[DitV] Joshua's Peak (Part 2)

Started by daftnewt, October 15, 2008, 12:11:14 AM

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Last Saturday we finished up in the town of Joshua's Peak.  You can find the first part of that, with the characters, here:


If anyone thinks I could've done anything differently or better, or that I missed something or didn't get it right, I'd love to hear about it.

Part 2: Sin and Justice

Next morning the Dogs go see Sister Lavinia, washing with the women, to tell her she must accept Br. Josiah's courtship.  They make vague remarks about Br. Hiram and the uncertainty of her marriage that just confuse her so badly!

Conflict:  do they stop her from crying and running away?

Players:  No, we don't. We give.

She does.  The women are half-scandalised.  Some people start saying the Dogs have chastised Lavinia; she's done something wrong.

(I should have made all this part of the stakes; they would have fought then.)

Troy came up with a rather operatic plan involving getting Sr. Lavinia to hide behind a tree somewhere outside town so she could overhear the Dogs talking to Br. Hiram so that when he (as Troy anticipated) hedged about marriage she'd know what a cad he was and break off the marriage.  We started to slip into "player and GM trying to outwit one another with clever manipulations of the gameworld" mode before I came to my senses and just told him that he could make that the stakes in a conflict and the dice would settle it.  Troy seemed to adjust to that idea after a moment.

They decided to give Br. Josiah a week and a half to court Sr. Lavinia before they did anything.

The next day Brother Elijah decided to go up into the woods and peaks to get away from people for a while.

Brother Absalom was confronted by Br. Ezekiel the Steward, who wanted to know why the dogs were hanging around.

The two dogs got into a flashback conflict: Troy didn't want Andreas to reveal anything about the plan to the Steward.  Andreas was a bit reluctant; I told him, "remember how you were saying last session your character didn't have enough good Traits?  You should get into Talking conflicts and take Fallout - it's your best chance to get Experience picks."  He kind of went "Ah..." with his expression, and they had the conflict.  Retrospective Brother Elijah won, so Brother Absalom had to keep his mouth shut.

So back in the present, Br. Ezekiel insisted that things between his son and Sr. Lavinia would settle down in time.

Conflict: does he convince Br. Absalom that things are fine?

(I wasn't sure about the stakes here; I tried to think of something he could get Br. Absalom to -do-, but all I could come up with was "agree to leave town the day after tomorrow" and I didn't like that.  How legit is it to have the dice dictate a character's opinion/reaction in Dogs?)

In any case, Br. Absalom won (and there was some escalation to physical), and shook Br. Ezekiel badly by revealing kind of indirectly that there had been intercourse between his son and Sr. Lavinia.  "We have to get this settled," he said.  "If there's a baby it needs to be born in wedlock."  The Steward stumbled out of the house, practically speechless.

Torn by doubt about what was going on and whether he was truly helping these people, Br. Absalom went into the woods to pray and search his soul.

Meanwhile, up in the woods Br. Elijah came across Br. Hiram and Sr. Lavinia having sex.  Hiram's manner was intense.  I told the players it was because the demons were inspiring lust in him.

That was enough for Br. Elijah.  He came out of the woods with the sun through the leaves making an aurora around him, calling on the Ancients and singing praise.

Conflict: does lift the demonic influence from Hiram?

He did.

Confused in his wits, ashamed and terrified but no longer demon-bound, Hiram grabbed up his britches and rifle and fled into the woods.  Brother Elijah was left with a frightened, ashamed and utterly bewildered young girl who just couldn't understand what was going on.  He managed to get her back down into town and to her father.

Who immediately demanded to know what had happened.

Conflict: Does he get the truth from Br. Elijah?

This one turned ugly.  Br. Edward wouldn't let Br. Elijah leave; Brother Elijah finally had to strike him, Br. Edward lost himself to anger, threw a punch, and these two good men, with nothing but love for Sr. Lavinia and the desire to help her, fought in front of her in the family's house as she watched in horror.

After the first violence, Br. Elijah, with lots of dice of violence on him, refused to hit back at Br. Edward.  He kept talking and counseling until Br. Edward, stymied, in the misery of his heart turned in terrible anger and raised his hand against his own daughter.

