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Author Topic: An alternate view as to how the Dogs are always right  (Read 11436 times)
Albert the Absentminded
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« on: September 28, 2004, 05:01:05 AM »

Think about what Dogs do afterwards - they go on to hold high position among the Faithful.

You could argue that it's not the job of the Dogs to render perfect judgement - the job of the Dogs is to render the best judgement they can. It is to learn how to exercise truly massive authority responsibly, by doing so in situations where decisions _matter_. If things got really bad - like everyone started having the Dogs deliberately f**k everything up - I'd have an appearance by the Prophets and the Ancients. But, really, that's only for if the players get kpfs and DiTV confused.

If the characters are making foolish choices, then it'll blow up in their face, eventually. And in the attempts to clean everything up, most of the Dogs could get killed. But the lone survivor might have learned enough to be ready for greater levels of responsibility.

-Albert
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2004, 08:44:54 AM »

Hey Albert! I've dropped a couple of short-short replies on you without saying welcome, so welcome!

I have a whole lot to say about this issue and the (apparent) underlying assumptions you're bringing to it, but I don't want to launch right in without understanding. So if you will, here's what let's do:

1) Are you concerned about your players taking "what our characters do is right" as license to have their characters leave towns in shambles and chaos?

2) Are you concerned about your players taking "what our characters do is right" as license to walk all over you as GM, ignoring and belittling your investment in the game?

3) Please go ahead and create a town, by the rules in the book. It'll take a half hour or less. Post it here, step by step, just like on the town sheet in the pullouts.

I think your answers and your town will give us a very solid starting position from which to talk about religion in roleplaying and who judges whom.

-Vincent
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DannyK
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2004, 12:54:36 PM »

I think there's at least three separate meanings of the word "right" that need to be teased out here to discuss it -- right as in legally correct, right as in morally justified, and right as in the smart thing to do.  Only the first one is a given for a Dog.
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lumpley
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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2004, 01:15:43 PM »

...Depending on what you mean by "legally."

Let's talk about Dogs' rightitude in another thread?

-Vincent
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Albert the Absentminded
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Posts: 25


« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2004, 07:05:32 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
Hey Albert! I've dropped a couple of short-short replies on you without saying welcome, so welcome!

I have a whole lot to say about this issue and the (apparent) underlying assumptions you're bringing to it, but I don't want to launch right in without understanding. So if you will, here's what let's do:

1) Are you concerned about your players taking "what our characters do is right" as license to have their characters leave towns in shambles and chaos?


Hmmm . . . my potential player pool consists of my three roommates(all of us are LDS, and raised in or near Houston, Tx), a returned missionary we're considering adding when we move to a bigger apartment in December, and the sister of one of the roomies. Of them, one might get a kick out of abusing his authority, but that's not actually what inspired this question.

One of the _other_ potential players expressed reservations about the level of power Dogs enjoy. He compared it to the Inquisition(I didn't feel it was right to disabuse him of that notion - the Dogs enjoy a _lot_ more autonomy than the Inquisition ever did, iirc). I think he was actually more concerned about how the game might look to non-members than about exercising that level of power in a game.

So I posted, hoping I'd get some comment.

Quote from: lumpley

2) Are you concerned about your players taking "what our characters do is right" as license to walk all over you as GM, ignoring and belittling your investment in the game?


Not really. I've been pitching "The only person who decides if your character is right with God is _you_" as a selling point. Really, my only tempation is to take any situation they leave unresolved and use that as the next point of demonic assault on the town(when the Dogs pass through again a few months later). I'm not sure how kosher that is.

Quote from: lumpley

3) Please go ahead and create a town, by the rules in the book. It'll take a half hour or less. Post it here, step by step, just like on the town sheet in the pullouts.

I think your answers and your town will give us a very solid starting position from which to talk about religion in roleplaying and who judges whom.

-Vincent


One town, coming up! I just read a Study in Scarlet, so I think we'll have some rare bloody story meat here. Oh, I'm going to be light on names, because I have a hard time coming up with names.

Brother Adams is the Steward of a the branch covering the town of Virgin's Birth, called so because the river leading to one of the Bridal Falls headwaters there.

Brother Adams is so proud of his congregation that he has been encouraging _all_ the established men to take multiple wives. The men have been highly successful in their courtships - most of them have been swapping daughters.

As a result, few of the young men have been able to court the young ladies, because they're being snapped up by the older men. For that matter, the sudden influx of nubile, young wives has been causing many elder wives to feel neglected(which starts its own cycle of pride, but that's not the one I'm following).

Some of the deprived young men started raiding Mountain Folk and travellers to remedy the surplus.

