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[DitV] Actual Play Questions about play (long)

Started by Ayyavazi, May 30, 2010, 08:54:46 AM

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Hello all. This is a combination Actual play thread and involves my previous first session thread. I'm looking for help and insights, as well as
ideas and critique. I'll list my questions and concerns here, and hopefully you can all help me. These questions may make more sense after
reading the narrative.

1. Am I not escalating enough? Nobody has gotten shot yet, and the dogs have never done more than show their guns or pistol whip people a couple
of times to intimidate them.  There have been 2 almost dying conflicts, as a result of house-ruled demonic fallout and one 12 physical fallout
role that couldn't be met by Body.
2. How should I handle exorcisms? I don't know what stats are appropriate, so I've house ruled that Exorcisms use Will and Heart, and do
ceremonial fallout. This worked very well, and the players felt it best suited the conflict style, especially Ada's player, who made those her
top stats even before the house rule was a glimmer in my eye, for the very reason of being a good exorcist.
3. What do I do for Demonic Fallout? Do demons cause different types of wounds (I know about the Vicious demonic trait that ups fallout dice, but
I must be doing something wrong, because my sorcerous never had a gun to draw in the first place)?
4. How do I escalate more into physical and gun-fighting without causing the dogs to just mercilessly kill everything in their path?
5. Does anyone else have problems with their dogs sticking together and ganging up on NPCs and how have they dealt with it. I know I have read
about the variant afraid rules here of keeping defense dice, and the modified version in which you keep one and use a new one.  Am I supposed to
be having my NPC raises affect all the dogs at once consistently as a means of whittling down their dice supply?
6. When exactly does Demonic Influence come into play, and to what degree? Do I use the dice in every conflict, or just those involving
sorcerers? Also, I know the book says to only use the dice appropriate to what the PCs have seen, not what is going on. I was wondering if that
has changed or not.
7. After a conflict is over, do the PCs automatically get 1 thing from the experience list for a successful conflict, in addition to 1 other if
they rolled a 1 on fallout, or only when rolling 1s, or every conflict regardless of success? I ran it as 1 for successful conflicts, plus 1 if a
1 is rolled on fallout. As a result, the characters now have a lot of dice at their disposal.

The PCs:

Brother Zachary

Zach has a Complicated Community background. While he was explaining his background, he needed suggestions,so I offered broken family, which he
liked. After some discussion, he settled on one of my off hand suggestions: drunkard for a father and a sorceress for a mother. He later
developed his family a little further to involve a troubled brother, whom he is at odds with for usurping his Father's role in taking care of the
family. This was especially helpful, since I wanted a drunken steward with a sorceress wife for my town already. Now it was all interconnected!
The relationships reflect this, and the time he spent in the Territorial Association's Militia has made him into a grim man.

Sister Ada
Ada has a complicated history. As a child she was stolen by cultists and raised to follow their demonic practices. She was rescued by a group of
dogs early enough to spare her the worst traumas, and brought to Bridal Falls City to be raised there, where she became a dog out of a strong
desire to be righteous (her family was unknown and lost, so she had nowhere to go).  Having no family makes it difficult for me to get people she
is interested in for the town, but her relationships and traits focus heavily on demons, cultists and such, so as long as something like that is
involved (and isn't it always?) I should be fine. She has a great many traits and relationships devoted to demons and former cult members that
she knew, hoping to come into conflict, not return to her former ways.

Brother Hezekiah
Hezekiah is a proud man born to a proud family. He is endowed with many gifts and excels in his position as a dog, his only flaw being his very
pride. He has taken plenty of traits and relationships with his horse and guns to make him a bit of a loner character, but he sticks with the
dogs, and tends to try to be a leader, since he's the natural choice of course! He has the Strong History background. Also, he has a family
complication in which he gets along well enough with his extended family, but his immediate family could barely wait to send him off to Bridal
Falls, glad to be rid of the fellow.

The Initiations;

Cain wanted Hezekiah to learn humility, so I set up an exhibition of skills at the training grounds, in which the experts would show him up, and
teach him that he still has much to learn. interestingly, I rolled horribly, and managed my dice just as poorly. They handily bested him in
sharpshooting, but he took home the prize with his horsemanship, and is now even more proud than he already was, though a little sore about
meeting a better gunman.

Cat wanted Ada to have rid herself of her dark past, to be seen for the virtuous woman she was. I devised a court setting in a nearby territorial
alliance city, where she would testify against some of the cultists she had formerly been a part of. She rolled poorly, and I rolled ridiculously
well. The attorney easily sullied her name, drawing to light her own former cult membership, and calling her authority as a Dog into question,
sending her back to Bridal Falls in shame and humiliation.

