Hey hey, I’m still here. It’s been a while, I know, I’m sorry. Been working on a story. Well, a novel. It’s pretty exciting. I’m gabbling. You look great, by the way. We should go for a drink later. You’re buying.
It’s been a bit of nightmare recently trying to get the guys together to continue our D&D Wild West game, but we managed to squeeze in a quick session on Monday, and it was good fun all round!
In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev).
An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.
So, last time, there was an… altercation with a pair of witches, but that’s all in the past now! Jeb remains tight-lipped about what he needs from the Dwyte brothers as they head towards Saint Pelor, the closest large town. The journey’s uneventful, and when they arrive into town, Jeb hops down off the wagon and tells the boys he’ll meet them later, after he’s taken care of some business of his own. Hurray for convenient excuses as to why certain characters aren’t taking part in the adventure!
(As a sidenote, Jeb will basically be a Gandalf-like figure, disappearing to pursue his own agendas and then reappearing again; this is a compromise Joe and I worked out to accommodate his schedule, as he doesn’t live locally to me like Trev and Darryl do).
With the rest of the day to kill, the brothers park their wagon and hit the local saloon. John immediately sets to spending his witch-killin’ money on some fine whiskey, while Magnus joins in a poker game that’s going on between four rich-looking gents. I get Trev to do a round of Bluff, Insight and Perception checks, and after passing more than he fails, I declare that he rakes in a tidy $150.
As he’s playing, one of the players – the group’s leader – introduces himself as Dudley Sinclair. Yes, Dudley. Yes, I’d thought of a better name, but I couldn’t remember it, and I’d already described him as being a gentleman pugilist sort of guy, so it stuck…
Magnus gives his name, and Dudley declares that he’s heard of the Dwytes, and that they may have met years ago at some social function or another when the Dwyte family wasn’t, you know, all brutally murdered and financially ruined. They start to chat…
Meanwhile John is “gathering intelligence” by staring at the barmaid’s cleavage, and does the standard RPG thing of asking for local news. The barmaid mentions that there’s going to a duel at high noon tomorrow between two local rich men; Gabriel Forrester… and Dudley Sinclair. John asks why they’re duelling…
… and Dudley explains to Magnus. He was out for a stroll one evening, when Gabriel ran right into him, clearly agitated. The two are from rival families anyway, so tempers inevitably flared and they argued back and forth, until Gabriel accused Dudley of being a thief, and demanded he returned what he stole. Dudley claimed not to have any idea what Gabriel was talking about, and was naturally insulted to be accused. One thing led to another, and soon a duel was declared. Dudley is confident he’ll win, as he’s simply better than Gabriel, but he regrets having to go through with it, because…
… the barmaid tells John that Dudley is romantically involved with Gabriel’s sister, Miriam. Everyone in town (especially Gabriel) knows, but it’s not official yet so no-one talks about it. “It’s a shame,” says the barmaid. “Whoever wins, that poor sweet girl’s going to lose one of the men she loves.” Neither man will back down for fear of losing respect and gaining a reputation as a coward (which is a big deal).
So, we have a duel between two unwilling men, an innocent girl caught in the middle, and a thief on the loose!
John and Magnus decide to go and talk to Gabriel; they think that maybe if they can find the thief and return what was stolen, the matter will resolve itself without the need for a duel. Plus, currying favour with some rich families won’t hurt.
They head to the Forrester house, and the door is answered by Snooty McButlerson.
(looking the Dwytes up and down as if they’re something he stepped in) “And who may I say is calling?”
“Tell Mr Forrester the Dwytes are here to see him. We can help him with his problem.”
The butler sighs and disappears into the house, and returns a few minutes later.
“The Dwytes, you say? Of River’s End?” *aristocratic sniff* “Please sirs, come in.”
The brothers go inside and they’re greeted by Miriam Forrester, your standard Southern Belle archetype. Big fluffy dress, blonde ringlets, breathless exclamations of “oh mah stars!”… you get it.
