Solo Skald |||

I’m still playing Pulp Cthulhu in the Down Darker Trails (DDT) setting with the Mythic Game Master Emulator (GME). I decided to keep using the same hero as from The Children of Aguas Blancas”, Guillermo Memo” Rodriguez, but in a new locale, San Rafael, as detailed in DDT. This has some links to Aguas Blancas (also known as Castronegro in other CoC material), but it’s no prepared adventure”. The book just contains locations, characters, legends, gossip, etc.

Bookkeeping

In the Hero Development Phase, as it’s called in Pulp, only one skill increased (Persuade). I gave Memo a d10 Sanity bonus from rescuing children, plus he did a bit of self-help by spending time with his grandmother (key person) for another d10, for +13 Sanity total. As written, Pulp gives a Luck increase every session, but that seems like a lot to me so I do it at the end of the adventure and he got +7 Luck.

For the Adventure Lists in Mythic, I’ll just carry forward one thread, Evade the law (after shooting Sheriff Garcia)”, and one character, Diaz Family of Aguas Blancas” for now. Both of these will expand in the new location.

San Rafael Overview

Nestled in the rugged border region of Texas, about 125 miles southeast of El Paso, lies the town of San Rafael. Perched between the Eagle Mountains and Sierra Vieja, and cradled by the meandering Rio Grande, this fictional locale is a place to explore previously-untold stories. This is a land where the past and present dance in the dusty streets of a place carved from the wilderness, bearing the scars of history and the whispers of legends.

In San Rafael, rivalries run deep like the river, with families entrenched in feuds that have simmered for generations. Ghost stories are more than mere superstitions; they are nightly occurrences, as the tangible spirits of the past strike terror and awe in equal measure. The town, a mosaic of old-world charm and the relentless spirit of the American West, is a place where cultures collide, where Mexican and Native heritages run headlong into the grit of American settlers.

Bird’s Eye View of San Rafael

  1. 2020 Chaosium Inc.

The heartbeat of San Rafael can be felt in its bustling plazas and rowdy saloons, but also in the quiet, shadowy corners where secrets lie buried. This is a place where legendary riches are whispered about in hushed tones — gold and treasures hidden beneath the chapel’s sacred grounds, waiting to be uncovered by those brave (or foolish) enough to seek them out. The landscape around San Rafael remains as untamed and beautiful as the stories it inspires in a testament to the enduring allure of the Old West.

Characters List (Beginning)

I’m going to add some of the powerful people in the town listed in the source material, including folks related to the Diaz family that Memo has already met.

  1. The Díaz Family of Aguas Blancas
  2. Juan Díaz, cantina owner
  3. Victorio Díaz, undertaker
  4. Hector Sandoval, rancher
  5. Ricardo Mateo, sheriff
  6. Doug Kirby, US Marshal

Threads List (Beginning)

I’m using one of the Adventure Seeds in DDT as a starting point:

  1. Evade the law (after shooting Sheriff Garcia)
  2. Determine if the Díaz brothers are involved in the same brujería as those in Aguas Blancas

Scene 1: Arrival in San Rafael

Asking ChatGPT to envision the scene in the style of Larry McMurtry:

The sultry winds of the Rio Grande carried whispers of legends and old feuds as a lone cowboy from the distant terrains of New Mexico rode into the gritty realms of San Rafael. Tumbleweeds rolled across the dusty trails, escorting the stranger past the worn façades of cantinas and timeworn establishments where the spirits of the past seemed to linger in the shadows, echoing tales of rustlers and ancient treasures hidden beneath the chapel’s sacred ground. The open plaza, a vibrant heart of commerce, pulsed with the colors and cacophonies of merchants, their stalls laden with the fruits of the valley and crafts of native hands. A palpable tension hung in the air, as thick as the Texas heat, stitched with the threads of unspoken conflicts and the silent battles of rival families vying for the soul of San Rafael.

Underneath the brims of weathered hats, eyes followed the newcomer, glinting with unspoken words and untraveled histories. Faces, a mosaic of the old west — Hispanic farmers bearing the lines of inherited soil, white settlers branded with the heat of expansion, and the diverse tapestry of souls who called this border town their rugged home — watched cautiously, their minds weaving stories and suspicions. The Sandoval name, a powerful emblem of prosperity and clandestine dealings, seemed to echo in the silence between the clatter of horseshoes and the distant cries of the enigmatic La Llorona, forever mourning along the river’s haunted banks.

