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Author Topic: [Dogs in the Vineyard] Point Hollow  (Read 3346 times)
jenskot
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Posts: 60


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« on: May 16, 2009, 07:11:14 PM »

It’s been a whirlwind week of GMing! I took the week off and ran 3 consecutive Dogs towns then D&D 4E 2 days ago, and another Dogs town for Paul T and Dave Berg today.

I’ve found writing Actual Play sessions difficult. But Paul and Dave urged me to try. Here we go!

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Paul T
Bother Cyrus

Cyrus as an impetuous youth with a dark streak. After being abandoned by his mother as a young boy, he lived in a low-life town full of scum and villainy. He was found by Brother Gerber, a Dog passing through the town. Seeing Cyrus take a stance between two gangs and use words and clever trickery to defuse an imminent massacre, Brother Gerber picked him up and brought him, against his will, to Bridal Falls to be trained as a Dog.

Background: Educated

Stats: Acuity 4d6, Body 2d6, Heart 3d6, Will 4d6

Traits:
- sometimes a blow below the belt is what it takes 2d8
- I’ve seen… and tried… the worst in life 2d10
- the loss of innocence burns like fire in my veins 3d6
- I’m a whisperer on the wind 2d8
- “the young speak some sense” 2d10
- a dog’s place is to remain pure 1d6
- a person’s sine are never washed clean 1d4

Relationships:
- dogs 1d6
- sister Annie, Steward’s wife turned whore, I took a beating trying to save her 1d4
- Gerber, Dog who found me 1d8
- Jezelda, mother who abandoned me 1d8
- Colt Bromley, famous vigilante who scares me 1d6
- brother Prue, stole from me 1d4

Belongings:
- hunting rifle, given to me by Chief Blue Cloud, my mother’s friend 2d6 + 1d4
- dark wide brimmed hat 1d6
- simple, dignified business like coat 1d6

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Davie Berg
Brother Enos

Enos grew up as a sheltered and illiterate farmer in the poor village of Magpie Saddle. His community started a demonic cult, and Enos participated, thinking the spirits would bring his village wealth. Instead, murder and betrayal grew rampant until some Dogs came to town and killed all the cult leaders. Enos saw the King of Life as a sort of trump to top demonic powers, and wanted to be on the winning side, so he went back to Bridal Falls to become a dog and get his very own gun.

Background: Complicated History

Stats: Acuity 4d6, Body 3d6, Heart 2d6, Will 6d6

Traits:
- coughs blood 1d4
- every conflict is a war 2d4
- all’s fail in war 2d6
- believe in what works, might makes holy 2d10

Relationships:
- brother Prue, gimpy sidekick I belittle and protect 3d8
- Zeke Harrigan, former friend and cult member 1d6
- Colt Bromley, famous vigilante I look up to 3d6
- brother Gerber, I almost killed him by “accident” 1d6
- dogs 1d6

Belongings:
- fine gloves 2d6
- india ink and pen 1d6
- consecrated earth 1d8
- new, bright, fancy, attention grabbing coat 2d6

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Paul and Dave made characters first, and then I quickly made a town in 30 minutes using play aids I’ve created to speed things along:
http://www.sexandbullets.com/img/DogsProcedure.pdf
http://www.sexandbullets.com/img/DogsRelationshipMap.pdf

Paul and Dave used the following character sheet:
http://www.sexandbullets.com/img/DogsFoldOutCharacterSheet.pdf

I printed character portraits from various westerns, mostly Deadwood that Paul and Dave chose from to represent their characters and their relationships.

We used NPC dice, escalation, elements of Fallout, and the giving rules from Afraid (horror game using the Dogs in the Vineyard system).

Next the Town write up!
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jenskot
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2009, 08:32:47 PM »

What’s Wrong:
Brother Zeke, Eno’s friend and fellow former cult member sends Eno a letter: “it’s happening again… come to Point Hollow.”

