A Cut Above

(Borrowed almost verbatim from “A Cut Above”, The Epitaph volume 4.)

Hucksters challenge manitous to games of will and chance in order to get the evil spirits to power their hexes. But not all manitous are the same. Some are relatively minor spirits that can barely punch their way out of a shopping bag straight from Demons-R-Us. Others have the kind of power that leveled Gomorra (Doomtown).

If you’d like to play with these nasty folks a bit more, the following is a selection of very
specific manitous that can spice up your huckster’s hand a bit. For a price. For these manitous are “a cut above” the rest.

With Great Power…

Manitous can give a little extra boost to a hex, but at a cost. These manitous usually only come when specifically called. Hucksters usually learn of them by word of mouth. It is also possible for the huckster to come across a manitou’s proper name while doing research on occult matters. If the huckster has access to an adequate library or resource he could then make Knowledge (Occult) roll to discover the necessary information. If he is looking for the specific name of a manitou in order to call one up, the roll is at a -4. If the huckster is just browsing through random information, the roll is at a -6. With a raise on such a roll, the huckster also learns what the price is. If the huckster learns about a specific manitou from someone else, it’s up to the revealing source whether or not the huckster learns about the cost and risks involved.

Before a huckster can deal with one of these demons, he has to get its attention. Once he learns its name, he must make an a Knowledge (Occult). Most manitous have a require a normal success but some have higher requirements to get their attention, such as a penalty to the roll or requiring a raise. (Most want to be found). If the huckster rolls snake eyes on the Knowledge (Occult) roll, he garners the attention of a…, you know what, we’ll save that for secret GM info. Sorry, Paul.

If you hadn’t figure it out, you have to deal with the devil in order to call a named manitou. Sorry, no power points here.

The Burned Man

Modifier: -2
Appearance: The Burned Man appears as a human with all of his skin burned to a crisp and his eyes baked to charcoal.
Boost: Hucksters calling on the Burned Man get an additional five cards, no more and certainly no less.
Cost: Nothing. It’s a free ride, gamblin’ man

Flayed Dog

Modifier: None.
Appearance: The Flayed Dog appears as a large dog with all of its skin peeled off, standing on its hind legs with bloody hollow sockets instead of eyes.
Boost: Hucksters dealing with the Flayed Dog may draw up to an additional three cards when casting a hex, but only if the hex is meant to allow the huckster to escape or avoid combat.
Cost: The huckster must spend all of his remaining actions fleeing the sight of the combat as if he had failed a Guts check.

Hungry Jim

Modifier: None.
Appearance: Jim looks like a short balding card dealer, suffering the effects of advanced starvation and vitamin deficiency.
Boost: Any hex powered by Jim works at one level higher than the huckster’s hand, and the huckster need not call his power points ahead of time.
Cost: The huckster’s Vigor is lowered by one die type. The huckster may gain his Vigor back as if he was healing from a wound (as long as he has access to plenty of food).

The Queen of Spades

Modifier: -4 and requires a raise.
Appearance: The Queen appears just like the playing card of the same name. Her upright face is covered by a smiling black mask, her downside face by a frowning black mask.
Boost: The huckster may draw one card at a time as many times as he wants until he is
happy with his hand, until he draws the Queen of Spades, or backlashes.
Cost: It’s a free ride baby.

The Betrayer

Modifier: None
Appearance: The Betrayer appears as a man with two faces, one on each side of his head. One face is extremely beautiful and the other hideously ugly. His body is thin but looks to be in good shape. When the Betrayer speaks, both faces talk at the same time.
Boost: +3 cards to any hex that causes an illusion (whether it’s mental, physical or spiritual).
Cost: Next time the huckster is given the opportunity to betray someone or something he holds dear, he automatically does.

The Collector

Modifier: None.
Appearance: An incredibly well attired and groomed man, The Collector is always dressed in black and exudes an aura of friendship and calm. The Collector always has the finest accessories such as a gold-topped cane, expensive pocket watch, and tailored clothes.
Boost: +2 cards to any hex cast with the aim of acquiring something from somebody else. For instance, The Collector aids someone casting a hex to rob a train, but not when getting granny Miggins money back off a robber (unless the “hero” is planning to keep the money for himself). The huckster gains +3 cards if the object is a Relic.
Cost: The huckster gains the Greedy (Major) Hindrances for 1d6 days.

