Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Barceline - Short Story


by Darren Atherton and Stephen Gibson

Part 1

The place was half full of card tossers and tab runners. You might have described a few of ‘em as smooth, but none as tender. The warped board and batten walls were sorely lacking in windows, concealin’ the knowledge of whether it was day or night. And up ‘round the rafters swam a commingled haze of smoke and bodyheat, a graduated spectre suspended above the stolid patrons.

Now, there was one among the lot of ‘em with the features of a more or less idyllic westerner. He had a well cut jaw, finely stubbled, accented by a prim mustache. He had deep ocean eyes and a thick head of wavy, titian hair. Boastin’ the form of a rough hewn Olympian with nothin’ to prove, he dressed in a grey, well-tailored suit.

He seated himself beside an enticin’ little specimen at the bar.

“Darlin’,” he started, “a creature like yourself doesn’t belong in a hole like this.” He smiled and tipped his hat, even though she didn’t raise her eyes to see it.

He placed a limp cigarette between his lips. Thin wisps of smoke ascended from the end, risin’ up to join the high grey haze.

The orange wash of little candles seemed to fight a losin’ battle with the general dimness of the room, and the woman, to the westerner, seemed to side with the shadows. Behind her the wall was a vague smear of relics  - retired rifles, a captain’s sword, mediocre taxidermy.

She didn’t look up from her drink. She swirled the liquid ‘round hypnotically, candlelight glintin’ weakly off the brim. It was as if he didn’t exist. And that didn’t bother him nearly as much as it should have.

“Word of advice - brandy’s for drinkin’,” he said with a smirk, a half-resentful attempt to break the ice. She stopped swirlin’ the glass.

“Sorry darlin’,” he tried again, “I’m playin’ the rascal aren’t I. Didn’t mean to interrupt your evenin’.”

“No, please, sit,” she said.

He was a little thrown off by the sudden welcomeness, so he spouted without much thinkin’, “We don’t get a lot of women out this way.”

“They don’t seem in any short supply.” She motioned her head back and forth to draw attention to the other gals in the saloon.

He took a moment to collect himself, blowin’ out a cloud of smoke and pinchin’ his cigarette between his index and thumb before dousin’ it in someone’s abandoned whiskey. The barkeep glared with disapproval.

“Well,” he leaned in to speak somewhat quietly, “most of these here are from the brothels, and there’s somethin’ keepin’ me from callin’ ‘em women proper.”

She snorted, “I see. So you don’t visit the brothels, then?”

She turned slightly towards him, her long, dirty black hair hidin’ her face. The man really didn’t know whether she was beautiful, but her figure seemed to imply it was so.

“Oh, not in the traditional sense I suppose,” he said, squintin’ his eyes with suspect kindness.

“How does one visit a brothel - untraditionally?” the woman asked. It suddenly began to unnerve him that she wasn’t facin’ him directly.

“Reasonable question. I’m not sure I want to share that with a perfect stranger, though. You see, we all have our secrets here.”

It was then she revealed those piercin’ blue eyes, shinin’ like a doublet of icy planets among a sky of soft orange stars, “Oh, I already know yours,” she said through a wide grin.

He nearly leapt back and away from her, ridin’ an instinctual wave of fear, which then segued through disbelief to admiration.

“So the legends are true. What an unfortunate way to end such a promisin’ relationship.”

“Moondance,” she spoke his name sharply, “how a fool like you could elude me for so long is truly a mystery for the ages. Perhaps if I wasn’t going to drink every last drop of blood in that deliciously rugged body of yours we could have been lovers.” It was straightforward, twisted, seductive.

Part of him wanted to bolt for the door, but he knew better. The barkeep, however, had quickly resigned himself to the back room after overhearin’ the woman’s confession.

“Ah, six hundred, seventy-three years. I had a good run,” he laughed half-heartedly, “But somehow it never gets borin’, does it.”

He continued, “I shouldn’t suppose you’d let me live if I asked, knowing that, well, you gotta feed. My life ain’t worth more than its weight in blood to your sort. And of course I can relate to that entirely.” His words were becomin’ counsel for himself, so he redirected his attention toward her, “But it doesn’t need to end tonight. Can’t we muse a little while longer? I meant it when I said we don’t get many women out this way, not your sort. Humour me, won’t you darlin’?”

