Dylan's Savage Worlds Nerdery

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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Al Swearengen and his Boys

This group of villains is from my Deadwood Winter game. The interpretations of these characters are based on the HBO Deadwood show – a large portion of my inspiration for the game, really.

Al Swearengen
Human (Union Caucasian) Mentalist Mastermind Wild Card

Abilities: Agility d6, Smarts d10, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Gambling d6, Guts d8, Intimidation d8+2, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Mentalism d10, Notice d8, Persuasion d10, Shooting d4, Streetwise d8, Taunt d6+2
Edges: AB (Mentalism), Charismatic, Mentalist, New Power (x5), Power Points, Strong Will
Hindrances: Arrogant, Greedy, Vengeful
Vitals: Charisma +2, Grit 5, Pace 6″, Parry 5, Toughness 6
Powers: Mentalism d10 (+2 w opposed rolls), PP 20, Analyze Foe, Bolt, Damage Field, Deflection, Fear, Mental Speech, Mind Reading, Suggest. Swearengen’s powers all have a telepathy trapping. His bolt and damage field powers cause headaches, seizures, and bleeding from the eyes and nose  in those targeted. Deflection represents slight precognition on Swearengen’s part, allowing him to avoid the worst of most attacks.
Equipment: Bowie Knife, Gatling Pistol
Description: Al Swearengen is a well-built man of middling years. He has dark hair and a neatly-trimmed goatee. He is almost always well-dressed, and wears a large gold ring on his right hand. He is extremely talkative most of the time, and has an extravagant and friendly manner of speech, though he often peppers his conversations with casual profanity.
History: Swearengen was born in Iowa in 1845, along with his twin, Lemuel. The two were abandoned at an orphanage in Oskaloosa when they were six years old. The two were always close, and relied on each other while growing up, even seeming to know when the other was in trouble. The orphanage was a terrible place, neglectful and abusive – the manager even used the place as a brothel, renting out appointments with his young charges. Swearengen grew up fighting for his and Lemuel’s safety. By the time they were adults, they had taken up a criminal lifestyle, serving as muscle for a local brothel while Al learned the trade. As they grew older, and the power of the Reckoners spread over the world, the connection between the twins deepened. They found they were able to read and influence the minds of others, and explored their newfound abilities, allowing the two brothers to rise to a position of importance in Iowa’s criminal underground. This came to a crashing end when a group of Pinkertons found what they were up to. The Pinkertons seemed to be familiar with the strange powers of the twins, and were able to counter them sufficiently to kill Lemuel. Al fled for his life, eventually heading to Deadwood in 1876, where he took up residence, always on the watch for more Pinkerton agents.
Al is power-hungry, always craving more autonomy. As long as the Indians leave him alone, Deadwood is a perfect place for him – plenty of money moving through camp to give him a luxurious lifestyle, along with a freedom from the oppressive government farther East. He uses his abilities to manipulate those around him, typically reading minds and learning secrets that he uses for blackmail purposes. He finds the fears and weaknesses of his employees, and uses suggestion to make them believe that they need him to protect them from their problems, creating genuinely loyal minions through mental manipulation. Even the prostitutes at his brother, the Gem Theater, are mentally manipulated in this way. Al sometimes even implants beliefs of an abusive background in girls so that they think his employ is the best option available to them. Anyone who causes too much trouble for Swearengen is quietly murdered, usually by Dan Dority or Big Tom Cook, though particularly troublesome people will be dealt with by Swearengen and his knife. These victims are typically fed to the hogs on Mr. Wu’s farm just outside Deadwood.
Al’s relations to most of the townsfolk are similar to a puppetmaster to his puppets. He has blackmail material on those few he hasn’t simply intimidated into his service. The only real thorn in his side is Seth Bullock, the town marshal. Bullock is a genuine man, and Swearengen hasn’t found any dirt on him – the best he could do was threaten to reveal the homosexuality of Sol Star, Bullock’s business partner. This leverage was enough to get Percy Whitmore, one of Swearengen’s cronies, named as one of the town’s deputies. He has an uneasy truce with Patrick Three-Claws, the town’s representative to the Sioux Nations – as long as Swearengen’s bribes continue, the two work together. Swearengen also organizes a number of weapons shipments to Ravenite groups throughout the Sioux Nations, though he doesn’t know the ultimate goals of that group – he just believes that not all the Indians follow the Old Ways, and want to fight back on even terms against Custer and other Union forces, which he has no problem with.
Despite all this, Swearengen is genuine in his support for the town of Deadwood. The place has been good to him, and he doesn’t want to have to carve out another kingdom even deeper into the frontier. He is a social person, and needs to have people around him to manipulate.
Dan Dority
Human (Disputed Lands Caucasian) Gunman Pimp Wild Card
Abilities: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d6, Gambling d6, Guts d8, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Mining) d4, Notice d8, Repair d4, Shooting d8 (+2 if didn’t move), Streetwise d6
Edges: Dead Shot, Level-Headed, Marksman
Hindrances: Cautious
Vitals: Charisma 0, Grit 2, Pace 6″, Parry 5, Toughness 6
Equipment: Colt Peacemaker pistol, Gatling Shotgun
Description: Dan is stockier than most, but not to the point of obesity. He has shoulder-length dark hair and a short beard. His expression is often sour, though he can be personable when not on the job for Swearengen. He is the primary face of the Gem Theater, serving as bartender and manager most of the time. He genuinely tries to care for the girls under his charge, often protecting them from the worst of Swearengen’s wrath (which Swearengen is well aware of, and allows to give the girls a sense of comfort). He believes that Swearengen is the town’s best hope for security, knowing that the Union won’t be willing to fight to protect Deadwood should the Sioux ever decide they’re done with the treaty.
Dan has been an ally of Swearengen’s for several years now. He arrived in the camp from the Great Lakes region as a miner, but his claim didn’t get him anywhere, and he found himself homeless and without purpose on the streets of Deadwood. Swearengen has allowed him to make something of his life, and he’s comfortable where he is, though he occasionally worries about his employer’s temper. He is not above using violence on Swearengen’s orders, though he isn’t often violent of his own inclination.
Big Tom Cook
Human (Confederate Caucasian) Big Thug Wild Card
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d10, Vigor d10
Skills: Fighting d10 (+1 with brass knuckles), Gambling d6, Guts d8, Intimidation d8, Notice d6, Streetwise d6
Edges: Berserk, Brawler, Brawny, Frenzy, Mighty Blow, Trademark Weapon (Brass Knuckles)
Hindrances: All Thumbs, Habit (Alcoholism), Mean
Vitals: Charisma -3, Grit 3, Pace 6″, Parry 7 (5 if Berserk), Toughness 8 (10 if Berserk)
Gear: Brass knuckles

