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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 133 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Dogs in the Vineyard] Nauvoo Legion at Nerdly  (Read 6687 times)
Jason Morningstar
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« on: May 07, 2007, 04:06:06 AM »

This was probably the most interesting game I played at Camp Nerdly this past weekend, in terms of content.  Dave Y. ran a session of Dogs that was solidly grounded in Latter Day Saints history, in which we played historical figures of note.  Dave has a deep grounding in the history and the faith, which really made the session shine.  I played Orrin Porter Rockwell, Clinton played "Wild" Bill Hickman, Jeff played Jedediah Grant, and Andrew Morris played Lot Smith, all figures of note in the early Mormon church and with traits that reflected that (Rockwell had "as long as I do not cut my hair, no bullet will harm me - 2d8")

Our characters rode into Moab, Utah, and immediately saw that things weren't right - a young man (Smith's nephew, actually) was drinking in the street, the livestock were mangy and thin, the local Bishop (the Steward, in Dogs terms) glad-handed us and obviously had bad blood with Grant.  The supernatural dial was set around zero, but not quite, and Dave wasn't shy about describing and incorporating demonic influence, along with the fat dice it gave him.  It played out very much like a normal Dogs town, but one saturated in real history.  It was very cool to see the historical record used relevantly - for example, Grant and Bishop Jensen had been in the same handcart company, and on that trip, one of Jensen's wives had died.  I'm pretty sure Dave extrapolated from that to make the Bishop have a serious grudge against Jedediah Grant, which added depth to the situation.  We soon realized that there was some serious false doctrine being preached, but it was complicated by the fact that Saint's beliefs were in flux at the time - so who was right?  I had added "I have doubt" after my initiatory conflict, so Porter Rockwell was particularly unsure.  It was good stuff.

Dave played shrewdly and aggressively, conserving his dice and holding his own against four Dogs in a couple of conflicts.  This is no mean feat.  It helped that he rolled well and we mostly didn't.  The town was very focused and straightforward, which was a strong choice.

Two things limited the fun - one was that we were in a drafty cabin in cold, rainy weather.  So we were constantly shuffling around to the fire to warm ourselves, which was a little distracting.  The other was that the session was late at night and I, at least, was a little loopy with exhaustion after little sleep and many, many games. 

I'm very interested in incorporating history into play, and this worked really well.  Dogs certainly took to the "reality gloss" Dave gave it, and it added some interesting and challenging depth.  I'd love to hear the reactions of others in this game.
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foucalt
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2007, 04:49:21 AM »

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Jason.

First off, I had a dream-team of Dogs players, all of whom (except Jeff) knew the game better than I and who helped me when my understanding of system was imperfect - Thank you!  I gave one trait or relationship as a 'bonus' since it was a quickie con game, and we set initiations mostly either crossing the plains or in other early Church history.

Cast: Character (Bonus Trait) - Initiation Conflict
Jason Morningstar: Porter Rockwell ("Cut not thy hair and no bullet or blade can harm thee" 2d8) - I want to see if I doubt Brigham Young (the answer turned out to be yes, which was cool later when Jason took blows in arguments but got more dice in his pool for doing so)

Clinton R. Nixon: "Wild Bill" Hickman ("I've killed a man for less" 2d8) - I want to convert & marry an Indian woman as one of my wives (He did)

Andrew Morris: Lot Smith ("I'm better with horses than people" 1d8, relationship to nephew Preston in town 1d8) - I want to see if I'll sacrifice for my friends (He did, finding Porter facedown in the snow and bringing him to safety)

Jeff Wills: Jedediah Grant (Relationship to Brigham Young 2d8 i think) - I want to see the doctrine of Blood Atonement change a life (a man confessed adultery to Jedediah in his office and was convinced to cut himself to heal himself - very cool)


I was a little concerned because drifting DitV back into some of the source material means taking out some of the cool setting stuff Vincent put in - like you're intentionally making it more boring. But the unintended effect of this was that it played against player expectations - Clinton for example immediately thought Necromancy! as soon as the dead wife was mentioned, and had to reign in that expectation. So that was kind of fun.

I was rolling really well, but in retrospect I wasn't escalating enough - almost all the fallout the players took except in the final scene was d4s, which gave some cool results but bigger fallout would have been nice here and there, even if it'd just been d6s.   Jason gives me a little too much credit on incorporating history - I made Bishop Jensen & Preston totally up, as well as their relationships to the characters.   

