Five Feet High and Rising

By the Skin of Their Teeth, Part 2

At the start of the session I took Joe (playing Dr. P.), aside to refresh his memory and ask what he wanted to do. [I won’t reveal what we discussed here as the other players don’t yet know and might read this session report.]

When we rejoined the group it was decided that, although the scientists had made Puddlefeather a member of their society, since the rest of the Posse would not be allowed inside, it was time to move on.

One question remained: “What about the screaming?” the Posse asked.

“Uh…screaming contest,” the doctor replied.

None of them bought it, but nothing would make Doc change his story. Conveniently, Red had a meeting that started in half an hour at a saloon across town.

The meeting did not go as Red thought it would. He’d expected an Indian man who had (essentially) threatened him on the train into town, an older man wearing an odd mixture of traditional Indian dress and white clothing. Instead he got a well-dressed, polite Indian man who was thoroughly confused as to the purpose of the meeting. The man, Tom “Black Eagle” did not know the man Red was looking for, nor anything about the playing card (a Queen of Diamonds smudged with Ghost Rock) left in the Huckster’s pocket while he was sleeping on the train.

Tom did have some questions of his own, though. He was looking a man and a woman, neither of which anyone in the Posse had seen. The two had stolen a ritual knife of great importance to Tom’s people, and he’d been chasing them back and forth across the country for a good long time now.

Outside the saloon the Posse reconvened and determined to strike out and find Jeff “Soapy” Smith, the man to whom Benny’s brother owes a $40,000 debt. And they would’ve made it, too, if it weren’t for a buxom brunette in a green velvet dress that all but bowled Hooker over. Introductions were made: this was Rita, a woman Hooker had had “relations” with on the train into town. She had told Hooker a sob story about how she and her brother had been run off their homestead a month or two ago by a band of ruthless savages. Seeing Hooker with the Posse she assumed he had gathered them at her request.

In the midst of this, a man joined the group: Rita’s brother Jonah. I had the Posse roll Scrutinizin’; the preacher and the doctor both noticed Jonah reacted oddly to Benny’s presence, as if he were surprised or nervous to see the preacher there.

In short order they agreed to check out the homestead. “I was thinking we could leave tonight,” Jonah said, “catch them by surprise in the dark.” The Posse did not like that idea; they wanted to go immediately.

To the Homestead And so the Posse set out, still not sure about their new travelling companion (Jonah insisted on coming along).

They were spotted long before they reached the homestead, but they had the presence of mind to keep their hands far from their weapons and made no sudden movements. A lone Indian approached on horseback and parlayed with Red. Red told the tale, that this young man said he was run off the homestead, and he added a bit about needing to find the deed which was still on the property.

The Indian denied the attack, the existence of the deed, and knowing the young man riding with the group, but agreed to let the Posse rest and water their horses at their troughs while Red took a look inside for the deed. On the ride to the homestead

The search proved fruitless, and he said as much when he emerged. Jonah was near hysterical by this point. The Posse intervened on his behalf. The Indian leader allowed Jonah to search the building, but only if Red went with him.

The young man circled the homestead, looking but not really searching for anything. When pressed he kept saying he needed more time, but could not or would not provide a description of what he was looking for. Red made a Scrutinizin’ check and noticed that the young man’s eyes kept darting to the floorboards at the center of the room.

The Indian leader finally announced that their time was up. Red and Jonah made it as far as the door when Jonah broke for the center of the room. The Indian guards were able to secure Jonah, who struggled like a wildcat until he was knocked out, while Red pried up the floorboards and found…dirt.

“Dirt?” said the Posse.

“Dirt,” I said.

“A special kind of dirt?”

“No. Dirt.”

“Oh. Um.” Jesse looked confused and crestfallen. “I guess I dig around a little, see if I can find anything.”

“Almost immediately you hear a thunk—your fingers have found the lid of a box.”

Inside the box was the knife, just as Tom had described. The Indians were overjoyed and broke camp immediately to bring the dagger back to Tom. Jonah they tied to the back of a horse for some questioning, but all the y got out of him was incoherent rambling, so the Preacher knocked ‘im back out.

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid Tom couldn’t offer the Posse anything but gratitude for the knife and its thief, but “this bein’ Indian territory, you never know when that’s going to come in handy.”

Seeing as her brother knew exactly where the stolen knife was, it was time to find Rita. Hooker took the lead and confronted her in her room while the others waited outside—on the landing and outside the hotel. Ken and I went into the kitchen to role-play out of earshot, since he had some information that needed sorting out, but the Posse didn’t need to hear. It went well…until Rita pulled a Rita pulled a gun on him. Her first shot went wild, which called in the rest of the party.

In no time, though, she was out cold, trussed up, and turned over to Tom and the sheriff.

The Posse decided it was time to return to the Gear & Crank. Outside a large group of Indians had gathered. They accused the scientists within of abducting members of their tribes to experiment on. On yet another insane Persuasion roll, Benny convinces the mob to disperse, that the Posse has an in with the group, and they’ll straighten everything out.

Inside Doc uses his newfound access to get the whole group inside, through the banker’s cage, and into a long hallway studded with doors. The first door on the left takes them into an operating theater, now empty…

Cut! At this point it was something like 3 o’clock in the morning, and everyone was exhausted. We’d gotten farther than I had expected, but still hadn’t touched on some of the major threads I developed. All in due time.

Observations -While they’re gripped by the story and happy that everyone has something unique to do and contribute, the players are crying out for combat. Maybe I should give it to them…

-Man, making all the NPCs interesting is hard, especially when the players seem to want every hotel clerk to have a detailed file. Time to push them into the wilderness with personality-less monsters.

-Combat’s gotten a lot easier. It’s unwieldy at first, but “cheat sheets” help a lot, as does reminding players to make their rolls before I get to them, and rolling things like to-hit and hit location at once.

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Zombiewski

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