Chapter 7 - The Blood of Arkansas

September 1858

Because of the troubles from “Buchanan’s Folly” (a/k/a the Mormon Rebellion) the federal government have not had access to southern Utah for almost a year – this has meant that Mormon Trail (Salt Lake City to Los Angeles) has become dangerous and deadly.

The most significant event happened in September 1857 when over 100 settlers from Arkansas were brutally murdered with no survivors by a war band of Paiute Indians. Now that there is a political resolution in place between Governor Young and the McCullough/Powell commission, the responsible tribes can be identified, disarmed and relocated. Thus making the trail safe for settlers again and continuing on our journey of California Progress.

Both old friends and new want the PCs involved – each with their own motivations and agendas.

The safety of Southern California is at risk …. 100 souls cry for justice … what will the PCs do?



The settlers were a large wagon train combining several groups from in/around the White River Valley of northwest Arkansas and southern Missouri. The largest groups were lead by two seasoned explorers – John Baker and Alexander Fancher.

The party was well outfitted with wagons, traveling carriages, a large herd of cattle estimated at close to 1,000 head, oxen, as well as numerous horses. They joined the expedition for various reasons; some to settle permanently in California, some to drive cattle west for profit, and some to find California gold.

The intended destination for the wagon train was to the John Fancer ranch (older brother of A.F) in Tulare Co, California. [NOTE: Tulare Lake was once the largest freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes, but it dried up when its tributaries were diverted to irrigate the San Joaquin Valley in the late 19th century.]

Like other emigrant groups traveling to California, they took money with them and planned to replenish their supplies in Salt Lake City for the remainder of the trip. They stopped there in early August, and then joined with a train headed by Missourian W.C. Duke to continue the journey.

Chapter 7 - The Blood of Arkansas


Only ten days remain until we return to the Wild West … and I wanted to share a few things with the group.

First off, I have some bad news. I have decided that the notes that I had with your equipment updates from last session got tossed in our spring cleaning. Lanie and I have both been looking and the key piece of paper is just missing. My memory is that most folks were running around Wealth 13 – with some outliers on each side for the folks who weren’t spending money.

If folks want to rationalize to the following, that’s fine with me.

  • Wealth 13
  • Average horse with saddle & blanket
  • Modern firearm (DC13+)
  • Simple firearm (DC12 or less) OR +1 melee weapon (sword, knife, brass knuckles)
  • One piece of gear DC20 or less (e.g. mule/burro or doctor’s bag)
  • Two other pieces of gear DC14 or less (e.g. week’s rations, leather armor, fur overcoat, fancy suit, or demolition kit)
  • Whatever cheaper (DC 11 or less) gear you want
  • Three “upgrades” to any of the gear above i.e. improve horse, raise wealth +1, basic gear → +1, or +1 gear → +2
  • One $20 gold piece OR Two $10 gold pieces
  • From there you can add the 4th level wealth roll and the “San Fran shopping” rules

That out of the way, I wanted to talk about what is planned.

The first part of the session is going to be heavy on the social side. That doesn’t necessarily mean “great charisma” is required, but it does mean the players are going to have meaningful decisions about which patrons they want to support – and why. I would encourage everyone to leverage their contacts heavily – otherwise you may wake up one day in the middle of the Utah wilderness and realize are working for Snidely Whiplash instead of Dudley Do-right. :-)

Plus I have some other “trouble in town” ideas in the works.

Next there will be several encounters along the trail to give you more of a feel for the desert wilderness. Folks with navigation might want to familiarize themselves with the map – though it is not absolutely necessary as I will have a copy of the relevant area in hard-copy.

You will basically be following Fremont’s 1844 expedition in reverse, heading out from Southern California and going east-northeast through Mojave and Paiute territory and ending just north of the line labelled “dividing range between the waters”. I.e. just above the word “waters” in that confusing mess of streams and valleys.

Bottom line – don’t expect this to be “quest hub”, click-the-button, and teleport to the dungeon. My expectation is that you will end the session somewhere in the deep desert – and maybe not even past the “official” border into the Mexican or Utah Territory.

Chapter 7 - The Blood of Arkansas