In the shadows of the Sierra Vieja, where ghostly lights danced with ancient secrets, the town unfolded its turbulent tapestry. The old mission, a spectral presence across the river, seemed to watch over San Rafael, guarding its stories of buried artifacts and the phantoms of a time long eclipsed by the unforgiving hands of survival and conquest. The cowboy, a solitary figure in this theater of silent dramas, moved through the town’s arteries, feeling the pulse of its waiting, the gathering storm of unfolding sagas in the rough and tumble embrace of the Texas frontier.

First scene strategy is 4 Ws again:

  • Who: 38 Fortunate, 67 Natural
  • What: 33 Destroy, 39 Hindrance
  • Where: 89 Suspicious, 77 Remote
  • Why: 74 Refuse, 88 Tactic

Cattle stampeding, tearing through fences and barriers on a ranch outside of town

Sandoval’s hands are chasing them down, Memo needs to make a Ride roll to get out of the way. On a failure, he’s caught up and needs to deal with the cattle: success.

But the hands see him; does he incur any suspicion (50/50, CF 5)? No, they know he’s just a cowboy passing through. I’d like to see more action here: is one of them in danger (Likely, CF 5)? No, but the cattle risk getting even further out of control. He’ll roll Animal Handling to help out, since he doesn’t know who these folks are but a stampede is liable to lead to the herd hurting itself and animals getting killed: failure, the stampede continues up the trail and he’s unable to stop it.

ChatGPT describes (again in McMurtry’s style):

The tumultuous Texas earth quaked beneath a boisterous ballet of hooves, a frantic symphony of snorts and bellowing filling the arid air. Wayward cattle, like a river of raw, unbridled power, crashed through the confines of wood and wire, their eyes wide with the fire of wild freedom. Ranch hands, gritty silhouettes against the merciless sun, surged forth in a desperate dance of dominance, their lassos swirling in the heated wind. Dust and debris became the canvas upon which this chaotic masterpiece was painted, as the tumultuous tide of beast and man flooded the brush and spilled over creeks with unyielding fervor.

At the end of the scene, Chaos Factor increases to 6. No changes to lists here.

Scene 2: The Cantina

From DDT:

The Longhorn is a good-sized saloon, gambling house, and hotel, frequented by Anglos and Mexicans alike. It’s a loud, good-timey place, where scuffles occasionally break out, but usually nothing very serious. There is a nice bar, poker and faro, a handful of prostitutes, and rooms for rent upstairs. Prices are a little higher than other places in town, but the Longhorn is also a little classier.

The Longhorn Saloon is in the center of town, more or less. Memo intends to head in, get a drink, ask about work in town and maybe get a lead on where the Díaz brothers are (he doesn’t know much about their business here). However, this is an Altered Scene (5/6). Other expectations could be somebody getting suspicious about asking about the Díaz family, and I think that’s the next most likely thing so I’ll go with that.

The saloon is owned and operated by a hard case named Bob Sutton. Sutton dresses in a nice gray suit, and usually carries a gun. Once upon a time he ran with various outlaws—from bank and stage robbers to cattle rustlers.

Memo doesn’t know much about Sutton, so I’m not going to include the extra details the book has about Sutton just yet. But I imagine him narrowing his eyes at this Mexican-descended cowboy coming into his saloon asking about his competition. Memo will need to make a Persuade roll to calm the situation down: failure. Sutton yells some choice words and tells him that he can go to the Black Rose Cantina if he’s that sort of low-class cowhand.

Does this lead to some sort of altercation (unlikely, CF 6)? Yes. I don’t think it’s very serious; Memo will make a Fighting (Brawl) roll, on a failure he’ll take d4 damage and on a success he gets out of there without any harm done. Success, he doesn’t want any trouble, so he leaves a few coins on the bar and heads out.

Chaos Factor increases to 7. Adding Bob Sutton to Characters List.

No threads added, but I’m going to start a Thread Progress Track for the Díaz brothers investigation.

Focus Thread: Determine if the Díaz brothers are involved in the same brujería as those in Aguas Blancas” (10 points). Advance to 2/10, because he’s got a lead on what they’re doing (or at least one of them is).

Scene 3: The Black Rose Cantina

The Black Rose Cantina is a few blocks down, on the edges of the tiny village.

