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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 88 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [DITV] Spring River Branch  (Read 613 times)
Glendower
Member

Posts: 182

My name is Jon.


« on: February 28, 2007, 12:19:12 PM »

My Tuesday group has shrunk, and as an attempt to bolster our numbers I invited over my friend Wil.  Wil was a member of my old Monday Shadowrun game, which I talked about here.  He also went with me and my brother to a really fun Burning Empires Demo (with an off site link here) Now that the Shadowrun game had ended, I don't see Wil as much as I would like to, so this benefits me in being able to hang out with him.  But the question was whether or not he'd mesh in with Wes and Dave?

Wil is joining at a pretty good time, we had just put our Burning Wheel game on hold, and were starting Dogs in the Vineyard, the first game being last week, and detailed here. Because the game system was new, and we weren't yet in a well established setting, this put Wil on fairly equal ground with the other two players.  I've found that introducing a new player into an established game creates a lot of problems. 

In the past, when I've joined established games, I've faced several problems.  I don't know the world, and I wasn't involved in establishing grabby, interested characters that meshed well with the setting from the beginning.  Essentially, I had to integrate much of the established SIS, and there's often an unspoken reluctance to adding in things that the new player wants to see, both from shyness on my part, and on a sense of "Outsider!" mentality from the old players.

I resolved to try to avoid any of this stuff, by establishing from the outset that clear communication was a-ok.  The fact that Wil has had some experience with indie games and he and I had spoken a lot on the Big Model theory really helped this out.  Wes and Dave were old hands at the open communication concept, and it really helped as they were quick to offer advice, tactical suggestions and rules assistance during the game. 

The initial introductions led to character creation, where everyone pitched in with suggestions and concepts of traits and belongings.  I've said it before, but I'm never going back to the bad old days of making characters alone, in a bubble.  Wil put together a tough bruiser of a Dog, Brother August.  A few stand out traits included "Hit the soft things with your Fist" and "I know what I'm talking about".  He had "A hanging Rope" as a belonging.  His accomplishment was "I hope I defeat a bull... in a fair fight." which led to a hands on horns test of strength, with the bull trying to push August back, and August not giving an inch.  It ended with a knockout punch on the bull's nose.  "I dig in my heels." was the trait given.  The character was rough spoken but straightforward.  I loved it!

The players really clicked, Dave and Wil actually recognized one another, though they couldn't place exactly where they met (Our town, Winnipeg, is like that).  Wes and Dave were really open and friendly, and Wil relaxed right into the rhythm of our social contract.  It seems a good fit!

Now Spring River Branch didn't actually have the punch that I wanted, the Steward's loss of his wife in childbirth leading to the arrest and imprisonment of the doctor was... well, it wasn't that grabby.  The sickness, and the Steward's failed attempts to heal, leading to the mountain people's herbs being used, it also didn't really grab them.

The first conflict was stopping the source of the herbal remedies.  Constance Tanner was a cousin to Jeremiah, but it didn't really spark much.  I had them come across her playing a drum and chanting Mountain people speak, while people were drinking a bitter herbal tea.  It led to the first conflict, "Do the dogs stop the herbs from getting handed out?"  My poor rolling resulted in getting my ass handed to me, though I managed to get some fallout from my talking raise of "These herbs are from the land, and the Mountain people know this land.  Why not share their wisdom?"

I was getting disappointed.  It wasn't a bad game, but it was kind of like drinking your favorite pop that had gone a little flat.  I knew the game would be better if it were a little grabbier!  But then something awesome happened.

August chose Laura Smith as his sister.  As the wife of the imprisoned doctor, and an atheist, and an adulteress and technically a prostitute, she was the real meat of the situation.  She was where all the players stood up and took notice, as her son Nathaniel angrily revealed her getting support from the Steward, and him taking to her bed.  "I hear their noises every night, and every night I dream of the bullet I'll shoot into the Steward's black heart!"  Laura's defense "I didn't want to refuse his kindness, he locked up my husband and I didn't want to be next."

They went quickly to the imprisoned doctor and talked about his version of events.  I played him a little arrogant "I'm not a brother anything, I prefer to be called doctor Smith, thank you very much."  but the Dogs listened to the story and all nodded their heads.  They also determined that the Doctor could heal the disease attacking the town, but that the Steward would never permit it. A good point of "Why is Eastern tonics less heresy than Mountain people herbs?" was brought up briefly (don't remember which player) but they determined that the problem with the herbs is that it also carried with it a separate belief, that Constance was starting to preach with drums and chanting.

Interestingly, they DIDN'T tell the doctor of his wife's infidelity.  In fact, they didn't mention it at all to anyone but the Steward, when they finally confronted him.  And their decision was that the Steward was the cause, and needed to be arrested and given judgment.

I decided that Nathaniel would have headed off to the Stewards to kill him, and utterly failed.  He was tied to a chair, his face a bloodied mess.  When the Dogs arrived, they saw Nathaniel bloodied, the Steward and five of his friend talking about what to do about the "son of a murderer following the footsteps of his father", and being happy to see the dogs arrive, so they could judge Nathaniel's actions. 

The conflict that followed was "Are we able to arrest the Steward?".  After a few choice comments by the Dogs about the Steward's adultery, one gem of which was Brother August's "You made a whore of my sister!", it got really ugly.  The Steward escalated to physical by spitting on Jeremiah's coat.  Bart escalated to fighting by punching the Steward in the face.  It was especially nasty, because the Steward was his cousin, and Wes plays Bart as a good-natured farm boy, often trying to keep the peace.  It was an awesome decision on Wes' part to suggest that the Steward had gone to far.

I took the blow on that, and had the Steward escalate to fighting, yelling at his friends to "take em down!".  I had a formidable pile of dice, and Jeremiah escalated to gunplay.  The Steward followed, and there was a great moment where Wes voluntarily took the blow on the shooting, and had Bart sinking down to his knees in shock at the horrible gut wound he just received.  All of Bart's raises from that point were whispered verses from the book of life, as he gave last rites to himself and  steadily bled out. 

And then there was more awesome.

The Steward fired again, and Jeremiah reversed the blow, and had the same bullet ricochet back as a raise, which I took the blow as hitting and killing one of the Steward's friends.  Finally, I raised with The Steward putting the gun to Nathaniel's head, and August blocked it by diving in and knocking the gun high, saving his nephew (who he brought in as a blood relation). August then raised by beating the hell out of the Steward.  I gave, my dice pools exhausted.

They gathered the people, freed the doctor, and offered the doctor the Stewardship, if he converts to the faith.  He agreed (no conflict, it was getting late), and they ended the game by hanging the Steward with August's "Hanging Rope".

Another excellent game of Dogs!  And I gotta say, it's a great game to play with new players.  The mechanics are fairly straightforward, each town is very different, and the judgments that each player makes are great fodder for discussions afterwards.  We didn't even notice we went way beyond our stopping point! 

Next week, we're returning to Capes.  We haven't played in a year, not since this Actual Play post.   I'm very excited to return to that system!
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Hi, my name is Jon.
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