*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 19, 2022, 01:11:19 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 73 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [DitV] Actual Play, third session: You has some good days, and you has some bad.  (Read 4203 times)
David Laurence
Member

Posts: 19


« on: July 26, 2006, 11:17:12 AM »

Here's the AP report for the second session this group played, to give some context.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20414.0

The third session was Monday, and, well, it wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't as good as it could have been, and I happily take all the blame for making a lackluster town. Here it is:

The situation: Fort Wood is a smallish outpost of the Army of the Republic, staffed by about 100 men. Despite its parallel status of an outpost of the values of Back East, for practical reasons a Faithful settlement has sprung up around it – the fort is a source of trade and safety. The vast majority of the soldiers are not Faithful, but there are three or four born-Faithful soldiers who come to Sunday prayer meetings, and another two or three converts. The fort’s commanding officer, Major Alfred Haley, is not. (He knows about the Dogs in a general way, but as the branch has been very stable for a long time, only sees them as mail-carrying traveling preachers.) The Branch Steward is named Timothy.

1A: Pride
The shopkeeper, Brother Silas – Brother Jackson’s uncle by marriage – makes out rather well in trade with the fort, and he believes it’s because of his business acumen.
1B: Injustice
Brother Silas and his family (Sister Bethany and sons August and Vincent and daughter Chastity) live a little ostentatiously (big house, relatively fine clothes – Brother Silas has a telling silk handkerchief, let’s say), and prices are a bit higher than some of the Faithful in town can handle (the soldiers can afford it).
In particular, the family of Br. Gideon, Sr. Augusta’s cousin, (and one or two other families), who had a very hard winter, is struggling to make ends meet until the harvest comes in next month. Farm equipment is in a general state of disrepair, clothes need replacing, children are hungrier than they should be, and forget about keeping the house in order.
Demonic Influence: 1d10

2A: Sin
Worldliness: The shop is open on the Sabbath to accommodate soldiers’ leave from the fort.
Faithlessness: Thanks to this and general business, Br. Silas is neglecting the duties of his office as father; Sr. Bethany is overseeing much of his stewardship of the family.
2B: Demonic Attacks
The demons have struck all crops and food stores in the area with a blight; it looks like not nearly enough is going to come in. Even the families who made it through the winter with no trouble are looking to the future with a worried eye, and Br. Gideon doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Worse still, the fort has had to increase their requisition, putting a further burden on the town; those who would have had extra now look like they will simply have nothing to share.
Demonic Influence: 2d10

3A: False Doctrine
Br. Gideon believes that the Faithful have a higher priority to life than non-believers. He and the head of another of the hard-hit families, Br. Peter (a cousin of Br. Abraham), believe that the town should not give over the food requisition to the fort.

Demonic Influence: 3d10

Opening Scene: As the Dogs ride into town, they find Br. Gideon and Br. Peter, armed, trying to hold off a squad of soldiers, also armed, in front of the town’s granary. The soldiers (they have a wagon) have orders to go in and requisition grain; Gideon and Peter are determined to stop them. Private Lemuel Smith, Faithful and a cousin of Br. Jeb’s, is among the soldiers. The lieutenant in charge of the requisition is named Welsh.

I have a proper list of what folks want, but not with me. About what you'd expect, though - Br. Silas wants to be able to keep up the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed, his wife wants the Dogs to tell her that it's all right that the store is open, Br. Gideon wants the Dogs to see that he and his family get fed, Major Haley wants them to leave town without causing trouble, etc. The demons want them to ramp up the friction between the town and the fort and tear the place apart.

The Dogs were Sr. Augusta (played by Tonya), Br. Jackson (played by Brennan) and Br. Abraham (played by Nick). Todd couldn't play, but the change of players was not the problem. All you veteran Dogs GMs are probably nodding and stroking your beards - the town is just not grabby enough! I went and populated it with reasonable, good-at-heart people who just happen to be in a terrible situation.

I'm getting ahead of myself, of course. A quick run-down.

We started with the conflict at the granary, with Brs. Jackson and Abraham talking down the soldiers and Sr. Augusta simultaneously talking down Br. Gideon. These were a couple of good conflicts - especially because all the players wanted really badly not to escalate, while Lt. Walsh in particular didn't really mind. Jackson and Abraham got pushed around and wrestled down to the dirt, but won by a hair when I decided that Lt. Walsh, out of dice and facing Nick's final two dice before he had to escalate, probably wouldn't actually shoot them when all they were asking for was him to back down at that moment (those were the Stakes, and Brennan and Nick did a good job, as usual, of being reasonable and just asking for a day or two).

