Handsome Ranch II (pilot episode)
Act I, Scene I:
Our session begins with Group Two (our PCs) having been tapped for patrol duty (Group Three was removed from that duty, having failed to deal effectively with cattle rustlers on Handsome's land). They've also been granted hunting duty and Mr. Handsome himself has just left the ranch to fetch some hired gun hands from town to deal with the rustlers.
After grabbing a quick nap following their investigation of the burned-down barn, the PCs missed breakfast and have to grab a quick bite on the way out. It's now afternoon and they have only half a day to devote to their first day of hunting. No one knows any good hunting spots in the area, so they're forced to scramble around for a good spot as quickly as they can manage. Thomas and "Two-bit" manage to find a nice spot without too much trouble and the PCs hunker down to wait for something to come along.
As the daylight begins to fade and it's beginning to look like they've lost too much time with the barn burning and napping to luck into any game, two deer wander into their field of view at long range. As everyone is taking care to stay out of sight and quiet, and the deer are upwind, they go unnoticed and take the time to aim for a turn. Not wanting to underestimate how tough it might be to bring down a deer at long range (after all the trouble they had with the turkeys), the boys all focus on the same target (neither of the girls have rifles). All three hit well, not aiming for anything in particular and dropping their first deer right away.
Duncan botches his Initiative roll, so he spends a PP to reroll it. Thomas and Duncan then take Initiative over the deer and fire while it's utilizing innate defense and unable yet to dodge or sprint. Thomas hits twice but Duncan misses all three of his shots. When the deer reaches its initiative point it sprints away from the gunfire, leaving Hick one turn of fire before it gets away. His first shot hits hard and the deer drops.
With daylight wasting, the PCs move quickly to fetch the two deer, truss them up and strap them on their horses before trotting back for home.
Act I, Scene II:
Back at the ranch the PCs unload the deer and grumble a bit when it's clear the house girls expect them to dress them before bringing them into the kitchen. As the sun's gone down they set about doing so quickly so they don't miss supper. During the course of this they notice Maia return on horseback (though Group Three aren't supposed to have been going anywhere). Thomas notices she seems unusually anxious and out of sorts. When Mrs. Belford steps off the back porch to inform them that Group Three has left the ranch without permission and without even notifying anyone, Thomas points out Maia to her. She then instructs of them to fetch her back to the house so she can speak with her.
Winnie and "Two-bit" take the opportunity to abandon the messy work of dressing two wild deer in the back yard to run and fetch Maia. They are surprised when she startles and leaps on her horse. When she races off Mrs. Belford quickly instructs the boys to leave off with the deer and go fetch her back so she can "find out just what the heck is going on around here."
With their horses near at hand the boys leap on and take off after Maia while the girls are forced to sprint back for their horses to pitch in with the chase. Hick manages to get within "Caught" range of Maia on the third turn, with the other two boys one chase range behind. The girls are dropped out of the chase while mounting up but ride on ahead in order to catch up anyway. Hick attempts to grab the bridle on Maia's horse, dropping a couple of PP on the attempt and another after the roll to barely pull it off. He brings her to a screeching halt right away as the boys catch up and pull alongside.
As the only one with any Influence skill to speak of, the PCs keep Maia busy until "Two-bit" can catch up since it seems Maia isn't interested in explaining herself. When "Two-bit" arrives she drops 3PP on her attempt to interrogate Maia and lands an extraordinary success. Maia spills the beans after breaking down tearfully, informing the PCs that Group Three has been working with the horse rustlers all along and has been kidnapped when they tried to back out of the arrangement. They quickly herd Maia back to the ranch and report everything to Mrs. Belford who then orders them to gear up and ride out to rescue the rest of Group Three from the rustlers.
Act II, Scene I:
Going by the directions that Maia gave them the PCs ride out hard for the rustler's camp, arriving within the hour. By the time the reach it however, they find it abandoned with no sign of the rest of Group Three or any rustlers. Thomas spends a turn checking out the area and determines that the men at the camp were joined by others in range trucks, then drove out toward Handsome Ranch some time in the last hour. They must have just missed them on the way in. Fearing the worst, the PCs mount up again and ride even harder back to the ranch.
