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[FitV] Help me out with my Moontown

Started by anansi, August 09, 2008, 10:25:58 PM

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So, I'm preparing my first game of FitV, and its my first attempt at town creation using DitV. I'm planning on using it as a test game for my local group (hopefully to play more Firefly, or more Dogs!), and running it at Con on the Cob in Ohio. I'm kinda using some of what people have posted previous for ideas of how Firefly would work in DitV, and throwing in some of my own as well. The main themes I'm using are Keep Flyin' and Stay Free. I'll quote myself from a thread on to describe more:

QuoteAnother slightly off-topic note (and for whomever had the question of how to relegate moral authority in a Firefly game) instead of having the trait you suggest, Warren, of "always broke" I was thinking "I'm a member of the Crew." Being a member of the Crew obligates you to get a job in order to follow one of the "tenets of the crews faith" which would be "Keep Flyin'." I guess its kinda more like Brandon's. There is no faith in Firefly, but there's still moral authority. Those who live in the rim outside of the sway of organized government, fought in the war on the side of the independents, or are generally being stepped on by the alliance have the moral authority in the show. So keeping with that, the Alliance are the demons, Independents et al are faithful, and people trying to make a living on a crew are the Dogs.

Yea? I guess that kinda makes the Crew "Righteous Anarchists" in contrast to the Dogs "Faithful Sheriffs". To back that up with a quote from the show by Shepherd Book: "A government is a body of people, usually notably ungoverned."

SO, kinda running with this idea, the Alliance are always the Big Bad, and the Crew are always in opposition to them. My town is based on that Shepherd Book quote mentioned above. And in retrospect is a lot like one of the greatest stories ever told, Seven Samurai, rather unintentionally. Not sure how I feel about that.

Without further ado, here it is. Constructive criticism, please? I feel like it has a few holes. My biggest angst with it right now is its very black and white (good? bad?), but with the obvious opposition of the Alliance I'm finding that might be just a thing that happens. Also, I feel like it needs more drama, more possibilities for the PCs to get tangled in.

PLOT IDEA: In order to make more money, the new Governor (Stapleton) of a small farming community is stealing the biomass from the soybean crops the farmers grow. This has ruined large patches of land due to lack of nourishment, so some of the farmers are on the brink of starvation, and was meant as a warning for the farmers to encourage them to sell their land. But they worked hard for that piece of land, and want to do something about the problem but don't know what. In the meantime, Governor Stapleton has made a deal with another local Governor (Tolliver) under the employ of the Alliance. Tolliver is the man that Stapleton sells the biomass to, who in turn sells it to a biofuel refining factory. Between the two of them, they aim to own the whole moon, and all its crops. A mercenary group under the employ of Stapleton has sabotaged some of the farming machinery, in order to try and scare the farmers enough to sell their farms. But this has done the opposite, strengthening the resolve of the few that remain.

The farmers had worked under a Farming Collective originally who had traded the soy to the core planets, and that was their only source of income. Now, without the Collective's support, they find themselves stranded on a distant moon with no-one to aid them, and the malicious Governors working to take their hard earned land.

PRIDE: The Governors want the moon for themselves. They're greedy, and are on the verge of doing just about anything to get that land.

INJUSTICE: The farms that haven't sold are being denied aid. Their crops are being ruined, and mercenaries under the employ of Governor Stapleton have sabotaged their machinery, making it impossible to fertilize their remaining few crops.

SIN: The previous leader of the Farmers Collective on the moon, Farmer Wen's brother Jin, mysteriously disappeared just before Governor Stapleton took his office in town.

DEMONIC ATTACKS: The rest of the farms begin giving in to the alliance, unable or unwilling to risk their lives.

FALSE DOCTRINE: The farmers cannot run their soy farming business on the moon and Stay Free, they have to sell to the Alliance in order to Get Paid.

Farmer Wen just wants to find some peaceful way of getting along with Governor Stapleton, and he goes to visit the Buddha shrine every day. He is about to give in to their demands out of a great despair and hatred of violence.

Farmer Wen's son, Kaneshiro, wants to kill Stapleton.

Alliance Governor Tolliver's daughter, Jane, is in love with Farmer Wen's son, Kaneshiro. She wants to stop her father from kicking them off the moon, but doesn't know how.

