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Author Topic: [DitV] And HOW the town creation rules work!  (Read 3766 times)
Frank T
« on: August 10, 2005, 11:38:23 PM »

I had forgotten how preparing for play can be almost as much fun as actually playing. So I have this forum meeting this weekend, which I’ve been looking forward to since the last one half a year ago. And I got this round of Dogs in the Vineyard pinned, my first one, which I’ve been looking forward to ever since I first read the book. The players are my dream team, too.

As time is limited once we get there, we decide to make the Dogs in the forum. It’s not as interactive as making them face to face, but kibitzing is still possible and it saves us time. So I got these nice characters, who have a few issues already but are still waiting to be shaped. And I still need to prepare the town. Yesterday, I come home from a hard day at the office and know I’m due. But I’m really strung out.

I have dinner with my girlfriend. I sit down in front of my PC at 9 p.m. I spend half an hour reading through the “kill puppies” hate mails ‘cause, y’know, I just don’t want to force my poor brain to do more work. Then I finally start. What I’ve got is this idea that came to me when I first read the rules: There is a girl, 12 years old, cute and smart. Gifted. Her mother and her teacher just can’t handle her, because she’s much too witty. So she turns to sin and even has a cult going with her friends from school.

Alright. So I follow the rules step by step. Pride: The girl thinks she doesn’t have to obey her mother and her teacher. Injustice: They both try to “beat sense into her”. Sin: The girl starts to spread lies about her teacher, like, say, she has an affair with a farm hand. Demonic attacks: Other children start to get ill. False doctrine: The girl thinks that the lies are justified because the teacher was a bad teacher. Corrupt worship: She crosses her fingers behind her back when lying. False priesthood: She gets her two girlfriends to help her spread the lies. Sorcery: The demons help her convince people. Done. That wasn’t too bad.

Then I start to jot down townspeople. Just grab some names and professions from the book: The blacksmiths’s family, a wealthy farmer’s family, the steward’s family, the sheriff’s family. I try to link every family to one of the Dogs. And the town springs to life. Just naturally, I get more injustice: The teacher gets suspended. The farm hand gets fired. I get more demonic attacks: the school building burns down, so the Dogs can attend to the topping-out ceremony for the brand-new school.

The thing is now almost working by itself. It is 11 p.m., my girlfriend is going to bed, and I’m wide awake, excited. So I have the steward’s wife, Sister Sabrina. I created her for one of the PCs who is a hardliner from an abbey back east. (Are there Mormon abbeys? Suppose not, but who cares.) However, said PC has a hidden relationship to fornication. So Sabrina. Her husband is a very faithful man, but not a good lover. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t like sex. It scares him. So they don’t have sex. As Sister Sabrina’s family is from back east, the same place that our yet unnamed PC comes from, they will have a lot to talk about, and she will fall in love with him.

Now, I think, this poor woman is under-worked, dissatisfied with her life. And someone has to become the new teacher, probably appointed by the steward – her husband. Neat. So she is the new teacher. Even more interesting since her little daughter is part of the false cult, and Sabrina will go to any means to protect her daughter. But just as I write that down, new ideas keep springing. What if Sabrina is a much better teacher than the old one? The old teacher wants to be restored, because she is a lonely widow with nothing else to do and needs the wages. Sabrina doesn’t want to go back to just being a housewife. The kids want to keep Sabrina.

See? It works almost by itself. I may just have been lucky, but I don’t think so. This town creation formula is just freakin’ brilliant. And I am sounding like a babbling fanboy now. Well, that’s probably ‘cause I’m becoming one.

- Frank

Posts: 363

« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2005, 12:03:46 AM »

I love posts such as yours Frank. Thanks a ton for sharing!

Posts like this just goes to prove that system does matter.

Damn if I could just get my gaming buddies to try a western game, I've been pushing for Dogs and Dust Devils for almost a year now.

Good luck playing that town, I think you'll have a great time.




Posts: 37

« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2005, 01:02:00 AM »

Wow that sounds like a great town Frank.  Definitely the kind of town I like, I'm tempted to borrow the core ideas for the next Dogs game I run!

I've always thought that one of the reasons DitV is so justly lauded is due to the fantastically clear way it sets out how to make towns.  You almost can't fail to have a good game if you follow the instructions.

I was amazed the first time I ran Dogs, I followed the instructions pretty closely, and the game just flowed from it.  It worked really well, with virtually none of the teething problems you'd expect from playing a new system for the first time with a session you'd prepped over the course of about half an hour!


My name is Drew
I live just outside north London, UK
Here's my 24hours Ronnies entry: Vendetta
Frank T
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2005, 10:10:25 AM »

Oops, almost forgot to report back. So. The town creation was a lot of fun, but it didn't work as well as I'd expected. The town wasn't, as the rules put it, "grabby" enough. I wanted to raise the issue of whether a 12 year old girl should be punished for her sins. But that question never occured to the players, since the girls had "only" been lying. They simply blamed the parents, and that was that. Suddenly I found myself running out of conflict. Should have gone for murder straight away.

What saved my butt was the sheriff. The sheriff who lost his faith as his wife died, painfully, and who now took it out on the Dogs. One of the Dogs, who had made the trek from back east with the sheriff years ago, tried to talk sense into him, but failed. That was a neat escalating conflict. Later, as the dogs punished the wicked girls' parents in the market place, the sheriff tried to stop them, and was gunned down. Watch me as the sheriff:


See the defiance in my eyes? ;-) And check out the cold dignity with which the dog bore me:


We had the main theme of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" playing to that scene. And half a dozen spectators. The sheriff definitely saved my butt.

- Frank
Nicolas Crost

Posts: 61

« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2005, 12:20:56 PM »

Well, I don't think it was too bad. I had a lot of fun anyhow.
But you may be right, it could have been more grabby. There could have been more sex going on. As Vincent put it: "Money is cool, but it isn't sex." Well kinda like that. Same goes for lying, I think.
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