Act II, Scene II:
The PCs arrive back at the ranch to find three range trucks, with whoopin' and hollerin' rustlers in back, driving in and around the barns tossing Molotov cocktails around. They can see glimpses of Group One dashing about in the mix trying to put out the fires and ducking stray shots from the men in back of the trucks as well.
The team sprints up the road on horseback, heading for the nearest gate into the barn area (which is open now that the trucks have apparently burst through it to get inside). As they do so the men in back of the trucks toss the last of their alcohol bombs and take up rifles. As the nearest truck comes into view the PCs open fire on it from horseback.
Duncan drops 2PP on his first shot at the driver, which hits hard and puts him half past his LP. Hick follows with three shots at one of the riders in back, missing all three shots, while Thomas follows up landing two hits on the same man, knocking him off the truck and out of the fight. As the other three men in back of the truck return fire Hick, Thomas and Winnie all take light hits and Winnie spends all her actions dodging to get off with only that. Two-bit shows off her fancy newtech pistol landing all three shots on a second rider, dropping him as well.
Duncan unloads his revolver at the driver again but isn't so lucky this time. He misses all three shots. Hick takes a light hit from one of the truck's riders and returns fire, hitting once and returning the favor. Thomas empties his revolver at the same guy but misses all three shots.
Taking note of all the gunfire in their direction, the other visible truck's riders open fire on the PCs from across the two intervening arenas but fail to hit anything at that range. Winnie finally gets to show off her fancy newtech pistol too, but she botches her first shot and drops the pistol right on the ground! "Two-bit" takes up her slack though and fires off three shots at the same man Thomas and Hick fired at. She hits hard with one shot, dropping him off the truck and out of the fight.
Duncan, Thomas and Hick regret their choice of revolvers when they have to spend this turn reloading on horseback. All of the PCs angle around the south side of the garage to avoid the rifle fire of the other two groups of truck riders until they can get closer. Winnie skids to a halt to jump off after her pistol, though. The last remaining rider in the nearby truck fires on Duncan again but misses. Since "Two-bit" is the only one able to fire this turn, she then opens up on him and knocks him out of the fight.
The boys finish reloading and everyone's on the south side of the garage from all the action this turn, except for Winnie who's fetching her pistol and leaping back on her horse to catch up. The driver of the truck the PCs just emptied of riflemen barrels on through the southern gate and down the road, fleeing the ranch. The other two drivers likewise decide it's time to get gone after witnessing their fellows in the lead truck mowed down by the PCs.
Turning sharply on along the west side of the garage, the PCs race north to engage to second truck that's just about to appear around the corner ahead. Winnie drives her horse to a sprint to try to catch up with the others.
As the second truck comes around the corner and into view, the first truck dashes through the front gate and leaves the area. As the only ones with a clear shot at the truck, Duncan and Hick open fire. Duncan aims for this driver also, dropping 2PP each on the first two shots. He misses but uses his Lady Luck to reroll the first shot and hits, knocking the driver just past half his LP. Hicks fires on one of the riders in back, dropping 2PP on his first shot as well and lands all three hits, knocking that man off and out of the fight. All three riders return fire on the two boys and Duncan takes his first hit, which drops him below half LP. Hick is hit hard by two shots from one of the riders and it's good that he's as tough as he is. Any other character would be risking unconscious but he only suffers the wound penalty for less than half LP.
With the two drivers now speeding ahead to escape, the trucks pull ahead of the PCs who are just beginning to angle alongside. With his wound penalty Duncan can only fire two shots and misses his target with both. Hick likewise fires off two shots, hitting one of the riders. Thomas finally has a clear shot at something and opens up at the driver of the truck behind him, dropping all his PP on his first two shots (4 each). His Out of Luck complication comes into play but his second roll is higher so his original first shot hits, wounding the driver only slightly.
