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Wednesday 10 January 2018

Wild West Campaign Update: Old-Time Religion

In this adventure, East Vegas had some unusual spiritual goings-on.

In the first place, a trio of fire-and-brimstone preachers came to town.

They were two men and a woman accompanied by a huge simpleton they call "Samson". They've come to town, claiming to have been sent by the Holy Spirit, to preach doom to the wickedest town in the West. In fact, there was some evidence that they may have been sent from Dodge, probably by some of the Better People, as they focus their preaching assaults on the businesses owned by Crazy Miller.   But they do seem very sincere in their religious extremism, haranguing Miller and other citizens of the town (but especially Miller), and writing damning slogans in lamb's blood on the walls of one of Miller's whorehouses.

At the same time, Kid Taylor has gotten his hands on a book on Hoodoo, out of curiosity about the town's Mayor and Justice 'Hoodoo' Brown, to try to determine if his witch-doctor-act is genuine or a farce.

At the moment, Kid Taylor is substituting for Doc Thomas who is away (supposedly at a "conference on male anatomy"). When some patients come in complaining of aches and pains that medicine can't really do anything about, he uses some of the nonsensical folk-remedies on them, and this 'old-timey medicine' becomes a huge hit with the superstitious locals. When one of these locals, named "one-eyed Jed" attributes "Doc kid's" cure to "saving" his one good eye from conjunctivitis (the 'last Jed eye' as he calls it), Kid Taylor suddenly finds himself with more business in a day than he's had in two weeks!

Meanwhile, a Mexican farmer named Menendez comes to the sheriff's office demanding justice; it turns out three locals had harassed his 19-year old daughter when she had come into town to sell eggs at the general store. They manhandled her, spoke most lewdly to her, and even tore her dress. Deputy Jackson is there to take his complaint, and feels a great deal of sympathy for the farmer, as he no doubt has seen similar situations in the past.  Menendez swears that if the law, such as it is in East Vegas, doesn't do something, he'll take justice into his own hands.

Deputy Jackson and Other Miller go to speak with Menendez's daughter, confirm the story, and figure out the identities of the three men who assaulted her.  But without the approval of Hoodoo Brown, they know they won't be able to do anything about it; and they have no idea what Hoodoo will do.

Likewise, Crazy Miller wants to deal with these crazy preachers, but Sheriff "Dirty Dave" Rudabaugh finds himself in the same dilemma; he'll need to check with Hoodoo first.

For his part, Hoodoo is much more interested in what Kid Taylor's up to. He's initially angry at Kid, either for mocking him or trying to steal his shtick or dabbling in the dark arts; it's not clear which of the three. He confronts Kid telling him that Hoodoo is no game, and that if he is just pulling a con he must stop, but that if kid truly wants to become a Hoodoo-man, then he'll be given the chance.  Kid decides to run with it and agrees.

After that encounter, Hoodoo proceeds to judge the situations with the preachers and the Mexican. On the one hand, he reckons that he can't just kill or even drive out the three preachers, not without risking that there be such a public outcry that it bring trouble to his town and his person. But the preachers show no sign of being disposed to getting bought off, or bribed, nor a likelyhood of getting bored and wandering off so long as East Vegas is a den of sin ("Den of Sin" is what Miller decides to rename his whorehouse, incidentally).

The second case is just as tricky. Hoodoo had promised the assorted scum coming to live in the town that they would be safe from prosecution here so long as they paid their tithes to him and didn't break his own rules. And while everyone agreed that the three men acted badly, there wasn't even much of a criminal case to be had there even if Vegas was a law-and-order town (which it definitely isn't). At the same time, Deputy Jackson argued that the local farmers who kept the town fed were not a group that Hoodoo wanted to stomp all over.

After much discussion, the group came up with an idea: to kill two birds with one stone. They would have "Other Miller" convince the preachers and the Mexican that no justice would be had in East Vegas by the normal means, and get the preachers to help them to mete the "lord's justice" on these men, beating them severely for their crime of touching a pure and virtuous girl. Then Dirty Dave and deputy Jackson would arrest them all for the assault; Menendez would be pardoned, but the preachers would be force to leave town if they didn't want to end up in jail.

Impressively, the plan worked, partly because Dirty Dave and Jackson got the three men good and drunk the Goodlet & Roberts' Saloon before the time of the planned vicious beating. The fight had a few tense moments but no one came out seriously harmed aside from the three gropers, none of which died (because that too would have been a big problem for everyone concerned).

Meanwhile, while the rest of the party was playing Aces & Eights, Kid Taylor's player decided that he was in an Unknown Armies campaign instead. He was at home the night of the beating, being the only PC who lives not in East Vegas but in (west) Las Vegas, with his very respectable wife who is terrified of her very respectable friends finding out that Kid is not a businessman as she'd claimed but rather part of the infamous Dodge City Gang.  So it was quite concerning when there was a knock on the Taylors' door and there was Hoodoo Brown, dressed up in his full obeah-man get-up, face painted as a skull, a bone necklace around his neck, wild-eyed, demanding a yea or nay from Kid Taylor as to whether he was to be joined with the spirits.

Kid Taylor agreed, and Hoodoo Brown led him through town (thankfully for Kid, the good and moral people of west Las Vegas all retire at a very early hour), to a crossroads on the edge of the desert. There he had already put up four stakes with chickens he'd killed, and drawn a voodoo-circle in the dirt. He had Kid stand inside the circle, painted kid's face in blood, started to drum and chant and had Kid drink a mysterious potion. Suddenly the world seemed to shift around Kid, and he either began a profound spiritual journey or the peyote-trip of a lifetime; depending on who you ask. There was a cave, a skeleton in a suit, an old hoodoo-woman, an impossible constellation of stars, a cameo appearance by John Joshua Webb, Carcosa, and then waking up around noon next day on a sand-dune with strange sigils carved on his wrists and a necklace of gator-teeth around his neck.

He had become a hoodoo man for real (at least, that's how Kid Taylor's player decided to interpret it).

In the end, it was another very enjoyable adventure. There was some heavy-duty roleplaying by everyone involved, especially Deputy Jackson and Kid Taylor, who I think both grew significantly as characters in this session. They drove out the preachers, but their prediction of Doom for East Vegas stayed ringing in their ears; they know that the place is just too unstable to keep existing for much longer. The question then will be, what next?


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti half-volcano + Blue Boar 


  1. The last Jed eye...I can hear the groaning all the way from Uruguay

    1. Yeah, it was awful.
      There was a better pun in last session about Roswell, but you'd need to be spanish-speaking to get it.