The conflict between Sr. Augusta and Br. Gideon was excellent, literally tear-jerking, because (unbeknownst to me) Tonya has just learned that she has a beloved uncle in the exact same situation, who fit Br. Gideon's description more or less perfectly. She was very honestly engaged in the conflict, I had some good dice (including "Salt of the Earth 2d10"), but she managed to win without escalating as well.

And then the town fell flat. Br. Jackson went to see Sr. Bethany and Br. Silas, Br. Abraham went to see Major Haley and Sr. Augusta saw Br. Gideon home. We had some nice quick-cutting simultaneous scenes, but! Br. Silas didn't want to stop operating on Sundays because it was the only day the soldiers could come into town, and he was proud that his business was drawing them in to get the Word at any rate. Brennan, though, had the idea that Br. Silas could take orders at the fort some other day and deliver, keeping his business up. And (not for the first time that night) I was caught saying "Huh. Silas'd have to be a stubborn idiot not to go along with that idea - he knows he's sinning working on the Sabbath - and you know what? He isn't." So, no point in a conflict - say yes or roll dice! The end. Sr. Augusta didn't really have a conflict - she was getting Br. Gideon's side of the same story Br. Jackson was hearing, and lo and behold the town is laid bare! Great! Always a good place to be. Br. Abraham had terrible luck trying to convince Maj. Haley to send soldiers out to help the town get food, again as his hands were tied with escalation, and he was shown the door and told that maybe he and the other Dogs ought to get out of town before they caused any more trouble. OK, a good setup for later conflict.

But then my 3 players put their heads together and came up with the idea of going back to Red Clay and asking if they could spare a little of what they had stored up, plus asking Maj. Haley if he might do the same, pooling the town's and the fort's food stores until the winter harvest came in. And again - the Major would have to be an idiot and an asshole not to agree to a reasonable plan to avoid damning the town to starvation! Likewise with the Steward back at Red Clay! Crap! I was forced to put up my hands and say, "You know, guys, I can't imagine how he wouldn't go along with the plan." They solve everything without so much as a die rolled.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing - we had fun, and there was a lot of good role-playing, and we found out a lot more about all three Dogs. It's just... unsatisfying somehow. So, I learned my lesson about non-punchy towns the hard way (as, I suppose, all Dogs GMs must) and have some good ideas for the next town. Say hello to a gold-mining boom-town den of sin!

Oh, there is one question-type thing though. Nick decided one possible solution to the town's problem was to miracle it away with consecrated earth, curing the blight on the summer crop. In the first town, we'd decided that miracles and flashy supernatural stuff was totally possible, but I as a player was uncomfortable with setting the precedent of miracling away a town's problems, so I basically shot the idea down. I know it should have been a say-yes-or-roll-dice situation, but I'd have been rolling 4d6 + 3d10 against whatever Nick could have brought to bear, which seemed a little too easy to me, especially for something so "big". Any advice on dealing with a similar situation?
Logged

David Laurence
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3453


WWW
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2006, 12:14:23 PM »

Funny how when the Dogs finally for once get to do their thing and help everyone out without making murderers of themselves, we all feel kind of let down, huh?

Re: the supernatural: drawing the line on the power of ceremony is something every group does, explicitly or implicitly, eventually. My suggestion would be to not shut the proposal down, but to suggest stakes you would be comfortable rolling for and letting ceremony decide.

-Vincent
Logged
baron samedi
Member

Posts: 137


« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2006, 12:26:32 PM »

Hello David,

Your insatisfaction might come from the fact that your town didn't have much in controversial choices ; I think a good way to be "grabby" is to make sure that at least some of the players feel bad whatever choice they make. Like, for example, if a child had died because he fell under an old chariot that broke as Silas' prices were too steep for his father, an herbal doctor, to buy a new one, and in return that child's father refuses Silas' daughter in turn the medicine she needs to overcome a disease caused by demons. Would the dogs force the doctor to give away medicine to the man who let his son die? My humble opinion.

As for the supernatural element, I believe you should go with the "Yes but..." approach, letting for example the demons get out of the grain after the Dog's miracle working and the demons possessing cows (like the pigs in Jesus' parable), that then run in the village and trample an innocent, who's now dying and needs the same medicine Silas needs (above), for which there is only enough for one. It doesn't cut the players' fun and doesn't stop the action.

I think tough, gut-excruciating choices are a good way to make a town come alive. :)

Erick
Logged
David Laurence
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2006, 01:22:51 PM »

Funny how when the Dogs finally for once get to do their thing and help everyone out without making murderers of themselves, we all feel kind of let down, huh?

