To Boldly Go (Lasers and Feelings play report)

I used the same adventure setup as I did this time.  Here is the theme song.

The CrewShip-graphic-310x175

  • Captain Temket was a bloodstained woman who was reluctantly upholding the family name.
  • First Officer Devlin was a regulations-oriented espionage junkie first officer.
  • Doctor Briffin was a curious professional eager to solve weird space mysteries.
  • Lt. Commander 3 of 7 was a recovered Borg science officer, savvy and enthusiastic about meeting sexy space aliens. (The Borg expanded her horizons to what that could mean.)

They crewed the Space Federation Starship Komodo. It was previously found adrift, all crew vanished except for bloodstains. After a tow back to spacedock, it was refitted and recrewed; probably nothing wrong.

The Komodo was also equipped with a transporter relay system; it could use the transporter beam to set up a beacon, and from there send out another beacon, and therefore transport molecular signatures over vaster distances before reconfiguring them.

Three of Seven also brought some Borg tech to enhance integration and data mining of sensors, so they were tremendously more efficient than average arrays.

The Mission

The Komodo was headed to the Erkelliash Nebula Pulse Cluster, a peculiar dwarf star phenomenon that interferes with ship sensors. They were to use their specialized scanning gear to try and understand why, and adapt that tech for ship cloaking.


On the way out, they were to stop at Starbase 482. They discovered it had been hit by raiders, and they scanned for which way the raiders went. Turns out it was a single ship, with poor shielding and inferior weapons. They determined there were no survivors on the space station, and lay in a pursuit course, with the intent to swoop around and confront the ship from another direction. Over the course of scanning the raider’s trail, they noted it dropped out of warp more than once, as though trying to address a problem.

Then they got a distress signal from the freighter Navi, under attack by a raider. The Komodo dropped out of warp out of the raider sensor range, and used their relay transporters and enhanced scanners to look the raider ship over, then transport out the contents of a junk room near the bridge and drop the First Officer and a boarding party in that room.

Devlin wanted to disable the escape pods first, but found that something beat him to it with a dose of molecular acid. He relayed that information back, and the Komodo scanned the raider ship more carefully, finding that the engine shielding had nearly failed, and there were other signs of damage across the ship. Considering the Navi was unarmed, and the space station had not inflicted the damage, they realized there was something else.

Another more careful scan of the ship detected two odd life forms on the outside of the ship, and some similar but different forms too. The cargo stolen from the starbase was bolted to the hull, so there were plenty of places for the life forms to stay out of sight.

Devlin launched a raid on the bridge, mowing down the raiders and only losing one security ensign (with another injured.) The raiders had gum-like skin, flexible, with redundant organs surfacing as needed. Their arms could split from two to four, and they put up a fight before they went down. (Scans indicated that only a few were left, so a number of them had died somehow.)


Since the Navi was registered under Federation protection, the captain sent a repair crew to work on their ship. Meanwhile Devlin was responsible for disconnecting cargo containers for the Komodo to reel in and salvage. Uneasy, the captain only gave him half an hour to do this; she sensed something about the aliens and decided they were evil.

One was hiding in the exhaust vent, so Devlin boosted output and flash-fried it. The other tried to hide, so they let it think it succeeded. They went out to salvage, and sensors tracked the critter moving around to ambush them. They slew it in phaser cross-fire, witnessing first hand the effect of its acid blood on a cargo pod.


Now free of the threat, they continued the salvage. Doctor Briffin piloted a medical drone across the empty void, and discovered an open container that had come from an archeological expedition by the Probiri on Daluvian IV. Its quarentine seal had not been broken until the raiders got it. Inside, the probe found empty eggs, as well as plinths and other basalt stone structures with odd glyphs on them. An egg opened, and a face hugger tried to get the drone, then fell off and scarpered across the hull. The drone followed it, and stunned it to death.

By now the science officer and captain realized what the doctor was up to. They granted permission to bring the dead thing aboard and dissect it (for science!) and the captain recalled the first officer, towed the ship some distance away, and blew it to bits.