Background:
Brother Gerber, a Dog of 10 years, retires at Point Hollow. A modest town nestled between two hills, one home to a large untapped silver mine on mountain people territory. The aging town’s steward, brother Nathaniel, takes brother Gerber under his wing to train him as his future replacement. Gerber’s first assignment, open negotiations with the mountain people to buy their silver mine. Gerber fails. Instead, he negotiates an agreement to communally work the silver mine to the benefit of both people. As a sign of mutualism, Gerber offers to take care of one of the mountain people’s daughters, Duty, whose mother recently died and father, Crossing, is missing.

Pride:
Gerber’s pride swells. His success and tenure as a Dog proves he knows what’s best for Point Hollow. He unsuccessfully pushes for Nathaniel to retire early.

Injustice:
Gerber begins distributing the wealth from the mine unevenly. Those who he prefers or do him favors receive greater shares.

False Doctrine:
Gerber preaches that you have what the king of life wants you to have. If you are prosperous, it is the king of life’s will. If you are poor, it is also his will. So those with wealth are obviously closer to the king of life. Greater wealth means greater faith. And the path to greater wealth runs through Gerber.

To gain greater control over the mine, Gerber aggressively converts mountain people to the faith. Point Hollow expands as wealth and new converts flow in. Gerber forces a town vote. Who will be the next steward? The vote ties, especially with many of the new town members freshly recruited by Gerber. Gerber negotiates a compromise. With Point Hollow’s expansion, there is room for two churches and two stewards.

Those who follow Gerber prosper and become prideful. Those who follow Nathaniel fall into near poverty but remain true to the faith. People flaunt their wealth, commissioning large icons of the king of life, trimmed with silver and hanging them outside their homes. Some icons depict the home’s family standing side by side with the king of life. And to help with recruitment, Gerber encourages the creation of icons that depict the king of life as a mountain person. Those under Nathaniel, frustrated by poverty and outraged by the king of life depicted as a mountain person, erupt in random violence.

Crossing, the lost mountain person who’s daughter Gerber adopted… returns. Disturbed by so many of his people converting to the faith, he seeks to separate his tribe from Point Hollow and demands that Gerber return his daughter. Gerber refuses.

Who’s Who:
- Gerber, wants the Dogs to strip Nathaniel of his stewardship making Gerber the only steward
- Annie, Gerber’s wife, wants the Dogs to forgive her adultery or to join her in it
- Duty, Gerber’s adopted daughter, wants the Dogs to make her white, like her new parents, so the town’s poor will stop harassing her
- Colt Bromley, mercenary hired by Gerber to kill Crossing, wants the Dogs out of his way
- Nathaniel, old steward, wants the Dogs to distribute the mine’s wealth fairly
- Grace, Nathaniel’s wife, leader of the anti mountain people group called the true faith, wants the Dogs to unconvert and remove the mountain people
- Zeke, a member of the true faith, wants the Dogs to expose Gerber and the mountain people as demons and sorcerers
- Christopher, a member of the true faith, frustrated by their small numbers, takes his frustrations out on Gerber’s adopted daughter, Duty, and wants the Dogs to forgive him
- Crossing, Duty’s blood father, wants Duty and his people back
- Jezelda, Crossing’s new wife, formerly of the faith who has converted to Crossing’s beliefs, wants peace

First Scene:
Outside of town, the Dogs witness Christopher mounting a smaller person (Duty) and repeatedly punching her in the face. Her head is covered with a bag with a crewed image of the king of life drawn as a mountain person on it.

Next… what happened! Hopefully Paul and Dave will jump in with details as well.
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jenskot
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Posts: 60


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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2009, 07:51:14 AM »

Enos persuades Christopher to un-mount Duty with his pistol and condemning words. Conflict: Physical -> Talking. Cyrus tends to Duty.

Christopher believes Duty is a demon, portraying the king of life as a demon, and using her sorcery to drive his family into poverty. He couldn’t work up the nerve to beat her so he covered her face in a bag depicting the king of life as a demon to remind him of the pain her kind has caused. He reveals that there are two stewards, and part of the town prospers while the other falls deeper and deeper into poverty.

