Handsome Ranch I (pilot episode)
Our players started off out riding their horses. When Handy Kimble and his boys challenged them to a race they decided it would be better to accept than be heckled later for refusing. They toe the starting line and prepare to race.
Right off the bat, in the first turn of the race, Thomas Harding (Matthew's character) botched his check. His horse stumbles and he's thrown. He manages to roll with the fall and isn't hurt but he's out of the race already. Lucy "Two-bit" Calloway (Ally's character), Duncan McGee (Michael's Character) and Timothy Pranks (npc) all manage to sprint fully. Everyone else falls a step behind.
In the second turn of the race Hick Thompson (Johnny's character) and Benny Simples (npc) score Extraordinary Successes and actually manage to catch up. For the rest of the race no one gains or loses and step, so Lucy, Timothy, Duncan, Hick and Benny are all in the lead.
For the jump the players all decided not to spend a Plot Point on the final roll, figuring one of them is bound to take it. Timothy Pranks's horse stumbles however and he falls off his horse, though he manages to avoid injury. Hick Thompson and Benny Simples tie for the jump and it's a draw.
Though there's no winner the kids of Group One are good-natured about it. Everyone laughs and teases one another for a while before heading back to the ranch.
No one spots the horse tracks nearby.
The team returns to the ranch, brushes down their horses and pen them up in the barn again, then reports for dinner. During dinner they are informed that the girls in the kitchen are demanding fresh meat and Mr. Handsome has decided to form a hunting detail to go out three times a week to procure it. This will save them a bit of money and provide good practice for the hands. Everyone is excited and everyone volunteers immediately, leaving Mr. Handsome to defer the decision until later. This is clearly understood to mean he'll be watching everyone like a hawk for the next couple of days, looking to reward good behavior and hard work with the coveted job.
Greg assumes Thomas is the leader of the team, so he confronts Thomas in the washroom. He threatens him and his team not to challenge them over the next day or so. Greg and his team want the hunting spot and they'll get it, too. No matter what. You better watch your back, Jack.
Duncan immediately challenges Greg to a wrestling match and Vincent then jumps in with a counter-challenge, eager to wrestle someone. Duncan accepts and everyone then stumbles outside to "wrastle" while the word goes out that the two boys are about to throw down.
As Duncan and Vincent square off even Mr. Handsome steps out on the porch to watch. The players are aware that he doesn't like dirty fighting in a friendly match, so they better keep it clean. Thomas advises Duncan on wrestling Vincent in order to use his So Say We All asset in case he needs a Plot Point or two.
Duncan takes initiative and it's decided we'll roll initiative each turn since there are only two "combatants".
Duncan closes on Vincent and attempts a grapple. After a bit of resistance Duncan locks him down and has him.
Duncan attempts to take Vincent to the ground for the count but after a bit of mutual struggling, he botches. Duncan not only loses hold of Vincent but ends up no the ground himself! Fortunately Vincent has used up all his actions trying to stay on his feet so he can't take advantage of that.
Duncan take initiative again and gets to his feet to attempt another grapple. He lands a grab right away and Vincent can't shake him lose. When Duncan attempts to take him down again they struggle a bit and...he yet botches again! For a second time Vincent shakes him off and tosses him to the ground.
Luckily Duncan take initiative again and once again he springs up for another grapple. They spend the rest of the turn struggling with each other.
Despite his two botches, Duncan continues to seize the initiative and this time drops two Plot Points on his first grapple attempt. When that succeeds he drops another on his takedown attempt and succeeds. Duncan has a good grip and has him prone, keeping him down for the turn.
Through the last turn of the wrastlin' match, Duncan holds Vincent fast while one of the boys nearby taps him out. Duncan wins!
When Duncan lets him go Vincent gets up furious, threatening to beat Duncan up, but Mr. Handsome stops applauding long enough to cut him off and put him in his place. He stomps off angry and embarrassed, glaring at everyone. Duncan goes to wash up again, with the rest of the team staying nearby to avoid any further trouble. Everyone then heads to the bunkhouse. The Group Three team stays pretty much to themselves that evening but the mutual glaring makes it clear to everyone that these two teams are the competitors for the hunting job.
The following morning the team heads to the barns to feed that animals there. The morning progresses as normal and the team feeds all the animals, then begins preparing to muck out the stalls.
Everyone rolls to spot the signs of EPM on one of the horses and all fail. The adult animal handler, Mrs. Addie-may Belford, notices when comes around a while later and chastises the team for not catching the symptoms. They have to delay their work to run the horse off to the south pen to quarantine it. Mrs. Belford stays there to tend to the horse and they return to the barn to complete their chores.
