Buy | Submit | TRMGS1 | TRMGS2 | TRMGS3 | TRMGS4 |TRMGS Main | Heliograph Main


The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars is now available!

The original publication of Canal Priests Of Mars cut slightly over a third of author Marcus L. Rowland's manuscript to fit GDW's adventure format. The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars restores the cut material, features all new artwork by Paul Daly, and adds many useful player handouts. Enjoy the "author's cut" of a classic Space 1889 adventure, or experience it for the first time!

See our Buy It! page for more information!

Old news is still available on the News Page.

Heart of Steel
or, Life by the Minute
A Cautionary Tale of the Grim Reaches of Science -
And Subjects that Man Contemplates at his own Risk!!!

by Dylan Craig

This adventure is intended for use with the Deadlands or Castle Falkenstein systems, but can easily be converted for use with any campaign with a Victorian (or even modern) setting. The events of the module should be stretched over two sessions and, if possible, run concurrently with the party's other business or mission in the area.
Overview Setup Introduction Investigation Confrontation Boot Hill


The heroes are staying in an unfamiliar city when they save a young boy from an assault which bears all the hallmarks of a kidnapping. The boy is searching for his father, a scientist, who went missing after a trip to the city two months ago. Upon examining the body of one of the assailants, certain features lead them to suspect that involvement of an evil genius in the attempted kidnapping. Could this be the boy's father, gone over to the side of evil? A tangled web of theft, murder, and grave robbery leads the adventurers closer to a confrontation with the force behind the attackers, where the prize is nothing less than the lives of every human being in the city.

Difficulties for actions and system notes are given in square brackets in the standard format for both systems, with Deadlands information followed by Castle Falkenstein information, and are printed in blue type. All attributes for NPCs and villains are given in the Boot Hill section.


As mentioned above, this module should ideally be pitched at a time when the heroes have to journey to an unfamiliar city, stay there a few days for some reason, and then leave. This may be a business trip, a diplomatic mission, or even another adventure, but its purpose remains the same: to force the heroes to do most of their investigations at night.

In the Deadlands setting, the Posse might have been instrumental in the capture of a notorious outlaw, whose trial is taking place in the city (we will use Denver for the purposes of this module). The accused's lawyers have called for the whole Posse to appear for questioning; this will mean that they have to stay in court from breakfast to supper every day, after which they are permitted to return to their own lodgings.

In the Castle Falkenstein setting, the Heroes may be acting as assistants or bodyguards to a diplomat or clerk during treaty negotiations in the city (If your campaign includes the North Americas, Denver can still be used; otherwise, any large metropolis such as London, Berlin, or Paris might serve as a substitute). The person the Heroes are escorting requires their presence during the daylight hours; only at night, when the diplomatic contingent reassemble at their hotel, are the Heroes free to pursue their 'side interests'.

Whatever the 'cover story' used, there should be enough happening to keep the players from growing too restless; the outlaw's old gang might be in town, either looking for revenge against the Posse or planning a rescue attempt, or the clerk might be lured into a compromising situation by a mysterious and elusive femme fatale whose motives are unknown.

In either case, the characters will have had to surrender most of their 'artillery' to a responsible party for the duration of their stay; either Denver's Town Marshall or the owner of their hotel. Carrying a firearm is a fineable offense, and discharging one is grounds for a short cooling-off visit to the local jail. This is not to say that the characters will have been searched and all their guns taken; simply that they will have to be circumspect about their use, and possibly restrict their personal armament to easily concealable weapons like derringers. Officers of the law and armed forces will not, of course, be asked to hand in their weapons; on the other hand, any misdemeanor committed by them with these weapons will be more strictly judged.


It is late one evening, and the characters have retired to their rooms - on the second floor - for the day, when they hear a muffled cry of distress from below. An awning outside the window makes it impossible to see what is going on in the street (which runs along one side of the hotel), but the sounds of a scuffle are distinctly noticeable.

It's quite a drop into the street, should any characters decide to leap out to investigate; six meters or so. Agile characters [Nimbleness roll of 7, or a Good Agility result] may reduce this to an effective three meters by first jumping onto the awning, then rolling off the edge and dangling from the gutter-pipe before dropping onto the cobblestones. Both these approaches will get a character into the street inside of ten seconds. It will take almost half a minute to reach the street by running downstairs and through the lobby.

The disturbance resolves into three tall, male figures manhandling a struggling child towards a coach which is waiting on the corner. The child is around the right size to be nine or ten years old, but is too obscured by the men for any other details to be discerned. There are three more men in the street, and two by the coach. All are wearing dark clothing and long coats, with scarves, although their clothing is not any kind of obvious uniform. One of the men has a gloved hand clamped over the child's mouth. The child is wearing a navy-blue nightshirt and is putting up a titanic struggle. It is apparently the child's struggles which are preventing the men from running towards the coach; instead, they are moving at no more than a walking pace while keeping an eye on the street and on their captive.

The force with which the kidnappers resist any efforts by the PCs to interfere is up to them. If the characters stick to their fists and knives, the kidnappers will meet force with like force - but that will change as soon as the heroes start using guns. Each of the Pendulum Men (for that is what they are) is carrying a pistol, and is more than capable of using it. The action in the street is completely invisible to anyone still in their rooms, due to the awning.

The Pendulum Men's first priority is to get the child to the coach. At first, therefore, only the three who are not busy holding on to the struggling child will split off to engage anyone trying to prevent the kidnap. If these three are overpowered or unable to stop the heroes, one of the coach drivers and two of the group carrying the child will join in the attack. If these reinforcements fail to stop the heroes, any Pendulum Men left standing will stop fighting, and run-stagger towards the coach to try and escape, tossing the child at the rescuers as they do so. Any Pendulum Man trapped and unable to escape will immediately pull its pistol and open fire on anyone between it and an escape route, putting the last bullet through its own heart if unable to clear a path. If possible, all the Pendulum Men should escape into the night; judicious use of Chips or simple misdirection should allow Pendulum Men who appear to have been 'knocked out' to recover while the heroes' attentions are elsewhere.

