The Forge Archives

Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: Spooky Fanboy on November 05, 2004, 05:37:09 AM



Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Spooky Fanboy on November 05, 2004, 05:37:09 AM
Have any of you picked up the newest issue of Details magazine? Don't let the fact that Ben Affleck's on the cover keep you away; there's an interesting article in there about shady goings-on in the modern-day Mormon Church. ("The Lost Boys," page 174.)

Basically, if the allegations in there are true, there's an offshoot branch of the Mormons in Colorado City, Arizona where young men are getting excommunicated for the most minor infractions. Friends and family cast them out on the word of Warren Jeffs, the local prophet. The suspected ulterior motive: Men outnumber or equal women, so the elders have taken to casting out the young men so that they can marry multiple wives. (Yes, this group has continued the tradition of polygamy, even though the main LDS stopped it in 1890. Warren Jeffs reputedly has anywhere from 40-70 wives and even more children. His entire family lives behind a walled compound of houses, and is extremely distrustful of the media and outside law enforcement.) There is currently a lawsuit planned on behalf of some of The Lost Boys; others, having no idea of what the outside world is actually like (these guys make the Amish seems like CNN and MTV junkies!) are crashing and burning when they are forced out headlong into the outside world. These are kids whose whole families sometimes have been split apart at the behest of the prophet; almost all are invited to leave and never come back, sometimes for things as ridiculous as video games, the Internet, movies, talking to girls outside one's family, etc.

Yes, this is happening in modern America. Makes your heart beat proud, doesn't it?  

What, I wonder, would the Dogs do? After all, if there was a branch in sore need of cleansing, this would be it...


Title: Re: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 05, 2004, 09:23:55 AM
I'm glad that you bolded the "if." Because I think there's a lot here we don't know about that might make this all a lot more innocent than we're seeing. But as a hypothetical where we assume the worst for purposes of play only, yeah, it does sound like a good scenario.

What I'd do is write it up in system terms. 40-70 wives and more children? Sounds like a town in effect to me.

Mike


Title: Re: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Brand_Robins on November 05, 2004, 09:29:14 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm glad that you bolded the "if." Because I think there's a lot here we don't know about that might make this all a lot more innocent than we're seeing.


It's possible, but honestly it isn't likely. A lot of these splinter groups have some extremely sick behavior patterns, and their leaders are generally considered something like enemies of the state by most Mormon leadership.

And yea, it sounds like a ripe situation for Dogs play, either in modern times or cast back into the world of Dogs. In fact, in Dogs it could be even more morally wrenching, as what the elders are doing could be not only legal, but the actual manifest will of God. And what, exactly, is a Dog to do then?


Title: Re: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 05, 2004, 10:54:14 AM
Quote from: Brand_Robins
And yea, it sounds like a ripe situation for Dogs play, either in modern times or cast back into the world of Dogs. In fact, in Dogs it could be even more morally wrenching, as what the elders are doing could be not only legal, but the actual manifest will of God. And what, exactly, is a Dog to do then?
Well, this is sorta my point. If it is the will of god, then there's no moral question at all - just folks behaving in a good fashion. Even in the modern sense, who is to say that the Mormon Elders have the right of it, and not these individuals?

That is, you can't base the PC morality off of modern American values that might contradict these, can you?

Mike


Title: Re: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Brand_Robins on November 05, 2004, 01:47:03 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
That is, you can't base the PC morality off of modern American values that might contradict these, can you?


Base the PC morality off it? No. Make it a source of tension for the players? Sure.

You come into a town in which the elders are kicking out the young men so then can marry all the young women. By the laws of the church the elders technically have the right to do both things -- but the Dogs see the young men dying and falling to sin when they get kicked out of the town.

By the laws of the land what the elders are doing may be legal, and even moral. By the laws in the players heads something bad is going on. What they have their PCs do, what the Dogs decide Gods will is (for they are the ones that get to decide it) is where the moral quandry hits the wall.

In the real world, whose to say whats right? Well, that's a gib quetion that I spent years of school debating with lots of people (philosophy degrees do that to you).

In the world of Dogs who decides? The Dogs. And while a Dog is a character, there is also a modern person playing that Dog and making decisions and judgements of their own. Hitting the players where they can feel it is a great way to get story meat.

Which of course begs the question about what happens when two Dogs give two different judgements....


