Dark as a Dungeon

The Gospel According to Willard (2)

In the bowels of the Earth, we encountered the foul walking dead enthralled by the powers of Satan . . . and dispatched them. Their bodies, which You created, can no longer be put to the service of the Devil and his minions on earth. Likewise, with Your guiding influence, we destroyed infernal contraptions constructed to do the Dark Lord’s bidding. I thank you, Lord, not for preserving me from this unholy terrors but for calling me to be the instrument of your divine wrath.

The hellish ore these monsters and machines ripped from the bosom of your earth is being collected, for what purpose I know not . . . yet. But we pursue those who would extract it, and enslave the bodies of your fallen congregation.

During our trial, I have come to know more about my companions, and I am conflicted, Lord, and pray for Your guidance. They have all shown themselves committed to fighting evil, though I know Widow Zimmerman to be a hellish and foul=mouthed, half-Celesital witch. Beuregard is an avaricious and godless heathen, and The Drunkard would seem redeemable if he were not savagely ensnared by the witch’s charms. The Prussian seems no better than those we seek to oppose. The journalist seems an honest sort, but he keeps the Prussian as a bedfellow, which disconcerts me.

In town we met two gentlemen who hate the mining company, one of whom presents himself as a private detective and former Confederate spy. His being a confessed liar and manager of the mining company, I do not trust him. Shown the smallest of signs, I would devotedly send his soul to You for judgment. Instead, we carry the hellish ore to Denver for analysis. My hope is that You will reveal Your wisdom to us and show us those who You would punish.

Last night, we returned to the storage depot that held ore and concealed ourselves in the cart to follow it to its next wicked link in the chain of evil. With Your blessing we smote four vile sinners and violent men. I pray, Lord, that you will speed their souls’ damnation and guide our steps as we contend with the forces of the Beast.

Widow Zimmerman's Thoughts

New People
New people have arrived in town and, before I could stop myself, I shared with them a tale of recent events. Of course, not all recent events. Some things are still worn close to my heart, and other ugly shadows still cling and cause me to fear the full, spoken truth. However, I was able to tell them enough so that we’ve loosely joined together, and I have a form of company and protection as I seek the reason that James was killed, and had to be killed again. I hope that they will see for themselves the evil this company has wrought and join me in my quest to destroy Hammer’s Toll Mining Company. For the time being, I am satisfied that I’ve found the ability to seek a means.
The Newspaper Man
This fool has no means or inclination to check his tongue. Likely he means well, but the West will either make him wiser or confront him with a cold, bloody dose of the truth he claims to seek. In the meantime, I hope that I am not foolish enough to give him fodder for his pen.
The German
Profit and ghost rock are his purpose here. Melody has another voice calling for their share of the wealth. This one calls out in a clipped and guttural accent.
My Hired Gunman
He asks few questions. For this particular virtue I’m inclined to keep him on.
The Praying Gunman
At times he appears to be a willing helper, but at the next turn I fear his condemnation. What are his motives? Will he help me fight the evil which owns this town?
Snake Oil Salesman
He will profit in Melody. The entire place stinks of desperation, and that will suit him just fine.

The Gospel According to Willard (1)


The Lord has guided me to walk in the wilderness and tests me daily, so as to purify my soul and strengthen my faith. He suffers fools and wicked men unto me, and it is not mine to question his reason but to do his bidding.

My Employer stinks of cabbage and ghostrock.

“Idlehands are the devil’s tools”, the Good Book says, so I have taken employment with a strange and incomprehensible kraut mining engineer, whose name is difficult to remember for its tedious length. He has brought us to a mining town called Melody, Colorado. By He, I mean our Lord. The German himself is short of funds and so I have paid my own way here.

Melody, Colorado

The town carries the stink of a modern Sodom or Gomorrah, like all those other towns I’ve been. These must be the End of Days. How else is a body to explain the strange things that come to pass daily in this world?

The doctor is unable to furnish me with lodgings, but elects opulent quarters for himself. The genius is unable to locate the town’s mining office, so I have serious doubt that I will find myself long in his employ. A porter directs us to the mining office where the German discusses matters of business that are beyond me. He has his trade and his purpose and I serve mine.


