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Author Topic: [DitV] A funny thing happened on the way to Anders' Crossing.... (AKA a town)  (Read 8826 times)

Posts: 5

« on: June 28, 2010, 11:19:11 PM »

Last night I sat down to work up a second town for my Dogs in the Vineyard game (we'll be kicking it off Wednesday night with Tower Creek out of the examples in the book, but I wanted to have a second town ready to go just in case). I was sure I had a solid grasp on what I wanted: pride from an injured Dog facing retirement, a weak and ineffectual Steward, and people turning in their doubt and fear to a local elder, himself a retired Dog, riding the knife's edge of turning into a cult. Throw in some secret police and demonic attacks at the sawmill, and I was sure I had a solid basis for a town.

Only it never quite popped for me. I tried, but the motivations just never quite gelled and the progression of sins felt forced. So tonight, when I got home from work, I did a select-all delete and started from scratch, keeping just the original seed idea of "an injured Dog unlawfully taking over the office of Steward." What I ended up with... was nowhere near what I expected. Figured I'd share it with you all as a great example of how town creation can surprise you. I started out aiming for something grounded in petty greed and a desire for more status than you've earned, and how a craven unwillingness to stand for your principles is just as bad as idolatry and sorcery. What I got was....

The Town: Anders' Crossing
Anders' Crossing is a large, bustling mill town situated inside a lazy loop in the Tower River, a few days downriver from Tower Creek. The land here is better suited to farming than upriver, and famines are rarely a problem here.

The town's had a troubled history of late; last winter, Mountain Folk raids carried off several young people, including the Steward's eldest daughter. The Steward and a pair of Dogs rode out to get them back, but the Steward and one of the Dogs were slain, while the second, Brother Dominic, dragged himself back to town to report that the youths they'd gone to rescue had all been sacrificed.

The Season
Spring, and the mill is in full, booming activity. Lumber's coming down the river, getting planed down into boards to be shipped off to branches all around the range.

The Trouble
Brother Dominic is certain that the town's past sins caused the Mountain Folk raids that took his Brother, the Steward, and his beloved Sister Hannah. He thinks he's the only one who can stop it happening again.

Brother Dominic has settled into the late Steward's house and taken up his office. He has married the Steward's widow, and is keeping his wife and stepchildren locked up tight to “keep them from falling into wickedness.”

...so, of course, the Steward's son, Brother Abraham, does exactly that, sneaking out behind his stepfather's back to see his girl, Sister Rebecca. They get caught and run out of town on a rail.

Demonic Attack
The demons encourage the congregation's fear and paranoia, leading to increasing accusations of sin and idolatry. Lynchings are only a heartbeat away.

False Doctrine
Many of the townsfolk have turned to Elder Jabez, a former Dog known for his temperance and mercy, as a de facto spiritual leader. Trouble is, he ain't a Steward any more than Brother Dominic.

Corrupt Worship
Sister Rebecca, Elder Jabez's granddaughter, believes him to be the true Steward ordained by God Himself.

False Priesthood
"Steward" Dominic has decreed five of the townsfolk “Good Shepherds” and charged them with finding and punishing sin. As the Dogs ride into town, they're about to cane a young boy for cussin' in church.

Brother Dominic makes use of sorcery that he is convinced is the wrath of God Almighty laying bare the sinners.

The People
— Brother Dominic, the maimed Dog-cum-Steward, wants to keep the Dogs from finding out he left the old Steward to die in that Mountain Folk camp.
— Sister Abigail, Dominic's new wife, wants the Dogs to annul her marriage and let her mourn her late husband in peace.
— Elder Jabez wants the Dogs to back him in a bid to take down Brother Dominic's cult.
— Brother Zedekiah, the leader of the Good Shepherds, wants the Dogs to back Brother Dominic.
— Sister Rebecca wants the Dogs to convince Brother Abraham to formally recognize Elder Jabez as the rightful Steward.
— Brother Abraham wants the Dogs to marry him and Sister Rebecca.

The Demons
— The demons want to force the divide between Brother Dominic and Elder Jabez to widen and deepen until it explodes into outright hate and murder.

