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Author Topic: [DitV] Kettle Lake  (Read 4494 times)
TonyLB
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« on: July 07, 2005, 08:54:35 AM »

If'n you reckon you might be over DexCon-way on wednesday, and be hankerin' to play in this here game I'm running then reading this post will give you loads of extra time to ponder the moral whys and wherefores.  Me, I figure that'd take away from your fun, but I also figure it's your decision.  You been warned.



KETTLE LAKE BRANCH

PRELUDE:  Ol' Zeke Hawkins got too old for the Stewardin'.  It's a ramblin' community, and his legs just plain couldn't take it.  He had a hard choice... between his own son, Caleb, and the blacksmith's son, Hurtfew Smith.  They's both good men.  We're blessed in 'em, and that's a fact.  When Zeke picked Caleb over Hurtfew, the young Smith made sure to be very public about his support.  He even does his best to keep his chatty wife, Abigail, from expressin' her opinions on the subject in public.

PRIDE:  Caleb has two daughters (by Sister Prudence, God rest her soul), Judith and Mariah.  Judith has herself a mean temper, and a tongue to match, but Mariah's just the apple of her daddy's eye.  All the things Judith ain't:  Humble, demure, soft-spoken, helpful.  He values these things in her, because it shows (he thinks) that he does as good a job with his family as his pappy done.  If'n he can hold his family together, maybe he deserves the duties of Steward.

INJUSTICE:  Mariah never did get a chance to be courted proper.  Caleb and Hurtfew, they had it all worked out, that Hurtfew's son, Makepeace Smith, he'd a-marry Mariah when they came of age.  So it was good that Mariah loves that man, Makepeace, with all her heart.  The King of Life saw to that, no doubt.  But even so, the girl got a sad look in her eyes of a time, watchin' others be silly and frivolous and play at love.

SIN:  And that's just gotta be why she took Thomas Vetch out to the hay-rick behind the barn that one hot, sultry day five years back and lay with him as a woman lays with a man all that long afternoon.  It certainly couldn't've been for his looks, for he's always been sickly, even as a boy.  They agreed never to speak of it, not to each other, not to their parents, and certainly not to Makepeace.


Followin' which, things got bad.  Five years passed, and Makepeace did propose to Mariah, and she did gladly accept.  But her heart was troubled, both by her sinful sex and by the deceit that she had perpetrated all those years.  And so, to try to make right with the King and with her future husband, she told Makepeace the truth and begged his forgiveness.

There are some mercies a man just ain't strong enough to give, and this was one of 'em.

He broke off their engagement, and plain broke Mariah's heart, but he swore he'd keep her sinful secret.  But the town got right riled up by what he done.  His paw was a screamin' at him, and his ma was secretly supportin' him (which was worse) because she never did think well of the Hawkins family since Zeke passed over her husband.  And Caleb, he was right angry and perplexed, and took it upon himself as Steward to council the boy's sinful ways.  And Makepeace just plain had more'n he could stand, and he shouted the truth at his paw one night... and with a ma like Abigail, that meant the same as shouting it to the town.

So now the town right blames Mariah, for havin' deceived them so long.  They treated her like a virtuous woman, and more'n a few people feel that they been made fools of by this little harlot.  It ain't helpin' that Steward Caleb plain will not believe these accusations, even when his own daughter tells him the truth of it from her own mouth.

And then there's Judith.  Judith, who learned more of men's ways than of women's, helpin' to keep her daddy's farm afloat.  She was strangely quiet when Makepeace broke the engagement, and some people since then been sayin' that she knew more of what was goin' on then she let on.  But she sure ain't been quiet since Makepeace shamed her sister.  She swears, up and down, that she'll flat out kill that Smith boy for what he done.  And the Smiths, they reckon they're the ones that got a score to settle, with every Hawkins from Zeke, on his rockin' chair, right on down.

It's made prayer meetin's more'n a little bit tense.


What they want the Dogs to do

BR. ZEKE HAWKINS:  Tell him whether he made the right choice for Steward.
BR. CALEB HAWKINS:  Clear his daughters good name.
S. JUDITH HAWKINS: Kill Makepeace dead
S. MARIAH HAWKINS: Tell her how to undo her sin
BR. HURTFEW SMITH:  Tell him what to do to help the town
S. ABIGAIL SMITH:  Judge that Zeke picked the wrong Steward
BR. MAKEPEACE SMITH:  Tell him he's right not to love Mariah any more
BR. THOMAS VETCH:  Forgive his sins

What happens if the Dogs don't come:
- Hurtfew and Zeke get into an argument.  Hurtfew hits Zeke, which (blacksmith against old man) does a lot of damage.
- Judith follows through on her threat to kill Makepeace.
- Mariah takes her own life.
- Caleb abdicates his responsibilities as Steward.  Hurtfew refuses to pick them up.
- Zeke tries to call Caleb back to his duty.  Caleb kills his own father.
- The Faith in this Branch dies.


