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Author Topic: The Slaughter at Corinthton, a Dogs in the Vineyard game  (Read 1810 times)
Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« on: March 06, 2009, 09:57:51 PM »

It was one of those Fridays where the regular game fell through but we knew it far enough ahead of time so that we could pick up the pieces and play another game.  Dogs it is, though single Dogs towns leave me cold.  I want a half-dozen at least.  Hopefully, we can get together again and wash the taste of Corinthon from our mouths.

Bret - my roommate, gentleman friend to:
Ellen - who is fairly new to town, so she hadn't met:
Julie - who came home from Dreamation with a powerful hunger for gaming.

Leah is a former Dog.  Julie had an older, favored sister who died while wearing the Watchdog's quilted coat and I knew then that Leah had served with Julie's PC's sister.

So, Leah led a small group against some Territorial Authority soldiers because they were setting to mistreat a young girl of the Faith.  It was a slaughter.  When the Dogs roll in, the bodies are still rotting in the street and one of the boys, Harry, from the T.A. is dying slow of a gut-shot.  Poor effin' Harry, man.

The players find Harry in the street, bleeding, being watched over by Malvina, the girl the soldiers were about to handle roughly.  Malvina has been given a shotgun and is watching the boy die, just as Leah told her to.

The players want to help Harry; I describe him as a kid no older than them, dressed in a Territorial Authority uniform, moaning softly as he dies.

The conflict with Malvina is brutal.  They give.  My 5d10 Demon dice from the murder are too much.

Enter Leah, a conflict to get her to clean up her mess.  Coming up with the conflict is a muddled mess but we figure it out post-mortem.  But again, the 5d10 is too-too much. 

Now the table is in a kind of shock.  They have seen the Demon Dice in action.  I am worried about roughing them up too much.  I stop pushing conflicts.

They go to the T.A., explain what happened.  I make the Major in charge of the Fort a decent guy with a tough job, as I had planned to but man, I can't help but think that I made him nicer.  No dice are rolled, the Major wants names of the ring-leaders who ambushed his men, bodies if possible.  The Steward is visited next.  This guy just wants things with the T.A. smoothed over so he can have his congregation back.  He blubbers.  I blubber.

There is talk of shooting Leah in the street, of going to Malvina and giving Harry some help but the 5d10 Demon Dice are looming large over the rest of the night.  Dice would not hit the table again.  The players were not having it and I was not pushing it.  Suck.

They find the names of the four who ambushed and they give them to the Major.  They ride away.

Bret says that he thinks his character might retire.

The End.

Holy shit, what a downer.

I should have kept pushing conflicts.  I should have done my job as a GM and I just didn't.  I backed off and asked them what they were doing a whole lot, rather than saying, this is what is happening, what are you going to do about it.
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Bret Gillan
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2009, 10:08:58 PM »

Honestly, if you had pushed more conflict I would have vaporized on the spot.
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Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2009, 10:11:12 PM »

Honestly, if you had pushed more conflict I would have vaporized on the spot.

I could truly feel that, man.  That is why I slammed on the breaks.

I was at a loss.  In the old days, I would have flat out started fudging die rolls behind the screen.  Tonight I just didn't push conflicts so we didn't have to go to dice.  It is an odd sensation that I am not used to.

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on the night.
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James_Nostack
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Posts: 726


« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2009, 11:56:51 AM »

Judd, can you describe how you went about resolving scenes without using the dice?  I had something similar happen during a few points of this week's Trollbabe game: the players got kind of clobbered early on, and then did their best to approach scenes . . . obliquely, in a way that wouldn't lead to head-on conflicts given the interests of the NPC's and the nature of the scenario. 

Now, it's true I could have changed NPC personalities, shifted the backstory, and generally re-written the whole scenario on the fly, so that the players' perceptions of the NPC's interests were suddenly dead wrong.  Sort of like, I'm in the GM Car of Death, and no matter which way the players flee I chase them down and force a Conflict on them... but that doesn't always seem fair.

Or was this something totally different?  Was this, "Let's just free-form it because the rules are too harsh for the mood we're in?"  And thus there were dramatic conflicts going on but just no dice involved?
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--Stack
Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2009, 12:04:23 PM »

Judd, can you describe how you went about resolving scenes without using the dice?  I had something similar happen during a few points of this week's Trollbabe game: the players got kind of clobbered early on, and then did their best to approach scenes . . . obliquely, in a way that wouldn't lead to head-on conflicts given the interests of the NPC's and the nature of the scenario. 

Both of those characters were filled with info that needed dumping, so I did so.  I just didn't push towards any conflicts in between, ushered the players from one scene with an info dump NPC (Major Everson) to another (Steward Cuthbert).

Now, it's true I could have changed NPC personalities, shifted the backstory, and generally re-written the whole scenario on the fly, so that the players' perceptions of the NPC's interests were suddenly dead wrong.  Sort of like, I'm in the GM Car of Death, and no matter which way the players flee I chase them down and force a Conflict on them... but that doesn't always seem fair.

I didn't change anything about the adventure but my level of aggression changed.  When they couldn't save Harry, the wind really went out of their sails.

Or was this something totally different?  Was this, "Let's just free-form it because the rules are too harsh for the mood we're in?"  And thus there were dramatic conflicts going on but just no dice involved?

