*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 31, 2014, 07:34:21 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 28 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: [DitV] Questions! 2. About rules  (Read 3812 times)
Paul T
Member

Posts: 383


« on: April 17, 2010, 08:48:35 AM »

In the same game I was talking about here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=29684.0), a few funny rules niggles came up. I'd like your input on these various points, if you have any to share.

1. I had a heck of a time challenging the Dogs. They only lost one conflict in the whole game, and it was a minor one, a one-on-one situation. And they almost never had to escalate beyond Physical, and only one Dog ever escalated to Guns, and only for one Raise (which another Dog blocked, anyhow). I had trouble with this for various reasons: this is my first time running for four players, and so I was worried it might be an issue, but it went beyond that:

* They were really effective as a party, an organized team. They worked together intelligently and coordinated their actions--I believe they were very inspired by the phrase "Three in Authority". I created a Town full of moral ambiguity in preparation for this outcome, figuring they would surely take different sides on certain issues, but they still tended to side with each other in conflicts or just stay out until it was over, even where they disagreed as Dogs, rather than show disunity.

For instance, at one point they gathered together a bunch of NPCs and led them into a house, then had each sit down in a separate room. They left one Dog to stay in the house and make sure no one left, and then took the NPCs out to the river one by one and took them on, three-on-one, until they got what they wanted. And the Dog left to stay behind was always the one who might potentially have disagreed with the other three ("You're not impartial enough to interrogate your own grandma. You stay in the house this time, and we'll take her").

On this point, next time I will definitely try to have more things "going on" that demand immediate attention--it's the only solution I can really see at the moment to this particular issue.

* Most of the NPCs in my Town were old, sick, young, pregnant, or otherwise unlikely to carry weapons or engage one or more young strapping men in physical violence, which made it difficult for me to escalate without breaking the sense of the fiction. Would a sick old lady start fighting three young men with guns? Maa-aaaybe. But it wouldn't make any sense for her to draw a gun on them, that's for sure, because they'd just dragged her from her chair where she'd been knitting, and I doubt grandma carries a shotgun under her dress. So that limited my dice options when playing NPCs, too, in terms of challenging the players.

* Because the Dogs were so efficient and organized, they often effectively set the stakes of conflicts that came up. My experience has been that games feel more tense and more cutthroat when the GM is leading with stakes more often--probably the most extreme example being "Do you get murdered in your bed?" But I felt like, in this Town, and given their manner of operation as a team, the fiction didn't give me many opportunities to do so. It's easy to set tough, small stakes in physical conflicts of various kinds. But when an NPC tries to talk a Dog into helping them with something, unless they're doing so at least somewhat coercively it feels more natural for me to let the Dogs decide for themselves than to take it to dice. I'm not sure if this is a bad instinct of mine or not.

* Also, I didn't have any possessed or sorcerers in my town, which further limited my dice options.

As a result, there were a few things I tried out in this game:

2. Vincent's optional rule, which I believe is from Afraid, which allows an NPC to reuse dice they push forward to See until their next Raise. This seems like a very good rule in terms of game balance. And, indeed, in that sense it worked *magnificently*. Ganging up on NPCs was still an advantage, but a much more subtle one than the overwhelming advantage it is in the basic rules. So that was great. It felt just right, in terms of the math.

However, the effect in play, at the table, was totally lame. Because look: imagine you've got four Dogs up against an NPC. Let's say we just rolled in, and the Dogs go first. The first two Raises are pretty big, and the NPC Takes the Blow, and now has something like: 2, 3, 5, 7 sitting out on the table. Now the last two Dogs have a bunch of dice but neither has a combination higher than a 12. So, they're sitting there feeling stupid, because they KNOW categorically that no matter what they Raise the NPC can not only Block it successfully, but can do so without losing any dice they aren't already going to give away at the end of the round. And that sucks, because they know that their Raises can't have any mechanical impact until their next turn.