Enos wants to shoot Christopher. Conflict: Talking. Cyrus talks him out of it. They bring Duty home.

Over Duty’s home is an icon trimmed in ornamental silver depicting the king of life as a mountain person over images of Duty’s new family (Gerber, the new steward, Annie, the whore Cyrus saved, and Duty, the adopted mountain child).

Enos stays outside with Christopher. Cyrus reunites with Annie. Upon discovering her daughter’s attacker is outside her home, Annie grabs a shotgun. Conflict: Talking -> Physical. Cyrus talks her out of it. Annie insinuates she plans on thanking him later. Enos continues to question and berate Christopher outside.

Duty awakens, crying she demands Cyrus take her to the center of town and proclaim her white and no longer a mountain person to stop the harassment. Conflict: Talking. Duty agrees to let Cyrus take action against her harassers without renouncement of her ethnicity.

Enos and Cyrus head to Gerber’s church. The church is a monument to inhuman hubris. Enos and Cyrus interrupt workers building a silver statue of the king of life. Steward Gerber joins them followed by Colt, the vigilante and Enos’ childhood hero who skulks in the background.

Gerber wants Chistopher dealt with now. Conflict: Talking. Cyrus talks his former mentor out of it by insinuating he could blackmail Gerber over his wife Annie's former whoring ways. Christopher is locked up for now till the Dogs pronounce judgment.

Colt smirks and abruptly leaves claiming he has a job to do, nodding at Gerber. Eros follows his childhood hero.

Annie runs up to Cyrus and tries to seduce him as he leaves the church. Conflict: Talking -> Physical -> Fighting. In a moment of temptation, Cyrus gives Annie his coat, "you know how much this means to me, hold on to it till we meet later where I will give you what you want." Cyrus wins the conflict, resisting temptation but Annie has his coat.

Colt makes his way to the silver mines. Enos confronts Colt. He's surprised to discover Colt isn't a vigilante, but a mercenary for hire. They wax philosophically. Colt tells Enos to stay out if his way and begins setting up his rifle on the hills.

Enos walks towards the mine ease dropping on a group of mountain people led by Crossing with a white woman on his side (Jezelda, Cyrus' mom) discussing confronting Gerber and taking back his daughter Duty.

Colt aims his rifle at Crossing's head.

Enos sees Colt! I tell Dave (playing Enos) it is his choice if this is a conflict. Dave decides not to interfere. Crossing's head splatters allover Jezelda.

I forgot to upgrade the Demonic Influence from Injustice (1d10) to Murder (4d10). I will next session.

Jezelda panics. Colt heads back into town. Enos confronts Jezelda.

Enos reveals that Colt is responsible, possibly at Gerber's request. Although he is quick to underplay Gerber’s involvement trying to aim Jezelda’s rage at Colt instead of the town. She rallies her family together for an assault. Conflict: Talking. Enos convinces her to give him 1 day to judge and punish those responsible. Otherwise the mountain people may rain down on the town.

Enos rejoins Cyrus back at the town, is shocked Cyrus lost his coat and demands he goes back and retrieve it. They return to Annie's home with forceful intentions.

Annie’s young daughter Duty answers the door. Duty shouts to her mother that Cyrus is back. Enos storms into Annie's bedroom with Duty in hand. Cyrus follows.

Annie is waiting for Cyrus on her bed wearing nothing but her skin and his coat.

Duty freaks out. Enos and Cyrus argue if Duty should witness this. Enos takes Duty away and she runs towards her father’s church.

Cyrus wants his coat back. Conflict: Talking -> Physical -> Fighting. After being stabbed with a pair of scissors, Cyrus retrieves his coat and promises to deal with Annie later.

Enos stops Duty from entering the church and tells her he knows who her real parents are.

This is where we stopped.

Enos and Cyrus plan to start next session speaking with Nathaniel, Grace, and Zeke to find out about the group “True Faith”. 

