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Author Topic: [DitV] Lone Tree Branch  (Read 5004 times)
DamienNeil
Member

Posts: 18


« on: September 05, 2005, 01:51:50 AM »

So I just got back from running my first session of Dogs.  DAMN, but that was fun.

Pride:
Lone Tree Branch has been doing pretty well.  Crops are good, sickness is rare, and nobody goes too hungry in the winter.  Brother Micah, Steward of the Branch, has been pleased with his success.

Injustice:
So when the pitiful remains of a wagon train of settlers--not of the Faith--arrived in town last spring, everybody just saw that as clear proof of the King of Life's favor on them over the Faithless.

They settled down just outside of town, too tired to go further.  Times have been hard for them since.

Sin:
Frank Miller and his wife Jane are among the settlers.  Frank's a baker and a brewer by trade, and has started making some wicked moonshine.  Most of the Faithful know better than to deal with him, but a few have a bottle stashed away somewhere at home.  Brother Cyrus is one of them, and took to sending his daughter, Sister Susan out to the Millers' to bring back his bottle.

Sister Susan's eye was caught by James Miller, the Millers' son.  Six months ago, she lay with him one fine afternoon.  Shamed by her actions, she never spoke to him again.

Demonic Attacks:
Sister Susan bears James Miller's child.

False Doctrine:
"The Faithless can only lure the Faithful to destruction."

False Priesthood:
Brother Micah--the Steward--now preaches his false doctrine to the town.  His wife, Sister Patience, and Brother Isaac, the town baker, follow his lead.

Hate and Murder:
When Sister Susan was six months pregnant, she just couldn't hide it any further.  She refused to say who the father was, until Brother Micah sat down and had a long talk with her about her duties to the King of Life.  When he got the father's name from her, his rage was as deep as the night sky...and poor James's corpse swung from the tree in the center of town by nightfall.

What do the townspeople want from the dogs?

Brother Micah Deighton, Steward, wants the Dogs to help force the Faithless from town.  He honestly believes that Sister Susan was the victim of rape--for in his mind there can be no such thing as consensual relations between Faithful and Faithless.

Sister Patience Deighton, his wife, wants the Dogs to recognize her husband
for the excellent job he's been doing.

Brother Isaac Nash, baker, wants the Dogs to kill or drive away the Faithless.  Not only is he a bigot, but he doesn't like the competition from Frank Miller.

Brother Cyrus Smith wants the dogs to run the Millers out of town for leading into drink in sin, and raising a son that could rape his daughter.

Sister Susan Smith wants the Dogs to Name her unborn child, so that it will have a place in Heaven after she kills herself.

Brother Virgil Fisher has five Faithless working in his fields.  He fears for their safety, and wants the Dogs to protect them.

Frank and Jane Miller want the Dogs to execute Micah.

Charles White is the de-facto leader of the Faithless.  He wants his people to live to see the next spring.

The demons want violence.  Anything that increases resentment and hatred is fine in their book.

What would happen if the dogs didn't come?
Every last one Faithless in town will be dead within a year.  After that, the townsfolk will turn on themselves.

I'll describe the outcome in another post.
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DamienNeil
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2005, 02:44:43 AM »

The cast:

Brother Zedekiah, very convincing (2d10), eyes like an eagle (1d10), and arbiter of truth (2d8). "Learned humility the hard way" during his training, when an instructor slapped him down but good for his pride in his aim: "These people you mock today will stand at your back tomorrow."  Spokesman for the Dogs, polite to a fault, everyone's friend...and always, always probing for the hidden sin, the word unspoken.

Sister Marah, physically irresistible (2d10) and ruthless (2d8).  "Devoted to the Dogs": Back home on a week leave from training, her cousin spoke up loudly: "A dog killed my wife".  She slapped him down hard and fast.  Fast to violence, short on faith, and scarily vicious.  When Marah gets involved, people get hurt.  Damned if I know what they were thinking when they made that one a Dog.

Brother Simon, stubborn as they come (3d6).  Man came to the Dogs' Temple while Simon was in training there.  Simon took one look at him, and wouldn't let him alone after that--hounded him wherever he went, quoting Scripture.  Wasn't till after that man left that we found out that he'd been a murderer.  "I can smell evil", says Simon.  Never the first to talk, but often the last.

