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Author Topic: [DitV] Our First Session(s): Char Creation and Cedar Falls  (Read 3212 times)
BrendanC
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Posts: 25


« on: March 22, 2005, 08:45:15 AM »

Hi everyone. I've been reading the Forge for a while now but this is my first post. I just bought my copy of Dogs last week, and immediately got some friends together to start up a game. We had a great time, but there are some things I wanted community input on. I'm going to start with some background.
   
   This was our first time playing together, and the first time with DitV for anyone. First, a little about our group: there's four of us: Matt and myself, who are experienced RPers, but generally from a D&D/White Wolf gamist background; Matt's fiancÚ Alisanne, who has some experience, but mainly playing pre-made characters in one-shot games; and my girlfriend, Betsi, who has had virtually no RPing experience at all. We're going to have rotating GM duties, starting with myself. Baically, whoever wants to run a town on a given week will GM that week.


The players and their characters:
   Matt, playing Brother Gabriel - a well-educated but sheltered son of a large family, many of them holding Temple offices. He has a deep belief in the Faith, but has never had to reconcile his Faith with the reality of life outside the Temple. He tends to be arrogant.
   
   Alisanne, playing Brother Malachi - an insatiably curious scholar of the Faith, having an encyclopedic knowledge of the Book of Life, with a focus on inconsistencies therein.
   
   Betsi, playing Brother Jeremiah - Imiah to his friends,  the child of a Dog that was raped by a possessed man. He's very sympathetic to women in trouble, and often doubts his faith. He can't understand why bad things happen to good people, but is sincere in his desire to make a difference.
   
   Me, playing Brother Solomon - an orphan taken in by the Temple. His father killed his mother when Solomon was 10, after discovering that she had been having an affair. His father was then shot by a Dog to prevent him from causing further harm. Solomon wears the coat of that Dog, now a teacher at the Temple, as a reminder to be mindful of the pain he may cause in the course of his duties.   
   
   
The Initial Conflicts:
   Matt hoped that Gabriel won an argument - A fellow student cornered him beind a barn and demanded to know why Gabriel thought he was better than everyone else. The conflict got physical before he eventually gave in and acknowledged that he was no better than any other Dog-in-training.
   
   Betsi hoped that Jeremiah defended a woman - Walking through town in the evening, he heard a woman cry out from a side street. He rushed to her aid, to find a man assaulting her. Again, this escalated to physical before it was resolved (by Imiah decking the man in one good punch - he's got a pretty high Body score) but the outcome was somewhat mixed. He did defend a woman, but it turned out that she had stolen the man's horse. Imiah got her to return the horse, which she had intended to sell to feed her family, and got her a job at the Temple instead.
   
   Alisanne hoped that Malachi reconciled an inconsistency in the Book of Life - We agreed that the dispute was not over the existence of an inconsistency, but rather over Malachi's proposed solution. He had brought the issue up to his Theology instructor, but wasn't able to convince him that his solution would work.

   I hoped that Solomon learned to control his temper - He was called before his teachers, who told him that if he didn't learn to curb his temper, he would never become a Dog. In the course of the ensuing argument, he almost lost control of himself, but did manage to rein in his anger in the end.    
   
   After playing our initial conflicts, we were all pretty excited about the way the system works. The conflict resolution mechanics are versatile and just make sense.
   
   The only real problem that I felt we had during this session (actually split over two evenings) was that Alisanne didn't seem to engage with the game very much. I think this is partially a result of her being tired, but partially that she's having trouble disassociating the Faith from Christianity, which she isn't fond of.
   
   I was very hesitant with my narration throughout the session. It would often take me a while to figure out what made sense for me to narrate as I was seeing and raising. I think this is mainly because I'm still getting used to this method of play, as most of my previous RPing has been mainly gamist. I'm loving every minute of this though - I have been trying to move into nar territory for a while, but my typical group of D&Ders isn't very interested in following me.
   
   I know that Matt has an account here now as well, so maybe he can post a bit about his perceptions of how things went during our character creation.
   