Juan Díaz runs the Black Rose Cantina, which also serves as a brothel. Díaz is a short, stout, grim-looking figure, with green eyes and a dark moustache. He is brother to Victorio Díaz of the Díaz Funeral Home. Juan is ill-tempered and brutal, a former bandito making his nest in San Rafael and a dangerous man to cross.

Juan has 8 to 10 girls working for him, entertaining” guests in rooms in the back of his establishment. He also has a pair of bartender/bouncers on hand, and neither he nor they take any crap: if someone causes a ruckus in his bar or harms one of his girls, Juan Díaz and his men will beat the holy hell out of them, rob them, and toss them out the door. There are rumors (and they are true) that he has done far worse to some offenders.

Juan and Victorio are distant kin to the sinister Díazes of Castronegro, New Mexico Territory.

Again, I expect Memo simply to enter, buy a drink, and watch quietly to see what he learns about the place. If he gets the opportunity to strike up a conversation with another patron, maybe he can quietly ask what kind of place this is. Scene will start as expected.

The girls move around the room, flirting with the clientele, but Memo’s not interested in any of that right now. He gets whatever tequila or locally-distilled spirits they serve; probably not much variety here.

I ask the Fate Question: Does he see any indication of brujería?” (50/50, CF 7): Yes. What is it? I’ll roll on the Descriptor Meaning Tables: 71 Naturally, 44 Heavy. This sounds like some sort of stone or metal, so I’ll interpret this as meaning they have a similar statuette behind the bar as the ones he saw in the barn and burial vault back in Aguas Blancas. By itself, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re up to evil, but he’ll take it as a bad sign.

Memo will instead turn to one of the other patrons and ask about the town and establishment. I’ll roll an APP check, I think; on a failure, he’ll just get a grunt and the patron will ignore him: failure, that’s exactly how it goes. Old men have no time for young cowhands getting curious.

Perhaps instead he sees someone dangerous here, as the Díaz brothers are known to have dangerous compadres. Does he catch the eye of somebody dangerous?” (Likely): No. This is giving me the idea that Juan isn’t here at all, so I’ll test that (50/50): Yes.

As soon as Memo sees those tell-tale bright green eyes and dark black hair, his heart freezes a little. Back in Aguas Blancas, those eyes were a sure sign of the family or the horrible creatures they’d somehow brought about. He doesn’t need to make any checks for this, but he starts to feel like he could be in danger. Do they have any idea about him (Very Unlikely): No. Juan’s eyes pass over the cowboy but there’s no sign of recognition in them.

Memo pays for his drink and steps outside to consider what his course of action should be now. Next door to the Black Rose Cantina is the Díaz Funeral Home; the two brothers stay close, apparently. There’s a doctor across the street and a livery & blacksmith shop around the corner.

At this point, I’m not really sure what Memo should do to investigate next, and I’ll take inspiration from the Actions Meaning Tables: 97 Trust, 45 Individual. He’ll need to find someone he feels like he can trust to discuss this concern, and the local priest seems like the right place to go.

That feels like a new scene, so I’ll wrap this one up here. The Chaos Factor increases to 8 and the Black Rose Cantina goes on the Character List. The Thread Progress Track for the Díaz brothers investigation advances to 4/10.

Scene 4: The Church

[The San Benito] church was built to replace the old San Rafael mission across the river, which was destroyed by American Indians over a century ago. The Catholic congregation is almost all Mexican, and is presided over by Father Felipe Canalejas. There are rumors of old Spanish treasures hidden away in the church.

Memo expects to find someone who guards the faith and is appropriately concerned for the spiritual well-being of the town as well as the material needs of the poor. But the Expected Scene test indicates an Interrupt Scene, with the Event Focus Current Context”. I’ll take the state of the priest and maybe the church, then, as the focus, and roll on the Characters Meaning Table: 08 Beautiful, Important. I decide that, as Memo arrives, a beautiful woman, perhaps the daughter of one of the important families in town, is also present. I’ll take the previous Actions Meaning to be part of this context and decide that, at least for now, Memo trusts the priest.

The most powerful family here are the Sandovals:

Hector Sandoval is the most powerful man in the San Rafael valley. He and his brother Fernando came to the area in the 1860s and started a ranch to accommodate the large herd of cattle they had procured through various means—mostly by stealing it from rancheros on the other side of the Rio Grande. In no time at all, Hector’s ranch became the most prosperous in the valley, and with the money came power and influence. In the past decade the Sandoval family have cemented their influence in San Rafael, starting the local bank with their money, helping elect officials sympathetic to their interests, and making sure that the town grows in ways that will benefit them.

