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[Actual Play] Very Angry Dogs - American Werewolves In Dorset

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  • [Actual Play] Very Angry Dogs - American Werewolves In Dorset

    Hey folks! I recently started streaming a new Werewolf: The Forsaken chronicle over on Twitch with the help of Paleo Gaming! We're also uploading the recordings to YouTube, and I'll link below to the first four sessions below!

    Story 1: The Hunt

    Session 1
    Session 2
    Session 3
    Session 4

    You'll note that the sophistication of the intro and UI improves a bit over time!

    Later on in this thread, I'll dig deeper into the hows and whys of the characters and chosen setting for this chronicle, illustrate the tidbits of real folklore that I'm referencing, and write up some new mechanical shinies (rites and the like) that turn up in the game. For now, a brief summary!

    What?
    A Werewolf: The Forsaken chronicle, featuring three hapless Americans playing three hapless Americans in deepest, darkest Dorset.

    Why?
    Dan, one of the players, had asked me to run a game for him and some friends. Now, I've uploaded podcasts of some of my Forsaken games before, but there's still not a great deal of actual play of Forsaken out there, so I asked them if they were amenable to streaming it and, happily, they were! This is not a performance game intended to create a brand or the like; it's just a regular game that happens to be getting streamed.

    Where?
    Very Angry Dogs is set in Dorset, one of the southern counties of England and one of the least modernized, industrialized regions in the country. It's a place of fertile soil, old traditions, rising chalk hills, and ancient barrow mounds. Specifically, the action is taking place in the Blackmore Vale, an unusual region of countryside for several reasons that we'll be going into in time.

    Who?
    Well, I'm the GM for the game; many of you are likely already familiar with my role as a writer and developer on the Forsaken line and many other games as well. We've got three player characters for now, all Americans who have found themselves here for one reason or another: Thorn-Breaker the Cahalith Blood Talon, led here to seek out the others by prophetic dreams; Johnny the Hunter in Darkness Irraka, brought here to claim an inheritance from a great-aunt he didn't even know existed until recently; and Jack the Storm Lord Rahu, lost and adrift after his First Change while attending university in this foreign country, now finding some purpose alongside his new packmates.

    When?
    Our plan is to continue streaming weekly, starting shortly after 10am EST / 3pm BST on Sundays. I will also post the links to the new recordings here as they go up.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy Very Angry Dogs and the increasingly strange cast of characters who inhabit it!



    - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

    ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

  • #2
    Since we’ve sadly had to skip today’s intended session (9th August) due to a player having technical difficulties, it’s a good time for me to add some more info about the chronicle to this thread!

    Choosing a Hunting Ground
    Early on when discussing the idea for the chronicle, I chatted with the players about potential locales to set the chronicle. The players were keen for somewhere I’d feel familiar with and that wasn’t in the US; and, being Americans themselves, settled on the idea that they’d play American characters so as to reconcile any lack of local or cultural knowledge they might have out of character. So we ended up with An American Werewolf In Dorset.

    Why Dorset? Well, it’s where my mum’s from and where I lived for a while. Usually I ran highly urban settings for my UK Forsaken games, as the notion that I’ve always liked from Shadows of the UK is that the Pure hold the countryside and leave the Forsaken to the less appealing territories in the cities. In this case, though, the players wanted somewhere a bit more wild. Now, that’s a bit tricky in Britain, where we have the most intensively managed countryside in the world, every part of the landscape has been touched by humanity, and in-setting the wildest regions of the moors are Bale Hound territories. However, Dorset gets pretty close; it’s highly rural, relatively unindustrialised, and in many ways one of the last remaining examples of the idealised, bucolic English countryside.

    Plus it’s absolutely crammed with history, folklore, and general weirdness.

    The Land of Stones
    Dorset (or Dorsetshire) is an English county on the south coast of the country, with an extensive historic coastline, great chalk hills, and rolling farmland. It has no cities; the largest towns are confined to the coastline or the hinterlands from the old ports of of Bournemouth and Poole in the south-east of the county. The rest of the towns are mostly fairly small, and scattered thinly across the inland region.

    Historically, despite its central southern Dorset has always been somewhat isolated and perhaps backwards; the kind of place that felt at least a century behind the rest of the country. It’s extremely rural and had very little industrialization; even today, there’re still no motorways running into or through Dorset. It’s not exactly a backwater these days; indeed, though still somewhat off the beaten track, it’s a rather affluent county. I guess it’s unfair to ever really call it a backwater — Dorset has long been a fertile land with a prosperity born from its farms. It’s just been a little detached from the hectic efforts of the rest of England.

