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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 30 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [DitV] Why are relationships so specific?  (Read 3038 times)
Neil the Wimp
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« on: April 11, 2010, 03:27:40 AM »

I like playing with new people: it gives  me a refreshing new perspective on my play assumptions.  The latest occasion what a play-by-mail game of Dogs. 

One player posted a character with relationships like "Old men 2d10", "Dingy alleys 3d4", and "Polygamy 1d8".

My first thought was to cry foul on these, as relationships should be with a specific person, a specific place, and an concrete institution with members and hierarchy and all that. 

But then I thought that having traits like "I get on well with old men", "There's always trouble in alleys", and "I understand the pressures and joys of polygamy" would all be fine.  You get the same dice, but they're useful in many more circumstances. 

So what's the difference between relationships and traits, particularly at character generation?  Why are relationship dice so much more restricted in their applicability?

If chargen was modified to say "you have a single pool of dice for spending on both traits and relationships, you have some of each, unused dice become unallocated relationship dice", what would be missing?

(I get that there's a difference in play.  In play, relationship dice can be unassigned and allocated to relationships on the fly, while trait dice need to be assigned to a trait as soon as they're earned through fallout.)

Neil.
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Noclue
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2010, 11:10:27 AM »

Traits are quite versatile. They can be broadly worded or very precise, depending upon the players' preferences. But, they're defined up front. They make a statement about who the Dog is now, and as they change they continue to make those kind of statements.

Relationships are very constrained. They only come into play when you're in a conflict WITHyour relationship or ABOUT your relationship. However, they can be assigned on the fly, during a conflict and that is where their power lies. They make a statement about the conflict. Declaring a relationship and taking the dice makes a very powerful statement that this conflict matters to this Dog. "I'm blowing resources right now!" It's a powerful thing to say about your character and its a wake-up call to the table that something big is happening.

If you're just going to have a relationship with Old Men or whatnot, then it's just a trait reworded.
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James R.
Neil the Wimp
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2010, 01:47:24 AM »

Thanks for that.  It chimes with what I'm coming to think. 

There's the other question about whether trait and relationship dice need to come from separate pools (they're already somewhat joined as the "I'm a Dog" ability can come from either), but that's a different question.

Ta,

Neil.

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Paul T
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2010, 04:12:43 AM »

Right. Traits are "how your character acts in conflicts". If you have "I'm a good shot" on your sheet, you're more effective when you're shooting things. Relationships are "which conflicts do I care about?"

The difference comes in play: you roll the Traits' dice by narrating them into your Sees and Raises, but you get the Relationship dice without narration, whenever they are at stake.
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Motipha
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2010, 08:36:26 AM »

Huh.  Interesting.  I actually have been playing as if you can have larger relationships.  Of the examples you gave above, I would be fine with Old Men, and Polygamy, but would probably take issue with Dingy Alleys.  It's hard to imagine a person having a conflict about Dingy Alley's, but I could see having relationships with the other two.

I recall reading a section in the book about how you can have a relationship with a philosophy or an idea, right?  I thought I did.  And if nothing else, you can talk about the relationship with the institution of polygamy.

As for Old men, well.  Imagine a kid who while growing up spent a lot of time on the porch, listening to the old-timers recounting tales and talking about what went wrong.  Or a trouble-maker, who used to make fun of the old-timers, pulling beards, etc.  I could both these people having a unique perspective on old men, and what they say and do.

As for talking about driving the conflict, well.  polygamy is easy, but then again it's pretty easy to ask questions about generational differences, or introduce ideas about age.  Cultures treat their elderly in very different ways, older people have a lot of history to live up to/forget/regret, what purpose do they serve in the community (considering that frontier life is hard, and those that can't work can add weight to those around them).

I'll have to go back and read the section on Relationships, as I really don't recall it being that much more limited.
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2010, 08:55:52 AM »

One rule a lot of people forget, is that a starting character can have only 1-2 relationships with a single person (+ a relationship with the Dogs, optional if the character is a Dog, mandatory if the character is not a Dog).  Other kind of relationships (with places, demons, etc.) can be added only during the game, using leftover relationship dice or fallout.

