Stones River Gang
Masterson Act 1
Masterson returns to exact revenge, his goons start some trouble, a showdown takes place, and the town catches fire.
Masterson has recently risen from the grave. Ruthless and careless in his life, the town of Gate sentenced and executed him. Now cursed his only goals is to exact his revenge and hope that the anthropologist in town knows how to undo the curse of undeath. He rounds up his remaining men, a few more cowpokes and half-wits and rides out to the town of Gate. When the gang arrives Masterson sends a few goons after the anthropologist in the town hoping that his studies of the Native American Gods will have answers. To cover for them he sends a bunch of other goons to other parts of the town to cause a distraction. These cowpokes start a ruckus and set fire to the general store, church, and saloon.
Masterson and the goons arrive in the late afternoon. The townsfolk are winding down their preparations for the upcoming town’s celebration. Masterson and goons ride in to the main drag of the town. A few goons veer out to the various shops and towns where the posse are located. After the men have made their way to each of the buildings and cause a bit of commotion, Masterson and his gang make a huge ordeal out on the main thoroughfare. Calling for the Sheriff to make his way out into the street.
The Sheriff is playing a game of Solataire in the Jail cell conversing with the inmates. When he hears the call he throws down his hand and walks to the window. Visibly shaken he makes his way over to his bottle of whiskey, pours himself a shot and downs it really quick. He runs off to a chamber pot in another room. Cursing himself while he strains out a piss. He gives it up when a few “thumps” hit the top of the building. When he comes back to the window, the sun is hanging low in the sky and the men holding lit torches. That’s when he makes a proposition to those within the jail cell.
With the men from the jail at his side he makes his way to the street. It is then, then the other men within the buildings start to come to a head.
“I thought you knew better than to stay dead.” It’s then that the players out on the street notice the wanted poster with that of Masterson’s name and likeness covered with the words DECEASED stamped over it. His terrible tragedies outlined in long detail.
“Sheriff, I told you you wouldn’t be able to keep me down. I promised I’d come back.”
Masterson throws his long, dusty coat open in a wide display. Unnaturally moving as if a wind took it back in the dead still of the approaching evening. Within the cloak there is such a darkness, but it appears as though there is the brief glimpse of pale faces and outstretched arms clawing out toward Masterson and perhaps anyone else appearing to stand too close. A showdown commences.
From where the fight starts, it quickly devolves into a firefight. Goons, posse, and townsfolk pull arms or make their way around to the goons. Water troughs, sand barrels, pine box coffins, and spooked horses are all eligible positions for anyone to hide behind.
A fire also begins to rage on tops of various buildings. A water tower is there for players to knock over or shoot out. There are also possible people and children in upstairs rooms that are trapped by the encroaching fire. If one of the posse is out of the firefight, goons can stumble upon them or they can be made a hero by a quick rescue of a dancing girl or a child.
Despite the best efforts of those in the saloon, a couple of goons grab a couple of dancing girls and make their way out the back and onto their horses. While the most important goons undiscovered get a hold of the anthropologist and his notes and make their way back on horse, riding off.
The sheriff falls face first to the ground. A deputy/doctor moves quickly to the sheriff. Masterson falls to the ground. Masterson starts to cough and spit blood. His free hand reaches in and touches his blooded chest. His gun hand claws desperately at his gun and pushes in against his chest to stop his bleeding. It almost appears as though he is laughing. And when the people standing before him are sure in fact that he is laughing gurgled words form in his mouth.
“Damn sheriff. Good shot. Too late though.”
It is then that men on horses are riding off into the distance and the townsfolk remember the explosion and the scream. Blood forms bubbles coming out of his mouth as his lungs fill with the blood. He starts a deep, gravely cough or another laugh moving the blood in a chunky sound. It is then the he finally gives over to death. A blood bubble forms out the front of his mouth but this one pops on its own.
To those standing there they begin to notice that it is as if Masterson has begun to flake apart like ashes from a burnt wood. Masterson eventually disappears.
Goons Skill Rank 2
Hot on the heels of the new Masterson gang, the heroes follow through the dangerous ravine to be ambushed by a trap laid by Masterson.
With the town nearly in flames, the goons ride off into the distance with the girls and the anthropologist. The posse and the town quickly extinguish the fires and the posse follow in pursuit. The goons ride off toward the late afternoon sun heading to what is known as the ravine trail. The ravine trail is a path that started to get use when the town diverted the river/steam for the uses of irrigation. The path leads out of the now fertile valley to a small post that meets up with the train service.
