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Author Topic: [DitV] The Basil Branch  (Read 5097 times)
Jonas Ferry

Posts: 111

« on: August 03, 2005, 04:41:43 PM »

Hello all,

Yesterday I bought DitV after waiting all too long. My girlfriend and I really should be studying for exams, but instead I've convinced her that playing a session tomorrow would be a good idea.

I'm going to play with only one player, as you can see, and have tried to create a single-session town for her. I was wondering if people usually create the characters before the town or the other way around, but I realized that some people use pre-created towns for their games so it shouldn't be a problem. I've also created something that I think will interest Helena, and that will be relevant for the type of dog she wants to create. Helena wants to play a 55-year old male dog, who can be grumpy and complain that things used to be better, so I created a town where the central conflict is between generations. The parents and children don't get along that well in this town.

Please comment on the town I've built. Two points I'm not totally sure of are:

- Is a branch the same thing as a town, or can it be a part of a town or consist of multiple towns?
- How, when and by who are local Stewards usually replaced? If a Steward is old but doesn't step down, whose obligation is it to do something? This is a central question for my town.

If the answers to the questions are that it's up to me in my game, that's fine, it's just nice to know if I've missed something. I've tried to focus the town on one problem for the dog(s), but I quickly realized that it brought a whole bunch of problems with it. I guess that's to be expected, and I'll just go with the flow if Helena starts handing out judgements for "follow-up" sins, and not the central problem. I actually don't know if she will attack the problem of the neglecting Steward, but I'll do my best to make all NPCs point to the problem. I have absolutely no idea how she'll solve it, and I feel that refreshing curiosity that people who GM player-driven scenarios talk about.

If you have any questions I would really like to answer them, and if you have some recommendations I'll be glad to listen. Do you see anything that would be extra cool if I emphasized, let me know. I'll play tomorrow evening, Swedish time. It'll be in 18 hours, so you can tell from the time I post if I'll be able to read your comments before we start.

The Basil Branch

The Basil Branch has a problem with children. The focus of all problems is a Steward who is too old to perform his duties, with a son that thinks he can do a better job. Encouraged by this, demons are trying to turn the children of the town on their own parents.

The small town of Basil is the home of ten families. All family fathers are between 30 and 45, with a couple of children each, in ages up to 25. Most of them have grandparents that live in the house with them. The town is not very old. It was founded by the elder generation and it's their children that are running it now.

1A: PRIDE. The Steward of Basil, Brother Ishmael, is a very old man. When he was younger he was involved in a lot of conflicts, it was a tough job to build the city from nothing, making him feel like he's done his job. Nowadays he doesn't look after his Stewardship, and it's falling apart.

His son, Brother Justus, is a forceful person and thinks he can do better than the old man. He secretly wishes him to die so he can take over, as he's the obvious successor.

1B: INJUSTICE. Because Brother Justus spends most of his time doing his father's work in the community, and at the same time provides for his family, he has left the raising of his children all to his wife Sister Abiah. She takes her role as housekeeper very seriously, and uses their four sons as help around the house. She doesn't let them do hard work or otherwise behave like boys, and the boys doesn't like it. Sometimes they sneak out of the house to explore and go on adventures.

2A: SIN. Brother Ishmael should step down and hand the Stewardship to someone else. Instead he keeps his office because he's enjoying the authority it gives him in the community. (Faithlessness)

Brother Justus is working overtime trying to collect favours and goodwill amongst the people in Basil. He's trying to gather supporters to either overthrow his father or take his place after he's dead. (Disunity)

2B: DEMONIC ATTACKS. The demons attack children and grown-ups and make them resent their parents. The demons encourage and strengthen people to do what their parents don't want them to do, and make them lie to conceal it. They also make parents do things that the demons know will rub the children the wrong way. Even if the children would normally oblige, the way the demons make the parent phrase the request makes the child do the exact opposite.

3A: FALSE DOCTRINE. Brother Justus obviously doesn't see Brother Ishmael as the true Steward of the branch, and a couple of Faithful agree with him fairly openly (see False Priesthood). Others agree in their hearts without saying anything, namely Brothers Lionel, Elijah and Newton. There are three families who are faithful and doesn't subscribe to the false doctrines. These are Brothers Hezekiah, Hamilton and Jeremiah.

