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[DitV] Need advice on a town - Stygian Gulch

Started by 14thWarrior, July 24, 2007, 06:25:04 PM

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As I posted earlier, I finally managed to run a most excellent pair of sessions of DitV, and the group is raring for more.  The players have provided some nice rich backgrounds, rife with inspiration for towns. 

Amongst them is a Dog by the name of Ezekiel Martin whose father was killed when a schism erupted in his hometown due to a mysterious, presumably non-Faithful "merchant" who started 'procuring' the townfolk's greatest desires to the detriment of the town's unity, and social stability.  According to Ezekial, he knows this mysterious man only as "The Dark Man".  One of Ezekiel's traits is "I am Driven", in reference to his drive and determination to find "The Dark Man" and bring him to justice.  Drawing upon this background, I was inspired to develop a town they will soon visit, Stygian Gulch; here's a bit of a primer of the situation:

QuoteStygian Gulch is a small village nestled close to a long, deep gulch running along the foothills of the mountains.  The gulch helps protect the village from threats from the mountains, be it mountain folk raiders, coyotes, or what have you.

Some sixteen or seventeen months ago, a dark, mysterious man, going by the name of Derek Manson, wandered into town.  The village, being as small as it was, had no general store; Mr. Manson claimed that he was a merchant with many connections, and that he could help the village grow and prosper by opening a general store.

This he did; and the village did indeed prosper.  Mr. Manson's purchasing power saw commodities prices fall, improving the villagers' standards of living.  Within mere months, the town's population almost doubled as new Faithful families moved to Stygian Gulch to get in on the prosperity; this is about when life in Stygian Gulch took a turn towards the bizarre.

Due to the economic boom, and prosperity the village was enjoying, Mr. Manson was a popular fellow.  He certainly did seem to be very resourceful, and was able to procure virtually anything any townsfolk needed.  More than that though, he seemed to have an unusual gift for knowing what someone needed.  He also seemed to able to divine their innermost heart's desires.

Steward Eli Caulder, a steadfast and vigilant man, was wary of Mr. Manson from the very beginning.  Even more so now that many townsfolk's desires are being granted without thought to whether or not they deserve those desires.  He greatly distrusts Mr. Manson and has begun a subtle campaign against Mr. Manson.  He started by devising his church sermons to be cautions against greed, selfishness, and other corruptions that often come with prosperity and wealth; later, he began speaking directly to some of the village's fathers about his misgivings about Mr. Manson.

That's where things started going south...

Clearly, this situation mimics the situation that led to Ezekiel's father's demise very closely; intentionally so, of course.  I am indeed intending that Derek Manson be the "Dark Man" that Ezekiel is seeking. But here's my dilemma, I don't want Ezekiel to actually encounter him just yet; I want this town to be a bit of a dangling carrot.  I want to show Ezekiel that "yeah, the Dark Man is around, he's still up to his old shenanigans, and you're getting closer to him".  My intent is for Derek Manson to have left town before the Dogs arrive, but to have the schism in the town reaching a head that will explode if the Dogs don't quell it quickly.

My initial thoughts are such:

  • Suggest that Mr. Manson commonly leaves town on "supply runs" to obtain the goods he so skillfully procures for the town, and that he has supposedly just left on such a trip; though in reality, he realizes that his 'evil work' is done in that town and it's time to 'get out of dodge'.    Mr. Manson's supply runs always take exactly one week, even though it's clear that different trips have him travelling to different destinations.
  • Steward Eli and his faction, believe that Mr. Manson will return shortly as usual; they are planning to ambush him a short distance out of town and kill him in order to 'cut out this growing cancer' from the town.
  • The opposing faction, supporters of Mr. Manson who are all recipients of his insightful procurement, realize that Steward Eli and his gang are up to something.  They fear, rightfully so, that some harm will be done to Mr. Manson, and that the town's days of prosperity, and worse, their own 'gifts' will end or be taken away from them.  As a result, the Manson supporters are keeping an eye on Steward Eli and his gang, and intend to strike them before they get a chance to jump Mr. Manson.

I haven't taken this to the town creation matrix yet; I don't want to spend an hour writing all this up only to find out that it just won't present well.  My question to any and all is this... Is this a plausible situation?  Might there be a better way to build the situation to make sure that Derek Manson is gone when the Dogs get there, but that there's still enough internal strife to give them a lot to deal with?
Leo M. Lalande

Andrew Cooper

Just a question.  Why would you want Manson to be gone?  If he's the crux point of the problem, why not have him stick around?


Quote from: Andrew Cooper on July 24, 2007, 06:39:09 PMJust a question.  Why would you want Manson to be gone?  If he's the crux point of the problem, why not have him stick around?
Since Manson is Ezekial's (the Dog) driving force, I didn't want to 'resolve' that driving force too quickly.  I had hoped to provide Ezekial (and by extension, his player) with some 'teasers' of a final conflict to come.

I can see that if the town is played well, having Manson around could certainly make things very interesting and dramatic; and I suppose that by taking advantage of the town's free dice, and his dice as a sorceror, he might just manage to survive a conflict well enough to make a getaway.

I'm a bit torn regarding which way to go with this situation now, frankly. :)
Leo M. Lalande


I can totally understand that you don't want Ezekial to encounter him yet, but I dislike putting the merchant out of town either.
Isn't it possible to make Derek Manson the son/brother/father of the "Dark Man"?
So Ezekial could go wild on him, but the real menace is still to come.
Manson could actually provide a clue where his father/brother/son is to be found under certain treatment.
What do you think?



My advice:

Story Now, means Story NOW.

Teasers about conflicts yet to come does not lead to Story NOW.

Having ideas about the likely progression of conflicts that players might get into does not yield successful Dog play IME.  If Manson gets killed in the first scene, GREAT.  If Manson is completely ignored and the Dogs "solve" the situation to the player's satisfaction without ever even engaging him, GREAT.  If he gets gunned down, or saved, in a big climactic final scene, GREAT.  If he "escapes" to "fight" another day, and the players can hardly wait to catch up with him some time, GREAT.   Its not the GM's job to ensure one or another of these endings happens.

Andrew Cooper

I was leading up to what Ralph said with my initial question.  He said it pretty well though so I'll just add a little to it.  Dogs isn't about solving a mystery.  It isn't about pursuing a bad guy (although it can happen).  If there are interesting people to meet or if there is tantalizing information to know, just throw it out there.  Sooner the better.  Let the players know everything they want to know and meet everyone they want to meet.  Then let them judge stuff.  Just play the town folk, including the sorcerer merchant fellow, to the hilt.  That's really your job in Dogs as the GM.  Give everything away and then play the NPC's as hard as you can.

I'd have the merchant guy in the town.  Maybe he'll get away during a conflict.  Maybe not.  It's the beauty of playing Dogs.  You never know.


Excellent points all around; I'm convinced to keep him around town.  I suppose one way to build this so that the two opposing factions are coming to a point of explosive conflict is still to have the Steward's faction plotting to ambush/lynch Manson in the night and hang him or some such.
Leo M. Lalande