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Author Topic: Why Relationships With People?  (Read 3984 times)
David Artman
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« on: January 08, 2008, 10:40:24 AM »

Or, to be more specific, why would I ever want to establish my unassigned Relationship dice with an individual in a particular Town?

OK, I see the basic benefit of doing so on the fly, to gain mechanical advantage in a particular conflict. I can even (sort of) see how it might foster more emotional investment by a player in a Town/situation. But those are ephemeral as all hell; an hour later (real time) and it's dead dice on my sheet, and I'm left with merely the thin hope that the GM will somehow bring the individual back into play at a later date. Dice Ex Machina, as it were. :) And suppose the person dies during play (remind me: do the rule let me redistribute the dice?)?

Meanwhile, I could establish a Relationship with a Sin (and ping it probably every other town, more than once per town) or with a Demon (and be a bolt-blasting, eyes-a-glowin' power ranger for The Lord!!!). Even establishing with another Dog is better, considering how often (in a regular play group) I'll be either arguing with him, helping him, or trying to save him.

Sell me on "One-Off Relationships!" I feel like I'm missing something (or maybe I'm just too munchkin to let dice go "to waste").
David
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2008, 10:52:57 AM »

There is a gamer's impulse -- and I think it comes from the world of imagining that every game is going to turn into a vast, sprawling, 20 year campaign -- to hoard resources, and to favor the long-term over the short term. If this is, in fact, the case, you shouldn't put dice into relationships with people. Over 50-100 sessions of play, you will get more benefit for relationships with organizations, sins, and most especially demons (relationships with demons are the best things ever, mechanically.)

But there are good reasons to use relationships with people. If, for this town right here, you want to make a difference, they are the most effective use of your relationship dice, because they are much easier to use. Consider the circumstances needed for a relationship with a sin:
1) What's at stake is your commission of the sin.
2) What's at stake is someone else's commission of the sin.

So, if you have a relationship with Murder, you get those dice if you are trying to murder someone, if someone is trying to convince you to murder someone, or if you are stopping someone from murdering someone. Note that there's nothing in there about getting confessions out of a murderer, making a murderer feel bad, redeeming a murderer in the eyes of the town, what have you. It's a very small chance of actually coming up.

Consider, now, what's needed to bring in a relationship with a person:
1) That person is your opponent in the conflict.
2) That person is at stake in the conflict.
3) Your relationship with that person is at stake in the conflict.

Can you see how this is a much wider variety of options? So dropping a 3d10 relationship with that one girl, well, yes, she may not be there next town, but chances are high that you'll be getting a lot more use of that 3d10 in this town than you would if you took a relationship with "the sin of wrath" or whatever she's guilty of, and if that's what's important to you that's what you want.

(also, note that a relationship with a dead person is nearly as good as a relationship with a living person.)

In practice, I've found that "this town right now" matters a lot more to me than "all the theoretical towns I might encounter in the future."

This is setting aside that it's totally feasible to take people with you from town to town. Considering that, a relationship with a person becomes even better, particularly taking relationships with the outcast, the downtrodden, and the oppressed.

yrs--
--Ben
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David Artman
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2008, 11:08:35 AM »

OK, making some sense: short term efficacy I can understand. Though, in my "defense," I never thought of hoarding resources so much as ending up with four or five Relationships that were just so much detritus on the character sheet--more "keep the decks tidy" than "hording power," I feel. (Before we go there: I don't see that detritus as "fondly recalled history, right there on the sheet" like some folks might: I can keep a log separately just fine without have a bunch of 'dead links' on my 'main page,' so to speak.)

As a follow-up, what about "Relationship: Mountain Folk"? They, at least, have a chance for recurring encounters (or, at the least, easy insertion into many Towns). Or are they more akin to, say, a Sin or Demon? I mean, can I play a Dog with 4d10 Rel: Mountain Folk called "Runs With Guns," famous, loved (or  feared), and respected by Mountain Folk throughout the West? Is it pingable with any particular Mountain Folk then, or only when "the Whole of Mountain Folks" collectively or "Mountain Folkness" generally is what's at stake?

Just tryin' to get a handle on these, as we are literally gonna start a Dogs (or Banthas) game, like, in four hours. :)
David
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devonapple
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2008, 11:28:50 AM »

Depending on how your GM runs things, you may be able to draw on the memory of that relationship in a similar but unrelated conflict.  "I helped Suzy get over that problem, and if I don't do the same for Tanya and her problem, I'll never be able to look her in the eye." 

