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Unconventional Huckster Build

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  • Unconventional Huckster Build

    So the common execution of a huckster is the baby Doc Holiday and Gambit would have had. While cool and all, and with the implementation of Hexslingers into the AB: Magic of the Weird West, I haven't encountered a whole lot of variety with regard to other trappings of this AB.

    Enter my daughter. Her character, Mabel (I really hope the posse pins her with "Unstable" for a nickname) is a nine year old little girl, dragged out to my version of Coffin Rock as the daughter of my edited version of Shelly Pearl Daily.*

    She has experienced several traumas that, individually, would mentally damage a child of nine. Uprooted from her home to live in the wilderness with her mother and father to live in the recently castle that her mom, Birdy McMurtry, designed. Grandpa, Thomas Bryan, had the castle built by Chinese laborers and it has just recently been finished early in 1879.

    Upon Arrival by stagecoach in Coffin Springs, they discover only a burnt out husk of stone castle walls and quickly learn that Thomas Bryan had been murdered, the castle burned and the dejected Mrs. Bryan committed suicide after the financial failure of her husband and then his death.

    When the McMurtrys find out that Sheriff Bryce (I'm the Marshal, dammit) has laid claim to all the previously owned Bryan properties, Birdy and Harrold confront him about the truth of the matter. Bryce and his deputies quickly became violent and it was all they could do to get out alive...well Birdy got out. Harrold did his best to both hold off the "lawmen" and escape with his life, barely achieving one sufficiently to ensure Birdy's escape.

    Those of you who have run and/or played Coffin Rock should now be aware that Birdy McMurtry is my version of Shelly Pearl Daily. Mabel has lost her new home, her grandparents, her old home, and her daddy. All she now has left are what provisions they were able to salvage safely, her mom, and her doll, Annabelle.

    Mabel would talk to Annabelle all the time, as is the wont of children her age. But recently, Annabelle has been responding. Being an outcast among outcasts as there are few children outside of town she can relate to, them all being mining town kids and she a city girl from St. Louis. She's been lonely and this recent development has Mabel elated that she has a friend to talk to.

    Around the same time as Annabelle started speaking (only Mabel can hear her), things started happening around her. When children would bully her, their beatings never really hurt her. When someone she didn't want near her came close, she could scream at them to go away and they'd either run screaming in intense pain and deafness, or fall unconscious.

    tl;dr: Mabel is a huckster who's powers are manifest through her doll, Annabelle.

    Finally, the question.

    Given that hucksters have the whole poker hand deal with the devil thing to try to cast spells without PP, should I keep the poker hand rules (easy and probably preferred) or is there some other way to illustrate this conflict between Mabel and Annabelle? Perhaps something more in line with how a little girl of that time period would play as a game of chance with her friends.


    *if you want more information on my Coffin Rock modifications, let me know and I'll do a write-up on it. The basics are that I'm merging Coffin Rock, CO with Idaho Springs, CO. The two towns have fairly similar histories and I've taken some liberties with the stuff. My town is Coffin Springs due to a nearby hot spring where some of the pools resemble open coffins.

  • #2
    If I'm not mistaken, Hucksters use poker hands because they learned magic through Hoyle's books.

    But if it's a way for them to conceptualize the struggle with the manitou, it's not the only one : it could be faro, canasta, or whatever you want it to be.

    So, maybe Mabel could play rock paper scissor with Annabelle ? If the dice are on her side, it could mean she would have a second to see what Annabelle chose, or a second chance ?

    Edit : or dominoes ? charades ?
    Last edited by Meister; 03-15-2019, 03:29 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Meister View Post
      If I'm not mistaken, Hucksters use poker hands because they learned magic through Hoyle's books.
      Correct. For the vanilla Huckster.

      My conundrum is this: Gambling is frowned upon in polite society, especially in the Victorian and post-Victorian eras. However, Mabel has pretty much snapped or is, at the very least, teetering on the brink of madness. I feel like some sort of Civil War era girl's game would be appropriate provided I can find a game of chance that wasn't considered gambling.

