Battle to Seattle – Wrap Up

Well the very fun and lengthy Battle to Seattle campaign ended this Saturday, with a rather grand finale. In case you missed the campaign you can read the saga through the BTS tag.

Basically though I ran a campaign for my three friends, wherein they fought from the southern deserts to the re-emerged city of Seattle, hoping to unlock the fabled secrets rumored to be in the Space Needle.
In the end the fluff surrounding the Space Needle was:
As the eruption was happening and dinosaurs were emerging, teams of scientists hoped to hide away their vast stores of knowledge in various secure structures around the country. The Space Needle was deemed a suitable location because of it’s safe location, resilience to damage, and height over the dinosaurs.
So when you three entered the top of the tower, instead of finding a bunch of old world weapons and armor, you instead found books, CDs, and old rusted computers. Who knows if your three leaders would have fought for this, or considered it junk, or allied to decipher the remains.
However given enough time and effort, most of the information and knowledge could be recovered. Perhaps even leading to the emergence of a new fifth allegiance: Old World, a people who follow democracy, have advanced medical and scientific knowledge, and use robots and other strange technology to do the fighting for them.

Posses
The three players involved were: Dustbowl Dusters, Dustin Tails, and New Haven Vigilantes.
Because we used the official campaign rules these posses were able to grow and develop through the game, from basic 100 IP/$1,000 gangs to 300 IP/$3,000 veterans. Here is a fun little chart showing their IP growth:
IP-Growth

In the end the involved posses looked like this:

Game List
We played through an intro game, and then 10 games involving different locations along the western coast of the US. Sometimes the players were against each other in a free for all, or in two separate 1vs1 games where I played an NPC posse against one of them, or in a big 3vs1 coop. In total these were the games and locations we played:

  • Feb 6: Intro game (unrelated to campaign)
  • Feb 13: Radio Tower. Dustbowl Dusters won by objective vs New Haven Vigilantes and Dustin Tails.
  • Feb 20: Death Valley. NPCs won against New Haven Vigilantes and Dustin Tails.
  • Feb 22: Pahrump bonus game. All three won against NPCs.
  • Mar 6: Lake Tahoe. Dustin Tails won vs NPCs. New Haven Vigilantes and Dustbowl Dusters tied (amazingly enough).
  • Mar 13: Lassen Volcano/Redwoods. New Haven Vigilantes won vs guest Rob NPC at Redwoods. Dustin Tails won against NPCs at Lassen.
  • Mar 20: Crater Lake/Coos Bay Swimmers. Dustbowl Dusters won vs guest Cheryl NPC. Dustin Tails won against New Haven Vigilantes.
  • Mar 27: Dunes Park/Warm Springs. New Haven Vigilantes won vs Alligator NPC. Dustin Tails won vs Dustbowl Dusters at Warm Springs.
  • Apr 3: Tillamook/Columbia River. Dustin Tails won vs New Haven Vigilantes at Tillamook train yard (with no kills to either side!). Dustbowl Dusters won vs guest Paul NPC at Columbia river.
  • Apr 10: Lewis Military Base. Robotic NPCs won vs all three (beep boop beep).
  • Apr 12: Space Needle finale. Markus lost big time!

Thoughts
 Poster by Harry BonathWell this campaign was a ton of fun. I’m glad I could rope in three friends to dedicate this much time to playing a game I designed. Very nice of them to indulge me like this. We played pretty much every Thursday for two months or so. Having a consistent game was nice, and I think the ruleset held up well. Plus the campaign finally motivated me to make my 6’x4′ table overlay (split into two 3’x4′ pieces), so that we could have two simultaneous 1vs1 games running.

We did have a brief hiccup around weapons a few weeks in. Every posse had focused on long range weaponry, which made the game play a lot differently than I would have liked, and nullified various fun posse builds. So rifles were toned down. I took that opportunity to do a big revamp of the weapons, which will be coming soon in the v2.5 release of the rules.

The only other problem I found was the weapon list is geared towards mid-tier posses, in the sense of $1k-$2k or so. Once you are past $2,000 the “top tier” weapon choices boil down to 1 per category (for example 1 repeater, 1 shotgun, etc.). This meant that there were a lot of Lawstar Repeaters :) The other issue was the Dustin Tails posse seemed to win a ton of their games. I’m trying to decide and analyze whether that was posse choice, player skill, enemy builds, or something broken or unbalanced in the rules. If it’s the last one we have a problem, otherwise I think we’re okay.

