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[DitV]First town

Started by Simon Kamber, April 02, 2005, 04:38:04 PM

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Simon Kamber

We played Dogs in the Vineyard for the first time today. Played with three people, which turned out to work pretty well. After having introduced the third player to the setting, we started by creating characters:

Brother Josiah:
Brother Josiah grew up in the east. But over there, he was an outcast. He turned to the faith because it was the only thing that he could hold on to in a quite hopeless life. When called to become a dog, he didn't have to think twice.

Background: Complicated history.

Acuity: 4d6
Body: 3d6
Heart: 3d6
Will: 5d6

My fists have saved me several times 2d4
I stole my book of life 2d4
The faith helped me go on 1d10
I have read the book of life MANY times 1d10
I'm a dog 2d6

Cyrus, a teacher at the temple. The one who welcomed me for the first time in my life.

- My coat with a green and blue pattern, and a tree of life on the back. Made at the temple, and nothing special 1d4
- My book of life, which I stole 2d6
- Jar of consecrated earth 1d6
- Gun 1d6+1d4

For his accomplishment, I wanted Josiah to realize that his faith was as strong as any other's, even though he sinned before becoming a dog. The initiation took place as he received his coat. The teacher told Josiah that he'd noticed Josiah was doubting his faith. Josiah replied back that how could his faith match that of other dogs when his coat wasn't made by a loving family (for him a sign of his "wrong" background), and when the very book of life he carried was a symbol of his sin (he stole it from a press). The teacher wasn't able to counter that argument, and I won (playing his doubt), giving him the trait "doubts his own faith".

We had a bit of problems with this one. It took us some thinking to arrive at a possible setup for the accomplishment. Even though we got it, it seemed sort of an awkward situation. It seemed kind of out of place to have that discussion with a teacher at that place. We had a hard time coming up with appropriate raises, and the game seemed sort of stuck at times. Then again, it was our first Dogs conflict, and if I'm not mistaken, the first take at conflict-based resolution system for any of us.

Brother George:
Brother George is a pretty well-educated boy, who grew up in a faithful community. However, his parent's were dead, so he was adopted by another family, and he never really felt at home. He is faithful, but he doubts the way the faith is used by the faithful (doubts the system, so to speak), and he sees the mountain people's belief in a far more positive light than others.

Background: Complicated history

Acuity: 6d6
Body: 3d6
Heart: 3d6
Will: 3d6

As for the traits and belongings, I don't have his character sheet, so I don't remember all of them, and I don't remember the dice of all of them either:

I think things through 2d10
Doubting Thomas
Mountain people lore 1d4

- Coat 1d6
- Horse, Gun and jar of consecrated earth (don't remember the dice of either)
- A feather he got from a mountain person once (think it was 1d4)

For his accomplishment, George's player wanted him to convince someone else that his interpretation of the faith was the correct one. The initiation took place in a store in Bridal Falls, where he was buying a few things for the temple. As he arrived, a mountain person was kicked out of the store without much in the way of justification. George entered the shop and started arguing with the shopkeeper about whether what he did was wrong. Brother George argued that the mountain person was also a human, and as such deserved to be treated with at least a measure of respect. The shopkeeper turned the blow on him with a simple "mountain people are not humans, why would I treat him with respect". Brother George quickly finished his business and left. As an accomplishment trait, he took "I failed to convince a shopkeeper that my interpretation of scripture was the right one". He also took experience fallout, increasing "I think things through" to 3d10.

This conflict was also pretty marked by our "newness". It took us a little while to come up with a setting for the conflict, although it was a bit faster than the first one. The real problem, though, seemed to be including George's traits in the conflict. I think the only one we got was "I think things through" when George presented his idea that mountain people were also humans. At the same time, the GM dice were pretty good, and so it didn't take long before it was clear where this conflict was going.

Also, it struck me afterwards that the conflict seemed to assume that the mountain person was not faithful. At least, the opposite was never established, and George spoke of him as "a human" rather than as a faithful. In hindsight, it seems kind of odd to have a heathen mountain person shopping in Bridal Falls, but whatever.

The first town on our route was this one. I suddenly realize that the town never had a name, but it didn't matter much :)

We rode towards the town in question, and arrived during the afternoon. On our way there, we met Lavina who greeted us happily. However, the meeting wasn't terribly significant to either of us players, so we greeted her heartily, and moved on without thinking too much of it.

