"For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion."
- - -
"We went west. We went through massive canyons, dryer than they were deep. We roughed mountains, so high they held the angels. We knew fields so long they must've surely circled the Earth their length over. We saw oceans and sinkpits, we drank from His pools, and we felt their cool refrain on our faces. We walked until our horses gave out, and our feet went ragged, and we knew, yet, we were not but a fraction of the road to be traveled, a bead of sweat towards the work that had to be done."
- - -
"You got two choices, boy - I'm'll count to three, and you either got that gun on the ground and you're prayin' to the King I don't blow yer head off right here, or you still standin' on the shoulders of demons. Either way, that thing's still pointed at me in three seconds, I'm gonna get real ornery, boy, REAL ornery. Look me in the eyes - God's will is in these eyes. You know it, Praise Be.
Don't make me waste a bullet.
I'm countin', boy.
- - -
DOGS IN THE VINEYARD
Dogs in the Vineyard is about God’s Watchdogs, young men and women called to preserve the Faithful in a hostile frontier territory. They travel from town to isolated town, carrying mail, news, and doctrine, healing the sick, supporting the weary, and pronouncing judgment upon the wicked. Sharpshooters, Cowboy-Priests, and Holy Horsemen alike - a town welcomes you with celebration and honor, but what you’re there to do is stir up its dirt and lay bare its sins.
The setting is a fantasy inspired by pre-statehood Utah, the Deseret Territory, toward the middle of the 19th century. Picture a landscape of high mountains, icy rivers and cedar woods, falling away westward into scrublands, deserts, buttes and swells. The summer skies are heartbreaking blue, but the winters are long and killing. "Mountain Men", ancestors of those who properly own this land before it was ravaged from them, maintain an uneasy truce with the frontiers in some places, and outright wage war with them in others,
Picture religious pioneers, fleeing persecution and violence in the East. They’re trying to establish a society based on faith and righteousness out in this frontier. They’ve made the long trek westward but they’re still in danger: their towns are small and isolated, vulnerable to attack from without, sin and corruption within. Under pressure, their pride becomes sin, their anger becomes violence, their resentments become hate. Winter and the demons howl...
You are God’s Watchdogs, holding the Faith together.
- - -
"I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment."
- - -
Cornelius patrolled, shotgun slung over his shoulder, coat rusting about his ankles but not once touching the dust road. He had but two more days before he was due out, after the marriage he was asked to bless. All the mail had been sorted, and his belongings were packed into the small rucksack he kept tied to Bessie's saddle.
He heard footsteps, then, and from the corner of his eye, he saw it - a tall, dark man, standing idle, under hat and coat, no weapon at his side. None that could be seen, anyway.
The Dog kept walking, wiggling his fingers along the hold of his gun. His eyes locked straight ahead to where he planned to call rest before checking the far end of town. He was steel, full and focused.
From his left came a sound: a sort of low, crackling growl, and a hiss, and the tall man who was there was not upright and imposing, but instead hunched over, wringing his hands together... except his hands were dark red, bruised and scratched, long, broken claws jutting from the tips. His face had become a snout, his eyes dark as the night air around him. The demon's long coat ripped open at the back, revealing a ridged, humped spine full of quills.
It ran straight for Cornelius, yet he did not blink - he hadn't the time to, his body whipping around to face thing, firing before he had even come to a stop. The evil beast went flying against the wall of the saloon, ragged holes ripped out of him from the blast.
Yet still it rose back, growling and drooling, and behind Cornelius, he heard the scampering of many a like beast, cackling and whispering. He didn't know how many rounds he had left on him.
- - -
Each session is a single town, where the Dogs arrive to deliver mail, perform ceremony, preach wisdom, and, most importantly, deal with any problems that may arise. The Watchdogs have unspoken authority to drag sinners out into the street and shoot them, convert them to the Faith, or try to ease them of their hardships (even if their authority is sometimes challenged by non-believers, or the local Law who doesn't want any trouble in his town).
The Dogs must deal with the sin, they must lay Judgement, but how they do that is up to them: do they preach and speak wisdom? Are they diplomatic? Are they fair? Or will all sins meet the same fate at the end of a gun?
The ethics and moral problems of how to deal with each case are what makes Dogs in the Vineyard so fun to watch. One Dog is out for blood, the other seeks to find a more peaceful solution: how will things resolve?
- - -
"Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end, and thou shalt never do amiss."
- - -
The whole name of the Faith is the Faith of All Things in the King of Life, Reborn.
The whole name of the Dogs is the Order Set Apart to the Preservation of Faith and the Faithful. Casually, the King’s Dogs or Life’s Watchdogs. Dogs are always called Brother or Sister by their first name: Brother Jeremiah, Sister Patience.
The Faith is the only true religion in the world. All other religions are a) actively demonic, cults created by Faithful leaders fallen into sin; b) corrupt and decadent, like the majority religions of the East; or c) idle nonsense, like most of the religions in the wider world.
Representatives of the Territorial Authority will generally be either a claims officer or other bureaucrat, or a circuit rider not unlike you Dogs. Only larger towns will have any sort of Territorial law enforcement — a sheriff — but he’s most likely to be Faithful, elected to the job by his congregation. The Territorial Authority’s real concern is that taxes are paid and nobody interferes with the mail — it worries about “keeping the peace” only insofar as lawlessness interferes with taxes and mail.
It’s worth pointing out that the Dogs are authorized by the Faith to do some things — like shoot sinners in the street — that are against the law. Exercise your authority cautiously.
- - -
But all this fluff is useless unless we have some players! You don't need the rulebook: The requisite rules for character creation are below. A good group of Dogs has three members, so that's what we're shooting for - three players
. Depending on interest level, I'll extend signups for a while, but they'll most likely close within a week. May the best characters win?
A few points about this game:
- The game itself will be played in PbP format.
- If you want to run your initiation conflict with me on IRC, that's great! I am usually on most of the time, but American evenings are generally my zone of habitation. Also, American mornings. Also, whenever you ask me to be around.
- If you want to see how the game looks in play, I suggest you check out either of these two (abandoned) games - robotsunshine's
and my old one
Some Helpful Things
Appropriate clothing for the era (and again)
Fiery Words for a Dog to say, from the Book of Life
This OP was shamelessly stolen from robotsunshine's Dogs in the Vineyard OOC thread!