Farmer Wen's wife, Mei, is planning a resistance attack, but doesn't want her son Kaneshiro to know for fear of his life.

Dandan Takeshi, the owner of the biofuel refinery, has plenty of soy, and thinks that the two Governors are greedy.

Martha Hawkes, a Core Planet Trader, is visiting the moon taking stock of the Corporate fields run by Alliance Governor Tolliver. She is greedy as well, but has a soft spot for people who worked their way to their positions, because she fought for her own position. An avid feminist.

THE JOB: Bring nutrients to Governor Stapleton to distribute to the soy farmers. It will become apparent quickly that the nutrients are not intended for the farmers, but instead for Alliance Governor Tolliver to use on his corporate farms.



First thing that comes to mind is that farmland doesn't grow crop by itself. You need farmers, people doing the dirty work. So I'm seriously wondering why the Governor wants to get rid of the farmers.

The right course of action for the Governors is to control the farmers, to deny them the Freedom to sell their crops to whom they want at what price they want. Maybe there's only one storehouse, or only one merchant who has the necessary paperwork to trade with the Core worlds, or whatever will allow the Governors to impose their control on all trading.

Another option could be that they are buying up the land so that they can give it to farmers on their side. Imagine that your town is strongly divided about some social, religious or political issue. Then, the Alliance appoints Governors which, by coincidence or design, all favor one side. And then some farms start drying up, some farmhouses burn down, some farmers just go missing. And all of them of course opponents of the Governors' side...

Selene Tan

The setup seems pretty black-and-white because the Governors/Alliance right are straight-up evil villains, with no defense or justification for their actions. The anti-Alliance side consists entirely of sympathetic good guys. I think Dogs works best when the situation is not so cut-and-dried: there's nothing interesting about deciding that the evil capitalist corporation should be punished.

Adding sympathetic advocates for the Alliance side would help gray things up. Maybe someone's daughter is sick of the farming life, and is urging her parents to sell the farm so that they can get off the moon. She wants to join the Crew, and begs the PCs to take her with them. Maybe several of the younger generation want their parents to sell their farms and are helping the Governors with the sabotage; they've been promised help getting jobs off-moon or higher education or something like that.

Something that would make the Governors' position more defensible: many of the farms have been failing in recent years (due to natural causes or unsustainable farming practices, not biomass stealing). The Alliance has technology that can drastically increase yield, but the machinery is expensive and delicate, so they don't want just anyone handling it. The promise: sell your farm to the Alliance and become an employee working on what used to be your own land, and they'll grant you the machinery and technicians.

What happens to the farmers who did sell their land? Do they become employees of the Alliance, or homeless, or something else? Anyway, maybe there are some farmers who are furious at the "sell-outs", and sabotage their equipment and damage their property. Or some of the non-selling farmers have turned to pillaging Alliance farms to supplement their failing incomes, and it's okay because "they had it coming to them".

I'm reminded a bit of the San Miguel Branch someone posted a while back, which had a non-Faithful mining company in lieu of (supernatural) demons. That's similar to what you're trying to do with the Alliance-as-demons. Note how the mining company is not the direct cause of the problems in the town.
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I agree with Selene's opinions. Also, I think that going all the way to "Hate & Murder" is a very good idea for the first few towns/jobs, as it makes things a lot less ignorable and clear that There Is A Problem Here. Another thing is that you've got some NPCs there that aren't really involved in What's Wrong, which is always a warning flag to me.

I've taken a look at your plot outline, and I've done a rewrite taking into account other people's suggestions. I hope you don't mind:

What's Wrong:
The small moon of Three Hills is covered by several small farmsteads all growing soybean crops for themselves and export. The tough soil requires a large amount of nutrients, biomass & fertilizer to be brought in from off-world, and to simplify operations, a Farming Collective has been formed so individuals can buy and sell in bulk to increase profit margins. Stapleton, a wealthy landowner, was elected to administer the trade and distribution on behalf of the collective.

WEALTH (PRIDE): Given this power and responsibility, Stapleton saw an opportunity to make a bit more profit, and unfairly diverts some of the fertilizer away from the smaller farmsteads and towards his own land.

