A Dirty World: Cottonwood – Part 2

cottonwood2It’s day two of the investigation into the murder of Texas Ranger Norm Davis and the special team has managed to reassemble much of his case against the corrupt officials of Page, a window into a network of malfeasance which spreads across Bates County, Texas. The murder, however, remains unsolved and the clock is ticking. Will the Rangers solve their comrade’s death within 48 hours? Will they be able to contain their outrage with this lawless county? Just who is Cottonwood Slim, anyways?

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  1. Thoughts: (spoilers ahead if you haven’t listened to the episode yet)

    Loved that opening, with Caleb talking about sleeping out on the range.

    Dogging means something different in the US.

    It kind of felt like Tom didn’t get to do much in these 2 games. His character felt like a prop. Extra man power so you could process more clues.

    Pretty good scenario over all. I think the supernatural element could have been downplayed more, or even just flat out removed; but it was still a pretty decent game.

    Over all a better True Detective sequel than season 2 was.

  2. Yes, make Sean run NBA. I need Ross and Caleb both playing in an NBA game as characters. My ears need this. Ross and Caleb almost never get to play together without one of them GMing. It’s really fun to listen to the both of them just absolutely attack the plot with competence and bad ass quips.

    Also, Sean’s a pretty damn good GM. The only thing that could have made this game better is if he threw in a set of epilogues for the characters at the end where they each end up getting tormented by the fact that they just left the Cottonwood angle unresolved. The only thing it was missing was a sad noir ending.

  3. Good game. Only note for improvement I would have is to make the whole Cottonwood Slim angle even more ambiguous. They bust out the shotguns, and he’s just…gone. Nothing to see except a couple of cottonwood seeds blowing in the hot Texas wind.

  4. For a while I was thinking this was going to become a Delta Green scenario.

    Dogging means something else in the UK too…

    Yes more Ross & Caleb doing Justified is some good stuff.

  5. dogging means fucking in public!

    the long-awaited bait and switch supernatural game. I was deceived! even up to the end I wasn’t sure if maybe it was just poetic license dogs, those seem really common in noir stories anyway. THE DOGS REPRESENTED THE TOWN’S ROTTEN HEART, THE ONLY THING THAT STAID TRUE or whatever, see That Guy In Your MFA twitter feed

    I would second the voices saying it’s a little overcomplicated, even though from a technical perspective that’s really cool? long before it was over I was just accepting anything Caleb said as true, unable to keep track of all the names. still, great rot-riddled community, and I am aaall for surprise monsters.

  6. “staid?” stayed

  7. Yea as a dirty world game I like the suggestion of making cottonwood the guy that everyone kind of knows, or sees around, and they all keep fingering him like they did. If you then remove him being on the 911 call (or just remove that because platt is full of shit, or have it already deleted), the players have a split of trying to figure out the murder or try to hunt the guy down. I think lots of people who are all dirty in different ways works really well for this, even if it is confusing, because you’re really just caring about who killed davis and that makes it much more interesting to suss out.

    As a secret DG game I’d think about having the groups of people being controlled by cottonwood slowly becoming more animalistic, maybe throw in a small gang of people who are basically feral in the woods with a pack of dogs or something. Crazy mystic drug guy in jail works really well, throw in some picture of cottonwood the players can find after that to connect him to the old mug-shot photo. Have davis’ extra box of info get super crazy about defeating cottonwood, hopefully the players will be split on that being stupid crazy bullshit.

    Really fun game to listen to, I think Ross’ comment about being hard to pull information is because there are like 3-4 different criminal enterprises and everyone is trying to cover their own asses, combined with the system maybe not working great for that level of complexity (or to do it you need to have solid system mastery?). I hope you guys keep pressing Sean to do a NBA game, he has the right mindset to set up a good one for sure.

  8. Oh man, this was a great two-parter. I was certain there was some scheme of smuggling drugs through the public water system when Shaun mentioned complaints about milky water.