It's a rule that work very well to curb some annoying leftover habits that a lot of people have from "traditional" gaming, as for example having a fixed, immutable concept of the character or having a long and involved backstory (the only place where they usually had narrative control). Both things don't work in DitV, where the point of the game, among other things, is to see how anything (even a kiss) change profoundly your character.
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Noclue
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2010, 11:59:16 AM »

Timo, I believe that the rules allow you to take a relationship to a sin.
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James R.
lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2010, 11:15:42 AM »

Somebody look up the rules for a) what you can have a relationship with and b) when you get those dice, and post them here? I don't have a book handy.

Can you still have a relationship with a place, or did that get lost between versions some time?

-Vincent
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Neil the Wimp
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2010, 12:07:43 PM »

You get relationship dice
  • WITH A PERSON when they're the opponent, they're what's at stake, or they come to your active aid;
  • WITH AN INSTITUTION when your opponent has authority in that institution or your status is at stake;
  • WITH A PLACE when you're at the place or the place is at stake;
  • WITH A SIN when you have committed the sin, you resisted the sin, or the commission of the sin is at stake;
  • WITH A DEMON when the demon is your opponent or the demon is at stake;

(pp. 68-9)

Neil.
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2010, 12:51:51 PM »

Good! I'm glad that's still there.

So Neil, there are a couple of things to talk about, I think.

1: You do get traits and relationships from the same pool. You get your stats from that pool too. It's just that (a) you divvy up the pool when you choose your background, because (b) the various categories of dice aren't worth the same, because of how more or less restricted their use is. 1 stat die = 1.2 trait dice = 1.4 relationship dice, or something, roughly.

2: There's an important reason to limit the usefulness of relationship dice! It's that relationship dice, if they could be applied broadly, could always be applied when you're just talking. They'd form a whole body of dice available to you without escalation. Take "old men" for example. If you get 2d8 whenever you go into conflict with any old man, those 2d8 ease the pressure on you to escalate. This may be exactly what the player wants, but it's not good for the design.

3: You could make all your traits work like these proposed relationships -- "I'm good with old men," "I like dingy alleys" -- but (a) you have fewer trait dice across the board, so that mitigates it, and (b) very few players do that. "I'm a good shot" is awfully tempting. It's like belongings. You can have as many big, excellent belongings as you want, because most belongings are weapons and so call for you to escalate. Most traits call for you to escalate too; no relationships do.

I may or may not be making sense here, yet! Clarifying questions very welcome.

-Vincent
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Neil the Wimp
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2010, 01:17:08 PM »

Thanks for the reply!  That's all clear. 

I think the only question I have is about how broad or narrow relationships should be.  I take it that relationships have to be with a specific person (e.g. "Br Eli"), a specific institution (e.g. "The Order Set Apart", as distinct from the Faith hierarchy in general), a specific place (e.g. "the alley behind Br Eli's house"), and so on.  In other words, a bunch of relationship dice can't apply to more than one "thing".  Is that right?

Oh, one other thing, while you're here.  "Institution" has several meanings in everyday use.  I get that you can have DitV relationships with organisations that have offices and hierarchy and all that.  Can you also have DitV relationships with more abstract "institutions", such as marriage, polygamy, church attendance, etc? 
Ta,

Neil.

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lumpley
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2010, 02:42:22 PM »

Yes, specific. The Faith is a specific institution, though.

You get your dice with an institution only when you're in conflict with an authority within that institution or when your position with regard to that institution is at stake. Accordingly, non-hierarchical institutions are more limited than hierarchical ones. How often are you going to be in conflict with an authority in the institutions of polygamy, or old men, or going-to-church? Rarely, I think.

-Vincent
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Neil the Wimp
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2010, 12:58:00 AM »

That's great, thanks.  Thanks for the explanations.

Neil.
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lumpley
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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2010, 05:17:52 AM »

Sure thing! Glad to help.

-Vincent
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Motipha
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2010, 07:13:29 AM »

interesting.  This does mean I have to revisit the text and re-evaluate what I think about relationship.

...Which is something I had a need to do anyway, considering I haven't read the core rules in year.  And besides, I was a little uneasy about relationships anyway in terms of game balance, but was taking it on faith that there is method to the madness.  Turns out there is, and that method is I'm doing it wrong.

Thanks Vincent, Neil, et al for helping to clarify this for me.
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My real name is Timo.
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