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Author Topic: Stony Creek Branch  (Read 1658 times)
Neil the Wimp
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Posts: 76


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« on: November 22, 2006, 06:12:57 AM »

(MK-RPG people, I'm intending to run this at the club, so think twice before reading it.)

This is my first attempt at a Dogs town.  I'm intending it to be an intense taster for a mini-campaign at my local RPG club.  If people could comment on it, that'd be great.  I've also got some questions at the end.  I'd really appreciate answers to them. 

STONY CREEK BRANCH
A small, purely-Faithful branch out in the boondocks somewhere.  It's the height of summer. 

Something's Wrong
A few years ago, Br Cyrus retired from being a Dog (at age 20) and moved to Stony Creek to settle down.  Sr Lavina's mother knew a good catch when she saw one and pressured her to marry Cyrus, rejecting Br Thaddeus despite their mutual love.  Thaddeus married his second choice, Cleophas.

Pride
Hesta thinks having her daughter marry a Dog will reflect well on her. 

Lavina and Thaddeus are doing nothing to curb their love for each other, despite their marriages to other people.

Cyrus is keeping very quiet about why he left the Dogs so early (explained in 'What he wants' below): he's got a good reputation in the town and doesn't want them to know about his weakness. 

Hesta, Lavina's mother, has been ill for a long time and expects Lavina to care for her.  Hesta thinks that she should be the most important thing in Lavina's life. 

(There's another strand, involving Cleophas, that I'll come to in a bit.)

Injustice
Thaddeus and Lavina can't demonstrate their love for each other. 

Cleophas is trapped in a loveless marriage to Thaddeus. 

Lavina is forced to support Hesta while Hesta does little to help herself. 

Sin
Thaddeus and Lavina start an affair.  This involves sins of both lying and sex.  Both of them spend so much time with each other, they're neglecting their duties. 

Lavina is neglecting her duties to both Cyrus and Hesta.  Cyrus is having to work extra-hard to keep his farm productive and is hiring extra help, including Thaddeus and Augustus.

Thaddeus is neglecting Cleophas and their daughter Electa.  He's happy to let his the crops die in the summer heat on his already-marginal farm.  He can make more money working as hired help for Cyrus, and it gives him an excuse to be near Lavina. 

Cleophas, seeing her husband drift away, has asked the King of Life to punish him and make him come back to her. 

Cyrus pretty much suspects what's going on, but does nothing to stop it.  Br Virgil, the Steward, tells him there's something wrong in his family, but Cyrus fobs him off, using his reputation as a Dog. 

Demonic Attacks
The heat.  This summer is the hottest anyone can remember.  Thaddeus's farm is drying out.  It's also too hot to do much work.  Just to keep cool, people have to shed clothes to an indecent extent: some women are barring their arms and shortening their skirts; men are wearing vests, or sometimes just trousers. 

With all the heat, people haven't got much energy to work in the day.  Instead, they lay around, drowsing together in the shade and swimming (even skinny-dipping) in the lake. 

Generally, passions are being inflamed across the town.  Various unmarried folk are starting to look at each other in a distinctly non-platonic way.  Thaddeus takes advantage of this by seducing Sr Marilla, another woman in town. 

Hesta recovers from her illness. 

(Once all this has happend, we get another strand involving Cleophas:

Pride: Cleophas, who's being ignored by Thaddeus, thinks she can make ends meet on her own. 

Injustice: Cleophas is forced to find another source of money for her and her daughter, cos Thaddeus is spending everything on Lavina.  Her brother Virgil can see the trouble Cleophas is in and does his best to support her too.

Sin: Cleophas gets some liquor from the big town and sells it to some farmhands.  Business booms and she makes frequent, regular trips to town.  One of the farmhands, Augustus, is right friendly.  Soon, he's sharing both her business and her bed.

Note her False Doctrine below.)

False Doctrine
Thaddeus and Lavina believe that while marriage is for propriety, sex and love are for pleasure. 

Seeing that Cyrus is not being challenged with all this happening under his nose, Cleophas now believes that prestige and reputation can absolve someone of responsibility.

Corrupt Worship
Thaddeus, Lavina, and Marilla start having three-way sex.  They consecrate their pleasure to the King of Life.  Sr Submit, Marilla's 13-year-old daughter, sneaks peeks at their 'worship' but says nothing.

False Priesthood
Thaddeus becomes a Sorcerer, with Lavina and Marilla the possessed cultists. 

Submit is also possessed.  Filled with the feelings of her sexual awakening, she seduces almost the first man she sees: Augustus, Cleophas's lover.  All five of them start to worship together. 

Sorcery
Thaddeus wants the old, respectable men and women out of the way, so that they youngsters can have more worshipful sex.  He commands the demons to increase the heat.  The older folk can't cope and spend more and more time dozing in the shade.  Passions are inflamed and acted on.  The whiskey flowing from Cleophas just makes things easier. 

The demons themselves want the jealousies to become known and boil over.

Hate and Murder (and the opening scene)
Br Josiah discovers the infidelity of Marilla, his wife.  He confronts her but can't control himself.  He grabs a rifle and shoots her dead in their front garden as she flees to Thaddeus.  He goes inside and bolts the door.  Submit is in there with him. 

