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Author Topic: [Dogs] Red Creek Runs Red  (Read 15291 times)
Luke
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« on: July 31, 2005, 09:32:05 PM »

Look at me, joining the hip crowd and posting an AP for a Dogs in the Vineyard game. I figure it's worth it for two reasons. First, I so rarely play or run games other than BW, I figure it's kind of an event when I do. Second, the game was intensely problematic. And I loved it.

We played from 4:30pm to 9:45pm. The game included character creation, town creation and initiation and a full session of play. We had five players plus the GM. Ryan, Jason, Ravi, Dan, Chris and me. This group had never gamed together in its current form. Ravi had never played a published pen and paper rpg before. Chris, Dan and I have gamed together for years. Ryan and Jason have been playing together for a six months. Only Ryan, Jason and I had played Dogs before.

I offered to run this game earlier in the week. Therefore I felt responsible to inspire and drive the conflict. So I sat down and reread the Dogs rules the afternoon before the game and jotted down some notes about what I wanted in the game. I wrote: Mountain Folk, Murder, Genocide, Paganism, Conversion and "no active supernatural."

During character creation, I started working on the town with the players. I asked if it would be cool to have the town be way out on the frontier and for there to be problems with the Mountain Folk. I proposed the conflict using the above keywords, but stayed vague on the exact nature. I asked if that was cool and everyone agreed. And armed with that knowledge, I had them make their characters. As they made traits, I jotted notes for scenes like, "lifesaving scene" or "scenes from the past." When they came to their Relationships, I tried to get folks to chip in some of their Relationships to the setting. Ryan, Ravi and Jason offered a couple. Chris and Dan stayed out of the way. Then I asked for ideas for other figures in the town. Everyone proposed a few and before play began we had a list like this: Beaver Fur Trader, Steward, Chieftain, Bravos, Ranch Owner, Ranch Foreman, Itinerant Preacher, Former Army Captain, Sister (relation) Missionary, Amputee Soldier, Undertaker and The Girl Who Took His Virginity.

Then I drew a little relationship map and brainstormed. I wrote four words in the middle of the map: Land, Cattle, River, Tannery. Four areas of mundane contention over which sins could be wrought. Then I wrote the various relationship characters in a circle around those words and drew arrows to show which of the four they were after or which other character they were after.

The initial conflict turned out to be the townsfolk arming themselves to go kill the Mountain Folk. Apparently the Mountain Folk had killed and eaten the Sister/Missionary. The townsfolk were all drunk and buying weapons when the Dogs arrived. And they were being egged on by the retired army captain and the amputee.

The conflict focused in on the amputee. Jason had a relationship with him -- he'd performed the amputation. And the Sister. She was Ryan's character's sister. She apparently had been recently killed. She and the Amputee Soldier had been betrothed to marry when she disappeared. The Amputee claimed she was murdered. Now the whole town was going to take vengeance.

At this point, we were exploring. We had a few minor conflicts to determine who was lying or to  elict reluctant information. Also, Ravi was immediately playing munchkin: "We have to kill all these people," was one of the first things he said. He kept at that and I pretty much ignored him. However, Dan is a master of righteous indignation and showed him how it was done with some excellent roleplay. Suddenly, Dan and Ravi were teamed up to bring punishment upon the whole town.

Shortly, the Dogs headed up to the Mountain Folk to get their side of the story. And suddenly we had doctrinal differences emerging. Dan took the position that they were pagan, sorcerous heathens who had to be put down. Ryan kept trying to explain to him that that's not how the Faith worked. I intervened. I said Dan was in the right. He could interpret the Faith as he saw fit, as could Ryan. I encouraged them to play out the doctrinal conflict. That went south fast.

The Dogs quickly discovered that Ryan's sister was still alive and with the Mountain Folk tribe. In fact, she had called off her betrothal to the Amputee, and swore herself to the Chief. That's some serious sinning.

At this point, the characters are all outside the tribal seat. The Chief is there with five bravos. The sister is talking to Ryan. The other four Dogs are parleying with the Chief. Everyone else within eyesight was armed. They were, in fact, waiting for the townsfolk. And all their weapons were shiny new. Someone armed them.

Dan attacked Ryan for being weak in the Faith for not confronting his sister for her sins right there. Ryan was clearly knocked off balance. Dan kept at him, trying to instigate a conflict. He wanted Ryan to bring his sister to justice. Ryan wouldn't engage in a mechanical conflict. He seemed (and correct me if I'm wrong) to be uncomfortable with PvP action.

