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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Wyrding West Dust Devils  (Read 2424 times)

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.

« on: October 03, 2002, 04:59:51 PM »

This is the e-mail I sent out to the gamers involved:

Buddy Balterset is everybody's friend.

You all have memories of Buddy that ring fond in your mind. Somehow everything that he get's into and drags you through with him seems fun rather than messy. The time Buddy came home covered in someone else's blood. The time Buddy vomitted on the toughest cowboy on all the Plains of Ra. The time Buddy saved your bacon this and the time Buddy made you laugh about that...

Ya get the idea.

But Buddy's good humor and jibes have gone too far.

The sheriff has put him away in the Littly Pyramid jailhouse. It is a secure place, its back wall is the littly pyramid of the Forgotten Pharoah. The place would survive a cyclone.

Sheriff Kosett has lucked his way into the nastiest deputies this side of the Nile's Brother. Rumor has it they was the Brother's Jackals, a nasty group of river pirate bank robbers who have since settled down to raise kids of all things. None of them wanted to be Sheriff, as they see lawmen as targets, but deputies was a nice steady middle ground.

Sure, maybe the fact that they're the Brother's Jackals is all a rumor but Kosett is keeping mum on that one, even nudging the rumor along every once in a while if it falls forgotten.

Fat bastard took you all aside, all of Buddy's kin and friends close as kin, "I know you all love Buddy something terrible. Heck, he made me laugh at my own Ma's funeral. I mean it; he really did.

But he broke the law and got caught taking a horse off Mayor Ska's chariot. Horse-thieving has only one penalty that makes any damned sense and Judge Tammy gave him a hanging.

Some of you have that look in yer eye, as if you might just charge in there and see if my jackals have any teeth.

Don't find their bite the hard way, fellas.

Here's the deal. You get me one hundred dollars. I don't care how it comes or where it comes from but one hundred dollars and I'll get the Mayor to write a letter to Tammy saying that he plumb forgot that he lent Buddy the horse.

He'll walk. I promise by my Sa and Sekkhem. If I lie may my Ka grow mute and my khat be eaten by vultures before being interned."

Everyone in the room began to think about how they would get the hundred scarabs and you couldn't help but look at all of their cold eyes and wonder, "Why do they want Buddy out of jail?"

A few of you locks eyes and know that it is upon you. Some call it wyrd or ka or fatum but it is here and it isn't clear if it wants Buddy out of jail or it just wants you all to try to get him out.

Whatever it is, it is bigger than Buddy and bigger than the group of you, bigger than all of Little Pyramid or even all of Siwah County mayhap.

[When they got to the game we went over character concepts and I had some pre-made ideas on scraps of paper as to why they each wanted Buddy out of jail.  I thought I would hand them out at random but it was obvious from the characters which would fit with each concept]


Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.

« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2002, 05:08:14 PM »

Buddy's Ka Part I

Friends, did you get some silver?
Did you get a little gold?
What did you bring me, my dear friends, To keep me from the Gallows Pole?

- Led Zeppelin, "Gallows Pole"

Little Pyramid is a small town slowly losing a battle with dust and time. Dust seems to be generated from the house-sized pyramid in the town center. As if the ancient and unknown Rosettan entombed within spits dust out onto the streets at night.

The town is right on the border between Upper and Lower Rosetta and once upon a time it was nestled close enough to the heart of the Rosetta Empire to be a safe place. But Rosetta's been crumbling faster than its obelisks and now Little Pyramid is a frontier town.

Cats lounge in the shade of the pyramid. One prances by, snake in its mouth, looking for a place to eat its prize.

[I thought that in this kind of game where the players can gain control of the narration, instilling a strong sense of setting is terribly important.  I had ideas of the kind of images I wanted to invoke when I began the game.

The players began to debate whether the cat with the snake in its mouth was a good omen or a bad omen, which was neat.]

Sheriff Kosett put word out that anyone interested in Buddy's fate should meet him at the Big Pyramid Saloon. None of Buddy's kin showed, including his wife. Only three men showed up at all.

Thorfin Deadkeeper was a mean-ass Norse bounty hunter once. He packed all that away and became L.P.'s Norse Mortician. When the Norse folk in town want a good viking funeral they go to Thorfin. Thorfin's gran-pappy sits on the porch with his hand at his side and a dragon-shaped shotgun in his lap.