He had since sat himself straight again. The ladies man was all but gone now; there was only a humble creature who knew his time was up.

“Well I’m awfully hungry and I don’t much prefer long conversations with my meal. As charming as it may be,” she winked cruelly.

Suddenly an aberrant, uninvited baritone sounded, breakin’ their concentration. It warbled and croaked, impossible at first to identify as the voice it turned out to be.

“Pardon me,” it interjected. Moondance and the woman turned quickly to face it.

There was a very tall man reclined in a chair at the back of the saloon. The place was now empty, and he sat alone. He was draped in a ragged overcoat, a fan of night black feathers stickin’ out from behind his shoulders. Beneath it all was a simple suit with no distinguishin’ features. His hood cloaked his face in shadow, and his raised collar lent further concealment. And he stood, showin’ himself to possess a figure neither menacin’ nor harmless.

As he approached them the flickerin’ candles seemed to steady before bendin’ in his direction. The ceilin’ haze started clearin’ up, the saloon air turnin’ crisp and clean in his presence.

Finally he came so close that they could somewhat discern a shadowed, metallic face. But aside from the blazin’ triangular eye dead centre, there was somethin’ inscrutable about it, stupefyin’ to the both of ‘em.

He cut in between, forcin’ Moondance to stand up and step back, “I’m afraid miss Barceline shall have to wait,” the stranger said, reachin’ for her unfinished brandy.

Still in awe, she permitted his movements, watchin’ as the glass frosted over before he handed it back to her.

“You see,” he continued, “I’ve had my eye on Moondance for awhile, and I’ve decided he’s far too interesting to simply perish silently in some back alley.” The man’s voice was austere, stern, confident. He was indeed a dauntin’ character in her eyes, but she figured she’d seen worse.

Shaking off her bewilderment, she took a sip, “My dear, I don’t know who, or what in the hell’s name you are, but I doubt you’ve had your eye on him as long as I have. That man there,” she said, noddin’ at Moondance, “he’s mine.”

Moondance sat somewhat tensely behind his mysterious defender, amused at the exchange, puffin’ on a new cigarette he’d lit while watchin’. It burned a little faster than normal.

She saw nothin’ in the man’s pistol-fire eye. He conveyed no emotions. She tried to reflect the same immovable, stoic manner, but her own piercin’ gaze failed to mystify or intimidate on this particular occasion.

Slowly, the whole saloon started rattlin’ and shakin’, the floor beneath them contortin’ with some subterranean force which threatened to break up and through. Glasses and bottles danced their way off the shelves, doomed to shatter on the hardwood floor below. The darkness took over as candles fell and snuffed themselves out in their own wax.

In the midst of the commotion the saloon doors slammed and swung back and forth. Moondance was gone. Barceline felt she had no choice in that moment, musterin’ her superhuman speed and makin’ for the exit. But she had to cross the stranger first.

She couldn’t.

He grabbed her arm and she fell hard to her knees as a searing shock ran through those ancient bones of hers. When he let go and stepped back, her wounded arm began returnin’ to its unmarred tone, and she recovered, bringin’ herself to stand once again.

She was all adrenaline, all hunger. Once the rumblin’ subsided the stranger stood firm, as did she. Their eyes were aglow in the near-full darkness, and the two stood like gods, set to wrestle over the uncertain fate of poor Moondance.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

UPDATE! Scavengers Item Pack

Howdy 'Slingers!

Here are some updated visuals, and a totally updated list of the Scavengers Item pack contents.


How do Item cards work?

  • Before signature spells are chosen, each player draws 2 item cards from the item card deck.
  • Item cards are designed the same way signature spells work, they have a one-time use and then must be discarded (unless otherwise stated on the card).
  • Item's also have "Types" listed below.
  • When item cards are discarded, they go into the item card discard pile. Every player discards into the same item discard pile.
  • During the standoff phase, you may spend 1 energy to draw a new item card. You may only ever have 2 item cards in hand. Thus, if you already have 2 item cards and draw a third, you must pick one of the three to discard so that you are left with only 2 item cards in hand.
  • If the item deck is ever depleted, shuffle all discarded items back into the item deck.
  • You can only use 1 combine card per phase.


