Chapter 2 - The Sheriff and the Widow

Monday September 28, 1857

Scene 1 The Hotel de Paris at the breakfast table.

The group is sitting around a table eating a quick breakfast . Up walks a man looking a little “worse for the wear”. His suit is very dusty and has a couple of recent, small tears in it. And he has a good size bruise on high on left cheek under the eye. He is tall, thin, and has a wiry mustache. He introduces himself as Reginald T. Richardson and says that he is a travelling minstrel passing through town on his way to perform in San Francisco. Says that as he was riding into town late last evening, his horse was spooked and threw him off. The horse ran off and in doing so, tripped over a rock and came up with a broken leg. He had to shoot his horse and walk into town. He walked into town and decided to spend the evening with Pauline, a lovely lady from The Faded Rose. Pauline told him about Nurse Jane Wilson and that she was better than either of the doctors in town. He would like to catch the next stage coach out of town and would like for her to look after him “real fast like” so he can get on his way.

He will also over-pay for Nurse Wilson’s services.

Scene 2 As the group leaves town …

Corbett and three deputies meet the group about 10 minutes out of town. They are blocking the road so the party cannot get through. Corbett will lean over his pommel and say that he is concerned that “You all have created your own little ‘ill-legal’ posse and the punishment for that is a month in the county jail. And that’s if Judge Searls is feeling kind. I should take you all in and right now!” He will them go on to say, “Now I think you all just either need to go back into town and get about your own business. Or maybe Nevada City would be better off if you all just moved on somewhere. You know Jane … there are whores to look after in every town. And Gilbert every town has horse stables you can muck out. Jess, as pretty as you are you might … well now I think you might make a good wife.”

The party blusters through with their (real but valueless) gold claim – seeing no way to force them back, Corbett huffs and puffs and lets them pass.

Scene 3 On the road again …

An hour (or two) past where the group ran into Corbett, outside of town they run into a husband, wife, with two small children. Two horses lay shot dead that used to pull their wagon. The wife is sobbing and their wagon looks like it had a small fire on one of the wheels. The kids are trying to make momma stop crying and the husband looks beat up and dazed by a small camp fire.

They are heading west so the husband can strike a claim and his wife mind the children as they make their mark in California. They tell a story of a tall, thin well-dressed man they came up to at this point in the road and he was sitting next to this fire; late yesterday afternoon. They stopped to offer him a small bit of food they had and then proceed into town for the night. As soon as the wife offered him a plate, he grabbed her and put a knife to her throat and said he was taking all their cash. The husband was able to make a jump at him and a tussle broke out. The husband was able to land a good right hook, but the thin man was better and landed a mean uppercut that knocked the husband down and he hit his head on a rock and was out cold. The man then shot their horses, stole all their money (they actually had a decent amount as they had saved really good), tied up the wife and kids to a tree nearby and then threw a branch from the fire at the wheel of the wagon.

Up to the PC’s to take it from here…what do they do???

Scene 4 Da bears, da bears, da bears …


Group stops meal by a creek side. Two black bear cubs coming splashing down creek chasing a fish and finally catch it right in front of the group. After two rounds of the cubs catching their fish and playing with it, their mother bear comes out of the woods on the other side of the creek. She is the largest black bear anyone in the party has ever seen, standing taller than the PCs.

Her immediate action upon seeing the party is to let out a mighty roar and stand up on her hind feet.

Next round the cubs run behind their mother (medium cover +4) and the horses will spook.

Mama bear does not want trouble. She will move to light cover (2 to defense) in the underbrush the following round – then all bears move to higher cover each round (4, +7, +10 to defense). If the PCs have not started following at this point then the encounter is over.

In actuality, Jess gets a lucky shot (critical) and drops the mama. The little ones scamper off into the woods – to get picked up by coyotes.

Scene 5 Everybody gets wet

Skinning and preping mama bear delays the party several hours. Shortly after they finish, the cloudy skies start to open up in a light but constant rain. The closest ford to the Yuba River is already starting to flood and water is speeding up.

Gilbert and sure-footed Darley cross first – despite some difficulty, they manage across and declare the river … well not exactly safe … but they ain’t gonna find better unless they plan to wait a day or two.

