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Author Topic: [DitV] A Pair of Branches  (Read 6001 times)
IMAGinES
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AKA Rob Farquhar


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« on: October 02, 2005, 11:02:22 PM »

As mentioned in the Dogs in the Voice Chat thread over in Actual Play, I'm planning to run some Dogs in the Vineyard for my wife and a good friend. So, I'm coming up with some Branches.

I was originally developing the bigger Branch of the two, Barstow's Run, as Anvil Hill - based on a pair of branch names my wife Vickie had come up with. I'd done most of what's there as of this posting and had told my wife that some nasty shit was going down in Anvil Hill. She didn't seem particularly impressed, so I decided to ease her (and, by extension, Gav and, well, myself) into Dogs in the Vineyard by making Anvil Hill a lower-stakes town.

As you can see, Anvil Hill isn't fully developed yet. I decided to try Vincent's suggestion of deciding on the level of nastiness - False Doctrine and a limited Corrupt Worship, in this case - and work backward. It's definitely a tricky, and definitely interesting, process.

Any comments, suggestions or other kibbitzing on the above branches would be welcomed. In fact, I have a question of my own:

Hey, Vincent: How come each of the example towns in the book has someone who's related to the example Dogs? They must have some mighty big families! :-)
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2005, 06:45:24 AM »

Hey, Vincent: How come each of the example towns in the book has someone who's related to the example Dogs? They must have some mighty big families! :-)

Yeah. I personally have about 100 first cousins. Who even KNOWS how many second cousins and cousins removed.

And that's without polygamy at all. It's even crazier if, say, one of your uncles has four wives, which in Dogs he might.

-Vincent
« Last Edit: October 03, 2005, 06:47:57 AM by lumpley » Logged
IMAGinES
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AKA Rob Farquhar


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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2005, 03:53:43 PM »

Heh heh! I'm an only child, and the only one of my generation, no brothers, sisters or immediate cousins (one second cousin around fifteen years older than I), nephews (my second cousin has a child, so I suppose he'd be a second nephew) or nieces. Neither branch of my family, father's or mother's side, had any kids within ten years of me.

I guess that's why the whole Relatives Everywhere bit was a little tricky for me to grasp!
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IMAGinES
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AKA Rob Farquhar


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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2005, 02:28:01 AM »

Just made some tweaks to my first town, Barstow's Run; it's now Barstow's Bluff. The biggest change, I think, was including a Rational Explanation for why the Demons "spared" the Barstow homestead, not to mention why the Winter hammers the town.

I've also re-jigged a little of the character stuff and added another townspeorson or two who wants something from the Dogs. Can you good folk have a look and tell me what you reckon?
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IMAGinES
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AKA Rob Farquhar


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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2005, 04:54:29 PM »

Hope you'll forgive the thread-bump, but I thought I'd put the details for Barstow's Bluff up for consideration.

Quote
Barstow’s Bluff is a plains farming town; altough it's some distance from the foothils, the air is usually clear enough that threy can be seen against the range. It was founded around a farmstead built by Old Brigham Barstow in the opening of the century in the lee side of a bluff (hence the name), and although Stewardship passed to another after Old Brigham's death, the Barstows have remained a forece in the Branch. Recent years have seen it prosper and forge valuable links with other Branches of the Faith.

The Branch itself is built around a North-South road. The main body of the town was built around the T-junction where the main road and the road out ot the Barstows' place meet, and the houses and farms have since extended West of the road. The Barstow road runs East until it meets the Bluff itself.

Every Winter, the Branch is pummelled by bone-chilling winds that sweep off the mountain snows and down the foothills. The winds of this most recent Winter have been especially hard and cold, and have yet to die away entirely (some are talking of a late thaw in the mountains). Word from neighbouring Branches is that the Bluff has fallen on very rough times this Winter gone; relatives are fearing that their kin have been taken by the ferocious chill.

One family has prospered after the Winter. Brother Hamilton Barstow is a farmer and the son of Old Brigham, not to mention the richest man in Barstow’s Bluff and the head of the Branch's largest family. He has several boys and one girl, Esther, by his first wife, Sister Talitha.

