Title – The Almost Widow
Goal – A compelling, free adventure in 1,000 words or less.
Setting – Pure American Western (e.g. 310 to Yuma, True Grit, Unforgiven) / Set in fictional town Arb Gulch, Arizona in 1876. / Arb Gulch is located 20 miles north of Tombstone, Arizona (where the Gunfight at the OK Corral occurs in 1881).
Game Systems – “The Almost Widow” can be played for free using the following Open Gaming License TRPG systems – Fate Accelerated or Fate Core or Open Legend. “The Almost Widow” can also be played using the following proprietary TRPG systems – Cypher or GURPS.
Acronyms – TRPG (Tabletop Roleplaying Game), PC (Player Character), NPC (Non-PC)
Arb Gulch – Western Boom Town / 1,200 residents with many sojourners traveling to, through and from / Abernath Rail passes a half mile away.
Golden Spike Saloon – Central Hub of Arb Gulch, the Golden Spike is owned by Nathan Holzer. Nathan is rarely seen anywhere in Arb Gulch and takes little interest in the running of the Golden Spike. His wife Meribeth Holzer runs the facility. Meribeth began work over ten years ago as an entertainer at the Golden Spike and married Nathan after being there four years. Anyone who ever speaks of this fact finds they are no longer welcomed in the Golden Spike. Meribeth keeps the Golden Spike running smoothly and has an excellent relationship with all the entertainers, the stage performers and the bartenders. Security in the Golden Spike Saloon is handled by Tiny and Shadow. They handle security with a simple escalation structure for kerfuffles. If someone is considerably out of line, the first thing that happens is Tiny will physically pummel them. If the kerfuffle continues, Shadow will stab the offending party. If the kefuffle persists further, Shadow and Tiny will immediately go about the business of ending the offending person’s life with an array of weapons that are hidden throughout the Golden Spike and are immediately put into their hands by the entertainers, who are trained to do so.
Meribeth Holzer – Human (Female) / Golden Spike Operator / Nathan’s wife
Nathan Holzer – Human (Male) / Golden Spike Owner / Rides a fine Palamino horse
Shadow – Human (Male) / Golden Spike Security / Knife-fighter / Ex-Union Officer / Deadeye Killer / Absolute loyalty to Meribeth / Learned Creole in his youth
Tiny – Human (Male) Golden Spike Security / Brawler / 6’10” tall and 300 pounds / Freed from a Louisiana Plantation by Shadow / Speaks only Creole
Elizabeth Morrow – Human (Female) / Has lived in Arbor Gulch all her life. Three years ago her 12-year-old son, Benjamin, went missing. Everyone in town formed search parties and looked for three weeks and found nothing. For a year after that, Elizabeth and her husband Jacob saved and borrowed money. They bought Jacob the finest horse they could afford as well as expedition equipment. Jacob went out on an extended, determined search to find their son, Benjamin. Jacob has not returned and now three years after her son’s disappearance, Elizabeth lives in a gray zone, not a widow and not a mother. She works as a seamstress, but this is not enough to make a living or to pay off the debts her and her husband incurred. She has scraped by the last two years by winning the annual Arb Gulch Horse Race (with a $50 prize). Widow April Derrimore swears to anyone who will listen that Elizabeth steals apples from her tree to feed to her horse, Cloud.
Benjamin Morrow – Human (Male) / Now 15 years of age / Since he secretly left Arb Gulch of his own volition on a windy night, he has joined the Tohono Tribe and is now a valued hunter and tracker.
Jacob Morrow – Human (Male) / Elizabeth’s husband / His bones lie in a ravine 55 miles west of Arb Gulch, all that remains of him after wolves attacked and killed him with no witnesses.
Roan Charsk – Human (Male) / Gunslinger / Ex-Confederate Soldier / Deadeye Killer
Detail – Elizabeth’s Six Gun – Low on money, one night Elizabeth comes into the Golden Spike carrying a six gun in a holster and bullet belt. The six gun is a Colt Model 1871 Open Top Revolver that was owned by Jacob, her husband. He has left this six gun with Elizabeth for safety. Elizabeth is carrying, not wearing, this weapon. Elizabeth makes her way to a table with only one occupant, Gunslinger Roan Charsk. The two of them have a short meeting in which Elizabeth is offered $6 (a third of the six gun’s true value) by Roan.
PC Catalyst – Elizabeth’s Six Gun (Bully) – PCs can be engaged in this event with the following Catalyst. As Elizabeth makes her way to Roan’s table, she is interrupted by Herman Grissel, a crass cowboy, his shirt stained with tobacco juice, who harasses her to dances with him. When Elizabeth refuses, Grissel shoves her. If the PCs help Elizabeth, Roan will try to use the ensuing chaos to steal the six gun if it goes loose in a skirmish.
PC Catalyst – Elizabeth’s Six Gun (Poker Table) – The PCs are engaged in a poker game next to the table where Elizabeth and Roan meet. Any of the PCs will know that Roan is about to cheat Elizabeth. If any PC attempts to tell this information to Elizabeth or offers to buy the six gun themselves, Roan will become angered and will publicly challenge that PC to a gunfight at high noon the next day.
“The Almost Widow” is an adventure designed specifically to supply the PCs with an interesting location and and an event that calls for a distinct decision and then actions based on that decision. In addition to its use in a standard TRPG game, the length of “The Almost Widow” makes it ideal to use for convention games as well. Thank you.