If the Dogs Never Came
— Eventually Elder Jabez will come gunning for Brother Dominic, but he doesn't stand a chance on his own. His “sin” will be all Brother Dominic needs to kick off the hate and murder fest.

Thoughts? Comments? General declarations of my certain insanity?

Posts: 3656

« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2010, 05:55:45 AM »

My advice is to take it to hate & murder. It's already primed, just nudge it over. Dogs in the Vineyard is: the investigators arrive at the crime scene. The investigators shouldn't arrive before the crime!

Do that, and it's a great town. I think you should play it first instead of Tower Creek.


Posts: 5

« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2010, 09:37:00 AM »

My advice is to take it to hate & murder. It's already primed, just nudge it over. Dogs in the Vineyard is: the investigators arrive at the crime scene. The investigators shouldn't arrive before the crime!

Do that, and it's a great town. I think you should play it first instead of Tower Creek.


Any thoughts on where to push the murder button? I suppose it would be easy to up the caning of the kid to a lynching, but I feel like that pushes the town from "looks fairly innocuous at first glance, but hiding corruption within" straight into "This is a bad, bad place" right off the bat. Maybe if the kid's crime is more severe than cussin' in church that won't be as bad. I definitely don't want to kill Brother Dominic or Elder Jabez, that would remove a lot of the PCs' hard decisions and conflict potential.

Ooooh. Wait. Maybe Brother Jabez (or even better, maybe Sister Rebecca acting in Brother Jabez's name) gunned down one of the Good Shepherds. Hell-ooooo powder keg.

Anyways, thanks for the suggestion, and glad you liked it. I'll probably still run Tower Creek first, just because it's become tradition among my group that, whenever we run Dogs for a new group, we start them with Tower Creek. The guy who introduced me to Dogs ran it for me, the guy who introduced him to it ran it for him, and so on. It's always fun to see how different people interpret the town and resolve its issues--I've literally seen every response from forgiving all the sinners and letting them do what makes them happy to setting fire to the town and standing guard over the well.

But everybody--everybody--names the baby.

Posts: 7

« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 02:38:38 AM »

Played this town last night, and it went much better than I had hoped!

I am still very new to Dogs (this is the second town ever) and I have spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the rules, listening to pod casts of actual play to make sure I have a full grasp of just what to do and how to run it. The forge has been invaluable.

I was looking for ideas for a town and I came across this thread and I though it sounded just right, plenty of things happening with a fun location (especially relevant because one of the Dogs hates water, and another it afraid of fire). The only slight twist I made is that Rebecca is pregnant with Abraham's child. I wanted something that would not be so easy for my players to deal with as in the last town they were all about delivering justice at any cost, turns out it did just that!

When the Dogs rode into town I went with the idea of a boy being dragged out of the dry good store by two of the "Shepherds", the Dogs obviously stopped them and asked what was going on. When they were told, they had a problem. Two of the Dogs didn't see an issue with it, the other two could understand but thought it was a little extreme. When Dominic joined them (in the guise of the town steward) and said it was what should be done they let the boy be dragged to the town church to be caned.

This seemed to have stuck with these two players as rather than following my idea they would go to dinner with the steward so I could get ready for the next problem they only wanted to make sure the boy was fine, so I let them do that (a little worried I was already beyond what I thought would happen and I had no details for this.. should have realised they would take more interest). But as you know the game just works for this sort of thing so they played out a scene where they talked the two out of caning the boy too badly.

Those two joined the meal already in progress at the stewards house where the details were revealed that he is the steward because his brother was slain a few months previously and he has taken the town under his wing. The players did not immediately see this as a problem but knew something was up, and could see his wife (Abigail) acting a little strange.

But no time for that, there is a problem across town. Seeing as the Dogs are there, Dominic asks if they want to come and see if they can help. Of course they do to find the "Shepherds" gathered around a small cabin just outside town shouting to the occupant inside. A shot is fired blowing a hole in the door! Rebecca screaming from inside tells them leave her alone or she will kill the Shepherd she has in there with her.

The Dogs step up and do their thing, they manage to talk their way inside and while Rebecca is obviously scared out of her wits she can at least hold a conversation. That is until she rolled amazingly well and the two Dogs could not roll for toffee. After some conversation they find out this "Shepherd" was there to rape her, and at the point when the Dogs realised they could not stop her she shot and killed him.