   I'll post about our first town soon.
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BrendanC
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Posts: 25


« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2005, 12:21:02 PM »

Cedar Falls was the first town on the Dogs' route. Because I was GMing, we agreed that Brother Solomon was still at the Temple, and would be sent to join the group later.
   
   This was the first real trouble spot. I had no problem creating the town on paper, starting from Pride and going straight up to Sorcery, stopping just short of Murder. The part that was difficult for me was jumping from that description into the game, and having to describe what happens when the Dogs arrive in town. I suspect that part of my problem was that the town wasn't really "grabby" enough - there weren't really any NPCs that were immediately clamoring for attention from the PCs. They all had relatives in the town, but one didn't want anything from the Dogs directly, and one only showed up later. So when they arrived in town, there was really only one person, the Steward, who had a request for them. The game started slowly as a result.
   
   Once we got moving though, things got interesting. The basic setup of the town was that one of the young women (Hannah) wanted to be a Dog, but the Steward had passed over her, deciding that she didn't really have "the right stuff". Now she was neglecting her duties and running off to the hills to practice shooting, riding, etc. in an attempt to prove herself. She spent a lot of time with the Steward's son, who was often in the hills hunting, and the two of them ended up sleeping together. She got pregnant, and the demonic attack took the form of all the other unmarried women in the town becoming mysteriously pregnant as well. Over the last few months, they've confided in one another and discovered that it's a problem that affects them all. Now Hannah has them convinced that it's a sign from the King that unless they can get rid of the current Steward, all the women of the town will "share her plight" and be as oppressed as she is (or feels she is, anyway). With no intervention from the PCs, she would have eventually murdered the Steward.
   
   After some slower (but still interesting) scenes where the Dogs figure out what's going on between Hannah and the Steward's son, and realize that she was the source of the town's troubles, we got to what ended up being the meat of the session: their showdown with Hannah. I'm a little unhappy with how this turned out, mainly because Alisanne's character wasn't present, and she lost interest pretty quickly. Given that I was trying to get her more interested, I see this as a big failure. I didn't really expect this scene to go on as long as it did, so going in I didn't think it would matter that her character wasn't there.
   
   The scene itself, however, was great. Jeremiah and Gabriel confronted Hannah in the hills above town, and tried to get her to see that her Pride was causing a lot of problems for the townspeople. We got to see how the group conflict rules worked. (well, as it turns out, despite some confusion in places) Hannah had a ton of relevant dice, and when she wouldn't listen, things escalated to physical. Eventually, things really went south - Hannah ran out of dice, but she was in a blind rage at that point, and unknowingly invited the demons to possess her. The Dogs had to hurt her pretty badly to end the conflict, and we launched a follow up conflict to see if they could prevent her from dying. They did manage to stabilize her, and brought her back to town.
   
   When she woke a few days later, she understood that she had let things get out of hand, and was truly sorry. She and the Steward's son were married before she was even out of her sickbed, and Jeremiah stayed in town for a few days to continue to watch over her recovery. When she was well enough to travel, he sent the couple to the Temple, hoping that working alongside Dogs would be some consolation to her crushed dreams of being one.
   
   
   I'm not really happy with how the first part of the session went - next time I think I need to be careful to make sure that there's a lot going on to catch everyone's interest quickly. Can anyone offer any advice on creating a town that's "grabby enough"?
   
   Speaking with Betsi later, she said that she never really felt that Jeremiah was in any real danger. That's something else that I plan to remedy in the future. (insert evil GM laugh here)
   
   I think that the four of us will all get better at the narration aspect of conflicts, with more practice. We took a long time to get through conflicts this session, because we al ended up searching for the right thing to say to accompany our dice. In particular, we found it difficult to deal with two people seeing one raise in the group conflict. Sometimes it was hard to come up with something that each person could narrate that would make sense. Can anyone contribute any thoughts on this?
   
   Which brings me to a related question - can two PCs heal one person? I figure this could be played as a group conflict, but given that healing is a little different from other conflicts, I wasn't sure how tihs would work.
   