Afterwards, we learned that this was actually where she was supposed to have told her story. But well, it worked out pretty well in the end

The next few scenes presented the town and its problem. First the usual happy greeting and invitation to dinner with the steward. Then Lavina, smiling broadly, approached the dogs and asked them to solemnize her wedding with the steward's son. Her father wasn't looking to happy about it, and enquired about it he explained that he found the steward's son arrogant and proud. He'd much rather have her daughter marry her other suitor, Brother Josiah.

Before dinner with the Steward, we talked to Josiah and learned that while he hadn't known that a wedding was being planned, he was aware that Lavina preferred Hiram over him. He very much gave the impression of being in love with her though.

Dinner with the steward went well until we mentioned the Wedding. The Steward was pretty surprised by this, and was very angry with his son, claiming that it was too early for them to be thinking about marriage.

After dinner, Josiah took the Steward aside to discuss the issue with him. The steward quickly revealed that he didn't plan for the two to be married at all. This made Josiah curious, but the Steward didn't reveal more right away. When Josiah kept pushing, he got offensive and told Josiah to keep out of it, and it would sort itself out. This made Josiah angry, and he stood up tall, called on his authority as a dog and recited scripture about stewardship and about how a man who was unable to even take responsibility for his own family was unworthy to have stewardship over a whole town (Small as it may be). This made the Steward open up and reveal that he was sure Hiram didn't love Lavina. He told Josiah that if he'd just talk to Hiram, he would surely come to the same conclusion.

This was the first conflict in the town, and I'd say it was the first conflict in the game that ran smoothly. It started out with regular raises and sees, but when the steward more or less told Josiah to mind his own business, it got interesting (never tell a dog to mind his own business). I had Josiah call upon just about everything that gave him authority, and in one raise I got to call on, if I remember right, "I have read the book of life many times", "I'm a dog", his coat and his book of life, which pretty much ended the conflict.
However, the stakes seemed a little tame. Conflicts for information don't really work out if they have no other purpose. I really liked the conflict, but ending it with a bit of information was sort of anticlimatic.

While this was happening, George pulled Hiram aside and asked what was up. Initially, he claimed that he wouldn't want to be rash about a marriage when he was the stewards son. But even when George pushed, he never really revealed what was up. He was very cold and uncaring and just kept saying that it wasn't happening.

This conflict was pretty much like the previous one, except with another outcome. The conflict itself never really went as high. But because the dog ended up losing, the conflict actually became more interesting story-wise. After the conflict it was pretty clear that something was horribly wrong. Hiram was supposedly getting married, or not, and he really seemed like he couldn't care less. The conflict left that pretty clear "something's wrong" taste in my mouth, which was clearly a good thing. It's interesting that the information conflict seemed more tame but the aftermath was more "grabby" when the dog lost the conflict. It seemed like more of an escalation.

Third, we talked to the wife. Here we learned that Hiram had been acting weirdly lately. Among other things, he had been sneaking out at night once in a while. (This was where our 'Demon' bells started ringing). We then talked to Lavina again, and learned that they had been in love for a while, and that Horam had convinced her that it was allright for them to do their stuff in the barn. After all, he reasoned, they were being married as soon as possible. While that wasn't technically wrong, we were pretty convinced that with Heram's attitude, he was not planning on getting married, which made it a sin.

We discussed this for a while, thinking over diffent options for solutions. George suggested trying to find out what Heram had been doing at night, but Josiah argued that we didn't have time for that. The best solution was, he thought, to confront Hiram with what we had right away, and in front of his parents. This we did.

We showed up at the Stewards door. Josiah took out his book of life, set his coat straight and walked into the living room (without knocking), and raised with "Hiram, we need to talk about something. I know you're hiding something, and I want you to tell us". The conflict pretty much escalated from there as Josiah added more and more arguments to his case (sex in the barn, Horam's uncaring attitude and finally his night trips). At some point Horam pulled a gun on Josiah and shot a hole in his coat. When that didn't work, he called upon a demon to possess him and give him strength (and the demonic influence dice rolled).
Josiah countered this by pulling off a pretty effective piece of ceremony which involved three in authority and the sign of the tree, and quickly forced the demon back out of Hiram's body. This resulted in an open fight between Hiram and the two dogs, and ended, quite predictably, with Hiram losing.

