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Wednesday 12 April 2017

Wild West Campaign Update: World's Finest

Our latest session started with the return to Dodge of a figure that manages to strike fear in the hearts of at least a couple of the PCs: Doc Holliday.

Especially one PC: Miller, the widower of Holliday's aunt Doris. His own terrifying horse, Brimstone, killed the old woman from a brutal kick, and since that moment Miller had been dreading Holliday would come to Dodge to murder him. When Holliday surprised Miller, Hale and Deputy Young were there too, and Young drew on Holliday. He actually managed to outdraw Holliday (that's how fast Young is) but he was surprised from behind by Holliday's new travelling companion, a Hungarian prostitute named "Big Nose Kate".

Luckily, Doc wasn't in a murderous mood. He actually sat down with Miller and once Miller claimed that he'd had Brimstone put down (a lie, by the way, instead he had John Joshua Webb take Brimstone away and faked the horse's death), Holliday was satisfied.  Well, almost. He also requested an open tab at Miller's Palace Saloon, and took possession of a poker table for the duration of his stay in Dodge.

Hale the Mormon Gambler (former gambler, actually; now the new manager of the Beatty Hotel), had slunk off as quickly as he could. Not out of any cowardice, but rather on account of the fact that Holliday, like far too many outlaws, mistakenly believed Hale was in fact the infamous bandit Derek McClue (who is apparently Hale's near-perfect doppelganger). Apparently McClue owes Holliday $500, and Hale wanted to avoid him in order to not get shot.  He talks to Young a bit later, and asks him to please explain the situation to Doc and make it clear that he's not in fact McClue. Young agrees to do so, but then gets promptly called away to investigate a Wells-Fargo robbery about a day out of town.  He was planning to talk to Doc first, but his partner on the assignment, James Masterson, was very eager to get out into the country and track down (i.e. murder) himself some outlaws. So Young plum forgot.

This proved to be a problem since soon Holliday turns up at the hotel, refusing to believe Hale isn't McClue, and demanding his $500 (it seems his main reason for coming to Dodge was to cash in his portion of his aunt's inheritance and collect his money owed from Hale). To buy time, Hale agrees to get it for Doc tomorrow, and then reaches out to another lawman: Wyatt Earp.  Earp had met Holliday only once before, and was impressed with Doc's clear intensity but found him otherwise unlikeable, and was not happy about Doc threatening Hale's life. The two meet on the streets of Dodge and end up exchanging words (ie. death threats). Earp makes it clear he won't be happy until Holliday is gone from Dodge.

That night is the big coming-out party (it meant something else back then) for Frances Wright, the 16-year-old daughter of the city Judge (and niece of the city's foremost reverend). Kid Taylor was invited after he made it clear to the Wrights and the rest of the Better People that he was ready to switch sides from "The Gang".  Frances also wanted him to come, but only because she didn't know he'd been invited and assumed her father hated him. Kid Taylor's sister Lily was also going; Kid hoped that she might find herself a husband of means there, and would forget about her budding romance with the brutish and arrogant James Masterson.

On the night of the dance, a group of five cowboys try to crash the party. When they're locked out, the drunken bandits drew pistols and started shooting up the dance hall; since no one at the dance was armed, they dove for cover.  Meanwhile Hale had seen the ruckus starting and brought over Wyatt Earp; the two got into a short shootout with the five drunken cowboys. Two of them rode away almost immediately, one lost his nerve and surrendered when Hale shot his horse (it was an accident, but Hale later claimed he did it on purpose), and one of them got shot off his horse by Earp. The ringleader tried to gallop out, and had gotten to the shore of the Arkansas river, a great distance away, when Earp took him down with a pistol shot to the leg.  That last man, who would die a few days later from gangrene, turned out to be George Hoyt; the second-in-command of the infamous Cimmaron Gang.  Before dying, Hoyt swore that Clay Allison, one of the most dreaded guns in the west, would be coming to avenge him.