Next my thoughts.
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jenskot
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2009, 08:25:22 AM »

I sometimes have trouble escalating to gunfighting. I find to make the player’s judgment truly a choice, I need to present the situations from multiple perspectives and really hit home how the NPCs justify their actions in their own minds. This is partly why I stay away from obvious supernatural occurrences. They often make judgment easier. That guys glowing. Shoot him! Which tends to be similar to, that guy’s a rapist. Shoot him! But the more invested I become in making judgment interesting, the harder I find it to escalate to gunfighting.

Coupled with the above, my games tend to be fairly roleplaying intensive and I often feel they are too conflict light. In yesterday’s game, I felt satisfied playing 3 solid hours with 8 conflicts.

I’ve run Dogs 50+ times with non gamers, people who only play 1-2 RPGs, and people who play a diversity of games. I find that non gamers get Dogs immediately. At least procedurally. Many new people quickly become turned off by how they end up behaving! Many people who mostly play 1-2 games seems either confused by the die pool mechanic, frustrated with the conflict restrictions, or become obsessed with how the dice work: constantly re-ordering their dice, spending a lot of time trying to understand the strategy, and forgetting the fiction entirely. The idea of playing 1 class also is an issue. I’ve found former Vampire and Call of Cthulhu players really get Dogs and love it. And people who are shy become very confident when they use the conflict mechanic to assert their contributions.

Regardless of the above, I find the more we play, the more likely the players have their characters either retire or go insane with what they have done. Having Dogs as a trait or a relationship often means it ends up being removed or changed via fallout. Characters also die easily. I find that Dogs is one of the deadliest games I’ve played. Which is funny because of my problem escalating to gunfighting above. People get so used to talking fallout = awesome, that they are unprepared for the realization of the severity of gun fallout. And then it is too late! I always warn them!

Paul T and David Berg are a dream to play with. They absorb mechanical procedures immediately yet aren’t distracted by the dice to the point where they become obsessed with winning over doing what they feel is entertaining and engaging. We were worried at first that their characters didn’t seem faithful enough to be Dogs but it worked out well. 2-3 players is now my ideal group size.

With 10 named NPCs a lot happened but it never felt like information overload. Writing each named character on an index card with their name and a picture of them really helped.

We finish Point Hollow this Thursday!
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Paul T
Member

Posts: 383


« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2009, 01:06:59 PM »

Thanks for writing this up, John!

The game was a blast, and I'm really looking forward to the next session. Your prep and presentation are simply fantastic--I'm glad you've been improving and updating your techniques as you've gone along! I was meaning to ask about your sheets for the game, and here you've gone and posted them up. Awesome!

I have a few comments about the game:

* I like how the system forced my character to do some pretty irrational, desperate things. When Sister Annie was trying to seduce him, not only did he give his Coat to her (to get the Coat's dice), but I even had Cyrus misdirect her and then try to run away so I could escalate to Physical! That was fun. And funny.

* That last bit in the writeup where you say "After being stabbed with a pair of scissors, Cyrus retrieves his coat and promises to deal with Annie later" isn't quite as I remember it. She attacked Cyrus with the scissors, yes, but no blood was drawn. Also, I'm pretty sure Cyrus didn't make any promises to her in that scene. (These details are probably unimportant, but I thought I'd mention them just in case.)

* The ratio of free roleplaying to conflict felt good to me! I prefer having some more talking and roleplaying, to learn about the characters and the Town, before jumping for the dice. And you did a great job of pulling out the dice every time a conflict was developing--it never felt like you went there too early or too late. I'm guessing that the second session will see more conflicts initiated by us, the Dogs.

* One thing we discussed was the escalation rules from Afraid, and whether we want to use them or stick with Dogs' default rules. I wonder if there's been some discussion of this elsewhere! I can really see both sides of this argument, although in play I actually liked the way the Afraid escalation rule felt very much (even though I kept forgetting about it).