No, there were no conflicts without dice.  I just said, "Yes," a whole lot and honestly, the players were not pushing.
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Queen_of_Kryos
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Posts: 3


« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2009, 01:58:36 PM »

This was the bleakest RPG I think I've ever played in.  I mean, DitV is supposed to be bleak to some extent, not rainbows and hugs and ponies (well, there are ponies, but, uh...that's different).  Although the first encounter was a bummer (with Malvina), the second encounter was what really broke my spirit.  The second encounter was with Leah, her stakes being for us to take on the Territorial Army, and ours being to bury all the bodies and take Harry away from Malvina, who was essentially torturing him.  In the first encounter, I saw what the demons could do in terms of dice. 

In the second encounter, you picked up another double handful of d10's and d8's and actually said, "I think the demons really want those bodies lying where they are."  This proved to me that getting what we the PCs wanted out of that entire town scenario was simply impossible.  Therefore, we were left with only a couple of sucky options: leave town altogether and forget the whole thing (which was the most desirable option, but this is an RPG, not real life, and you as the GM would have had to pull another town out of thin air and it was already, like, 11:30 at night) or involve the TA.  The problem with the option that we chose was that it rendered us powerless as Dogs.  We simply turned what would have been a massive bloodbath into a mini-bloodbath, with only 3 people dying.  We learned a little later also, that the town leaders were spineless weaklings in terms of opposing Leah, which was why shooting her was not a viable option. 

I had a long talk with Jeff this morning about the game.  He had two points: 1.) that you have a tendency to bring a big conflict out early to give the PCs ammo in terms of Fallout for later, bigger conflicts (which can be fine) and 2.) that you roll uncannily well on demon-influenced die rolls.  In terms of the 1.), it was a little too big, IMHO, although I can see how this strategy could work in other games.  In terms of 2.), well, I think it's the demons thanking you for writing Dictionary of Mu, which is like their yearbook.  "Stay cool, man!" 

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"I am Galstaf, Sorceror of Light."
"Then how come you had to cast Magic Missile?  Myahahaha..."
This is Julie, BTW.
Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2009, 02:47:48 PM »

I don't own dogs. What do demon dice do? Do they get spent once they are used? Or just kind of stay around as an infinite resource?

Could you have just had bad shit handed to you for a conflict or two and that would have depleted the demon dice? Thus putting you back on some game authorship controlling ground? Or are the dogs to remain clean and only go through a particular moral issue if it gets the nod from everyone (rather than it happening because someone used the rule set that was agreed to)?
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Moreno R.
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Posts: 547


« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2009, 09:47:51 PM »

Hi Judd!

Why did the demonic influence were so strong in that session? You were particularly lucky with dice that evening, or the players were not familiar with the rules about helping each other? Three dogs together should be strong enough to beat almost everything, if they can help each other...

@ Callan:  the demonic influence dice are 1-5 d10 (in Judd's session, they were already at the max level, 5d10) that are added to the GM's hand in specific conflicts. From Judd's description I suppose that Leah is a Sorcerer in game terms, so she can add the demonic influence dice on every conflict. Starting Dogs have usually very few d10s, so if they have to fight against a sorcerer they usually can win the conflict by sheer mass of dice (if they are 2-3 against one), but have to take heavy risks if the Sorcerer rolled well. Are you ever played DitV even if you don't own it? It's not easy to explain in brief how dog's conflict resolution works...
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Judd
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Posts: 1675

Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2009, 10:01:54 PM »

Hi Judd!

Why did the demonic influence were so strong in that session?

Looking back and looking over the text, I think I over-did it on the demon dice.  I wrote down what the demons wanted in the town creation and it seemed like those first two conflicts were going right against what they wanted.  But in my descriptions, I didn't narrate anything overtly demonic about it.

Yeah, I think I should've laid off the demon dice for Malvina's conflict but threw them on when Leah came-a-calling.

Looking back, that was my mistake.
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Bret Gillan
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That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2009, 04:16:06 AM »

Moreno, I think all three of us rolled on both of the conflicts in question (though my memory is rusty, Ellen may have sat out of the second one because her dog was uncertain about whether Leah did wrong) and we were still boned. In the first conflict Ellen rolled all 1's and 2's and gave in the first round. We might have been able to win if we escalated but I don't think any of us wanted to shoot Malvina. I too thought that three dogs could take on anything. Having run and played Dogs, I know now that this is not the case. At least not Dogs fresh out of Bridal Falls.

The second conflict I know I was willing to escalate to shooting, but I did the math and didn't think even with escalation we would have enough dice to win.

I don't think you did anything wrong here with regards to use of the dice, Judd. But at the end of the session I know the feeling for me was that we didn't do our job as dogs. We tried, we failed, and we went to the Territorial Authority and asked them to clean up the mess that we couldn't fix. In the end Leah was waiting to ambush the TA, Malvina was torturing a gut shot kid, and we couldn't do a thing to stop either of them.

I know at the meta level any decision the dogs make is the right one, but it feels like we didn't even get to the deciding. Generally it's like: clean up mess, pass judgment, ride out, and we didn't get past the clean up mess phase.
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