Jason jumped in and tried to force the sister to come along with a verbal duel. I won. She vowed to stay. She said God would protect her and the tribe. At that point, Dan flipped. He excommunicated her on the spot.

A detail I added in pushed the conflict over the edge. The sister and the chief were both wearing matching silver crosses. The chief wore his among a slew of other totems. Dan ripped the cross from Ryan's sister's neck. Ryan actually signalled his sister to give in and let him have it. Then Dan turned on the chief. He demanded the cross. The chief refused. Ravi jumped in and went for the cross. Conflict! Ravi and the chief went at it and we saw the true might of Ravi's character. He must have had 15 dice for a Fighting conflict. He bested chief and gave him some serious fallout. At this point, the Bravos jumped into action. We had a rollicking gun fight between Dan and Ravi and the bravos. Chris, Ryan and Jason withdrew. Ryan grabbed his sister.

Dan took some serious fallout from the conflict. He got shot in the face. Ravi took none. And he executed the chief as they made their escape.

They rejoined their brothers and sister further up the trail... and Dan was dying. Jason, miraculously, had made a young surgeon. He barely managed to save Dan's life. Interestingly, when we were determining the evils of the town, Ravi fought for merely Injustice. Everyone else at the table fought for Murder because Ravi had just murdered the chief in cold blood. He howled, but I enforced the decision.

By this time, the militia were marching up and preparing for battle. Jason took the reins and dragged the sister in front of the drunk miners and started a conflict -- "She's alive. Go home." The captain responded, "She's been defiled. Her honor must be avenged." Ravi sided with the captain and ended up tipping the balance and winning the day for the miners and townsfolk. They would go on to fight! However, Chris did step in and confront the Amputee. He blamed him for starting the whole mess with his lies. The Amputee shot him with a Winchester. But Chris won the conflict and caused him to breakdown sobbing and admitting his guilt. (Once again, Jason saved the day as Chris nearly died from his injuries.)

Ravi was on a tear at this point. Anyone who confronted him got threatened with the sword. He had caused all of the bloodshed thus far -- nearly got one of the Dogs killed. But they wouldn't stand up to him and confront him. Not even after the miners were all massacred by the Mountain Folk waiting in ambush.

Which pretty much ended the night -- Ryan, Chris and Jason fled the defenseless town with the women, children and elderly. Dan and Ravi stayed to mount a defense.


We had serious problems with PvP conflict. It seemed like Chris and Dan -- who had played with me before -- were cool with it. Jason and Ryan seemed a bit taken aback. Ravi played to win. And once he understood the gist of things, he gamed his traits and gear very well to make sure he won every conflict. Which made things very problematic when he went after another player. Which he did on at least two occasions. Also, it may seem like Chris wasn't a big part of this based on my write up. He was the meditator between the various factions during the game. He roleplayed most of it , and was crucial for keeping things moving.

The other problem I had was a mechanical one. I didn't grok the group conflict and helping rules. I had read that 5 Dogs on 1 sinner was an easy victory. So I tried to make the conflicts challenging. But I really, really didn't get the multiple participants stuff. I think that hurt the game to a fair degree.

The thing that I liked? I loved the fact that players were uncomfortable with the conflicts at the table. Even if it was impeding play a bit. I still enjoyed it. Chris noted that that is definitely my style as a GM. This is not necessarily a good thing.

Also, I realized that I dropped the ball on a few occassions. I downplayed some relationships that I should have emphasized and I blew a few conflicts because of bad resource management or poor escalation. That sucked.



We talked about the game a bit afterward. I'd love it if folks would post their thoughts. I thought it was an interesting and noteworthy game.

thanks all!
-L
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lin swimmer
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2005, 12:18:51 AM »

Hi everyone. I'm Ryan, playing Sr. Obedience. This was my first time playing a female Dog, or a female character for that matter. There was some brief discussion, as I was trying to make sure that I wasn't playing a female in an unconscious attempt to be that one "special" player that needs to be different, as well as the obligatory warnings of "get ready for not getting taken seriously" and "rape's a factor" etc. But whatever. Female dogs seem to be able to avoid most of the social restrictions that are placed on regular women in the setting, and I was confident that my ability to make the stakes suit my tastes would keep things alright. All of these things ended up being completely and totally irrelevant, though. We never really "played the town." We played each other.

