Sunday, 15 January 2017
Wild West Campaign Update: The Train Robbery
The new year starts out with a bang in Dodge city. Newcomer to town Tom Martin (a PC) arrives with the goal of finding himself some kind of job in town other than his old job as a telegraph operator. However, immediate needs supersede the rest, and he almost immediately gets work.. as a telegraph operator. The town was managing with only one, a Russian named Kerensky, and he was desperate for an assistant.
Martin's first task is to take an urgent telegram to the Sheriff's office. It turns out that Dirty Dave Rudabaugh is up to his old tricks. Only months after getting out of prison, Rudabaugh formed up a new gang and proceeded to steal a Pacific Railway train. The gang had apparently made their way back to Ford county and then split up into two or three groups.
Bat Masterson is Ford county sheriff, but he has no interest in actually doing any sheriffing outside of Dodge City unless he really has to. So instead he gets his deputy, Bassett, and Jeff Young (a PC) and Wyatt Earp (who are deputy town marshals under his brother Ed Masterson), to lead the posse in his place.
Young will be in charge of the group heading north toward Hays city, and takes a very motley crew with him, arranged by Bat Masterson. Dirty Dave is Masterson's friend and part of the gang of ruffians who hang out at the Alhambra saloon. He figures that he can probably get Dirty Dave to surrender himself if most of the posse consists of friends of his. So he makes Young take Kid Taylor (a PC), Dave "prarie dog" Morrow, Kinch Riley, and John Joshua Webb. Young for his part also decides to take Miller (a PC), and Tom Martin ends up tagging along as well (secretly, Martin's real ambition is to end up working as a journalist like Mark Twain, one of his main motives in joining the posse is in the hope that he can make a good story out of it to sell to his hometown paper in Philadelphia).
Meanwhile, Wyatt Earp picks his team: Hale the Mormon Gambler (a PC). That's it. Earp prefers to travel fast; he takes Hale with him because he knows that while Hale is no great shootist or outdoors-man he's reliable and loyal. And also because Earp hasn't got Doc Holliday for a partner yet. The two men set out that night for Wichita, where the other group of robbers are said to have gone.
Both parties head in their respective directions, largely encounter-free for most of their trips. Along the way, the Young team try to check out some buffalo-hunter shacks that they knew Dirty Dave was aware of, to see if he was hiding out there, but there was no sign of habitation. They should have known better; someone like Dirty Dave, full of freshly-stolen loot, was not going to go hide in a hole in the ground.
They later made their way to the small town of Larned. The sheriff there was an old friend of Deputy Bassett and he told the team that apparently Dirty Dave's group had broken into two parts again, and they were somewhere in the area but he had no idea where.
("Prairie Dog" Dave Morrow)
Prairie Dog Morrow and Kinch Riley knew an old friend in the area, a gold-prospector named Frenchie. Along with Kid Taylor they went to visit the crazy coot, and all of them got drunk on Frenchie's "recipe" of moonshine. At some point, Prairie Dog recalled that there was a town full of french-canadian descendants nearby, called Lacrosse, which had a secret brothel with a prostitute Dirty Dave had once been sweet on.
That same night, Miller, Martin and Young ask around town to see if there's any locals who know anything. They find out there's a young ruffian in town by the name of Tom Daley, and go looking for him in case he's heard anything. He turns out to be a teenager, the disgruntled son of the local blacksmith. Miller finds him first and fakes being an outlaw, claiming he'd followed the deputies into town. He gets the name of one of the outlaws from Daley, and learns that the Dirty Dave gang had in fact passed through here briefly on their way to the train robbery, but had not come back this way. He then warns the boy that Jeff Young is looking for him (much to the pleasure of the PC portraying him, Young's Fame score is now high enough that Tom has actually heard of and fears him).