Something Elsepredator

By now they had combed through the footage from the engineering team they left in the wreck of the space station, and confirmed there was only a single raider. The captain’s instinct picked up something else, and she ordered the ship scanned inside and out. The scans did not pick up anything unusual, but blind luck did notice a flicker in the star field. A cloaked ship was nearby.

They maneuvered to see if it followed, and determined it was not interested in the Navi or them. 3 of 7 detected it scanning the debris field, focusing on remains of the acid-blood aliens. They hailed the cloaked ship, and it reluctantly decloaked.

They communicated via images, it beamed them pictures of the darkshells and they beamed images back of what they scanned. They were invited aboard the ship, so the captain and the doctor went.

There the transthink mutation began quickly working to establish verbal communication with the race that self-identified as “the Hunters.” Once they established that everyone was on board with slaying the darkshell aliens, things relaxed. The doctor chatted up the smallest one, who identified as “Angry.” The captains agreed to swap some transporter tech for some cloaking tech. Things almost fell through when the doctor accidentally threatened the hunters by offering to take samples (they interpreted those as trophy collecting) but diplomacy won out, and the first contact ended well.

The game lasted 2:30. I thought I had a 3 hour slot, but it was actually a 4 hour slot, so I shortchanged my poor players by an hour and a half. They were very efficient with this adventure, and I did not bring a backup.

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Many Masks of Lace Falls (Second Run)

I ran this adventure once before for an online crew, but enjoyed running it again for the Greater KC RPG Day folks.

lace fallsSir Atticus Bellows hired sixty veterans to mount an assault on a fey quiet point. Thrustus, a fey knight famed for hunting soldiers, created Lace Falls as his palace. It presides over where the Missouri River falls into a massive basin created in one of the fey battles. Quiet for a year now, it is time to assault it and get what gear can be got. One guilder for signing on, four more upon survival (and you can keep one item from the palace.)

A team of six formed.

  • Cpl. Meryl Nelson, a tough leader with a scarred face and the ability to communicate telepathically if touching. She wore a glamour mask all the time.
  • Roan Durson, a vigorous young man specializing in melee weapons, also wearing a glamour mask.
  • Randy Sumter, a somewhat frail man with a really big gun and a glamour mask.
  • Reginald Throckmorton III, a sort of upperclass mindset overlaying his experience. He possessed a sword that, when drawn, allowed all those near him to breathe normally regardless of the circumstances. He had an apprentice named Hubert.
  • Kelly Marte, a rugged soldier focused on succeeding in looting.

Twenty vets would attack from the east bridge, twenty from the west, and twenty from small boats on the river. Nelson took leadership of the team, after Throckmorton tried but was found a bit too stuffy and entitled to run the op. She wanted to be coming from the west, the sun at their backs. Because the team had three glamour masks, they were put at the front of the assault (since they could see through fey illusions and resist mind control.)

Through the Wytherwitch Weed

They knew about how the weed functioned, how it hid just out of reality until they came near. The glamour masks could see it, so Sumter lined up his Redcapper and Nelson ran close enough to trigger its emergence; a hail of gunfire blew apart the node that allowed it to operate.

Meanwhile weed from under the bridge furled up and attacked those behind them. They raced ahead, and the weed took out Throckmorton and almost knocked down Durson, who was too tough to fall. They pushed through the last couple nodes, and rested just outside the massive palace to bandage their wounds.

As they were rested, ten of the survivors caught up to them, needing rest in turn. Throckmorton demanded the other warriors give up gear if the crew was to take point, and the other warriors reluctantly parted with a grenade, some rope, some knives, and other such equipment (which was loaded onto Hubert.)

Glassic Attack

Inside, they saw another small group had entered the cathedralesque central chamber. The stained glass window panes began sliding down, and the characters opened fire. As a massive stained glass golemish thing was forming, Throckmorton threw a grenade, and it was pulled into the predatory thing, and blew it to bits. Half the glassic was knocked down in a fell blow, and the rest split to attack the hapless trio downstairs and the characters.