The truck riders ahead open fire on Duncan and Hick again, the only clear shots they have. Hick is hit again very lightly, suffering only 1 stun after his mesh absorbs the other point. Hick's shooter botches and runs out of ammo while the third rider misses completely. Behind the PCs and to the their left, the riders in the trailing truck open fire but amazingly none of them hit anything despite being at close range. Winnie's fire at those riders and misses as well. "Two-bit" follows up, dropping 3PP on a called shot at the training truck's front tire. She barely hit but does enough damage to blow it out. The driver fails his control check and the truck careens out of control.
Duncan fires off his last shot at the wounded rider in back of the truck ahead but misses with the wound penalty he has. Hick follow suit on the same target and manages to hit but barely scratches him. Using his Intuitive asset for the day, Thomas figures the riders in the back of the trailing truck won't be able to fire effectively this turn, so he edges around Hick and fires on the riders in back of the lead truck. He fires off his last three rounds of ammo, hitting the same target Duncan and Hick shot at and knocks him out of the fight.
The riders ahead return fire and one of them hits Duncan hard and knocking him past his LP. He makes his Endurance check and stays conscious for now. The second rider lands a shot on Hick but he's still going strong despite being very close to his LP in total damage. Winnie edges around and fires on one of the two riders ahead but misses. "Two-bit" then follows up and misses as well, doing poorly for the first time since the gunfight began.
Duncan fails his second Endurance check right off and falls from his horse unconscious. Hick is out of ammo for his pistol so he spurs his horse ahead to catch up with the truck. Since he's practically on top of the truck already he's able attempt a jump onto the back of the vehicle from horseback, dropping his last 3PP on the attempt, trying to compensate for the wound penalty. Amazingly, he makes the jump and lands in back of the truck. The trailing truck is still out of control and swerves off to the north, heading towards the storage shed with the riders in back hanging on as best they can.
The riders in back of the lead truck, startled to find one of the crazy ranch hands landing right amongst them, try to shove him out of the truck bed. Hick is able to dodge and resists the attempts to shove him out of the truck with little difficult, even wounded as badly as he is. Concerned at firing near Hick, Winnie fires off a single shot at one of the riders shoving at him, dropping 4PP on the shot. She misses and so opts for another shot, hitting this time. "Two-bit" follows up on the same target, emptying her pistol and hitting once and knocking him out of the fight.
Duncan is still unconscious in the dirt behind the group but not in any particular danger of dying just yet. Hick engages the last rider in back of the truck hand-to-hand and lands a blow that does a little stun damage. Thomas is out of ammo as well and spurs ahead to throw his pistol at the remaining rider. He misses and so grabs his rifle to wield it next turn. The rider swings at Hick with his rifle but he misses with his wild swing as well.
The trailing truck crashes into the storage shed, knocking out the driver and dumping the four riders in back out on the ground for a few stun points each. Winnie fires off two more shots at the rider grappling with Hick but misses again. "Two-bit" is forced to reload this turn.
Hick opts to grapple the rider he's facing, landing a solid grab. He wrestles him a bit, rather than waiting to pummel him next turn, tossing him off the back of the truck instead. Thomas promptly leaves off wielding his rifle and steers his horse right over the fallen rider, trampling him and knocking him out of the fight. As the truck has reached the driveway at last, it speeds up and leaves the PCs in the dust. Hicks jumps off the truck and yet again manages to land relatively gracefully despite being so badly wounded. Still, the jump drops one more point of Wound damage in his current state and that's all that's required to render him unconscious when he fails his Endurance check.
Figuring they're not going to catch up again and not wanting to waste what little ammo they have left on shooting after the truck, the remaining PCs wheel around and head for the crashed truck. Arriving just as the men there have gotten to their feet to retrieve their weapons, Thomas, Winnie and "Two-bit" have them under the gun, threatening to shoot if they so much as twitch.
Act III, Scene I:
Once she's sure the other two have these guys in hand, "Two-bit" dashes off to check on Duncan and Hicks (who only now remember they can take a Second Wind and do so, both coming to consciousness as a result). "Two-bit" spends the next few minutes tending to them and stopping the bleeding enough for them to take over for Thomas and Winnie, who've already got the four raiders disarmed and face-first in the dirt.
