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Author Topic: Advice with Town: Olive Grove Branch  (Read 15866 times)
Neal
Member

Posts: 143


« on: November 03, 2005, 11:12:19 AM »

I'm putting together a town for my game this Tuesday.  I'll give the outline in a moment.  My concerns are twofold: first, I'm worried I might have too many named NPCs; second, I'm concerned that despite the number of NPCs, the town may not be "grabby" enough.  I'd appreciate comments and suggestions.

....................

Olive Grove Branch

The Dogs are Brother Thomas and Brother Elijah (and perhaps a Dog-to-be-named-later)

1A. Pride -- Sister Jessica (Brother Thomas's 16-year-old cousin) is courted by the eligible and handsome Brother Matthew (17 years old), but she doesn't want him; he's young and boring.  She wants the attention and admiration of her uncle from Back East, Brother Peter.  Brother Peter is dashing, sophisticated, and funny.  He's married, but Sister Jessica knows she would make him a much more exciting and suitable wife than the boring, obedient Sister Naomi, his legal wife.

1B. Injustice -- Sr. Jessica uses her charms to draw Uncle Peter away from his family every chance she gets.  She flirts with him, teases him, and fishes for compliments.  Meanwhile, she snubs Br. Matthew entirely.  Why should she eat at the children's table anymore when she can dine in the adult world of Uncle Peter?

2A. Sin -- Peter grows more and more responsive to his young neice.  In a moment of weakness, he gives in to his lusts.  Their secret gets out when Jessica begins to show.  Her father sends her away to live with her Aunt Mercy until the baby is born.  Brother Peter returns in shame to New England.  The family does its best to bury the sin and conceal it from the town.

2B. The Demons Attack -- Three widowed sisters (Patience, Constance, and Obedience) arrive from a farther branch.  They are all beautiful, with the grace and erudition of a city education, and they open a finishing school for the young ladies of the town, offering to instruct the girls in the more sophisticated and decorative accomplishments every woman should achieve.  Several families send their girls, and a select few are inducted into the private parlor of the three sisters.  There, they are taught Scripture, French poetry, and German philosophy.  They divide their studies between the Book of Life and the Works of Lord Byron.

3A. False Doctrine -- The girls of the Parlor of the Three Sisters are shown how to use their feminine charms to attract and manipulate men.  They are becoming urbane, manipulative, and self-confident.  But then, what is a woman, after all, but a prospective wife and mother?  And shouldn't a girl have some means of securing the man of her choice?  Shouldn't she have some weapons of romance in her arsenal?  Of course she should.

3B. Corrupt Worship -- Some girls are coming to church services in clothes which make the older women blush and the boys forget their hymns.  They are praying for earthly beauty and true love.  They are asking embarrassing questions of their elders, like "Why did the King of Life give girls curves if he meant them to hide them under a bustle?" and "If the Fall resulted in Redemption, was Eve so wrong in accepting the apple?"

4A. False Priesthood -- The Parlor is a cult.  The girls in the school's inner circle are engaging in organized prayer and interpretation of the Book of Life, under the guidance of the graceful and beautiful Three Sisters.  Some have even taken to translating their favorite passages from the Book of Life into French verse.  And the Sisters have even taught them delightful new "games" involving old-timey charms which affect the feelings and behavior of boys and men.

4B. Sorcery -- The old-timey charms work!  This is witchcraft, and the Three Sisters are witches.  They are teaching the girls to relish the power they have over others, and to pride themselves on being better than the other girls in the town.  They have even instilled the notion (to varying degrees, depending on the girl) that ugly people are ugly because the King of Life doesn't like them very much, and they probably deserve to be ugly because of some flaw in their souls.  Perhaps they should be punished?  More than this, the Three Sisters are bringing into existence another coven like their own.

5A. Hate and Murder -- A handful of the girls (Rebecca, Rachel, and Rose) have decided that, yes, ugly people are displeasing to the King of Life.  It's the fault of ugly people that girls have to marry whomever comes along, and they can't dress like a real lady.  Everyone feels so sorry for ugly people that they force pretty girls to dress like ugly girls and act like ugly girls.  Well, that's not what's best.  The girls have begun to learn new charms, under the guidance of the Three Sisters, and some of the homely girls and boys of the town are getting hurt.  Hurt bad.

