[Apocalypse World] The Climbers


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I recently started an Apocalypse World game with my online gaming group. My major intention is to follow the development of a single Apocalypse World setting and set of characters over the course 20+ sessions.

As in my earlier actual play reports, this will indicate digressions from the main subject. For the character creation section this is mostly out of character digressions.

Character Creation Session

The first session of Apocalypse World is always character creation. We figure out who the characters are, how they know each other, and what their world is like. It involves a lot of improvisation on the part of the Master of Ceremonies (MC) or game master.

Improvisation without preparation is not my strongest skill so this session was also a tool for training myself to be a better (or at least more versatile) game master. Prior to the game, I made things easier for myself by soliciting some details about the world and the characters so that I could develop some interesting questions as starting points. Here is what they provided:

  • Alec wanted to play the Gunlugger, or in his words a non-squishy character.
  • My wife, Grace, decided on the Skinner playbook, since Hot was the one stat her earlier characters had not emphasized.
  • Mike after some thought decided on the Ruin Runner. This was an interesting choice as I had not offered that playbook and had some concerns about one of the moves (I feel Canny is too strong). We came to an agreement on the issue (limiting the move to Manipulating people).
  • Finally Sarah, who had never played the game before, chose the Touchstone for roleplaying reasons (i.e. the best ones).
  • The group also decided on some major issues in the world we were creating: slavery, dangerous food, factories, and some sort of killer fungus.

I started play by given a brief rules rundown for Sarah’s benefit and then focused on pinning down the big aspects of the game world.

I told her Apocalypse World is like World of Darkness but with less dice rolling. At least that’s how I tend to run most of my games.

I started by asking why food was dangerous. Was it because it was well guarded and hard to get? Possibly poisonous? Could it only be found in decaying food factories filled with deadly haywire robots?

After some discussion the group decided not to have a single reason but rather that “dangerous food” should be a theme of the game as a whole. In some places the food has to be carefully prepared since it is naturally poisonous, in others it might be hard to get and lots of people fight over it, in others it might be physically dangerous to obtain like bullet resistant mutant boars.

We then talked about the factories. Everyone liked the idea that some of the machines were still working. Sarah suggested that some may be tended to by cults like the atom bomb in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Alec liked the idea of technology having gone haywire. Sarah added they might be running out of control like the defense systems from Logan’s Run.

After getting those ideas down we discussed one possible cause of the apocalypse, a killer fungus that depopulated the world. There were a lot of good ideas here. The basic concept was that it was like the zombie fungus that infects some ants. Basically it causes people to act weirdly and eventually makes them climb up to a high point before dying and releasing new spores. So the ruins are full of skeletal remains hanging from high rises and telephone pools with desiccated fungal stalks sticking out of their skulls.

Alec asked how dangerous this stuff was and if they (as survivors) were immune? Mike brought up the idea that they might have some sort of semi-immunity. We decided there was not much of the fungus left around, limiting exposure to a few unplundered zones (rich with canned goods of course). I also put forward the idea that the fungus was once much more virulent (and airborne). Nowadays it was still deadly to survivors but was treatable.

I also pointed out it was too bad they lacked an Angel.

Then Grace reminded me about the issue of slavery. She remarked her interest was from watching lots of Spartacus and from hearing about Mike’s original plan to play a Spectacle. I promoted the idea of using slave labor for getting food. In other words that what food wasn’t dangerous was labor intensive and required back-breaking work. Probably mutant turnips or something.

Sarah asked what sort of slavery was in use? I pointed out that a Viking-style or raid based slavery was probably what could be supported by the population density of the setting. Grace said another option was that people who wander into the wrong person’s territory could get caught and enslaved. She also noted that larger hardholds might have a more diverse selection of uses for slaves. We briefly digressed into a discussion of serfs but I felt the need to point out that the game world is not very settled.

All this talk about slaves led to some chatter about Rome. The group was of the opinion that someone out there probably calls themselves Caesar. There were then more Planet of the Apes jokes.

I then asked the group what the starting location’s landscape was like? I proposed endless desert, urban ruins, and a few others. When no one jumped forward with an answer, I directed the question at the Ruin Runner. After dealing with a bad internet connection, Mike finally received the question and told us it was a swamp, somewhere near a large open body of water with nearby forests.

I plan to make the Ruin Runner the default answerer of landscape questions.

By this point the overall opinion was that the setting was a Post Apocalyptic Florida with alligator filled Everglades and sunken ruins. Alec proposed a ruined Miami while several people joined in on some jokes about Disney World. Mike pointed out they have advanced food production facilities, fitting the factory and potentially dangerous food vibe. Grace proposed the hardholder wears a ritualized crown with Mickey Mouse ears.

I quipped it is a small world after all.

Shelving talk about the exact starting point for the moment we turn to the characters. Mike had confided in me that he already had a backstory. Alec pointed out we were not supposed to do that for Apocalypse World but Mike clarified it was not very detailed, consisting of 4 bullet points. I think that is a reasonable level for a collaborative game like this.

Character creation was a bit muddled with stats generally getting determined before names were locked down. One idea that popped up in the process was the psychic maelstrom might be tied into the spore infections somehow. Added to our problems were more connection issues and making dinner for myself and my wife.

We started with the Ruin Runner who focused on Cool and Hard and took the moves Good enough! and They’d be crazy to follow us in here. For gear he grabbed a 9mm pistol, a big knife, a multitool, a bolthole, and some makeshift armor.

The Gunlugger of course took NOT TO BE FUCKED WITH as well as Battlefield instincts and Fuck this shit. He also went with +2 sharp so had some serious deficits in Hot and Weird. With the idea that he works as an assassin and part-time bodyguard for hire, he had a silenced sniper rifle, ap ammo, a smg, and many knives for weapons. His armor was scrounged and patched together military gear.

My wife’s Skinner took Lost and Artful & gracious. Her character had no negative stats and a slight advantage in weird. She was also armed with hidden knives and carried antique coins and a skin and hair kit. She remarked based on her lack of Hard and being the only one with a positive Weird stat that her character was the inverse of the others.

Sarah’s Touchstone emphasized Sharp and Cool and took Towering presence and Indomitable (which the Gunlugger had his eye on as well). She decided her character might have come from a family of survivalists. We discussed her taking a sawed off shotgun, though I pointed out the downsides of messy, like being making it harder to hide the bodies.

The Touchstone asked me if her token of hope could be anything. This then led to another question: have the survivors forgotten to read? The group weighed in. A world of illiterates would be interesting from my point of view but only if the rest of the group signed on with it. I pointed out that illiteracy would definitely be very prevalent in any case. The Ruin Runner added that he’d like to be able to read or at least be fluent in all forms of warning signs. We settled on most people being illiterate.

The Touchstone decided her token is a pocket anthology edition of the Federalist papers including a copy of the Constitution and other founding documents. I asked if this is a symbol of “the past that could be reborn” which she agreed with.

We then digressed into a discussion about the Postman and Kevin Costner movies in general. I compared her Touchstone to the movie as a whole “except hopefully a whole lot less boring.” Mike pointed out his movies are cool in theory while Grace said they suffer from being really long. Alec said he has trouble editing.

Mechanics down, we began character introductions:

  • November Orleans (the Skinner) goes by November. Her family is originally from New Orleans (before it sank). It has been 3 generations since they lived there but they kept the name. A beautiful woman of mixed heritage with dark eyes and skin, she possesses a sweet face and lush body. She dresses herself in a mix of scavenged clothing that somehow works together. Around her neck she wears rows of antique coins strung together like a necklace which jingles and shines as she moves. Her main profession is as a dancer, especially belly dancing, but she has a sideline business in cooking.
  • Gator (the Gunlugger) is a dude dressed in customized scrounged armor made from Kevlar and ceramic inserts that is covered in jungle camouflage. A local, his face was fucked up in a fight with an alligator. He likes to say “he fought a gator hand to hand and the gator bit his face but he bit back.” His eyes are always sizing things up and his brutal life has left his body a hard sheet of muscle.

With the Ruin Runner again suffering internet woes, we move to:

  • Violet Jefferson (the Touchstone) dresses in survival wear and is quite plain-looking. But her clear eyes and general fitness distinguishes her from the rabble. She is used to living off the land and is quite practical, carrying a hunting rifle and 9mm wherever she goes. This is the first time she’s been away from the main branch of her family, a clan descended from pre-apocalypse survivalists.

At this point with our Ruin Runner still fighting internet difficulties, I went out to get dinner ready so I heard this next part quite a bit later from the recording. Grace entertained the other players with some stories from earlier games.

Mike returned and introduced his character:

  • Billie Ray Tallahassee “BRT” (the Ruin Runner) is a bastard. Of mixed Asian-American heritage, this young man has a narrow frame and nimble fingers. He keeps his beard and hair short, and he wears armor/clothing derived from protective motorcycle gear and hunting clothing. He generally travels on foot for local scavenging, booking passage on vehicles for long distances.

Mike informs us that all bastards where he grew up took the last name of the city. Alec asks if bastards matter. Grace points out it does if there is a ruling family. This throws an interesting light on the Orleans and Jefferson families. While I don’t think they are bastards, it does imply that they belong to (perhaps formerly) important families. That said it takes Mike quite a bit of time to pin down the character’s full name. Ultimately his fiancée (who was hanging out in the background) provided one with the right ring.

They also make a comment of needing a hovercraft chase in the Everglades. I’ll have to think on it.

Finally I return, get caught up on most of the details.

Next we move on to Hx. After a short rules discussion we go around and each character explains how they know the other characters:

  • BRT once traveled with Orleans in the marshy wastes.
  • BRT used be Gator’s lover.
I made sure to check that he (Gator) was okay with that. Grace suggested he thought BRT was a girl. Alec (Gator) comments that it wasn’t entirely consensual. Mike (BRT) adds that they may have been really drunk, suggesting it was more of a one night stand.

  • Finally BRT was sent on a wild goose chase, a hunt for the Declaration of Independence in the swamp that was D.C., by Violet.
  • For his part, Gator fought shoulder to shoulder with Violet. The circumstances are still unclear. Gator suggests he might have been guarding her while she suggests that they were looking for something.
  • Gator says that after their fling, BRT came across him bleeding and did nothing for him.

Cue comments about “rough sex” from my wife and I. Gator suggests he might have been guarding him and he ran off. BRT amends that to say he came across Gator after he was wounded and based on their earlier relationship left him there. “That’s cold.”

  • Gator thinks November is the prettiest.
  • November decides Violet and she share some interests (like culture) and are friends.
  • November also decides, based on Gator’s assessment that she is the prettiest, that Gator is in love with her.
  • November has nothing special going on with BRT. Though they traveled together, she learned more about him than he did about her.
  • Violet tells everyone she is an open book. She also decides that everyone in the group has a place in her vision of a restored America.

Next we do highlighting!

  • November highlights Violet’s cool. I add hard.
  • Violet highlights BRT’s hard and I add sharp.
  • Gator gets his cool highlighted by BRT. I consider highlighting hard but go with sharp instead.
  • BRT highlights November’s weird and I cover hot.

Then we got to playing.

Building a World
Well not quite. First we need some Q&A to determine the initial location, its inhabitants, and how the player characters relate to them. From here on out I’ll refer to the player characters by the character names.

I start by asking, “What’s the local hardhold like?” Obviously they are in a swamp but are the characters localized or do they wander between several holdings?

Gator says they are wanderers and the others agree. They travel between a series of small hardholds. There are rumors of a larger holding around a huge silver ball as well as cult living within a massive building with the letters N A S A across it.

Gator is a traveler or as I like to call him “a wandering death machine.”

November says their initial location is a small holding of about 50 people.

How does this local place get by? Do they have one of those rare factories? Are they a crazy cult? Or do they have a market?

November and BRT tell me it is a gator farm. Gator points out that gator is definitely dangerous food.

As one of the rare food sources, I ask November if she has any good recipes for gator?

She tells me of course and we worked out the local big man, Hurricane is her current patron.

Hurricane is the hardholder of Stumpland, our gator farm. He employs November to make spiced alligator jerky that can be stored and traded over long distances. Hurricane is bigger and healthier than most people in the area due to his protein rich diet.

The holding name came from looking at a map of Florida and seeing a town of Lakeland. I combined it with a random bit of trivia in my head involving a real world town called Stumptown.

Also at this point I stopped typing my notes in play as I realized it is taking too much time.

I turn to Gator. “How do you get your armor piercing bullets? Do you have a guy who makes them?”

Gator tells me he makes them himself with a bullet press. He does have a guy he buys Teflon and heavy metals from however.

We had a short digression into Gator and BRT’s connections, when I ask if BRT does any of his supplying. Gator points out being left bleeding puts a damper on any professional relationship.

BRT asks, “how did I become the bad guy?”

His supplier is Gunge, a tall thin man who lives somewhere in the swamp. He is very cagey about where he lives. He is also missing his right eye. Violet adds the detail that he never tells the same story twice about how he lost his eye.

I ask Violet where her family lives? North, South, East?

She establishes it as Northly. We speculate it might be near D.C. but decide against it.

Does Violet have any family in the area?

She tells me the main branch still lives up there but her Aunt and Uncle moved down to Stumpland. She calls them Aunt Julia and Uncle Buck. She visits them each summer to learn the fine art of alligator trapping. Her Aunt and Uncle work for Hurricane raising the gators for harvest. I add the detail that Buck is down a few fingers. Gator says Buck likes to say that “the Buck stops here.”

Making my way to the last player character, I ask BRT about the vendetta he mentioned to me. “Remind me which parent was it that got killed? How did they die?”

He says his mother died in a hail of bullets when he was a kid, murdered by an older man with an American flag and sword tattoo on his shoulder.

We establish that BRT has been trying to track the killer down, moving from place to place to widen his search. Now he’s in Stumpland and his quarry is nearby.

“Oh this is going to be horrible,” I say. “I think Uncle Buck has a tattoo.” Violet worries about her Uncle as I tell BRT that he has a line on a man with an American flag tattoo on his arm in this town. Violet sighs and says “I guess he had it coming.”

Gator tells BRT, “if you are looking for someone to take care of that…I’m just saying.”

Returning to Violet, I ask how she spreads her vision of a restored United States of America? She says she talks to people, spreading the word of the founding fathers. Her methods are peaceful.

Gator comments that violence is an answer.

I tell her that there is a woman in the holding named Bowdy. She’s really taken with Violet’s vision. “But…what would a person who didn’t fit your vision of the future be like?”

Violet says, “that’s really hard…someone who craves power for the sake of being powerful.”

So I tell them that Bowdy, a heavy-set woman, is the local slave trader. Despite her enthusiasm for democracy, she is a cruel taskmaster, using the weakest of her stock to flush out alligators on the road. She wants more and willing to destroy people to get it.

Having saddled Violet with some troubles, I ask November about her deal with Hurricane. She explains, “I figure they turn the gator meat into jerky and I have this special blend of spices that I can whip up.” This serves to preserve the meat given the tropical climate and lack of refrigeration technology.

“So Hurricane buys a lot of your stuff?” I ask. November replies that she has a contract with him to prepare a set amount of meat. She lets him know when she is in town so they can arrange the harvesting.

“So you also dance”, I say. “Where do you do your dancing?”

“What is Stumpland like?” November asks.

“At the moment all I have are some gator pits and a bunch of huts,” I explain and prod her to fill in the details.

“I envision a communal meeting area, an old gator pit converted in a makeshift amphitheater,” she tell us. “They have a Sabbath, not necessarily on Sunday, where they take off and get together and discuss current events and tell stories about the world that was.”

BRT adds, “that is probably one of the two days I’m in town.”

After a slight digression about whether BRT is visiting then to see November dance (and if he is a fan of hers), I add a new NPC.

