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[DitV]Oakview Branch, first try

Started by Dick Page, March 24, 2005, 07:47:37 PM

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Dick Page

I just got my Dogs in the Vineyard pdf earlier this week, and I'm hankering to try it out this weekend.  I got some friends excited too, thanks to Kit's powerful ending.

Here's my first try at creating a town.  I scaled it back a bit from what I originally had, which had a developing cult and Brother Joshua as a sorcerer.  I'd appreciate any comments as to its playability.  I'm particularly wondering if I've simply created a "bad guy" scenario with little complexity.

Oakview Branch

When Brother Ezekiel was run over by the runaway cart, no one thought it was as bad as it was.  Oakview's Steward, Brother Cuthbert, was certain he could heal him, but he failed.  Brother Ezekiel was well-loved, and Brother Cuthbert retreated into himself.  Brother Joshua, who had been acting as a mediator for some time, rose to take his place, donning a strikingly decorated coat.

Brother Joshua believes he has the authority and righteousness of a Dog.

Brother Joshua has usurped Brother Cuthbert's position.
Brother Ezekiel was not properly sanctified at death.
Brother Jonathan is worried he and his new wife Sister Rachel are living in sin since their marriage was performed by Brother Joshua.

Brother Cuthbert is guilty of faithlessness and worldliness.  Since failing to save Brother Ezekiel he believes he is unworthy to act as Steward and has turned his responsibilities over to Brother Joshua.  He has also taken to smoking tobacco.
Brother Ezekiel is guilty of lingering on the earth after his time, and haunting Steward Cuthbert, seeking vengeance.
Brother Jonathan and Sister Rachel's marriage remains unconsummated. Sister Rachel has begun an inappropriately romantic, though platonic relationship with Brother Zachary.  Brother Jonathan knows of this, but is conflicted as to what to do.
Brother Zachary is secretly courting Sister Rachel and seeks to somehow discredit or remove Brother Jonathan.

The demons have empowered Brother Ezekiel as a poltergeist after death.
The demons have sent Brother Joshua dreams he believes come from the King of Life that confirm his belief that he has authority.
The demons have granted Brother Joshua the ability to use their power to convince people to shed their sin.
The demons are whispering to Brother Jonathan that  the only way to hold
on to Sister Rachel is to kill Brother Zachary.


Many townspeople revere Brother Joshua, who has successfully resolved many minor problems in the town fairly and justly.  What they don't know is that he derives his solutions from demonic power, using it to convince people of the wrongness of their actions.

Brother Joshua wants the Dogs to acknowledge his right to rule and the good job he's done so far.
Brother Cuthbert wants to be left alone to contend with Brother Ezekiel.  He doesn't want the Dogs to know about Ezekiel.
Brother Ezekiel wants the Dogs to kill Cuthbert.
Brother Jonathan wants the Dogs to give him Rachel back.
Sister Rachel wants the Dogs to decide for her whether she should marry Zachary, or she wants them to perform her marriage to

Jonathan again.
Brother Zachary wants the Dogs to perform his marriage to Rachel.

- want the Dogs to approve of Brother Joshua's authority.
- want the townspeople to form a cult around Brother Joshua
- want Brother Zachary or Brother Jonathan to kill the other.
- want Brother Ezekiel to drive Brother Cuthbert to suicide

A cult would form around Brother Joshua, who would assume the role of benevolent dictator at first until the entire town was behind him, at which point the demons would take over.  Brother Cuthbert would be powerless to stop him and would soon commit suicide.  Zachary would steal Rachel away from Jonathan, finally driving him to murder.

PS. - Tangentially, I've printed out my pdf on half-sheets, front and back, and was wondering what would be a good way to bind the pages?  Thanks!

--Dick Page

Joshua A.C. Newman

This seems like a perfectly serviceable town to me. The fun comes with the marriage part, and if you feel like you need to spice things up, do it there.

For perfect binding, you can go down to your local print shop and have them tape bind the thing. Not as durable as a properly bound edition, but quite nice. You could also just try binder clips.
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.


I think this is definitely runnable, and I like the complexity of it. It might be a little too complex for a first session, but that all depends on your players.

Personally, I don't quite grok this part "Brother Ezekiel is guilty of lingering on the earth after his time, and haunting Steward Cuthbert, seeking vengeance." in that I generally consider sins to be best as something fairly easily definable under the eight basic sins of Violence, Sex, Deceit, Disunity, Blasphemy, Apostasy, Worldliness, and or Faithlessness. I might modify it to include that he's committed violence against Steward Cuthbert, or has committed Disunity for seeking the vengeance.

But I think partly the campaign I'm playing isn't much with heavy supernatural influence. Ghosts havn't been and issue, and basically if supernatural things do happen, my player tend to point and yell 'DEMON!'... so in the campaign I'm playing at least it would make more sense for Br. Ezekial to have committed some sin in his last moments, and the demons gave him the power to linger as a ghost.