6A. The People --
     Sister Jessica wants the Dogs to make Uncle Peter give up his legal wife and return to her, to marry her and help her raise their child.
     Sister Mercy, Jessica's aunt, wants the Dogs to knock some sense into the girl's head.  She also wants the family's shame to remain as secret as possible.
     Brother Matthew, Jessica's jilted beau, wants her to honor her father's promise.  He wants her to give up her child and marry him.
     The Three Sisters want the Dogs to become ensnared in the lust and corruption of their coven.  They want the school to remain in operation at least until the three new witches are polished and ready to carry on their work, but they'd prefer the Dogs became a couple more notches on their bedposts.  Failing all that, they want the Dogs dead.
     The branch steward, Brother Samuel, wants the Dogs to look into the "accidents" that befell some of the town's young people.  Sr. Anne lies swollen and wheezing in her bed, snakebit and dying.  And Br. William's been kicked in the mouth by a mule, his face nearly unrecognizable.  The Steward also wants the Dogs to say something about the "frippery and flapdoodle" going on at the finishing school.  He doesn't think it's right for young gals to preen themselves so much, and at church, too!
     Most of the girls of the school want something from the Dogs, too.  Sr. Lydia wants the Dogs to judge a beauty contest, but Sr. Editha thinks a masked talent show would be better.  Sr. Martha wants the Dogs to judge her the best poet in her reading circle.  Most of the girls are between the ages of 11 and 15, and their concerns, while a bit sophisticated and urbane by rural standards, are those of young girls enjoying their first tastes of distinction and polish.
     The girls of the new coven, on the other hand, have other desires.  Sr. Rebecca, the Queen Peacock of the school, wants one of the Dogs to declare that a pretty girl should be consulted by her parents before any marriage arrangements are made.  Sr. Rachel, the Scholar, wants the Dogs to agree that Eve was smarter than Adam because she knew what knowledge was worth.  And Sr. Rose, the Tomboy, wants the Dogs to say that a girl can do anything a boy can do.

6B. The Demons --
     They want the new coven to grow in strength with each injured child, each eventual murder, each new enmity, until the three girls come into womanhood and their full powers as witches.
     They want the Three Sisters to conclude their work here and move on to the next town to corrupt a new establishment of the Faith.
     They want the Dogs to become entangled in the lust and cunning of the coven.  If they can make one Dog shame himself with an underaged girl, so much the better.
     If things begin to go badly, they'll settle for watching the townspeople sacrifice their own daughters to their outrage.

6C. If the Dogs Never Came --
     The new coven will mature, the murders will intensify, and the Three Sisters will move on to another town to repeat their work.  With the town under their thumb and many of the men enslaved by their charms, the new coven will turn the town into their own private playground of the vanities.

.............

Well, that's the town.  I've been thinking about how to run the girls -- not just the new coven, but all the girls.  I'm thinking they'll probably end up being a "group" if the PCs decide to take up conflict with them (and I'm pretty sure they will).  I think the Three Sisters should be played separately, but who knows?

My primary concern here is that I've got too many NPCs and not enough variety among them, so I've scrawled some notes about various young women and girls of the town.  That way, the group of finishing-school girls will seem more like individuals than a mob.  I've also jotted down a few likely male names, in case it should come up that the coven brings about the possession of some enamored young man (or in case the PCs decide to chat with some lust-frustrated young buck).

So, would this town "grab" you?  If not, what do I need to change, add, or remove?
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ScottM
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Posts: 221

Fresno, California


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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2005, 04:16:34 PM »

I think you've hit on the potential problem.  Yes, this town seems grabby, as long as the NPCs are grabby.  I'd consider adding a specific jilted boy or two-- Brother Mathew's case is interesting, but a few variations on the theme should make it clear that something's up.

Otherwise it sounds like an interesting town.  The evils of finishing school were never so clear...

-Scott
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Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.
Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2005, 06:17:16 PM »



1A. Pride -- Sister Jessica (Brother Thomas's 16-year-old cousin) is courted by the eligible and handsome Brother Matthew (17 years old), but she doesn't want him; he's young and boring.  She wants the attention and admiration of her uncle from Back East, Brother Peter.  Brother Peter is dashing, sophisticated, and funny.  He's married, but Sister Jessica knows she would make him a much more exciting and suitable wife than the boring, obedient Sister Naomi, his legal wife.


The pride has next to nothing to do with the rest of the town's problems.

Do you see that disconnect?

I say drop this Sister Jessica stuff and cut right to the three widows (who might also be teaching the girls to shoot, maybe one is a retired Dog!).

