"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
- - -
"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.
- - -
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversaries are demons, as roaring lions they walketh about, seeking whom they may devour."
- - -
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?
- - -
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
- - -
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.
- - -
We need three players - we've got one in reserve, whose ready, but she may not be able to play. So even if we fill up and you want to play, Reserve a spot and we'll let you in if we can. Sign up in something colorful
, and the next post shows how to make a character, so you can go ahead and do that, if you'd like!
You don't need the rulebook: The requisite rules are below.
FAITHFUL WATCHDOGS UNTO THE SERVICE
(if the King of Life hath wronged thy gender, sendeth unto him a notice that thou art pissed)
1. Brother Shinyo
Brother Jacob Robertson
(13d6 in Stat dice, 3d6 4d8 3d10 in Trait dice, 1d4 3d6 2d8 in Relationship dice)
1d6 - My family wanted this for me; I do it not for them, but for the Lord my Master.
2d6 - I'm a decent shot
1d8 - My faith is unshakable
1d8 - My face just looks scary in order to frighten evil
2d8 - I'm good at fist fighting should it come to that
1d10 - I'm terrifying with a knife
1d10 - I love children
1d10 - I'm a dog
2d6 Father Daniels
1d6 Coat - It looks professional and cleanly made, but it has few colors and is somewhat uncomfortable to wear. This coat has no compassion sewn into it, only expectations. There's a large Sign of the Tree pattern stitched onto the back, and another of a dog onto the right breast pocket. This could easily be a much nicer coat with a bit of elbow grease.
2d4 Six Shooter - The barrel needs to be cleaned, the sights realigned, and the trigger is a little sticky.
2d8 Hunting Knife - Well made, well polished. Serrated edges halfway down, and a fitted grip.
1d6 Book of Life - Standard Print version from the Temple of Life with a couple circled passages.
1d6 Jar of Consecrated Earth - Woops, how'd that worm get in there?
1d6 Horse - His age is starting to show, but he's no where near done yet.
"I hope that this miserable creature can now be a good enough dog for the Lord."
2. Brother Kay
Brother Caleb Dunn - Well-Rounded History
Statistics - 17d6
Acuity - 5
Body - 3
Heart - 6
Will - 3
Traits - 1d4, 4d6, 2d8
Boyish Good Lucks - 1d4 - Being a pretty boy can get you in trouble, as well as help out.
When I speak, people listen - 2d8 - Caleb is an excellent public speaker and negotiator.
Horsemanship - 1d6
I'm a Dog - 1d6
I never miss a tin can - 1d6 - Caleb is a good shot, in theory. He's never shot at a real target before.
Quick and Quiet - 1d6 - Caleb knows when it's best to stay quiet, and even be a little sneaky.
I done made daddy proud o' me - 1d6
Relationships - 4d6, 2d8
Charity Dunn (Mother) - 2d6
Abigail Allen (Schoolmistress) - 1d8
Caleb's coat is exceptionally well-made, all the womenfolk in his family put their love and respect into the garment, embroidering bright patterns in red, yellow and gold with care and skill. On the left breast, there is a glorious sun, rays of orange and yellow illuminating a stylised furrowed field. The remainder of the coat has rows of geometric patterns, zig-zags, stripes and waves. The colours are warm and vibrant - reds, yellows, oranges and earth tones. There is but one 'flaw', a simple black cross at the collar - his father's stitch. 2d8
A Colt revolver - 1d6 1d4
A stationary set - 1d6
Tempest (his horse) - 1d6
Jar of Consecrated Earth - 1d6
Book of Life - 1d6
A worn photo of his family - 1d4
"I hope this makes daddy proud of me."
3. Brother Neaden
Some Helpful Things
Appropriate clothing for the era (and again)
Fiery Words for a Dog to say, from the Book of Life
I know the Book of Life like the back of my Hand. 2d10
I can shoot a varmint 1d6
I'm a Dog now 1d6
I've seen a Demon 2d4
I love animals 2d4
Steward Ryder 2 d8
My Mule Patrick 1 d6
Coat. Eleazar's coat is as unremarkable as the rest of him visually. It is not that the colors are especially drab or that the stitching is badly done. It is just neither good nor bad. 2d6
Book of life. Eleazar carries a battered Book of Life on him at all times though the Steward used to joke that he did not need it as he had most of it in his head. 2d6
Old Knife. The knife that was found next to Eleazar when the faithful saved him. 1d4
Patrick My Mule. Patrick the Mule was the Stewards gift to Eleazar when he left his town. Eleazar raised him from a foal and frequently spent his time not working brushing or riding him. 2d6
Hunting Rifle. 1d6 1d4
My Accomplishment. "I hope that fear of my past will not run my life forever."