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Author Topic: [DiTV] Beginning in Fresno  (Read 3671 times)
ScottM
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Posts: 221

Fresno, California


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« on: October 14, 2004, 05:56:07 PM »

Dogs seems to be a game that blurs the line a bit between actual play and prep.  Here's the chargen session from last Friday, up through the end of initiatory conflicts.  Involved were Will, Emily, Jim, and me (Scott).  Also present was Jennifer, Will's wife.  [She roleplays on occasion, but typically gets bored of the game and drifts back to wallpaper after a few sessions.  This time she just decided not to play from the start-which I appreciate.]  The group is the same group that I play homebrew Wheel of Time with; Will's the GM of that game, and is eager to play (rather than GM).

So, Jim and I show up around 6:30 or so and everyone else is present.  Jennifer is playing Jedi Knight on the computer.  We discuss the game a bit; Emily's distracted by the computer.  I talk about the setting, Will responds with a cool character concept.  Jim sketches out several ideas that he's debating.  Jim, Will and I run for food, leaving behind Jennifer and Emily, who play computer.  We return bearing food and chat as we eat.  We start discussing specific character types in Dogs (well rounded, complicated history, etc.)  As we start trying to put dice to Jim and Will's characters, I ask Emily what she's thinking.  Her character concept is pretty sketchy, but she gets caught up in the discussion and focuses on the game, disengaging from the computer.  Pretty quickly everyone's allocating dice-Emily usually about a step behind, but it's not a big deal, we all need refreshing and clarification since it's our first go.

Will's character is Benson Smith, with a complicated background.  The sketch is this: his mama is a Mountain Person, his father was the town blacksmith.  Mama came out of the mountains, his Dad married her, and they raised him.  Her wild ways didn't leave her; when he was 12 his papa caught her with another man-and killed the two in a rage.  The adultering guy's family killed his papa (though papa went down fighting); Benson probably would have died if the Dog Phineas hadn't ridden in to town as they were hunting him down.  Phineas realized that the kid wouldn't do well here; the faithful were too divided by events, so he took him back to an orphanage in Bridal Veil Falls city.  Four years later Benson's still hanging around the Dogs-has been ever since he was rescued. Eventually he hears a clear call, so he starts training to become a dog.

Jim is playing Malachai Davis, who also has a complicated background.  Briefly, he was raised back east but drifted west; he was a lowdown dirty guy, who devolved into banditry.  Finally he had a vision; the King of Life told him he was done with Malachai-he'd be burning in hell unless he took on a lifetime of service to make up for his wicked deeds.  Malachai got the message, is repenting his wicked ways... and is training to become a Dog.

Emily was sketchier, but decided to play a tomboyish girl named Isabel Johansen.  She's her father's daughter; while she's moderately educated, she always slipped away when it came time for needlepoint.  The boys of the town just assumed she'd be a dog-she certainly wasn't a woman of a kind that they're used to.  They were right; the steward heard the call for her and sent her off to Bridal Veil Falls to get trained to be a dog.

We were all pretty happy at this point, so we went into initiatory conflicts.  I started with Jim; he hoped Malachai would learn some restraint.  [I think it was more specific at first, like "not shoot people", but that's what he learned from it.]

So he returned from class after being ripped for his scripture (the book he learned growing up wasn't the Book of Life, despite similarities, so his quotes aren't always right.).  He returned to his horse, to get his whiskey out of his saddle bags and drink away the bad taste of the lesson, when he spotted a shadowy figure with his saddle bags.  [We rolled the dice about here; it may have been just before he spotted the figure.]  The kid wound up being an assistant of Cort, the teacher he'd just had trouble with.  The kid told him he was removing contraband.  Malachai tried talking him into returning the saddle bags, but he just didn't have the dice to support it.  Finally he escalated to physical, tripping the boy before he could leave with the liquor, and they wrassled, finally exhausting the boy, but breaking the bottle in the process.  In the process, Malachai forged an... interesting relation with Cort (long term fallout), but also learned some self restraint.

As I prepared the next initiation, I felt that the first had been a bit flat; we'd had to back and fill a couple of times because we weren't using the system very well yet.  I was also disappointed, because I'd left the environment sketchy, something I was hoping to overcome in my GMing.

Malachai's conflict was getting over his reluctance to handle guns.  I framed to him riding with Phineas, when Phineas suddenly went down to a riffle shot.  Again we had some unclear raises and blocks, but the scenery was clearer.  Phineas handed Benson his shotgun; Benson and the shooter circled, but he wouldn't shoot.  Then Benson was shot, he started shooting back and killed the guy.  He took some bad fallout; he woke up to the sound of three dogs singing over him- one of them Phineas.  They got him whole enough to take in to get healed up.  Phineas wound up giving Benson his gun; lingering paranoia about ambushes clouds his attention still. [His fallout.]

