Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Dogs in the Vineyard, Session 5

Last night the Dogs assembled as "Three in Authority" and brought deliverance to the town of Jewel. Brother Paul arrived in town just as Sister Basemuth (Patrick) tried to hold the Steward back from killing a woman who was strongly suspected of being a witch; Brother Caleb (David) meanwhile was in hot pursuit of a man - the witch's brother - who had staggered away despite being tied up and shot in both legs.

After sessions of solving town squabbles and disagreements with local tribes, this was a full tilt into horror, action and exorcism. Brother Caleb tracked down the tongueless brother, Alex, and had to fill him full of lead as he transformed into an unspeakable monster, all triple-jointed fingers, razor teeth and deformed skull. The dice went with Caleb, but it showed up that when it comes to dealing with demons it really pays to have more than player acting against them. Demons/monsters can have a lot of dice in physical conflicts... evidenced by the fights that came up later in the session...

The Dogs discovered that Sister Josephine and Brother Alex lived with their grandfather, Amos, in a house by the river. The Steward's wife became possessed six months earlier, by a demon that the Steward had cast out in his days as a Dog, years earlier. That strong possession and the growing climate of unease in the town thanks to the Steward's treatment of the community allowed Amos's devotions to his Old Ways to have answer: he and his grandchildren were "blessed" and told what to do (kill people, cut their tongues out, sacrifice animals). During various things that happened on the moon-lit streets, Sister Jospehine managed to escape.

Of course, as the Dogs learned this they could not let it stand. They killed a monster that came at them, made from the flesh of a sacrificed woman, and made their way to Amos's house. After Brother Paul overcame a monster that was being kept in the basement, Sister Basemuth and Brother Caleb beat the monster-form of Old Amos (a little old man who grew a prehensile tongue, knife-like nails, horns sprouting all over his face while his eyes continuously bled; nice). Despite his general evil-ness and the monstrous number of dice that he had, they beat him.

In fact, before Amos finished his evil monologue Patrick just said (as Basemuth) "I've heard enough, I shoot him!" Lots of dice rolled on both sides, and in the end they just killed him as he offered to heal Brother Caleb's wounds. Caleb rolled high on Fallout dice, and the other Dogs had to help stabilise him.

They went back to the Meeting Hall, and after a lot of double-talk and lies from the demon in the Steward's wife, they successfully exorcised her just as the sun rose. Hurrah, all is well with the world! And Scared Old Joe, an NPC who had been carrying a lantern all through the night came to say hello - just as Sister Josephine stabbed him through the neck, allowed her demon to take her over and attacked them!

As final battles go it was pretty harsh: large Fallout dice, lots of d10s flying around from Sister Josephine, but in the end the Dogs won out, just barely... Now Sister Basemuth and Brother Paul were badly wounded, and failed their stabilising checks. I told Brother Caleb that he could only try to assist and save one of them (the old hard choice), but he remembered that he had picked up a healing salve two towns back and I was so pleased at the idea that I let him apply it to both.

A week and a half passes, and the Dogs are healed up and hitting the road. The townsfolk are talking to each other again, fear no longer gripping their hearts, and demons no longer on the prowl. For now, they head off on the road again, on to the next town and whatever awaits them...

A good session, plenty of conflicts to resolve, Fallout dice dropping left-right-and-centre and a situation that desperately had to be resolved by the Dogs. At times they were exorcists, at times they were gunslingers, but they really got into the role of what the Watchdogs are. Demons really make for hard conflicts - demon possessed people in Dogs in the Vineyard get all kinds of bonuses (adding the demon relationship dice to their pool and potentially dealing even higher Fallout from conflicts).

In earlier conflicts in the night the Dogs managed alright; towards the end they had to use every trick that they could think of to keep in the game. And we also started to run up against the hard limit of how many dice we had between us! It was touch and go towards the end; would one or more of the Dogs die? We ended the session with each of them getting one sentence to describe something that happened in the town as a result of them successfully driving out the demons.

Not sure if this is the last session for this campaign; I have more towns set up, and the players seem interested in continuing. I have work commitments for the next few weeks, so can't play, but perhaps in mid-November we'll see what else is happening in the region... Having survived Resident Evil finale boss style bad guys, as one of the players quipped, it's going to be interesting if they find a town where they just have to sort out more mundane problems (disputes etc).

Oh, one tip that really helped me as GM last night: I previously had NPC stats listed in a folder, but before the game yesterday I wrote out the demon characters on 3 inch by 5 inch cards so that I could easily cycle through (also, I hadn't statted up these evil NPCs before, as it was only last week that I decided that we would definitely run with demons!). Having the cards really made a difference. I'll have to keep that in mind.

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