Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Wild West Campaign Update: The Preacher
In this weekend's adventure, the PCs were faced with a couple of disparate challenges. The first was largely comic relief, as the hillbilly Asa Leadbeater came to Dodge looking to shoot it out with the Ford County Jailor, Cooter. The Cooters and the Leadbeaters had been feuding for generations, so long ago that they couldn't quite remember what had started the feud, though they agree it had something to do with a pig, possibly one that someone had engaged in illicit marital-style relations with.
In any case, the lawmen in town tried to keep the two apart, and when that didn't seem to work Deputy Young decided he had to arrest Leadbeater. But Leadbeater accused Cooter of 'bringin the damnyankee law into this'. Cooter was mortified, since apparently that went against the hillbilly code, and found himself having to actually spring Leadbeater from jail so the two could duel it out like men. To stop either from of them from getting themselves or others killed, Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson decided to take matters into their own hands. They beat the two into unconsciousness, disarmed them, and locked them into a cell together, where they spent several days 'wrastling' until they were exhausted. Finally, they agreed to a plan to end the feud, whereby Cooter would supply Asa with a new (virgin) pig to take home with him, thus making amends for his ancestor's depravity.
The second was of a more serious sort. A mysterious hellfire-n-brimstone preacher came into town. By a fortunate coincidence, or unfortunate as the case may be, this happened just as Miller accidentally got himself involved (by a series of crazy mishaps) in the founding of a new evangelical church right on Front Street, in the locale of a former bar who's owner had a 'come to Jesus' moment and decided to become a teetotaler. The new church is not doing well until this preacher comes in and declares that the Holy Spirit gives him visions, and that in 24 hours he will prophecy the death of someone in Dodge. This news spreads like wildfire through the town, with everyone eager to see what happens.
Everyone except the Mormon gambler. In a quip that won him the best line of the night, he said to his girlfriend miss Becky, "I don't trust any dubious prophecies". If it isn't coming from the inside of a hat with golden plates and a magic rock, that is.
The Preacher does indeed predict that a certain cowboy, come into town a couple of months back, is going to be "struck down by God"; declaring it in front of half the town gathered for the event. The cowboy looks very visibly shaken by what is a very impressive spectacle on the intimidating preacher's part. And the preacher refuses to recant, or to accept the man's claims of seeking to repent.
Over the next day, the man given the death-curse is becoming more rapidly frantic about it, in spite of the efforts of a couple of the PCs to try to get him to not take the accusation seriously. It's exasperated when stories come around that this Preacher did the same thing in Hays City and the man whose death he predicted did in fact die in a shootout less than three days later. The whole town is staring at the cowboy like he's a dead man walking.
The town Doc, who is a strong skeptic of any kind of religious quackery, does some investigating and he finds out that the man who died in Hays was shot dead by onlookers after he drew on the preacher himself, having been driven mad by the preacher's prediction and his unwillingness to retract it. He shares this with some of the PCs, expressing his concern that the story is now going to repeat itself in Dodge.
At one point, Deputy Young decides that to try to save the situation, he'll arrest the Preacher too (like he did Asa Leadbeater). But this turns out to be a mistake, because its one thing to put a hillbilly in the hoosegow, and quite another to lock up a man of God that the whole town is excited about. He's forced to quickly release the Preacher for fear of a PR nightmare.
The PCs do their best to try to control the situation, and finally, the cowboy breaks down, admitting his terrible guilt. He knows he's certainly worthy of being punished by God; because he and two of his partners robbed and murdered a family of farmers, even killing their two boys, sparing only a very young girl. In desperation to avoid divine wrath, the cowboy confesses his crimes to Deputy Young, who finally makes an arrest that day which will actually stick.
When the man is imprisoned, and learns about the Preacher's other victim in Hays, it's discovered that the first victim was one of the cowboy's co-conspirators. They all realize that the Preacher has tricked them, though he doesn't actually seem to have committed any crime. Smith confronts the preacher about this, and the preacher subtly admits that he has some connection to the little girl who survived the attack; Smith for his part decides there's nothing more to do than shake the man's hand, impressed by his clever plot for revenge. The Preacher moves on, off to find the third guilty man, who he'll presumably do the same to.
Finally, it was also election season in Dodge. The two political factions, the "Gang" (which consisted of most of Dodge's saloon owners, lawmen, and other scoundrels) and the "Better People" (consisting of Dodge's other businessmen, the town Reverend (the "real" one that is, Reverend Wright), and Marshall Deger), were facing off to determine the future of the city. When the votes are counted, the results are somewhat split but the Gang has won the two sweetest plums: saloon proprietor and bear-owner James "Dog" Kelly is now Mayor of Dodge, while Bat Masterson is the new Sheriff of Ford County.
Masterson is replacing Charlie Bassett, who by state law couldn't seek a third term. It was originally planned by the gang that if Masterson and Kelly both won, they'd appoint Bassett as town Marshall, deposing the obese corrupt Larry Deger in that post. This convinced Bassett to officially endorse Masterson, which was probably responsible for Masterson beating Deger in the election (given that Masterson won by only 3 votes!). But then it turns out Masterson has another idea. He plans to convince the city council to get his brother Ed a job as town Marshall. When Charlie Bassett hears about this (because Bat blabbed it to Kid Taylor while he was drunk at victory party held in the Alhambra Saloon, and Kid Taylor famously can't keep his mouth shut about anything so the whole town quickly hears tell about it), Bassett decides he needs to have some 'words' about this with Masterson.
The 'words' turn out to be a fistfight, but Masterson is a silver-tongued devil. When the two men come back into town they're both bruised up a bit, but they've made amends. Bassett will be Masterson's deputy Sheriff, Bat having convinced Charlie that his extensive knowledge of the countryside and its inhabitants would make him much more useful in that position than as town Marshall. And since Wyatt doesn't want the Marshall job (it would require renegotiating his salary), and neither does Young (because it would involve too much politics rather than just lawkeeping), Bat's brother Ed is the perfect man for it (which incredibly, he gets everyone to agree on in spite of no one actually having met Ed yet).
That's everything for this session. Stay tuned for more adventures in Dodge.
Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Virginia