Above is the campaign map for the Windy River area, a semi-fictional location that I’m going to try a solo test campaign in. I loosely based the area on a southern section of Wyoming (Google Maps view). Generally mountains to the north east, an old road leading NW-to-SE, and a slight river to the south west.
Compared to my original campaign map while brainstorming the Windy River is noticeably smaller. That’s an intentional choice so that I can flesh out the few locations without too much effort. The smaller the barrier to entry, the quicker I’ll be able to try out the rules.
I’ll try to update this blog with reports of each campaign turn, what the posse encountered, how everything went, and so on. My general hope is to have a fun time while putting the rules (especially post battle injuries) through their paces. Everything will be under the new Campaign tag/category, so check back in the future.
Before I talk about the Windy River locations and points of interest, I want to introduce my Posse that will be tackling this wildland…
Look at those cool dudes! I also had a version that used my “egg stealer” dinosaur (which you can check out here) but I opted for the first dinosaur I got for this game: my little fluffy non-Papo fellow. He’s a great size and style for a Runner.
Origin of “Drylands”: Anyways they are called the Drylands Expedition. Why do I always use the name “Drylands”, you might be wondering? Well, you might NOT be wondering, but I’m going to tell you my fascination with it regardless. See before Dinosaur Cowboys, I had worked on another game called Drylands. So I sort of pay homage to it by naming the odd Posse along those lines. The old game wasn’t that great, and tried the same RPG/skirmish split (I just never realized it would also have worked better as full skirmish). But I did have an interesting (but clunky) system of D20+XD4s where you would add D4s as modifiers, instead of flat numbers. If all this history sounds intriguing I actually have uploaded a copy of the Drylands rules. That was even before I used ODT format, or exported to PDFs, or merged all my rules into a single document.
That’s enough reminiscing though.
Drylands Expedition Background
Here are the statistics for the Drylands Expedition posse, and then I’ll talk a bit about each character, their motivations, and overall goals.
Overall, the Drylands Expedition was sent on an expedition (who would have thought) from the central Neotechnoist city of Hope (situated by the volcano and surrounded by The Wall). Their goal was to provide up to date scouting reports in the quadrant of land around Windy River. They were given eight months to do this. The plan was three months of travel each direction, although any chance to use Flappers for speedier transport was highly recommended, and funded up to a certain point.
The leader of the expedition is a Neotechnoist named Gibson Crawford (using an old metal 40k Space Marine shotgun scout figure). I figured he’d have high tech weaponry, so he got a Laserbow. His close friend Amparo (also a 40k figure, this time a Tallarn guardsman) accompanied him. Aside from six porters (in true Victorian era jungle style) the Drylands Expedition was alone.
The two Neotechnoists walked south east, following the overgrown and cracked pavement of Route 26. After a solid week of marching, losing a porter in the process to disease, they stopped to rest at the small hamlet of Dinwood. Gibson knew the further they got from Hope, the more dangerous the country would become. So at Dinwood he started looking for a local to help guide them.
He found Quidel, a Duster busy using his Heavy Pistol to disembowel two dinosaur thieves. Amparo was impressed by the display of violence and aggression, and swayed the tentative Gibson into hiring Quidel.
Over the next month Quidel became more and more influential to the Drylands Expedition. He fired one porter for falling asleep on sentry duty. Another porter was killed by a roaming Terror dinosaur. And through it all Amparo began to listen more and more to the Duster and less and less to his close friend Gibson.
After another month Amparo had taken the nickname “Amp”, and was working very hard at forgetting his Neotechnoist heritage. At this point his Allegiance effectively became Bandit (unaligned). Quidel was pleased to see this transition, finding Amp easier to get along with than the snobby Amparo. The Duster didn’t have anything specific against Neotechnoists, he just found that, generally, they were boring, dim witted people with huge naivety streaks.
Amparo was already a great shot in Hope, but after weeks on the road he was able to perform trick shots that left most townsfolk dazzled and amazed.