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 05, 2004, 02:33:00 PM
I see your point. I guess what I'm worried about is how it would affect play of the game. Like your last statement above. That is, it seems that the standard set-up (and this is from the lightest of readings of the game, mind you, so I may well be wrong), is that the PCs are confronted with people who are objectively wrong morally. Can the mechanics handle conflcits whith those who are objectively correct? Or conflicts with those who are in grey territory?

You tell me, I really can't say.

Mike


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Brand_Robins on November 05, 2004, 03:03:04 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Can the mechanics handle conflcits whith those who are objectively correct? Or conflicts with those who are in grey territory?


Objective morality. Mike, you've got to learn not to start these kinds of conversation....

To keep it confined to the game, as I understand Dogs, "objective moral truth" only comes after the Dogs render judgement. Unless a player choses to say that their Dog has done something immoral or wrong, whatever their Dog renders as judgement is the Will of God, and thus moral under theistic law.

Before the Dogs make the judgement there isn't an absolute objective morality. There can be pretty freaking clear indications of something wrong, but what exactly those wrong things mean and what the proper punishment/resolution of them is up to the characters.

So, the objective morality comes from the decisions of the PCs. In terms of the Nar game it doesn't exist outside that.


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Spooky Fanboy on November 05, 2004, 09:21:50 PM
If I were going to write up this town (something I tremble at doing), I'd definitely set it during the standard Dogs time frame. Polygamy is still part of the equation then (before the Mormons officially banned it), and I can't imagine that something like this hasn't happened before. (Not faulting the LDS for this either, polygamy is tricky under even the best, most tightly-controlled standards.)

Something that occured to me, as I was reading the responses: While it's true that ultimately the players must pass judgement on the setting, the GM designing the towns does have a small amount of input into this. He is the one initially defining which activities the Demons are exploiting and how. Depending on how this town was initially written, the branch Steward could be made to be forming False Doctrine, or, if the GM decides to make the conflict more abstract, the Steward could simply be acting as his faith and vision of the problem dictate.

In the article, the lawyer defending Warren Jeffs stated that a lot of these young men have had problems with drugs and alcohol, which is why they got kicked out. He also said that this was a largely religious matter, a matter which the people took seriously, and if the church was not allowed to excommunicate those who violated the teachings, how were they supposed to keep the faith pure?

So suppose the town Steward, rather than out for personal gain, simply sees the younger generation of men as not living up to the teachings of the Elders and the King of Life. His generation turned out alright, but something's just gone wrong with this current crop. (Demonic Influence?) So he's kicked a lot of the young men out, and the women have to go somewhere, and as for families split up, well now there's women and children to reintegrate, not to mention possible problems with Territorial officials... Going this route would make the decisions a lot more painful for the Dogs, as they'd have to solve the mystery of what happened to cause a whole generation of young men to turn bad, and what do they do about all the exiled men, some of whom are coming back and challenging the Steward's authority?

It's all on how you set up the town, as far as the GMs are concerned: do you assume from the get-go that the King of Life is The Truth, the Elders and the Stewards know what they're doing because they receive instruction directly from the King, and that it's weak human nature on the part of the men who couldn't handle the responsibility of being a part of the One True Faith? Or do you assume that "weak human nature" exists at all points on the chain (exempting the King of Life Himself for game purposes)? Either way, I think the GM does have a vote in how it plays out, and casts it at town creation. If so, for dramatic purposes, creating a town is becoming a more subtle art that I thought, and may require more ambiguity than I realized for meatier play.

Like I said above, I'd be real unsure about how to write up this town. The GM can also be a victim of modernist viewpoints, and I think that will affect play. I dropped the article in initially because it seemed like a good real-world example of the issues this game raises. Actually playing it, though...that's begging for a gallon-drum of worms to be opened.

(Edited for clarity)


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Trevis Martin on November 05, 2004, 11:46:58 PM
I feel obligated to point out that the textual mention of Polygamy says

Quote
Polygamy (technically polygyny; polyandry isnít allowed aítall) is, in the  Faith, a reward to men for long-term service and dedication. No man under,  say, 30 has a second wife, and no man under 40 has a third (or fourth, or  fifth, or sixth...). To get official allowance to court a woman after your first  wife, you must:

  - have been called upon by the King of Life to do so, as confirmed by the person with Stewardship over you.

 - be fulfilling the Stewardship of your office in the Faith in an exemplary  fashion (or have retired from a lifetime of doing so).

 - have a woman in mind.

 - be able to support the addition to your family, including the inevitable  children and elder parents.



