In a world where the undead exist, a motley group of bandits attempts to rob a bank.
Zeke is a large, intimidating man of few words. Appearance-wise, he looks like "if a barn could say, 'Eyup.'" Zeke was in prison because "Someone asked too many questions. He didn’t like the answers I gave him."
Cigarillo Lee is the self-proclaimed "best Outlaw this country's ever seen". He came from Brooklyn to Arizona, hoping to make a fortune. Unfortunately, he was held up on his first job, a knock-over of a liquor store, because he forgot his gun. He has a "fresh, as-yet-unbeaten face".
Carl Sidebottom is an old, grizzled Yorkshireman, with "stubble to sharpen a knife on." He is a gunfighter, with a penchant for robbing trains. Carl was caught trying to rob a train. He got confused, and tried to rob the train itself, rather than the passengers. Carl has worked extensively with Blackjack Bronson in the past. Carl's horse is named Lawrence Jeffy (L Jeffy for short) and they are very close.
Nathaniel Fletcher is "not a thief, but if I was a thief, I'd be a really good thief." He is extremely attractive, with "slick hair, slick moustache. Slick everything, really." Nathaniel was in jail because he got caught stealing a dress. Nathaniel is a coward, and generally prefers to flee in the face of danger.
The year is 1880, and history is not our own. At the battle of Gettysburg, at the height of the Civil War in 1863... something happened. Something went very, very wrong. Lots of people say that the dead returned from the grave to feast on their living companions, and that ghosts and spirits and all sorts of demons and monsters emerged to wreak havoc upon the American West. All of that’s obviously nonsense. But... for whatever reason, for perfectly normal mundane reasons, the Civil War just happens to have dragged out for about 20 years. It’s currently reached a ceasefire and a stalemate, largely because just so many people are dead.
In 1868, California fell into the sea. It is now an area called the Great Maze, an area full of waterways and mazes. It has a massive famine problem. In the ruins of California, a new superfuel has been discovered, called ghost rock. When used, ghost rock screams as though the dead are burning alive. As a result of the new superfuel, there has been an industrial boom. From steam wagons to ray guns to robots, ghost rock has enabled all sorts of new technology to be created.
The story starts in a small, hidden camp in an Arizona valley, far away from the steampunk cities of the era. In the process of freeing his friend, Carl Sidebottom, from jail, Blackjack Bronson also released three other criminals, who he has invited to be his new gang- the previous one having all died during a failed coach robbery: Nathaniel Fletcher, Zeke, and Cigarillo Lee.
As everyone is sat by the fire, Cigarillo offers to play a game of cards. Nathaniel holds up Cigarillo's pack of cards, saying he "found" them, and suggests poker. Carl joins in. They play the game until Blackjack arrives back at camp from lookout. After a bit of banter of Carl's part, Blackjack explains the job- they are going to rob a bank. Blackjack shows them a hand-drawn plan of the bank and surrounding area, and after some commentary on his artistic skill, and some more banter, Carl notices that Blackjack seems more impatient than usual. They plan their heist. Nathaniel will be lookout on the church steeple.
It is night, on a ridge overlooking the small town of Hensley Gorge. As Nathaniel tries to sneak up to the steeple, he is stopped by a pastor. The pastor insists that Nathaniel is in need of a long talk about the book of Job, and the rest of the gang continue on with the heist, unawares. Zeke kicks open the door of the bank, completely destroying it, and the bank stick-up begins. Zeke tells Cigarillo to watch the horses as Blackjack orders the bank teller to take him to the vault. After a bit of back and forth, Carl ends up prodding the bank teller into opening the vault, lying about his origins along the way. Cigarillo, instead of watching the horses, lingers by the door. The Pastor is continuing to tell Nathaniel about Job, and the thief is repeatedly failing to get his attention. Nathaniel tries several times to convince the Pastor to let him up to the steeple- mostly by saying it would help redeem his sins. Unfortunately, the steeple closes after the sermon, and the Pastor doesn't have the key- only the Caretaker does, and he's at the saloon. Finally, Nathaniel leaves, despite the protestations of the Pastor, who has much more to say, and heads toward the saloon.