I suppose if somebody was trying to demoralize a Dog, convince him that he's isolated, those Relationship dice can come into play "No, I have strong connections to these three people... I changed their lives... 3d6!"

I doubt that this will work, as I haven't yet played/run the game -- I imagine this technique would actually unbalance things if adopted, as every player could rhetorically draw upon some memory of a Relationship. So, take this with a grain of salt, as my proposal is unseasoned (ha ha) by experience.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2008, 11:44:37 AM »

Hey, David:

Cool. I'd recommend rereading carefully the rules about when you can use each type of relationship (sin, demon, organization, person.) The Mountain Folk as a whole are an organization, and thus more restricted than a single person.

yrs--
--Ben
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David Artman
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2008, 11:48:41 AM »

Organization, right. Damn (I thought I was gonna be God of Mountain Folk).

Devon, those suggestions are quite munchkinly, but fly in the face of the rules-as-written (as did my idea of Rel: Mountain Folk being pingable in conflicts with MF individuals).

Yep... gotta review that section before tonight.

I think that's got it for me, though--thanks, Ben.
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devonapple
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2008, 11:59:19 AM »

Devon, those suggestions are quite munchkinly, but fly in the face of the rules-as-written (as did my idea of Rel: Mountain Folk being pingable in conflicts with MF individuals).

Yes, I have an unfortunate tendency to come out on the munchkin side of game balance, despite an aversion to the practice -- a "reluctant munchkin."
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David Artman
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2008, 12:07:45 PM »

Hey, no blood, no foul. Gaming is ever about negotiation; if your group digs the use of a Rel in a non-RAW manner, then you're getting at Fun and Awesome and that the Point of Play, ya?

I just needed some actual-play-ish reasons why individual Rels got at Fun and Awesome, which I got and can understand.
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lumpley
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2008, 01:08:37 PM »

It might interest you to know that Dogs' unassigned relationship dice are a direct descendant of Hero Quest's hero points. As such, they're MORE lasting and long-term useful than they might be otherwise. If I'd followed Hero Quest more closely, you'd spend your dice on one conflict and they'd be gone forever.

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2008, 01:14:16 PM »

Hey, Devon:

You're right about your example, I think. If someone wants to convince you that no one cares about you, you could conceivably bring in almost all of your relationships with individuals, because those relationships are at stake in the conflict.

yrs--
--Ben
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David Artman
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2008, 08:57:22 AM »

You really think so, Ben? I mean, someone trying to convince my Dog that no one cares about him isn't threatening the Relationships themselves: they aren't going to suddenly evaporate if my Dog gives, right? I can ride back into Tea Creek and, lo, there's my 4d8 Relationship with random stranger who saved my life (AP pending). No amount of my thinking it's not "real" anymore is going to stop me (the player) from being able to plunk down 4d8 when next I am in conflict with/about him.

Again, it's about negotiation always--perhaps your group has worked its way toward a looser stakes-setting paradigm?--but I just can't see "persuade my Dog that he's isolated" = "Rel is at stake or conflict is with the Rel." But, hey, I'm a newb....
-----
As a brief AP which relates to this thread: I built a Strong Community Dog for last night's game (because it fit the concept, not to try to use a lot of Rel dice experimentally... I don't think). My Rels worked out thusly, in three hours of play:

(Starting) 2d6 with Pride: In my home town, we we so Righteous that we'd spot and stomp out any inklings of Pride before it could progress to worse sins. 1d6 with the Ancient Order itself, because my town groomed me to be a Dog from childhood and made damned sure the Ancient Order heard ALL about my faith and accomplishments in my formative years (also because I refused to practice any martial arts or shooting beyond hunting rifles: "I will not use weapons on a human: 2d8"). I picked these two to setup a nice tension in my background: I knoweth Pride (except my own) and I all-but-forced my way into the Order (yep, pridefully). I expect those Pride dice to work out JUST fine....

(GM suggested; I didn't have to put in dice; I figured "Eh, why not?") 1d6 with an Aunt who's prolly the Town's False Priestess--handy, I suppose. Pinged once (along with my 2d8 Coat) when my Dog pointed at one of the many quilt patches on his coat and asked her, "You're still the aunt who made this patch for me, a Watchdog for the King of Life, yes?" as preamble to a Block against her saying something like, "You're still a young'un, you've never raised a family, you don't know nuthin'."