Emphasis mine of course.  The steward of a town isn't the last word.  It seems a great town to play to me.

best,

Trevis


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 07, 2004, 11:17:24 AM
I meant, Brand, objective in terms of the game. I had thought that the "rules" posted, such as what Trevis posted were, in fact, an objectively true morality in the context of the game. If I'm wrong about that, and it's the dogs that determine what's objectively true, as you say, then the scenario should work just fine.

Mike


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Brand_Robins on November 07, 2004, 12:26:52 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
I meant, Brand, objective in terms of the game. I had thought that the "rules" posted, such as what Trevis posted were, in fact, an objectively true morality in the context of the game.


Ah, I see now.

The rules are tricky, because they are objectivly true. Unless a Dog says they aren't, and then they aren't. The rules are the default, but the specifics of situation and judgement over-rule them.


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 07, 2004, 12:40:03 PM
Because of how resolution works?

Cool.

Mike


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: lumpley on November 08, 2004, 07:52:17 AM
I'm trying to figure out this thread. Please help!

Who decides whether Warren Jeffs or the young men sinned? The GM does.

Who decides what should be done about it? The Dogs do.

Would somebody please go ahead and write up Colorado City, AZ as a town? Sticking strictly to the town creation rules in the book? I think that might help the discussion of "whose morality is it?" considerably. If nobody else wants to, I will.

-Vincent


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Spooky Fanboy on November 08, 2004, 08:46:53 AM
I would certainly like your interpretation on this Vincent.

1) You're the creator of the game. How would you, as a GM, handle writing up the town, and how would you handle it if the Dogs came at it and judged things differently than you might have had in mind?

2) My copy of the game is due back to Mike and Kat Miller ASAP, so I won't have the book to look at to set up the town.

The thing that's puzzling me is, how do you set up towns for players while keeping the mindset of the era and that this is the One True Faith without letting your vision of right/wrong getting in the way of things, or should I even bother separating the two to begin with?


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 08, 2004, 09:11:30 AM
I think that last is the key issue.

Mike


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: lumpley on November 08, 2004, 10:59:34 AM
That's the thing. I don't get the issue a'tall.

Quote from: Carl
The thing that's puzzling me is, how do you set up towns for players while keeping the mindset of the era and that this is the One True Faith without letting your vision of right/wrong getting in the way of things, or should I even bother separating the two to begin with?


All I can suggest is that you set up towns by following the procedure in the book. The One True Faith stuff and the modern-day right/wrong stuff aren't really anything, they sort themselves right out.

Colorado City Branch (i)

Pride: Years ago, Brother Jeffs, the branch steward, legitimately and righteously courted and married a second wife. She was, by coincidence, much younger than he was and boy how he liked that! Since then he's been courting and marrying every young woman he can find, pridefully disregarding the needs of everybody but himself.

Injustice: Consequently, the young men of Colorado City can't marry and have no prospects. Colorado City is geographically isolated in the high mountains in the eastern part of the Faith's territory. Some young men leave and travel to other towns in the Faith, but many are not able to. Those who remain have become vocal and active in complaining against Bro Jeffs.

Sin: Bro Jeffs kicks the young men not only out of the town but out of the Faith. He doesn't want word of his abuses to reach the Prophets and Elders; by excommunicating the young men, he discredits them. The young men are forced into the nearest-by towns, which are not Faithful, where they fall into poverty and sin.

Bro Jeffs' sin lets the demons attack Colorado City: the demons inspire an ambitious unbeliever lawyer and his partner to take up the young men's cause. They demand that Bro Jeffs present himself in court in Lamarck, they send Territorial lawmen to Colorado City to harrass and detain bro Jeffs, they give the young men money (knowing it'll go to whiskey, prostitutes and gambling), they offer the townspeople of Colorado City money in exchange for damning testimony, they petition the Territorial governor in Lamarck to march his militia in to occupy Colorado City (which the governor is not inclined to do, but which is an effective threat against the town).

There it is!

What do the various people want the Dogs to do?

Bro Jeffs wants the Dogs to protect him from the lawyers and the Territorial Authority. If any of the Dogs are women, he wants to marry them.

Bro Jeffs' first wife, sister Ruby, wants bro Jeffs back. She wants the Dogs to divorce bro Jeffs down to no more than five wives - back in the days when he had only five wives, he still had time for her.

Bro Jeffs' second wife, sister Elise, is very happy with all her sister-lovers. She wants what bro Jeffs wants.