For the GM's perspective, it's all cool, because I can still *choose* to Take the Blow if I want to, right? But now there's, on the table, an incentive not to do so. That sucks too.

So, Vincent, did I misinterpret your rule? If I didn't, do you agree with my criticism of it or not?

3. In the final scene it made sense in every way to put the Dogs up against a mob, so this seemed like a good thing both fiction-wise and rules- and challenge-wise. However, I'd never used the mob rules before, so there were a funny things here for me to bump into, too.

* The situation was that there was a huge crowd gathering, like 30-35 people. And the Dogs walked up and deposed the Steward. Now they wanted to keep the crowd from turning into a mob! They were rowdy, but not all unified, so it wouldn't make any sense to count them as "35 opponents". So I decided to kind of play it by ear--there's definitely enough people in that crowd to qualify as a unified mob of some kind, even if it's a minority in the crowd, I figured. The Stakes were something like, "Can the Dogs get the crowd to accept their authority?"

What I did was I described one particular fellow in the crowd as the opponent and rolled the biggest NPC dice option I had for him, and then brought in other NPCs who were present as Raises, rolling in their +2 dice (for joining the growing "group") when they did so. This seemed like it would an easy way to handle things. So, for instance, after the first round of Raises, I have Sister so-and-so run in and scream at the Dogs too, and roll in a few extra dice. So far, so good, except it seemed kind of arbitrary to me: how long could I do that for? I decided to go with my instincts for what made sense in the fiction and just go with that, which was fine. But thinking back I realize there may be an interpretation of the "mob" rules that may be better than the way I had been interpreting them:

* In the "mob" rules, you take an NPC profile, add +2d to stats for each additional member, and make each member a Trait of the mob. There's a strict limit to the number of Trait dice available to you (Trait dice + relationship dice + any remaining Town dice), but the way I was reading it the +2d per member is based in the fiction: how many people are ganging up here? That's how many dice you add.

But now I'm thinking, "Wait, maybe this works better if I see those Traits as also limiting the number of effective participants in the mob." So, if you don't have another Trait to use, you don't add another +2d to the Stats. People in the mob past the number of Traits you've got available don't increase the mobs mechanical effectiveness in any way. That seems like a good way to make mobs feel less arbitrary in terms of their dice.

Vincent, which one did you intend? Anybody, which do you use? If you use the former interpretation, how do you decide how many people are in the mob? Does it ever feel too "hand-wavy"?

* Anyway, bringing in those NPCs had another funny ramification: because rather than invent new faces, I used my named NPCs, already familiar to the players, as embodying the various Raises. This seemed much better, dramatically speaking. So I would, say, narrate how Sister Hannah is shouting something at the crowd, roll in her portion of the mob's dice (basically, the +2d) and Raise with some dice. However, of course, when I did that, the Dogs would go, "Hey! She's our opponent, too? So I get my relationship dice with her, don't I?" This seemed to make total sense, so that's what we did. But now, even though I'm adding in dice as I throw in more NPCs, the Dogs are getting just as many more dice from their Relationships! That makes sense in a number of ways (especially if the Dogs then targeted Raises at those NPCs, which they sometimes did), but I felt really unsure about how to calibrate the difficulty of the situation. The mob wasn't an easy conflict, but it wasn't all that hard, either. (For instance, I don't remember any PCs taking anything but Talking Fallout.)

* Finally, having this big mixed situation with everything going down at once made it really tricky to figure out what arena we were in or who was escalating and who wasn't, so we ended pretty much doing escalation individually. One fellow was shouting at people ("just talking"), another was shoving people around, one Dog fired his gun, etc. Everyone handled their own dice, rolling them in if they escalated, and totally ignoring what the various other parties were doing, mechanically. This actually didn't cause any problems, it seemed to run pretty smoothly.

So, I'd love to hear any thoughts, suggestions, comments, and corrections you all might have.

