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[DitV] My First Town (Newton's Rock)

Started by Adam Biltcliffe, January 12, 2006, 11:49:19 AM

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Adam Biltcliffe

Well, I finally got around to getting some players together for this game I've been meaning to play for months. The town creation rules really are a most excellent device -- after picking an initial morsel of pride, the town below pretty much fell together without effort. One of my four players has GM-ed a
half-dozen sessions of Dogs before, and from conversations with him, seems to be mostly on the same wavelength about the rules. The other three haven't played before but have read the book and all seem pretty excited about it. All four are from a mostly "traditional" (by which I mean D&D and WW) roleplaying background with varying amounts of interest in exploring more Narrativist-oriented games.

I figured I may as well run the first town right up to hate-n-murder, as I'd rather err on the side of the Dogs feeling the town's going to hell all around them than there being nothing to do. I ended up with nine named NPCs, which is slightly more than I originally intended, but I thought I'd just see how the
game goes rather than try to fine-tune before I've even seen it played. We have three and a half, maybe four hours for character creation and play, but I don't mind breaking the town over two sessions (unless anyone thinks that's a really bad idea for some reason).



1a. Pride
Sister Hannah rapidly finds that life as the second wife of the elderly Steward, Brother Pleasant, isn't exciting enough for her. She forms an illicit relationship with young Brother Virgil.

1b. Injustice
Winter's coming in and Brother Ezekiel, Brother Virgil's father, finds his family getting little help from their eldest son, who seems to be spending a lot of his time over at the Steward's house. It's going to be hard for him to make sure there's enough food for the family without Brother Virgil's help.

2a. Sin
Sister Hannah and Brother Virgil are sleeping together -- that's pretty sinful, what with Sister Hannah being married to the Steward. Also, Brother Virgil's younger brother, Brother Bartholemew, has taken to stealing stuff from some of the other townsfolk, including the Steward and Brother Hector, because he's worried about his own family.

2b. Demonic Attacks
The demons make Brother Pleasant sick. Now his first wife, Sister Bethia, has to spend all her time looking after him, and doesn't have the chance to see what's going on elsewhere in her own house. And Brother Pleasant is laid up and can't keep watch over his community.

3a. False Doctrine
Sister Bethia concludes, correctly, that Brother Pleasant's sickness is somehow linked to his recent marriage to that irresponsible Sister Hannah. She concludes that polygamy is a sin and that men of the Faith should not have multiple wives.

3b. Corrupt Worship
Sister Bethia begins praying for all the multiply-married men and their second, sinful wives to disappear or die.

4a. False Priesthood
Sister Bethia convinces her friend, Sister Edie, and Sister Edie's husband, Brother Samson, of her corrupt beliefs. Sister Bethia, still convinced that she is in the right, becomes a sorcerer.

4b. Sorcery
Sister Bethia's sorcerous anger causes Sister Althea, the second wife of Brother Hector, to miscarry.

5a. Hate and Murder
Brother Samson knows that Sister Althea and Brother Hector brought misfortune upon themselves. He's outraged to see the sympathy Sister Althea gets from the other townsfolk. One evening, he sneaks up on Brother Hector while Brother Hector is out walking and smashes his skull in with a shovel.

What do the townspeople want?

Brother Virgil wants his family off his back. He'd like the Dogs to convince them to leave him be -- preferably without mentioning the fact that he's screwing the Steward's wife, because it'd just be awkward trying to explain.

Brother Ezekiel wants Brother Virgil to start showing some responsibility towards his family. He also wants the Dogs to make sure that Brother Bartholemew isn't getting into any trouble.

Sister Hannah knows there's nothing really wrong with her special relationship with Brother Virgil. She's a bit worried that the other townsfolk won't see it that way, and she'd like the Dogs to sort it out somehow, please. She knows she won't be allowed to marry Brother Virgil, but that's ok -- well, unless the Dogs could sort it out somehow so that she could?

Brother Bartholemew doesn't want the Dogs to find out that he's been stealing to feed his family. If they do find out, he wants them to reassure him that it's ok to steal when it's for a good cause.

Brother Pleasant wants the Dogs to tell him everything's staying right with the branch while he's incapacitated. He doesn't want them to do anything rash -- this is his branch, and he can sort it out himself just as soon as hes out of this bed.

Sister Althea has had an awful time of it, with the loss of her baby and then the murder of her husband. She wants the Dogs to tell her what on earth she did to deserve such a horrible fate.

Sister Bethia wants the Dogs to heal Brother Pleasant. She also wants them to validate her concerns about polygamy and somehow get rid of the badness it's obviously brought to the town.

Sister Edie wants to keep the Dogs from speaking to her husband, since she's afraid that they'll kill him. She thinks Sister Bethia is right, but won't speak up about it unless she's made to.

Brother Samson is damned proud of what he did. He wants the Dogs to commend him for taking prompt action in the face of sin, and help him set the rest of the town to rights too.

What do the demons want?