Isabel earned the respect of her peers; she was tutoring a boy in training when he started ignoring her, talking about his proper place and hers.  I didn't drive this conflict hard enough; she had the dice enough from the start to keep him on the defensive.  She mastered him and he learned some scripture.  It was weaker than I'd have liked, and the scenery wasn't strong, but there was some good scripture quoting and "putting them in their place" characterization than made the scene pretty good over all.

Before we'd started, I'd planned on launching into the first town (Broder's Branch), but it was almost 11, so we called it a night instead.  Tomorrow night, they'll ride into Broder's Branch.   During the end of session discussion, we agreed that the system seems cool, but it'll take a while to get used to it.

--Scott

[editted to add link to Stats, etc. thread: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=13077]
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Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.
lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2004, 06:17:37 AM »

Hey Scott.

Quote
I was also disappointed, because I'd left the environment sketchy, something I was hoping to overcome in my GMing.


I've been thinking that you might be able to get the things rules working for you there. Just whenever anybody includes a door, a woodpile, dodging between trees, whatever, in a See or Raise, give 'em a die for it. Don't limit the things dice to, y'know, tools and weapons. When you set a scene, put a couple of things in it, and then don't hesitate to have your NPCs exploit them for the dice when they can.

-Vincent
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ScottM
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Fresno, California


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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2004, 04:14:31 PM »

[Thanks for the ideas about using the scenery Vincent.  I'll try and work it in next time.]

I really should work harder on writing these up quicker.  This is from last Friday (the 15th).

I began the game with the characters riding along to Broder's branch.  After a moment's Q&A (yes, it's named after the first family to start the town; it was maybe 40 years ago, so the founder's likely dead), I cut to them cresting a hilltop.  [Actually, I tried to cut, but it was a more gradual "the game is starting" process that stuttered into being.]

I had each player describe their horse and how well they were riding.  [So they could show their character's competence and any flavor they wanted their horse to have.]  They debated opening the mail they were carrying, to try to suss out the town's problems before they showed up.  I probably had trouble keeping my eyebrows attached to my head; eventually they decided against it.

From the hilltop they looked out over the town, there was some debate as to whether they should all ride in to town, or if they should come from multiple directions, etc.  They decided to trust and rode in along the main street, where the town seemed to be gathering.

As they rode up, everyone peeled off to do something.  Benson picked out a youth and tossed his reins to the boy, asking to have them fed and watered.  He then wandered off to the deputy (spotted cause of his tin star), to drop off his mail.  The deputy asked for assistance in dealing with theft problems that are cropping up.  Malachai gets a tug on his sleeve and a request for help-- (it was a minor character, also a victim of theft).  Emily decided to have Isabel continue up the middle, to the waiting Steward.  She did notice the Steward's eldest daughter trying to signal her subtly.

The dogs gathered around Isabel again, who accepted the Steward's invitation to tea.  They accepted and we moved along to the Steward's house.  The Steward mentioned the thefts; the dogs promised to investigate, and tea was over.  We segued into some OOC discussion about how long Dogs usually hang around towns... I suggested it was usually a half a week, up to a week or two was common.

Hestia, the steward's eldest daughter, seized her opportunity and showed Isabel down to the stream.  We set the stakes as "does she spill" quite early in the conversation.  The dice went against Emily, and she was unwilling to escalate at this point, so she continued... knowing there was something wrong, but just getting an ear full of Hestia's propaganda about Jebediah the wonderful.  The players all seemed to hold Hestia's success against her the whole game...

So they scatter.  Malachai decides to investigate the last family that moved to town, since the thefts are a recent problem.  Isabel decided to meet with Jebediah and measure him; Hestia had made her quite suspicious.  Benson set up a campsite out side of town (didn't want to sleep in a town with such problems, I think).  He then wandered around, deciding to repair and mend what he could, since the town had no blacksmith; he figured it would be a good way to let others approach him and confide.

So the next scene is Malachai meeting the (quickly invented) last couple to town.  He meets her in the kitchen, she's properly impressed with his coat, they talk briefly.  He has a feeling that she's telling the truth about their view of town-- yes, all the expected neighbors showed up for their house raising, it's a nice town, etc.  They wander out to the south parcel where the mister is working; Malachai gets little more-- except, in passing, the wife mentions Hestia's being "too good for the local boys".

