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Sunday 18 November 2018

Wild West Campaign: The Prospectors

This session started with the opening of a number of new business enterprises for the PCs, in the rebuilding following the great Tombstone fire of 1881. Among the businesses that some of the PCs involved themselves with were a brewery, a french restaurant, and even a bowling alley. Tombstone also saw the opening of an ice cream parlor.  This is all historically accurate, by the way.

The PCs were also happy to welcome Cooter, the former town jailer of Dodge City, into Tombstone. They'd lured him here with the promise of a deputy's star, but the real reason the goofy hick was brought down was because he made the best coffee in the west. And coffee was a very big deal in the west. 

Meanwhile, the PCs learned that Cowboy and Cochise County Deputy Sheriff Frank Stilwell had apparently been harassing many of Tombstone's merchants for protection money. 

They were pretty sure that Jonny Behan, the Sheriff, was in on it too. Unfortunately, the shopkeepers were all too terrified of reprisals from the Cowboys to testify against them. County U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp sent out his deputy Other Miller to very discretely gather more information about who was being targeted and when Stilwell was picking up the protection money.

Meanwhile, Crazy Miller was enjoying playing at his lifelong dream; he'd finally opened a butcher shop, and was spending much of his time hanging out there acting like the humble butcher.  But there was trouble in one of his other businesses.  Hilda, one of the girls working at his brothel ("The Den of Sin"), came to the butcher store quite worried, as the den's madam, Miss Scarlet, had not come in to work and wasn't answering her door. Crazy Miller went to her house behind the brothel to investigate and found an open window; there were bootprints by the windowsill. Miller, a trained tracker, noted that the boots were poor and in bad shape. He entered the house and found some signs of a struggle; it appeared Miss Scarlet had been kidnapped.

He went to the authorities, and they started to ask some questions. Questioning Hilda, they learned that the only person Scarlet had seen lately who might have boots like that was an elderly prospector by the name of Picky (she didn't recall his last name). It was very little go to on, but Miller and Jeff Young decided to go to the Tombstone Mines to see if they could find the prospector. Along the way they ran into Kid Taylor, who decided to go with them.

Meanwhile, Other Miller had been asking around, confirming that most of the shopkeepers were being shaken down for protection money, and that it was always Stilwell who collected. He eventually found one general store, owned by a meek man name Olson, who was going to be Stilwell's target for collection the next morning. 

Other Miller went back to talk to Virgil and Morgan Earp. They all agreed that Olson would be too nervous to testify, but if they could catch Stilwell in the act, they wouldn't need a witness. The problem was that while they could browbeat Olson into letting them do a sting, he would probably be so terrified that he'd give away the game. They decided instead they'd have to stake out the place; but they'd need to be close enough to not only see Stilwell picking up the money, but also admitting it was for protection.

They decided on a plan: Virgil would be waiting at the front of the building. Other Miller would find a way to sneak into the storage room. And Morgan would come in the back, ostensibly to visit Olson's unattractive and domineering wife, who he'd noticed seemed to have a thing for him.  They also suggested that Morgan try to trick her into thinking he'd come because he'd heard that Stilwell was going to intimidate Mr.Olson into giving up more money, which would motivate her to interrupt the transaction and browbeat her husband, hopefully while getting Stilwell to talk about protection money. 

Their other problem was that the door to the storage room would be locked, and Other Miller couldn't exactly kick it down, or ask Olson to let him hang out there for no specified reason. Virgil asked if any of them knew how to pick locks, and none of them did. But Cooter piped up and said "I know a guy in town who can do that.. he's named Buckskin Frank?"
Apparently, after a week in town Cooter knew everyone's secrets.  Buckskin, he explained, learned the art not for thieving but for sneaking in to visit his adulterous paramours.  Other Miller asked Buckskin for help and he was glad to do it.

