Fish Out of Water

A Deadlands Adventure by Andrew J. Lucas


Townfolks always like the Sheriff, but precious few a' them take much of a shine to being one. It takes a whole lot of gumption to get up in the morning, knowing that all manner of trouble could be brewing. Trouble that you have to look square in the eye and ask it to hustle itself out of town. Knowing that any day some gunslinging hothead could blow into town with a six-shooter carrying that fateful bullet with your name on it. Heck maybe all six have your name on them, that's the breaks.

On a good day, you go home in one piece. On a better day, so do the rest of the townfolks. You do your job, knowing that the better you do it, the more attention you'll attract from better gunslingers, eager to make themselves a name by carving yours on a tombstone. Now you got to baby-sit some Canadian, who couldn't find his arse with both hands. Luckily, he's got you to lead him by the nose, into some of the most dangerous country this side of the Sierra Madres. They say the mounties always get their man, but sometimes getting yur man just gets yah a whole lot a trouble.

The Adventure

Fish Out of Water is designed to be an introductory adventure to Deadlands. New Marshals will find plenty of opportunities to hone their tale-telling, while new players become accustomed to each other's playing styles. The inclusion of Constable Weatherington will give the Marshal an opportunity to test the waters of the posse, so to speak, allowing the Marshal to instigate situations where the players can interact with the Constable and further develop their own player characters. Established Posses will enjoy the interaction with the numerous NPCs as an opportunity to further develop the attitudes of their characters.

The Story So Far

The story begins in the wild frontiers of British Columbia where a dangerous criminal has successfully robbed a train. The criminal, "Smiling" Phil Paxton, is the leader of a vicious gang of outlaws and rebels, who are fleeing British justice. The colonial government of Canada dispatched a single Northwest Mounted police constable to capture the outlaw and return him to stand trial. Unfortunately, "Smiling" Phil Paxton and his gang have fled into the states, where Canadian justice bears little weight.

This would be the end of the story, were it not for the fact that Paxton's gang has been implicated in the Louis Riel rebellion in Manitoba and has strong ties with the Indian nation. Furthermore, the train the gang robbed carried a shipment of military supplies destined for Fort Calgary. The governments of both countries fear that Paxton may be intending to arm the local tribes and spark an Indian war. Twelve cases of rifles, a small-bore cannon and enough ammunition to make the army worried, have been taken across the border and are believed to be making their way into the hands of the some of the most violent tribes in the entire southwest.

Constable Weatherington
Full stats are provided for Jeffrey as the characters will have the most interaction with this Canadian lawman and the Marshal running the adventure may need access to all his attributes.

Cognition: 4d8
Trackin': 2
Knowledge: 1d10
Academia: 2
Language: 1 (Haida)
Medicine: 2
Mien: 2d10
Animal Handlin': 1
Smarts: 2d8
Scroungin': 2
Survival: 2
Tinkerin': 1
Spirit: 2d6
Guts: 2
Deftness: 4d12
Shootin': 3 (Pistol)
Shootin': 1 (Rifle)
Throwin': 1
Nimbleness: 4d10
Dodge: 3
Fightin': 3
Horse Ridin': 2
Strength: 2d12
Quickness: 3d10
Quick Draw: 1
Vigor: 1d8
Wind: 14
Edges n' Hindrances
Loyal: 3
Oath: 4 (Always gets his man)
Self Righteous: 3
Keen: 3
Lawman: 1 (Only in Canada, pity)
Renown: 3
Two Fisted: 3
Constable Weatherington wears the blue uniform of the North West Mounted Police at all times, complete with trademark striped black pants and white pith helmet. He takes his responsibilities very seriously and is extremely loyal to those he befriends and the crown he serves. He is a very proud man, which is reflected in his care for his uniform and other equipment. His boots are as spitshined as he can manage given his environment, and his tunic is always buttoned. Jeffrey's only concession to his surroundings are a pair of non-regulation quick-draw holsters for his twin Peacekeepers and a long trailduster to keep his uniform clean.

Jeffrey travels with a pie-eyed stallion he affectionately calls "Freddie." Freddie is usually loaded down with two saddle bags of trail rations, rope, extra ammunition, canteens and Jeffrey's Winchester rifle. Freddie's life is hard, but he seems to genuinely like Jeffrey's company.