Brother Hamilton is also a keen watcher of the mountains; based on his observations he predicted the longer winter and stockpiled more than enough to last himself and his family through it. His homestead and farmlands are situated in the lee side of a bluff that shields it from most of the wind.
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IMAGinES
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AKA Rob Farquhar


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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2005, 04:59:31 PM »

Quote
Something's Wrong
The exceptionally harsh Winter has not only taken lives but also kept the ground packed hard and cold; what good soil there was has blown away. The Spring plantings haven't germinated; the Branch's farmers, already near-exhaustion from the cold, have barely done more than watch as their supplies dwindled and vanished.

Brother Hamilton has recently followed the word of the King and taken a second wife, Sister Jael Rowley (Brother Gabriel's cousin by his first uncle), whose husband died in the famine. He applied a condition to their wedding, though; that she cast out her no good son Cuthbert. Sheriff Thaddeus Carter has since taken young Cuthbert Rowley under his wing, but like most in Barstow’s Run, doesn’t have the resources to care for both Cuthbert and himself properly. Hamilton’s daughter Esther has been cloistered within the Barstow house with a fever since not long after the wedding.

Esther’s mother, Sister Talitha, used to watch over her fevers at night, but unbeknownst to the family or anyone else has also taken to leaving at night; the rest of the family simply assumes the two are together in Talitha’s room.

Recently Brother Hamilton has been complaining to the Steward of the Branch, Brother Isaiah Turner, about thefts of supplies from his homestead. Brother Isaiah, hands already full with a rash of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, gave the job to Sheriff Thaddeus (Sister Sarah's brother and, like her, a Mountain Folk convert at a young age) before he suddenly went missing between homesteads a few days ago. Thaddeus was only able to make minimal progress into the theft before brother Isaiah’s disappearance, and is now devoting his energies into seeking the Steward.

Pride

While Brother Hamilton harbours no ambitions to reclaim his father's seat as Branch Steward, he believes understanding of the mountains and the accurate predictions he made therein earned him his stockpile and entitles him to lavish his family with his wealth.

Young Esther has been in love with Sister Jael’s son, Brother Cuthbert, since before the winter. She values the privacy of their courting so much that she refuses to admit to any dealings with Cuthbert, and Cuthbert has also said nothing out of love for Esther.

Injustice

Barstow’s Run is starving, and the only person who could purchase supplies from the outside and save the town is Brother Hamilton; thus far, he has not done so. Hamilton believes the Branch deserves what it gets for not thinking ahead, and refuses to aid those in dire straits (almost all of the other townsfolk, Faithful or otherwise).

When Esther’s father announced that he would wed Sister Jael, Esther knew she could then never take Cuthbert as her husband. Esther begged her father to reconsider the marriage, but when pressed for a reason she would not admit to Cuthbert’s court of her; she said instead that she despised Cuthbert.

Sin

Disunity and worldliness: Brother Hamilton is continuing his ostentatious treatment of his family while ignoring the plight of the Branch; spending his farm’s profits on objects of wealth (cigars, brandies and the like) in which he encourages his children to indulge.

Deceit and sex: Esther’s lie backfired when Hamilton wed Jael on the condition that she cast her sinful son Cuthbert out. Esther covered her shame with another lie, pretending to be taken abed with a fever, but sneaks out of her room at night to see Cuthbert. Esther has given Cuthbert her virtue outside of wedlock out of a desire to both to consummate their love and to give him penance for her failed ploy. She also steals from her father’s stocks to keep Cuthbert and Thaddeus going.

Demonic Attacks

Due to the combination of Hamilton and Esther’s sins, the demons have launched a two-pronged attack on the Branch’s fertility. The first is in the guise of the late Winter winds; they have maintained the mountain snow past the time it normally thaws, lending chill and speed to the Spring air. This means no Spring crop but that of Hamilton Barstow’s has flourished. The death toll due to starvation through the Winter continues in the Spring.

The second attack is directed against the young Faithful of Barstow’s Bluff. Those surviving youngsters of a fertile age have taken to warming each other against the early cold of Spring, and the demons are ensuring that any such unions, infrequent though they may be, are fruitful. This is worsening the starvation problem, and wihtout Brother Isaiah on hand to help keep a lid on things, the Branch is beginning to look upon the Barstows’ stocks with anger and envy.

False Doctrine

“The King of Life removes creepers and parasites from His Tree,” Brother Hamilton says to his family, “and through the Winter, he has weeded the unworthy from this Branch. They may beg for charity, but charity should only be given to those capable of using it properly. The only such in our Branch are those for whom it was named; our own family.”

