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[AP] Dogs in the Gamestore

Started by drnuncheon, September 12, 2006, 10:12:50 AM

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crossposted from Nuncheonland, my LJ

"Indie Game Monday" continued last night with D. Vincent Baker's Dogs in the Vineyard, the game that got me into the whole indie scene in the first place.  Phil's favorite character types are paladins and rogues, and I was interested to see what he'd do with this game.

The town was Tower Creek out of the rulebook, a simmering cauldron that ran the gauntlet of sins from Pride right on up to Murder, and arrayed against it was one Dog: Brother Samuel, who had more than the usual number of sins in his own past.

Brother Samuel was an interesting Dog.  Phil (the FLGS owner) went right for the Complicated Background, deciding to play a convert to the Faith.  He picked "I'm a bad Dog" as a trait early on, intrigued by the many ways it could be interpreted.  Some of his others were "handy in a fight" and "I fight my own demons every day", but the one that really clinched it for me, at least, was "My face is on a Wanted poster."

As the story turns out, he was an outlaw, led into the life by his older brother Cyrus.  When the pair were stealing some horses, Samuel got left behind and nabbed by some irate (and non-Faithful) townsfolk, who set about to stringin' him up from a handy tree - classic Western style, Samuel on a horse, noose over the tree branch.  Brother Nathaniel, a teacher at the Temple, was passing by on his way back from visiting some family, and tried to talk the mob out of hanging him, but the leader slapped the horse on the ass and Samuel was set a swingin'.  Nathaniel shot the rope, pulled him onto his horse, and rode off hell-bent for leather.

I actually used Phil's backstory as a perfect example of how escalation works - Bro. Nathaniel started out with talking, the angry mob escalated to physical, and Nathaniel took it to gunplay.  I explained how escalation could give you more dice, and told him to keep it in mind.

After filling out his relationships, we went to belongings, which seemed to make Phil fall back into old-school adventure gaming mode, as he pondered listing things like rope and saddlebags - and did list a lot of excellent, big weapons.  I told him to list what was important to the character and interesting to him.  The prizes coming out of there were his tattered, dog-eared Book of Life, with the pages falling out (1d4!), his tired old nag (also 1d4!) and his harmonica "which I stole from a guy".   It's interesting how the 'crap' belongings drew both of our attention more than the excellent, big ones (aside from his big dog).  He never rolled his dice for his pistol or rifle, but that book got pulled out in just about every conflict.

And, of course, there was his coat.  With no family or community in the Faith, he wound up sewing it together himself out of his old clothes.

Brother Samuel's accomplishment was: "I hope I live up to Brother Nathaniel's expectations."  We started in a sort of catechism class, deciding that (since he was a convert) he was in the "remedial" group with younger students.  Brother Nathaniel was teaching, and called on him to give his opinions about "the parable of Daniel".  In a pattern that was to keep going through most of the game, I rolled well and Phil rolled crap, forcing him to Take the Blow as he stood up, stuttered, pages fell out of his book, and the class laughed. But he gathered up his papers, stepped up, and focused himself on Nathaniel to give his answer.

Later, one of the kids came past and made fun of his tattered book.  Brother Samuel responded that the condition of the book was unimportant, it was the message inside.  "And," he added, unable to resist getting a dig in, "at least mine looks like it's been opened."  We decided that his accomplishment trait should be "I kept my cool 1d6".

And now it was on to Tower Creek!  We decided that he was meeting up with some other, more experienced Dogs to replace one of their fallen companions, and he had arrived at the town a few days early.  I decided that he came in past the farm of Brother Hiram and Sister Prudence, where he saw a fresh, tiny grave under a tree with no name carved on the Tree-of-Life marker.  He decided to investigate, heard the story of her unfortunate stillbirth and the town's fertility problems, and acquiesced to her request to name the child - I think he thought something was up, and I decided to ramp up the supernatural to show him he was right.

The clouds rolled in and the wind howled as he dug up the tiny grave, and when he opened the casket, the baby's eyes flew open and it growled "Leave this one, Dog, it is mine." They battled back and forth with words and ceremony.  The demon hit him hard with raises like "You don't have the chops to deal with me. I can see your sins."  Brother Samuel wound up Naming the baby with the demon still inside, and we decided that this named the demon as well.  After hearing about a "priestess" in the town, Samuel forced the demon out, composed the child, and took it down to the house to name it again, in front of its parents.