Hector has a 17-year-old daughter named Inés, who looks just like her mother (absent for some reason, whether dead or simply not living in San Rafael). As Memo catches her eye, she gives a small smile. He inclines his head to the girl politely; perhaps she reminds him of someone in his family, like a niece or cousin.

Memo pauses and waits for the priest to finish talking to the young girl. After a moment, Father Felipe smiles and stands and thanks her by name. Memo doesn’t know her as an individual, of course, but he’ll recognize the name Sandoval”. Hat in hand, he waits for the girl to leave. He greets her politely but otherwise lets her go by without any further interaction.

I’ll roll on a few tables to establish Father Felipe’s character:

  • Appearance: Lithe
  • Descriptor: Loud
  • Personality: Classy

To me, this indicates someone who is educated and unafraid to speak what he sees as truth. Memo decides to trust the priest, at least somewhat, and introduces himself as a new arrival in town and asks after the state of San Rafael. Father Felipe acknowledges that it’s a rough place, with many wayward souls but also good families who try to serve their god in their own way.

After a beat, Memo explains that he’s heard troubling whispers about the presence of the Devil in town. I don’t want to resolve this with some sort of skill roll; I want to see how the priest reacts. Phrasing the Fate Question so that the yes” answer favors action, I’ll ask, Does the priest take Memo’s concern seriously?” (50/50, CF 8): Yes. The priest knows of some evil presence here, although that could be any number of things to be honest. He’ll ask Memo to elaborate, and so he gets an abbreviated, censored version of the events in Aguas Blancas, with a particular focus on the Díaz family.

This is a key moment: is Father Felipe aware of, or at least concerned about, the Díaz brothers and their connection to some sort of spiritual evil?” (50/50): No, with a Random Event indicated! ((Mechanically, this fits where we are on the Thread Progress Track, crossing a phase and thus looking for a dramatic Flashpoint” moment.))

The Event Focus here is 14 New NPC. Rather than generate yet another one, I decide that Inés is still here and eavesdropping. She perhaps is interested in what this stranger is doing here, and thus she comes back into the main part of the church where the two are talking. (The priest’s loud” nature likely made it easier for her to find out.) But I don’t know much else about this girl; let’s roll on some tables to find out more about her and her reaction. We’ve already determined that she’s beautiful (albeit young - this is not a situation that will lead to an actual romance, I note).

  • Appearance: Clothing
  • Conversation: Calm
  • Motivation: Investment
  • Personality: Shallow
  • Skills: Knowledge

Taken together, she must be dressed in fine, fashionable clothing, and has been well-educated (maybe even by the Church). But her interest here is about the possible financial boon to her family. She cares little for the deeper matters of a potential threat, seeking power and riches instead.

She’s interested in helping investigate this, although Memo is not really interested in having a young girl (particularly one with a dangerous father) accompany him. Father Felipe shares at least some of this concern and explains that the Devil is not to be trifled with easily”.

Memo will need to make a Persuade check to convince her to leave him alone; on a failure, she’ll continue to investigate and thus pop up in the future as a complication. I’ll also give him a Bonus die for having the priest, a figure she trusts, on his side: Hard Success (the Bonus die changed it from a fumble)! She’s disappointed but she’ll leave him alone for now. Perhaps that may even give him a friendly contact in the Sandoval family in the future, given the degree of success.

Memo has gained two allies in town and validated that there is something to be worried about here. The Chaos Factor decreases to 7, and I’ll add 2 points to the Thread Progress Track for the Díaz brothers investigation, bringing it to 6/10. He hasn’t found out the nature of their evil, but he’s got a good lead on where to look next. Both Inés and Father Felipe go on the Characters List.

Scene 5: The Díaz Funeral Home

The local funeral home is operated by the tall, thin, green-eyed and pale-skinned Victorio Díaz. Victorio and his staff are competent and reverent and largely well-liked in town. But Victorio is rather creepy, and there are sinister rumors about him and his brother Juan Díaz circulating in San Rafael.

