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Spring River Branch

Started by Leningrad, October 31, 2004, 06:27:24 AM

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Here's my little town.  I'm having a little trouble with some spots.  I will make notes at the end with my concerns.  

1a) Pride
- Steward Edwin Goodson has come to believe that he, not the proper doctor of the Branch, is the only one capable of administering medical aid to the people of the Branch.  
1b) Injustice
- The proper Doctor (an Atheist from Back East, Dr.Barnaby Smith) has been locked up on charges of murder after the death of Goodson's wife during childbirth.  
- As a result Barnaby's wife and son are now poor.
- Townsfolk are falling ill faster and in greater numbers as Goodson can't help them properly.

2a) Sin
- To save herself from destitution, Laura Smith, wife of the Doctor, has turned to prostitution to local farmers.  Her primary customer, however, is Steward Goodson.
- Nathaniel Smith, the Doctor's 15 year-old son, has been practicing with his father's rifle.  He plans to kill Steward Goodson.
- The townsfolk have begun taking medicine and "healing arts" from the Mountain People
2b) Demonic Attacks
- Spring River has been struck with a mysterious wasting illness.  The demons have spread the plague to exacerbate the already-tense situation.  Jane Tanner, beloved of Nathaniel Smith, is near-death with the illness.
2c) Habitual Sin
- If the townsfolk keep turning to unclean medicines, the demons expect a cult is soon to follow.

3a) False Doctrine
- Constance Tanner (mother of Jane Tanner) is the worst of the offenders in the use of unclean medicines.  She is trading with the Mountain People to obtain more, and is learning their medicine rituals in exchange for goods.  
- Bartholomew Tanner, her husband, is aware of her behaviour but does nothing.
3b) Corrupt Worship
- Constance is guilty of apostacy, as she has introduced the folk magic of the Mountain People into her worship.

Steward Goodson wants the Dogs to congratulate him for imprison the Doctor and to reaffirm his belief that he is the rightful healer of the Branch.
Barnaby Smith wants the Dogs to free him so he can help heal the town of it's ills.  
Laura Smith wants the Dogs to free her husband or kill Steward Goodson, or both.
Nathaniel Smith wants the Dogs to save Jane Tanner or to help him kill Goodson, but not to do it for him.
Jane Tanner wants the Dogs to make her all better.
Constance Tanner wants the Dogs to affirm her use of the Mountain People's rituals.
Bartholomew Tanner wants the Dogs to save his wife's soul from her own heretical behaviour.
the Demons want Constance to form a cult.  They want Nathaniel to kill Goodson out of hate and anger and for Doctor Smith to die in jail of the illness.  They are creating more and more disease so that Goodson will become overwhelmed.
If The Dogs Didn't Come
Doctor Smith would fall ill and die in prison.  Steward Goodson would eventually fall ill himself from overwork and the illness, or he would be shot dead by Nathaniel Smith.  Jane Tanner would die or be possessed and brought to life by foul energies.  The town would turn to Mountain People medicine to turn back the illness and form a big ol' cult.  

So there she is.  My big concern is, really, the Pride bit.  Does it seem like a reasonable start?  Because Goodson sees the Doctor as incompetant (he failed to save his wife and child) he feels that he has to take control of the health of the Branch.  So he has the doctor locked up but is too proud to admit he's being overcome.

I want there to be a lot of impotent hate for Goodson, but for the Steward to believe that he is doing the best he can.  I want to stress how stubborn he is and how deep his hate for the Doctor runs.  

I think that's it... it would really help me if we talked about this Branch a bit.  Any thoughts?

Jason Morningstar

I think the pride is solid, particularly when you factor in the doctor's godlessness.  I'd make the steward a competent backwoods healer who knows how to set a bone and reduce a fever, but is totally out of his league and too stubborn to accept that.  

Why have the real doctor imprisoned?  Maybe a word from the steward has caused the Faithful to abandon his custom - maybe they blame him for the sickness.  If "back east medicine" caused the problem, then the Faithful will look to other sources for cures.  The idea of him being an active but impotent agent in the town rather than rotting in jail seems more interesting to me.  This might mess up the wife prostitution angle, but she could easily be re-molded.  Maybe she's selling her husband's laudanum and alcohol to the Mountain People, who are re-selling it to the Faithful...or getting hopped up and causing trouble.  Just some ideas.


I don't want the Steward to be a cackling supervillain, just a man who thinks he knows best.  I think he really does care about Laura Smith (bordering on an unvirtuous love that can only be expressed through paying her for sex).  Everyone in this town, except maybe Jane and the good Doctor is guilty of some kind of badness.

I want the doctor imprisoned to show a) how powerful the Steward has become (he can lock people up on a word) and b) that he is an outsider to the situation.  His absence is exacerbating it, but he himself has no ability to change things.


Yeah, it looks solid to me.

You might want to throw in a sick person or three.

When the Dogs try to heal the sick people, the demons will resist, hard. The demons want the Mountain People's lore to heal, but the Dogs' ceremony to not.

Also, the doctor's wife goes straight to prostitution? That's curious. Also very interesting - she's not Faithful, right? Is she an atheist like her husband?



Laura Smith is indeed an Athiest.  I haven't decided yet whose idea the prostitution was.  Is it more compelling, do you think, if she took it upon herself or that it was suggested to her by the Steward?  He is, I think, in some sick form of love with her.


What if they don't see it as prostitution? What if it started with the Steward giving her money, because he legitimately felt like he oughta help provide for her, after he took her husband away? Then they're in a complicated gratitude-reciprocity-shame-attraction-loneliness relationship already, having sex would just cement it.



Yeah, that works too.  The Dogs are bound to see it as plain ol' whoring on the surface but Laura and the Steward don't quite see it that way.  Perspective is fun.