Things I would bring to the table next time: printouts of the wikipedia pages of the Dogs, so players could read them. A hymnbook - I made us sing 'Come, Come, ye Saints' at a religious meeting there, and of course only I knew the words. That was spur of the moment, but i wished I had brought one.  Also, I didn't have a name list, which is a total rookie mistake.

I had a great time running that game.  Obviously the setting drift wouldn't be right for everyone, but all of these players made it work so fluidly. Thanks.
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David Younce

dave dot younce at gmail dot com
Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2007, 04:58:07 AM »

As Jason said, I was in this game, too. I found the historical stuff fascinating, and finally had a use for all the reading I've done about LDS. What was awkward, yet exciting, was playing these very historical figures with Dave, a member of the Mormon faith, running the game. While we had full leeway to bend history, I didn't want to do anything offensive.

My character, Wild Bill Hickman, believed that his sins would be forgiven by Brigham Young, no matter what, which is pretty closely aligned with who he was in real life. (Also, this belief at 4d10 is terrifying.) He was, according to many accounts, a killer. I very much latched on to this archetype of a man with a quick trigger finger who wants to be good, but all his talents lie in bad deeds. My own awkwardness helped this: when I knew I was going to kill the Bishop for being heretical, and kind of a jerk, I kept holding back, as I didn't want to portray an early Mormon as a scumbag, which paralleled Hickman thinking, "I shouldn't kill, but..." When I finally released that, after giving the Bishop a good chance to redeem himself, and shot him dead, it was fantastic.

I am very interested in roleplaying with purpose, and this game had that in spades: it gave both historical and ecumenical understanding to its participants.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Andrew Morris
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2007, 07:06:05 AM »

Nothing much to add here, really. The game was awesome on toast, as I expected it to be. Looking back on it, I realize that playing a great game like Dogs, when every single player at the table (even the one you just met!) is someone you like and/or respect, is just about the best thing that can happen in our hobby.

As a note on the scenario, I had some initial worries about playing Lot, who really seems like a support character for Porter Rockwell. His description didn't really tie him to the faith so much, but more to his friend. But since Jason was so proactive with Rockwell, it was easy to get into the mix. I regret that I never got to roll my trait "Yeah, what Porter just said 3d4," but it was fun nonetheless.

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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2007, 07:26:45 AM »

Jason gives me a little too much credit on incorporating history - I made Bishop Jensen & Preston totally up, as well as their relationships to the characters.

Whoops!  Coulda fooled me.

Andrew, I thought your innate relationship with Preston (and thus the town) added meat to Lot Smith in a satisfying way.  I realized that Porter was Big Stuff and tried to rein it in a little so everybody could bust some cool moves. 

Clinton, I was keeping Dave's faith close to the vest, but since you've outed him I'll point out that we had the equivalent of a lines and veils discussion, making it clear that we were all right mangling history and theology, and that our weird messing with the LDS wasn't going to hurt Dave or our friendships.  It was actually very fun leaning on him for appropriate scripture, and I really thought singing the hymn was thought-provokingly powerful. 
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lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2007, 10:55:36 AM »

Hot dang.

Also, "Come, Come, Ye Saints" has been messing me up every time I think of it since my dad died. I remember how he used to sing it.

-Vincent
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2007, 11:31:08 AM »

I should also mention that Jeff is a professional actor, and the sermon he delivered (standing on a chair!) about blood atonement and second baptism was riveting.  You coulda been a preacher-man, Jeff!
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2007, 03:26:12 PM »

I should also mention that Jeff is a professional actor, and the sermon he delivered (standing on a chair!) about blood atonement and second baptism was riveting.  You coulda been a preacher-man, Jeff!

Word. People came out of the back room, pausing ongoing games, to listen to that sermon. It was totally awesome.
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- Brand Robins
foucalt
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2007, 04:31:15 AM »

Interesting Fact #1: Jeff's mom is a preacher. Well, okay, Unitarian Universalist Minister - maybe that's not all fire and brimstone.

Interesting Fact #2: So then yesterday Clinton emailed me because in his initiation conflict we made up him converting and marrying a Native American woman. Clinton discovered that, in fact, one of Wild Bill Hickman's wives was a Shoshone woman named Margaret.