The expedition headed off the main highway and into wilder territory. At this point the rest of the porters were captured or killed in a raid by heavily armed highwaymen. Quidel and Gibson were both wounded in the attack. After such a close brush with death everyone agreed to expand the expedition to increase their protection and chance of survival as they trudged deeper across Wyoming.
So when they came across the town of Buelah Belle everyone was eager to find additional muscle. Using most of his remaining Neodollars, Gibson was able to hire a rough Duster named Rhodes and his pet dinosaur Dwaal (which Google Translate told me means “wander” in Dutch). Rhodes had travelled all over the southern United States, and was quick at cards and on the draw. For all his skill, he still only carried two rusty and dented 80kW Six-Shooters.
After leaving the town, the Drylands Expedition attempted to procure Flapper transport. However during the night before their flight, everyone was awoken by the ground heaving and shaking. The launch pad was in the path of migrating Ducky’s. At this point Gibson and the rest of the crew learned that Rhodes had a nickname too…”Crazy” Rhodes. While everyone dove for cover, the Duster stood alone against the incoming dinosaurs, laughing wildly and firing his Six-Shooters into the Ducky’s. No one was sure if his persistence paid off, or simply confused the dinosaurs, but he was able to turn the stampede from destroying the camp.
Now the Drylands Expedition has just landed a few miles outside of the Windy River area. Gibson is busy balancing preparations with trying to convince Amparo of the importance of the mission. Quidel, now fully in control of the group, is always ready for more adventure and excitement. Amp is spending his time mimicking “Crazy” Rhodes, twisting stories out of the Duster, and generally having his head in the clouds. And Rhodes is a mixed bag of extreme laughter and crushing anger. Behind them the wandering Dwaal easily keeps pace, looking for a delicious plant or bug to snap out of the air.
The Windy River Area
There are several points of interest in the Windy River area. Below are the general descriptions and guidelines for what to expect in each named location on the campaign map. The idea here is to provide a few adventure hooks for a Posse
Town of Watterson: This town is beside the ruined highway, and has many well preserved remnants of the old world. Originally Watterson was a single gas station, but eventually fast food restaurants and hotels were opened once entrepreneurs saw how popular the location was. After Eruption Day the town was abandoned. Eventually the Stanton family (Dusters) rediscovered the location, cleared some of the rubble and jungle growth, and started providing services to travellers. Instead of a gas station the central hub of the town is a watering hole, dino stables, and feed lot. A few more Duster, Bandit, and Savage families moved in.
Two brothers, Conrad and Ortiz, renovated and reopened an old hotel now called the “Eight of Diamonds” (previously a hotel in the Super 8 chain).
A second family, the Warners, cleaned up and converted a local restaurant into the only saloon in town (called “The Dusty Claw”), and are considering renovating a second hotel to compete with the Eight of Diamonds. Obviously Conrad and Ortiz are not exactly pleased at this, considering the Warners to be greedy land grabbers.
Aside from being a waystation, Watterson has an extensive hunter community due to the light jungle south of the town. The hunters forage for old world relics, hunt and trap dinosaurs, and also protect Watterson from any raids. There are a few scattered Savages in the jungle that will steal livestock every now and then.
Town of Dustdale: Far to the south east and situated beside a patch of scorched desert, citizens of Dustdale have a tough existence. The town is built around a single street, and provides the usual services of a cheap hotel (called “Woody’s House”), two rough saloons (called “Lips 66” and “Rexjaw Place”), a low grade stable, an understaffed post office, and a run down bank.
Visitors are recommended to keep their weapons handy in this treacherous place. Dino theft is not uncommon, especially since offenders can sneak into the desert and hide out in one of the numerous caves until their target leaves town.
There are constant rumors of an old, abandoned gold mine in the desert, and numerous expeditions have tried to find it.
When the citizens of Dustdale are struck with motivation they may set up a toll roadblock on the old highway, but generally they leave traveller’s alone.
Hyran Mine: This mine is owned and operated by Lynn Hyran, a hard woman eager to make her fortune. Using a team of Dusters and indentured Savages, Lynn has been mining silver and coal (generally for stoves and fires) for almost a year.