The Setup

The easiest way to work the players into the adventure is to have them hired by Constable Weatherington to lead him to Paxton's hideout. Of course, Weatherington doesn't know where that might be, but he does realize that he needs help. The constable knows that he is out of his element and that the Unites States of America is nothing like the British colony where he was born. In Canada, Jeffrey would know exactly how to track down the Paxton gang, or anyone else for that matter. Here he's a fish out of water and knows it. Weatherington might have heard of the posse's previous adventures from Canadian authorities or perhaps he has heard tall tales of the group's exploits.

Jeffrey could approach the group as equals and offer the chance of a glorious adventure chasing a notorious outlaw. If it is pointed out that Paxton and his gang have committed no crimes in the states, he will simple shrug his shoulders and state in a patronizing tone -

"They will old boy, they will, mark my words."

If the players ask for some sort of pay, Jeffrey will be dumbstruck: the fact that local heroes require to be paid for doing the right thing is completely alien to him. Eventually he will tell the Posse,

"As a duly commissioned officer in the King's North West Mounted Police I am authorized to offer a bounty for the return of one Phillip Louis Paxton. The Crown will pay a bounty of $500 for the capture of said criminal dead or alive, and a further $25 for each of his gang."

Another way to work the party into the adventure is to have the Pinkertons or Texas Rangers hire the Posse to escort the Mountie on his mission. Either group would be wary of a Canadian lawman running around the country alone. If the players already have an affiliation with either agency it will be a simple matter to have their friends in high places order the team to assist the investigation. If the posse is not directly involved with the Rangers or Pinkertons, it may be necessary to have one of the groups hire them for the mission.

Chapter 1: On the Edge

Constable Weatherington believes that Paxton's gang is headed to a small town in California called Edge. The town used to be called Hopeful but since the great quake pitched a good part of the town into the ocean and left the remainder sitting on the lip of a huge precipice, the town has simply been called Edge. While dropping half the town into the sea could never be considered a good thing, the veins of ghost rock the cataclysm exposed did serve to revitalize the economy. Edge has been given a new lease on life. Prospectors, hustlers and drifters are attracted to the town seeking their fortune.

Paxton's sister Lara McFadden works in a saloon in Edge and Worthington believes that Paxton and his gang are traveling to meet up with his sister for some reason. If pushed the constable will reveal that the Paxton gang is in the possession of five cases of military rifles and a small-bore cannon, which he stole from a military shipment destined for Fort Kamloops. "Smiling" Phil Paxton is believed to be about to sell the rifles to the Indians in the area. The posse needs proof to stop Paxton and a possible Indian war.

In actual fact, Paxton has sold three of the rifle crates to a local general-store owner. He then purchased four pounds of ghost rock from a grizzled old prospector by the name of Muscatel Charlie, which he takes to a local blacksmith. The blacksmith powders the ghost rock into a fine sand, a very dangerous process, blending it with other minerals. The resulting colored powders are to be used by Owl Walking to raise the spirits of the dead that Paxton will command to destroy the town as a prelude to a new Indian war.

Edge provides the players with a number of opportunities to discover the Paxton Gang's plans, even though "Smiling" Phil is long gone:

Last Gulp Saloon
Lara McFadden, Phil's sister, works here. At one time, she and her husband Jack, owned a successful mining operation on the outskirts of town, employing 25 miners, including Lara's brother Phil. Phil loved his brother-in-law as is he were his own flesh and blood; many believed this was the only period of his life that Phil would describe as happy. When the great quake decimated the town, Lara's husband and 12 other miners were trapped in the mine. Lara & Phil rushed into town to get help, but the remaining half of the town was in flames and its people had their own problem.

Lara & Phil begged the townsfolk for help, but they ignored him, focusing upon their own problems. The miners perished and Phil rode out of town, swearing that he would return to wreak a terrible vengeance. Eventually the young boy drifted north into Canada and became known as "Smiling" Phil Paxton, for the grim smile that is perpetually etched on his face. Five years later he has returned, a bitter, violent man, with the will and power to enact his revenge.

After the accident, Lara tried to make the mine work, but the damage and the memories were too great. After a few months, she was forced to close it down permanently and take a job in the local saloon. She has been here ever since. She can seem cold and distant at times, filled with regret for her lost happiness, but is content with the hand life has dealt her.