When they return they get back to work mucking out the stalls and find they've fallen behind just a little with being chewed out and dealing with the sick horse. As Jack Dingo drives off with the load of manure they've loaded onto the trailer, they get back to work and find Group Three has come around to visit. Having already finished their duties and having a few minutes before lunch, it seems they're intent on having some sport with them.
They begin first by teasing the team for not spotting the sick horse, saying they wouldn't want them tending to any horse of theirs. Their horses would all die! The team decides to ignore them. Kurt Clifford then remarks on "Two-bit's" whoring past, followed by Eileen and Maia chiming in, wondering if she was even worth two bits.
Lacy makes her Average Willpower + Discipline check to keep her cool but the two girls crank it up a notch, chanting about "Lacy One Bit, She's a misfit, She don't swallow, She just spits it. They pay Lacy only one bit."
Everyone else on the team makes their Average Willpower + Discipline check at that one and Lucy drops 2PP on her check. Unfortunately she fails and loses her temper. She turns to charge for Eileen, ready to tussle.
Hick's close enough to attempt a grapple to stop her and manages to do so in time to prevent her busting someone's lip. Thomas and Edwin use their Willpower, Discipline and Influence to talk her down successfully.
The dinner bell rings then, sparing any further confrontations. Since they've managed to get their work done, everyone heads off for dinner.
On the way to the house, both teams slightly behind Group One after their altercation, they hear a crash from behind the south barn and someone yelling out. Both teams rush around to find Jack Dingo has run the mule up on a stump while his team was spreading manure and has turned it over. Two of the kids are trapped under the mule, one of them is clearly hurt bad and the other seems less injured than simply stuck.
Lacy runs for the bunkhouse to fetch her Doctor's Bag and finds Eileen doing the same. The rest of the two teams get to work grabbing what tools they can from the barn to lever up the tractor and get the kids out from under while Edwina and Maia dash for the house to tell the adults about the incident. No one notices Greg send Kurt off, who heads for the south barn to put a snake in one of the stalls there.
Working together they're able to get the tractor levered up a bit. With no one on the scene having any medical expertise to mention they injure the boy with the broken moving him out from under the mule and knock him unconscious. Lacy and Eileen arrive with their gear and get to work performing first aid. Both are successful. One boy is bruised up and frightened but otherwise injured. The other has a broken leg, so Lacy and Eileen work together to immobilize it successfully while he's out.
By the time the adults arrive the boys have been tended to and are stable, so Mr. Handsome has Mrs. Belford and Jack Dingo take the truck into town to deliver them to the doctor there. He praises both teams, especially Lacy and Eileen. Everyone heads to dinner then and the team then notices Kurt return from somewhere else, with no idea where he was.
After dinner it's time to hack the horses. The team heads for the south barn and runs the farm horses through their regular workout, then turns their attention to the show horses. As they're winding up they hear that Mr. Handsome is at the west barn bringing out one of the newer, un-broken horse. Finishing up quickly, they head there to see what's up and find he wants someone to get to work on the new horse. Everyone volunteers, including the PC team (counting on Hick's talent at horse riding and training).
The PC team gets the tap and Hick heads in to try to break the new horse. This is actually a test and when Hick asks Mr. Handsome if he wants him to ride him into submission or take his time building trust with the horse, Mr. Handsome is impressed and praises him. He gives Hick the go ahead to spend the next week building a relationship with the horse and uses the incident to teach the other young hands that "breaking" a horse properly shouldn't mean breaking their spirit but rather breaking them into their new "herd". He points out Hick's approach and generally holds him up as an example for the others.
While Hick spends time with the new horse (spending 2PP on the Willpower + Animal Handling/Training for a whopping 20 versus the horse's Willpower check of 5, Extraordinary Success) the rest of the team heads into the barn to put everything away in there and take a last look around. In the process they stir up the snake that Kurt put in the empty stall and it slithers into the neighboring stall, spooking that horse.
Only Thomas notices the snake as the source of all the trouble and he grabs a shovel to kill it while the others try to calm the horse. Working together they still fail and the horse bruises himself up trying to charge through the stall door.
Thomas drops 3PP on the attack with the shovel and kills the snake instantly.
Working together they all drop 1PP on their attempts to calm the horse and manage it at last when Lacy scores an extraordinary success (and Thomas flicks the dead snake out of the barn with the shovel). They spend a few more minutes reassuring all the horses while Lacy works on tending to the injured horses scrapes and bruises successfully.
Supper time comes and everyone heads into the house, stopping to wash up on the way. Once there they all eat and chat amiably, then the educatin' begins.