Jost and his mule start across, and the water is visibly rising as they do so (GM: Riding rolls to cross, REF save if you miss to stay horsed, REF save and d4 grit as you are passed down the river. DC goes up for each character.) Sam manages to fall off his horse, and gets a little banged up. Jess gets the worst of anyone, getting swept downriver and thrown against the rocks until she drags herself exhausted up against the bank.

The cold, wet, exhausted party makes camp to dry out. They are far short of their goal – but still in good spirits.

Tuesday September 29, 1857

Scene 6 Plummer and Lucy @ the camp site.

There are a couple of fish hanging from a line on one side, a clothes line on the other, a small fire just outside the cave mouth. One horse tethered loosely.

If the group arrives in the AM, they will see Lucy & Lilly just walking around the campsite doing normal mother and young daughter things. If they watch for more than an hour, Plummer will return with a pail of water in one hand and a couple of logs under the other.

They will go about the rest of the day doing things a family would do. Plummer will bounce Lilly on his knee, play peek a boo with her, and will basically entertain the two until Lilly gets hungry, or fussy, or needs to be changed. He will promptly turn Lilly back over to Lucy for her to “mother her”.

What do the PC’s do…

Key Motivations – Plummer

  • Infatuated with Lucy, but not willing to hang for her
  • Upset that she freaked out (convinced he could have covered it up otherwise)
  • Wants to stick to the original plan (3 of them run away to Idaho)
  • Waiting around, so Corbett can get his money to start a dry goods store in Fort Hall

Key Motivations – Lucy

  • Loves her husband, even though he got mean when he was drinking
  • Terribly guilty, never even really hurt anyone before
  • Thinks Vedder Sr isn’t much better
  • Loves Lilly more than life itself, and doesn’t want her to think bad about her father

NOTE: would love to get a recap of the combat

Scene 7 Meeting Corbett in the woods

Corbett was waiting to ambush the party – but they outsmarted him and took the long way around back to town.

They reach Nevada City two days later, but no deputy in town to deal with.

Scene 8 Crime & Punishment

Not vigilantes, we are concerned citizens. Nurse Jane Wilson

Now we introduce three new NPCs. The doctor (Hunt), the prosecutor (MacFarland) and the judge (Searls).

Topline things that happened

  • Wilson and Gilbert meet with the newspaperman and tell an almost complete story – unfortunately the Hearst name gets dragged into it.
  • Each PC is interviewed by both Waite and MacFarland – and they consistently refuse to implicate either Lucy or Plummer beyond “speculating”.
  • Van Young puts extreme pressure on all parties to get Lilly in Vedder Sr’s custody – including “bribing” Gilbert with thoughts of breeding Darley in the spring.
  • Mrs. Sargent asks Nurse Wilson and “The Other German” to evaluate Lucy. She is an hysterical mess, and the two PCs tell Mrs. Sargent that “Lucy is an unfit mother”.
  • Mrs. Sargent gives Van Young the Girl.
  • Lucy is arrested – and promptly hangs herself that night.

Scene 9 Aftermath

  • Plummer & Corbett “disappear” a couple of days later – rumor has it they are paid off by the “townies”
  • Hunt declares the death an “accident under suspicious circumstances” which satisfies no one.
  • The town council appoints Thompkins as “interim sheriff” pending a special election over the winter.
  • The Downie Boys hold their boxing competition a few weeks later. Garrett Mathews becomes the “Champon of Nevada County” – but secretly knows that Rory Downie threw the match.
Chapter 1 - Shot in the Dark

Friday September 25, 1857

6:30 pm – John Vedder shows up at HdP and orders dinner.

  • He is actually there to “find his daughter” and check up on his wife.
  • He is “acting strange” looking around for something

7:30 pm – Alfred Jackson (HdP owner) asks Vedder to leave.

  • He threatens to make a scene but eventually leaves quietly
  • Sam overhears : “… that bitch ain’t leaving with my girl …”
  • Wasn’t Jackson talking with that deputy (Corbett) right before hand?

8:00 pm – John Perry starts the piano playing and singing. It gets louder as the night goes on.

8:30 pm – Alan Downie & cousin Rory show up. They grab a seat with Garrett and order the special – black bear brisket with apple & pepper, fried onion & potato, and Indian (corn) pudding. If asked, they will say Jacob is over in Grass Valley scouting “talent” – which is true.