The widows' pride is in thinking that they can teach the young better than their parents and the Steward.
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foucalt
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Posts: 66


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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2005, 07:13:06 PM »

Quote
5A. Hate and Murder -- A handful of the girls (Rebecca, Rachel, and Rose) have decided that, yes, ugly people are displeasing to the King of Life.  It's the fault of ugly people that girls have to marry whomever comes along, and they can't dress like a real lady.  Everyone feels so sorry for ugly people that they force pretty girls to dress like ugly girls and act like ugly girls.  Well, that's not what's best.  The girls have begun to learn new charms, under the guidance of the Three Sisters, and some of the homely girls and boys of the town are getting hurt.  Hurt bad.

I'm not clear on this really being Hate and Murder. It's blame, and it sounds like its going to be Injustice, but unless there has actually been violence as a result of your three R's (or at least an actual plan to commit it), it seems like maybe this oughta be tied into the False Doctrine level.
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David Younce

dave dot younce at gmail dot com
Neal
Member

Posts: 143


« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2005, 10:11:17 PM »

Thanks for the responses, folks.  I'll address them in order...

Scott -- I think I'll take your advice and work up Brother Matthew.  I think he has a lot of potential.  I could play up the woeful teen-angst thing and make the poor kid a trainwreck of runaway hormones, all self-pity and petulant rage.  Maybe I'll also throw in another boy who's fallen for one of the Three Sisters and is being used as an agent of the coven -- maybe a little like Skeet Ulridge's character in The Craft, so lovesick he's gone into stalker mode.  I'd thought about bringing more of the adults into play, but I don't know -- the town has a "corruption of the young" feel to it right now that might suffer from too many adult NPCs.  While I expect my players will probably want to judge adults instead of children, I'd like to make that as difficult as possible during Town Creation, just to watch them squirm.  (I fully expect the Three Sisters to snuff it something gruesome once the session really gets rolling and a few innocent kids get killed off.)

Judd -- I see what you're saying.  The discontinuity between the Peter/Jessica story and the rise of the Sisters' Parlor was by design.  The way I originally imagined this town (like my earlier town of Fiddler's Hollow), the Demons attacked the whole congregation when two people opened the door for them; the Sisters were "visited" on the town for the sins of those two.  The connection was supposed to be a thematic one, a sympathy between Jessica's brand of Pride and that of the girls at the finishing school -- the whole "I'm pretty and precocious, so the rules don't apply to me" attitude.  I guess the sympathetic connection isn't clear enough; if you didn't get it, my players probably won't get it either.  I may decide to take your advice and remove the Peter/Jessica connection for a later town, though I still like the idea that an entire town can suffer for the sins of a couple of its members, even when most of the townspeople are blind to the sin.  Still, I can replace the sin of Jessica and Peter with a sin on the part of one of the new-coven girls; there's plenty of Pride and Injustice there already.  That only leaves me with one problem: if the Three Sisters are indeed witches visited on the town, then there has to be a sin committed prior to their arrival to account for why the Demons sent them.  I'll have to work on that.  Perhaps I can fold Scott's suggestion in with your objection and move Matthew into company with Rebecca.  Perhaps Rebecca, courted by Matthew, had sex with another man, some urbane traveller stopping over at her parents' house, a traveller who just happened to quote Byron and compliment her on her sophistication.  hmmm...

David -- Maybe I should have been more direct.  The girls of the new coven are systematically targetting the "uglier" kids in the town.  They're using their newfound sorcerous power (the old-timey charms) to hurt them.  As their power grows, they'll be killing the less attractive youth of the town outright, and since the girls of the new coven consider themselves the prettiest of all, that means they won't have a clear stopping place.  The unattractive are offensive to the King of Life; they are ugly because their souls are diseased; they must be punished; the girls are using sorcery to achieve that end.  I'd say that fits the category of Hate and Murder, even if it doesn't (yet) involve a deadcart full of kid-corpses.

Thanks again for the input.  I can see this town is going to take a second draft.
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Jason Morningstar
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Posts: 1428


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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2005, 04:58:27 AM »

5A. Hate and Murder -- A handful of the girls (Rebecca, Rachel, and Rose) have decided that, yes, ugly people are displeasing to the King of Life.

I don't think you need this step, and it seems like a stretch to me.  Were I to add hate and murder, which I don't think I would, I'd frame it as madly jealous male rivals gunning each other down in the wake of the girl's charms.  "We hate ugly people!" just seems weak to me, given the compelling lead-up to it.