Corrupt Worship

Seeing his family as true Faithful in the eyes of the King, Brother Hamilton holds his own sermon on Sundays in the finery of the Barstow house’s main hall instead of the bare boards of the Branch's meeting hall. He conducts the ceremonies with meat and brandy instead of wine and water.

False Priesthood

Unable to face her guilt over her son, Sister Jael has bought into Brother Hamilton’s flawed logic and become his “priestess” during his sermons. She is drowning herself in alcohol and encouraging others to do so. Brother Hamilton’s impressionable young son Virgil, giddy with being allowed to taste alcohol, has become the third in the cult, and because of this has supplanted Cuthbert in Jael’s affections.

(Here also is a Pride: as part of the Cult his father and second wife treat Virgil better than his elder brothers. Virgil has not yet abused his position, but it's only a matter of time before an Injustice kicks off yet more Sin within Barstow's Bluff.)

Sorcery

The demons have acted to give Brother Hamilton’s low opinion of the rest of the town's farmers concrete evidence. Every first husband in every farm has slowly but surely lost his grip on reality to a lesser or greater extent due to “a disease of the brain”. Few now have the strength of mind or body to stand up to Hamilton, let alone keep an eye on the furtive unions of their young.

Brother Hamilton’s first wife Talitha has watched her family disintegrate around her over the winter. She’s too proper to drown her sorrows in alcohol or to go outside the family for help, as well as too busy caring for her “sick” daughter; Talitha has not slept for weeks. The drastic strain on her will has allowed a demon to possess Talitha. She has been roaming the Branch at night planning to take out her pent-up rage on the people she thinks should have nipped the problem in the bud.

Hate And Murder

Having effectively been beheaded by the work of the demons upon their senior husbands, the families of the Branch are being run by the younger men, who bear a lot of hate toward the Barstows. Cuthbert is fostering hatred for not only Brother Hamilton, but also for his own mother for casting him out. Sheriff Thaddeus is trying to relieve the pressure, but he’s already stretched thin between starvation and trying to find Steward Isaiah.

A few nights ago, Sister Talitha’s demon finally pushed her over the edge. She met Steward Isaiah, who was on his way to a homestead to counsel a young mother-to-be, and asked him to go walking with her. Hoping to gain a friend in the Barstows, Isaiah agreed, but once they were far enough out of town Talitha turned upon him with a kitchen knife. The weakened Steward was no match for Talitha, who hid his body in the shed of an outlying field, where it remains undiscovered.
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IMAGinES
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AKA Rob Farquhar


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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2005, 05:01:39 PM »

Quote
What Do The Townsfolk Want From The Dogs?

Brother Hamilton wants the Dogs to recognise his King-granted right to his land and property, as a result of his skill in reading the land and the sweat of his brow, and by extension his right to use it as he sees fit. He also wants his view of the other townsfolk being lazy validated.

Publicly, Sister Talitha wants the Dogs to heal Esther of her disease, ad part of her does want this; however, it gives Talitha's demon the perfect cover to escape at night (which in turn gives Esther cover to depart as well). Talitha's demon wants to guide the Dogs toward as much mayhem in the name of judgment as possible. If they can bump off Sheriff Thaddeus, all the better.

Sister Jael is too addled from alcohol and decadence to think clearly, but if she were to want anything from the Dogs it would be to be put out of her misery or see to the safety of her son. Whether this means Virgil or Cuthbert is anyone's guess.
Young Virgil Barstow wants the Dogs to confirm his position above his brothers.

The older Barstow brothers want their father's position validated, but they also want the Dogs to persuade their Father to remove Virgil from his unrightful position of prominence within the family - and as it's not really their place to say, they'd be happy if the Dogs could get Dad to stop this improper churching he's holding with Sister Jael.

Esther wants the Dogs to declare her Father’s taking of Jael to be unjust and annul their marriage so that she can marry Cuthbert. She doesn't want them finding out about her affair, and she absolutely doesn't want Cuthbert to know that she was the cause of his casting-out.

Cuthbert wants the Dogs to deliver unto Brother Hamilton his comeuppance for what he did to Cuthbert and the town. By now he doesn’t much care if his mother has a dose of medicine either.

The folk of Barstow’s Bluff want the Dogs to secure Brother Hamilton's stores so as to save their lives until they either replant their crops or leave town. The young men, in particular, want the Dogs to help them get supplies for the unwed mothers of their children from the Barstow homestead.

