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Sunday 15 July 2018

Wild West Campaign: Retribution

In this session, Kid Taylor has gone off for Christmas in Dodge city with his family.

The rest of the PCs were in Tombstone, where an old friend of Virgil Earps, a newly-retired sheriff named Oren Bailey, had come to town on the way to California. He was living it up and enjoying the bustling town, and had fallen for a girl at the saloon of the Cosmopolitan Hotel where he was staying.

The next day, though, Virgil came back and told the Millers to keep an eye out for any suspicious characters. He'd noticed that Oren had suddenly gotten nervous, and he wondered if his old friend hadn't spotted an old enemy, like one of the cattle rustlers from Derek McClue's former gang that he'd helped break up in Oklahoma. They agreed to keep an eye open for him.

Meanwhile at the Oriental Saloon, Big Nose Kate had a favor to ask of Jackson and Luke Short. Doc Holliday had been playing and drinking for the last 48 hours straight, and he was not looking good but didn't want to stop. He wouldn't listen to Kate or to Wyatt, so she asked them if they could think up a way to get him home.

Jackson decided to try by convincing Doc that next day some high-stakes player was going to be coming in and he should get some rest before that. But Doc saw through his ruse; and when Jackson refused to admit he was lying on Kate's behalf, Doc made Jackson a deal: he'd go to bed but there'd better be a high-stakes player tomorrow night when he comes back. Or else.

So Doc headed off, while Jackson and Luke Short were left wondering just who they could get that would be willing, or just dumb enough, to lose a lot of money to Doc. They decided that Ike Clanton might just be dumb enough, if he had any money, and headed to the pool hall to look for him.

But along the way, they suddenly heard two gunshots! Heading into the alley the sounds came from, they found a trio of men who had apparently been assaulting a fourth; but one of the three now had half his hand blown off and a second shot in the shoulder.   Getting closer they recognized two of the men: the one taking the beating and doing the shooting was Doc Holliday! The guy who was leading the assailants and just got most of his hand blown off was Johnny Tyler.

Those of you who watched Tombstone the movie might remember Johnny Tyler as the bullying but cowardly faro dealer who Wyatt Earp threw out of the Oriental, and who Doc Holliday later abjectly humiliated.  Both of those events truly happened (though not at the same moment), but so did this one, where later on Tyler got a small gang and tried to beat Doc Holliday to death.  Only someone as dumb as Johnny Tyler would bring clubs to kill the best shootist in the west.

Even so, Doc  would have been in real trouble had Luke and Jackson not spotted the attack. They drew fast (well, Luke drew fast; Jackson is known as the slowest gunfighter in Tombstone), and while they drew Doc shot another of the attackers in the thigh. Tyler tried to run but Luke shot him in the back of the thigh too. The men surrendered.  Tyler was bleeding severely, and Doc, apart from his bad beating was also struck by a severe attack of his consumption.

Doctor Goodfellow arrived, and the injured parties were quickly taken to his clinic. He saved Tyler's life (and would eventually even save most of his hand); though he was particularly mystified by Doc's condition.  He'd had severe tuberculosis for 7 years now, which was six-and-a-half years longer than one would be expected to live; and he'd managed to survive while engaging in neronian levels of drinking, smoking, gambling, sex, and gunfights. Even the greatest doctor in the west found him a medical mystery. He ordered Doc Holliday to take bedrest, but of course Doc would have none of it and by the next evening he was back gambling.  But he was truly grateful to Luke Short and Jackson; the latter had been quite nervous about the lack of a high-roller for Doc, but he told him to forget about it. He bought Jackson a drink and asked him, in a somewhat vulnerable tone, if he'd ever chanced to hear about the first man he'd ever killed: it was back in Georgia before he'd finished his dental studies. He and a group of friends had gone to a swimming hole and found three young black men there. They warned them to clear off, but the other men wouldn't leave, and Doc shot at one and killed him. This was a year before the consumption, before he'd known anything about how to really handle a gun, or what killing was, or dying. He mused on just how strange life was, that now these many years later, his younger self would never have imagined owing a black man his life, or having a drink with him. Jackson was a bit shocked by this whole revelation and Doc's frankness, and answered that he'd never expected to be sharing a drink with someone like Doc either, and that it's funny how the west changes a man.

The next morning found another tragedy: that same night, undiscovered by anyone in the tumult of Doc's fight, someone had murdered Oren Bailey. Virgil Earp was bereaved but also determined to find out who was guilty of the crime. Crazy Miller had asked around and in a chat with Buckskin Frank Leslie found out there were two suspicious characters who'd spent the day before hanging around the Cosmopolitan Bar that had "the look of being either Texans or Okies".  Virgil decided to check to see if anyone matching their description had been at any of the various livery stables in town; and sent Morgan to talk to the saloon girl Oren had been sweet on.