      At the same time, though, the corruption that is occurring in Mabel's mind and the possession of her beloved Annabelle would lend itself well to the poker hand trapping. This option is obviously the quicker so far as I can tell.

      Perhaps there's some way I could trap it as a game of marbles without putting everyone at the table through the pain of spectating a game of marbles...

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      • #4
        Welcome (back?) to the forum!

        The poker odds are important for the balance of Hucksters. Which is why the first paragraph under Everything to Lose, page 82 of the Deadlands: Reloaded Player's Guide, says that regardless of how the contest is visualized the mechanics are the same.
        So if Mabel can Deal With the Devil then she should use the poker hand rules for it. Even if she visualizes it as a game of hop scotch.

        For this concept, you might want to look at the Hexslinger Arcane Background in Stone and a Hard Place, or at least the Focus hindrance in the same book. Annabelle really feels like a Hexslinger's focus, though not being a gun kind of limits that option. The key part of Focus is
        Whatever the item, the character suffers a –1 penalty to all arcane skill rolls if he does not have it. As a Major Hindrance, he suffers a –2 without the item. Anyone who sees the item used to enact a power can tell it’s real important.
        , while the rest is about the flavor of the Hindrance, how to replace a lost or destroyed focus, and who is eligible to have the Hindrance.
        I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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        • #5
          Yeah, I'm back. I lurk a bit, post a little.

          I'm taking into account the poker hand odds in my consideration of this but your advice seems best with keeping to RAW instead of banging my head against a wall trying to give poker odds to Tiddlywinks.

          I thought of the Focus hindrance, but that isn't nearly as punishing as I'm intending should Mabel lose Annabelle. Annabelle is the SOURCE of the powers, not simply a focus.

          The doll is Mabel's last thread of sanity in physical form. Should she lose the doll for a period of time longer than, say, a week, She'll snap and cause whatever chaos she can as quickly as she can before subdued or her doll is returned to her.

          I literally just came up with that last part. I'm considering either removing the powers completely or having some sort of terrible backlash where backed up power releases like a charged capacitor. Powers would flow from her in a cascade of chaos that does incredible destruction in a manner that makes the Chi-Master hindrance "The Cup Overflows" look like a sparkler.

          Maybe that's a bit much. but holy hell would it make for a spectacular event and character death...yeah, she wouldn't survive the whole being a fire hose of eldritch energy...

          Though...maybe after, she could come back as Harrowed as the Manitou in the doll locates Mabel and takes over her body.

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          • #6
            If you are specificaly wanting to avoid "poker" then you may want to look at Chuck-A-Luck. (Look here: https://emergingcivilwar.com/2017/08...-chuck-a-luck/) It is a simple enough game that a kid could pick it up and, similar to the normal huckster, it favors the manitou. You will need to decide how you would modify it to fit gaining PP but it should be fun for the player as well.
            I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Brennan View Post
              The doll is Mabel's last thread of sanity in physical form. Should she lose the doll for a period of time longer than, say, a week, She'll snap and cause whatever chaos she can as quickly as she can before subdued or her doll is returned to her.

              I literally just came up with that last part.
              Sounds like in your mind she's already Harrowed and the doll is a physical totem she uses to maintain Dominion.
              That's an even darker place than the character already was. So dark that you really should discuss it with the player before going there.

              The back story you gave makes it clear that Annabelle is her joy, but is also a doorway to madness that she's eager to jump through, being exploited by one or more Manitou for their own amusement and power.
              Losing Annabelle shouldn't drive her insane. It might, depending upon how addicted she is, let her achieve a moment of clarity to realize how far she has fallen and is continuing to fall. A moment of choice, to choose redemption or damnation. The kind of moments that are central to all the best Deadlands stories.
              I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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              • #8
                That is absolutely brilliant! The player is my 11 year old daughter so springing the harrowed thing on her may be a little much.

                I DO, however, love the idea of the breakthrough moment.mi need to wait for good character development and some time to pass before that even becomes an option. But it's something I'll keep in my back pocket.

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                • #9
                  A simple game for her to play might just be jacks.

                  I had a Union spy huckster who visualized his games against the manitou as chess.

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