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Author Topic: [DiTV ] All the Dogs do is talk!  (Read 6454 times)
phargle
Member

Posts: 28


« on: January 24, 2008, 07:55:20 AM »

We started a new Dogs game last night, and it went well.  The guy who had played before loved getting back into his old character, and the two new folks thought the game system was neat and interesting - although my wife said it didn't feel like gaming in some ways because of how much gaming of the system occured when deciding what dice to put forward.

One thing we noticed is that there was not any tension about what was worth escalating on.  The Dogs seemed to always have enough dice to shut down randomly-generated NPCs verbally.  I tried a few tricks such as having the NPC give and then launch a followup conflict, and also used NPC experience from fallout to boost social skills, but that wasn't enough.  The only time the Dogs escalated was when they wanted to do so, and it was to gratuitiously kick someone.  The guy who did that had enough dice to not escalate and win if he had wanted to keep talking.  This made it feel like there's never a "screw this, I punch him" moment.  I notice that a confrontation with a sorcerer can bring in some big, bad d10s, but I also sense that my Dogs will think that it's _always_ worth it to escalate versus a sorcerer even if the stakes themselves are not worth shooting over.

How do y'all deal with the Dogs having such powerful Jedi mind powers?  I think we all hoped to have an opportunity to break out the Colt Dragoons, but the players, intent on talking people down if possible, even used those guns as props when talking (to make threats).  I don't think anybody wanted to intentionally blow the talking phase of conflicts just so they could get to the later phases, either. 

All I can think of is this:  start the conflict with the NPC realizing he's going to get mind-tricked and have him throw a punch.  The players will _probably_ (but not assuredly if it's two to one, and not at all if it's three to one) not have enough dice to win a fist-fight and may have to decide whether to shoot the guy, and that could provide some neat tension if the original fist-fight is over something trivial (to the Dogs).  But, if they know the system, they could also choose to escalate . .  .back to talking.  Square one.

This also brings up a mechanical question.  I had three Dogs confronting one guy.  He was running out of dice on an issue that was important to him, so he wanted to escalate.  The problem is that he ran out of dice on the first Dog's turn, and there were two more Dogs still able to do stuff because we could get to the NPC's action.  What if the NPC chose to escalate with "screw this, I punch him"?  I could roll his dice, put forward a See, and then the other two Dogs could yammer those new dice away before it gets to the NPC's turn.  I am not sure how the NPC could have his See narrated other than "He cocks back his fist to punch you." 

Thanks for the help!
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David Artman
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2008, 08:13:57 AM »

By my (still developing) understanding of DitV, your Dogs' Traits are doing exactly what the players (seem to) want them to do: be effective in arenas which interest them. They have Big Talk Power because they want the game to be about Big Talks. If you want to "beat" them at that, make Big Talker NPCs or have them deal with a mob of NPCs all shouting them down.

Or perhaps what's really at issue is that you don't enjoy Big Talk games of DitV--you want to get some fist-swinging, gun-blazing action going, yes? So, (as you said) start a conflict with a Big Puncher/Shooter opening up, flinging mounds of Possession and fighting Trait dice. Avoid 3 on 1 (Dogs v others) conflicts, which--yes--are totally one-sided in favor of the Dogs (this is generally true, regardless of escalation level or Trait distribution).

Anyhow... there's more experienced GMs on their way to this thread, I'm sure. Just a few ideas for how to push for your agenda in play (or, perhaps, to let go of it and go with the flow of the majority of players).
David
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dindenver
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2008, 08:22:22 AM »

Hi!
  Well, there are a couple of things you can do:
1) If you want the PCs to escalate, you need to push their buttons. Remember, the model for a broken town starts with Injustice and moves straight to Pride and False Worship. All three of these are direct paths to pushing a Dogs buttons. Injustice leads to a passionate argument about how the Town Steward or whoever has done them wrong. Pride leads to an argument over who is right, the NPC or the Dog and False Worship leads to a fanatical idealistic clash in which neither side is willing to give up because they are "right"
2) Use relationship dice to add more NPCs to your side, or even bring more NPCs to the encounter. I mean Dogs showing up in town is newsworthy, and no one who is willing to confront a Dog (much less three) is going to do it alone...
3) Separate the group so you can get some one on one time. This will give you a chance to see what the Dog is like and what they think on their own without outside influence. And that will give you fuel for more button pushing...
4) Escalate yourself, don't wait for the Dogs, bring it on. You may not be playing to win (these are your friends after all), but the NPC is. Even if you have less dice, tyou can game the dice to make a Dog take a blow. I keep 2 big dice around to drop on them after they pummel me a little as payback, you can too!
5) Don't sweat it, if everyone is having fun, work with what you have!
  Good luck man, ditv is fun!