    Go way back and it’s a pretty busy place in its own right, though. The place is riddled with Bronze Age barrows — burial mounds that are so common, farmers have just sort of accepted them as part of the landscape and so they rise in splendid grass hillocks from fields of swaying crops. It’s also covered in Iron Age settlements, particularly the grand sculptured ramparts of old hill forts. Enormous chalk carvings mark the flanks of some of the hills, most notably the Cerne Giant at Cerne Abbas who, well, is depicted with an enormous erect penis. Dorset was the heart of King Alfred the Great’s kingdom of Wessex, with Shaftesbury serving as his capital, and across the following centuries various nobles have established themselves amid the rich earth of its fields (and along the strategically significant southern coast). It saw bloody battles during the various internal conflicts of England, in particular the Civil War. And then… well, then it largely receded into the Dorset so idealised by poets, a rural land of agricultural folk living well upon the fruits of their labours.

    Scrape at the surface, and the weirdness starts to bubble out. Old pre-Christian traditions and folklore, happily smudged together with the faith of the Church in an admixture of piety and earth. Strange mazes said to be the work of witches, and regular use of household magical charms to ward off dark magic. Thin places in the worlds, especially around barrows, where the lilting music and babble of the fey is said to be audible. Pixies ten feet tall with horse’s heads that can break an apple thief’s spine with their kick. Endless superstitions held tight and dear. Ghost stories upon ghost stories.

    Dorset is a genuinely beautiful landscape and somewhere that feels like home to me.

    So, of course, it’s a great place to drop a horror game of werewolves into.

    Chronicle Preparation
    Now, because this was to be a chronicle with some players I didn’t actually know that well, our original agreement was to play a single story and then see how we felt about continuing. At time of writing, four sessions in, everyone’s pretty keen to keep on playing after the first story is over. In truth, I actually did my chronicle prep as if I was designing for a longer-term chronicle anyway; it helps ensure that the game feels fairly deep and lived-in, rather than putting together a purely superficial set-up that ends up feeling hollow in play.

    I quickly narrowed down the area of Dorset I wanted to focus on – the Blackmore Vale, a central-north area of the county – and figured out a strong hook in (one of the characters coming into an inheritance – and thanks to Pete/Johnny for willingly taking that hook!) that would give the chronicle the initial kick into action. Beyond that I started sketching out the local pack situation, key spirits, general spirit courts at work in the area, and some specific phenomena or regional oddities that would be fun, different, or help convey the Dorset flavour. As part of this, I combed several websites relating to Dorset folklore and myth, went over some of my old notes from other Forsaken games set in the south west of the UK (one in a fictionalized version of Bristol, one in Cornwall), and trawled through poetry and writings related to the Dorset accent, which is a very distinctive one.

    The three players meanwhile soon had their characters hammered together. Johnny was following his inheritance from a great-aunt he’d never realized he had; Jack had had his First Change while at university in Dorset, far overseas from his homeland; and Bill (the only one starting with a deed name, Thorn-Breaker) had followed his prophetic dreams, with little left to tie him to the US. This let me easily hammer the pack concept together; Thorn-Breaker’s dreams and Jack’s Lune Touchstone had guided them together as if to some seeming purpose, and Johnny’s inheritance was about to give them something to defend as their own. Nice and simple!

    Interestingly, the three of them all built very combat capable characters. Werewolves are always pretty vicious fighters, but these three have a preponderance of Merits focused on combat, and very little in the way of social or mental tricks. That actually fit the situation really well, of these three rootless Americans now trying to create their new territory in rural Dorset, and gave them plenty of space to then develop into as they face the challenges of their chosen home.

    Now, there’s a few things I’ll hold off talking about til future sessions are past, like going into more detail on the situation with the spirits (as the pack are about to plunge into the Shadow for their first proper venture there in session 5). There’s also some little notes I’ll assemble in a bit about some of the weird things in the first few sessions that stem from specific storytelling decisions or relate to Dorset folklore (like the hares and fire, or the colepexy). What I can dig into, a little, is the situation with werewolf packs.

    Too Many Dogs
    Very Angry Dogs ironically features far fewer NPC packs than most of my chronicles, despite being across a much larger area. Compared to the stressful, cheek-by-jowl feeling of Forsaken territories in cities, the Blackmore Vale has more space, more breathing room. I mean, it still has the packs jostling at each other for territory, but rather than several streets and blocks as a heartland, the player pack have a (rather dilapidated) mansion and estate, a whole small town, and the surrounding region of farmland to call their own — and their allies and rivals also have similarly large swathes of landscape.

