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Friday, 27 September 2019

The Little Whiskey Bath House and Brothel War of 1875 - Prequel

Mississippi Sam Shaw drew his pistol, pointed it lazily at Henry and drawled – “just you keep still old man”
Henry is as gutsy as a polecat but he looked down the double barrelled shotgun pistol, gulped and went very still, that was a mighty big bore for such a short pistol.
Sam was a bit intimidated by the old man, the only sign he could see of tension was that the knuckles of both Henrys hands had turned white where he gripped the broom handle, apart from that he appeared calm and collected, especially for an unarmed man.
“The stage is coming, the stage is coming” shouted Little Bob as he ran up the dirt track leading into the small way station and store.
“Cover him” hissed Charlie Foster as he moved to look out of the grimy window. “What the hell do you think I’m doing” grunted back Mississippi, his nerves starting to get the better of him. Henry just looked on impassively, biding his time, Esmeralda was propped up behind the counter.
Esmeralda is his shotgun by the way.
Henry is the man behind the counter looking after things but it isn’t his store, he only works there. No need to get killed over someone else’s money was going through his head, but he didn’t like being pushed around by this 2 bit punk. The kids of today eh.
You might think this has some similarities with my last table but you would be entirely wrong, the last one was completely imaginary, this scene is set in Montana 1870 and is in the history books as the event that led to the well known but little documented war in New Mexico, not the Lincoln County War, the other one.
Over on the far side of the clearing where they had been deep in conversation stood the owner of the store, a young looking Whiskey Jack. Attracted by Little Bob’s shouting they had left off talking and turned to see the Stagecoach clattering up to the Store.
Big Jim Smith stands with his normal taciturn expression, stroking his beard as usual, Pepper his faithful hound by his side. The stranger in the background is Joe Turner, just passing through, he’s moving a small herd of cattle down south, the cattle are resting in the coral with the change over horses for the Stage.
Little Bobs shouting had also attracted the attention of another of the inhabitants of Way Station, Dora Du Fran, she claims to hail from France, but when Frenchie Malone whispered in her ear “Ow Much” in French she pretended not to hear him.
Before anyone comments on her spelling of Clase – it’s a joke.
Dora opens the flap to her crib and steps out into the sunshine, yawns, scratches her rude parts and fixes her sexiest smile in place. She thinks wistfully of home back east, little Jimmy her son and of her mother who is looking after little Jimmy, then she thinks of the money she needs to raise so they can put food on the table, the smile slips a little but she does her best to look alluring.
The sharp eyed and astute reader will have already realized that there are 4 horses outside the store and only Charlie Foster and Mississippi Sam inside, you would have had to be very sharp eyed to have seen Apache George lurking behind the sign board to the left of Bertha, who looks like she needs a good wash or at least a dip in the horse trough.
Then there’s Chester, hiding behind the wood pile.
Ambush springs to mind, but who is going to be ambushed, at this point I’ve no idea. I made a list of some potential characters and when the stage arrives and they disembark I will roll some dice against the list and see who steps off the stage, that will give me some idea of where the story is going. I know what I’m hoping to happen by the end of the story but if it doesn’t I’ll have to come up with another plan.
The stage is being driven by Shawnee Mary with Rose Dunn riding shotgun, they don’t see Chester hiding behind the wood pile and drive past the store and pull up by the pole fence.
I know Rose doesn't have a moustache but these are the only figures I have driving a stage.
As they’re turning the corner, Dora is moving to greet them, $ signs in her eyes, she’s thinking good oh, some quick and easy money has just arrived. Whiskey Jack is thinking the same as Dora.
Joe is just curious, he’s not had much company lately apart from the cows and the cows don’t have much conversation, well not all the time anyway.
Jim remains behind, he knows who is driving the coach and he’s a little bashful.
I would just like to interrupt the flow of the story yet again to point out my new builds, Dora’s Crib on the left, in the centre a wooden shack that will be someone else’s crib and on the right the new Bath House. The Bath house has a strange mottled look to it, because I covered it with kitchen roll which has an irregular bobbled surface this is showing through the cloth that I eventually covered it with. The cloth you will be pleased to know is the left overs from my old boxers used on the tarpaulin covered stacks I made about this time last year for DevLAM 18.