8:45 pm – Plummer comes in, he’s wearing his badge and pistol. He and Corbett have a quiet
talk then Corbett leaves.

9:00 pm – Lucy comes downstairs carrying Lilly in one arm, and carrying her dinner plate. She sits near the fire away from the raucous piano. Claudette Jackson comes over (doll in hand) and plays with Lilly. Marie Jackson brings over a slice of pie, mug of coffee and a small glass of milk. They chat for a few minutes.

9:10 pm – Chair opens up near Lucy and Plummer grabs it.

9:30 pm – Marie comes back, clears the plates and takes the kids upstairs.

10:00 pm – The show at the theatre next door closes, the place gets more crowded. PCs are going to have to give up extra seats or start a brawl/tussle. Drinks are now required (if they weren’t before).

10:30 pm – The Chapmans show up at HdP. William heads to the faro table with Caroline behind him. She will get noticed and pressured to perform. Eventually she obliges and joins in at the piano

10:55 pm – Plummer leaves. Five min later Lucy leaves out the back. They head to the theatre.

11:10 pm – Alan suggests they do a quick little “brawl” to advertise. Garrett & Rory go outside – along with a crowd of PCs and interested bystanders.

11:20 pm – Vedder walks up even drunker than before and carrying his pistol. He spies Lucy & Plummer in the theatre.


Most everyone outside scatters immediately, but it’s so loud in HdP that no one seems to notice.

The party pulls weapons and advances slowly around the corner. No one’s there – but there seems to be something in the window of the theater. The figure doesn’t move – and Nurse Wilson steps in to check him out.

John Vedder has bled out right next to the far window, pistol lying limp in his hand. No one else is there.

Folks go looking for the sheriff – but he can’t be found. Garrett looks for a back exit to the alleyway and outhouse. He sees a woman leaving HdP carrying a bundle, but she’s gone before he can stop her.

A few minutes later, the deputies arrive and Corbett shoos the party out of the theater, then takes down everyone’s name and a quick statement.

Sensing something is going on, Gilbert and Jost decide to follow tracks out back (as that is almost certainly where the shooter left). They lead to the stables – where Gilbert discovers that Darley is gone !!

The trail heads into the “good part” of town – and seems to lead past the sheriff’s station. They report Darley’s theft to the deputy on duty – who does not seem to care (“there has been a shooting, you know”) and has no idea where the sheriff is, or so he says.

Deciding there is only one real reason to steal Darley (he’s the best horse in the stable) – the party decides they must be heading east to Soda Springs and the pass. But its the middle of the night and too dark to follow so Gilbert along with Jost, Jess and Garrett head out before dawn the next day.

Saturday September 26, 1857
Group #1 : The “action four” head east out of town. They find a rest area and confirm there are two fugitives and two horses. The trail heads north off the road around early afternoon – with the party only a couple of hours behind.

Next they find a hard-scrabble area with slide marks. One of the horses has fallen and is probably injured!

An hour later they find a 40-foot deep ravine and on the other side is a limping Darley. Having retrieved their quarry, the Fab Four rest up and then head back to town arriving around sundown.

Group #2 : Wilson & Davis start asking questions – and the situation gets curiouser and curiouser.

By the end of the day, they have discovered

  • The Vedders had an unusually difficult relationship. They were constantly fighting, breaking up and making up – both were violent, and both loved their little girl. More than one person said “don’t know why those two stay together – ok, well maybe I do”.
  • John Vedder was seriously down on his luck. His temper lost him a job at the Van Young ranch, then he got in an accident with some fireworks at the 4th of July festival. He had a job dealing faro but lost it because “don’t nobody need a half-blind faro dealer”.
  • They were supposed to be planning on a divorce – and Lucy had moved out. Though she was still doing his washing.

The two also discover (accidentally heard at the sheriff’s office) that a robbery had been reported at a local dry goods store. But their store owner denies anything actually was stolen saying “one of my stockboys reported it, and he was mistaken”. Jane spies a half-hidden scrap of paper saying “… covers everything -HP” but the owner sticks by the story.

But the biggest discovery is a locket. Jane takes advantage of Marie Jackson’s momentary inattention and sneaks into Lucy’s room (which has yet to be cleaned out). She finds a locket which contains a daguerreotype of the sheriff ! She drops it into her pocket and sneaks out of the room – none the wiser.

