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[DitV] Lone Willow Branch revisited

Started by Graham W, January 27, 2006, 07:47:17 AM

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Graham W

I played through Lone Willow Branch again last night, with two American friends, Tyler and Jamie. It was very satisfying but much harder going (for me) than before. Any comments welcome, as always, especially if they're "How to GM it better" comments.

It's a variation on Damien Neil's Lone Tree Branch and it goes a bit like...

Lone Willow 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.

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.

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, they got drunk, and slept together. James says it was consensual; Susan can't remember; and Brother Cyrus is certain it was rape.

Sister Susan bears James Miller's child.

The first interesting bit was during character creation. Tyler was completely into it and Jamie wasn't.

Jamie: "I don't know what to put down."
Me: "OK. Start with 'I'm a good shot'. Now, how come your character's a good shot?"
Jamie: "I don't know."

...and, at this point, I suggested some things, which was probably a mistake...

Me: "For example, maybe your Dad taught you, or maybe you practiced every day one summer. Any of those are good."
Jamie: "I don't know. I'm not very good at these things. I'm OK with D&D, when there's stats."

...and so I started to worry she wouldn't like the game. Tyler chimed in...

Tyler: "Maybe your brothers taught you? Maybe you were all at home on the farm and they taught you."
Jamie: "I don't think she's got any brothers."
Me: "OK. Write down 'I haven't got any brothers'."

...and she did, and then wrote down "I'm freckled" and some very imaginative ones to do with protecting women. I think one of them was "Lots of people think I'm a dyke", which I loved. And the thing she wanted to achieve during initiation was "I want to hear the voice of God". Fantastic.

The game itself started kinda slowly, with them going around the town interviewing people. (The people mostly said "James Miller raped Sarah!" or "Sarah's father is accusing James Miller of rape!").

Eventually they ended up at the settler's caravans. They tried to confiscate the liquor from Frank Miller and failed. Then, after various other little things, they started a conflict with the stakes: "Do the settlers leave town?". It was quite interesting and basically went something like this. I'll shorten the dialogue down to the essentials.

Tyler raises: "Leave town now!"
I see: "Frank Miller says 'No!'"
I raise: "It's winter! We'll starve!"
Tyler sees: "I don't care!"
Tyler raises: "You're unworthy in the sight of the King of Life!" (something like that, anyway)
I see: "Screw the The King of Life!"
I raise: [knocks the Book of Life out of Tyler's hand]
Tyler sees: [can't remember what he did, exactly]
Tyler raises: [pistol whips Frank Miller]
I see: [Frank Miller dies]
I raise: [There's a moment of silence and then James Miller asks the Dogs to leave them in peace]
Tyler sees: "Go away and be in peace somewhere else!"
Tyler raises: "Now!"

...and I give. I've paraphrased most of that, of course, and that's where we left the game, with the settlers leaving town.

A couple of questions, since I'm still new to this. Firstly, is it OK to raise "Frank Miller dies"? It's an attempt to escalate, of course, but is it all right?

Secondly, it's clear that there's two sides to the story of James and Sarah sleeping together: some townspeople say it was rape, some don't. Is this OK? Something feels wrong about this, given that the problem isn't laid out on a plate: the Dogs get different sides of the story from different people. But there's no attempt to hide the problem. It's just that there's two different views of it.

And any other comments and questions welcome, of course.


Frank Miller dying is a valid raise, as the conflict  is not about Frank Miller, but the Settlers leaving the town. It does drive the game towards conflict, and does show the players that their actions do have consequences. Other than that, the validity of the raise is limited what the group deems OK.

And of course it's OK to have people say what they think is true. The important thing is that the Dogs normally will know when someone is lying to them. I guess the whole setup would be more interesting if Sr. Sarah would remember the incident as rape, and she and Br. James would be telling their subjective truths. Depicting something ambigiously is a great way to force the players to decide what they think of the matter.