DitV is a pretty fluid, open-to-interpretation game though, so if you think this feels right in your world, that's fine. I just thought I'd shine a little light on it, see if that really felt right for you.

Dick Page

The bit about Brother Ezekiel is drawn from the section of the rules about sanctifying a corpse  in the Ceremony section of the Creating Characters chapter.  It says that in folk beliefs, though the Faith has no official doctrine, every moment after death and before sanctification is a temptation to remain as a ghost, which is a sin.  This is essentially what happened:  Br. Ezekiel  dies after Cuthbert fails to realize the severity of his injuries.  Ezekiel, after death, blames Cuthbert for his death.  The demons present an opportunity to linger afterwards and get vengeance on Cuthbert, which Ezekiel, his corpse improperly sanctified by Br. Joshua, eventually accepts.

Obviously, he is ALSO guilty of disunity and violence against Cuthbert, but I'm thinking I'll leave it up to the player's to decide whether it was lack of proper ceremony or feelings of disunity which caused Ezekiel to become a ghost.


Ahhh, makes sense now. Tricky that... I somehow missed that section of the book (ceremony tends to make my brain fuzzy, so it's not surprising I seem to have skipped it thusfar). I had somehow been assuming that the eight sins listed were a cut and dried list of "This is sin and that's it. The end."

That explained, I think this town is great, I can't wait to see what your players do with it. They have some interesting decisions and or interpretations to made.

Dick Page

Okay!  Let's see if I can tell you all how it came out.  Everyone said they had a really great time, and that they'd like to play again next weekend.  We'll see if this actually happens.  Here's the characters:

Brother Joseph "Tumbleweed Joe"
Background: Complicated History

Acuity: 5
Body: 3
Heart: 3
Will: 4

Track a coyote through the desert on a moonless night: 2d10
Can't be picked out in a crowd: 2d4
Can call on spirtiual forces to hea: 3d4
Converted by High Priest Harburg: 1d6
Whip a gun out of a man's hand: 1d6
Vision quested to unite conflicting spirits: 1d6
Divine burns on back of hands and arms: 1d4

Dogs: 1d6
Spirit guide: 1d6
Knife: 1d6

Coat: simple, red, brown, and deep blue.  Dusty, hooded, resilient, concealing in the desert - 2d6
Mountain Folk Knife: 2d6
Tobacco and rolling papers: 1d6
Bullwhip: 1d6
Kerchief: 1d4

Accomplishment:  Brother Joseph wanted to reconcile his Mountain Folk and Faithful backgrounds.  He went on a vision quest naked in the desert, found a grotto with Mountain Folk markings, then saw a vision of a holy, flaming Tree of Life.  He took some physical fallout, manifesting as white burns on his arms from prostrating himself before the flaming Tree.

Brother Octavious
Background: Complicated Community

Acuity: 6
Body: 2
Heart: 3
Will: 4

Recall scripture from memory: 2d6
Competed in steeplechasing: 2d6
Illegitimate child, hidden from public: 1d8
Skilled in exorcism from studying the occult: 2d6
God has appointed me judge, jury, and executioner: 1d8 (I'm a Dog)
Failed an exorcism: 1d6
Studying came to nothing: 1d4

Priest (Father Elijah) that trained me in demonology: 1d6
Bible: 1d6
Adultery: 1d10

Coat: Velvet, family crest (gilded griffin)
Book of Life, gilded, leatherbound: 1d6
Pocketwatch, heirloom: 2d6
Demonology tome: 1d4
Gun, ivory handle, silver: 2d6 + 1d4
Knife: 1d6
Lantern: 1d6
Nice Gloves: 2d6
Stetson: 2d6
Eyeglasses: 1d6

Accomplishment: Brother Octavious hoped to exorcise a demon, but it proved too much for him when the demon escalated to physical attacks.  He was seriously injured by a bite to his arm, which became supernaturally infected.  He covers the scar on his wrist with long gloves.

Brother Elias
Background: Strong History

Acuity: 4
Body: 4
Heart: 2
Will: 4

Can hit a tin can from 100 m: 2d10
I can ride very well: 3d6
I am the sword of God: 1d10 (I'm a Dog)
{illegible} alone in the wilderness: 2d8
I have played a lot of billiards: 1d8
Cavalry sword training: 1d8
Known as a bandit killer: 1d6

My horse: 1d6
The desert: 1d8

Coat: Not too good, not too bad: 1d6
Regular pistol: 1d6 + 1d4
Excellent rifle: 2d6 + 1d4
Cavalry sword: 2d6
Pool Cue: 1d6
Excellent Horse: 2d6
Black Stetson: 1d6

Brother Elias hoped he tracked and killed a murderous bandit.  We had some great sees and raises, including Elias raising: "The bandit doesn't realize it, but he's heading into a dead end."  This sparked an ambush attempt by the bandit.  Elias tricked the bandit by riding sidesaddle, then jumping off of his horse into the brush.  When the bandit stood, (he Gave), Elias popped him in the head with his rifle.  This was the most entertaining for the rest of the group.