Jane & Samuel visit all five photographers in town. No one claims to have taken the sheriff’s picture recently. Two of them sell display lockets – and one of them is nervous. He’s surely lying ! But they have no leverage to force him to change his story.

Reunited the party swaps stories and decides to go and find Plummer.

Sunday September 27, 1857

Jane is summoned to meet Mrs. Ellen Sargent – wife of the district attorney and state senator, Aaron Sargent. They have a brief conversation with Mrs. Sargent particularly worried about “poor Lucy” and “what about their little daughter Lilly”. She then takes Jane to meet “my husband’s good friend” Edwin Waite at the offices of the Nevada Journal. He commissions the group to “find out the truth of these circumstances” which “the readers of the Nevada Journal will most certainly want to know” – and advances her a significant sum against the “what may be the important exclusive of the year”.

The group is convinced Plummer and Vedder must be holed up somewhere in the hills – but where? The “old timers” remember that Plummer had several claims in Nevada County – and that would certainly be where he headed.

They concoct a plan to “stake a claim” at the gully where Darley was found – and use that as pretext for searching the claim maps to find any strikes Plummer might have that would be suitable. Jane procures some dust that would be suitable for assay (from a “professional girl” who owes her a favor).

Samuel, Gilbert and Jost head to the claims office. They talk their way past the clerks and get a couple of hours alone with the records. They find three claims in the right general direction – including one that was found by Plummer & Corbett together, sold to the Hearst family, and then was actively worked for a couple of years but is now abandoned. They have a target – but it is a long ride north and across the Yuba River.

Later that afternoon, Samuel is rounded up and brought to the sheriff’s office. Corbett intimidates him saying “he’s been poking around” and “we have a law in this town and it ain’t you” and “there is no need, and no tolerance of vigilantes in Nevada County”. He physically threatens him if he “stirs up trouble” but lets him go.

Backstory on the PCs

There are a few questions that I would like everyone to think about – as they will place how/why you get involved in the adventure.

Q1. How did you get here? There are five basic answers and all of them are miserable awful journeys.

Three common routes for people who came from the east looking for gold, and two unusual answers.
  1. The northern overland route aka “The California Trail”. Across Kansas/Nebraska and Utah, then over one of the Sierra Nevada passes.
  2. Panama. Steamer/clipper ship to Panama/Nicaragua, then trail through the jungle, then another ship to San Francisco
  3. The Drake Passage. Clipper ship to Tierra del Fuego, around Cape Horn and up the Chilean and Mexican coasts to San Francisco.
  4. The southern overland route aka “The Gila Trail”. Either through Texas or Indian territory, through the southern Mexican Territory (New Mexico/Arizona) and then up the central valley.
  5. The Oregon Trail. There are a few weirdos who traveled to Oregon in the 1830s and 40s, and then got gold fever and headed south in ’49 to ’51.

Q2. How long have you been in Nevada City? Is this your first winter in the high Sierras?

Q3. If you have been here awhile, how did you end up broke and jobless? What enemies have you made in the town?

I have some specific hooks that I want to add, so I may followup with questions.

The campaign will start with a typical “PCs meet in a tavern” scene. The scene will open at the Hotel de Paris – a combination saloon and boarding house, and one of the nicer establishments of its kind.

Anyway … please take a few minutes and let me know your thoughts.

Welcome to Resolute

The year is 1857, and the setting is Northern California

More immigrants arrive every year. Gold and silver still come out of the mountains, but the new strikes are smaller and some mines are starting to play out.

The story opens in Nevada, California (later called “Nevada City”) also known as Coyoteville or Dry Diggings. Nevada is a Gold Rush town, built on the Deer Creek tributary of the Sacramento River and nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. In 1851 she was the third largest town in the state, but five years later fire destroyed most of the buildings and now the mines are starting to play out.

This town ain’t been so good to you. You are out of a job and out of luck. Whether you have been in town a day or a decade, you have few friends and no prospects. To make matters worse, Nevada means “snow-covered” and the nights are already starting to get chilly. The last group of immigrants should be coming over the Donner Pass in the next week or two. After they pass through, everyone will likely tie down for the winter.

Maybe it is time to leave. The land is full of God’s own beauty, but the town is mean as sin.


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