Otherwise I can’t complain. Everyone grasped the rules quickly and learned the intricacies and strategies as time went on. Introducing guest players to the system also seemed to go well. All in all I’m happy with the state of the rules, and I think a long term campaign like this was great for putting them to the test.
I do think having a “Gentleman’s Agreement” helped keep everyone happy, since even agreeing to stop at Defense 4 still caused a bit of tension. I can’t imagine how things would have been if anyone managed Defense 7.

From here we’ll be switching our weekly game sessions to a new campaign (probably Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG from Fantasy Flight games). So besides finalizing v2.5 (just need to retake the component photo and do a couple more tweaks), I’ll be a bit quieter in terms of Dinosaur Cowboys. But I hope to get back to (somewhat) regular battle reports after the next campaign.

Battle to Seattle – Finale at the Space Needle

 Poster by Harry BonathAnd so begins the grand finale of the Battle to Seattle campaign. The fight from the southern deserts north to Seattle was long and tough for all posses involved. I’ll post a wrap up entry a little bit later with some stats and overall info. For now the focus is purely on the finale game.

First of all this game differed because we set aside an entire Saturday to play it, instead of our traditional Thursday night game. This meant I could get pretty elaborate with the setup. The make the game feel truly epic I broke the finale down into three phases, or sub-stages. Although we ended up not playing the (admittedly short and not hugely needed) third stage.

BTS-Seattle-Finale-0003Markus Graves
So far I don’t think I’ve hugely mentioned the fluff that went along with the campaign. Besides the general goal of reaching the Space Needle (and hopefully unlocking old world secrets within), the players were introduced to Markus Graves during the last few games. First of all they saw his massive posse, called the Six Grave Gang, on the Swimmer coastal ferry. They briefly met and talked to him in the saloon at the Warm Springs Indian Reserve town. And they had a chance to attack his wagon stealing parts from the Lewis Military Base (although a powerful Shield blocked the attempt).
The story behind Markus Graves is he has a debilitating, unknown disease. The disease already wasted away his wife and five children to nothing. Markus buried them himself (thus the name “Six Grave Gang”) before setting off to the re-emerged city of Seattle. His hope was to find a cure, or way to prevent the disease from taking his own life.
What this meant in game terms was the finale focused on Markus Graves and his various gang members.

Final Player Posses
First of all every player posse was boosted to 300 IP and $3,000, and all Wounds/Injuries were healed. So everyone started on an even footing. Here are the final rosters for everyone involved:

Stage 1
BTS-Seattle-Finale-0002The first stage was a free-for-all, with me controlling an NPC posse (equal to the players). This posse was named the Six Grave Gang Scout Force (PDF roster).
The table was setup to look like a somewhat flooded Seattle, with the Space Needle represented by an upturned bowl in the middle. For a while I was tempted to get a giant 4 foot tall laser cut 3D Space Needle, but decided against the expense. Instead we had a miniature Lego Space Needle which got the point across well enough :) I included the overgrown parking lot from the actual Space Needle, as well as a few rivers that now criss crossed the city.
Although the whole 6’x4′ table was setup, for the first stage we played on a 4’x4′ section centered around the Space Needle. This was to ensure that the four corners (where we would deploy) were equal distance from each other, to give players motivation to attack any direction instead of naturally matching up against their closest opponent. Anyway like I said the deployment was Corner, in a 6″ square.
The objective was Capture the Space Needle, with the player having the most entities near the bowl in the middle at the end of the game being declared the winner of this stage. Initially I had set a 7 Turn limit, but bumped this up to 8 Turns. We had the possibility for a Turn 9 if we rolled 9+ on a D12 at the end of Turn 8, since variable turn length works well for capture games.
Any player entity that was taken out of action was placed face down on the table, instead of removed. The reason for this would be revealed in Stage 2.
As expected this was a very fun game. There were lots of initial shoot outs and skirmishes from all four corners, before a slow but steady push to the middle.
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Stage 2
BTS-Seattle-Finale-0028After a little BBQ dinner we started in on the second stage. In this game reinforcements lead by Markus Graves showed up. All the fallen player entities were restored to full Hitpoints, which meant standing them up from being face down (as talked about in the first stage). This made for a very organic deployment since the player entities basically started where they had ended up by the last turn of stage 1. To be fair they were given a single Movement Phase to reposition themselves, which I saw as a mad scramble to confront the new reinforcements. In addition the players agreed on a temporary truce to fight off the much larger Six Grave Gang force.
Then we played out a 3vs1 coop style game, with me controlling four posses that totaled very close to the max IP and ND of the three players. We didn’t use a turn limit, and the objective was simply “kill everything”. The Six Grave Gang reinforcements showed up along the two short table edges, sandwiching the players in the middle.
As well Markus himself eventually emerged, wearing some kind of strange powered medical suit that seemed to be keeping him alive. In game terms this meant he was extremely challenging to kill, regenerating a ton of Hitpoints per turn as well as having great base stats. Another big surprise for the players was the Papo Brachiosaurus toy that I bought! What an imposing size and weight. Everyone was excited when I put the big dino down on the table. The dinosaur had a special Shield (stolen from the Robots at the Lewis Military Base) which made him a focal point for attacks.