Daley finds his way to Young, asks for a reward in exchange for information. Young threatens him with a brutal beating if he doesn't talk and the boy folds like a bad hand of poker. He names Ed Morrison as the outlaw he knows, and tells him Morrison had told him to go find him in Wichita after the train robbery. Young gives the boy $5 and a warning never to find himself on the wrong side of the law.
The next day Young's group get to Lacrosse, and send in Martin (the only person in the whole posse that Dirty Dave wouldn't be able to identify on sight) into the secret brothel. Once inside Martin confirms that Dirty Dave and one of the other outlaws are in the building, but that two of the other outlaws are also in town in some unknown location. Martin retreats back to the posse to pass on this info, and Young and Bassett decide they'll try to go in alone to apprehend these two outlaws, while the rest of the group stays out on the street keeping watch. Dave and the other outlaw are in separate adjoining rooms. Bassett and Young break through the doors at the same time. Young had burst into the room which had Dirty Dave, and was surprised to see John Joshua Webb (who had snuck away from the rest of the posse) in there with him. For a second he thought Webb had betrayed the group, as Dirty Dave was standing, dressed and armed. But as soon as Young burst in, Webb sucker punches Dirty Dave and knocks him to the ground, disarming him. It turns out Webb snuck in and tricked Dave, in order to save his life.
Bassett shot the other man, but not fatally. They leave Kid Taylor there to treat the wounded man, while Dirty Dave quickly expresses a willingness to help the posse catch the rest of his gang as long as he gets immunity.
They make their way to a shack at the edge of town where the other two bandits were hiding. One of them is a man named Edgar West, who won't turn himself in without a fight (according to Dirty Dave). Bassett and Young approach from the front door (with Kinch Riley on ready on the other side of the street with his hunting rifle), while the rest of the group guards the back entrance in case the outlaws try to flee.
Edgar West comes rushing out the door before the lawmen even reach it, firing like mad at Bassett, but after a failed shot from Young (he got his gun stuck on his sleeve), Bassett hits Edgar, and then Young drops him with his second shot. Kinch Riley, having been promised blood, shoots Edgar dead when he's down.
The other outlaw dashes out the back. Miller had been hiding by the exit and tries to pistol-whip him, but the bastard is too fast. Then John Joshua Webb shows up again, having been hiding behind some bushes. He shoots the outlaw through the head, and then for good measure absolutely unnecessarily cuts open the man's throat with his bowie knife.
At this point, Dirty Dave wants a guarantee of immunity. The deputies send a telegram to Dodge, and Bat Masterson agrees (unsurprisingly, given that Dirty Dave is a friend of his). It turns out there's two men in Wichita (Ed Morrison and Tobe Driskoll), and two others who'd headed right for Dodge. The Masterson brothers apprehend the latter two.
Wyatt and the Mormon Gambler get to Wichita and find out (via telegram) the names of the men they were after. Wyatt had been Sheriff here once, before the town got too tame for him, so he tracks down a local ne'er-do-well and beats him until the man confesses the location of the two outlaws. Turns out they're with Large Marge, a local prostitute who was apparently of Wyatt's acquaintance.
They head over there and trick Marge into opening the door for them, usher her out and sneak into the back room. Ed and Tobe had been hiding out there and when Earp bursts in telling them to get their hands up Tobe does so immediately, but Ed reaches for his gun. Earp shoots him, though not fatally, and Ed quickly surrenders too.
In the end, Dirty Dave ends up free and clear and back on the streets of Dodge. Two of his gang died, but the other five were caught and sentenced to prison.
As for Tom Martin, he managed to write his article, and got it published in the papers in both Philadelphia and Topeka, starting his career as a journalist. In the process, he generated Fame points for everyone he named in the piece. Suddenly, the other players realized the benefit of having a journalist in the party! He's like an Aces & Eights version of a cleric, only instead of giving healing he generates fame for everyone.
That's it for this time, stay tuned in a couple of weeks for more wild-west action.
Currently Smoking: Missouri Meerschaum corncob + Stockebbye's Bull's Eye Flake