I was expecting the Dogs to talk her down, but once the stakes were set I realised there could be a great follow up conflict that would push their collective buttons. Before the body has even hit the ground the follow up is in progress. One of the Dogs leaves the cabin, she just does not want to face this. The other three (all guys) decide to deliver instant justice and start shooting. She managed to dodge the very cinematic bullets flying all around her only to give, tell them that she is pregnant, and to ask for their mercy (she would not have survived a single round more).

This stopped them dead. Their idea of delivering justice knocked, and we ended the session. I had no idea any of this would happen, but so glad it did.

Thank you Kordeth for a great idea for a town, and thank you Vincent for a truly great game!

Looking forward to the next game to see what happens next.

Posts: 1

« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2010, 12:54:56 PM »

I ran this town for my first session, borrowing heavily from Binny-UK's opening, with three Dogs. It went okay, but not spectacularly. In particular, Brother Dominic came off as unambiguously the bad guy, and Elder Jabez as unambiguously good - for which I am mostly to blame.

The session did, however, have a powerful (if exhausting) climax, with Brother Jebediah (one of the Dogs) and Brother Dominic having a preach-off during Sabbath worship in the meeting-house for control of the congregation. Dominic tried to use sorcery to control the congregation, but the Dogs rolled well and made some great raises, and ultimately won the town over to their side. Afterwards, they confronted Dominic about his sorcery, who denied everything and tried to leave, so they escalated to fighting, the Shepherds responded with gunfire, and it all ended with a big shootout in church on a Sabbath. The Dogs won, and the session ended with the Dogs marrying Abraham & Rebecca, naming Jabez as steward, and showing unusual pity to the now-unpossessed Dominic, who had contracted a strange case of amnesia (a trait due to the fallout, justified as aftereffects from the Demon fleeing his body).

While the session ended well, there was little internal moral conflict in it for the Dogs, and I'd suggest anyone running this figure out ahead of time specific examples of how Dominic & Jabez are both unappealing choices for Steward - given that Dogs are empowered to legitimize just about anything, if one of them seems obviously more suited for the position, the Dogs might (as my players did) just go ahead and take sides without worrying too much about it.

Posts: 7

« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2010, 04:05:50 AM »

Finished running this town yesterday and I totally agree with rntz.

My group liked the idea of Jabez as the new steward, cornered the steward trying to convince the Dogs were the problem and ended up killing him and the "Shepards" while the mill was burned to the ground.

As rntz say, think of some ways that Jabez (ex dog) is just as unappealing as Dominic. Dominic actually came off quiet well being regretful about the death of his brother and sister, but contemptible in his hard behaviour, and his way to deal with the 'Rebecca' problem. But I think it would be great if you made Jabez have his own problems that make him just as unsuitable. Such as hating Abraham for being related to Dominic and demanding Rebecca leave him, or being such a grizzled dog he might just snap at any point and go looking for Dominic even if that is a very bad idea.

This would give you the chance to have a little more story and a way to bring out how Dominic is not the appointed steward (my group didn't fully pick up on this) and perhaps it might be a good idea to make Jabaz vocal of how Dominic came back from the mountain people leaving his brother to die (just have Jabez accuse Dominic either to his face or to the Dogs).

You could have a very interesting alternative story here where the "Shepards" are actually running the show (sorcery / false priesthood) and letting Dominic and Jabez take all the credit/attention. My group saw them as Dominica tools so paid little attention to them. But that could make the town far to complex if you go too deep, probably depends on what your group wants to do.

It is worth thinking how will you wrap this up. At some point the Dogs will go looking for the Steward and you need to have something they can do. I really like rntz idea of Dominic trying to use his sorcery to sway the towns peoples opinion. Or how about the congregation angry with the sins and blaming the dogs, but not knowing why (already under Dominics influence). That would give you a chance to have Jabez spouting his version of the doctrine that the dogs can find equally unappealing.

But there is a saw mill here, and it seems a shame not to use it.

Going to try and run this game again in a few weeks with another group, see how they deal with it. Will be reworking these pieces into it.
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