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Author Topic: inter party conflicts in DitV  (Read 6084 times)
oliof
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Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« on: November 14, 2005, 01:36:47 AM »

Hello,
this is the first of a couple of threads that are the result of playing DitV at a convention this weekend. The convention itself is
the annual meeting of regulars on the newsgroup de.rec.spiele.rpg.misc and the IRC channels #drsrm and #offtopicana. I could be fairly sure that everyone at the table was interested in rpg theory and open to new concepts.

I think I blundered when I let the players resort to conflict resolution when one of the Dogs wanted to convince the others that death was the only acceptable jusgement a killer could receive. While the rules do support the resolution of such conflicts, and I let it happen at that time (to show how badly things go when Dogs disagree), I don't know if such a thing is generally accepted or not. Using the rules, this is far from 'I use my fast-talking +5', but it did fracture the discussion and the player of the Dog who wanted the poor boy hanging felt culled by the rules.

In my humble opinion, what the player, a strong method actor by RoLoGG vocabulary, experienced was the rules to distribute narrating rights and times. For her it was frustrating (she is a long time Engel/Arcana player which has a loose tarot based drama system) to be limited by the rules. IMHO again this was because she couldn't just go on and on with her ideas until the other players(!) ran out of ideas.

I think my question here is two-fold, but the one I want to ask in this thread is:

Under which circumstances do You think the conflict rules should or could be used in a pure Dog(s)-to-Dog(s) conflict without outside influence?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2005, 02:19:56 AM »

Speaking for my preferences, I find it hard to imagine a situation where I wouldn't want to use the rules. We're not playing the game to win after all, so it makes no difference to me whether my character wins or loses the verbal conflict. The important thing is that I've made it very clear that he disagrees with the majority, through the application of the rules. What the group actually does after that is incidental to my fun.

Your case sounds more like a player who's used to rolling over others and dominating the game socially (with, dare I say, a bit of gamist priority?), so of course he'd resent it if a game took that option away with it's rules. This is a surprisingly common phenomenon, driven by the common stigma associated with "roll-playing". I don't see that this is anything more than just a player getting frustrated by unfamiliar rules. Which is to be expected, if he usually plays practically freeform.

Anyway, your question: I seem to remember that the previous concensus is that the group will sort itself out in regards to this. This is even more true for PvP conflicts, because you the GM cannot force a conflict in this situation; both sides have to be willing to go through the motions! So this is very much a matter of group preference.
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2005, 03:32:17 AM »

For those who have not played games like DitV before, this method of resolving inter-PC conflicts can be deflating for those used to having their way.  If they want to CONTINUE to be able to push their companions around, they'd better invest in the attributes and traits that'll make it happen!  Smiley
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
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Christopher Weeks
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2005, 04:32:45 AM »

This might be kind of a stupid revelation to me, but do y'all really let the conflict resolution system work out the opinion of the PCs?  I've only run the game three times -- and never been a player, but changing another PC's mind was never thought to be appropriate stakes.  I need to think about this, but I'm still leaning that way.  I'd rather the players play out coming to whatever accord they do.  And if one insists on killing the boy and another insists on killing his colleage to stop it -- Then, we have a conflict worth resolving (or two).
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2005, 05:00:43 AM »

This might be kind of a stupid revelation to me, but do y'all really let the conflict resolution system work out the opinion of the PCs?  I've only run the game three times -- and never been a player, but changing another PC's mind was never thought to be appropriate stakes.  I need to think about this, but I'm still leaning that way.  I'd rather the players play out coming to whatever accord they do.  And if one insists on killing the boy and another insists on killing his colleage to stop it -- Then, we have a conflict worth resolving (or two).

Stakes: will the dogs hang the boy?
One side: a couple of dogs.
Other side: a couple more dogs.
First couple of rounds: talking and shoving.
... At this point, one of the players on one or the other side of the conflict runs out of dice. What will he do? If he escalates to shooting, that's your killing conflict right there. If he gives, then the players have "played it out" through roleplaying. The decision of shooting or not shooting is very much based on what has been said.