I don't know if the town's got enough grab.  I suppose I could bump up the Injustice, make it a bit more global.  Or I could push on to Demonic Attacks.  But my leaning, for a town that's likely to see a lot of first-time Dogs, is to give them a nice situation with no easy answers, that's going to get worse and worse while they watch, until they go in and do something decisive.  My intuition is that bumping up the level of sin would make it (paradoxically) easier for the Dogs to come to judgment.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2005, 10:12:56 AM »

That's sad. I'm sad for those people.

-Vincent
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2005, 11:36:06 AM »

I'm totally with you.  Fire-belching demons would spoil it.  It is more awful as it sits.  For some reason I'm really attracted to the subtle horror of these low-key towns.  Good job on making the choices hard, hard, hard.  

--Jason
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ironick
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2005, 11:45:10 AM »

Damn...

I wouldn't touch a thing.  I've *played* through a tough DitV campaign, and I have no idea how I would settle this.  This is tough--really tough--which is why it's perfect for new Dogs, to show them exactly what it is that Dogs *do*.  It's easy to be a paladin and ride in on your white steed, smiting evil demons to the cheers of the townsfolk; being a Dog is a hard, soul-wrenching job, full of uncertainty and doubt.  More often than not, Dogs leave a town full of tears and wails of grief instead of exuberance.  No one in this town is an outright villain, and that's the way real people are.  I don't think you need to alter one detail.

Nick
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2005, 05:56:00 AM »

Wow, that was fun to play.  Four things I wasn't (wholly) expecting.

First, they really wanted to know why Judith got so angry, and why she did it in the sequence she did.  I'd had it in the back of my head but didn't write it into the town:  She loved Makepeace.  So when he proposed to her sister, Judith tried to be happy for Mariah, and did a good job of faking it, but in her heart she hated and envied her sister.  And, of course, she really hated herself for feeling that way.

Then, when the engagement broke off, she felt twice as bad about herself, because now she felt like she was somehow responsible, that she was complicit in the tragedy of two young people who loved each other being torn apart.

But when Makepeace made it clear (to her eyes) that he never had loved her sister... whoo-boy.  "He MADE me hate my sister!  For NOTHING!  For his lyin', selfish, WHIM!"

After that got revealed, with Judith still sitting there, smoldering in her eyes with hatred and violence, I said "You guys want a conflict to make her not want to kill him any more?"  They palpably pulled back from me, across the table, and said they'd just as soon not, thank you very much.

Second, when they'd gotten all the information, they really wanted there to be more information.  Like a demonic possession.  Boy would they have loved a demonic possession.  Something to shoot.  They were going around doing stakes of "Are you possessed" on most everyone, and I'd say "I give.  They aren't," and they'd move on to the next person.

I was genuinely thinking that they might make stakes of "You are demonically possessed," and that would be immensely fun.  Talk about the Dogs being responsible for the moral tenor of the situation!  But they didn't.  Eventually I just said "Guys, everyone in town has spilled their guts, either because you forced them, or of their own free will.  This is the part of the game where I sit back and you entertain me."

Third, their primary solution was beautiful and horrible in its simplicity.  Early on they asked Makepeace "If we tell you that the King of Life wants you to love this woman again, can you do it?"  And he said, understandably enough "Well sir, that's a hard question."  So they just told him "Well, son, I want you to think on it a spell."

They came back to him toward the end of the game and said "You thought about it?"  And I said (of course) "Yes sir, I have.  And I don't think I'm strong enough to do it.  That part of my heart died when I learned what she done.  But if'n you tell me to marry her, I'll do that."

They said, immediately and without any debate, "Marry her."  So he did.

Fourth, spiritual intuition (or something) led me to play Thomas Vetch exactly as he needed to be played.  The moment he saw a Dog's coat in his general store, he dropped to his knees, spilled everything and begged for forgiveness.  The Dog didn't even get to open his mouth first.  The kid was so overwrought.  He was, I think, the character that the players sympathized with most in the entire town... I mean, who couldn't understand a mistake like that?

So, of course, he suffered the most.