Memo isn’t particularly sneaky, either in skills or outlook. Instead, he’ll stand around outside and wait for someone he thinks he can approach. I’ll generate an NPC:

  • Character: Feminine
  • Appearance: Tattoo
  • Background: Community
  • Descriptor: Respectful
  • Motivation: Enemy

This gives me plenty to go on. There’s a tattooed woman, who I’ll interpret as a member of a local indigenous nation. She and Memo speak to each other respectfully in Spanish, and she has no particular love for the Díaz brothers. He’ll need to make a Persuade check; on a failure, she just doesn’t know anything specific, but on a success, he’ll have something he can follow up on regarding the brothers’ activities. Because of her enmity with the Díaz brothers, even on a failure she’s not going to turn on him. In fact, she doesn’t know much of anything. Perhaps he could follow up later with one of the elders in her community, but she’s not going to be able to help him.

What can he see from the outside of the funeral home? He’ll make a Spot Hidden check and I’ll spend some luck to make it a success. To find out what he sees, I’ll roll on the Descriptor Meaning Tables: 29 Enormously 81 Remarkable. I’m not sure what that means; maybe ChatGPT can come up with something:

An unnaturally large congregation of crows is perched around the funeral home. This could be seen as an omen or a sign, especially given the traditional association of crows with death and the supernatural. The sheer number of birds is both enormous and remarkable, hinting at a possible supernatural influence or an unnatural presence within the funeral home.

This works really well for me; perhaps many crows are a sign of something supernatural. This seems like something worth talking to the local curandera (roughly, a healer or shaman) about. She’s known to keep a crow, after all.

At the end of this scene, the Chaos Factor decreases to 6. The Thread Progress Track for the Díaz brothers investigation advances to 8/10.

Scene 6: The Curandera

Many Hispanic residents of San Rafael come to Jimena Méndez for the treatment of diseases and other ailments. Depending on who you ask, Jimena is either a curandera” (healer) or a bruja” (witch).

I expect that Memo will approach her cautiously; previously I’ve established that he’s a religious man, but that doesn’t mean he rejects the old ways. Mexican Catholicism is famously syncretic, after all. I also expect she’ll be able to talk to her crow and find out exactly what’s happening.

However, this scene turns out to be an Altered Scene (1/6). This could mean she doesn’t want to talk to him (a boring result), or he’s even more trepidatious. Maybe the curandera simply is engaged in some spell when he arrives.

After some thought, I decide that the next most likely outcome is a supernatural occurrence at her home: there is a gathering of crows here as well.

I’ll ask ChatGPT to describe her home in the style of Larry McMurtry, including the crows here:

As Memo approached the modest adobe dwelling of Jimena Méndez, the air thrummed with a palpable tension, heavy as the Texas heat. Above her home, a convocation of crows swirled, a dark tapestry against the azure sky, their caws a discordant symphony that seemed to echo the whispers of ancient, forgotten tales. The birds, like inky specters, circled with an eerie synchronicity, casting fleeting shadows over the sun-baked earth, as if stitching together the realms of the living and the dead in their flight.

The small house, usually a sanctuary of mystical solace, now appeared as the heart of an unfathomable mystery, its walls holding secrets as old as the land itself. Each window was a watchful eye, the door a silent guardian to the unknown. The crows’ presence was both foreboding and mesmerizing, a spectacle that seemed to draw the very essence of the supernatural world into the dusty realms of San Rafael.

As Memo stood there, the weight of the moment settled upon him like a cloak, the beating wings and plaintive cries of the crows weaving a story that was as much a part of the land as the rivers and the mountains, a story in which he was now an unwitting character.

Memo is on edge but I don’t think he needs to make a Sanity check, particularly given the setting. He approaches her as she is working with a molcajete (mortar and pestle). She doesn’t look up; she already knew he was coming.

He greets her respectfully and asks if she can help him. She nods and continues her work in silence. The cowboy tells her that he’s travelled from New Mexico in search of a great evil associated with the Díaz family. Memo looks around nervously at the crows and asks if she could reveal to him what she knows.

This is an important moment in this adventure. It could unravel completely, or it could open up the entire investigation. Mechanically, it’s the conclusion of the Thread Progress Track, and that fits where we are in the narrative. This isn’t a skill check, I don’t think; in fact, I think she’ll look into his soul somehow. They’ll make opposed POW rolls; as long as he can meet her degree of success, it will go fine. If they have different degrees of success, that will factor into what she thinks about him and his chances. The result: Jimena has a regular success, and he spends a few points of Luck to match that.

