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[HoE] Adventuring inside ghost storms/in Deadlands?

 
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Wade L
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:14 pm    Post subject: [HoE] Adventuring inside ghost storms/in Deadlands? Reply with quote

So, it would seem that the ruins of the old cities in Deadlands: Hell on Earth would have a pretty high ratio of risk-to-reward - they're all Deadlands, yes, and they're surrounded by a deadly storm wall, but those very factors mean they probably haven't been scavanged clean. And since City-Busters' conventional devastation has a much smaller radius than the spiritual "killzone", it would mean a lot of buildings/cars/whatever left pretty much intact. Obviously, for the brave posse, the ruins of the old cities might be pretty appealing.

For you, what should adventuring inside of one of the cities be like? Is this something that should be done only rarely by epic heroes, a once in a chronicle type of delving into hell? Or is it more like "Yes, this place is very dangerous, but so is the Purgatory portion of the California Maze, and that is visited often by people who are well-prepared risk-takers who see it as worthwhile in order to gain the riches"?

How dangerous do you make forays into the ruins of one of the cities turned deadlands? Okay, dangerous, yes, but there are degrees. Is the city mostly deserted except for a couple of deadly supernatural predators that hone in on the posse? Or is it a block by block fight through massed walls of Trogs in order to get anywhere? How intense/frequent are the encounters inside a deadland - how deserted/crowded with evil do you see it?

How rewarding do you make deadlands for your posse? Do you presume most everything of worth has been destroyed by nuclear fire? Or are there great big caches of consumer goods available just underneath the rubble? Do you presume other brave scavangers have already been through and picked clean all the good stuff, or do you assume that the posse might be the first ones to brave many of these areas?

Anyway, so there is my invitation to you to start talking about deadlands in Hell on Earth. So far as I know, we only have two that are officially discussed in depth - Boise and Las Vegas - and both of those are obviously fairly atypical due to their inhabitants.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:24 pm    Post subject: Re: [HoE] Adventuring inside ghost storms/in Deadlands? Reply with quote

Wade L wrote:
For you, what should adventuring inside of one of the cities be like? Is this something that should be done only rarely by epic heroes, a once in a chronicle type of delving into hell? Or is it more like "Yes, this place is very dangerous, but so is the Purgatory portion of the California Maze, and that is visited often by people who are well-prepared risk-takers who see it as worthwhile in order to gain the riches"?

Both.

It varies from city to city.
Some are more evil and vicious than others - as evidenced by iconic city-center structures (which should have been vaporized by the Bombs) standing complete and nearly intact. These cities tend to have more loot, with just enough "successful" raids to spread the rumors and legends of all the loot waiting to be taken.

Some, like Vegas, are plagued with monsters and a few Walkin' Dead, but are essentially as safe as anywhere else in the Wastes. This is rare but gives you the other end of the spectrum (so to speak).

Most are in between the two extremes. Plagued with walkin' dead, lurkers, blast shadows, and other horrors, they are extremely dangerous places. Proper reconnaissance and planning give you a solid chance to get in and out with the goods, but it's likely that someone will be seriously injured or killed during the expedition.
Without such planning, it's about as survivable as jumping off a 150' high bridge into a river. It happens, but no one actually expects it to be survived.
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Fuzyfeet
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I rarely ever make things as blatant as streets of walkin' dead or trogs. The Reckoners and their minions know that luring people into a trap is more effective than mass monsters. My Ghoststorms are populated by a few really nasties (lurkers, powerful vampire, blast shadow(s), etc.) hiding somewhere with enough minor monster (walkin' dead) that it keeps the riffraff from taking too much loot.

I had one that was populated by a "master" vampire controlling a bunch of nosferatu. He would send them out of the storm to gather all the loot they could find and then litter the inside of the storm with precious goodies to lure in scavies. He would spare every other or third group so they would "make it out" with some really good crap to draw in more people.
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King Snarf
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a nasty little idea- don't actually have anything happen, except play up how spooky it is (no sound, deep shadows). Every now and then, roll some dice (or have a player do so), and then make a concerned face behind your GM screen. Cheap trick, I know, but fun.
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maglaurus
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I treat the interiors of Ghost Storms--save for examples like Boise (a miracle) and Lost Vegas (underground detonation)--as psychic Deadlands. Each posse member wandering into a Ghost Storm faces their personal Hellscape.

