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Monday, 3 July 2017

Wild West Campaign Update: Turf War in Dodge

The adventure began with a new day in Dodge, one without Charlie Bassett in it.  That left Bat Masterson as the unquestioned lawman of the town, and political leader of "The Gang". It also left the "Better People", the political rivals of the Gang, very edgy.

Masterson was planning to hire a new deputy, but he wanted to wait until the other two main lawmen of the town, Jeff Young and Wyatt Earp were back. Young had been called out on Sheriff's business in Hays City, while Earp had been once more temporarily deputized as a U.S. Marshal, to hunt down a fugitive. He took Kid Taylor with him as they headed down to Texas to apprehend a criminal named Texas Bill Slaughter.

Meanwhile, John Miller and Jim Masterson had decided to get in business together, without Bat's knowledge, acting as partners in opening up a whorehouse in the red-light district. Jim had found a madam he thought would be good to run the joint, but she needed to buy her way out of her current employment and her boss was being difficult.  Jim told Miller about it, but Miller decided it would be better if Jim handled it, so he wouldn't be a visible partner.

(James Masterson)

Down in Texas, Earp and Taylor captured Slaughter at a Wells-Fargo waystation, without too much trouble. They decided to take him to the nearest town with a jail, which happened to be Ft. Griffin, where a friend of Earp's was the owner of the Bee Hive saloon, and they figured they'd both have a fine day or two of vacation before heading back to Dodge.

After they turned over the prisoner, they headed to the Beehive, and to their surprise ran right into a high-stakes poker game where none other than Doc Holliday was presiding!  Doc and Earp were happy to see each other, and the two lawmen joined in on the game.


But that's when things started to go poorly. One of the players, a local named Ed Bailey, kept peeking at the "dead pile" (the discard pile), which is not allowed in the proper game. Doc warned him to "play poker", while Ed grumbled something suggesting Doc was cheating.

Taylor went bust that same hand, and the next hand over, everyone on the table folded until it was just Doc and Bailey.  Doc raised the stakes, and Bailey looked at the dead pile again. Doc took the pot without showing his hand, (correctly) stating that it was his right according to poker rules as a penalty for Bailey's behavior. Bailey decided, in a supreme act of foolishness, that he wasn't going to take that, and drew on Doc. But Doc rushed up and stabbed Bailey right under the heart with his knife.

It's the real-life historical version of this scene:

Only in history, he didn't rush off like that. Instead, the townsfolk apprehended him.  Holliday asked Earp and Taylor to get in touch with Big Nose Kate (his girlfriend) who was staying at the Planter's Hotel.  They headed over there, and she told them that if Doc sent them, it was because he wanted them to help her spring him from jail.  Taylor was immediately willing, and to his surprise, so was Wyatt Earp.  Earp might have been a lawman, but he owed Doc his life from the time earlier that year when Doc saved him from an ambush at the Long Branch. And besides, Earp just really liked Doc (it was a wild-west Bromance).

Meanwhile, in Dodge, things did not go as planned for Jim Masterson. When Miller next saw Jim, he was in something of a panic; he'd gone to talk to the pimp, only to have the conversation lead to a shootout. Jim ended up killing one of the pimp's thugs, and injuring the pimp himself, and then jumping out a window. Worse still, it turned out the whorehouse was really owned by Larry Deger, the former town Marshal and main operator of the Better People.


Deger was incensed.  He went over personally (with some goons), to the Beatty Hotel, demanding to know if Miller was acting alone or if the whole Gang was declaring war on the Better People's interests south of the Arkansas River. Meanwhile, he sent out thugs to attack the Palace Saloon in retribution. Neither John Miller nor his security man ("other Miller") were there, because the former had gone with Jim to find Bat Masterson to fess up as to what had happened, while the latter was actually helping Bat in an investigation over the robbery of the paywagon from Fort Dodge.  That investigation got more interesting when it turned out a soldier from Fort Dodge was found dead in the alley behind the Long Branch Saloon.

Other Miller got back to the Palace just in time to see Deger's goons running out of it; he apprehended one of them through sheer intimidation. Bat realized the situation with Deger was very serious, so he decided he'd go personally to talk to the fat man; he sent Miller to talk to the doctor about the body they found, while Jim was supposed to stay in the sheriff's office.  Of course, Jim Masterson was never one to follow the rules; plus Kid Taylor's sister had been looking for him all day, and he didn't want to see her because he was pretty sure she was going to tell him she was pregnant with his child. Did I mention Jim Masterson pretty much just got first place as the new Champion Shit-Disturber of Dodge City?

Jim decided he hadn't caused enough havoc, so he headed back to the red light district to try to rescue his 'madam' from Deger's goons.  In the process, he got into another firefight and killed another man.

Meanwhile, the town doctor found out the soldier from Fort Dodge had been killed by a bullet from a cavalry pistol. Meaning the killer was either another soldier, or someone using a soldier's gun.

Over in Fort Griffin, Earp and Kid Taylor were proving far more effective. They came up with a plan: Earp got them all horses, while Kid Taylor set fire to the lumberyard and got the town's attention.  In the confusion, there was only one deputy left guarding Doc Holliday, so Big Nose Kate got into the jail, pulled a gun on the deputy, tossed another one at Doc, and got him out. Then all four of them rode like hell out of town.

(Big Nose Kate- one of the truly legendary women of the Wild West)

Once they were a safe distance away, they split up. Doc and Kate decided to head to a little town called Las Vegas, where there were some hot springs Doc hoped would help him with his consumption. Earp and Taylor headed back north toward Dodge city.

Back in Dodge, Jim Masterson made his way back to the Millers, with his madam in tow. And it turned out she had a story to tell: one of her girls at the bordello had just run off, on account of her having a romance with a soldier.  The madam had thought it nothing more than that, but Jim figured it could have something to do with the robbery of the pay-wagon. They took the madam to see the corpse and she recognized it as a close friend of the missing girl's soldier boyfriend. She also knew that she'd planned to meet her beau over at Turkey Bend.

The Millers and the Mastersons, along with Hale the Mormon Gambler, formed a posse and rode out to Turkey Bend. They got there just in time to see the soldier-boyfriend get gunned down by the third man in the robbery. Jim and Other Miller manage to shoot him dead, and capture the girl, who admitted the three men had undertaken the robbery, but had then turned on each other for the loot.

Heading back to town, Bat met once again with Deger, and only Bat's silver tongue managed to calm the brewing civil war in the town. Masterson convinced Deger that it wouldn't do anyone any good for their particular sins to be exposed, be it murder or 'white slavery', and that if the Better People and the Gang went to war they'd all lose. Deger agreed to certain reparations and the promise that neither Miller nor the Mastersons would open any business in the red light district. Which was fine by Miller, since at this point he'd rather be dragged by wild horses than go into business with Jim Masterson.

So it all more or less worked out, only Bat realized that if the day came when the Better People had a lawman on their side again, they'd all be in a lot of trouble.

Also, it turned out Kid Taylor's sister was indeed "in trouble" with Jim's baby. But Bat had an idea about that too: he decided to hook Ms.Taylor up with Peter Beatty, who was a much more desirable catch than Bat's crazy brother, and would both save Jim from having to engage in a marriage he didn't really want, and save Kid Taylor from having to get into a shootout with Jim.

We'll see how that turns out...


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