Rocking C Ranch
There are several outfits around Brimstone, ranging in herd size and competency of their employees. The Rocking C Ranch sadly won’t be taking the #1 spot for the former, but the dozen and change cowpokes it has under its employ have a reputation for being some of the most loyal, hard-working hands west of the Mississippi when it comes to the latter. Well, depending on who you ask, anyhow. Lots of ranches say the exact thing about their own, after all. Still, while a bit exaggerated and puffed up by bravado, in the case of the Rocking C cowboys it’s mostly rightfully earned. They’ve got another mostly rightfully earned reputation as something of a rowdy bunch whenever they ride into town on their days off, but only two of their number could be said to be full-on troublemakers.
Charlotte “Lotte” Castle is the owner of the Rocking C Ranch, though she’s getting a bit up in years, so she splits the running of day to day affairs with her most trusted employee, Sunny McClane (see below). She’s a short, solidly built, suntanned woman with chin length black hair that has been to make people almost twice her size sit down and shut up. The daughter of a pair of Texan settlers from back when it was an independent republic, she spent her entire early life on a small horse farm, and proved to be a consummate tomboy even back before the manpower shortage of the Civil War started to cause such attitudes to become more acceptable. Eventually her father relented, and over time Lotte slowly but surely started to run more and more of the ranch, and by the time her father passed away nobody questioned Castle’s claim of leadership. After the Union finally won the war in 1871 and the laying of railroad tracks once again began in earnest Lotte cashed in her stallions and savings for beeves and moved to the New Mexico territory. Since Lotte didn’t particularly like trying to compete with the Cattle King of the Pecos and the several other established outfits she eventually drifted northward toward where Brimstone would be founded. Between the nasty business that went down in Lincoln County a few years back and the pleasant surprise of a tiny town popping up close to her ranch around the same time (with copper and now ghost rock following) the cattlewoman’s quite happy with her past self’s choice.
Ms. Castle is in her late forties and gives off the vibe of taking guff from nobody. Living on the frontier all your life and dealing with every rascal, varmint, and critter that goes bump in the night tends to give you sand like that. Still, she’s far from cold and emotionless, genuinely caring for the men and women working under her, and can reveal a somewhat wry sense of humor on rare occasions. Lotte never married, despite more than one suitor courting her, though on her more sentimental days she’ll muse her longtime hands are somewhat like her children. She doesn’t say that out loud, of course, and a good chunk of those folk likely say the same, though they wouldn’t say it outright either.
Still, while Lotte Castle is the owner of the Rocking C and indisputably the one in charge, for most the rank and file folk people of Brimstone when they think of that outfit they think of the McClanes. Five siblings, each of them a skilled roper and rider, form a core that the rest of the Rocking C cowboy’s fan out from, and when cow punchers from Ms. C’s ride into town there's almost always at least one McClane among their number.
Graham “Sunny McClane is the eldest of the McClanes at 28 and cuts an intimidating figure with his barrel chest and standing at 6’2.” Still, the man didn’t get his nickname just because of his dirty blonde hair. He’ll ride people ragged on the ranch as Lotte’s right hand off, but off the range he’s a friendly, boisterous sort, who likes a good drink, a good hand of cards, and the company of a pretty lady, and doesn’t mind the occasional little practical joke or good ‘ol bar brawl, both aided by a tiny competitive streak. His biggest flaws are probably that he’s stubborn as a mule, though it takes a lot for him to hold a grudge, and that when it comes to the Rocking C (especially with his own siblings), he’s very much “Ride or Die.” That being said, he’s not blind to the fact that some of his kin seem to have a natural talent for getting into trouble, and often tries his best to play peacemaker, even if family does come first and ultimately, if it comes down to it, he’ll side with his kin and coworkers. Sunny briefly worked for Empire Rails during the last days of the Great Rail Wars before Ms. Castle essentially took him and his siblings in and he likes to jokingly claim that he had a brief relationship with a genuine Wichita Witch during one of its truces with Black River, though it’s always accompanied with a laugh and met with rolled eyes, and he’s smart enough never to say it when his current sweetheart, a waitress at the Jumping Jack Saloon, is within earshot.
