Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Unexpected Wedding - Our Actual Play's Adventure



Behind the Screams


To celebrate the Kickstarters for +Pinnacle Entertainment Group's 20th Anniversary Edition of Deadlands Classic and Deadlands Reloaded: Good Intentions, I wanted to throw together a bizarre, "Mad-Lib Inspired" adventure for some of my most awesomest players.  Because I'm such an exhibitionist, I had to live stream the event for all to see... and experience!  Since this was an Interactive Actual Play, we took recommendations from the audience, creating crazy twists and turns in the plot as we moved along.  

Before I get ahead of myself, here's the video of our game:



I should note that inspiration for this adventure came from a GoFundMe created a few weeks ago.  My good friends Brenna and Ethan have had a rough turn of luck recently, but are getting married in just a few weeks.  One of their family members created this GoFundMe page so that they could still have the wedding of their dreams.  I know it can feel weird to give money to strangers, so as part of my contribution I announced that I would write a wedding-themed adventure and post it on my blog.  So if you tossed a few bucks towards Brenna and Ethan's wedding, you got a full adventure out of the deal!  

Damned good deal!



The Adventure!


What I've posted here is the exact adventure that we ran last night in the video posted above.  I've filled in the details, so that you can experience this adventure with your group at home, maybe even during the Deadlands Kickstarter drive!  Professor Vandersmythe is based on the Doc Lightning pre-gen from Pinnacle Entertainment Group, and you'll see that both Shady Doug Liveaux and Father Sam are straight from that same crew.  Gracie Law and Lo Pan are original characters, but maybe I'll post their stats in a future blog post... hint hint, +Darcy Ross and +Craig McCullough.

I should also note that I'm not done posting this adventure.  In the days and weeks ahead you can look forward to the following "editions"... 

  • Did I say "Mad Libs?"  You can expect a version that will give you the opportunity to fill in your own crazy info for your games!
  • Deadlands Classic!  Give me a few days to get myself reacquainted with the Deadlands Classic rules and I'll restat the baddies accordingly.
  • Cypher Edition!  Are you a fan of the Weird West but you are one of my Cypher System readers?  Make a Guts Check!  Grab hold of some Deadlands books (... maybe through a certain Kickstarter...) and your Cypher System Rulebook and run Deadlands accordingly.  
  • Black Powder, Black Magic!  Maybe you are one of my Dungeon Crawl Classics readers who has the Black Powder, Black Magic Zines.  I'll restat these monsters for DCCRPG, which should take all of 5 minutes!

Player Character Roles

(Determine randomly, 1DX based on number of PC’s.  Yes, D5's exist.)  

  1. The One Gettin’ Married:  Professor Vandersmythe,  +Marc Plourde 
  2. The Best Man/Woman:  Shady Doug Liveaux,  +andrew lyon 
  3. The Officiant:  Gracie Law,  +Darcy Ross 
  4. The Wedding Planner:  Lo Pan,  +Craig McCullough 
  5. The Uninvited:  Father Sam,  +William Keller 

Setting Rules


Special Rule - Smitten:  The player character who is getting married is absolutely head-over-heels infatuated with the Monadi husband/bride, and fully intends to go through with the ceremony.  There is nothing supernatural about this love-connection, they just really seem to get along.  To represent this in game, give this PC the Vow (Major) hindrance for this adventure.  This is a temporary hindrance, and can only be removed should the PC be provided actual proof that their fiancee (and eventually spouse) is not what they say they are.  For being a good sport, let this player take an additional Fate Chip during the adventure.  

The Story So Far 

(Read to players)

Your characters are experienced heroes, varmint slayers, abomination hunters, and well-known do-gooders in the Weird West.  Your most recent exploits had you up in the town of Snakebite Junction working for Sheriff BichonSheriff Bichon had a problem with a troupe of Intelligent Devil Bats masquerading as Clowns.  Your posse cleared out these creatures easily.  The terrible abominations had been keeping local Railroad Foremen’s as victims in a hidden basement, surrounded by vats full of sludge, beneath their Sweat Lodge lair.  Unfortunately none of the victims survived.  At the end of this exploit, however, one member of your team, Professor Vandersmythe, took a liking to a self-described Snakebite Junction local: Anna Kendrick.

The two met shortly after the battle with the Intelligent Devil Bats, while both just happened to be shopping at a local Dirty Dicks Guns & Ammo Store.  This chance meeting soon became a more formal courtship.  Anna Kendrick said that they worked as a Lawyer in Snakebite Junction, but was always dreaming of leaving for bigger and better things.  