That said, I'm big into the idea that the bombs didn't fall right on top of the cities. My posse just went through Billings, and I centered the five-mile blast-zone on the airport (which is north of town). This meant that the southern industrial/shopping zone was heavily irradiated and damaged, but not inside the Ghost Storm. In planning for future journeys to major cities I've made notes of those with military bases nearby. In such a case, the base becomes "ground zero" for the City-Buster and the city is damaged and irradiated but intact.

Also, just because the Last War militaries planned to drop a bomb somewhere doesn't mean it went to plan. Missiles could drift due to interference, a misfire during launch, or the EMPs of other City Busters in the vicinity.

As far as the goods available. I read through some ex-military and survivalist websites and determined that the radiation didn't destroy or contaminate anything metal or anything inside a metal container (i.e. canned food). Also, I didn't think the EMP would effect a device that wasn't plugged in or turned on in some way, so I let my scroungers find random appliances like toaster ovens. Military materials were also around, given there was fighting in the city prior to the bomb hitting it. One of the best scavenging tabes I've ever come across is in the core rulebook for the game Atomic Highway, so I borrowed heavily from it.

p.s. While it isn't accurate given our present is almost a century behind the HoE present, I like to use Google Maps to draw rough lines designating the blast zones and radiations zones. I think there's actually a program of some sort where you can virtually drop various nuclear devices onto locations in google maps. The "Neutron Bomb" best represents the range and power of a Deadlands City-Buster.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the best Deadland approaches I've seen was to make each one completely unique.

One had a fear-monger that was a Vampire, who'd gotten the Hangin' Judge coup, then went nuts and thought he was a Hangin' Judge. Forever remembered as the Hangin' Judge Vampire.

One had a fear-monger that was a automaton-version of the Headless Horseman. Being a minor Servitor, he was only stopped when the radio tower (broadcasting the narrative of his nocturnal terror) was destroyed. The thousands of walkin' dead in the surrounding city were an issue, as were the two drone cyborgs with howitzers (and a grinder on the front that turned walkin' dead into projectiles for the cannon - yuck!).

A different Deadland was being cleansed of walkin' dead by an off-shoot of the Mexican army (which was mostly ignoring the Lurkers that mostly left them alone). They utilized scavenged power armor (mostly X-suits) and their leader's training as Doomies to give settlements the following message: Get mutated or die. Nicely in the middle, as Doomie philosophy goes (normies can convert, but only mutants get to live to see the future).

And then there were the various encounters outside of Deadlands, many of which were worthy of such horrific locations (the blood demon anti-templar and his armies of walkin' dead, gangers, and lesser anti-templars).


These customized, unique Deadlands where interesting, unpredictable, and memorable. It's the best implementation that I can think of.
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Jack_Spade
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Marshal would simply have streets and locations twist and change on us. There were often hordes of walking dead that we would make the decision to fight or avoid, as well as other, tougher monsters and the like.

Hell, this one time we entered a Deadland to loot it of what we could find, fought a half-dozen zombies in a corner store, only to end up on the street facing three of these 'sentient tornadoes' of sharp metal bits (never did catch the name of that critter).

And then a Combine Raptor showed up and dropped off 6 Atomatons. We fled into a sewer, where we had a running battle with a horde of rad-rats, and then we got the hell outta there.


And that was just one time.


Another time we were to go into a Deadland to rescue someone who'd been kidnapped, and on top of various types of walking dead ( 'dozen mainliners, a few glamourpusses another encounter, etc.) We met up with another scav' crew who were duking it out with a half-dozen vampires (not sure if they were all 'true' vamps, but at least one was), and got beaten badly. And we hadn't even completed the mission. We got split up at some point and I heard one half of my crew got wrecked by this lurker-thing (looks like a water-tower, but is actually a monster). Glad I was with the half that did the rescuing....
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Wade L
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first Deadland I sent my players into, I actually underplayed things quite a bit...going for deserted, but always with hints of hidden menace just out of sight, like there was something incredibly horrible just the next block over, but you'd better not investigate because you don't want to draw its attention. Of course, when they came across what looked like the perfectly intact storefront of an old gun store, they took the bait and almost got eaten by trogs, but otherwise things were pretty low intensity.