A withering hail of fire slowed one glassic as the other two advanced into melee range. Desperate action blew them to pieces with minimal damage to the crew. Meanwhile, the other trio retreated, glassics in pursuit.

As the crew rested again, they watched the weed on the back of the building wiping out the small boats, and figured they made a good decision go cross the bridge instead.


Using their glamour masks, they saw that dozens (maybe hundreds) of wyrd threads all converged in a concealed spot by the roof’s center. Durson was able to focus his will enough to attune with a thread, and cut it. Several characters fired on the ambiguous center to the network of invisible strings. At that point, three marionette-like Tellurian Special Forces corpses bounded up over the balcony and attacked with bayonets!

They were creepy, and the crew lost their nerve, temporarily paralyzed by fear. The corpses cut down Nelson and Marte, and Throckmorton and Hubert utterly failed to restore morale by yelling and slapping their allies. Nelson managed to touch Durson’s foot and telepathically give him courage, and bayonet stabbing quickly granted an adrenaline rush to the wavering crew that was prepared to run.

One of the corpses sprouted a long black twig-like limb, which popped open with a pre-woven spiderweb that acted as a sounding board, and taunted the crew.

Hitting back hard, the standing warriors knocked the corpses down. After they won, Throckmorton decided something must be done about the puppetmaster in the roof, so he tried to climb a rafter. He slipped and fell, all six stories to smash on the paving below; his firebomb shattered, and he gave himself a viking funeral. Hubert resolved to become the man Throckmorton wanted him to be.

As they tended their wounded, the survivors from the bridge came in. They immediately were forced to do battle with some weird web-and-skeleton masked figures, and during the distraction the crew realized the thing holding all the strands had retreated to the second balcony, which was supposed to be invisible from any angle but its own level. They passed the panting and injured soldiers who had fought the web corpses to a standstill, intending to take the masks from the fallen, but seeing the masks were haunted. Crushing all three, they did their best to ignore the web-skeleton-body constructs, and they closed in on the second balcony.

The Thing Behind the Throne

Some shot from far away, hitting the spider-thing that crawled by the throne that held the twelve foot tall fey prince Thrustus, hunter of men. Others moved some distance, firing. Only Hubert ran right up to the prince, hoping to grab his spear.

Some warriors realized the prince was only a puppet. The masks strapped to him were not active, not in use, not serving as life energy batteries. As Hubert heroically stabbed the prince puppet, Nelson hurled herself over the throne and fired from midair, knocking the spider-thing down further. As the puppet hesitated, Hubert “killed” it as Durson backed Nelson up and blew the spider thing away, while Sumter chopped off some of its fingers.

Victorious (and lacking the heart to tell Hubert he did not, in fact, kill the fey prince) they took masks as their trophies and let Hubert keep the spear. (It ignores armor and hit points, damaging strength directly.) The day was won, and they got paid.

The session ran 2:45 with one casualty–fortunately the character who had randomized a servant who was an entirely playable character. There was another adventure on deck, but with little more than an hour to go, the players opted to call it a day.

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Greater KC RPG Day!

Today I’m attending the Greater KC RPG day. I’m running a session of Lasers and Feelings in the morning, and Into the Odd in the afternoon. I’m hoping to meet lots of great people at this event! Also, I’m giving out the address of my blog here.

greater kc rpg dayHere is a look at my Into the Odd setting that is under development, with reference documents. It is a work in progress, but you are welcome to use what I have and adapt it to your own nefarious ends. The original game is here.

Here is my expanded Lasers and Feelings material. The original game is here, and the portraits are here.

I will update this page with links to play reports as they are finished.

Boldly Go had four players for 2:30.

The Many Masks of Lace Falls had five players for 2:45.

Many thanks to Beth, Brian, Matt, Jeremiah, Matt, DaNay, Kelsey, and especially Angela (who played in both my games!) I hope to play with you all again at some point.

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First time on Roll d20.