Ironically her operation was so successful that it attracted a group of bandits who constantly raid and harass the mine. Even with bounties posted in both Watterson and Dustdale, Lynn has been unsuccessful at rousing a posse to clean out the bandits. Their camp is on the other side of Icepeak Mountain. The bandits have some support from the unsavory elements of both towns, so bounty notices are often torn down or defaced. And travellers tend to just pass through the area without stopping to meddle in local affairs.
The mine also suffers random attacks from carnivorous dinosaurs which have nests and hunting grounds to the north west and south east. Between the bandits, dinosaurs, and stifling heat of the jungle, Lynn is finding fewer and fewer Dusters volunteering for work and has to rely on indentured Savages (normally serving a sentence for a crime in either town).
Outpost of Crail: Off the main highway and down a rough trail, Crail is little more than a collection of tents and campfires. The camp will take wealthy Neotechnoists and Dusters into the hills to the north or swamp to the west on various dinosaur safaris and hunts. Run by Benny Church, a slick Neotechnoist with an eye for profit, the camp is either bustling with preparation or nearly empty once an expedition starts.
Matron’s Den: A lone wood shack sits on the edge of the swamp and marsh. Inside lives a scrawny old woman named Matron Francine. Seeing herself as some kind of voodoo priestess she provides remedies and “spells” of questionable quality. There are two tribes of Savages in the nearby swamps, and both revere Francine as some kind of mystic.
Most travellers would avoid the Matron’s Den entirely except that Francine runs a brothel in the lower floors of her shack. Francine is always on the look out for new working girls, and whispered rumors say she will even kidnap travellers or locals. Somehow she has avoided any trouble from the local law.
Red Oak Tower: At the base of Sixgun Mountain, named for it’s roughly cylindrical shape, sits Red Oak Tower. Originally the Tower was a natural gas refinery. When Otto von Nash discovered the location he quickly cleaned it up and moved in. Otto came from a small town inside The Wall, but forgot his Neotechnoist ways after years in the wilds. Now he is an eclectic mix of pampered living (fine glassware, extensive library, etc.) and absolute barbarism. Otto has a special relationship with dinosaurs, which are the only other living creatures at Red Oak, and will often feed annoying travellers or wandering townsfolk to his pets. The man seems to be able to communicate quiet easily with the beasts, which have caused some to label him as “Mad Nash”.
Night Daggers Camp: A rough hideout of bandits and woodsmen who regularly raid Hyran Mine, aggressively hunt and brutally trap dinosaurs, and generally cause misery throughout the hills and mountains in the north east of Windy River. The gang is lead by Alfonso, Nicky, and Wendell, who are a varied mix of backgrounds and goals and often conflict in their ideas of how the Night Daggers should proceed. The number of bandits in the gang fluctuates between a dozen and fifty, depending on the season, lawman pressure, etc.
The Night Daggers Camp has an exterior location, which is a collection of ramshackle huts slung between the thick jungle trees. Beside the homes and huts is the yawning maw of a cave entrance. Originally a tourist destination (called “Spring Sprinkle Caves”), the extensive sulfur caves wind for miles and miles into Icepeak Mountain. The Night Daggers have only performed a cursory exploration, and generally use the caves for shelter and stashing their loot.
Townsfolk whisper of a back entrance to the camp through these caves, but none has been found or spoken of yet. They also gossip about strange albino dinosaurs living deep in the cave.
Dinosaur Symbols: There are two dinosaur locations noted on the map. The first is 2 hexes south east of Hyran Mine, and the other is 4 hexes north west. These denote carnivorous dinosaurs that frequent the area, both as a breeding nest and hunting ground. Posses entering this area should expect encounters with Ripper, Terror, and King type dinosaurs. There are even a few sightings of Titan dinosaurs roaming the deeper sections of jungle.
That should give you a general idea of the posse I’ll be using to tackle Windy River, and also what the area is like. Onwards to campaigning!