Shotgun Rose climbs down from the hard wooden seat and stretches her back, slings the shotgun over her left shoulder and opens the door so that Miss Virginia and Ebenezer Douglas can step to the ground.
I’m not sure what this means for the story line, just have to wait and see, are they a couple, it seems unlikely but he does have money and she is a classy looking lady, they have been known to be swayed by a mans money rather than his intellect or good looks. Come to think about it, both the later fade sooner or later so maybe money is the better bet.
Round the far side of the Stage, Shawnee Mary has done the same thing for the other passengers, Marshall McAlister steps out followed by Irene Adler. She is shackled to his right wrist, he’s escorting a prisoner, either to trial or jail. This explains why 5 years later in Little Whiskey she locked him in his own jail. You’ll have to read the story The Law Comes to Little Whiskey if you want to find out more.
Dora’s feigned smile turns to one of delight when she sees it’s Mac getting off the stage, they go back a long way and he’s always been a good customer, she even gives him a bonus, although neither of them will say what the bonus is.
Little Bob has run over to Whiskey Jack and thrown his arms around him, what’s going on here, does Jack have a son, I didn’t know that!
Ebenezer and Miss Virginia start to move towards the way station and some hot food.
In the mean time Mary has renewed her acquaintance with Jim, she looks demurely down at he ground as he strokes his beard sagely.
Good grief this is getting more like a Milnes and Boon novel as it goes on, what’s happening to my hard bitten men and women of the west, I’m going to give them a good talking to if this continues.
And another thing - the more I look at this tent the less I like it. The covered stacks in front of George is how it should look with some nice cottony texture, not like some mottled thing that I can’t think of words harsh enough to describe. Mind you I do like the sign board for the Bath House so that’s something I suppose.
Rose has joined the conga line for the food and I resolved what the ambush was all about, and who was to be the target.
It could have been Ebenezer, for his money, it could have been to rescue Irene and prevent her going to jail, but it turned out it was because Marshall Mac had shot and killed one of the gang members, this was Charlie Fosters twin brother, ‘Righty’ Foster.
Chester has gotten tired of hiding behind the wood shed and moved round the building to be closer to the action when it starts.
So at this point Charlie Foster, other wise known as Lefty walks swiftly out of the store and tells Ebenezer and the rest to hold up, he mumbles something about water and they all fail their brains test and accept what he says and stay put.
He moves swiftly towards Marshal Mac who is unaware of any danger until Lefty says “I’ve been looking for you” That’s when things went south as they say.
Just to place everyone before the dance begins, Jim with some strange 6th sense pulls Mary to one side down on the left of the picture, Chester has moved up to the Stage and has Joe and Rose behind him, that surely can’t be a good place to be! George has moved from behind the very nice sign and is now in front of the not so nice tent but behind the OK table. Both he and Chester are ready to support Lefty when he makes his play. You can just see Lefty’s hat at the far corner of the Stagecoach.
This is a play between Mac the Marshall and Lefty but will any of the other characters support the Marshall once the lead starts flying.
Lefty goes for his gun, but Apache George, behind the table to the left is faster and fires first, Lefty is still going for his gun when another shot rings out in the cool mountain air of Montana.
George is a deadly shot and his bullet hits Mac square in the guts and he drops to the ground, breathing hard, Dora is aghast but Irene’s agile brain is whirling at fast speed.
Lefty is down, hit in the head with a bullet from Shawnee Mary’s Colt Navy revolver. She has 2 guns, one in either hand, she missed with one but hit him in the head with the other, her left hand. She had a fraction of a second to react when Jim pulled her to one side, but even though it wasn’t her business she waded in to help Mac, it might be too late, gut shot is gut shot as they say in Montana.
Chester hears a sound behind him as Rose cocks the shotgun, they are both as fast as rattlers but Chester is the faster rattler, he turns and fires in one fluid movement, Rose drops down, blood pouring from a head wound. Joe is slow, and also not a very good shot, he pulls his pistol and fires at point blank range and misses (a 1 and a 2 will do that). He would have been better hitting Chester with the damn gun.
The gun fire has a startling effect on most of the characters around the Way Station. These two are hiding behind the horses. Bertha has left the front porch and is legging it through the forest as fast as her long shirts will let her.