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Dave M
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Indy Pete
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2008, 01:39:26 PM »

You know, I wish I had your 'problem' :)

All the Dogs do when we play is murder folks! The way the players see it, talking is something the Devil loves to do, and they don't want nothing to do with it. I might introduce the Steward, and if they don't behead/stone cold shoot/hang him it's only because they have been too busy beheading/stone cold shooting/hanging some other poor Faithful person!

DitV has become as exercise in me as the GM creating Towns full of Soon-to-be-Murder Victims and then watching the heads roll as the Dogs systematically murder everyone in the Town that dares disagree with them. I'm feeling pretty burned by it :) I'm going to give DitV another go because I am totally energised by the idea of the game: however, I'm going to try it out on another totally different group of folks just to see what comes out in the wash.

Maybe it's the way I tell 'em :( I hope not.

Man, 'too much talking': <bleat/>, I wish!
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2008, 02:55:29 PM »

Remember that the Dogs aren't the only ones who can escalate. Escalate to gunfire with your own guys. Then taking the blow looks a lot worse for them. Remember, also, that possessed people get the demonic influence dice, which should be more than enough to lay a smack down on a talky Dog.

That all said, the Dogs should be able to win any conflict that they're really concerned about. The trick is to make the fallout not worth taking (d10 fallout).

yrs--
--Ben
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phargle
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Posts: 28


« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2008, 03:05:08 PM »

I am confused.  Can demonic influence dice be used by possessed people?  I thought they could only use their demonic relationship dice, while demonic influence dice could be used by sorcerers.  Letting possessed people - basically everybody subscribing to a false doctrine - use those dice makes things way different.

My problem with escalation is that an NPC might swing a punch, but the Dogs might have so much dice left that they can just blah blah a See and blah blah a Raise and never swing back themselves.  I'd _like_ to get to the point of "Is what you want worth hitting or shooting that guy?", but it's hard when the Dogs can blah blah all day long, except in situations where there is no moral dilemma (like a sorcerer).  I suppose I could pull the angry mob into play. . .

Thank you for the advice!
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dindenver
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2008, 03:11:18 PM »

Hi!
  I thought the opposing NPCs always got demonic influence dice if the town was under demonic influence...
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Dave M
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JC
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2008, 04:08:16 AM »

hey there :)

I'll echo some previous advice, and add my own:

1/ remember possessed people get demonic manifestations, some of which let them use their demonic relationship dice for stuff (sorcerers are the same, only worse)

2/ make things complicated for the PCs by giving them family or other emotional ties to the town's sinners and victims... suddenly they might find themselves on opposing sides of a conflict

3/ you get to pick the traits for the NPCs during the conflict... this is pretty powerful, since you get to pick traits that apply to the conflict, whereas PCs might not have that many traits that apply

hope that helps
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Moreno R.
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Posts: 547


« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2008, 06:17:51 AM »

Hi!
  I thought the opposing NPCs always got demonic influence dice if the town was under demonic influence...

I re-read the rules carefully about this after a player asked me the same thing. My impression from the rules is that:

1) if the town has a Sorcerer, avery conflict CAN have demonic influence, because the demons will follow the sorcerer orders, even if he order them to "help anybody who fight against these accursed dogs". They even can help the dogs. The only caveat is that they only follow the Sorcerer orders, and don't help anybody without that.

2) If the town hasn't a sorcerer yet, the demons only help the possessed in conflict (and the demonic influence is seen in the usual ways, in the healing conflicts, the conflicts with no clear opponent, etc.)

In my games I drifted a little the rules, because I misread them the fist time, and the demon act by their own choice and give their "help" (the demonic influence dice) to anybody in a conflict whose victory would help their cause, non matter if there is a sorcerer or not in the city. It doesn't seem to break the game or anything, until now.
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John Harper
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2008, 02:24:10 PM »

A Raise is something your opponent can't ignore.

This is so important! Saying something that can't be ignored is very hard to do. "Just talking" isn't as simple as "Hey, do what I say." If you let stuff like that slide, then yeah, your Dogs will have Jedi mind control powers. My advice is to be a real hard ass about it. A legitimate Raise has to meet a certain standard, otherwise it's not a Raise.

Talk to your players about this. Tell them that if something can be ignored, it will be ignored. It cuts both ways, too. Your NPCs don't get to "just talk" and push their dice forward, either. Everyone has to find the right lever to make a legit raise that can't be ignored.
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2008, 03:04:21 PM »

A few ideas:

Escalate fast. Start out with talking, so the NPC gets those dice.. then escalate, and escalate again until they've got all the possible dice they can have at that moment. The Dogs will be staring at the NPCs full compliment of dice right away, and maybe their talky dice won't cut the mustard.

Threaten something important: As one of the earlier posters said, you've got to push buttons. Have an NPC take a a relative hostage, or a child, or the Steward.

Have strong, hard raises: Not "I shoot at the Steward," but "I blow the Steward's brains out." with big numbers, so the Dog has to take the blow with their current dice, unless they escalate and can roll really well.