The demons want Sister Bethia to keep spreading her false doctrine. They want Brother Samson and others like him to keep killing the Faithful. They'll happily let the Dogs blame or punish Sister Hannah, Brother Virgil or Brother Bartholemew in order to distract them from the real cult.

What if the dogs never came?

If the Dogs don't intervene, Brother Samson will get it into his head to kill someone else next, probably Sister Althea. Brother Pleasant will remain bed-ridden and unable to help the Branch. Sister Bethia will keep using her sorcery to bring misfortune to the Branch's polygamous families. She'll get
some more people on her side, and eventually get enough followers to rise up and openly run her enemies out of town, or else murder the lot of them.

Well, that's that. The players don't have characters yet, so none of them are related to the named NPCs, but I figure Brother Ezekiel's family and Sister Althea would be good people to link a Dog to. I'd love to hear any comments people have about the town.


Jason Morningstar

Hi, Adam!

I think your town will be great.  You have a lot of NPCs and I could easily see this stretching across two sessions, depending on how you guys play.  I'd strongly suggest for your first exposure that you pare it down and try to finish in a single session - give your players the whole deal from beginning to bloody conclusion.

You could cut out a few NPCs to make it more direct.  Bartholemew could go.  A couple others could maybe be made into composite characters.

I think some of your wants are too passive.  How about "I want you to marry Hannah and I" for Virgil?  What they want does not have to be reasonable, possible, or make any kind of good sense. 

Ezekiel - "I want you to make Virgil stop fucking Hannah"? or maybe "I want you to make me Steward" so he can do it himself. 

Althea - "I want you to make me a better woman, so I won't be punished next time I conceive."

Just some suggestions.


Adam Biltcliffe

Combining multiple NPCs into one seems a good way to cut down on numbers, but it makes the relationship map even more tightly-woven. Is that a good thing or a bad one?

How about I do this: get rid of Sister Edie and Brother Ezekiel. Brother Samson is Brother Virgil's father, who's bought into Sister Bethia's false doctrine as an explanation of why his family is suffering. The third member of the cult is Brother Bartholemew, who feels it's ok to steal from sinners (Sister Althea's family) when it's their sin that's making his family hungry. He's in doubt as to whether his father's murder of Brother Hector was justified, though.

I can't work out if it makes more sense if Brother Virgil's father does or doesn't know about his son's relationship with Hannah. Certainly if I do the above, it seems odd that he'd stand for it if he did, when he's prepared to commit murder for other sins.

I'll think about making wants more active.


Lance D. Allen

Althea is Hector's second wife. Who is his first? What's her opinion on this whole deal? I know you don't necessarily want to add MORE NPCs, but I think the first wife might be good to have in mind.. Perhaps she has actually bought in to Sr. Bethia's ideas, as a rationalization for why the King let her husband be murdered? Maybe she's heaping the blame on Althea, and Althea has come to believe she's the real cause for all of it.

It would certainly be an interesting scene if Althea was the first to approach the Dogs, begging them to kill her or forgive her, or both.

Other than that, I think your ideas to cut Edie and Zeke out work. It makes the relation map a bit tighter, but it also makes it more tangled, and tangled webs are more fun to unravel. Plus, they provide the GM with more "and now? how about now??" moments later on.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls


There's nothing wrong with playing a town over two sessions. Choose a moment to break when everybody's on their way to do something and don't sweat it.

FAR better that than paring down a town.

Also, there seems to be something in the air about the more named NPCs the longer the town will take. That may be sort of true sometimes, but don't trust it - get a sense for yourself. Probably a better guide is: the more factions the longer the town will take.


Lance D. Allen

What Vincent says is true from my one time GMing. I had to work fast to get all of the named NPCs I did into the story, because what I'd thought was a situation full of shades of gray the Dogs right away decided was pretty black and white, and they were well on their way to having passed judgement before I could re-adjust to the situation.. But that isn't necessarily bad. Sometimes I think the Dogs will hit up all of your NPCs quickly and possibly move to where you'll have to improvise, and other times they'll hit just a few of them before they're ready to pass judgement.

Where Vincent says "factions" I'm thinking it also sort of boils down to "situations requiring judgement". I had two factions in my town, neither one of them really evil (though the leader of one was quite insane, and without question embroiled with demons, she thought she was right, in her own demented way) who wanted certain things from the Dogs, and it ended up with two main judgements and sundry smaller individual judgements. I think that's probably how most games with "factions" turn out, with one judgement per faction, and hence the more factions, the more time to get to the root of each problem and the more time to decide and implement the judgements.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls

Eric Provost

Quote from: VincentAlso, there seems to be something in the air about the more named NPCs the longer the town will take. That may be sort of true sometimes, but don't trust it - get a sense for yourself. Probably a better guide is: the more factions the longer the town will take.

I may have started that bit.  I know I mentioned it a couple times to a couple different people.  I assume you're probably right.  It's about the factions, the divisions between the NPCs that cause more time and more judgement.  I just happen to write up my town where every single named NPC has something that they want that opposes what all the other named NPCs want.  So each named NPC is a faction when I write up a town.