In short order Mrs. Belford arrives and Group One is free to continue fighting the fires still burning here and there without being shot at. She helps the PCs fetch rope and tie up the raiders while "Two-bit" runs about checking the wounded and identifying two other raiders who are still alive. While she treats them the PCs on hand strip the burlap sacks off the raiders they've captured...and discover the missing four members of Group Three! Greg, Kurt, Vincent and Eileen are bound and wounded before them, the shooters from the back of the crashed truck!
Once all the raiders who are still breathing are tended to and trussed up properly, "Two-bit" lights into the four members of Group Three. In short order Eileen has spilled the beans, informing them of much the same that Maia already has and dropping names as well. Rance Maynard is identified as the man behind the raid and the horse rustlers, something Group Three only just discovered themselves when he showed up at the rustler camp to recruit them for the raid. Maynard is well known on this moon as Damien Marus's head honcho, another local ranch owner. Mrs. Belford can't shine any light on why Marus would be gunning for Mr. Handsome this hard, though. Marus is quite wealthy and Handsome Ranch seems hardly worth all the trouble. She assumes there must be something personal at stake here but since Mr. Handsome isn't on hand to shine any light on that, she can only speculate.
Act III, Scene II:
As they deal with the prisoners and wrap up their interrogation of the Group Three members, the PCs notice the fact that the crashed truck is at a peculiar angle. A closer look reveals that the ground beneath the storage shed has given way under the weight of the truck. There seems to be a chamber of some sort beneath it.
While Mrs. Belford organizes Group One's fire fighting efforts and sends Jack Dingo off to fetch the other mule, she gives the PCs the nod to check out the hole in the ground. They realize it's nothing more than an old bomb shelter from the U-War days and still appears to contain a few items worth picking over.
Winnie refuses to go down into the cramped space (she's claustrophobic) and Duncan and Hick are too injured for such antics, leaving the matter to Thomas and "Two-bit". They spot the jar full of platinum coins right off and Thomas' Duty complication makes it clear to him that it should be turned over the Mrs. Belford right away. As he does so "Two-bit" checks out the rest of the room, discovering Grampy's Journal in the process. This likewise is turned over to Mrs. Belford.
Once that's handled and the fires are all extinguished the PCs drag their prisoners to the main house while Jack Dingo and Mrs. Belford ride off for town to fetch the sheriff. The jar of platinum coins is secured in Mr. Handsome's room somewhere before she goes and she leaves the PCs in charge of the ranch until she returns.
After taking a moment to double check their prisoners and triple check their bindings, the PCs see about assessing the damage from the raid. Miraculously, none of Group One were injured while running around fighting fires and the PCs themselves seem to have had the worst of it. The fires also prove to have done little damage overall, as Group One was surprisingly successful in managing them.
Leaving Group One to calm the animals and shake out any further trouble around the ranch, the PCs focus on keeping their prisoners well in hand until Mrs. Belford returns. When it's noted that she left Grampy Handsome's journal behind, Thomas refuses to allow anyone else to read it until Mr. Handsome returns.
When Mr. Handsome returns with Mrs. Belford and Jack Dingo (having failed to find any reputable gun hands in town) he's surprised to be confronted with an old bomb shelter he knew nothing about, pleased at the jar full of platinum that was recovered and shocked that the ranch has come under attack while he was away. While he's full of praise for how well everyone handled themselves he sobers quickly when confronted with old Grampy Handsome's journal. Being raised more by his dear Grampy, it's clear it pain him a bit to have something so personal of his at hand.
Once the sheriff has taken the raiders into custody (including Greg, Vincent, Eileen and Kurt) and carted them off to the lockup in town, Mr. Handsome spends an hour with the PCs checking over the ranch. Once done they retire to the main house for a much delayed supper and to peruse Grampy's journal. Mr. Handsome is terribly shocked and discouraged to find references to a mistress in the old journal and surprised to learn she supposed was given deeds to some land Grampy owned which he knew nothing about.
Resolving the check into the matter of the deed at the local assessor's office in the morning, Mr. Handsome retires for the night and the PCs do as well. Hick and Duncan especially are ordered to bed until they've fully recovered and "Two-bit" resolves to see to their care personally until they're on their feet again.
None of them notice Maia slip away in the dark later that night.
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