I think I have an unusual group in that they really want to avoid shooting folks. This is three sessions, and only a single shot fired, and that at a chandelier. (Two people have been hanged, but they were both out-and-out murderers.) The players are taking the weight of the Dogs' role as executioner very very seriously.

Actually, it's interesting. When we were talking through character creation, Nick was most gung-ho about making a black-and-white religious fanatic, shooting everybody who sinned, but his Br. Abraham has been the most wary of violence, on more than one occasion taking physical blows and turning the other cheek rather than matching escalation.

Thanks for the advice about the supernatural! I think setting stakes small is the answer. I really do feel like that was my biggest GM-ing sin of the session - the town was lackluster and ended with a whimper, but it was, in a way, a satisfying whimper that was the result of good thinking and role-play. Shutting down a reasonable idea offered in good faith still leaves me grimacing. Live and learn!
Logged

David Laurence
Claudia Cangini
Member

Posts: 38


« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 04:11:36 AM »

Quote
I think I have an unusual group in that they really want to avoid shooting folks. This is three sessions, and only a single shot fired, and that at a chandelier. (Two people have been hanged, but they were both out-and-out murderers.) The players are taking the weight of the Dogs' role as executioner very very seriously.

Of course I don't know your group but in the group I play with it's the same and I think it's something positive.
For us it shows we're not dealing with easy to kill "NPC" but we're acting as we would as real people towards real people.

This care in avoiding indiscriminate violence testifies the integrity of our character's portrayal, so maybe this is the case also with your game and you should be happy about it.

Quote
Actually, it's interesting. When we were talking through character creation, Nick was most gung-ho about making a black-and-white religious fanatic, shooting everybody who sinned, but his Br. Abraham has been the most wary of violence, on more than one occasion taking physical blows and turning the other cheek rather than matching escalation.

The same happened with a fellow player in my group.
Actually the character emerging in play is much more realistic, hued and interesting than the one she described at the beginning. :-]
Logged

--
Claudia Cangini

http://claudiacangini.deviantart.com/
(artist for hire)
David Laurence
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2006, 03:24:38 AM »

With the next session a week away, I thought I might put up my preliminary plans for the next town for perusal and/or feedback:

White Falls Branch was a fairly idyllic town, relatively far East and high up in the foothills of the mountains, enjoying long cool springs and autumns (but biting winters) – until 5 years ago, when gold was discovered in the creek under the falls that gave the town its name. Since then, the branch’s population has quadrupled, leaving the Faithful a distinct minority. The Old Town (the “farmers’ town” to newcomers), where the temple is located and most of the Faithful live, is small enough and separate enough to keep orderly, but the New Town is a fairly lawless place. Until last year, the sheriff was a Faithful elected to the position (Br. David March), but during the last election a gentile (Darlington Jeffries, a bit of a fop from Back East, string tie and all) was elected, and the New Town has fallen even further into sin, if that was even possible. The Steward of White Falls is called Henry Taylor.

1A: Pride
Sr. Lydia White believes that certain aspects of her stewardship are less important than others.
1B: Injustice
Sr. Lydia is not fulfilling her part of her marriage contract. She and her husband, Benjamin, are very much in love, but they have not had sex since before their first child (Joseph, now 3) was born. Not only is their family therefore not growing, but Br. Benjamin is being denied necessary release.

2A: Sin
Br. Benjamin is visiting the cathouse in the non-Faithful part of town on the sly. Both the madam, Louise, and his favored girl, Stasie (short for Anastasia) think he’s a very nice man – for different reasons, of course.
2B: Demonic Attacks
The river has flooded, particularly hurting the non-Faithful areas of town, which are nearer the river. Many of the miners have been washed out, leaving them quite penniless. As the Faithful are not only relatively well-off to begin with, but untouched by the flooding and sometimes a bit supercilious to boot, there are some hard feelings. A particularly rough gang of miners, led by a man called James Garrett, has been hard hit, not having had much to begin with.

3A: False Doctrine
Sr. Lydia found out about her husband’s visits to town a while ago and, confronting him, got the truth. They have both come to believe that his adultery is acceptable, as Sr. Lydia wants her husband to be happy (but doesn't want to have sex), and if they both agree it must be all right. Br. Benjamin has been talking with a friend, Br. Laban Gates, and confessed his adultery. Br. Laban is torn, worried that his friend is sinning, but understanding his side of the situation.

When the Dogs arrive: Br. Benjamin has been missing since last night – the Garrett gang grabbed him as he came into town to visit Stasie. They are preparing a ransom note even now.