Description: Thomas Cook is a massive man, about 6’7″ tall and strongly built. His features are coarse, with a sloping brow and small, deep-set eyes. His hair is a light brown, lank and disorderly. He has a gold tooth in the front of his mouth that he tends to show off with a wide, mocking grin, especially as he’s pummeling the victim of the day. He has a mild Southern accent.

Tom Cook was born in Alabama about twenty-five years ago, on a small farm. He’s always been big, and has been using his muscle to get his way his whole life. He fought in the War Between the States for several years, until he was court-marshaled for beating another soldier to death over a disagreement. He fled rather than face his punishment, going first to the Disputed Lands, then north when he heard about the possibility of striking it rich in Deadwood. Tom is a simple man – he likes fighting, drinking, and whoring. He prefers to be seen as important and powerful, and is easily spoiled by cheap imitations of things that seem expensive. Swearengen decided early on he’d be a very helpful person to have on his side, and recruited him as his primary muscle and enforcer.

Percy Whitmore
Human (Caucasian) Deputy
Abilities: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidate d4, Knowledge (Law) d4, Notice d6, Shooting d8
Edges: Connections (family in Iowa is important in government – uncle is the governor), Lawman
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty, Yellow
Vitals: Charisma 0, Grit 1, Pace 8″, Parry 5, Toughness 5
Gear: Colt Peacemaker, deputy’s badge prominent on chest
Description: Percy is a relatively small man, about 5’4″. He has short, curly brown hair and a clean-shaven, boyish face. He tends to be cloying toward those with power, and harsh and vicious to those he thinks of as beneath him.
Percy is a relatively recent arrival in Deadwood, having been here about eight months. He left Iowa to strike it rich in the mines, but rapidly discovered that he wasn’t cut out for the mining life. Some say that there was trouble behind him in Iowa that even his uncle couldn’t get him out of – something involving a young servant girl. Upon his arrival in Deadwood, Percy rapidly fell in with the people at the Gem Theater. He was appointed to his deputy position when Charlie Utter left town, and Swearengen managed to get some kind of political pull on Marshal Bullock that forced him to name one of his men as the new deputy. Percy enjoys his position, and sometimes forgets that he owes everything he does to someone else – he tends to think he’s more important than he actually is. Most of the time, Bullock leaves Percy at the jail, minding prisoners and occasionally breaking up trouble in town while Bullock deals with more serious issues.
Johnny Burns
Human (Caucasian) Dumb Minion
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidate d4, Notice d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d6
Edges: Fleet, Luck
Hindrances: Big Mouth, Clueless, Loyal
Vitals: Charisma 0, Grit 1, Pace 8″, Parry 5, Toughness 5
Description: Johnny is a tall, gangly man. He has short brown hair and a beard that always looks a few days late for a trim. He’s none too bright, and usually serves as Swearengen’s runner and errand boy. He also occasionally keeps an eye on someone for Swearengen. He’s the weakest link in Swearengen’s operations, and they’re both well aware of it. He’s often abused or mocked by the others at the Gem, but he puts up with it because he’s been dealing with the same treatment his whole life.
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Li Bao and the Thunder Dragons

Li Bao
Human (Chinese) Martial Artist Wild Card
Abilities: Agility d10, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d10, Vigor d8
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d10 (+1 with meteor hammer), Guts d10, Intimidation d8+2, Language (English, Lakota), Notice d8, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6