Most of bro Jeffs' subsequent wives are young and scared. They want the Dogs to put things right, and if that means they stay married to bro Jeffs, that's okay. If it means they don't, they'll want the Dogs to provide for them and assure them some place in the world. The Faith is not kind to divorced women. Some representative young wives: sister Patient, sister Alma.

The parents of young girls in Colorado City don't want their daughters to marry bro Jeffs. They want the Dogs to make it so that bro Jeffs stops marrying more girls - they don't care so much whether he's right or wrong or what happens to his existing wives. Some representative parents: brother Ezra and sister Becoming, brother Michael and sister Rebiah.

The young men:

(Ex-)brother Alvin is in love with sister Patient, one of bro Jeffs' newest wives. He wants her to leave the Faith and bro Jeffs and come live with him (in sin) in Lamarck. He wants the Dogs to tell her to.

(Ex-)brother Wilford feels his conscience horribly, but can't stop drinking and going with whores. He wants the Dogs to heal and redeem him.

(Ex-)brother Cadmus hates bro Jeffs. He wants to kill him. He wants the Dogs to stay out of his way, if they won't help him.

(Ex-)brother Niles has been seduced by the lawyers. He wants the Dogs to see the wisdom of letting the lawyers take care of it. He'll offer them money.

Brother Benjamin is secretly courting one sister Hope, whose ugly facial birthmark has kept bro Jeffs from really noticing her. He wants to be allowed by bro Jeffs to marry her but he's wicked scared. He wants the Dogs to marry them instead, and to leave without bro Jeffs' knowledge.

And...

The lawyers want the Dogs to stay out of it. They don't recognize the Dogs' authority; the consider the matter entirely secular. If the Dogs turn things against them, they'll start arranging thugs and showdowns.

The demons want the town leaderless or destroyed. They're backing the lawyers. They want the Dogs to die, of course, so they'll push any confrontation between the Dogs and the lawyers' thugs toward violence.

If the Dogs never came, the lawyers would get their way. Bro Jeffs would be arrested, his family shattered. The people of Colorado City would scatter, leaving the town deserted; many would die homeless and many would leave the Faith forever.

---

As GM, I'm very comfortable saying to my players "bro Jeffs is a dirty-minded sinning old horndog who cares only about how many fresh bodies he can get into his bed, night by night. He's a disgrace to his calling and a disgrace to the Faith." I get to establish that as the objective truth. My players, through their Dogs, get to judge him. "Judge him" doesn't mean "decide whether what he's doing is right or wrong," it means "decide what has to be done to put things right."

Remember how in Daniel's Saint's Rest (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?p=2961060#post2961060), the Dogs installed the thieving apostate brother Virgil as the branch's new Steward? That's what I'm talking about.

I think bro Jeffs is a disaster. Will he have to go? Will he have to die? Will he get to keep being Steward, for goodness' sake? It's not up to me to say.

So now, Mike, Brand, Carl, am I answering the issue or am I going off on some random tangent?

---

Also, I think it'd be super sweet if somebody wrote up Colorado City Branch (ii), where the Pride is "several young men of the town think they should be allowed to marry even though bro Jeffs has righteously prevented them from doing so." And if somebody else wrote up Colorado City Branch (iii), where the Pride is "the girls of the town have decided that if they can't marry bro Jeffs, they won't marry anyone."

Anybody who feels like doing either of those, please do!

-Vincent


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Brand_Robins on November 08, 2004, 12:51:46 PM
Quote from: lumpley
So now, Mike, Brand, Carl, am I answering the issue or am I going off on some random tangent?


You've gotten the thrust of the issue across to me, V.


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 08, 2004, 03:09:34 PM
Well, I was already convinced. But this is great.  :-)

Mike


Title: Yep.
Post by: Spooky Fanboy on November 08, 2004, 11:15:06 PM
Yes you did, and I now feel foolish for reading too much into it. That's what happens when you tend to post in the wee small hours of the morning.

So realistically, three whole towns could be made out of something like this. I gotta actually get this game.


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Blankshield on November 09, 2004, 04:00:54 PM
Quote from: lumpley
Also, I think it'd be super sweet if somebody wrote up Colorado City Branch (ii), where the Pride is "several young men of the town think they should be allowed to marry even though bro Jeffs has righteously prevented them from doing so." And if somebody else wrote up Colorado City Branch (iii), where the Pride is "the girls of the town have decided that if they can't marry bro Jeffs, they won't marry anyone."

Anybody who feels like doing either of those, please do!