The NPC posses involved were:

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Initially the players thought they were doomed, and I can understand why as the massive numbers of enemies were deployed. But the melee posse backing the Longneck tended to die quickly to superior firepower. The generic posses did well, but couldn’t compete overall against player posses that had been painstakingly tuned over weeks of play. Eventually the Longneck was brought down, and the focus switched to Markus. He circled the tower, trying to burn and blast anyone alive, until eventually he was the only survivor left, surrounded by many foes. He went down shooting though, and then an Auto Shotgun blast to the back finally finished him off.
In the end of the players won. Like I said I had planned a third stage, where the Leaders of each posse fought each other indoors at the top of the Space Needle. But because we didn’t have a turn limit for this stage it ended up going quite late (1am or so), so we just called it a night after the big coop ending.
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Anyway I had a great time with the Battle to Seattle campaign, and all the players and guest players seemed to enjoy themselves as well. Like I said I’ll write a quick wrap up entry separate from this one with my thoughts on the campaign, state of the rules, etc. If you read and followed this series from start to finish I thank you, and hope the campaign inspired you to craft your own Dinosaur Cowboy narrative adventure.

Battle to Seattle – Lewis Military Base

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This week was the last normal game before the Battle to Seattle finale. Initially I had planned for the players to choose between Mount St. Helen’s or Lewis Military Base, but eventually decided the setup for Lewis Military Base was too fun to be ignored. So I somewhat railroaded all the players to Lewis Military Base by having Mount St Helen’s erupt again. Why did I want everyone to go to the base? Because…ROBOTS. I imagined the base as having a bunch of old world autonomous war machines rambling around. They would start quite impressive, but eventually their weapons would degrade more and more. What this meant was some more custom rules for the robots, including some Shield rules.
As for the robots themselves, this gave me a perfect opportunity to bust out my old Battletech Mech collection, painted in what I call my “Triad of the Sun” scheme. Nice and bright, just like most of the paint schemes I like.
Each robot would have a weight class (Light/Medium/Heavy), and a command Mech (um, robot) that was slightly better. Destroying the command Mech would shutdown the Shields of the subordinate robots. The weapons carried by the robots were rethemed top tier weapons, with a slight boost. For example the PPC was 6A-4D, much like the Lawstar Repeater (6A-3D). The UAC was like an Auto Shotgun, and so on. These weapons would degrade as the battle went on, so each turn the re-roll value would go up by 1. So on Turn 2 any rolls of 1 OR 2 would count for a reload. Up to a max of 4, which meant by the end the robot weapons were really shorting out.
In terms of the Shields they basically acted like “saving rolls”, with a set target number on a set number of dice. For example 3D12, 8+ (noted as 3D8+…confusing I know). In this case when the robot was hit they would roll 3D12. Any roll of 8+ would cancel out one of the incoming attack dice. This meant low Attack weapons were less useful (such as 1A-6D, since a single save would cancel the whole attack). In practice this made the robots super tough to kill.
In addition the robots were able to allocate activations a bit differently than normal. Instead of a traditional 1 activation per entity, the robots had a “pool” of activations (represented by the green D6s seen in the pictures). Up to 2 activations could be given to a single robot, although that meant another robot wouldn’t get to activate that turn.
You can see the skeleton of these rules here: Robots Rules. Anyone familiar with Battletech should recognize some classic names and weapons, as well as many of the Mechs from the pictures.

