The morning sun is over the horizon, and Ray “Doc” Brown finds a noose over his neck a mile outside of Finn’s Rock. Good deeds don’t go unpunished.
As luck would have it, Ace, Creed, and Nolan Tinney (a cowboy from the Lazy S ranch) are riding towards the town of Finn’s Rock looking for a doctor. Their pal Cole needs a doctor… bad. They come across the hanging near the sign that says:
The hanging seems more like a lynching, and Cole and Ace save Doc as he’s dangling from the tree…
The story starts to emerge. Town Marshall Bryce seems to have lost it; he’s taken over the dying town by force. When Doc stood up to him backed up by some town folk, Bryce callously gut shot one of the crowd. Shortly after, Doc was grabbed by two “deputies” and hauled off to the hangin’ tree.
While Cole’s life hangs in the balance, at the minimum, Doc needs his bag. Creed feels a need to do more; it just ain’t right leaving the town in the clutches of a madman.
The makeshift posse attempts to recruit Doc’s friend Campbell but reconsiders when they think about the danger to the family man.
With stealth and some luck on their side, the group gets to Doc’s office without making any noise thanks to the Huckster’s tricks. Their luck runs out when a deputy is standing in the office, recognizes Doc, and fires. Then all Hell breaks loose.
When the smoke cleared, the posse had taken out Marshall Bryce, the surprise betrayer Dr. Adrien Mannen (Ray’s replacement), and the remaining deputies. It was a tense battle in close quarters. Nolan was killed, and Creed was wounded (but patched up by Doc).
Leaving Campbell in charge and confident that the town had been freed, they ride back to Cole. He would’ve been a goner without Doc. Somehow a prairie tick was in Cole’s stomach (Doc figures he must have ingested it somehow), and Doc knew what to do. Cole recovered in short time, but an hour or more, and it might’ve been a different outcome.
A day or so later, the group joins back to the cattle drive with Doc in tow. The final push for Denver is on…
After thinking about it, I upped the XP awards to 4 for Doc on his debut, and 3 for Ace and Creed. I really enjoyed myself, and thought the players brought a ton to the party. That’s worth an extra XP.
Rules wise, I was surprised by the effectiveness of Soaking. It prolonged the battle and didn’t feel quite right. I also was surprised that the system is not as lethal as I thought. It took a bad roll for Bryce to actually be dead rather than just out of the combat (with some brain damage).
Adventure wise… I came to the table with just the framework. I knew Doc would be getting hanged (kind of a classic Western thing), I knew the town was in Marshall Bryce’s clutches (that was taken from the Coffin’s Rock adventure), and that Cole (or someone else had Gary shown up) had a mysterious ailment. Everything else was done at the table. I didn’t know Dr. Mannen was a bad guy until Doc entered the room… it just felt right, and the battle seemed like it was going to be pretty one sided. If we had more time, I would’ve went with anything the player’s thought was going on. Maybe Bryce was being controlled by someone else. Maybe the missing Mayor was possessed. Maybe there was something sinister in the mine. Or… the players could have just rescued Doc and rode back to Cole, and the adventure would have taken a different direction altogether. I was nervous about trying this, but I thought it worked.