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The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Co. X: This Star Says I’m a Texas Lawman. Pt 3

companyxbadgeIntroductionPart 1Part 2

This Star… Part 1 – Part 2

Chris eyed the size of the file, “There’s no reason to duplicate any of the legwork Detective Sorenson has already done. Yeah, Jack, lunch sounds like a good idea.”  Looking back at the detective he added, “You got a spare conference room around here?”

Jack replied, “Alright then. You lot get settled in and I’ll go get us a pie.”

Detective Sorenson led the Rangers to Interrogation Room B, where they found a table, four chairs, a single light over the table and no windows. Jack slipped out to track down lunch, and the others hunkered down to pour over the notes, photos, and other documents. Eventually Jack returns with sandwiches and cokes (ed.: In Texas, all soft drinks are ‘cokes’ regardless of the actual brand). At the end of a couple of hours, the team was able to glean the following information:

crimescenephotoofpalmer• Three nights ago reporter Michael Palmer was found dead on the sidewalk outside of the hotel. The case was ruled a suicide.
• Palmer’s body was found by a porter on his way to work at the depot.
• Detective Charlie Sorenson was assigned to the case. He did not agree with official report, and requested assistance from Ranger Co. X to investigate.
• Prior to death being investigated all criminal activity was limited to vagrants and vandals.
• Hotel is owned by the Parr Group (George Parr, aka the “Duke of Duvall County.”)
• The Hotel was opened in 1912.
• A murder allegedly took place in 1922. A young socialite was killed (allegedly by her fiancé). No one was ever arrested for the crime, and there is no official record of the crime.
• A number of underworld figures were reported to have stayed at the hotel
• It was closed in 1951 when the former owner was arrested for tax evasion and was purchased by the Parr Group.
• Parr is content to leave the hotel vacant as “for tax purposes.”
• Palmer was investigating a story about a two Boy Scouts who were spending Halloween in an effort to prove that the hotel wasn’t haunted, but ran out before midnight claiming they had witnessed a ghost in the Panama Hotel.

Jack goes looking for a patrol man to direct him to a good pizza place.  On his return he remarks to the team, “I was advised to pass on the pizza. Hope everyone likes ham. What is it with us American’s and not being able to agree on what these beverages are called?”

“I ain’t too fond of ham on a pizza, but I suspect most of you wouldn’t enjoy th’ gumbo I’m used to either. I gonna live,” James said as he took his share of the files along with his pizza. Hopefully he’d notice something not yet seen.
Munching on his sandwich and sipping his Coke, something caught Chris’ eye, “Detective,” he said over his shoulder to the Galveston cop, “you got a photo for the Porter who discovered the deceased?”
Detective Sorenson had been leaning against the wall of the interrogation room, watching the Rangers devour first the items in the file, then the sandwiches.

Now, with Ranger DeHart’s question, he moved closer to the table. “I don’t think so. Said his name was ‘Buddy Jefferson.'” Then he looked at the Crime Scene photo. “Wait the guy on the right side of the picture looks like him, but its pretty fuzzy.”

There was something familiar about the man pictured in the photo, Chris rotated the photo so it faced Gabriel, “Does this porter look familiar to you?”
Gabriel takes a look, followed by each Ranger in turn. The consensus is that the individual in question might well be the porter from the depot, but the graininess of the photo prevents a 100% certain identification.
Jack notices Chris glance around the table. “Don’t look at me; I’m the new guy here. If you had a good pic of the porter I could compare the too. Dad and his cryptozoology made me pretty good at comparing photos, recognizing frauds… That kind of thing. I could probably say for sure that it was or was not him, but other than that? I have no idea what is going on here.”
Rod says, “You guys think we should look up that porter back at the depot? Maybe one or two Rangers won’t be as conspicuous asking around for him, instead of the whole group. The rest of us could check the crime scene or the Parr Group or follow other leads.”
“Yeah. Sure. I’m no Jack Sr., but I’m a little more of a people person than Pop was. Rod and I can follow up on one, the rest of you another?”
“Detective Sorenson, why didn’t you agree with the official report?” Gabriel asks.
Looking over at Gabriel, the detective said “He had no reason to kill himself. He was new to the paper, but the editors thought a lot of him. He was an up and comer, always hustling for a story. The hotel was a fun piece for him, not an assignment from the editors. One he pursued on his own.” He closed his eyes wearily.

“But there was also no real evidence of foul play. With other crimes on our docket,” he waved his hand wearily in the general direction of the squad room, “the decision was made to wrap this one up quick.”