As Thorfin leaves the house his pappy coughs at him, "Yer gonna die a gray death and no valkries will ride ya to Valhalla."

Thorfin says nothing but his eyes say, "Silence, old man," without words.

Moishe's story is a complicated and old one. Let us just say that he is a Pilgrim and wants the Rosettans to, "Let his people go." He heads to the saloon to discuss Buddy's fate because he always liked the boy and thinks a hanging is a horrible thing for a nice boy such as this.

Johnny Tso likes to think of himself as a Memphis high-roller but truth is he is just a kid from Littly Pyramid with a nice suit and an attitude.

They all show up to talk to Sherriff Kosett about Buddy's fate.

The sheriff pats his belly and begins:

"I know you all love Buddy something terrible. Heck, he made me laugh at my own Ma's funeral. I mean it; he really did.

But he broke the law and got caught taking a horse off Mayor Ska's chariot. Horse-thieving has only one penalty that makes any damned sense and Judge Tammy gave him a hanging.

Some of you have that look in yer eye, as if you might just charge in there and see if my jackals have any teeth.

Don't find their bite the hard way, fellas.

Here's the deal. You get me 500 dollars. I don't care how it comes or where it comes from but 500 hundred dollars and I'll get the Mayor to write a letter to Tammy saying that he plumb forgot that he lent Buddy the horse.

He'll walk. I promise by my Sa and Sekkhem. If I lie may my Ka grow mute and my khat be eaten by vultures before being interned."

Thorfin barks, "You are a foul and dishonest man. Let buddy go, I must speak with him."

Kosett shakes his head, "Nope, this ain't a discussion boys." He looks at the pyramid outside, looks at the bank delivery carriage making its cash drop and looks at his office and jail, "Mayhaps you want to go into my office, guns blazing but we all know that is a right terrible idea. You'll figure it out."

The Sheriff walks out and Moishe starts praying for guidance. He sees smoke on the horizon as it begins to rain. Hoping for a talkative burning bush, Moishe heads out. Johnny follows him but Thorfin goes in another direction to talk to Buddy through the window of his cell.

The Pilgrim asks for a sign and sees an anthill being attacked by a cat who is eating the ants as he pulls them out. On the cat is a birthmark that he is sure is God's name. The Gambler ain't so sure. Moishe is positive.

"To the pyramid we will go. It is attached to the bank, so it is. We will go in through the Pyramid, through the tomb and take the money. Buddy, nice boy that he is, he will be freed. G-d has spoken."

Johnny just shrugs, not so sure.

A few kids are playing marbles outside Buddy's cell when Thorfin arrives. Buddy greets him warmly but all Thorfin has to say is, "You will be hung, you idiot. What do you want me to do?"

Buddy grows serious, a rare thing, "Get the money up, Thorfin. I knowed that your name wasn't always Deadkeeper. T'used to be Deadmaker. use them skills and get the cash up. If ya don't I'm noose-food."

Thorfin grabs him through the barred window, "You idiot, we have unfinished business out here. You must get out so we can talk!"

Buddy cries, "You're beatin' on a hanged man? How low can you get, Thorfin. Gods above!"

Thorfin gives Buddy's head a good ring against the bars and let's him go, "I will get you out and we will talk after."

"You get me outta here and I'll talk your ear off."

Johnny's safe and dry under his umbrella but Moishe's a sight, covered in mud and rain. The little Pilgrim takes out his Good Book and exclaims, "Fear not, my G-d has show me the way and we will do it and get Buddy out. Hi Buddy, how are you? You look good, are you eating alright?"

[The guy playing Moishe is often the DM or Storyteller in the group and is always looking to make the game better or the Narrator's life easier.  He used a prayin' skill looking for answers but he got the high card and so he controlled the narration.

He wanted God (The Narrator) to send a Burning Bush (a Plot Hook) so the adventure could commence.  But he controlled the narration.  It was neat seeing him struggle with that.

I told the players again, "I know the world and I know NPC's but the adventure will be driven by you guys.  Do what you want.  Once that sunk in, we were off and running.]


Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.

« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2002, 05:11:21 PM »

Buddy Ka part II

Moishe continues, "We will go in the pyramid and there must be a secret passage to the bank, which is attached to the pyramid and take enough gold to free Buddy and leave."

Thorfin expresses trepidation at anything that will deface his upstanding and proper mortician's business and Johnny puts forth that they are going to have to scope out the place first.

Moishe shoos his ideas away with his hands, "What, what is this scoping out you speak of? We'll just walk in. My G-d will protect us."

Thorfin grumbles something about how useless his God is and Johnny shrugs and agreement.

The rain has stopped and the dust has turned to mud. A few minutes later they are in the antechamber, sizing up the front door. They all try to read the curse on the granite stone that consists of the front door and while reading it Moishe finds a crack in the door that makes sliding it open easier than they had thought.

"Any who tresspass here will be cursed with the spite of a thousand stars. I don't know from stars but I think we'll be okay."

Before going in they decide they need some torches and Thorfin buys a few kids' lacrosse sticks for way too much money.

The door slides open with a grind of stone on stone and quickly, so not to be followed or discovered, they close the door behind them as they light the torches.

Another chamber lies within and a jackal's head is the portal with red stone steps going downward.

A screech belches up from the depths and the three fools look at one another. None ask what it is, none want to know as thousands of bats rise up from the darkness they make two passes, one up and one down, putting out both torches.

Johnny struggles to light his match in order to re-light his torch. When he does he thinks to himself, "Gods, but I only remember three of us."

The fourth is a mummy dressed in the trappings of Rosettan Calvalry. His worn hat and collar sport the Eye of Horus, denoting an office. His sabre rattles as the creatures draws it, hissing.

Thorfin draws a pistol and opens fire as two pistols materialize from within Johhny's sleeves. Moishe takes a grip on his staff as if it were a baseball bat.

The creature's sabre is barely out of its scabbard when bullets make its body explode with dust. Moishe levels what's left of it, beheading it with a mighty blow from his staff. As its head bounces down the stairs it hisses, "Kustet will curse theeeeeeee."

"Well, now we know whose tomb this is."

They make their way left at a three way intersection and find a door with a Rosettan bugler painted in bas relief.

They discuss what to do. Moishe suggests finding a trumpet and blowing a tune to open the door. Johnny is just about to offer his two pennies when their hear a peculiar hiss.

"DYNAMITE! Run!" Thorfin screams, tearing ass down the hall away from the bugler's door with the dynamite stuck underneath it.

The explosion is deafening and the Bugler's door is destroyed along with the wall that hid a secret passage. The smells from the Bugler's door were less than appetizing, so they made their way to the secret passage. A statue of Thoth, blown into the secret passage by the dynamite was beheaded by a guillotine trap.

[The system was smooth and easy.  I really liked the way it worked.  We all did.  It was way looser than we were used to.  Two of the three guys in the party were in my weekly D&D 3E game and we're used to more structure.  I think this kind of loose game plays to my strengths more.  It allows me to help make a story without the system getting in the way.

D&D is still fun but this was a nice break and a neat way to look at gaming]


Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.

« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2002, 05:15:25 PM »

Buddy's Ka Part III

The chamber within has a tremendous sarcophagus with a monstrous mummified horse. Its chariot and tack are hanging on the walls.

In the next room is the body of Kustet himself. His sarcophagus lid details his ambush at the hands of natives and the many arrows that did him in. On the wall are his antique five-shot pistols and his rifle. The pistols have silver detail-work and the sights are spitting cobras. The rifle's sight is a sitting cat. Moishe puts the pistols in his pocket.

On the far end of the room Kustet's organs are in clay jars, neatly arranged on a shelf.

Thorfin and Moishe begin arguing about the right and wrong (or is it rite and wrong) of looting a tomb. Moishe insists that this isn't a tomb but an basement under the bank but Thorfin's not buying it. The gambler's just doing math in his head, figuring out how much he could get for what's here.

Their discussion becomes rather heated and no one notices the lid of the sarcophagus slide open. Kustet's mummy is a terrible thing. He was embalmed and wrapped with all of the arrows that kilt him still in his corpse, giving his mummy the look of a porcupine.

They can hear his heart beating in its clay jar.

Thorfin, without a torch, runs.