The Comeback Kid

Modifier: None
Appearance: Imagine Billy the Kid with a pair of Gatling Guns and you’ll have a pretty good idea what this manitou looks like.
Boost: +2 cards, +4 if the posse is outnumbered.
Cost: The huckster must make an Spirit roll at a -2 to resist any sort of challenge for the next 12 hours.

Desert Flower

Modifier: -2, N/A for female hucksters.
Appearance: A beautiful woman of dreamlike face and proportions. Desert Flower generally looks Spanish, but can appear however she pleases. If she is not apparent visually, the huckster may only smell the faint perfume of lavender and vanilla. She often wears an exotic purple flower in her hair, which upon closer examination is wilted and bruise-purple.
Boost: As long as the huckster is being deceptive and is male, he gets a two-card boost. If the hex itself is deceptive in nature, the fool gains three cards.
Cost: The huckster is ridden by excessive randiness that is more difficult than normal to get rid of. Penalties for resisting seduction are doubled, and if dancing girls are available, they are going to be busy. But preferable to loose women are Spanish or Mexican ones. Rejection is going to seem like playing hard to get. This lasts until the following dawn, and may cause the victim to do just about anything to sate his desires.

Deuce

Modifier: -2
Appearance: Deuce appears as a cute toddler but with one very noticeable difference—his smile
reveals a mouth full of long, black, pointy teeth.
Boost: When asking for Deuce’s help, a huckster can discard up to five cards in his poker hand and then redraw those cards. This can only be done once per hex.
Cost: If a deuce is drawn while calling upon Deuce’s help, the hex has the oppositeeffect.

Enigma

Modifier: Requires a raise.
Appearance: Enigma appears as a large floating bloody orb covered with eyes and mouths.
Boost: +2 cards to divination type hexes and +4 cards if the knowledge is evil.
Cost: The next time the huckster comes upon a riddle or mysterious situation, he goes to any and all extremes to figure the riddle or situation out. During this time he can think of nothing else and will not eat or sleep until the mystery is solved.

Fenrir

Modifier: A raise. None if the huckster is of German or Scandinavian blood. N/A for one handed hucksters.
Appearance: A monstrously large wolf who stands man-high at the shoulder, Fenrir has unkempt midnight black fur. His glowing red eyes peer at the huckster with malice and fiery cunning. Fenrir’s jaws constantly drool and his fetid breath frosts the air in front of him. Fenrir approaches the huckster with a strangely hobbled gait.
Boost: Fenrir provides a +4 to the result of the Spellcasting roll for any hex used to kill (or attempt to kill) any law-defender. This applies to even nonviolent hexes being used creatively. Those suffering from lycanthropy may treat the huckster with a bit more friendliness, probably by eating the hexslinger last. If Fenrir is called upon during an eclipse, he provides the +4 bonus to all of the huckster’s hexes while the eclipse is going on, as long as the first hex cast is harming a law defender.
Cost: Until the beginning of the next new moon the huckster’s Pace is reduced by two. If
cast during the new moon, the huckster instead gains the animal handling penalties of a Harrowed and may show some of the classic signs of lycanthropy during the new moon phase.

The Golden Calf

Modifier: None
Appearance: The Golden Calf appears as a golden Minotaur with flaming eyes.
Boost: +4 cards when a hex is cast against a blessed or any member of a clergy.
Cost: The character gains the Enemy: Religious Folk (Minor) Hindrance.

Grizz

Modifier: None
Appearance: Grizz looks like a 7-foot tall grizzly bear shorn of its skin. His muscles and intestines are covered in a viscous mucous that drips constantly.
Boost: Using Grizz allows the huckster to add +1 step to his Spellcasting skill, but
only so long as it is used to hurt nature or those who worship nature (most all Indians).
Cost: No cost, Grizz does it just for the hate of it.

