Monday, April 11, 2011

In Which The Warlock Achieves Pathos...

It's been a while since I've spent some time talking about my Deadlands game.  To be honest, it's been a while since we've actually been able to play in my Deadlands game!  Things seem to keep getting in the way, between WittCon, Wittenberg's spring break, and other interferences, it seemed like ages since we actually got to sling some dice!

Following the explosion of the San Juan Express, the PCs found themselves marooned, hungry and cold, on the banks of the Arkansas river along the Purgatoire River Gorge.  Their gear fouled, they began searching around...only to find that Pablo Morales, one of Reverend Jacobson's beloved flock, had gone missing.  Fearing treachery, the group sought to find him, but were stymied by the potential prescence of the infamous Wicheta Witches, now armed with Hellstrome Industries gatling-weapons.

Black Thirteen, in all its terrible glory...
But that's not where their troubles ended!  Found by a fallen priest named Donald Callahan (Wolves of the Calla, anyone?), they were alarmed to find that he was, in fact, from an entirely different world--one in which some fellow named Ronald Reagan was president, and the Union won the Civil War!  Further, Callahan was in possession of Black Thirteen--the corrupted black orb of Maerlyn's Rainbow, which had powers far beyond that of Maerlyn's Grapefruit, the orb Roxanne Butler stole from Jeremiah Riggins.

And, if that's not bad enough? Callahan bore even more bad news--Roxanne was possessed by the manitou spirit of Josiah Riggins, and would give birth to an often-feared demonic child, if the spirit were to stay within her.  The only place nearby to exorcise the demon?  The North Church Cemetery chapel, in Derry's Ford.

Oh, yes. A town called Derry. In a game based on a Stephen King book.
Naturally, this brought the inevitable confrontation with the vampire lord Kurt Barlow, who rallied the town's vampires against Pere Callahan once more.  A murder of crows burst through the church, followed by some of Barlow's thugs....then Barlow himself, leaping through the stained-glass window onto the altar where Roxanne lay. 

The melee that followed may well have been the most difficult that I've run in this campaign, on both sides.  Wound chips flew back and forth, as Barlow and Callahan grappled over Black Thirteen.  Xu Lei and Yukon Cornelius pulled out the old "Throw-then-shoot the dynamite" trick, before whipping out their swordcane and hellfire carbine, respectively.  Roxanne slipped her bonds and started casting with Maerlyn's Grapefruit...only to have her perennial nemesis, cousin Wilbur Whateley, arrive on scene.

RIP, Rev. Elijah Jacobson. October 1, 1879
All this was just too much for poor Elijah Jacobson.  His flock panicking, the sight of the hideous Barlow leaping through the stained-glass, fangs bared, overtaxed his heart.  A failed Guts roll, and an ill-timed Natural 20 on the fear chart....Rev. Jacobson was down for the count.  Nine grueling rounds later, both Barlow, his vampiric henchmen, and Whateley were dead...but so was the good reverend.

Driving home afterwards, the PlatinumChick turned to me and said, "Y'know, I feel really bad about him dying."  In character, Roxanne and the Reverend often butted heads, primarily due to her "sinful profession", but in the end, he died while attempting to save her...

"Call no man happy who is not dead!"
The Greeks define Pathos as the "feeling of pity" one feels, typically accompanying the suffering and fall of a tragic hero.  Truly, the late Reverend Jacobson was exactly that.  Leading his flock across the Weird West, hoping desperately to find his dearest Annabelle, Jacobson faced horrors beyond reckoning.  While his quest led him across the western states and brought great good to many, his ultimate goal of destroying the fiend Grimme was never met.  Annabelle remains lost.  And, in the end, the Dark Tower eludes him...

A few entries ago, we spoke about the depth of death within the scope of roleplaying.  Truthfully, Jacobson's death makes for a fine example of this. 
Ever want to evoke true emotion?  Don't be afraid to let the chips fall where they may...

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