DitV - Tower Creek #4

My favorite introductory town for Dogs in the Vineyard is Tower Creek, which I ran for two people I found using the marvelous Findplay (a third couldn't make it, but I hope to run for him someday, too).

E played Brother Zachary Cook, a veteran dog in his 30's who looked like Viggo Mortenson and had seen it all and become a bit cynical. E had read the rules, but not played before.

J played Sister Bedelia McAlmond, a freshly minted dog who was good with animals and her hands. J played with me in John Kim's game "Dugway Creek" at Conquest 2005.


Brother Zachary Cook, Strong History
Acuity 3d6 Heart 4d6 Body 3d6 Will 3d6
I'm a Dog 3d6 / I'm patient with people 2d10 / I enjoy competition and sports 1d8 / I fought my friend's father for beating him and got a licking and thought about shooting the father 1d10 / I'm good with a gun 3d8
Relationships (1d6 2d8) Stone Road 2d6, TA Marshall Woodrow Offitt 1d4, Aunt Wilhelmina Bennett 1d6
Excellent coat 2d6 with stars on a dark blue background, Revolver 1d6+1d4, Big old shotgun 1d8+1d4, Horse (Petey) 1d6, Excellent Big Dog (Bull) 2d8, Book of life 1d6, Jar of consecrated earth 1d6, crap pipe 1d4

Sister Bedelia McAlmond, Strong Community
Acuity 2d6 Heart 4d6 Body 3d6 Will 4d6
I'm a dog 1d8 / Raised animals 1d8 / Never lost a calf 1d6 / Good with hands 2d6 / Mountain folk stole from family 1d4
Relationships (2d8 2d6): Doc Miller (hung around) 1d10, Minnie Frazier 2d6, TA Marshall Woodrow Offit 1d8, Sister Bethia Miller (cousin) 1d6
Coat 1d6 frilly with lace flowers, Daddy's big rifle 1d8+1d4, Worst horse the Temple had (Howell) 1d4, Big sewing kit 1d8, Book of life 1d6, Big excellent jar of consecrated earth 2d8


Zachary: "I saved a man from being unjustly lynched 1d6" with 3d8 fallout trait "Neck Scar 1d4".

Bedelia: "I stopped a wife beater 1d6"
She beat up the husband who was beating his new wife Minnie, the girl who tormented Bedelia growing up, right in church, and gained the temporary trait in fallout "I can solve a problem with my fists 1d4".


Sister Bedelia's player was eager to name a baby, and sure got the opportunity in this town!

E: Immediately on arrival, the dogs became aware of two problems. First, and most pressing, a shopkeeper's wife had lost a child in the womb and needed comforting. Second, the town Steward had taken a young second wife, Edie, in hopes of getting a son, but she hadn't gotten pregnant yet. There were also some hints that Edie wasn't fully accepted by the family--but was this family strife a cause or an effect?

Sister Rachel is the mother of the baby "who wasn't meant to be born dead", who begged the dogs to name him.

Conflicts: "Sister Rachel must accept God's Will?" Zachary vs. Rachel, as the Dog tries to convince the grieving mother that it's the will of the King of Life that her baby died, and her refusing to accept that it could be so. Rachel won when she escalated to physical to hit Brother Zachary with a shovel with a cry of "You give a message to the King from me!" and he gave rather than take the blow for 3d8 or escalate to fighting or guns. She took 10d4 fallout, raising her trait "My baby wasn't meant to be dead" from 2d8 to 3d8 with experience and taking a 1d4 relationship with Zachary as fallout.

Followup conflict between both Dogs and Rachel, "Do we calm Sister Rachel?"Rachel gave right away after Sister Bedelia named her baby (without digging him up, even though there was a shovel handy). She named him Josiah (for "God Heals"). Major thanks again to Jason Morningstar for his Names Among the Faithful booklet which I'd never run this town without.

E: After the Dogs tended to some minor affairs and tracked down some gossip, Sister Bedelia was pretty sure the problems in the town were the Steward's fault somehow and wanted to confront him. Brother Zachary wanted more proof before taking drastic action but he went along.

Much later, the Dogs confront Steward Jacob Miller in his cornfield, away from prying eyes, and heated words are exchanged. Steward vs. the two Dogs with the stakes "Does Sister Bedelia admit she was wrong to name the dead baby?" (NOTE that the stakes are NOT is she wrong, because those can't be stakes. The stakes are does she tell him she was wrong, whether she believes it or not?) Possibly the stakes should have been "Does the Steward admit that he was wrong not to name the baby?".