Nick wanted Zachary to learn the truth about his sister's mysterious death. She had come down sick while he was in the military, and suspected
his brother's hand. Outside of the game he informed me that he wanted his brother David to have poisoned her. So I set up an initiation before he
left for training, where he confronted his brother about his suspicions. They started off just talking, and neither could gain the upper hand,
slinging insults and accusations back and forth. Finally, both of them running out of dice, Zachary escalated to combat, and punched his brother
for one of the insult. His brother attacked with the ax he was holding (just the blunt side), but ultimately lost due to Zachary's military
training. Sobbing, he admitted to killing his sister as a means of preserving the family. She had become troublesome after Zachary left, and it
was all he could do keeping his father and mother in line, that he had to get rid of her somehow. He claimed the poisoning was meant only to
weaken her, not kill her, but he knew and Zachary knew that such was a lie.

Double Bridge City
The Steward is none other than Paul Martin, Brother Zachary's Father. He was only recently appointed steward (an interim one until someone
arrived to appoint a new one) two weeks after Zachary left for training as a dog, as the old steward had died mysteriously in a fire. He was a
drunkard before, but seemed to have cleaned up his act. After bearing the load of steward for a few weeks he went back to the drink, and his wife
Daniella and son David have been tending to his duties and offering services ever since. Many of those in the congregation approve of them, and
believe them to be doing an exemplary job, given the circumstances. Daniella wants to be stewardess herself, and this is indeed another cult
following (as she has already cleaned up her act once). Daniella is also Hezekiah's Aunt. Not only does she want to be stewardess, but she
believes she deserves a better husband, a righteous man, and has chosen the younger Michael Cox, a local farmhand who is indeed somewhat
righteous. He is not aware of her desires. His only vice is his illicit relationship with Adelei Blackburn, the wife of Caleb Blackburn, a man
with a savage temper, and another local farmer. She is also pregnant with his child.

What everybody wants
Daniella Martin wants to be named Stewardess, and to consecrate her marriage to Michael Cox. She secretly wishes (but is not actively praying)
for the death or dis-involvement of Adilei in his life.
Paul Martin wants his wife to be named stewardess and to be left alone to his drunken contemplations
Daniella Blackburn wants her husband's anger (and abuses) to stop, and to be allowed a quiet dalliance with Michael.
Michael Cox wants the Blackburn's marriage nullified, and to marry Daniella himself.
Caleb Blackburn wants Michael dead for sullying his wife.
David Martin wants his brother to leave, and never come back, leaving management of the family in his "capable" hands.
The Demons want to see someone murdered, even Michael, as a means of further affecting the town. They hope to corrupt Adelei's baby and make it
a vessel for demonic possession.

What's Happened
Once the got into the town, the first thing that became apparent was that a drunken steward wouldn't do. So, instead of going to meet the steward
(and thus learning of all the juicy things going on) they started interviewing people to be the potential new steward. Speaking first with
Adelei, they learned of Michael, whom she recommended as steward, despite his young age. Upon finding Michael, they read him as mostly righteous,
with a little something off, and he nominated Caleb Blackburn, whom he admires and sees as a righteous, if somewhat angry, man. Michael's father
backs up his choice, but also mentions Jacob Miller, a recently widowed farmer who hasn't been doing well of late, keeps to himself, but is a
devout follower of the King of Life, and quite the knowledgeable sort. (this is an NPC I made up on the fly, who ended up being everything a good
steward should be). Upon meeting Jacob, the dogs come to pretty much that conclusion (he even humbly suggested that Paul would make a fine
steward, if he could just give up the drink, or perhaps Caleb, if his temper could be curbed). The session ended there, with the Dogs on their
way to the Martin Household, to confront the interim stewards. I wonder if I made Jacob too good to be true, as I kept him the faitful steward he
started as.