Masterson in his wisdom has told his men that if he falls for them to stall any following posse that they can at the ravine entrance. It is there that they would have an advantage in the ambush. They also, have the gyrocopters in use for the encounter to assist with providing bombing to kill the following posse as well as seal the ravine with rubble, making it hard to follow on horseback.
Several goons line the top rock structures. At least two overhead zoom around in gyrocopters. There are several on the ground brandishing shotguns and advance if needed. At some point, when the goons feel the moment is lost the leader will yell over to a gyro to ask them to blow the ravine closed, giving the posse a much needed to hit target.
Various characters have their backs to rocks and well aimed shots could cause benefitial landslides. At least one of the goons is smoking, allowing teleporting for one character. Goons, can pop out behind them or attempt to surprise them with knifes for the fighting types. Players can make their way up the rock face quickly with a difficult fitness check or they can ride their horse around to some of the positions with a difficult riding check. Some of the goons will be unreachable, so as to leave them open to the shooting, throwing, and other types.
During the fight, a faint series of whistles are heard in the distance. The sound of a train leaving the station. Also, one of the gyrocopters will launch a flare during the fight to signal that they have lost the ravine. This can be before or after the train whistles.
Goons Skill Rank 2 Flying Goons Skill Rank 3
Crawling their way through ravine, the heroes launch themselves in the final chase for the train leaving the station.
Once escaping the bloodied ravine, the players are only a short ride to the railroad. While in the ravine they hear the faint whistle in the distance of the train leaving station. Now outside the ravine, they can see the billowing plumes of smoke rising up from the locomotive that is pulling away out of the station and down along the tracks. The smoking dotting the landscape and filling the air with heavy black smoke.
It is here that the heroes make a hard ride to the train. They are able to slowly gain on the train, even at a full gallop. But once again, Masterson has one last contingent of men at his disposal. The various cars are lousy with the men throughout the various cars.
[Car layout to be determined – Refer to Hucksters & Hexes material for a train layout]
1. Engine. 2. Ghost Rock – Coal Car. 3. Supply/Tool/Crew car. 4. Personnel car. 5. Personnel car. 6. Storage car, food/provisions/mining equipment. 7. Open supply car, the launchpad for the gyrocopters. 8. Horse car. 9. Open supply car with lumber. 10. Open supply car with various tied down items.
Along the path of the train is fairly open country with a variety of rock piles and other areas. Along side the tracks at various points, the tracks are cut within or move around a hill, a higher road, that essentially runs along the tracks. Allowing players to possibly, in an impossible feat, launch their horses onto the last train car itself. Also, at some point a larger ravine approaches and the tracks clear the ravine but the posse much choose to fall in behind the train or launch themselves onto the train (this is also to get the posse to experience the content within the train and not have them shortcut all the way to the engine).
The lumber car, at some point is unleashed and when it is, the cut trees tumble out from their bindings and roll out away from the train and into the way of the posse. Difficult riding if they try to continue through the rolling lumber, failing causes the horse to falter, delaying them slightly.
Goons, in the last supply car, are laying prone taking shots at the advancing posse. The posse are able to return fire on the goons. The goons themselves are throughout the entire train as well and can take further shots from the launch pad or from within the boarded up horse car.
Players boarding the train can easily move from car to car. Except the horse car, which opens only to the sides.
10 -> 9 – over/around -> 8 -> 7 -> 6 -> 5 -> 4 -> 3 -> 2 – over the coal -> 1
Within the personnel cars, various goons are staged and hiding. The horse car, the storage car.
The storage car is unmanned. There the players can find bullets, food, supplies, sacks, and a lot of mining equipment.
The first personnel car has several of the stolen girls and any other stolen materials that the goons made off with from the town.
The second personnel car opens quickly into the first and Josie comes quickly through. Diving forward into the players, giving them a bit of a scare as to if she is a good or not, several goons follow in behind her their fists drawn for a fight.
3. Inside the anthropologist appears to have been ripped alive. His person and entrails splayed out everywhere. The girls are visibly shaken. The train is quiet now as the shooting has stopped and here the players see the trail of blood along the floor out to the end of the car, where the door has been broken open to the coal car. It is then that the players here the cha-chunk-cha-chuck of the tracks and feel the sway of the train.
2. The coal car is a huge mound of ghost-rock piled up, the smoke pouring over the mound obscuring their vision except for pieces of what appears to be flashes of several men fueling the train and a man’s legs standing shoulder width apart staring at the workers. It is suddenly when they appear to reach the crest of the mound that the man standing there is turned and it is Masterson, himself.