Whatever she thinks she sees in him seems to satisfy her, and so she walks over to a small bird stand where a crow waits. After she holds out a hand, it jumps onto her shoulder. She speaks to it in a language Memo doesn’t recognize, and it caws back at her. This exchange happens a few times before she nods and turns to Memo.

Time for a Fate Question: Does she have a vision of the Díaz brothers?” (Very Likely, CF 6): Exceptional Yes! She has a vision and it should be exceptionally clear. I’ll roll on the Visions and Dreams Meaning Table: 63 Mundane, 48 Implore. I interpret this as meaning that, while they may have goals related to the supernatural, or at least drawing attention in that realm, something they’re doing is leading someone to ask for help in this world.

And when I look at the setting material, one thing jumps out at me:

The mission church at San Rafael was the repository of a handful of artifacts and treasures rescued when the earlier mission (across the Rio Grande) was destroyed by American Indians in the early 1700s. Survivors of the raid took these items when they fled, later sealing them in ceramic jugs and burying them before moving on. When the priests returned a few months later to help found San Rafael, they placed these treasures in the archives of the cellar of the new mission. Busy with the construction of the new village, the priests forgot about the collection of artifacts and, consequently, most of them remain hidden in crumbling jugs and rotting crates.

The archive is a large storage area, cluttered with shelves containing dozens of volumes of old church records, religious paraphernalia, mundane American Indian artifacts, boxes, crates, jars, jugs, and so forth.

So let’s test this: Is Jimena having a vision of the Díaz brothers trying to steal the treasures from the mission church?” (Likely, CF 6): Yes.

Memo sets his jaw. Whatever their foul intentions might be, he’s bound and determined to stop them. He thanks Jimena and promises to provide whatever aid she may ask in the future. Does she offer some help as he leaves?” (50/50, CF 6): Exceptional No. In fact, she warns him against this course of action; let those responsible for the New Ways protect themselves,” but he isn’t listening.

At the end of this scene, I will add her to the Characters List and conclude the thread to investigate the Díaz brothers. Instead, there will be a new thread, Stop the Díaz brothers from stealing the treasures from the mission church”. The Chaos Factor decreases to 5, as completing the thread in that way reflects his control of the situation (for now).

Scene 7: The Mission Church

I expect that Memo will warn Father Felipe and check on the state of the archives. Testing that scene indicates it will start as expected.

So he shows up at sunset or so. The priest is likely taking dinner at this time. Memo will need to make a Persuade check to convince him to take this seriously; given their shared mission, on a failure, Father Felipe will just think that Memo is following the wrong investigative trail: failure. The priest is in fact a bit surprised that the newcomer in town even knows about these treasures, but given the circumstances involving the curandera, it makes sense. But he’s not convinced and in fact finds it unlikely that they’d attempt such a thing.

Memo decides to push it and keep trying to convince the priest. On a failure, the priest will grow angry and start to suspect some sort of ploy: failure. This is more or less equivalent to a fumble. Father Felipe rejects this whole premise and tells Memo to stop trying to get access to the archives and the treasures of the church, or perhaps he’s just doing the bidding of that witch.

Instead, I’ll ask the Fate question, Does he have an alternative suggestion for Memo?” (50/50, CF 5): Exceptional Yes. I’m not sure what he thinks the Díaz brothers are up to, so I’ll ask another Fate Question: Does Father Felipe point to something to do with graveyards and cemeteries?” (Likely, CF 5): Yes. This doesn’t mean he’s correct, necessarily, but that’s definitely what he thinks.

Memo has to make a decision here: does he trust the curandera and follow her lead, or does he put more faith in the priest? There’s not a lot to do here if the priest doesn’t want him around, but maybe an overnight stakeout somehow could work if he doesn’t want to go to the graveyard.

I decide that’s what he’ll do: one night of observation from outside, and if nothing happens then he’ll focus on the graveyard angle.

There’s no progress on the new thread, nor are there new characters. The Chaos Factor ticks back up to 6.

Scene 8: Stakeout

Memo finds a good vantage point near the church, perhaps near one of the small homes in the area. First I need to test the scene against the Chaos Factor, and it seems to meet expectations.

First he needs to roll Spot Hidden to determine whether he notices them approaching during the night: success. Now I need to ask a few Fate Questions to decide what they’re doing more specifically.