The two have been inseparable ever since, although Anna Kendrick came with a bit of baggage:  the entire Kendrick family (about thirty in total)!  They followed their kin and the rest of the posse to the next town, carting with them all their belongings and a wagon full of Whiskey, the Devil’s Water, barrels… the only source of the Kendrick family wealth.

After arriving in Dodge City the two decided to tie the knot.  Professor Vandersmythe proposed by offering a very fine Golden Pocketwatch filled with Lead, as well as a giant box of Peyote PopsAnna Kendrick loved candy.  The two lovebirds have set a date (today), and have a romantic honeymoon planned in Old El Paso where they plan to spend a full week horse racin’ to the railroad crossin’.   Gracie Law agreed to perform the ceremony, with Shady Doug Liveaux agreeing to stand next to Professor Vandersmythe so long as they get to dance with Anna Kendrick’s Kissing Cousin.

Lo Pan has spent several days putting the finishing touches on what will be a beautiful ceremony at the Post Office, and an exciting after-shindig to be held at the local Bath House.  

For some reason, perhaps it’s because of their most recent game of Musical Chairs, Father Sam was not invited to the wedding.  

The Real Deal

(For the Marshal)

Unfortunately for Professor Vandersmythe, Anna Kendrick has a deep and dark secret: they are actually a creature called a Monadi.  Part of a collective of sentient unicellular creatures that once dwelled deep beneath the bowels of the Earth, the Monadi first came to the surface in the Maze during the Great Quake of ’68.  The Intelligent Devil Bats had discovered the Monadi while traveling through California, and found them of great interest, especially in how they could don the flesh of other creatures, importing some of their memories in the process.  The Monadi were captured and kept in great vats and transported all across the West.  Many of the Monadi died during the trip, unable to consume the copious amounts of sugar necessary for their survival.  It was a sad few years.  

When the posse killed off the Intelligent Devil Bats, this freed the Monadi.  The unicellular creatures knew enough from their dealings with their masters to make no attempt to let their true form be known to outsiders.  Anna Kendrick is the leader of the Monadi, a truly ancient creature, and hijacked the body of a local twenty-two year old traveler eating a giant, obnoxious lollipop in Snakebite Junction named Sam.  From Sam, Anna Kendrick learned a bit about the traveling posse of do-gooders in town.  The Monadi leader targeted Professor Vandersmythe, distracting them (and in turn the rest of the posse) while they went around town taking on the bodies of about thirty more souls.  

The Monadi were shrewd to only take on travelers and vagrants in Snakebite Junction, and knew they needed to move on to another town.  Unfortunately about half of their number still remain in the vats (disguised as whiskey barrels) once kept by the master abominations.  The Monadi plan to celebrate the nuptials of the two “love birds”, and during the shindig that follows, use the cover of cake and liquor to lure the guests and participants of the wedding back to the vats so that the rest of the unicellular creatures can find human hosts.  

Adventure Outline


This adventure should play out as a nice, big wedding celebration, ending of course with the attempted murder of the PC’s and all of the wedding guests.  Immediately after reading the The Story So Far take the adventure to the ceremony location and describe the scene.  Given that this is going to be cooked up on the fly, try to focus on a similar looking area and map from a previous experience or game.  Since this will be something “communal”, most likely the players will choose a church, saloon, restaurant, or perhaps even a barn.  Try to describe this scene as best as possible, especially noting the following folks at the scene:

  • The PC’s:  This is a great time to point out who is taking on what role for the adventure, especially the officiant.  The PC getting married should be getting a little nervous.
  • The Fiancee:  The Monadi husband or bride to-be is not in the building, and most likely would be very hard to find if anyone searches for them.  Just before the ceremony they are assisting the rest of their family in preparing the barrels of other Monadi for taking over the PC’s and their guests.  
  • The Guests:  Whoever the PC’s invited to the wedding will be sitting around, just waiting patiently for the ceremony to begin.  They may be pacing, perhaps they are drinking.  Maybe they are just whining, depending on who was invited.
  • The Monadi Family:  Some of the family members are helping the fiancee with the barrels, but a few others (at least six) are sitting in the communal building.  All of the family members are waiting nervously.  If approached or questioned, the family members won’t say much, except how excited they are for the wedding.  If asked about their relation to the bride/groom, they will say that they are a “cousin.”  As for names, all of their names begin with the letter “M”.  

The adventure should play out in three sequences.  First, start with Cake Nightmare, which highlights the very first “glitch” in the wedding, as the cake is missing.  The next sequence, No Objections covers the wedding itself.  Finally Shindig features the last encounter, with the PC’s discovering the terrible truth about the Monadi, hopefully before anyone dies.  Somewhere in the middle, the GM is invited to run one or more of the optional encounters that will make the ceremony a bit more interesting.  

