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Author Topic: Frequency of "Fast Wrap"?  (Read 1740 times)
David Artman
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« on: January 17, 2008, 10:57:23 AM »

We had our second session of Tea Creek last night, which generally went quite well, I thought (AP to follow, prolly from GM). There's was, however, one thing that seemed... I dunno, off?... to me. This was the setup:

After a potentially life-threatening conflict, our three Dogs had captured one of the three False Worshipers--the one that nearly killed us last session, and who had killed her own husband in that conflict (via a Block that I narrated!). We take her back to town and lock her up. On to farm #2.

Another rather juicy conflict--mostly talking, the second woman was genuinely convinced that she was following a righteous path by proclaiming herself an Oracle and thereby "worthy" of the blessing of an unnatural harvest in winter. The conflict was won by us when our newest Dog--dangerously dabbling in "shamanism"--exorcised the demon from her orchard, literally showing her the "sexy dryad vampire demon" that inhabited her orchard, to make it bloom. BOOM! An instant return to the Faith, my Aunt Grace.

One last farm to visit, this time with the repentant Grace in tow... the third and last False Worshiper gives on the spot. We look around the table a bit, there's some neigh-perfunctory narration of rounding up the whole town to witness us exorcising the farms" and to generally demonstrate that the town is "clean." What to do with the attempted murderess (and second-degree murderer of her husband)? We all-but-blow off a possibly prideful fellow who's insisting that we kill her as an example--I believe I was the one to dismiss him from our sight.

Two of us argue a bit for clemency--she never intended to kill her own husband and was demon-addled when she tried to kill us (now "cured"). The other Dog figured some public, physical punishment was warranted. We other two Dogs figured a life as a childless, guilt-ridden widow in Faithful society would surely punish her enough.

Then I had a flash of insight (The King speaking?) and I realized we could kill two birds with one stone: The steward was (I felt) deserving of reward for his suffering (he'd had a severe stroke, which we cured with ceremony). The widow needed some public punishment. OK, she would serve on the Steward's farm as a field laborer for one year, after which (if both agreed) the Steward could take her as a second wife. Not incidentally, this put her into the household of Aunt Grace, providing a bit of punishment for her as well (daily reminder of her own fall; possible 18-year-old hottie rival wife). Neat as a button; everyone calls, "awesome" and it Is So. We ride off into the sunset.

My point? OK, all of the above after the second conflict (with Aunt Grace) took place in, like, fifteen minutes. Three Dogs, backed up by a convert, actually showing off high supernatural dial ceremonies was virtually a "forced give" for our GM; he knew there was virtually no way, mechanically, that he could put up any kind of resistance to Three In Authority, with a town full of NPC "things" at their heels.

Does this happen often, with other folks' Dogs sessions? Is the typical denouement of Dogs often such inevitable victory?
Should a Gm resist/avoid "divide and conquer" tactics by his Dogs, as they can pick apart even the most sorcerous townsperson when cooperating?

I'm not critiquing, rather I am wondering if we are missing something in conflict pacing to keep the tension higher.
Thanks;
David
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JamesDJIII
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Posts: 204


« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2008, 12:17:02 PM »

That is a good question, Dave.

Aunt Grace, she didn't seem (to me) to be the sort to put up any more resistance, at least not physical, to the Dogs. She beat you once, at the first conflict - but this time you had a lot more firepower, in terms of Dogs and what you had done to bring in the other "oracle".

That being said, Aunt Grace was the lynchpin of the oracles. Once she gave, no other oracle was going to resist (Adelia was *probably* the only one to start shooting first). Of course, if your punishment had been, say, summary execution of the oracles, then son, husbands and fathers would push back hard.

It might also be that even the most Sorcerous townsperson, with demons and hellfire at his command, might still not provide a good fight if I roll crap, and don't dig deep for the conflict at hand.

I wold be really curious to hear from other people who run dogs a lot, too.
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5niper9
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Posts: 68

My name is René.


« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2008, 01:07:17 PM »

Hi.
As you said, there is no chance that you can stand against sucha united front of Dogs who are willed to force a certain outcome.
What I would try is to sprinkle the town with relatives and big groups.