Anyone grappling with one of the Pendulum Men would be hard pressed [Cognition roll of 3, or an Average Perception result] to not notice two distinct things about them. Firstly, they stink of a mixture of raw meat, chemical fumes, and engine oil; and secondly, they give off a deep, rhythmic, 'click-click... click-click' sound which is audible at any distance closer than a meter or so.

The heroes may call for help; but, unless they get involved themselves, by the time anyone appears on the street (a minute later), the Pendulum Men will have got away. Discharging firearms will draw a similarly slow, but more vigorous response: windows will be flung open, constables will come running (but take 1d6 minutes to arrive), and the veteran door porter (Robert Ofill) will appear at the front door of the hotel with a scattergun.

The child, once thrown to the ground, falls into a dead faint. Examination will reveal a fair-haired and slightly built boy of about ten years of age, with brown eyes and a pale, freckled, complexion. He is gripping a handkerchief bearing the initials E.F.R. in his left hand, and there is a key on a wooden tag in the pocket of his nightshirt. The tag identifies the key as the door key to a room in the same hotel as the characters themselves.

If blood was spilt, shots were fired, anyone was killed, or the fight with the Pendulum Men went on longer than 6 minutes (48 Deadlands rounds), the characters may well have to give an account of themselves to the local law. How this proceeds is up to you; it is suggested, however, that you give the characters enough time to cover up the event should they wish to do so, rather than bringing the police into the picture just yet.

The boy will remain unconscious for fifteen minutes, or until he is brought inside, put down on a warm bed, and given a whiff of smelling salts [Medicine: General roll of 5, or an Average Physician result]. Should the heroes take him to his own room, they will be able to judge by his personal effects that he is one Jack Routledge, of Chicago, that he is traveling alone, and that he is very low on cash. Further investigations (of his luggage and the closet) will reveal that he has most likely run away from home (suitcases are packed with mementos, books, and a very impractical assortment of clothing no adult would allow a child to travel with). A brown leather folder on the writing table holds a stack of letters from Doctor Ellis F. Routledge to his son, Jack. These letters reflect about four months of correspondence, but end abruptly two months ago, soon after the Doctor's arrival in Denver.

When Jack awakes, the first thing he will do is beg the characters not to send him back to Chicago. He will explain that he ran away to look for his father when he stopped receiving his letters. His aunt, with whom he was staying and who held a dim general view of her brother and his extended absences, had refused to notify the authorities, and Jack was worried that his father was in trouble. He arrived in Denver by train a few days ago and has been walking the streets searching for his father, but has no real idea where to start looking, and is too scared to approach an adult for help in case he is recognized as a runaway. He barely has enough money left for his next meal, let alone his accommodation.

He will be able to provide the characters with a tintype portrait and a brief biography of his father, and (should they show even vague interest) will plead with them to help him, and not to send him home or report him to the authorities. He will become quite frantic if the party look like they are planning to do any of these things; if he is not gently handled, he is likely to bolt out of the door and into the night.

Jack will say that he was eating a meager dinner from his rations when a porter knocked and said there was a man to see him in the street outside. The porter had a handkerchief, which he said the man had given him; this is the handkerchief which Jack still clutches and which bears his father's initials. He ran downstairs, only to be grabbed by the men at the side door. Jack can describe the porter; this description will lead the heroes to Willy DuPree, who is currently hanging around the lobby at the front entrance of the building, playing cards with Robert Ofill. Willy is fairly unrepentant about his role in the attempted kidnapping, once he hears about it; however, he will spill the beans as soon as someone tough-looking leans on him a little [Overawe or Persuasion roll of 7, or a Good Charisma result]. He tells the heroes that around half an hour ago, a man in a coat came up and knocked on the front door of the lobby. The man didn't say anything - "figured he was a foreigner, or one of those mutes", Willy says - but he handed Willy five dollars, a note, and the handkerchief. The note reads as follows:

My Dear Sir:
Please excuse the note, but I have a throat condition and find speech painful.
My son, Jack Routledge, is in Room 16. He is waiting for me to collect him. 
Would you be so kind as to ask him to be packed and ready, and meet me 
at the side door, as soon as possible. I attach my handkerchief so that he will 
recognize that it is his father who writes this note. Thank you, and please keep 
the five dollars as a rewards for your efforts.

Yours, Ellis F. Routledge, Ph.D.

No further clues are forthcoming from Willy or from any examination of the note. The paper is normal, good-quality writing paper and bears no seal or watermark. If the note is shown to Jack or compared to Doctor Routledge's letters, the handwriting will appear to be the same.

The heroes are now in something of a dilemma. To turn Jack over to the authorities would almost certainly result in his being returned to Chicago, a turn of events which would cause him great distress. However, it is plain to see that he is unable to find his father alone. If they decide to follow this course of action nonetheless, they are likely to find that the local constabulary are already thinly staffed, and their 'help' with the case will amount to little less than a bulletin handed to beat constables and morgue attendants describing the missing Doctor.

Of course, any heroes worth their salt will leap at an opportunity to help Jack find his father. Heroic characters should perhaps feel that to do any less would be unacceptable. Characters with a scientific background might recognize Jack's father as a fairly well-regarded author on the topic of clockwork automata [Science: Engineering / Tinkerin' (Knowledge) roll of 9, or an Exceptional Education / Tinkering result].


There are several options open to the characters in terms of investigating the situation.

Firstly, if they tried to pursue the escaping coach on foot (given that any horses they may have come to town with are most likely stabled elsewhere, and in any case unbridled and unharnessed), they would quickly have lost sight of it. If they somehow managed to match the pace of the galloping horses (through Hexes, shape-shifting, or other unnatural means), they would have been able to keep alongside the coach as it headed into an area of warehouses near the freight-yards, before losing it in a maze of alleyways. Characters with the relevant skills may attempt to follow the tracks left by the coach: this is only possible because of the muddy ground and the lack of road traffic at night [Trackin' roll of 9, or an Exceptional Perception result]. In this case, they will be deep in the warehouse district before they lose the trail. The warehouse district itself is described in more detail below.