Okay.  This is slanted towards 'high supernatural' on the spectrum.  Picture a group of TA lawyers and concerned citizens at a meeting to "discuss" with the young men their valid and legitimate complaints.  Describe how the young men are oblivious to the glowing red eyes of over half the crowd.

Colorado City Branch (ii)

Brother Jeffs, the Branch Steward is a righteous man, strong in his faith and high in the esteem of the King.
Pride:  Several young men in his branch hold him as a role model, but are too narrow-minded to see the burden of duty he's carried his whole life, and see only the rewards the King has given him.  They want to marry and start on his path of reward and don't recognize that they aren't worthy (yet?).
Injustice: The young men are courting inappropriately, above their station, and worse, trying to compete with the Steward for young wives.  This is hard on Brother Jeffs, because he has to balance the demands of Stewardship to both the young men and the young women, and it's hard on the young women who are caught in the middle.
Sin: Part 1: The young men are rebelling against their proper steward and rejecting anything he says out of hand.  They are courting young women beyond what is seemly.  No one's been raped - yet - but there have been some back alley incidents.
Part 2: Brother Jeffs, to protect the women, has married them beyond what his station calls for and what he can support.  
Demonic Attack: Demons, in the guise of nearby non-faithful communities have been taking the side of the young men, and attacking the integrity of Brother Jeffs.  The righteous townfolk can't leave town without being ridiculed and attacked (socially).  Young men who leave town are sympathized with, given "deals" on trade goods from back East and generally treated like they think they deserve.

-->The Steward, seeing no other choice, expels the young men from the church for their obvious and unrepentant sin.

False Doctrine: Stewardship is not necessary.
Corrupt Worship: The young men have decided the King of Life is speaking to them, not the steward, and that each person is able to follow the King of themselves and the Steward's guidance is unneeded.
False Priesthood: The yound men have set themselves up as people "who know the truth" about the Faith and Brother Jeffs.  They are supported by the demons whole-heartedly (in the guise of outsider folk and TA lawyers).

What do people want the Dogs to do?

Brother Jeffs wants the Dogs to set the young men right, and failing that, to drive them the rest of the way out of the Faith, so the town can get back to rights.  He also wants them to find a way for his extra wives to be taken care of without shame.

The young men want the Dogs to justify their stand, and strip Brother Jeffs of his status.  They will take this as support for their false doctrine.

The young women legitimately married to Brother Jeffs want the Dogs to protect them from the young men.

The young women married to Brother Jeffs for protection want the same, and to be cared for properly.  For added complication: Sisters Alva and Rebah want to stay with Brother Jeffs, they don't mind that he doesn't have enough time to give all his wives proper attention.  The others want to be set aside without stigma, to marry properly.

The Demons (in the guise of the outsiders) want the Dogs to either support the young men, or to be killed or run off.

What would happen if the Dogs never came? The young men would eventually publicly pronounce their false doctrine, and force Brother Jeffs to either accede to their new order, or kill him.  Either way, the branch would break off and fall into corrupt worship.

James


Title: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: lumpley on November 15, 2004, 07:50:46 AM
Sweet! Perfect.

I dig the scene in my head where bro Jeffs explains to the Dogs that, yes, in the last month or so he's married these fourteen or fifteen - he can't remember - girls, he can't remember all their names, and he certainly hasn't consummated the marriages - but marrying them seemed like the best way to protect them, and his real wives are giving him grief, and can the Dogs please help him find a way out of this mess?

"I mean, just because I married them - that doesn't mean I'm married to them, right?"

Anybody feel like taking on iii?

-Vincent


Title: Re: DiTV-help from modern times....
Post by: Albert the Absentminded on November 15, 2004, 08:52:07 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: Brand_Robins
And yea, it sounds like a ripe situation for Dogs play, either in modern times or cast back into the world of Dogs. In fact, in Dogs it could be even more morally wrenching, as what the elders are doing could be not only legal, but the actual manifest will of God. And what, exactly, is a Dog to do then?
Well, this is sorta my point. If it is the will of god, then there's no moral question at all - just folks behaving in a good fashion. Even in the modern sense, who is to say that the Mormon Elders have the right of it, and not these individuals?

That is, you can't base the PC morality off of modern American values that might contradict these, can you?

Mike


In the modern sense? The LDS constitution has rules for amending it, and it _had_ been amended properly to disallow polygamy for the time being. So as long as Joseph Smith was a prophet to begin with, this Warren guy is acting more like an "A Study in Scarlet" Mormon than a real one.

-Albert