Of course with this many rules involved the objective was simple: kill everything, don’t die. The three posses teamed up in a co-op style game. Overall the focus was just to have a wild and different Dinosaur Cowboys game before the big finale. Also no long term penalties were given to the players, instead they were all boosted to 300 IP and $3,000 at the end of the battle (to finally be on level footing for the final game).

For the terrain setup we used a great fortress piece my friend made (and was actually used in the finale for our last non-DC campaign). This was perfect to represent the entrance to the military base.

Posse rosters at the start of the game:

Unfortunately for humanity (and the posses involved) they couldn’t stop the tide of machines and were defeated. They deployed well, using a denied flank to force half the robots to shuffle slowly across the board. Then they fought the half in range, and did quite well against them. But by the time the remaining flank had caught up the humans were on the ropes and didn’t have the Hitpoints or weaponry left to stop the heavier robots.
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Battle to Seattle – Columbia River and Tillamook

This week saw some great table setups, if I do say so myself. Also fun locations, since I love Tillamook in real life (they have a great cheese factory, and are situated in a nice coastal town). We had a new guest player as well which is always enjoyable.

Player posse rosters at the start of the game:

Columbia River
The matchup was Dustbowl Dusters against The Ferryman Slingers (NPC posse) played by the guest, who fought at the Columbia River. Both posses had the goal to cross the river using a ferry (or desperately swimming [and probably drowning]). The ferry made for a perfect bottleneck and most of the action happened aboard it. In the end Dustbowl Dusters were able to triumph against the NPCs (narrowly), but a few mistakes or different choices on either side could have swung the balance the other way. The NPC player skillfully blocked the ferry landing with their big Triceratops, which made escaping to the other side a bit tough for the Dustbowl Dusters.
You can see the NPC posse roster here: The Ferryman Slingers Roster PDF. The other option for their posse choice was “Troubled Youth”, a bunch of Neotechnoists who modeled themselves after movie characters from the 20th and 21st century. For the sake of completeness you can see that posse roster here: Troubled Youth Roster PDF.
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Tillamook
On the other side of the table the Dustin Tails posse fought the New Haven Vigilantes at the old Tillamook train yard. The player running the New Haven Vigilantes graciously lent me some of his train set, which really made the table pop and gave a unique setup to the game. Their objective was to capture the train, so there was a bit of a mad rush forward followed by tactical shooting to hold the location. Of course to add some drama the barrels lining the tracks were Explosive, meaning they could be shot to damage nearby entities. In the end the Dustin Tails posse won by objective, and amazingly enough there were NO kills on either side (I think that’s a first for a game of Dinosaur Cowboys!).
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Battle to Seattle – Dunes Park and Warm Springs

Apologies for the gap between the last report and this one. We finished the Battle to Seattle campaign, and then I sort of just took a break from all things Dinosaur Cowboys. But I’m back now and will be uploading the rest of the reports today (with the retroactive dates correct).

Anyway this week had split locations of Dunes Park (which the New Haven Vigilantes went to) and Warm Springs Indian Reserve (which Dustin Tails and Dustbowl Dusters would be at).

Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of Warm Springs, but I basically setup a ruined town with a road running through it. The posses had their leaders start in a bar, have a couple turns of bar fighting (complete with broken bottles and bar stools), and then the fight spilled out into the street. The fun part was we did a “Scattered” deployment (to represent all the different members wandering around the town). Combined with the dense terrain and simple objective (“Shoot Out”, aka kill everyone) made for an interesting game. Eventually the Dustin Tails posse was victorious.

