The Whiny Dog
(The players took this sidestep immediately following Episode III: Hardacre’s Deeds)
Running straight from Handsome Ranch as soon as Mr. Handsome orders them to lay low, the player characters arrive at the old cabin around mid-evening. They tie up the horses in the old lean-to behind the cabin for now and check out their new hideout. They spend the next hour or so eyeing the cabin critically for defensive improvements, expecting they'll come under siege there sooner or later.
Once that matter is settled they see to their supplies and realize they haven't anything to eat and are lacking quite a few basic luxuries, such as blankets, toiletries and spare clothes. Leaving that matter until the morning they break out Mrs. Hardacre's journals and pour over them for a couple of hours. Once they've gathered what information they can from them, they clear off the bunks and prepare to sack out for the night. Soon after the distant howling of Scrubs the hound comes to their attention and they find they're unable to sleep. They tough it out anyway.
Thomas 8 hours of fatigue
Lacy 8 hours of fatigue
Hick 8 hours of fatigue
Winnie 8 hours of fatigue
Duncan 8 hours of fatigue
The following morning they're pretty tired, having had little or no sleep all night. Thomas then gets Lacy, Duncan and Hick organized to start cleaning the place up while he and Winnie talk over what to do about supplies. While they're doing so Grant Bigglesworth rides up, finding himself under the gun by Thomas and Winnie who drew weapons when they heard someone riding in out of the woods.
Grant informs them that a cache of supplies will be stashed a few miles away tomorrow morning, if they can hack it until then. He also hands them a letter from Mr. Handsome assuring them he'll be meeting with some influential friends of his soon in the hope of clearing up the little matter of them gunning down a few men in town yesterday. The letter further instructs them regarding the chores he expects to be completed around the cabin before he comes to check in on them.
The player characters respond with requests for particular supplies but when it becomes obvious Grant isn't going to be able to remember any of it they write it down instead. They jot down a few basic facts gathered from Mrs. Hardacre's journals they figure he'll want to know as well, such as the fact that Damien Marus is apparently Mr. Handsome's bastard half-brother. Once done Grant rides off with their correspondence and the players get to work on their chores.
Hick, Lacy and Thomas all have d4 Survival skills so they hike out to the nearby river to go fishing and foraging while Winnie and Duncan clean up around the cabin. Since no one is under any particular fatigue penalties yet, Winnie and Duncan wrap up their chores with a simple
Endurance check (just looking for botches). We resolve the fishing with some Average Alertness + Survival checks, with Lacy and Hick both catching a couple of fish each. Thomas doesn't catch anything. It's not much but it will keep them from starving today.
Thomas 16 hours of fatigue
Lacy 16 hours of fatigue
Hick 16 hours of fatigue
Winnie 16 hours of fatigue
Duncan 16 hours of fatigue
Arriving back at the cabin the three find that Winnie and Duncan have done a lot of cleaning but not quite finished up yet (Winnie didn't botch but she rolled pretty low). Duncan is irritated with Winnie since this compounds with her reputation for laziness (having a Lazy complication), even though she really did try to work hard. Thomas, Lacy and Hick pitch in with Duncan to finish up the cabin cleaning and they put Winnie to work cleaning and cooking the fish. Winnie doesn't score any more points with anyone when she begins finally complaining about all the hard work. She does manage to cook the fish without burning it, though.
With the cabin relatively livable and the fish cooked and eaten, the player characters turn to fortifying the cabin a bit. First they check out the lean-to and the shed out back, finding the tools they need to conduct some minor repairs on the lean-to the horses are sheltered in. Then kick themselves for forgetting to ask for grain for the horses. Hopefully Mr. Handsome will think of it. Afterward they reason that it's too late for cabin fortification and put it off until tomorrow instead, though they take time to lay aside some scrap wood for that use.