Secondly, the weapons and equipment of the Pendulum Men are, on the surface, fairly unremarkable; a dark, off-the-rack suit, a black or dark brown coat and matching hat, wool scarf, gloves, heavy boots, and a standard model Colt. However, while the makers' marks have all been removed from the clothing, the boots still bear a label on the inner surface of the sole; this mark, if shown to a shoemaker, will lead the characters to a uniform supply store near the warehouse district. If questioned and shown a boot, the store's proprietor will explain that this is one of a consignment of 100 pairs of boots he recently made up as a special order he received by postal messenger. Payment was delivered by a 'mute Indian' in a dark coat and scarf, who came in four weeks later to collect the order. No gunsmith will recall filling an order for 100 Colts in the last two months; it seems that if such an order was placed, it was either placed by mail or as several smaller orders.

Secondly, they may have captured a Pendulum Man; either a still-'living' specimen (which is unlikely, given their tendency towards self-destruction), or a corpse (which is more likely, especially if wounded Pendulum Men who escaped on foot were pursued). Rudimentary notes on the creatures' physiology can be found in the Boot Hill section; the heroes will be able to learn these basic facts by dissecting and examining the body [Medicine: Surgery and Tinkerin' rolls of 9, or Exceptional Physicianand Tinkering results]. Any examination of the mechanism embedded in the Pendulum Men's chests will reveal that the craftsmanship is both superbly detailed and highly advanced, with a miniaturized steam engine providing the motive force behind the circulatory pump. Most of the clockwork which makes up the device, however, is not purpose-built; close examination of the sizes and proportions reveal that these parts are the same type used in fob watches and precision clocks, and have apparently been cannibalized from these items.

Two further branches of inquiry are possible if the heroes have a Pendulum Man in their possession. Following up the body itself will mean visiting morgues, hospitals, and the Denver Hall of Public Records [Streetwise roll of 9, or an Exceptional Connections result] with a description of the body, and asking the right people the right questions. It will surface that the body went missing from a morgue, public funeral home, or other establishment, some weeks ago. Probing the disappearance any further will most likely bring the heroes into contact with the Excavators.

Alternately, the characters may elect to investigate the clockwork parts; this is easier [Steetwise 7, Great Connections], but will require a more lengthy and hands-on investigation. They will soon learn that local watchmakers, tinkerers and inventors have recently been experiencing a plague of break-ins and robberies. The thefts have all occurred at night; safes were circumvented or picked, and their contents looted. Strangely enough, few valuables went missing; the thieves were apparently more interested in clockworking tools, springs, cogs and parts than in jewels or precious metals. The police are reluctant to get involved; their unofficial position is that given the nature of the thefts, one of the watchmakers themselves must be guilty; hence, they are waiting for one robbery to show signs of having been staged before they investigate any further. Their advice to the watchmakers was to hire guards, but few have chosen this option: one watchmaker who decided to mount a guard in his shop returned in the morning to find the guard brutally beaten and in a deep coma; since then, no-one has tried to interfere with the mysterious thefts. Some stores have been robbed repeatedly; others, particularly those on the outskirts of town, have yet to be burgled. Characters who think to plot the locations of the thefts will see that they form a rough circle centered on the warehouse district; the stores which have been suffered several thefts are those closest to the center of this circle.

The warehouse district itself is a regular grid of large service roads crisscrossed by narrow alleyways which run between the tall brick buildings. Some of these alleys twist and turn, some are dead ends, and some are blocked by fences or piles of building rubble and garbage; few people aside from locals and street people know the area well enough to be able to avoid becoming lost. The area is unofficially controlled by a street gang called the Excavators, who maintain a network of lookouts to alert them to any unwelcome intrusions into their territory. Most of these lookouts are 'Roof Rats' - children with the required agility to leap from roof to roof, slide along cables strung between fire escapes, and scale fences with ease. Investigating the warehouse district itself will draw the attentions of the Excavators, whether the heroes have tangled with them before or not, as they have been paid by Michael Marshall, the Clockwork Sergeant, to keep people away from the block containing the condemned warehouse which the Pendulum Men are using as a lair.

A third, less glamorous, route of investigation is also open to the heroes. With the Doctor's tintype portrait as an aid, they could pound the streets, much as Jack was doing, simply asking whether anyone has seen Doctor Routledge recently. This is a difficult route to take, not because the inquiries themselves are hard to make but because of the scale of the task. This difficulty is compounded by the heroes' investigations being confined to the evenings. Should they find a way to circumvent this restriction, or hire intermediates, it is suggested that the daily efforts of at least two full-time investigators will be required; should both of the investigators (or any two, if there are more than two) succeed in gathering clues on any given day [Streetwise rolls of 7, or Great Connections results], these clues will illustrate the following scenario:

Doctor Routledge arrived in town two months ago, lodged at a respectable hotel, and introduced himself to several academics and scientists living in Denver with whom he had corresponded in the past. He visited several libraries, where he browsed periodicals and books on engineering. He spent some time in the Prosthetics Wing of the St. Augustine Veteran's Clinic; this small brick building houses specialized facilities for the construction and fitting of prosthetic limbs, especially those with moving parts which allow hands to grip or give feet a springy step. During these visits, he corresponded with the staff about some theories of his concerning new, less ungainly designs for prosthetics, and about the problem of rejection of prosthetic implants by the body. About six weeks ago, he disappeared; he was seen purchasing a quantity of ether alcohol and surgical tools from a medical wholesale business a few days before, but has not been seen since. Most of his possessions are still in his paid-up hotel room; all that is missing is a suit (indicated by an empty hanger) and his satchel of books and writing implements.


A confrontation with the Clockwork Sergeant and his Pendulum Men is inevitable, given the heroes' snooping; all they have the power to do is decide whether it will be on their own terms, or on Michael Marshall's.

If the party have encountered the Excavators and defeated them on their home turf, they will know the approximate location of the Pendulum Men's base of operations. This area is detailed below.