Cake Nightmare 
  • It’s just a few hours before the start of the wedding, and one of the fiancee’s family members (a Monadi in hiding) named “Maureen” comes into the place of the ceremony screaming.
  • Maureen claims that she was just at the site of the Shindig, and the wedding cake is missing! 
  • Maureen will demand that the PC’s do something about this situation, and that without the cake the wedding will be a disaster.
  • In truth, the wedding cake was stolen by some of the husband/bride’s family members (Monadi) and will be used to force-feed the future hosts of the unicellular creatures.  
  • Depending on the size of the town or city, feel free to make this encounter as difficult as you would like.  
    • In a small town the baker (let’s call him Buddy) may be completely out of sugar.  This could also be the doing of the Monadi.  Buddy will claim that he tried to get sugar from the local general store, but the price tag was far too high (also do to the Monadi).
    • Set the general store price to be something exorbitant.  $100 for a sack of sugar sounds fair.  This should set the characters into a tizzy.  Let them intimidate or persuade the general store shopkeeper (Expensive Daryl), but should they try anything too aggressive bring in the law.  
    • In larger towns/cities, the lack of sugar will be less of an issue.  The baker could still be out of sugar, and maybe the general stores are all closed.  It’s a holiday.  Totally up to you.  
  • Once the baker has the sugar, they will promise the cake.  Hopefully this is the only hiccup during the wedding.  

No Objections
  • Time for the ceremony!  At the Post Office!
  • Weapons and gear… seriously?  Make sure everyone is very clear about what they have with them for this part of the adventure.  They shouldn’t be armed, at least not with anything heavily.  If one of the posse members has a gatling gun this is a problem.  
  • Alright, alright... If a PC wants a bigger weapon make them spend a Fate Chip and they have to describe how it is being hidden.  Long arms cost a red or blue Fate Chip.
  • If the PC’s have not said who they were bringing to the wedding as guests, now is the time to ask them.  Try to get each player to bring two guests.  Let them make up anyone they want.  Mom, dad, maybe just a friend who is in town.  Whatever.  The important part is to have between 12-18 total guests attending the wedding besides the PC’s, and to have them on some kind of list.  Maybe index cards.  This could be important later.  
  • If the PC getting married is the groom, have them waiting at the front of the ceremony, in front of the officiant.  If the PC getting married is the bride, they will be obviously outside.  Whatever the case, have the Wedding Planner describe the dress for everyone as the bride walks down the aisle.
  • Once everyone is good to go, have the officiant start the process:
    • Brief introduction
    • Objection!
    • An exchange of vows
    • Man and Wife

Sam? (Optional Encounter)
  • The fun isn’t over when the PC’s go outside.  So there should be the whole scene with the bride and groom walking down the aisle, with the guests hitting them with rice outside the community building.  Well, while this happens, someone start’s yelling “Sam!”  
  • A man or woman (GM’s choice) calls out to the PC’s new husband or wife, insisting that their name is Sam.  This is Pat, who was in love with Sam back in their home town, and has been tracking them down across the Weird West.  Pat doesn’t know that “Sam” is dead, and there is only a Monadi inside the human skin.  
  • Unlike the objector, Pat doesn’t want to back down.  Pat is flanked by a trio of bounty hunters who helped them find “Sam”.
  • While this scene doesn’t have to end in violence, the Monadi family members keep out of the way, and everyone looks to the PC’s to find some way to deal with this.  Keep in mind that the PC’s should NOT be armed, save for pocket pistols and or knives.  

Pat:  Agility d6,  Smarts d6,  Spirit d4,  Strength d6,  Vigor d6, Skills:  Fighting d6, Notice d4, Shooting d4, Pace:  6, Parry:  5, Toughness:  6, Gear:  Baton (Str +d4), Colt Army Revolver (2d6+1), $50.

Bounty Hunters (3):  Agility d8,  Smarts d6,  Spirit d6,  Strength d6,  Vigor d8, Skills:  Fighting d8, Notice d8, Shooting d8, Tracking d8, Pace:  6, Parry:  6, Toughness:  6, Gear:  Knife (Str +d4), Colt Peacemaker (2d6+1).  Third hombre has a double barrel shotgun (1-3d6) in addition to the other gear.  Each bounty hunter has 3d8x10 dollars.