Holy shit, man. If a social contract does exist, and it can fuck with some players' ability to play the game the way they would prefer, then this session was incredibly valuable to me as a learning experience. I've never seen things go quite so wrong (almost, though. I don't claim to only play "the correct way.") Everyone likes different things, but how can we look back at a session where only one player had the ability to shape the course of events as "functional." Oh sure, I could have done something. But it was basically certain death for one player, odds on me. More on that later.

The material of the town was great. The relationship map really impressed me, and I was excited to tie in relationships and make the game personal and driven. I was eager to see how others approached Dogs and its premise. But looking back on the town, we don't know much more of what was going on than what we heard in the initial entrance. The Beaver Fur Trader? What's his deal? The Steward? Nope. Ditto ranch owner, ranch foreman (my uncle), itinerant preacher, and undertaker. It wasn't that we weren't interested. It was that a rather arbitrary extermination of a people tends to make talking to people somewhat problematic.

Player creation went pretty well. But I also think that a lot of our problems once the game got going had to do with gross imbalances during character creation. I'm thinking specifically of a section in the BW Character Burner, page 37. The section on players min-maxing, GM veto power, the Heckler. Luke, I'm assuming some of this might seem relevant, right? It became obvious once play had begun that Ravi had built a power-house, good for absolutely nothing but killing (I doubt he would disagree). Er... whatever. Those guys are always valuable when the NPCs get a little too uppidy. If I had known that the game was going to be PvP, and that all decisions to be made in the town would boil down to which player could threaten the other players into doing what they want, I might have had a few ideas on how to level things out a bit.

I was definitely shocked the first time the PvP stuff reared up. It's never been a part of what DitV has been about, for me. I've always imagined Dogs as a game of complex moral puzzles, where the answers (and actions) are formed by group discussion. If one player wants a sinner dead and another player doesn't, they can discuss it. If that sinner is a relative of one of the players, you've got to give that player time to figure out if they're %100 beyond redemption since, hey... they're kin. I've always seen the Dogs as representatives of a religious order, first and foremost. But there was obviously a disagreement on what kind of faith we were representing. On the one side you've got the Al Qaeda style of "join us or die." Then there's the other side. The, er, Mormons (or Mormon-esque, at least). See the issue? In a game like Dogs, without some ability to compromise on this divide, play comes under strain. Throw in PvP, and where does it go? It goes fucking predictably.

(I'm not kidding about "join us or die," either. The Mountain Chief, my sister's fiancee. He got executed. For being a pagan, and for not giving Dan's character a faithful trinket that was given to him by his betrothed. I was tempted to allow my sister to take Dan's life when Jason was saving him, but then what? Ravi kills her, and me. Everything was clear as day. Awesome. So I went with trying to save as many lives as possible without getting chopped in half by another Dog. I am a wimp, make no mistake.)

I'll gladly play a PvP game if it's tied into the concept of the session, or rooted somehow in the game. Otherwise... what, we can't engage in adult discussion? Let's play Risk. Or Mortal Combat, for that matter. I dunno. I got turned off, to the point of wavering on whether or not to see the session to the end.

I felt like I wasn't living up to the group expectations. No effort was made at any time to bring us together on how we'd like to play. I'd love to play with the group again, if they'd have me. Maybe things will go smoother. I'll GM a town if anybody wants, to show another side of the coin. Maybe we can, like, save some sinners?

Apologies for being so negative. Luke, no disrespect, seriously. I figured it wouldn't help to lie about my view of the experience.

Peace,
Ryan Theodores
--
"I'm Batman"
Batman- from Batman
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Ryan Theodores
Victor Gijsbers
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2005, 02:04:43 AM »

If some of you wanted to address the moral issues through discussion, and others wanted to do it through violent conflict - the first going for depth, the second for, say, impact - that would certainly be a problem. And if one of the players wanted to 'win' without caring for the moral issues one way or another, the game would be certain to break down, as it seems to have done. But this breakdown seems to me purely a result of different expectations, not of a power imbalance in the characters. Never mind how strong one of the characters is as a fighter, there is simply no way he can stand up to three of the others joined against him.
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2005, 07:52:46 AM »

Interesting session.

