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Monday 14 January 2019

Wild West Campaign Update: The Oncoming Storm

This session began with the receiving of death threats. Crazy Miller found a note in front of his door, warning him that if he didn't leave tombstone now, this town would be his grave. He went to report and found out that all three Earp brothers had also received death-threat notes. Later on, they'd discover that Judge Wells Spicer, the judge who had exonerated them of any culpability in the OK Corral shootout, was also sent a note (one which he replied to defiantly in a letter published by the Tombstone Epitaph); as was Doc Holliday. Kid Taylor also claimed he'd gotten a note but he hadn't, he just felt put off by the notion that he wasn't important enough to the Cowboys for them to threaten him with death. Finally, Tombstone Mayor John Clum also received a note, but deigned it of no importance and didn't tell anyone.

The party also discovered some stunning news in the papers: their old companions Dirty Dave Rudabaugh and John Joshua Web (the psychopath who had a special sort of friendship with Crazy Miller that no one else could understand) had managed to break out of jail and were on the lamb. They were being hunted all over New Mexico and wanted posters were issued for them in Arizona as well. It was presumed they were planning to flee to Mexico. But Crazy Miller was absolutely sure that John Joshua Webb was coming straight for Tombstone.

This posed a bit of a quandary to the town lawmen. They all knew the outlaws, and they also knew about Crazy Miller's friendship with Webb, but they all agreed that there was no getting out of the fact that if they saw either fugitive, they'd be obliged to arrest them. They made sure Crazy Miller realized this, and that whatever happened he wouldn't be able to expect them to break the law for his or Webb's behalf. However, Bat Masterson was under no such compulsion, as he was not presently a lawmen. Rudabaugh and Webb had both been part of his gang (along with several of the player characters) during the Royal Gorge Railroad War, and he felt an obligation to help them if they needed it. He made it clear to Miller that he was ready to help if need be.

A couple or days later, Mayor Clum went off on some personal business to Benson, via stagecoach. Not long after his departure, dark clouds were spotted on the horizon. A storm was coming. It would actually be the first time since the PCs arrived in Tombstone that it was going to rain.

On that same day, Crazy Miller woke up to find John Joshua Webb in his room. As he thought, Webb had come looking for him, but because he needed Miller's help to escape to Mexico. Miller had a dream of John Joshua coming back to stay and being part of his crew, but of course he and Rudabaugh were wanted everywhere. There's no way that Miller could realistically protect them. So he agreed he'd get them to Mexico.

Begging Webb to stay in the hotel and not murder anyone, Miller went off to find Bat Masterson, which he did, and had him go to dead tree ridge, where Dirty Dave was hiding out, and in a few hours (when his absence wouldn't be as notable, as people were going home early and preparing to lock up and batten down their properties against the rainstorm) Miller and John Joshua would join them and they'd head down Mexico way. He also stopped to get John Joshua an ice cream from Tombstone's new Ice Cream Parlor, mainly to make sure Webb didn't get it into his head to go himself (visions flashed through Miller's head of an "Ice Cream Parlor Massacre").

Meanwhile, the lawmen had received a troubling telegram from the Wells Fargo office in Benson: the stagecoach Mayor Clum was riding on had been attacked. The stagecoach driver was dead, and Mayor Clum's current whereabouts were unknown! The Earps knew they'd have to send someone, but they were very worried about leaving Tombstone too vulnerable, and also about the Cowboys ambushing them on the way. In the end, they decided that they would have Deputy Bassett go, since he was an experienced tracker, and Jeff Young with him. Neither of them had received Death-Threat letters, so the lawmen hoped they wouldn't be as likely to get attacked. They also took Kid Taylor, both for his medical skills and because he was the closest thing the Mayor had to a friend. They went looking for Bat too, but no one seemed to know where he was. They asked Crazy Miller and he gave an odd answer. As soon as they went to get themselves ready, Crazy decided to leave and rush off with John Joshua Webb to meet up Dirty Dave and Bat.

Unfortunately, Bassett's posse was going the same direction, through dead tree ridge, to avoid the main roads where Cowboys might be waiting in ambush. The lawmen's group saw, but could not identify, the outlaws group up ahead. The outlaws decided to get to galloping away, but the Lawmen now thought it might be a group of Cowboys running from them and decided to pursue.

Desperate to get away and avoid a confrontation between friends, Bat Masterson hatched on a plan. He had been told by Dirty Dave that Rudabaugh was actually friends with the Clanton brothers and had planned to hide out with them as a backup, and maybe even become a Cowboy. So he told everyone to split up. Dirty Dave would ride west toward the Clanton ranch and seek refuge with them (after all, giving the Cowboys Dirty Dave was likely to only end up hurting them in the long run, he reasoned), while Crazy and Webb would keep fleeing south to Mexico, and Bat himself would turn around and delay the lawmen long enough for the others to get away.

When Bat faced the Lawmen, he was surprised to realize that none of them had realized who was riding ahead of them, and they were surprised to run into Bat Masterson, rather than some cowboy. He took advantage of that, and claimed he had been riding with a group of bounty hunters searching for Dirty Dave and Webb. He then offered to join up with Bassett, Kid Taylor and Jeff Young to go looking for what became of Tombstone's Mayor. They rode as far as they could toward Benson, and then took cover in tents when the rain started to come down hard.

