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[DitV] My first town -- Copperhead Creek -- comments requested

Started by DainXB, November 27, 2005, 02:44:23 AM

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This is my first official post on the Forge, so for the record, my name is Dain.  I have been lurking here for about a year and a half, trying to get the hang of Narr play concepts.  I've bought and read My Life With Master, Donjon, Capes, Truth & Justice, Soap, Universalis, octaNe, and (of course) Dogs in the Vineyard.
Here is my first try at creating a town for Dogs


The town of Copperhead Creek runs along the north bank of the creek of the same name.  Above the town is a ridge covered in cottonwood trees.  Outlying farms are watered by the creek, and the area is fertile enough to support the Faithful and Gentiles living there.  In fact, there is a sizeable minority of Gentiles in town, enough that there is a small white clapboard church of an Eastern denomination at the opposite end of town from the Chaperhouse of the Faithful.

Things have been simmering slowly in Copperhead Creek.  They will be coming to a boil just about the time the Dogs arrive...
When the Dogs ride into town, their saddlebags bulging with mail, they will notice first of all that about three out of five women they see on the streets are 'with child' – some of them pretty far along, too, by the looks of it. 
Two years ago, Brother Zebulon Greene, a handsome and eligible member of the community, married Sister Bedelia Henshaw.  She was the prettiest bride anyone could remember, and their match was looked on by all as a good one.  As time passed however, things changed.  Despite all their efforts, the couple remained childless.  The Faithful in town came to pity both Br. Zebulon and Sr. Bedelia, for it appeared that Sr. Bedelia was barren.

Sister Bedelia listened to the whispers of "barren", but did not believe that the fault was hers.  She felt fine; there was nothing wrong with her.  She wanted to give her husband a child, preferably a son, and prove – even if only to herself – that she was not the problem.

Sister Bedelia seduced one of her husband's farmhands in order to become pregnant.  Brother Jakob was a strapping youth, healthy and strong.  He went with Sister Bedelia, but afterward, when he found out that it was not romance but reproduction she had been looking for, he felt unjustly used.  Brother Jakob took a job on a neighboring farm.  He resents Sister Bedelia.
Sister Bedelia presented her husband with a fine baby boy, whom he named Bertran.  Bertran is just turning a year old when the Dogs arrive.
When Br. Zebulon wanted another child, Sr. Bedelia approached Br. Jakob again, but he rebuked her.  He was now courting Sister Hannah Elders, and wanted nothing to do with Sr. Bedelia's machinations. 
Instead, Sr. Bedelia turned to Brother Ezekiah, another of her husband's farmhands.  Br. Jakob tried to warn Br. Ezekiah, there was a fistfight, and Br. Jakob lost.  He refuses to tell anyone what the fight was about.  Again, Sr. Bedelia became pregnant – this time with twins!

Sex – Sister Bedelia seduced and had sex with Brother Jakob.
Deceit – She lied to Br. Jakob about why she wanted to sleep with him.
Deceit --- She lied to her husband, Br. Zebulon, telling him that Bertran is his son.
Deceit – She lied again by omission when she became pregnant.  The other women in town believed her to be blessed by the King of Life, her barrenness miraculously cured.  She said nothing to change their beliefs.
Violence – Brother Ezekiah attacked Brother Jakob in order to hide his sin.
Sex – Sister Bedelia seduced and had sex with Brother Ezekiah as well.
Deceit – Sister Bedelia again lied to her husband about the parentage of the twins she now carries.
Deceit – She also lied to Sr. Amelie and Sr. Judith about the 'miracle' of her barrenness being cured.
Faithlessness – Steward Burcham is neglecting his duties to the Faithful community due to being wrapped up in the personal complexities of his own family.
Apostasy – Sr. Amelie, and Sr. Judith asked Sr. Bedelia's blessing on their wombs – and she gave it.