Lace Falls screen shot

I lacked the technical know-how to insert a floor plan on the map level, but I like what I ended up with better anyway. It would not work for all scenarios, but it worked for this one. I made a token for Team One (You can see it in the middle, in one of the towers) and then under the heading “Team One” they put their characters.

We referred back and forth between the evocative picture and a top-down area sketch of the areas in the picture, so that kept the art forefront in their imaginations as we went. I think that worked pretty well.

I advised them how to use their circles on their tokens, you can see that in the text on the lower left.

I put the unused tokens for characters under my “fog of war” area, also the pre-prepared monster tokens. So when I needed a monster, I dragged it out of the fog to where the players could see it. If I needed more than one, I copy pasted it. When I was done with the monster, it went back into the fog. I planned on that being very abstract, but they sometimes arranged their tokens around it for relative positioning. All in all, I think it worked out pretty well.

Another document in the background was a shared Googledoc that I pre-set with a miniature character sheet and some character creation guidance. We were going to fill that in when we started, but since I linked to it ahead of time (and character creation is, to understate, PRETTY EASY,) the characters were pretty much made before we started.

Characters ItO Lace Falls

Under that, this text:

Character generation: roll 3d6 for each ability score. You may swap any two scores.

STRENGTH: fighting, fortitude, toughness.

DEXTERITY: Stealth, athletics, reflexes.

WILLPOWER: Confidence, discipline, and charisma.

Start with 1d6 hit points, a measure of the ability to avoid life-threatening damage.

Everyone in the expedition has: 1 combat knife (1d6), 1 lantern, basic climbing gear and 30 feet of rope, mapping kit, camping equipment, and 5 days rations. (Tellurian military surplus)

Those starting with guns get 30 bullets that fit each gun.

I put out an open call for players in my G+ circles and figured I’d get maybe 5-6, with 1-2 cancellations; enough to game. I got NINE YES REPLIES, which was astonishing to me. I wondered if I could do it, or if I was being too ambitious, but I decided to take a crack at it. In the last six hours before the game I had three cancellations, and even six was a lot of people to try and manage spotlight time, but I think it turned out great.

I also have a G+ circle of people who want to be notified next time I put together an expedition Into the Odd. It has 29 people in it. This one is likely to make it to the table again, I think.

In the meantime, my ongoing development of the setting continues here.

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Many Masks of Lace Falls: Into the Odd

I had a great group of six (!) players for my first attempt at a Roll d20 game. They took on the possibly abandoned fey fortress on Lace Falls, on the Missouri River.


Sixty veterans were hired by Sir Atticus Bellows to mount an assault on the fortress. It was previously the fortress of Thrustus, a fey knight who hunted humans for sport. The site was festooned with wytherwitch weed, a common fire-and-forget scorched earth technique the fey used. He is almost certainly not home, but his trophies may be, so it was worth exploring. One guilder to make the attempt, and four for each survivor.

Twenty vets attacked on small boats, coming from the north. Twenty came across the east bridge, and twenty (including our characters) on the west bridge.

As they attacked, the wytherwitch manifested and tried to drain them; the ex-soldiers found the pods feeding the tendrils and killed them. One of them, a one-eyed melee warrior named Hayes, swung down on a rope to cut down the last of it that the guns didn’t get. Passing other wounded and retreating warriors, the crew grimly closed in on the catheralesque fortress.

Glassic Attack

They got in to the top balcony in a big central chamber, to see the stained glass panels sliding down and coalescing into killing machines. They combined bombs and gunfire to try and shatter them, and Hayes raced down to the floor to fight a mass that threatened other teams. When he was knocked down by a combination of friendly fire and cutting surfaces, the team leader Oliver more-or-less bungeed down to help out, and was promptly cut down by the fey construct.

Finally they managed to put it down, bloody and battered. They saw the other fights had moved elsewhere, so they rested a bit. They were approached by odd bundled corpse-like marionette things of dead soldiers, who popped out twig bundles with pre-built spiderwebs in them. They gunned the abominations down. Shaken and uneasy, they continued into a tower.