The initial Pride with Jessica seems like another town altogether, and a good one.  I'd excise that and let the finishing school stand on its own.  Both are compelling and ripe with choices to be made.  I'd be concerned that Jessica would end up being an anemic sub-plot once the sorcery was revealed.

--Jason


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Tindalos
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2005, 06:58:58 AM »

I can see it with the hate and murder.  I'd run it where the three hold "trials" against the ugly, perhaps in secret, and perform ritualistic cleansing and excising of the ugly traits and downright killing those that can't be "made to look better".  There is a pretty good terror factor there if played up right, and it's not just the three but others that have decided to go along with them.

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Neal
Member

Posts: 143


« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2005, 07:12:10 AM »

Jason -- Thanks for the response, and I agree.  What seems a cool idea while I was drafting has been shown to be less than cool.  I won't hold onto the thematic link at the expense of the intelligibility of the town.  In the re-drafting underway now, I've folded a small part of Jessica's story (her attraction to an older male relative) into the backstory of one of the new-coven girls, and I've moved Matthew over to that thread.  The secret pregnancy has been excised.

Tindalos -- Yeah, I like the Hate and Murder, too, honestly.  I like the possibility that the Dogs will go after the adult witches and overlook the young coven until the end, giving me time to play with them a bit more.  Not sure that will happen, but the possibility is there.  And I really like the idea that these girls are carving a little empire of vanity for themselves, using borrowed sorcery and misinterpetation of the Book of Life as their tools.  I wasn't sure whether I'd keep the Hate and Murder level, but your suggestions are good ones.  I'll have to see how the new draft shakes out.  Thanks.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2005, 09:11:47 AM »

Rock on!  Be sure to share your revision, and we'll all be looking for an Actual Play post as well.  I'm totally stealing the Jessica thread for some future town.

--Jason
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philaros
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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2005, 10:05:46 PM »

Just for the record, I immediately understood the connection between Peter/Jessica and the rest of the progression, and also the "purging of ugliness" as Hate and Murder, though I agree that part could use some clarifying. I think this is quite a cool town.
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Neal
Member

Posts: 143


« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2005, 11:33:14 AM »

Philaros, thanks for the kind words.  And thanks to all the others who posted with criticisms and suggestions.  I've posted the latest revision below and in the next post; it was too long for a single posting.  This may be a final, unless someone notices something amiss.  If that's the case, I'm all ears, but I think this revision fixes some of the problems of continuity and clarity pointed out by folks like Judd, while preserving the parts folks liked.  See what you think, and let me know.


Olive Grove

1A. Pride –

Sister Rebecca is sixteen, sophisticated, and very pretty.  She is courted by Brother Matthew, who is steady and sensible, and whose father is a wealthy squire and hotelier.  When a traveler from Back East stays with Rebecca’s family (in the cottage, not the house; he’s not Faithful, so he can’t sleep beneath their roof), she develops a crush on him.  He is urbane, witty, handsome, and well-read in Romantic poetry and the German philosophers.  It isn’t fair that a girl like Rebecca can’t have a man who knows how to value her.

Sister Rose is fifteen, athletic, and full of life.  She is courted by Brother Simon, but Simon is such a meek little thing, so thin and girlish, and his daddy is an overbearing lout of a blacksmith.  No, Rose wants nothing to do with soft-skinned little Simon.  She prefers her Uncle David, a rugged, sharp-tongued, exciting man with large hands and a horseman’s swagger.  Rose wants to spend all the time she can with him, and let Simon go and play with the children where he won’t get hurt.  So what if David is married?  His wife’s a frail little mouse.  Rose would make a much better wife for a man like David.

Sister Rachel is studious, smart, and outspoken.  She has read widely, not only in the Book of Life, but in other books she gets from traveling tinkers.  Her wide reading has made her smarter than her elders.  She thinks her preachers and parents are wrong in their interpretation of the Book of Life.  A woman shouldn’t be ashamed of her body.  Girls shouldn't have to keep silent, ever.  Nor should certain kinds of reading be proscribed, as some of the adults seem to think.  She thinks they've got things all wrong, and she's not afraid to say so.

1B. Injustice –

Brother Matthew is being snubbed by Sister Rebecca, and for what?  Some jumped-up Eastern dandy with a wisp of a mustache who can spew out poems that don’t make any sense?  Rebecca is holding herself too high; someone needs to remind her she’s still plain old Becky Pritchard.  In the meantime, though, all Matthew can do is seethe.