Afterward, he rode into town and met the Steward and his wives Bethia and Edie.  He managed to split them up and talk to Bethia alone (who wanted him to get rid of Edie) and the Steward (who wanted him to bless Edie with fertility and break this curse of barrenness).  Then he went to bed for a couple of hours before removing his boots and crawling out onto the porch roof.

I figured he wanted to to a little late-night investigation to "find out what the GM didn't want him to know".  Well, he wanted to see something, and he did - Edie, left alone again, was sneaking out of the house to go see Cyrus, the deputy Sheriff.  He snuck over to the jail and listened in on their conversation, hearing them talk about their marriage and arguing about whether they should tell him.  Well, that was enough, and he headed in.  Cyrus and Edie tried to resist him, but he wore them down (despite their escalation to physical) and got the story out of them.  Then it was off to Sister Wilhelmina's place.  Since he'd already gotten her name, she couldn't do much to mislead him - instead she pulled up all her dice and the 5d10 of demonic influence and tried to blow his head off.  And she would have succeeded if it weren't for his meddling dog!

He carted her off to the jail and it was time for some judgment.  Samuel talked with the Steward and showed him the problems of the town, and the Steward agreed that he wasn't making both of his wives happy, so he agreed to set Edie aside.  To prevent any stigma, of course, she'd need a new husband - and say, isn't Cyrus a bachelor?  Edie and Cyrus' infidelity was never revealed - but Bethia's Pride, that had caused the whole thing, turned out to be justified.  Interesting.

In the last conflict of the game, Samuel remained for the rest of the night with Wilhelmina, reading to her from the Book of Life as the demon whispered in her ear how the Dog was going to reveal all her sins to the town and then kill her.  They battled back and forth, with Wilhelmina grabbing for his knife and trying to kill herself.  Samuel cast out the demon by the name he gave it, and then for the conflict-winning raise...

...he pulled in his coat.

The coat that he sewed out of his old clothes, the ones he wore when he was an outlaw.  The pieces of his old life, that he turned into the symbol of his new one.

Even if she hadn't been out of dice, I would have Given right then, because anything else would have been anticlimactic.  He reached out his hand and raised her up and told her that anyone could be forgiven.

...and then we realized that he should have closed the store about an hour and a half ago.  So, once again, Dogs delivers.

Thomas Lawrence

So, once again, Dogs delivers.

And how. Damn.

The bits I loved most:

"I'm a bad Dog" - Brilliant! Quite possibly the best trait ever.

"at least mine looks like it's been opened." - fantastic also,.I don't know from your report if, mechanically, that was Reversing the Blow, but it should have been :).

And the bit with the coat at the end - well, I'm not afraid to say I got goose-pimples a little.


Quote from: Thomas Lawrence on September 12, 2006, 10:53:07 AM
And the bit with the coat at the end - well, I'm not afraid to say I got goose-pimples a little.

Oh yeah.  Me too.

Thomas Lawrence

Oh yeah - I also love the idea of an opponent trying to kill themselves (or at least threatening to) as a Raise.


Quote"I'm a bad Dog"

I've been wanting to see a Dog with that trait for a looong time, yay! Do you recall what dice it had?

Thanks for running it and writing it up; it was great to hear about it.



Quote from: cdr on September 13, 2006, 04:07:42 AM
Quote"I'm a bad Dog"

I've been wanting to see a Dog with that trait for a looong time, yay! Do you recall what dice it had?

Yup, he went for the strong ones there - 2d10.  He never brough it out first, either - always waited until he was having trouble.

I was down there yesterday for my regular game & Phil kept talking about this one, so chances are Brother Samuel will ride again (and Dogs will definitely be on his shelves).  Which means I ought to plan a bit for the next town...

I think the most interesting decisions he made in Tower Creek were in making the steward put aside Sister Edie, and in letting the sorceress continue to live amongst the townsfolk (even if she did ask for redemption).  So I guess I'd want to push those.  There's also those relationship dice with his brother that are hanging out there.  I'm sure he's going to come back into this somehow.