They set out with a little speech from their instructor: Not all evil is obvious.  Sometimes you can walk into the most beautiful little town, and it isn't until you take a good, hard look that you realize it's rotten to the core.  Be watchful.  You're God's Dogs.  Serve him well.

When they got to Lone Tree Branch, the first thing they saw was Jason's body hanging there in the middle of town.

They had a talk with Brother Micah, got his side of the story.  Our first conflict was over: "Is Micah telling the truth?"  I played it out as hard as I was able--and then looked them in the eyes and told them, "Brother Micah believes every word he's said."

Micah brought them home to meet his wife, gave him the use of his very own bed for their first night's stay.  The next day, they went out and talked to Brother Isaac--who backed up everything the steward had said, of course.

They went out to the spot just out of town where the Faithless live and checked on Frank and Jane Miller--where they found out about Brother Cyrus's taste for moonshine, and Sister Susan's regular visits to the Millers' place.  I could almost see the lightbulb going on over their heads.

Then they went out to see Brother Cyrus and Sister Susan, and things got interesting.  Zedekiah and Simon took Cyrus out for a talk, while Mirah went in to talk to the girl.  Susan wasn't saying much, other than hysterically demanding that Mirah name her unborn child, so Mirah set her stakes at "under what circumstances was Sister Susan's child conceived?" and opened up.  When Susan ran out of evasions, she escalated and tried to run--and lost, but with 4d6 in fallout.  Upon which a pair of sixes came up: Micah, in stopping her, had accidentally cracked Susan's head against the wall.  The poor girl ended up almost dying on the floor, and I came within inches of opening a conflict of my own: "Does Susan lose her child?"  Should have done it.  Instead, I left Susan with some long-term fallout: a 1d4 relationship with Sister Micah ("she hates you") and "I hate Dogs" (1d4).

I had completely not anticipated this turn of events.  Nor had the players.  They were shaken--what should have been a simple questioning had nearly left a child dead.  They had a powerful respect for fallout dice for the rest of the session.

To move from bad to worse, they did a lousy job of telling Brother Cyrus what Micah and Susan had been up to, and ended up in a fistfight with him.  Eventually they subdued him and left.

I'd started dropping demonic influence dice into these conflicts.  They decided that it was time to see what was really up, and started a search for demonic activity: "Is there a sorcerer in this town?"  This turned into our best-played conflict, with Zedekiah and Simon combing the town, smelling the air for the taint of evil, walking into the main square, and staring Micah straight in the eyes just as I ran out of dice.  I gave, and the moment just demanded that they get more than they asked for: "You stare into his eyes," I told Simon.  "And TWO things stare back at you.  He's a sorcerer."

The sun was setting.  Sister Micah walked up and joined them, as Zedekiah faced down the Steward and commanded his demon to begone.

And then things got flashy; when Micah's protestations that he was innocent fell on deaf ears, he abandoned all pretense and called on his demon.  Unholy light shone from his eyes, the wind swirled clouds of dust around him, and he pulled a very large knife out and fought like...well, like a demon.  Micah, ruthless as ever, tried to gut him with a knife of her own.  Zedekiah was forced out of the conflict when he faced the prospect of seeing 5d10 of fallout.  And Brother Simon ended it all when he tired of words and ceremony and struck Micah a blow right between the eyes with a pair of iron knuckles.

Nobody died, although Zedekiah and Micah both required treatment.  And then the Dogs stood there in the middle of town, terrified folk looking at them from behind curtains, and worked out what they were going to do.

No punishment fell on Micah.  They stripped him of his office, told the townsfolk never to listen to him again, and left it at that.

Then they made Brother Cyrus the new Steward, to my absolute amazement.

They took Susan, his daughter, away from him--she's now living with a widow in town.  (Along the way, they found out that he's been clinging to her in memory of his long-dead wife, and not letting any of the boys court her...which may well have been one of the roots of this whole mess.)  I think she'll do okay in the end, although she'll hate Dogs till the day she dies.

They apologized sincerely to the Millers, and told them that there was no more to fear.

And then they walked out of town, never yet having drawn a gun.
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lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2005, 10:40:55 AM »

Awesome!