For starters, Are the two Díaz brothers accompanied?” (50/50, CF 6): Exceptional Yes. They aren’t alone, and in fact they have significant backup. I don’t know what kind of backup this might be, exactly, but looking at the description for Juan, it occurs to me that this could be his bouncers. Given that it’s an Exceptional Yes, I’ll ask the Fate Question, Is someone or something supernatural coming along with the Díaz brothers and the bouncers?” (50/50, CF 6): Yes. I’ll roll on the Character Identity Meaning Table: 48 Intellectual, 65 Official.

Father Felipe is part of the plot. That’s why he rejected Memo’s offer of help so soundly, because he didn’t want any interference. Somehow Juan and Victorio Díaz have suborned the priest, and he’s giving them access. That likely means they aren’t just stealing things, but they’re spending time with the materials there. All of this fits with the priest’s initial skeptical reception of Memo’s concerns back when he first arrived.

Memo’s in trouble; he’s gotten pretty deep into this thing, and being a newcomer who immediately started asking questions about the Díaz brothers, visiting the priest and the curandera, he knows that he’d be the first person the law would look at if something happened. Instead, he’ll need to pull together some allies and figure out what, specifically, the three of them are doing with those materials.

But first - he wants more information. This isn’t a time for shooting, but it is definitely a time for following and listening. After the group enters the church, he’ll move quietly to see if he can hear them. They will have lookouts (the bouncers) for sure, so he’ll roll Stealth which he only has at the base 20%: Critical Success (01)! From the Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook:

A roll of 01 means that something beneficial occurs beyond simply achieving the goal. The nature of the good fortune is at the Keeper’s discretion, although the players may make suggestions. In combat, for example, a critical success means that the attacker has hit a vulnerable spot and causes maximum damage.

In this case, I decide that means he can get as close as he needs to be in order to determine what’s happening… that said, we need to figure out what that is. I’ll ask a Fate Question: Are they conducting a ritual?” (Unlikely, CF 6): No. But I also rolled Doubles, indicating a Random Event.

The Event Focus will be 99 Current Context, so whatever they’re doing or perhaps something to do with his sneakiness. I’ll use the Actions Meanings Tables and get 05 Ambush, 77 Prison.

Law enforcement shows up. This just continues to spiral outside of my expectations… but there’s a way this makes sense to me. The sheriff, Ricardo Mateo, is very much in the Sandoval family’s pocket”. Inés Sandoval could have told her father about what happened in the church earlier. I’m not asking a Fate Question for that, because I want to run with this interpretation.

So Sheriff Mateo is ambushing them with his deputies. This is obviously a big, explosive moment. Memo doesn’t quite know the context of this, but as previously noted, he’s from out of town and knows that he would be at extreme risk if anything happened. He’ll stay quiet and listen, only showing himself if he needs to.

The Fate Question to ask now is thus, Do the sheriff and his deputies arrest the Díaz brothers and Father Felipe?” (50/50, CF 6): No. I take this to mean that there’s a standoff or at least a hostile discussion; perhaps the priest tries to provide a cover story. The Character Conversations Meaning Table says 17 Careless, 64 Lie, so the latter is what happens but the sheriff will remain suspicious. For now, he will let them go, but he knows that something is up.

This has not gone how Memo planned. The Chaos Factor definitely increases to 7. No new characters or threads.

Wrapping Up

This feels like a good place to end this session”. I’ve picked up with an existing character, arrived in a new locale with ties to my previous adventure, and gotten in deep. Next up, I think Memo will need to regroup and figure out how to get the sheriff on his side.

Characters List

  1. The Díaz Family of Aguas Blancas
  2. Juan Díaz, cantina owner
  3. Victorio Díaz, undertaker
  4. Hector Sandoval, rancher
  5. Ricardo Mateo, sheriff
  6. Doug Kirby, US Marshal
  7. Bob Sutton, saloon owner
  8. Black Rose Cantina
  9. Father Felipe Canalejas, priest
  10. Inés Sandoval, daughter of Hector Sandoval
  11. Jimena Méndez, curandera

Threads List

  1. Evade the law (after shooting Sheriff Garcia)
  2. Stop the Díaz brothers from stealing the treasures from the mission church
Up next The Children of Aguas Blancas - Session 2 San Rafael - Session 2
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