Trophy Masks

They found masks with the dying essence of the victim trapped inside, in the same room with silk and bone constructs. Probably shouldn’t let those meet! They fired on a mask that floated across the room, and set all the constructs on fire, then retreated from the thick smoke.

On the middle balcony, they saw the 12 foot tall frame of the fey knight, wrapped in a dozen trophy masks including a glamor mask on his face. By now they suspected some kind of puppet master, as several things they fought seemed to be under remote control. They kept a keen eye out for the one pulling the strings. A bush by the throne was festooned in spiderweb, and was used as a sounding board to taunt them.

In the meantime, they found the throne could only be seen from this level, not the level above or below. They fired on the knight, but found the results unsatisfying. They went upstairs and got a glimpse of the puppet master, a spider/centaur/man thing. They fired blind on where they thought it might be, then pulled back warily, still cloaked in the smoke from the fire downstairs.

Puppet Master

While they were debating, the knight leaped up to the balcony to fight them, spear in hand! Hayes retreated to the throne, where he found the spider man thing, who was muttering that surely the combat would wake the master (like he couldn’t accept his master was dead.) Hayes battled the spider thing with a mad rush, and Oliver rappelled down to help him out, while the others fought the knight to a standstill.

The spider man thing fired out thorns, knocking Oliver down but not stopping Hayes. Meanwhile the massive cannon Gilbert toted around continued firing at foes, helping knock the knight down (though it was his cut strings that did him in.)

They found that the knight’s corpse was a puppet that his servant was using, trying to get him to come back to life by staging a proper bloody battle. Cutting open the knight and the spider thing were both unpleasant tasks.

Each adventurer took a single mask, and headed back to report their success. They were paid four guilder each, and they became properly seasoned adventurers. (And Marcus bought Oliver a proper rappelling harness.)

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What About Bastion?

From the description of the city of Bastion in the “Into the Odd” book:

Bastion is the self-proclaimed capital of civilization. Its skies are black with smoke and its streets bustling with residents from every corner of the world. Vast factories produce mass goods and new prototypes.

Mobs flood Bastion’s streets with hanged corpses in their search for otherworldly impostors. Meanwhile, countless star cults have vastly different beliefs and agendas, rarely coexisting peacefully.

In the official Into the Odd setting there is but one significant city, and that is Bastion. Here are ten things to remember about the city. Sure, you may hear of the Golden Lands and other such places to go, but Bastion is the center of humanity in all ways.

industrial_rev_housingIn my Tellurian setting, Bastion is a prison.

Captives and prisoners of war during the long eight years of the Arcanum War were all relegated to this massive urban setting. Take a cue from Dark City; it is unknowable because the city changes. It is also unknowable because the fey have a direct port into the minds of all those who drink the water and eat the food of this place, and if something is not to be known or remembered, it is not known or remembered.

Hopesend Port? Some people have vague memories of going there, and it was an awful place. Because the prison is stronger if no one tries to escape.

Then take a cue from the Matrix; humans are imprisoned there, and offer up their lives and energies more often than they realize, but to keep them from revolting they must believe it. They must believe Bastion is the world, not an alien prison. So, it suits the fey to give them all the worst they expect from each other, and a limited flavor of the best.

Bastion was designed to be so vague it requires customization, which reveals something of your Referee. I’m riffing off that to suggest that Bastion is so vague because the fey decided to give the humans the prison they deserve. Bastion is the result; they have made it what it is, with the good and the evil that goes along with that.

The High Council rules Bastion, and is also the Delicate Court of Walls (a decidedly Unseelie flavor of the fey.) They keep the city’s secrets from all but the insane or the watchful rebels that penetrate the ruse. They feast on the forgotten and they are delirious on the waves of misery and lust that roil up from the stone cages that their prisoners pay each other to occupy.

Humanity reveals itself as an ouroboros, its food chain a snake eating its own tail. There are those who struggle for the greater good, but if you scratch their veneer hard enough you see their crusade is for their own self image, or for the good of their tribe. The ruthless seek to concentrate wealth and power and comfort in their own hands, and those who lack their focus end up in awful circumstances, bewildered by the harshness of it all but pathetically grateful for a pittance that allows survival and shelter.

