It's Swerve City. Our three PCs, gunslinger Dwight D Clinton, Marshall "Poughkeepsie" Pete and gadgeteer Prof Thomas Johns are in the Brown Bear saloon, listening to Darling Alison or playing cards. The Marshall is drowning his sorrows following the loss of his horse Black Nigel.
Each has a secret they wish to protect (although Dwight is quite willing to tell anyone 'I shot my Pa').
1. Old Man Baker (OMB) comes into the saloon with a gold nugget. Everyone crowds round excitedly, some rush off and some go with him the Williams the assayers. It's real gold too, so even more people rush off. The Marshall goes with OMB to the bank and offers his services to protect him, at a reasonable rate. He talks to Sheriff Grayling who says that it's out of town so not his, not Mayor Cameron's business. Turns out OMB found the nugget whilst fishing in his stream. There is a pickpocket in the crowd. The Marshall can sense him but not find him, then suddenly Apple Jack, a local ne'erdowell makes a run for it. The Prof brings him down with his whip and after a dunking in the horse trough, he's set free and a stolen watch returned
2. They ride off back with OMB to Black Rock Creek, OMB owns the whole head of the creek, a full mile of gulch and the surrounding forest. There's a gate near the mouth of the gulch over the track up to his log cabin which is up above the gulch with some corn and a goat. There's a ladder down into the creek. Down there Paul Simmonds and his wife Greta are already prospecting. There are told to leave but it's clear to the Marshall that Greta is hiding something. She refuses to show it, but Clinton uses the good book on her and she repents (20!) demanding even to be baptised. Shriven and born again, they go back to town.
3. Later on there's some gunfire from the mouth of the gulch. Our friends run out to find that Pete Sullivan has shot Peggy Nash and she's about to die in her husband Andrew's arms. The Marshall manages to save Peggy but Pete has run off. Andrew takes Peggy up to OMB's cabin to recuperate. Dwight and the Prof track him back to the river where they surprise him wading across the ford. He's so suprised, he drops his gun in the river but when the Marshall wades out to take him in for a trial and a hanging, he dives in the rushing river. The Marshall swims after him but doesn't catch up, and up ahead, Pointy Rock Falls is not far off. Clinton manages to plug Pete but he's stuck out in the middle. The Prof manages to throw a rope to the Marshall who catches up with Pete and they are hauled ashore just in time.
4. They take Pete back to the gulch and prepare to lynch him. A rope is tied round a tree and his neck and they'll throw him off into the gulch. There's one last chance of a reprieve. Marshall asks the Nash's if they'll allow Pete to go if he forfeits the gold to him. He agrees and the Marshall tries to give him the gold but is unable to part with it. Pete is set free and told to never return or risk being shot. Clinton rides into town and fetches the Doc of Mrs Nash.
5. Everyone is having food in the cabin and the day is getting on. From outside there is the sound of bleating. Pete has a noose round OMB's goat and is holding it to ransom for his gold. He seems desperate. Clinton just strides on over and punches him in his wounded shoulder and he collapses. He's dragged back inside and hypnotised by the Doc who finds that he has an unnatural desire for the gold he took from Mrs Nash. Where is this nugget? The Marshall has it, and he's unwilling to give it up. Guns are drawn, the prof uses his whip but fails to nab the Marshall's who makes a break for it. He escapes Clinton's lunging tackle but as he runs out into the night, Clinton gets him square in the back of the head with a bible, allowing him to reassess the situation (and he his mental defense works). He chucks the nugget back into the creek.
6. Something is clearly wrong here. Perhaps the Ferals can help. The group leave immediately and Clinton clearly knows their ways, finding a path from the head of the creek to their encampment. In exchange for something precious, the agree to summon a spirit at the creek to ask what's going on. The Marshall gives his waterskin and a mist coallesces, telling the shaman that a bad man came and put rocks in the creek. Two of them were normal but many were cursed. These rocks are not normally found in this creek. The ferals are thanked and go back home and our heroes must decide what to do about the cursed gold. The prof does some thinking and consulting and establishes that there must be some kind of radiation emanating from the cursed pieces which is transferred its handlers. He builds a machine to help rid Pete of the 'fluence but it doesn't work.
1. Old Man Baker has to look after Peggy because she can't be moved so his friend Cleatus, a hillbilly Mountain Man, has to leave, accompanying the boys back to town with his dog, Dawg, and his mule, Sweetheart (pleasurin' animals). There's a punch-up outside the assayers where people want their cursed (fools) gold valued but don't want to part with it to be valued. The crowd is dispersed. Some time is spent trying to find a way to get the degausser to town (which has been accidentally retconned to have worked), perhaps a new one can be built? The Prof goes on the scrounge and finds an rusty old traction engine. He tries to move it, freeing the zombie pinned beneath it. It's a remnant from the zombie plague of '62 but it's still hungry. It chases him back to town and assaults a lady. Cleatus and Dwight take the zombie down, Cleatus rips its arm off with some fancy wrastlin' moves and Dwight beats it to death with the soggy end. The woman, Miss Nancy the schoolma'am is mighty relieved. Dwight later visits her, to check she's not infected with the zombie curse and they share some pie. Dwight's gun is ready should she turn.
2. The gang decide to ride out to Cattle Baron Osbourne's place to ask him for the use of the traction engine, seein' as it's his. There is an altercation with his boys, just name-callin' but Dawg bites one of them. Another tries to shot Dawg but hits his pal in the back. The Marshall calms it all down but the Prof uses his whip and it kicks off again. The Prof is shot, badly and needs the doc's help when back in town.