Logged
Noclue
Member

Posts: 351


« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2010, 10:46:09 AM »

Paul, the overall tone of your post is that the Dogs were so effective that there was nothing you could do to challenge them. I hope you will see below that you had a much more active roll in what went down and it resulted largely from choices you, not the other players, made. My comments are meant to be empowering and not critical. Please read with smileys ;)

I created a Town full of moral ambiguity in preparation for this outcome, figuring they would surely take different sides on certain issues, but they still tended to side with each other in conflicts or just stay out until it was over, even where they disagreed as Dogs, rather than show disunity.
What were the moral ambiguities? My overall sense is that you didn't threaten anything they cared about enough.

Quote
They left one Dog to stay in the house and make sure no one left, and then took the NPCs out to the river one by one and took them on, three-on-one, until they got what they wanted.
Hello? One Dog...alone...house full of NPCs...sorcerers...demons...Hello? ;)

Quote
And the Dog left to stay behind was always the one who might potentially have disagreed with the other three ("You're not impartial enough to interrogate your own grandma. You stay in the house this time, and we'll take her").
And Grandma had nothing to say about that? "

(just talkin) "Don't let em take me, Billy! I done nothing wrong I tell you. I promise. I'm innocent! You wouldn't let them hurt your nana would you? I've had a vision. If I go down to that river, I'm not coming back. The angel of death waits for me down by that water. Mark my words. Your a Dog now. You're on the King of LIfe's side. Don't let them take your loving nana down to her death!" Grab's Billy by the coat and  (escalates to physical) holds on tight, tears streaming from her eyes as she begins to pray.

They'll overpower her of course, and she'll give, taking a die for the follow conflict of "Does nana's heart attack kill her dead?" The only question is do we frame that scene here, right now in front of Brother William or down by the river after they spend some time beating...I mean... interrogating her. She's gonna resist their questioning and she's gonna get physical. The River sounds good.

Quote
* Most of the NPCs in my Town were old, sick, young, pregnant, or otherwise unlikely to carry weapons or engage one or more young strapping men in physical violence,
You have obviously hung out with the wrong type of old country folk.

Quote
Would a sick old lady start fighting three young men with guns? Maa-aaaybe. But it wouldn't make any sense for her to draw a gun on them, that's for sure, because they'd just dragged her from her chair where she'd been knitting, and I doubt grandma carries a shotgun under her dress.
Again, your grandma has a bad case of the respectabilities. Mine wouldn't have lived so long unless she was three times and mean and three times as sneaky as the likes a you young'ns

Quote
Because the Dogs were so efficient and organized, they often effectively set the stakes of conflicts that came up.
That didn't have to be. You let them frame the scenes, determine the pacing and set the stakes. But, you have a lot of power in this regard:

Dog Player: "Okay, so we're at the River..."
GM: "Hold on. I've got a scene that takes place on the way..."

or

Dog Player: "So the stakes are "Does Brother Isaac tell us who killed Sister Mary?" and..."
GM: "No the stakes are "Do the Dog's notice the mountain people creeping up on them while their interrogating Brother Isaac before you take an axe to the head?"

Quote
But when an NPC tries to talk a Dog into helping them with something, unless they're doing so at least somewhat coercively it feels more natural for me to let the Dogs decide for themselves than to take it to dice. I'm not sure if this is a bad instinct of mine or not.
Did the Dogs have relationships that they couldn't ignore in town?

Quote
* Also, I didn't have any possessed or sorcerers in my town, which further limited my dice options.
True.

Re: Mob rules - I'm not Vincent, but I'm pretty sure the GM has the freedom to decide to add any number of members to a mob in addition to the ones that gave you trait dice. They're just color and don't provide dice (although you could probably roll them in as props). As an aside, has anyone ever tried just rolling 35 d6 prop dice and general demonic badness dice and playing a battle of attrition until the mob is quieted?