Anything I can do for you?

I'm always just delighted who they decide to make steward, in pretty much every town where it comes up. It's rarely who I'd'a guessed.

-Vincent
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DamienNeil
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2005, 11:29:10 AM »

I did have a few questions about mechanics that I haven't worked out a clear answer on from the book.

At what point do demonic influence dice start coming into play?  Playing by the book, it seems like I'd have jumped to five dice right from the start--Hate and Murder, hanging from the tree in the center of town.  I didn't do that, since it seemed like a slow ramp-up would build more tension.

Next question: You're in a conflict with someone, trying to get information out of them.  They run out of dice on the non-physical level, and escalate, pushing past you and walking out the door.  Is that an escalation to physical, or fighting?  What kind of fallout does it leave?  If you grab them to stop them from going, what fallout does that leave?  (I played it as an escalation to fighting, d6 fallout.)

Also on escalation: You're in a non-physical conflict.  You run out of dice and escalate to gunfighting.  Clearly, your raise when escalating is going to deal d10 fallout--can you back off to d4 fallout on your next raise while continuing the conflict?  (Gut says "no": you escalated to avoid a loss.  Backing off is conceding the conflict.)  What if the other side escalates, however?  Your opponent draws a gun and fires, you fire back (d10 fallout), but decide to resort to talking again on your next raise.  Kosher?

I think the guidelines on how to use ceremony might be a bit clearer, as well.  Am I right in thinking that the only thing that makes ceremony different from any other type of raise is the type of fallout?  Three in Authority, for example, doesn't give you any more dice to raise and see with--it just lets you deal d8 fallout to souls and demons.  Which seems a bit odd, actually; it sounds as if you'd never pull out Three in Authority while trying to cast a demon out of someone you want to keep intact after the battle.

I think that a blow-by-blow transcript of an exorcism, with both the Dogs and the demon pulling out every trick they can find to run it right down to the wire, might help players (myself included) get a better feel for the intended use of ceremony.
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lumpley
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2005, 01:01:35 PM »

Quote
At what point do demonic influence dice start coming into play?  Playing by the book, it seems like I'd have jumped to five dice right from the start--Hate and Murder, hanging from the tree in the center of town.  I didn't do that, since it seemed like a slow ramp-up would build more tension.

You're right that by the book you'd start with five dice. I don't think it'd hurt the tension. Especially because I find that I rarely roll demonic influence. When I do, I usually just poll the players - "what's the worst we've seen so far?" If they're like, "well, that guy's hanging there, but we haven't seen any proof of hate and murder yet, maybe he's hanged over just a sin..." I give them "just a sin."

Quote
You're in a conflict with someone, trying to get information out of them.  They run out of dice on the non-physical level, and escalate, pushing past you and walking out the door.  Is that an escalation to physical, or fighting?  What kind of fallout does it leave?  If you grab them to stop them from going, what fallout does that leave?  (I played it as an escalation to fighting, d6 fallout.)

Escalater's choice. Either way, d6 fallout. (d4 fallout = just talking, d8 fallout = hit with a weapon, d6 fallout = anything physical when there's no weapon. Grabbing, pushing, falling, punching, biting, kicking, whatever.)

Quote
You're in a non-physical conflict.  You run out of dice and escalate to gunfighting.  Clearly, your raise when escalating is going to deal d10 fallout--can you back off to d4 fallout on your next raise while continuing the conflict?  (Gut says "no": you escalated to avoid a loss.  Backing off is conceding the conflict.)  What if the other side escalates, however?  Your opponent draws a gun and fires, you fire back (d10 fallout), but decide to resort to talking again on your next raise.  Kosher?

Kosher.

Notice that usually at least one person will keep shooting. Do you want to be the guy inflicting d4 fallout, when your opponent's inflicting d10s?

Quote
I think that a blow-by-blow transcript of an exorcism, with both the Dogs and the demon pulling out every trick they can find to run it right down to the wire, might help players (myself included) get a better feel for the intended use of ceremony.

Good idea! I'll see if I can't arrange that.

Check out the exorcism here meanwhile:http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=14242][DitV] A Chinese Ghost Story

-Vincent
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