So last night one of my regular players wasn’t able to attend so we decided to play a one shot to fill the gap. Since there were only 3 of us this particular evening, I decided that Protocol Series would be a fantastic fit. We decided to break out Broken Hearts which is a protocol set in the realm of Deadlands. It was a little bit different in that it had a Grit mechanism we neglected to use (whoops). However, the story featured around two spirits that torment the town of Briar Gulch and it is up to the players to try to solve the mystery. My character was the law dog, Sheriff Thomas Payne, a man driven by his own selfish interests to gain a name for himself in the world while ensuring that the town under his watch was kept safe. The other two players were Aces McGraw, the under-handed huckster, and Vladimir Kalashnikov, the mad scientist hell-bent on showing Edison who was the real power in the scientific community.
In regards to my relationship with Aces, I had complex/rivalry and ominous/codependency. We concluded that he was my good-fir-nuthing cousin who I was constantly having to lock up but was making a much better name for himself then I was able to so far. It was also decided that Aces’s felt I was keeping him down and that I had better watch my back. In regards to my relationship with Vladimir, he drew burdensome/long-term. We concluded that I did my best to keep him in town as the progress he might bring could put it on the map and he ultimately resented it.
We had some fun with the world building deciding that my dear wife Mary had been slain by the spirits after their arrival. We also found that Mortimer Johnson (or Old Man Mort as the townsfolk called him) was seen stealing from the dead. There were also two other deaths in the last year, Bow-Legged Sally who was beaten to death by a client and Pastor Williams (or Pastor Willy) who apparently committed suicide.
The story itself was convoluted, as every protocol has been so far I have played, but I have some highlights I can give you: Aces caught trying to steal horses while all the townsfolk were in the Sheriff’s station trying to find protection from the savage storm; an ominously glowing well in the center of town with a keening wail coming from it; the town’s people becoming vacant and mindlessly trying to enter the well; a brutal energy-crackling twister that destroyed the laundry; a sky filled with thousands of crows; two figures that could only be spirits holding hands; a trip into the well that lead to an inter-dimensional rift; and likely more scenes than I can recall.
In the end, we found that the spirits were those of Pastor Williams and his lover, the town drunk, Jebidiah. He had ultimately killed himself out of heartbreak and my character was revealed for trying to cover up the murder most-foul that put the Pastor’s lover into the great beyond (discrimination over their forbidden love). Vladimir discovered that the ectoplasm left behind held certain unique properties he felt could finally push him past his nemesis. And finally, we discovered that Aces had actually worked with an Indian shaman to have him raise these spirits so that he might get sole access to the inky black oil in the well, becoming fabulously wealthy and a name known far and wide.
It’s a super fun system and alot of fun to play. I would recommend checking it out if you haven’t yet.