Sunday, 18 December 2016
Wild West Campaign Update: The Reckoning
This session featured some karmic deaths coming home to roost. It also featured the first death of a PC in the entire campaign; quite a thing given how lethal gunfights can be in the game.
But first, it featured the arrival into town of Ed Masterson, brother to newly-elected Sheriff Bat Masterson. Ed looked a bit like his brother, but thinner and with striking eyes. Everyone also noted that he seemed quieter and more introspective than his brother, who was a famously silver-tongued devil.
Ed was quiet, soft-spoken, and seemed relaxed and gentle in comparison to the frenetic and showy Bat.
In any case, he had come to town because Bat had manipulated local politics to make sure that starting next year Ed would be town Marshall, which meant that the Masterson brothers would control BOTH the lawman offices (County Sheriff and Town Marshall) in Dodge. A lot of people in town (including the PCs) felt apprehensive about this decision, but in fact everyone who met him seemed to quickly like Ed. He wasn't presumptuous and it didn't look like he'd be so stupid as to try to boss Wyatt Earp and deputy Young (a PC) around, even though the much more experienced and fierce lawmen would now be his subordinates.
Ed and Bat also wanted to start getting involved in town business. They tried to buy the Palace saloon off of Miller (another PC); it was appealing to them because Miller had just invested a lot in refurbishing it. Unfortunately Miller wasn't very interested, probably because he needed the saloon to keep advancing in his profession path. But also because he's just planning to build himself a whole business empire in Dodge. In this session alone he also got into a deal with former mayor Beatty to collaborate in the building of a high class gambling hall which will be connected to Beatty's planned hotel. And he started inroads into purchasing a lot to build a new restaurant in Dodge. He's a magnate!
But the real action began with a horrific shooting in the Long Branch Saloon. Sam, the bartender at the saloon since it first opened, was brutally murdered by his friend, a farmer named Skinner. Skinner just walked in and shot the unarmed bartender dead through the heart in front of a dozen witnesses. But he immediately surrendered his weapon and claimed that he had acted legally, on a bounty, for a crook named O'Reilly who was wanted dead or alive.
It turned out "Sam" had been in hiding from the law for almost 20 years. He had admitted his former life of crime to Skinner, one of his oldest friends in Dodge. The problem was, Skinner was about to lose his farm, his family was on the verge of pennilessness. And the reward for "O'Reilly", dead or alive, was $750, enough to save his farm.
But in the wild west, you aren't thought kindly of for shooting unarmed men, even if you legally can. And you don't shoot your unarmed friend for filthy lucre, ever.
The mob wanted him dead. He turned himself in to Bat Masterson, to get his reward and to prove what he did was totally legal. It was. But the mob still wanted blood, and gathered outside the sheriff's office wanting Skinner hung. Skinner, for his part, almost didn't seem to care if he died. The money would go to his family anyways, and a man who couldn't provide for his family wasn't a man worth staying alive anyways.
Meanwhile, Smith (another PC) found himself about to be faced down by two brothers. Smith was a serial womanizer. He'd slept with half the county. Incredibly, his charm and luck had saved him from any really dangerous situations, until now. He'd gotten a girl pregnant, and her brothers were determined he'd either marry her or die. Smith decided he didn't feel like marrying, so they told him they'd seem him in 2 hours in the dry gulch just outside town.
But first, he was recruited by Bat. With Young and deputy-sheriff Bassett out of town, Bat only had his brother (not yet even official) and Wyatt Earp to rely on. He didn't know Smith too well, but Bassett had spoken very well of him and said he was a man to rely on in a pinch, so he had him cover them with a shotgun.
Miller and Hale the Mormon Gambler, meanwhile, were with the mob. Miller because he got swept up in it, and Hale (who worked at the Long Branch as its Faro Dealer) was actually there to try to see if he could find a chance to calm the flames.
The mob gathered outside, calling for blood. Bat spoke with them, and turned Miller around to his side. Hale made it clear that Sam wouldn't want any of his friends to hang (or be shot by Bat) for avenging his death. The mob hesitated. Bat made it clear that once Skinner was out of town and out of his sight, he didn't give a fuck what happened to him.
Some of the mob dispersed, others tried to plan how to get Skinner. Then Wyatt Earp stepped up, and told them all to go home. He gave them his word Skinner would get what was coming to him. Turns out if there's one thing Earp couldn't stand, it's men who don't stand by their friends.
His word was good enough for everyone there.
So Smith went off to face the brothers. They agreed to shoot it out with him one at a time. He had made some arrangements in case he didn't come back, but told no one the specifics of what was going on. Even so, many people had seen the brothers confront him in front of the Dodge House Hotel, and word got to the Fort Bar that he co-owned with Miller. When Miller finally made it there, Hank the bartender told him what was up and Miller raced off to try to help.
He was barely close when the gunfight already started. He shot it out with the older brother, taking a shot to the chest, but hitting the brother in the thigh with a wound that nicked an artery. As soon as the older brother dropped, though, the younger brother started shooting, hitting Smith twice in the chest.
He was still alive when Miller came riding in on his nightmare horse. The younger brother was tending to the older brother's leg trying to save him; he got up and turned his rifle, and Miller blew his brains out while at a full gallop.
Smith was still alive; he was even still conscious. Miller managed to get him to Doc. There were three bullets in him, and in spite of Doc's considerable skills, he only managed to get two of them out.
Smith was conscious again after the operation. He dictated his last will, leaving half his share of the Fort Bar to Miller, the other half to Hank. He left about $1000 to his future child, to make up for abandoning its mother and killing its uncles.
He lived for five more agonizing days before infection took him.
In spite of knowing just how deadly the game can be, it was quite a shock to the players. But everyone agreed it was a very decent kind of death for how Smith lived. The player himself was pretty satisfied with it, and we ended the session eagerly rolling up his next character.
Anyways, that's it; stay tuned for some more wild-west action.
Currently Smoking: Dunhill Amber-Root Bulldog + C&D's Crowley's Best