In this weekend's session, the PCs found Dodge to be at the peak of the Cattle Drive, and also a peak of violence, particularly as two rival groups of cowboys from two major Oklahoma ranchers have slowly built up resentment for each other into a blood feud on the streets of Dodge.
At the same time, a reporter and photographer from Boston arrived in Dodge, looking to chronicle the terrible violence that had made Dodge famous. Unfortunately he didn't find Dodge quite violent enough for his tastes, expecting it to fit much closer to the dime-novels so popular back east. And when he couldn't naturally get a shot of a classic 'shoot-out' he decided to see if he could manipulate some of the good citizens of Dodge to create one.
Not only did the classic 'wild-west' shootout (you know, the one at high noon in the middle of the street with two men 20 feet away from each other, with no cover, drawing on three) hardly ever actually happen, they are also pretty tough to artificially engineer.
First, he tried to get "Kid" Taylor to do a shoot-out with David the Mexican, figuring he could play on the current Mexican-American tensions (the US was on the brink of war with Mexico in '77), even trying to argue that David might be a spy. This in spite of the fact that David is probably the meekest and nicest human being in the entire city, and didn't even own a firearm. Even so, Taylor got visions of his name in print, and tried to engineer a totally fake shoot-out. But that all got screwed up when Smith realized that this scheme was likely to get someone killed.
After that, the reporter took some words he had with Taylor and exaggerated them slightly, to suggest that Taylor was claiming that Morgan Earp was a poor shot. This time he almost got himself a real shootout between Morgan and Taylor, but at the last minute Deputy Young defused the situation by suggesting they have a shooting contest instead. Kid Taylor won, hitting 3 cans out of 3 with 6 shots in 7.5 seconds (to Morgan's 0 cans out of 3 with 6 shots in 8 seconds); but then, just to show off, Young showed them how a real shootist does it, taking out 3 out of 3 cans with 3 shots in 5 seconds.
Feeling totally thwarted, the reporter eventually decided to hire himself a tracker and some unemployed cowboys as hired guns, and go into the Indian territory to try to get some shots of "vicious savages". About a week later the survivors of the expedition brought back the reporters corpse; apparently the Indians hadn't liked his antics any more than the people of Dodge did (though they took a more direct route to expressing their displeasure).
Meanwhile, one thing the reporter did manage was to accidentally get James "Dog" Kelley, owner of the Alhambra Saloon and local eccentric, to declare his candidacy for the upcoming mayoral election. He'd really only done it because he really wanted to get his name in print, but then it was too late to take it back.
This caused some troubles between Kelley and his partner (and present mayor) Peter Beatty; even though Beatty had no intention of running for re-election, but because he had a plan to set up Sheriff Bassett as a candidate. But this is where newcomer to town Bat Masterson chose to intervene. He reconciled the two men by reminding them that what they really want is to make sure that Larry Deger and his group of friends (the "better class" or legitimate businessmen of Dodge, opposed to the saloon-owners, gamblers, drunks and associated lunatics of the town) don't end up in charge of city hall. And he promises them that he has a master plan which will get Kelley elected mayor, keep Bassett happy, thwart Deger, and win Masterson the country sheriff's seat. He predicted that in five month's time, he'd be Dodge's chief lawman.
Masterson was quite a character. He was a gunslinger, a politician, and a rogue, all in equal measure; and screwed over a ton of people, and yet he seemed to be enormously liked by almost everyone (including some of the people he clearly played). He was also remarkably connected. He's pretty much the model of an 18-charisma character.
Anyways, the PCs got to see the early origins of the group, the counterparts to the "Better Class", who would come to be known as "The Gang": the coalition between Beatty, Kelley, Masterson, and Charlie Bassett, who would be opposed to Deger and his businessman allies. One of the PCs, Miller (who was heavily speculating on properties in town, bought the Palace saloon and was co-owner with Smith, another PC, of the Fort Saloon; and was courting the aged widow and town matriarch Doris McKnee), even seems to have gotten on the ground floor of membership in "the Gang". It looks like the next few months will prove interesting to the political side of the campaign in Dodge.
Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Solani Aged Burley Flake