“So you have a fan,” I tell her. “A tall thin guy called Gunge. He’s really more of a stalker, creepy, with one eye.” I warn her that she might need to deal with him at some point.

Gator says, “he’s harmless.”

I go back to Gator. “So Gator, you kill people?”

“I do assassinations.”

“So you killed Zuzu a while back. Why is Hurricane upset about that?” I ask. “You were paid good money for it.”

Gator replies that it was because Zuzu was his nephew. However Zuzu crossed another hardholder.

“So you don’t really care about it?”

Gator explains he is more confused about why Hurricane is so upset about it.

Violet asks if Zuzu had a reputation as kind of a jerk?

“Yeah in another holding,” Gator explains.

With our setup complete (for now), we finally get to the action. Second half to follow soon.


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Okay onto game play.

Stats highlighted are: BRT (Hard, Sharp), Gator (Cool, Sharp), November (Hot, Weird), Violet (Cool, Hard).

Welcome to Stumpland
The sun slowly climbs higher in the sky above the muddy amphitheater of Stumpland. Several people clean the cracked wooden benches surrounding the central “stage” while others assemble a bonfire in preparation for the Gathering later that evening.

“What is BRT up to?” I ask. “Is there place he stays every time he is in town?”

“Yes, someplace he feels safe.”

“Like somebody’s house or a saloon?”

“Someone’s house,” the Ruin Runner clarifies, “someone he feels comfortable with.”

“So Matilda’s, Hurricane’s niece? He’s got a big family. What’s her house like?”

“Not too big, but with a wood floor.”

“So on stilts to stay dry?”

“Yeah with hammocks inside.”

“So what is it you trade around here? Not food obviously.”

“Scrap metal and cooking utensils.”

“Where do you scavenge that stuff?”

BRT explains he has a place fairly close by where he can get the scrap but isn’t safe for other people to go.

“What makes it so dangerous?”

He tells me the structures are unstable. They are near the coast. The damage from the water and storms is rotting away the foundations and destroying the reinforced concrete. There are a lot of old box stores there as well as hotels.

“Have you confided in Matilda about your vendetta or who you are looking for?”

BRT admits he would have eventually.

BRT enters town. The scavenger ignores the people preparing the meeting site. Instead he makes his way to Matilda’s. The well-built hut sits high above the swampy earth on a set of stilts. He quickly climbs up the rope ladder near the front.

As he reaches the porch, the dark-haired woman greets him. “Hey Billy Ray, good to see you.”

“You too Matilda, ” he says, hefting himself up. “How are things going on around here?”

“They’re going,” she says with a broken smile. “We need some scrap metal though. Rover’s gone and wrecked the only pickup in town.”

“They need scrap metal or they need something bigger?” BRT says, already sensing the answer.

The older woman looks down with a frown. “They need something bigger. They are trying to replace the axle.”

“Oh,” he says grimly.

“Yeah, you wouldn’t have a line on something like that would you?” she says looking back up at him.

“I’d have to see the kind of truck, see if I can source it.”

“I’m sure Hurricane would be happy to let you have a look. If you can fix it.”

“I think I know where I can get that, depending on what I see,” he tells her.

“Well, let’s head over there.”

“Where does Gator go when he comes to town?” I ask.

He tells us he heads to either the local drinking/entertainment establishment or to see Gunge.

I reply that Gunge lives outside of town and is hard to get a hold of. He should be here in the evening however.

“What about November?”

Prior to the Gathering, she says she’d be getting spices for making the jerky.

I tell them there is an establishment near the gathering site run by a fellow known as Jackbird. He is an odd ball, dressed in a nice polyester suit. Supposedly he blew in 4 or 5 years ago on the now grounded ship that sits behind his shop. He provides only source of alcohol in town as well as selling spices and other items.

“Where is Violet?” I ask for moment until I realize as a member of the community (at least partially) she might be asked to help with the repairs on the pickup. She agrees she would be there.

As the two clamber down to weed peppered ground, BRT’s keen eyes spot Gator walking into Jackbird’s. A white ship sits awkwardly behind the shop, dwarfing most of the structures in Stumpland. BRT directs Matilda to take the long way around.

Inside the well armed warrior finds November perusing Jackbird’s eclectic collection of goods. Gator peels his eyes off the gorgeous woman and sits down at the makeshift bar.

“Give me a glass of that swill you call alcohol…or paint thinner,” Gator barks.

The man behind the bar in the white polyester suit turns around and yells at the corner just to the left of Gator, “Swill you say? Swill!?”

Gator glances at the empty corner then back at Jackbird. The fair-haired man ducks under the bar. A gurgling noise drifts up from below and a moment later Jackbird reappears with a dingy glass filled with a ciderish looking liquid in his hand. He plops it down in front of Gator.

The scarred man sniffs at it warily. Assured that it is indeed alcoholic, he raises the glass to November. “Here hot stuff.”

As he downs the drink, Jackbird leans in. “So my dear fellow I suppose you are here about the job offer.”

Gator hides his confusion. “Sure.”

“Excellent, so…,” Jackbird pauses dramatically. “It is an exceedingly large problem for me. So I would appreciate you taking care of this for me quickly.”

“What’s the problem?”

“Didn’t my agent explain? I need you to-” He stops and looks around. “My brother is coming to town. I need you to remove him for me.”

Back in his comfort zone, Gator asks, “What kind of permanency you looking for?”

Jackbird looks over Gator’s shoulder where the butt of his sniper rifle juts out. “I think you know what kind.”

“Can you cover my fee?”

“I can cover your fee. Yes, yes,” he says excitedly. “I have just the thing in the back.”

“What’s that?” he asks.

“I’m not going to bring it out here where the locals can see it!”

“Fine. But remember to pay the fee,” Gator says with a knowing look.

“Right.” Jackbird then describes his brother, Dustwich. He gives a description quite similar to his own: thin, clean-shaven, pale skinned. “We are cut from the same cloth but his hair is darker. He should be arriving this evening.”

As Jackbird finalizes his deal with the assassin, November listens in. She gathers the herbs she will need for the alligator jerky. Jackbird’s shelves are filled with a variety of items: crystalware, pristine shot glasses, an impressive array of fishing gear, and a shelf of tourists souvenirs.

After a couple of minutes the heavily armed and armored man leaves. November approaches the bar and puts her purchases on Hurricane’s tab. Then she asks Jackbird, “What do you have in the back?”

Our first roll of the game! November rolls Manipulate a person on Jackbird. She gets a 7. So he’ll need some payment up front to let her see what he plans to pay Gator with. She also marks experience.

“I have a bit of this and that. I have a particular item you’d find interesting. I suppose if you let me in on that home cooking magic I could spare you a glance.”

November seem confused at what he wants, so Jackbird attempts to clarify. “It is one thing to have a fish but another to know how to fish. A recipe, a recipe, my dear woman.”

“For what?” she asks. “What do you catch around here?”

“Mostly get gators,” he sighs.

“I thought we were talking fish,” she says eyeing the fishing gear.

“The coast is 20 miles that way,” he replies. “There are crocodiles and pythons between here and there.”

“I have a good recipe for python.”

“Really?” He considers the offer. “The pythons are winning out over the gators,” he mutters. “Yes, it is a deal.”

“You have most of what you need right here,” she says as Jackbird pulls out a piece of paper and begins jotting down the instructions.

50 yards away on the other side of town, a crowd gathers around a rusty pickup propped up on cinder blocks. Violet looks on as a white-haired man pulls himself out from under the faded blue jeep.

The old man looks up at Hurricane. The muscular figure asks, “Can it be fixed? Maybe with a log?”

Hurricane is the biggest healthiest man in town. It is good to be the hardholder.

“We can’t just replace it with a piece of wood”, Rover tells him. “You don’t understand. We need a new axle. If we had welding gear or something like that maybe we could make a new one ourselves but we don’t. We don’t have anything like that.”

Matilda and BRT mix with the crowd. BRT pushes through and takes a look under the vehicle. The axle is destroyed, worn away by rust and time. Craning his head, he sees room for a lot more repairs as well.

Where could I get new axle? BRT asks.

The highway but you would have to go through the swamp, avoid the highway gangs, and then haul it back here.

BRT gets back up and approaches the two men. “Hurricane, sir?”


“I know a place were we could get one but I’ll need protection and muscle to get it.”

“We need this fixed.”

“I’ll be perfectly honest with you on my own I can’t get it. It’s not a matter of will.”

Hurricane sizes him up. “You’ve brought us plenty of scrap before. Where were you thinking you could pick this up?”

BRT fills him in on his plan. Plenty of axles could be salvaged from the highway. But he will need to make his way through the swamp and the gangs. “I’d need time to flip a truck.”

“I can’t spare men to fight gangs,” the big man says. He looks around and frowns. “I have little enough to defend this place. I’m sorry.”

“That’s the only place I can get this from,” the scavenger says.

“Let me think on it,” Hurricane says running a scarred hand through his blond hair. His frown deepens. “Damn it, damn it,” he says kicking the truck angrily.

What do you do?

“Let me know you want to do,” BRT says as he watches Hurricane throw a tantrum. “I’ll be at Matilda’s house.”

“Fuck off,” he tells him.

What is Violet doing during the tantrum?

As she is thinking, I have an idea.

As BRT wanders off Hurricane calls out. “What a minute.” He turns to Violet. “Uh, Jefferson. You got something you need to be doing here? Maybe you could protect BRT while he gets us a new axle.”

“I can do that,” she says.

“Okay you need at least two other people to carry the axle back,” he says stroking his chin. “Fuck.”

He points at two members of the crowd. “You and you. You join them out there, get the axle, get back quick as possible, and don’t get eaten by pythons.”

Dice and Kal look at each other. The portly man shrugs at the lean rugged teen in cargo pants.

A short distance away, Matilda approaches BRT. She looks around for second and then asks, “you said you were looking for someone with a weird tattoo?”

“Yeah, a sword and flag,” he says with a hint of excitement.

“There was this rumor about a gang called the Wild Eyes. They all had sword tattoos. It was their thing. I heard one of the families that moved in used to ride with them.”


“I can do some more digging if you want,” she says.

“Sure but don’t put yourself in any danger.”

“Alright,” she says.

“This dude isn’t a nice guy,” he warns her.

“Sounds kind of dangerous.” She steps closer. “Since I’m doing this favor for you I was wondering if you could do one for me.”

“What you looking for?”

“Well you see…I knew this guy once by the name of Corbett.” she says haltingly, looking away. “He and I were sweethearts back in the day. He went over the wrong hill. You know what can happen sometimes.”


“I saw him recently,” she chokes. “He’s in chains now. In Bowdy’s crew. He’s a slave.”

“So you need something to buy him with?” BRT asks.

“Buy him, steal him, whatever,” she says looking him in the eyes.

“Stealing is not safe in this town,” he says. “So you are going to buy him or buy Gator.”

She nods. “So I track this guy down for you, you’ll help me get Corbett back?”

“Whatever happens I’ll try to get some barter for you,” he assures her.

“Alright,” she says, glancing over his shoulder as Hurricane arranges for BRT’s ‘assistants’. “Good luck to you.”

“Thanks, I think I might need it,” he says as he turns to the approaching figures.

“There you are,” Violet says. She gestures behind her at the leather clad teen and machete wielding fat man. “So Hurricane asked us to go look for that axle you told us about.You need people to help you lift it, that’s us.”

BRT looks up at the sky. “Okay get your rations. It will probably be a couple of days, four tops. If it is more than four we are in real trouble. We leave in the morning.”

“Got it,” she says.

“We leave in the morning when its hot and the gators are not active.”

The other players discuss the legitimacy of whether the gators would be docile in the heat. I side with BRT on environmental issues. In other words these alligators have this behavior. Perhaps they are mutants? They’ve survived the pythons at least.

After a further digression of giant gators fighting giant pythons and whether I’d allow a beast master in the game (yes), we return to the story.

Back at Jackbird’s, November follows the strange shop owner out the back door of his business and straight into a gash in the yacht’s hull.

He leads her through a network of narrow metal corridors. Occasional small light bulbs provide a modicum of light, powered presumably by the generator she can hear rattling away deeper within the ship.

They pass boxes of crystalware, fishing gear, and even a couple of chandlers. Jackbird moves a harpoon out of the way as he opens up a closet door.

Inside November makes out some sort of high-tech stuff, including a tablet of some sort, a harpoon gun, and a strange device with coiled tubes coming out of it. Jackbird however points to the two large canisters sitting next to a crumpled wet suit.

November’s eyes widen. “I’ve heard about these things. They let you breath underwater.”

“Breath underwater or where you don’t want to breathe the world,” Jackbird says proudly.

“Does it work?”

“Of course it works!”

“I didn’t mean to offend,” she says wiping a canister with a finger. As she looks at the thick layer of dust, she mentions that he will need clean work space if he is going to make the python dish.

Jackbird sputters, “Well I haven’t needed to use it much. I’ve been saving it if I had to go to the city. I don’t want to be breathing in the spores. I don’t need a case of the climbers.”

And our fungal disease gets a name.

“How did the ship get here?” November asks.

“It was the storm!” he say throwing his hands in the air.


“Why do I have to keep explaining this? No one believes me about the storm.” He starts gesturing wildly. “I was out at sea, the storm blew in. There was lightning and weird balls of stuff and I got blown here.”

“Alright,” she says hoping to calm him.

“And everybody’s like ‘there wasn’t a freaking rain drop’,” he mutters.

November chooses to Open her brain to the psychic maelstrom to learn more about the ship. She gets a 10. I ask first what is it like when you open your mind to the psychic maelstrom?

November says it is a form of over-stimulation which then resolves itself into a pattern.

She also marks experience.

Intrigued by the strange tale, November reaches out with her mind. Besides her own breathing, she hears the distant rumbling of the generator. Slowly she makes out the creaks and groans of the ship shifting in the midday heat. The glare of the bulb overhead becomes painful while the darkness around her becomes absolute. Suddenly she is hit by the thick smell of the ocean. Her head rocks as if the ship itself was swaying on the sea.

“Like the ship is at sea right now?”


In her confusion, it feels like the ship is both sitting here on the damp earth of Stumpland and that it is drifting on a vast ocean. She reaches out to steady herself and for a moment her hand does not connect with the wall. As if it wasn’t really there.

Gator, what are you up to?

Looking for work, waiting for Dustwich to show up, waiting until Gunge arrives.

Outside Gator tries to talk to the locals but whether it is his face or fact that none of them have left Stumpland in 3 years, no one is interested in his services. He is about to give up when he hears the rumble of an engine coming down the north road.

A few minutes later a banged up jeep flying the Confederate flag comes through the trees and into town. A small crowd begins to grow near the amphitheater as everyone in town hears its approach.

Gator’s sharp eyes pick out four people piled inside. Two of them are much larger than average making the vehicle extra cramped.

Gator asks, Does that flag mean anything to me?

Does it? I reply. The symbol is definitely familiar.

I haven’t decided if I care, he says.

The jeep comes to a stop in front of the amphitheater. A huge blond-haired man steps out. Gator spots the big machete under his long shabby coat as well as some other, smaller, weapon.

He is soon joined by another tall figure, this one decked out in makeshift armor made from football padding and melted plastic. His hands are tightly clenched around his rifle.

As the giant and rifleman scan the area, a third figure emerges. His fine gold suit and bright red tie reads as the man in charge to Gator’s practiced gaze. He also notes with satisfaction a family resemblance to Jackbird as well as his dark hair.

While the three men head for Jackbird’s, Gator checks the driver. A wiry little woman with frizzy graying hair, she sticks inside the jeep, tending to her thick spectacles.