INJUSTICE: Because Stapleton is holding back nutrients from the smaller farmers (like the adjacent Xue & Tolliver farmsteads), they are failing to grow enough crops, and are on the brink of financial ruin & starvation.

PROBLEMS (SIN): Sensing a further opportunity, Stapleton offers to buy the failing farmland at a knock-down price, allowing the farmers to continue working the land as employees of his -- paid a basic wage. Xue rejects the offer, and Tolliver accepts for the good of his family. Soon afterward, Tolliver's farm receives a large shipment of biomass that "just suddenly arrived on-planet".

COMPLICATION (DEMONIC ATTACKS): Knowing that something fishy is going on, Xue's daughter, Hazel, leads a raid on Tolliver's stores, trying to steal some nutrients for themselves. Unfortunately, during the attack, the barn, and all the nutrients stored inside it are destroyed in a fire.

RECRIMINATION (FALSE DOCTRINE): Hazel decides that "the sell-outs had it coming anyway", and convinces her family that the Tollivers are as bad as Stapleton, and at least now, everybody is even.

FOLLOWERS (CORRUPT WORSHIP): Tolliver doesn't see it that way of course -- they start sabotaging Xue's remaining stocks and equipment. This quickly escalates into more-or-less total guerilla warfare between the two families, and the unrest starts to spread to other farms in the area. Xue starts to get crushed, so Hazel flirts with the addled old war veteran on the Young farm, and gets him on their side by getting him to thinking that he is fighting for Independence vs. the Alliance once again. Not a lot of farming is happening anywhere, and Stapleton doesn't have enough manpower to try and keep things under control.

ALERTING THE ALLIANCE (FALSE PRIESTHOOD): Stapleton sees things getting out of hand, and asks for Alliance assistance to quell the civil unrest so everybody can get back to work. They are only too happy to respond and return "order". He offers them a cut of his profits if they help him.

ALLIANCE INVOLVEMENT (SORCERY): Alliance Marshall Chang, along with a squad of troopers under his command, land on the moon. They ask Stapleton to get in contact with all the farms involved. As Stapleton is an old man, and they are ignoring his Waves in any case, he sends his son by horseback.

HATE & MURDER: On the way to the farms, Solomon Young spots Stapleton's son riding through his land. He sees an excellent way of punishing Stapleton for being greedy, and being an ex-Browncoat sniper, he has the means to do it. The poor kid never had a chance.

The Job
The Crew has been hired to deliver several tons of nutrients to Stapleton, and also to distribute to the soy farmers. When they land, it's obvious that something is up -- Stapleton is overwhelmed with grief, there are reports of violence between the farmers and an Alliance Marshall is on-planet.

One of the crew knows Jonah Stapleton, a wealthy landowner on the moon, from past (good) dealings.
Nathaniel Xue once help rescue/protect/hide a crewmember from the Alliance during the War.
Somebody on the crew once served with Solomon Young, now a farmer, during the War.

What do people want from the Crew?
JONAH STAPLETON, an old man, wants the crew to deliver the nutrients to his silos, and to not distribute anything to anyone! He wants to find out who murdered his son, and he wants those people punished! And finally, he wants things back to profitable normality, which is why he called in the Alliance in the first place. If he can get away without having to pay a cut of his take to the Alliance, all the better too.

NATHANIEL XUE is a fiercely independent soy farmer. He wants the crew to give him some of the nutrients for free (it is only what he is due, and if they don't he & his family will be destitute or dead from starvation within the month anyway) and return things to how they were: Stapleton should be stripped of the administration of the Collective and he & Tolliver must return all of the 'stolen' land and nutrients.

HAZEL XUE is Nathaniel's daughter, and she is desperate to have the crew to take her off-world, where she can run from the Alliance, Stapleton and what she made Young do.

DANIEL TOLLIVER wants the crew to put a stop to Xue & Young. He is also angling for a preferential cut of the nutrients that they are delivering, to compensate for the stocks destroyed in the fire. And being an Alliance sympathizer, doesn't want them to arrest him or his family for the sabotage and violence against Xue.

ALLIANCE MARSHALL CHANG just wants this problem dealt with as quickly as possible, so he can get him and his men off this backwater moon and onto more glorious matters. He wants the crew to deliver the cargo quickly and quietly and then get out of his hair. If the crew show an interest in resolving this mess instead, Chang would have no problem in letting them do it, as long as the Alliance get their cut.

