Dodge is a city divided. Like Kansas itself, the loyalties of Dodge’s citizens are torn between North and South. Unlike most towns in Kansas, however, Yankees and Rebels live side by side in Dodge. You wouldn’t think they’d tolerate each other for very long, but there’s money to be made in Dodge, and that’s a powerful motivator.
Unfortunately, it also means that everyone in Dodge has an axe to grind with somebody. On top of the problems with partisan violence, Dodge has to deal with two competing railroads—Black River and Union Blue—as well as a rowdy population of buffalo hunters. These buffalo hunters are themselves hunted by outlaws and Indian war parties up from Coyote Lands in Oklahoma. It’s a big ol’ mess, so let’s take things one step at a time.
Back when the city was founded by Robert Wright, he envisioned it as a place where those tired of the constant fighting in Kansas could live in peace. These days, Dodge is called “Peacetown” only with a heavy dose of irony.
The town’s population grew quickly, thanks in no small part to Wright’s insistence that both Black River and Union Blue be granted right-of-way through the city. This placed the city along major rail lines from both North and South, and Dodge was fl ooded with newcomers. Some were war-weary folks tired of living in the shooting gallery that was Kansas, others just wanted to make a buck, and a few harboured more sinister motives. Wright was elected mayor by a slim margin, and he and his town council—a group of six individuals elected to two-year terms—quickly hired a competent and well staffed police force under the command of Marshal Larry Deger.
These men strive to enforce the law without bias toward Union or Confederate sympathisers, though some live up to this lofty ideal better than others. Five deputies have already been dismissed after complaints of favoritism. Even Deger’s job is in danger, though this is more due to a popular movement to elect Deputy Wyatt Earp to the job than any charges of bias levelled against Deger. The most controversial law in Dodge is the prohibition against firearms within city limits. With all the violence committed in Dodge, the Council thought it wise to force people to resort to fisticuffs rather than more lethal—and permanent—solutions. Anyone arriving in town is required to head for the marshal’s station and check his guns, where they are given a claim slip in return. The bearer can return a claim slip for the weapon upon leaving Dodge.
Of course it often turns out that the owner of the gun and the bearer of the claim slip are not always the same person. A brisk black market trade in claim slips has sprung up since the law’s enactment, and slips have been stolen, lost, traded, and even wagered in poker games. Carrying a weapon in Dodge can lead to a jail term of up to three months, confiscation of the weapon, and a $50 fine per violation. Of course, even without guns, Dodge is a violent city. Fist fights routinely break out between Rebel and Yankee neighbors. Worse, Dodge often plays host to one of the many bands of partisan raiders that roam Kansas. These armed groups tend to ignore the gun laws, and even Wyatt Earp—renowned for his steely will and cool head—is loathe to challenge them for fear of a war breaking out between the law and the raiders.