The demons were, until recently, making all the raided wives barren, but it didn't last long enough for anyone to notice.

(And, to diverge a little from the rules, the Mountain Folk aren't too happy. Among other things, they've been asking the spirits of the mountains to rain blizzards down on Virgin's Birth. Normally the mountain spirits would reply: "Attack the King of Life's true worshippers? HELL NO!", but what with recent events, are changing their minds.)

Many of the young men justified their raids to themselves by deciding that this is the King of Life's true order of things - every man to have as many wives as possible.

As soon as they started voicing these theories, they realized the truth of it was obvious. Their raids started becoming far more succesful - Mountain Folk sentries were always found sleeping, and so forth.

The young men who had refused to raid until now were now under intense pressure to join the hunting bands. When some continued to hold out, they started dying under mysterious circumstances. For that matter, the raids against the Mountain Folk have become more and more savage.

Oh, and just to make things even more interesting, the minimum acceptable age of these 'brides' has been plunging towards pre-pubescence.


How's that?

-Albert
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lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2004, 07:55:18 AM »

Yes! That's kickin' is how's that.

Let's have:

What does the Steward want the Dogs to do?

Choose an old man or two: what do they want the Dogs to do?

Choose a ringleader for the first wives: what does she want the Dogs to do?

Choose a young new wife or two: what do they want the Dogs to do?

Choose the parents of a little girl about to be taken as some old guy's wife: what do they want the Dogs to do?

Choose a ringleader for the boys of the raiding parties: what does he want the Dogs to do?

Choose an aggrieved Mountain Person or two: what do they want the Dogs to do?

And a big old: what do the demons want the Dogs to do?

-Vincent
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Albert the Absentminded
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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2004, 03:36:56 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
Yes! That's kickin' is how's that.

Let's have:

What does the Steward want the Dogs to do?


The Steward wants the Dogs to stop the wife-hunting parties. He also wants them to marvel at how righteous the town is, that so many men deserve the blessings of plural marriage.

Quote from: lumpley

Choose an old man or two: what do they want the Dogs to do?


Old Makepeace Smith only has 3 wives, he wants the Dogs to help spike the courtship of several obviously unsuitable rivals.

Alvin Farrier wants the Dogs to council his rebellious first wife, Faith.

Quote from: lumpley

Choose a ringleader for the first wives: what does she want the Dogs to do?


Faith Farrier wants the Dogs to declare the marriages invalid. She is also furious about the raids, and has in three cases managed to help Mountain Folk girls escape back to their families. She is also helping two young wives maintain contact with their old beaus.

Quote from: lumpley

Choose a young new wife or two: what do they want the Dogs to do?


Stephanie Harrington is more or less content with her marriage - the old guy isn't too fat or smelly and has a nice house, and so far she been able to see her real lover - Benjamin Hander - without him catching on. She wants the Dogs to stay out of her business(and is on her way to forming her own false priesthood, btw).

Alice Cooper wants OUT, OUT, OUT!!! Her husband, Geoffrey Cooper, has been escalating to blows regularly in order to teach her a wife's proper place. Also, her old boyfriend has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She wants her husband dead, her marriage dissolved, and her boyfriend found.

Quote from: lumpley

Choose the parents of a little girl about to be taken as some old guy's wife: what do they want the Dogs to do?


Darian Young is under pressure from several men to marry off his exquisitely beautiful daughter, Hope. His wife, Charity, is actually all for it, as she doesn't trust the younger men to treat her daughter right. Hope is a weak-willed little simperer who is enjoying the attention. Her brother, Jeremy, wants to get her to their cousin's, a couple of towns away. Jeremy is one of the hunting boys, btw, but he's at the periphery, murder-wise.

Jeremy wants to be able to marry one of Makepeace Smith's new wives. He wants the marriages invalidated. Darian wants to protect his daughter, and wants the Dogs to decide who the best husband for her would be.

Quote from: lumpley

Choose a ringleader for the boys of the raiding parties: what does he want the Dogs to do?


Benjamin Hander is quite far gone - he just wants the Dogs help in locating new heathens to raid. Has been spreading rumors that a neighboring Faithful town has fallen to heresy.

Quote from: lumpley

Choose an aggrieved Mountain Person or two: what do they want the Dogs to do?


The most prestigious shaman involved, Circling Hawk, is busy getting the Mountain Spirit all riled up and blizzardy. He want the Dogs delayed long enough to purge the former camping grounds of Virgin's Birth.