If the party have run out of clues to investigate and still have no idea where the Doctor might be, but still seem to pose a threat, they will be lured into an deadly ambush with the intention of removing them from the picture, permanently. The ambushers will either be Excavators or Pendulum Men, depending on whether the heroes have given the Excavators a bloody nose on a previous occasion or not. The 'bait' will be delivered by a crooked constable in the pay of the Excavators; he will say that some of the Doctor's personal effects have been found during an inspection of a derelict warehouse, and will ask the party to accompany him to identify a badly decomposed body found in the same warehouse. This turncoat will lead them into a narrow alleyway before sprinting through a door and leaving the characters to be assaulted. Should events follow this course, but the heroes manage to survive somehow, a wounded ambusher trying to leave the scene will lead them to the right warehouse. The warehouse in question is an old converted tannery, a three-story building with four bricked-up smokestacks protruding from its tiled roof, in a disreputable area of the warehouse district which has fallen out of general use.

Of course, in either case, Jack Routledge will not allow himself to be left out of the expedition, and will either plead with the heroes to let him accompany them or, if he is left in someone else's care, will slip out after they have left, appearing at some inopportune time in the melees which are to come.
There are three main entrances to the building; a large set of sliding doors which open into the main warehouse floor, a side door which opens into an office area, and a back entrance at the foot of the smokestacks which leads to the furnace rooms and from there into the offices or the crawl spaces between the subterranean vats. These vats were boarded over during the building's conversion from a tannery to a warehouse, but still lie beneath the warehouse floor - as the heroes will soon discover. Inside, the warehouse is a jumble of packing crates. The crates form an internal maze within the building, which stands six or seven meters high in many places. Some of these crates are empty, but the majority are filled with spoiled goods, mostly unshipped low-grade cotton which has suffered from the damp and spills from several of the rotten crates in a grayish tumble. The building smells awful, both from the accumulated chemical reek of the tanning vats, and from the moldy cotton. Anyone who is familiar with the smell of the Pendulum Men will recognize this smell immediately. A map showing the warehouse district around the Pendulum Men's lair (center right, with smokestacks).
A map showing the structural layout of the warehouse. Note: Crate maze is not shown, to avoid obscuring vat locations.   A rusty, steam-driven crane towers above the crate maze. The controls for operating the crane's piston arm are housed in an operator's booth on the top level of the warehouse, above the office unit, and are only accessible by a series of ladders and landings bolted to the wall next to the office unit. 

The office unit's two levels consist of a receptionist's office and kitchen on the ground floor, and steps leading up from the receptionist's office to the manager's office. Shuttered counters link the kitchen and receptionist's office to the warehouse floor. The receptionist's office is a complete shambles, and the kitchen bare of any food except a stale loaf, some cheese, and a bottle of flat beer. Only the manager's office, which is currently being used as sleeping quarters for Doctor Routledge, is tidy and hygienic. All the internal doors are locked; the sliding doors are padlocked (on the inside) and fixed to the floor by bolts.

Anyone exploring the crawl spaces around the vats, by means of the trapdoor in the furnace section, will be able to get samples from the contents of each vat:

The vats cannot be drained using these sample taps; nor can they be stealthily punctured, being constructed of tough copper alloys and sunk in a square foundation of brick and mortar. If the substances from Vats 1 and 3 are mixed, there is an immediate and energetic reaction which forms a strong acid; any character whose hands are exposed to the compound will suffer a chemical burn of a severity dependent on the degree and length of exposure [A Light Wound or 3 points of damage]. These substances were created using supernatural knowledge imparted to the Clockwork Sergeant by the dark force inside him, and cannot be duplicated or described in terms of conventional science.

Irrespective of the time of day, when the heroes arrive, there are six Pendulum Men patrolling the grounds, in groups of two. Inside, Doctor Routledge is bent over the workbench in the middle of the floor, with the Clockwork Sergeant alternately peering over his shoulder and pacing up and down with a whining of gears from his clockwork limbs. Doctor Routledge shows obvious signs of strain; his hair is wild, one eye is swollen and black, and the wrist bearing the manacles which hold him at his workbench is chafed raw. The makeshift 'workbench' is made up a pair of large, grimy washtubs covered over with planks and a sheet of canvas. It is is piled high with clockwork, tools, and various partially assembled devices. Nearby, an open crate reveals row upon row of gleaming Colt pistols; two crates of boots and a pile of clothing stand to one side.

The exact style of the climactic encounter between the Clockwork Sergeant and the heroes will depend on the style of action favored by your players. Hopefully, any desire on their part to leap to conclusions and open fire immediately will be tempered by an understanding that they have no strong evidence to link either of the figures before them to any wrongdoing - a conclusion that will be obvious to any characters with training in the processes of law. Nonetheless, if the party decide to sneak in and perform a legally indefensible preemptive execution (shame on them!), it is suggested that as the best shots in the party draw a bead, they become aware of a creaking and gurgling under the floorboards on which they are standing - followed by a score of ghastly zombie hands thrusting through the floor to grasp at their legs and clothing. This will cause large portions of the floor to fall in, setting up a domino effect throughout the crate maze and likewise disrupting the attempts of any other party members to make their own attacks. Their disappointment will, however, seem inconsequential when compared to the situation the executioners find themselves in - stuck down a vat, waist-deep in slimy Vat Zombies, and covered in toxic chemicals.

Hopefully, however, the heroes will do the dramatic thing and confront the apparent 'evildoers' verbally before resorting to such tactics; in this case, the grasping hands can wait until the moment when hostilities are all set to break out, allowing the Clockwork Sergeant to have a few moments on center stage as he explains his evil plot.

What precisely is his plot? The story behind the Clockwork Sergeant is outlined in his section of Boot Hill. Given half a chance, and in true melodramatic style, he will give the characters a brief précis of the events which have brought him here (leaving out the parts concerning the 'dark influence', of which he is not aware), and even outline his current plans for the city of Denver. The Sergeant is about to take his revenge on the 'damned civilians' who sat around making money and egging the politicians on while he and his brothers in arms bled on the battlefield. They wanted a war? Well, he'll bring them one. He's got the soldiers, he's got the tools, and he has the secret weapon ... with an utterance to this effect, he upturns the Doctor's workbench and reveals the emerging Dreadnought. The time for words is over!