* You know how I wrote "prostitution 1d6" under Relationships, on my sheet, but left parentheses around it? I think we can remove those parentheses. :)

* I was tempted to use that d6 to take a Relationship with Duty (the girl, not the noun), but she kinda scared me when she got all Michael Jackson on me. Ha!






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Paul T
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Posts: 383


« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2009, 01:21:09 PM »

Oh, hey, a question:

I did find myself kind of unsure of how much I could define the Stake(s) when I was initiating a conflict, though. Because sometimes the implications of the conflict kind of changed between the opening of the conflict and its resolution. For instance, if I have a conflict with Sister Annie where she's trying to get me to take her daughter to the town square (say), but my last two or three Raises are all something like "Get ye back home to your husband!", it seems that, when she loses or Gives, what really should happen is that she should agree to go back home to her husband, not just give up on trying to get her way.

Does that make sense? I felt a little uncertain in play as to how this was supposed to pan out.

Specifically, in the case of this AP report, I'm thinking of that conflict where Sister Annie was wearing my coat. Yes, I wanted my coat back, and yes, she wanted to seduce me, but really what I'd come to do was to get her to stop her whoring. But in play, I felt like we weren't syncing up a hundred percent, and I'm not sure whether the consequences of the conflict include any lasting repercussions of that sort.

I can't even remember who reached for the dice first in that case, me or John. But since Annie and I both had an agenda in the, uh, "discussion", should that have been handled as two separate conflicts (1: Does Sister Annie seduce Cyrus? and 2: Does Cyrus get his coat back?)?

In actual play, I felt like what was established in the fiction was sufficient for the purposes of the game and the story. I almost feel like we can just roll the dice without naming anything consequences upfront and let the Sees and Raises tell us what's going down, and who's trying to achieve what. But the rules suggest that the What's at Stake should be a little more defined.

Any recommendations from the seasoned Dogs players?
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jenskot
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« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2009, 04:19:13 PM »

Paul, thanks for weighing in!

Here are the relevant references to stakes in the text:

- "To launch a conflict, we begin by establishing what’s at stake, setting the stage, and figuring out who’s participating."
- "Anyone who has too few dice to See when they have to— and can’t or won’t escalate— is out of the conflict. Whoever’s left at the end gets to decide the fate of what’s at stake."
- "Establish what’s at stake. Any player can make suggestions, and everybody should feel free to toss it around until you arrive at the right thing."
- "The last person in the conflict gets to say what happens with what’s at stake."

The text implies that stakes should be explicit. From the text examples, stakes aren’t what happens but what is up for grabs. Your coat can be up for grabs. Or someone’s sanctity. Or someone’s life. There aren’t multiple side stakes. There isn’t if I win this happens, if you win that happens. And the person who wins the conflict can say what happens with what’s at stake (which we were playing loose with, next time I’ll make it more explicit that the winner describes what happens with what is at stake).

Generally we’ve played where the stakes stem from the actions described. The GM says yes or roll the dice. If we roll the dice, what we are rolling the dice for is what is at stake. But I should do a better job explicitly underlining what that is. And the group should weigh in with their opinions of what feels appropriate to the actions described and if the scale and scope is reasonable. In some of the conflicts, we were explicit but in many we weren’t. Next game we will be more explicit and see how that feels.

In terms of the example with Sister Annie, it would have helped to be more explicit. My understanding was that your coat was at stake since the fiction was driving towards that with Enos literally dragging everyone to Annie’s bedroom for that explicit purpose. Your seduction is no longer at stake since she failed to seduce you before. I’m not sure what the rules say about stake’s lasting repercussions. I’ve played it that stakes stick till the situation changes and there is a conflict to change them.

But raises and sees can resolve and define other fictional elements. Disarming a gun can be the stakes of a conflict. Or disarming a gun can be a raise within another conflict. So your coat can be at stake, but seduction can be used to achieve that end. You can’t kill a Dog with a raise or see unless their life is at stake. But is everything else up for grabs as part of a raise or see? Can you change a trait as part of stakes? Destroy a belonging? What about as part of a raise or see? Are lasting repercussions different if the fiction is defined via winning stakes vs. taking the blow? It’s fuzzy. You could raise me and I could describe my see as occurring days later. I believe many of the answers to these questions are determined by group consensus. Possibly moment to moment.
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Paul T
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2009, 08:35:28 AM »

Thanks, John.