Gator decides to observe them for a bit. Two of them enter the shop while the giant, almost 7 feet tall, fills the doorway behind them, keeping watch. Quietly Gator slips around to the north side of Jackbird’s and looks through the cracks of the boarded up window. The rattling of the generator drowns out the interior conversation.

November asks, “do I recognize this person?”

You see him as he comes into the shop. And yeah you do know him. You didn’t know him by that name though. But he used to run a really fancy establishment in a hotel up north. He employed you once. But you had to leave in a hurry from that gig. Why?

“He’s never had the best control over his boys,” she says. “It wasn’t entirely me either. He had this big extravaganza and a riot broke out with the other people. He tries to be the big man but he doesn’t have what it takes to control something that big.”

I turn to Gator and ask him to roll Acting Under Fire to sneak up to Jackbird’s unnoticed. He gets an 8 and marks experience. I tell him he can get close by but he will have a bad view and some of the conversation may be lost in racket caused by the generator. He goes for it (and then the player has to take a phone call).

“Violet?” I say. “You definitely know that Hurricane will be coming here soon.”

She asks what Dustwich might be doing here. I tell her it isn’t clear. She decides to get closer to see what is going on. But she isn’t hiding.

BRT decides to Read a Sitch and gets an 8. He asks where is my best escape route? He also marks experience.

There are lots of options but perhaps the best is between the two gator pens. It is a narrow path and to either side are deadly alligators.

The others take note of the visitors. Violet walks up to Jackbird’s while BRT casually heads over to the gator pens in case a quick retreat becomes necessary.

She is met by the blond giant’s massive hand. “Hey private business!”

Violet shrugs and finds a less obvious place to keep watch.

Her eyes are soon drawn back to the jeep where Hurricane and his local muscle are congregating.

Over by the gator pens, BRT comments, “this can’t be good.” He looks around quickly and relaxes a bit when he doesn’t spot Matilda among the crowd.

Back inside Jackbird and November emerged from the back of the shop and directly into Dustwich and his muscle.

I neglected to ask what she was doing…oops.

The dark-haired man steps closer. “So I finally tracked you down, brother. I suppose you won’t be able to hide out on your boat any longer. I can finally get this issue dealt with.”

The armored goon paws at the items on the shelves of the shop while November spies a giant man barring the door.

November asks, “Do I know where Gator is?”

“You don’t.”

She chooses to Read a Sitch and gets an 11. What should I be on the lookout for?

Something weird is going on between these two. Jackbird’s insane but both of them are freaky. There is some mind fuckery stuff going on.

What’s my best way past the goon in the door?

A distraction focusing attention outside. He’s so big you might be able to slip past his legs if his attention was elsewhere.

Which enemy is most vulnerable to me?

That’s a tough one. The giant. He’s not wearing any armor and seems otherwise mundane.

She begins to slip towards the door, step by step with the rhythm of the conversation. Through the narrow gap between the giant and the door she spies Hurricane’s gang rolling up on the jeep. She tenses and waits for the best time to point it out.

Next we wait for Gator to return and fill him in.

Just outside shop, Gator can see the figures moving around inside but only hears snippets of the conversation. Something about a “brother”, “won’t be able to hide”, and “issue dealt with”. He tenses as Dustwich raises his voice.

“Hey, none of your valuables is leaving here Jackbird,” Dustwich says pointing at November. “Stay. We’ve got to sort this out.” He turns back to his brother. “The little thing about who owns what.”

In retrospect I think I should have asked November to roll Acting under fire in her escape plan at this point rather than have her be simply spotted. Oh well.

“I don’t want any trouble,” Jackbird says. “I just want to stay out of this. I don’t want to be a part of this.”

November takes a step toward him. “I’m a little offended you don’t recognize me.”

“What-,” Dustwich says surprised. His eyes suddenly narrow. “You ran out on me.”

“I ran out with the whole crowd,” she says sourly. “People tend to do that when the place is burning down. I didn’t know you took it personal.”

“I lost everything in that fire,” he stammers, turning red. He turns back to Jackbird, “you-you still have the boat!”

November uses that distraction to creep two steps closer to the door, just behind the giant.

Back outside, BRT waits anxiously by the gator pits as Hurricane and his men surround the jeep. Most of them are ogling it while a pair watch the shop nervously. Kal gives the tires a kick. Violet sensing Hurricane intends to seize the jeep, marches over muttering about respect for personal property.

Gator asks who is by the jeep. I tell him Hurricane and a half-dozen poorly armed men. He decides to head in that direction.

Gator’s sharp eyes take this in and he abandons his position to deal with the brewing trouble by the jeep.

“This is a sweet ride,” Hurricane says to Dice. “We could hook a wagon up to this.”

As the big man leans on the hood of the car, the driver clutches the wheel with a white knuckled grip. “Go away! Go away!” she shouts, leaning on the horn. The jeep gives out a muted blare.

“Hey Hurricane,” Gator calls out. “Looks like you are in need of a ride.”

“Oh…hey Gator,” Hurricane says flatly.

Violet ignores the men and walks over to the driver’s side door. “Are they are bothering you?” she asks.

November points out that the horn would distract the giant. I ask her to roll Acting under fire. She gets a +1 bonus from her earlier reading of the situation and rolls a hard hit (10+).

Do you go left or right? I ask.

Back in the shop, November seizes her chance. As the giant focuses his attention on the jeep, she slips out of the door to the right, making her way toward Hurricane’s place and away from Gator and the growing trouble.

Or as November says, she is avoiding a fight with “lots of people with more weapons and armor than me.”

Meanwhile at the jeep, Hurricane tells Gator, “I hadn’t realized you were in town.”

“Passing through.”

“I still have some nephews,” Hurricane jokes darkly.

“Well as long as they don’t cause any trouble with people who can pay. You could pay,” Gator suggests. As Hurricane narrows his lips, he adds, “bygones, bygones. Looks like you need a new truck.”

I point out that Gator is trying to get something out of Hurricane for offing Dustwich (and being paid twice for the same job to boot). I ask him to roll Manipulate a person. Unsurprisingly he fails with a 5.

I consider which hard move to make and decide on a few things.


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As the two chat, the blond giant draws a 9mm and fires a warning shot at the crowd.

Yes the big guy gets the small gun.

As the crowd turns, the woman behind the wheel guns the engine. “I’m going to get the fuck out of here,” she says rolling up the window.

Then Stumpland is shaken by a loud rumble as a flash of green and yellow light comes from within Jackbird’s.

Announce future badness? Done.

What does everyone do?

BRT: run away.

November Opens her brain, focusing on what happened in the shop. She gets an 8 and marks experience.

As BRT races for the edge of Stumpland, November turns and looks back at Jackbird’s. The sounds of the gun and explosion echo in her ears as her nose picks up a whiff of ozone in the air. Some sort of release of energy, like a bolt of lighting arcing between two things, just happened in there.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve seen? I ask her.

She tells me her family practices voodoo. It is not her thing personally but she has some experience with zombie powder. But recent events may top that.

Gator and Violet both Read a sitch. Gator gets an 8 and marks experience while Violet gets an impressive 12.

While Violet finds the list of possible questions, Gator asks, “What should I be on the lookout for?”

Vehicular manslaughter, I tell him. The driver intends to bust out of here and run over anyone in her way.

Violet asks which enemy is the biggest threat?

Out here? The woman driver.

What should I be on the lookout for?

Something weird is happening in that shop so anything leaving the shop would be bad news.

Who is in control here?

Hmm, ask again later. Or I guess whoever Gator sides with.

As the driver gets the jeep in gear, Violet quickly tries to get her to calm down. But she seems to ignore her and the jeep lurches forward a couple of inches.

I point out Violet can use Towering Presence to get the driver to stop. She does so, rolling a total of 8 (I forgot to remind her to add the +1 from reading the situation). Looking over my choices I consider running Violet over but choose to freeze.

Violet fires her gun into the air and shout, “stop the jeep!”

The woman inside takes her hands away from the wheel and freezes. Violet walks up to the window and tells her that she is not going to hurt her.

At this point I also decide they are in a battle (shots fired, violence imminent) and ask Violet to Indomitable. She gets a 13. After discussing her options, I remind her to mark experience for the previous two rolls.

What is Gator going to do? I ask.

Shooting somebody is his answer. After making it clear that the woman in the jeep is not going after him. He takes a shot at the giant using his ap sniper rifle. I decide against any roll. It is a clear shot on a sunny day. No one is going to missing. They exchange harm.

At the same time a red dot appears on the blond giant as Gator takes aim with his sniper rifle. The huge man notices it and takes a quick shot back. The force of the shot knocks the assassin prone even as Gator’s bullet perforates the giant’s lungs and slices through an artery.

The giant takes 3-harm and is effectively dead. Gator take 2-harm but his armor absorbs it all. He then rolls harm +0 and get a 7 on the harm move. I chose that he slips on the muddy ground and is now prone.

The giant presses a hand to his chest and looks bewildered at the blood. “What is going on?” he sputters, calling back to the shop. “Hey boss, I got blood coming out of me.”

I tell Gator he doesn’t have to worry about him anymore. He is walking comedy.

Gator then chooses to Open his brain. This is a hard move for him and rolls a 9. I ask him what is it like when you open your mind to the psychic maelstrom?

He tells us it’s like being in the jungle: the smells, sounds, the feel of the vegetation.

Gator picks himself up off the slippery mud. The smell of blood in the air awakens a primal part of his mind. The nearby scent of the marsh fills his nose and he can feel the mass of plant matter, the sloshing of the gators in their pens, and something else. Inside Jackbird’s, he feels something that isn’t part of nature, something that isn’t physical like a python or panther. Something like a storm.

Meanwhile Violet tells the driver, “roll down the window. We’ll talk this out.”

Hesitantly the frizzy haired woman starts to roll down the window. Suddenly she is showered by glass as one of Hurricane’s boys smashes in the other window with a metal rod.

November takes cover while even farther out BRT stays within sight of the conflict, hidden but able to gauge who the winners are. Hurricane’s men are pounding on the jeep while the giant slowly sinks to his knees in a pool of his own blood.

Towering Presence time again. Violet gets a strong hit this time. And more experience.

“Hey! stop this,” Violet commands, hand loose around her pistol.

Hurricane’s men all look at her as if noticing the menace about her for the first time. Nervously they look to their leader.

“We need a vehicle,” Hurricane says, his eyes flickering up the north road. “If we don’t get gator meat to Deg up the road, he’s going to send his goons and wipe us all out.”

She stands between him and the jeep. “We agreed we would go and take care of it. But if we go provoking people by taking this kind of action then someone will definitely come wipe us out.”

With combat defusing, I ask Violet for a Manipulate a person roll. She gets a 6. I point out that Gator could try to help her to get a +1 and succeed.

He is unwilling. “I like you and all but I think we need this jeep.”

“And I think this is wrong,” she tells him.

I consider what hard move to make. I thought about running Violet over again but that boat had sailed. What I did do was…a bit weirder than I had intended for the game.

Such is the curse of improvising.

As Violet and Hurricane stare each other down. a second rumbles comes from Jackbird’s. With another flash of light, the boarded up windows are blown open.

A moment later, a figure emerges covered in greenish-yellow light. The brilliance makes it hard to determine if it is Dustwich or Jackbird. What is clear is that he is laughing maniacally.

Gator asks if it could be the other guy, the goon.

No. What do you do?

Gator takes cover while November ask how she could figure out which one the figure is?

I tell her should could try Reading a sitch, Act under fire to get a closer look, or Open her brain to sense if it is Dustwich. She chooses the latter and gets a 12 (as well as another experience).

November squints and looks into the light. The figure is blinding with an electric crackle about him. His clothing, even cloaked in light, seems shiny. An aura of power surrounds him, an electric field that seems more ornament than practical. She sense that even this isn’t enough. The man desires more, more power, more light. Dustwich.

Violet asks which way is he headed.

Toward you or at least the jeep.

BRT hides and starts thinking what is worth scavenging here.

I asks what people are doing but no one wants to deal with him. It is also near the end of our gaming time. With everyone heading for cover, I wind things down a touch.

Behind him a soft green glow covers Jackbird’s boat like an eerie St. Elmo’s fire. Still laughing he walks up to the jeep and gets in. Electricity still arcing off of him, he tells the driver, “Leave, drive on.”

November what name she knew him by.

I tell her Silver.

As the jeep disappears down the road, Gator slips into Jackbird’s shop. The interior is smashed up, broken shelves, shattered glass and scattered burn marks. A smoldering bones and molten plastic lies in a pile in the far corner.

“Hey Jackbird?” Gator shouts.

A low moan comes from the back. The killer pushes past the shattered back door and into the corridors beyond.

There he finds an ancient man in a rotting suit on the floor. “He took it,” the man says toothlessly. “It’s not his to take.”

End of Session Hx
That is where we ended it. As I often find, I’m bad at arranging PC interactions, though the NPC interactions were really fun.

We then raise Hx. Given the limited interaction most of these where self-evident.

  • November tells Gator he knows her better (since he was the only one who saw her).
  • Gator tells Violet she knows him better after seeing him kill a man.
  • Violet tells Gator he knows her better after she defused a tense situation without violence.
  • BRT tells Violet she knows him better since, again, he only ever talked to her.


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Another update.

Start of Session

We were suffering a number of delays. Gator's player was running late and we were soon to run into more serious difficulties.

We began by formally deciding on a name of the game as a whole. Our Ruin Runner suggested "The Climbers" or alternatively "Stumpland". November nixed the latter.

That decided I commented, "we are upwardly mobile or infected with a parasitic fungus."

"Exactly," BRT said.

"I'm just a carrier," November added.

I'm considering making that true.

Next we laid out Stumpland physically by using the screen share functionality of Google Hangouts. I had this to show my players:

In the week between sessions I built a nice set of icons for Fractal Mapper and drew up the town and its surroundings. The central brown area is a ruined amphitheater that used to be for alligator shows but now serves as the spot for the weekly gathering. Between the two gator pens is a narrow path BRT used in his escape last session. I also located the broken truck, Jackbird's house/ship, and Hurricane's large home.

For the rest, read on.

Also between sessions Hurricane got a last name: Green, as he and his family are an important and connected family in the region. Green refers to the Green Swamp.

Violet asked me, "Where is Uncle Buck's house?"

"That's a good question, where would they live?"

"He works with the gators, so maybe one of the four houses around the gator pens."

I pointed out that he didn't show up last session so it suggests he lives toward the edge.

After locating his home, BRT asked a similar question about Matilda which I also turned around on them. We decided she lived near Hurricane but on the other side of the road.

Next we turned to my regional map

Not much is filled in yet since we have yet to leave Stumpland but we can see the coastal ruins where BRT scavenges for metal and the highway where he hopes to get a new axle. We briefly discussed if the body of water to the southwest is the Gulf of Mexico or not. After deciding it is, November asked where the other holding (Deg's) was that we established. I told her it was in the north and added it to the map as a large hut.

BRT expressed an interest in November's cooking, specifically that he might pay for her to process scavenge meat for him. We also worked out that Hurricane pays November in jerky, basically that she gets a cut of whatever meat she works with.

After double checking that I had everyone's experience recorded correctly, we started stat highlighting. And then BRT's internet connection began dropping out every few minutes...

"Foiled!" I say.

"Like so many Reese's peanut butter cups," November adds. "The mini ones, those are the ones that are foiled. The standard sized Reese's, those are not foiled, they are papered."

The conversation then devolved into a chat between November and Violet about how Reese's are delicious and the joys of peanut butter chocolate ice cream. I must admit I am not as much of a peanut butter and chocolate combo fan as them.

BRT reconnected a few minutes later and we raced through highlighting:

  • November: BRT highlighted her Hot while I highlighted Sharp for her.
  • Violet needed to be highlighted by Gator highlights so we decided to delay until he arrives. I highlighted Hard for now.
  • BRT: Violet highlighted his Sharp and I added Cool.