  • Ranged (designates the card as a ranged attack)
  • Melee (designates the card as a melee attack)
  • Combine (combines with another card)
  • Standoff (used during the standoff phase)
  • Instant (resolves as soon as drawn)
  • Passive (do not discard these cards unless the card states to do so. Effect is always active as long as you have the card).


Name: Witchcrafted Rile
Description: As you grasp this chamberless rifle, you feel it tug at your soul.
Use: Do not discard. 2 damage to foe, +1 EP to self.
Target: 8 / Single Foe / Ranged

Name: A Table
Description: Flip it over and take cover! Yeehaw!
Use: Your team is immune to DMG and Effects from cards that target a “Single Foe”.
Target: 5 / Team

Name: Sorcerer’s Sidearm (pistol)
Description: There’s a switch on the handle, curious.
Use: Choose one: 2 DMG or - 2 EP to foe. Do Not Discard.
Target: 4 / Single Foe / Ranged

Name: Bandit’s Booty
Description: It’s always nice to find some booty.
Use: Immediately draw 3 more item cards when this card is drawn.
Target: Instant

Name: Bloody Summoning Stone
Description: Wiping off some fleshy remains, it reads, “Summon Ethereal Wurm”. What could go wrong!
Use: All must draw a number card to see if the Wurm attacks them. 1,2,3 = Take 3 damage. 4, 5 = Wurm ignores you.
Target: 6 / All Players

Name: Bottle of Absinthe
Description: This’ll put hair on your chest...but it probably has better uses. Maybe.
Use: Play this card with FIRE, adds +1 damage OR use during the standoff phase, gain +2 energy.
Target: Standoff / Combine

Name: Bullwhip
Description: It may be a bullwhip, but that doesn’t mean you have to exclusively whip bulls with it...
Use: Foe takes 2 damage and you steal one of their item cards.
Target: 10 / Single Foe / Melee

Name: Defense Sigil
Description: You notice a faint blue aura around you when you clasp it in your hand. Fancy.
Use: Immune to all damage and effects this turn.
Target: 5 / Self

Name: Derelict Darts
Description: You’ve found a few discarded playing darts. Time for some target practice!
Use: Play this card with WIND, adds +2 damage.
Target: Combine

Name: Djinn Lamp
Description: A rather attractive desert spirit emerges from the lamp, willing to grant you one simple request.
Use: Use immediately when drawn, choose one: 1. +3 HP, 2. Draw 2 more item cards, 3. Reactivate all your discarded / deactivated cards.
Target: Instant

Name: Dual Colts
Description: You are now ten times cooler...at least until you run out of bullets.
Use: Draw a number card, do half the amount listed on the card (rounded up) in damage.
Target: 3 / All Foes / Ranged

Name: Engraved Crossbow
Description: “Pointy sticks guh here. Dun point at yuh face - Love, Turtle Woman”.
Use: 3 damage to foe.
Target: 8 / Single Foe / Ranged

Name: Flask of Whiskey
Description: It’s been sitting in the sun for who knows how long but, down the hatch!
Use: -1 damage from all sources this turn.
Target: Self / Standoff

Name: Swift Spurs
Description: Rune-laden and sure to put a spring in your step.
Use: Ignore one player’s in-play cards this turn for 3 EP. Do not discard.
Target: 1 / Self

Name: Mystery Potion
Description: Everyone loves a good mystery! Except ones that might kill you.
Use: Draw a number card. 1-2 = +1 hp, 3-4 = +2 hp, 5-6 = - 3 hp
Target: Self / Standoff

Name: Unstable Dynamite
Description: Something's about to go BOOM! Hopefully not you...
Use: As soon as you draw this card, DNC. 1 = It explodes and does 4 damage to your team. Otherwise, play this card normally, does 3 damage.
Target: 7 / All Foes / Ranged

Name: Rusty Saber
Description: It may not be sharp, but they’ll probably die of tetanus years later.
Use: 2 damage to foe, do not discard.
Target: 10 / Single Foe / Melee

