[Dogs] Social Conflict and Escalation

Started by jkl, March 15, 2009, 07:46:03 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


I am new to the Forge and pretty new to indie RPGs in general.  We've been playing Dogs and I love this game.  I like the escalation mechanic but I have a question/thought.  When the stakes are high, it seems natural to escalate.  There are times however, that I would be interested in resolving a high stakes conflict without resorting to violence yet this seems like it's hard to do in Dogs. 

For example:
A Dog has been tracking an escaped criminal, wanted for some serious crimes.  After finally catching up with the criminal, they have a confrontation.  For stakes, the Dog wants to bring the escaped criminal back to jail.  The criminal wants to remain free.  They start with talking, the Dog trying to convince the criminal to surrender peacefully.  Dice are rolled and the Dog is winning handily, leaving the criminal the choice of escalating or conceding.

Sure, it would be cool if this ended up in a chase, then a fist fight, then a gunfight.  But sometimes, I just want to talk.  And obviously, people can be talked into surrendering (or releasing their hostages or not committing suicide by  jumping off the bridge).  However in Dogs, it seems like the criminal is almost always going to escalate (because the option is there and very tempting, given how high the stakes are).

I guess my question is, is there a  way to make a character accept disadvantageous stakes through just talking alone?   Is is a  matter of setting stakes differently?  Or are things just supposed to always escalate?

Thanks for any advice.  Love the game.



You mentioned the solution: Is it just a matter of setting stakes differently?
Yes, it is. As I see that in your post you already do it:
Stakes probably too big for one conflict after the bandit has left town:
Bring the bandit into jail.
Better stakes for three conflicts assuming the Dogs win the first two conflicts:
Find Bandit.
Capture bandit.
Bring Bandit to jail. While using the sheet of the bandit plus a few 2d6 for his thugs trying to stop the dogs from getting him into jail.
Bribe the Dogs into letting him go.

Keep the stakes small and don't plan forward.

Hope that helps.

Lance D. Allen

Also, make your criminal a person.

Sometimes, it's not about the dice on the table, but the words in the air. Maybe the Dogs make a particular moving argument.

Sometimes the argument is that the criminal knows he can't outgun the Dogs. Is escaping worth the risk of death?

Most times, the answer will be no.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls

Joel P. Shempert

Hi, JKL!

I've got a great example I wrote about here on my blog about a Dogs game that was all "just talking." The key point for your purposes, I think, is that the Dogs' adversaries were, as Lance says, human, so there were things they were and weren't willing to do, and lines they were and weren't willing to cross.

The guy who tried to hole up in his house and ward off a Dog with his rifle just wasn't, in the end, willing to open fire to keep the Dog from coming in. he had a dying little girl to think about, and who's going to take care of her if he gets himself gunned down? So even though he really, really wanted to get his way regarding the trouble in town, he let in the Dog and submitted himself to judgment.

Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.