I then quickly recapped the previous session: the arrival of Dustwich, the near battle in the center of town, the broken pickup. I remind them that Gator went inside Jackbird's after the strange explosion had gone off and Dustwich had left the holding.

Intent on getting started, I added that Gator was "doing something which will presumably be not terribly important to the outside world."

I then asked the question I had hoped to ask an hour before: "What do you think happened with Dustwich? How was he seemingly covered in light and freaky ass stuff?"

Violet said out of character that it has something to do with the psychic maelstrom.

November added that, assuming Jackbird was the old man who Gator encountered at the end of the last session, he and his brother have some sort of weird time thing going on. Perhaps Dustwich drained him of his youth or whatever power he had.

Violet agreed and said, "maybe his lifespan had been halted for a time and it caught up with him."

November commented that she heard space and time are connected somehow. This could be the result of some sort of space-time distortion. Dustwich and Jackbird could control it but whatever happened in the shop undid that.

Violet asked if she's ever seen Jackbird age. Since he has only been in Stumpland for 5 years, the answer was no. But this led to questions of how long has Violet been coming to the holding.

After some discussion, she decided that she's been visiting for a while, coming down every year to bring back gator flesh for her family up North.

At this point we finally lost BRT for good.

Words cannot describe my frustration.

As I was about to call the game, Gator arrived. We filled him in quickly and he added an extra detail to what happened last session: Jackbird had some sort of device, a piece of weird tech that distorted space-time, which his brother took from him.

I make it also make it clear that Dustwich was not invulnerable. Shooting him would have caused him to have a bad day.

November points out she can bring him to Gator using one of her moves (Lost). Lost is a scary power.

We then finished highlighting:

  • Gator highlighted Violet's Hot.
  • Gator: Violet highlighted Sharp and I added Hard.

Violet asked about Gator's stats and I point out "he is the anti-hot."

"Ugly as sin?" she said.

"Well he did get bit on the face by a gator."

The Boat

A single light bulb swings wildly overhead as Gator leans over the elderly man in the depths of Jackbird's wrecked boat. The white-haired figure moans weakly on the ground in an old and rotten suit.

"What the heck happened to you?" the scarred warrior asks.

The ancient man shudders and clumps of hair fall from his head. He gasps, "it's all coming apart."

As the decaying man who might be Jackbird breaks down into a coughing fit, Gator presses him, "how do we stop it?"

"Her-," he coughs. "He upset-" He hacks up some thin blood. "He broke the balance..."

"Stop talking gibberish old man."

Jackbird coughs a final time and stops breathing.

Gator smacks him in the face, hoping to revive him.

Violet says that it was the finishing blow and strikes him dead. November says, "I think he was already dead."

I start by saying "remember that scene in the Last Crusade..."

But instead the man's body rapidly molders and disintegrates in his hands. Gator stumbles back, staring at his dust-covered hand. As what remains of Jackbird decays into cracked bones and dirt, Gator pulls on his gas mask and curses.

As the dust settles in the eerily quiet ship, Gator looks around nervously.

Gator and I discuss whether this is a charged situation. I tell him it "depends on your opinion of it."

"My opinion is that I need to know if I need my gas mask or not."

Sounds charged to me.

Gator Reads a sitch and marks experience. He gets a 10 and asks what should I be on the lookout for?

There is something weird about this place, this ship specifically. You are not in a battle so you are not as attuned to the maelstrom as you might be but something weird is going on. There is an unknown element here. Something outside your level of understanding.

What's my enemy's true position? he asks next.

"Congratulations you've created an enemy for yourself," November tells him.

All around you. The ship is the true enemy in this situation, I tell him. I privately know that the ship is a Landscape threat, specifically a Maze.

For his final question he asks what's my best escape route?

"As you think about that", I tell him," you recall it was a straight shot in here. But now the path has a bend in it. There is a corner you have to turn now to get out. You also hear a noise like gentle lapping waves. You figure anywhere away from those waves should be out."

Gator considers his next step. A sound like lapping waves dimly echoes through the ship. Peering through the gloom, he sees that the passage he came through has changed and what was once a straight corridor now turns. Around him loom engine parts, six-foot high coils of metal and less recognizable pieces of equipment. Despite the gas mask limiting his field of view, his sharp eyes spot a doorway cracked open on the opposite side of the room.

Is that away from the waves? he asks.

Do you walk over there to tell?


The sound of ocean waves grows he approaches the room. Inside he spies boxes. The first one he opens contains canned goods. Ignoring the swaying sensation he shoves the food into his bag, filling it to the brim. Then he quickly turns and makes his way out as fast as he can.

Gator rolls acting under fire to escape, getting a solid hit with a 10. I cut to the others letting him know that he is escaping.

Back outside a crowd gathers near where the fighting broke out over the jeep. BRT is nowhere to be seen.

"What is November doing?" I ask.

"Did I get my herbs?"

After some back and forth we determine she had gathered them up but left them on the counter in Jackbird's shop.

November decides to blend into the crowd and see what they are saying.

I turn to Violet.

She sighs and say "I was clearly in the wrong."

"Up to you to decide that."

"Well the guy blew up a shop in our town. I was trying to prevent a vehicle from being stolen but that might not have been the most important thing at the moment."

November circulates with the crowd where she hears many people avidly discussing the strange green lights and the glow that surrounded the visitor on his way out of town. A few have begun hesitantly to peer into Jackbird's shop while others whisper that they saw Gator slip inside. He hasn't emerged yet.

In the center of the crowd, Hurricane yells at Violet. "What were you thinking!? We could have used that jeep!"

Violet stammers, "I didn't know he was going to blow up the shop. But it's not right to steal. Though it's even less right what he did."

"Are you trying to convinces him that you did the right thing? Or are you just explaining yourself?" I ask.

She says she to convince him and rolls Manipulate a person. She gets an 8 and marks experience.

Hurricane listens to her reasons and somehow he calms down. "I guess that makes sense. Especially with whatever the fricking hell that guy was doing."

"After he walked out of Jackbird's, I didn't want anything to do with him," she says.

"Yeah, you and me both." He then looks at her sternly, sizing her up. "But I expect you to follow my orders while you are here."

"Well you already asked us to find you an axle, we are going to find one," she tells him. "You have my word on that."

As she finishes a cold smile crosses his face. "Okay. Just swear to me that next time trouble brews you'll listen to me."

"Okay I swear," she says with a sinking feeling.

Because she is a woman of her word.

"Alright go find out what Gator's doing in Jackbird's shop," he orders her. "He's probably looting the place. Find out if Jackbird is alive or not."

Hurricane calls out to a pair of figures in the crowd. "Kal. Dice." He points to the giant man face first in a patch of rusty mud. "Drag that guy off and see what he's got on him."

The chatter in the crowds gets thicker as more and more people arrive. November hears snippets of conversation.

"He glowed like one of those will-o'-the-wisp things," a woman says.

"Maybe he was made of swamp gas or something?" a short man suggests.

"How should I know?" she says.

"Well he couldn't have been up to any good," a man in another clump tells his partner.

"Well sure."

"That guy was shooting at us," one of Hurricane's thugs tells an older woman.

"Jackbird's probably dead," a dark-skinned man says. "Fuck he's the only one who makes any alcohol around here. What are we going to do?"

"Well we could go in there," the thug suggests.

"I'm not going in there, you saw what happened. It might be full of crazy green flames or something. I'm not touching that."

What does November do?

"Is there anybody who knew Jackbird well?" she asks.

Well he's been in town for 4 years, so he is well-known.

She asks if anyone would know him better than that.

Yes, there is a woman called Rabbit who drinks there regularly. She is basically the town drunk. She is at the shop most days. She picked right time not to be there though.

"Almost like she knew," Violet says.

Yeah she has that weird vibe about her.

November asks where she might find her.

If she's not at Jackbird's, she is probably at her place. She shares little hut with her brother Line and his five kids. Line and his brood are all in the middle of town. Their house is at edge of the swamp on the south road.

November decides she needs more facts. She notes the absence of Jackbird's best customer, Rabbit. In fact she realizes the strange woman hasn't been around all day. She spies her brother Line corralling his growing brood in the crowd and decides now would be a good time to visit her at her house.

The dancer slips away from the crowd and down the road. Water pools in the fresh tread marks in the road. As she gets further from the center of Stumpland, the chirping of crickets and the swish of swamp water overpower the babbling behind her.

She finds Rabbit's hut, the last before the swamp, leaning on its stilts beside the rough road south. Her quarry, a haggard woman with blond hair, sits on a wobbly stool drinking from a tarnished flask.

November strolls up to her, her necklace jingling lightly. "Hey, Rabbit did you see what was going on down there at the Theater?"

And our gathering spot has been named.

"I saw a man on fire go down the road," she tells her dryly.

"On fire?"

"He was glowing," she says rocking back and forth.

"It was green right?" November asks.


"You seen fire like that before?" she asks.

Rabbit gulps down another swig and nods.

November decides to Read a person. She fails the roll but gains an experience. That's enough for her to earn her first advance: Devil with a blade.

November leans against the stilts. "Where did you see it?"

Rabbit looks down. She gets out of her chair and crouches on the stoop. "I saw a green flame at Jackbird's."

"Really? Out in the open?" November prods.

"It was running down one of the wires."

"The power line for one of the lights?"

"I guess."

"Could you show me what wire?" November asks. "Because Jackbird isn't doing so well."

"What?" Rabbit says with a worried frown.

"You probably want to come along anyway to see what you can get. You were one of his good customers."

Dawning realization crosses Rabbit face. "He's? How am I going to get my-"

She looks at her flask and scrambles down to the muddy ground. Together she and November head back towards town.

Violet quips "No! Why is the rum gone?"

Meanwhile I start thinking on a good hard move.

Gator emerges from gash in ship's hull and into the back of Jackbird's shop. In the wrecked store he finds Violet and two other people picking through the debris.

As they take in his gas mask and heavy clinking bag, the well armed man says, "I suggest everybody get the fuck out of here. This place is fucking weird."

"What going on?" she ask.

"Where's Jackbird?" asks one of the others, a slender woman in a threadbare hoodie.

"He disintegrated and turned in a big pile of dust," Gator explains continuing on his way. "I don't know if it's spores or not."

The woman, Lizard, stops midway between prodding her slave, a coffee colored teen, toward the pile of bones near the blasted shelves. The pair look at each other and back away.

"I don't know what that shit is but I don't want to breath it in," Gator says.

Violet nods. "I'm with you on that one."

"Yeah," Lizard chimes. "Let's get out of here." She points at an intact bit of crystalware. "Sway, just grab that and let's gets out of here."

Gator asks if he saw or heard about the scuba gear Jackbird was going to pay him with. I point out that the only one who knows about it is November.

Violet chooses to Read a Sitch and gets an impressive 13. "What should I be on the lookout for?"

Well Gator has clearly taken something from Jackbird's. If Hurricane finds out he will be upset.

"Who is in control here?"

No one has definite control here.

November points out to Violet that if she chooses a question about an 'enemy', I will create one for her. I counter that she doesn't have to use the last question. We also do a short discussion of the advanced version of the move.

"Which enemy is the biggest threat?" she asks in the end.

"Who is an enemy in this situation?" I mutter. I decide Gator is the biggest threat here and now.

As they exit the shattered shop, Violet turns to Gator. "I hope that whatever you've got in your bag there you're going to surrender to Hurricane. He's ticked off enough at me as it is."

"This is payment," he says firmly.

"You tell him that," she retorts.

"Jackbird paid me to kill Dustwich. I'm going to do that," Gator says. "A deal is a deal. There's more stuff in there, you are welcome to get it."

Says the guy in a gas mask who says there might be spores.

"Uh huh, no thank you," says Violet.

I address the group. "Before I get to November, what are the symptoms of the climbers? Before you start climbing things you know."

Violet mentions a fever. November adds itchiness.

Gator makes it clear the disease is caused by inhalation of spores.

Violet adds a third symptom, a tendency to sleepwalk. "Most climbers don't even know they are climbing. They are asleep."

"So sleepwalking is the clearest sign you have it," I establish. "But by that point it is certainly too late."

"At that point they can chain you down but you are pretty much gone," November says.

Unless you have an Angel or Savvyhead of course.

"Do we want something more visible too?" Gator asks.

You can add a fourth symptom, I tell him.

He suggests a tinge to the eyes, like a yellowish or greenish tint. Violet likes that idea though points out yellow is overdone for infections.

As I point out that Tommyknockers had something like that, Gator says that instead of a tint it is spots. "You got the spots!"

I like it and quickly sketch out a countdown clock for later use.

Back on the road to Stumpland, November and Rabbit hear the clinking of chains in the distance behind them. Looking back they spy roughly two dozen men and woman chained together, pulling an old van. A few people move about motivating them with whips when anyone slows down.

November recognizes Bowdy's chain gang transport. She and Rabbit move off the road to give the slave trader a wide berth. Even so they make it back to the settlement well before her or her slaves.

November leads Rabbit around the crowd. Pausing near the shop entrance, they see Gator and the others exit.

The question comes up if anyone warns the crowd about the "spores".

Violet asks if Gator is still wearing his gas mask?

He says only until he gets out.

As they do, Lizard tells the crowd, "We can't go in there! There are spores! I don't want to get the spots!" As the crowd moves in with their questions, she adds, "he says Jackbird is dead," pointing at Gator.

As Hurricane intercepts Violet and Gator, November and Rabbit slip into the shop unnoticed.

I ask November if she has any way to avoid the spores like a gas mask?

She asks how common are the spores?

Not too common, I tell her. There are zones where they are more frequent.

"I think she has a weak antidote," she tells us. "She doesn't have a lot of it because it is expensive to make but if she encounters spores when traveling she can drink it and she is fine. Does that work?"

"You at least think it works," I inform her.

So are there spores?

In the shop? No, you don't see them.

We also establish that normally you can identify spores. They appear like a dust.

November peers about the shop in the fading light but sees no signs of spores.

Rabbit cries, "Oh man they smashed up everything!"

As she rushes to the bar, November spots the wire and broken bulb hanging from the ceiling. The scent of ozone hangs in the air and charring mars the floor and ceiling. The whole place looks like it was hit by a grenade.

November traces the wire back across the ceiling to the wall. The rubber sleeved cord snakes down the wall and through the back door.

Violet asks, too late, if she saw November enter the shop. I give her the option of paying attention to her or to what Hurricane has to say.

November looks around for her herbs. She finds the basket knocked behind the counter where she also finds Rabbit busily trying to sop up a growing pool of beer from a broken cask. The basket is singed but most of the herbs survived.

Putting the basket back on the counter, she leaves Rabbit filling several glasses with dirty alcohol.

She looks through the back door and sees the hallway weakly illuminated by the sparse light bulbs and the generator laboring in the distance. She heads inside.

We cut to Hurricane and Violet.

"So what's in there?" Hurricane asks Violet. "What happened to Jackbird?"

"Gator went further in than I did," she explains, "I'm waiting for what he has to say about that."

"He said there were spores!" Lizard shouts.

"There was something kind of dusty in there," Violet explains. "I don't know if it was spores or not. But Gator seemed to think we needed to get out of there quick and I was not too keen on staying. I don't want the spots!"

I really like the in-game terminology we've developed: the climbers, the spots.

Hurricane looks over Violet's head to see Gator slowly walking away. "Hey Gator! What did you see in there?"

Gator turns. "I saw Jackbird. He turned into a pile of dust. Some weird shit is going on in there. Something really weird. I heard waves. But by all means if you want to go inside go take a look." He gestures to the shop. "Be my guest."