If the floor has not yet caved in, it will do so at the first dramatic opportunity - perhaps when the Dreadnought plants its first grisly foot on the planking with a hollow boom. However, the characters will have enough on their hands without having to extricate themselves from the pits, so it should be a fairly easy task [Nimbleness roll of 5, or a Good Agility result] for a character who suddenly finds the floorboards splintering under them to dodge aside instead of plunging into the outstretched talons of the Vat Zombies below. The crates will still tumble, but this effect should be used to split the heroes up rather than injure or trap them. A good tactic to accomplish this is to tell them that the crates are suddenly tumbling down around them, and ask them to write on a piece of paper, without consulting other players, which direction they are dodging in.

The characters will have a round or two to scramble out of the mess of crates and retrieve their weapons while the Dreadnought extricates itself from the washtubs and plugs in its first weapon module.

The combat against the Dreadnought is likely to be fairly one-sided unless the heroes can think of an inventive way to destroy it. It's construction provides it with practical immunity to pistol bullets and even the blasts from shotguns, and with the Doctor still chained to the washtubs at its feet, the characters won't be able to use any dynamite they might have on their persons against it. If they want to get the Doctor free so that explosives can be brought to bear, any character wishing to part the manacles will have to deal a considerable amount of damage to the chain [10 points against an Armor Level of 1 in Deadlands, or 6 points in Castle Falkenstein] to snap it, although this could conceivably be accomplished by a swift blow or well-aimed shot. The Doctor could also free himself by picking the lock, although he will not think of this unless prompted.

The one factor acting in their favor is that the Dreadnought is fairly slow and has a tendency to stand out in the open firing off its weapons rather than move around. To even the fight up a little, you can assume that the Dreadnought's armament is of a level which approximates the heroes' own; if they are packing rifles, shotguns, gatling pistols, and a brace of reciprocators, then the Dreadnought will have its full range of weapon modules; if they have nothing but melee weapons and a few derringers, the Dreadnought (likewise) will only have it's Light Gatling arm and its Close Combat blades.

However, the Dreadnought has one particular weakness which smart heroes could use to bring about its speedy demise. It is visibly coated in thick globs of the jelly from Vat 3, having just completed stage three of the reanimation process; if the heroes are aware of the reaction when the contents of Vats 1 and 3 are combined, there are several ways in which this knowledge can be used against the Dreadnought.

If everything seems to be going wrong for your heroes and they are in mortal danger, but have not yet noticed the effects of the chemicals, you could give this information to them when they see the Dreadnought's feet blistering as it walks through a puddle of the brown oil; or, you could have a zombie from Vat 1 stumble into Vat 3 and melt to gibbering sludge before their very eyes.

One last option for the heroes would be to turn the beast's own weapons against it. The second washbasin is, after all, full of the Dreadnought's secondary armament; its Heavy Gatling arm, for instance, would be more than sufficient for the job as long as two or more characters were on hand to brace and aim it.

During this fight, the Vat Zombies and any remaining Pendulum Men should be used as distractions and obstacles rather than opponents in their own right; as long as the characters keep moving (slashing or shooting in all directions, no doubt), they should be able to avoid being swarmed. In system terms, as long as characters can land one solid hit after another, they will be able to keep their attackers at bay; as soon as their luck runs low and they start missing or fumbling their reloads, they will start to suffer damage.

And what of the Clockwork Sergeant? His degree of involvement is up to you. If your heroes need another Nemesis in their game, he could slink out into the night with the Doctor's plans for the pendulum heart and a small bodyguard of Pendulum Men, pausing only to swear revenge; if the characters are having too easy a time of things with the Dreadnought, you might choose to commit him fully. His main aim is to protect the Dreadnought, and to stop any clever schemes intended to destroy it.

All that stands between the heroes and victory are a few tons of dead meat, mysterious chemicals, and clockwork. Why, they have their work cut out for them!

It is assumed that despite several hair-raising moments, the heroes will finally triumph over the assorted undead creatures; by this time, the acidic vat contents will have run into the crane's high-pressure boiler furnace and a merry blaze will have consumed most of the east wall. This includes the ladders leading to the control booth - but, luckily, there is enough moldy cotton on hand for characters on the ground to prepare a soft landing for a leaping compatriot, if the need be. The heroes, with Doctor Routledge and Jack in tow, will make it out just as the roof collapses in a billowing roar of flame.

The heroes have Doctor Routledge's eternal thanks - and his support, should they ever require it. As for the city of Denver, its citizens may sleep well tonight, safe because of the efforts of the heroes.


Deadlands: 6 Bounty, and the following chip awards: Castle Falkenstein: Technically-minded characters might benefit from a correspondence with Doctor Routledge; six months of this, with letters being exchanged every fortnight or so, is almost certain to improve the hero's Tinkering rank by one.

Boot Hill

The Pendulum Men

Deadlands attributes:

Corporeal: D: 2d6, N: 2d8, S: 3d8, Q: 2d10, V: 3d8. Fightin': Brawlin' 3d8, Shootin': Pistols 3d6
Mental: C: 2d10, K:1d6, M: 1d6, Sm: 1d6, Sp: 1d4. Overawe 2d6, Search 4d10
Special Abilities: Terror 3 (in good light), Armor 1, Size 6,Counted as Undead for damage purposes.
Vulnerabilities: Pendulum heart (see below)
Quick Hits: 30
Armament: Colt .36 Navy pistol (Range 10, Damage 2d6, Shots 6), Leathery fists (Damage STR+1d4)

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Fisticuffs [GD], Marksmanship [GD], Perception [GT], Physique [GD]
Armament: Colt .36 Navy pistol (Range 50/200, Damage 3/4/5), Leathery fists (Damage 1/2/4)

The Pendulum men are corpses resuscitated into ghastly half-life by alchemical compounds and the action of a clockwork heart. Their skins are bleached and stained light brown by this solution so that they might be mistaken for Indians; in reality, however, and as is visible with good lighting and sustained examination, their skin coloration and orange hair makes them look more like corpses unearthed from a peat bog. Only ten Pendulum Men have been created thus far, of which eight are involved in the kidnap attempt; by the time the heroes confront these strange creatures in their lair at the end of the adventure, their numbers will have been been replenished back to this level.