My point: Your distinction between "playing it out" and having a conflict is a false one. You can play it out through the conflict mechanics. It's not about changing the mind of another dog, but changing how they act. If one side of the conflict is willing to be violent over the stakes, then the conflict escalates to shooting. If not, then the players still need some way of determining what happens. Otherwise you get the weird situations where players try to "play out" characters standing in each others way or wrestling or arguing, and it takes hours to get anything done, because there's no way to determine who gets to say what.

Also, you hamstring the conflict resolution system if you leave out the talking part and insist that the players first talk it out outside conflict, and then go to conflict. What can they raise with, if they already said everything they have to say before the conflict? You force them to resort to violence! This is especially unfair to players with social characters.

Note that changing the mind of another dog is a separate issue. As for that, I suggest you review the requirements of a successful Raise, because that's what you ultimately need many of if you try to change somebody's mind. Specifically, I'm thinking of the "action he can't ignore in relation to the stakes" part. What will you do to change his mind? If you have lots of handles on him, then there's no problem. If you don't then you can't change his mind. I would imagine that most times player characters don't have enough possible Raises to succesfully change one another's mind... because it's the other player who decides whether he can ignore the Raise.
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2005, 06:27:25 AM »

I agree that it's important that EVERY conflict (that's a real conflict) go to the dice.

"Say yes or roll dice" is a rule that should apply to the players as well as the GM.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Christopher Weeks
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2005, 06:51:21 AM »

Stakes like 'will the Dogs hang the boy' seem perfect.  I can envision a multitude of ways that might turn out, all of them good.  But when Oliof wrote "I let the players resort to conflict resolution when one of the Dogs wanted to convince the others that death was the only acceptable jusgement a killer could receive" it makes me think of stakes like 'do I convince the other Dogs to change their opinion.'  Fred, what's a "real conflict?" (And I don't mean that in a trite dumb-ass way.)
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2005, 06:58:10 AM »

A "real conflict" is where you're not saying "yes".  There's no need to go to the dice if one participant isn't going to play his side.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2005, 07:01:45 AM »

The problem stems from this:

Quote from: oliof
I let it happen at that time

That's not your place as GM. You roll dice or say yes.

If the players disagreed, they have to throw down. That's what the rules are for. Roll the bones and play it out.

Changing one another's mind is a fine stake to set. One player might want to put dice into "I'm a bully" though.

"I know the Book of Life better than anyone - 8d4" is a good way of saying the same thing.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2005, 07:09:38 AM »

Stakes like 'will the Dogs hang the boy' seem perfect.  I can envision a multitude of ways that might turn out, all of them good.  But when Oliof wrote "I let the players resort to conflict resolution when one of the Dogs wanted to convince the others that death was the only acceptable jusgement a killer could receive" it makes me think of stakes like 'do I convince the other Dogs to change their opinion.'  Fred, what's a "real conflict?" (And I don't mean that in a trite dumb-ass way.)

The latter is an OK conflict, too. What I tried to impart about proper Stakes was, will you have the means? How can you affect his opinion in a way he can't ignore? Note that it's the other player doing the ignoring, so it should go something like this:
You: I raise, by telling you that the King of Life doesn't want you to think that way.
Me: I ignore you, you're nobody to quote scripture at me. Try again.
You: Well, I raise by shouting at your face.
Me: That's better, I block with <something>, raise with <something>.
You: I block with <something> and raise... uh... shout again?
Me: Not good enough, I ignore and walk away. You can't convince me.
You: Well, I'll either threaten you with something concrete or fold, it seems. How about I'll point my gun at you?
Me: Hah, I continue walking away.
You: I shoot you?
Me: Well, I certainly can't ignore that, so it's a proper raise.

