Tonight was a great session. After a week's absence the Dogs (two out of three of them) returned to their duties and straightened things out in the Hope Mission. That didn't take all that long, and they set out for the town of Jewel, hot on the heels of a woman that they suspected of being a witch.
They quickly started making other plans when they found her dead body, strung up in a tree and with the symbol of their faith carved into her flesh...
They split up, Brother Caleb (David) heading into town incognito to investigate, and Sister Basemuth (Patrick) going in directly to confront Steward Aaron, a former Dog who they suspected of being tyrannical with his congregation. Aaron was convinced that the town was plagued by demons, and that by having the town admit their sins they would leave the demons with nothing to prey on. The more the Dogs investigated, the more they found evidence of a town held tight by fear and violence.
Brother Caleb stalked the town and found traces of animal sacrifice - and then human sacrifice. Uh oh... Sister Basemuth talked to townsfolk and tried to bring them on side, even if it meant that the Steward was acting against her... All the while they saw a silent pair, brother and sister that seemed to be off.
Lots of hints from townsfolk that the Steward changed after he married; he grew more severe with the town and no-one was allowed to see his wife. What could be happening there?
As the session built to a conclusion Basemuth spoke in the meeting hall, and Caleb tracked and wrestled the silent brother, before being attacked by the sister. Basemuth rallied an "Insane Town Posse" out into the streets to search for the brother and sister, and the session ended with them learning that "They're Waking Up," that lots of animals had been killed in the town and as the Steward threw the sister against a wall he screamed "What did you do to my wife??!!"
This has been my favourite session of Dogs In The Vineyard so far. I had mixed thoughts about bringing demons explicitly into it - and to be fair, so far I haven't, just rumours and suggestions. But it really worked to build a terrific atmosphere at the table. Suspicions about NPCs and building certainty that something is desperately, desperately wrong in the town made it easier and easier to add darker elements. As I've said before, this is my first time GMing a campaign. After watching Patrick and noisms at work, I followed their lead: have lots of notes for possible seeds and ideas, and then just see what happens. Not all of the twists at the table tonight were in my notes, but the suggestions that appeared at the table were too good to pass on, connecting up NPCs and hopefully providing more opportunities for the Dogs to be awesome.
It was also kind of fun to see the Dogs realise that they were outraged at the Steward holding public confessions - which is something they basically did two towns back!
I have no idea what is going to happen in the next session. And that's great.