The pendulum hearts themselves are a fairly large and delicate mass of clockwork set into the center of the beings' chests; they are protected from accidental damage by a light metal shield, but still represent an important weak spot for the creatures; any attack specifically aimed at the heart and doing enough damage [10 points against an Armor Level of 1 in Deadlands, or 6 points in Castle Falkenstein], will stop the creatures in their tracks - although they will remain 'alive', and will regain mobility as soon as the circulation of their various internal compounds is restored [Deadlands: a random hit which strikes the Gizzards will have the same effect as the called shot, above].

The creation of a Pendulum Man involves a three-stage immersion process; first, a prepared body (with a pendulum heart already fitted and ticking) is immersed in reanimation formula drawn from Vat 1; this fluid, when circulated through the arteries and body cavities by the pendulum heart, awakens the body into a state of undeath. However, this state is only temporary, and ends an hour after the body is removed from the fluid unless the body is then immersed in fluid from Vat 2 (a solvent solution which 'fixes' the body's organs and removes excess reanimation formula), and then Vat 3 (the final sealant, which bonds the action of the reanimation formula into the body's various tissues. The middle step is vital; if leftover reanimation formula is not removed by the action of the solvent, exposure to the sealing agent destroys the body in a strong acidic reaction.

Pendulum Men cannot speak, as their lungs are full of fluid. If hard-pressed, they might manage a bubbly gurgle.

Robert Ofill (the night clerk)

Deadlands attributes:

Corporeal: D: 2d6, N: 3d6, S: 2d6, Q: 2d6, V: 3d6. Fightin': Brawlin' 3d6, Shootin': Shotguns 3d6, Dodge 2d6
Mental: C: 3d6, K: 2d6, M: 2d6, Sm: 2d6, SP: 2d6. Ridicule 2d6, Profession: Clerk 4d6, Gamblin' 2d6, Guts 4d6
Edges and Hindrances: Geezer, Hankerin' (dancing girls and corn liquor) 2, Brave, Nerves of Steel
Quick Hits: 30
Armament: Licensed Remington 12-gauge Shotgun (R 10, D 2d6 + 4d6, Shots 2), 6 loose shells.

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Fisticuffs [GD], Marksmanship [GD], Courage [GT], Social Graces [PR]
Armament: Licensed Remington 12-gauge Shotgun (R 30/60, D 5/6/7, Shots 2), 6 loose shells.

A proud old widower and war veteran who still wears his medals pinned to his hotel uniform. Has a luxuriant handlebar mustache and a taste for dancing girls and corn liquor; his son and daughter are unable to decide which of these traits is more scandalous in a person of his age and standing.

Jack Routledge

Deadlands attributes:

Corporeal: D: 1d6, N: 1d6, S: 2d4, Q: 2d6, V: 2d4. Fightin': Wrasslin' 1d6, Throwin': Unbalanced 3d6, Dodge 3d6
Mental: C: 4d10, K: 1d12, M: 1d8, Sm: 1d10, SP: 3d8. Persuasion 4d8+2, Academia: Science 4d12, Guts 1d8
Edges and Hindrances: Kid, Poverty, Oath (Find his father) 4, Mechanically Inclined, Keen, Persuasive Voice
Quick Hits: 15
Armament: None

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Athletics [GD], Charisma [GD], Physique [PR], Education [GD]
Armament: None

Jack is a bright, polite child who has been through a lot. His essentially sunny and helpful nature will shine through as soon as the heroes prove that they can be trusted.

Doctor Ellis F. Routledge

Deadlands attributes:

Corporeal: D: 4d8, N: 1d6, S: 2d6, Q: 2d6, V: 3d6. Shootin': Pistol 1d8, Fightin': Fencing 2d6, Lockpicking 5d8+2
Mental: C: 2d10, K: 3d12, M: 1d8, Sm: 1d10, SP: 3d8. Science: Clockwork Engineering 6d12+2, Guts 3d8
Edges and Hindrances: Arcane Background: Mad Scientist, Clueless, Mechanically Inclined, Loco (Thanatophobia) 1
Quick Hits: 30
Armament: Palmed screwdriver (DB None, Dmg STR+1)

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Connections (Scientific) [GD], Education [EXC], Tinkering [EXT], Courage [GD]
Armament: Palmed screwdriver (Dmg 1/2/4)

Doctor Routledge is a peerless scientist in the field of clockwork, a man who has devoted his life to formalizing and codifying the various 'tricks of the trade' usually passed from father to son in the clockmaking and jeweling industries. His scientific approach to these techniques has reaped him moderate rewards through several patents. His travels and research keep him away from home for up to six months of the year; during these absences, his son Jack is cared for by his sister. Doctor Routledge has never been married; he adopted Jack when the boy was a mere infant, after two of the Doctor's colleagues died of pneumonia and left the child an orphan.

This particular trip had as its destination the St. Augustine Veteran's Clinic, where the Doctor hoped to investigate the possible applications of his clockwork techniques to the field of prosthetic surgery. How the Clockwork Sergeant knew that Dr. Routledge would be visiting Denver at this particular time is uncertain, but the two first 'bumped into each other' after one of the Doctor's visits to the Veteran's Clinic. Posing as a retired soldier with philanthropic motives, Marshall lured the Doctor to the warehouse under the pretext of participating in a low-key demonstration of a new surgical technique aimed at the rejection-free implantation of prosthetic limbs. The Doctor, excited at the prospect, rushed out to purchase the necessary material, but on arriving at the warehouse he was imprisoned by the Sergeant and put to work building and fitting pendulum hearts, and working on the Dreadnought. His attempts at escape have always ended in recapture by the Pendulum Men, as he is under constant guard.