Br. Elijah stepped in and took the blow (in both senses!) and still spoke calming words, and Br. Edward seeing the wound on the Dog's cheek and his daughter cowering, came to his senses and flung himself down crying and begging for forgiveness.  There was reconciliation between him and his daughter, and Br. Elijah left to get himself a bandage for his face.

(And somewhere in there I explained to Troy that the only way to permanently end the demonic threat was to end the sin in the Branch.)

Up in the woods, Br. Hiram was at his wits' end...and he came upon Br. Absalom on his knees praying.  In the rage of his humiliated pride, and fear of what the Dogs would do, he drew his rifle, took careful aim, and shot to kill Br. Absalom.

Conflict:  Does Br. Hiram drive Br. Absalom so far into the woods he gets lost and doesn't find his way back 'till tomorrow?

(In retrospect I could have come up with better stakes, but this ended up fitting well with the back-and-forth cutting between the two characters, and I figure the demons sure wanted the Dogs separated...)

Br. Hiram finally had Br. Absalom so hard-pressed with his shooting that Andreas decided to Give rather than take d10's fallout.  So he was good and lost.  Hey, an allegory!

At no time did Br. Absalom see who was shooting at him, though I made it clear to the players.

Brother Hiram descended into town, a storm raging in his heart.

It was nightfall now.  Br. Elijah was getting ready to head up into the woods to look for Br. Absalom, when he heard the gathering on the town green, saw the lanterns, and heard Br. Hiram's voice rising above the rest.

He started to head that way, when a young town girl, maybe 13, came running up begging for help 'cause her pa was hitting her ma.  Cursing in his heart he followed her back to her house, where, I explained, the demons being driven from Br. Hiram had inspired this man to force his wife, and start beating her when she refused.

Oh, the look on the player's face as he realised this kind of thing was just going to get worse and worse unless they healed the Branch.

Conflict:  Does Br. Elijah set this to rights in time to get to Hiram's town meeting?

Both player and character were feeling pressed and twisted.  He opened with Fighting and there was violence as the demon-inspired townsman fought with Br. Elijah.  The Dog wasn't much hurt, but I made the townsman take lots of fighting Fallout to show the players how I could do that :)

Br. Elijah won, and as it happened the townsman Saw his fallout on the nose so didn't need medical attention.  He came to his senses unable to believe what he'd done - the wife had a big frying pan and was holding it unsure if she was going to hit her husband or the Dog - and Br. Elijah explained that what happened was the result of the spiritual malaise that lay on the town, not her husband's fault.  Troy had a nice turn of phrase, there.  Br. Elijah headed out.

On the green, most of the town was gathered in the lantern- and torchlight. Br. Hiram was there with his father the Steward, and he was accusing Sr. Lavinia of laying with Br. Josiah, and saying on account of that there wasn't going to be any wedding.  Sr. Lavinia was crying in her father's arms.  The Steward was standing by his son but not talking.

Now we learned something about Troy aka Br. Elijah.  At first, all het up after the last conflict, seeing the whole thing (mostly rightly) as Br. Hiram's fault and now facing this truly monstrous injustice, he was going to just haul off and shoot the guy with the stakes, "I kill him dead."

Then Troy said he didn't see what else to do at that point; he felt he had to take the strongest possible action to stop things.  So I told him, "Well, you don't have to set those stakes, you could say, "Br. Hiram confesses" and go through the other arenas and if that isn't working you can shoot him and he can confess on his deathbed!"

And when Troy saw he still had options before he had to kill, he changed his plan.  Really, I already knew this about him. I've known him for 23 years :)

Br. Elijah stepped from the darkness into the light like an accusing shadow and nailed Br. Hiram with his steely glare.

Conflict:  Does Br. Hiram confess in front of the whole town?

And I said that because of the terrible doubts Br. Absalom had sown in the Steward's mind, he wouldn't Help his son the way he did in the previous session.  It was just the two of them.

This was a fun one, and appropriately climactic.  Br. Hiram, in a kind of divine justice, rolled badly on the huge pile of dice he'd been used to beating the Dogs with.  He knew Br. Elijah knew the truth - he'd caught him at it that afternoon!  And he knew he'd tried to kill the other Dog not two hours past.  He was wracked with guilt but too prideful, self-righteous and afraid to Give.