Hurricane opens his mouth to say something crude. His eyes flickers from Jackbird's and Gator. They focus on the bulging pack hanging from his shoulder. "I don't remember your sack being that full when you came into town."

"Sure wasn't," he admits smugly. "This is payment."

"Payment from a dead man?" Hurricane questions.

"Well the deal was made before he was dead," Gator says.

"That seems awful convenient."

"I got a job to do," Gator says turning. He stops. "There was a witness."

"A witness you say," Hurricane says. "I don't suppose they were also reduced to dust?"

"No, November was there. She heard the deal."

Hurricane looks around. "Okay where's November? Anyone see November?"

The two men nearest him shrug.

"I ain't her babysitter," Gator tells him.

Hurricane points at Gator and turns to his men. "You don't go anywhere until we check your story. You can go sit over there," he adds pointing to a bench, "and once November tells her side of it then maybe-"

Gator cuts him off. "I'm sorry are you trying to tell me where to sit?"

"Yeah. I am," Hurricane says. A half-dozen men begin to converge around the two men. "Look at it from my end. You go into the shop. Then you tell me Jackbird is dead, he made some deal with you, and you took some payment for it. For some job you are still going to do for him. I don't know if you did that job, if you killed Jackbird, or anything."

"Job's not done," the heavily armed man explains. "I'm going to go do it."

Hurricane ignores his statement. "Right, so you wait there. And once I make sure you are on the up and up, you can be on your way. Kal and you two keep an eye on him. The rest of you find November."

The three Hurricane indicated surround Gator. In addition to Hurricane's teenage nephew, there is a man in crocodile leathers and woman with a Mohawk. Gator winks at them.

What is Violet doing?

Looking for November.

How do you do that?

Violet searches the crowd for anyone who might have seen November. As she is talking an older dark-skinned man, she feels a tug on her pant leg. She turns and spots a little girl with her hair done up in two braids. Her left eye looks off at an odd angle.

Yes I gave a little girl a bad eye. Because it is Apocalypse World. Life sucks.

"You are looking for the pretty woman?" the child asks.

Violet nods, recalling her name: Suzelle.

"She went in there. With Rabbit." She points to the shop.

Violet says thanks and enters the shop in pursuit.

Deep inside Jackbird's ship, November continues to trace the electric line. Keeping her eyes open for spores, she feels the ship sway and hears the sound of lapping of water.

"I thought I couldn't hear that before?" November asks.

Yes you couldn't. Something is up. It's like the maelstrom is leaking in.

The cord snakes along the ceiling before hitting a T-intersection. The cable shoots straight into the wall, leaving November to choose left or right. Both corridors turn in the direction of the cable after ten feet.

November spies the shadow of someone moving around the corner to the left.

November chooses to Read a sitch and makes experience, she then get distracted by my 1 month old son so we cut to Violet.

Violet reenters Jackbird's, keeping an eye for spores. In the fading light she notes only a few scorch marks. She also hears someone moving behind the bar.

She moves to the back of the room and looks over.

Rabbit starts as she appears. The haggard looking woman has six glasses filled of Jackbird's alcohol and is ringing an alcohol drenched rag into a seventh. "You scared me!"

Violet ignores the 'theft' and asks, "have you seen November around?"

"S-she went into the back," she stammers.

Violet goes through the back door and into Jackbird's beached craft. In the distance she hears the generator clanging along, lighting the occasional light bulb overhead.

You hit a branch, straight ahead or left?

She continues forward, ignoring a passageway to the left as well as a bulkhead door. A couple of corners later she reaches a set of stairs heading up.

The metal door at the top of the stairs swings open easily. As Violet climbs up into the bridge, she feels the swaying sensation of being at sea. She also momentarily hears a sound like howling wind.

Violet makes sure that the weather does not match the outside weather.

The large room sports windows on three sides, though the view is obscured by a thick fog. She approaches a window, making out a wooden deck and a thin drizzle coming down.

As she ponders where she might be, there is a loud smack and the rain drops deform around two palm prints.


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"I think I'll go back to the door now!" she says.

Violet back peddles to the doorway. Chased by the sound of someone walking on the deck, she races down the stairs, shutting the door behind her.

We return to November. She gets a soft hit on her roll and asks, what should I be on the lookout for?

Getting lost, I tell her.

She also asks if she knows if Jackbird is dead or if that is just what Gator said.

I tell her all she has is Gator's word. After a bit of reconning this is what happens.

Thinking carefully, November pulls out a tube of lipstick, marking the direction toward the left corridor. Marking her way at each turn, she soon finds the cable again. She follows it back to a large dim room where a massive generator clangs away.

The machine is big, much bigger than she expected. Strange additions and components have been grafted on. Unsure what to make of the coils and electronics, November checks what this thing is running on. Along one side she finds a large diesel gas tank.

Unsure how that shadowy figure could have evaded her, November calls out, "Jackbird!"

Cut back to Violet.

Elsewhere Violet finds that the passage at the base of the stairs now continues on to the right.

"Can I say we have a piece of chalk?" she asks.

"What would you use chalk for in your everyday life? Give me a reason and you have a piece of chalk."

"You're right that is a little bit too easy," she agrees. She suggests a thin rope for wrangling alligators.

"Definitely. You have your 50 foot of rope."

Wary of getting lost in this changing maze, Violet fishes in her pack for her rope. Tying it tight to the rail for the stairs, she slowly uncoils it, keeping it taut as she goes.

She explores the new section of the ship. The passage twists and briefly splits into two, though one path dead ends after twenty feet.

Then she spies some a red arrow in lipstick on the wall. When she tries to follow it around the bend, she comes up against the end of the rope.

She reached the end of her rope.

Backtracking a short distance she ties the rope off at a fire extinguisher bolted to the wall. Then continuing on, she follows the trail of lipstick marks.

As I wait for November's player to return with dinner, I turn to Gator.

"Where the heck do you stay when you are in Stumpland?" I ask, "given that Hurricane hates you."

"I don't know why he hates me," he says.

"We've been over this. You killed his favorite nephew."

"I don't know that he was his favorite nephew."

"Apparently Hurricane thinks so. Maybe he's wrong."

Violet adds, "But he doesn't want to admit it."

Gator explains that he stays with Jess. He helped her out a while back so she lets him stay with her.

"What did you help her out with?" I ask.

He explains that her brother was taken by slavers and he rescued him for her.

My second question is more involved. "Why wouldn't you take a job to kill Deg, the hardholder to the north?"

He says that Deg's second-in-command is an idiot.

"So you are worried about political stability?"

"Yes." Gator explains that he's worried about who's going to take over after him.

"This idiot needs a name. I'm so going to have fun with him. His name is Roarke."

Back outside, Gator watches the sun descend over the crowded amphitheater. He smiles at the three armed figures around him. Kal shifts his grip on nail-studded bat and glances at Smoky. The older man sweats from more than heat in his crocodile leathers. Pheonix scratches her Mohawk crowned head and fiddles with the tape on the grip of her machete.

Gator gives me a look.

"You're a dangerous guy! They are staying at a respectable distance but they are prepared to do violence to you."

"That's fine, I'm prepared to do violence to them."

Gradually the crowd's attention turns from the events at Jackbird's to the chain gang dragging a van into town. Gator studies the slave powered van with the painting of a fire bird on the side, taking careful note of the men with whips and the sniper on top.

As it reaches the center of town, Bowdy gets out. A smile crosses the heavy-set woman's unloved face.

"Howdy Bowdy," Gator calls out.

"Howdy Gator," she says with the first real cheer he's heard today.

"Coming through town with some new inventory?" he asks as she approaches.

She nods and Gator looks over her stock. The slaves in the train look ragged and worn down. Two of them stand out. The first is an older man, still healthy despite his gray hair and with a look in his eye that suggests his spirit is not yet broken. The other is a dark-skinned man with an expressionless face. Ornate facial tattoos like flames cover the right side of his face. Surprisingly for a slave, he is armed with machete.

"Rough group you got there," he comments.

"Well that's the old stock," she explains. "It depends on what you are looking for. Nobody here is looking for agricultural slaves so I'm not bringing that to town. Got some craftsmen, some metal workers."

Gator shrugs. "You know me, I don't settle down too much."

"You could always use somebody who knows their way around...a what do they call it...a lathe. Do some custom work on those tools of yours."

"Mayhaps. I don't got anywhere to keep them though," he says.

"That's the problem with the mobile life," she says nodding.

"Yeah. I don't got some fancy van like you do."

She smiles and say, "oh well I got to talk to some potential customers. Too bad I can't help you there."

Gator points out Hurricane and indicates he might be in the need for some laborers.

"I'll get around to him," she tells him. "You didn't see Violet around?"

"I wouldn't count on seeing her around anytime soon," he says bluntly.

"That's a shame. I had something nice for her."

"Well she's not dead."

"You guys had some serious trouble?" she asks.

"Some serious shit just went down. Jackbird's dead."

"Fuck!" she says with a frown. "His saloon is the only place worth having a drink around here."

"Yeah, his brother came into town."

Bowdy looks south for a moment. "I thought I saw someone who looked like him going down the road."

"He didn't happen to be glowing did he?" Gator asks.

"Not that I saw."

"That's good to know, " he says.

The two of them look forlornly at the blasted saloon.

"Looks like there is a vacancy," Gator says.

"That's a shame."

"I'd keep out of there if I was you," he warns her. "Weird shit going on in there."

"He was always a strange bird. Guess Hurricane will need something to deal with all of this trouble. I'll be seeing you."

"I'll be seeing you."

The two part ways and Gator adjusts his holsters impatiently.

Cut back.

Back inside Jackbird's ship, Violet hears a woman call out, "Jackbird is that you? Are you okay?"

"November?" she calls out.

Back in the engine room, November hears her name echoing from the hallway. "Yeah? Who is that?"

Violet enters the room.

"Oh hi Violet," November says over the rumble of the huge generator. "I saw a shadow moving and I thought it was Jackbird. I thought he might need some help."

"Well if you listen to Gator that doesn't seem likely," she says. She goes on the explain that Gator saw him turn to dust before his eyes.

November ponders that. "But the other guy who was in here, the goon, he died in the main room. So who could the shadow be?"

"I don't know," Violet tells her. "There is something really weird going on with the corridors here."

November nods and says, "I followed the wires back here because Rabbit saw -"

Violet interrupts her. "No they are changing." She explains her trip through the ship and the odd alterations of the ship's layout.

"I'm not too surprised," November says as she finishes. "Whatever that weird energy was that blew up the shop and surrounded Dustwich, it came from here. Rabbit saw the green flames traveling down the power lines that lead to this generator. It is like nothing I've ever seen before. This whole ship must be powered by this weird shit."

The pair discuss turning the device off but November isn't sure she knows how.

Violet asks if she has any experience with generators?

After some discussion about her survivalist upbringing we decide yes. The device is just a modified diesel generator, so she is pretty sure she can turn it off.

"Wait is that the only way we have any light in here?" November asks.


The two discuss turning off the generator and thus the strange effect on the ship. Violet reaches for the switch but November stops her.

"Don't go turning this off and leaving us in complete darkness." She reminds Violet, "I saw someone moving around down here."

We discuss if they have any alternate light source. November says she has a kerosene lantern but not on her. Violet says she always has a little lantern on her.

Violet pulls out a small lantern and starts it. As it begins to glow, she hits the switch.

Violet rolls Acting under fire, the fire being the weirdness of the generator. She gets an 11.

As the generator winds down, sparks fly off the device and small arcs of electricity discharge into the walls and floor. The rumble slows and dies. The lights slowly dim. In the darkness a creaking noise echoes throughout the ship as some tension is released.

The two women follow the wire out of the generator room and down the hall.

"Just so you know, Hurricane wants to talk to you when we get out," Violet says holding the lantern out in front of them.

"What about?" November says keeping her eyes open for the shadowy figure.

As they walk, November relates the events of earlier: how Hurricane confronted Gator and how he explain he had a deal with Jackbird.

November nods and then asks, "so what is Hurricane paying you anyway?"

I was wondering that too.

"I'm not doing this for Hurricane. I'm here for my family. But since they are under his jurisdiction-"

"Folks?" she interrupts.

"My aunt and uncle," Violet explains. "I get a small percentage of what they get."

"The gator meat?"

Violet nods.

November rolls Acting under fire with a +1 bonus from her earlier Read a sitch move. She fails.

As I contemplate a hard move, I ask Violet if there is a town of Jefferson?

She explains there is an enclave of survivalists. There are two main families: the Jeffersons and the Whitefields. They are located along what was the Chesapeake Bay.

After some discussion we figure out she got down here by boat and there is still a healthy boating community after the apocalypse.

November points out that "fish can't really climb so it's probably one of the few safe food sources."

Violet agrees with that and says that they have a fishing community led by her grandfather, the patriarch of the clan.

I add that in keeping with the idea of that food is dangerous, there is a serious mercury contamination in the fish.

The others agree and we establish that you can't eat too much fish or you go crazy and have children with birth defects. I tell Violet, "You don't want to end up like your cousin who has flippers for arms."

Violet says there is the branch of her family who do the fishing and then there is the branch who live a little bit further inland. She's from the inland portion.

They soon reach the T-intersection and the end of November's lipstick markings. But the wire that emerged from the wall isn't there anymore.

Violet however spots her rope, still tied tight to the fire extinguisher. She leads November along it.

"So you now know where we are going?" she asks.

"I tied that there because I was trying to stop from getting lost," Violet explains.

"Okay that sounds good to me. What is the rope tied to on the other end?" the dancer asks.

November leads her to a stairway where the other end is tied off. In the dim lantern light they see the door at the top of the stairs swinging open. A series of damp foot prints lead down the stairs, petering out down the corridor they just came down.

"I shut that door," Violet says coldly. She moves up the stairs. "Cover me."

November keeps close behind the survivalist as she peers through door. The view from windows on the bridge show a night sky on an inky black sea. One by one the twinkling stars begin to go out.

November points out Violet has the only light source.

November also comments that the weirdness is bleeding in.

"This is no the way out," November says. "Let's go back and see if there is another way to go."

As they descend there is another ominous creak through the ship. They find the corridor at the base of the stairs now goes to the left and right. Violet pulls on the rope to release the slip knot. Keeping it tied to the rail, she holds the free end taut and the two women follow the left passage.

They soon find a bulkhead door that reminds November of the time Jackbird led her through the ship earlier that day. She tells Violet, "I was inside the ship before and if this is the same bulkhead door, we would be going deeper into the ship if we went through it."

They continue past it and find the path in front of them covered in a strange smear of dust. They also make out the glow of a doorway at the far end of the hall. Violet bends down to examine the dust. It doesn't appear to be spores. Both press bandannas against their faces just in case and press on.

Just past the smear a wire exits the left hand wall and follows the corridor toward the light. The hallway soon ends and they exit a gash in the side of the ship and back into Jackbird's shop.

Once back in the shop, Violet secures her rope to peg on the wall and heads back inside.

"Why are you going back in?" November cries out.

"This rope is expensive," Violet explains.

It is a very nice rope. We decide it is nylon.

"Want me to wait for you?"

"Just make it doesn't go slack," she tells November disappearing down the hall.

Violet follows the rope back into the ship by the glow of her lantern. The sense of emptiness grows as even the strange shifting of corridors seems to have ended. Instead of the sound of lapping water, Violet hears the distant chirping of crickets outside.

She steps up the pace, untying the rope and heading back. The bulkhead door hangs open on the way back but she hurries by, ignoring the odd canisters inside.

Back in the shop November restocks her basket of herbs to replace the ones destroyed by the interaction between Jackbird and Dustwich. The shop is quiet, empty except for her. Neither Rabbit nor the second cask of beer remain in the shop but several glasses, now empty, sit on the floor.