Name: Revive Juju
Description: Hopefully whoever this belonged to realizes it’s missing.
Use: If your HP reaches 0, instantly be return to 1 HP during the next standoff phase, then discard this card.
Target: Passive

Name: Seer Stone
Description: Looking into the stone, you’re able to see 42 seconds into the future.
Use:  Once revealed, you may pass or replace this card with another from your hand (choose a new target card and deduct energy costs where applicable).
Target: 1 / Self

Name: Six Shooter
Description: Quick on the draw?
Use: Draw a number card and do that amount in damage to foe.
Target: 4 / Single Foe / Ranged

Name: Shama Balm
Description: Old Lady Shama Mama makes the best balms!™
Use: +2 HP.
Target: Self / Standoff

Name: Lost Lasso
Description: Fancy yerself a wrangler?
Use: Draw a number card. 1, 2, 3 = Foe takes loses next turn. 4, 5 = You miss and suffer shame. So. Much. Shame.
Target: 10 / Single Foe / Ranged

Name: Robot Helper Monkey
Description: Don’t question it.
Use: Place this card next to your character card. You may now have 3 items in hand.
Target: Passive

Name: Used Bandages
Description: Dirt and germs never hurt an open wound!
Use: Use during the standoff phase, +1 HP.
Target: Self / Standoff

Name: Vial of Voodoo
Description: A rather unpleasant looking liquid. Smells like strawberries though.
Use: Reactivate all your discarded and deactivated spells, - 2 EP.
Target: Standoff

Name: Wooly Ward
Description: Unconventional but...who says a sheep can’t be a shield??
Use: Immune to all damage this turn.
Target: 1 / Self

Name: Jug of Spoiled Water
Description: Nothin’ like lukewarm water to quench your thirst!
Use: Play this card with LIGHTNING or ICE, adds +1 damage to spell.
Target: Combine.

Name: Lightning in a Jar
Description: You should be thoroughly impressed with whoever managed this feat.
Use: Play this card with WATER, adds +2 damage to spell.
Target: Combine.

Name: Denso-matic R1
Description: You only know what this is because your Grim told you 5 seconds ago.
Use: Play this card with EARTH, adds +2 damage to spell.
Target: Combine.

Name: Aetherius (Gauntlet)
Description: According to your Grim, this was crafted by the Iron Witch himself.
Use: Do not discard. Play this card with any spell. +1 numeric value to that spell’s DMG OR effects (not both) where applicable, spell will cost 2 more EP.
Target: Combine

Name: Mana Anchor
Description: Looks just like a berry. You know it’s not because...well, you tried to eat it.
Use: You will always be return to at least 1 EP at the start of each turn.
Target: Passive

Name: Energy Well
Description: According to your Grim, this trinket can be used as a temporary energy source.
Use: Play with any spell. That spell’s energy costs will be zero.
Target: Combine

Name: Ancient Spell Tablet
Description: Good thing your Grim reads ancient jibberish. Incantations for “Seeker’s Jubilee”.
Use: Look through the item deck and take any card. Reshuffle afterwards.
Target: Standoff

Name: Mana Worm
Description: A mutated organism from the Temple’s waste. You should definitely eat it.
Use: +2 energy.
Target: Self / Standoff

Name: Magumpi Herb
Description: Said to improve one’s self-control.
Use: Play with any spell. If there is a face-off you will instantly apex.
Target: Combine

Name: Tattered Spell Page
Description: You manage to decipher a spell for “Trickster’s Trick”. What a clever title...
Use: All Cards played now target “Self” instead.
Target: 7 / all foes

Name: Emblem of the Witch King
Description: Often carried by cultists of the Witch King’s order.
Use: You may sacrifice Energy For Health at a 1:1 Ratio.
Target: Standoff / Passive

Name: Secret Stash
Description: Not so secret anymore!
Use: Draw 2 item cards immediately.
Target: Instant

Name: Stray Jackal Pup
Description: Awww...go fetch me a weapon!
Use: Place this card next to your character card. You no longer need to pay EP to draw item cards.
Target: Passive

Name: Celerity Shroom
Description: A rare fungi that enhances perception and performance so much the world appears to be moving in slow motion.
Use: Whatever card you play next phase will have its resolution number changed to 1.  
Target: Standoff