Gunsmoke

Modifier: 5
Appearance: A black clad gunfighter, with an obvious chip on his shoulder.
Boost: Gunsmoke exists to kill through firepower, therefore he often favors
hexslingers. He grants +3 cards to any hex aiding a firearm for the purpose of killing an opponent. Should the huckster change his mind and intentionally decide to only wound his opponent, Gunsmoke attempts to abort the hex (opposed Spirit vs. Spirit Test).
Cost: For the next hour, the hexslinger has an almost irresistible urge to fire off his firearms. In the air will do, but a person is even better. The only problem is this urge tends to occur even when the hexslinger is attempting to be polite or quiet. This is a Spirit test to keep from shooting, about once every 10 minutes or so, or whenever it’s most inconvenient.

Idle Hands

Modifier: None
Appearance: A pair of disembodied hands.
Boost: Hucksters draw four extra cards in any hex used to create magic items or enchant normal items.
Cost: All items Idle Hands helps influence gain a permanent minor taint, even if the item is only temporarily enchanted.

Jinx

Modifier: None
Appearance: An enormous Gremlin.
Boost: Jinx has a real chip on his shoulder about the way mad scientists are attempting to help humanity with their inventions. He therefore grants +5 cards to any hex that targets a “helpful” gadget or a mad scientist (Marshal’s call, but never a weapon, unless the weapon is used exclusively to combat evil, such as a “ghost gun”).
Cost: The huckster gains an aura of unreliability for gadgets for 1d6 hours. Any
gadget within his Spellcasting Aptitude radius in feet explodes on a 1 or 2, unless it’s a weapon (in which case it doesn’t explode on a 1).

Lynch

Modifier: -2
Appearance: Lynch appears as a short fat man of middle age in a clean white suit. His features (hair, teeth, etc.) are perfect in appearance.
Boost: Lynch grants +2 cards when trying to use a hex to influence a crowd, +4 cards if inciting a crowd to violence.
Cost: The people have a sense of being used after the hex has worn off. If they behaved poorly, they somehow blame the huckster for their hysteria and are out for blood.

Marbh

Modifier: – 4
Appearance: Marbh appears as a helpless little girl, slightly beaten and looking for company. But the more Marbh is used, the more her features start to change, twisting more and more into her true state, a shadowy figure of great proportion clouded in a swirl of swimming souls. Her blond pigtails change to ratty dreadlocks covered in grime. Her blue eyes turn to pits of burning fear rolling around in cradles of blood. Her torn clothes become long flowing rags of midnight, and her shining teeth twist and contort to crooked razor-sharp blades.
Boost: +1 to 5 cards
Cost: For every extra card used, one year is taken off the life of a random person within
the huckster’s sight. If no one is in sight, Marbh cannot be called. The victim must be human, not an abomination nor a Harrowed.

Morning Star

Modifier: A raise. +2 on the roll if the huckster calls him at dawn. +2 on the roll if the huckster is at a crossroads. +4 on the roll under both conditions.
Appearance: A suave gentleman with his hat pulled low, never allowing his face to fully be seen. In his hat is a long white feather.
Boost: Morning Star offers no immediate boost. Instead, the gambit with him is more literal. The huckster must plead for some desired goal or object. Suitable goals are typically apocryphal or rare information, a specific hand for use in the future, money, a certain item (usually mundane but rare), etc. The skies the limit really. If the terms are agreed upon (up to the Marshal, pal), play out using the Gambling Rules in the Deadlands Reloaded Player’s Guide, pages 73-74, only the huckster may use his Spellcasting skill instead of Gambling. If the huckster has High Roller, give him those cards as well. If the huckster wins, he get’s what he wanted. If they tie, nothing happens. If Morning Star wins, see backlash.
Cost: This one is rather addicting but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Otherwise, there is no cost. Morning Star will only appear to a given huckster once every six days and never answers on Sundays.

Mortis

Modifier: None
Appearance: A tall, slender gentleman with a pale face and long (waist length) thin unkempt hair. He has dark, piercing, brown eyes and walks with a silver-skull tipped cane. He wears a tatty, well-weathered, duster riddled with bullet holes. Worn in a holster at his belt is a single ghost-steel Peacemaker, heavily engraved with scenes of destruction and death.
Boost: As long as the huckster kills at least three people per month, he gets a two card boost every time he casts a hex.
Cost: The huckster becomes obsessed with death and the undead, seeking to find all information he can find about it. In addition, he never takes prisoners and kills those who
opposes him.