Thomas 24 hours of fatigue
Lacy 24 hours of fatigue
Hick 24 hours of fatigue
Winnie 24 hours of fatigue
Duncan 24 hours of fatigue
By the time they turn in and the distant hound starts howling, it's clear there will be little sleep again tonight and fatigue penalties will be coming down hard in the morning. The player characters do their best to tough it out though, stuffing their heads under pillows and crumpled up jackets in a vain attempt to block out the noise. They manage to catnap a bit but that’s all.
Thomas 25 hours of fatigue
Lacy 26 hours of fatigue
Hick 24 hours of fatigue
Winnie 24 hours of fatigue
Duncan 26 hours of fatigue
Now aware that fatigue is going to be playing a factor here, Thomas orders the others to start napping a little during the day (assuming that the hound dog is going to be keeping them up every night). For today they're to complete their assignments first.
Taking Mr. Handsome's advice Thomas has Hick and Duncan chop firewood for the week while he, Winnie and Lacy saddle up to fetch the supplies Mr. Handsome is supposed to have stashed a few miles away.
Hick and Duncan spend the next eight hours chopping wood and complete their task with no botches or injuries.
At the drop point Thomas attempts to scout ahead in case there’s trouble waiting them. He fails an Average Alertness + Perception check and elects to barrel on ahead, taking any possible trouble on himself. When nothing emerges to confront him he calls Winnie and Lacy up and they load the supplies onto the horses. They then ride back to the cabin to check on Hick and Duncan.
Thomas 33 hours of fatigue (2 Stun)
Lacy 34 hours of fatigue (2 Stun)
Hick 32 hours of fatigue (2 Stun)
Winnie 32 hours of fatigue (2 Stun)
Duncan 34 hours of fatigue (2 Stun)
Since even a solid period of "rest" won’t be equivalent to a full night’s sleep Hick and Duncan take turns napping instead before trying to squeeze in some fortifications before nightfall. Once that’s done they use up the scrap wood to board up the windows and replacing the bar on the door. Arriving to find the two have finished chopping wood and are busy fortifying the cabin, Thomas, Winnie and Lacy grab a good nap before nightfall.
Thomas 25 hours of fatigue (2 Stun recovered)
Lacy 25 hours of fatigue (2 Stun recovered)
Hick 24 hours of fatigue (2 Stun recovered)
Winnie 25 hours of fatigue (2 Stun recovered)
Duncan 27 hours of fatigue (2 Stun recovered)
The player characters hit the sack again…and find the hound dog in the distance will be keeping them up all night yet again. They decide to tough it out for one more night, then put all their chores on hold for a day to go shoot that dog tomorrow morning.
Thomas 32 hours of fatigue (2 Stun)
Lacy 25 hours of fatigue
Hick 25 hours of fatigue
Winnie 29 hours of fatigue
Duncan 34 hours of fatigue (2 Stun)
Thomas and Duncan weren’t able to so much as close their eyes for a minute during the night and find they’re sporting Stun damage again. Now all the more determined to deal with the extremely aggravating dog, the player characters saddle up and ride out in that direction.
The player characters find the farm where lies Scrubs the howling mutt easily enough. They’re pleased to note that the dog seems to have been missing as much sleep as they, judging from his red eyes and complete lack of motivation in challenging them.
Though Duncan and Hick are prepared to simply shoot the dog and go back to the cabin for a solid night’s sleep, the others manage to stall them long enough to check out the farm. They shoulder rifles when Scrubs begins growling at the others once they approach the door, though.
And when Scrubs takes a nip at Winnie (who dodges it successfully), Hick plants a slug in his hindquarters.
Poor Scrubs is hit hard when his innate defense leaves him wide open for the shot. With a pretty pitiful yelp and howl, he’s off under the house to pass out from the wound.
Lacy immediately goes off on Hick for shooting the poor doggie and the two of them spend a minute yelling at each other before everyone else puts an end to it. Lacy then dives under the porch, after snatching up Duncan’s flashlight (much to his anxiety), to check on the dog. Scrubs has passed clean out by then so Lacy wiggles over to tend to him. An attempt at first aid fails and Lacy’s then calling for help to get Scrubs out from under the house.
