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Author Topic: Hamites in the Vineyard  (Read 4926 times)
DannyK
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« on: September 18, 2004, 12:01:51 PM »

I was thinking, if I'm going to run a game set in the US in the 1800's, it would be a shame not to address the racial issue.  Also, I dig Black cowboys.

So I was thinking of positing that sometime forty years ago or so before the game time, one of the  Faithful took ill in the North while travelling, and no one would care for him but the local colored preacher. That man was sick a long time, and by the time he had his strength back, he and the preacher had read through the Book of Life some two dozen times and the congregation was raring to be saved by the King of Life.  Time goes on, and these African Faithful make the great trek West, are received with decidedly mixed feelings, but are allowed their part in the territory and make their own little Branch.  Since then, a trickle of Blacks have come to the Faith, particularly since the Ancient Prophets have expressed views critical of slavery; even some slaves have arrived, either fugitives or freedmen bought out of slavery by relatives or abolitionists. Of course, none of the Faithful are eager to get into a fight with the Territorial authority about this.  

In the historical LDS, as far as I can tell from a hasty internet search, there were Blacks as far back as the 1930's, but they were banned from the priesthood as being Hamites and bearing the mark of Cain.  Interestingly, one "Elijah Abel" was not counted as a Hamite and he and his descendants have been priests.  In 1978, there was a revelation that the priesthood ban was lifted.  

Very interestingly, one of the websites I referenced refers to a passage in Matthew, where Jesus calls a Canaanite woman "a dog".  Heck, it's rich enough to quote here, I think:

Quote from: Matthew 15:20-26

"Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is greivously vexed with a devil.
But he answered he not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away;for she crieth after us.
He answered, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
But he answered and said, It is not meet [proper] to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
And she said, Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table.
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.
And her daughter was made whole from that very hour


For the game, I thinking of not using the full ban, but keeping the concepts and the invidious distinction there.  By typical psychology (as I've seen working with Black soldiers in the Army), those Hamites that become Dogs are typically incredibly hard-working and devout, grimly determined to prove their worth and value.  Which opens them up to all kinds of Pride, of course, both the positive and negative kinds.  

In terms of mechanics, I'd probably use the same values as for a Mountain People convert (for a recent convert or a freed slave), or a strong community background for a Dog from that Branch.

Any thoughts or comments to add to this?  I'm still trying to think of a name for that town, and some good sample traits for Black Dogs.
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2004, 05:02:16 AM »

Awesome.

There were a small few black Mormons went west to Utah in the handcart companies, I believe. They never did anything like found their own town, that I ever heard of. They were integrated into the community, at least insofar as any second-class citizens ever are.

So black Dogs aren't a big stretch. No bigger a stretch really than female Dogs.

How head-on are you planning to take the issue? When I've played, all the townspeople have been comfortable submitting to the judgement of a female Dog - or as comfortable as they would be submitting to a male Dog. It'll be a much harder take if you have most white townspeople constantly questioning and challenging the Dog's authority.

I'm extremely interested in everyone else's thoughts.

(Real Live Preacher has an interesting take on that passage from Matthew, by the way, here: The Smallest Person in All the World )

-Vincent
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DannyK
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2004, 10:39:56 PM »

Thanks for the response.  I'm planning to handle it similar to the situation of a Mountain People convert -- same authority as any other Dog, but race gives people a dandy excuse for disobedience.  Also, I'm going to say that most Mountain People have never seen a Black person yet, and that it really freaks them out.  

I came up with a couple possible traits for a Hamite Dog:
I bear the mark of Cain 1D4
The King of Life delivered me from bondage 1D8
I proved to my trainer that some Hamites are worthy of respect 1D6

I've started recruiting for an online forum game at RPG.net and I've suggested the possibility of making a Hamite character; now it's up to the players.  Just like always.