On the other table at Dunes Park the New Haven Vigilantes got to fight a “boss monster”, aka a giant alligator toy I bought from a craft store a few days before the game. I wrote up some custom rules for the Giant Alligator, including a ton of different special attacks and abilities (like “Tail Swipe”, “Acid Breath”, etc.). Another fun ability was that the alligator could send out the young (modeled on the back of the toy) like “missiles”, that would seek out and bite targets. In addition the alligator could swallow targets, and then the victim would have to fight their way free from inside the alligator (which was mapped out using a square grid, haha). The alligator had a ton of Hitpoints, and also had “directional” Defense so that hitting from the front was harder than shooting the alligator in the side or back. The alligator was also so huge that it would crash through terrain as it moved, meaning trees and other vegetation it passed over was removed.
You can download the single page rules for the Giant Alligator here: Giant Alligator rules PDF.

The game ended up fairly thematic with the New Haven Vigilantes pouring fire into the alligator for many desperate turns. A doctor in a nearby cabin would revive any fallen posse members, so they had a few “waves” of humans to throw against the alligator. Eventually the posse were able to wear down the alligator and kill it.
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Battle to Seattle – Coos Bay Boats and Crater Lake

Two quite fun games yesterday!

On one side was Coos Bay, which used the newly roughed out “naval rules” for fighting aboard a Swimmer dinosaur. The match up was New Haven Vigilantes against Dustin Tails.
The other table was Crater Lake, with a guest player using Rhinebeck Herders against the returned Dustbowl Dusters.

Both sides were on the hunt for metal scrap. At Crater Lake they were looking for old meteorite to give to a crazy hermit/prospector who had a metal working shop in his house and would upgrade a weapon for the winner. They deployed in their boats.
At Coos Bay there was rough iron on various islands that could be brought to a merchant in town to also make upgrades. They deployed using the Layered deploy, which made for some early chaos and Shot in the Back bonuses.
In the case of upgrades everyone could basically choose a Weapon Special Ability, with a couple removed for balance issues (for example “Seeking” would be overpowered on a normal weapon). In the end everyone, without fail, went with “Hail of Shots”, which allows 1-reroll per attack. This was spread across various weapons in each posse.

In terms of the games I was able to get more pictures since I was just being referee and not actually playing, so that’s a nice change of pace. The games seemed to go well, with Dustbowl Dusters barely squeaking out a win against the NPCs, by having 7 metal compared to 6. In the process though they had 3 members taken out of action, and ALL three took Wounds. Still no Injuries yet at least! On the other side Dustin Tails won against New Haven Vigilantes both in metal and in kills.

Next week New Haven Vigilantes will finally get to fight an NPC posse, in this case at Dunes Park along the coast. The fluff rumors heard were “a weird sighting of a weird dinosaur”, so that’ll be fun to see what happens. And then Dustin Tails and Dustbowl Dusters will be facing off at the Warm Springs Indian Reserve, which they’ve heard is a semi-ruined town that still does some business (aka the closest thing to civilization in a while).

Anyway I’ll do a separate post with the naval rule supplement. In the mean time enjoy the usual smattering of pictures! I split them by table again:

Combined
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Coos Bay
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Crater Lake
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Battle to Seattle – Redwoods and Lassen Volcano

Another Battle to Seattle night! We had two simultaneous games again, except this time at different locations, hooray. The first was Redwood Forest in northern California. The second was at Lassen Volcanic National Park, aka the Lassen Volcano.

We also had our first guest player, my cousin Rob, who would play vs New Haven Vigilantes in the Redwood Forest. I was playing some savage cannibal cultists against the Dustin Tails posse. The Dustbowl Dusters couldn’t make it.
Speaking of my cousin he’s actually designed an RPG called Realm of Strife which has a terrific class mechanic where you basically can mix and match power sources to define what your character is. For example a pure Vigor character is a Fighter, but if you mix Vigor and Stealth you get a Ranger, or Vigor and Faith for a Cleric. With a bunch of power sources this makes quite an impressive matrix as you can see here, and I like gives a fresh, less restrictive approach to class design compared to the traditional D&D multiclassing. In some ways it reminds me of the old computer game Titan Quest.

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Above: The tin can trees, and also the New Haven Vigilante Stegosaurus who is started to get some custom armor added.
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Above: The new inca statue and the path to the volcano.