Edges: Acrobat, Arcane Background (Chi Mastery), Block, First Strike, Martial Artist, Superior Kung Fu (Tan Tui), Sweep, Trademark Weapon (meteor hammer)
Hindrances: Arrogance, Bloodthirsty, Outsider
Vitals: Charisma -2, Grit 3, Pace 6″, Parry 9, Toughness 6
Powers: Armor d6, Quickness d8, Speed d8
Equipment: Fang of Winter gives Smite, Deflection, and Elemental Manipulation (ice) powers at d8, 10 power points per day, removing it deals 3d6 damage without armor, meteor hammer (Str+1d6+2 damage, Reach 1, ignore shield and cover bonus to Parry)
Li Bao is the head of the Thunder Dragon gang in Deadwood’s Chinatown, one of several gangs that split the area up. Li formed the gang after arriving in town as a laborer, working first for the Hellstromme Yards and later for Feng Tzu, the head mine owner in Chinatown. Li Bao was born in China, though he was brought over to the Maze quite early in his life, when he was around ten. He’s been a worker or combatant in the Rail Wars off and on for most of his adult life, but settled in Deadwood when he tired of constantly being on the move. Now he is the leader of a small gang that controls the shantytown in Chinatown, extorting a living from the lowest of the low and fighting with the two other gangs that exist in Chinatown, the Two Rivers gang and the Black Tigers.
Recently, Li Bao was approached by a powerful entity that he doesn’t pretend to understand. This being promised Li Bao’s gang power and prestige, and gave each gang member who swore fealty to it a talisman – a great, jagged fang that they wear around their necks. This amulet has given them power, allowing them to use ice to augment their attacks or block incoming weapons, as well as giving them a portion of Satan’s Garden mine to use as a base of operations. So far, the entity has asked them to steal several spirit traps and use them to unleash several ghosts from the disaster at the Satan’s Garden mine into the town of Deadwood, strategically placed to destroy the town’s food supplies. They’ve also been asked to guard an object for their mysterious benefactor – a small girl encased in a block of ice.
In combat, Li Bao typically activates defensive powers beforehand, then activates Quickness and moves to the center of the fray. He uses his meteor hammer and Tan Tui kicks to control the battlefield around him, using Improved Sweep as often as possible against groups, and a vicious combination of kicks and meteor hammer strikes against particularly troublesome opponents. Against enemies with ranged weapons, he prefers to seek cover then use Quickness to close and eliminate them as quickly as possible.
Chiaoshi Min
Human (Chinese) Assassin Wild Card
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Gambling d6, Guts d6, Knowledge (Poisons) d10, Languages (English, Japanese, Lakota), Lockpicking d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d10 (+4 for Very Attractive), Stealth d8, Streetwise d6, Taunt d8
Edges: Martial Artist, Poisoner, Very Attractive
Hindrances: Greedy, Small
Vitals: Charisma +4, Grit 2, Pace 6″, Parry 6, Toughness 5
Equipment: Stiletto (As knife but AP 1), fancy jewelry, several concealed poison vials
Poisons (Vigor check to resist, most are Injury or Ingested)
  • Numbing Blade: Vigor roll (-2 if attack had raise or substance ingested) to resist on Shaken or better injury with weapon, victim suffers -2 penalty to all Agility-based Trait checks and -1″ Pace  while poison lasts (1 hour). If penalty = Agility die type, victim paralyzed.
  • Draught of Madness: Vigor roll at -2 if ingested, drinker suffers -2 penalty to all Smarts rolls and Smarts-based Traits, gains the Berserk edge, but must make Smarts roll to tell friend from foe if Berserk. Lasts 2d4 hours.
  • Screaming Death: Ingested, 2d6 damage/minute, Vigor-2 roll for half, lasts until two successful Vigor rolls in a row.
  • Serpent Venom: Each exposure requires Vigor roll, failing roll imposes a level of Fatigue.