Augustus “Gus” McClane, age 24, is in many ways his elder brother’s visual opposite. While he’s still decently tall he’s much more lanky than his sibling, giving off a wiry, hungry look. He’s also the only McClane that didn’t inherit their mother’s blonde locks, instead sporting dark slicked back do. Gus is a mean, ill-tempered cuss with a bad sense of humor, and the fact he’s usually had at least some liquor in him when he’s in town tends not to help. He’s not some ruthless cold blooded murder who townsfolk live in total fear of, but he is absolutely, well, an asshole, to be frank, and does have a well-earned reputation as somebody not to mess with. Augustus has pulled his piece on people as a threat, shot up furniture, and fired warning shots more than once. While he hasn’t ever simply gunned somebody so far, twice he and another hot-head have “taken it outside” after several recurring heated arguments. Both times his opponent drew first and were shot in “self defense,” so naturally he wasn’t charged with anything. While Gus loves his whisky, his main vice is cards and he’s a frequent sight at the poker and faro tables, where he’s… Consistently lucky. It’s also rumored that Gus and other local ne'er-do-wells are responsible for the occasional person finding their money or horses mysteriously missing, though there’s admittedly no proof. Still, while he’s a real piece of work, Gus does have his good points. He’s just as devoted to his siblings and the Rocking C as the rest of his family, works hard, is no coward (even if he certainly isn’t above resorting to underhanded tactics), and he’s a lot better with money than the rest of the McClane’s, despite his fondness for cards. Still, general consensus is that if there’s ever going to be a range war or a blood feud involving the McClanes in Brimstone it’s going to be because of this sumbitch.
Gertrude McClane is the middle child of the McClanes, and like a lot of middle children she tends to be overlooked, though that doesn’t bother her too much. The 21 year old is a bit less on the talkative side than the average cowgirl and she tends to hang back and let one of her siblings, older or younger, take the lead most of the time, backing them up in whatever that may be Still, the willowy blonde’s no shy wallflower and on Saturday nights can often be found matching anybody who will challenge her shot for shot. While not the best rider in her family, that honor goes to Sunny, Gertrude has an eye for steed quality, and she occasionally dreams about eventually opening up her own horse ranch someday.
Maxine “Max” McClane doesn’t look like a McClane. She has their mom’s hair, and eyes, but 20 years in and she hasn’t shown so much as a lick of her supposed daddy’s features. Heaven help anybody who brings that up in front of her or any Rocking C cowboy though, because that’ll get the offender slugged faster than telling Gus he needs anger management lessons. The fact of the matter is whispers about her questionable parentage have dogged her for almost her entire life, and it’s left Max with one Hell of a complex that she won’t acknowledge. The young woman will take on almost any challenge put in front of her even when she really shouldn’t, pick fights even when outnumbered, and volunteer for extra, potentially dangerous work if she thinks it will help make her look better in the eyes of her siblings and the rest of the hands. Of course, in reality all of that is unnecessary, but good luck telling Max that! She’s also by far the most likely of her siblings to actively join in Gus’s cruelty, though that’s really just for approval as well, and general consensus is that she's a good kid deep down, considering she doesn’t act like that otherwise. Max is a short lady, barely five feet tall, and while any cowgirl isn’t exactly dressing like a proper lady, between her very short-cropped hair, lack of curves, fondness for a baggy old, hand-me-down duster, and androgynous nickname it’s fairly easy to mistake her for the youngest brother instead. It’s just not generally recommended to do so unless you wanna piss her off.