Violet returns and they exit. Outside the sun is setting and they see Hurricane haggling with Bowdy. Eager to deal with her lingering business, November approaches.

She finds the hardholder trying to buy a particular slave, a man named Vock the Sculptor. He's offered a prodigious amount of gator leather.

Bowdy scratches her chin with a meaty hand. "It's a good offer but I was really intending this as a gift."

"Perhaps I can help," November says inserting herself into the conversation.

November rolls Manipulating a person and gets a soft success.

What is Violet doing?

She says she hangs back, giving disapproving glances.

The dancer manages to bring Bowdy around to the idea, but she is still reluctant.

"I wanted to talk to Violet," she explains. "I have a bit of a gift. Something to help in pursuing her goals and restoring this fine nation of ours."

"What was the gift?" November asks.

"Vock here," the slave trader says slapping the shoulder of the tattooed warrior by her side. The dark man barely moves.

"How is he going to help?"

Bowdy smiles. "There are people who need to be brought into the fold and convinced to join up in these United States. So he's here to help with the convincing."

"How so?" she asks. "Sorry, I'm not seeing it."

November asks "what is the policy on freeing slaves?"

It's up to whoever owns them. People look at you funny if you do it though.

Violet asks "is she saying that since he is a sculptor he can help create things?"

"No he's a frinking badass with his machete and can cut people into whatever shape he wants," I explain.

"Awesome," Gator says.

"Vock is a sculptor. A sculptor of men with his machete there."

The narrative for the next bit is...a bit shortened. Violet was having a lot of difficulty deciding on a course of action much to November's frustration.

At first Violet expressed her surprise. "I would have spoken to her about the 14th amendment."

She then waffled on getting involved so I turned to November.

She asks, "if I can get Violet to say she doesn't want him, will Bowdy will sell Vock to Hurricane?"

Yes, if you also toss in a good meal.

As Violet continues to waffle, November suggest she may be manipulating her next.

November points out that Violet doesn't believe in slavery. Bowdy grudgingly says that if Violet says she doesn't want Vock and Hurricane throws in a nice meal, she will agree to his deal.

Spying Violet overhearing this and considering her options, November decides to pull her aside.

"I think I've talked to Bowdy before about the 14th amendment," Violet mutters.

"I recall you telling me about that," the dancer says. Violet seems to ignore her.

There was a bit more of this, where Violet vocalizes her thoughts but doesn't respond to November. Then I suggest November Read a person. She rolls poorly...

Throughout this Gator was getting antsy. So I turn to him and ask, "What is Gator doing? I think you are my hard move."

As November struggles to get through to Violet, Gator gets up and starts walking. Hurricane's followers trail after him.

"Let's go boys," he calls after them. "And lady."

He strides over to Hurricane. The big man looks at him and says, "what are you doing? I told you to stay over there."

"I want to get this resolved," Gator sighs.

"You stay over there," Hurricane says. "I'll take care this business and then I'll take care of your business."

"Let's just get this business taken care of."

The two of them glare at each other.

"I ain't got all day man," Gator says.

Off to the side, November tries to cajole Violet into helping her. "All you need to do is say you are not interested in slaves. Can you just tell her about the 14th?"

Reluctantly the survivalist agrees.

The two turn around to see the assassin and their employer in a stare-down contest.

In addition to the guards on Gator, the other three enforcers under Hurricane's command move in to back up their leader.

"I've had enough of your shit," Hurricane says. "Killing people like you can decide who can live and die."

"I'm not the one deciding man," Gator says coldly. "The client decides. People decide. I don't decide shit."

Hurricane refuses to be distracted. "And looting my citizens. I think it's time that we were done with you."

"I think you should remember to honor your deals," Gator says. His sharp eyes taking in the gangs weapons: machetes, knives, bats, 9mm's, and Hurricane's old shotgun.

Off to the side, Bowdy's crew looks on carefully.

Gator uses Go aggro.

While I wait for his roll, I ask what the others do. November hides behind Violet. Violet hesitates and I skip her.

"Can't we go more than a few hours without killing each other?" Violet says.

Gator gets a 12 and marks experience.

Gator's hand flies up with blinding speed, pointing a well cared for submachine gun at Hurricane's face.

"Don't," he says, his scarred face twisted in a grimace. "Unless you want to be full of holes. I worked with you in the past. You are going to honor this deal."

After verifying which gun he was using, I point out that "if you open fire Hurricane and half his gang and probably a few other people will be dead."


Everything is silent for a moment. Then Hurricane blinks. "Alright, alright. You got your deal. You got your payment. You do your job. Okay." He backs off, hands in the air.

"I don't want this ruin our business relationship in the future," Gator says.

"Fine, fine."

"I got no beef with you."

"Fine its gone," Hurricane says as his men give Gator some distance.

"You are a sensible man."

As Gator walks off, he passes Bowdy chewing on some alligator jerky. "Bowdy."

"Gator," she returns. "Be seeing ya."

"Be seeing ya."

I then point out the upcoming Gathering may be awkward. November points out there will be community food though.

Looking on November says,"Well they took care of that then. Why don't you tell Bowdy what you said about the 14th and all."

Violet nods and approaches the slave trader.

Bowdy looks up smiling. "I got something for you. Though I got a lot of bidders for it." She points to Vock.

Violet puts up a hand. "Hang on." She then politely but firmly declines the gift.

I had Violet Act under fire to avoid ticking off Bowdy. This was a debatable call. I probably should have called for Manipulate a person. Anyway she got an 11 so she would have succeeded in any case.

Bowdy takes it well. "Fair enough, fair enough. But you are going to need some help. When you figure out what that is, let me know. I'll help it make it happen."

Violet thanks her but says that if people will help her, it will be of their own accord.

Hurricane finishes his purchase of Vock as the sunsets and the gathering begins.

End of session

Gator earned an advancement and after some debate chooses Blood Crazed. We also have some discussion of what might have happened had Hurricane died. Perhaps Uncle Buck would have stepped in.

  • November decides Violet knows her better since she only directly interacted with her.
  • Violet does the same with November.
  • Gator decides November now knows him better since he chose Violet last time.


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Yeah, it's been a lot of fun. We are going to the ruins of Miami soon in the game and I'm interested to see what they come up with.

Coming up soon for the thread is close encounters with the climbers, our first explosion, and BRT's revenge.


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Finally I've gotten the next session written up...mostly. Well half a session. Hopefully I'll have the other half done soon.

Start of Session

As last session was short, we kept the same attributes highlighted.

  • BRT has Cool and Sharp highlighted.
  • Gator has Hard and Sharp highlighted.
  • November has Hot and Sharp highlighted.
  • Violet has Hard and Hot highlighted.

So this session one of my players had come to the difficult decision to leave the group. BRT had a lot of things going on in his life and making the game was going to be hard (he is also the main game master for his local group which might be harder on them).

November quips “He’s fed up with us. Five years is too much!”

But we all know how much he likes playing with us. He will be back once things settle down.

I decided to start the game with some love letters, both because BRT missed the previous session and because we had a month-long break between sessions.

I use Obsidian Portal to keep track of my games. for the love letters, I added them as player secrets under the log for the current session. It worked pretty well and I'll probably do it again.


So with payment in hand (2-barter worth of canned goods) and Hurricane scared off from any direct confrontation, Gator is ready to hunt down Dustwich for Jackbird. But perhaps now isn’t the time to leave. Night is falling and the swamps can be dangerous in the dark. Plus the Gathering has free food.

What is Gator working towards? If he had a shit-ton of barter what would he do with it?
Gator says those are good questions. Ultimately he's just getting by at the moment, looking to get better equipment and keeping his head above water. But eventually? He doesn't see it in him to be a hardholder. In the end, Gator is just looking for a reason to stop somewhere.


It’s amazing anyone is still alive. Two fights in one day. Jackbird is dead and so are those two goons. What do the people of this town do with the dead? Does it differ if they are members of the community or not?

Bowdy’s offer makes you think about how you will achieve your goal of a restored United States of America. What do you need to start making your vision a reality?​

"Now that we have corpses in town what do people do with the dead?" I ask.

Violet points out that they don’t want to keep them that close to the settlement in case they had the climbers.

I ask if they burn the dead or dump them in the swamp?

They burn the dead, Violet tells me. They are not that barbarous plus they don’t want the gators to get infected.

So we'll have a funeral pyre going on later. What about the bigger question about your vision?

After some thought she says she needs to find people who feel the same way. Perhaps start study groups wherever she goes. I point out that sounds like followers. Gator suggests a gang. Violet thinks followers makes sense.

She also suggests it might be possible to get Bowdy properly convinced far down the line.


"I gave you a really interesting letter there," I tell him.

After that thing with the glowing man, you decided to make yourself scarce. Matilda sought you out afterwards to let you know things died down. She also found out what you needed to know: a man with a sword and American flag tattoo lived in Stumpland. His name is Buck.

You scouted out his place on the edge of town. When all the excitement was happening in town he didn't move, just polished his shotgun. Roll + sharp. On a 10 + choose 2. On a 7-9 choose 1.

You've scouted the area around his house and know he is alone.
You've watched him closely and confirmed he only has a shotgun, a machete, and several knives.
You know a couple of people who owe you enough to help you. Choose two: Lizard, your local competitor; Jess, a nice woman with a crippled brother; Kal, Hurricane’s nephew; or Dice, one of Hurricane’s goons. How do they owe you?
On a miss, you think he hasn't seen you.

Also Bowdy is in town and she brought Corbett.​

I point out that if this is going to be your last regular session it should be exciting.

BRT rolls a 9 which plus his sharp of +2 gives him an 11. As he debates his options, we turn to the final character.


Finally the excitement has died down. With the return of Dustwich/Silver, old memories have been dredged up. What luxury does November want that she once had?

Hurricane tells you he needs to chat with you after your first dance of the evening. But first roll Artful & Gracious and tell us what happens.​

November wants a light moped. She used to have use of one in Turquoise.

I have to remember to ask where that is and what happened.

She rolls a 12 for Artful & Gracious. She chooses that Bowdy admires her patron (i.e. Hurricane), Rabbit loves her, and Hurricane must give her a gift.

The Gathering

As night falls the people of Stumpland turn to their festivities. They light a towering bonfire and beside it construct a low funeral pyre for the blond giant killed earlier that day. November begins the Gathering with a beautiful and elegant dance, her thick necklace of coins shining in the firelight and jingling with every movement.

What is Gator doing during the gathering?

Hanging out relaxing, he tells me. “As much as he can relax. He’s not trying to ruffle any feathers.”

More than he already has, I point out, since he threatened to kill Hurricane only a half hour ago.

What is Violet doing?

She is talking to people about her vision of the future.

I turn to BRT. He asks, “do I know any of them as being stealthy?”

They are all fairly competent. Lizard is the stealthy one. She’s another scavenger so she needs to know how to tread lightly. She also has a slave so she has a little extra man power to bring to bear. To the extent you actually like that.

BRT doesn’t really like that but he’s willing to work with it. He chooses to know Buck is alone and that he has allies.

“So you’ve scouted the area and found him home alone.” I make a Macaulay Culkin face. “Who are you choosing to help you? Lizard I am assuming.”

“Lizard and Kal.”

“How do they owe you?”

I found Lizard out in the ruins in a bad spot and helped her out of it. And Kal, I helped him cover up a murder.

“Who did Kal murder?”

“His brother.”

“So Hurricane has lost two nephews. One due to fratricide.”

“Dang,” Violet says. “Who is alive in Hurricane’s family?”.

I list off his niece Matilda, nephew Kal, and Smoky who is his brother-in-law. There are probably more but we haven’t named them yet.

Far on the edge of town, BRT hunkers down with Kal, Lizard, and Sway. He looks over at the hut just beyond the gator pits. A single light illuminates the interior. According to Matilda, the man he seeks, the man who murdered his mother, is in there. Buck.

He turns to Lizard, instructing the scavenger to sneak into the house and steal Buck’s weapons.

“This is pretty crazy,” she says nervously. “But I owe you. I’ll see what I can do.”

As she and Sway disappear into the darkness, Kal casts a nervous eye back at the Gathering.

The sound of propeller blades can dimly be heard as November finishes up her last dance. Gator recognizes the distinctive sound of Gunge’s airboat. A few minutes later the lanky supplier appears out of the gloom and wanders over to him.

“Did I miss it?” the one eyed man asks. “Is she done with her set?”

“Yeah she just finished,” Gator tells him. “Too late.”

Gunge frowns and scratches his arm. “I was really looking forward to that.”

“You snooze you lose.” Gator turns to him, the firelight casting horrid shadows across his mangled face. “Why are you late?”

“Just avoiding the pythons,” he says. “It’s mating season. I don’t want to get mixed up in a tangle.”

“Got anything new?”

“I got some stuff I found. Here and there,” the thin man says looking over the heavily armed warrior. “How are you doing for supplies?”

“I’m doing pretty good. I could use a bullet.” Gator adds, “you missed all the excitement.”

“What happened?”

“Jackbird’s dead,” Gator says. He fills him in on the day’s events: the arrival of Dustwich, the murder of Jackbird, and the fight that nearly broke out with Hurricane.

Gunge sighs. “I guess this town is going to be a might bit dry.”

Gator nods. “Yeah some people are starting to freak out already.”

Gunge looks over the crowd scratching at the vacant hole where his right eye should be. “Maybe next time I’ll unload some of my moonshine.”

The warrior agrees that there would be a ready market in a couple weeks.

Gunge wipes his forehead with a dirty sleeve. “So a bullet? That’s not much. I’ll throw it in for free if you can get me an introduction.” He looks meaningfully in November’s direction.


On the other side of the Theater, Violet has found someone receptive to her philosophy. Hammer, Rover’s grandson, grew up on stories about the Golden Age and is easily convinced that trying to rebuild the once great nation is a worthwhile endeavor.

“Yeah, we should restore democracy,” he tells her.

“Not a democracy,” she corrects him. “A constitutional republic."

“Oh yeah, that’s what the other guy said too.” Hammer fills her in on the visit by a member of the Militia last spring. They seem to be also recruiting and are imposing a rough sort of justice throughout the region.

So the Militia are an outfit still flying the American flag. Why don’t you and the leader of the Militia get along?

Violet considers it and says, “because he’s a lot more willing to use force and violence to get what he wants.

I give this guy a name, A.T. and ask, “is his whole gang like that or just him?”

There may be a few I could convince if I could get them to listen long enough. There are also a few die hards who are in it for the violence and power.

BRT and Kal listen to the alligators move in the muddy pools behind them, waiting for Lizard to return. Kal checks his pistol for the tenth time. The scavenger tells Kal that the two of them will confront Buck once he has been disarmed.

A shout comes from inside the house.

“Okay, not good,” says BRT. “Kal, let’s move.”

The pair quickly run up to the hut as two or three voices shout back and forth from within. BRT goes on ahead and peers through an open doorway.

I ask BRT roll Read a sitch after debating calling for Acting under fire instead. BRT apologizes for not asking to make that move, but I point out it is my job to take care of the mechanical bits. He gets a 9 on his roll and asks a single question: what should I be on the lookout for?

Inside he sees Sway knocked to the ground, trying to crawl away. Lizard faces Buck, her arms raised, pleading for mercy. Buck not has only his shotgun out but also a grenade, with his finger ready to pull the pin.

He has a grenade. Look out.

As November steps away from the Gathering, she finds Hurricane waiting for her. The big man smiles, “That was good. I think we needed something a little bit more civilized after today’s events.”

“I’m always happy to bring some lightness,” she says, wiping her brow.

“I should also thank you for smoothing things over with Bowdy for me.” He reaches into an alligator skin bag. “I don’t have much at the moment but here. It doesn’t have a charge but it still works.”

