My group's second annual camping trip came to a conclusion this Sunday and I'm happy to report that it was even better than lest year. This year we changed things up. The Professor was behind the screen rather than me, we placed Aces & Eights rather than Hackmaster, and we were in Sturbridge MA rather than Plymouth.
Last year we stayed at Myles Standish state park near Plymouth MA. I have a laundry list of complaints about it, including things out of its control like the weather being absolutely freezing. They had a designated Fire area, which was tiny, ensuring all of us were chilled to the bone the entire time. Let me just say, I grew up in update Vermont on the Canadian border... I know cold. Hell I like cold, but this was too much even for me. Bear got sick on the trip and spent most of the time sleeping, I got an ear infection and everyone else came down with a cold or the flu. Despite all that we had a good time, but I wouldn't say we spent much of the weekend comfortable.
This year was totally different. Wells State Park provided us with two isolated tent sites. The weather was absolutely perfect, and despite being much warmer there were still less bugs. The layout of our adjoining campsites couldn't have been better suited to our needs. We had an excellent area around the campfire with which to do our gaming and a couple of picnic tables where we had our battlemat for when a shootout broke out. I couldn't have been more comfortable... I had great food, a great game, and great friends. More than ever I highly recommend your group look into its own weekend camping getaway. It is cheap and easy for everyone and as I said, it is a great time.
As I said we took a break from our usual realm of Fantasy and delved into the mythology of the Old West with Aces & Eights. Those who haven't had the pleasure of playing the game really should check it out. It covers all the great Western tropes; horse chases, cheating card games, trials, drinking games, cattle drives, gunfights and more!
The Professor opted to forgo the alternate history that the game presents and focus on the real history of the West. The game was set in 1870 in San Antonio. The Legendary Texas Ranger, Richard Morrison, had died under suspicious circumstances. The four PCs were summoned to the reading of Morrison's will as he left them something.
These characters were pre-generated by the GM, but each player was allowed to submit three character concepts ahead of time which the GM used as a model. I played Augustus Bachman, a young bounty hunter with a "by any means necessary" philosophy. Revil was playing Davis, a handsome and charismatic gambler with a silver tongue to keep him out of trouble. Trip was playing a southern gentleman gunfighter named Doc, though one could only call him a true gentleman by having a very loose definition of the term. Finally Bear was playing Gustav, a German immigrant and gunsmith.
|Smith and Wesson Russian|
Before we could head out that way to investigate though we had a lead on a known criminal who was suspected to be involved. We rode out of San Antonio in pursuit but before we could reach the criminal, Smalls by name, we came across one of his allies. Things got heated when we accused him of lying about his intentions and Augustus reached for his Smith and Wesson Russian and shot the "lying bastard" in the gut. The man west flying off his horse and the gun he had been trying to draw had flown from his grasp. Just that fast, the fight was over.
It was awesome.
We didn't have long to brood on our victory, however. The Gunshot had warned smalls of our approach and sent him into flight. We rode in hot pursuit... the Chase was on! This is another cool mechanic that A&8 has. It relies on playing cards to simulate the various types of terrain that one encounters. Different cards mean different things depending on the type of terrain you are riding through. As we were riding through plains very few cards would present obstacles. Poker chips are also used to keep track of your mounts various resources like agility and stamina. A lot comes into play in a chase. Your horse, your skill at riding, the terrain, and a multitude of other factors. It all makes for an exciting experience as you try to close with your prey.
Davis, having a fine Arabian mount chased down smalls well ahead of the rest of the group, but it was Augustus who whipped out his Sharps Carbine Conversion and shot Smalls off his horse as Davis closed the distance. Davis wanted to take Smalls alive and give him a chance to surrender, but Smalls was drawing a shotgun and forced Davis' hand. Davis fired off a round from his pistol but missed the outlaw by about two feet. Before any other member of the group could catch up Smalls drew back the hammer on his Parker Shotgun and pulled the trigger. Those who have played A&8 before know how this story goes... Davis was torn to pieces and killed instantly. Smalls fired the other barrel at Doc as he drew close, but missed. Doc returned fire but also missed. Augustus closed the last bit of distance on foot and loosed a barrel from his Colt 1868 Shotgun. He did not miss. Small, like his last victim, was blown away and killed.
We rode back to San Antonio equipped with this new knowledge and even some evidence, but as Morrison's friend and attorney Charles confirmed for us, it was not enough to convict the man. With the legal option out the only road open to us was good old fashion Western Justice! A gunfight just seemed too risky though. Carson had a number of armed men in his Victoria street residence so we knew we would be outgunned. Allowing Morrison's killer to live simply wasn't an option so we decided to splurge on a plan that just wouldn't fail.
We spent all the money we had accumulated on TNT, loaded up a wagon and ran it into Carson's house while he was sleeping.
It was awesome.
We use our Sunday to take a trip to a local attraction. Last year we went to King Richard's Faire, a renisance fair near the Myles Standish. This year we opted for Old Sturbridge Village, a recreation of the New England town as it appeared around the 1840s. It was a lot of fun, and set in a time period close to the time when our weekend's game was taking place. We had a great time and even learned a great deal about the time period.
|Bear and Trip at Sturbridge Village|
|The Blacksmith was the best part|