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Sunday 30 December 2018

Wild West Campaign: The Earp Trial

So this session was a very unusual kind of session.  It was one where the PCs basically did nothing.

And they enjoyed it.

In fact, they strategically chose to do nothing. And that was probably the best possible situation.

The adventure took place in November 1881, and the Earp Brothers (alongside Doc Holliday) were on trial for the murder of the McClaury brothers and Billy Clanton, in the aftermath of the shootout at the OK Corral.

With Virgil and Morgan Earp both injured and facing charges, Other Miller took up duties as town Marshal.  While they expected serious trouble from the 200 or so Cowboys who were in town for the funeral of the OK Corral victims and the subsequent trial, in fact the whole thing was quite calm. William McClaury, brother of the slain McClaury brothers and a prestigious Texas lawyer, came to Tombstone to seek legal restitution for his siblings' deaths; and since he was helping the prosecution with their case the first thing he advised the Cowboys that they needed to behave themselves to help push the narrative that the Cowboys were the innocent victims of Earp violence.  So every Cowboy in town was walking around unarmed (for real this time).

(William McLaury: a man with a thirst for vengeance, and an impressive beard)

Crazy Miller was given a friendly threat by Curly Bill that he was now known to have betrayed them, and this was the one and only warning he'd get: leave town forever, or suffer the consequences of traitors.  In response, Crazy helped the Earps get lawyers, and put up their $20000 bail money.

When the Cowboys realized Crazy Miller wasn't going anywhere, they sent Kid Taylor an anonymous letter making him a one-time offer. They knew that Kid and Crazy had a long-time strained relationship, and so they gave Kid a chance: he and his family would be safe from harm, and he would be given $3000 for his trouble, if he murders Crazy Miller.

But Kid Taylor was beyond that now. Well, he did briefly consider it. But instead he presented the letter to Crazy Miller and they sat down and settled their differences. Kid agreed to swear not to do any harm to Crazy, and in exchange Crazy removed the condition from his will that would offer a $10000 bounty for the death of Kid Taylor after Crazy's demise. He did still keep a modified clause, that if he died by violence and the perpetrator was known, the $10000 reward would be for the head of whoever killed him.

And that's just about it. That's almost all the PCs did.

The rest of the session involved them sitting in and watching the events of the trial unfold. They saw the witnesses for the prosecution and defense testify with various different accounts of what went down in the gunfight.  They saw the prosecution try to create a narrative where the Earps had approached a group of mostly-unarmed men who were ready to surrender and brutally gunned them down; while the defense poked large holes into the highly suspicious testimonies given by Ike Clanton and Sheriff John Behan.

And they did nothing. Because just like the Cowboys had realized that taking any kind of action right now would look good for the Earps, the PCs realized that taking any kind of action would look bad for the Earps. So they just let justice run its course.

And run it did.  At the end, Judge Spicer gave a strong and eloquent judgment declaring that the Earps acted entirely within the law, doing their duty as officers of the law. And the Earps and Holliday were free men.

Of course, everyone realized that this was not the end of things. It was only the beginning of their war with the Cowboys. The time to act would be coming, soon.


Currently Smoking: Dunhill Shell Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best

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