November takes the cold metallic device. The book sized screen is smooth and black, while the scoured silver back still shows a partially eaten apple. “Oh wow! I haven’t see one of these in ages.”

“So I got another thing to ask you,” he says. He stops, his eyes drawn to approaching silhouette of Gator. “I’ll ask you about it later,” Hurricane tells her as he heads off.

Gator walks up to her trailed by a tall thin man with a single eye.

“Evening, November,” Gator says.

“Evening, did you enjoy the show?” she asks.

“Yes, a nice performance. A good counterpoint to today’s events.”

“Yeah, it’s good to lighten things.” She glances as the man standing behind Gator. “Are you going to introduce me to your friend?”

“Yes, this is my buddy Gunge. Gunge, November.”

Gunge steps forward and extends a shaky hand. “It-it’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Finally?” she asks.

“Well in person. I’ve seen you before,” he explains. “Seen you perform that is.”

“Nice to meet you too Gunge,” she says and listens to him stumble over his words as he lists off the various places he has seen her dance.

“I’m sad I missed your show tonight,” he finishes.

“Oh,” she says softly. “I don’t know if I’ll be doing another one soon. Things are little bit crazy around here and I am going to be moving on. I’ve been here for three weeks already.”

“Where to?” he asks.

“I don’t know yet. I need to see who is traveling in the near term.”

“I’m planning on leaving town soon myself,” Gator says.

“Maybe we can go together,” November suggests.

“I’ve got a boat,” Gunge points out.

“That would be nice,” says Gator nodding. “November, you knew that guy Dustwich?”

“Kind of,” she says. “I knew him by a different name, when he was running a town up north. He seems to have changed a lot though.”

“Know where I might find him? As you know, I kind of have a little score to settle with him. Plus it’s not right what he did to Jackbird.”

“No but I have a way of calling people to me,” November confides. “But I don’t necessarily want to bring him to me now. It wouldn’t be right to the people here.”

“You’re saying you can get him to come to us?” Gator says surprised.

“Yes. He’d come to me,” she says, “so I’d want to make sure things were right and tight before that.”

“That’s understandable,” says the scarred warrior. “So where did you meet him?”

“The Lucky Palms up north. He was trying to build it up as a gambling establishment. He went by Silver back then.”

“If you can bring him to us I don’t care where we go,” Gator says.

Gunge interjects. “I know a place. I know a good ambush point.”

The three quickly agree to the plan of leading Dustwich to Gunge’s ambush point where Gator can kill him.

“How are you going to deal with him?” November asks.

“I’m going to shoot him and hope bullets work,” Gator says. “Get him before he does the whole lightning aura.” He lets them know that Dustwich dropped the glowing field when he left town.

November decides to Open her brain to the psychic maelstrom. Specifically she wants to know if bullets will work. She fails her roll. We start with a question.

When you wandered in the wastes with BRT what were you looking for or where were you going?

She explains she was not looking for something but kept nearby him because she saw he could take care of himself. She was looking for threads of civilization. They met in Mudpatch, which was not a civilized place.

Next a hard move.

Suddenly the crackle of the bonfire roars in November's ears merging with the murmur of the crowds and the cool breeze of the night air into a cacophony of sensation. In the psychic maelstrom, she feels the presence of another mind. There is contact. Then only pain.

On the far side of the bonfire, Julia interrupts Violet's talk with Hammer. She greets her niece and asks, “how are you doing after all of this excitement?”

“It was definitely not what I had hoped would happen,” Violet admits.

“Thankfully everything worked out,” the older woman says glancing toward the edge of town. “Where is your uncle? I was expecting him by now. He’s been busy all day with the gators. They have been demanding extra feedings.”

“Why is that?” Violet asks.

“They have been hungrier than normal,” Julia explains. “Buck says they might lay eggs soon. I suppose that will mean more meat for next harvest. Assuming Hurricane can get the truck running and deliver the tribute up to Deg. You are going out tomorrow to look for that axle right?”

I decide at this point that Deg’s hardhold is called Steelside. It has a working factory.

Violet nods.

“Well hurry,” her aunt says. “Hurricane hasn’t told many people this, but we were supposed to get the shipment out yesterday. Deg will be sending someone to check on us in a day or so when it doesn’t show up.”

Violet raises her voice a bit. “Why didn’t he say something?”

“He wants to seem like he has things under control I guess,” she shrugs. “He’s a man.”

Violet shakes her head. “But if we had known about it sooner, we could have taken care of it earlier.”

“You tell him that. Well anyway, I am going to check on your uncle.” With that, Julia begins to walk to Buck’s hut.

We then cut straight to Uncle Buck. I point out to BRT he outnumbers him 4 to 1. What do you do?

BRT says, “I think he goes aggro?”

”How do you go aggro? What are you doing to threaten him?”

BRT pulls out a gun and reveals himself. He rolls a 9.

Back at the hut, BRT decides to end the standoff between Buck and Lizard. He busts in through the doorway and points a gun at Buck. “Drop your weapons or I’ll fucking kill you.”

The older man backs off calmly, raising his hands and pointing the shotgun at the ceiling. He keeps one hand on the grenade. “Hey what’s going on?” he asks.

BRT shouts out to the others. “Hey Lizard, why don’t you get out of here? I’ll handle this.”

As the two women quickly vacate the house, Buck focuses on Billie Ray. “What are you doing breaking into a man’s home?”

“Can we sit?” BRT asks calmly.

Buck gestures at the round table in the room. Three rough wooden chairs surround it. BRT slowly walks over and sits down. He places the gun on the table between them, his hand on top of it.

In the doorway Kal's eyes flicks between Buck and the grenade. Buck calmly walks over, carefully leaning the shotgun against the wall before settling into the opposite chair. He keeps a firm grip on the grenade and pin.

BRT looks into Buck’s dark eyes. “I wanted to disarm you before we had this conversation.”

“That ain’t happening,” the rough skinned man replies.

“I’m aware of that now.” BRT takes a deep breath. “Buck you have a tattoo.”

“What about it?”

“A man with that tattoo killed my mother,” BRT pauses, “I need to know if you are that man Buck.”

“I killed a lot of people,” he says stroking his graying beard with his free hand.

Slowly BRT describes how his mother died. The name of the holding, the layout of the house, what his mother looked like the day she died. The man who killed her wasn’t looking for her, he wanted what she had: four healthy goats. The man killed her anyway, while BRT watched from under the floorboards.

The goats came out of a bit of back and forth. BRT originally suggested a bolt of cloth but it felt off. I had been using a random generator to come up with ideas for gifts for November (though they were not really appropriate for this game). One of the ideas was “four goats”.

BRT agreed, “four goats is a big deal! Milk, more goats.”

November added, “meat if things go bad.”

As BRT finishes his story, Buck licks his lips. “Those were some mighty tasty goats.”

BRT decides this is a sufficient confession. We go with Seize by force, specifically seizing the grenade.

Gator points out that even if the grenade goes off, BRT won’t die. He’ll just get maimed.

BRT gets a total of 7, and chooses to suffer little harm and get definite hold. So the grenade is out of play.

Shocked, BRT decides to end this. He rises, firing at the grenade and knocking it out of Buck’s hand. As it bounces across the room, the grizzled biker thrusts his uninjured hand at the scavenger and kicks up the table. A knife hidden up his sleeve flies to connect with BRT’s pistol sending it also skittering about the room. By the time BRT regains his bearings, he finds himself alone in the house with Kal scanning the darkness from the doorway.

So with no grenade, I use another of Buck's weapons, a knife. He deals 2-harm from the knife -1 from BRT's armor -1 from little harm. This means BRT takes 0-harm. I have him roll a harm move. He rolls 11 and I choose the options: lose grip on what you were holding and lose track of someone you’re attending to.

For Buck, he also has 1-armor from his gator hide coat. This reduces the 2-harm from Brt's 9mm down to 1-harm. He's hurt but not out of the fight.

BRT shouts at Kal to grab Buck’s shotgun. As the teen scrambles for it, BRT snatches up his gun and the grenade. Then the pair head after their quarry.

November's choked off scream disrupts the Gathering as she collapses into a twitching heap. As she writhes on the ground Gator thrusts his hand inside her mouth to stop November from swallowing her own tongue.

Gator Reads a sitch to figure out what is going on. November aids him and gets a hard hit. With the +1 Gator gets a 7. He asks, what should I be on the lookout for? I tell him she is having an epileptic fit but should be fine assuming she doesn’t swallow her own tongue.

Violet moves with the crowd to see what is the matter.

Then a shot rings out from her uncle’s house, in the same direction as where her aunt just went. Violet runs to find out what is going on.

Gator asks, “only one gun shot?”


”Then he doesn’t feel he needs to arm himself. It’s just one shot and it didn’t even sound like that big of a bullet.”

In the darkness outside Buck’s hut, BRT tells Kal, “that didn’t go as planned.”

“Yeah that’s for hella sure,” the shaking teenager says.

We take a short break here when I realize I might be burning dinner. The players discuss whether my dinner will/can burn as well as commenting how I never curse (though apparently they are ignoring the foul language of this game).


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Dinner didn’t burn.

“It’s kind of crazy that he just admitted to it outright,” BRT says in disbelief.

The gang discusses how cold that was and whether there is any real law in this world to stop people like Buck.

Violet says, "It makes me wonder what kind of relationship I have with my Uncle Buck. I might be a little bit afraid of him. Why did my parents send me out here again?"

Gator meat, I point out. "They wanted to eat something that wasn’t contaminated with mercury."

Violet says Buck is the black sheep of her family.

With BRT figuring out his next step, we switch back to the others.

By the Theater, November becomes aware that she is lying in the mud with Gator’s hand in her mouth.

November asks, "what does that taste like exactly?"

"He uses a fine lotion," I quip.

Gator reveals that he is not totally unwashed. He doesn’t have any fancy soaps though.

November pushes him away gentle and props herself up.

“What happened?” she asks as the pain recedes.

"You had a fit," he explains, "and started trying to eat your own tongue."

In the flickering light she makes out a knot of people around her and a slowly moving crowd peering past the gator pits.

Hurricane looms over her. “Is she okay?”

November smiles and slowly but gracefully stands up. She apologizes to Hurricane and the others for worrying them.

“You gave me a scare,” Hurricane says.

"I must have overexerted myself," she says, dusty off some of the wet dirt.

"May have," Gator says. He turns toward the gator pits. "Where did that shot come from?"

"Shot?" she asks.

"It sounded like it came from Buck and Julia’s house," Hurricane says.

"So Violet’s camp," Gator says.

Hurricane looks around at the crowd. "She’s not here. She must have headed over there."

"Dice," he calls out. "Where is Kal? Dice, let’s go make sure there is no trouble."

"I hope she’s okay," November says.

"Want me to come along?" Gator asks.

"You can come if you want," the big man tells him.

"Just saying. no charge."

Hurricane nods and they head off into the darkness.

BRT asks, "what direction did he go?"

"You don’t know you lost track of him."

BRT scans the darkness. “Okay Kal tell your uncle that I confronted Buck and that he threatened to blow us up.”

"Okay," the teen nods eagerly and turns to leave.

The scavenger grabs him by the shoulder. “And that he admitted to killing my mother.”

“Yeah I’ll tell him,” Kal says before bolting off.

Kal is a coward.

Violet says, "takes all kinds."

BRT starts walking away from town, keep his eyes open but with his mind on his hidden bolthole. With Buck on the loose, Billie Ray would need to lay low for a bit. But now at least he knew who killed his mother.

So you are actually leaving? Not searching? I ask.

BRT replies that he’s searching but not being quiet.

I offer him the option to roll Read a sitch. He gets an 11.

His first question is what is my enemy’s true position?

The shed near the edge of swamp.

What should I be on the lookout for?

You didn't take too close of a look at the shed but...

As the scavenger makes his way into the swamp, he notes the wooden shed on the edge of Buck's plot of land. It was empty when he scouted it earlier but a faint light glimmers from under the door.

An engine revs inside the shed moments before he hears the sound of wheels scraping against mud and gravel. Without thinking, BRT pulls the pin on the grenade and rolls it toward the structure.

BRT rolls Seize by force and gets a 9. He chooses to inflict terrible harm and suffer little harm.

The grenade does 4-harm -1 for Buck's armor +1 for terrible harm. He dies quickly.

Violet catches up to her aunt as it detonates. The darkness before them lights up as a burning motorcycle flies from the explosion, colliding with BRT and knocking him to the ground. The debris, including the smoking remains of her uncle, skid to a halt in front of them.

We establish Buck never let Violet into the shed. It was his place.

The motorcycle deals 3-harm -1 from BRT's armor -1 little harm. So BRT is injured for 1-harm.

Violet blinks and looks over the devastation. Where the shed stood is a smoking crater. A short distance away BRT slowly rises to his feet.

“What the hell just happened?!” she shouts at BRT.

Her aunt sinks to her knees and screams, “You killed him!”

"He deserved to die," the scavenger says. "He killed my mother."

Further away the crowd draws a collective gasp as the boom of the explosion reaches them. Gator draws his submachine gun and continues toward the flames.

November Reads a charged sitch, and gets a hard hit.

Who’s in control here? She asks.

"Not Buck," I say. It's not clear who is in charge here. Things remain unsettled.

What’s my enemy’s true position?

This gives me a hard time but I settle on the following: "You didn’t see it the first time. He is just on the cusp and he only has one eye but there are flecks of green in Gunge’s eye. He has the Climbers."

What’s my best escape route from him?

He is a diehard fan. You can either move inland so he can’t follow you on his boat or shoot him in the leg or something.

As the crowd surges forward, November notices the glint of green in Gunge's eye. She tenses as she recognizes 'the spots'. She forces herself to calm down, biding her time to get away from the infected man.

Violet meanwhile feels very conflicted. On one hand she is not very fond of her Uncle Buck. But murder goes against everything she believes in.

I point out that her goal of an orderly society is not being served here. This is vigilante justice at best.

Violet confronts her uncle's killer. "You thought killing him would solve your problem?"

“He murdered my mother," BRT says calmly. "There was no problem this would solve. This was justice.”

"You killed him!" Julia shouts, rising to her feet.

As her aunt pulls a knife from her boot, Violet says, "listen to that. You know what happens you kill for revenge?"

The scavenger dusts himself off and steps away from the still smoldering shed. “Not for anything Violet, but she’s benefited from everything he’s ever done.”

"You bastard!" Julia screams, stalking closer. "How could you kill him!"

"The more you kill the more you have to look over your own shoulder," Violet says calmly. "My uncle was no saint. I know that. But that doesn’t make what you did right."

BRT stretches his shoulder wincing at the pain. "Violet that’s the only person I’ve killed not in self defense."

"But you killed for revenge and that begets only more revenge."

Aunt Julia moves in front of Violet, her dress dirtied with mud and Buck's blood. As she points her knife at BRT, she says, “you are going to regret this. I will see you suffer. You will beg for your life. You have no idea, no idea who you just killed.”

"Stop," Violet says moving forward. "Wait until the others get here."

As Violet trains her gun on BRT to dissuade any escape, her aunt continues, “Billie Ray Tallahasee. I hope Hurricane doesn’t kill you. I’m going to make sure whatever happens, you survive.” She spits at him.

Gator says, "you need to kill her now, you’ll have to kill her eventually."

Violet adds, “Mom always said Uncle Buck would come to a bad end if he didn’t change his ways.”

BRT stands his ground as the crowd approaches. He spots Kal babbling out the story to Hurricane. “Like I said BRT went to confront Buck. He said that Buck murdered his mother. And he admitted it too. I don’t know what happened next. I left before whatever happened. But they were trying to kill each other."

Gator chooses to Read a person and gets a 7. Is he telling the truth? Yes.

“Seems legit,” Gator says. “He’s too freaked out to tell a lie.”