1d10 with a woman who shot us, taken totally (and only) to snag a shot at a high die result. Cool scene, sure, but the die did nothing much to help, and that Relationship is most assuredly on a timer, now (i.e. she's a dead woman, she just still walking around, is all).

4d8 with a stranger who showed up as me and my fellow Dog were at 16 and 17 Fallout (~6d10 each)--yeah, the bitch really gave it her best shot (literally). Oh, sure, my Dog knows the dude's name (I can't recall, 12 hours later); but I hadn't had a single scene with him yet--it was totally and only to gain the dice I needed to have a chance at not Dying.

So, all-in-all, I was generally making Rels about which I (the player) didn't give a hoot, purely out of reactionary mechanical needs. I can only presume I still don't fully grok how they can be of use later, in particular, 1d10 with a woman who will be doing some no-handed swinging from a tree before we leave town and 4d8 with a dude I probably won't see again without serious GM Dice Ex Mechina. The munchkin in me feel rather screwed, frankly.

Vincent, maybe you could unpack the "used like hero points" thing, as I've never read nor played Hero Quest? Or, heck, just toss out some ways these whopping "dead" Relationships could ever be of use after our next session (I am assuming we'll wrap the town in another two or three hours)?

As Tyler Durden said in Fight Club: " Ahh!! Ok, ok, I got, I got it.... Shit I lost it."
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zornwil
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2008, 09:00:16 AM »

I think the other thing to realize is it really does matter on what feels right in your play group, I believe, in general, as to how you apply these Relationships.  The rules and various discussions here seem to state there should be some tightness to the definitions of whether a sin's at stake and so on, but I've also seen comments by Vincent and others that maybe it is more flexible and it doesn't break anything, so I tend to think that as long as the group is okay with how you apply Relationships and as long as Relationships aren't becoming like Traits in broader/flexible application you'll be okay.  In other words, there's probably no right answer as to whether your group favors institutions, sins, and places over individuals.  

But I would caution that in another discussion here someone raised an example of selecting "farmers" as the basis for a Relationship and that was strongly rejected as it does not meet the qualification for an institution and it's not a person.  So I would expect an "orthodox" Dogs answer would reject a Relationship to "Mountain People," as I wouldn't say they're an "organization" or institution even though it's said as such above.  

However, I don't think I agree with that the more I've seen Dogs in play, I think in both the orthodox game and its offshoots the question of relationships to categories of people will also drive conflicts and stories in as useful/meaningful a way and doesn't "break" the system.  Personally, I think Relationships are a bit hobbled in the game sometimes and don't see an issue with broader interpretations of bringing them in than is at least implied in the book.  That said, I fully admit that I tend to run things more loosely.  But it doesn't seem to break that way; in fact when playing in more strict ways with Relationships we found Relationship-based PCs were less useful to players except for players assigning their significant Relationship dice to other PCs and the Dogs as an institution.  I think so long as at least Relationships really do require that the "noun" that's the subject is truly engaged in the conflict meaningfully, then the noun that's the subject of the Relationship can be fairly broad/more open than implied in the book.  

But like I said earlier, my paragraph directly preceding is not "orthodox" so proceed at your own risk in following my comments!  Just my 2 cents from playing Dogs straight and non-straight.
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- Wilson
zornwil
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2008, 09:10:48 AM »

You really think so, Ben? I mean, someone trying to convince my Dog that no one cares about him isn't threatening the Relationships themselves: they aren't going to suddenly evaporate if my Dog gives, right? I can ride back into Tea Creek and, lo, there's my 4d8 Relationship with random stranger who saved my life (AP pending). No amount of my thinking it's not "real" anymore is going to stop me (the player) from being able to plunk down 4d8 when next I am in conflict with/about him.

Again, it's about negotiation always--perhaps your group has worked its way toward a looser stakes-setting paradigm?--but I just can't see "persuade my Dog that he's isolated" = "Rel is at stake or conflict is with the Rel." But, hey, I'm a newb....
-----
As a brief AP which relates to this thread: I built a Strong Community Dog for last night's game (because it fit the concept, not to try to use a lot of Rel dice experimentally... I don't think). My Rels worked out thusly, in three hours of play:

(Starting) 2d6 with Pride: In my home town, we we so Righteous that we'd spot and stomp out any inklings of Pride before it could progress to worse sins. 1d6 with the Ancient Order itself, because my town groomed me to be a Dog from childhood and made damned sure the Ancient Order heard ALL about my faith and accomplishments in my formative years (also because I refused to practice any martial arts or shooting beyond hunting rifles: "I will not use weapons on a human: 2d8"). I picked these two to setup a nice tension in my background: I knoweth Pride (except my own) and I all-but-forced my way into the Order (yep, pridefully). I expect those Pride dice to work out JUST fine....