By now, the vault has been opened, and there is a surprisingly large amount of money- both Union and Confederate- inside. Carl threatens to shoot the bank teller in the crotch if he doesn't help him bag up the money, and the teller does so. Zeke starts over to start loading the bags of money onto the horses when Cigarillo and Nathaniel make eye-contact across the street. They both notice a stumbling drunk Sheriff being helped out of the saloon by his two deputies, and Nathaniel starts whisper-yelling, "ca-caw!" Cigarillo alerts Zeke to the presence of the Sheriff, and he drops the money just out of sight, inside the bank. Just as they would've been noticed, the Sheriff starts violently throwing up. Cigarillo alerts both Carl and Blackjack to the situation; meanwhile, Nathaniel's panicked "ca-caw"-ing has alerted the Sheriff and his deputies.
Cigarillo tries to shoot at the Sheriff, but misses. Nathaniel runs toward the church, crying "salvation!" and convinces the Pastor to continue telling him about Job. Carl takes out his rifle and shoots the head off one of the deputies. Cigarillo runs into the bank and knocks out a pane of glass. Blackjack hurls some dynamite into the street, causing even more chaos. The saloon-goers are starting to draw their weapons, and it seems like a full-scale riot is about to break out. Carl shoots the Sheriff in the gut. Zeke, Blackjack, and Cigarillo jump onto their horses and begin to flee, Zeke also carrying two bags of money. Nathaniel sprints away from the scene, and Carl safely makes it to his horse as well.
The next morning, the group has been riding for hours, with the exception of Nathaniel Fletcher, who has been rather pathetically running. Blackjack picks him up, although Zeke spits at him. Zeke picks up Cigarillo after a bit, who has accidentally ridden his horse to death. Blackjack finds them a cave to hide in, since Carl shot the Sheriff, it's unlikely the townsfolk will easily give up the chase. The cave is large, deep, ominous, and heavily shadowed. The group and their horses shuffle into the cave, and they hear a menacing sound, like someone breathing heavily. Nathaniel suggests fleeing immediately, and is ignored. Cigarillo watches the horses, and Nathaniel is dragged along with Zeke to investigate further into the cave.
As they go further down, they begin to notice lines of ghost rock in the cave wall, and the path splits. Zeke heads left, and Nathaniel and Blackjack go right. They find a cavern, with what appear to be claw-marks covering the walls. There is a pile of clothes, and what appears to be a mound of leather in the room as well, and Nathaniel begins to panic. As Nathaniel looks at Blackjack, part of Blackjack's face begins to sag. Nathaniel drops the lantern and runs away.
Zeke hears a scream from further down into the caves, and starts heading toward it. He runs into Nathaniel, who babbles something about Blackjack before continuing to flee out of the caves. Zeke continues down the cave that Nathaniel had fled. After a minute, Zeke arrives at the same small cavern Nathaniel and Blackjack had found. He notices the scratches on the wall and the pile of clothes- as well as, on the floor, surrounded by a pool of translucent ichor, the skin of Blackjack Bronson. It appears almost entirely whole, however there appears to be nothing inside it. Zeke pokes the skin, and then proceeds to make a circuit of the room, poking anything out of the ordinary with his club, finding only a bloody pocket watch for his trouble. There are around four or five skins in the cave.