I felt bad we had disrupted Brand's game until after, when he & Mo & the Cleavers talked to me about how fun our game sounded. That made me feel great.

The Lines & Veils discussion was a good thing - even though we set no lines or veils I can think of, it was good to cover that ground.
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David Younce

dave dot younce at gmail dot com
foucalt
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2007, 05:16:50 AM »

Now with pictures! (thanks, Jeff)
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David Younce

dave dot younce at gmail dot com
lumpley
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2007, 06:55:10 AM »

Dave, I'd like to hear a little more about the supernatural in the game. What did you do? What were your guiding aesthetics? Did you revert the elements of ceremony to their native Mormon form?

I had a conversation with Matt Snyder about this once. He asked me why I'd inserted all this supernatural stuff into what could have been an awesome straight Western game. I answered that the supernatural stuff was straight out of my experiences with the subject matter - that for me to leave the supernatural out would have been dishonest.

-Vincent
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2007, 07:17:06 AM »

Hey, can we talk about the hymn for a second?  The final third of the game began in the church in Moab, preparing to conduct a second baptism for Jedediah Grant.  Dave busted out a hymn, sang it it to give us all the general idea, and then we stumbled through it as a group.  It was a powerful moment for me, and wheels started turning.

First of all, singing together is innately powerful.  Everybody knows this.  Music can convey emotional meaning far out of scale with the content.  In that way it is positively dangerous.  I rarely, rarely sing in public, even though I'm not at all shy about performing and have an OK voice. 

Second of all, it was a really interesting side-step from character to player.  Things got blurred for a moment, in a good way.

It made me wonder about the potential of music as a more integral design component. 
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David Artman
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2007, 07:39:26 AM »

It made me wonder about the potential of music as a more integral design component.

May I direct you to this thread on RPG.net:
http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?p=7153989#post7153989

Last line of that post:
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follows up to say:
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The idea of "express your character and/or motives" by song worked really nicely. It also carried with it the soap-opera like feel of VtM to a very refined extent. Six hours of intrigue, in-key and off-key songs and great costumes. The logic of a musical show can indeed work as a game mechanic.

It got me wondering what could be "stolen" for my generic LARP system (ex: Bard-like effects, singing instead of doing Incantations or Calls, rhyming or wordplay as mechanics).

(Sorry if this is drifting--in fact, I'm gonna make a new FT thread for this, just for kicks);
David
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foucalt
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2007, 07:45:43 AM »

Vincent,

As Jason mentioned, supernatural was set very nearly at zero, but that might have changed during play if things had gone differently. I did explain during character creation that they should have a Book of Mormon instead of a Book of Life and a vial of consecrated oil, not earth. So if ceremony had come up, I would have guided it to be phrased according to our people.   Demonic attacks took the form of me describing how lean the horses looked, that there was dry, cracked ground, and that the chicken for dinner at the Bishops house was scrawny and younger than usual.   At one point during prep, I really wanted to incorporate a meeting with Cain where he would be looking mounted characters in the eye, but I ended up not finding a place for it. When the Bishop got shot and I pushed forward all my little dice as my see (7d10 fallout woohoo!), I described smoke rising from the wounds and the blood on the ground, because I was remembering the little bits I'd read of Jedediah Grant & Brigham Young's speeches on blood atonement*, which we'd talked about a little during character creation.  Other than that, I don't think we touched the supernatural much.

Jason,

Yeah, the hymn turned out very cool for me; I really wish I'd had a hymnbook. When the Bishop tricked Jedediah into getting rebaptized by him in the morning (as a ploy to establish for his followers that he had authority over the presidency of the Church), I started to think about how we would convey the setting of a big town-wide religious meeting. I decided to try to sing a hymn to set the stage, and as mentioned we used standing on a chair as a podium, both of which really worked well. I wanted to think of a hymn that was also used in other congregations (that maybe Clinton or somebody else would know) but all I could think of was Come, Come Ye Saints. I think what especially worked about the hymn part was that, even though we knew it was just us (and I think Alexander was there watching and joined in), you can't tell whose voice is whose when they all sing together, so it can sound like you are there with a whole crowd of people who sang this song over and over again in Deseret.





" There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world." - Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses
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David Younce

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David Artman
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2007, 07:51:42 AM »

(OK, there's now a thread for the Music as System pondering I began above. Sorry to drift; back to your regularly scheduled conversation.)
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