Gabriel looked over the picture of the dead reporter…”Detective Sorenson, any clue if he went off the roof or out a window?”
“The coroner thinks it was a window. The damage wasn’t severe enough for a fall from the roof. There were several open windows in the upper stories.”
Chris looked over the now unkempt files that the Rangers had poured over, “Rod that’s just what I was thinking. Since Gabe actually talked with the porter, Why don’t the two of you head back over to the depot and ask him a few questions.” Seeing the crestfallen look on young Jack’s face, he continued, “Jack, it’s my neck on the line for bringing you in on this case. You’re staying by me for the time being. James you’re with me and Junior.”

The Ranger then looked over at the detective, “We all came in my car, can you rustle up some transportation back to the depot?”

“I think I could drop them off at the Depot. The Panama is just about across the street from there,” Detective Sorenson answered.

“One last question, Detective. Is there anything hinky about the Parr Group? off the record of course.”

“Well, the Parr Group is a property management company set up by the Parr family out of Duval County. If by ‘hinky’ you mean not completely above board, that describes the Parr family. They pretty much control the county down there, but they tend to deal more in political maneuverings than in murder, and we’ve never had any rumblings of illegal activity out of the Parr Group.”

“OK then, let’s saddle up fellas,” Chris the looked at Gabe, “One more thing before we split up. Gabe, you and Rod meet us over at the Panama when you’re done questioning the porter.”

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Gaming Notes, Other Systems, Play, Risus, RPG | , , , | 4 Comments

The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Co. X: This Star Says I’m a Texas Lawman. Pt 2

companyxbadgeIntroductionPart 1Part 2

This Star… Part 1

Well, we’ll be heading over to check out the scene,” Chris said indicating his team. “In the meantime, Detective, I’ll need you to pull EVERY file on the Panama Hotel. However, before we head over, what can you tell me about this?” *holds out the note for the the detective to read*

He looks at the note. “‘A veil covers the billets weight’. Hmm. ” His face is a study in perplexity. He shakes his head and hands it back. “Means nothing to me. Do you think its connected?”  He begins gathering his files to share.

edwardarnoldmrpresidentWhile Sorenson is collecting his case files, another detective saunters over, “Walll, lookee here fellers,” he drawls. “These must be the Rangers Sorenson asked fer. Ol’ Homer must be purty desperate. A couple o’ darkies an one o’ them looks like some kinda Injun!” He grins at the team with tobacco-stained teeth.

Jack looks the new comer straight in the eye, “Wow. You must be the chief detective. You the one who figured out it was the fall that killed the fellow?”

Not wanting to start a commotion inside the police station, at least not yet, Chris shoots a look at young Jack. He squares his shoulders in a gesture that clearly indicates ‘Yes we’re Rangers, you want to make something of it’, and looks the new detective in the eye, “Detective Sorenson called us in. And you are?”
Chris jumped in before the big man could do anything other than glare at Jack.

“All’s I’m sayin’ is that you don’t look anythin’ like the Rangers I’ve worked with before. Y’all got some ID?’

“And you sir, don’t look like anythin’ like the detectives I usually work with,” Chris replied coldly. With that he pulled out his badge and held it out for the detective to see.

“Anything you’d like to tell us about Det. Sorenson’s case? Off the record of course,” Chris added softening his glare.

Gabriel glanced at the detective and shook his head. For some reason, he reminded him of Matt Hendrickson from his unit in Nam. He always seemed so surprised at the way Gabriel was able to sneak through enemy lines and scout out what was going on; like there wasn’t any way that he should be able to do that, and then he’d come back with some Georgia thing about how he must have hunted squirrels and coon a lot or something. Gabriel wasn’t surprised that Hendrickson was so blind that he got himself killed not long thereafter.

Gabriel looked over to Chris. He seemed to have things well in hand. He looked around at the others to see what they thought of this new detective. He doubted he’d hear much of anything useful from the man himself.

Typical Southern attitude… James took his badge out. “DETECTIVE James Freeman, N’Awlins.” He stressed emphasis on the detective part.
Rod said, “If you did some real detective work-” and waited for the chuckler to catch his drift, “on the Rangers in this room, you’d find I’m the one voted most likely to be in prison. At least, most likely to deserve prison. You won’t see that readin’ our badges or doin’ skin-deep genealogy. Sir.”
The big man stops and stares at the team. Clearly, he wasn’t used to having people assert themselves following a demand for ID.

He snorted. “A tin badge don’t mean nuthin’. You can get one o’ them anywhere. Lemme see your Warrants of Authority.”

