So why *is* the Old West postmaster missing?

E-Rocker

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My players' current Western adventure was set in motion by the fact that the postmaster in the old west town is missing. This meant that the PCs had to break into the post office to retrieve the letter that they are supposed to ensure gets delivered. When the PCs asked why no one else had a key to the post office, they were told the town never thought anyone else needed a key, since the postmaster had never missed a day of work in 15 years.

Currently, they PCs are out of town up to PC shenanigans, but they'll probably return to the town eventually. When they do, they may want to figure out why the postmaster is missing (they seemed pretty bothered by the situation), and... I have no effing clue.

There's a good chance the PCs will float a theory, and if they do, I'll probably just run with that, but in case they don't, do you fine pubgoers have any ideas (preferably non-supernatural) why the postmaster is missing?
 

Bunch

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He's been reading the mail and using the information to trade on wall street. He wires in instructions to his broker based on information he hears from local farmers,lawyers, railroad men. He finally made enough money to quit but he doesn't want everyone in town to know he's been snooping on them for decades.
 

Tommy Brownell

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He took a payoff and skipped town after helping a gang of marauders - who are just about to show up - case the bank (or an incoming payroll wagon).
 

Nobby-W

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His watch was found in a scorched circle in a paddock next to some dead cows with their tongues cut out.

Alternatively he fell down a gulch and broke his leg, so he can't get out. If he's been there three days he's almost dead from dehydration.

Or, he's been kidnapped and killed by some other party wanting to get their hands on the lertter. Has said party worked out that the players have it now?
 

Vidgrip

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He recently received notice that the love of his life (who he hasn't seen in 20 years) has passed. He bought three bottles of whisky (something else he hasn't done in 20 years) and went off on a drunk. He stumbled off a ledge into a canyon. He was found the next day by the local native tribe, who took him in. He has not regained consciousness and they have no idea who he is.
 

PolarBlues

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The postmaster has a past. Before settling down false name, he was a well known gunfighter (or outlaw). Somehow is cover has been blown, or maybe old rival was released from prison. The postmaster has gone somewhere private to get himself ready for the invitable showdown, but if his rival brings backup maybe he will need some help?

I ran an western adventure roughly on those lines (the retired gunslinger wasn't a postmaster and there was more backstory), but it worked really well. Running western adventures is a real joy, as long as you can keep gattling guns and dynamite-as-a-weapon out of it.
 

Toadmaster

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Mr zip postmaster.jpg


Postmaster was a fairly prestigious position in the 19th Century. This was long before the modern civil service, and postmaster was a patronage position. The position was generally awarded to those with connections.
The U.S. Post Office Department (not the US Postal Service until 1971) was a pretty big deal back then, having regular mail service was one of those things that meant a town was big time instead of just another backwater settlement. Most early Federal support for roads was related to the mail. Getting contracts to deliver the mail was also big business, an express company with a mail contract could use that to show they were more reliable than the also rans. The Postmaster could have their finger in a lot of pots influencing which towns got bypassed, and who got a contract. Not hard to imagine how they could get on the wrong side of a feud or start one.

Sure it could be alien abduction, but you have the opportunity to create a situation for some intrigue.

Postmasters often ran shops, and that could definitely be a boon for a business run by the postmaster.
Power struggle, maybe the PM crossed the wrong faction.
Somebody wants the position but the PM has no plans on leaving.
 
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joetheok

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It could be as simple as his accounts for stamp sales don't balance. Very, very, naughty that, and something the auditors from the Treasury would take a very dim view of. This would allow you to introduce steam-punk-y characters from the Secret Service a la Wild Wild West.
 

Ladybird

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Postmaster was a fairly prestigious position in the 19th Century. This was long before the modern civil service, and postmaster was a patronage position. The position was generally awarded to those with connections.
The U.S. Post Office Department (not the US Postal Service until 1971) was a pretty big deal back then, having regular mail service was one of those things that meant a town was big time instead of just another backwater settlement. Most early Federal support for roads was related to the mail. Getting contracts to deliver the mail was also big business, an express company with a mail contract could use that to show they were more reliable than the also rans. The Postmaster could have their finger in a lot of pots influencing which towns got bypassed, and who got a contract. Not hard to imagine how they could get on the wrong side of a feud or start one.
Burnout, then. He's had enough, the stress is too much for him, and he upped and quit. Currently, he's on a train heading east, out of your campaign.

He changed the locks himself, before leaving, and took the only new key with him (He threw it out the window a few hours back - it's gone for good). On his desk is a package addressed TO WHOEVER CARES ENOUGH, containing a letter explaining why he's left (May not be the most coherent letter ever written...), the old lock and key, and a few dollars to pay for a new door or window.
 
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