Lara has accepted her loss and has put the past behind her where it belongs - until two days ago when her younger brother Phil drifted back into her life.

Phil has brought with him all the rage and pain he has been carrying with him all these years. Phil told her he was going to make them all pay. That he'd found a way to exact his revenge upon the townsfolk and a few days from now they would all be dead. Lara tried to reason with him, but he was crazed with hatred. They argued and Phil forced her to take $200 and left. The last thing he said to her was,

"If you ain't out o' town in two, three days max, I ain't goin' to be responsible for what happens!"

Lara is very worried that her little brother has been driven insane with rage. If the posse asks further she will tell them whatever she can to help. She remembers seeing Phil with two Indians, one called Pierre Oulett, a Metis Indian, who has a reputation as a gunfighter and another whom she has never seen before. She has seen Pierre hanging around the saloon since Phil left.

The other Indian was called Owl Walking and is some sort of Navaho shaman or somesuch. While Phil was talking to her, the second Indian was buying something from a prospector called Muscatel Charlie who's always in the saloon when he's not out digging up rocks. That's all she knows, other than the fact that her brother has been greatly changed since he left town.

If the posse wants to locate Muscatel Charlie, they will be able to find him very easily as he is lying across one of the tables in the saloon. When not out prospecting, he exercises his hankering for whiskey in the Last Gulp Saloon. If the players buy him a couple of drinks he will tell them whatever they want to know. If they buy him a bottle, he'll be their friend for life, not the kind of thing you want as he obviously hasn't showered in months and probably hasn't brushed his teeth for even longer.

A couple of weeks ago, Charlie struck a vein of ghost rock and has been living off the proceeds ever since. Course he didn't sell all his rock as the market is a little low right now, so he had plenty available when "Smiling" Phil Paxton's friend had come looking for some. The guy was a Navaho Indian, by the name of Owl Walking, who bought three pounds of ghost rock for $70 and a bottle of hooch. Charlie doesn't know what the Navaho wanted with the rock, except that he asked where the blacksmith was.

Pierre Oulett is also in the Last Gulp Saloon, with orders from Phil to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. He has also been told that at 6 p.m. tonight he is to get Lara and take her to the old Paxton mine. If she doesn't want to come, Phil has told him to force her, at gunpoint if necessary. When the posse enters the saloon, he will start trailing them around town to find out what they are up to. If the players are about to go after the Paxton gang, Pierre will rush back to the saloon and take Lara with him to the Mine. If the Posse confronts Pierre he will 'call out' any obvious gunfighter in the group and force them to duel him. In the event that the players refuse to duel him he will shrug nonchalantly, mutter "cest la vie" and gun them down in cold blood.

Romanov's Smithy
Ivan Romanov is a hulking Russian who used to be a sailor on a Spanish mining ship. A few years ago he jumped ship and settled in Edge, becoming the town's local blacksmith. Ivan knows nothing about the town's history or the Paxton gang. In fact, Ivan's English is halting at best and he seems content with being an outsider. If the posse asks about the Indian who visited him yesterday he will tell them everything he knows. Owl Walking came into the smithy with a bag of ghost rock and three bags of other assorted minerals. He paid $20 cash to have Ivan crush all the rocks on his anvil. While Ivan was grinding the ore, Owl Walking mixed the black ghost rock with the other minerals in very specific portions.

Ivan doesn't know what the rocks were for and didn't ask. If any of the players have Academia (Occult or Indian) or Arts, allow them to make a Fair(5) challenge to divine the use of the powdered rock. The other players can make a Hard(9) Knowledge challenge to get the same information. If a player succeeds he will realize that many Navaho shaman use powdered rock and colored sand to design intricate sand paintings, which they believe can open a gateway to the spirit world. Most sand paintings are thought to enhance the healing process when combined with certain rituals, but there are thousands of designs known to exist and all their purposes are not known.

Edge General Provisions & Telegraph Office
If the players enter the store looking for information or provisions, they will notice a display of new Winchester rifles. Constable Weatherington is sure that these weapons are from the shipment that the Paxton gang stole in Canada. If the posse interrogates the store's clerk, he will be provide them with all the information he knows: that Paxton and two Indians came into his store with three cases of 10 rifles, which the clerk bought for $100 dollars each. They then left the store heading for the Last Gulp saloon.