Sorenson shuffles his feet uncomfortably.

Not for the first time was Chris thankful for his Special Warrant of Authority as he knew Jack Jr. for certain, did not have a badge, let alone a Warrant of Authority. Chris positioned himself between the detective and his team, cleared his throat and spoke with the authority of the Adjutant General’s Office. In a tone that clearly indicated that he wouldn’t brook anymore interference he slowly replied, “Detective, I don’t appreciate your tone. If you’ll check the pocket behind my badge you’ll find MY Warrant. You’ll also find if you care to trouble yourself, that my Warrant covers my team as well.”

Holding his hand out for the return of his badge, he continued, “Now detective, are you going to answer my question or do I have to hold you as a person of interest?”

“Thank you, Mr. DeHart.” Noticeably relieved Jack decides to extend an metaphorical olive branch and his hand, “Sorry, detective. I’m the new guy. First case jitters.”
The heavy-set detective looked closely at the proffered documents, examined the description, then scrutinized the face of DeHart. Satisfied that they were, indeed, official documents, signed by the Governor of Texas himself, he pulled himself up to his full 5’10” height. He took a deep breath, so deep that his face began to redden noticeably, and then, with the barest of an exhalation, grunted, turned on his heel and walked away.

Sorenson, awed by the resolute coolness of the Rangers in the face of a possible confrontation, stepped into the space left by the retreating detective. “I’ll be happy to show you the file.”

Looking at the size of the file, Jack says, “Hey, Chris? Is there a way we can all take a look at this file? Maybe a conference room? Spread out. I’ll go get us some lunch.” 
to be continued…..

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Gaming Notes, Other Systems, Play, Risus, RPG | , , , | 1 Comment

The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Co. X: This Star Says I’m a Texas Lawman

companyxbadgeIntroductionPart 1Part 2

Gamemaster notes are in italics

You leave the Depot out the front door. From the street, you can see the gateway to the famous Strand, once considered the economic capital of the West, rivaling even Wall Street. But that was before the 1900 Storm. Now, there was evidence of slow decay, as the prosperity shifted north to Houston and even further west to California. To one side lay a closed hotel, with some windows boarded over and others broken. On another nearby street you could clearly make out a sign advertising The Salvation Army.

“Christ, I need a barber,” Jack announced

Chris pulls over at the first barber shop he sees.

You make your way to the headquarters of ‘Galveston’s Finest.’ As you exit the car and make your way to the front door, you pass a number of police, both uniformed and plainclothes. They each look at you a little longer than you’re comfortable with, and then move on.

James doesn’t register anything outwardly, but inside he thinks, “Yeah, we’s black men; get over it!”

“Well, shall we get out of the sun,” Gabriel says to the others as he walks towards the doors.

Chris looked at his car. The only available spot in the GPD’s parking lot left very little room for his Chevy. Thoughts of dinged paint scampered across his brain. Looking up at the cops giving him and his fellow Rangers the ‘eye’, Chris thought it might be best to get the team inside and meet with the Detective. He followed Gabriel and looked over his shoulder at the rest, “No invitations now people.”

Then eyeing Jack running his fingers through his fresh buzz-cut he added, “It’ll grow back eventually, but if y’all gonna take your Daddy’s spot on this roster you need to look the part.”

Jack grinned, “Nah. This is my natural coat. Call the sasquatch-look freshman jitters. I feel much better now.”

You enter the station, and approach the desk sergeant. As you ask for Sorenson, he gives you the once over, and then directs you to the squad room.

rsm60thewhistlerpic2Inside, Detective Sorenson is just as the desk sergeant described him: tall, broad-shouldered, sandy-haired and still fairly young-looking. You could just as easily imagine him as a college linebacker as a detective.

Gabriel felt awkward. Was he supposed to introduce himself to the detective, and if so, how? He wasn’t sure how many people even knew about this branch of the Rangers. He looked over to Chris for direction.

Seeing the odd collection led by the man in the pearl-gray hat, Det. Sorenson quickly walks over.

“I’m Charlie Sorenson. You must be the Rangers I asked for…though I didn’t expect a team….   Anyway, I’m glad you came right over. I’d like your thoughts on a case.”

What have I gotten myself into… Jack kept the thought to himself, but was already starting to wonder if he was in over his head.

Chris*tries to get a read on Det Sorenson’s body language*
All eyes in the group were on Chris. “That’s what I get for wearing my Ranger hat,” he thought to himself, “everyone suddenly thinks I’m the leader. Man I sure wish Jack Sr. was here. I’m not sure I’m ready to lead a group.”