Redwood Forest
I hastily made some large tree stumps from old tin cans and cardboard tubes. I used textured spray paint, followed by a flat brown coat, and then a light dusting of green and more textured spraypaint. Then a bit of protective clearcoat. I’m happy with how they turned out, and made for some fun line of sight blocking terrain.

In terms of the game the New Haven Vigilantes setup in the middle of the table, in a rough camp of barrels and crates. The idea was they would be ambushed by raiders just as the sun set. The raiders would deploy half their posse to each long table edge. So basically Center deploy with a slight change.
There was a single objective in the middle, marking supplies, which either posse had to get off the table. The idea was the New Haven Vigilantes wanted to grab their supplies and run from the ambush and rally up later, whereas the raiders (predictably) wanted to steal things! So Smash and Grab objective type.
For Features the plan was “Dusk”, which is kind of like Night, and provides a 10+ save against Long Distance attacks. The other was Gusting Winds from the strong breeze through the trees, which provided 2″ Pushed to all weapons. However the players ended up forgetting both Features so they weren’t even a factor. I’ve definitely done that before!

The posses involved: Bigtree Raiders (PDF) vs New Haven Vigilantes (PDF)

In the end the New Haven Vigilantes, who started right on top of the supplies, were able to safely get them off the table and secure victory. From what I saw it looked like the rider of the T-Rex fleeing (and taking the dino with him) hurt the push to secure the supplies. Then it looked like a fight amidst the trees as everyone tried to position around the supplies.

Lassen Volcano
The Dustin Tails posse heard screaming as they approached the volcano, and saw a young woman chained at the base of the volcano. A hooded cultmaster was preparing to sacrifice her to their Molten King, while various cultists chanted nearby. Sort of like Indiana Jones Temple of Doom, haha. Anyway the cultists had to wait until the stars were properly aligned to perform the sacrifice, which gave Dustin Tails a chance to sneak in and try to rescue the girl. However as they approached the cult leader noticed them, and soon cannibals were pouring from the jungle to attack.
A Line deployment was used, with Dustin Tails in a 4″ line near the road. The “Sacrifice” was an ally and could be used normally. The cult leader deployed on the volcano itself, while the cultists were continually added from the two long table edges. They were easy to 1-shot with only 6 HP and crude weapons (Throwing Knife and Axe).
An Escort Objective was used, where the Sacrifice had to be moved off the short table edge opposite the volcano.
For features there were a few. I had a new “inca head” statue (more aquarium terrain repurposed) that was Fearful Ruins to Dustin Tails and Inspiring Ruins to the cultists. Also the volcano would start erupting at the start of turn 2, spreading deadly lava D6″ forward each turn. Anyone in contact with the lava would suffer an automatic 1D12 Damage.
Also the cultists were represented by goblin and other monster figures (like Skaven from Warhammer) since with the heat the Dustin Tails gang was hallucinating the cultist warpaint into a truly menacing appearance. Plus let’s be honest, I just wanted to use goblins in Dinosaur Cowboys.

The posses involved were Cult of the Molten King (PDF) vs Dustin Tails (PDF)

The cultists started strong with some early pressure, but eventually the overwhelming firepower of the Dustin Tails posse chewed them to pieces. The Auto Shotgun was particularly deadly with a kill a turn. That 5A-5D at Short distance just mulched 6 HP cultists!
The cult leader was somewhat effective, initially Slowing the Sacrifice with his Bolas. He tried to go toe to toe with the Dustin Tails Leader but both characters found the high Defense of their opponent tough to surmount. The lava was a huge factor in this fight and came less than 1″ away from hitting the cult leader. After the Dustin Tails Leader killed the cult leader he was actually overtaken by the lava (after an amazing 6 on the D6″ lava roll) and suffered 12 damage on the D12 roll! Good thing he had 14 HP.
The Sacrifice was harried the rest of the way down the track, and had fairly low HP by the end, but was able to survive. She had a lot of defensive Traits that helped get her out of sticky situations, especially Escape.

So double victory for the “player character” posses of the campaign!

What’s Next
Next week should be another fun one. We’ll have another guest player to fight against Dustbowl Dusters at the dried up Crater Lake. Then Dustin Tails and New Haven Vigilantes will fight onboard Swimmer dinosaurs. Basically hopping island to island trying to recover metal salvage to give to a weaponsmith.