3. The saloon is strangely quiet, people seem to be staying indoors with their fools gold. The Marshall is drumming up interest in a subscription for building a degaussing engine to cure people and prevent the death of the town. Osbourne and his boys come in and the Marshall goes to talk to him. There's an apology for the earlier incident and an agreement is reached. If the Prof revitalises the traction engine and the sherrif collects $1 from each person treated, then Osbourne will allow it to be used. The Prof also apologises for his part in the earlier debacle. The gang also hear about two other things. There's an abandoned mining town way out of town which may have something to do with the zombie plague and the Marshall's brother and Mr Edison from the city tried to buy the land round here real cheap (c2 an acre) for putting through a train. The cattle owners weren't too pleasead and resisted. In the saloon, Cleatus shows off his musical prowess and everyone is impressed with this new Country music on his makeshift uke. Miss Nancy gives Dwight her hair ribbon for luck.
4. Our heroes go to investigate the abandoned mining town and encounter an Owl Bear, attracted by the Prof's throwing sticks for Dawg. The Prof's book learning tells him its habitat but Cleatus knows that you take a dog hunting so you can feed it to the Owl Bear and get away. He tries to send Dawg in but it bites him in the face and runs off. So Cleatus faces the creature and blows half its beak off in one shot. The others come in for the kill and find that it's tougher than it looks, mashing the Prof into a tree. They all run away.
5. Our heroes get to the mining town, late and camp a ways off as it's dark. Cleatus smells some smoke and goes in for a closer look. He finds some people in an old shack. He tries to get Dawg to do a trick but instead he bites the stranger, is kicked by Cleatus and runs off back to the Prof. Cleatus gets in with these three people and they share beans and bacon and drink the night away. In the night Cleatus is taken prisoner and in the morning is tied to a post ready to be whipped and interrogated by two of the men. Instead, the rest intervene and Cleatus breaks the whipping post and knocks out one of the men, a petty scoundrel and fraudster. The other, some muscle is taken at gun point. The third, a lanky fellow with long black hair, coat and hat is in the shack but when Dwight investigates, he falls asleep. The third man gets away. It seems that the trio were responsible for the cursed fools gold in the river, but the remaining two don't seem to know much about the plan although they do have some special earthed gloves for handling the cursed material. In the meantime, the mine beckons and needs to be investigated.
1. Do some exploring and encounter the cave goblins. It seems that they eat metal and are usually shot on sight by miners. The Prof makes some headway in befrending a pair that crept up behind him to scalp him by giving them a silver dollar each. They warn him of something nasty further down the mine. The others play cat and mouse with Dwight who eventually takes an axe between the eyes and opens up on them. It's war. Pete piles in, as does a Preacher whom the goblins had captured. They kill the first wave of these creatures but they have a shaman who raises their dead, the Preacher holds the shambling hordes back whilst Dwight lobs in their only stick of dynamite. It's a 20 and the whole local structure collapses.
2. There's encounter with some local fauna, a cave fisher which the Prof avoids but which nabs the Lawman, but they kill it and find goblin bones beneath its lair. Further down and almost blocking this channel is a large coal-fuelled steam-powered boring machine but it's out of fuel and a bit rusty.
3. Backtracking, the group continue down in a mining truck. They start to gain speed and as they do, the Preacher's bible and the Lawman's star start to give off sparks. The breaks fail and they rush forwards into darkness, finally coming to a halt as the Preacher slides his bible under a wheel. And just in time too, because the tracks disappeat into a hellish stinking pit in the ground. Their is noise below and investigation serves only to enrage the great creature trapped there, it's face a cross between a monkey and a frog, its great arms hairy and slimy, it is yards tall. It tries to break through with its head but is reduced to pushing one arm out of the hole and flapping around. The group seem unable to harm it and turn down a side passage to avoid it. Dwight is hit by some slime which burns his arm.
4. They encounter more rail tracks and and some footprints coming down. They follow to a pit face where the limestone encounters a granitic intrusion, 20' high. They backtrack and find a passage that leads up and round to the top of the black rock. Here is a ghastly sight, the sacrificed body of a woman from which something awful has crawled, presumably responsible for the thing in the pit. They leave this ghastly room as they find it (?).
5. Backtracking they find a cross passage that leads from the thing in the pit across their current path and up a side passage, there are traces of slime but old and crusty. These lead to a room in which human bones have been stockpiled. Here it is evident that the slime has come off the creature in the pit, crawled to this room and has arranged itself round some bones and is starting to form itself into the semblance of people. This abomination is burnt.
6. Having found only scant trace of their quarry, they decide to go back and squeeze past the boring machine. Here they find a small hole where it had broken through into a chamber. They can see cut stone and the glinting of metal. This seems to have been the last thing that was dug out, before the mine was abandoned. They get some hammers and break down the wall. This place is a pre-Columbian burial chamber. It's all askew having been dislodged and buried by an ancient earthquake. In the copper pots are the dried remnants of human organs and on a plinth is the decrepit old mummified body of some potentate, his head, arms and ankles adorned with gold trinkets, thousands of dollars worth. The group divides into two, the Lawman and the Prof want to take the gold (using the special anti-curse glove) and spend it, the Preacher and the Gunslinger (a god fearing man himself) want it destroyed. The Preacher drops a match on the dried remains and as the Prof reaches to resuce the gold, the Gunslinger gets the drop on him and forces him back. The remains are burnt and the gold, "It's cursed, I tells ya!" is left unclaimed.
Also spencerpine ran a single purist session of Trail of Cthulhu, more madness in the Lake District and a Mythos entity with which I'm not particularly familiar. One went insane and joined a cult, the other two of us, not untouched by madness, fled for what was left of our tattered lives. Good Stuff!