I'm still mulling this over. Let's play the next session and see how it goes!
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David Berg
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2009, 02:55:05 PM »

One note on gameworld color in general and environmental detail in particular:

John didn't offer a ton, but whenever I asked for some, he didn't mind answering, and in fact his answers were quite satisfying.  I hope this continues.  This is my preferred way to play: players slow the pace and pursue vividness because they want to experience it; GM responds by giving them the experience they request.


Re: conflicts vs just roleplaying:

1) Disclaimer: I'm more used to speaking in-character as a means of moving play along, and less used to rolling dice before someone's life is at stake.

2) In an effort to really play Dogs as intended, I put some mental effort into correlating dice to fiction.  Specfically, I tried to keep track of action types.  There were a few moments during conflicts when John pushed forward dice for a physical action, and then Paul pushed forward dice (either to see or to make the next attack, I can't remember) for a talking action.  And I went, "Paul, are you allowed to do that?  I thought this interaction has Escalated, meaning we're past the point of mere talk!"  See, I thought that was a big part of the symbolic point of the Dogs resolution system.  But no, John said that only the action you take to get "physical" dice needs to be physical, and thereafter you can "de-escalate" if you want.  So, this experience was mildly annoying to me, but certainly an acceptable part of learning a new game.  Now that I know what to do, though, I'm a bit fuzzier on why I should bother.

3) The conflict John described above where Cyrus convinces Enos not to kill Christopher wasn't actually a formal conflict.  No dice were rolled then.  (Dice were rolled much alter over the same issue.)  Also, I felt that the most important decision I made in the session was to not have a conflict when my former hero Colt lined up his shot to assassinate the Moutain People's leader.  So, my opinion at the moment is that we needn't worry at all about ratio of conflict to play time.  John's Point Hollow is a satisfyingly pregnant situation in which Paul and I can't help but make meaningful choices, whether the dice are involved or no.

4) Putting the fiction on hold while someone tried to think of an in-fiction way to express their (already-decided-upon) die-use sucked.  Presumably this is a learned skill that Paul and I will get better at.  Even John sometimes has observable lag time, but to a degree that is less distracting.  I wonder if perhaps it might be better to respond in the fiction first, and then decide what to do with the dice, as a way of concluding, "...and here's the impact of what I just did:"

Actually, John, did you do that?  Regularly?  Ever?  I can remember my own moments of awkwardness, and my moments of boredom while waiting for Paul, more clearly than I can remember the smoothest parts.  And certainly, overall, this was a pretty smooth session.
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here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
jenskot
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2009, 03:49:58 PM »

Dave, thanks for posting!

One note on gameworld color in general and environmental detail in particular:

John didn't offer a ton, but whenever I asked for some, he didn't mind answering, and in fact his answers were quite satisfying.  I hope this continues.  This is my preferred way to play: players slow the pace and pursue vividness because they want to experience it; GM responds by giving them the experience they request.
As a player, this is also my preferred way of being exposed to color. Things start fuzzy and undefined but as I show interest and ask questions, the GM zooms in and those details become clear. As a GM I prefer this because I rarely know how much color a player is interested in. It not only varies from player to player but moment to moment.

I thought this interaction has Escalated, meaning we're past the point of mere talk!"  See, I thought that was a big part of the symbolic point of the Dogs resolution system.  But no, John said that only the action you take to get "physical" dice needs to be physical, and thereafter you can "de-escalate" if you want.  So, this experience was mildly annoying to me, but certainly an acceptable part of learning a new game.
Originally when I first started playing Dogs I thought the same thing. How can you de-escalate from gunfighting to talking? Fiction from books to movies show this happening all the time so it’s not that strange but rules wise I wasn’t sure. The rule that keeps this all together is:

“When you Raise, have your character do something that his opponent can’t ignore.”