From there, the dogs decided to go to the Martins, not stopping to hear from the rest of the congregation on the way. Once there, they encounter
Paul on his porch, drinking in public, obviously already almost drunk. They decide (with no prodding from me) to initiate a conflict to clean him
up, which they handle very well, not even needing to go to physical to deal with him.  From there its meet the Martins, and David and Danielle
are very accommodating of the dogs, giving what info they have about town problems (omitting their own of course) and offering bedding for the
night. At this point the Ada goes to the church to get a feel for the place, Zachary communes with his dead sister, learning of a fell presence
in the house (though not just what it is or wehere it comes from), and Hezekiah reaslizes that after agreeing to cede stewarship, David and

Danielle are no longer around. The dogs convene and share their discoveries, and decide to go into town to look for the Martins, while checking
out the church, where Ada sensed evil forces at work.
At the church the dogs insist on cleansing the location and a conflict starts. Over the course of this conflict, Ada is mortally wounded, being
thrown up against a wall by the demonic forces at work in the church. She is successfully saved, and as she is getting her wind back, a bruised
and beaten Adelie Blackburn rushes in, explaining that she might be just atad pregnant, she doesn't know the father, and Caleb is on his way to
go murder poor Michael. Zachary and Hezekiah rush off, leaving Ada to recuperate at the church, and give Adelei a firm talking to.
As I originally envisioned Adelei to want a quiet dalliance with Michael, I didn't move to conflict and had her agree with everything Ada said,
including the decision to give up her bastard child to Bridal Falls City as an orphan, rather than raising him in an abusive home. In retrospect,
perhaps I should have made her want the same thing Michael wanted, to cause a little more conflict between the dogs.

Meanwhile, Hezekiah and Zachary catch up with Caleb and bar his way to the Cox farm. In the course of the conflict Caleb gives Zachary a firm
verbal lashing, and he cedes the conflict, unable to continue without escalating, which he is unwilling to do. Hezekiah escalates to physical
ultimately, just to knock some sense into Caleb, which works. He goes home pistol-whipped and humbled, genuinely repentant of his abusive ways.
Zachary pushes on the Cox farm and encounters Michael, who divulges his wish to marry Adelei and have Caleb's marriage annulled, due to his
abusive ways. Zachary will hear none of it and demands that Michael give an extra tithe to the church to ensure the care of his potential child,
to be distributed to the blackburns as a gift from the congregation, so as to save face. (the players arranged this but the characters were
unaware of each other's decisions. How fitting the baby will be sent off with a nice package of money to ensure its care!) I didn't go to a
conflict here, because there was much more to do in town, and I wanted to finish in the second session (as the first consisted of character
creation, initiations and an intro to the town). I could have made this a conflict too, with Michael trying to convince Zachary to let him marry

Adelei, and even made him a tad more violent, but ultimately I thought of him as a humble servant of the King of Life, caught up in youthful
lust. Should I have made him more forceful? Am I making the conflicts too soft?
After resolving this, the dogs have forgotten why they went into town in the first place and retire to separate houses to sleep. I thought of
attacking Zachary while he slept, but decided that Danielle would probably be more subtle and try to get the dogs kicked out at the Sunday
service, when she would have her loyal parishioners take her side. So we move to the Sunday service.
After the sermon, a man starts the conflict by saying that the stewardship under Danielle and David has worked just fine so far, and he sees no
reason to change things. I run it as a mob, using Danielle's and Zachary's stats as a base. Its a fairly long just talking phase, as everyone has
loads of dice to use. Eventually, as a Taken Blow, the congregation loses 5 members to demons when they are forcibly exorcised. David stays
largely silent at the beginning but is provoked into full physical conflict when Danielle is called a harlot by Hezekiah (my just talking
conflicts are heavy on insults and calling into question the history and authority of the dogs, which I think is good, but not sure). The dogs
escalate to physical too, but run down the dice enough and eventually come to a taking the blow when David rasies with his leadership trait, "We
don't need them. If we want to start our own congregation, we can just do it ourselves." The players take the blow and say sure thing (which
surprised the hell out of me. Ada and Hezekiah disagreed on this, with Ada wanting to maintain a unified congregation, and Hezekiah wanting to
see if they would feel the same way after an exorcism of Danielle. Ultimately, the congregation is allowed to leave, but Danielle is lassoed
before she can herself (David was forcibly thrown out by his brother in quite the dramatic fashion), starting a followup conflict. I could have
blocked or dodged the lasso, but thought it fitting to save her highest dice for a last ditch effort to mess with the dogs, making high rasies
and taking mucho fallout. To Ada she reveals that Ada is the daughter of the her former cult leader, and that she may also have demonic blood, or
tainted blood at the least. Zachary learns that not only did David kill his sister, he raped her too (but really, who would trust a demon's word
on that?) and Hezekiah learns his family couldn't wait to be rid of him. As a last attack on Ada (who was the chief exorcist with amazing die
rolls and the traits to match) it is further revealed that Ada is not an only child, that she has a sibling with likewise tainted blood. This
produces high fallout that almost kills ada, but with no further demonic influence on the town, the followup healing is over in a single turn
(should I have still used the influence dice?). It is determined by the group that it would be better for Danielle to have been possessed
unwillingly than for her to have sought out a demon once again, and so spare her full responsibility for all she has done. The split congregation
comes back, mostly, after the exorcism is done, but a stubborn few (plus David Martin) leave on a self imposed exhile, destined to join the
mountain people.

