Afternoon Gaming with “Silent Night, Hungry Night”

This is the second post in a re-cap of last week’s Deadlands: Reloaded afternoon sessions. In my last post, I quickly went over our trio of quirky adventurers and gave the run-down of our play through of the “House Call” One-Sheet adventure provided by PEG Inc. A couple days later we gathered again for the continuing adventures of our Posse, with the added bonus of raising their characters up to Seasoned rank. This was done mostly as an experiment on my part to see how well characters advance in the Savage Worlds system compared to other RPG’s like World of Darkness, GURPS, D&D etc. Overall, it appears mostly everyone focused on skill and attribute raises, with the Huckster also packing some more spell points. The only drastic change, which involved a rules-calling on my part, was Dr. Metzger wanting to keep the Detached Hands from the last adventure as pets/assistants. Normally, I’d call foul, but it would work well with the Doctor’s concept and the sort of tongue-in-cheek (albeit a creepy tongue-in-cheek) nature of our gaming group.  I ended up pulling the Minions rules from Necessary Evil, making the Doctor give up the Power Points permanently to keep them “controlled.”  In hindsight, I probably should have treated them as a new “device” for the Doctor; but these are just fun one-shots and not a full campaign. And to be honest, they were being used entirely to carry luggage and hand tools to the Doc.

Wednesday’s Game: “Silent Night, Hungry Night” (link)
(Again, Spoiler Alert for anyone who may be subjected to a GM running One Sheets.)

The only reason we’re getting to play is because it’s Christmas Vacation for the local University, and what better way to enjoy the Holidays by turning a literary classic into a horror fest? This One Sheet is a great adventure in which the players are faced off with a corrupted man, possessed by the lure of power and transformed into an agent of envy by Plague himself. Nevermind he’s 9 ft tall, has a reach of 2 squares, is dark green with a hideous smile and wearing a red coat and Santa Hat. Yes, children, this adventure is the Deadlands take on The Grinch.

As I always enjoy altering the tales for my group, it all starts off in Neu-Braunfels with Jack receiving a letter (which he hands to his buddy, Clint, since he can’t read) from his sister Ethel. The long and short was Ethel and her husband and kids had missed Jack and would love to see him visit for Christmas. I explained they lived in Hooverville, a small town in the north eastern part of the New Mexico territory. Flying by the cuff of my pants, I added train tickets for Jack via a rail way in Amarillo (and I made the other players cough up the dough, good thing we did Gambling rolls for the months that passed.)

Of course, I always like to start things off with a warm-up fight before we get to the real adventures. What better excuse than to have the train initially getting an attempted Robbery? The player’s luckily had smuggled light armaments on the train, and as the Bandits moved from room to room on the carts, the players drew their guns and wound up having a nasty close-quarter fight that resulted in some injuries and lots of bandit brains splattered on the wall. While the train conductor wasn’t too happy about their smuggled arms, he was relieved to have had the bandits taken care of.

As the night went on, the snow storm outside grew worst. This is the part where the train broke down, an estimated hour or two away from their destination. Jack and Clint wanted to ride on, but the Doc wanted to stay behind in case any more bandits showed up. To ease the Doc’s worries, I ended up having firearms handed back to the remaining passengers who decided to stay for “Bandit Handlin'”. With that, they got their horses out of the transport car, and they rode off into the storm. They managed to find their way to the town, but Clint ended up taking some Fatigue levels as the weather got to him.

The players arrived at Hooverville towards the end of the storm, finding a quiet, boarded up and eerie town. They sensed something was up, because even with a snowstorm it was Christmas Eve. Regardless, they rode on to Ethel’s house, where Jack was greeted at the door with Sam shoving a shotgun in his face. After realizing who he was aiming the gun at, the Posse was invited in to a quiet home of a distraught family. While Clint parked himself in front of the fires with the Doctor assisting him, Sam relayed the horrifying story of the men who rode into town to rob everyone of their Christmas gifts, destroying the town decor and injuring the Marshall in a shootout. Jack’s nephew mentioned one of the men looked like a ranch hand from Goodman’s ranch. The players initially agreed to wait until morning to investigate.