   Overall, I'm in love with Dogs. I can't wait to play more.
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lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2005, 12:49:07 PM »

I hate to say this - it might not be Alisanne's game.

I've learned the hard way that if I say "it's a western! About preachers! Who fight sin!" and my prospective players look at me skeptically, then maybe we should play Primetime Adventures instead.

Otherwise, yeah, I think you've nailed it - next time, have some NPCs waiting anxiously for the Dogs to show up, with urgent desires. "You can make everything better for everyone! All you have to do is this horrific thing that would make sense only to an emotionally crippled and deeply resentful person!" the first one says. And the second one says, "please, please, my family's life depends on you doing this incompatible thing that seems kind of reasonable on the surface but look closely and it's really, really creepy!" And the third is all like, "waaah! the only just course is to do this third thing that will make person 1, person 2, plus nine tenths of the rest of the town hate you and want to kill you!"

Tony LB, are you reading this? You have good advice about revealing towns fast and up front, care to comment?

-Vincent
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lumpley
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2005, 12:50:09 PM »

Oh and I'm fascinated to hear how the GM-rotating works out. I'd like to try that with Dogs myself.

-Vincent
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Judd
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2005, 01:07:31 PM »

Quote from: BrendanC
Can anyone offer any advice on creating a town that's "grabby enough"?


I think your town was plenty grabby, you just needed to fast forward it to a point where it was reaching out for a grab.

The players come to town as...

...a few women of all ages are digging up a root known to produce stillbirths.

...a number of men are stringing up a shiftless wanderer their families took in for a while who they believe impregnated their wives.

Just find that point that demands the players react or puts the conflict of the game right into their laps.

Good luck, can't wait to hear about your next town.
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BrendanC
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Posts: 25


« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2005, 01:46:26 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
I hate to say this - it might not be Alisanne's game.

This thought had occurred to me as well. I know she's got a lot going on right now with her work, so I'm not sure if it's that or if this just isn't her game. I'm going to give it a while and see what happens, but she may be happier spending her time doing something that she's more interested in. I know it took me a little while to get into the idea myself, but once I looked at it in more detail, I was hooked.

Quote from: Paka
I think your town was plenty grabby, you just needed to fast forward it to a point where it was reaching out for a grab.

That strikes me as a good way of thinking about this. The issue wasn't that there was something inherently wrong with the town, but rather the timing of the Dogs' arrival. Betsi and I were talking about this last night, and she said that if they had arrived just after Hannah had murdered the Steward, things would have been much more interesting. Looking back at it now, I think she was right.

My problem so far is coming up with a town idea that will immediately demand the Dogs' attention and judgement, but not have progressed all the way to murder. I don't want every town my PCs ride into to have just been the site of a bloodbath. I've got a few ideas though, so we'll see how my next one goes.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2005, 05:30:24 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
Tony LB, are you reading this? You have good advice about revealing towns fast and up front, care to comment?

So, gosh, no pressure.  Sadly, I don't have anything terribly grabby.

Honestly, I think the whole "right after Hannah murdered the Steward" thing is what I would go with.  And, mind you, I mean right after.  They should hear the gun-shots as they ride into town.

If they try to heal the Steward?  So what?  The murder is there in the story.  Him being dead is a matter of complete irrelevance to you (though possibly of great relevance to the players).
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lupis42
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2005, 06:42:06 AM »

Hi.  I'm the Matt Brendan mentioned.  So we just played our second town last night, with Betsi GMing, and it worked out wonderfully.  I've been working on a town for tonight, and I think I have it mostly figured out.  I'm going to be trying to play my regular character too, so I think I may have to resign more of the narrative burden to the group.  
I want the details of the town to be a bit of a shock to the players, when they arrive, so I won't post the full thing yet, but I will get it up, assuming everything works out.  

PS: Alisanne was alot more into it last time, she probably just needs to be rested for when we play, and to get more used to offering narrative input outside of just playing her character.
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