“Mr. and Mr. Dwyte! What a privilege it is to welcome you into my home! Pappy had told me such horrible things about your sudden decline in fortune, but I am overjoyed to see that the Dwyte name is still strong and alive in you two fine gentlemen! My brother is attending to business in town, but perhaps I can be of service to you?”
(At this point Darryl mimed unzipping his jeans, because in his mind every line of dialogue is innuendo)
“We heard about the… ah… issue between your brother and Mr. Sinclair. We were wondering if we could help.”
“Well I’m glad that someone in this forsaken town will! All they seem to care about is placin’ bets on who will win. No one’s stoppin’ to think on just how pig-headed the two of them are being! I’m most distressed!” *lace hanky* (is it weird I had way too much fun roleplaying this?)
John cuts to the chase by asking what was stolen. Miriam takes them down into the family vault, which is your standard big safe door with combination lock jobby. Miriam tells them that only she, her brother, and their father know the combination. The vault door itself doesn’t show signs of being damaged or forced. When she opens the vault, the Dwytes see that the contents – gold bars, antiques, lockboxes, etc – are all untouched. Miriam tells them that the only thing that was taken was a small silver box, the kind that a lady may keep jewelry in. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know what was in the box, or why it was taken.
“Miriam! What’s going on here?” (to the Dwytes) “Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?”
John’s hard-wired instinct is to get a gun in Gabriel’s face, but Magnus smooths things out by explaining their presence. Gabriel calms down, and when he does it’s apparent that he’s in a state. He explains that he came downstairs one night and encountered a cloaked and hooded figure escaping the house, and he gave chase. While chasing, he lost them, bumped into Dudley, and things got out of hand, accusations were flung around, etc. He knows full well that Dudley probably isn’t the thief (at least not directly), and will probably kill him in the duel. Gabriel obviously doesn’t want to go ahead with the duel, but he doesn’t want to back down and admit he was wrong for fear of the consequences it would have for his family’s reputation. As mentioned, taking the sensible/cowardly way out is a big no-no in the Territories, what with their Wild West sense of values.
He accepts the Dwyte’s help in locating the thief and the stolen object.
“And what exactly was taken, Mr Forrester? Seems that the thief was mighty particular.”
Gabriel is reluctant to spill the beans, but Magnus gets it out of him by simply refusing to help until he has more information. Eventually Gabriel tells him; the silver box contained a relic of the duergar.
Background Break! The duergar are the setting’s equivalent of dwarfs. They came to the Territories a few centuries ago to settle, but something Really Bad happened (no-one knows what but some think it’s something to do with the Silent City across the Dry Sea to the west). Now it’s believed that the duergar are extinct, though some of their old strongholds are still standing. They were also very technologically advanced; while the humans were just about getting the hang of gunpowder, the duergar had mage-tech ray guns and power armour.
A duergar relic is big news, and regardless of what it is or what it does, there’s plenty of people who’d want to get their hands on it. Trev’s Insight check is pretty good, so I let him know that there’s something else that Gabriel isn’t telling them, but they decide to leave it for now. Gabriel tells them that there’s some other matters he has to take care of in town (a telegram to his father, coffin measurements, etc) and he leaves.
The Dwytes start their investigation in true Agatha Christie style by questioning the staff; the butler, and some maids. Unsurprisingly, none of them know anything about the theft, all of them claiming to be asleep in the servant’s quarters. Miriam sits with them during the questioning to offer moral support to the staff. John then gets the idea to question Miriam, who may know a bit more than she’s let on. However, whereas Magnus has been getting answers with gentle questions and empathy, John decides to just go ahead and grab Miriam and shake an answer out of her. Eesh.
Miriam admits that her brother and father had some shady business dealings; apparently the Forresters weren’t doing so well, so they got help from the Quiet Brothers.
Background Break! When I was sketching up background details for the game, at first I imagined the Quiet Brothers to be a standard Mafia-style organisation. Then I decided to go all out and make them an all-powerful “man pulling the strings” Illuminanti-esque group, i.e. the sort of thing that everyone talks about and suspects exists, but may or may not *actually* exist. Put it this way; I asked for Superstition checks to find out about them, rather than any other knowledge-related skill.
