Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Burning the Clocktower, Damming the Gulch

For the majority of this year, I was running a Deadlands Reloaded game, a campaign entitled "Guns of Shallow Gulch". I ended it several weeks back (has it been a month?), and to this point I haven't blogged about it, because the ending was uncomfortable*.

The plot never full resolved. Here's where it left off:

The big bad, Cobb, was temporarily defeated, but was a few days away from being able to rematerialize, and the PCs knew it. The PCs were presented with the big clocktower in the middle of town, an enormous architectural ghost trap. Cobb's wife had told the PCs they could use the tower as a weapon against Cobb, that it might be able to destroy him. However, there was the danger that whoever built the tower would be able to harness his power in the process. The PCs had already dynamited the leader of the faction who built the tower, but they didn't really know for certain if they'd killed him.

As you can see, we were using legos for miniatures in this campaign, and I made a fairly intricate model of the clocktower, complete with corrupted altars, 1,000-year-old vampire coffin, and flayed souls dangling from spectral chains.

The clocktower was eating spirits and ghosts left and right. It was even gobbling down harrowed who got too close. One harrowed the PCs were hunting had tried to take shelter in it, and was destroyed. Another harrowed that was helping the party got attacked by the tower. I had the tower make some ballsy moves. It was just a minor variation on the evil clocktower in my old "H.O.D." LARP, which most of the play group had a love/hate relationship with back in the day, from that LARP campaign. At the LARP, various people had tried to destroy the tower, but no one ever succeeded. It was too powerful, and too well defended, and the players had that pesky Masquerade to worry about.

So, I kind of expected the same in this campaign. To their credit, the players really surprised me. They burned the place to the ground. It was a pretty good fight, they had to put down the ghosts who had bargained with the Tower (to be minions instead of lunch). All the PCs got away with their lives, but one lost his horse and took a bunch of wounds himself. Another got trapped inside the tower for several rounds, and had to fight his way out. In the end, they fled just as the reinforcements were arriving from the Templar Lodge that had built the tower. I really wasn't expecting them to be able to do that much damage to it - the tower was a goner.

Mind you, destroying the clocktower would have meant the PCs had to fight with Cobb again in a few days, and no good leads on ways to put him down permanently. As it was, the campaign wrapped, the gaming group disbanded, and we didn't have to deal with that.

More on the Clock Tower:
in this Deadlands campaign
in the old LARP

Lego miniatures:
The PCs

Other posts about the campaign:
starting each session with storytime
Blessed are powerhouses
every post about the campaign on a single page (includes all the above plus several more posts)

*: I ended the campaign for purely out-of-character reasons, which is why I've been slow to blog about it. I'd decided to end my friendship with two people - and since those two people played in the game, the game was going to have to go as well. I'm still too close to the events to write about it with wisdom. I expect I will look back at it years from now with remarkably few regrets, but for now, there's still a measure of guilt and worry that I could have done it in a less painful way. As an observer said to me about it: "Unfriending people in real life is a lot harder than on Facebook."

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