The Crossroads of the Aether
Starting in November of 2007 and continuing until July of 2010, I was involved in a Deadlands role playing game. It was this game that prompted me to extend my steampunk experience beyond merely reading the literature and begin dressing the part.
Additionally, I decided that I would chronicle the game as a writing exercise. I didn’t want to write in the third person so that I could practice writing in the period language of the 19th century. I also didn’t want to want to write in the first person as the character didn’t seem the type to keep a personal journal and I had written previous game chronicles in the first person and wanted to try something different. I settled on writing in the style of letters sent to a family member, in this case, a cherished sister. This would allow me to write in a period style and also keep me from being locked into describing every event in detail.
Herein is a collection of links to all the letters written. There was a block in the middle where I wasn’t chronicling the game sessions. I had my laptop stolen, lost some of what I had written, and for a time was not pleased with the way the games themselves were playing out. They did not seem to lend themselves to such a chronicle.
Something else to note is that the character portrayed in the Deadlands RPG, though he shares the same name, is a very different person from the persona I present at conventions and here online. The Deadlands Pike is a mad scientist, drifting further towards sociopathy as he learns more of the secrets of the universe. The Pike I am here is a dime novel hero and in full control of his mental facilities.
Chapter 1, July 1878 – Wherein Pike meets Messrs. Tobin, Bongiovi and Pace and, in short order, encounters a malignant and ambulatory tree, dispatching same.
Chapter 2, July 1878 – Wherein the local marshal is implicated in a murder over possession of a cache of Confederate gold.
Chapter 3, July 1878 – Wherein a waystation is harangued by Indians.
Chapter 4, July 1878 – Wherein the party arrives in Deadwood and Mr. Tobin engages in yet another gunfight. The building that is to become the party's base of operations is purchased.
Chapter 5, July 1878 – Wherein the party joins with soldiers to investigate burned waystations. The soldiers are found to be villains after more Confederate gold. An ambush by competitors disguised as Indians is thwarted. An ambush is set up and executed, the bodies buried in the mine of the Brothers Zeke.
Chapter 6, August 1878 – Wherein the Pancake Machine is completed and the Jenkins homestead is attacked by vengeful animated dead.
Chapter 7, August 1878 – Wherein a vampire murders a number of gamblers at the grand opening of The House of Pancakes.
Chapter 8, October 1878 – Wherein the sheriff of Deadwood requests assistance with capturing scalp hunters and then bullocks the entire thing.
Chapter 9 - Wherein the Bothers Zeke arrive injured in Deadwood. Upon dying of their wounds they reanimate requiring that they be decapitated and incinerated.
Chapter 10 - Wherein the villains that had been burning waystations in search of Confederate gold, turn out not so dead as previously thought. Their animated corpses are dispatched yet again.
Chapter 11 Wherein the Council of the Sioux Nations tasks the party with the destruction of the vengeful spirits that had been released from the mine of the Brothers Zeke.
Chapter 12 – Wherein demons have taken over the bodies of faux-Indians, previously encountered also after the Confederate gold, and turned them into shape-changing were-bison. The party retreats from its first encounter to request reinforcements from the Sioux elders.
Chapter 13 – Wherein the party makes another attempt to defeat the demons, this time succeeding in binding them beneath the earth. The Sioux suggest that, since the unpleasantness was the party's fault in the first place, they would not be welcome in the Dakotas. The party travels west.
Chapter 14, July 1879 – Wherein, while Pike is in Billings obtaining supplies, the rest of the party encounters the first of Hellstromme's automatons.
Chapter 15, July 1879 – Wherein a settler's wagon train is attacked and the party rallies to their aid.
Chapter 16, August 1879 – Wherein, another of Hellstromme's automatons is tracked to an abandoned town.
Chapter 17, August 1879 – Wherein the party encounters a literal ghost town.
Chapter 18, August 1879 – Wherein, Mr. Tobin comes across yet another automaton and fails to capture it.
Chapter 19, September 1879 – Wherein Hellstromme's niece and nephew attempt to waylay the party in Bismark.
Chapter 20, September 1879 – Wherein, while returning to Deadwood by train, the train is attacked by robbers.
Chapter 21, September 1879 – Wherein the town doctor is killed by his own infernal construction of reanimated flesh.
Chapter 22, September 1879 – Wherein Deadwood is attacked by a small army of Hellstromme mercenaries.
Chapter 23, September 1879 – Wherin Pike dissects a captured automaton, disregarding an ongoing battle in the streets.
Chapter 24, September 1879 – Wherin the party obtains transportation.
Chapter 25, October 1879 – Wherein the party is ambushed in Cheyenne.
Chapter 26, October 1879 – Wherein Coffin Rock, Colorado is divested of ghosts and cultists.
Chapter 27, November 1879 – Wherein Coffin Rock is divested of demons, succubae and the cultist leader.
Chapter 28, November 1879 – Wherein headhunters are dispatched and a Hellstromme deception is revealed.
Chapter 29, November 1879 – Wherein Mr. Pace falls to villainy and the party encounters a harbinger of the apocalypse.
Chapter 30, November 1879 – Wherein a woman is rescued from assault and the villains return with comrades.
Chapter 31, December 1879 – Wherein Pike finally meets his arch-nemesis Dr. Hellstromme. Violence ensues.