Sister Naomi has spoken with her husband, David, warning him about that girl, Rose.  It’s not that she’s jealous, really.  It’s just that David’s away so often, teaching the girl things a girl shouldn’t learn, like how to ride and shoot.  And the girl flirts with him in such obvious ways.  Why can’t he see what she’s doing?  Why won’t he listen to Naomi when she cautions him?

Brother Simon makes an attempt, at his father’s insistence, to press his suit with Sister Rose.  She finally agrees to see him, only to show him up in front of his friends.  She proves she can ride, throw, run, and shoot better than he can.  When he protests that it isn’t a girl’s place to do these things, she knocks him to the ground and threatens to tie a bonnet on him if he comes around again.

Sister Rachel’s parents caution her to rein in her tongue and her curiosity, but she won’t.  She quizzes her teachers, embarrasses her steward, even lectures her mother on the fine points of modern childrearing.  The steward has suggested to her father, Brother Severin, that the girl should be taken in hand, but Severin feels powerless in his own house, and the girl's mother, Sister Claire, is cowed by Rachel’s tongue.

2A.  Sin –

The traveler from Back East (actually a journalist named George Baker) shows Rebecca how to scan a sonnet.  He shows her how to write a French Alexandrine line.  He shows her fashion plates of Continental dress, and other pictures a person can purchase in New York if he knows the right shops – drawings and daguerrotypes of people engaged in contorted couplings.  And then he shows her what a woman feels when she is with a man.  How could she ever again entertain the notion of settling down with semi-bovine clodbreaker like Matthew?

Brother Nashua taunts Matthew about the time Rebecca is spending with this New York poet fellow.  Nashua speculates in unguarded ways, and Matthew takes up an axe handle and beats him bloody, and keeps on beating him until Brothers Clement and Michael pull him off.  He threatens to bloody up anyone who makes such suggestions, but the person he really wants to vent his anger on is Rebecca.

David is teaching Rose to shoe a horse.  It’s a hot day, and David is in his shirtsleeves; Rose’s dress is disarrayed, exposing her arms and throat.  The closeness of their bodies, the sultry heat of the day, the smell of fresh hay in the stables…  One thing leads to another, and Rose discovers the pleasures of sex – raw, fumbling, and passionate.  When David realizes what he’s done, he stops coming around.  Rose has to blackmail him to get him to come back and repeat his performance.  Not only will she tell what they've done, but she'll say she had no choice.  David is aghast, but he doesn't want this shame to fall on his wife.  He reluctantly agrees.  Their consequent lovemaking borders on brutality, but Rose kind of likes it that way.

Rachel’s parents, in an effort to curb the girl’s pride, send her to assist the steward’s wife, Sister Ruth, in cleaning the church.  They hope a few days of this lowly work, in the company of a humble and religious woman, will bring their daughter around.  Instead, when Ruth catches Rachel reading from Goethe instead of mopping the choir gallery as instructed, she paddles her with her very own copy of The Sorrows of Young Werther.  Rachel, furious and humiliated, responds by deliberately soaping the upper stairs of the gallery, causing the older woman to tumble down and break her wrist and ankle.  [Naturally, the Steward is alarmed by this, and while he can’t prove it wasn’t an accident, he makes it a point to give a scathing sermon that week about children respecting their elders, and against the evil influence of novels and other printed fancies.  Rachel’s parents know what this is about, and Rachel has some of her books taken from her by her parents as a result, including her cherished copies of Charlotte Temple and Wieland.]

2B.  The Demons Attack –

Three young and beautiful widowed sisters arrive in town.  Their names are Patience, Constance, and Obedience, and they wish to start a finishing school for the young ladies of Olive Grove.  They say they can give the girls the benefits of an eastern education without the risk and expense of travel to an eastern city; this promise, along with the sisters’ grace, charm, and poise, wins the town over.  Several families begin to send their girls to the newly-founded school.  Even Steward Solomon Hopewell’s young daughter, Evangeline, attends, if only as a show of the steward’s support for the school.  Rebecca insists on attending, and her parents finally relent.  Rose is sent along in the hopes that some feminine company will calm her wild nature.  And Rachel is packed off to the school out of desperation, just to give her parents a little peace around the house.