    Usually the Pure dominate in the English countryside, but I wanted a slightly more balanced situation here. The two Forsaken packs in the region are anchored in towns – the Fairfax Dogs in Sherbourne, the Spear Wardens in Shaftesbury – that are conveniently on the west and east borders of the Blackmore Vale respectively. The two Pure packs the players were initially made aware of – the Mizghasts and the Galleycrows – are to the south and the north. The players are slap bang in the middle, sitting on what should be desirable turf that everyone else has kept clear of for years as they don’t want to rile the former elder who had held the territory.

    The end of the first Story is likely to see the players dig deeper into the pack-political situation at the intended trophy-meet, and that should shake out some of the details as to the alliances at work and the character of the various packs. For now, though, while the rough battle-lines are of course drawn between Forsaken and Pure, I wanted a sense of old rites and forms to go along with the old landscape – a place where how you do something can be as important as what you do. As such, from the earliest meetings with NPC werewolves I tried to convey the idea that in the Blackmore Vale, there are Ways That We Do Things, and that ignoring the rules and the ways is Not Done. So we’ve got a situation where hopefully the Pure NPCs can regularly feature in social situations as well as outright violence – still as antagonists, but ones fighting on more battlefields than just the physical.

    Of course the PCs are itching to take some smug Pure down and stand atop a pile of bloody Anshega corpses, which is setting up a delightful head-on collision with all this.

    And then of course there’s the Kestrel’s Children, the Pure pack who once held the PC’s territory, and who may be gone but who certainly have left a lasting impression that the players will be learning more of as the chronicle progresses...


    - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

    ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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    • #3
      A bit more about the (very small) pack, plus two new Wolf-Blooded Tells!

      The Werewolves
      As I mentioned, the players all built very combat capable characters. They also picked Rahu, Cahalith, and Irraka, which just emphasizes this choice; they lack some of the toolbox solutions that the other Auspices offer, although this isn’t really a problem in and of itself. It means they can solve combat-related issues quite effectively, whereas in situations that brute force and carnage can’t fix, they’ll need to be more creative and put extra effort in.

      We decided at the beginning that, given the nature of the pack as a newly-established group in an entirely different country, the PCs will be building it from the ground up; they start without a totem, without any human pack members, and with only one loosely-affiliated Wolf-Blooded. They also have no dots of Allies, Contacts, Status, or anything of that sort. So we’re working with a clean slate here; everything the pack does will be relevant in establishing a solid foundation – or a weak one.

      This is only the second time I’ve run a Forsaken chronicle where the pack needs to acquire a totem in play; the free Totem dots the characters get are therefore languishing for now, although as of session 4 they’re about to start totem-seeking in earnest. Getting a totem in play is interesting as an organic expansion on the themes and events unfolding in the chronicle, but does lack the convenient conceptual anchor that picking one beforehand offers. Additionally, it can create a slightly odd situation mechanically; when people want a specific totem and want it to feel powerful enough during chargen, they’re usually more willing to shuffle Merit dots around to add a few more Totem dots in there. Because these characters have been created without that sense of priority, they each only have one Totem dot; so unless they invest some more fairly urgently when they get a totem, the spirit is initially gonna be very weedy (they’ve got four dots rather than three due to the Wolf-Blooded, so it’s not just gonna be a 1/1/1 spirit, but still…). That in turn puts me in a slightly weird place; I want a totem character that feels interesting and evocative, but spirits tend to be more interesting the more powerful they are, and the pack can’t afford a powerful spirit.

      Fortunately, there is an in-fiction solution to that, as shown in the pack’s meeting with Grimr when they asked it to be their totem and it went ‘lolno’ – because it did then suggest a minor spirit that might be suitable. Spirit chains of hierarchy and patronage offer an angle where if the characters bite off more than they can chew in asking a Shadow heavyweight to serve as their totem, that request can get shunted down the chain to someone of their actual weight class, and coincidentally tie the pack and their totem firmly into local spirit politics.

      Anyway, I’m not yet sure what kind of spirit totem the pack’ll end up with; at time of writing the odds are looking like a weather spirit, with war or glass spirits being runners-up, but the exciting part of getting the totem in play is that none of this is certain and the players might end up with a choice that surprises them as much as it does me.

      Anyway, onto the wolves.

      Jack Malone: The Rahu and Storm Lord. University student (Bournemouth uni, I think?) who Changed and has basically had his life fall apart since. Young, and has the Cub Bone, but falling into an aggressive leadership-like role due to, well, his belligerence and boldness. Growing ego likely to come unstuck at some point, but the way the players’ dice rolls have been going thus far, it currently seems as if Jack just is that good.