Sheriff Samuel Tempest knows of Paxton's arrival in Edge and doesn't want to see any trouble. However, the Paxton gang has not committed any crimes in the United States and are not considered outlaws here, so he is unable to take any action. Tempest has been sheriff here for only a single year and is only familiar with the Paxton family through town gossip. He believes that the family has had its share of bad luck, but won't let that stop him from doing his duty to protect the townsfolk. Many locals think the Sheriff is sweet on Lara McFadden, but only he knows for sure.

The indicated bounty should be added to the pot if the Posse successfully completes the following:

If the posse discovers that Phil Paxton has holed up at the old McFadden mine, add 2 points to the bounty pot. Learning that Owl Walking is preparing ingredients for a Sand Painting ritual adds 2 to the pot. Discovering that Pierre Oulett is tailing them and gun-fighting him will add 1.

Chapter 2: There's Lead in Them Hills!
Constable Weatherington and the posse now know the location of the Paxton Gang's hideout. Any of the locals can show the posse the correct path to the abandoned McFadden mine.

"It's about 12 miles thataways. At the far end of the box canyon. Now yous gots to be careful not to miss the proper entrance, cause there's only one way into or out of that canyon. Guess that's why Smiling Phil's gang holed up there, eh?"

Paxton has stationed one of his gang, Two Horses, near the rim of the narrow canyon leading to the Mine entrance. He is armed with a Winchester '73 and three sticks of dynamite. The walls of the canyon are 35 yards high and Two Horses is approximately 15 yards up the steep, sloping walls of the canyon. Once the Posse comes into view, he will throw one of the sticks of dynamite at them and then proceed to pick them off one by one with his rifle.

Two horses is behind a large boulder that provides partial cover (treat as if prone). The canyon slopes are difficult to climb, consisting of fine gravel and boulders of various sizes. Any attempts to scale this incline are an Onerous (7) climbing roll. Failed attempts result in the hero sliding back to the canyon floor and suffering 1d4 wind. A Botch results in a light wound and 1d6 wind.

The posse could flank Two Horses by traveling to the top of the canyon wall and then working their way down toward the mine entrance. Trying to sneak their way past Two Horses is a Hard (9) task, while simply bushwhacking him from above should be relatively easier.

If the characters successfully overcome the ambush, add 1 bounty to the pot. If they do so without alerting Paxton's Indian guard, add 2. On the other hand, if they successfully subdue Two Horses without firing a single round, give the lucky dogs 3.

Chapter 3: Abandon All Hope . . .
The Paxton mine was abandoned after the earthquake, and since then no one has taken the time to board up the entrance. It is obvious that a lot of activity has taken place in the mine recently. Lanterns have been lit along the mine shafts leading down into the belly of the mountain. As the posse enters the mine, the lanterns seem to beckon them deeper and deeper into the mine. Shadows jump at the players, sending cold chills down the spines of even the orneriest cowpoke. It is easy to follow the line of lanterns into the mine, scrambling over the loose rock. In the distance, the posse can hear the chanting of Owl Walking as he attempts to summon the spirits of the dead. As the group gets closer the tone of the chanting changes, taking on a frantic note. Something is going wrong . . .

The adventure culminates in a dramatic shootout in the abandoned mine where Paxton's allies are storing the remaining rifles and are attempting to summon the spirits of the dead miners to enact Phil's quest for retribution. Unfortunately, the ritual has been warped by Phil Paxton's desire for vengeance. Instead of summoning the spirits of the slain miners, Owl Walking has conjured an abomination from the hunting grounds. The creature is called a Soul Drinker and has been sustaining itself on the souls of the deceased miners and has been able to weaken the walls between the world and its mystical realm.

Once the posse arrives on the second level of the mine shaft, the creature will enter our world sensing the violence about to take place. Owl Walking is frantically trying to end the ritual, but to no avail. A shadowy form is materializing within the sand painting. If the posse is able to sneak up close to the Paxton gang, they will see "Smiling" Phil practically dancing with excitement, while Owl Walking's attention is fixed on the ritual that is going horribly wrong. Also present is "Dangerous" Don Oaks, another of Phil's gang, who is watching the ritual with obvious fear.

If the Posse did not face off with Pierre Oulett, he will also be present, as will Lara McFadden if Pierre had a chance to apprehend her. Two Horses may also be present if he survived the ambush he initiated in Chapter Two. If either of these gang members are present, the entire gang will be warned and waiting for the posse. Don Oaks and any surviving gang members will be at the mouth of the end shaft with pistols drawn, making it hard for the Posse to advance.