If someone is shooting at you and you start talking to them, if the group feels talking is something that can easily be ignored, then it doesn’t count. This counts for any Raise. Telling the shooter to stop may have no affect. But telling them you know where their kidnapped daughter is likely will cause them to pause. It's also important not to set hard limits so that after someone says something I can't ignore, I still have the option to go back to shooting them. There is no hard rule. It’s contextually sensitive to the specific situation and the specific player’s suspension of disbelief. So if you feel a Raise doesn’t make sense, ask the player to revise their Raise. Same thing with what is at Stake.

Also, I felt that the most important decision I made in the session was to not have a conflict when my former hero Colt lined up his shot to assassinate the Moutain People's leader. 
This was my favorite moment of probably any game in the last few months of play. The macho attitude of conflict, conflict, conflict or bust I’ve sometimes seen is unfortunate because of the missed opportunity to have amazing moments like these! I’ve also seen amazing moments like these within conflicts where players give. When the color overpowers the desire to win… that’s one of the reasons I love roleplaying.

I wonder if perhaps it might be better to respond in the fiction first, and then decide what to do with the dice, as a way of concluding, "...and here's the impact of what I just did:"
I’ve tried both and am very open to experimenting. I’ve seen a few issues we should consider. Sometimes describing first, then pausing, then playing dice can interfere with the flow of narration since there is a lag between describing an attack and describing a defense. Also, you almost always need to know what dice you will play for your defense before you can describe it. Especially if you are taking the blow! I’ve found it sometimes difficult to get players in the mindset to describe taking damage or being disadvantaged. The disconnect might worsen the situation. Although you and Paul had no problem describing taking the blow! I find these pauses will also become less frequent the longer people play (although I still pause from time to time). And sometimes they are a gift! If the pause is due to the pressure of making a decision with hefty consequences… I can almost imagine the character moving in slow motion with sweat running down their brow. The player’s tension, even with no one describing anything, can actually add to my immersion.

Fun!
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Paul T
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Posts: 383


« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2009, 09:23:38 PM »

Agreed!

A couple of comments:

* As far as escalating and "de-escalating" goes, the way it made sense to me was to think of it in the context of a story, like a film or a novel. If a punch was thrown, or a gun was fired in a scene, that conflict definitely escalated, you know? It doesn't mean if there was more talking afterwards.

Also, if you couldn't Raise within any arena you've already opened, there'd be this weird thing where, if you went from gunfighting to talking, you could do longer fire your gun. John's take on it--a Raise has to be something your opponent can't ignore, and that gets harder as things get more out of control--is probably the best way to look at it.

* Hey, it doesn't really matter, but I'm pretty I DO remember Enos and Cyrus having a dice conflict over whether Enos should shoot Christopher or not in the very first soon. But I think you bought into my arguments and just Gave a Raise or two in.

* Oddly enough, the next day I had to work with a new employee who I was supposed to train, and his name was Anis. I had "Enos" and "Anis" bouncing around in my head all day, trying to remember which was which, and trying even harder to make sure I didn't mispronounce the name so it sounded like something rude... yow!

As for the lag time, I'm not sure what to do about that. As John points out, it's got to go somewhere, so it's going to slow things down no matter where you do it. I know I'll be quicker now that I have a better idea of how the game works and of what my options are.

I definitely think that if you have the perfect Raise ready on the tip of your tongue, you might as well shout it out and then decide what dice to push forward. However, when Seeing, you've got to know the total before you do that.

My hesitation in play always occurred when I was thinking dice -> fiction, not fiction -> dice. I had to stop and think when I knew I didn't want to throw the conflict, but wasn't sure what my options were, so I had to mentally review my moves: escalate? give? bring in a trait? which one? use a possession? which one? ...and then weigh the options to see which made the most sense.