Virgil and a few other men come running, with guns.  Josiah shoots and wounds one of the men who rushes up.  Josiah tells them to keep back, threatening to kill Submit.  He knows he'll hang for the murder: he's deciding if he can condemn Submit to life as an orphan or whether he should kill her first.

Submit, and the demons within her, can see the power in the juxtaposition of death and sex.  She's coming on to her dad, hard.  She's trying to get him to shot himself at the moment of orgasm. 

And that's when the Dogs come into town. 

What People Want
Thaddeus wants to dissolve the bonds of marriage generally.  He can do that by taking over the role of Steward.  He wants the Dogs to believe that everything that's going wrong in the town is all down to Cleophas, Augustus, and the whiskey and that Virgil hasn't done anything about it because he's Cleophas's brother.  He wants the Dogs to depose Virgil and put Thaddeus in his place.  He wants the Dogs to start by dissolving his marriage to Cleophas and Lavina's marriage to Cyrus.  He wants to keep Cleophas on as his servant.  But really, he just wants the Dogs out of town, leaving him free to worship as he sees fit. 

Cleophas wants the Dogs to dissolve her marriage to Thaddeus and bless her marriage to Augustus.  She wants nothing more to do with Thaddeus.  She doesn't know that Augustus is in the cult but, when she finds out, she'll want him punished, punished, punished.  She doesn't want the Dogs to stop, or even find out about, her liquor sales.  If the Dogs do stop it, she wants the Dogs to tell her how to make ends meet without selling liquor. 

Electa is three years old.  She wants her daddy to come home and her mummy and daddy to not fight.  She sort of likes Augustus because he makes her mummy happy.

Lavina quite likes the position she's in.  Cyrus looks after her and gives her prestige.  Thaddeus is her lover.  She wants the Dogs to listen to Cyrus and refuse to judge what's happening here.  She wants the Dogs to convince Hesta to take responsibility for herself. 

Hesta realises she misjudged Cyrus.  He's not the catch she though.  She wants the Dogs to either make Cyrus a pillar of the community, or condemn him and march him away.  In either case, she wants the Dogs to make Lavina properly honour her parents and take care of Hesta.

Augustus just likes the sex and the whiskey.  He's quite happy the way things are, thank'ee.  He wants the Dogs to find out nothing. 

Marilla is dead.  She wants the Dogs to save her soul now she can see the torment that it faces in the afterlife. 

Josiah wants forgiveness for his sins, atonement for his wife, and for Submit not to be punished. 

Submit is a sexual predator, even if she is only 13.  She wants to have sex with as many people as possible and for the Dogs to blame and punish the men she goes with.  She wants the Dogs to see her as a victim.  If the Dogs take Thaddeus out of the way, she'll be only too happy to step into his shoes as a sorcerer and cult leader. 

Cyrus wants the Dogs to reconsider their vocation.  He'll tell them the story of what forced him to leave the Order Set Apart.  In his first town where demons were involved, he tried, and failed, to exorcise a demon from a twelve-year-old girl.  The only way to save her soul, and to save the town, was to kill her.  He drew out his gun and shot her through the head.  All the while, the girl's mother was cuddling her.  The mother was genuinely thankful to Cyrus for saving her daughter's soul.  Cyrus walked outside, packed up his Coat, and rode out to Stony Creek. 

He doesn't want to get involve with judging anyone.  He's had his fill of that. 

He wants the Dogs to keep quiet about his story.  He doesn't want the townsfolk to know just how terrible a Dog's judgement sometimes has to be.  And it may ruin his good standing should the story get out. 

Virgil wants the Dogs to help him sort out this town.  He's tried talking to, and even confronting, Thaddeus, but he doesn't take responsibility for his family any more.  He knows Cyrus's family is involved too, but Cyrus just doesn't seem to care.  Everyone else is just too damn' knackered from the heat to get involved.  He's trying to fix things, but he can't do it all on his own.

Other Folks in the town know some of what's going on.  They can see the young'uns behaving in a lewd manner.  They know there's something happening in Cyrus's home, but not what.  They know there's whiskey passing hands.  They can see that Virgil hasn't stopped it.  Perhaps Cyrus or Thaddeus should step up to be Steward to sort out the problems?

They also hope the Dogs don't notice the little bits of pre-emptive polygamy and partner-swapping that's happening in a few households. 

The Demons want all the sex to continue.  They want the structure of families, even society itself, to break down.  When the town implodes, they want the cultists to spread to other towns and infect them too.  They want the Dogs to see Virgil as weak, give Thaddeus or Cyrus the Stewardship of the town, and leave, thinking they've solve the problems. 

If the Dogs Didn't Come then pretty much what the demons want would come to pass.   The town would disintegrate into a den of vice and then collapse. 

----------

So, that's the town.  Some questions for you all.

Do you think this is all too convoluted for a town?  Is there too much here for play?  Is this suitable for newcomers to Dogs, or would it work better if the players had more experience with the game?