Outwardly, Chris broke into a broad grin and tipped his hat back on his head, “Normally, one Ranger is all you need. But the home office thinks your case needs a little more attention than normal.”

He stuck out his hand, grabbed Detective Sorenson’s and pumped it vigorously, “I’m Ranger DeHart,” dropping the hand he gestured at each of the others in turn, “Vargas, Freeman, Cooper & Macher. Why don’t fill us in on the case.”

Detective Sorenson shuffled his feet in an awkward manner, almost as if he were a child caught in an embarrassing situation, “My Captain didn’t think I should call,” he began, slowly. “But things just didn’t add up to me, and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask for another opinion.” He took a deep breath. “A Galveston Daily News reporter apparently took a header out of an upper-story window of the old Hotel Panama – you may have seen it on your way over, it’s near the depot. Anyways, officially it’s a suicide, but I’m not so sure. You see, the reporter was still sort of new, and he was looking into reports that the Panama was haunted. A couple of Boy Scouts tried to spend the night there around Halloween, but ran out screaming like Girl Scouts within a couple of hours. Anyway, the department says suicide, my gut says something else.”

Jack raises his eyebrows.

“Hotel Panama?” Chris removed his hat and scratched his head. “That’s a new one on me. I’ve got quite a file on Galveston ghost stories but nothin’ ever mentioned the Hotel Panama.” Placing his hat back on Chris continued, “What else can you tell us, Detective?”

Jack can not mask is utterly incredulous expression.

Gabriel leans back against the wall, settling in for a ghost story. He wondered how it would line up with some of the Native spirit stories he was told as a child.

The Hotel like everything here isn’t familiar to James, as this city isn’t his beat. He does know and respect the instincts of another policeman however.

The detective took another deep breath. “That’s the thing. The hotel has been closed for many years. We’ve had a few vandalism calls out there, and rousted a few hobos, but never a story about ghosts. We figure the Scouts were there to prove to their younger friends that just because the hotel was old and boarded up that it wasn’t necessarily filled with spooks. Then they lit out like their shorts were on fire jabberin’ on about scary voices.”

Jack’s eyebrows go higher.

“How bout the non-ghostly angle? Did the reporter have enemies? Any hoods or Realtors got reason to keep kids and reporters out of the hotel? I seen some mean Realtors before.”

“As far as the reporter was concerned, he was still considered a rookie at the News, and was tryin’ to make his mark. Nobody at the newsroom seemed to know much about him.”

to be continued….

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Gaming Notes, Play, Risus, RPG | , , , | 2 Comments

The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X part 2

companyxbadgeIntroductionPart 1

Chris eyed the darker skinned men walking his way. They had to be members of his squad, neither black fellers nor hippies appraoched him without good reason. Chris acknowledged them with the seemingly innocuous adjustment of his hat. After they had taken up positions nearby a third person walked up to the group and stuck out his hand.

“How’s it goin’? I’m Rod Vargas,” the man said by way of introduction.

Chris eyed him carefully and paid close attention to his north-midwestern accent. Three of the four Rangers he was supposed to meet had now arrived. They were still waiting on his friend Jack. Chris grasped the offered hand in his own.

“Chris Dehart,” he drawled, the irritation of earlier in the day being replaced with the laid back professionalism of a Texas Ranger. Acknowledging the other two men close by he continued, “We’re waiting on Jack Macher,” then indicating the far end of the lunch counter he concluded, “but we’re not the only ones.”

James nodded in reply, “Name’s James Freeman.” He extended his hand, curious if anyone would shake it in such a public place.

He looked toward the man at the far counter end, to see if his cop training could pick up anything bad.

[Hank: I’m using New Orleans-smart beat cop (4) to see if I get a read of trouble from his body language.]

As they might say in N’awlins, “he ain’t from aroun’ here….” But other than that, the only thing that really holds your attention is the piece of cardboard with the hand scrawled “J. Macher.” The name of the Ranger you’re waiting for.

James speaks to Chris in a very low voice. “He got Macher’s name, if that helps.”

Chris replied back in an equally low voice while accepting the hand and pumping it good-naturedly, “I noticed, however, that’s not Macher. Jack and I served together on a different case some time back. We’ll wait for Jack and see if he knows who it is.”

Listening to the exchange, Gabriel set down his bag and his guitar case. People were starting to stare at the small group of men gathering at the lunch counter. He nodded at the man who identified himself as James Freeman. James seemed to have an air of authority about him. Gabriel shook his offered hand. Rod Vargas seemed to be a bit nervous, but then again, he supposed he was too. This was his first official thing with the Rangers. “How long are we going to be waiting for Mr. Macher? Do we have time for a bite to eat?”