      In a pack already heavy on combat-focused characters, Jack is the archetypal Rahu; big, strong, hits like a truck. He’s actually quite slow (Dex 1), so accepts that he’s gonna get hit; just intends to hit you back harder. Primal Strength and the Rahu Moon Gifts give him all the heft he needs, but he’s then also got Living Weapon, Fortified Form (I think), and Relentless Assault. That said, he doesn’t have much room to expand or get better on the combat front, so it’ll be interesting to see what non-combat aspects he branches out into as the game progresses.

      Since the characters are displaced from their homeland and lacking in Social merits, their Touchstones are doing a lot of the heavy lifting at the moment. Jack’s Flesh Touchstone is (iirc) his former teammates on the uni rugby team; his Spirit Touchstone is a rahalunim who is Too Keen, like a slim-line Brian Blessed.

      Johnny Gallaway: The Irraka and Hunter in Darkness. Changed in the US but left things behind (with some suggestion that things back home might not have been going too well) to take up his inheritance from a hitherto-unmentioned ‘Great-Aunt Clarice’ in the UK. Obviously this serves ast he hook that’s brought the pack together and given them the heart of their territory; his place in the Hunters of Darkness works very nicely with the idea of this old land that is now his to protect.

      Johnny is very good at the Irraka style of combat, using Hit And Run to escape and re-establish superiority over targets before tearing them up from ambush; I think his other Shadow Gift is Nature’s Lure, for further set-up shenanigans. He’s got some dots in Flanking and the Tactical Shifting Merit to further round out his battle toolkit. In a straight fight, however, he’s kinda lacking; his Strength + Brawl just isn’t as high as the others’, so he needs every edge he can get.

      He has a dot in Resources, making him the only character in the pack with anything of the sort, and trying to run the maintenance on Kestrel Hall plus cover all the other expenses a pack faces is gonna stretch that pretty thin. His Flesh Touchstone is his inheritance, this parcel of estate, which again fits his Tribe very nicely. His Spirit Touchstone is the ‘future self’ spirit option; specifically, it’s an ancestral spirit that has only been exerting a very light touch on him thus far, though that’s starting to change.

      Thorn-Breaker: Bill is a Cahalith and a Blood Talon, an excellent combination that I don’t see nearly often enough. He’s driven by the prophetic dreams of Luna; indeed one might say that’s been such a fundamental to his life, literally making him cross the ocean to find this new pack, that now he’s reached that destination the challenge is to figure out what comes next. He’s got the burden of dead bodies in his past, left in the wake of his fury, which has proven quite significant in the face of fear spirits trying to get under his skin.

      Thorn-Breaker is the middle-weight combatant of the three, with his supporting War Howl, Warcry, heavy Fortified Form, and solid dice pools. He’s also got Predator’s Unmatched Pursuit and Berserker’s Might; the former makes him the fastest in the pack for chasing prey down, and the latter combined with Fortified Form makes him surprisingly durable. Meanwhile, Song In Your Heart is an awesome all-round boost.

      His Spirit Touchstone is a wolf-brother, one of Fenris-Ur’s wolf spirit servants, who hasn’t yet appeared on screen (but probably will soon). He’s unusual in that his Flesh Touchstone isn’t yet attached; the player had the idea of a Wolf-Blooded kid or youth as the Touchstone but given the situation the character is in, that connection hadn’t yet occurred at the start of play; rather, it’s something that will happen as part of Thorn-Breaker’s attempt to find a solid anchor for his life. The character in question, Jenny, has appeared in the game already, but thanks to a Shaken Condition and some dramatic timing he’s still struggling to connect the Touchstone.

      A Side-Note On Rites
      Interestingly, all three werewolves took the Sacred Hunt with their starting two dots of rites, helping secure a wide range of Tribal hunt benefits and simplifying chargen – but missing out on some handy other rites like Hunting Ground. Fortunately, acquiring such rites is proving interesting fodder for gameplay!

      Wolf-Blooded
      So the core for Forsaken suggests you start with a Wolf-Blooded in the pack for each PC, but I’ve always found that a bit too heavy on the starting roster of pack NPCs anyway, and in this case due to the transitional nature of the PC’s current existence we started with only one Wolf-Blooded in the pack – and only loosely aligned at that. There’s also the impending Touchstone Jenny, but I’m not sure whether the pack will end up bringing her in or keeping her on the periphery and just trying to keep her safe.