Springing Couger, the lone survivor of a raid massacre, wants blood. Specifically, he wants to torture the guilty to death, using the rituals of his people to bind them to torment in the afterlife. He wants the Dogs to hand the boys over, because that would be easier, but he's recruiting an army because he doesn't believe the palefaces know about justice.

Quote from: lumpley

And a big old: what do the demons want the Dogs to do?


The demons want enough ritualistic murder to break the chains on one of their elders, who was bound before the Flood. (The rituals to do so are in the Book of Life, but in the sealed part - only the Prophets and Ancients are allowed to break that seal.) They need several towns embroiled in this, and Virgin's Birth seems a good start. They want the Dogs to die. Failing that, they want the Dogs to condone the raids on the Mountain Folk, as that's a safe enough diversion - it's the raids on other Faithful towns that will cause the conditions they need, and the raids will begin as soon as the Mountain Folk are all driven off.

Oh, and they'd be _really_ happy if the Dogs punished only women.

-Albert
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lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2004, 08:00:05 AM »

Sweet.

That's a sweet little town. That's HELL.

From your answers to my first two questions, I think I was misreading your concerns. So, cool!

Quote
Really, my only tempation is to take any situation they leave unresolved and use that as the next point of demonic assault on the town(when the Dogs pass through again a few months later). I'm not sure how kosher that is.


Kosher.

The only thing that's not kosher is playing gotcha with your players. When their characters return to Virgin's Birth, you'll run it through the town creation process again. Just make sure when you choose the Pride at the heart of the town's new crisis, it's an NPC's, not a PC's. As GM you aren't allowed to judge a PC Prideful.

(And if you do play through Virgin's Birth? Write it up in Actual Play! I hope you do, it's a great setup.)

-Vincent
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2004, 08:44:40 AM »

Wow! This town is just on the verge of complete collapse. If I used this town with my players, so many people would die. So many. It would be a bloodbath. I may just do that sometime...
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Albert the Absentminded
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« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2004, 04:10:17 PM »

I'm going to have to negotiate with my players to ever run this town, as I've had to make a few changes to the polygamy situation in order to respect the Veils of one or two of them.

House rule:

So, polygamy's main use now is making sure widows can be provided for. Other examples tend to be _extremely_ rare, as the Prophets and Ancients have instructed the regional Stewards to instruct the branch Stewards to be extremely cautious in authorizing other types of polygamous relationships. Kind of as a 'last resort' thing, if there just _aren't_ enough suitable men around, or if multiple women _insist_ on wanting a single guy. At least a year's worth of counseling, hunting around for additional suitable bachelors, etc.

So, before I run this town, I'll have to ask their permission to run a town where the theme is 'polygamy gone wrong'. Hopefully they'll agree, or the ones who don't like it will have their characters off doing something else(like delivering urgent news to Bridal Falls).



Oh, and I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on another house rule I'm considering:

Levels of Holiness in dealing with the supernatural.

There are 4 such levels.

The first level is Sanctified. Sanctified dealings are when the Faithful deal with the supernatural in a way that is both Righteous and pertaining to their Stewardship. An example would be the town's official, ordained midwife praying for her birthing herbs and remedies to be especially effacious.

Angelic servants of the King of Life would also operate at the Sanctified level, of course.


The second level is Natural. Natural dealings happen when a person can act in the spiritual world completely on his or her own - someone who can see spirits, for example, or who somehow has enough spiritual potence to place a blessing or curse purely out of his or her own spiritual reserves.

In addition, prayers to the King of Life by the non-Faithful fall under Natural dealings, as do dealings with the spirits of nature that do not cause a violation of the natural order.

Natural dealings may be undertaken by the Faithful without being sinful, provided the subject of the dealing itself is a righteous one. Natural dealings, however, need not be for righteous purposes.


The third level is Unclean. Ghosts who stick around after they die, instead of travelling to the courts of the King, are Unclean. Spirits of nature who have been persuaded to favor a non-Faithful group at the detriment of any other group are Unclean. Spirits who accept worship become Unclean. Various methods for producing shamans, mages, mediums, etc., are usually Unclean, although near-death ordeals are often an exception.

The Faithful may not righteously behave in an Unclean fashion. They know better. Non-Faithful, however, are already at the Unclean status by virtue of not being Faithful, and so accumulate no additional burden on their souls.


The fourth level is Unholy. This is for people who deal with demons in any non-adversarial fashion. It is never a good thing.


Thoughts? Comments?

-Albert[/b]
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lumpley
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« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2004, 07:27:57 PM »

Quote
I'm going to have to negotiate with my players to ever run this town, as I've had to make a few changes to the polygamy situation in order to respect the Veils of one or two of them... So, polygamy's main use now is making sure widows can be provided for.