You can see that pure argument conflicts with other players are unique in that the player doing the ignoring is not the GM (and thus doesn't have the dramatic priorities the GM has), and the raises are generally very easy to ignore. So you get this negotiation process where you're mutually seeking for raises one player wants to make and the other isn't willing to ignore. In most purely one-on-one social situations an extended conflict is only possible if the relationship between the characters is very deep or the social situation intricate, allowing for several varied concrete raises. You'll get threatening to uncover secrets, calling on feelings or previous promises, referring to previous judgements and that kind of thing. But if that requirement is fulfilled, then the players are roleplaying the argument, and there is no disjunction between playing it out and using the conflict mechanics. At some point a player will have to choose whether he'll rather kill the other guy before letting him persuade the character. And that's cool.

Note that what is a proper raise and what's not is, again, very much a negotiable play-group matter. But if you insist with the fallacy of "if I have the dice, I can raise whatever the situation", then you get some really, really weirdass conflicts. The only thing stopping players from grabbing a conflict like "I pray and make this town all proper all at once." are the rules about proper raises. The characters need to have the means for doing something before they can get a conflict for it. This holds for magical solutions as well as convincing somebody.

But also note that the above kind of conflict is not usually necessary. It's only necessary if what the player genuinely wants is to change the opinion of the other character, instead of just getting to do something specific. For the most time players will fare better if they opt for the easier conflict about actions instead of opinions. Verily, in my experience there are only a handful of conflicts about opinions, and then they're huge dramatic affairs whereupon everything between the characters hinges. (I should note that I've still not played DiV, but I've played a lot of Dust Devils, the granddad of "choose your own conflict" systems. Boy, you learn to recognize conflicts with that game.)
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oliof
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Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2005, 07:19:05 AM »

The problem stems from this:

Quote from: oliof
I let it happen at that time

That's not your place as GM. You roll dice or say yes.

Glyphmonkey, I think you'reading too much meaning into the words of someone sleep-deprived whose primary language is not english. Back on topic:

I had them roll dice, because they weren't saying yes. And this was very much a crucial decision to be made, because it also highlighted the different dogs' opinions on all this. In addition, the players that are usually not as outspoken as the one who played the opposing dog would have wlked all over her competition in a more usual 'the players talk it out amongst all themselves' fashion. I think using the conflict system does put the less-dominant players on par if they still want to have a say in the way conflicts are handled.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2005, 07:23:11 AM »

You got it.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
lumpley
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« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2005, 07:37:38 AM »

Oliof - I think the thing to do in the future is make certain that everyone's bought into the stakes. Make the stakes simple, one-phrase, action-oriented, no hemming or fudging: "do we hang him?" not "do we convince you that hanging him is the only appropriate course?" As GM, even if you don't have any NPCs in the conflict at all, you still need to be pushing the stakes small and concrete.

Changing someone's mind is, in my experience, very rarely the point at all. The point is one side getting its way no matter what the other side thinks about it - so set stakes accordingly!

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2005, 07:40:37 AM »

Good point, V., about changing minds not being the point.

Or, when it is the point, you want to savor the change.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Neal
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2005, 07:55:44 AM »

Harald, first of all, Vincent brings up a very good point that I would have otherwise overlooked.  Taking that advice might save some trouble in the future.  Having said that...

I like the DitV conflict-resolution rules for precisely the same reasons your method-actor friend dislikes them: they force the Prima Donna to share the spotlight, and they put disputants on more even footing.

So the answer I would give to your question ("Under which circumstances do You think the conflict rules should or could be used in a pure Dog(s)-to-Dog(s) conflict without outside influence?"), is quite simple: in any and all circumstances where two or more Dogs disagree, and none are willing to say "yes."

This might be galling at first to the method-actors, but that's a common reaction when someone must give up a privilege (not a right) which has long been enjoyed, for the sake of broader justice.  It's tough, but them's the breaks.

It might also inspire some people to say things like "But my Dog has the Trait, 'Flawless public speaker'," which is kind of a "Fast-talking +5," as you put it.  Again, tough.  Speaking as a college professor and inveterate opinionated windbag, I'll be the first to admit that having a gift for gab, knowing all the facts, and being comfortable with crowds does not translate directly into "I win the argument."  Especially when your opponent is a) stubborn, b) unable or unwilling to follow your reasoning, and/or c) drunk.

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