Meanwhile, Nathaniel has made it to the front of the cave, and is frantically trying to grab a horse, all the while shouting about death, doom, and the need to flee. Soon enough, both Cigarillo and Carl are holding Nathaniel at gunpoint, trying to understand what's going on. Nathaniel tries to convince them to stay in the front part of the cave, even allowing one of them to keep pointing their gun at him, if only so the other can aim further into the cave. Before either can respond to this, Zeke emerges from the back of the cave, looking bloodier than when he went in, and Nathaniel shrieks to kill him, thinking he's the monster. Cigarillo asks after Blackjack, and Zeke replies that something ate him. The group bickers about what to do next- Nathaniel suggests fleeing, Zeke insists it's probably just a coyote, and Nathaniel points out that coyotes don't eat people from the inside out, meanwhile Cigarillo flip flops on what's worse- being killed by the posse chasing them, or the possible cave monster.
They hear a growl from the tunnels, and Zeke again suggests hunting it down, threatening to drag Nathaniel along with him, because, "I don't like ya." Carl suggests they stay in the front of the cave, to keep watch in both directions and wait it out, but Zeke decides he's going to go and hunt down the "coyote" and that "anyone who's not a sniveling coward, come with me." At this, the group concedes to follow him, with the exception of Nathaniel, who is dragged along. Cigarillo keeps Nathaniel's gun after being intimidated by Zeke. Nathaniel is pushed to the front of the group, much to his dismay. Soon enough, they arrive at the fork in the tunnels once again. Zeke decides to go to the right, to make sure they've discovered everything there is down that way. Cigarillo vomits when he sees the skin-suit of Blackjack Bronson, and Nathaniel uses the opportunity both to steal back his gun and then load it.
Carl realizes that the man who had led them on the bank job had not, in fact, been his old friend Blackjack, but whatever had been inhabiting his skin. Despite the evidence to the contrary, Zeke continues to argue that it could be an animal- "there's plenty of animals that don't eat the skin." However, Cigarillo agrees with Nathaniel, that they should take their chances with the posse, and Carl agrees as well- "better the devil you know, 'cause you can shoot the devil in t' face." There is another growl, that Zeke doesn't hear, and he insists that they are better off taking their chances with the "animal" rather than a dozen angry townsfolk.
Zeke grabs a lantern and heads back towards the fork, the rest of the gang following uneasily. Nathaniel hovers at the fork, not wanting to get killed by Zeke for running to the entrance, but certain death awaits down the left tunnel. He smiles winningly at Carl to try and convince the old man to agree with him, however he is shoved down the tunnel at gunpoint by Cigarillo, who also realizes that he's apparently dropped Nathaniel's gun. The group continues down the tunnel, and it starts to branch off into a network of smaller passages. Nathaniel cautiously pulls out his hidden knife and scratches an arrow into the wall, and Cigarillo reloads his rifle.
Carl says that he has some tracking experience, and starts licking things. After giving up on this method, he notices the large drag marks on the floor. They're a couple of weeks old, but they lead into another one of the branching tunnels. Carl confirms that they are the marks of a person being dragged. Zeke marches down the tunnel Carl points out, and as they walk, Nathaniel and Cigarillo bicker. The passage leads to a smaller room, with carved divots in the walls. There are hooks hanging from the divots, and there are skin-suits hanging from some of the hooks. In the corner is a surprisingly well-kept chest. Zeke opens the chest to see it's full of money, books, guns, other assorted treasures, and a prominent leather-bound journal. He muses that the trip may not have been a complete waste, and starts to head back to the group when his lantern explodes.
Carl is attacked from behind and begins to be dragged away by a skinless, humanoid creature with pointed teeth and wickedly sharp claws. He takes out his rifle and begins to shoot wildly over his shoulder. Zeke notices the commotion, and hits the creature with his club, making it release its hold on Carl. Carl searches his person for a boiled sweet, hoping to calm his nerves. Nathaniel drops his lantern to flee, before realizing there's no light and running back for it. Meanwhile, Cigarillo moves forward to help, only to see Zeke has taken care of it. Carl is enraged and charges forward with Zeke, after the creature. Cigarillo hears shouting from the entrance: it's the posse. They see more empty caverns, and one other nest.