Make THEM start the conflict: Don't even reach for the dice. Do something ugly and hard to ignore, and do it as pure narration. Unless a Dog decides to contest it, it happens. Cut up the young woman's face. Slap a woman's baby out of her arms. Make the Dogs mad.

Offer up hard stakes: (this one seems a little shady; call me on it if it seems that way to you) When a Dog contests something, or when you contest something the Dog does, offer stakes that are painful to lose. Advice is often given to make stakes give-able, to encourage people to give on a conflict, well, this is the opposite. They have the right to make a counter offer on your stakes (as I understand it) but sometimes they won't. Instead, they'll just be determined to win, by any means.

And a bit of advice for Peturabo: Utilize the "and now? how about now??" concept. If your Dogs are stone-cold killers, pull their strings. Will they shoot a man in the back? Will they kill a child? Will they kill a mother who's just acting to protect her baby? Also, toss in the occasional revelation... They killed this person who they thought was bad, but it turns out they acted on incomplete information, and killed one of the only true innocents in town. If that doesn't shake their murderous rampage.... then you are playing with some scary people.
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~Lance Allen
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phargle
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2008, 03:26:31 PM »

That's all good advice, but it goes back to my original problem:  with my Dogs, I can't find the line between "this is worth dying for" and "we'll talk him down."  I know, if I start baby-slapping and whatnot, they'll have no problem escalating.  What I want to do is play to the game's strengths, and put the Dogs in positions where they could probably win if they escalated, but they have to decide whether or not it's worth escalating.  Waving big red flags will make it always worth esclating. 

I also have to be careful with having NPCs escalate.  If they escalate fast, the Dogs will feel attacked and will feel totally justified in defending themselves.

I really want to play the game in such a way that Dogs have to really decide what's worth fighting for and what isn't.  As it is now, they are strong enough at character creation to talk down situations that aren't worth fighting for, and anything that has enough dice to challenge them - a sorcerer, typically - is going to just get shot because you obviously shoot sorcerers.

As a player, I once (just once) had a situation where I was asking an NPC for information and he got belligerent.  He wasn't actively hiding anything.  He was just pissed that I was prying.  My character was very new and I actually ran out of dice to just talk when he got physical and grabbed me, and then I ran out of dice when I slapped him for grabbing me (my character was female).  And then I was still losing and had a choice:  gun the guy down to win the conflict, or pull my head out and realize that this wasn't worth shooting a man over.  That's the one and only time I've seen Dogs work that way, and I'd like to figure out how to make it work that way more often.  I intuitively feel like there is something mechanical at work, because I know that, had I had dice left to talk the guy down, that's what I would've done - but I actually ran out of dice.

I guess I can also grasp that rejecting ignorable verbal raises can be a GM tool, but that feels a little weird to me.  Can't _everything_ verbal be ignored?  What is the nature of an unignorable verbal raise?
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JC
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2008, 03:31:29 PM »

Escalate fast. Start out with talking, so the NPC gets those dice.. then escalate, and escalate again until they've got all the possible dice they can have at that moment. The Dogs will be staring at the NPCs full compliment of dice right away, and maybe their talky dice won't cut the mustard.

I agree with all the rest of what you've said, but I'm not sure about this one

we agree that everyone who participates in a conflict gets dice from escalation at the same time, right?

meaning that when someone escalates, they escalate the whole conflict for everyone involved
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phargle
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2008, 03:35:07 PM »

A note on that conflict where I had to choose between escalating and giving:  I was alone.  It seems to me that Dogs functions best when the Dogs are forced to go into conflicts alone, and that is something that runs counter to my GMing instincts, especially since a Dogs conflict can mean the other two players aren't as involved for what could be a longish time.  But does that mesh with other people's experiences?  Are individual conflicts more intense in terms of "Is this worth getting violent over?"  I suspect so.  If so, then I just need to figure out what would motivate the Dogs to split up.  I suppose a town where too much is happening to just focus on on area would do the trick.   Hmm.
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JC
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2008, 03:50:39 PM »

That's all good advice, but it goes back to my original problem:  with my Dogs, I can't find the line between "this is worth dying for" and "we'll talk him down."  I know, if I start baby-slapping and whatnot, they'll have no problem escalating.  What I want to do is play to the game's strengths, and put the Dogs in positions where they could probably win if they escalated, but they have to decide whether or not it's worth escalating.  Waving big red flags will make it always worth esclating. 

after giving this a few minutes thought, I think the key might be low stakes and big bad raises

low stakes, because, like you said, otherwise they won't hesitate for a second

big bad raises, because those'll make them want to escalate

that way, they face the dilemma between escalating to stop the horrible raises, but all for modest global stakes

(oh and when making those big raises, try to show how it's justified from the NPC's point of view)

the reason I'm saying this, is that all my DITV games have featured this quite heavily, and it has usually made for intense conflicts

the individual raises would always go way further than initially anticipated


... you obviously shoot sorcerers.

oh yeah?

even if they're little kids?

even if they're your sister?
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