Meanwhile, Isabel talks with Jebediah, and again rolls pretty poorly.  The stakes are kind of vague and there wasn't a lot of barbed commentary that felt like strong raises on either part.  They talked; Jebediah proved humbler than I'd originally imagined him.  He told her about his trading with the Mountain folk and about the stolen piece.  Jim seized on that OOC and thought that the figure described might be a religious artifact-- perhaps whoever traded the piece to Jebediah didn't have the authority to do so.  (A cool moment-- clear interest in other people's scenes is relatively rare amongst us.)  He wasn't sure he was strong enough in the faith to deserve a second wife, and Rachel had been a good wife so far.  Jebediah arrived about now-- since the dice weren't with her, she gave and retreated to the kitchen to talk with Rachel.  [Incidentally, since they weren't working together and hadn't even been in the same place to start, I decided that this was two separate conflicts; Malachai's contest with Jebediah was separate from Rachel's.  I had Jebediah roll his dice again for the new conflict.]

So they talked, Jim tried out his religious artifact theory in character, and the two (Jebediah the NPC and Malachai, Jim's PC) started discussing a trip to visit Jebediah's contacts among the Mountain Folk in the morning.

So we cut to Benson, who talked with the various victims of theft, then settled down to mend and patch for the people of the town.  After a while Breyer approaches him.  Benson presses Breyer (dice are rolled); and after Breyer's pitch (fix things between me and Hestia), Breyer's running out of dice.  He tries to walk away, but Benson catches him in a blacksmith's iron grip.  I debate... and realize that Benson's just not going to slug a Dog.  So he gives, confessing his theft.  [Prior to this, Emily was groaning about how messed up everyone in this town was-- everyone suggesting make him marry me, have her love me, etc.  It was fun to hear.]

Around this time Jebediah and Rachel have just finished dinner with Isabel and Malachai.  Benson encounters them on the front porch, talking, as he's walking back.  Jebediah and Rachel retire; the three dogs take a walk and exchange what's going on.  Isabel decides to join Benson out at the camp, while Malachai decides to take the Steward up on his offer of a bed.  The younger daughter is shuffled in to join Hestia, and Malachai crashes for the night.

The next morning, a swirl of dust in the distance catches the Dog's attention.  [This was a misstep on my art; the demons should have been trying to shift the blame to the Steward's family, in retrospect.]  Isabel and Benson (who spotted it, being outside of town), try to track what's causing it, but aren't finding any traces (since it's just the demon trying to implicate the Mountain Folk.]  I describe the area as "feeling tainted, like a slick on water", and they decide to bring in some ceremony.  I rolled 4d6+ 2d10 (the level of demonic activity) and pushed forward two high dice.  They took the blow (it whipped up a nasty dust storm, scooping the thin layer of dust that covered the raw stone into a stinging mess).  They beat a strategic retreat, shot some rounds in the air to call for help, brought in some ceremony (chiding Jim for Malachai's absence), and whomped on the demon, banishing it.

They were debating who was guilty of the remaining (nonsensical, petty) thefts, when they figured that the demon might have been responsible.  So they gathered together, discussed the town, and prepared judgement.  [I tried to skip ahead to the meeting where they were going to pronounce sentences, but backtracked when they had more to work out.]

In the end, they lectured the town about sin letting demons in and branded Breyer for his role in everything. [They'd been discussing how deeply they should brand him; I think his not resisting when they brought out the how wire encouraged relative lenience.]  Then they announced that Breyer and Hestia would be married; they'd be happy to do it if the Steward wanted to be the father at his daughter's ceremony.

I was a bit astonished (and thus, so was the Steward); it was late so we cut to Benson joining them in matrimony, then the Dogs riding out of town.  There was a quick bit of reflection and they decided to continue along their route, on to the next town.  It was late, so we discussed it a bit [especially about how we're finding it hard to set good stakes], confirmed the next week's game, and left for the night.

Yeah, that's my report.  Hope it's useful.
Scott
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Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.
lumpley
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2004, 02:59:59 PM »

Was it fun?

-Vincent
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ScottM
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Fresno, California


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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2004, 12:18:56 PM »

Yes, we all seemed to have fun.  There were continuing rough spots (about the Stakes, often), but we went to it with a will.

I was a little disappointed in my NPCs-- they wound up giving or talking most of the time, largely because they were pretty good people, and didn't want to fight the Dogs.  This week I'll have more malevolent/motivated people, so I can escalate more.

I really enjoyed the interest in each others actions.  It's something we've had a problem with in the past (MLwM and our Wheel hombrew have had some issues along these lines), so I was pleased by the focus on fellow players' scenes.  Also, despite the "complaint" about the crazy townsfolk, who worry so much about who gets to sleep with whom, I think that focus was an appreciated point.  Too often, all of the investigation in a game just leads to a standard fight scene.  That wasn't really in the cards this time, but it was still tense, involving, and fun.

It was a bit late when we finished, so reflection and debriefing were a bit short; what was reported was good.  I've figured out things I want to do with the next town's folks (like setting the stakes harder) that will help build on the success of this session.

Thanks for your advice & interest,
Scott
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Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.
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