I would like to know your opinions on the traits and relationships of the Dogs after the game (too broad, too defined, too many dice etc.), which
are as follows:

Zachary Martin

Acuity 4d6
Heart 5d6
Body 4d6
Will 5d6


I am a Dog 2d8
Spirit Sight 2d8
Good with Animals 1d6 (this only came up once and as a side note, I should make more use of it)
Jack of all Trades 2d8 (also little used, oddly enough)
Battle Trained 2d8
Getting to the Truth 1d6
Family Shame 1d4


Paul Martin 1d6 (Father)
Danielle Martin 1d4 (Mother)
David Martin 2d4 (Brother)
Eliza Martin 1d8 (dead sister)
Ada Garnett 1d10
Hezekiah Toome 1d10
The split Congregation 1d4

Hezekiah Toome

Acuity 5d6
Heart 5d6
Body 5d6
Will 5d6


Good Shot 2d8
Observant 2d10
Horsemanship 1d8
Offensive 1d10
Carpentry 1d6
Well-Read 1d10
One-Upsmanship 2d6
Proud 2d6
Mine Eyes are Open (briefly he had a supernaturally oblivious trait, being unable to notice supernatural stuff. This got changed in the last

Deference 1d4


Horse - Melchizedek 2d8
Hometown Troubles 2d6
Danielle Martin 1d4
Brother Artax 1d4
Adah 1d6
Zach 1d6
Caleb Blackburn 1d4

Ada Garnett

Acuity 5d6
Heart 6d6
Body 1d6
Will 5d6


I'm a Watchdog 3d10
Holy Aura 2d4 (this is low key, only visible to Zach, and now Hezekiah, and demons or sorcerers)
Exorcist 3d10
Mid-wife/Healer 2d6
Protective of Children 1d4
Cultist Past 1d6
Confidence 1d6 (this stemmed from a temporary lack of confidence after initiation, which evolved after Double Bridge)


Demon - Zaebos 1d8
Cult of Zaebos 1d6
Dark Father Isaac 2d6
Lead Dog Nathaniel Church (the head of the order, but not the lead trainer, Brother Cadmus)
Double Bridge's Demon 1d4
Danielle Martin 1d4
Split Congregation 1d4


Next time, take the town up to hate and murder in town creation! It'll be more fun for everybody. Dogs in the Vineyard is: the investigators arrive at the crime scene. If there's no crime, there's no real game. If the crime isn't gruesome and deeply human, there's no real judgment.

1. Escalate when an NPC would escalate. Your town doesn't really provide NPCs who'll shoot a Dog, does it? I didn't spot any. That's why you're not escalating.

2. By the book, exorcisms are regular conflicts. They usually include talking and physical, in my experience; occasionally they'll escalate to violence.

Your house rule doesn't break the game, though. Go for it.

3. Fallout always depends on the details of the raise. If the demon's just talking, it inflicts d4 fallout.

Again, though, giving the demons the equivalent of ceremonial fallout won't break the game. If you have lots of overt, self-individual and self-directed demons, it's a pretty good idea.

However, having lots of overt demons is a very poor substitute for taking the town to hate and murder.

4. That's always the players' choice, not yours. Escalate when your NPCs would escalate. If the PCs respond with a massacre, that's on their heads.

5. The most important thing to do in this regard is create gnarly towns. There are dice things you can do too, but they don't make sense if you don't have desperate, corrupt, ruthless, violent people in your town.

6. If there's a sorcerer, he can cast demonic influence dice into his side of any conflict in the town. If there's not a sorcerer, you use the demonic influence dice only when the PCs are fighting with nobody, like with a storm or something. It's rare.

Use the dice appropriate to what the PCs have seen. But you're the judge of what they've seen, not them. Like:

I had a town where a kid was murdered by sorcery, and it looked like he'd died of some disease. First conflict, they're standing at his gravesite with the steward, and I roll 5d10 in on my side. "You've seen murder," I say. They're confused, then they figure it out. They're like "oh. I see," with this glint in their eyes.

7. Oh no! You get experience fallout if you roll at least one 1 on your fallout dice, and no other time. If you roll no fallout dice, you can't get any experience fallout. Winning the conflict doesn't give you experience fallout.

Thanks! I like answering rules questions. I hope your game goes better. If you'd like some town creation advice, we can probably provide it.