    And Cottonwood, amazing.

    Yes, Sean running a NBA would be good. We all love getting to hear ruthless bastard Caleb and Ross.

  9. Caleb was so damn good in both of these sessions.

  10. Gotta say, this type of narrative and noir is what I truly enjoy. That setup in the vein of True Detective season 1 or the stylings of Twin Peaks. I’ve loved all of the ADW games from RPPR, but this one is definitely my favourite set thus far. Keep’em guessing Shawn!

    God! That ending 20 minutes was so intense!

  11. 10/10 would listen to again

  12. I like the fact this gose to ilistrate that you can do good creepy fiction without a sanity mechanic.

    For a supernatural dirty world monster I think cottonwood should have mad means of attacking aspects directly. If he can hammer on things like courage or understanding he would be as frightening to the players as he would be to the pcs confronting him.

    As a monster in himself cottonwood did a good job making everyone into an animal. But more specificly, his animal. Everyone obeyed him. Everyone feared him. And the best part was he was more Houndmaster then top dog.

    Sean was a treat to listen to as a GM, he had all the foreplanning of great senerio and the ability to step back and let the players set the tone rather then enforce one.

    I hope for Sean NBA in the future. If he wanted to keep the midwestern america theme he could always Base it on Roadhouse.

  13. this was a fun listen, but I think I like ADW when the players are forced to be more antagonistic to each other, because otherwise secrets don’t get used nearly as often. Also there isn’t generally a lot of verbal confrontations otherwise. Sean did well, though I feel the plot would’ve been too obtuse for me, if he learns ADW a bit more and is more active in assaulting the players, he’ll be even better.

  14. These episodes were so good. I like listening to both Ross and Caleb as players, and getting both in the same game was a treat.

    I was convinced right until the no-blood bit that there was no supernatural stuff going on at all and Shaun was just playing into the group’s tendencies to see Nyarlathotep in everything.

  15. Let’s all not forget Tom! I thought his contribution to these episodes was excellent. Those increasingly desperate pleas for the favor of the dice cup…

  16. I absolutely lost it when you guys started talking about the Texas wildlife — so true!!

  17. I really enjoyed this one too. It was a lot of fun to listen to and Shaun has some fantastic voices for NPCs.

    I do agree with some of the others – the mystery could be leaner, at least in this short format. There was the definite sense that everyone was in on it, which was great. But then it was a bit muddled about how much was self-interest and how much was the corrupting/supernatural influence of Cottonwood Slim.

    It seemed like Ross and Caleb (with their uncommonly devious minds) put together the drug scheme pretty well, but I’m not sure any of the NPCs spilled the whole thing or at least their part of it? If you were running it again, I think giving out more information during those scenes would make it easier to navigate the layers of corruption. It’s also one of the nice emotional reward moments in noir, when you finally get a layer of the onion peeled away.

    Overall, though, I especially liked how the set-up could be either seriously corrupt town (with heavy symbolism cropping up) or surprise Southwestern weirdness. Shaun, I too would love to see your twisty mind tackle Night’s Black Agents or a regional Unknown Armies game.

    Finally, as someone who grew up by a big cottonwood tree, I love how C Slim always comes back in some form. (For those that aren’t familiar, cottonwood trees drop these sticky things that glue themselves to the bottom of your feet. They turn up just everywhere in the summer time.)

    For some strange reason, I kinda feel like buying a dice cup now.

  18. Shaun did a great job running ADW with this scenario. I would totally watch a “Cottonwood, TX” cable or premium cable series with Tom, Caleb, & Ross’ characters.

    The supernatural angle- Shaun kept us wondering with the dog packs and weird references, and I was actually happy to see a supernatural-type game run in ADW. Especially with the characters being like “No. Fuck this.” at the end.

    Awesome all around.

  19. This was great! Solid GMing, solid role playing. I think it would work great with or without the supernatural angle. I’d really like to see more of these same characters in another scenario of either ADW or even DG.

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