I'm a little worried about introducing racial tension into a game that's already pretty darn provocative, but the balls-out GM'ing part of me is shouting "go for it!" so I'll put it out there and see what happens.
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DannyK
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2004, 03:59:27 PM »

No bites yet from my RPG.net forum game (which is still recruiting, if anyone here frequents both sites).  I did have an amusing thought, though:  

What if a Chinese railroad worker somehow got converted to the Faith, and ended up a Dog who spurns the gun in favor of his native martial arts?  Speaking as a 70's kid who watched an awful lot of Kung Fu, the idea has a certain sick fascination.  Just call him "Brother Caine."
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2004, 04:13:51 PM »

I've been thinking about using Dogs in a full-bore Wuxia story. Traits like one's reputation and style would be used. Your Posessions might include the Green Destiny Sword or Steel Fans, and the back-and-forth insulting and challenging, leading directly to combat is pretty ideal. And it's all wrapped in a story of love, tragedy, and doing what you think is right and dying at the appropriate moment.

I'm thinking more of Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than, say, Half a Loaf of Kung-Fu, but it might work for the sillier examples in the genre. I don't know. I kinda doubt it.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
DannyK
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2004, 05:08:19 PM »

This game (and this forum) keeps wanting to seduce me into thinking up new Dog-likes, but I'm committed to playing the original first.  Although I will say that Dogs seems very nicely suited to a guns-vs-swords-vs-martial arts battle, since it's all abstracted.
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2004, 05:25:52 PM »

Dogs and wuxia would be an interesting mix.  Like I said in my review of Zhang Yimou's most recent post-Hero movie, House of Flying Daggers, wuxia is really about taking passionate, stubborn people and setting them up to trainwreck into each other in a big mass of kungfu heartbreak.

The major problem would be all the wuxia elements that are currently unsupported by Dogs, especially the beautiful imagery, the secrets and lies, and a conclusion that ends with everyone dead or emotionally destroyed.  You might get the latter just by having everyone agreeing to play the last scene out to the hilt.  Broken Sword's death at the end of Hero is a textbook example of Taking the Blow unexpectedly, after all.  However, Dogs PCs are essentially supposed to keep all their info above the table, so to speak, so I don't know how you'd have those sudden revelations of past relationships or family ties or kungfu skills.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2004, 08:14:11 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Dogs and wuxia would be an interesting mix.  Like I said in my review of Zhang Yimou's most recent post-Hero movie, House of Flying Daggers, wuxia is really about taking passionate, stubborn people and setting them up to trainwreck into each other in a big mass of kungfu heartbreak.


I dunno. That sounds like a pretty good framework for a Dogs story if everyone's on the same page. I've only wound up in a tangle with other PCs once or twice, but I don't recall any technical difficulties. I think

Quote
The major problem would be all the wuxia elements that are currently unsupported by Dogs, especially the beautiful imagery, the secrets and lies, and a conclusion that ends with everyone dead or emotionally destroyed.


Sure, it is. The beautiful imagery's not a problem - you just use China as inspiration instead of Utah. Some of it's even compatible, like the Gobi. The secrets and lies make a better story if the players all know them, but the characters don't. PC death is hardly a problem, but there's no reason to push it in any given episode.

Quote
You might get the latter just by having everyone agreeing to play the last scene out to the hilt.  Broken Sword's death at the end of Hero is a textbook example of Taking the Blow unexpectedly, after all.  However, Dogs PCs are essentially supposed to keep all their info above the table, so to speak, so I don't know how you'd have those sudden revelations of past relationships or family ties or kungfu skills.


Dogs really works best - as do most RPGs, in my opinion - if the players have everything on the table. If I suddenly am, like, "Oh, wait, she should totally be my rival student!" then, if everyone knows, everyone can play to it. What's the point of having secrets in a story if they're not revealed? And it's obviously best to reveal the secrets in such a way that they're most relevant to the story. If everyone's on board, we all want those secrets to be revealed.

Traits:
I'm secretly in love with Fallen Leaf 2d8
I possess the key to the Seven Courts 4d4
I'm Monkey in disguise 8d6

Man, those things seem like fun to play.

So if I were to make my own Breed, that's what I'd do. Next story I'm running, though, it's about how the railroad brings salvation to a town at the cost of its soul.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Joe_Sixpack
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2010, 09:16:58 PM »

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