While the men chatted amongst themselves continually glancing sidewise at the longhair at the end of the counter, a Negro porter approaches. He looks at each one in turn, then says to Chris. “Is you is or is you ain’t?”

Taken aback by the sudden intrusion, Chris could only think to himself, “Why is this porter quoting Blues lyrics?” Trying to keep his attention on the longhair at the end of the counter as there was something familiar about him, Chris tried to remember if this was code phrase.

The porter stood, as meekly as possible for a moment. Then he spoke again,

“Ah’s sorry, suh. Mebbe I didn’ talk loud ‘nuf. Ah said, ‘is you is, or is you ain’t?'”

Chris was coming up empty on Company X code phrases.

At the far end of the counter, Jack scanned the to and fro of the crowd. Looking for anything that might stand out, and so far the only thing that stood out was the group of men who kept glancing up at him; Jack felt vaguely like tiger bait in India.

“Ah well, here goes nothing. ‘Not going to eat if you don’t shoot it, son,'” Jack thought to himself. Then, he flipped over the cardboard, scrawled C. DeHart on it and ordered a half vanilla, half chocolate shake from the surly waitress. Slurping the shake he set his sign so the crowds and tables could see it, and waited. He tried to look like he wasn’t looking at the group that kept exchanging conversation while clearly trying not to look at him…

…but, he didn’t try to hard.

The frustrations of the morning’s telegram, the sudden intrusion of the porter, and now the longhair at the other end of the counter had written his name on the piece of cardboard. Still unable to recall any code phrases pertaining to what the porter was saying, he looked over at James, “That hippie has written my name on his card. Can you deal with the porter?”

Before James, could answer Chris stood and walked to the end of the counter. When he got to the half-way spot the young man looked directly at him. Chris could immediately see a family resemblance, a younger brother perhaps? Chris walked up behind the young man and placed his hand firmly on the shoulder.

“Son, you’d better have a DAMN good reason for having both of those names on that card of yours.”

As Chris walks away from the porter, Gabriel looks around the area to see if there might be someone else watching them or at least watching the porter. [[I rolled a 12 against my scout]]

The other travelers present seem to take notice of this odd collection of men gathered around what appears to be a Ranger (with his pearl-gray Resistol hat). But almost as quickly as they notice, they return to their business at hand and continue moving along.

But you do notice that the porter seems to be holding a note in his hand. He continues looking at each one in turn, apparently expecting a response.

“I is”, Gabriel tells the porter.

“This is fo’ you, suh.” As he speaks, he places an envelope in Gabe’s hand, then shuffles off, to be lost in the crowd of travelers and other station employees.

Jack started  a little when he felt the firm grip on his shoulder.  He then turned and extended his hand to shake. “Well, that’s an easy question. I’m Jack Macher Junior. Dad went missing in Spain. One of his hunting trips. I got the telegram, Mom told me to take care of his mail until he got back. I… I’m not sure he’s coming back this time.”

Suddenly remembering he takes off his hat, runs a hand through his hair, looks at the hand in dismay, “Wow. Sorry. I look like hell, don’t I?” a dry chuckle, “My name to see who took the bait, yours to pick you out of the crowd, Mr. DeHart, I presume.”

Chris could see the resmblance now. Still he was not quite ready to trust the younger man, though obviously not that much younger than he. Rangers with Company X could NEVER be too careful.

Chris affected a good natured grin and pushed his pearl-gray ranger hat back just a bit and grasped the offered hand in a solid grip that could turn vice-like if the answers weren’t correct, “Jack’s boy you say? Didn’t think you were done with school yet, how’s Southern Methodist treating you? And you say your dad went missing on one of his hunts? Was he going for quail or deer this time?”

“Uhmm… Pterodactyl. And, I started at Texas A&M – Not SMU – Just this year; I’m sure you know Dad; good enough for him, good enough for me. But, treating me just fine, thank you. A little awkward as a New Englander; I had hoped to have Dad to give me some, uhm, cultural guidance. I didn’t know he had friends in the Rangers, though, I’m not particularly surprised.”

Folks often said that Young Jack had his father’s hand shake; “He must have picked it up from these guys… Jeez… He afraid I’m gonna bolt like a jackalope?” Jack thought to himself. Aloud he said, “So, you with them? Shall I join you? Dad taught me a lot, maybe I can help.”