Pennybaker

Modifier: -4, -2 if the huckster is Greedy, or none ifthe huckster is Rich (like the edge).
Appearance: Pennybaker appears as a wealthy Eastern businessman. He wears the latest fashions from Paris and is laden with gold jewelry. He wears a bowler and a monocle, and has a handlebar mustache. He is always counting a huge roll of cash, or flipping a silver dollar.
Boost: So long as a huckster is using his hex to gain wealth, be it by theft or deception, Pennybaker lets them draw three additional cards.
Cost: If a huckster goes bust on an attempt, he gains the Greedy (Minor) Hindrance. If he has this already, then he gets Greedy (Major) Hindrance.

Pitch

Modifier: +2 at night with no moon (None at night otherwise), -2 at dusk, and -4 during the day.
Appearance: A broiling mass of darkness, the manitou known as Pitch appears to hucksters as a living mass of shadow. Light does not escape from him, and it appears oddly bulbous as shapes move across the surface of its “skin.”
Boost: The huckster can draw two extra cards for any hex that falls within Pitch’s motivation, and the area of effect of the hex is doubled as well.
Cost: Any shadow or darkness manipulated by Pitch has a chilling feeling as it is fueled by the unnatural powers of the Hunting Grounds as well as the tainted energies of the manitou itself. Anyone standing within the area of effect and in shadow must make a Vigor roll every round or suffer a Fatigue Level from the unearthly chill. The cursed shadow also adds to the power of fear, adding +3 to the Terror of any creature encountered.

Red Wolf

Modifier: None, N/A for those who are not pureblood Indian.
Appearance: Red Wolf appears as a young, battle-scarred Indian brave. He wears the skin of a red wolf as a headdress, and his hands are covered with black blood that constantly drips. His eyes are like black holes with small red dots in its center. He also wears a loincloth and moccasins. Legend has it that he is the spirit of a Lost Son.
Boost: The huckster gets to draw 10 additional cards.
Cost: Going bust means the huckster gains the Hindrance, Enemy (Whites) Major.

Retribution

Modifier: None, or -4 for hucksters that already have the Vengeful Hindrance.
Appearance: Retribution appears as a shadowy gunfighter dressed entirely in black. His face has never been seen and each time it looks like the light will reveal it, it gets covered in shadow.
Boost: +3 cards for casting hexes that are used to harm someone whom the huckster perceives as having wronged him.
Cost: The character gains the vengeful Hindrance and always tries to resolve his vengeance violently.

The Sandman

Modifier: None, N/A for huckster’s with the Bad Dreams Hindrance.
Appearance: A tall, thin character, the Sandman always arrives shrouded in a billowing cloak, swirling mists, and stinging sand. No two people agree as to what his face looks like.
Boost: A three card bonus to those hexes that deal with sleep or dreams.
Cost: The next time the huckster falls asleep, he has to make an opposed Spirit roll against the Sandman’s Spirit of d12. Failure indicates the huckster now has the Bad Dreams Hindrance for two days, and one additional day for each raise the Sandman may have achieved over the huckster.

Soul Blaster

Modifier: None if the huckster knows bolt, -4 otherwise.
Appearance: A glowing playing card.
Boost: Soul Blaster grants three additional cards when casting bolt. Any person killed by such a soul blast draws one less card for the purposes of coming back Harrowed.
Cost: The huckster gains a Fatigue level, which he does not get back for 24 hours. He suffers a -1 to all Vigor rolls to avoid or recover Fatigue for 1d8 days. This penalty is cumulative.

Whisky Jack

Modifier: None
Appearance: Whiskey Jack looks like an old drunken man wearing a long coat full of drinking flasks. Any alcohol ever made can be duplicated by Whiskey Jack.
Boost: +1 to +5 cards
Cost: Every extra card the huckster takes represents a drink from Whiskey Jack’s little flask. Every drink incurs a -1 penalty to all the huckster’s rolls for one hour per drink, starting the round after Whiskey Jack’s help has been requested. The effects of drinking from Whiskey Jack’s flask are cumulative, at least until the huckster becomes sober again.

A Cut Above

The Good, the Bad and the Savage Clorp Clorp