Hick has his back up by now and refuses to assist but Thomas chips in to wiggle under and gingerly drag the dog out into the light. Duncan is afraid of the dark (Lacy took his flashlight) and Winnie has claustrophobia, so they dither as well. They jump in once Scrubs is out in the yard, though.
While Lacy and Winnie work on the dog Thomas has the others checking out the farm (more to keep Hick and Lacy from butting heads again). They all fail the Hard Alertness + Perception/Investigation check (even with Duncan dropping 3 Plot Points on it) and fail to note anything interesting beyond the fact that the farm seems to have been abandoned for while.
Meanwhile Lacy and Winnie manage to determine the bullet wound on poor Scrubs is bad but not immediately life threatening. They have him stabilized enough to move after a good while working on him.
Lacy and Hick butt heads again despite everyone else’s best efforts but Lacy manages to convince the others to take the dog back to the cabin with them. It’s obvious by now that the dog laments it’s missing owner and is severely malnourished. Hick grumbles a good bit but pitches in to fabricate a rough travois to drag Scrubs along with them. Lacy and Winnie load the dog onboard and everyone saddles up to head back to the cabin.
Thomas 40 hours of fatigue (2 more Stun)
Lacy 33 hours of fatigue
Hick 33 hours of fatigue
Winnie 37 hours of fatigue
Duncan 42 hours of fatigue (2 more Stun)
Back at the cabin everyone unsaddles the horses, tends to them and settles in for much needed rest. Lacy fusses over Scrubs but once Thomas pins her down that there isn’t much more she can do, he forces her to rest as well.
Thomas 43 hours of fatigue
Lacy 37 hours of fatigue
Hick 33 hours of fatigue
Winnie 42 hours of fatigue
Duncan 45 hours of fatigue
That night they are able to sleep at last with Scrubs knocked out on the cabin floor, so the player characters drop their fatigue and Stun damage.
The following morning they find Scrubs is awake, frightened and still badly wounded. Though he’s recovered from the Stun damage inflicted by the shot his Wound damage keeps him prone for the day. Lacy fusses over him, doing her best despite having no veterinary training.
Having finally rested the player character get back to work on the chores Handsome has assigned them and have the roof patched up by the end of the day. Hick finds he’s a lot less irritable as well and makes peace with Lacy over the issue of shooting the dog, even pitching in a bit with the medical care.
The following day the player characters clean up the yard around the cabin, brush off any rough edges on the other chores they’ve already completed and beef up the fortifications a bit.
When Mr. Handsome rides in on the seventh day to "check up" on the player characters he finds all the chores he assigned them completed in good order. He also finds Scrubs laying about whining (having not recovered at all from the gunshot). He forgoes chastising Hick over shooting the dog when he realizes Hick already repents. He does give him a chuck on the arm for at least looking out for the others on his team, even if his judgment wasn’t all that sharp. The players then leave him be for a while to pour over Hardacre's journals, figuring it's a personal enough matter that he likely won't appreciate them hovering.
As for his attempts to clear up legal matters with the player characters, he regretfully informs them he’s had no luck convincing any higher authorities on the moon to investigate the matter, other than a couple of formal inquiries sent off here and there. The player characters will have to lay low a little longer. He does brings more supplies to make that easier, though.
The players naturally dump a list of requested items on him for his next visit. Lacy elicits a promise from Handsome to check on Scrubs’ owner and let them know where the dog can be found. Or find out what happened at the farmhouse if they truly have disappeared.
Advising them that he’ll come back to check on them and report what he’s learned as soon as he’s able, Mr. Handsome is off again down the backwoods trails and the player characters are left to fend for themselves.
Hick, Winnie and Duncan all work out and exercise together during the episode and up to the next one. All three drop Advancement points on increasing their Strength Attribute one step.
Lacy spends her free time studying with Winnie’s data library and playing games on the brain teaser gadget she had Mr. Handsome to pick up for her. She increases her Intelligence Attribute one step.
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