DITV - 'Lily of the Valley'

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DITV - 'Lily of the Valley'
« on: October 16, 2013, 03:50:10 PM »
Hello all.

I ran my third game of Dogs the other day.  It was a four player group of new players, excepting one player from the previous two games (the one who pulled his gun against a pregnant woman the moment he thought she might be possessed, if you've read my previous writeup)

The brief version of what happened follows.  Lessons learned after the dashes below.

Background :

Brother Angus (30) wanted Sister Jaquelin(17) for his own.  She had zero interest though, and he ended up marrying her older sister.  She was always sickly and nearly died giving birth to their son.  He almost immediately got her pregnant again - she did die during the second pregnancy.  He implored Sister Jaquelin's family for the hand of their other daughter "so his son could be raised by blood."  They agreed.  Sister Jaquelin bolted, abandoning her family and duties.

A flu began in the town which only seemed to infect married folks.  Quarantines didn't prevent the spread, and regular service together didn't spread it to the single folk.  Br. Ibrahim (alternately called "Ieh-brah-heem" or "Ay-bra-hym" throughout the game)  'realized' that The King must not approve of marriage anymore or he'd be protecting them.  By the time the Dogs show up he's got six other males with him, a combination of single folks and husbands who've abandoned their homes and gotten better.  They all live in a communal dwelling, which was nicknamed the 'Frat House' pretty early in the game.  Br. Ibrahim is getting strangely persuasive...

A few of S. Jacquelin's suitors stayed close through the ordeal, especially Br Samson (18) and Br Tyler (19).  She abandoned her virginity in a quest to get pregnant, thereby winning her parent's "approval" to marry someone BESIDES Br. Angus.  Br Samson tried to convince her to leave town entirely instead of living on the lam, that they could start over living proper Faithful lives in a new town.  Br. Tyler got in an argument with Br. Samson over that plan (in private) that ended with Br Tyler smashing Br Samson's head in with a rock.  He drug the body half a mile outside of town and hid it in a mud patch.

The Steward wants to drag S. Jacquelin in and get the marriage with "that no good" Br. Angus out of the way.  He and his wife are, however, leaving pies and the like on their windowsill to cool and not investigating when they go missing.  (He wants her caught, but can't stand the idea of her running around hungry.)  Most of his attention is focused on Br. Ibrahim and his false flock, although he hasn't had any luck convincing them to risk being sick or stop proselytizing their false interpretation of events.

In Play :

The Dogs show up and find the body.  The Steward identifies it and they all ride around town, getting a lay of the land / delivering the mail / talking with everyone the Steward knows was close to Br Samson.  I tried to put it all out in the open - Dogs isn't a mystery solving game, but a judgement making game.  The veteran dog threw a brick through a window of the frat house and snuck into the basement while they were distracted.  The rest found S Jacquelin and Br Tyler and brought them to the church.  They revealed that Br Samson was dead to each, separately, and discerned that Br Tyler did it but S Jacquelin hadn't known what had happened to Br Samson.  They talked to Br Angus and decided he was an ass.  They agreed to marry them, IF they'd take the baby and leave town the next morning.  They walked into S Jacquelin's parent's house (where the baby was) while I clarified "You're marrying the murderer and the harlot, in secret from their Steward, then sending them off with a baby?" 

That's what they did.  Honestly, it's probably what I would have done.

The elder Dog tried to exorcise Br Ibrahim while he slept and convince him to abandon his path.  Didn't work out well, outnumbered 7:1 with Demonic Influence die against him at the Hate and Murder value - he got kicked out of the house.  When he found out the pair were married he decided to follow them, convinced she was the source of the evil in the town and hell bent on putting a stop to her if the town they moved to turned pearshaped.

The rest went to the frat house to show them the error of their ways.  I explained the rules about repeating the same stakes - different players (check) different place (check) different arena.  One of the frat boys slapped a Dog and guns came out.  B Ibrahim was slain where he stood (a Dog dodged by diving for cover (through lattice work) under the deck and raised by emptying his twin pistols up into Ibrahim through the floorboards.  The rest of the frats surrendered.  One dog took a pair of 9s in fallout and had ten D10s against him, all but one of which ended up being over 5.  He had taken a blow by falling HARD behind his horse to get out of the way, and another getting half of one ear blown off.  When he reached up after the fight to check his ear the other dogs saw the red smear that was spreading down his side from the blow he (the character) had thought he'd dodged in the heat of combat. 

There was a touching, extremely well improvised death scene that created a closed loop between the character's initial conflict and all the things they had done since entering the town.  We all sat silent for a moment, I scooped up my notes and told them "That's Dogs in the Vineyard"


Lessons learned :

I started the town's playthrough with description of the town as they rounded the last corner of a dry streambed and saw the buildings ahead, and ended with "there is the murdered body of one of the townfolk hidden nearby.  You haven't found it.  What do you do?"  I liked the response - I think it gave the players the impression I wasn't going to hide anything from them.

