The Wild West

As an illustration of a human conflict that might be typical of an FRP scenario, I'm going to sketch out a valley of the 1800s North American Wild West. The valley features a fast flowing stream which cut a gorge between two mountain chains. A high plateau opens above it. The open prairie is below. The stream is one of the region's best sources of water. Living in the region are a half dozen characters, each of which might become a player character in a competitive scenario where not all of the characters win. More likely, one of the below individuals is leader of the PC group, and the rest become NPC opposition.

The Native American Chief has a treaty which says the valley is his as long as the grass grows and the sun shines. He has doubts about the treaty's worth. In past years he has made an uneasy peace with the cattle people, but now more white people are coming.

The cattle rancher sees the valley as open range, and as such it is open to him and to all. He opened this land, and has been the Big Man here, and is used to getting his way. As his ranch hands are numerous and loyal, few have challenged him.

The cavalry captain is here to keep the peace, and to follow orders from Washington. On the other hand, money talks. It can certainly can change the orders, and might even change how they are interpreted.

The Sheriff of the local town is also here to keep the peace, but at another level. He owns the saloon, and gets his cut from sales of alcohol, from gambling, and from prostitution. He's kind of ruthless, but is good at keeping 'the law' as he would like to see it. This mostly means he'll run off anyone who wants to run a competing scam. He's got an understanding with the cavalry captain, but the cattle rancher and his ruffians don't like him very much.

The young German immigrant farmer has a deed to some land just outside the valley, astride a ford used by most everyone. He comes with barbed wire. He's got the law on his side, a fair young wife, and numerous farmer friends whose lands are not quite in such a strategic position. The other farmers have also been having troubles with the cattle men, the Indians, and that ungodly sheriff.

The railroad robber baron has sent an agent to quietly do whatever it takes to get a road driven through the valley to the high plateau. If he succeeds, most everyone (white) in the region will become wealthier. However, this wealth will not be evenly distributed...