3B: CORRUPT WORSHIP. People usually don't take their problems to Brother Ishmael anymore, but instead go directly to Brother Justus. This is not the correct way to do things, and people put faith in someone else in matters that concern their Steward. Many bless Brother Justus for the work he's doing, although it's not his to do.

4A: FALSE PRIESTHOOD. Brother Justus regularly meet the men of the branch and discuss matters of Stewardship without Brother Ishmael's knowledge. These gatherings are held in the home of Brother Ambrosius, who is in favour of Brother Justus. The two other brothers that openly follow Brother Justus are Brothers Stephen and Marcus. Also joining when there's something of extra importance are the three ambivalent brothers.

4B: SORCERY. Brother Justus doesn't know that he's a sorcerer, and he definitely doesn't know that every Steward meeting not attended by Brother Ishmael is an invitation to the demons. None of the brothers' souls are possessed, but they do bring demons attached to them from the meetings home to their families. The households are usually extra chaotic with children not doing what they're told directly after one of the meetings has been held.

5: Skipped

Brother Ishmael wants to assure the dogs that everything's going fine and that the town has no problems.

Brother Justus wants the dogs to remove his father from his post as Steward, but he's doesn't want to sound like he's not honouring his father. He wants to be the new Steward, but would rather like other people to recommend him than propose it himself.

Sister Abiah doesn't want the dogs to know she's raising her boys as girls, and want to be left alone with her children.

Brother Ambrosius is Brother Justus' right hand. He is having problems with disciplining his children, they are foul-mouthed and lazy, and wants the dogs to come and scare his children to obedience.

Brothers Stephen and Marcus want the dogs to realize that Brother Justus is a very competent man, and should be the new Steward.

Brothers Lionel, Elijah and Newton, the ambivalent three, will help the dogs in any way they can. On the other hand they will tell Brother Justus' followers if they'll have to do or say something that'll hurt Brother Justus.

Brothers Hezekiah, Hamilton and Jeremiah will complain that things used to be better. They also want a more active Steward, but none of them has any trust in Brother Justus. They all know he's doing things behind his fathers back, and they see it as a sin.

The demons want to turn children against their parents and parents against children.

They want the dogs to put Brother Justus as Steward, since that would make the grown children either revolt with violence or move away. Either way the town is doomed.

If they can't do that they'll want the dogs to remove Brother Justus and keep Brother Ishmael as Steward. The demons can make him live for many years through subtle manipulation, and meanwhile focus on Brothers Ambrosius, Stephen and Marcus to do the demons' work.

The demons can influence younger members of the town to befriend the dogs and then turn the children against them. Depending on the age of the dogs, children of different ages can be chosen. The demons will try to make the children view the dogs as saviours from their oppressing parents, and if possible will make the children reveal the parents real or imagined sins.

Brother Ishmael is old, but is still going to live too many years for Brother Justus to just wait. If the town is left as it is, the demons will break down Brother Justus' patience and together with Brother Ambrosius he'll murder his father. This wouldn't solve anything, and the gulf between the parent and children generation would instead increase. Inevitably the older children, young restless men and women, would revolt, possibly with weapons, dooming the town.

I'll do pre-generated stats and stuff tomorrow, now I'm off to sleep.

One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
Jonas Ferry

Posts: 111

« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2005, 10:31:51 AM »

So this is what happened to the Basil branch.

We played yesterday, with a somewhat mixed results. That we started a bit late in the evening was probably one factor, another was a difference in expectations of the scenario. We started with character creation, which was very easy. I think Helena had a pretty clear picture of who she was going to play, a 55-year old dog, twice the age of many of the other Dogs, who was riding alone solving problems. We pictured him like a heavy-set Lee Van Cleef, with a crap horse and big guns.