Garrett McClane is the baby of the bunch at all of 17. He’s actually about average height, but considering every other McClane besides Max tends toward the far end of the bell curve he gives off the impression of being shorter than he actually is when in a group with his siblings. Having a bit of a baby face doesn’t help matters either. Though, those boyish good looks certainly help in another way. While a number of folk will agree that Graham’s not exactly hard on the eyes, it’s Garrett who’s undeniably the handsome one between that face, a bright, shining smile, and his shaggy golden mop. The kid’s also quick to flash that smile, with a known reputation as a friendly, easy-going, helpful sort, and he’s one of the few people in Brimstone who tends to give newcomers a warm welcome right away. All of his brothers and sisters, even Gus, are at least somewhat protective of their baby brother, a fact that Garrett occasionally resents, but mostly appreciates. Garrett makes friends easily, and is likely to become an ally of the average posse but sufficiently impressive and heroic individuals might also find themselves the subject of admiration, or even a crush. It should be remembered though, that while he’s kind and still a bit wet behind the ears, Garrett can still pull his weight on the range just fine, and Sunny muses that his little brother might eventually become the best out of all of them some day.
Fernando Chavez is Sunny’s best friend and Rocking C’s oldest hand, having worked for Lotte back in Texas. It’s rare to see the bulky Spaniard not sporting a large, ear to ear grin that shows off his numerous gold teeth regardless of what emotion he’s actually feeling. He also has a habit of muttering wry observations about the people and things going on around him in Spanish under his breath and chuckling to himself.
Lilah Wilkes is a fairly recent hire of Lotte’s, though, in all honesty, she’s less skilled at the actual job than most of the Rocking C’s employees. She’s damn quick with a gun though, and thanks to the recent cattle mutilation Lotte sees wisdom in having another body with those skills riding her range. Lilah is a weather-beaten, deeply tanned woman in her early 30s with brown hair up in a ponytail and a scar across one of her cheeks. She doesn’t talk about how she got it, though a few of the other cowboys think it has something to do with her tendency to occasionally glance behind her shoulder for seemingly no reason. Lilah tends to keep her own company when in town, but out on the range she mostly sticks close to a more experienced cattle puncher.
Phillip “Phil” Young is proof that next to every clever bully there’s a dumb hanger-on to back him up. Phil’s a rather unassuming looking Caucasian man of average height with short brown hair and he frequently sports a smug, self-satisfied that he hasn’t even earned. Nobody really likes him, not even Gus deep down, truthfully, but he laughs at the guy’s jokes and is a willing partner in whatever mischief the McClane problem child gets up to, so it’s rare to not see them together for more than a short time if they’re both in town.
Michael Lewis is a workaholic. While there are more skilled hands at the Rocking C, none of them, even the McClanes, can match him in terms of extra hours put in at the ranch. This is partially simply because Michael genuinely loves the feeling of riding the range and taking in the New Mexico scenery, and partially because Lotte has been known to give bonuses and Michael needs the money. Unlike most of the other cowboys Michael is a married man, and almost all of his money is sent back to his wife and two kids. Garrett and Max also trigger Michael’s paternal instincts a bit, and he tends to try to keep a bit of an eye on the youngest McClanes. Given most of his money goes to his family, it’s not all surprising that he doesn’t really drink or gamble, and he can mostly be found nursing a single drink at a saloon while enjoying the piano. Michael’s an African American man in his early thirties with a kind face and a shaved head.
Clancy “Cookie” Thornton is pretty much the spitting image of every cliche trail cook you read about in a dime novel. He’s old, wrinkled, missing several teeth, and has a tendency to cackle at bad jokes. Still, he cooks a mean stew, and whether it’s cooking on the ranch or manning the chuck wagon, the Rocking C couldn’t be happier with the old man.
Besides this solid core there are usually a few more folk on Ms. Castle’s payroll, but who they are and their exact numbers vary by the season, though they average around four or five total, mostly consisting of drifting cowpokes and the occasional down on their luck miner with decent equestrian ability.