
See the Doombringer description in the Deadlands: Hell on Earth rulesbook. Crown has the following miracles: Atomic Blast, EMP, Flashblind, Fusion, Ground Zero, Mutate!, Nuke, Rad Zombie, Tolerance, Touch of the Doomsayers.
Mortimer Crown is aware of his nigh-immortality, and has perfected his own special spin on the Ground Zero miracle. If it looks like the battle is going badly, and he's going to die, rather than run away, he uses Ground Zero on himself ... hopefully before a Doomsayer can finish him off with a magical blast. Even if Crown is "killed", the buildup will continue and he'll explode after the 3 actions have been spent. (If necessary, he still gets to roll for Quickness even when dead, for the sole purpose of spending cards to set off the Ground Zero effect.) The only way to stop this from happening -- other than magically transporting him elsewhere in time for the blast to go off -- is for a Doomsayer to kill him permanently with the power of the Glow, before the "phase" during which his explosion will go off. Otherwise, it's time to dive for cover ... and beat a trail far from the crater before Mortimer rematerializes in 1d6 days, looking for revenge.
Should the situation arise that the Posse sides with the mutants in the conflict with Victory, though, Doombringer Crown will put on the act of being a friend to the Posse. The thing is, he's deranged enough that it should still be obvious that he's a little too eager to shed blood. He has a tendency to cackle maniacally, to chatter in a shrill voice, and occasionally -- during his most fervent speeches about the glory of the Glow -- his "speech" will get more and more frantic and laden with jargon, until he's spouting mindless gibberish and random words ... then he'll suddenly "calm down" and start making sense again.
If he "befriends" the Posse, he will be eager to "induct" them into the ranks of the Chosen, if they are not mutants already ... either by fast-talking the Posse, or by brute force if need be. Eventually, this "friendship" is bound to break down.
Doombringer Crown is accompanied by a small retinue of fellow Cultists o' Doom: He has at least two Rad Zombies (in green Doomsayer robes), Vengant Slate, and four Trogs at his side.
Ideally, the Posse should be given a chance to learn more about the situation, and the existence of a Doombringer that is stirring things up. If anyone in the Posse knows much about the Cult o' Doom, they should be able to figure out that the Doombringer is definitely a villain, and up to no good. The Anti-Templar's role in this is a bit less clear -- He's technically helping the villagers defend themselves, but he's set enough in his ways that he could be an obstacle to any attempts at a peaceful settlement, should the Posse go that route.
One of the tricks here will be to even suggest to the Posse that trying to come to a peaceful resolution is even an issue. If they get the story from the mutants, they may decide that the villagers are evil and worthy of being wiped out ... but that the Doombringer is just a tad bit over the top. If they get the story from the townsfolk (and especially if the group has no Templars and therefore has no particular grudge against Anti-Templars), they may just assume that the mutants are all mindless freaks and a threat to be dealt with violently.
It may well come down to that, and that doesn't necessarily mean that the Posse has "lost" the adventure, or that they should be punished for not going the extra mile. This scenario is meant to be one where the Posse has a chance of resolving things in a manner different than usual ... not just a case of the monster-of-the-week to destroy. Even if you make it plainly clear to the Posse that their objective is to come to a peaceful resolution (for example, by giving a shaman in the group a dream vision from her Guardian Spirit informing her of the nature of the conflict ahead) it may still be a tall order for a group of monster hunters to somehow make things better.