Now and then a remarkable thinker, a bright soul, a true visionary rises up to show the people a better way.

Those people disappear in Bastion without a trace.


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The Devil, John Moulton (Part 1)


I agreed to playtest this game, even though it’s been out for quite a while. I understand there’s a revision in the works. Well, I love to help with playtesting games. I got a couple stalwart players to help out in an online game, and off we went!

Erasmus Bower was a moral and upright man, the sheriff of Ugly Buffalo. His son Francis went bad, becoming a murderer, just for fun. Then Francis (or Franco, as he prefers to be called) met a husky-voiced stranger who offered to graft a demon to him, to satisfy his urges in new creative ways. The young man gleefully accepted the offer, and gained the power to turn people inside out, either explosively or with the slow bloom of peeling flesh and skin.

Sheriff Bower was distressed, but could he kill his own son? And would any prison hold the witch? Still, the net of the law closed around the young man, and he was to be tried and hanged by the neck until dead. Frantic when faced with the prospect of losing his son, Bower broke his moral code and stole some evidence, hoping to stave off his son’s execution. He was caught, and imprisoned in turn. Bitter and terrified at what could happen now, Bower was distraught already before the slim stranger stepped into the gaol and offered him freedom, for the price of a couple demons riding his soul. Bower accepted, gaining the ability to supernaturally track anyone (as long as he stole something of theirs first) and also the ability to condemn anyone, so demons dragged them to Hell in front of everyone. (Of course, as a catch, an innocent soul is released from Hell the first time he uses this power.)

Too late, Moulton whispered to Bower that he made a deal with Franco, too. Betrayed and furious, Bower swore to track Moulton down and put an end to his deals and his damnation, to punish him for corrupting Francis. He heard the warlock was headed to Coyote Creek, so he gave chase.

Meanwhile, Marrion Belton Manley was a gunfighter. His father was abusive, and he went too far one night. As Marrion’s mother lay dying, she made the young man promise he would kill his father, to avenge her. He swore he would. Intimidated by his terrifying father, he labored under a sense of fair play, and his father beat him within an inch of his life. Shamed and afraid, Manley ended up burning down the whole town to conceal the cowardly attack that he launched to kill his father. He fled the ruin of Sandy Corners.

Injured and possibly dying, he made it a ways before collapsing. On the one hand, he needed to get word to his mother that he succeeded. On the other hand, now that he killed his father he knew he was going to Hell, and he did not want to do that under any circumstances! He was obsessed with survival, maybe even forever, when the crunch of John Moulton’s boots announced the warlock’s presence.

Moulton grafted a demon to Manley’s soul, allowing him to take in the life energy of others to assure his own survival.

Feeling more damned than ever, and sensing the Hellfire waiting below, Manley determined he would end the devil, John Moulton. He followed the warlock to Coyote Creek.

At Coyote Creek, both Manley and Bower tracked down the witch Mazie Hester, who was a nun that eavesdropped on confessions, and had the power to lock people in illusions in their own minds. They put paid to her mischief, and as they were considering their next move, they followed the signs to Cripple Creek.

By now they knew some of the signs that attended the movements of John Moulton. Wherever he went, there were slow and gruesome cattle mutilations (like what Franco Bower was able to do.) Also, the water would start to smell of sulfur, and a little algae would turn it red with lumps, like viscera. Still, it was difficult to sneak up on Moulton; he could smell the shadows of all the witches that made deals with him, so it was impossible to approach him with the element of surprise. Still, with the death of Hester, they discovered that Moulton marked all his witches with a tattoo of the suicide king. Now they could identify their marks.

There they met Percy, a little boy. He escaped from a child slavery ring in a coal mine in Mournful Brook. The signs lined up. Time to go. They left Percey in Cripple Creek and headed out to try and catch up to the devil John Moulton.