The relatives help you to pull the Dogs apart from another. Imagine the cousin of one Dogs telling him "Hey, you got a minute? Let's talk face to face." or something like that. Then you could try to start a conflict and when one of you escalates you say stop and play along the other Dogs while steering it towards conflicts and so on.

Big groups give you more dice. So this is a simple technique to make conflicts more interesting (if the Dogs do the 3-on-1 thing again and again). I always think of "Once upon a time in the west" when the protagonist is "welcomed" at the train station.

Hope that helps.
Greetings,
René
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David Artman
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2008, 01:50:13 PM »

The relatives help you to pull the Dogs apart from another.
Some things I did consider, but didn't post about: your notion (isolate the Dogs) and my own expansion of it (foster disunity of the Dogs' individual motivations). The former is fairly easy; the latter would rely a LOT (seems to me) on the players actually becoming invested in the Relationships--one of my own weaknesses in play. (Hell, the last time I met a relative in a town, I was dragging her into the street and accusing her of consorting with demons before we'd unloaded the mail bags--she wasn't gonna have much chance to get between me and my Dogs.)

Hmmm... but that puts some heat on the GM to seriously ratchet down on the Dogs, to make actually hard choices (rather than pat choices based on clear violations of dogma). Sorry, James! ;)

Quote
Big groups give you more dice. So this is a simple technique to make conflicts more interesting (if the Dogs do the 3-on-1 thing again and again).
Yep, don't let the Dogs divide and conquer. Have more of the rabble in Town around to "assist" the wicked (accidentally, I am sure!). If there's a Final Showdown, have it be posse-on-posse, not dragging each perpetrator, one-by-one, out of their bolt-holes into the light.

Anyone else run into a "fast wrap" and come up with other general techniques or stratagems to counter it and keep the town tense right up until the final shot echoes off the hillsides?
David
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Thomas Lawrence
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Posts: 49


« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2008, 03:32:20 AM »

Co-operating Dogs are super powerful! Whether this is a bad thing or not depends on your perspective and the particular scenario. For instance, if the Dogs are still winning all their conflicts, but they're still having to make difficult decisions and junk and you're still enjoying the game, then great. If it's making things boring for you, you have a few options.

1. As mentioned, use relationships to try and test the Dogs' togetherness. Will Dogs betray their own family members etc. for the other Dogs? Either way it's interesting.

2. In general, try and make your towns so interestingly tangled that there's a good chance the dogs might actually disagree on what the right course of action is. You had some of this already, when you guys were disagreeing about best punishment! So, more of that stuff. Look for divergences of opinion and apply weigh to them. Don't be afraid of using the conflict rules to settle arguments between Dogs (although don't do it if you aren't willing to place the results of the argument as stakes).

3. The GM can make NPCs really deadly if he so chooses. Two effective ways are: sorcerers and groups. A town that's really far gone, with demon possessed mobs of people roaming the streets, can put the fear into even three Dogs acting in total unison.
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David Artman
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2008, 10:19:33 AM »

As it turns out we had another fast wrap, this week. In brief (if possible):

WARNING! Mature subject matter. WARNING! Click Back if you've got Lines about sexuality or kids. WARNING!

We'd discovered that most (like, 60%) of the town really, truly believed that an unmarried woman became unclean when she began to menstruate. Thus, the town was marrying off girls at, like, 9 and 10 years old and was kicking older unmarried women out of homes, to live in squalor. (They had this semi-voyeuristic "cleansing" ritual down by the river every month, too, but that was minor in comparison: just the wind-up before the hardball pitch that hits you in the nuts.)

So, first, we call a town service and I try a bit of reverse psychology, praising the Steward and his insight into the mysteries of The Book of Life and asking, "Who--what WISE person among you--helped him to come to such conclusion?" Of course a geezer steps up, telling how it's a town tradition, passed on for generations. (Yeah, this was a bit of a plot hole; you mean after YEARS and YEARS of Dogs visits, we're the first to notice a shanty town with young women working fields and child brides and monthly naked river wading?!? OK, cool by me, let's rip....)

I then state to my other Dog that I have a confession: "I've lied to these good people, and what penance must I serve, Brother Dog?" *wink* "Why, confess your falsehood here and now, and be cleansed!" he says.