When Br. Tyler saw Br. Samson's dead body I tried my best to overact his denials without entering into cheesiness.  After the third back and forth with the Dog's questioning I told them he was blatantly lying, and got a "Well duh" response.  I see this as a good thing, similar to the bit above : The investigating bit (in my mind) is all about saying "Yes" and explaining anything the Dogs could reasonably figure out as they ask, rifting knowledge based on what they're doing.  The "Yes or Roll" is about human conflict.  They don't need to worry about my conspiring to hide information or red herring them.

The Dogs got into an argument over whether to worry about the missing girl or the frat house.  That pleased me - for the most part they were too reasonable with each other.  The players working against each other adds a layer of tension I'd never be able to as the GM.  I need to figure out how to make that happen more often.  Maybe balance the players (who gets invited to the game) against each other.

Br Angus is the only 'villain' in the town, and he's also the only one within his rights according to doctrine.  After a five minute conversation with his the Dogs decided to disregard his rights, which tells me they're more worried about Mercy than Justice.  I know what to follow up on in the next playthrough.

I played that you could raise in a 'softer' arena (spoken word vs gunfire, etc) but that it'd have to be unilaterally considered something unignorable.  "You've betrayed the Faith" doesn't work (except maybe against an Elder) but "I've got your wife in here with me!" might.  "I wait until his pistol is empty, then jump up and charge him" probably wouldn't fly, but "I grab his son and hold him between the two of us" might.  It seemed to work well.

The town might have been a bit to complicated : The sorcerer and flock came about because of the demonic attack, which came about because of the actions of S. Jacqueline, but there's nothing connecting them closer than those two steps. 

I'm going to require the players to read up on Dogs (either borrow my copy or buy their own) if they want to play again - I think we'll get more out of it with a more shared-world experience.

Re: DITV - 'Lily of the Valley'
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2013, 03:56:32 PM »
Also : Why is Firefly In The Verse a thing, but Patriots In The Galactica isn't?



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Re: DITV - 'Lily of the Valley'
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2014, 07:22:46 PM »
Hadn't seen this before. Sounds like a great session and makes me want to run some more Dogs again soon. It's been too long.

Any chance you could post your Town?
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."

Re: DITV - 'Lily of the Valley'
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2014, 03:17:21 PM »
Sure!  Here's a summation of what I brought to the table.  (Sorry for the delay - I haven't been on Barf Forth Forums for a while)

PRIDE - Sister Jacquelin's happiness is more important then her duties.
INJUSTICE - Sister Jacquelin won't marry her deceased sister's husband (a real jerk who has always desired her, and who never treated her sister with the respect she deserved) or do her duty to their children.  She is also disobeying her parents and abandoning them / the farm.

SIN - To avoid the forced marrage Sister Jacquelin is sleeping with multiple young men out of wedlock, thinking if she gets pregnant then she will get to pick the better of two shotgun marrages.
DEMONIC ATTACK - The demons begin spreading a vile sickness to all the men of Lily of the Valley who are married.  Those who are unmarried or who abandon their wives are immune.

FALSE DOCTRINE - Brother Ibrahim notices that only married men are suseptible to the illness, and take it as a sign from The King of Life that marrage is no longer a desirable state for the Faithful, an antiquidated practice not suited for frontier life.
CORRUPT WORSHIP - Many single men, as well as a few now-well married men, have teamed up with Br Ibrahim and are living in a communal building.  A few are embracing fornication (possibly with S. Jacquelin, certainly with other women in the community) 
FALSE PRIESTHOOD - See 'CORRUPT WORSHIP' : Br. Ibrahim has a handful of other men following his re-interpretation of The Faith, despite the Steward's insistance that they are living the lifestyle of sinners.
SORCERY - The demons have made Br. Ibrahim especially persuasive, and coupled with the weariness of the illness hitting the faithful men of the town it'll only be a matter of time before being single and engaging in fornication is accepted as the approved norm.

HATE, MURDER - Br Tyler kills Br Samson during an enpassioned arguement over the future of S. Jacquelin.  Br Samson wants to take her to another town and take her hand in marrage, Br Tyler wants to continue his relationship with her.

Wants (People and Demons) :
S. Jacquelin - Be absolved of her duties to Br Angus
S. Jacquelin's parents - Get S. Jacquelin married to Br Angus
Br Angus - Marry Jacquelin and 'break her in'
Br Tyler - Get away with murder.  Keep his relationship with S. Jacquelin ongoing.
Br Ibrahim - Avoid the duties of husbandry / fatherhood while spreading his seed.
Br Ibrahim's flock - Don't get the flu.  Also, sleep with whoever they want without reprecussion.
Steward - End the S. Jacquelin 'mess' before Br Angus has a heart attack.  Stop Br Ibrahim's blashemy.
demons - Drag the town into a state of near-perpetual fornication.  Seperate children from their fathers.  Pervert the ways of The Faithful.  Starve the abandoned.