      Mary Gallaway: Mary is a Gallaway family member who is aware of werewolves (indeed, that’s a key element of her Tell) but not immersed in their existence. She’s only roughly aware of the different packs, hasn’t delved deep into the Forsaken/Pure divide, and mostly uses her senses to keep tabs on Uratha in her vicinity while also avoiding them. She’s currently hitched her wagon to the player characters’ pack because one of them is a relative who she wants to help get his bearings, because there may be opportunities for her to take advantage of, and because it’s just kinda an interesting situation with the family and all that. As far as the pack are aware, Mary lives a pretty generic middle-class-ish life working in internet marketing, and is generally keen on the werewolves not hulking out and trashing everything,

      Mary has a new Tell, Sensory Overload.

      Sensory Overload
      Some Wolf-Blooded inherit a werewolf’s keen senses, although processed through the inadequate capabilities of a still entirely-too-human brain. Intense experiences threaten an overwhelming overload of sensation; the Wolf-Blooded suffers a -2 penalty to all attempts to resist or contest extremely strong sensations like stun grenades, blindingly bright light, incredibly foul smells, or similar.
      Boon: The Wolf-Blooded possesses the benefits of wolf senses despite being in a human form, adds a +2 bonus to all Perception dice pools using her wolf senses, and can identify other werewolves and Wolf-Blooded as a werewolf can (counting her Primal Urge as 1 for the dice pool). She does not gain a werewolf’s spirit senses, however.

      Jenny Fulton: The pack still doesn’t know a great deal about Jenny, the Touchstone, beyond that she helps tend the horses and that she’s got a Tell that lets her speak with animals in some way. I expect more about Jenny will come out as the chronicle progresses, but she’s a Wolf-Blooded so you can be fairly confident that her life has been a weirdness magnet in some way.

      Jenny has a new Tell, Feral Child.

      Feral Child
      The Wolf-Blooded is naturally attuned to the beasts of the land; she shares a portion of her soul with the creatures that thrive upon her home’s soil. She cannot regain Willpower from her Vice or Virtue in any scene where a local mammal, bird, or reptile (whether wild or domesticated) has been injured or killed by a human or a domesticated animal.
      Boon: The Wolf-Blooded can communicate with local mammals, birds, and reptiles (whether wild or domesticated); they can understand what she says, and she can understand them in turn. This does not give animals any more intelligence and she must still deal with their limited understanding of the world, but they are naturally inclined to trust her and do not treat her as a thread. She has a Perfect Impression with all such animals in normal circumstances, and they will not attack her unless provoked.

      Other Wolf-Blooded: There will, of course, be other Wolf-Blooded (the players already detected one of the matriarchs of the extended family as one at the funeral). I enjoy using Wolf-Blooded to explore some of the ‘movie werewolf’ concepts, but also to look at what it’s like to be someone empowered yet still on the outside of werewolf existence – the characters who desperately resent werewolves, or want to be them, or who pick apart aspects of uratha culture and go ‘Yeah but why can’t we do this instead?’. They work quite well in both the plucky underdog and genuinely horrific villain roles, because of rather than despite of their comparatively fragile nature next to werewolves’ horrific resilience.

      Humans In The Pack
      So yeah, no humans in the pack to start with. The PCs are already eyeing up certain humans as people they really want to keep around (particularly Albert the groundskeeper and maintenance man, for obvious reasons). It’ll be interesting to see the route they take here; will there be an extended pack of humans helping to run the estate? Who will be brought into the fold to learn the truth of the pack’s nature, and who will be kept in blissful ignorance? And what about the humans they run into who have already had their eyes opened to the awful darkness by spirits, frightening phenomena, or other werewolves? For a pack of powerful warriors, will they end up with a cadre of determined humans possessing that same belligerent spirit, or a motley band of hapless sorts they feel determined to protect?

      I don’t know yet, but I’m excited to find out.


      - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

      ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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      • #4
        And here are recordings of:

        Session 5 - where the pack seek their totem, but fall foul of the Shadow mockery of a court of law.
        Session 6 - where the pack argue for their identity before the Shadow magistrate, and face off with a war spirit of the Hrafnir.


        - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

        ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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        • #5
          Startting to listen the chronicle now, I'm just impressed with all the background and thinking you made, Acrozatarim . I also find your points of Wolf-Blooded relation to Uratha and story usage to be the same as I seen in my WtF 2E gameplays. Will need to dwell more into W-B in my games.


