Return to That Godforsaken Country

5-13-17 (Real Date) He Shot the Sheriff

April 24-25, 1870

A total of six bold players joined Marshal Andy to continue the exploration and peacekeeping in the Weird West:

Martin, our gracious host, returning with Edward, an immigrant from England who combines superlative social skills with a penchant for the double-barrelled shotgun

James, returning with Felix, Blessed by the entity Hades to destroy undead, coming all the way from Berlin

Melanie, returning with Beth St. Clair, a sneaky type who combines stealth with an ability to get into difficult situations

Vincent, returning with Beth's brother Jack, a Texas Ranger with a 90+ proof habit.

Rick, joining for the first time, with Phineas, a mad scientist who deserted from the Union Army and is seeking his fortune in that Godforsaken country.

And James, another newcomer who did not have a character prior to the game; he picked up the NPC Deputy Zack McGee.

Our intrepid heroes had returned to Santa Fe after their recent trip to Big Spring, TX, only to learn that outlaws will not leave the Weird West alone. Leaving church services, Jack was summoned to the Texas Ranger headquarters on the morning of Sunday, April 24, 1870. At the Rangers' office he met with his commanding officer (Captain Evans) and a courier from the nearby town of San Felipe. The courier, one Luis Reyna, brought a note from Deputy Zack McGee reporting that the town had been taken over by a substantially large gang of outlaws (on the order of 40 or 50) who shot the sheriff and imprisoned McGee. They appeared to be looting the town methodically. Luis, being something of a sneak thief (but not a violent person, and one who didn't want to be driven out of his own town) managed to obtain the note through the bars of McGee's cell and escape to Santa Fe, arriving that very morning.

Jack and any companions he could recruit were instructed to perform a reconnaissance of the town, see if they could rescue McGee and any civilians possible, and generally prepare for a posse to arrive when it could be gathered. In addition, there was a substantial cash reward for the gang's leader, Robert Bonney, dead or alive, and a smaller reward for any gang members that could be taken alive. After gathering additional ammunition, and being joined by the mad scientist Phineas, they proceeded on the way to San Felipe.

The trip to San Felipe was uneventful. San Felipe is a very small town (only about three blocks worth of buildings) nestled in a small valley in the mountains, basically a wide spot in the trail. It is dominated by a church with a high bell tower, but also contains a saloon, a sheriff's office, a general store, a blacksmith's, and a few houses. (Most of the people who do business in town actually live on nearby farms and ranches; it's not so mountainous as to preclude those activities.) The posse stopped in the mountains overlooking the city to plan their approach, when they had a stroke of luck: The weather was ideal for them, as it was a heavy mist which obstructed vision significantly. [GM Note: I have created weather tables for Deadlands based on the month and the terrain, and the posse got the best possible result, which was only a 1 in 26 chance (red King drawn for weather). Most results are relatively benign, like sunny or partly cloudy, but heavy mist/fog is possible, and they got it this time.]

The posse observed a patrol of outlaws crossing the trail at the edge of town, but they weren't spotted. They then proceeded to take positions overlooking the town and waited for the next patrol. They didn't have to wait for long, and when they opened up on this patrol (seriously demolishing it) the outlaws knew something was up and came boiling out of the church and the saloon as well as the jail. Unfortunately for the outlaws, between the fog and the posse's positioning their lookouts/sharpshooters located in the church's bell tower didn't have a shot, but enough outlaws came out to put a fright into our heroes. [GM note: Somehow I was expecting them to attempt to sneak into town and possibly free McGee before engaging, but they attacked a patrol. The outlaws' signal if either the lookouts or a patrol saw a foe was to fire three shots in quick succession; the shots the posse fired took care of the signal for the outlaws.]

Since Jack and Beth had been spotted after their shots (the other three had not been, at least, not that they knew of) Jack decided to try a bluff. He grabbed his sister by the arm and pulled her down the slope, throwing away her rifle in the process, in order to make the outlaws think he was on their side. Beth played along, telling them she only wanted to go make sure her sister Annabelle was okay. (Beth has an advantage on Persuade checks as she has the Very Attractive edge.) The outlaws' lieutenant fell for her story and ordered her escorted, unarmed, into the church where most of the town's civilians were being held. Jack, on the other hand, he ordered escorted to the jail until it was convenient for Bob to interview him. While all these discussions were going on, Edward was calculating how far he could throw a large bundle of dynamite, and Felix was maneuvering into a position around the outlaws' right flank.