Moishe's newly acquired pistols fly out of his pockets and into their original owner's hands.

Johnny tries to shoot the clay jar and Moishe throws his staff at it but Kustet shoots the staff out of the air and nearly blows Johnny's thumb off and knocks his gun out of his hand.

Thorfin realizes he is in the hallway in the dark and draws his axe and round Viking shield. Yelling a warcry to Freya, the Norseman charges into the ruckus.

Kustet and Thorfin engage in a brutal hand to hand melee, trading shots. Thorfin uses his shield to push the mummified bastard up against the wall but the ole calvalry general still manages to get a few shots in with his five shooter.

Moishe takes another shot at the clay jar with his derringer and it puts a hole in the jar but doesn't destroy the heart.

Johnny Tso is all alone with the jar and pulls his gun. He can hear Thorfin being maimed by the undead Rosettan porcupine. In one swift motion he pulls his gun, levels it to the clay jar with the beating heart and pulls the trigger.


Powder must've gotten wet in the rain, nothing but a click.

[Again the combat system was put to the test and it worked fairly well, lots of fun.  I think in a campaign I would want to make somehow make the wounding rules a bit more concrete somehow but all in all it worked like a charm for a fun one-shot.  Of course this groping for concrete could be old D&D reflexes kicking in.]


Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.

« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2002, 05:16:28 PM »

Buddy's Ka Part IV

Thorfin and Kustet continue to smack the the holy Horus outta one another and Moishe joins the party with a smash with his staff. Johnny finally smashes the clay jar but is too repulsed to bring himself to actually step on the black heart.

Frustrated, Thorfin sticks his next to last piece of dynamite in Kustet's mouth and lights the fuse with a bullet.

Moishe and Thorfin dive out of the stone sarcophagus and Kustet explodes in a cloud of dust and boom.

Next to Johnny's foot the heart stops beating.

The explosion breaks the secret door under the sarcophagus and the find a room filled with Aztec gold bars, and a golden statue of a serpent with feathered wings.

Quickly, they begin to stock up on bars.

When they finally reach the surface they are high on victory and gold. The sheriff has knocked over some statues that surround the antechamber's entrance and his deputies are taking cover for an ambush.

They are told to throw out their weapons and hand over whatever they found in there so the law can, "put it back." No one believes that they're going to get out of here alive if they hand over their weapons.

Johnny runs downstairs to put the lid back on Kustet's sarcophagus, hiding the secret treasure chamber underneath. Moishe cuts out his Good Book and stashes a gold bar within. Thorfin digs a shallow ditch and sticks a bar in there. Moishe sticks a bar beind a small statue of Bastet.

They hand over whatever else they've got.

Three of the deputies, the Jackals, they're called head down into the tomb to gather the gambler. Three more are up top, guarding the gold.

Thorfin then does what he always does when things get slow. He lights a piece of dynamite, throws it at a deputy's feet and runs for cover.


Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.

« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2002, 05:17:38 PM »

Buddy's Ka:  The Finale

The deputy, like all of Little Pyramid's deputies, once made up the members of the feared river pirates, Brother's Jackals. He had seen and done some horrible shite.

The former Jackal stepped on the fuse hard, driving it into the still wet road. It went out with a fizzle. Then he drew and opened fire on the mad Norseman who had taken off across the road, trying to make it to the cover of a nearby water trough.

The three Jackals who didn't go looking for Johnny in the tomb were gathered around a mule and cart that they had filled with the Aztec gold.

Moishe approached the sheriff and tapped him lightly on the shoulder. When the crooked law-dog turned around he found himself on the receiving end of a Good Book weighted with an Aztec gold bar. His brains spilled out onto the muddy road with a wet splat as Moishe proclaimed, "Behold you, the word of the Lord."

Johnny was escorted to the surface, three more Jackals behind him, just in time to see the Jackal put out the fuse with his boot hell.

The three Jackals behind him got to the surface in time to see Thorfin gun down two of their brothers-in-arms in cold blood while Moishe brained the third with a heavy tome.

Johnny put out his hands, "Save me from these madmen!" and put his hands up so the remaining Jackals ran past him to deal with Thorfin and Moishe and that would be their last mistakes.