Meanwhile Kid Taylor took advantage of the hubbub to run out of the dance with Frances Wright, snuck off with her to his dental office, and deflowered her.

Young and James Masterson were still on the trail of the stagecoach robbers (not knowing that it had been Hoyt that did it), when they run into Dirty Dave Rudabaugh.  Dirty Dave was on the run from a nearby town called Meade, where he'd learned that two men Wyatt Earp had put away (Ed Morrison and Tobe Driscoll) had gotten out of jail and rounded up 24 of their closest associates. They were planning to head to Dodge en masse and murder Earp.  Mind you, Dave wasn't heading to Dodge to warn anyone, he just figured that as a known associate of Earp's he wasn't very safe there anymore. When Young and Masterson find out, they rush back toward town with Rudabaugh in tow, hoping to get together all the men they can to face off the death squad. It doesn't start off very promising, what with Rudabaugh skipping town again first chance he gets. Even so, they round up 14 men, including William Miller (no relation to town magnate John Miller), who just arrived in town and had been hoping to find a lawman gig (instead, he ended up working security for the other, richer Miller at the Palace Saloon).  Young tries to recruit Doc Holliday, but Holliday is still pissed at Earp and points out that he's not the type to go around wearing a deputy's badge as it would ruin his spotless reputation as a scoundrel.

They do recruit Kid Taylor but not before Taylor was given a talking to by the corpulent ex-marshal and prominent member of the Better People Larry Deger.

Deger had figured out Taylor had run off the other night with Frances Wright; he subtly suggests to Taylor that if he's serious about getting a permanent place of influence with the Better People, he'd best go talk to Judge Wright and arrange a marriage with Frances.  Taylor thinks its a good idea, particularly since he was aiming for that already. First he asks Frances and she agrees excitedly, but under the impression that by doing so she'll piss off her parents to no end. Then he goes off in secret to talk to Judge Wright, and the Judge is all for it too! But Taylor realizes that if Frances knows her father is for the union, it may not come to pass; so he thinks up a stunningly elaborate scheme whereby he gets France to think she's eloping without her father's permission, while the Judge thinks that he and Frances will elope because he doesn't want The Gang to realize that he's switched sides. This will of course necessitate that at first the Judge act as if he's extremely unhappy with her daughter's clandestine wedding, which means Frances will be overjoyed.

The day passes and no sign of the death squad arrives. The lawmen are starting to suspect they were played by Dirty Dave for reasons unknown. Finally, late at night, they agree that its time for the group to disperse.  Earp, who'd been very cool about the threat of being murdered by 26 gunmen, decides to go out on patrol. A couple of hours later, Earp gets called over to the Long Branch Saloon. When he steps through the door he finds himself facing down Driscoll and Morrison's whole gang, guns pointed right at him. Earp thinks he's a dead man, but just then Doc Holliday appears out of nowhere from the back room of the Long Branch, touching the barrels of two guns to the back of Driscoll & Morrison's heads, assuring them that if anyone fires, whatever else goes down, they'll die. And just like that, the death squad lose their nerve and surrender en masse.

With Holliday having saved Earp's life, Wyatt finds his opinion of Doc significantly altered. The two become very fast friends very quickly, and so stars the most legendary partnership in the entire history of the Wild West.

The session ends with a short coda: Spike Kenedy, the son of the largest cattle-baron in the region, had been coming every night to the Lady Gay Saloon to watch Dora Hand sing. Clearly smitten with her, he'd followed her out one night and proved himself to be too pushy with his declarations of love for her, which could have been a problem had Kid Taylor not spotted him and scared him off.  Spike uttered various threats, but slunk off with his tail between his legs.  A few days later, he came back into town with a pistol this time, aiming to kill Mayor Kelly (well-known to be Dora Hand's lover). He was intercepted by Marshall Bassett, disarmed, and arrested; with no harm to the Mayor.

Stay tuned next time for more Wild West action!


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