I'm not clear as to why you didn't just crush Ravi's character like a bug?  If he was that loaded up on gunfighting conflicts he probably couldn't have withstood a 2-3:1 theological debate where the stakes are set up such that the net effect is "no one is going to die today".

In Dogs players don't have 100% complete control over their characters...not when those characters are the subject of Stakes.  So if another PC is playing bull-in-the-china-shop just figure out the behavior you'd rather the PC take and make it the stakes of a conflict.

"So what's at stake is: will Ravi agree to keep his gun holstered"
"So what's at stake is: will Dan forgive sister missionary's transgressions"
"So what's at stake is: will Ravi sit down to a pow wow to discuss the spiritual life of the tribe"

IMO those kind of stakes are the very engine of Dogs play.  If you keep them to talking you should be able to keep any munchkined gunslinger in line because once he's given on stakes like that, he has to follow through.  If he's willing to pull out his gun and start blasting his fellow Dogs to keep from giving on stakes like that...well...that's certainly an interesting direction in itself.  But the neat thing about Dogs is that a min maxed negotiator can have just as many dice as be just as brutally effective as a min maxed gun slinger...so even IF he draws iron...that doesn't necessarily guarentee he'll win.  The only thing it does is make you suffer higher fall out.
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lumpley
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2005, 08:09:36 AM »

Hey Luke. Interesting and problematic. I have a few questions.

Did Ravi create his character to have any desire to actually improve anyone's life, to make things better for people?

Did you do initiations for the characters?

How come you didn't follow the town creation rules in the book?

-Vincent
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lin swimmer
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2005, 09:00:21 AM »

Interesting session.

I'm not clear as to why you didn't just crush Ravi's character like a bug?  If he was that loaded up on gunfighting conflicts he probably couldn't have withstood a 2-3:1 theological debate where the stakes are set up such that the net effect is "no one is going to die today".

In Dogs players don't have 100% complete control over their characters...not when those characters are the subject of Stakes.  So if another PC is playing bull-in-the-china-shop just figure out the behavior you'd rather the PC take and make it the stakes of a conflict.

"So what's at stake is: will Ravi agree to keep his gun holstered"
"So what's at stake is: will Dan forgive sister missionary's transgressions"
"So what's at stake is: will Ravi sit down to a pow wow to discuss the spiritual life of the tribe"

IMO those kind of stakes are the very engine of Dogs play.  If you keep them to talking you should be able to keep any munchkined gunslinger in line because once he's given on stakes like that, he has to follow through.  If he's willing to pull out his gun and start blasting his fellow Dogs to keep from giving on stakes like that...well...that's certainly an interesting direction in itself.  But the neat thing about Dogs is that a min maxed negotiator can have just as many dice as be just as brutally effective as a min maxed gun slinger...so even IF he draws iron...that doesn't necessarily guarentee he'll win.  The only thing it does is make you suffer higher fall out.


These are great suggestions on how to address the issues in-game. If I hadn't been so busy being rather shocked at the downward spiral that things devolved into, I hope that something like that might have occurred to me. ::shrug::

I certainly take a lion's share of the responsibility for the fact that I didn't have my character literally fight for her right to control the situation. I think it was partly a matter of me not really being very interested in those kinds of conflicts. Any situation where players are having their characters battle for their lives over their respective in-game authority... I just shut down. How should this even be a question? 5 players, 20% authority for everyone (let me save Luke the trouble of calling me a pinko traitor.) Obviously nothing can ever be so clean and practical, but I do think that everyone has the same right to play the story how they'd like without having to contend with other players.

Also I felt I had an un-ignorable in-game reason for valuing my character's life; her sister Sarah. It was clear the way the wind was blowing, and that her life was on the line. Looking at my character sheet and trusting in the inherent balance of the game, maybe I could have taken him. But it was a choice between that and escorting the woman, children, and elderly away from the encroaching Mountain war party. I sympathized with the Mountain People throughout our entire session. I figured survival was more important at the moment. If it weren't a one-shot, revenge would have been my next highest priority. It's moot, however. The dogs that triggered the slaughter made a final stand in the bell tower of the small church in Red Creek. It was set on fire and they were killed. And this point was hilariously argued. "Dude, they can't light it on fire. We'd shoot them. All of them." It was like watching little kids argue over cowboys and indians.