Name: Brother Jebediah
Background: Strong history

Acuity: 3d6
Body: 4d6
Heart: 2d6
Will: 4d6

Good shot: 2d8
Intimidating: 2d10
Independent: 2d8
Old-fashioned: 2d6
Strong: 1d6
Seen it before: 1d10
Impress people by shooting (accomplishment): 1d6

The Dogs: 1d8
My sister Rachel: 2d6

Coat (brown with white/black/red pattern): 2d6
Horse: 1d4
Book of Life: 1d6
Jar of consecrated earth: 1d6
Revolver: 2d6+1d4
Rifle: 2d8+1d4
The finest tobacco: 2d6

The stakes during the accomplishment was "Does Brother Jebediah impress the other initiates at the shooting range?". Due to a lousy roll by me, with only two high dices, it was over fairly quick, but Jebediah still suffered some fallout. We decided that it was non-physical, from the mocking words of the instructor, and that Jebediah would start the scenario remembering it, even though it was almost thirty years ago. That way he would be penalized in the next conflict. After this I told her about how the training went, about the coat and stuff like that. I also explained the hierarchy of badness, from pride to murder, and that each town she would enter would be somewhere on that scale.

When Jebediah arrived to Basil I described how people worked in the fields, but that the centre of town was full of children playing and hanging around. Even young men and women in the age of fifteen were standing around doing nothing. Helena decided that her sister lived in Basil, but didn't go to her house, but to the Steward. Outside his house she saw two 15-year old boys hanging laundry and sweeping the porch, clearly doing girls work. Helena realized something was wrong, since we had talked a lot about the very old-fashioned view on gender roles that are usual in the Faith. I was very clear, though, that Helena could re-write the Faith at any moment, and that she was the one that should tell me how it worked, not the other way around.

Jebediah met the old Steward who was sitting in a rocking chair, blind and almost deaf. He told Jeb that everything was fine in town, just as I planned, but I also realized I had to give Helena something to work with, so I introduced Brother Justus. He invited Jeb into the house, and asked if Jeb wanted anything to drink. Jeb said coffee, and I froze. We had decided that alcohol was clearly forbidden by the Faith and that tobacco had been banned during Jeb's time as a Dog (something he didn't care about), but I had added coffee myself. Should I treat this like the faithful were allowed to drink coffee, or like tobacco, that it wasn't ok, but that Jeb didn't care? I didn't want to start a discussion in-game, since I didn't want the character to lecture a Dog in the Faith. Well the moment passed, and Helena had Jeb ask for water instead, without her knowing why Justus didn't serve coffee. It was no biggie now, but I'll have to think about how to handle these things the next time. I really want the Faith to belong to the players, which makes it hard if the change it without even knowing that they are doing that.

Well, I had Justus complain over the situation without Helena realizing that he was the root of all problems. She had Jeb call a town meeting with all the family fathers to discuss their lacking ways when raising children. All came, except three, the men that didn't trust Justus and Ambrosius. This made Helena suspect that they were the ones causing problems, so she decided to find them after the meeting. At the meeting we had the first conflict, where Jeb tried to convince Ambrosius that he wasn't raising his children properly. Ambrosius defended himself and said he had done everything he could, but that it didn't help. He escalated to physical and stood up violently, tipping his chair, and shouting at the Dog. Helena didn't want to escalate to physical, so she had Jeb tell them that they would see that you should always listen to a Dog and leave the room.

Jeb went to Hezekiah, and found a household with children doing what they were supposed to. He told the old town-member that he would remove the old Steward and put Justus there instead. Hezekiah said that he feared the day that would happen, and told Jeb about the false Steward meetings Justus arranged behind his fathers back. He also said that this was the reason he hadn't come this evening, because Ambrosius hadn't told him that the meeting was called by a Dog. Until this point Helena had thought that the son of the Steward would inherit the title, but in a short discussion I told her she could decide how people became Steward and even if it would normally be inherited, her Dog could override the rules because of the special circumstances.

At this point Helena had no real idea what to do. She had Jeb ask Hezekiah if he wanted to be Steward, but he declined and said he didn't fit for the position. Helena was noticeably frustrated that there was no clear path to get things working. She half-jokingly talked about rounding up all the children and shooting them, clearly inspired by how I had talked about how Dogs can solve problems by shooting people. She asked me if the children could be under attack from demons and I said yes, which made her want to exorcise them to end all the trouble. I knew that it was partly her frustration talking, and that that was the reason why she wanted to take the easy way out without actually having to pass any judgement. I reminded her that the demon attacks were the symptom and not the root of the problem, and she got an idea.