They found out that the two "Texans or Okies" had  indeed left that morning, picking up their horses from a stable. Other Miller also discovered evidence that they had been watching Oren when he took the saloon girl (Daisy) to dinner.  Virgil had sent word to Oklahoma about Oren's death, and the town where he'd worked immediately put up a $500 reward for information leading to the capture of whoever was responsible. At this point they were fairly certain that these were the killers, so Virgil planned to lead a posse to go after them.

They were just about to leave, when suddenly Daisy the Saloon Girl showed up and claimed that she knew who killed Oren: her boyfriend, a miner named Clem. She claimed he'd told her so himself just after she'd met with Morgan. She also told them where to find Clem, and warned that he'd likely be violent.

Virgil, Morgan and the PCs were quite confused now. All the evidence they'd found so far pointed to the two strangers, but there was apparently a new suspect, who'd claimed authorship of  the murder and had every reason to have done it. In the end, they decided to split up; Morgan and Jackson would stay behind and go arrest Clem, while Virgil and the Millers would go after the two Okies.

Morgan Earp and Jackson headed to the miner's shack where Daisy said Clem would be found. Morgan gave Jackson a rifle and told him to keep it aimed, then he told Clem to come out. Clem seemed to have no idea what was going on but was quite aggressive nonetheless, until Jackson called out to him warning that he shouldn't try anything. Clem surrendered, insisting he hadn't killed no one and didn't even know what in tarnation they were talking about.  Later, when they told him that it was Daisy who accused him he became furious and swore he'd kill her, which certainly didn't win him any points. But even so, Jackson felt he seemed so sincerely baffled by all this that he had to be telling the truth. On further interrogation, Clem claimed that he'd been at the Tombstone Mines until 4 or 5am that morning, and had only arrived in town around 8am, long after Oren had been killed. He'd been up and drinking at the Mine camp until sometime after 10pm, and there were at least 20 men who could testify to that. This all made it even more unlikely he was guilty, but they couldn't understand why Daisy would have lied.

Meanwhile, Virgil and the Millers followed the trail up to the Dragoon Hills, where they eventually spotted and snuck up on the Okies' camp at night. They got the jump on them, the Millers both armed with rifles, and Virgil with his pistol, and ordered them to surrender. The older of the two men stayed put but the younger tried to run for his horse: Other Miller shot off most of his foot. They surrendered, and after some intimidation from Virgil they essentially confessed to having killed Oren. As Virgil suspected, they were cattle rustlers out for revenge.

They got the prisoners back to Tombstone. They still had the problem of Clem the miner, but Virgil suspected he knew what had really happened: he went to check and confirmed that shortly after the news got out about the $500 reward, Daisy had checked at the post office to confirm that it was true. She'd obviously been mistreated by Clem, and figured out a way to be rid of him and to make herself enough money to get a new life for herself (something she'd clearly had the hope of doing with Oren Bailey before he'd been murdered).

So even though none of them liked him much, they were forced to let Clem go, and to arrest Daisy for her false accusation. It wasn't a perfect ending, but it was justice.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + Gawith's St.Jame's Flake


  1. This is amazing. I love Tombstone. Good to see it's still getting love.

    1. Well, just to note, I love Tombstone too, but this isn't a "Tombstone the Movie" campaign, it's a historical campaign, it's the real history (more or less) of the wild west.
      But of course Tombstone as a movie actually draws from a ton of real historical incidents (I don't just mean the OK Corral; I mean a bunch of the conversations, scenes, and events in all the rest of the movie are historical, though not always exactly accurate or in the proper order).

    2. To be fair, it's apparently the only Western our lovable Canucklehead has seen.

    3. Both previously and in preparation for this campaign, I've watched the vast majority of the John Wayne and Clint Eastwood westerns, the major works of Ford and Peckinpah, plus High Noon, the Magnificent Seven and a couple of other western classics.
      I've also watched the Young Guns series, Tombstone (of course) and the vastly inferior 'Wyatt Earp'.
      Plus I've watched every single episode of Gunsmoke. And Deadwood. And probably a few other things I've forgotten just now.

      The point is: a) there's nothing I'm unprepared for, cunt.

      b) Having watched all of that, I'm still of the opinion that Tombstone is, as a combined score of cinematic quality and historical accuracy, the greatest Western movie of all time.