3A.  False Doctrine –

The school is not what it seems, and neither are the three sisters.  While most of the girls are learning to sing, play the clavichord, and decorate a Sunday bonnet with silk flowers, a handful of the pupils – the most promising – are given extracurricular attention.  The sisters form a “reading circle” where they mingle readings in the Book of Life with discussions of French poetry, Continental fashion, and contemporary philosophy.  While the other girls are learning to sing hymns, the inner circle is learning that self-assertion is more proper than submission; that “hiding one’s light under a bushel” is like throwing a gift back in the face of the King of Life; that women have always been the ones to choose their mates, not the other way around; and that older, more feminine ways of worship have more power than the weaker, male-centered ways they grew up with.  Men’s fear of female power, they suggest, has given rise to several misinterpretations of Scripture, not to mention forcing women into degrading subordinate roles in daily life.  The inner circle hears all this with a glad heart, as might be expected.

Meanwhile, Brother Matthew has been wrestling with his own rage, and he’s finally reached a conclusion which he can accept.  When a man is promised a spouse, it matters not what the woman desires; it is not her place to demur.  Therefore, as he has been promised Sister Rebecca these past two years, she is his by rights, and he will take her.  This is as the King of Life wishes it to be, and nothing will change that: not parental sentiment, and certainly not a haughty girl’s over-inflated sensibilities.

3B.  Corrupt Worship –

The girls of the Inner Circle (Rebecca, Rose, Rachel, and Evangeline) begin supplementing their reading time with prayer sessions, guided and directed by the three widowed sisters.  They pray for earthly beauty, success, power, and erotic love.  They pray with the aid of the old-timey charms the sisters teach them.  They learn about the power of Lilith, about the wisdom and authority of the Hebrew women (Jael is a favorite with Sister Rose), and about the lechery and faithlessness of King David.  They translate the racier parts of the Book of Life into French verse.  They make up new, sexier words for old hymns.

Matthew has begun to pray secretly that Rebecca be brought low.  He prays that she will be delivered into his hands, though he isn’t sure whether or not he still loves her.  That’s not the point, though; he has a right to her.  He imagines her kneeling before him, begging his forgiveness, and he prays for a way to make that happen.

4A. False Priesthood –

The Three Sisters are the instigators and leaders of a cult, initiating their star pupils into false worship.  Patience is the leader among the Sisters.  She’s cool, regal, and unflappable, the very image of a fine Yankee lady; Rebecca adores her.  Constance is fun-loving and relates to the girls closer to their own level, besides being good friends with the spunky Rose (and introducing her to the ideas of proto-feminists like Mme de Stael, Margaret Fuller, and Mary Wollstonecraft).  Obedience is quiet, well-read, and gentle, a good listener when Rachel wants to hold forth on some arcane subject; they read and discuss biblical commentaries together, sigh over Lord Byron, and share a good laugh over Plato.  Evangeline is the only one without a mentor.  The adult cult is grooming the younger girls to carry on their work among the girls of Olive Grove.

The girls themselves are a cult within a cult.  Rebecca is the obvious leader, Rose the whip, and Rachel the wise counselor.  Evangeline knows she is the odd girl out, and she’s having misgivings about all this.  It was fun when it started, kind of exciting and naughty, but now it’s become a lot more serious, and she’s getting scared.  It isn’t just that she feels outshined by the other girls in the inner circle.  Now that the girls have started to take over some of the classes as student teachers, Evangeline is having serious moral misgivings.  She asks the girls to reconsider what they’re teaching their pupils, asking them if they really don’t feel the stings of conscience?  They laugh this off, and Evangeline knows she will have to take the matter to her father, even if it means confessing to dabbling in witchcraft.

4B. Sorcery –

The Sisters inform Rebecca, Rose, and Rachel of the possible threat posed by Evangeline.  They stress that the school must be protected against the ignorant and superstitious, or some of the girls might get hurt.  They suggest the girls try some new charms to aid their prayers.  These charms are even older than the ones they’ve been playing with, and they’re very powerful.  They should be used only in defense of the school, and only when no other course lies open.

5A. Hate and Murder –

The girls gather and pray, using the new charms, and the next day, a messenger arrives at the school with his hat in his hand.  He is sorry to have to inform the girls of the death of Sister Evangeline, stung to death by hornets as she crossed a field on her way home.

What a wonderful tool the girls have now!  Of course, “defense of the school” can be interpreted to mean “well-being of the school,” which is another way of saying “well-being of the individual students.”  And what is “well-being” but “prosperity”?