Once the hour of book learnin' is over, Mr. Handsome decides to quiz the kids on what was covered to see if everyone was paying attention. All the PC team pass, answering their questions successfully. Maia Lin flubs hers, though.
Mr. Handsome then fires off random questions from several different areas of study (culture, history, literature, philosophy and law). The PC team outperforms Group Three easily.
Mr. Handsome then tells everyone he'll be holding an impromptu shooting competition between the three team. The winner will take the hunting job starting tomorrow. Each team is to field two shooters for their team and use their own weapons. The competition is a turkey shoot at long range, with the turkeys in question to be served up for dinner tomorrow. He then sends Jack Dingo out to the coop to fetch the last of the turkeys and he hauls them all out to the old abandoned coop out from the back porch. There he crouches behind an old brick wall with a turkey, prepared the give it a good shake and send it off toward the old coop.
The players pick Hick and Thomas for their shooters. They face Greg and Maia from Group three, Grant and Handy from Group One.
For the first round Hick determines the turkey will take about two turns to reach the coop so he decides to spend the first turn aiming. Though he drops 4 Plot Points on the shot and hits, he doesn't drop the turkey. He realizes aiming wasn't a very good strategy when all the penalties for the shoot render a second shot impossible. The turkey reaches the coop wounded but very much still squawking.
Greg learns from Hick's failure and fires once each turn until the turkey is out of bounds. He misses both shots.
Grant follows suit and likewise fails to land a hit.
Round one goes to Group Two for at least landing a hit, if not actually making a kill.
In the second round Thomas leads and drops 4 Plot Points on his first shot. He hits but doesn't drop the turkey.
His second shot misses, unfortunately, and his turkey makes it to the coop as well.
Maia takes the next shot and scores truly impressive hits both turns, dropping the turkey dead before it can reach the safety of the coop.
Handy takes the last shot and doesn't hit anything.
Round two goes to Maia for the only kill and Group Three wins the match as a whole.
The player characters are a bit bummed out but figure they at least came close. When Mr. Handsome decides he'll announce who is to get the hunting job tomorrow they at least have some hope things might swing their way in the end. On the way back to the bunkhouse to put away their weapons, Greg purposely bumps into Hick and viciously whispers, "I warned you all not to take us on. You're gonna regret it. You mark my words."
Hick decides not to kick his butt since Mr. Handsome is still in sight. Once they've reached the bunkhouse the other player characters have convinced him to keep his nose clean for the time being.
That night when they awake to find the barn on fire, they head out immediately to let the horses loose. Being mindful to stay out of the horse's path when they dash clear of the barn, no one is injured. After the horses are all safe the player characters spend a moment assessing the fire before determining there's not much hope in combating it. They grab what grain and tools they can, tossing them out the back as well.
At this point Lacy "Two-bit" notices the horses have not only left the barn, they seem to be leaving the grounds as well. They've knocked down a portion of the south fence and are ranging out into the night. A quick assessment and the team decides they can track the horses down and retrieve them later. For now they get back to work salvaging what they can before it all burns.
Once the fire has progressed to the point that nothing further can be saved Mr. Handsome, Mrs. Belford and several of the other ranch hands arrive to witness the barn burning, too late to pitch in. Now the missing horses are noted and Mr. Handsome instructs them all the focus on seeing that the fire doesn't spread to the other buildings. The horses, he figures, can wait until morning and most will likely wander back by then anyway.
The following morning the player characters have been up all night watering down the other building and keep watch for stray embers starting more fires. Having taken it upon themselves to keep watch all night, they score well in Mr. Handsome's estimations. That changes the following morning when the barn has burned down enough to be properly put out and the source of the fire is discovered. It seems someone left a lantern lit in the barn and accusatory stares are leveled at the player characters soon enough.
Not recalling having even lit a lantern the previous evening, the team gives the rubble a good look. Thomas and Lacy both spot the lantern's position and point this out to Mr. Handsome. This leads to a second look at the downed fence and it quickly becomes clear the whole incident was staged to get the horses off the ranch.
As the player characters have been up all night, he sends them off for a quick nap while Mrs. Belford and some of the kids from Group Three head out to wrangle up the horses that got loose. By afternoon they return with all but two of them.
When Mr. Handsome begins leveling some stern questions at Group Three regarding their lackluster patrols of late, he's not satisfied with their responses. Group Two is surprised when their not only assigned the hunting job on the spot but patrol duty for the next three weeks as well. While this represents a significant increase in the amount of work they're expected to do, it's worth it in their estimations to have it rubbed in Group Three's face right in front of everybody.
Though Group Three levels some dark looks in their directions, the dire warning that they're teetering close to replacing Group One on the scut-work has them on their best behavior otherwise.
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