The town is now ripe for attack.  Steward Howard Burcham is concerned.  Several women in town have become 'with child' this year – and every one has delivered twins, or even triplets.  Now, Sister Amelie Trivett is heavy with quintuplets!  At only six months along, she is unable to get out of bed.  Sister Judith Haldene is having a multiple birth as well, though she is not so far along.  Steward Burcham would think that his branch is blessed, except that the town's Doctor says that Sister Amelie is unlikely to survive long enough to give birth to healthy babies, there are simply too many for her body to nourish.  They will be born early and unable to survive on their own.  There is simply no room for them to grow...
Steward Burcham does not have a grasp of the situation because his own family is in something of an uproar.  He is nearing fifty, and has given exemplary service to the Faith.  He has been rewarded with the chance to marry a second and, just this year, a third wife.  His third wife (blood-sister to his second wife) is refusing his bed, on the grounds that she is afraid of conceiving 'a litter' like other women in town.  This is causing discord in his household, and the same thing is happening in other households around town...
The demons are causing the increased fertility of the women in town in order to sew just such discord.  The effect increases with time.  At this point, pregnancy is almost impossible to prevent, and quadruplets, quintuplets, etc. are almost assured.  Given the medical science of the times, neither the women nor the babies are likely to survive, which makes the demons quite gleeful.

Sister Amelie and Sister Judith both went to Sister Bedelia to ask her blessing when they began to try to conceive.  Since she had been blessed by having her barrenness reversed, she must be a kind of 'good luck charm' to women trying to start families...
Sister Bedelia knows that she is no such thing, but cannot tell anyone the truth.  She has convinced herself of a different false doctrine – that is is no sin to have sex with a man not her husband if the purpose is to become pregnant.

Sister Bedelia, caught in her web of lies, prayed with Sister Amelie and Sister Judith.  She will continue to pray with other women who want to become pregnant.   But now she worries that Brother Jakob or Brother Ezekiah might tell the truth about her.  If Brother Jakob confesses their mutual sin to his new betrothed, Sister Hannah Elders, the secret would be out...

Sister Bedelia, Sister Amelie, and Sister Judith constitute a cult of sorts, although they themselves do not realize it.

None yet.  Sister Bedelia could become a Sorceress if she were placed in danger of having her secrets revealed...  In which case, Br. Jakob, Br. Ezekiah, and the Dogs might become her primary targets.

None yet, but eventually the demons will provoke Sister Bedelia into trying to kill the true fathers of her children, in order to keep them from speaking out.

Sister Bedelia Greene – She wants to keep her secret.  She wants the Dogs to ignore Br. Jakob and Br. Ezekiah.
Brother Zebulon Greene – He wants the Dogs to stay around until his twins are born, and perform the naming ceremony.  Although he does not yet realize it, he also wants to continue in his blissful ignorance of his wife's doings.
Brother Jakob – He wants to be able to claim Bertran as his own son.  He has no idea how to do this without revealing his own sin with Sr. Bedelia.  He wants to avoid any questions about his fight with Br. Ezekiah.
Brother Ezekiah – He wants to continue his affair with Sr. Bedelia, with whom he is infatuated.
Steward Howard Burcham – He wants to find out what is causing the amazing and alarming fecundity in his Branch's women.  He wants his third wife to bear him children.
Sister Felicita Burcham – She wants her junior wives to obey her and her husband.  She wants the Dogs to stay out of it, this is between her and her sister wives.
Sister Michaela Burcham – She wants the Dogs to tell her younger sister to stop being 'a crybaby', take on the duties of a proper wife, and stop dishonoring her blood relatives.
Sister Tamar Burcham -- She wants the Dogs to reassure her that she won't be affected by whatever is happening to the other women in town.  She wants them to find a cure.
Sister Amelie Trivett – She wants the Dogs to perform a naming ceremony for her unborn children, so that they can get into Heaven, even if they don't survive to be born.
Brother Samael Trivett -- He wants his wife to deliver his children safely, but he has no idea how the Dogs can help.
Sister Judith Haldene –   She wants her babies to be safe.  She wants the Dogs to miraculously make her delivery a safe one.
Brother Jabez Haldene -- He wants to end his wife's pregnancy.  He is afraid that she will end up like Sister Amelie.
Dr. Peter Everett --  He is a Gentile, from a sect back East that refers to the King of Life as the 'Savior of All Mankind'.  He does not admit the existence of demons, and has no belief that the Dogs can have any 'supernatural' effect on what is happening.  He wants the Dogs to tend to the Faithful's fears, and leave the medical investigation to him.  He wants to find out what is causing the alarming increase in the number of multiple conceptions in town, but he expects science to be the answer, not spirituality.