Doctor Routledge has not weathered his brush with the horrendous schemes of the Clockwork Sergeant without incident; while he has retained his sanity through pure force of will (and can be counted on to keep a cool head even as the Dreadnought towers above him, blasting fire and sweeping its blades through the air), he has developed a terrible fear of death and dead bodies, which haunts him in his nightmares.

Willy DuPree (the night porter)

Deadlands attributes:

Corporeal: D: 2d8, N: 2d6, S: 2d6, Q: 3d6, V: 1d6. Filchin' 1d8, Lockpicking 1d8, Fightin': Knife 2d6
Mental: C: 2d8, K: 2d10, M: 2d6, Sm: 3d12, SP: 1d8. Gamblin' 3d12, Area Knowledge (Denver) 3d10, Streetwise 4d12
Edges and Hindrances: Keen, Habit (picking his teeth), Outlaw (Wanted for murder in Boston) 1, Luck of the Irish
Quick Hits: 30
Armament: Sharp blade (DB None, Dmg STR+1d6)

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Connections [GT], Social Graces [GD], Fencing [GD], Courage [PR], Gambling [GT]
Armament: Sharp blade (Dmg 2/3/4)

Willy isn't a bad person, but he's grown used to a life of petty crime and dishonesty because of his basic laziness. He runs a tidy little pimping racket for the hotel guests as a sideline, and has been cheating Robert Ofill out of his tips in their nightly card games for years. The murder charge against him is for a crime he did not commit, but carries the death sentence nonetheless; he will do anything to avoid being taken into custody and risk being returned to Boston.

The Excavators (Typical Gang Member)

Deadlands attributes:

Corporeal: D: 3d8, N: 3d6, S: 3d6, Q: 4d6, V: 2d6. Filchin' 2d8, Fightin': Knife or Ax Handle 3d6, Shootin: Pistols 2d8
Mental: C: 1d8, K: 1d6, M: 1d10, Sm: 2d12, SP: 1d8. Gamblin' 3d12, Overawe 2d10, Trade: Body Snatching 3d6
Edges and Hindrances: Outlaw (Wanted for grave robbing and assault) 2, Tough as Nails 1, Hankerin' (Money) 2
Quick Hits: 35
Armament: Any two of: 44 derringer (R 5, D 3d6, Shots 2), belt knife, brass knuckles, or club (all dB 0, Dmg. STR+1d4)

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Connections [GD], Fisticuffs or Fencing [GT], Physique [GD], Stealth [GT].
Armament: Any two of: 44 derringer (R 25/50, D 3/4/5, Shots 2), belt knife, brass knuckles, or club (Dmg 2/3/4)

The Excavators drew their name from their main source of income; body-snatching. Many prospectors, fortune-seekers and drifters die in and around Denver without loved ones to claim their bodies; these bodies are stored in a public mortuary. Every week or so, the unclaimed bodies are incinerated - that is, the ones which the Excavators aren't interested in. Surprisingly enough, the Excavators run a fairly complex and extensive operation from their subterranean base in the warehouse district; the bodies they steal are preserved or dissected into parts, sealed into sturdy crates, and shipped to back-alley medical schools, penniless students, and less savory sources all over the country using Denver's extensive railroad networks. The Excavators also do 'special orders' when a cadaver of a particular type is required - in this case, they have been known to hasten the natural processes along somewhat by waylaying a suitable candidate and smothering them to death. The Excavator operation is large and well-entrenched; tackling this scourge will have to wait for another day. As far as the Excavator presence in this adventure goes, the heroes might encounter the Excavators in one of two ways:

Should the heroes capture and question one of their assailants about the missing bodies or the warehouse district, they will be able to learn the following details if they can sift through the variety of illegal schemes their captive might think they are interested in hearing about:

The Excavators were contacted by a 'man with a scarred face' several weeks ago, and paid well to deliver a steady flow of fresh bodies to a certain block of warehouses in the warehouse district. The only criterion the bodies had to meet was that they had to have been fairly healthy and not too overweight. The deliveries were made at night; the 'scarred man' always had several assistants in dark coats with him to help offload the bodies. The 'scarred man' seemed to talk with difficulty, and always had a buzzing and clicking noise like clockwork gears coming from under his coat. None of the Excavators ever saw the source of these noises nor, in the final analysis, were they particularly curious - as long as the money kept coming. The 'scarred man' also paid them a weekly retainer to keep any outsiders away from the warehouse block.

Michael Marshall, the Clockwork Sergeant

Deadlands attributes (augmentation effects already applied):

Corporeal: D: 3d10, N: 2d8, S: 4d12+2, Q: 2d10, V: 3d8. Fightin': Sword 5d8, Shootin': Rifles 5d10
Mental: C: 4d6, K: 3d8, M: 2d8, Sm: 3d8, SP: 2d10. Academia: Tactics 3d8, Overawe 2d10, Leadership 4d8, Guts 4d10
Edges and Hindrances: Brave, Level Headed, Nerves o' Steel, Two Fisted, Vengeful, Self-Righteous, Greedy
Special Abilities: Armor level 2 in chest; Harrowed; Arcane Protection 1, Berserker 1, Rigor Mortis 3, Unholy Reflexes 1
Augmentations: Piston Arm, Metal Forearm, Chest Brace with Abdominal Armor, Piston Leg, Piston Jaw, Cat Eye
Wind: 18
Pair of Colt Dragoons (R 10, D 3d6, Shots 6), .56 Spencer Carbine (R10, D 4d8, Shots 7), Saber (DB +2, Dmg STR+2d6)

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Physique [EXT], Fisticuffs [GT], Fencing [GT], Marksmanship [EXC], Courage [EXC], Leadership [GD]
Pair of Colt Dragoons (R 50/400, Dmg. 4/6/7), .56 Spencer Carbine (R 200/400, D 6/7/8, Shots 7), Saber (Dmg 4/5/7)

