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Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: Neil the Wimp on March 24, 2010, 04:27:47 AM

Title: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Neil the Wimp on March 24, 2010, 04:27:47 AM
I've run a few DitV towns, but I'm always having problems with what to do about the Steward.  If he's on the ball, he'll intervene with things going wrong in the town.  As he has stewardship over the families, and can interpret doctrine, he should be able to step in and fix problems.  For instance, if someone is engaging in false priesthood, the Steward ought to be able to do something about it, up to and including executing the false priest. 

But towns are no fun if the Steward solves all the problems.  This means the Steward is normally either :

a) competent but dead,
b) part of the problem, or
c) pathetic, and not dealing with the problems in town. 

Which is all good fun, but I'd like the Dogs to interact occasionally with a Steward who's actually on the ball. 

Any suggestions or advice on how to have a competent Steward, doing a good-ish job, in a town that's gone to hell?



Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on March 24, 2010, 04:57:23 AM
Hello Neil

Haven't played in a while, but it occurred to me that what the Steward might consider the right solution is not the one the Dogs would want to enforce. So he'd be competent in going through with his stewardizing, not part of the problem (he would actually "solve" it, in as far as towns are solvable), but still rub the authority of the Dogs in the wrong direction.

Or, since the Steward has to bow down to the Dogs in terms of religious hierarchy however competent he is, he might agree to let them handle the town's problem, yet criticise the youngsters for any negative outcomes. The Dogs then have to handle a potentially tense situation which has nothing to do with Sin.

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Moreno R. on March 24, 2010, 06:41:27 AM
Hi Neil!!

I usually like having incompetent (but well-meaning) stewards, so I didn't use this solution myself, but you could try having a Steward who simply can't solve the town's problems because he hasn't the authority.

For example, if the town's problems are caused by the son of a rich farmer, and the farmer refuse to do anything about it, what can the Steward do? If you read the stewardship chapter, it's the father that has stewardship over his son, not the steward. The steward hasn't the Dog's authority, he can't simply take someone and shoot him in cold blood.

In this kind of scenario, the Steward can be someone who has "a" solution to the town's problems, but can't apply it himself. So he want the dogs to do it: "take that boy and kill it". Maybe it's the best solution, but will the dogs kill someone in cold blood without trying some other solution first?

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: David Artman on March 24, 2010, 07:07:14 AM
Maybe this is another form of "incompetence," but the Steward could simply not have the dice to face the Sorcerer and its demonic influence dice. Not incompetent so much as "underpowered." He's good for a Relationship die, though! ;)

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: lumpley on March 24, 2010, 12:23:24 PM
The steward can't execute anybody! Not even a false priest.

Check out this thread: The Law: Territorial Authority vs Steward vs Dogs (


Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Noclue on March 24, 2010, 10:45:15 PM
There's so many ways to play this. A competent steward and a group of Dogs have so many, many places where they might disagree. I know the game doesn't place any judgement above the Dogs. But, let's face it, they tend to do some pretty brutal shit.  A competent Steward can give voice to all the doubts the players themselves have about the rightness of the Dog's choices. Things like "Did you really need to shoot her to save her soul? Doesn't the King dispense mercy as well as justice?" or "Brother Jacob may have turned to alchohol and lost his way. But it was only because his wife and baby girl took sick and died." Oh, and he can quote scripture right back at the Dogs, accusing them of all sorts of prideful behavior by alluding to the Good Book.

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Neil the Wimp on March 26, 2010, 12:52:34 AM
Thanks for the replies, and the comments on what a Steward can do.

I'd like to follow up the latter.  What can/should a Steward do, if he knows one of his parishioners is about to commit a crime/sin?  For instance, the father in one of his town's families regularly severely beats his children: it's only a matter of time before he ends up killing one of them.  Or another person is openly engaging in false worship and sorcery.  In both cases, no-one outside the family concerned is involved, so it's not a matter for the Dogs, and the Steward has tried to make the sinner change his ways, to no avail. 

In these cases, what should the Steward do?  Tolerating it means turning a blind eye to sin.  Persuasion hasn't worked.  What's next?


Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Paul T on March 26, 2010, 06:52:16 AM
What's next? Calling in some Dogs comes to mind...

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Neil the Wimp on March 26, 2010, 09:19:37 AM
Yes, but assuming, for the sake of argument, that the problems are restricted to one family.  As the problems don't spill over into the congregation as a whole, the Dogs have no stewardship over the problem.  Dealing with the problem is purely down to the Branch Steward.  I'm interested in what he can do, beyond words and understanding, to either head off a sin/crime being committed, or to make a sinner change their ways. 

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Shawn I. on March 26, 2010, 11:17:26 AM
The Steward is a moral authority figure.  "Brother Jeb, the King of Life has told me, as your steward, that you are sinning."  That's got some weight behind it.  Someone can ignore it, though - "Nope, King of Life told me that I'm doing just fine."  There's probably some Pride there.

