Goal – A free Tabletop Roleplaying Game 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).Continue reading Garibay 1K Western Adventure – Stone Dove
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.
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.
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.
If you’re not familiar with the Al Swearengen character, then you must not have watched much, if any, of the HBO western drama Deadwood which ran for three seasons some years back. In a show known for its coarse language, Al Swearengen as portrayed by Ian McShane, was the coarsest of the coarse. In other words, Al is pretty hard to forget, and despite his dark ways, many who come to know him also love him.
Something of an underworld boss and a political shaker and mover in the town of Deadwood, Swearengen is known as a knife fighter, though he is more brawler and assassin than a trained combatant. Often he leaves the dirty work to hirelings, but from time to time he does seem to get a weird melancholy glee out of slitting throats himself.
Recently I was behind the wheel of a car again for hours upon hours and I had to have something to think about. So, in keeping with the past when I D&Dized Forrest Gump, my mind turned this time to D&Dizing Al Swearengen.
First off, let me say that I’m pretty much ignoring the fact Al Swearengen probably knows how to use firearms, at least ones appropriate to his time period. However, even with the multitude of firearms available in Deadwood, Al sticks to using his knife for the most part, which we’ll equate to the dagger. If one wants, it would be no big deal to give him proficiency with firearms, maybe through a Feat or some such.
Second, I would like to point out that when it came to using his knife, Al seemed to operate in two different modes. More often he took the form of an assassin, killing an opponent from surprise with a simple stab to the chest or slice to the throat. But in a confrontational fight he became a brawler who appeared to have little concern for any damage he took as he long as he was dealing it out to his foe. This is why I gave him levels in rogue and barbarian, the first for his murderous skills and the second for his melee sensibilities.
Why Al Swearengen is a Barbarian
Some might argue that Al is a Fighter instead of a Barbarian, but he does not seem to have the trained capabilities of a Fighter, nor does he have the survival skills of a Ranger, and he is most definitely not a Paladin. No, Barbarian seems to fit best, in my opinion. He likely did not pick up his Barbarian abilities from any time spent in wilderness territory, but more than likely gained them from a hard life on the streets of Chicago, where an arrest warrant for murder still awaits him. For those who think the Barbarian class isn’t appropriate to learn on city streets, I would suggest then a re-skinning of the class, or perhaps Al gained such capabilities before arriving in America, as he is obviously British in origin.
About his levels, I couldn’t quite see Al with the Frenzy ability of the Berserker and definitely not those of the Totem Warrior, though the capabilities of a lower-level Barbarian seem more than appropriate, so two levels of Barbarian. Four levels of Rouge is enough to garner him the Assassinate ability, definitely a must, as well as allowing for plenty of extra talents at knife fighting and killing, plus there’s the benefit of a Feat.
Concerning his background, despite the overlap with his Rogue abilities, Criminal seemed to fit as the show did include some mention of earlier legal troubles in the East which Swearengen had apparently fled.
Alignment might be a bit of a stickler, as I could see many who love this character want him to be neutral at heart, though I don’t believe they could argue well that he is possibly good. It is true Swearengen has a soft spot for certain individuals, and he does have friendships and seems to truly like certain people, but who is to say an evil person couldn’t have those inclinations? To my thinking, someone who is more than willing to blindside a non-combative opponent with a cut to the throat, then feed that victim to the pigs, that someone has entered evil territory. And just because Al is evil doesn’t mean he is all bad. Concerning the other aspects of his alignment, I believe Swearengen would here fall into the neutral territory as he is definitely self serving but does seem to follow something of an unwritten code, mixing a little chaos with law.
Now onto his stats.
Al Swearengen is obviously fairly sturdy, him and his partner Dan having built the Gem saloon with their own hands, after all, but he’s getting along in years and probably isn’t as strong as he used to be. Plus, though he’s got a little bulk, he’s by no means a hulking brute. Thus, I felt a 14 Strength appropriate, with his Barbarian abilities giving him a little boost when needed.
As for Dexterity, Al can move a little when he has to, but he’s not going to be doing any gymnastics, so a 12 seemed appropriate; he might be a knife fighter, but he isn’t a finesse fighter, depending upon his Strength for attacks. A Constitution of 18 might seem high to some people, but keep in mind this guy can drink just about anyone under the table, and in the TV show he survives a serious illness which would have killed lesser individuals of the time period. An Intelligence of 12 shows some smarts but without being overly brainy, and a Wisdom and Charisma of 16 show where Swearengen often truly shines, in his verbal words of wisdom, as coarse as they might be.
When it comes to Feats, the Tavern Brawler seems a natural. I also gave him Observant because when I think of Al, I think of him atop his balcony outside the front of the Gem saloon, his eyes always watching the comings and goings of the town of Deadwood.
As for his skills and other abilities, I believe anyone familiar with the Swearengen character will have to admit Al probably has those talents. Though a knife fighter and brawler at heart, more often he depends upon his skills to read others and situations, plus his gift of gab, to get his way in any situation.
There you have it, the D&Dized Al Swearengen. If your campaign includes lots of swearing, you couldn’t ask for a more interesting character. If not … well, still Stay Nerdy!
A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, beer tasting and recalling fond memories of his late wife and their beagle baby, Lily. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.