Despicably, he did all he could to throw the whole blame on Lavinia, his word against Br. Elijah's demanding the the townswomen check Lavinia's virginity for proof.

They went all through the Talking and Physical arenas with Br. Elijah slowly boxed him in, getting closer and closer, and Hiram raging up and down, pointing fingers, but when Hiram pulled that last move Br. Elijah lost his temper and started beating him.

So there was this fantastic scene, the Dog and the Steward's son beating each other to death in the center of town by torchlight, with Hiram's father and Lavinia and Josiah and Lavinia's father and the whole goddamn town watching silent and aghast.

Hiram went right down to his last die and broke.  Beaten into the dirt, sobbing, he confessed everything.

And Brother Elijah didn't have to draw his gun.

So: denouement.  The Steward leads his son away (and Hiram ended up recovering without medical help), Lavinia was led away by her father and Br. Josiah, Brother Elijah went to bandage hisself up, and the whole town stayed in the square talking about it all.

And they were still there in the morning when Br. Absalom came down from the woods and said, "What happened?"

Br. Absalom made the Dogs' farewells while Br. Elijah sat on his horse, utterly impatient to get the hell out of there.  Afterwards he said, from now on Br. Absalom is gonna do all the talking.

And we ended and did the Between Towns stuff!

Both players chose some good Reflecting changes to make, that, well, reflected what had happened.

We talked about what we'd learned about the characters.  We learned that Br. Absalom's doubts about his worthiness to resolve things cause him to avoid taking action of any kind.  I think that's something I have to push hard.

We learned that the Dogs aren't sure of themselves, that they're reluctant to take forceful action to confront problems directly, preferring to talk and compromise and try to keep everyone happy.

We noted that Br. Elijah, a character designed to be strong at hard-hearted violence and poor at talking, was continually thrust into talking situations this game...and that he handled them pretty well (though he doesn't think so) and we learned a lot about what kind of lines Troy draws regarding acceptable and unnacceptable violence.

I was reminded that in games Troy takes the agonies of believable characters quite to heart.  He was moved by the pain in the town and suffered somewhat wanting to make everyone happy.  He seemed pretty happy about the game, but I got the feeling he found it intense.  I'm curious to see how he'll react to a more troubled town, with more people in conflict.  And will wickeder villains, sorcerors and the like, make things easier for him?

Anyway, I'm very happy with this start to the game.  I'm going to work up the next town; we'll play again in a week or two!
Glaucôn the Serpent God
a helping hand
in a sock


Fantastic! It sounds like a really fun time.

Quote from: daftnewt on October 15, 2008, 12:11:14 AM
Conflict: does he convince Br. Absalom that things are fine?

(I wasn't sure about the stakes here; I tried to think of something he could get Br. Absalom to -do-, but all I could come up with was "agree to leave town the day after tomorrow" and I didn't like that.  How legit is it to have the dice dictate a character's opinion/reaction in Dogs?)

My vote is no, but I'm way over here, so I don't really get one.

It's important that Br. Absalom's player gets to say what Br. Absalom does, moment to moment, going forward. Making him accountable to "but half an hour ago the dice convinced you..." will create awkward, fiction-breaking play. However, as long as everybody understands "does he convince Br. Absalom" to really mean "does Br. Absalom goes along with him, even though he's not convinced, for now at least" it'll probably work out fine.

Remember, at a minimum, that when you set stakes inside a character's head, the player has final say whether that's really at stake in the situation. If Br. Absalom's player doesn't think that it is, it's not. You'll have to come up with other stakes - maybe Br. Absalom's player should suggest some.



I was playing Brother Absalom at this session. It did feel a little bit odd with stakes like that, but on the other hand it forced me to go for it and decide if we should keep waffling or actually finally do something about what happened in the town.

I think the first time you play DitV you will learn a lot about what kind of character you really wanted to play, and how to do it. That's usually the case, but even more so in DitV.

I had fun and I like the writeup. It would have been nice with a bit anonymizing of our names, though. Kind of hard to do something about right now without editing, though.
Andreas Davour