Last week we left things with Sister Basemuth (Patrick), Brother Caleb (David) and Brother Paul (Steve) at the farm; they've tracked down Newton's kidnappers, Cornelius and Nate, but they're too late - Newton has been strangled to death...
...or has he?! The slight trace of breath is in him, and so they perform ceremonies to call him back, to tell him that his time has not come - and it works. They save the boy.
Back in town they call for a town meeting: they will expose the sin of the town, straighten people out and pass judgement when it is called for. Sister Alice has seemed to be a spider at the centre of a very strange web. Stirring up things against Abram's farm, sending her daughter there with the hopes that they will marry, possibly trading with hedge-witches... Eventually the Dogs get her out of her house and store so that they can search for incriminating evidence, which they find: unmarked jars of a strange ointment and a dozen solid gold crosses - but not the tree-like crosses of the Faithful.
At the town meeting teenage pregnancy is revealed, a marriage is performed and some prides are softened. Cornelius, who almost killed Newton, is broken, and walks out after handing in his gun. He leaves the meeting hall as the Dogs shout that he will always be welcome. Sister Alice leaves the meeting hall before she is brought up on stage; she doesn't get far, and in fear (of what?) she fires on Brother Caleb. But being a reformed gunslinger it doesn't take him long before he shoots and disarms her.
Back before the community the Dogs get the truth from her (after a fashion). She has been trading with a hedge-witch named Maggie, who has been supplying her "healing ointments". The gold crosses were used in payment by some men who bought her late husband's rifles and shotguns, but she doesn't know who they were or where they were going (or at least, she would not say). She was stirring up bad feeling in town and send her daughter to Abram in the hope that her shop would prosper more in the long run.
The Dogs debate whether or not to kill her, but in the end settle on banishing her from the town. She is sent away on a horse with a flask of water and some provisions and told not to come back.
The meeting is adjourned and they ride off to the next town, a small mission community called Hope. Arriving there they find a confused tale: the community is an outreach to the Mountain People, who have been respectful to the Faithful but dismissive of their religion. When a Faithful hunter comes back with a wound in his side and says he was attacked, the town's Steward desperately keeps some of the children and a woman from the Mountain People in the town, praying over them and trying to convert them fervently. Yesterday a small band of Mountain People were spotted approaching and warned off with a shot. As evening draws on, will they return?
Which is where we leave the session...
Some thoughts: much quicker to get going without character gen to do first, and aside from a few conflicts here and there, much less dice rolling. At one point I had to stop myself from making Patrick roll against his body to see if Sister Basemuth could race back from Sister Alice's house before the meeting started - it seemed almost like "we haven't rolled anything for a while, so we have to leave something to chance." But maybe Dogs in the Vineyard is not that sort of game.
The overall "solution" that they came to for the town of King's Bridge, the town meeting, was something that I didn't consider. But it seemed really effective. Rather than go out fighting fires - stop this sin, close off that injustice - once they had done their investigations and negotiations they brought everyone together before the town to see what would happen. Neat.
Sister Alice was a very minor person in my original notes, but as events snowballed it seemed like it would be good to tie her into a few things and make her the "butterfly" whose wings created the storm in town. I'm not convinced that she consciously set out on that path, but that doesn't really matter to a great extent. Some things which came up also play nicely in trailing other things going on in the region. Who knows what the Dogs will do or will they go - or what assumptions they will make?
I'm enjoying Dogs in the Vineyard, but as I've said to David and Patrick, I'm also really missing Apocalypse World... It's a year since I first started playing RPGs and AW was my gateway drug. I have an itch to return there.
Anyway: looking forward to next games night! How will the Dogs resolve the Hope Mission?