That night, Tombstone was getting covered in rain and thunder. The streets were mostly abandoned. Other Miller and Morgan Earp were playing billiards, the Billiard Hall's only customers. Suddenly, someone comes rushing in to tell them that Virgil Earp has been shot!  They rush to Doctor Goodfellow's clinic and find Wyatt there. Virgil had been looking for Bat, passed by the Oriental, left, and a few minutes later came back in and collapsed, bleeding severely. He'd been shot four times with shotgun buckshot from about 60' away, according to Goodfellow, and had more than 20 pieces of shot in his back and left arm. Goodfellow feared the arm would need to be amputated.

Wyatt sent Other Miller to the Grand Hotel to pick up Allie (Virgil's wife) and make sure the other women were alright. Miller confirmed they were, and was returning with Allie when he came across Texas Jack Vermillion. He had heard the news and (being Wyatt's friend) offered to keep watch on the hotel in case anything happened.

Then, when Other and Allie were getting back to the clinic, they spotted two Cowboys! They were Sherman McMaster and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson. They had their hands up and Sherman told Other quite a tale: apparently, he had been a spy for Virgil Earp the whole time. He said that Virgil, Charles Bassett or James Young could all confirm this, but the other two men weren't in Tombstone!  As for Turkey Creek, he said Bat Masterson (also not in town) had been trying to get him to quit the Cowboys for some time now, and the threat on Judge Spicer and now the back-shooting of Virgil was more than he could stand. He threw his red sash onto the muddy ground. They both said they were here to help.

Other told them to wait there and warn for more cowboys, still not sure what to think. He got Allie up to Goodfellow's office, and as Virgil was conscious again, he quickly asked him and Virgil confirmed Sherman's story. Allie was adamant that Goodfellow tried to save Virgil's arm, and Goodfellow agreed, though he warned that in all likelihood that arm would still be all but useless, and that if infection developed it would just need amputation later. Virgil said that if any doctor in the world could save him it was Goodfellow, and so he got to work.

By the next morning, none of the PCs outside of town had heard about any of this. Crazy Miller and John Joshua Webb were still en route to the border. And Bassett's team had woken up to see a rare blooming desert after last night's storm had passed. They headed toward the road and to the Wells-Fargo waystation. When they got there, the stationmaster had an astounding tale to tell.
Apparently, three masked but cowboys had set upon the stagecoach aiming to kill Mayor Clum. They shot and fatally wounded the driver, but Clum was armed, and shot back with such skill as to frighten them off. Then he somehow got up on top of the coach and drove it to the waystation. And then, figuring that if he stuck around more cowboys would come to kill him endangering innocent lives, he headed out on foot across the desert, heading back toward Tombstone!

Of course, even though Clum looked like a short unimposing bald middle-aged man, he was actually a famed Indian Agent, an expert survivalist and tracker, a pretty decent shot, and the man who captured Geronimo; so his notion wasn't as plumb loco as it had first sounded. Bassett figured that Clum was likely to still be out there in the desert, and if they followed that way they might find him; though Clum wasn't making it easy for them as he'd very carefully concealed his tracks so that the Cowboys couldn't find him.
They rode out, and it took the better part of the day, but eventually they caught up with him, and were quite glad to give him a ride back toward Tombstone.

While that had been going, and Virgil was recovering from surgery, the other two Earp brothers along with Doc Holliday, Other Miller and Sherman McMaster were trying to find evidence that might identify who shot Virgil. McMaster had noticed buckshot that hit Miller's Brewery, across from the Oriental, and at an angle that indicated that an unfinished building kitty-corner from the Oriental was the likely spot of the attack, from the second floor.  They got up there and found a hat they were pretty sure was Ike Clanton's. McMaster figured that if it was the Clanton brothers, and they believed Virgil dead, they wouldn't just go back to the Clanton ranch right away, they'd likely try to hide out in the cowboy-controlled town of Contention. Wyatt got himself deputized as a US Marshal, got a warrant, and got together a posse of himself, Morgan, Other Miller and Doc Holliday, and rode out in that direction. They got as far as Charleston when they got word by telegraph that Ike Clanton, his brother Phin, and Pony Diehl had all turned themselves in, back in Tombstone! Having heard of the warrant, they'd surrendered themselves to (cowboy ally) Johnny Behan, to avoid the risk of being shot by the Earps.

As for Crazy Miller, he got John Joshua Webb across the Nogales and into Mexico. He was sad, not sure when or if he'd see his friend again.

So in the end, Virgil would survive but would take months to recover. Mayor Clum was unharmed but could not identify his attackers. The Clantons would stand trial but even if Judge Spicer were to hear the case, the PCs were not very confident of the likelihood of a conviction, with nothing more than a hat and word of mouth for evidence. The Cowboys had gotten a taste of revenge. The question was, what would happen next?


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  1. Can any new people join this email rpg tombstone game? if so how?

    1. It's not by email. I only play games live and in person.