Shindig
  • When the PC’s and the rest of the wedding party all arrive at the location of the reception let the wedding planner describe the scene.  Specifically make them state the following:
    • The decorations
    • The spread
    • The drinks
  • If the Wedding Planner can’t rattle these off within a few moments, there’s a complication.  Use this as an opportunity to have one of the guests go missing.  Let one of the guests offer to help, but they never come back to the party.
  • The baker should show up with a cake, if that part of the adventure was resolved.  Everyone claps.  So sweet.
  • This is a great time to use the Strung Out Quartet optional encounter.
  • While most of the guests are just drinking, eating, and enjoying each other’s company, what’s going on behind the scenes is rather terrible.  One by one, as the PC’s and their guest are drinking, the Monadi flesh-suit wearers are taking guests into a storm cellar or basement bellow the building, stuffing them full of cake, and then forcing them to swallow Monadi.  
  • Every few minutes have one of the guests disappear, and then eventually the players will go hunting.  It shouldn’t take them too long to figure this out.  Of course, by this point, the husband/wife of the PC will be trying to distract them.  Some options could be:
    • “Let’s dance!”
    • “We need to cut the cake sweetie!”
    • “How about we go outside for a quick kiss?”
  • After six guests disappear, some of the guests will begin to question the circumstances.
  • Once the PC’s find the basement, they have to get past a pair of Monadi family members, trying to repel the PC’s from the scene, but not too violently.  Allow there to be some kind of window or rear entrance into the basement or cellar, so that the terror can be witnessed.
  • At this point, there should be around fifteen Monadi upstairs, and five downstairs at work with another ten out of the barrels, forcing themselves down the throats of poor guests.  At least the transformation takes a few hours!  
  • Frontal assaults will be devastating unless the PC’s get to their weapons.  If this is the route the PC’s take, the PC’s new spouse will bring a few of their family members to assault the PC’s before this can go down.  
  • The new spouse will try one time to persuade their love not to do anything rash, and may even give up the story so long as the family is allowed to leave.  
  • At the end of the adventure, however this goes, the marrying PC will probably be a widow… or perhaps not.  If the PC’s are persuaded to leave the family of Monadi alone, they eventually move on to another town to live out their lives.  The Monadi are vicious, but not evil.  

Strung Out Quartet (Optional Encounter)
  • There is supposed to be music at the shindig, but when they arrive they are far too drunk to play.
  • The new spouse demands their favorite song to be played: “My Wild Irish Rose.”  
  • The PC’s need to find someone in town, quickly of course, to play for the family.  


Bestiary


Anna Kendrick
The Fiancee
  • Always Interrupts 
  • Missing Pinky on Left Hand
  • Lawyer 
Attributes:  Agility d8,  Smarts d10,  Spirit d8,  Strength d6,  Vigor d10
Skills:  Fighting d10, Notice d6, Shooting d8, Stealth d8, Tracking d8
Pace:  6, Parry:  7, Toughness:  7
Gear:  Knife (Str +d4), any other weapon they can get their hands on
Special Abilities:
  • Tap Out:  A Monadi in human form can make a Spirit roll at a -2 difficulty to forcibly eject themselves from a human body about to die.  They take on the unicellular form and are immediately Shaken.  
  • Weakness (Cold):  Cold-based attacks cause +4 damage against the Monadi. 

The Monadi
(Unicellular Organism Form)

Attributes:  Agility d6,  Smarts d6,  Spirit d6,  Strength d4,  Vigor d8
Skills:  Fighting d8, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Tracking d8
Pace:  4, Parry:  5, Toughness:  8
Gear:  None
Special Abilities:
  • Enter Orifice:  On a successful Fighting roll Monadi can violently enter the nose or mouth of a living target.  Once inside, the target takes 2d6 Acid damage each round.  Armor has no effect.  The target must make a Vigor roll at a -2 penalty to vomit/cough forth the Monadi.
  • Flesh Suit:  Once a target “dies” from the Enter Orifice attack, and after 1d4 hours of rest, the Monadi can take control of the body for 1d4 years.  This can only be done under two conditions.  First, the target’s death must be caused by the Monadi’s acid damage.  Second, the target must have a significant amount of sugar in their body.  It is for this reason that Monadi tend to lurk around bakeries and wedding receptions.  
  • Slow:  Monadi roll only add a d4 when “running”.
  • Toughness:  The thick cell membrane of the Monadi grants +2 Toughness.
  • Weakness (Cold):  Cold-based attacks cause +4 damage against the Monadi. 

The Monadi
(Flesh Suit)

Attributes:  Agility d6,  Smarts d6,  Spirit d6,  Strength d6,  Vigor d8
Skills:  Fighting d8, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Tracking d8
Pace:  6, Parry:  5, Toughness:  6
Gear:  Fist (Str), Knife (Str +d4), Chair leg (Str +d4), anything else that could be found at a wedding
Special Abilities:
  • Tap Out:  A Monadi in human form can make a Spirit roll at a -2 difficulty to forcibly eject themselves from a human body about to die.  They take on the unicellular form and are immediately Shaken.  
  • Weakness (Cold):  Cold-based attacks cause +4 damage against the Monadi.