"You are probably right," Hurricane sighs. "People and their vendettas. Let's go see what happened, who is alive and who is dead. I want no one else dying in town. At least for a day."

The crowd finds Violet with the situation well under control.

"What’s going on here?" Hurricane says. "Okay I see what’s going on here. So did he do it?”

BRT nods. "I did it."

"He threw a grenade at him," Violet explains.

"It was his grenade. It was that or get run down by his bike."

"Did you have to take it into your own hands though?" she asks.

"Where you going to do it for me?"

"You could have brought it up with Hurricane," she tells him.

BRT turns the town's leader. "Hurricane this man killed my mother while I was 9 while I watched in some hole you’ve never heard of. Do you want to do something about this?" The scavenger turns to Violet. "That’s not his place, this is his place."

”In retrospect more than I want to deal with this,” Hurricane says rubbing his brow.

"Well maybe we need a system," he says.

“Well you are looking at it," Hurricane says. "Lucky for you Kal has confirmed your story or at least Buck's admission of guilt.”

"He killed her for goats Hurricane. For fucking food."

"So he committed a crime against you and the facts, such as they are, support you. You did blow up part of my town though. And murdered one of my wranglers.”

I ask BRT to roll Manipulate a person to get a good judgement from Hurricane. He gets an 8.

Hurricane moves to address the crowd as well. “So here’s where we are at. This is a lost property issue as far as I am concerned. I can say nobody is going to inflict violence on you in this town. At least to the limits that I can control. But you owe Stumpland and therefore you owe me. You already have a job you are going to do for me and that’s going to be for free. And you are going to owe me another scavenging run. That’s the price.”

“No suicide runs though," BRT says.

"Of course not. How you choose to obtain an item is your own affair. I’m not going to ask for something like that. Alright everybody, hear that judgement has been done, the law’s been laid down. I expect no reprisals."

Hurricane surveys the crowd but Julia is absent. "There will be no violence against this person in Stumpland. And we’ve all had plenty of excitement tonight so let's all just tidy up and get some sleep. Some of us have business to take care of in the morning.”

As the crowd disperses, Violet disappears in search of her aunt.

Hurricane hesitantly approaches Gator and November. “I have a proposition.”

"I'm listening," Gator says.

“I have a pair of short term gigs for the two of you," he says. "As you might have heard the food delivery for Steelside is late. Deg’s boys will be here before that axle does. I need someone to deal with them, with whoever they send down. Ideally that will be peaceful. We will send them back on their way with the food and everything will be good. November would you be willing to do the negotiations for me?"

As she nods, he continues, "Gator, they might not agree to negotiate. I have a bit more manpower now but I know Deg, we will still be outnumbered. Would you be willing to bodyguard Stumpland for a couple days?”

"I’m amenable. It will cost a little bit though."

"Right," Hurricane says tiredly.

"I could use some gator jerky."

"I could spare a bit." With his piece said, he adds, “let’s all get a good night sleep and see what comes in the morning.”

Hurricane offers 1-barter worth of gator meat. Gator is all about the food.

Gator and November walk with the big man back to the center of town.

"Just to be clear you want as little blood as possible?" Gator asks.

“Ideally no one gets killed but," Hurricane trails off. "If you can send them on their way with Deg none the wiser that’s great. Otherwise I don’t want to see any of them to make it back.”

"They disappeared in the swamp. I get it," Gator says with a smile. "You sure you don’t want me to send them running?"

“If that’s what has to happen then that’s what has to happen. I mostly don’t want anyone in Stumpland to get killed. No one else.”

"I get you." He looks to the dancer. "November you are plan A."

As the Stumpland uneasily settles down for the night. Violet creeps through her aunt and uncle's disheveled home. A strange crackle emanates from behind a closed door. Pressing her ear to the rough wood, she hears her aunt saying, "-killed him. Crimson, they murdered him. Billie Ray Tallahasee.”

A faint distorted voice replies amid a hiss of static. Violet pushes the door open a crack. She sees her aunt crouched over an old bulky radio.

"He’s one of those half slant eyed kids,” she says as Violet walks in on her. “I've got to go. I’ll talk to you later."

Julia stands up and asks, "What is it Violet?”

"Who was that?" the survivalist asks.

"An old friend."

"Who is Crimson?"

Violet decides to Read a person. She rolls a 4.

"I am an open book," she says. "Whatever it is she doesn’t tell me."

Not necessarily.

"Crimson is the leader of the Wild Eyes, the meanest biker gang this side of the Mississippi," julia says with a hint of pride.

"You’re not asking-"

"It's already done," Julia says. "That man will be running in fear for the rest of his short miserable life."

"I can’t say I didn't warn him," Violet says.

Gator agrees. "That’s why he should have killed her too."

"One day I hope you’ll understand," Violet says with a sigh. She turns and slams the door behind her.


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Now for the second half of session 3.


Last time we left off with Uncle Buck dead from his own grenade, Aunt Julia planning to avenge him, Violet knowing about her plans, BRT owing Hurricane for killing his alligator wrangler, and Gator and November having been hired by Hurricane to deal with whoever Deg sends.

We start the next morning.

The Gathering, Part II

Violet shifts in her sleeping bag, her teeth still clenched when the early morning light breaks through the thin canopy surrounding Stumpland. As the fog burns off, the long descent from her tree top camp reveals itself. Rubbing her eyes, she slips out of the bag and begins the climb with practiced ease.

BRT soon arrives with Kal and Dice in tow. The trio find the young woman waiting, carefully checking her gear.

“So yeah,” she greets BRT checking her sights.

"Morning," he replies cutting off the awkward silence.

“I have some bad news for you,” she says, stowing the last of her tools.

BRT sighs. "What’s up Violet?"

Violet tells him about her findings the night before. Her aunt used a radio to contact Crimson, the leader of the Wild Eyes. Uncle Buck was one of their members. They plan to hunt BRT down.

“Your aunt has a hidden radio?” BRT comments.

Violet frowns and ignores his question. ”I’m not quite sure what to think about last night. He probably had it coming but he was my kin.”

"I’m not a murderer," BRT tells her. "I feel like shit. But you live with that shit for your entire life, it messes you up. I’m not made for this world.”

He gestures around to Stumpland, “I like the ruins where I don’t need to worry about all this. If someone paid me to do regular work, I’d do it but I don’t trust Hurricane."

He turns to the two men beside him. "No offense guys."

“Well things aren’t perfect,” Violet says.

The other nod and the crew gathers their things. BRT leads them into the swamps and east to the highway.

BRT comes up alongside Violet. "You think this Crimson guy is going to come for me?"

“Probably. Be careful. Frankly I feel weird saying that to the guy who killed my uncle.”

"Don’t spare it two thoughts," he says. "Your uncle would have killed you if you had something he wanted.”

"You have a point there."

"If he had only said something else,” BRT says slowly.

“Mom always said Uncle Buck would come to a bad end if he didn’t change his ways.”

As they head into the swamps, I debate how much and where the trouble should start. I decide to let them get to the road so that if I need to cut it short, I can do so cleanly.

"November, what do you do about Gunge? He is lingering around."

November asks the group,"What’s the normal practice for someone who is suspected of having the climbers? Are they killed? Isolated? Banished?"

BRT suggests telling Hurricane.

Gator says at the very least they are exiled. Otherwise they are killed and burned.

I point out that it is possible to cure if you have someone with medical skills.

That will cost, Gator says.

Back in Stumpland, November approaches Hurricane as he talks to some of the citizens of the town about the next harvest. After they disperse, she says to him, “I’m concerned. I think Gunge might be infected. It looks pretty early though.”

"So he’s got the climbers," Hurricane says scowling. "Alright, I’ll get him out of here.”

"I’m not even sure he knows," she adds.

“Well he’s about to find out," the big man says. "He’s got a boat, he’s got money, he can go find his own cure.”

With that he strides out to the center of town.

Where does Gator spend his day?

After establishing the time (midday), he says that he finds a good vantage point from which to snipe at any visitors.

I point out Jackbird's ship is the highest point. We establish that he scouted the outside, climbed up and is hiding on the bridge.

High up above central Theater of Stumpland, Gator scans the perimeter for any approaching threats. Nearer by, he spots Hurricane walking over to Gunge. His friend and employer talk amicably for a minute but the conversation soon sours. Too far for him to hear what's going on, Gator watches as words become shouts. Hurricane gives Gunge a shove and points off into the swamp. One of his enforcers, Smoky, walks over and points a pistol at Gunge.

Gator tenses, placing the thick bearded man with his crosshairs. Gunge however backs off and heads for his boat. Gator pulls up his gun and quickly climbs down.

A moment later, he catches Gunge just as he's readying his rusted airboat to cast off.

“What was that about?” Gator asks.

Gunge focuses on starting the engine. "I don’t want to talk about it."

“You’re not going to tell me what that was about?”

Gator Reads a person and get a 5 (which seems to be his most common roll lately) for a total of 7. He also marks experience.

What does he intend to do? He asks.

He intends to go home and get drunk on moonshine.

"That doesn’t sound good," Gator says.

"I didn’t say he had a good plan."

Gunge shrugs. “I’m just going to back to my place and getting drunk.”

"Why man?" Gator says from the dock.

“I’ve just had enough of this place. They are unfriendly.”

"Fine, I’ll just ask Hurricane and see what he has to say," Gator says.

“Fine, fine ask him,” Gunge says spitting over the side. The engine roars to life.

Gator approaches Hurricane as he discusses the defense of the town with Smoky. The big man turns to him. “I thought you were up on the boat.”

"Yeah but I saw something going on with Gunge."

Hurricane looks him the eye. “Yeah well he’s got the climbers.”

"Ah fuck really?"

“Yes, November told me. You can see it, barely, in his eye."

“Start of the spots?" the warrior asks.

“Exactly,” Hurricane says. “You know how it is.”

"I understand." Gator turns back to the dock. Gunge casts off. "That fucking idiot is doing the wrong fucking thing. Hold on, I’ll be back."

Gator decides to chase Gunge. I have him roll Acting under fire to catch the boat. He succeeds with an 8 and has to jump into boat while in motion. If he had fully succeeded he could have caught up before the boat pulled away.

Gator runs along the muddy bank of Stumpland after the boat. As it passes under a twisted and bent over willow tree, there is a crash.

The boar ways and Gunge starts as Gator appears on the deck. The armored warrior brushes off leaves and small branches as he rises from his crouch.

“Hey, fucking idiot,” he says to the one-eyed man.

"What are you doing jumping into my boat?" Gunge says.

“You are about to do something stupid,” Gator tells him.

"What business is it of yours?"

“Where would I be without your valuable service? You going off to die is my business.”

Sadly this is a Manipulate a person move. Gators rolls a 6 which makes his total a 4. Hard move time.

Gunge gives his friend a good push. Unready, the heavily armed warrior tumbles off the boat. As he sputters up to the surface, he sees the air boat driving to the East at top speed.

Gator makes a note of Gunge's bearing and struggles his way back up onto the muddy bank. Cussing he makes his way back to Jackbird’s. Once he reaches the bridge, he focuses his attention on the guns, quickly cleaning and oiling them. As for the bullets, he would just have to hope.

Gator makes a point of noting where Gunge headed off to, hoping to follow him later and loot his place.

I tell him,"it would be boring if you never found him again."

We cut to later in the day with BRT and Violet. I ask, "what is the trail like, BRT?"

He describes it as not too submerged, but still a nasty wet trail. BRT marks the path they take. Initially he suggested chalk but Violet pointed out, "Doesn’t it tend to rain a lot in Everglades?"

The sun slowly descends as BRT marks the last tree trunk with some spray paint. Dice and Kal trudge slowly behind him, their boots caked in mud. Violet peers ahead at the old highway in the fading light.

The withered corpses of climber victims decorate the listing street lamps to either side of the wide overgrown roadway. Endless lines of rusted cars and trucks sit empty, their driver's side doors wide open, just as on the day their owners stopped, stepped out and began to climb.

BRT asks, "do I know exactly where an axle is?"

You have a fair idea where to find it. You need to check a few vehicles to see if they have the right type and are intact. You can get to the nearest ones before the light fades.

Billie Ray turns to the others. “Okay guys, I don’t like being out in the open once the sun goes down. We can push through and grab it before the light fades, but we’ll probably be caught out in the open. Or we camp here out of sight and head out in the morning.”

“I’m all for waiting until morning,” Kal says looking at the desiccated corpses blowing in the wind.

Dice stows his machete in his overstretched belt. “Let’s just get that axle and that way we can try to book it.”

Violet asks, "how heavy is the axle?"

Heavy enough to slow you down.

So running will not be an option, she says.

Violet considers how likely it will be to outrun someone while carrying the axle. She votes to camp.

BRT leads them to an underpass and they build a secluded camp amid the brambles.

That night their sleep is disturbed by the passage of several vehicles overhead. BRT listens to the rumble of the engines and guesses that it is a convoy of two cars or trucks accompanied by a pair of motorcycles.

They hunker down and soon the sound of the convoy disappears into the north.

November spends the night in one of Hurricane’s spare rooms. The chorus of crickets intermingle with the splashes of the alligators in their pens. Carefully she begins to pack up her gear, stowing her share of the gator jerky away. She considers her next step and looks out to Jackbird's and her possible traveling companion.

Gator how long do you spend on the boat? Do you spend the night?


Gator meanwhile finds his watch disturbed by a recurring vibration through the ship. After a half hour he tracks the source to the door in the back of the bridge, the one leading deeper into the boat.

Gator chooses to Open his brain. He fails. After some consideration I choose to activate the custom move I wrote for the door. Here is the move:

With the engine off, the ship is unstable. When accessing the bridge using the door in the back from either direction, roll +weird. On a hit, the portal does not collapse. On a 10+, the energies resonate with the character and he or she momentarily experiences a connection to the psychic maelstrom as if using augury move and the option ‘a window into the psychic maelstrom.’ On a miss it collapses, shunting anyone passing through somewhere else in time and/or space (several days either way or a few tens of miles).

He rolls a 9 and the doorway opens.

Gator puts his hand to the door and feels the vibration. He reaches out with his mind but finds only something metallic and foreign. The door opens easily, revealing a set of stairs leading down. A whiff of salty air rises from below. Somewhere deeper down he hears a pair of people talking.

Gator Reads a sitch and gets a 13. He also marks experience. What should I be on the lookout for?

The door is unstable and passing through it might make it stop working.

What's my best escape route?

Back through this door.

Who is in control here?

An interesting question. You are. The weirdness on this ship is on its last legs.

Gator grabs one of the chairs on the bridge and props the door open.

He sneaks down the dark corridors following the echoing voices deeper into the vessel. The ship gently sways as if it were out at sea. Continuing on he tracks the voices to a bulkhead door.

They stop.

Gator opens up the door. In the well-lit room he finds two people or at least their remains. The pair of strange men seem freshly dead, slouched in their gray coveralls. One hangs out of wall while the other has fused with the floor at his waist.

Gator backs away. A loud creak echoes through the boat and the light flickers out. Gator pulls his submachine gun out and quickly turns to leave.

As he hurries back, he hears something scratching along the metal floor. Gator shines his flashlight in that direction, catching sight of two green glowing eyes.

The scarred warrior carefully scans the area until the light reveals a small black cat.

“Jeez,” he says as he slows his breathing. “Get out of here.”

The cat meows at him.

“Alright out is this way,” he says, continuing toward the stairs. The cat follows him and the pair exit the bowels of the ship.

I have him roll Acting under fire to escape. With the earlier +1 from Reading a sitch, he gets a 7.

As he steps through the door, it shudders. The chair is knocked aside and the door slams shut. As he contemplates what happened, the cat rubs against Gator's leg.

I decide the door is now closed forever.
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