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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Wild West Campaign Update: Chief Joseph

Today's session featured a couple of different major events, as usual.

For starters, the town was visited by a very nervous Army Captain escorting a small group of Nez Perce Indians, with their great leader Chief Joseph.

Chief Joseph was being sent to Washington DC to testify before congress, and meet with President Hayes. Unfortunately, he had won himself a very awful reputation for his victories against the Army a couple of years earlier. He was known as the "Red Napoleon".

So naturally, their guide was worried that when getting into Dodge, the locals would try to form a mob and kill the great Chief.

At the same time, the town was visited by the famous lawman Seth Bullock, wearing a US Marshall's badge, and sent to arrest none other than Marshall Jeff Young for murder.

Bullock had been ordered to bring Young in because Wyatt Earp, the Marshall usually preferred in the region, was thought to be too likely to be friendly to Young. Of course, the accusation was false. Young had recently gone south to the area around Ashland to intervene on behalf of some homesteaders who were being threatened out of their farms by a local ranch boss. Young suspected that the ranch boss in question had murdered the tinker that Young stood accused of killing, and had a farmer named Green testify that Young had dropped the body across state lines; all to teach a lesson to both the farmers and the Ford County lawmen that they were not to mess with the rancher's power.

Bat Masterson quickly realized that Young would likely be killed no matter what if he was taken to Ashland as a prisoner: either a mob would get him or the local judge would be firmly in the rancher's pocket. So he made a deal with Bullock: he was bound as a US Marshall to get his prisoner there, but once there, he would work for Masterson. Bullock agreed. They also took the Two Millers with them as extra muscle in case of serious trouble.

In the meantime Chief Joseph had got to town and Wyatt Earp had forced the Dodge House hotel to put the Chief and his men up in rooms. News of this quickly spread through town and the locals were none too happy. Kid Taylor was put in charge of trying to keep the Alhambra crowd from rising up in a mob, and Dirty Dave Rudabaugh was asked to help too. But Dirty Dave, as is his style, sold them out at first opportunity, and the mob, being led by  none less than town Mayor "Dog" Kelley was ready to go hang the Indian Chief. Not even Paddy the Bear could stop Dog Kelley's intentions.

By the time they got to the Hotel, the town lawmen (Bat, Kid Taylor, Bill Tilghman, Wyatt Earp and Jim Masterson) were all there, as well as Hale the Mormon ex-gambler. Bat appealed to the men to not risk bloodshed, and made a solemn promise that the chief would be out on the first train. For the moment, the mob abated.

(Bat Masterson, 1879)

Unfortunately for the lawmen, that night was one of the worst snowstorms in many years. By the time they woke up there was several feet of snow on the ground, and it turned out that the Santa Fe Railroad line was out for the day.

Meanwhile Bullock and Young got to Ashland and decided to visit this farmer named Green first. Green was scared out of his wits, and moreso after Bullock threatened him and his family some. He finally admitted that he was both forced by the Rancher to make the false accusation, and rewarded by the promise (probably false) that his farm would be spared.
Bullock and Young decided that they'd need to capture or kill the rancher, and take farmer Green back with them to Dodge to testify. To this end, they sent the two Millers into town to confirm the rancher was there. They did one better, posing as shootists to not only get to meet the rancher but get themselves hired to kill farmers.

In Dodge, Kid Taylor was given the task of keeping Mayor Kelley distracted enough to stop him from  raising another mob now that Chief Joseph was still in town.  Kid Taylor decided he'd try to overdose Kelley with laudanum.  He actually ended up giving the mayor enough laudanum to kill a normal man, but Dog Kelley was a lifelong heavy drinker and made of sterner stuff. He didn't even pass out, though he was fairly useless for several hours.  Under the pretense of getting him vital medical attention, the Mormon gambler had the town Doc distract Kelley for as long as possible. Meanwhile, Bat Masterson was working on some secret plan.

In Ashland, Bullock and Young decided to make a night raid on the apartments where the rancher was staying (ironically, because he was waiting for Bullock to arrive and hand Young over to him).  They managed to get in, quickly overpower the rancher's guards, and take the rancher and his son captive, all without firing a shot (at least in part thanks to Seth Bullock being intimidating as all fuck).   They rode off quickly with them back toward Dodge.

Over in Dodge, Dog Kelley was finally back into a coherent state, and extremely fucking angry.  He raised up his mob again demanding that the lawmen hand over Chief Joseph to be hung. Bat played for time, and had Kid Taylor sneak out of the hotel and over to the telegraph station to see if what he'd asked for had arrived.  Indeed it had, and Kid brought back a telegram, personally addressed to Mayor Kelley, from President Hayes himself!  It was thanking the mayor for all he was doing to personally assure the security of Chief Joseph, and that the nation would know of his great service.

Bat had figured out that nothing would stop Kelley except flattery, and true to his bet, Kelley immediately switched sides and got his mob to disperse. This in spite of not 12 hours earlier having cursed Hayes as a damn-Yankee son of a bitch. But the personal attention did it for him.

The PCs were left asking themselves if this was some kind of clever trick by Bat, or if it really was a telegram from the president himself.  Bat, as usual, kept his tricks to himself.

So that was it for the adventure: today, the PCs got to see the styles of two very different lawmen.  Both solved their problems without firing a shot, but one did so by negotiation, diplomacy and possibly trickery (Bat) while the other did it through aggression and brutal intimidation (Bullock).

Young thanked Bullock in the end, admitting that he'd learned a great deal of tricks from him in their short time together.


Currently Smoking: Missouri Meerschaum + Gawith's Virginia Flake

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