Sr. Lydia wants her husband back. She doesn’t want to have to have sex.
Br. Benjamin wants to be told that his adultery is OK. He doesn’t want to force his wife to have sex with him.
Stasie wants the Dogs to find Br. Benjamin; she was expecting him last night, he didn’t come, and she’s concerned about him. She wants them to let her convert to the Faith, so she can find someone to support her and leave behind her life of sin. She wants to marry one of the Dogs – if a chance presents itself, she also wants to have sex with him.
Louise doesn’t want Stasie to leave. She has a couple thugs who will do their level best to ensure the girl stays in her employ. She wants to corrupt the Dogs.
Garrett and his gang want the Dogs (as representatives of the Faithful in town in general) to pay $500 (about a year’s wages for one man) for the release of Br. Benjamin. They will be holding him in a shack farther up in the mountains.
Br. Laban wants the Dogs to show Br. Benjamin the right way.
Br. David wants the Dogs to make him Sheriff again. He wants them to help him clean up the New Town, even if they don’t reinstate him.
Jeffries does not want the Dogs to find Garrett.
The demons want the Dogs to force Br. Benjamin to stay with Sr. Lydia in such a way that he will remain unsatisfied, continuing his adultery. Eventually he will convince others that prostitution is all right and bang, False Doctrine.

---

The core problem is a still-more shaded question of duty, which is what I've sort of decided to push my guys on (and they respond well to), plus the town is, I think, pleasantly tangled with cross-purposes. If anybody has thoughts / suggestions, I'm open to 'em, and I'll put up a new thread after the session.
Logged

David Laurence
baron samedi
Member

Posts: 137


« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2006, 01:34:20 PM »

Hi David,

Nice idea with the "prostitute as a victim who wants redemption" and the "if we both agree then it's right" themes to discuss... ! It seems to me though there is an easy way out for the judge : marry Stasie to Br. Benjamin as a second wife, which should resolve all the town's problems - except for the pimp lady and the miner gang, that seem both villainous enough to get shot without remorse. Most people in Falls Branch  fall into Good vs Evil categories rather easily... Perhaps making things a little bit more twisted could make the town "grabbier"?

Regards,

Erick
Logged
Claudia Cangini
Member

Posts: 38


« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2006, 02:08:56 PM »

This is a really nice town.
It's not obvious at all.

One thing you could do to make it even better is comprising in it something adressing the specific flags of your player (or maybe you already have?)
Logged

--
Claudia Cangini

http://claudiacangini.deviantart.com/
(artist for hire)
David Laurence
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2006, 02:55:18 PM »

Hi David,

It seems to me though there is an easy way out for the judge : marry Stasie to Br. Benjamin as a second wife, which should resolve all the town's problems - except for the pimp lady and the miner gang, that seem both villainous enough to get shot without remorse. Most people in Falls Branch  fall into Good vs Evil categories rather easily...

Nah, probably not. Here's why (and this addresses Claudia's question too): First, it's not likely they'll shoot anybody except as a last resort - they have so far been extremely reluctant to kill anybody, out-and-out murderers aside, and I don't think kidnaping will push them over that edge. At least until the gang opens fire on them, they'll probably prefer to bring Garrett to justice rather than shoot him. Similarly with the madam - unless she personally tries to kill somebody, they'll probably not actually shoot her.

As for the "easy resolution" point, my players have really keyed into (and to a certain extent made up, I suppose) a powerful sense of Faithful duty. After our three sessions, I can tell you with extreme confidence that it's unlikely they'll let Sr. Lydia get away with not living up to her end of the marriage contract - they won't let her off so easy. (They also, from a couple towns where it came up, know that taking a second wife is not something to enter into lightly.) So, in a certain sense, the core conflict (Br. Benjamin and Sr. Lydia) will probably also be the hardest for them to reconcile. But, of course, you never know.

Other notes about my players' flags: I frankly have no clue how they'll react to Stasie. They have a knack for reacting negatively to NPCs I imagine are sympathetic, and vice versa. I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if they leave her in the cathouse. Her motivations for converting aren't exactly pure, and I intend to have her (innocently) phrase them that way.

The gang and the madam's thugs are really there to see if I can put my players in a situation where the opposition *will* escalate to violence, to see if I can get the Dogs to draw their guns, which they haven't yet. Also having them hold Br. Ben up in the hills in a shack allows for some cool non-talking conflicts, which we haven't explored nearly enough.
Logged

David Laurence
baron samedi
Member

Posts: 137


« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2006, 04:36:50 PM »

You know your players better than I do, of course ! Having players play out the Faith to the core drives issues differently, of course. My fellow players at DITV were a bit too psychopatic I fear for much anyone to survive them in this town... :)

Good luck running it!

Erick
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!