Poisoner (Professional Edge)

Requirements: Novice, Knowledge (Poisons) d6, Stealth d6

You are adept at using poison, and know how to dose poisons efficiently and apply them to their best effect. All Vigor and Heal rolls made to resist or remove poisons you apply through weapons or subtler methods suffer a -1 penalty. You are also experienced at getting poison where it needs to go, and gain a +2 bonus on all Stealth rolls related to applying poison surreptitiously.

Min is the owner of the Lotus Blossom Theater, a high-quality brothel in Deadwood. She was trained as a courtesan and assassin from a young age by a small group of assassins in Shan Fan, taught to use her beauty to manipulate men and eliminate them. She proved very efficient at this task, though she eventually made enough enemies that she felt it best to move on to newer pastures, after she eliminated the leader of her small group of assassins after he repeatedly tried to force himself on her.

Deadwood is an unpleasant compromise, in Min’s mind. She kn0ws that if she travels to a larger town that might be more profitable and fit her tastes better, she’s also more likely to be found and eliminated by her enemies. She is in Deadwood because it has a decent Chinese population, but it’s a small and unpleasant enough location that her enemies shouldn’t think to look for her. She has managed to charm a local tough, Li Bao, so that she has some muscle if her enemies should ever catch up to her. She’s beginning to consider allying herself to Al Swearengen, who is clearly the town’s most powerful and influential citizen.

Martial Artist Thug

Human (Chinese) Martial Artist Minions
Abilities: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d8, Guts d6, Intimidation d6+2, Language (English), Notice d6, Streetwise d6
Edges: Acrobat, Martial Artist, Superior Kung Fu (Shaolin Temple (Fighting attacks do Str+1d6 dmg), Tan Tui (Kicks do Str+1d6 damage, rise from prone without movement cost), or Wing Chun (two Fighting attacks per turn without penalty, damage just Str roll))
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty, Outsider
Vitals: Charisma -2, Grit 1, Pace 6″, Parry 7, Toughness 5
Equipment: Fang of Winter gives Smite, Deflection,  and Elemental Manipulation (ice) powers at d8, 10 power points per day, removing it deals 3d6 damage without armor