The moment the first shot, punch or spell is thrown, the Soul Drinker will rally enough strength to burst free of the sand painting. The creature will attack Owl Walking first, then move to the closest target. Phil Paxton has been driven mad by his lust for retribution and will attack the players, ignoring the Soul Drinker until it attacks him. The rest of the gang will try to flee past the posse to the safety of the surface.

If the posse destroys the Soul Drinker and survives to tell the tale, add 3 to the bounty pot. If they simply sealed off the entrance to the mine with dynamite or somesuch, give them only 2. Successfully saving Lara or any member of the Paxton gang will result in an additional 1 added to the pot for each rescue. "Smiling" Phil Paxton will not come easily and will fight to the death. Nevertheless, if the players rescue Phil without killing him, give them another 2 points.

Boot Hill

Lara McFadden - 'Smiling' Phil's Sister
Corporeal: 2d6
Quickness: 1d8
Mental: 2d10
Mien: 4d4
Persuasion: 3d4

Sheriff Tempest - Lawman
Corporeal: 2d8
Quickness: 1d10
Pistol: 3d8
Mental: 2d10
Peacekeeper: 3d6 (x2 "Two Fisted")

'Smiling' Phil Paxton - Gunslinger
Corporeal: 4d10
Quickness: 3d8
Pistol: 4d10
Rifle: 2d10
Mental: 3d8
Mien: 2d6
.36 Navy Pistol: 2d6
Winchester: 4d8

Owl Walking - Indian Shaman
Corporeal: 2d8
Quickness: 1d6
Pistol: 1d6
Spear: 2d6
Mental: 2d12
Mien: 2d10
Peacekeeper: 3d6
Spear: 3d6

Two Horses - Indian Warrior
Corporeal: 2d8
Quickness: 3d6
Pistol: 2d8
Rifle: 3d8
Mental: 2d10
Mien: 1d8
.36 Navy Pistol: 2d6
Winchester: 4d8
Dynamite: 3d20 (10 sticks)

Pierre Oulett - Metis Gunslinger
Quick Draw 3d12 Sneak 2d8
Pistol 5d8 Rifle 1d8
Mental:1d8 Mien:2d6
Peacekeeper 3d6
.36 Navy Pistol 2d6
Derringer .44 3d6 (in left boot)

'Dangerous' Don Oakes - Gunslinger
Corporeal: 3d6
Quickness: 3d12
Pistol: 2d6
Rifle: 3d6
Mental: 1d10
Mien: 2d8
Peacekeeper: 3d6
Winchester: 4d8
Dynamite: 3d20 (1 stick)

Soul Drinker - Abomination
Claws: 4d12/1d10+1d6(5d10/2d12+1d4)
Bite: 2d10/2d10+2d6 (3d8/3d10+2d4)
Brawling: 5 (6)
Hits: 45 (60)
Terror: 10 (12)

Special Abilities:
The Soul Drinker is a creature that exists only to devour the souls of those who died in torment. When summoned from its home dimension, the creature exists in both our reality and its own world until it takes three lives, at which point it fully enters our world. If the creature kills three people, eating their souls at the moment of death, it can fully manifest in our reality, becoming even more deadly. When this occurs, use the abomination's bracketed stats.

While the soul drinker's summoning pictograph is intact, the creature suffers only 1/2 damage from any type of attack. This includes physical, magical or ranged attacks. This ability is negated once the sand painting suffers 10 points of damage from any source. A thin strand of colored smoke connects the Soul Drinker to the sand painting, which consists of burning ghost rock and multi-colored powdered rock. Severing this strand with a successful hit negates the incorporeal ability for one round, before the strand rematerializes and the creature regains its ability.

Soul Blast Huxster Power
Soul Eater (5) Harrowed power
A harrowed who ingests the soul drinker's essence gains the ability to project smoke from their mouth and eyes, by spending one action. The magical smoke provides the equivalent of 2 armor and is dense enough to obscure the harrowed from sight. In all other respects, the smoke produced is like natural smoke and will dissipate in two combat turns. Note the smoke will obscure the harrowed's sight as well, unless he has the Cat Eyes power at minimum level 2.

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