The answers were correct. Chris relaxed his grip just a bit. His mind raced furiously, odds were good that whatever mission this particular group had been assembled for would need Jack’s shooting skills and his gun. Chris felt just a little awkward now, with Jack Sr. gone that meant he was one of the senior members of the team and he wasn’t sure he wanted that responsibility.

His hazel eyes narrowed as he pumped the hand and released it, “Yeah, I’ve served with your Dad before, not much older than you are now the first time,” a pause, “Chris DeHart. You say your Dad taught you some things, can you shoot?”

Jack grinned slyly, “Well, I’m not my Dad, but I’m a fair shot. Have his M1 with me.” Jack swallowed nervously, “Am I going to need it?”

Chris didn’t answer verbally but instead pulled the young man up and motioned towards the Rangers at the other end of the counter.

Vic was relieved that the hazing and Yankee jokes would have to wait until after the Rangers dealt with the Porter’s message and the kid with the sign. They wouldn’t expect a greenhorn like him to solve codes and problems like this — he hoped.

While Chris was speaking to the young Jack Macher, not really much younger than Gabriel really, Gabriel decided to open up the note from the porter…

Inside was a simple note, typed on plain white paper.

It read: “A veil covers the billets weight.”

As Jack stood, Chris looked at the younger man and raised his eyebrows in reply, “In our line of work, you never know.” Indicating the other three rangers Chris continued, “Let’s introduce you to rest of the team.”

Chris walked back over to the group, “Jack couldn’t make it. His son has volunteered to fill in.” Seeing the questioning looks he went on, “yeah, we’ll have to clear it with the higher ups but if they called in Jack Sr. we’re gonna need a big gun. Junior here is the closest we got.”

He then looked squarely at Gabriel, “Y’all take care of the porter?”

“He had a note. Odd that it was typed,” Gabriel said as he handed the note to Chris. “‘A veil covers the billets weight’. Make any sense of that?”

Chris studied the note a moment “well if we add one ‘N’ it anagrams out to ‘Galveston Bewitches Eviler Hilt’ but it’s probably simpler than that”. {Chris checks the area for anything that could be deemed ‘billets’}

Nothing inside the depot could be considered a billet, unless you consider the sleepers on the platform, or the benches where weary travelers rested.

“or Evil Hitler… Ominous… Come on, you lot are pulling the yankee’s leg, right? …  right…,” Jack Jr. replied.

Chris looked and the depot but didn’t see anything that could be remotely referred to as a billet. He then looked blankly at Jack Jr and raised a lone eyebrow, “They never found the body.” After a pause he continued, “Unless someone has a good reason to stick around we really need to over to Galveston PD and meet with Detective Sorenson.”

OooK… What exactly did my Dad do for you? Are you all Rangers?” Jack asked.

“Ah put my trust in mah fellow cops,” Freeman’s Cajun accent came out strong. “If we supposed to meet up wit’ this one, we should get to steppin’ right now.” He looked around with his eyes without turning. “Besides, all the gawkers here are gettin’ to me.”

“I’m ready to go, unless that message has a reason we need to stay. It doesn’t make a lot of sense literally. No apostrophe in ‘billets’ and even if there was one, that wouldn’t make it clear. Weight is kind of an abstract thing to be covered by a veil. It’s not a Ranger code or something?”

Not one that I’m aware of, Chris replied. Let’s go meet the detective. If there’s something here for us we can always come back. Besides Detective Sorenson might be able to shed some light on this note.

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Other Systems, Play, Risus, RPG | , , , , | 5 Comments

The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X part 1

companyxbadgeIntroduction for The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X, a Risus setting by Hank Harwell – GM notes are in italics

Five encrypted telegrams from Ranger Captain Earl R. Buchanan of Company X were sent out. Four  telegrams went out to Jack Macher, Vic Abruzzo, Gabriel Cooper, and James Freeman.  The decoded message instructed each to meet Ranger Chris DeHartat the Santa Fe Depot in Galveston Texas. Chris received a message telling him to pick up the other four.  After meeting at the depot they are to meet with Detective Charlie Sorenson at the Galveston Police Department, who will brief them on the assignment.

CHRIS DEHART: Chris’ 57 Chevy purred as he drove it down the road.  Chris, however, was fuming.  The telegram he got this morning meant he wouldn’t be able to prevent the upcoming silencing of Astronauts, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.  While Chris agreed that the astronauts needed to be “shut up”, as the CIA hack had so eloquently put it.   He did not agree with drastic measures the CIA was obviously thinking about.  He knew the CIA was planning something big to discourage the rumblings within the astronaut corps.  That’s what Chris had hoped to prevent.