SOLOMON YOUNG is an ex-Browncoat who tried to settle down as a farmer after suffering Post-Traumatic Stress during the War. Hazel has him a bit confused about what's going on, but doesn't regret killing the boy, as "he was an Alliance sympathizer". He wants the crew to help him carry on the War; or if the facts are made clear to him, let him go back to farming in peace.

What does the Alliance want the Crew to do?
The Alliance want the crew to deliver the supplies to Stapleton & Tolliver, get paid, and let the Marshall do his job.

What Would Happen if the Crew Never Came?
The Marshall would come in and "contain" the "rebels" (Xue & Young). Young would get in a firefight with the Marshall's troops, and would get killed. The Xue family would be arrested, held for a short while and then left to starve as Stapleton would be granted ownership over the land by Alliance mandate. Tolliver would eke out the rest of his life in economic slavery and even Stapleton would have to give the majority ownership over all the farmland on the moon to the Alliance.

This situation is a lot messier, which I find makes for better Dog's play!


Thanks for all the replies so far! Good thoughts all around, got me thinking this week at work. Not that I think about roleplaying at work...

Selene: I was thinking that whole finding an sympathetic Alliance character and presenting that as a gray area to the PCs would be good. But, just thinking of Firefly, and watching a few episodes... the Alliance are just assholes all the time. They're pretty much the big bad. I think this is a confusing point when it comes to translating Dogs into Firefly.... you know in Firefly the Alliance is always evil. I guess they are more similar to the Demons in Dogs than I thought before... they have to be the bad influence on what's going on.

Warren: Hot Shit. You didn't just rewrite, you Made The Awesomest Ever. One question I have for you though, reading this over. Alot of these conflicts seem like they'd be great for Dogs, you know, cause its their job to regulate morality via the Faith. But... why would The Crew be interested in solving these problems? Is Stapleton being a jackass enough motivation to get mixed up in the mess? Stapleton seems a rather sympathetic character toward the end, with his son murdered and all. Or... should that be more of like, The Crew's first impression of him, and then they discover he "deserved" to have his son shot... sounds pretty harsh. I'm reminded slightly of the episode "War Stories" when the guy Zoe and Mal fought with came back with his own motivations, and got the crew mixed up in his mess... I guess that ended in death too.

I really appreciate the comments! Thanks!


I'm glad you like it!

On how to get the player character's involved: In the series, Mal would be a lot better off just turning his back and letting the situation play out without his involvement. But he doesn't -- he gets stuck in there.

The way I'm thinking of it is this: At the start of the game all the NPCs know the situation is going to get worse, but because of the events in What's Happened, everybody is deadlocked and unable or unwilling to change course. It needs an external force to come in and change things so the balance shifts somehow so someone can get out of the situation as the "winner". As all the NPCs realize this on some level, they will all come up to the crew -- being this external factor -- wanting them to change things to their advantage. Just like Dogs, in fact. That's why each of the NPCs is specified by "What they want from the Crew" and not just "What they want" in general. Those requests and demands should be played hard -- this is the only opportunity the NPC has to make the situation turn away from a complete collapse for them.

Now, the player characters can ignore this, to a certain extent, but the NPCs should not be shy about playing on the relationships assigned to the PCs at the start of the Job. (i.e. Nathaniel Xue helped rescue/protect/hide a crewmember, and when you play Nathaniel, make damn sure that he reminds that PC that he is owed a favor, etc.)

The other thing that the crew should be made aware of is that there is one other "external force" over the situation -- the Alliance (i.e. faceless Demons). In both regular DitV & Firefly, this fraction wants the mess to get worse so they can come in and rebuild things how they want it). And just like regular DitV, the player characters should have been created to be generally opposed to the goals of the Alliance/Demons, so the crew shouldn't want to stand by and watch the Alliance gain even more control over the food supply in the Verse and this small little independent moon in particular.

And yeah, introduce the NPCs as they are at the end of What's Happened. Stapleton is a distraught man when first introduced, but when meet Tolliver or Xue, he can explain what's happened, which should makes the waters murkier for the crew. Which is always good :)