Jim has decided it’s not his fight, he’s unarmed and a slow thinker, he failed to activate. Joe Turner is dumfounded by the callous shooting down of Rose and also doesn’t activate.
Dora wants so hard to help Marshal McAlister, he’s on the ground bleeding bad but she just can’t make the throws and ducks back behind the well.
The door of the wooden crib is flung back and Drunken Donna appears in the sunlight. Her customary bottle in one hand and a rifle in the other. Well out west a girl has to be prepared to fight or drink, I think that’s the saying. She blinks in the strong sun light and surveys the scene. The thought – what the hell is going on, flashes through her mind, well it’s a bit slower than a flash but that’s the general gist of it.
Chester seeing Lefty in the dust runs to take cover by Apache George, Mississippi is still in the store, he’s been inactive for a while now and Henry has been still as a still person turned to stone would be.
Irene is the only one acting coherently and she drops to her knees and starts feeling around in Marshall Mac’s pants.
For the key to the handcuffs of course.
She gets a lucky roll and finds them 1st turn of looking, deep in the right hand pocket of his pants, don’t know why she started there.
Whiskey Jack did a surprising thing – well it surprised me anyway, he picked up Little Bob and literally threw him behind Dora’s crib, the kid is so young and flexible that he rolled on landing and didn’t break any bones, he was winded though and didn’t get up for a little while.
Shawnee Mary’s line of sight was interrupted by Jack so she calmly stepped to one side and fired again.
 Both guns as before and Apache George was hit in the leg, he’s rolling around on the floor making a hell of a noise. There was a dry click from one gun and she missed with one shot, luckily for Irene who was on her knees with her hands in Mac’s pants at the time so the stray bullet missed her.
With one gun empty Mary fires at Chester but misses, then she realizes she’s out of ammo for both guns.
Good grief Mary has 2 Colt Navy Cap and Ball Pistols, they take ages to reload and it doesn’t look as if she has any pockets in that outfit she’s wearing to be carrying cap’s, ball’s or anything else for that matter.
Whiskey Jack fails his brains test big time and does something really stupid, he steps forward and fires both barrels of his scatter gun at Chester. Any miss and there is a good chance he will hit either Irene or Mac, he’s not a good shot either.
He rolls a 5 and 6, two hits, Chester is hit in the head and right arm, dropping his revolver which hits the ground just before he does.
Irene unlocks the cuffs and reaches for Macs wallet and then his shotgun. This was a mistake she should have gone for the shotgun first.
 Donna staggers over to Irene, mumbling something about her man and keep your hands out of his pants and hits her with the butt of the rifle. I was going to shout “cat fight” but it was all over in that 1 blow and anyway it would have been in very bad taste.
Finally Mississippi activated, he ran out of the store and went for his horse. That’s when he saw Joe Turner. Mississippi fired first but must have tripped on the step because he missed from very close range.
 Joe was flustered, buck shot flying all around will have that effect on a man but when he fired back Mississippi was hit bad, in the right leg, and he fell to the floor, not to get up again.
Well as we found out the gang were after revenge on Marshall McAlister for killing Righty, Charlie Foster’s (Lefty) twin brother, they weren’t identical twins. Irene Adler was just taking advantage of the situation and if it hadn’t been for Donna she might have escaped justice. As it was she served 3 years for her particular crime and has been out of prison for a couple of years now, long enough to have the little brush with the law I mentioned earlier.
Mississippi, Charlie, Chester and Apache George all recovered from their wounds and served a 5 year prison sentence without parole. They were discharged from prison yesterday and have information that Marshall McAllister is based in some small town down in New Mexico. If they ride hard they could be there by early November.
The town is called Little Whiskey and they may be there in time to partake of what will go down in history as the Little Whiskey Bath House and Brothel War of 1876.
It’s coming up to November and the Three Musketeers are meeting up again, for our annual 3 to 4 day wargaming event that has until now been called DevLAM, this year instead of heading down south to sunny Devon, 2 of the Musketeers will be heading to the grim north (I hope they don’t get nose bleeds) and we are having the event at my house in my newish Wargames Room.
