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[DitV] Wisdom's Ghost

Started by Clinton R. Nixon, January 06, 2005, 10:31:36 PM

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Clinton R. Nixon

After an exceedingly lethargic - but still good - game of Sorcerer, my biweekly group has moved to Dogs in the Vineyard. This week, we created characters and went through initiation. We liked it so much that we're playing it weekly instead of biweekly.

None of the three players were incredibly familiar with the setting besides knowing it was a Western in which you play religious missionaries and problem-solvers. I did read a bit of the setting out loud, but that overview is really all we needed.

I really dug how character creation worked. At the start, not a single person seemed to have even an inkling of what they wanted to play. So often, you sit around and figure out what sort of character you want to play, and when that's done, then you start figuring out the game qualities of the character. It's anti-climatic. In Dogs in the Vineyard, you figure out who your character is, and look down and you've got game qualities. It's nice. Honestly, the best part is the first part: choose whether your character is well-rounded, has a strong background, complicated background, is from a strong community or complicated community. That's half of designing who your character is right there.

We ended up with:

[*]Bro. Jabez Tackett, who was apparently "born in pain." (I just noticed that written on the character sheet.) He's got a complicated community, namely that it burnt down. Two of his traits are awesome: "I can survive in the desert for a week with only the clothes on my back and a knife in my sheath 2d8" and "I know fire 2d6."
[*]Bro. Perserverance Cobb, with a strong history. He's the son of a Territorial Army chaplain, which plays in later. I love his traits, too. They're one sentence total: "I'm one of God's Watchdogs 1d10," "who's a crack shot 2d10," "And comfortable on a horse 2d8," "As I am with Scripture 2d8," "And making speeches 3d6." He's got a "Mountain People Axe 2d6," which is bound to play into things.
[*]Zebulon Isiah Swope, also with a complicated community. (Two of them! These people are trying to kill me.) Man, oh man, will this character be good. This is the player that really surprised me in our Sorcerer game. We've got two dark nasty PCs and then Keanu Reeves, surfer-cop. Guess who stole the show? Anyway, Zebelon is pulling the same stuff: the character seems like a scrounging rat, barely fit to be a Dog. I think he'll end up being a beacon. The best thing on this character sheet is a relationship: "my mother, who r-u-n-n-o-f-t when I was 14 2d4." Ouch.
Initiation was awesome. I feel like I short-changed the first player just because we weren't comfortable with the system yet, but all of them were great.

First initiation: Zebulon. Zeb's player, Cat, said "I hope I got over my claustrophobia." This was straight-forward: a group of rowdy students locked him in a broom-closet. The Sees and Raises were fun, and it escalated from a physical conflict to fighting, with Zeb finally winning by Cat using his claustrophobia trait for a raise, knocking all the jerks off the closet door. Of course, that means he "lost"; he's not over his claustrophobia. Cat also got Fallout, and chose a new Relationship (with the leader of the rowdy students) at 1d4.

Second initiation: Perserverance. Judson, the player, went vague on me here. "I hope I stood up for myself." Upon pressing him, it was "I hope I quit being a wallflower." His story is that he's always lived in his father's shadow, his father being a Territorial Army chaplain. I said "ok," and used that. While coming back from running errands for the Dogs' Temple, Perserverance was stopped by Army men who were looking for bandits. Judson did a good job being a wallflower at first by just avoiding them. He came out great in the end, standing up to a captain who pulled a gun on him and standing him down. He even got called "Dog," which he wasn't yet. (Or was he? The thing I like about initiation is it highlights when your character really quit being an initiate and became a Dog.)

Third initiation: the best. Man, we all loved this one. The player, Mischa, was vague again: "I hope my faith overcame my doubt." I can't believe he handed this over to me, the Master Doubter. I swear it felt like he handed me a loaded gun and said "shoot me." I set the scene, "You're sitting in the infirmary after a day working with the horses. One horse kicked another initiate, a girl and she's hurt bad. You're sitting beside her bed, and she's not going to live. She looked at you and says, 'All I wanted was to serve the King. Why do I have to die?' I Raise with 13." Man, that was fun. The girl, Sophia, did die, but not before spitting up a bit of blood on his sleeve and his doubt reaching up and grabbing him by the balls. Mischa immediately got into the Dogs spirit and took a relationship - with the dead girl. We haven't started play (I guess we have, but by standard defintions, we haven't) and a character has a relationship to a dead girl.

I don't know if he thinks he's getting away with that coming up in the context of her family, but he's not. I never planned this to be a particularly supernatural Dogs campaign, but Sophia's ghost is going to haunt him the rest of the game.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Kaare Berg

Damn it Clinton, I was all set to run HQ Star Wars this weekend now it looks like a DitV session is brewing.  

Quick one of the top of my head, in Zeb's initiation, how did you play it out?

As far as I get it what was at stake was: Can Zeb overcome his Claustrophobia. But the conflict sound like Can Zeb break out of the closet (no play on word intended).

I am currently getting to grips with the nuts and bolts of Conflict resolution, so I am curious how you did this. I had much the same problem in my inital run of DitV, with unclear and vagues statements about what was at stake. Got better as we played though.

Waiting impatiently for the next installment.

Clinton R. Nixon

Quote from: Negilent
Quick one of the top of my head, in Zeb's initiation, how did you play it out?

As far as I get it what was at stake was: Can Zeb overcome his Claustrophobia. But the conflict sound like Can Zeb break out of the closet (no play on word intended).

I know exactly what you're getting at here, but I'm pretty sure I did it right. Basically, I played it as "will you continue to freak out about being in a closet, or accept it and be calm?" Whether or not he broke out was not the conflict, although it was the end result that he did break out. Calling on his claustrophobia trait to break out settled it - the claustrophobia won. Notice that the player was playing the character with claustrophobia, and this caused him to win and me to lose, so he didn't overcome his claustrophobia.

The nice part is he has a new trait that he can use to flip out and break free of his bonds when someone traps him in a small space.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games


Well that sounds fun! Do you have a first town in mind?


Clinton R. Nixon

I do have a first town all written up. I had it for last week, but we didn't get to it. 'Cause my players might be reading, I'm not going to give it all away, but I devised a town that's all about the relationships between parents and children - adult children - and subversion of gender roles. I hope it'll be fun.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games


As Perserverance's player, I have to say I'm way much more excited about this game now that it's underway.  I could suddenly see a revisit of roleplaying times past, staggering through into the wee hours on caffeine and enthusiasm.  By the time we were done with initiation, I was ready to play through the entire town right then.  

It seems like there were a couple mechanical issues we should clear up before next time (the fact that the die used to Turn a Blow is half of your Raise, and we didn't get to Helping), but honestly I don't think that it's much of a deal a'tall.

Finally, I'm now waiting for my copy of Dogs, because a skim of Clinton's copy and character creation has me completely pumped to play this game.

-- Judson