There's lots of stuff going on with the sex and sorcery of Thaddeus and his cult.  Are Cleophas's comparatively minor sins a distraction to the main event?  Would they perhaps even be ignored in play?  Should that strand be left out?

In the few towns I've played, we always seem to end up deposing the Steward as being ineffectual in allowing the sins to develop.  I'd like to avoid that in this town.  What can I do so that the Dogs will sympathise with Virgil as a man trying his best to do an impossible job?

And finally, any ideas on how to handle the initial scene (as per Hate and Murder above)?  I'm assuming that the Dogs wil try to rescue Submit, even though that's not what either Submit nor Josiah want.  Do I pitch it as Dogs against Submit?  Dogs against the demons, rolling 4d6 + 5d10?  Have a three-way contest including Josiah?

Thanks for reading this far!  I'm eager for anything you've got to say.

Ta,

Neil.

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Milton Keynes RPG Club: http://www.mk-rpg.org.uk .  Tuesday evenings.  Come join us!
Tim M Ralphs
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Posts: 44


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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2006, 07:19:55 AM »

Wow, what a town!

And some good questions too. I've not played in a town as convoluted as that before, but then I've only ever played one offs of Dogs, and by the time initiation is over and done with getting through a town in a couple of hours is a big restriction. The only concern I'd have is that newcomers to Dogs seem very worried about making the right judgement, and then light up when they realise that their judgement is the right judgement, because, ya know, they're Dogs. With a town this many shades of sin I'd worry about the players never making this leap, but like I say, I've no direct experience so maybe that fear is unfounded.

If you were going to simplify the town then taking out the liquor runners would be a good place to start, especially as there are other town folk who are engaged with polygamy, so Cleophas isn't really standing out. If you leave them in I'd go for making either Cleophas or Augustus a blood relative of the players. Suddenly they're a whole lot more interesting.

I sympathise with your fears for Steward Virgil, but I wonder if you should let things happen that way? Play him good, reserved, compassionate, not wanting to intrude on another persons family life. If the Dogs depose him then you can always make the next Steward even more blameless, compassionate and competent, and push things that way. If you're really keen to have Steward Virgil as a sympathetic character then here's what I'd do: The heat isn't just make people lazy and horny, it's making them ill. Fever is spreading through Stony Creek like fire, and Steward Virgil is the best healer in town. He's saving lives left, right and centre, but it's taking it out of him. He's got an idea as to where the trouble is springing from and he'll share what he knows with the Dogs, but he's too drained to confront the townsfolk himself. And lets face it, if he's the only strong voice in a town full of sinners who are they going to replace him with.

The opening scene is really strong. So good, in fact, I might have to 'borrow' it. Your concern seems to be is that you've got a really interesting conflict going on inside the house between the two NPC's, and you want to know how it is going to play out against a background of the Dogs conflict to save Sr Submit. If I were you I wouldn't worry at all. I think that when you're there, at the table, asking the players what they want from the conflicts, playing the NPC's to the hilt, making sure the Dogs conflicts are the focus, then the answer to the question is going to be obvious. For example, if the Dogs want Brother Josiah to put down the gun then Submit is probably going to be a belonging for Josiah to roll. (Human shield, 1d4) But you can't know that until they're there.
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...the Mystery leads to Adversity and only Sacrifice brings Resolution...
Neil the Wimp
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Posts: 76


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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2006, 04:18:10 AM »

The only concern I'd have is that newcomers to Dogs seem very worried about making the right judgement, and then light up when they realise that their judgement is the right judgement, because, ya know, they're Dogs. With a town this many shades of sin I'd worry about the players never making this leap, but like I say, I've no direct experience so maybe that fear is unfounded.

Good comment.  I think you're right.  I'll have to come up with a simpler town to introduce the players to the game, then hit them with this one just as they're getting comfortable. 

If you're really keen to have Steward Virgil as a sympathetic character then here's what I'd do: The heat isn't just make people lazy and horny, it's making them ill. Fever is spreading through Stony Creek like fire, and Steward Virgil is the best healer in town. He's saving lives left, right and centre, but it's taking it out of him. He's got an idea as to where the trouble is springing from and he'll share what he knows with the Dogs, but he's too drained to confront the townsfolk himself. And lets face it, if he's the only strong voice in a town full of sinners who are they going to replace him with.

That's a good idea.  Consider it stolen.  And having one of the PCs be a blood relative to Clephas (and therefore Virgil too) should make things interesting.

The opening scene is really strong. ... For example, if the Dogs want Brother Josiah to put down the gun then Submit is probably going to be a belonging for Josiah to roll. (Human shield, 1d4) But you can't know that until they're there.

That's fine, but it doesn't really allow Submit to push forward her own agenda.  If she's a possesson of Josiah's, how does she get to persuade him to blow his own brains out? 

I'm thinking that it may be better to do this scene with a heavy does of GM fiat: the Dogs get into position, perhaps a Raise or two, and then Bang! Submit get what she wants and her dad's lying on the floor with his trousers round his ankles and his brains decorating the wall. 

Thanks for the comments.  They were most helpful.

Neil.
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