When Brother Simon’s indignant father, Lucas, brow-beats him into going back and once more pressing his suit with Sister Rose, Simon reluctantly agrees, knowing full well he’s going to be humiliated by the girl.  No one is at the house, so Simon wanders around back.  He finds Rose and David hard at it in the stables with Rose on top.  Simon tries to flee, but Rose catches him.  She sends her Uncle David home, ties Simon up, and gathers Rachel and Rebecca.  The girls terrorize and humiliate him for hours in ways perhaps best left unsaid, then they send him home.  As soon as he’s left, they work a charm.  Simon walks home in a mental fog, feeling as though someone else is walking in his skin.  When his father angrily demands to know how his son came to wet his pants, and why he is wearing a bonnet, Simon gives no answer.  He goes into his father’s study and takes an old dueling pistol out of its box.  He slowly charges it, drives a single ball into its chamber, and primes it with a cap.  Then he puts the barrel into his mouth.  His father races forward, but too late.  Bang!

Rebecca’s charm is simple.  A few days ago, her city man told her he would be pushing on soon.  No, she decides, he won’t.  With the help of the other girls, she works a charm so that he gets physically, violently, painfully ill anytime he wanders farther than twenty yards from the cottage.  That ought to hold him for a while.

Rachel wants her turn.  She’s tired of the self-righteous nabobs of this town telling her what she can and cannot read.  She gathers the other girls, and they send a curse on the steward.  Within days, he develops cataracts in both his eyes so severe and advanced that he can no longer read.

Matthew has received his sign from the King of Life.  As he is heading across Sister Rebecca’s land to speak with her father, he notices Mr. Baker, the city poet with the wispy mustache, is still keeping residence in the cottage.  He speaks to the man, who appears different somehow: low-spirited, tired, even scared.  The man confesses that he has, in fact, been making love to Rebecca.  When Matthew orders him to leave, the man tells him he can’t.  Matthew goes home and prays on this a bit, then takes his father’s old smooth-bore and goes back in the dead of night.  When the city man comes to the door of the cottage and sees Matthew leveling the gunbarrel at his chest, he just lets out one defeated moan.  Bang!
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Neal
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Posts: 143


« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2005, 11:40:51 AM »

Here's the rest of the posting...


6A. The People –

The New Coven wants to ensnare the Dogs.  The individual girls have separate desires…

Rebecca wants the Dogs to judge a talent show at the school.  She’ll be upset if she’s not judged the prettiest, most refined, and generally best at everything.  Also, if her connection to Mr. Baker comes out, she’ll try to make them believe she was the innocent victim of a seducer.  She’d also like one of the Dogs to succumb to her personal charms.

Rose wants the Dogs to agree that girls can do the same things boys can do.  If they disagree, she may just have to show them they’re wrong.  And if David tattles, she’ll try to make everyone believe he seduced her.

Rachel wants the Dogs to give a sermon on the story of Jael and Sisera, and on the importance of women in the hierarchy of the Faith.

The Adult Coven wants the Dogs to leave the finishing school alone.  They also want Simon's death declared a shameful, sinful suicide.  They want the raging, roaring Brother Lucas brought up sharp.  They want Sister Ruth to come off looking like a fanatical, delusional, dangerous harpy.  And finally, they want at least one of the Dogs to fall prey to the personal charms of one of the Adult Coven, the better to manipulate events.

Matthew wants the Dogs to order Rebecca to keep her father’s promise.  He would also like to receive praise for his killing of Mr. Baker, but only if mentioning the act won’t place him at risk.

David wants free of Rose’s domination, but not at the cost of his marriage.  He’s going to make a clean breast of this and ask the Dogs to consider his family in their judgment.  He also strongly suspects that the girls were instrumental somehow in Simon’s death, and he’ll pass along what little he saw on the last day of the boy’s life.

Naomi wants her husband back, and she’ll ask the Dogs to help her arrange it.  She already knows about his infidelity; she’s known it for some time.  She isn’t even angry with Rose.  In fact, she pities the girl.  It's David who strayed, and perhaps it's her own fault for not being the kind of woman who excited him.

Severin and Claire want their daughter, Rebecca, to behave herself, and they may need the Dogs to help them achieve this.  She won’t listen to them or the steward, but maybe she’ll listen to God’s Watchdogs.

Nashua and his friends, Clement and Michael, want the Dogs to do something about Matthew’s temper.  Nashua would like to see his former friend punished, but the others would be happy if the Dogs just set the boy straight.

