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Author Topic: The Sin of Goodness  (Read 7750 times)
TonyLB
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« on: June 18, 2005, 05:58:48 AM »

Writing up a post on this thread, I realized something that I think is going to be a great tool for me in Dogs.  Many of the best sins are the ones that are motivated by the absolute purest of intentions.

Love, even True Love, between inappropriate people is a sin.  Driving the sinner from your midst in order to cleanse the town (if you're not a Dog) is a sin.  Disobeying a tyrannical, irrational, sinful request from your father is a sin.  Obeying a tyrannical, irrational, sinful request from your father... also a sin.

Sin is not a character failing.  It is an affliction.  This is such a freeing realization for me, because I like to play nice, likable, sympathetic characters.  Now I don't have to create some character flaw that led them into sin, I just have to create a situation where sin is either inevitable or a result of kindness and human decency.  Which, yeah, the book has been telling me this whole time.  But I had to wrap my own mind around it, on my terms.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2005, 01:05:38 AM »

My rule for coming up with situations in my current game is "Are these characters really pathetic and desperate enough?" There's one guy who I made kind of flat and villainous. The Dogs fucked him up good, but he escaped, so there's gonna be a Town that's all his own complex, and about how his greed has led him to be spiritually indebted to wives, children, staff, and the other people he takes for granted, and how if they ruin him, they'll ruin the kith and kin, too.

Tough decisions are only fun if they're actually tough.
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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.
TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2005, 05:10:46 AM »

Yeah, but you can do it the other way around as well.  You can make people strong, and good, and decent, and have their situation be impossible.  Desperate without pathetic, y'know?

The one I've been thinking about:
    [*]Brother Adam falls desperately in love with Sister Bethia.
    [*]She doesn't truly-madly-deeply love him, but he's a good man, and he needs her, so she marries him.
    [*]Cyrus is an ex-gunfighter from the TA.  He just wants to put that life behind him and live in peace.  He comes to town and tries to fit in, even though he's not sure about the Faith (or faith generally... he's seen and done some pretty bad things).
    [*]Bethia and Cyrus fall for each other in a huge way.  But she's married, so they don't let on, they just smolder.
    [*]Adam, however, ain't dumb.  He knows Bethia doesn't love him, and now that she loves Cyrus instead.  And that eats him up because he wants her to be happy.
    [*]Sister Dierdre, meanwhile, available and in all ways appealing, wants Cyrus to be courting eligible girls (like, say, her!)  When he neglects that duty, she (correctly) blames Bethia.
    [*]Adam isn't strong enough to keep acting like the dutiful husband, even though it's his duty, because it makes her miserable.  So he starts neglecting her, which makes her miserable too, but what can he do?  So that's neglecting the duties of the Faith.
    [*]Bethia, torn and hurt by Adam's distance, isn't strong enough to bear Dierdre's snide words gently, and simmering feud begins between the two women.  And there's disunity.
    [*]Cyrus, seeing the pain he's bringing the town, stays on the fringes, hoping to avoid doing more harm, and that's yet more disunity.
    [*]Adam eventually concludes that he's the cause of all the hardship... if Bethia were free she could be happy.  So he challenges Cyrus to a shoot-out at high noon, knowing that the man will kill him and thinking that then everything will be better.  So that's violence and disunity.
    [*]Cyrus confesses to Dierdre that he will not defend himself at the shoot-out, and will die.  He apologizes that he could not be a better member of the Branch.
    [*]Dierdre decides that it's Bethia's fault, and tries to kill her, so that Cyrus will be free and Adam can live (albeit miserable).[/list:u]This situation... just... the longer it goes on, the less possible it is for anything to turn out happily.  And it's basically down to one fact:  The Heart does not alight where the Law would have it settle.  You've got two irresistible forces, Love and Faith, and they tear apart the people that get between them.
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    Joshua A.C. Newman
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    « Reply #3 on: June 21, 2005, 09:16:25 AM »

    Boy, that's a good one. I just might nick some o' that.
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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.
    Darren Hill
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    « Reply #4 on: June 21, 2005, 02:56:19 PM »

    Quote from: TonyLB
    Yeah, but you can do it the other way around as well.  You can make people strong, and good, and decent, and have their situation be impossible.  Desperate without pathetic, y'know?


    That's the way I prefer it too. I've nicked the setup you describe. :)
    One thing that some of my players are finding it hard to grasp - that Dogs IS a Western. They are put off by the religious aspect, and overlook the fact that the situations that they deal with - like the one you describe - are exactly the sorts of things that fuel many a Western plot.
    As well, how many westerns have this plot: a violent stranger turns up in town, gets (usually relucantly) thrust into that town's problems, and then sorts it out ? (Usually by killing anyone who gets in his way, of course.)
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    PercyKittenz
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    « Reply #5 on: June 27, 2005, 06:51:28 PM »

    Wow, that's awesome. You've really captured the dilema that I'm trying to demonstrate in my plot, which is that everyone does what they feel is "good" and that in and of itself is a conflict. The plot that you outlined is both epically exciting and something that I think any player can see as being a very real thing. How would you introduce the Dogs to that situation, though? What are the outcomes that they could produce?
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    "There is only ONE god,
    He is the SUN god,
    Ra! Ra! Ra!"
    - The Illuminatus Trilogy, Book 4
    TonyLB
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    « Reply #6 on: June 27, 2005, 07:17:25 PM »

    Dogs walk into town, and the whole town is buzzing about having an actual gunfight for tomorrow noon.  Then I answer questions, get them up to speed on what's been happening (and what everyone thinks of it) as quickly as possible, and step back.

    As for what outcomes they can produce... why, just about anything.  I think they'd be hard pressed to end up with everyone fully happy, though.  But hey, "happy" isn't in their job description unless they decide it is.
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