Ryan Theodores
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Ryan Theodores
b_bankhead
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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2005, 09:04:00 AM »

Interesting session.

I'm not clear as to why you didn't just crush Ravi's character like a bug?  If he was that loaded up on gunfighting conflicts he probably couldn't have withstood a 2-3:1 theological debate where the stakes are set up such that the net effect is "no one is going to die today".

I think the reason is that the other players have been conditioned by play in 'normal' rpgs where the only system that actually matters is the combat system.  'Dogs' isn't at all like this.

In most rpgs 'roleplay' actually becomes a mechanism for GM fiat because it's impossible for a player to calculate in advance what his outcome is likely to be. You have a pretty good idea whats going to happen when a 10th level D&D character squares off against an orc in combat.  But whats' likely to happen why you try to debate anything with him? It's 'roleplay'.  Which means that even if you have an 18 Charisma your chance of success is really no better than someone with a 3 becuase there is no actually system for the use of Charisma, what happens is whatever the GM wants to pull out of his ass.

As I said 'Dogs' isn't like this, things other than combat skills have real power to control what happens in the game.   But the players in this game really haven't grasped this. I think this is why one of them loaded up on combat skills, this is the only way most 'normal' rpg system allow real player power.

Once again we see that exposure to 'normal' rpgs makes it more difficult to 'get' Indie rpgs.  I bet a group of roleplay 'virgins' would have a lot less trouble making this  realization.

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Luke
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2005, 10:23:28 AM »

Interesting session.

I'm not clear as to why you didn't just crush Ravi's character like a bug?  If he was that loaded up on gunfighting conflicts he probably couldn't have withstood a 2-3:1 theological debate where the stakes are set up such that the net effect is "no one is going to die today".

Once again we see that exposure to 'normal' rpgs makes it more difficult to 'get' Indie rpgs.  I bet a group of roleplay 'virgins' would have a lot less trouble making this  realization.


Mr Bankhead,

Allow me to pop that balloon. Ravi had never played a published rpg in his life. This was only his second rpg experience. His primary experience was with this own sui generis homebrew.

No, Ravi gamed this all completely right. He'd start with words and take his debates to physical or threaten fightining. He played to win. And interestingly, no one would stand up to him.

Ralph, I called Ravi a bully to his face. And told the other players that they had to stand up to him. I'm well aware of the brilliant power of the conflict resolution mechanics. I knew that they could frame conflict that would stop Ravi. But Ryan was at the center of the conflict. And often he was getting it from two sides -- from Dan and Ravi. Chris and Jason looked to follow his lead. As he clearly stated in his post, he wasn't interested in the game going in that direction.


Vincent,
No, I don't think Ravi created an altruistic soul. I let it slide. I was interested to see how it would turn out. My greatest failing was no examining his equipment before the game began. He, uh, did it up and I really wish he hadn't. Ye olde "big and excellent saber" did not pleaseth me.

We did initiations. I thought I said that, but maybe I forgot. They went swimmingly! And some of the issues that were raised in initiation game back up in play. I thought it was cool.

Town creation rules?  Mm, because my head was full, we were pressed for time and I'm an arrogant bastard who thinks he knows better. They also seemed pretty straight forward. Create a town boiling with strife and sin. Did I do something wrong?


Ryan,

We didn't get to the rest of the town because it's hard to encompass every aspect of every players' character/priorities. I thought we did pretty well with what we had. And I'll admit -- as I warned you -- I went pretty BW about it. I wanted belief-driven conflict, NOW. If that conflict was all-consuming, so be it.


Omnes,
One of the things I personally enjoyed about the game (and I know Chris and Dan did as well) was the dynamic of play set up between Dogs. You're the highest authority. You set the moral code. No one can judge you. There is no clear one way to interpret the rules set out before you. I felt this created some excellent tension at the table. Just so happens that half the folks weren't into it! As I said, when Ryan would explain the "right way to play" I would back him off and paint his stuff as doctrinal interpretation. Therefore I deliberately fomented moral arguments between the players. It is, for better or worse, part of my GMing style.



-Luke
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2005, 10:41:02 AM »

Town creation rules..... They also seemed pretty straight forward. Create a town boiling with strife and sin.

Aha.