Quote
So, for instance, after the first round of Raises, I have Sister so-and-so run in and scream at the Dogs too, and roll in a few extra dice. So far, so good, except it seemed kind of arbitrary to me: how long could I do that for? I decided to go with my instincts for what made sense in the fiction and just go with that, which was fine.
Seems fine to me. At some point it won't make sense to bring any more folks in. In any scene you have a similar decision of "Do I reach for a prop dice and keep going?" There's no guidance in the book about how long you can do that for, but it rarely happens because "why would you do that?"


Quote
* This seemed much better, dramatically speaking. So I would, say, narrate how Sister Hannah is shouting something at the crowd, roll in her portion of the mob's dice (basically, the +2d) and Raise with some dice. However, of course, when I did that, the Dogs would go, "Hey! She's our opponent, too? So I get my relationship dice with her, don't I?" This seemed to make total sense, so that's what we did. But now, even though I'm adding in dice as I throw in more NPCs, the Dogs are getting just as many more dice from their Relationships!
Makes sense to me. As for only taking talking fallout, did the crowd get physical or start shooting?

Quote
* Finally, having this big mixed situation with everything going down at once made it really tricky to figure out what arena we were in or who was escalating and who wasn't, so we ended pretty much doing escalation individually.
Cool. Remember, if you're talking during a gunfight, you're still in a gunfight. But, fallout dice will be d4s for talking. That trips me up sometimes. Fallout isn't determined by what arena you are in.

[bbcode corrected - VB]
« Last Edit: April 19, 2010, 07:10:38 AM by lumpley » Logged

James R.
Noclue
Member

Posts: 351


« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2010, 10:47:09 AM »

Sometimes I hate not having an edit key so I can fix the code typos.
Logged

James R.
Filip Luszczyk
Member

Posts: 771

roll-player


« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 11:13:52 AM »

Remember that in Dogs, everybody can bring more dice into the conflict ad infinitum, unless a). they don't want to, or b). they get vetoed. For every die you roll, players may level the playing field using improvised items rules to their advantage. Also, should you go too far with those crowd dice, somebody is going to veto your weak Trait use. (Well, if you somehow bring in 30 dice from crowd Traits without being vetoed, congratulations for managing to satisfy your most demanding player.)

Balance is not an issue. You can't stop the players from winning all the time with dice alone.

Now, too much dice on the table at once can get unwieldy.

The way I came to interpret crowd rules eventually - and it's nothing like my very first reading of the manual, when I took them for more rpg-ish extras rules - is that similarly to PCs, only NPCs who actually care about the stakes participate in the conflict and count as part of the group. In general, only named NPCs in the town write-up qualify, and only should two or more be present in the situation and work against the PCs. Other characters can still be brought in using the improvised items rules (like with PCs helping when not involved as full participants).

So, if what's at stake is Dogs' authority among the gathered crowd, the crowd is not necessarily an active participant. The crowd is not a hive mind, it's composed of individuals, and it's unlikely all of them would hold a strong personal opinion regarding Dogs authority. More likely, most of them just follow the lead of a few vocal troublemakers. Who exactly, within this crowd, doesn't want the rest to accept Dogs' authority? Are those individuals willing to stand against PCs? Those are your active participants. Form the group out of those, the rest are going to be tools at best. Also, chances are good only a single character can be clearly identified as the actual opposition - if so, that's a conflict between Dogs and the rabble-rouser, not Dogs and the rabble.
Logged
Paul T
Member

Posts: 383


« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2010, 12:32:21 PM »

James,

Awesome post! I chuckled several times while reading it. And all, good, true stuff. Just stuff I didn't want to get too heavily into with this particular Town. Keep in mind that I'm pulling particular issues and questions from a game, not describing the game in its entirety. I'm sure that if you asked the players what they thought, they wouldn't have said it was a cakewalk by any means. I'm just pulling out a few issues that struck me and ignoring all the stuff that worked well (for the purposes of the thread). These things take on a very different meaning in a specific situation at a gaming table, right, as opposed to when we deal with more abstractly. So, I'm totally nodding along with all you wrote.