Forgive me, Albert, forgive me forgive me, but that's just so cute. I want to pinch your players' cheeks!

You didn't ask me, but what I think you should do is start off with the great supernatural stuff you're doing. It's obvious that that's what's jazzing you right now. Create a couple of towns where the townsfolks' interest in the supernatural is causing problems, where you get to showcase your different spirits and draw your players into judgement about them. Sorcerers, shamans, natural magicians, demons, angels, ghosts - that's what I think. You can always dump 'em into the deep polygamy end later.

-Vincent
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clehrich
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« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2004, 07:42:07 PM »

Albert,

Sorry, can I just ask here, what are "Veils"?  I was thinking it was something in Dogs, but I couldn't find it, so I did a complete text search and the word doesn't occur.  What does this mean?  Why does it have to be respected?

Incidentally, several posts back you noted that the Dogs have much more autonomy than Inquisitors ever had, but didn't seem sure.  Yes, you're basically right, although there were a few important exceptions in which someone really ran amok.  In many ways, though, those were the exceptions that prove the rule: Inquisitors had to conform to terribly strict rules, and they had to report what they did, in detail, preferably verbatim (they had scribes to take down the proceedings), to their central Holy Office (usually the Archdiocesan Holy Office).  Doesn't matter much for your purposes, of course, but I thought I'd mention it.
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Chris Lehrich
lumpley
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« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2004, 08:25:22 PM »

("Veils" as in "Lines and Veils," per local lingo. I think he meant "Lines," but it's all good.)
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clehrich
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« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2004, 08:43:16 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
("Veils" as in "Lines and Veils," per local lingo. I think he meant "Lines," but it's all good.)
Oh, aha.

I do wonder, though, whether lines need to be drawn quite this sharply in a game like Dogs.  I dunno, it's your game and your friends, but to my mind this would be a great thing to put some emotional heft into the game beyond what's even already there.  Keep the revised rules of what polygamy is supposed to be in the Faith, which allows the Dogs to be really bothered by what's going on, and let the players make their judgments as harshly and strongly as they like.  Sounds like a hell of a game to me.  But if it really, really crosses lines, I suppose....  A pity, though.
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Chris Lehrich
Albert the Absentminded
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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2004, 07:06:29 AM »

No, I mean Veils. The player has said he's fine with polygamy as long as it stays in the background, but he'd rather not have to deal with the problems of polygamy as a Dog. That sounds veilish.

I think he wishes the authority to okay polygamous relationships was restricted to the Prophets and the Ancients. I know that for at least a while, every polygamous marriage had to be authorized by the President of the Church personally, to _all_ involved parties. The actions of John C. Bennit, damn his black heart to Outer Darkness, to the contrary.

I think my first town will be a purely Faithful town, with a situation that hasn't gone beyond Sin and Demonic Attack. Maybe the very beginnings of False Doctrine. Probably the standard "I'm cheating everyone - I'm getting rich - God must love me" deal. Give them something to fix that was a chronic problem, and let them familiarize themselves with the rules.

The next town will be a mixed Faithful/non-Faithful, probably at the western edge leading to California. I'm not sure _what_ the situation will be, but I'm leaning towards young, attractive Faithful girls tempted to carnal sins with Californian gold. The idea is to introduce the Territorial authorities, and make it clear that they can cause the Faithful a _lot_ of trouble. A full fort, army contingent, etc.

Then inward again, as they are asked to deliver the mail from California to Bridal Falls. Along the way they come to a town where the Steward is forcing everyone to work, work, work, to be sure they can endure several dozen disasters simultaneously.

From Bridal Falls, eastward along the shortest route to deliver some of the mail - including a fair amount of gold, so it needs guarding -  to the eastmost outpost, from where it will be delivered by rail.

Along the way, I think it'll be a change of pace: A demon has imprisoned the spirit of a beautiful mountain lake, and a shaman's spiritual insight has told him that the Dogs can help.

At the destination, they are attacked by bandits. One of the self-styled Demon Lords(ie, he's still mostly sentient) has been whipping up an atmosphere of contention, because he knows that a group of escaped slaves has made its way up from Texas, and he wants conditions to be ready for a lynch mob.

(The slaves have heard of a place where the righteous can live in peace. They aren't Faithful, however, and are still used to Master/Slave social mechanics.)


Having completed this, the players will have been introduced to the mechanics, the Faithful, the Mountain Folk, the Territorial Authorities, and will have met the "First Season Big Bad": Ba'al (insert ancient Hebrew or Latin or Greek for anger and wrath here). Having done that . . . . I'll have to think.

-Albert
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