Scientists at NASA as well as the astronaut corps were chaffing at the government’s cover up of one of the greatest finds of the 20th century.  Grissom, White, and Chaffee were planning on going public after they successfully returned from their launch.  The three astronauts figured they would have the undivided attention of the nation at that point.  Many of the scientists and other astronauts agreed with them.  Chris knew the CIA was planning something drastic to keep NASA quiet but now he was headed to Galveston and figured he could stop it when he got back.

Still fuming, Chris kept the speedometer at 75.  He knew he wasn’t going to be pulled over for 5 miles over the limit. He also figured that if he did get pulled over by some rook, his Ranger Badge would take care of any problem.  ‘What could be more important than the lives of at least three astronauts’, Chris thought as he drove.

Less than 45 minutes after he’d left Houston, Chris pulled the candy apple red car into the parking lot at the Santa Fe Depot in Galveston.  A little calmer after venting his frustrations through the gas pedal, he walked inside the depot and picked up a copy of Life magazine from the newstand.  Walking over to the lunch counter he sat down on the second stool and opened the magazine, that was the cue for his fellow Rangers from Company X.  Chris knew the names of who he was picking up but aside from his friend Jack he’d never worked with any of the rest them before.  Well he’d find out who the were just as soon as they arrived and acknowledged his signal.


GABRIEL COOPER: The bus ride from Brackettville to Galveston was 8 hours of unadulterated boredom.  Gabriel was seated in the back of the bus, and no one sat near him.  He was wearing civies, blue jeans and a fairly nice white button up shirt, but his hair still had that clean cut soldier look.  He had his guitar out of the case, and he plucked at strings practicing a new song, but without an amplifier, there wasn’t much in the way of sound.  He could still hear it in his mind, but practicing this way caused those sitting near him to glance at him as if there was something wrong with him.

He was used to the stares, but he still didn’t like them.  As a black seminole, he was part of many worlds, and not all of them seemed to get along as well as they should.  Gabriel had hopes of helping to change this with his music, but so far, he hasn’t played for more than a few drunks at the Broken Wheel.  Someday he’d catch a break, but not today.

He was enduring the bus ride to Galveston because of a telegram.  The Rangers thought they could use him for something.  He was off to meet with someone named Chris DeHart(a fellow Ranger according to the telegram), and from there to meet witha Detective of the Galveston Police Department.  Gabriel was sure what this was about, but he was nervous about meeting withthe detective.  His last run in with police was right before he shipped out to VietNam.  He was out withhis buddies, and when one of them got into a fight at whatever hole they were drinking at (he didn’t remember the name of the place), Gabriel finished it.  They had taught him quite a few techniques for getting out of trouble while he was learning to be an advanced scout, but the trouble in the bar didn’t amount to anything compared with the trouble caused by the police when they showed up.

Gabriel was brought out of his memories when the bus bumped up over a curb.  It had arrived. Gabriel packed up his guitar and grabbed his ruck sack (he didn’t own proper luggage and had learned to travel light in the Army). Gabriel made his way to the Santa Fe Depot.

It didn’t take long to spot Chris DeHart. He was already seated at the second stool of the lunch counter flipping through a magazine. Gabriel took a deep breath and moseyed over to him.


JAMES FREEMAN: James Freeman rode a city bus through Galveston to the Santa Fe Depot.  He was just following the telegram request to go meet Ranger Chris DeHart, but he had a hunch that this could be very important anyway.

The ride on the bus was more facetious than actual.  There were no seats free in the back, and he wasn’t raised to disrespect the older ladies seated there by kicking any of them out; they likely had challenges just to GET a seat because they weren’t white!  Supposed ‘equality’ was a joke… he stood the entire ride holding a strap handhold.  His legs were tired, but he didn’t complain.

He reached his stop.  Other passengers failed to hide relief on their faces to have one less black man among them. Galveston folks were a lot sillier than N’awlins folks; badges weren’t clues enough to them of the good nature of their fellow riders.  James just shook his head and rolled his eyes, then stepped out.

DeHart was easy enough to recognize: not only did he have the regulatory cowboy hat of the Rangers in front of him, but he had many others coming over to him.


VIC ABRUZZO: Vic spent his time on the short trip down Old Galveston Road thinking, “Rod. Rodrigo Vargas. Rod. How’s it goin’, I’m Rod Vargas. My former associates who keep trying to plug me call me Vic, but you can call me Vargas. Rod Vargas.”

