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Sunday 10 March 2019

Wild West Campaign: The Cowboy Massacre

Unfortunately, this session started several hours late, on account of one of my most reliable players having been unavoidably delayed. And since the whole party was not only very much together but directly in a "to be continued" from last session, the group waited for his arrival.

The PCs had joined up with Wyatt Earp on his Vendetta Ride. Along with Doc Holliday, Sherman McMaster, Turkey Creek Jack Johnson and Texas Jack Vermillion, they had already killed various Cowboys. First the ones who were waiting to kill the Earp family in the Tuscon train station, and later some Cowboys who were just hanging around in Bisbee.

Wyatt was waiting that morning for a transfer of $5000 promised to him by Marshal Dake, who had given Wyatt his Deputy US Marshall's star. Unfortunately, it wasn't coming. He found himself obliged to borrow money from Crazy Miller, who'd luckily brought $1000 in pocket change.

Unable to safely wait in Bisbee any longer, they began to ride out to the Spence Ranch, near Contention, where Wyatt hoped to find a few Cowboy stragglers to kill. Getting just outside of the ranch, they sent Sherman McMaster to scout it out (with Kid Taylor promising he'd do it next time), and Sherm found that there were about 8 cowhands, without red sashes, and then four actual Cowboys (plus a couple of "loose women").  It being around sundown by now, the cowhands were all in their barracks, while the cowboys and the loose ladies were in the ranch-house nearby.

Wyatt had sworn to kill any man wearing a red sash. So he really didn't want to have to kill the workers who didn't wear them. So he got Other Miller, Sherm and Turkey Creek to sneak up on the barracks and try to get to keep them at bay.  The sneakiest members of the party (Wyatt, Doc, Crazy Miller, and Kid Taylor) would sneak up to the front of the ranch-house and take it from that end, while the louder members of the party (Texas Jack, Jackson, and his sidekick Smiley) would charge in from the back. Unfortunately, this latter group, coming up from be backyard, ran into a Mexican cleaning lady. Jackson managed to make it clear they weren't hear for her as long as she didn't shout, and that she should run off, which she did.

Over on the front end, one of the Cowboys was at the front porch and by chance saw his cleaning lady running off, laundry still in hand, heading away from the ranch, and before the PCs could get him, he headed after her. So Wyatt had Crazy go after her, while he, Doc and Kid went into the house. They did, and Doc immediately assassinated a Cowboy in the den. The cowboy outside heard the shot and turned around, only to find himself with Crazy Miller. Miller gave him a chance to surrender but the Cowboy went for his gun and Miller shot him dead.

Other Miller, Sherm, and Turkey Creek had already gone into the barracks and were holding the cowhands there.

Wyatt went down the hall, broke into one room and found a Cowboy lying in bed with the two loose women. He shot him but didn't quite kill him. Another Cowboy came out the other door in the hall, but at that moment Smiley burst through the back door and rushed at him. The other cowboy shot at Wyatt, missed, and then turned and shot at Smiley, hitting him in the chest and knocking him flat!

Wyatt finished killing off the first cowboy and then turned and shot the second in the back. He was still alive, so Jackson shot him in the face as he was trying to get up.

They'd killed off all the Cowboys, but Smiley had broken a rib. Kid Taylor patched him up as best as he could, and they rode off taking all the booze and bullets they could manage. They decided to ride off to the Tombstone mines, where they were hoping they'd find Frenchie the prospector, and leave Smiley behind, since his injuries left him unable to ride with them.

When they got to the mining camp, they sent Kid Taylor in to check things out (as he'd promised it would be his turn). But Kid Taylor was very recognizable dressed up as a fancy dude. So he changed into a mishmash of ill-fitting clothes the others had brought.

Kid did find Frenchie, and Frenchie told Kid about how the news had gotten out about Earp's Vendetta Ride. Johnny Behan had used his influence in Tuscon to have Wyatt and those riding with him charged with murder for the deaths of the Cowboys in the train station. This was probably what stopped the money transfer Wyatt had been expecting, and now Behan was deputizing a huge posse of Cowboys to hunt down Earp and the rest of his party.  Frenchie also told him that there had been several Cowboys here but most of them rode out to Tombstone to join the posse, but that a handful were still in camp, and they'd be found either at the lot belonging to a miner named Rosey, or the back of the Laundry (where the Chinese had an opium den). One of the Cowboys present was Indian Charlie Cruz.

Kid snuck the rest of the party over to Frenchie's lot, and while Frenchie couldn't keep Smiley in the camp for all the time it would take him to heal (because Smiley was a persona non grata in camp due to his prior activities when he was a Cowboy), Frenchie did agree to help sneak him into Mexico.

The gang split up again, just before dawn, to take care of the Cowboys in camp. Crazy Miller, Doc Holliday, and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson would head to the opium den, since the Tong owed Crazy Miller a favor and he figured he could cash it in exchange for their allowing the killing to happen in the opium den. The rest of the party went off to Rosey's camp.

In Rosey's camp they found four Cowboys sleeping in tents, but there were also a couple of empty tents and two tents occupied by Rosey and his young assistant. They snuck up to the tents, all their occupants asleep, and when they were in place started shooting, careful not to kill the non-Cowboys. A couple of Cowboys managed to reach for their guns, and one even managed to take a shot at Sherman McMaster (he missed), but  for the most part it was just a massacre.

In the opium den, Crazy Miller spoke to Lo, the chief of the den, and he agreed in exchange for the payment of the Tong's debt to him that they would not stop the murder of the Cowboys. There were two Cowboys in the den: one was stoned into unconsciousness in the main room; the other was Indian Charlie who was in the luxury room at the back and still semi-conscious. Turkey Creek slit the first one's throat, while Doc Holliday fed Indian Charlie the barrel of his gun instead of an opium pipe and blew his brains out.

After saying goodbye to Smiley, the party rode out at the first light of dawn. They were headed to the East range of Cochise county, where they were hoping to catch and kill any Cowboys headed toward Tombstone to join the posse.

The PCs realized that the whole game had changed. This was the first time in the campaign that any of them had lost reputation for fighting dirty, killing unarmed men, or finishing off incapacitated opponents. There was nothing in these killings that could be justified by the badges they were wearing. But they were all committed now. This was only going to end with their own deaths, or those of the Cowboys, and either way they understood they would now be known not as lawmen or as shootists, but as killers.


Currently Smoking: Neerup Cutty + C&D's Crowley's Best


  1. So Pundit, off topic here but I gotta ask before I forget : I was at church this morning (yep) and the psalm was Ps 90 (91), which at one point read (official catholic french translation for the liturgy): "You will thread on the adder and the scorpion, you will trample the lion & the dragon." The associated gospel was the temptation of Christ. Simple question : was your title a direct reference, an unconscious reminiscence or a pure coïncidence ?

    Btw, The more I read L&D, the more I like it. I really think it deserves a 2nd edition, completely detached from the DA setting. I would also welcome individual supplements with more precise ideas to start a campaign during real historical periods like the 100-years war or the first crusade.

    1. Though I'm familiar with the psalms, that wasn't the foremost notion on my mind in selecting the title. It was mainly a reference to the heraldic symbols of the houses of Plantagenet (Lion) and Tudor (Dragon).