Sheriff Thaddeus wants help in setting the Branch right, but most of all he wants the Dogs to find the Steward and restore him to his position. If a replacement is to be chosen, Thaddeus doesn’t want the job.

What Do The Demons Want?

The demons want to destroy Barstow’s Run from the top down. They’ve made a good start so far with the corruption of the Barstows and the death of the Steward. Although they would love for the Dogs to finish the job for them, they know that the Dogs will likely involve themselves in the choosing of a new Steward. They want the Dogs to either elect an incompetent or prod the town further down the road toward a war between the Barstows and everyone else.

What Would Happen If The Dogs Never Came?

Sheriff Thaddeus will be the next to fall before Sister Talitha’s fury. This will be the last straw for Cuthbert, who will lead the young men of Barstow’s Bluff in a march on the Barstow house and demand a share of Hamilton's supplies. Hamilton will refuse to the end, and his sons will back him. The Barstow house will burn down, taking the Barstows and the men of Barstow’s Bluff with them, and starvation will take the families and their new children soon after. The whole Branch will dry up and blow away in the wind along with its barren soil.

Sister Talitha will take Esther (who will be shattered after the death of Cuthbert and the rest of her family) and escape to another Branch, where she will parley her "ill-treated wife and poorly daughter" status into shelter and security while she continues her foul work. It's likely that she'd lure a susceptible Esther into aiding her, making two thirds of another Cult.

I think I may be front-loading and over-writing this town too much. the detail is great for getting in the minds of everyone, but I'm a little worried about constraining myself with trying to stay true to too much detail.
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oliof
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« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2005, 03:47:51 AM »

Barstow's Bluff seems very nice.

 How about the Sheriff is not of the Faith, so him becoming Steward is out of the equation. It might even move the Dogs to try and convert the Sheriff, if they think he'd be the right one for the job, even if not of the Faith. Have the Sheriff be the one who shows the virtues the Faith covets - Stewardship, namely - but for the wrong reasons (like adherence to T.A. laws).  This would also lead the Sheriff into not liking brash youngbloods come into his town and shoot people on a whim.

In addition, try to bind the Sheriff to one of the families - an already converted Brother who has married the Sister of Brother Hamilton, for example.

Side Note: Why should Esther be deprived of marriage just because her father married a second wife? There seems to be a logical disconnect for me. It would be enough if Brother Hamilton would reinstate Brother Cuthbert as a valued member of the family. I guess the Faith does allow such kids to marry - although the T.A. representative might not  concur.
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IMAGinES
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AKA Rob Farquhar


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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2005, 12:44:55 AM »

Barstow's Bluff seems very nice.

Thank 'ee!

How about the Sheriff is not of the Faith, so him becoming Steward is out of the equation. It might even move the Dogs to try and convert the Sheriff, if they think he'd be the right one for the job, even if not of the Faith. Have the Sheriff be the one who shows the virtues the Faith covets - Stewardship, namely - but for the wrong reasons (like adherence to T.A. laws).  This would also lead the Sheriff into not liking brash youngbloods come into his town and shoot people on a whim.

Hmm. I'm a little constrained by the fact that Vickie (player of Sister Sarah and my own missus) created him as one of Sister Sarah's Relationships (specifically, he's her birth brother - whether they were raised together, i dodn't yet know), and although she didn't explicitly state such, I get the feeling she thinks of Thaddeus as also being Faithful.

But that's a good, interesting thought, there.
 
In addition, try to bind the Sheriff to one of the families - an already converted Brother who has married the Sister of Brother Hamilton, for example.

Side Note: Why should Esther be deprived of marriage just because her father married a second wife? There seems to be a logical disconnect for me. ... I guess the Faith does allow such kids to marry - although the T.A. representative might not  concur.

Because logic doesn't necessarily enter the mind of a young girl (when she thinks she's) in a jam? :-D

I will admit, when writing the town I was operating under the assumption that the Faith wouldn't allow marriage between step-siblings who aren't blood relatives, and regardless of whether it makes sense in terms of the broader Faith, I like how it ratchets the tension up a bit.

I mean, just imagine the guilt Esther would feel if someone explains to her that she might have been able to marry Cuthbert anyway! Drama, anyone?

It would be enough if Brother Hamilton would reinstate Brother Cuthbert as a valued member of the family.

Ah, but the question is - or, more appropriately, the pretty darned good stakes of a Conflict are - will Brother Hamilton actually do so?
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