"OK, folks... actually, this Steward... this FORMER Steward, I should say, is committing Heresy, as are YOU, old man, as is this whole town! A Steward doesn't answer to elders in his town, he answers to his Regional Steward--a fine, honorable man who would NEVER have condoned this interpretation! I know him well! The whole order of The Faith is on its ear, and I am stripping this Steward of his vestment and taking him to Bridal Falls for judgment."

I primarily set all this up so that I could set a stake of "I am able to tell who really believes versus who are just following the herd or even opposed to this town tradition." The GM doesn't even go to rolls, just says yes. So now I have, basically, a head count of the Real Sinners (False Priests), and I'm good to go a'bangin'. (Note: my Dog has yet to harm a single person in play... though *I* have killed a man with a Block.)

Anyhow... let's just say that it takes a good bit of time and some solid beatings to get ourselves out of there with the Steward in tow, to be clinked in the schoolhouse. My Dog nearly dies from a blow to the head with a rock. The town's dispersing to their farms to get arms. This ain't going well, Brothers....

OK, I had to go through that to show the fast wrap: we basically do a snatch on one of the town elders (and his son) and are basically planning to round up all the Real Sinners and set out on a Trail of Tears to Bridal Falls. The GM brings that 60% ratio into focus--that will basically kill the town; most of the menfolk will be in tow, not working their fields.

Here's where we get to just talking (even as, in the narrative, there's a serious lynch mob heading our way). Kill the town? Dude, I ain't cool with that. I'm not cool with even shooting anyone over this: they're all brainwashed by tradition.

Heads are scratched. Ideas bandied. (The Dog with a Rel to a Demon is itching to start the bloodbath.)

So I come  up with the idea to disperse the town to several (well, three) other towns, so that they can unlearn their sinnin' ways within stable communities. Those who don't want to come: fuck 'em. THIS town will never have another Steward and will never be visited by Dogs again. Apostate Town, bubbie; and you can like it or lump it.

We basically make that announcement, giving the whole town a day to sort their shit, pick which third they want to be with (i.e. friends of family can stick together, but NOT the whole town) and head out with us towards Bridal Falls. (I'm reminded of Sam Kinnison: "Get your kids, pack your shit, we'll make one trip! We'll take you to where the [righteousness] IS!")

There isn't even a conflict, because that 40% who DO NOT buy this sin, who WANT to live right, would have given two Dogs versus even a Sorcerer just WAY too much improvisational weapon dice. Yes, 60% of a town population couldn't, mechanically, stand against us and the other 40%. Bring in demons? Fine, we got one of our own, bubbie! (I.E. Even demon dice would be but a speed-bump; an opportunity to get Fallout right before we wrap, is all.)

Now, the players MIGHT want to pick up again at that point next week--maybe a follow-up or two the night before departure or a last ditch effort to shake off our judgment on the Trail. But, for all intents and purposes, that town was a wrap: excommunicated from The Faith (the town itself, and all who remained in it); left to eventually fall apart and fail, in its sinnin' ways; stripped of all the True Faithful, who would be relocated to where they could collectively learn the right way.

Satisfying from a plot-arc perspective (though I feel like my Dog would consider it a failure--those left behind could MAYBE have been saved) but missing the POW or period (exclamation point, even!) of a solid, grabby ending. We basically figured out what we'd judge and then stared the opposition down with the weight of our Dogness (i.e. serious dice advantage) and told them how their lives were gonna change. Fade to black.

Again, I am thinking this is part and parcel of Dogs play. Our GM was definitely doing his part to challenge us in the town, both morally as players and mechanically against groups and such. But divide and conquer was King again: we chiseled away the Steward--their "moral authority" backer--and then got the main elder and were all-but-destined to round up the rest of the Core Real Believer/Sinners. It felt kind of like the climax scene of an action thriller being described back at the office, after it takes place off camera. Or  something like that.

I really want to nail down this 'issue' because I don't feel (a) that we've got the mechanics or pacing "right" yet or (b) that we're going to avoid the same fizzle phenomenon when we turn to Banthas and become freaking magic dudes with laser swords!

Thoughts, folks?
David
(Ok, THAT's not "brief.")
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