Beth was escorted into the church, where she played up the helpless panicked civilian role to the hilt; the outlaws even sent a saloon girl over to comfort her. In the meantime, Jack (catching an error on the part of the outlaws and the GM) realized he was being thrust into a jail cell by one outlaw who had not even had him disarm, so he proceeded to shoot said outlaw. Of course, this attracted several to come in from the street in front of the jail, but Jack had time to release Deputy McGee (we had James make rolls for the deputy once this happened) and get him a holdout weapon just in time. Edward, on the other hand, having sneaked to the corner of a large barn-like building at the edge of town, lobbed TWENTY-FOUR sticks of dynamite as close into the crowd of outlaws as he could, taking out not only some eight of the outlaws in one fell swoop, but also damaged several buildings, including knocking a hole into one corner of the church. Some outlaws immediately began coming after him, and when Felix started shooting at the ones on the outlaws' right flank they started coming after him as well. 

The dynamite was enough to get the leader's attention. Bob Bonney himself came striding out of the church, saw Jack, and immediately challenged him to a duel if he "was man enough for it." Being an overconfident sort, Jack accepted. So while Bob was calling one of his men over to act as a starter, and speaking in detail about the dueling process, Beth (who was annoyed with her brother "acting stupid") proceeded to shoot Bob in the back, wounding him. (Note: She would have wounded him worse, but Bob was spending the Fate Chips.) Seeing Beth's shot, Edward unloaded his double-barrelled shotgun on Bob, which didn't wound him but only due to the Marshal burning still more Fate Chips. By the time Bob had a chance to fire at Jack (who was still in front of him) it was ineffective. (This would be because Jack had Fate Chips as well.) Luckily for Bob, one of his men pulled him into the church so he didn't stay in the deadly cross-fire. When Zack took a shot at him he unfortunately hit the saloon girl, whose fate remains unknown.

This sequence led to a brief period of Jack and Zack trying to clear the street in front of the jail (largely successfully) while Beth hid behind a pew in the church, and Edward with Phinias' assistance took down the outlaw who had charged Edward after the explosive dynamite. Three other outlaw were climbing the slopes to get at Felix, but Felix himself was making a fine accounting of himself. At this point, in order to draw Bob out of the church, Jack decided to challenge Bob to finish the unbegun duel. As Bob was as arrogant as Jack, he agreed.

The duel itself was about as anticlimactic as a duel can be, with neither foe hitting the other one. Unfortunately, Bob's tactical sense hadn't improved sufficiently, and he ended up caught in a cross-fire again and finally taken down, along with most of his men. The ten survivors surrendered, and Jack immediately began making plans to bring them back to Santa Fe.

Once the shooting was over, a woman came out of the barn at the edge of town and led the posse into it, and into a basement below it, where she had the incapacitated but still living sheriff (Guadalupe Vasquez) in a bed surrounded by mad scientist gear. Felix was able to perform enough Greater Healing to help the sheriff recover, and she asked the posse to look into what had happened to her other deputy, Bernardo Ortega. Since they could do so on their way back they agreed.

Ortega had been investigating issues with missing and slain cattle on several of the ranches, and when the posse reached the ranch he had been checking out they saw two dead cows and one dead deputy lying next to the barbed wire fence by the ranch house. Felix went to investigate more closely. He observed that Ortega's body was unnaturally pase, and that there were several wounds that looked like puncture marks in the throat, but very little blood. Beth started getting nervous, and the other four characters thought this would be a good time to get on their way. As they left, Felix was attacked by a small creature that had stealthily followed him — one called "Bloodwire." It looked for all the world like a living strand of barbed wire, but while it managed to get wrapped around his neck it didn't score any wounds, and Felix was able to kill it with his saber. Just to make certain, they burned down the cabin, almost starting a grass/forest fire, but keeping it under control.

At this point the posse returned to Santa Fe. Jack was promoted to Seargeant, and XP was granted all around.

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