We are followed by a young tinhorn looking to be a newspaperman, who makes fast friends of the doctor and invites himself to bed with the doctor. He says that he is committed to printing the truth, but does not carry a Bible and seems more concerned with gossip.

The Widow Zimmerman’s Misfortune

Most significantly, we encounter a half-celestial widow outside the mining office whose husband has apparently been a victim of necromancy. The widow believes the Hemmer’s Toll Mining Company is to blame for her husband’s death and rebirth. She set her husband’s body to rest herself, which speaks well of her character. She spoke blasphemy, however, so I rebuked her as Your Word bids me.

The dandy Beauregard

Her consort was a silver-tongued dandy, who calls himself Beauregard. His hands were soft and uncalloused, so I know he’s no honest man. His words and actions demonstrate that Mammon is his master. Avarice is a deadly sin and he shall reap what he sows.

The drunkard

They have among them a feller called Roscoe, who has debased himself with drink in public and in the company of a lady, albeit a half-celestial one. His manners are coarse and he reminds me of those vile patrons of the Black Rose back home. He appears to be a gunman by trade, which could either redeem or damn him. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. When Roscoe meets his end, his soul will be laid bare before Your judgment, like all the others.

Our First Expedition to the 7G Mine

We ally ourselves and travel to the 7G mine where the Widow Zimmerman’s husband worked, before his becoming walking dead. The mine has been closed by the mining company and boarded up. Evidence inside confirms it is not for reason of it not being a going concern, so surely it must be a more sinister purpose. We explore that evening, eluding prairie ticks on the travel there. Inside the mine, the German repairs an infernal engine that lowers us down the mine and we explore several tunnels. We encounter nothing, but the German carves ghost rock out of the walls and presents me with some, as payment for my services. For all his flaws, he may be honest in matters of employment.

Preparations and Visiting a False Prophet

The next day, some have appointments and I take the drunkard trading in town. We buy equipment and sundries to further explore the mine, including barbed wire, spikes and nails, hammers, tin snips and a dog whistle. Roscoe buys shovels and other digging gear.

I pay a visit to a local church. There are no Baptists in town, so I settle for a Methodist one. The ghost rock I place in the poor box in hopes it will be used to tend your flock. Later that day, I visit the church and meet an unimpressive church mouse of a preacher. His manner is too content. Where is his righteous zeal? Necromancy at work in his congregation and he lacks holy outrage. Like so many other men of the cloth, he does not seem truly moved by the Spirit. So, I rebuke this false prophet as Your Word bids me.

Dust to Dust

Roscoe the drunkard and I collect the others and make our way via a wagon the Widow has procured from a neighbor. We make our way out to revisit the mine, and during daylight we encounter two undead miners who accost us. Your rod and staff comfort me as we walk through the valley of death. So, I fear no evil, but instead dispatch one of the zombies with a bullet guided by Your hand. To his credit, Roscoe does the same with his Lemat. The rest of our journey passes without event.

Second Expedition to the Mine

At the mine we explore until we focus on a collapsed section of the mine. Honest toil, peppered with avaricious doddling, and the passage is cleared. We hear an infernal drilling machine and follow its path, sound, and terrible-smelling exhaust. The machine smells of sulfur, like hell itself. It crosses the path of a mine whose mining cars operate along a rail unguided by man or beast and it is an unnerving sight.

My companions and I brace ourselves for more unholy mechanical terror and forge on deeper into the depths of this wretched place. Some to enrich themselves, but I to send You souls for judgment. Mercy is mine, sayeth the Lord. So, mercy I leave to the Lord.