Ruth wants the school shut down.  She wants Rachel punished in public.  She wants the Sisters driven out of town.  She just knows there’s witchcraft going on in this town; she can smell it.  It was witchcraft killed her darling Evangeline, and it was witchcraft killed young Simon.  If the Dogs won’t do something about it, perhaps she will take matters into her own hands.  Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, and all that.

Solomon, the steward, wants the Dogs to look into Simon’s suicide and the shooting of that man from Back East, Mr. George Baker.  He also wants advice on how to deal with the three girls his wife is so upset about.  He doesn’t think they’re witches, but they are setting a bad example for the other girls in town.

Lucas, the father of Simon, wants his boy’s death avenged.  He wants Rose punished, and he wants her father punished.  He wants Solomon punished for letting it come to this, and he wants the women of the finishing school punished for putting ridiculous ideas into young girls’ heads.  He wants everyone punished except his own brutal, wrathful, and overbearing self.

6B. The Demons –

The Demons want the school to prosper and the new coven to mature, but not at the expense of the older, more mature coven; the Sisters are too valuable a tool to waste.

They want the righteous in the town to come off looking like hysterical idiots and dangerous zealots, and they will try their best to make them appear unsympathetic and vile.  Perhaps if Sister Ruth physically attacked a girl in plain view, clucking her shrill verses as she went?  Or perhaps Brother Lucas could shoot Rebecca's father?

They want the murders to continue, but not at the expense of the school.  Corruption of the young serves them better than the deaths of a few adults and children.  There will be time enough for murder when the Dogs are gone.

They really, really want the Dogs to be instrumental in the prosperity and security of the school and its two covens, and in the killing of the righteous.

6C. If the Dogs Never Came –

The new coven will do away with the righteous in the town.  It will come into its full power as the girls mature.  The Sisters will move on, leaving the town in the hands of their pupils.  The new coven will begin selecting its own trio of prospects, so that it might be ready to move when it must.  Eventually, all who have a mind to stand against the desires of the coven will be dead, and the whole town will be a big playground of sin and vanity.

.........

Notes:  This is probably a multi-session town.  I think I solved the grabbiness problem by introducing other plot threads.  I also managed to solve (I think) my "girls" problem.  They're individuals now, and the rank-and-file students don't need to be a consideration unless the PCs make them a consideration, and I don't envision my players' Dogs engaging in conflict with innocent twelve-year-old girls.  So I can play the girls and the other townspeople to the hilt without feeling like I'm driving around the game in faceless mob.
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philaros
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Posts: 23


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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2005, 01:28:44 PM »

I don't have a useful comment on the new writeup, except for liking it. One small detail, that has no impact on the town itself or how it'll run, jumped out at me: Brother "Nashua". Are you from New England, Neal? Nashua's my hometown (in New Hampshire). The word is a Native American one (Algonquian, I think), so to me, it doesn't fit as the name of one of the Faithful. But to anyone unfamiliar with Nashua, I suppose it'll sound Biblical, like Joshua.
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Neal
Member

Posts: 143


« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2005, 05:39:12 PM »

Philaros, thanks for the tip.  I did not even know there was a real Nashua.  I plucked the name out of the air for the very reason you suggest: it sounded vaguely biblical.  At the time I put the character into the backstory, the only names that suggested themselves to me were "Nashua," "Herod," "Increase," and "Melchior."  I went with the one least likely to draw laughter from my players, made-up though I thought it to be.
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Jason Morningstar
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Posts: 1428


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« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2005, 05:29:36 AM »

Hey, I really like the way this turned out.  A couple of general comments:

--This town would work really well at various earlier points of attack.  This may be a personal obsession of mine, but I kept thinking "Oh wow, there's *more*?"

--Definitely plan on devoting a couple-three sessions to sorting all this out, depending on how your players approach it and whose sides they take.  Those girls each have a meaty backstory and 5D10 demonic influence to throw down, so it will be pretty exciting. 

--I wonder if you actually need Patience, Constance, and Obedience - they are disconnected from the town (outsiders, no conflicts involving them particularly).  Why not have the "finishing school" be set up locally, at the steward's behest, with some respectable matron put in charge, and the girls running rough-shod over her?  The finishing school angle seems like it could be overly byzantine and also morally black and white as written.  It'd be nice if the Dogs had to decide on the merit and necessity of the finishing school, with powerful arguments on both sides. 

Just some ideas.  This looks like a really fun town!
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