The Steward is a social authority figure.  "Brothers and Sisters of the Branch, Brother Jeb here has chosen to continue to sin.  We should hold him in our hearts, and pray for him that he sees the error of his ways."  The Steward can command tremendous social pressure on someone in the community.  Imagine everyone in town stopping to loudly pray over you as you pass in the street, and every sermon is on your personal failings.  Pretty heavy handed.  If it works, then the Steward got everything working again using the judgmental pressure cooker of small-town dynamics.  If it fails... then you've got a town that is tearing itself apart because a Steward was using every tool he had to force someone to stop sinning.

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Motipha on March 26, 2010, 01:33:17 PM
I'm not sure if this is within the power of the  Steward, but excommunication?  Especially in small and isolated communities, being cast out, even just on a spiritual basis, is pretty heavy.  Being declared no longer on of the true faith is definitely going to rock the boat, but good.  Your neighbours will no longer speak to you, your FAMILY no longer will speak to you, you can't get any help from anyone, you're being treated like a perversion of nature.

If this is something that the Steward can do, then this is definitely Big Guns.  But perhaps I am ascribing the Steward too much power.  This could very easily be something that is beyond their scope.  If it is, the lesser is still possible: being kept isolated, like you have a contagious disease, could have much the same effect.  And as Shawn I said, if it doesn't work, then you have a town that needs some intervention but bad.

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Noclue on March 26, 2010, 11:52:49 PM
So, there are two assumptions in this thread that I find interesting and which I essentially reject. The first is that if a Steward is competent he wouldn't need the Dogs to fix his problems, which implies that a competent person is one who behaves like a Dog. I don't necessarily equate the ability to impose order and compliance with competent governance.

The second assumption is that there is some objective criteria by which the players can define the Dog's authority and the Steward's authority such that they overlap and any particular situation will by definition fall within one or the other's purview. Again, if this becomes important in your game, I think it is something that the characters should have opinions about and express them through raises and sees at the table.

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Noclue on March 26, 2010, 11:53:37 PM
That should have read "such that they DON'T overlap"

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Neil the Wimp on March 29, 2010, 02:26:32 AM
Shawn, Motipha,

Thanks for the suggestions.  They're good ones.  Interestingly, if the branch Steward bring social pressure from the community to bear on the sinner, that makes the problem spread out from the one family to affect the congregation as a whole.  That brings it into the remit of the Dogs.


Thanks for articulating the assumptions.  That's what I'm trying to figure out.  I don't think that Stewards have to behave like Dogs; what I'm trying to figure out is how they should behave in extremis.  As for overlapping stewardship, the reason for making a fuss about it in this discussion is to concentrate on what the Steward should do, rather than having the Stewards simply pass the buck to the Dogs.  I agree that, in a game, the lines should be unclear and subject to possible conflicts. 

I think that the conclusion we've come to is that the Branch Steward can persuade, cajole, and influence the families in his Branch to make them change their ways.  If that's not enough to make the really recalcitrant, the Steward much continue to try, but the Dogs may intervene and take more drastic action.


Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: lumpley on March 29, 2010, 09:58:06 AM
So the thing to do now is to take it to the town creation rules, right? Create a town with a competent, on-the-ball steward that nevertheless goes to hate and murder. If you fell like posting it here for us, do!


Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Neil the Wimp on March 31, 2010, 11:18:20 PM
I'm working on it.  The problem is making the sorcerer someone sympathetic, someone who's doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons.  Otherwise the Dogs will find it easy to just turn up and shoot him, which would rather deflate the town. 

Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: lumpley on April 01, 2010, 04:12:21 AM
Nah. Make the sorcerer a monster. Shooting the sorcerer is what the dogs are here to do. Just remember that the sorcerer is a symptom of the problem, not the cause of the problem.


Title: Re: [DitV] Non-pathetic Stewards
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 01, 2010, 10:27:58 AM
I've been reading a lot of old Batman comics from the '90s lately. Those writers find the role of Commissioner Gordon (Captain Gordon in many tales that are set in the past) rather touchy. It's like they all woke up one day and realized that hey, we're not really doing a very good job depicting lawful legal authority as competent and heroic here, are we? Then they'll go into writing a lot of stories that problematize the fact that relying on Batman means that not only is Gordon a crybaby, but also incompetent for needing that sort of extralegal help to do his job.

This is counteracted in the comics by arguing that Gotham has special conditions that require special heroes. Some crimes are for the police to solve, some are for Batman alone. Then there are the revanchist stories where Gordon and his boys in blue conquer maniacs like the Joker while Batman is on a holiday. The villains usually can't believe that regular police can touch them, but they're wrong there, it seems.