The Clockwork Sergeant was once an ordinary soldier; well decorated and respected, and proud to defend the interests of his country. But during a fierce battle, he was grievously wounded. The army surgeons did all they could, working through that night and the day that followed to save his life, but despite their best efforts, what was left on the operating table when they were finished no longer bore many human features. Sergeant Michael Marshall had lost one arm at the elbow, the other arm at the shoulder, one of his legs at the hip, and one of his eyes along with his jaw and most of his face. His internal and external organs were similarly disrupted. A handsome pension meant that he was able to live comfortably, after a fashion, following his honorable discharge; but Michael Marshall was no longer the same brave man who had led his squad in the charge scant months before. Perhaps he really died on the operating table, and returned to the world of the living as a host to some evil influence; perhaps, while he lay in agonizing pain under the surgeon's saws, he made a compact with malevolent entities in exchange for his survival. Whatever the case, Michael Marshall was a changed man. He sold all his belongings and took massive loans to finance an assortment of untested and revolutionary surgical procedures in clinics around the globe. Most of the doctors who agreed to perform these transplants, grafts, and implants were either addicts with illegal habits to support, or disgraced outcasts who had been thrown out of the medical profession for unprofessional or unethical conduct. By the end of this process, Michael Marshall - who now called himself the Clockwork Sergeant after a witticism made by the doctor who fitted his clockwork limbs [Deadlands: The notorious Dr. Leonitus P. Gash himself] - could once again stand tall among his fellows. But the evil presence that had been his constant companion since that bloody day on the operating table had already whispered its orders to the Sergeant, and he immediately set out for Denver to obey them.

The Vat Zombies (10-15 in each vat)

Deadlands attributes:

Corporeal: D: 2d6, N: 2d8, S: 3d8, Q: 2d10, V: 3d8. Fightin': Brawlin' 3d8, Shootin': Pistols 3d6
Mental: C: 2d10, K:1d6, M: 1d6, Sm: 1d6, Sp: 1d4. Overawe 2d6, Search 4d10
Special Abilities: Terror 7, Size 6, Counted as Undead for damage purposes.
Vulnerabilities: Pendulum heart (see Pendulum Men for details), Soggy tissues (see below)
Quick Hits: 25
Armament: None to start with, but they can use any pistols they find.

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Fisticuffs [GD], Marksmanship [GD], Perception [GD]
Armament: None to start with, but they can use any pistols they find.

These ghastly creatures are the current inhabitants of the production line represented by the three Vats. They are coated in the various substances from the vats, and because they haven't fully had time to dry out yet, this makes their tissues soggy and delicate. Any severe wounds inflicted on them during combat [15 points in Deadlands, or 6 points in Castle Falkenstein] will completely destroy the body part affected by the blow. This will not affect the Vat Zombies' overall functioning, but severed limbs, etc., will certainly immobilise them or render them less dangerous.

The Dreadnought

Deadlands attributes:

Corporeal: D: 3d8, N: 3d6, S: 3d12, Q: 3d6, V: 3d12+2. Fightin': Clobberin' 5d6, Shootin': Automatics 5d8.
Mental: C: 1d6, K:1d6, M: 2d6, Sm: 2d4, SP: 1d10. Overawe 5d6, Search 4d6, Artillery: Rocket Gun 3d6
Special Abilities: Terror 11, Armor 2, Size 10 (+4 to be hit). Note: Not counted as Undead for damage purposes.
Quick Hits: 100
Light Gatling Arm (R 15, D 3d6, ROF 6, Shots 60), Heavy Gatling Arm (R 20, D 4d10, ROF 3, Shots 60),
Rocket Gun Arm (R 25 - cannot be used on targets closer than 10m), D 1d20 (explosive), ROF 1, Shots 6),
Close Combat Blades (DB +2, Dmg STR + 3d8, targets failing Stun rolls are knocked down)

Castle Falkenstein attributes:

Abilities: Fencing [EXC], Fisticuffs [GT], Marksmanship [EXT], Perception [AVG], Physique [EXT]
Heavily armored: halve all damage inflicted by the heroes, rounding down.
Light Gatling Arm (R 100/300, D 4/5/6, Shots 60), Heavy Gatling Arm (R 150/450), D 8/9/10, Shots 60),
Rocket Gun Arm (R 100/200 - cannot be used on targets closer than 10m), D 10/12/14, Shots 6),
Close Combat Blades (Dmg: 6/7/8, targets are knocked down on a Full Success or better)

A fearsome creature indeed, the Dreadnought was constructed by a variant of the process used to create the Pendulum Men. Standing almost ten feet tall, it is a grisly amalgamation of the bodies of several unfortunates who were snatched alive off the street by the Excavators. The creature has none of the subtle appearance of its smaller brethren; because the heroes encounter it before the third stage of the reanimation process has finished, its skin is still wet and blistered, hanging in soggy sheets from its raw, red, musculature. Its head is a nightmarish cluster of eyes and snaggle-toothed mouths; its left shoulder ends in a bleeding socket into which its various weapon modules are plugged. Removing an existing module and inserting a new one requires two rounds, during which the creature can still attack by kicking.

The Dreadnought is partially disassembled and lying curled up in one of the washtubs when the heroes arrive. Like the Pendulum Men, it cannot speak; however, it is capable of a terrifying roar.

Last Updated Monday, 04-May-2009 19:54:03 EDT

Return to Main Page

Comments to

The material on this page is Copyright 2000 under the author or artist's name unless noted otherwise, and cannot be used without permission. This presentation Copyright 2000 by Heliograph, Inc. Space:1889 is a registered trademark of Frank Chadwick, all rights reserved, and is used with his permission. Deadlands, Weird West, The Great Rail Wars, the Deadlands Weird West logo, and the Weird West sub logo are Trademarks of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. Copyright 1996-2000 Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Castle Falkenstein is a trademark of R. Talsorian Games, Inc. Copyright 1994. All rights reserved. Risus is a trademark of S. John Ross. Feng Shui is a trademark of Robin D. Laws. All rights reserved. Most other game, movie, or book names may be trademarks of their respective holders, and use of a trademark at this site should not be construed as implying the sponsorship of the trademark holder, nor, conversely, should use of the name of any product without mention of trademark status be construed as a challenge to such status. Heck no! We love those guys.