(GM suggested; I didn't have to put in dice; I figured "Eh, why not?") 1d6 with an Aunt who's prolly the Town's False Priestess--handy, I suppose. Pinged once (along with my 2d8 Coat) when my Dog pointed at one of the many quilt patches on his coat and asked her, "You're still the aunt who made this patch for me, a Watchdog for the King of Life, yes?" as preamble to a Block against her saying something like, "You're still a young'un, you've never raised a family, you don't know nuthin'."

1d10 with a woman who shot us, taken totally (and only) to snag a shot at a high die result. Cool scene, sure, but the die did nothing much to help, and that Relationship is most assuredly on a timer, now (i.e. she's a dead woman, she just still walking around, is all).

4d8 with a stranger who showed up as me and my fellow Dog were at 16 and 17 Fallout (~6d10 each)--yeah, the bitch really gave it her best shot (literally). Oh, sure, my Dog knows the dude's name (I can't recall, 12 hours later); but I hadn't had a single scene with him yet--it was totally and only to gain the dice I needed to have a chance at not Dying.

So, all-in-all, I was generally making Rels about which I (the player) didn't give a hoot, purely out of reactionary mechanical needs. I can only presume I still don't fully grok how they can be of use later, in particular, 1d10 with a woman who will be doing some no-handed swinging from a tree before we leave town and 4d8 with a dude I probably won't see again without serious GM Dice Ex Mechina. The munchkin in me feel rather screwed, frankly.

Vincent, maybe you could unpack the "used like hero points" thing, as I've never read nor played Hero Quest? Or, heck, just toss out some ways these whopping "dead" Relationships could ever be of use after our next session (I am assuming we'll wrap the town in another two or three hours)?

As Tyler Durden said in Fight Club: " Ahh!! Ok, ok, I got, I got it.... Shit I lost it."

One thing to bear in mind is how quickly you can build Relationship dice back with Experience, Reflection (especially - note the "add any 2 dice options"/such (not looking directly at the book), and Fallout.  And your group should be allways building Fallout and Experience, at least with intra-party minor squabbles and so on - that is to say, if you're minmaxing correctly.  ;)  Any talking conflict among a group can and usually will (if you want it to...) net you an Experience (and of course on a more story side of things should also continue to develop the relationships among the PCs).  You mention being a relative newbie; one thing I see in newbie groups is everyone shying away from intra-party conflicts.  Oh, and I also see people not Giving, either, to reinitiate Conflicts with more advantage with held die and so on, which also factors in here.
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- Wilson
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2008, 09:18:58 AM »

David: actually the opposite. In Hero Quest you'd spend your hero points for the additional dice, right now, you'd roll them, and they'd be gone forever. That's what you did, right? You wanted some more dice now, you weighed it against maybe wanting those same dice sometime in the future, you made your choice, you rolled your dice, they turned out how they turned out. They did their job (and if they rolled low, shit, that's why they're dice, not "10"s).

If you ever get to use those dice again, which is doubtful but who knows, consider it a totally undeserved bonus. Hero Quest would not have been as generous with you.

-Vincent
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David Artman
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2008, 10:13:57 AM »

Ah, got it, Vincent; thanks. As Ben and zornwil basically said, Relationships aren't anywhere on par with Traits in terms of efficacy, and Rel Dice should be "refreshing" fairly often (Exp and Fallout). And, hey, even a single ping of that 4d8 kept the Dog above ground, and what's Life worth, eh?

Having at least *some* chance at Seeing a shotgun-wielding Sorceress: 1d10
Saving your own bacon when that 1d10 rolls a 2 and you've eaten 6d10 of buckshot Fallout: 4d8.
Not having to make another Dog in mid-session: priceless.

I'll no longer worry about the worth of Rel Dice, and I will spend the few I have left with gusto. When they're all gone... well, it's pretty easy to Take the Blow in talking, with high odds of Exp (25% chance, per Fallout die--you could approach 100% probability with a single Take the Blow using your crappiest rolls).

Thanks, everyone, for helping me relax a bit more, WRT the relative importance as practical use of Relationships.
David
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