Jun 072012

In recent years, a small community in North Dakota has found itself at the center of a vast oil fracking operation that has drawn people from across the country in order to work the fields. The surge in population and the influx of oil money have turned the once quiet town into an overcrowded haven of iniquity and lawlessness. Peddlers of sex and drugs ply their trades openly, seeking to separate the flush oilmen from their hard-earned cash. When a young woman is savagely murdered, a reporter, a pair of police detectives and a Mexican bounty hunter decide to investigate, but in this modern day version of an Old Western boomtown, who can say where their efforts will lead?

(Notes on this game of A Dirty World after the break.)

This week, we’re playing A Dirty World, Greg Stolze’s awesome noir-themed role-playing game for the One Roll Engine.


JAVIER TORTUGA / Ed: A Mexican bounty hunter who serves at the pleasure of a drug cartel matriarch. The organization has dispatched him to America to find the daughter of one of their lieutenants and bring her home. (SPOILER: She’s dead.)

DET. HENRY WESTFIELD / Alex: An investigator for the county police who believes in law and order. His moral compass has yet to be tested, but what he discovers during the course of this case may change that.

DET. ALLAN WILKES / Meyer: Detective Westfield’s more unscrupulous partner, a man who isn’t opposed to making a few quick bucks while the boom lasts.

KEVIN KNOX / James: A blogger and internet personality who came to town looking for a big story. He’s got several connections and sources in town, but will that be enough to keep him ahead of the curve (and the cops) on this murder case?


NOTE: This scenario was inspired by an article that Mark Ebner wrote called, “FRACKED UP: Hollywood,Interrupted Visits America’s New Boomtown,” which you can find online here. It’s a great piece that’s just loaded with evocative human details that paint the town of Williston in a suggestively gilt-edged manner. It’s a fascinating article, and I highly suggest giving it a read.

That said, I should also point out that this game is entirely a work of collaborative fiction. While it is based off of some ideas that Ebner puts forth about the milieu of Williston, the people, events and geography of the story are largely made up out of whole cloth. Please don’t mistake this for an accurate reflection on the town or any of its residents.

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