          My stuff for Realms of Pugmire, Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E, MtC 2E & BtP
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          • #6
            Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
            Startting to listen the chronicle now, I'm just impressed with all the background and thinking you made, Acrozatarim . I also find your points of Wolf-Blooded relation to Uratha and story usage to be the same as I seen in my WtF 2E gameplays. Will need to dwell more into W-B in my games.
            Glad to hear you're enjoying it!

            Anyway, figured I'd pick out and explain some bits and pieces that have cropped up in the game!

            The Drink
            When the pack piss off Jonathan Dunston enough to want to challenge them, he 'invites' them to the ceremonial drink to make his demand. This sort of thing is because I envisage werewolves in regions like this as having various age-old traditions they follow that keep violence to a minimum and honour local pacts and ways, but also this specific thing is an old Anglo-Saxon tradition that folds in concepts of vulnerability and fellowship. See, there was a period when there're all these very large drinking cups that really you need to use both hands to hold and lift, and when people came together they'd invite guests to drink with them, passing the cup round. When it came to your turn, you'd have to have both your hands on the cup and tilting it up to drink, making your front vulnerable to attack and preventing you from holding a weapon yourself. This makes it an excellent opportunity to assassinate someone.

            Apparently that did indeed happen, or at least attempts were made, several times back in the day. As a result, it became important to have a friend or ally seated next to you so that when you drank, they could be ready to spring to your defence in case of attack. The werewolf use of this ceremony, then, emphasises the formalities around willingly making yourself vulnerable in the presence of those you're drinking with, but also having a packmate or other reliable ally present and showing off your bonds of fellowship with them. Depending on who you're drinking of, this then becomes a display of trust or a show of the strength of your pack and followers.

            Why bother using some old Anglo-Saxon tradition here? Well, Dorset is the heart of ancient Wessex; King Alfred the Great is said to have ruled from Shaftesbury, at the edge of the Blackmore Vale. As such, the local werewolves have a few practices and ways still echoing that history.

            One-Hand Ash
            I actually have a whole set of rites written up for just what the hell is going on with the Fire-Touched's hand, and there's likely to be some demonstrations of it in session 8 of the game, I suspect. I'll prep them properly at some point so people can see just how much use a werewolf can get out of someone elses' severed hand.

            Durzit
            Interesting thing about the Dorset, and more broadly the West Country, accents of the region - they're likely closer to the original Anglo-Saxon accents than any other UK dialects. I make no excuses for my terrible Mummerset speech, but it's not born from unfamiliarity - I have spent most of my life in the West Country, whether in Dorset or in Bristol.

            The Eye
            Normally I wouldn't start a game with something quite so extreme as this; I'd go with a more low-key intro rather than introducing weird and important elements like the Eye off the bat. I threw it into the mix this time because initially I wasn't sure if the game would actually go on for more than the initial story, and I wanted to make things memorable and a bit more exciting. As is, we're looking good for future story arcs too, so the tale of what the Eye actually is will get its time in the sun.

            Hares and Fire
            Dorset is deeply, deeply rich in folklore, and plenty of it is very weird - although oddly not much of it is all that horrifying. The association of hares with fire probably stems from wildfires (or purposefully set burns) with hares fleeing just ahead of them, but the link is very strong; there's stories of hares running through towns and the house the hare stopped at then burning down a few days later, for example.

            Hares have some other weird folklore here too, including tales that might be sorcery of people turning into hares, or could even suggest something more fundamental like hare-shifters.

            The Colepexy
            Another bit of real Dorset folklore, the colepexy is a trickster and orchard guardian that takes the form of a huge horse-person who can break the back of a would-be scrumper - an apple thief (in the tales, the apple thieves themselves also seem to often have magic of some sort or another - not that it helps them against the colepexy). The ending of the name, -pexy, is another way of saying pixie - so yes, Dorset fairies are huge trickster guardians who'll snap your spine over their knee to protect the goodly farmers from your mischief.

            The Old Three
            All three of the Old Three's names stem from Dorset history or dialect. Grimr is probably an old Anglo-Saxon version of Woden, and is associated with various earthwork features across the region. Wealgrod is a place name and the old Dorset word for misery. Dewlish is another old Dorset word meaning devilish.

            Masked Fear Spirits
            So what's up with the lesser fear spirits having strange wooden masks? This is another bit of Dorset folklore but the pack haven't encountered the truth yet so I won't spell it out just now. It does also slot into some Forsaken stuff I put together a while ago (those curious might want to look at how spirit nobles work).

