Saturday, July 23, 2005

A Moment of Dogs With August, Jude, and Ruth

UPDATE: see also Jim's account of this game here.

Dogs game last night. Third game in the series. My character, Brother Jude, is a pretty messed up kid, now a dog. Despite having Problems With Authority. Last game he managed to avoid being possessed by a demon, and possibly going on a killing spree (he's a crack shot), by coming to an understanding with that demon. He now has a relationship with that demon. So he's a sorcerer, or a potential sorcerer, because that was the only way he could avoid shooting and killing all his friends. Last couple games he's come into some ugly conflict with members of his family, barely restrained from shooting his brother -- now a Steward -- down in the street.

Jude has issues.

Anyway, he's with Sister Ruth, who's grim but pious, and a great ceremonialist and healer, waiting for Brother August Chang to return home. Without getting into the whole story, August is a young man, about the Dogs' age, who, we've just discovered, is involved in apostasy. His family are Chinese converts to the faith, and for various damn good reasons he has despaired of anything fixing the (racist) injustice against his family that the community is engaged in. So he and his Mountain Person friend Red Cloud have turned to ancestor worship -- secret rituals in caves, which to us in the Faith must be demonic.

Now August comes home and Sister Ruth and Brother Jude confront him. It's a two-on-one conflict. He opened with a litany of injustices his family had suffered at the hands of the Faithful of which they were supposedly part. Sister Ruth saw, with a defense of the faith, and Brother Jude Took the Blow, and his heart burned because no words of defense would come to him -- Dog that he was, he could not compare August's outright apostasy with the hypocritical injustice of the Faithful. Jude hates hypocrisy. He hates hypocrisy much more than he hates apostasy. And for him to come out against August here, when August was himself confronting hypocrisy (though by blasphemous and foolhardy means), when Jude himself had, unbeknownst to his companions, engaged in blasphemous contact with a demon in the last episode....

That would itself be hypocrisy.

Jude's Taking the Blow consisted of his grunting in rage and ripping a branch off a nearby tree (taking skin off his hands in the process)... (No, this wasn't escalation, it's just what I imagined happening.)

It was time to Raise. Sister Ruth raised with a completely rational and compassionate appeal to August to let the Faith take care of its own, to let the Dogs take care of the injustice.

Jude had a big pile of dice left. He even had a few extra dice in there because he had brought his Relationship with the demon into play. Between him and Ruth, they could easily wear down August, according to the rules...

But Jude gave. "You walk the path you must, we will walk the path we must," he said, and stalked off into the night, his eyes burning with fire.

As it happened, Ruth was able, with difficulty, to bring him back into the fold. To bring him back from blasphemous demon worship. She never even revealed what he had done to anyone but the Dogs, and she chose not to judge or punish him for this. (She's grim, but she's a healer through and through.)

Ruth's player, Dave, couldn't believe I gave with all those dice on the table. Why the hell?

It's partly all the things above in Jude's character. I couldn't imagine him continuing this conversation. He didn't have it in him at this point in time. He's too full of conflict himself over his role in matters of authority, justice, hypocrisy, and injustice. It was too much for him.

But it was partly me. I had only just then realized that what August was engaged in was not, in his own mind, congress with demons. It was traditional Chinese ancestor worship, as best he remembered it from his youth before his father's conversion, combined with Mountain People ancestor worship.

And I just couldn't, as a player, summon the contempt and fear for that, that a member of the Faith might be expected to feel. I didn't want, as a player, to see August take heat for this. At least not the heat of an angry Jude.

It did make sense in context. Jude's reasons for Giving were there. Hell, last game he had chosen to align himself with (possibly hypocritical) Authority over his better judgment and lived to regret the consequences. It made sense.

But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't me too, not willing to set Jude against the poor guy's return to his family's traditional religion over the Faith.

I have no particular point in all this, I just found that complex confluxion (yeah, I just made that word up) of overdetermined motivation fascinating on further reflection, and I wanted to post about it.

Oh, I also got to shoot the hell out of a couple bad guys in this game, which I hadn't gotten to do in the previous two games (Brother Josiah had kept me from shooting my brother dead in the street, the first game). That hella rocked.

What a fun game.

1 comment:

John Harper said...

I got chills here. Great stuff.