He expected somebody to ask why a guy in Texas with a Spanish name didn’t know that language, so he had memorized a convoluted story about where his forefathers had moved around Europe and New England.  Since he started using this cover, a few people had started talking Spanish to him, but when he said he didn’t know Spanish, nobody grilled him about why.

Vic liked the pickup the Feds had loaned him for the witness protection thing.  A green, two year old Ford with all the bells and whistles.  It was nice, but he’d trade it in a heartbeat for not having to hide.

A healthy level of paranoia stirred in him again, and he pulled off at a gas station.  Vic eyed the few cars that continued towards Galveston.  None of them pulled off behind him or exhibited suspicious behavior.  It should have set his mind at ease.  Instead, he worried that someone might be following who was too good to be spotted.

He comforted himself by thinking of the one familiar thing the Rangers had given him: a six-shooter in his boot. The territory was new to him and he had to adjust to some new rules, but some of the tools were the same for this job as his last job.

The rest of the drive passed with fewer glimpses in his rearview mirror.

Vic strode up to the Rangers gathered at the lunch counter in the Santa Fe Depot. “How’s it goin’? I’m Rod Vargas.”


JACK S. MACHER: “No one should have to ride that far in a bus,” thought Jack, as he watched folks get off in Galveston.  He had gone home for a couple days to be with his Mom and the lawyers as they tried to decide what to do.  Dad would be home soon, was all Mom wanted to hear.  But, she did agree to let Jack have the pickup truck and see to the pile of mail Dad was still receiving.

The telegram was interesting.  He and Dad had played with ciphers while camping in the Grand Canyon when… God… How old was Jack? 12?!  So many places; seemed like it had to be longer ago than that.  But, this? Official, encrypted, addressed to Dad…  Hell, he was surprised the courier had let him sign for it.  And, then to find it was one that Dad had taught him?

So Jack packed a thermos of coffee, a box of Oreos, the M1, and his trusty goalie stick (almost made the varsity team at the private school, twice before he graduated) and drove to Galveston.  By the time he got there he was very thankful for Dad’s Obsessive-Compulsive care for the truck.  Also glad to be in Texas where no one looked twice at the rifle, but instead raised an eyebrow at the hockey stick.

He knew no one would recognize him, not with two inches of hair on his head and a semester of fuzz on his chin. Dad would not have approved, but since he wasn’t home, Jack just hadn’t bothered.  After the drive though, he was considering making a stop in the rest room.  So, knowing that under the hair he looked a lot like his Dad, he hoped the disguise would be successful and scanned the crowds coming and going for Galveston PD.

After a half hour of that, it occurred to him that, A) his Red Sox cap probably stood out like a beacon, and B) a detective probably would not be wearing a uniform. So plan B.

Jack took a seat at the lunch counter, ordered steak and eggs and a bottomless cup of orange juice, and pulled out a large card board sign reading, “J. Macher.”

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Other Systems, Play, Risus, RPG | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X an Introduction

companyxbadgeMy Good Friend Hank Harwell has developed a setting for Risus, entitled “The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X”.  Hank put a lot of work into this setting and decided to test play it as a PBP.  What is the Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X? you might ask.  In Hank’s own words; “Perhaps the oldest and most widely respected law enforcement agency in North America is the Texas Rangers. They were established in the early 19th century by Stephen F. Austin, the American-born agent of the Mexican government, as a defensive troop to protect colonists in Texas from the depredations of hostile Indian tribes. As Texas grew, from a colony to a Republic to statehood, the institution of the Texas Rangers also evolved. Originally intended as a frontier defensive force, its mission grew into serving alongside the army, hunting outlaws, and maintaining law and order in lawless areas.
Ranger Company X was set up as a secret branch tasked to defend Texas against supernatural and other-worldly threats. While described as a company of Rangers, it is not a part of the established Ranger order, but instead reports only to the President of the Republic (later the Governor of the State).”From the .pdf

The Eerie Exploits of Ranger Company X is designed as a horror/supernatural/Western setting. It is inspired, partly by the horror and Western pulps of the 1930’s, as well as radio and television shows like The Lone Ranger and The X Files.

I hadn’t played Risus before this but Hank’s treatment of the setting intrigued me.  Hank sent me a beta copy of his setting description and directed me towards the link for the free Risus rules.  After creating my character I was ready to go.  I’m looking forward to a return to some PBP and my first foray into the Risus system.  With permission from Hank and the players, I will be distilling the PBP turns into a coherent story line and posting them for your enjoyment.

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Gaming Notes, Other Systems, Risus, RPG | , , , | 1 Comment