Cowboys From Hell
The Kingsbury Deck
An unusual deck of cards with powers over the dead
Call Out the Cards: The person possessing or controlling a majority of these cards is aware of the rough location of the remaining cards, and their face value, within about ten yards.
Shuffle Off this Mortal Coil: Anyone who shuffles any number of cards (more than one, of course) from this deck and wishes aloud to die must make a Spirit check or drop dead after three rounds of continuous shuffling. Anyone killed in this fashion checks three additional times for becoming Harrowed (or, at the Marshall’s discretion, Harrowing is automatic).
Gravedigger’s Spades: These cards are the repository of a host of tormented souls. As such, the act of placing one of these cards into a human cadaver (stuffed inside a wound or other opening) will animate it as a Zombie as per the power. While permanent, control over zombies created in this fashion is (mostly) limited. Folks need to make a Spirit roll to get the zombies to follow commands, unless the controller is Harrowed (like follows like, after all). A maximum of fifty four zombies can be animated at one time with this power. Removing the card or performing an exorcism (either of which can be done only if the zombie is restrained) destroys the zombie normally, but the card is unharmed and can be reused normally.
Really Wild Card: When a zombie is animated, the Marshall draws a card from the posse’s action deck and keeps it until the card used to animate the zombie is back in the animating character’s possession. If the red joker is taken in this fashion, the zombies are unusually responsive, eliminating the need for a Spirit check to control them and allowing the creating character to leave the zombies without fear of them going off to cause trouble. If the black joker is taken, the zombies immediately behave in accordance to their nature, committing whatever evil they can, regardless of orders, until put down or otherwise destroyed.
Black Heart: Fear checks are at a -2 penalty in the presence of the bearer of these cards if the true nature of these cards is known to him or her. Animals can even sense the evil in someone who would knowingly use these cards and will cower or bite if the character gets too close. Harrowed carrying these cards also check for dominion at a -2 penalty.
The terror began when a trader by the name of Captain E. M. Kingsbury picked himself up an unusual deck of cards from an Apache Indian village somewhere in Arizona. The cards were crudely painted with brightly colored faces and spots on an unusual material. Most folks figured it to be horsehide or perhaps leather, but the material was remarkably thin. Only later was the captain informed by members of a nearby tribe that the cards had been manufactured from the tanned skins of white men. The cards are indeed of human skin, but are not merely playthings or trophies of war. In fact, it’s almost an abomination in its own right.
Captain Kingsbury and his caravan disappeared a few weeks later, but his deck of cards have been popping up all over the Wierd West… causing all kinds of havoc.
The Kingsbury Deck resembles other Apache decks, at least stylistically. What sets it obviously apart is the material the cards are painted on: very thin skin, thinner even than buckskin or shaved pelts. Only those Apache familiar with gambling recognize them for what they are. Non-Indians can make the connection with a Notice roll -2. Otherwise, the human skin is obvious on a knowledge: biology or medicine roll. That alone is probably enough to get squeamish characters squirming, but no Guts checks are needed.
The deck is home to the souls of the Spanish missionaries killed during its manufacture. The souls are the merest remnants of these people and are totally mindless. After being staked down and painfully tattooed with the desired face, the person was simultaneously killed and skinned for a single card. This went on for fifty two cards, jokers being unknown to the Apache (who usually only used 40-card Monte decks). This event took place before the Reckoning, but the pain and fear surrounding the cards lingered long enough to attract some of the less-savory powers of the Hunting Grounds when the time came. Thus the Kingsbury Deck attained its current incarnation, complete with Jokers, a special gift from the Reckoners. The Deck offers several ways to earn a one-way ticket to the darkest depths of Hell for the user’s soul.