[DitV] Dogs and (false?) doctrine

Started by John Adams, February 13, 2008, 09:28:34 AM

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John Adams

Played my first game of Dogs in the Vineyard last night. We had less than 2 hours to play, nevertheless we created 4 interesting Dogs and ran through 4 pretty cool initiations. I GM'd, and there were a few times I wasn't quite sure what to do.

Is it OK for a Dog to take a Trait that obviously runs counter to doctrine? Sr. Virginia took "Hatred of the Doctrine of Polygamy" ... now would that necessarily render her unfit to be a Dog? Wouldn't the Dog's Stewards cull her out for something like that? On the other hand that smacks of the GM dictating morality to the PCs and I can see how the Trait would create great conflicts in play, so I'm torn. I figured we might go for it anyway under the guise that the Stewards see a plan for Sr. Virginia, that her time as a Dog, under the eyes of other Dogs, might turn her around and show her the Truth Immortal regarding Polygamy.

When running a "personal growth" initiation conflict, why shouldn't the player just Give right away? Even granting that the positive and negative trait are of equal value, why should the player fight to keep the PC as he is? (The conflict was "Does Br. Sunday learn how to read?") We had trouble finding that motivation and played it the other way 'round, with the GM making the task difficult and the player struggling for the positive outcome.


Quote from: John Adams on February 13, 2008, 09:28:34 AM
When running a "personal growth" initiation conflict, why shouldn't the player just Give right away?

1. That wouldn't be much fun.
2. If he's a new player he would miss out on an opportunity to learn and get a feel for the conflict system.
3. You Loose out on the possibility of getting fallout and character growth.


Of course it's OK for Dogs to take Traits that obviously run counter to doctrine. That they haven't been culled might just be the impetus for them to try changing the doctrine. It might even work out. If not, it's great drama, which always is good.

Ron Edwards

I find it helpful to remember that in the setting for Dogs, the faith exists more as a lick and a promise than an established institution. It's not a Church which permeates every aspect of society for every person. Instead, the communities are quite disconnected from one another, there are no reliable justice or educational systems, and the faith's hierarchy has perhaps one whole generation of tradition to rely upon.

The Dogs themselves may feel like ordained marshals of moral justice with a full society backing them, but they're actually just a bunch of confused kids with guns, sent out to lay the groundwork for such an institution.

Best, Ron

David Artman

Nice points, Ron. I was gonna just say "but without Dogs that 'violate' Doctrine, you'd never have Sorcerer Dogs, and that would be Unfun in the long run." Further, the existence of such a play option in the rules as written pretty much logically proves that "perfect execution of Doctrine" is not a criteria for the Ancients and Prophets to admit a Dog into service. But confused teens with little history and sketchy education works as well....
Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages

Marshall Burns


To add on to the points that have already been made, here's what occurred to me:  how would the Stewards even know about Virginia's heresy?  Surely she could easily keep it to herself around authority figures.



Can the player to take a similar trait that doesn't violate Doctrine?  WHY does she hate the Doctrine of Polygamy?  Is it because it often leads to the subjugation of women?  Is it the jealousies that it creates?  Is it the Patrilinear inheritance structure that is the result?

Sister Virgina "believes that Women should be Free to Create their own Destiny"
Sister Virginia "hates the Competition for Affection between wives?"
Sister Virgina "knows a pure marriage only exists with pure love."

On the other hand, EVERY story I read here about DITV is about FaceStabbity Narrativism, so a strong position on an issue can only provide a good hook for that.



So I was thinking.  What if Sister Virginia hates the doctrine yet still believes it to be the truth and those called on to practice it must obey the King of Life's word.  That would just be a big bowel of conflict waiting to spill out.

David Artman

Quote from: WillH on February 14, 2008, 10:34:14 PMThat would just be a big bowel of conflict waiting to spill out.
God, I hope that was a typo for "bowl." Otherwise... dude, shitty image. *rimshot*

Good point, though: "hatred" does not necessitate disbelief. Definitely an interesting tack--more interesting than "hiding" that hatred or treating it as some kind of "false doctrine" that she will elect to espouse at key moments in play.

One point no ones' made yet: once out of Bridal Falls, the Dogs' Word is the King's Word. Period. Think "Papal Infallibility." Therefore, if Virginia is called to oppose the practice of polygamy in a town, She Is Right, as far as interpretation of doctrine goes. (Although, once that percolates up through the Regional Steward to the Ancients and Prophets, she could be called in for a talking-to!)

At least, that's how I've read the rules WRT the moral authority of Dogs in towns... though, now that I think of it--aside from the "responsible for FOO" section which explain the "hierarchy" of Faithful society--there's really no talk in the rules about those who hold authority/responsibility over the Dogs. Is there? (Book not handy.) That is to say, once out of training/initiation, there's little talk of what the A&Ps do, WRT Dog Management and Asset Allocation, so to speak.

Maybe only the other Dogs are the authorities, in a mutual check-and-balance arrangement? If I Hulk Out with my sorcerous Dog, the A&Ps won't be the ones handling it: my companions will be exorcising and/or ventilating me. I think....
Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages


According to the text, the Dogs return to the temple at Bridal Falls at the end of their circuit, make their reports to the stewards there, and receive their new assignments.

In the field, yes, exactly.

Either way, at all times, once the game starts, say yes or roll dice.