They seem straight-forward because they're so beautifully written. (Yes, I am a Vincyncophant. So sue me). But in my (admittedly limited) experience, the relatively simple steps create complex emergent effects as you layer on the consequences of the consequences of the consequences of the town's original sin. And "a town boiling with strife and sin" is just part of the result -- in fact, it doesn't necessarily have to be the result.

We're all used to roleplaying scenarios where there's a Big Problem and the party goes and solves it: e.g. the party rides into town, sees massively armed mobs spoiling for battle, and thinks, "well, we better make peace or make sure the right side wins." But in Dogs, the party rides into town, sees massively armed mobs spoiling for battle, and thinks, "well, we'd better find the guy who's not letting his daughter get married." It's a bit like the difference between, say, an Agatha Christie mystery and Raymond Chandler noir: Both start with a stack of corpses, but in the former (like, say, D&D) the stack of corpses is the problem, and getting the guy who done it is the solution, whereas in the latter (like Dogs) the stack of corpses is just a symptom, and getting the guy what done it is just the beginning of your problems, because then you need to figure out why he done it, and once you figure that out you have to figure out the why behind that why, all the way down to the nasty little sin that started it all. By making every problem evolve step-by-step from the seed of someone's Pride -- with some generally small and mundane manifestation of human wickedness -- the town-creation rules ensure that The Big Problem that's obvious when you ride into town is almost never The Real Problem that you need to solve before you ride out of town.
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2005, 11:12:18 AM »

I certainly take a lion's share of the responsibility for the fact that I didn't have my character literally fight for her right to control the situation. I think it was partly a matter of me not really being very interested in those kinds of conflicts. Any situation where players are having their characters battle for their lives over their respective in-game authority... I just shut down. How should this even be a question? 5 players, 20% authority for everyone (let me save Luke the trouble of calling me a pinko traitor.) Obviously nothing can ever be so clean and practical, but I do think that everyone has the same right to play the story how they'd like without having to contend with other players.

Also I felt I had an un-ignorable in-game reason for valuing my character's life; her sister Sarah. It was clear the way the wind was blowing, and that her life was on the line. Looking at my character sheet and trusting in the inherent balance of the game, maybe I could have taken him. But it was a choice between that and escorting the woman, children, and elderly away from the encroaching Mountain war party. I sympathized with the Mountain People throughout our entire session. I figured survival was more important at the moment. If it weren't a one-shot, revenge would have been my next highest priority. It's moot, however. The dogs that triggered the slaughter made a final stand in the bell tower of the small church in Red Creek. It was set on fire and they were killed. And this point was hilariously argued. "Dude, they can't light it on fire. We'd shoot them. All of them." It was like watching little kids argue over cowboys and indians.

Ryan, sounds like you ran nose first into a Social Contract dispute. If that's how you feel about interpersonal conflict in games, that's fair enough, although I find it pretty suprising in the context of Dogs, which is designed to let you play as hard as you can. But let's set that aside for now and talk about your idea of an ideal game in which there's 20% authority for everyone (also, I dispute that math. Sounds like there were 6 of you playing Dogs, so it should be 16.66% authority).

So when two of you have a dispute over what the next step should be, who has to back down and who gets their way? Why? One of the players decides that he's going to use his equal share of the game authority to proclaim that the Faithful here should hunt down all the Mountainfolk here like rabid dogs. But you, though the lens of your character, don't like that approach. Does your equal share of game authority grant you the power to veto his action before it even happens? Do you get to exercise that veto everytime someone does something you don't like? What if two players think it should happen that way, but you don't? Do you get overruled?

The point is that what you suggest is rife with problems unless there are specific mechanisms in place -- either in the game itself or in your group's social contract -- to deal with the consequences.

Dogs specifically, with its focus on the PCs as the creators and interpreters of Doctrine answers this problem by forcing players to decide what they believe in and giving them the ability to fight for it. And beyond that, you get to decide just HOW important it is to you. Only important enough to say some harsh words? Important enough to hurt someone? Important enough to kill someone? Important enough to die for?

Asking these questions is what Dogs is all about. And, in my opinion, whether it is your fellow players or the GM that asks you just what it is you care about is immaterial. It's the question itself and your answer to it that is interesting.

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lin swimmer
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2005, 11:14:53 AM »

Town creation rules..... They also seemed pretty straight forward. Create a town boiling with strife and sin.

Aha.