            The Hundred Court
            The hundred court was a real institution from Anglo-Saxon England; the fact the spirits adhere to a twisted mockery of the hundred and shire court system suggests a strong level of structure and hierarchy within the overal broods and choirs of the region. I've pulled more or less this precise trick on another group before as well, with the players facing the issue of both trying to prove to the local spirits that they aren't the prior pack that held the territory, and trying to avoid any awful consequences that might follow on from being successful at that. This also feeds into things like Creeping Dread being termed a 'reeve' and having some sort of authority off the back of that as a minor spirit noble, though the pack haven't dug deep yet into where the power and authority in this hierarchy is cascading down from.

            Limestone and Clay
            The split between the earth spirit courts of the region reflects the real geography of Blackmore Vale. It's a mixture of predominantly clayish earth and limestone , which tends to influence what can actually be built where. It also affects how the region has a lot of dairy farming, and forms part of the striking geography with things like the chalk of the Dorset Downs rising to the south of the Vale. In the spirit world, this forms a real mess of competing courts of stone and earth, all with their own leanings in terms of what other spirits they ally or compete with.

            Angry Birds
            You'll have noticed the preponderance of bird spirits. The Kestrel, enigmatic in its absence. The Unconquered Raven, the gestalt spirit of all the birds people kept on sticking on warbanners and hefting aloft over the centuries. The Hrafnir, the patron war spirits of the Danes who have subsisted long past their time on ancient pacts of Essence tribute. There'll be more to come yet - shrikes and sparrows, ravens and owls. It sounds trite to say that birds are a vital part of the Dorset countryside, but they are; their presence is as natural and constant as the mulched earth and the rain. For me, as someone who now lives in a city where, yes, we have plenty of birds but the buggers are mostly pigeons and seagulls, it's been a defining difference for me as to the place and meaning avians have in each context.


            - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

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            • #7
              I'm loving listening to this Chronicle. It has actually got me back into playing Werewolf again, albeit in a solo game, after a few years not looking at it.

              I really admire the depth you give to the setting and the colourful spirit NPCs. It's an element I always struggle with.

              Can I ask how you go about researching to achieve the depth of setting and unique spiritworld you have? I know in this case it's where you come from, so it's probably in your blood, but some of the other games you've run have been all round the world, so maybe the question is more appropriate to those games.

              Thanks for the videos, I really enjoy them. Please keep them coming.

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              • #8
                Well, I finally got myself into a place where I can actually watch/listen and I must say that it is lovely! Thanks for broadcasting this Chris, it's super enjoyable to have a Werewolf game to listen to as I cook.


                Patreon | He/His Pronouns | Currently writing: Tome of the Pentacle (OPP), The Hedge (OPP)

                CofD booklists: Beast I Changeling | Demon | Deviant (WIP) | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire | Werewolf

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                • #9
                  I've been following along on YouTube for the last few weeks, and it has been amazing. I think there's something about the video element that actually helps me enjoy it a lot more than I usually enjoy podcast APs, so special thanks for that. What sorta fascinates me is that I think that I can see hints that you had several other story threads prepared for the eventuality that the pack wouldn't be laser-focused on combat, too, from the hints about exactly how the spirit courts are laid out (that the pack is hilariously unable to comprehend) to the bureaucratic depths of various councils to The Eye, which I'd assumed was going to be an obvious Big Bad and yet...

                  Also, the Eye is an amusing association in a chronicle full of birds, since birds tend to find eyeballs such a tasty delicacy. I'm very interested to find out exactly who shows up with a trophy at the end of the two weeks.


                  I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
                  An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
                  Guanxi Explanations: 1, 2, 3.

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                  • #10
                    I know there is at least a session 7 because I've listened to it, but I don't know if there is an 8 because you haven't posted a link yet and when I try searching all I get are videos of yapping lap dogs. No idea what they have to do with Werewolves?
                    Could you please adds the links here?

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                    • #11
                      Session 8 hasn’t happened yet one of the players couldn’t make it

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                      • #12
                        The forums don't seem to want to let me multi-quote so I'll have to go through these one at a time!