Helena had Jeb call for another meeting the next evening, this time at the Steward's. Jeb freed the old man of his responsibilities and said that he wanted to talk to Brother Justus alone. They went to the kitchen where Justus told his wife and four kids to wait out front. All men from town were waiting out back. This was the second conflict, and the stakes were "Does Brother Jebediah make Brother Justus realize he's feeling pride?". Jeb was losing, escalated and grabbed Justus' collar. Justus tried to get loose, but Jeb threw him down on a chair that crashed underneath him. Justus escalated to fighting and attacked the dog, which was a pretty stupid move. Helena was really surprised and assured me that Jeb would shoot Justus. She still felt that it was a bit over the top, and figured that it would be mean to the family to shoot their husband/father in the kitchen and make them clean it up afterwards. She gave up, and instead started the follow-up conflict "Does Brother Jebediah shoot Brother Justus dead?". I used the new fallout rule, and she wanted my two highest fallout dice plus keeping her own highest die. Things looked bad for Brother Justus. Jeb drew his revolver and Justus flew out back. I thought for a while if he should flee out front, but I wanted to use his relationship with Brother Ambrosius so he ran out back. I rolled his relationship dice and had him hide behind Ambrosious. Jeb walked out with a drawn gun and said that Justus' crimes against the Faith made him deserve to die. Ambrosius, and the rest of them, quickly stepped aside and Jeb told Justus to walk behind some bushes where he shot him in the head.

I was actually rather surprised that Helena was so determined to have he Dog kill this man, since his only fault was that he had assumed the role of his father when the father wasn't doing what he was supposed to do. But Helena figured that the pride wasn't the real problem, but instead that Justus had attacked Jebediah. Jebediah walked back to the others, still with the gun out, and told them they had thirty minutes to propose a new man for Steward. Meanwhile Jebediah strolled down to the river just outside of town, had an apple and returned to the men. They suggested Ambrosius, and Jeb said that he had a week to solve the trouble with the children. The dog would stay in town and if everything looked good at the end of the week, Ambrosius would become the new Steward.

And now Helena banged the last nail in Justus' coffin, as Jebediah refused to read any holy texts at the funeral. Justus had sinned, and should be buried like a sinner without any spiritual assistance in the after-life. I thought that was really cruel, but it did say a lot about Jebediah's view on people who strayed from the accepted behaviour. At the end of the week Ambrosius had done a good job, and Jeb performed the ceremony of installing him as Steward. He said that he would be back to check in on the town, and that they better take care of raising the children.

After playing Helena wanted to read the write-up of the town, and was really surprised that I had prepared as much as I had. She had figured it out during the session as well, and this is what I meant about the difference in expectations. She expected us to improvise everything, like in Capes or InSpectres, but instead I had all the characters and the whole situation prepared beforehand. Her immediate reaction was that the scenario was exactly the thing I said it wasn't; probably because of confusion between what was going on and how to solve it. I knew exactly what was going on, but I had no idea how to solve the problem. I knew that Brother Justus and Brother Ishmael, the old Steward, were the two men that was the root of all problems, but I really tried hard to have all characters tell Jeb everything they knew about the problems. Helena said that it would probably be easier playing a second town, when she would know what I had prepared and would think about the hierarchy of bad stuff. We handed out experience, with Helena raising Intimidating and Seen it before with one die each. That's one intimidating Dog, now.

She also thought that the system was a bit confusing. One reason was I didn't have enough dice (I had 2d4, we needed 4d4 more than once), so we had to write our rolls on paper. This made sliding dice over when Raising or Seeing harder, and we had to say "I Raise 7" instead, chopping up the in-character dialogue more than necessary. Another thing she found hard was to first have to See, and say something clever in-character, and then Raise and say something clever again. I could see and appreciate the flow back and forth, but she thought that she had already stated the position of her character while Seeing and that Raising felt redundant. I hope it was only unfamiliarity with the system, which I think it was, and not something I did wrong.

Anyway, we decided that it felt somewhat like a test-session. A flipped through the book too often, and we didn't have a real flow in the conflicts or in the telling of the story. If we play again, which is far from impossible, things will be smoother.

One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
Posts: 3453

« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2005, 11:34:48 AM »

Just a quick note to say that lots and lots of times a single conversational "move" incorporates both see and raise. Like, if I pantomime looking skeptical and I say "you think so?" that could easily be both. When I'm teaching someone the rules I take care to break it down, but that only lasts the first couple of conflicts.

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