John doesn’t really know too much about the Brothers, but we decide that Magnus may have had brushes with them before; his old friend/rival Jace Garrett happens to know a guy who knows a guy who may work for them. The Brothers are definitely the group who’d want to get a duergar relic; the implication that the thief is someone who was working for the Brothers, and they decided that the relic in the vault was suitable payment.
Miriam collapses after that, mumbling something about how she’s said too much. John and Magnus ignore her and head out to find Gabriel and Dudley so that they can talk the whole thing out. Dudley’s still at the saloon, and Gabriel’s at the telegram office. The Dwytes keep the peace by telling them that they’re onto some new information, and make the two promise that if they can find the thief that they’ll call off the duel. Both of them agree, and try not to sound too grateful about it.
Upon returning to the Forrester house, the servants are gone and Miriam’s nowhere to be found. The four of them search the house, Gabriel grabbing a few derringers from a desk drawer so that he and Dudley both have guns.
With a sense of grim finality, they go down into the basement, to the vault. It’s locked, and Gabriel opens it.
Inside, they find Miriam. She’s dead. There’s not a mark on her, so it looks like she’s died of natural causes. However, Magnus knows enough about the Quiet Brothers to know that some of their agents know Diabolic Arts (which I make sure that Trev and Darryl know are *very* different from witchcraft like they encountered last time) which could be used to kill someone without leaving a mark on the body.
Miriam’s holding a scrap of paper. Written on it is “Consider the debt repaid.” Was she a loose end, or was she killed purely to send a message?
Both Gabriel and Dudley are understandably devastated at Miriam’s death. Gabriel tries to vain to revive her.
“This is your fault, Gabriel! You and your damn father’s! She’s dead because of you! My sweet Miriam…” He aims the gun at Gabriel. “Looks like I won’t have to wait until high noon!”
I call for Trev and Darryl to make initiative checks (in hindsight, Reflex would’ve been more suitable. Eh). Neither of them are faster than Dudley, and he shoots Gabriel in the chest at point blank range. Magnus immediately goes to help Gabriel, who hasn’t died instantly (because, come on… derringer) while John grapples with Dudley and smacks some sense into him (amusingly, that was the only attack roll made in the entire session).
Things are looking for bad for Gabriel; Magnus tears some material from Miriam’s dress and uses it to put pressure on the wound, but he’s losing a lot of blood. Thankfully at that moment, Jeb shows up as if from nowhere!
“Step aside son.”
He uses his powers as an Apostle to miraculously heal Gabriel’s wound. Gabriel scrambles up and begs Jeb to do the same for his sister. Jeb just shakes his head sadly.
“Don’t work that way. Today was her day. I’m sorry.”
By now Dudley has recovered a bit, and after cursing Gabriel’s name, he storms off. Gabriel pulls himself together a bit, and thanks the Dwytes and Jeb. He reckons that the duel’s off; after all, Dudley did just shoot him. He’s grateful for their willingness to help, even though what happened was almost certainly going to happen anyway, with or without their involvement. He also tells the group that they can count on his family as allies if they ever need a favour.
“But for now, I have to make arrangements for my sister. So get the hell out of my house.”
They take the cue and leave. Later, in the saloon, as they’re contemplating the consequence of getting drawn into something involving the Quiet Brothers, Jeb finally comes clean and explains his agenda…
Which we’ll find out about next time!
New Ally Gained! Gabriel Forrester. Not so sure about his dad though…
The Reaper’s Tally: Still at 2. That’ll change…
Really good session this one, lots of social encounters and fun roleplaying which let Darryl and Trev develop their characters further as a gruff, no-nonsense problem solver and a smooth-talking people-person respectively. Next session will be bit a more action-y though; I’m not sure what the gunfighting equivalent of blue balls is, but Darryl was definitely suffering from it!
Updated 2nd-level character sheets by the way, if you’re interested in that sort of thing!
Now I just actually need to think of some plot to glue some action scenes together… this is the risks you take when you don’t go by published modules!