The first part of this one was a conflict with stakes of "Do we get Hiram to admit what he's done, and do it in front of his parents". It was pretty much Josiah (with George as an improvised object) against Hiram, with the Steward as a less important participant (this was a case of the GM running two parts of a conflict. Not sure what the rule is on that, but it worked out pretty well). The conflict continued until Hiram had called upon the demon and started using it's power, when we suddenly realized that we had already resolved the stakes. We backtracked a bit and turned it into a follow-up conflict with the stakes "do we stop him from killing us" and with both dogs as participants, which was dramatic but had a pretty predictable outcome. The only thing that stopped it from being a pushover was that I had an interesting followup in mind, and I wanted Hiram alive.

After this, Josiah dragged Hiram out to Lavina's house with the intent of having Hiram tell her himself what he'd done. That conflict ended pretty quickly, and while the follow-up conflict ("Does George manage to convince Lavina that it's true") took a little longer, it also ended with a positive outcome.

As a final conflict, Lavina's father Edward came down the stairs with a gun and threatened to shoot Hiram himself for what he'd done to his daughter. It took some talking to calm him down, including quite a few fiery words, and some less nice words from Edward (Josiah commented a lot on this, especially because Edward had sweared the first time they met too), but in the end, with Josiah's gun pointed at Edward and George quoting the book of life on how a murderer was a murderer no matter the reason, they got him to back down.

This one was interesting. It escalated pretty far, and even though the resolution of the stakes ("Do we stop him from shooting Hiram") was pretty predictable, the lengths that we would have to go to to win were not. Josiah had reached the point where he had pulled the gun and told Edward that his language was blasphemous and his murderous intent a direct offense against the King of Life, and I personally had dice earmarked for a raise of 15 with "I shoot him".

After that, Josiah pulled Hiram out into the open in front of Brother Edward's farm and shot him. We discussed a bit, and then decided that for Lavina's sake, the story we'd tell would be that he used the power of the demons to seduce her, since we didn't want her to lose face in the community. Also, we decided to let Edwards moment of rage slip by quietly, trusting that the heavy reprimande he'd been given would be enough. And finally, some old woman repaired the bullethole in Josiah's coat. This meant a lot to him. In his eyes, it changed his coat from something that he had gotten because every dog must have a coat, to HIS coat. It made his coat personal.

Some thoughts:

- The session was pretty short. Despite this being a character generation session, it took only 5 or so hours, which is a bit shorter than we usually play even without character generation. While I didn't actually feel that it was "too short", it strikes me as a bit odd. What's your experiences on this?

- The group dynamic in this was a LOT different than what I'm used to. I did set out with a few ideas of what I wanted to do with the game (I've been reading the posts here for quite a while), and I tried already from the beginning to keep the game more open by suggesting things to George's player and to the GM. What surprised me was just how well it worked, as it didn't take long before everyone were suggesting things without much of a thought. It just seemed natural. However, this isn't a group that plays regularly (I've only played with George's player once before), so it might well just be a different group.

- The aftermath. After the game, we spent a while discussing the implications of it and how we viewed the events. I've tried before to create a "debriefing" after a game session, but it's never quite caught on. This time it happened, just like that. Whoo.

Favourite moments:

- When Josiah convinced the Steward to tell the truth. The raise where I pulled out all the tools in the box just felt cool.

- The point where we discussed what we were going to do about Hiram after talking to Lavina again, and then entered the house with our full authority. Really gave that "pronouncing the King's judgment" feeling. Cool, really cool.

- The final moments of the conflict with Edwards. It was getting pretty tense, despite the pretty obvious outcome of the stakes.

(I'll probably have a few things to add once I think about them. For now I've got to say, even though it sounds clichéd by now, that this game rocks :D)
Simon Kamber


(I was the GM in the game, a few comments from em)

I was sort of in a dillema about how to make the troubles obvious to them, I wanted to make the trouble clear to them, so they wouldn't be facing the old problem that often comes up in normal RPG's, GM-stoneface. So I wanted to get to the town, tell them that something was wrong and who was involved. While at the same time not plan for what they should do, or what I should do.

Also, Simon fails a bit to mention what I consider a big part of their decisions. That for Lavina there was no doubt at all they was going to be married, she loved him after all. (with a "I'm naive 2D10" and a "Brother Hiram loves me, and I love brother Hiram 2D8"). In her eyes it wasn't a sin.

Anyway, their accomplishments. Those wasn't easy, first of all, it was rather hard to find a good setup, and I'm still not really happy about how we did Brother George's.

Overall I really like the game, easy enough rules set not to disturb the roleplay. And incredible easy for the GM. Which for me is one of the biggest bonuses, especially on the "prepare" part of being GM (which I what I really have trouble getting around to do).
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every single moment of it