I expect it will come as no surprise that my game is going to be set in the old west of Little Whiskey, New Mexico.
As usual I have a bunch of ideas to incorporate into the game, some will work and some won’t, but once my compatriots have enough to drink they don’t seem to mind.
I’m going to try and keep it much more simple than the Scoop, my main game last year because that was so complex I still haven’t even attempted to write it up, which is a pity because it looked gorgeous, almost none of my terrain, so no credit to me but I thought it was great.
Anyway, I might post on my progress with the Bath House and Brothel Wars, I have quite a bit still to do and I might even paint some figures and if there’s time I will re-do the Bath House but don’t hold your breath.
I’m intending designing the game for 3 people to play but with multiple groups of characters all with different agendas. So for example Big Jim Smith seems to have a thing going with Shawnee Mary, but he’s also been seen in Little Whiskey with Mary Ann Conklin, there may be some rivalry there, with one player taking Jim, one Mary and one the other Mary. One Mary might want to shoot the other Mary and Jim might have to step in and prevent this, possibly becoming the target himself, or just sit back and watch.
There’s bound to be a robbery or hold up so again, one person takes the bandits, one the law or maybe the bandits are split into two groups, both intent on the robbery but maybe one faction wants to take it all, or maybe there’s local law and Territorial law both with different agendas but will cooperate on some specific thing. I’d like to get 3 or 4 groups per player so that as one group gets eliminated we still have other interests in the game. Three players is an difficult number, a couple of years ago we had 2 sets of bandits and 1 set of lawmen, predictably the bandits joined forces to shoot the lawmen and then turned on each other, but it meant the lawman player was eliminated early on, it was still a fun game though.
The other thing I want to do is an event deck, I have some ideas of things that might work and throw a spanner in everyone’s way, such as at a certain point a drunk might come out of the bar, walk in a random direction for a random distance and then pick a fight with the nearest character. I want to play as a player not as a GM so it’s going to be similar to my usual style of solo game where stuff is as much a surprise to me as to everyone else.
Some of the things I have in mind are “Stampede” “Goodtime Girls Interaction” “Drunk” “Aggrieved Husband” “Temperance Society” “Lady with a baby in a pram” “Dancing Bear going out of control”. These all need fleshing out to provide detail of the effect they will have. For example the Temperance Society might move in a fixed direction and stop all shooting within a 9” radius, or the effect might only be on certain groups or maybe roll against a badness rating, if you’re bad enough you can shoot anybody, but maybe your mates will not like it and shoot you.
I doubt I will make or buy anything new so it needs to be a bit generic in terms of figures I already have and everything will be on clear bases to give a uniform look so that restricts it even more. I'm also going to stay in period so I don't think there'll be vampires or werewolves (sorry Brian)
Any and all suggestions for these sorts of events are more than welcome and very much encouraged, I’d like about a dozen which should provide variety as well as interest and so far am short on that target.
Well if there’s anybody out there, please say hello and stay safe.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Rufina Grey Eye and the Grimoire of Life

Rufina Grey Eye has been sent by her Mistress Thanda the Grim to procure the Grimoire of Life, procure is rather a loose term that basically means steal.
After the last adventure that Rufina had been sent on, she has a lot to prove, although everyone else involved with the charade had basically stuck to the party line and so it was seen as a successful venture by their boss – Thanda. That was a good outcome for all concerned, Thanda’s wrath knew no bounds, see https://vagabondswargamingblog.blogspot.com/2018/12/grook-and-princess.html
She was so pleased with Rufina that she had let her pick her own team to escort her this time, strangely no one from the first mission wanted to go and so she is out with an untried group of adventurers.
They were all introduced a couple of posts earlier than their first, or was it last adventure..
There are a few fighters, a few thieves and only one archer to try and keep Rufina alive, they knew this was their main reason for being chosen. Indeed rumours had spread following Rufina’s first solo outing without Thanda’s guiding hand, well the guiding hand was more of a smack behind the ear if Rufina made a mistake, which strangely enough was quite often.
Sandra the Dancer has been sent on in advance of the main party to scout out the lay of the land.
Up ahead is a small log cabin, this is where they are told the Grimoire is hidden. She can see a few beehives off to her left, a laden donkey and a table with a large wooden chest on it outside the cabin and obviously a dunny to the right.