There were some nice echoes in this of things the Dogs had previously argued with Rachel, only with them now on the other side. I didn't note all the sees, but some of the fun bits included the Steward raising 12 with: "You can't name dead things! Naming dead things is sorcery!" Fairly early on Zachary gave, and at one point Sister Bedelia slapped the steward (using up her temporary trait "I can solve problems with my fists 1d4"), and later Sister Bedelia raised with "That baby wasn't meant to be dead!" The Steward raised 10 with "Listen to your Elders and accept their wisdom!" Sister Bedelia brought in her book of life, her coat, her status as a dog, and 2d10 of relationship dice spent on the Steward (as her opponent) and 1d8 to the dead baby (who was at stake), and Raised 9 for "YOUR pride and sin killed that baby!" and the Steward escalated to physical to see and then raised to punch her flat. She took that blow and couldn't think of anything else to refute him with, and was unwilling to escalate to guns or get into a fistfight with a man old enough to be her father, so she gave, getting her highest die (a 5) for a followup conflict, and admitted through gritted teeth she was wrong, and for her 3d4+4d6 fallout took the trait "I lied to the Steward to his face 1d4" and for her experience boosted her relationship with him to 3d10.

That night while the Steward was away with first wife Bethia visiting one of his many daughters (to avoid the awkwardness of spending the night under the same roof as the Dogs, or kicking them out after offering them a place to stay) the Dogs dragged his young second wife Sister Edie out of bed and got her to spill, and she confessed to finding comfort in the arms of the town sherriff, Cyrus, and that it was all her fault for being a bad wife to the Steward and not giving him a son, and to please spare Cyrus and punish her. She told them about the secret grove she used for meetings with Cyrus, and they went there.

Up to this point the supernatural dial had been at zero, but the players were interested in banishing any demons from the grove, and with a bit of discussion we settled on no overt demons, but that there might be creepy noises or winds or chills or rustlings or emotions or that kind of thing. As GM I took my cue from the players as to where the dial should be.

So the conflict was "Do we purify the grove?" vs. 4d6 + 4d10 demonic influence for the worst seen so far in the Dogs' judgement (Sorcery killing Rachel's baby, but no evidence yet that it was hate and murder). The demons took the blow to depart the grove, but raised 13 to fill Sister Bedelia's heart with rage to go kill the Steward who had dared stand up to her on matters of Doctrine, and she called on the spirit of the dead child she had named, to protect herself, and the wind moaned through the trees like a baby's cry, and Brother Zachary used ceremony to make the demons depart and never return to the grove, and they were out of dice so had to give.

Immediately there was a followup conflict, for "Do the demons take that baby's soul to hell with them?" and the demons grabbed the soul but then it was wrested from them with ceremony and they were sent fleeing, but had a few dice left (9, 7, 1). Sister Bedelia raised 10 to send the baby's soul to heaven where it'd be safe from demons and I gave, since I could have blocked that, but then I only would have a 7 left to raise and the Dogs had enough to block that.

I thought about blocking sending the baby to heaven and using the last 7 to raise having the demons put the baby's soul into Sister Edie (or to ask Sister Bedelia to someday bear it as her own so that it could have the life it was cheated out of) but there is a special circle in hell reserved for GMs who make female PCs pregnant with babies via demons so I didn't go there. (Although come to think of it, the Dogs had the dice left to block that 7, so it might have been interesting to give them the opportunity. But I'd had demon babies in the previous day's Polaris session with other players.)

Sister Bedelia got experience for "I sent a baby to heaven 1d6" and short-term fallout for "I used an innocent soul to save myself 1d4".

Next they dragged Brother Cyrus out of his bed in the middle of the night and he confessed his weakness and said he loved Edie and asked the Dogs to marry them and they'd leave town, and when that didn't fly begged for them to spare Edie and punish him, and they banished him from town that very moment, letting him take his horse and gun but never to see Edie again. Then they went back to Edie's bed chamber and got her to repent and promise to be a good wife from now on, and blessed her to conceive (which they had done once soon after entering the town).

The next day they called the whole town together and Sister Bedelia told everyone they'd never see Brother Cyrus again and never mind why, and preached a mighty sermon about the importance of treating your family right, and not setting one wife above the other, and after the sermon Brother Zachary met with Steward Jacob in the cornfield to make sure the lesson had been driven home, and ignored the offer of Jacob's youngest daughter in marriage if Zachary was thinking about settling down.

With Cyrus gone and the Steward and his wives straightened out, order was restored and the Dogs rode into the sunset. But that all happened long ago, and now there are none who remember it.