One note: The Dogs were *very* significantly tied into the Town. And in contradictory/conflicting ways, too. They just made the decision (as far as I can see) to put their success as Dogs before their own personal relationships, which is an interesting thing, and it was cool to see.


Filip,

Thank you, too. More good stuff! I'm agreeing with what you wrote, too: that's how I interpret those rules, as well. Hence why all the NPCs involved in that conflict were getting reactions of "Hey! She's my old flame! So I'm rolling in those 2d8..." I didn't use any "faceless extras", just the main movers and shakers.

I'm curious how often Dogs GMs end up rolling several pools of dice at once in a game? I've never done it, thus far, because unless the NPCs are at odds, I just frame them as one source of opposition (and my Raises can come from any NPC's mouth, as appropriate).
Logged
Filip Luszczyk
Member

Posts: 771

roll-player


« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2010, 04:10:32 PM »

Quote
I'm curious how often Dogs GMs end up rolling several pools of dice at once in a game? I've never done it, thus far, because unless the NPCs are at odds, I just frame them as one source of opposition (and my Raises can come from any NPC's mouth, as appropriate).

We used to do this in our early games - because that's how you do it in trad - and for the whole time, I've been wondering why the dice math breaks in group conflicts, silly me. Only once I've found a clarification on the matter in some old and dusty forum thread, things started to make sense and the purpose of crowd rules became clear. It's the first time since then I see anyone mention this.

However, that's funny how we've been discussing that initial misinterpretation again in our group just a few days ago. While the manual doesn't say it's "one character = one pool = one Raise", it also doesn't state that it's "one person at the table = one side = one pool = one Raise" explicitly, though there might be examples implicitly illustrating that. With gaming background in systems like Exalted or 7th Sea, it seems especially easy to read group rules as extras rules. I wonder if the mistake is more common out there, outside the indie ghetto.
Logged
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2010, 07:08:49 AM »

Paul, okay!

1. Yeah, that'll happen. To challenge 4 Dogs working together you need a sorcerer leading a mob of possessed people. Don't be shy, the game's designed to have villains.

2. When that happens to me, I always point out the least raise I can't reverse -- with your example dice, an 8 -- and more or less tell those players to raise with that. Play fast through those raises. Yes, the dice made those players irrelevant this round; that's fine, but there's no reason to linger on it. Get on to the next round.

3. Use the simplified NPC rules for mobs, if you can.

Decide how many people are in the mob at the beginning of the conflict, at the latest, so you can roll the correct number of dice right then. You can look at your town writeup -- it might be good practice to only count people in the mob whose names you know. Ultimately, though, you just decide. It's not hand-wavy, it's your decision. Stick to that number and let the dice fall where they fall.

Next time, consider splitting the big mob conflict up into individual conflicts:
"Okay, so there's Brother Bowers, the ringleader, and his two sons; there's the little clump of sister-wives; and there's the Granson family off to one side. Any one of those groups might become the core of a violent mob. So Dogs, each of you, which group are you taking on?" Play out all three conflicts. You can play them simultaneously if you want, if you feel like managing three pools of dice in front of you. The simplified NPC rules will make this possible, I wouldn't try playing them simultaneously with the full NPC rules.

That'll be much more challenging.

-Vincent
Logged
Paul T
Member

Posts: 383


« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2010, 08:20:22 AM »

Thanks, Vincent. That's some great advice. Still two questions, though, before I'm satisfied:

2. How do you keep this from feeling flat and lifeless? If the objective is to get through it as quickly as possible, one might just throw away those dice and move on to the next round. In our case, though, this came up pretty much every round. Maybe because of the seating arrangement, I dunno, but in any case, with four players involved, the odds that the last guy is going to have any chance of making a meaningful Raise are pretty low. It's too bad, because the balance feels really good.

