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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [DitV] King's Ward  (Read 3368 times)

Posts: 144

« on: March 01, 2006, 09:15:17 AM »

Second town in our Dogs-by-AIM game; the first (insanely long) one is written up in (DitV) Whitevein, via AIM.  Quick summary:  Steward is whoring out his unwilling wife to pay Sheriff's unfair taxes.  The Dogs shot the Steward, the Sheriff and the wife's possessed mother, left the Steward's  repentant acolyte as the new Steward, and promoted the Steward's atheist son from deputy to Sheriff.

Whitevein took us two months of intermittent weekly play; we polished off King's Ward in one night.

King's Ward is your standard small farming town nestled in the foothills, home to ten families and an unmarried Steward.  It's become common practice to employ a few non-Faithful itinerant workers in spring and fall; there's only one in town now, a Jewish man named Yeshua.  Also fairly new is Sister Eliza, a single young woman who came through with a caravan and stayed on.

Pride:  Sister Eliza is an unwed mother, but doesn't want that sullying her reputation in a new town--especially since she's not entirely sure who the father was (her hunch is a certain Dog she once met).  Yeshua makes friends with a kind middle-aged housewife, Sister Alwen; her husband, Brother Clarity, doesn't much care for that.

Injustice:  Clarity forbids Alwen from seeing Yeshua.  Eliza conceals her eight-month-old baby in the process of settling in, then hides her under the floorboards--taking her out only to perform the bare minimum of care.

Sin:  Alwen obeys Clarity, but he doesn't trust her and goes to "have a talk" with Yeshua himself.  Surprisingly, the two actually do get to talking, and Clarity is fascinated by the similarities and differences between the Faith and Judaism.  He leaves with a budding friendship with Yeshua, and a translated section of Yeshua's chumash (a "reading copy" of the Torah).  Over the following weeks, feeling distanced from the Faith of his home and family, he takes to privately visiting another newcomer--Sister Eliza.

Demonic Attacks:  During one such visit, Clarity hears the baby crying.  Before Eliza can stop him, he tears up the rug and floorboards to see a hideous demon-child:  blank white eyes, skin with patches of fungus, a lamprey's mouth.  He tries to strangle it and beats Eliza unconscious for harboring the thing, then pushes the rug back and runs out of the house.  In his panic, he leaves his borrowed chumash behind.

False Doctrine:  Alwen, who has been growing suspicious of Clarity's absences, goes to Eliza's and finds her bruised and unconscious, with the chumash lying on the floor.  She goes to the Steward, Ennis, with the evidence; he demands that Yeshua be brought to him for punishment, saying THE MOUTH OF THE UNBELIEVER BE STOPPED UP.

What They Want

Brother Clarity wants the Dogs to help him spring Yeshua, and will admit that he left the chumash--but only to them, not the Steward.  If he learns that the baby survived, he'll do anything to kill it.

Sister Eliza wants the Dogs to discover that Clarity knew Yeshua, so they'll be punished--and silenced--together.  She doesn't want anyone to know about the baby.

Sister Alwen wants her husband back and all this violence over with.

Steward Ennis wants the Dogs to approve of his chosen punishment and help him carry it out:  cutting out Yeshua's tongue and cauterizing it with a branding iron.

Yeshua wants the Dogs to clear his name, but he won't trade Clarity for it.

The baby wants to be baptized and named--Eliza never did either.  To anyone but Clarity, she appears as a normal fourteen-month-old child, albeit very pale, undersized and malnourished.

The Demons want the Dogs to torture Yeshua, find the baby, then kill Eliza and Clarity for their duplicitousness--but not before Eliza reveals who the father was.  They like undereducated, hair-trigger Ennis, and want him to stay in office.

What would happen if the Dogs never came?  Yeshua would be mutilated.  Clarity would kill Ennis.  Eliza would kill Clarity in his sleep, and Alwen would banish Eliza.  The baby would starve.  The horrified townspeople would drift apart, and King's Ward would become a ghost town.

What do the Dogs find?  Yeshua's beaten and groggy, with his hands bound to a stake in the town square.  Ennis has his knife out and the iron hot.  Alwen's reviving Eliza in her house nearby.  Clarity's on a low hill with his Henry rifle, aiming to shoot through Yeshua's ropes--or shoot Ennis if he misses.  The baby is about to wake up.

Flags I wanted to address:  Ian's character, Saul, is a convert to the Faith from Judaism; he has the traits "I taught my mother the Faith" and "In exchange for a strong arm, I will teach you the Faith."  David's character, Benedict, has Oedipal abusive-mother issues (a relationship with Lust, a relationship with his mother, and a relationship with the demon who possessed her).  Ben's character, Zeke, is the younger brother of Jeremiah, a Dog who fell in the line of duty; Zeke carries his gun, wears his coat and has a relationship with his legacy.  Eliza believes that Jeremiah is the father of her child.

One more note:  Obviously, I mean no disrespect, but I know nothing about Judaism in the 19th century, or how the Torah was treated, or whether Yeshua would be likely to loan Clarity a reading copy.  What matters is that the outsider gave the insider a significant object, and the insider left it at the scene of his crime.

Posts: 144

« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2006, 11:08:40 AM »

We decided that Alwen would be Zeke's aunt, but that he didn't know Clarity; Steward Ennis would be Benedict's cousin, a few years older.