                        Originally posted by NiceBrian View Post

                        Can I ask how you go about researching to achieve the depth of setting and unique spiritworld you have? I know in this case it's where you come from, so it's probably in your blood, but some of the other games you've run have been all round the world, so maybe the question is more appropriate to those games.
                        A lot of, well, research. Usually starting round some key interesting points that've grabbed my attention then expanding out from there - scouring articles and wikipedia entries and the innumerable books that Google has uploaded. Important content to look for, for me, has been content around local folklore and history, local culture and opinions; even a couple of articles about, for example, ghosts and ghost stories in Hong Kong written by Hong Kong folks or drawing directly on accounts of the city's urban myths are worth a hundred crappy generic websites with puddle-shallow lists of Western views of Chinese folklore, for example. It's also about grabbing and digging into interesting niche threads - the etymology of place names that catch my attention, minor local figures involved in something, odd words that turn up in bits of folklore. For example, I was researching who in the relevant era (the late 1600s) might have been involved in building or decorating Kestrel Hall, which led me to some very interesting discoveries about the people involved in architecture in the era (and a tendency for certain things to be credited to certain architects who were never anywhere near them), and the wonderfully named Bastard brothers in Blandford Forum noted for their excellent plasterwork. Or another one - I found a fragment of old Dorset poetry about a festival rite that referenced an old Dorset word in a wonderful turn of phrase (something about the "blankers having your eyes") - so I went digging into old Dorset dialect and the like to pin down what exactly a blanker was (an ember) and decided it'd be the name I'd use for a local fire court - thus getting me a group of local spirits with a very regional name and a weird twist of behaviour (clearly they have something going on with eyes!).

                        Wikipedia can be a good place to start with this sort of research due to the interlinking, then take the details you get off that like names or particular phrases and throw a wider net. Trawl around enough and I often end up neck-deep in niche academic articles, for example the fine details of ancient Egyptian hostile souls in Duat (which I'm using as the basis for a Mummy cult sorcery thing, unrelated to this actual play).

                        So basically, uh, it's a case of reading a lot, finding interesting things, reading more about those things, and drilling down as best you can. Hard-copy libraries can be helpful for research but honestly the internet is often better, these days, for finding in-detail academic work or vital local or regional perspectives.


                        - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

                        ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                          I've been following along on YouTube for the last few weeks, and it has been amazing. I think there's something about the video element that actually helps me enjoy it a lot more than I usually enjoy podcast APs, so special thanks for that. What sorta fascinates me is that I think that I can see hints that you had several other story threads prepared for the eventuality that the pack wouldn't be laser-focused on combat, too, from the hints about exactly how the spirit courts are laid out (that the pack is hilariously unable to comprehend) to the bureaucratic depths of various councils to The Eye, which I'd assumed was going to be an obvious Big Bad and yet...
                          Yeah, I absolutely overbuilt the setting compared to the initial prospect of a single story, and a lot of that'll hopefully come through in future stories regardless of how combat-specced the pack are - there's only so long they can get away with smiting things (and, to be fair, a lot of their shenanigans so far have actually involved unlikely successes with negotiation and the like. They're just still very keen to beat their opponents physically too ).

                          The Eye is very much part of that wider set-up. The current opinion among the players seems to be that it's an idigam, which obviously they're not keen to pick any fights with just yet.

                          Also, the Eye is an amusing association in a chronicle full of birds, since birds tend to find eyeballs such a tasty delicacy. I'm very interested to find out exactly who shows up with a trophy at the end of the two weeks.
                          It's gonna be a good one, I think - I expect the trophy meet to reveal a fair few things about the pack's place in the eyes of the other local uratha.


                          - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

                          ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 2ptTakrill View Post
                            I know there is at least a session 7 because I've listened to it, but I don't know if there is an 8 because you haven't posted a link yet and when I try searching all I get are videos of yapping lap dogs. No idea what they have to do with Werewolves?
                            Could you please adds the links here?
                            I will add links to the new sessions as they appear! As pgolasze13 said, sadly we missed the last two weeks as a player was unable to attend, but I'm really hoping we'll tackle session 8 this weekend.

                            Sorry to hear you're getting lots of yapping lap dog videos Clearly Google should bow to the superiority of my actual play and focus dog-related searches onto Werewolf: the Forsaken content

                            Also, some exciting news for Story 2 of Very Angry Dogs - it's got a story arc name already (Possession) and we may also be seeing one or two new player characters joining the pack too! I may be tempting fate by mentioning these things prior to Story 2 actually starting, but hopefully we'll be able to keep steaming on ahead once Story 1 is finished.


                            - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

                            ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Acrozatarim View Post
                              So basically, uh, it's a case of reading a lot, finding interesting things, reading more about those things, and drilling down as best you can. Hard-copy libraries can be helpful for research but honestly the internet is often better, these days, for finding in-detail academic work or vital local or regional perspectives.
                              Thanks for the feedback. It's both depressing and reassuring that it all comes down to hard graft, but all the CoD games seem to be very much a case of you reap what you sow. The depth of background has a direct relation to he richness of the game.

                              I look forward to the next installments and I'll continue to loose myself in Wikipedia rabbitholes to pass the time as I wait.

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