Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Wild West Campaign Update: The Posse
So, in the last adventure, the rancher's son who had murdered his own Pa had just managed to get away from Deputy Young, when the latter's horse stepped in a hole and broke its leg. Young limped back toward Dodge when he ran into Kid Taylor. The Kid, as it turns out, had been out secretly going with the night-riders to cause trouble in the all-black town of Nicodemus, but he decided to split when he heard that Sheriff Bassett and the Earp brothers (he supposed Wyatt and Morgan, but in fact it was Wyatt and Virgil) had been brought in to stop the attacks on the town.
Kid Taylor helps the deputy back to town and the deputy immediately decides to put together a posse to hunt the rancher's son down. He gets a ton of volunteers, but while he's freeing the Mormon Gambler (unjustly accused of the crime after being set up by the rancher's son), Morgan Earp (still smarting from the sucker punch he took) advises him that this is NOT how to put together a posse.
You see, in Dodge (or just about anywhere) if you make an open call for a posse you're going to get yourself a gang of total yahoos. There'll be guys who can't ride, guys who can't shoot, guys who want to shoot someone way too much, drunks, and all kinds of other people trying to get in on the action that will actually cause you more trouble and slow you down more than would ever be worth your while. Of course, Morgan has no more experience at this than Young, but he learned this tip from Sheriff Bassett.
Duly warned, Young changes tactic and just takes on the PCs. Morgan, still humiliated by having been ultimately responsible for the criminal's escape, agrees to be the one to stay behind in Dodge (even though Morgan, being a County Sheriff's deputy, should be the one going; rather than Young who is only a Dodge City Marshall's Deputy). Marshall Deger doesn't give a fuck, as long as he's not the one paying for the posse. So Young gets temporarily deputized as Sheriff, and off they ride. But before they go, Miss Jenny gives them a tip: the guy they want isn't an outlaw, he's a rancher. He's got no knowledge of how to get away. She'd bet anything he's heading straight back to his ranch, where his cowhands can gun up and protect him. So that's where they head.
Along the way, they end up having a run in with four former night-riders, who are now fleeing Wyatt Earp. The PCs don't know this, but of course the night-riders recognize Kid Taylor, their former companion. The outlaw's leader is trying to get him alone to oblige him to help them subdue the rest of the party and steal them blind; but just then Miller lets it slip that Kid Taylor isn't even a southerner (he's from Illinois!). "George", another of the night-riders and clearly the one with the least brains, jumps up and accuses Taylor of being a traitor and tries to shoot him. Miller tries to jump him, while Kid Taylor smoothly draws and shoots from the hip, but misses both "George" and Miller. Deputy Young shows just why he's a lawman by making a spectacular shot that goes right through George's wrist and sends his gun flying, like in a movie.
The other night-riders quickly beg apologies, claiming George "isn't right in the head" and hoping to high-tail it out of there. Kid Taylor helps them along (also desperately wanting them to leave so the rest of the party don't find out what he'd really been up to the last week or two), and tells the Deputy he doesn't plan to press any charges. They let the night-riders go, without having ever figured out who they really were.
It's raining when they get to the ranch, and they find the rancher's son beat them there and got his cowhands together, barricading the entrance to the ranch-house, and looking generally threatening. The deputy tries to talk them into surrendering, but they won't hear of it; the Rancher's Son told them all that he's been falsely accused, and they believe it. And while Deputy Young is a fantastic shootist, he's pretty lousy with words.
It's looking like they'll have to go back to Dodge and bring back a larger posse, but then Smith decides to step up, and makes a much more effective case. He points out just what the Rancher's Son did, how he bought a derringer to make it look like a woman or a gambler shot his father, how he killed his own Pa looking into his eyes at point-blank range, and how if he was really innocent they all know Sheriff Bassett wouldn't let him take the blame. The ranch-hands are more willing to accept this line of argument, and the foreman goes into the ranch-house to try to reason with the Rancher's son to turn himself over and get escorted, with guard, to face a fair trial in Dodge. Only then a shot rings out, and it turns out that the Rancher's loyal housemaid, the woman who had all but raised the Rancher's Son, shoots him dead for murdering the man she'd always loved these past thirty years (but who had never given her as much as a second glance, wanting instead to get himself a saloon girl for a wife).
The whole thing played out like a suitably Wild-West version of a Greek Tragedy.
The PCs headed back to Dodge. Once there, the Mormon Gambler decided to propose to his beau (miss Becky, the saloon girl), and she accepted as long as they could make a new and more respectable life as farmers (which he can't afford to do just yet). Also, he's still got to consider whether he can convince her to convert to Mormonism.
Also, Miller got himself a visit from Buck, the boss at the Bar-T ranch, where last year Miller had worked butchering stolen cattle when he'd just arrived in town and was desperate for money. In the intervening seasons, he'd become a respectable man about town, dating the Widow McKnee, becoming assistant manager at the lumberyard, opening a bar with Smith, and investing in real estate around town. But none of that matters much to Buck. Buck needs a butcher for his cattle-rustling scheme to work smoothly again this year, and he's not much in the mood to take no for an answer. He gives Miller two weeks to decide what he wants to do.
We'll have to see how that plays out next adventure.
Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja Bent Billiard + Gawith's Pure Virginia Flake