That was a pretty small center though(Lafayette, LA). I'm thinking things will be more horrid the bigger the city and the more people who died there.
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WilyQuixote
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For my part I handle the Deadland Cities as such. The farther in towards the center you go the worse it gets. On the outer edges you run into fellow scavengers, both normal and mutants, but by the time you get ten miles or less from ground zero its mostly only monsters a posse will encounter. However the further in you go the better the salvage gets, imagine finding a HOME DEPOT , Radio Shack, or a Wal-Mart in HoE still fully stocked with nonperishables. The museums contain actual bona-fide artifacts and relics! There is a reason though for them still being there though, and that is its crazy dangerous to get in, grab them, and then try to get out.

As for "officially discussed" Deadlands there are actually a few more then just Boise and Vegas. There is as far as I can remember, the following...

Deadland Cities

Denver- Obviously this gets major attention thanks to an excellent full book dealing with the whole city. I would dearly love to see what was left out of this book from what was to be included in the original boxed set. Ah the secrets we will never know...

Deadwood- Detailed in Spirit Warriors though not as heavily as Denver it is still an excellent resource for encounters and exploring a deadland city. It also does an excellent job of going into the logistical nightmare of trying to get into Deadwood, grab your salvage, and then get out. Monsters would be a welcome diversion IMO! As a side note here this book also contains some of the most beautiful illustration work of any of the HoE supplements.

Lost Angeles- Detailed in Savage Coast. It receives slightly less detail attention then Deadwood but then again almost all of the city is underwater. Still there are some good bits in the book to help a Marshal run a salvage mission adventure.


If there are anymore Deadland cities I can't remember them right now. It seems like I'm missing one or two but I have no idea which ones they would be.
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King Snarf
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to say Colorado Springs is detailed; I know there was some CO city detailed in the Brainburners adventure. There's also Seattle, which is covered a little in Wasted West.
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WilyQuixote
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah I believe you're right about Colorado Springs King Snarf. I had forgotten about Seattle and remembered lastnight that the adventure Something about a Sword details another city/town deadland fairly well. The name of the city/town escapes me though.

edit 4/1/11:

Found another one while looking through the books I have, trying to find my new posse's first adventure. Though not a city or town per se, Dempsey Island from the dime novel Killer Clowns, is a genuine deadland that does a great job illustrating the difficulties of adventuring in a deadland. For instance at one point the players are required to make a foolproof guts check. Sounds easy enough until the book reminds you that without grit to mitigate the penalty each player takes a -6 to their rolls! Suddenly that foolproof roll isn't so easy anymore.

Overall the novella is an excellent, scratch that, is the best adventure published with regards to dealing with the details of adventuring in a deadland. It is filled with lots of notes and reminders for the Marshal on how to handle a true deadland. It's not the best adventure published for HoE (IMO) but none of the others help a Marshal out with tracking all the relevant rules of a deadland. It even offers suggestions on whether or not to subject your PCs to guts checks among others. I'd even go so far as to say this is a must have primer for a Marshal wanting to take his posse into a deadland.
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Wendigo1870
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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mostly my posses avoided the city Deadlands unless they really had to go in there - I made it obvious that it's really not something to be trifled with! One time, 3 of my players entered one, and just barely managed their first encounter in the hour (which was about 20 armed walkin' dead): then they saw running away to live another day wasn't a bad idea Razz .
Some random tables (like the one for deadwood I think) lets the marshall roll a D10, with 1-4 not being a (significant) encounter. 5-10 are all dangerous events, from hordes of muties to wandering monsters to entire buildings crumbling down on the players, ...
Other than that: If I was the Marshal who'd send the players into Deadlands all the time, I'd treat every City Deadland with a unique flavor, like Deadwood (crumbling buildings and toxic zombies) Denver (no ghost storm, lots of automatons and Black Hats), Lost Angels (mostly flooded, making it an 'environmental theme', ... Northern Cities could have icy cold themes, Mississippi cities could be flooded and overgrown, warmer central cities could be scorching desolate necropolisses, ...
The rewards should, of course, probably be worth the risk.
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