The Approach

As they reached the point halfway between Cripple Creek and Mournful Brook, a wicked sandstorm blew up out of nowhere, savaging them and killing their horses. They hid and were buried by rocks, but the storm exhausted itself. Shortly after, an old prospector named Finder dug the dazed and overwhelmed hunters out and escorted them towards town.

He explained he had a gambling debt with the mayor/sheriff/big guy, “Shark” Nelson. If they could get him to forget the debt, Finder would consider them to be even for him saving their lives. Then he sloped off, and they headed down to main street.

There they saw a ragged old preacher mumbling to himself. He sniffed, yelled “Witches!” and came up with a rusty old gun. Bower reacted fast, whipping his gun out and firing into the old priest’s forearm, blowing the gun apart and crippling him. Only quick action on Manley’s part kept the old priest from dying on the spot. While Manley was hard at work staunching the blood, Shark Nelson approached Bower and congratulated him on his self-defense.

The wavering old barber and some of his lads took the old priest off, and everyone else convened in the public house. Shark chatted them up, making no secret of his power in town and his exploitation of the people, but hoping to attract a railroad nearby with the coal mine; railroads were the key to greater wealth. Shark seemed to think Bower was the one to talk to, and Manley was an underling.

Shark invited Bower to the poker game (which would no doubt please Finder, who wanted Bower to deal with his debt situation with Shark.) Talking about the preacher, he noted that the old man had taken to accusing everyone of witchcraft; himself, the mine foreman, everyone. The newcomers. Hah, what a joke!

The door burst open, and a Texan came in with guns blazing; Bower and Manley took cover, letting Shark handle himself. When the bullets stopped flying, Shark sent men after the Texan, who was sprinting away. Something about confusing him for a wanted man in Texas, which is obvious nonsense. The Texan was let off with a warning before; this time he’ll get warned to death.

Demon Sign

The hunters took their leave, intensely disliking Shark. They saw the liquid in the alcohol was not corrupted by Moulton, so they wanted to check the modest water tower. Climbing it, they found it was indeed corrupt. Also, enough of the algae growing together could serve as a body for a spirit; it hauled itself up to talk to them, mistaking them for Moulton because it smelled his demonic energy on them.

Bower told it to wait, and tried to drain the tower (it plugged the hole.) The hunters withdrew, badly shaken from seeing the monster, and not sure what to do with it. Drain the tower? Knock it down? Leave it alone?

They heard cattle screaming, and jogged over to investigate. Turns out it was a cow giving birth. Linda West was managing the birth process, while a couple of her “assistants” looked on. Manley jumped in to help out, feeling far less sullied by this process than by the water tower. He chatted up the veterinarian, Linda West, who expressed her frustration with the town. With the corrupt sheriff/mayor who showed up with ill-gotten wealth years ago and turned it into local power. With the useless priest and his useless parish. She confirmed that two weeks ago, full moon, was when the coyotes and cougars acted strangely aggressive. The water went bad. There have been a number of still-births since then too (this cow was lucky.)

The afternoon was fading, so they got directions to the priest’s chapel and headed out to look the place over. It was elevated off the ground on stumpy pillars, and they heard snakes under the church. They looked the neglected place over, noting the broken windows and signs of wildlife. His room was spare and basic; Bower took his sermon notes for analysis. He also saw the bible was marked up with charcoal, emphasizing demon passages and crossing out whole pages elsewhere. He took the Good Book too.

As they were leaving, they heard a rattlesnake right under the front porch steps. Manley leaped out and confronted the snake, noting it was yellow and burgundy, with human eyes. It evaded his gunshots and bit his leg. The poison super-charged the demon inside him, and he heard Moulton whisper into his mind that he didn’t appreciate being pursued like this.

Bower tried to help, cutting at the wound and draining it; some venom spattered on his hand, burning, and sent out his pain and injury and flesh as a beacon for some monster to follow and destroy. They could feel Moulton’s smug satisfaction as Manley struggled, unsteady with demonic energy, and something began unfurling to hunt Bower.

No time for that now. They had a poker game to attend.

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