An adventurous person approaches the lead car of the train to find men shoveling midnight black coal into the furnace of the massive hellish beast. The fire roaring. Standing before it with his back turned is Masterson. Who turns around to face those making it to the front with what appears as though half a face. The pieces of it missing and again where it is not all there the people are able to stare through into the hellish fire with again faces formed in the fire and arms outstretched. Unnerved.
The posse that have the guts to stand against the gruesome sight (difficult) of the disfigured, see-through Masterson witness as he begans his laugh, that continues to grow in volume. His mouth opening wider and wider. It is then that the volume changes a high-pitched sound that at first you mistake for the ghost-rock but almost sounds like skidding metal. It is then at the edges of his mouth the thin, insect arm begins to crawl out. Then suddenly, bursting forth from Masterson’s mouth is a swarm of locusts – flying furiously out and towards the posse. Immediately covered the locusts they are knocked back and nearly taken off the train. At someone point, Masterson’s minions release the pin holding the engine car from the extend coal car, leaving the players in their car to fall into a lurch.
[Cicada sound needed] http://buzz.ifas.ufl.edu/c700fl1.htm [Train sound needed] http://www.michaeltaylor.ca/sound/sound-files.htm
The townsfolk are overcome with fear or are pushed back off the car. It is then Masterson in raspy shout tells them: Let’s cut some dead weight. He shoots out the cable connection and sends the remaining cars away as the engine continues to pull forward and away. The train cars begun to slow down and eventually halt. The townsfolk successful in saving the girl but losing Masterson. The watch as the black plumes of smoke cover the setting red sun in the sky.
Goons Skill Rank 2 Flying Goons Skill Rank 3
The heroes lose Masterson, however, retrieving the girls and the remains of the anthropologist they return home triumphant.
The semi-sweet victory has the heroes return with Josie, the news of the death of the anthropologist, and the escape of Masterson. When the posse return now to town with the sun long since set. They mosey on down past the half-burned buildings and the smell of quenched fire. The decorations not consumed in the flames still stand and line the various store fronts. The town and the townsfolk scurry to and fro on the main thoroughfare. As the posse approach town many of the townsfolk make their way quickly across the street and disappear into buildings. It isn’t until one person, nearly caught off guard, is visibly frightened by the advancing posse stops and nearly begins to plead for his life. It isn’t until Josie greets him that the group is in fact the posse that road out earlier and not in fact Masterson’s gang to finish the job. He erupts into cheers and quickly barrels down to the Saloon and quickly disappears inside. Moments later there is great roar and people pour out into the street cheering and yelling.
The posse is greeted warmly and ushered forward. Their horses taken and extras recovered are tied up or lead off to the stables. Arms are thrown around those familiar to the townsfolk while arms are extended to those are perhaps visitors. They are ushered in the wave to the saloon where the people slowly part and peel away to reveal the living Sheriff working well through a bottle of bourbon. On the table, a number of shot glasses lined up, stacked around a stove lid with one large dent marring the flat black makeup. The Sheriff’s cheeks are rosy.
Drinks are poured and the celebration has begun a little early.
During the celebration Josie grabs one of the heroes up the stairs (greatest appeal or perhaps the hero that came to her aid at the right moment). She offers her bed and her services without charge and begins to thrown her arms around her hero. It is then that the hero sees buried deep within her cleavage a piece of parchment. That parchment, ripped from the Anthropologist’s notebook contains information about a ritual. Josie, explains that she had nearly forgot that the doctor had given her the parchment.
The heroes not dragged off into Josie’s arms and remain in the saloon are asked about the demise of the gang and Masterson.
As the chapter comes to a close each character or groups of characters have their cameo as the camera pulls away.
The whole town celebrates with the return of the valiant townsfolk that set off to stop the men that attacked the town and stole the town’s sweetheart Josie. Drinks are poured, guns fired, and cheers and whoops carry to the edges of the Valley giving some warmth to the town. However, stories and rumors are rampantly discussed about the horrific arrival of the recently deceased Masterson. How did one return from the grave when sure he was hung before their very eyes? The now celebrated Clume brothers enjoy a night at the tables with the company of a lovely lady on each arm and an un-emptying shot glass. It is only in their occasional shared looks do they remember the unnatural occurrence of seeing Masterson again. Josie pesters “Slim” all night for drinks and dances which he rightfully avoids. His eyes and hands poring over the document he found wedged between her cleavage. What do these markings mean? Even Martha Wednesday who would find solace in the hard work of creating her cookies for the coming anniversary is haunted by the smell of the men she encountered and Masterson’s laugh.