Meanwhile, the other group had gotten to the mines.  They asked around for a Picky, but it turned out that the Mining corporation administrator didn't know him. They mentioned something Hilda had vaguely recalled, about him living in a shack in 'the back of something'. That led the mining clerk to think it might mean the back ridge of the hills, beyond the main mine owned by the corporation.  The miners there had to defend their claims so they often built shacks instead of living in tents. 

The PCs found their old friend, Frenchie the miner, and he offered to guide them over there. He said he knew of an old guy named Picky who lived there with his two sons, who were "kind of slow". They headed over to the back ridge, and eventually realized they found the right shack when someone shot at them with a rifle.

They tried to talk them down, but Picky had apparently been 'given' Miss Scarlet as a present by his two sons, and had decided to 'save' Miss Scarlet from a life of 'slavery' at the hands of that evil pimp Crazy Miller. He would make a proper woman of her as a miner's wife, and a new ma to his two 'boys' (both of whom were taller than Jeff  Young).  Before they could keep trying to get the prospectors to surrender, the two boys started firing their rifles from the shack window again.

Miller and Young had ducked behind rocks, and were at a severe disadvantage firing pistols from a great distance against the prospectors who were firing rifles. Kid Taylor had meanwhile circled around and was approaching the shack from behind. 

What followed was a very surprising firefight: the prospector's boys managed to shoot both Jeff Young and Crazy Miller in the head but in both cases the wounds were not serious (Young's was a 1hp graze, while Miller's shot knocked him on his back but didn't do any meaningful damage). Then Young and Miller managed to shoot both the boys in the face, but didn't drop either of them either. This in a game where a headshot can very, very easily be a one-hit kill. 

Kid Taylor got around to the edge of the window, and after the boy nearest him fired another shot, Taylor circled around and made a quick and skillful shot at the prospector, blowing him straight to hell. Then he ducked back to the back entrance. 

Crazy Miller finally managed to take out the other boy. Kid Taylor kicked the back door down and found Miss Scarlet, never the helpless victim, struggling with Picky for his gun. It went off in the struggle but luckily no one was hit. Kid Taylor took the time to cautiously aim while they struggled and then shot Picky's brains out.  Miss Scarlet was grateful for the rescue, as she really didn't want to spend her life as a miner's wife, though she wondered what took them so long.

The next morning, Other Miller and the Earps prepared their ambush.  Everything went as planned. Morgan manipulated Olson's wife, she went in and complained about Stilwell trying to get more protection money off them, Stilwell responded in a way that admitted the crime, and then Morgan came through the back door, Other Miller through the side, and Virgil blocked the entrance to the store. Stilwell gave up. 

They locked him up, but realized that the Cowboys would be likely to just pervert justice as they'd always managed to before. Virgil decided to go to Johnny Behan and see if he could get anything out of this. Behan couldn't afford a scandal, and if it came out that Behan was profiting off of protection money, it could harm his political career. So in the end, he managed to get Behan to denounce Stilwell, fire him as a deputy, and agree not to hire any other Cowboys, for as long as Virgil was marshal.  In exchange, Stilwell would be set free. It was the best deal they could make.

On the way back into town, Crazy Miller ran into some of the Cowboys, who were in a somber mood. It turned out that while returning from some cattle rustling, a group of Mexicans had ambushed some cowboys in Guadalupe Canyon. They murdered 5 Cowboys, including Pa Clanton, their de facto leader. 

Old Man Clanton was dead. He was a monster, but he had kept the Cowboys strictly disciplined. And now the less-stable Curly Bill Brocius was leader of the Cowboys. The PCs started to see a bloodbath inching ever closer. 


Currently Smoking: Blatter Diplomat + C&D's Delta Days 


  1. Do thr players ever get tired of the slavish attempts at historical accuracy based on a thin veneer of knowledge? Or are you leaving out a lot of detail of what goes on at the table so it only comew across like that in your write-ups?

    1. You get that I'm a historian, right? I've forgotten more about the history of the American West than you ever knew, dumbass.