A mid-way point might be: "The NPC can reuse those dice, yes, but must use at least one new die for every See." A little weird, but might fix the problem. What do you think?

The only other solution I can see would be to have the Dogs Raise in order of lowest die pair, instead, or something.

3. When you use the simplified NPC rules with a mob, how do you do it, exactly? Do you take the basic dice and then add some for additional members, or what? (That's what I did here, but I'm not 100% clear on it.)
Logged
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2010, 09:05:18 AM »

1. Every round is awfully often. In our group it happened maybe once a session. I'm playing with 3 players, though, and obviously that means it'll happen less.

Honestly I'd recommend making some non-rule fixes before trying to change the rules. Do try splitting conflicts, for instance -- it's fun and good for its own reasons, plus it happens to solve this problem too.

3. The dice as listed, plus 1d6 per additional mob member, at each stage of escalation. So for this guy -- 7d6+3d4, 4d6+2d4, 5d6, 2d6+1d8 -- plus 6 additional mob members, you'd roll 13d6+3d4, then 10d6+2d4, then 11d6, then 8d6+1d8.

It's a lot of dice. It teaches the Dogs that they can be outnumbered.

-Vincent
Logged
Paul T
Member

Posts: 383


« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2010, 09:28:50 AM »

Vincent,

The mob is cool, and easy to apply, thanks. I'll do that next time!

As for the "pointless Raise" situation with that rule, if you're only seeing it once a session, I'm not even sure we're talking about the same thing. As I see it, it happens any time that a Dog makes a Raise and the NPC Sees, AND the next Dog to Raise cannot make a bigger Raise than the previous Dog. And even with three players, it seems to me like that would come up at least half the time, no?

In-game solutions like splitting a conflict into two or more are great, but this problem happens just as badly when it's three Dogs ganging up on that one old lady, so I need to figure out how to fix it before I use it again.
Logged
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2010, 09:56:15 AM »

We're talking about the same thing, I'm pretty sure. I haven't had the trouble with it that you have, I guess -- the earlier-going Dogs have always led with lower raises to preserve their best dice, or else the later-going Dog has always happened to have just one high die, or has always happened to have a trait he wants to go for anyway, or whatever. I don't know.

But on reflection, yeah, letting the GM keep only the single highest die from raise to raise might work very well. Given your example dice, the 7 would stand in each raise, and you would have to use up other dice to make up the difference. Give that a try, if you want.

-Vincent
Logged
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2010, 10:14:58 AM »

But on further reflection, that rule doesn't exist in order to make every last Dog in a conflict feel like a full contributor, like his precious voice is being heard. Three Dogs ganging up on one old lady, and the Dog's complaining that his raises are moot? Sad. That rule isn't for the Dogs' benefit, and lifeless raises seem a small price to pay. The real problem is that there's an extra Dog in the conflict, who oughta drop out and go find some way to actually contribute. He's demonstrably not contributing here.

-Vincent
Logged
Paul T
Member

Posts: 383


« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2010, 06:32:18 AM »

OK, so here's the other question buried in this thread I'd like to see tackled:

When you run Dogs (Vincent or anyone else), how often do you roll more than one set of dice at once? Like, if two NPCs are in conflict with the Dogs, do you roll for them as two NPCs, or do you roll for one and use the other as "help"?

I've been rolling one set of dice, always, for each conflict, but I realized this isn't strictly spelled out in the book. How do you do it?
Logged
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2010, 07:02:13 AM »

Only roll one set of dice per conflict, ever. I'm certain that the book fully presumes that, and that it does not support in any way the idea of a GM rolling more than one pool of dice.

If some NPCs are on the PCs' side(s), they provide improvised belonging dice to the players, they don't get dice of their own.

If a conflict really calls for you to roll separate dice for your NPCs, it's not one conflict. Split that sucker up.

-Vincent
Logged
Paul T
Member

Posts: 383


« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2010, 11:11:03 AM »

Great, thanks!
Logged
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!