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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Wild West Campaign Update: The River Cow

The PCs were preparing to leave East Vegas en masse. Hoodoo Brown was not happy about it, but he also wasn't willing to enter into a fight with the leavers.

At the same time, Doc Thomas had come back at long last. He'd claimed he'd originally gone off to a Conference on Male Anatomy, but in fact he'd gone off on a river cruise with some friends who were, like him, aficionados of the "love that dare not speak his name". Along the way, he met a new friend, a young man named Billy Breackenridge, a would-be author, and the two spent a good long time together. In the end, Doc Thomas had to get back home, though Billy said he planned to go out west real soon.

The news that half of the Dodge City Gang were leaving (along with Doc Holliday and Big Nose Kate, who already headed off to Prescott to do some gambling before moving on to Tombstone) had predictably caused some uncertainty for the town, as some of the townsfolk were suspecting that Hoodoo Brown was losing power. This required some stern measure against some of the local business owners/toughs who were refusing to pay the 30% 'tax' that Hoodoo demanded of them.

As a result, Kid Taylor (no longer town doctor with Doc Thomas being back) and Mysterious Dave Mathers ended up being in two gunfights in as many days. The first, accompanied by John Joshua Webb, had them face off against four toughs. Two of them died of gunfire, and a third ran off with Webb's knife in his neck to go bleed to death somewhere; the fourth just plain ran for his life.

The second fight had Mathers, Taylor and Dirty Dave Rudabaugh facing off in the Den of Sin with Switchblade Jack Callhoun, a knickerbocker from New York who had bought Crazy Miller's brothel.  This one had a twist, though.

The local Mexicans had asked Other Miller for help (he was on very good terms with the local Mexican population). It turned out that Don Fulgencio, a local old farmer, had gone missing along with his 'river cow'. What's a river cow, you ask? Well, it's a cow that is trained to lead other cows across a river.  When there's a cattle drive, and you get to a river, you're likely to lose a great number of cows, except when there's a cow that knows how to get across. Then you just send it ahead and the rest will follow.

It turns out that a rancher was bringing a herd of cattle across the river and got bushwacked by a group of cattle rustlers. They were stuck at the river waiting for Don Fulgencio and his cow, which had vanished. The Mexicans didn't care much about the ranchers, but they were all very worried for Don Fulgencio and his cow. Miller agreed to try to find out his fate, and asked Crazy Miller to join him.

They didn't find Don Fulgencio, but had a run in with a couple of ranchers who had come from the N-Star ranch in search of the cows that were rustled. After some initial distrust, they agreed to work together. They found that the herd had been led further downriver, then across. It became obvious to the Millers that the gang had hidden the cows somewhere while arranging with Hoodoo to falsify bills of sale so they could sell the cows and ship them out with the railroad. Figuring that it would be less risky to find the group they sent to Vegas than to face off with the rest of the gang wherever the cows went, they headed out to town.

After splitting up and some searching around, they'd found out that there were three men in town, and as it happens they were in the Den of Sin.  Crazy Miller was there searching for clues and spotted the men when Mathers, Rudabaugh and Taylor came in and faced off with Switchblade Jack. He decided to take advantage of the situation by starting his own shootout with the three men while Mathers was killing Jack.

The shootout was brutal; in a few seconds two of the three rustlers dead and the third was bleeding out from a massive head wound; Other Miller himself took a non-fatal but serious shot to the temple which gave him a massive concussion.   Other Miller tried to disseminate, not sure if the rustlers had already made a deal with Hoodoo, and worried that he may have crossed Hoodoo by killing them.

The rustler who wasn't quite dead yet turned out to be Vickers, the leader of the rustlers, and indeed he had made a deal with Hoodoo. Doc Thomas and Kid Taylor both examined him; his injury was terrible and the bullet was lodged in his brain. Neither of them really had the skill to operate, but Kid Taylor decided to try. Incredibly, he initially managed to remove the bullet, but Vickers was in a coma.

Crazy Miller was brought before Hoodoo but also disseminated. Then conferring with Other Miller, they decided they really had just one good option (in terms of what passes for "good" in East Vegas): they were going to go and murder every last member of the Vickers gang. They recruited Crazy Miller's 'best friend' John Joshua Webb to join them. Webb had been down in the dumps about his partner Doc Holliday selling off his part of their saloon and leaving town, and hadn't killed anyone in an awful long time, so Crazy Miller had him at "I need you to kill some people". He didn't even ask who they were, or why.

They tracked the rustlers to a small canyon with an arroyo, which was the best place to hide several dozen rustled cows. There were nine Rustlers, but Webb went in first and silently killed the four who were on duty watching the cows, and the one who was standing guard at the canyon entrance.
The rest of the team (the Millers plus the two ranchers) had set up on top of a hill with their rifles, and waited for Webb to 'distract' the other four rustlers in the campsite, which he did by running out screaming from one of the tents and stabbing one of the four multiple times with his knife. Then the rest of the men opened fire on the remaining three rustlers and the whole thing was over without a hitch.

The Ranchers took back their cattle. The Millers headed back to the Mexicans to inform them that they hadn't been able to find hide nor hair of Don Fulgencio and his River-cow, assuming the rustlers must have murdered both, but to their surprise found Don Fulgencio back home. He'd taken his cow up to the hills to graze on account of the drought having made slim pickings on his farmland. It turned out his disappearance had nothing to do with the rustlers at all.

Other Miller decided that it wouldn't be wise for him to go back to East Vegas, since Hoodoo might just feel obliged to murder him; so he gave Crazy Miller a note of apology and some $200 to hand over to Hoodoo as compensation for any trouble he'd caused, and rode off ahead on the trail to Tombstone.

The rest of the group was planning to follow shortly; except for Doc Thomas. He hadn't planned to leave, until he got a telegram from Billy. It turned out that he'd moved to Tombstone, and was hoping Doc Thomas might join him there. Thomas asked permission of Hoodoo to leave, and Hoodoo at that point was strained to damn near breaking, but he'd always had a soft spot for Thomas and told him that he could go with his blessing if he found a replacement doctor for the town.  After some investigation, Doc Thomas found himself an alcoholic old army medic in Fort Sumner, who didn't know a damn thing about birthing babies or curing colic but had taken out hundreds of bullets in his lifetime; he was, in other words, the perfect match for East Vegas.

The session ended with everyone getting ready to leave for Tombstone, but with Kid Taylor and his wife planning to take a trip back to Dodge first, so her parents could meet their infant grand-daughter. It looks like next session might be a two-parter, with action happening in Dodge and Tombstone at once.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Virginia


  1. Being Canadian is no excuse for that top image.

    1. That's Billy Breackenridge as depicted in the movie Tombstone.