They had a huge debate.  One side (Andrew Morris and Richard... someone) said they should say that Abigail (who they loathed) had been lying about what happened, and that Mariah and Thomas had never sinned.  Said it would heal the town.  One side (Ben Lehman and... I'm blanking, it was a long Con) said that deceit was a sin, and would only lead to more sin.

It was awesome.

Toward the end of it, people started really grokking what I understood from the first:  that they, the players, actually fundamentally disagreed about this.  It wasn't just the characters, the characters were their tools.  And I saw little signs of disbelief and confusion... that another human being, a nice human being, could really have quite so diametrically opposed an opinion on the matter.  And then we resolved it with the dice and it was cool.  But I treasure those moments.

They ended up telling everything, having the town buy out Thomas's store and exiling him.  They figured they'd probably take him to the next town on their circuit, but that the news of his sin would shadow him for the rest of his life.  And this was the kid who the only thing he wanted, more than his own life, was to be forgiven his sin.

They felt pretty bad about that.
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Eric Provost
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2005, 06:12:36 AM »

Fan-fuckin'-tastic.

Thanks for posting that Tony.

It certainly does go to show that hard questions are much more interesting than easy ones.  I think that's where I went wrong in Silent River.  The questions were just too easy.  As soon as the supernatural came up it was easy for the players to condemn the Singers as sorcerers.

I'm sure that's why your players kept looking for the posessed.  'Cause that's their greenlight to murder the Baddie.  I know that's what my players are always looking for.

-Eric
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Joshua Patterson
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2005, 06:26:34 AM »

I'm actually going to be running this very town for my first play of Dogs this coming weekend.  It'll be the first time my long time role-playing friends have played anything Narrative so I thought Dogs would be a good choice, and this town specifically because there is no "clear" answer. 

In hindsight would you have added anything more to the town Tony, and having played through it would you recommend me to?
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- Joshua Patterson
Ben Lehman
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2005, 06:48:02 AM »

Player here.

I kept looking for possession because Mariah "did something that one hot night that was so out of character for her."  I'm looking at this from the perspective of someone just out of dog training, whose heard all the bad stories.  That IS demonic possession.  The fact that there is no surrounding cult is just an interesting footnote for the theology textbooks.

The final challenge was whether or not we shot and killed Thomas Vetch and then blamed all the sin on him.  I was against.  Abigail, we concluded, was a wretched person but had truly repented.  (Of course, so had Thomas, but the other side of that challenge was convinced that we needed a scapegoat.)

We sent Judith off to be a Dog, pretty much with minimal fuss.  I think my proposal said "God gave her that temper for a reason, and it sure wasn't to stir up trouble in this little town."

And I had this damned "itchy trigger finger 3d10" trait haunting me the entire game.  (I inherited the character from another player, so don't blame me for writing it down.)

yrs--
--Ben
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Eric Provost
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2005, 07:00:39 AM »

Ben Lehman
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2005, 07:07:15 AM »


And I had this damned "itchy trigger finger 3d10" trait haunting me the entire game.  (I inherited the character from another player, so don't blame me for writing it down.)

Haunting you?  As in; you hated the fact that it was on your sheet, or you really really really wanted to use it to get at those dice, but never found an opportunity to do so?

-Eric

As in "to come to mind repeatedly."

yrs--
--Ben
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TonyLB
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2005, 07:50:15 AM »

In hindsight would you have added anything more to the town Tony, and having played through it would you recommend me to?
The Judith-loves-Makepeace thing is a useful item to have in mind if folks start getting really interested in Judith.

I might have added an elderly Smith woman, to make more of a complement to old Zeke.  There wasn't a sense that Zeke was still an active part of the community, sitting there on his rocking chair.  I couldn't quite convey my internal sense that the community kept coming to him in a way that was right and proper and different from coming to the Steward.

In fact, I have a hard time generally getting across my sense of the proper and powerful (but subtle) role of the elderly in Dogs towns.  They can be very post-sin in many ways, but not post-stupid.

Oh, and mention the comparative house-keeping status of the Hawkins and Smith homes.  I had Mariah hiding from her shame in her room, which meant that Judith had been looking after the Steward's home, and it was... okay... maybe a little dusty, in the corners.  People noticed that.  They harped on it.  They had a whole argument in front of the Steward about whether it was right for a Dog to comment on the house being dusty, whether common courtesy should restrain, the theological implications.

So when Abigail offered them some of the best lemonade they'd ever tasted, they were prepped to... God... I don't know.  I just know that they almost shot her in the face because of it, and they did blow a hole in the ceiling of her parlor.  Because the lemonade was so good.  Can any of the players explain that bit to me?  I loved it, but I still can't quite put all the pieces together about how it happened.
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