The Jumping Off Point
A blog for your campaign

Distinguished German scientist Viktor Adolph Gerhard Von Freiburg has arrived in Colorado to inspect local minerals and ores for potential uses regarding the New Science. Due to its location adjacent to both major rail lines and several well-established mining claims, Dr. Von Freiburg has chosen to base his exploratory operations in the town of Melody, Colorado. During his reconnaissance, Dr. Von Freiburg hears of the recently closed 7G mine formerly run by Hemmer’s Toll Mining and Excavation Co. The 7G was a moderately productive deposit of ghost rock. Official company word is that the vein was tapped out, but a quick canvas of the local mining folk indicates disbelief at this statement; the mine had been open for only a few short months and a deposit the size of the one indicated on the geological survey would take more than a year to exhaust. Some hint at a darker cause for the mine closure. Miners are always an expendable commodity in the Weird West, but folks say more than a usual number have been expended in 7G. Undertaker Silas Hartley reports an increase in closed and empty casket funerals. But still, there is the matter of a mine potentially full of ghost rock, just waiting to become part of an enterprising scientist’s experiments. Curious as he may be, Dr. Von Freiburg is no fool and for protection he has hired a steely-eyed shootist who, at least currently, goes by the name of Willard Keaton. Keaton is a known figure in town, but not a well-liked one; he’s as surly as a rattler and twice as dangerous. The bullets from his Remington revolver seem to spend more time in citizens than in their cylinder. Not a wonderful trait in a neighbor, but a highly desirable one in an armed escort. They are accompanied by the visiting journalist Walter Wilfred Williams, of the Boston Williamses, who “seeks to document the unvarnished truth about the rugged American West.” Williams has been omnipresent around town, jotting notes down at a furious pace while following Marshall Quentin Hoover on his rounds or sitting on a barrel at Zachariah Dolan’s general store listening to the local cowhands take the piss.

Meanwhile, Zhen Zimmerman seeks to continue her quest for revenge against the Hemmer’s Toll Mining and Excavation Co., whom she believes is responsible for the death (and undeath) of her husband. James Zimmerman ran a farm until he succumbed to a hostile land grab by none other than Hemmer’s Toll. After the mysterious blaze which destroyed his homestead he was forced to sell the land at a loss and hoist the pick and shovel for the city’s largest employer: Hemmer’s Toll. The recently closed 7G mine lies on the plot wrested from the Zimmermans. In a predictable twist of fate, James returned to his own former land to mine ore in 7G. Fortunately, after months of back-breaking work, James was able to find a way out of the mines; unfortunately, it was a horizontal exit. Not long after his death and burial, Zimmerman came home, decaying, mindless and raving. Zhen had no choice but to put him down. Since then she has sought revenge against the company who has twice wronged her. She has heard the rumors of the mysterious closing of 7G and wants to return to her former home to investigate her husband’s suspicious demise. Short on firepower, she seeks a hired hand and finds rifleman Roscoe Boggs who is more than willing to trade his bullets for cash. Boggs is new to Melody; if he weren’t then he would know better than to do anything that might cross Hemmer’s Toll. Fortunately for Zhen, Boggs’s knowledge of local politics is as low as his bank account and he agrees to be her muscle on her mission of vengeance.

Another newcomer to Melody is the New York born and bred Sam Beauregard. Mr. Beauregard is here on assignment from one of the larger Eastern investment houses and is brokering deals for local prospectors. Mr. Beauregard has brought an exciting opportunity to Melody, offering shares in these (entirely fictitious) mines to our local residents for pennies on the dollar. Many residents have taken advantage of this opportunity, but some have declined – occasionally violently. When local widow Zhen Zimmerman was offered a share in a mine, she told Mr. Beauregard where he could roll it up and put it. Not only did she not want to invest in a mine, she was fixing to put one out of business. The two got to talking and Zhen revealed she was headed toward an abandoned ghost rock mine. Mr. Beauregard immediately saw the possibilities presented by an actually existing mine. Forged mine shares are an excellent prop for bilking the rubes, but an authentic mine? Like nickels from heaven. Using his prodigious charisma, Mr. Beauregard convinced Ms. Zimmerman that he would be an invaluable asset on her trip to the vacant mine.

As the curtain lifts upon our little tale of the good, the bad, the ugly and the very ugly, two separate groups of Wild Cards head toward the Zimmerman’s former home and Hemmer’s Toll’s former claim. Each has his or her own motivation for the trip, but all are about to share an experience that they won’t soon forget as they plunge into a mine that is in more ways than one, DARK AS A DUNGEON.


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