But I, on the other hand, really wanted to push them on. So, I had the injured Marshall show up all bandaged up, checking on the family. He pleaded to the Posse that he was unable to defend himself properly with his injuries. They still agreed to just wait until morning. So, I pulled out the nasty guns: I had the little girl cry that there would be no Santa. The creepy Doctor somehow managed to charm her with wonderful Christmas stories, and the kids went on to bed. So, I followed THAT up with Jack’s sister crying that all the kids in the town would  wake up the next morning with no gifts, no Santa, no faith. Finally, got the player’s feeling guilty (or at least taking the hint to MOTHERFUCKINGSAVECHRISTMASDAMNIT *gasp*)

They gathered their horses, and rode up to the Ranch. Instead of having them find the dead ranch hands, I decided to throw at them an encounter with the end of the grisly scene that took place. It began with one loner ranch hand running off, injured, and desperately wanting to hold onto his crappy share of the haul. He attempted to harm the players, but they subdued him and ended up offering to let him live if he marched up to town and turned himself in, with the promise of putting in a good word later to clear his name. The alternative, of course, was to be killed. Even if he fled, they promised to hunt him down, and he believed it.

Approaching further, they came to the sight of all the dead ranch hands. I laid it on thick with the description of bodies with hatchets in their back, jaws bashed out, heads stomped etc. They came up to this scene with the last two men duking it out. For more shock factor, when they were approached, I had the men draw guns for a fight. First round of combat, one hombre turned around and shot his buddy point blank. The Huckster would then fool him into looking behind him, at which point he shot the guy in the back.

The Big Showdown

They would follow the sled tracks up the mountain to the cave where the “Granch” was hiding. The fight with the Giant Mastiffs was over pretty quick, and in a way a little disappointing to me. While I enjoy Savage World’s system of Mook’s getting taken out with 1 hit, and NPC “Wildcards” sticking to the same wounds as players, I sometimes wish the published adventures used more Wildcard characters as body guards. It’s a small gripe, and easily remedied by slapping on 3 wound points and a wild die, but I was more concerned about running the fight and going on.

The initial fight with the Granch was awesome, although for some reason I wounded up channeling the voice of Gollum  for him. Still, slapping the players around, having him tank hits and barely being scratched really got them flinching. Especially considering how fast everything else dies in this system, it really got them wondering how the hell they were supposed to kill this thing. Finally, I chimed in the Carolers that would weaken his defenses, and had him scream out and leap onto his sleigh for the high speed chase.

I thought surely at this point, the game was done. The adventure reads that on the 10th round, the “Granch” hits the town, slaughters the caroling crowd, becomes invincible again and all hell breaks loose. Ten rounds seems like a lot in the Savage Worlds system for 1 enemy, but man doing the whole chase scene was actually pretty damn epic. The players were trying all sorts of maneuvers and quick tactics to try to stop the “Granch”, and not all of them were working. We had players getting knocked off their horses, or losing momentum, or being thrown off course. At one point Jack attempted to cut the Sleigh off. He managed to ride up ahead, get in front, fire off rounds….and not stop the damn thing at all. Luckily, the Huckster was able to blast some cards under the Sleigh intending to launch away from Jack, causing a close miss and sparing his life. The scene ended on Turn 9, with Jack finally catching up to the “Granch” and successfully unloading his shotgun in his back for a final kill.

As the Sleigh slides down the mountain unto the caroling Hoos of Hooverville, the “Granch” became an eruption of green tinsel colored sparkles (my cheesy edit) and everyone got their gifts and the players were heroes. I also made sure to have an “old scrooge” lean out the window and ask the Doc what day it was. To top that off, I also had a tiny crippled kid say “God bless us, every one!” At this point the players rolled their eyes and packed up the dice, but they were all grinning so I KNOW deep down inside the loved the cornball nature of it…..

In conclusion

So this wraps up the look back at the afternoon gaming sessions of last week. It was awesome having friends over for grub and games, with the Day-Star out no less. Savage Worlds is definitely shaping up to become the next big hit in my circle of gamers, offering a nice break from the length and book keeping of D&D. The Deadlands setting itself is fitting in nicely with the rules in my opinion; it does lack some flavor in the mechanics from the original, but it’s an easy sacrifice in exchange for the pace of the game and flexibility of the character design. Also, if you’re planning on running a session of this or any other “Dark Christmas” themed RPG’s, I highly recommend purchasing a copy of Abney Park’s Christmas Album

One thought on “Afternoon Gaming with “Silent Night, Hungry Night””

  1. Loved it…just loved it.

    I had hoped to run this this season, but it didn’t happen. Very nice, complete with the cheesy endings. Sometimes, even in darker, horror games, you NEED a little bit of “and the good guys win”.

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