Johnny let the special wrist holsters do their magic and in another second he had two pistols in his hands, good reliable Republic guns with no ornament other than their deadly accuracy. He stepped up behind them as they took aim and blew two of their heads clean off.

The third looked at the scene and the carnage. There was a holy silent moment as he took it all in, really beheld the work done on Main Street that afternoon. He turned to Johnny and handed him his Stygian pistol, "I'm done with this kinda life, sir."

He walked off and never looked back.

Moishe, Johnny and Thorfin looked at one another, puzzled.

Johnny said, "That was the smartest thing he coulda done."

Too bad they all didn't take his cue 'cause blood wasn't done spilling on Main Street that day.

Buddy was sticking his head through the bars of his jailhouse window, "Hey boys, good work! Get them keys offa the Sheriff and get me outta here."

Thorfin got the keys and freed Buddy and threw a pistol to the ground, "Pick it up, Buddy."

At this point the rain started up once again.

"You're madder than a hatter, Thorfin. I ain't shooting at you. You're my pal. You saved my neck. I always made you laugh and now you saved my skin."

Thorfin took a deep breath, "No. You pissed on the funeral pyre of my brother two years ago and you must pay for that. Pick up the gun so we can finish this."

Buddy held his tongue and didn't say, "But the service was so long and I really had to do my business." Instead he blurted out, "I ain't doing this. This is madness. We won. We all are richer than a Dwarf. Let's split it up and get outta town."

"Pick up the gun."

Johnny silently sat in the cart and waited for the gunplay to begin.

"No, I won't...I-"

"Pick it up."

Buddy said no even as he jumped for the gun and they opened fire on each other. Despite the terrible toll Kustet and the Jackals had taken out of him, Thorfin shot Buddy twice in the chest.

Buddy, though, shot Thorfin right in the face, taking off his ear and the better part of his left cheek.

Moishe was dumbfounded. The Lord works in mysterious ways, indeed.

Buddy bled to death in the street.

Thorfin looked over at Moishe who had taken up the Sheriff's pistol and was pointing it at him.

The big Viking put up his hands, "Old man, don't be mad. Let's talk about this."

Moishe shrugged, "You're right," and put down the gun only to pick up the gore covered Good Book. The book's spine hit Thorfin smack-dab in the forehead and he sprawled in the muddy road, "Not FAIR! Tell it to G-D!"

Moishe opened the book with his gold bar in it and looks up to notice that Johnny had taken the cart during the violence, no doubt to pay off some gambling debt in Memphis. Moishe says a short prayer before heading out towards the desert to let some people know about a few plagues that might be coming their way.

Little Pyramid began the day as a town battling with dust but by nightfall it had found mud to be its new enemy. Its Sheriff was dead in the street along with almost all of his deputies and the Norse Quarter was in dire need of a mortician.

Thorfin lay in the street and eventually some ladies came over, seemingly, to tend to his wounds. Mayhap they were just concerned ladies from town but mayhaps they were something a good deal more than that.

The End


Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.

« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2002, 05:25:46 PM »

It has been nearly a month since I wrote that up the night after this game.

Sorry about the floating tenses.

Dust Devils worked out great.  I changed the Devil stat to a stat called Wyrd or Ka or Fatus.  All of the players wrote a sentence about where they saw their character ending up.  It didn't have to be where they defnitely would find themselves at the end of the adventure or at the end of their character's lives but it was the sweater they thought the Norns were knitting for them on that big sewing wheel in the sky.

Thorfin had: Die in Battle.

Moishe had: Free the Rosettan Slaves.

Johnny had: Killed in bed, never steal both a man's woman and his money.

The character creation was fast and easy and it gave everyone a great idea of who their character was.  It set the idea firmly in their and everyone else's mind.

My girlfriend was reading in the next room and has never gamed but liked the character creation process and thought it sounded neat.  When character creation can sound interesting to a non-gamer in the next room rather than sounding like complex math and page turning...that is a move in the right direction.

Fun game.

Would it have been as fun without the three sticks of dynamite?

Eh, who cares?


Posts: 5574

« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2002, 06:00:43 AM »

Great write up Paka.  The game seemed to live up to your expectations, and bizarre eqypto-western world you put together certainly lived up to mine.

Great stuff.

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