Espionage Party

Secrets and spies and everyone lies.

Example of Play

The following is a fictionalized account of an Old West scenario (not for sale) as described from the perspective of one character. The related events are based on real play and should provide some idea of what a game might look like.

Nevada, 1867. The age of railroad expansion has brought Walter T. Thorndike to a small Western town. The railroad man wants its citizens to vote for the Central Pacific Railroad to bring its trains through the settlement. At the same time, there have been rumors of ghosts in the old silver mine, the disappearance of a local official, and a mysterious stranger who has turned up with neither memory nor name. It is a time of decisions. Keep out the railroad and avoid becoming an immoral hell-on-wheels town or welcome in progress and an uncertain future.

My name is Sal Curry. I work in my pa's saloon most days, but today is special. The railroad vote is tonight. Just think of all the exciting new people we're gonna see through here! There's a group playing cards at a table in the corner: Dan Tompkin, the ranch hand, Sheriff Flint, Ponke-We, a native woman, and Fuzzy Jenkins, my secret crush. Fuzzy is a prospector; he's been talking about going down into the old silver mine, but I've heard somebody just bought it. I wonder who! Over at the table, Ponke-We has run out of money. Sheriff Flint lends her some more. He's so nice!

When the game breaks up, I try to get a word with Fuzzy, but Ponke-We is offering to sell him a potion that will protect him from the ghosts in the mine. He already carries good luck charms. I tell him to be careful if he goes in the mine today. Something's bothering me about Ponke-We, so I ask around about her and that potion she tried to give Fuzzy. Dakota Kate, a peddler who comes through a couple times a year, tells me she sold Ponke-We a sleeping potion earlier, one that looks like what I saw. In a rage, I confront her.

"You were trying to put Fuzzy to sleep! What's the big idea?"

"Well, I like 'im, Sal," she says. "I wanted to stop him from busting his fool head down in the mine. I'm this close to persuading the sheriff to deputize him. Now I’ve got to be somewhere."

Ashamed, I go back to the saloon. Fuzzy does have some funny ideas. Maybe he does need protecting. Inside, the sheriff is drinking coffee. He never touches alcohol. I ask him if he's been thinking of taking on any deputies. He has: Fuzzy and Dan. We chat for a bit until we hear a commotion outside. Ponke-We is shouting about Fuzzy. He's dead! She says they were both in the mine when someone shot him from out of the darkness.


After Sheriff Flint examines the body, he declares he’s taking on deputies. He names Dan...and me! I'm going to avenge my sweet Fuzzy if it's the last thing I do. I thank the sheriff and run to tell Pa, but he's livid. He says I'm going to end up dead. He hasn't got time to deal with it today though; he says something about being busy stopping that railroad. He tells me to stay put.

The sheriff comes in to ask if I'm ready to start. I tell him what Pa said, but I still want to help. He tells me I can make my own decisions, so I do. I ask Sheriff Flint to teach me how to shoot a gun.

After some practice shots, we begin interviewing people. Most are more concerned with the railroad than with Fuzzy. The stranger with no memory says he wandered into the mine too, but he didn't see anyone else. The schoolmarm, Millie Stafford, says she wants the railroad to come through so she can write a book about the foreign workers. When we get to Walter Thorndike, the railroad man, he reveals something important; his gun has been stolen. It could be the murder weapon.

Sheriff Flint and I are talking about what to do next when Dan runs in. Thorndike is dead too. Dan went to ask him something, and, while they were talking, a shot came through the window. He says he'd just seen Millie Stafford skulking around there too. Strange, Ponke-We had also mentioned seeing Millie just before Fuzzy died. When we go in, the window is broken, but I think it may have been shot from the inside. Dan has wandered off, saying he needs to talk to the stranger, Ned.

We start gathering people into the saloon, only to find Dan and Ned in a tense card game. Pa leans over and fills me in; Ned said he remembers now that Dan knocked him out when he got to town and stole the deed to the silver mine he just bought. They're playing for the deed. Ned wins and takes back his property. As soon as the game is over, Sheriff Flint demands to search Dan. No weapon. Millie doesn't have one either. Everyone's gathered together now. We argue about who might've killed Fuzzy and Thorndike, but no progress is made. Finally Ponke-We speaks.

"Fine, I'll say it. I went into the mine to look for a treasure my mother spoke of. I saw Fuzzy pick up something shiny, and I shot him. It was just a lump of ore. But I didn't kill the railroad man! I was hired to get his gun away..."

The sound of a single gunshot cracks through the room. Ponke-We falls. I look at the revolver in my hand. Sheriff Flint slowly peels my fingers off the handle. Tears stream down his face as he looks at Ponke-We’s body. He doesn't arrest me, but I don't think I'm going to be his deputy anymore.

After a period of silence, the mayor calls for a vote. There's still the matter of the railroad to attend to. A few people speak, most of them against it. It all comes to me in a haze. I still can't believe what I've done. When a show of hands is called for, I raise mine to vote no. I'm vaguely aware that there will be no railroad now, not through Hawthorne. I’ve had enough of strangers.

I look to Pa. I need someone to tell me things will be alright. He turns his back on me and walks away. I run after him, right out of the saloon.

"I tried to tell you, Sal," he says. "I won't have a killer in my house. As far as I'm concerned, I have no daughter."

"But Pa! I didn't mean to. I just got so angry, my hand moved by itself. I think I loved him. What am I gonna do now? Please..."

He relents and gives me a long hug, still shaking his head. There's nothing he can say to make this right. I'm not his little girl anymore. It's been such a long day.