Further right is what appears to be a pig sty tended by a grubby peasant.
In the wooden compound is another peasant drinking from a bowl and stroking a small scruffy dog.
The obligatory drone view of the whole scene.
Sandra makes her way back to the rest of the party and tells them what she has seen. When questioned she agrees that there is no sign of anyone who might be the current custodian of the Grimoire of Life, maybe in the cabin is all she can say.
A plan of action is devised by Rufina and for once I agree with the plan. Helgi and Sandra will make their way through the woods and round to the back of the cabin. Rufina and the rest of the team will approach openly from the front and try and create a sufficient diversion to enable the other two to enter the cabin unseen find and escape with the Grimoire.
Sounds pretty good to me.
Helgi and Sandra have a long way to go so I decided on 1D6 +6 turns and then each turn roll 2D6 and
on a 7 they will arrive.
Rufina will decide when to start her approach to the cabin, too soon and she will have a long time trying to convince the occupants she is harmless, too late and Helgi and Sandra will almost certainly be discovered.
Ruffina decided on allowing 7 turns to pass before setting off.
Turn 8 and the group are hailed by Gormy Gilbert over by the pig sty. “Oi wat you want” Rufina gives him the weary traveller routine, just want some food and drink, maybe a bed, only one night, well maybe two, it’s been a long journey and we have a long way to go. Yes I know that you know the routine, so does Gilbert. However he gets an ambivalent dice roll on his brains test and doesn’t tell them to piss off, as most of us would.
The chap drinking and watching the food slowly cook also has an ambivalent brains test and so continues to watch the pot boil.
Rufina is thinking that her training as an Elimentalist has it’s downside, she could sent a lightning bolt into the cabin and burn it down, well she could on a very good day, but she is not trained in the finer skills of persuasion and so can’t get the oaf guarding the pigsty to invite her into the cabin for food and a rest. She doesn’t have the spells to achieve that and so falls back on her womanly guile, smiles sweetly and rolls against her charisma score versus Gormy’s Brains – nope that didn’t work either. It turns out he’s not as gormy as he might at first appear.
Helgi fails to arrive.
A demure young woman comes out of the cabin and says “mind the donkey, he bites” Ayesha raises her fist and whispers “ you bite me and it’s the last thing you’ll do”.
Rufina realises there is something not quite right about the appearance of the young woman, but can’t quite put her finger on it. There seems to be a slight shimmering, a slight aurora , but it could just be the heat. Basically a poor awareness check.
A good shot of Gormy Gilbert Grant.
A close up of the pretty girl and the drinking peasant as she tells them that her master will be home soon and he doesn’t like strangers, so they had better move on. Rufina tries her Charisma on the pretty girl but it has no effect at all.
On turn 11 Helgi and Sandra arrive, thank God for that, neither the pretty girl nor the drinking peasant are aware of their arrival and indeed you need to look very closely to see them. They are behind the clump of foliage centre left and at the far back of the scene.
They both make their stealth rolls and make it to the back of the cabin by the window. Well window is a bit of a misnomer it’s just a hole in the log wall, easy to climb through, and that’s when I thought about the wind and the dog, so a quick check on wind direction proves it is blowing towards them which is why the dog didn’t pick up their scent.
Peering through the window Helgi can see a small barrel on top of a large chest.
With the best possible stealth roll Helgi climbs through the window (hole in the wall) and examines the barrel. She sees a thin twine going from the barrel to a bell high up on the wall, well above her head and so she cuts the line.
Rufina outside is still engaging the pretty girl in conversation and continuing t feel that slight feeling of disquiet.
Helgi picks up the small barrel and passes it to Sandra who throws a 5 and 6, high is bad and she drops it.
Everyone rolls to see who reacts first to the loud crunching sound as the barrel hits the floor. The numbers indicate who reacts first. High is good except in Rufina's case when 10 means 0 and she froze.
Out of sight behind the cabin Sandra reacts like a striking scorpion and is the first to activate.