They seem straight-forward because they're so beautifully written. (Yes, I am a Vincyncophant. So sue me). But in my (admittedly limited) experience, the relatively simple steps create complex emergent effects as you layer on the consequences of the consequences of the consequences of the town's original sin. And "a town boiling with strife and sin" is just part of the result -- in fact, it doesn't necessarily have to be the result.

We're all used to roleplaying scenarios where there's a Big Problem and the party goes and solves it: e.g. the party rides into town, sees massively armed mobs spoiling for battle, and thinks, "well, we better make peace or make sure the right side wins." But in Dogs, the party rides into town, sees massively armed mobs spoiling for battle, and thinks, "well, we'd better find the guy who's not letting his daughter get married." It's a bit like the difference between, say, an Agatha Christie mystery and Raymond Chandler noir: Both start with a stack of corpses, but in the former (like, say, D&D) the stack of corpses is the problem, and getting the guy who done it is the solution, whereas in the latter (like Dogs) the stack of corpses is just a symptom, and getting the guy what done it is just the beginning of your problems, because then you need to figure out why he done it, and once you figure that out you have to figure out the why behind that why, all the way down to the nasty little sin that started it all. By making every problem evolve step-by-step from the seed of someone's Pride -- with some generally small and mundane manifestation of human wickedness -- the town-creation rules ensure that The Big Problem that's obvious when you ride into town is almost never The Real Problem that you need to solve before you ride out of town.

Thank you. I couldn't figure out how to express any of that during play, and my attempts were just interpreted as me telling people the "right way" to play. It's the fucking game, man. If we're gonna run a home-brew off shoot, then I'll approach it with an open mind and not be frustrated by Dogs wantonly slaughtering people (not exaggerating).

Ravi had never played a published rpg in his life. This was only his second rpg experience. His primary experience was with this own sui generis homebrew.

No, Ravi gamed this all completely right. He'd start with words and take his debates to physical or threaten fightining. He played to win. And interestingly, no one would stand up to him.

Ralph, I called Ravi a bully to his face. And told the other players that they had to stand up to him. I'm well aware of the brilliant power of the conflict resolution mechanics. I knew that they could frame conflict that would stop Ravi. But Ryan was at the center of the conflict. And often he was getting it from two sides -- from Dan and Ravi. Chris and Jason looked to follow his lead. As he clearly stated in his post, he wasn't interested in the game going in that direction.
::snipped::
As I said, when Ryan would explain the "right way to play" I would back him off and paint his stuff as doctrinal interpretation. Therefore I deliberately fomented moral arguments between the players. It is, for better or worse, part of my GMing style.

Oh, c'mon man. This is bullshit. I'm not going to get painted as a bully player telling others how to play the game just by being strongly opposed to not engaging in the seriousness of the premise. The whole game it was, "Let's raze it to the ground. Anything, everything, I don't give a shit." This isn't opinion or exaggeration, and not acknowledging that is making this tiresome.

If that's another valid way to run Dogs, then I'm sad to see it fall to that. Every game can be run in just about any way imaginable. You can twist it and squeeze it and bend it to fit your preference. But I'd like to try and play the game as written before we start experimenting with how ESPN2 extreme we can make it.

I'm going to step out of the conversation for a while. I think I've said about everything I wanted to. I'm sure the other players view things differently.

Ryan Theodores
(Ah. Thor posted while I was writing. I haven't read it yet, but I agree with everything he says.)
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Ryan Theodores
Luke
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2005, 11:28:42 AM »

Ryan,

I must have been unclear. Ravi was the bully. But when Dan confronted you on doctrinal issues, from what I remember, you disagreed OOC. You tried to explain and interpret the game text to Dan. I stopped you. Citing that Dan's interpretation of the game text was as valid as yours. I encouraged you and Dan to bring it into the game and play it out. I'm not faulting you for anything. The blame for any disconnect rests squarely on my shoulders.

As a side note, I talked to Ravi after the game. While he didn't really do anything wrong, I chided him for being an uncharitable and aggressive player and for trampling on other people's fun. I asked him to be a bit more open to suggestion and to other folks' priorities next time. I also got him to admit, "Yeah, I did play to win." Which made me heave a big sigh. I tried to explain to him that there's no winning, per se. But I think that's going to take a while to sink in.