The demons want to turn the townsfolk's natural desire to be fruitful and multiply against them.  How deliciously ironic if answering the townsfolk's initial wishes leads to their destruction!

The demons want the Dogs to validate Sister Bedelia's 'fertility cult'.  A claim by the Dogs that Sister Bedelia is the cause of the increased fertility will make everyone believe it, unless the Dogs also show that her own pregnancies were caused by infidelity.  They will try to conceal the actions of Br. Jakob and Br. Ezekiah from the Dogs, and make it difficult for the Dogs to confront either man.

In the short term, Sr. Bedelia would have to kill Br. Jakob and Br. Ezekiah to keep her secret, Sr. Amelie and Sr. Judith would die in childbirth, and Sr. Tamar Bertram would flee from her lawful husband rather than risk becoming pregnant.  Other women might do likewise.
In the long term, the super-fecundity of the women would produce two results:  Women who have sex get pregnant and die in childbirth, and women who do not have sex at all survive.  In either case, the town would eventually die out -- but hate and murder would probably rear their heads long before that happened, and the demons would rejoice.

Whew!  This thing grew in the telling, and I'm still not sure that I covered all the bases that I want to cover.  It was difficult to get the long-time-scale backstory into the stages of town development.  I want to give more detail about the interplay between the Steward's wives in order to make it easier to speak for them in-game, but I don't know where exactly to put that without breaking the sequence of events up and making it harder to read the town write-up as a document of 'what's going on'.  Likewise, I want to give more detail to the Doctor, since he represents a kind of temporal authority who could be either adversarial or helpful to the Dogs, depending on their course of action.  I see the Dogs as coming into town shortly before Sr. Bedelia is due to give birth, and just before Sr. Amelie will deliver premature and stillborn babies, dying in the process.  The Dogs poking around will provoke a crisis for Sr. Bedelia -- she'll have to try and silence her lovers before they talk to the Dogs, or she'll have to get rid of the Dogs...

Any comments are welcome!




Wow... that's... epic in scale for a first town.  I'm not saying that's bad, it's just unusual.
"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker


When the dogs come to town a woman collapses in the street in front of them and goes into labor.

First conflict, do the Dogs deliver and Name the baby successfully?

I think its an interesting town.


I've got more to say but allow me to marinate the thoughts for a spell.

Jason Morningstar

Some thoughts:

I'm sort of a broken record on this subject, but I think you have a compelling town way before false doctrine.  Cutting it back is just something to consider.  Especially for your first town.  Seriously - "We are having too many babies and we don't know why", with the cheatin' wife, is enough for a very fun town.

Were I a wife in this town, I'd be desperate to either not conceive or conceive a singleton - way desperate.  If you want sin, witchy magic, and subterfuge, this is a rich vein.  I love the "I don't want to have a litter" sentiment. 

If a woman carrying five babies is going to follow them to the grave sure as shootin', you have an excellent conflict, depending on how your group pegs the Faith's feelings about aborting those non-viable quintuplets.  Actually it's an awesome conflict either way - she just wants whatever the Faith says is wrong.



Whew - epic, as has been said before. Try to see if you can cut back a bit - your PCs will become paranoiac gun-totin' Dogs in the face of the slightest problem otherwise. Sr. Bedelia is a sorceress by definition of the game already (cult with two followers, she's the head).

I'd also go with having the Dogs come into town a wee bit earlier in the whole process. It's nice though to have it developed completely.