Nathaniel flees despite Cigarillo's warning, however when he arrives at the front of the cave he sees a silhouette with a wide-brimmed hat in the light. He turns and flees back into the cave, only to see the monster emerging from the tunnels. His adrenaline kicks in, and he runs toward the monster, firing as he tries to squeeze past it. As he passes it, Nathaniel whacks it in the head with his lantern, frightening himself with the clear look at its face this gives him. He runs further into the caves, hoping to catch up with the gang. He's nearly shot by Cigarillo, who startles at his presence. Nathaniel explains what he saw to the group, and they- after some discussion- decide to head back up towards the front of the cave. Nathaniel is once again pushed to the front of the group. Cigarillo sights his rifle on Nathaniel's shoulder as they walk, handing Carl the lantern, and Nathaniel plugs the ear next to the gun.
They overhear two members of the posse talking, and then the men call out at them. They don't reply. Nathaniel "ca-caws" quietly, slightly hysterical. Zeke motions for the group to cover their lanterns, and they do. After the men call out to them again, Zeke shouts for them to "come and get us if you want us!" The group positions themselves to shoot. The posse-men decide to dynamite the entrance, recognizing that the gang has the advantage. The group frantically confers, and decides to rush the posse. As the group rushes the posse, they are shot to death. As the posse rides off, one of the men who had been talking, Abel, readjusts his face.
Deadlands is a setting run in the Savage Worlds system. A character has five attributes: Agility, Strength, Smarts, Spirits, and Vigor. Each attribute has different Skills attached. Each attribute is assigned a die, from a D4 to a D12. When a character does an action, the player rolls the appropriate die; a 4 or above is a success. In this special, the players have an extra D6 that they roll every time they roll an attribute die, they take the higher of the two values. Dice explode, meaning one can roll again if they get the highest number. The players are also given poker chips that they can spend to re-roll dice. In this one-shot, the combat rules have been heavily simplified to speed the game along. Jonny uses playing cards to determine initiative order.
- Alex rolls Stealth for Nathaniel to climb the steeple: 1 (fail).
- Bryn rolls Strength for Zeke to kick open the bank door: 9) (success)
- James rolls Smarts for Carl to find out whey there's so much money in the bank: 2 (fail)
- James rolls Intimidation for Carl to intimidate the bank teller: 4 (success)
- Alex rolls Notice for Nathaniel to see what's going on on the street: The D6 explodes: 10
- Ben rolls Notice for Cigarillo to see what's going on on the street: Both dice explode: 10
- Ben rolls Shooting for Cigarillo to shoot one of the deputies with a -2 penalty: 2 (fail)
- James rolls Shooting for Carl to shoot a deputy with a -3 penalty: 4 (success); 2D8 damage: 16
- James rolls Shooting for carl to shoot the sheriff: 5 (success); 11 damage
- Bryn rolls Intimidate to bellow very loudly: 2 (fail)
- James rolls Agility for Carl to safely get to his horse: 6; opposing roll mean he is slightly injured.
- James rerolls Agility: 8
- The party makes Ride rolls: 1 (Cigarillo), 6 (Zeke), 3 (Nathaniel), 3 (Carl)
- Alex rolls Notice to see the scratches: 10 (success)
- In between episodes, there has been some secret rolling between Alex and the thing that was once Blackjack.
- James rolls Smarts for Carl to realise that whoever took them on the job wasn't Blackjack: 8 (success)
- James rolls Tracking to notice the drag marks: 4 (success)
- James rolls Fighting to avoid being clawed: 7 (fail)
- Bryn rolls Fighting with a -4 penalty for Zeke to hit the monster in the pitch black: -4 (fail)
- Bryn re-rolls: 14 (D10 exploded; success); 16 damage
- Alex rolls Grit to not be terrified by the monster with a -5 penalty: 10 (success)
- Alex rolls Shooting for Nathaniel to shoot the monster: 5 (success); 13 damage
- Alex rolls Fighting with a -1 penalty: 4
- Ben rolls for Cigarillo to shoot the figure running in: 7 (success); 7 damage