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Author Topic: DiTV-help from modern times....  (Read 11700 times)
Spooky Fanboy
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Posts: 585


« 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...
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 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
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #2 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?
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- Brand Robins
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 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
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #4 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....
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- Brand Robins
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #5 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
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #6 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.
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- Brand Robins
Spooky Fanboy
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« Reply #7 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)
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Trevis Martin
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« Reply #8 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
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #9 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
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #10 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.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2004, 12:40:03 PM »

Because of how resolution works?

Cool.

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #12 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
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Spooky Fanboy
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« Reply #13 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?
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2004, 09:11:30 AM »

I think that last is the key issue.

Mike
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