I give her a number of choices :-
Charge round the wall and attack the nearest person = roll 1
Grab the barrel and run = roll 2
Grab the barrel and tell Helgi to open the chest = roll 3,4
Grab the Barrel and tell Helgi to get out = roll 5
Climb into the room and open the chest = roll 6
She rolled 4 so shouts to Helgi “Open the chest and get the Grimoire.”
The Pretty Girl and Ayesha react next.
The Pretty girl transforms into the Red Woman a terrifying sight and Ayesha faints - WHAT!!!!!
It takes 4 turns before she wakes.
I'm using a set of Horror Cards I developed (stole most) for my Gothic Horror games.
Gormy Gilbert emerges from the pigsty as a Jinn and he moves towards the group, Ashara is horrified but her resolve is undiminished, indeed it is strengthened by the fear, she is determined not to let her companions down.
Patricia sees Ashara hesitate and runs at the Jinn to protect her friend.
The small farm dog transforms into a ravening slavering beast and jumping the log wall, attacks Rufina who has failed to react to any of this and she barely has time to pull out her sacrificial knife, her only defensive weapon apart from her magic which seems to have departed from her, hopefully temporarily.
Helgi inside the cabin tries to open the chest – it’s not locked, she pauses a second, and sees the trap – a blind funnel web spider, poisonous as hell but she squashes it with a well aimed blow and opens the chest.
Is the Grimoire in the chest – NO.
The peasant quietly drinking from his bowl jumps to his feet and turns into Alum Spellbinder, he raises his arm and muttering an incantation of power and throws a – nothing, no flash blue light, no explosive sound, but a skeletal hand reaches out from the chest and takes hold of Helgi’s right hand – tightly. Instead of panicking she has an aura of calm around her.
The donkey though is panicked and pulling hard on it’s halter breaks the tie and does a runner as fast as it’s little legs will carry it.
Patricia beats the Jinn to the ground and it fails to rise.
Rufina sticks her sacrificial knife a long way into the maddened dog and it falls to the floor whimpering.
Sandra runs around the compound intent on attacking Spellbinder but as she comes round the side of the cabin she sees the horrifying sight of the Red Woman, she attacks in a suicidal rage but the Red Woman is unaware of the attack until too late.
She is a Demon from the dark recesses of the world, and is used to defeating her enemies with fear and guile, she is not used to being attacked from behind by a sword wielding Amazon and she disappears into the void.
Spellbinder casts a singularly appropriate spell to defend himself and also give him a bit more time to summon allies, the spell takes some effort but is successful and a transparent wall appears around him. Rufina but has finally got her act together and puts a small Imp behind the wall, Spellbinder seems unaware of this.
Because he casts another spell that almost destroys him, a construct and a large one at that, This could change to dynamics of the conflict.
It leaps the wall and advances towards the remaining members of the party. They all prepare to meet their doom.
As over in the background Spellbinder turns on the small Imp and blast’s it back to Hades and beyond.
He can’t keep the wall spell going and as he is destroying the Imp the wall dissapears.
As does his construct when faced by 3 determined women warriors. However it was Rufina who created such a powerful spell that she alone was responsible for its demise.
Ayesha finally wakes from her faint, a thing she will deny to her dying day.
Just in time to see Pat of Selby attack spellbinder but he is too strong and she must retire but he can't summon enough energy to cast another spell.
He fails to summon any more help and three of the band return to the attack.
He is only a man after all, and falls beneath their swords. The Grimoire is finally discovered in the chest on the table in plain sight of any that cared to look diligently.
I’m not sure how the party will spin this to Thanda but I suppose it is more of a success that a failure, so maybe they will not need to face the wrath of the mightiest wizard the world has seen. Of course that’s her view of herself and no one in their right mind is going to argue.
Final overview of the table, - a small action, but plenty of it.
Well a quick write up of a game I played yesterday, I've been enthused reading a couple of games Greg the Wargame Addict has written as a co-conspirator and joint venture on another blog vaguly related to adventuring in a wizarding world, so I dug Rufina out of the drawer where she has been doing whatever little lead women do in the dark!! 
I'm off on my travels again today so the usual excuses about internet etc, but it's not been too bad so far, see how I go.
I've had two new chaps click on the follow button recently, the first for a long time - so welcome to you and please feel free to let me know you have read some of this drivel, even if you think it is drivel, just be polite. :)
Take care out there.