Brother Stephen Daedalus
Background: Complicated History

Acuity: 6
Body: 2
Heart: 3
Will: 4

Well rounded apreciation of art and philosophy: 1d4
Speed-reading: 2d6
Can hear the voice of God: 3d10
Spontaneous lack of faith: 3d4
Memorized entire Book of Life: 1d6
Have come into contact with evil: 1d4

Dogs: 3d6
Gun: 1d6

Coat: Plain brown with white cuffs, terribly made by mother: 1d4
Pistol left by father (carved design on silver handle): 2d6 + 1d4
Pen, ink, and paper: 1d6
Machete (dull): 1d8
Book about French painting: 1d6
Leather string: 1d6
Lantern: 1d6
Wax, flint, wicks: 1d6
Thick glasses: 1d4

Accomplishment: Brother Stephen hoped to memorize the entire Book of Life.  This was a really interesting conflict, I thought.  We had him get distracted by the other books in the library, then finally buckle down when he heard the King of Life tell him to get on the ball.

I'll post regarding the game a little later!

Eric Minton

Interesting how not one of your group's Dogs has a single Trait or Relationship that deals with family or friends.  In fact, I only see two other human beings in the whole list (High Priest Harburg and Brother Elias).  The four Dogs in my group are in a similar (though less extreme) situation, with three Dogs coming from outside the Faith and having no bonds with anyone in the community.

Is this common?

Dick Page

Quote from: Eric MintonInteresting how not one of your group's Dogs has a single Trait or Relationship that deals with family or friends.
Is this common?

I'm probably at fault for that.  I pointed out that relationships only come into conflicts when they are the stakes or the conflict is with the person.  All my PCs have interesting relationships with family, mentors, etc, but they didn't think it would be effective to have them assigned dice.

I'll change this in the future by bringing in some family members on the road so they can assign dice then (if they want, obviously).  I think I'll also be a little more lenient on when you can count a relationship at "stake."


QuoteI think I'll also be a little more lenient on when you can count a relationship at "stake."

That's what we've done in our group. We tend to allow the rolling of relationship dice in a variety of situations - for instance, when raising with "As my father always said, _____", we'd roll the relationship for the character's father. Though not technically the "right" way to do it, it just seems to make sense, especially with relationships that otherwise may not come up.


QuoteAs my father always said, _____
I'm resigned to losing this battle whenever it comes up, but the game really does work better if you don't play it this way.


Dick Page

Quote from: lumpleyI'm resigned to losing this battle whenever it comes up, but the game really does work better if you don't play it this way.


Why is that?  If you don't mind me asking; it sounds like you've had to explain this before.


Read down from, let's say this post in this old actual play thread: Dogs in the IRC - Initiations

Traits are your power over how things go within a conflict. Relationships are your power over what conflicts are about. Mixing them up dulls the dynamic. Try it; you might notice the difference.



Quote from: lumpleyTraits are your power over how things go within a conflict. Relationships are your power over what conflicts are about. Mixing them up dulls the dynamic. Try it; you might notice the difference.

I remember reading this, and not completely comprehending it. After giving it some thought, I think I have a better grasp over the reasons behind the distinction. I'm going to take a stab at an explanation - let me know if I'm still not getting it.

As I understand it, the idea is that Relationships are strong connections that can affect your behavior in a conflict with or about that person/institution/etc. - in game terms, adding to your dice pool. If the conflict isn't with or about that Relationship, then the effect of calling on it is negligible.

Basically, quoting one's father in a conflict about some unrelated thing, while clearly referencing the Relationship, doesn't have a strong enough impact on the situation to warrant adding to the dice pool. If I wanted to quote my father in a conflict and get extra dice for doing so, I could add "My father was a wise man 1d8" or something similar as a Trait.


Quote from: BrendanCIf I wanted to quote my father in a conflict and get extra dice for doing so, I could add "My father was a wise man 1d8" or something similar as a Trait.

If you need an in-game rationale, "quoting your father would have too little impact to warrant adding dice" is fine. Really it's about the players' power within conflict vs. around conflict, though, not the characters'.



It seems to me that there's a reason that relationships are separate from traits. I foresee my players actually being happy when I bring in their family. If you give them the relationship dice in any situation, it won't matter whether their close family is involved or not. But I, as a GM, want to make it more personal and bring in their brother or father or uncle. Instead of being upset that I bring in this closeness, they will be happy because they get more dice. :)