And lest I be seen as a pansy GM, I made a concerted attempt to give Ravi some major fallout after he attacked the chief. Five Bravos with guns came at him. Here's where the rules failed me. Or I failed them. I had no idea what I was doing. No idea how to play the group conflict. No idea how to incorporate the Bravos into the initial conflict with the Chief in order to give them overwhelming weight of numbers. So Ravi and Dan blasted there way out of the tribe's grounds. Which was kind of cool, really. Doubly so because Dan was shot in the face. Which could have been interpreted as Ravi's fault. But no one took him to task on it.

-L
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TonyLB
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2005, 11:35:06 AM »

As a side note, I talked to Ravi after the game. While he didn't really do anything wrong, I chided him for being an uncharitable and aggressive player and for trampling on other people's fun. I asked him to be a bit more open to suggestion and to other folks' priorities next time. I also got him to admit, "Yeah, I did play to win." Which made me heave a big sigh. I tried to explain to him that there's no winning, per se. But I think that's going to take a while to sink in.
Wow, Luke... why are you complaining to the one player in the game who actually got how to play it?
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Valamir
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2005, 12:04:14 PM »

Quote from: abzu
Quote from: b_bankhead
Once again we see that exposure to 'normal' rpgs makes it more difficult to 'get' Indie rpgs.  I bet a group of roleplay 'virgins' would have a lot less trouble making this  realization.

Mr Bankhead,

Allow me to pop that balloon. Ravi had never played a published rpg in his life. This was only his second rpg experience. His primary experience was with this own sui generis homebrew.

I think you mis read him Luke.  It wasn't Ravi he was saying had fallen to "normal rpg think" but rather "other players".  I.e. folks who are more used to allowing a GM to step in and guide player behavior towards consensus rather than engaging the rules of the game to guide each other.


Quote from: lin swimmer
Oh, c'mon man. This is bullshit. I'm not going to get painted as a bully player telling others how to play the game just by being strongly opposed to not engaging in the seriousness of the premise. The whole game it was, "Let's raze it to the ground. Anything, everything, I don't give a shit." This isn't opinion or exaggeration, and not acknowledging that is making this tiresome.

Hey Ryan, I certainly don't think of you as being a bully player in this regard.  I do think, however, that you were expecting the GM to take a more active role in policing the play of the game.  My read (and forgive me if I misconstrue) is that you felt that certain actions were outside the pale of how Dogs were supposed to act and you raised that issue with the GM (in much the same way as a player might point out that a Paladin's behavior was straying from Lawful Good).  Clearly you were doing so out of the best of motives...but it seems like you got frustrated when the GM didn't respond to your helpful observations by reigning those characters in.  In a traditional game like GURPS or Champions where there are "Codes of Honor" and the like the GM is supposed to take an active hand and make sure a character with the "chivalrous" flaw does, in fact, act "chivalrously".

In Dogs, however, its not the GMs place to police Dogs to make sure they are acting like Dogs.  You'll note that in the rules even the traditional place where the GM might exert some power in this area (by having power church patriarchs call the Dogs to task) is specifically off limits.  Luke was quite right at painting your thoughts as being a doctrinal difference.  The kind of difference you're expected to take a stand about...because what you're willing to take a stand about is the whole purpose of the game.  

Essentially you decided that the lives of the mountain people, your sister, the townsfolk, and their interrelationships was something that was important to you...but not important enough to actually take a stand in opposition to one of your brother Dogs.

If you made that decision intentionally, because that's the statement you wanted to make...then that is a really powerful statement...its the same kind of statement made time and time again by people who choose to look the other way while a dynamic leader perpetuates atrocities.  While they may weep in private they can't actually bring themselves to stand against that leader and so they become an accessory to the crime.  To knowingly and intentionally make that kind of statement with your character is actually very very cool and the kind of powerful roleplaying choice Dog's engenders.

However, if that wasn't the statement you wanted to make as a player, but that statement was made for you because you were unwilling to engage the PvP aspects of the mechanics, then I can see where your source of frustration derives from.  It probably should have been made more explicit during the game what the expectations were in that regard at the social contract level.







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Luke
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« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2005, 12:09:06 PM »

Wow, Luke... why are you complaining to the one player in the game who actually got how to play it?
Quote

Tony, come on. I'm all for playing to the hilt. But not at the expense of another player's fun. As Ryan has made explict, he didn't enjoy the session because Ravi was being aggressive and uncharitable. There are ways for Ravi to play hardball and for everyone to enjoy the game.

-L
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