The Dogs talked the Steward out of carrying out his sentence on Yeshua, and Benedict started quizzing Ennis on where exactly he'd come up with that line of false doctrine.  I took that and ran with it:  Ennis became a well-intentioned man with a seriously lacking grasp of the Book of Life.

Zeke distracted the blood-hungry crowd by announcing that he had mail, including a parcel for Alwen.  That gave me the cue to have her run screaming out of Eliza's house.  She had heard the disembodied voice of a baby crying.  Demons!

(I gave Ian, playing Saul, a hint about Clarity up on the hilltop here; he didn't seem interested in following up, so I dropped it.  It was the first of several times I felt like he didn't have much to do.)

And this is where I felt, for the first time, like I understood how to Play The Town.  Zeke went in looking for demons, and Saul and Benedict followed--Saul holding the groggy Yeshua on his rope, Benedict covering Zeke through the window.  Alwen and Ennis went with Zeke.  Eliza was waking up on the bed.  The baby was under the floorboards, screaming, and Clarity was about to burst in the back door.

The players--with no hints on my part--had managed to get themselves and every named NPC in practically the same room.  This is in sharp contrast to our first town, where I had them meet the Sheriff and the deputy first, then go inside to meet the Steward, then he left and they met his wife, etc.  Lightbulb!

Zeke tore up the rug and floorboards and gave the baby to Alwen, at which point Clarity burst in the back door, guns drawn.  He confessed to beating Eliza and leaving the book, asked them to free Yeshua and said if they didn't kill the monster-baby, he would.  CONFLICT!

Zeke has a talent for sensing demons, and I'd told him that there was a presence in the room as soon as Clarity showed up, but it wasn't him or the baby.  The Dogs set their stakes to "Clarity doesn't kill anybody and the demon is driven from the room."  Saul rolled lousy, Zeke rolled okay, Clarity rolled well, and Benedict rolled like thunder, as this description suggests.

Benedict shot Clarity in the knee, Yeshua dragged Saul to the door and yelled at Clarity to stop, and Alwen escaped past him.  Clarity, sobbing, would have shot her in the back--except Benedict blocked the shot with his coat, then shot the guns out of his hands.  Zeke smashed him up against the wall, asking coldly why he had almost blown holes in his aunt to get to an innocent child.

Ben: "Shoot through my aunt to kill a baby less than a year old, will you? BLAM BLAM BLAM"
Ben: (Except he doesn't actually say Blam)
Me: It'd be better if he did!
Ian: he definitely should
David: do it

I gave rather than see Ben's "I shoot him in the face," and Clarity lived through his fallout.

Ben: (Does he need medical attention? I'll do it! Blam!)

The Dogs split up here, and AIM as a medium showed the advantage that makes up for its slowness--I was able to run three scenes concurrently without collapsing.  Saul and Yeshua discussed their faiths and trust, and Saul persuaded him to give the townsfolk another chance.  Benedict turned on Ennis and gave him a tongue-lashing from the Book so severe that Clarity asked for mercy.  Eliza took Zeke aside to explain herself, and I got to have my big money line:

Me: When Zeke and Eliza are a little out of earshot from the astonished crowd around the house, she murmurs, "you look like him."
Ben: *raises an eyebrow* "Who?"
Me: Eliza: "Her father. Jeremiah. A Dog, like yourself... almost two years ago now."
Ben: *gets a glass of water and takes a sip so he can do a spit take*

Conflict two!  If I won, she was telling the truth; if Zeke won, she was lying and admitted it.  Ben (playing Zeke) said he'd have fought much harder if my stakes had been "she's lying / you believe her," and when she escalated to physical (comparing his hands to his brother's) he gave.  I liked having stakes that actually changed the town writeup by establishing that as fact, but I'm not sure now whether it would have been better to convince Ben to fight harder.

Eliza won, and Zeke's world was rocked.  He said he'd baptize the baby if she kept the father a secret, and she agreed; it was only at this point that Zeke became aware of how neglectfully she'd treated the child, and for what selfish reasons, but he did it anyway.

It was getting late and I thought the two conflicts had settle the big questions pretty well, so I kind of pushed the players into pronouncing judgment quickly, and out of character.  Ben liked that, but David and Ian obviously felt rushed, and if we hadn't been so close and it hadn't been 1 am I would have followed their lead.

As it was, Benedict restored Ennis's reputation and left him Steward, with a quiet promise of bad things if he hadn't actually read the Book when they returned.  Zeke left Hope with Eliza, on the condition that Alwen check in daily and help her raise the child.  Saul absolved Yeshua of attempting to convert one of the Faithful and declared him innocent to the town.

Most interestingly, I thought, was that the Dogs patched Clarity's wound and didn't punish him at all--they seemed satisfied that he'd been hallucinating and wasn't to blame, even though he fired a gun at his own wife.  (When he saw the baby again, he saw it as perfectly normal.)

So:  bite-sized town, only two conflicts, one night of play.  I consciously Said Yes most of the time and didn't feel it impaired anything.  We discussed it afterwards, and the guys made it clear they liked the longer town better, so the next one won't be so quick or tidy; still, I thought this made for a good break after the marathon of Whitevein.

I'm thinking maybe next we do Fort Lemon.

Posts: 250


« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2006, 11:11:48 AM »

Wow. No wonder you got through that in one session - it's a hell of a ride.
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