The most awkward part of resolution I find is when you're Seeing and you want to bring in a trait to use. You have to narrate something to bring in the Trait... but you can't decide fully what to narrate until you know what the dice have rolled. A couple of times I knew what I wanted to do, but when the dice rolled too low (or too high!) I had to change my idea before I could narrate. That certainly introduces a weird hiccup.

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David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2009, 11:21:55 PM »

If the pause is due to the pressure of making a decision with hefty consequences… I can almost imagine the character moving in slow motion with sweat running down their brow. The player’s tension, even with no one describing anything, can actually add to my immersion.
Dude, we totally need to make this happen.  I mean, I'd like to see if we can share that at the table, rather than just it maybe happening in one player's head.  Slo-mo narration rocks!

When you Raise, have your character do something that his opponent can’t ignore.
Yeah, I try to do that.  I just have a moment of dissonance as I hit some "sounds like the time for talk is through" moments in the fiction but still have this big ol' pile of dice in front of me.  Two parts to this:

1) Two big piles of unused dice tells my brain "no need to roll more of them just yet", and results in odd pacing and creative strain as we try to trade a series of "things you can't ignore" in a mere conversation.  This awkwardness strengthens my inclination to just do what makes sense to me in the fiction, escalate if it seems apt, dice be damned.  However:

2) It feels weird to readjust the sides' resources if I'm winning.  I mean, I don't really care about winning... losing is equally fun... but I feel like I'm playing the game wrong if I take that attitude to the resolution mechanics... like I'm not giving them a fair chance.
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Lance D. Allen
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Posts: 1970


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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2009, 12:49:21 AM »

A small revelation just came to me reading ya'll's discussion.

Something you can't ignore? What the hell is that?

You can ignore someone shooting at you, if you want. It's going to have an effect, but you don't have to respond to it.

So here's what occurred to me.

Something you "can't ignore" means something that you must respond to. Meaning that if you ignore it, then that is a response. It has a consequence.

If you yell to stop when I'm shooting at you, I can ignore it without any real effect. Your words are simply color.

If you yell to stop in the Name of the King of Life, then my shooting you anyway *means* something. It means that, right here, right now, shooting you is more important to me than the King of Life.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Paul T
Member

Posts: 383


« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2009, 09:30:27 AM »

Lance,

I like that!

Dave,

On the slo-mo narration thing: yes! Not sure how, exactly, though. Let's try it.


Yeah, I try to do that.  I just have a moment of dissonance as I hit some "sounds like the time for talk is through" moments in the fiction but still have this big ol' pile of dice in front of me.  Two parts to this:

1) Two big piles of unused dice tells my brain "no need to roll more of them just yet", and results in odd pacing and creative strain as we try to trade a series of "things you can't ignore" in a mere conversation.  This awkwardness strengthens my inclination to just do what makes sense to me in the fiction, escalate if it seems apt, dice be damned.  However:

2) It feels weird to readjust the sides' resources if I'm winning.  I mean, I don't really care about winning... losing is equally fun... but I feel like I'm playing the game wrong if I take that attitude to the resolution mechanics... like I'm not giving them a fair chance.

Are you saying that you hesitate to escalate yourself, because they are dice still on the table? Or because you think that your opposition might get lucky now, when they roll more dice, robbing you of victory?

I'm curious.

I DO think that the Dogs vibe is very much that it's generally the losing party that escalates--because, if you can get what you want without escalating, why would you? That seems pretty much like real life, I'd say.

I'm not sure if I understood you correctly, though.


Paul
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Jasper Flick
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Posts: 161


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« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2009, 10:27:53 AM »

The most awkward part of resolution I find is when you're Seeing and you want to bring in a trait to use. You have to narrate something to bring in the Trait... but you can't decide fully what to narrate until you know what the dice have rolled. A couple of times I knew what I wanted to do, but when the dice rolled too low (or too high!) I had to change my idea before I could narrate. That certainly introduces a weird hiccup.

I've encountered and posted about that same issue in Seeing when everything depends on the future. What it boiled down to was that you either aren't bothered by the backtracking, or go ahead and roll dice first if you're seeing.

Great AP folks!
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