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Author Topic: [FitV] First impressions using the Dogs in the Vineyard System  (Read 3585 times)
Altaem
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2011, 08:18:32 AM »

I'll get round to another session report soon.

Quote
Speaking of that, the players seem to basically be playing in a gamist like mode. I mean the stakes are if they take the ship or are captured? They have no issue with murdering the mercs to obtain material goods? They are morally empty (or atleast the conflict "Do we take the merc firefly vs Are we captured?" is)

The players engaged that battle from the moral high ground.
Background information had shown the mercs to be practically robbing the town blind in return for their protection.
Townspeople they'd talked with had described the mercs as being the least of 2 evils; "like reavers but without the killing and eating"

When the mercs turned up to drive them off the wreckage, it was a moral choice to stay and fight for the capability to transport refugees.

The mercs already had their guns out before the conflict started so the PCs dismissed any talking option pretty quickly.

From a player point of view; it was getting late, and we all wanted an action scene to end with.
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"Damn! I should have turned invisible." - Stephen Moore aka Altaem
"…there are more watermelon-sized potholes nowadays than ever." - another Stephen Moore
"Passion Fruit: Alchemy of the Egg" - yet another Stephen Moore
Noclue
Member

Posts: 351


« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2011, 08:59:58 AM »

yeah, but the players are given some pretty easy choices between an obvious right and an obvious wrong. "Do you kill the nasty mercs? or let them kill you?"
"Do you stay and help the refugees or let them die and go get paid?"
As Callan points out, the moral dilemmas that are at the heart of much of Dogs play really aren't there. Things like "Do I force this woman and this man to stay in a loveless marriage?" Or "How far will I go to stop my brothers drinking from fomenting pride and injustice?" And who am I to be deciding these things anyway?
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James R.
Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2011, 03:14:35 PM »

Hi Altaem,

Quote
The mercs already had their guns out before the conflict started so the PCs dismissed any talking option pretty quickly.
Had the mercs actually fired?

As I understand it, the dice rolls in dogs are about a chance to talk someone out of something - but if you start failing at that, it gets more and more tempting to simply pull a gun and blammo! Will you be tempted or simply let their actions go? It's about whether the PC's escalate to violence for their cause or not.

From my own evaluation of narrativist games, a player really needs a wardrobe of potential characters they could play and to choose one who's attitude fits the question the rule set poses. In the example here, we have PC's who go "Ah, fuck talking, they already have their guns out! *Blammo!*". Dogs in the vineyard is pivoted on characters who will talk first - generally because they are religious and like to preach, but it doesn't have to be that reason. You can see this in Jame's examples - your not about to just walk up and blow away your drunkard brother. Your gunna talk. Your not about to straight off the bat blow away one or both of the unhappy married couple, your gunna talk.

Assuming the mercs hadn't fired, this sets the scene for the PC's to talk, yet get increasingly tempted to shoot. But the players have brought along characters who are inclined to not talk (at least if the other guys have weapons drawn they are inclined not to). This short circuits the system. All of this is just my estimate. Maybe someone or even the author will shoot me down on that estimate of how to use the text.


On a side subject - the higher moral ground!?!? If what differentiated the mercs from reavers was they were without the killing and eating, what differentiates the PC's from reavers?? Only that they didn't eat the mercenaries that they killed!? The PC's are fifty percent closer to reaver than the mercenaries who were the 'badguys'!

I am not critiquing gameplay in saying this, simply saying I think the situation is rife with moral confusion rather than some clear cut moral high ground, from this writers perspective. I don't want to derail the thread on this, if anyone starts to try and defend the PC's actions because they think somehow the players are being said to have done some real world wrong. No they haven't. It's the situation that is compelling and no real life person is wrong for having crafted that fictional situation. I hope that's enough disclaimers!
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Abkajud
Member

Posts: 285


« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2011, 04:30:14 PM »

I'll just chime in and say two things:
1- it always starts at talking. Escalation should revolve around the players' choice to do so, not the actions of NPCs.
2- Only the players know which characters hold the moral high ground. This is because it's completely unclear (deliberately) whether the PCs are *correct* in their judgments about who's a demon, who's a sinner, etc. When players tag an NPC as a demon, there's an escalation (iirc) - - on the one hand, the NPC gets a LOT stronger. On the other hand, if the demon is defeated, the town loses its metaphysical "sin-fuel". That doesn't mean killing a demon puts things back together again, but it helps sin lose its inertia, if that makes any sense.
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Mask of the Emperor rules, admittedly a work in progress - http://abbysgamerbasement.blogspot.com/
Web_Weaver
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Posts: 251


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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2011, 12:22:21 AM »

1- it always starts at talking.

This is a common misunderstanding of the rules. Actually you can start anywhere and any change of arena is an escalation. Which means you can start with guns and escalate to talking.

Jamie
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Altaem
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2011, 05:28:43 AM »

Quote
Had the mercs actually fired?
Absolutely not.  They also had not pursued and shot down the player firefly even though their own ship was equipped to do so.

Quote
Assuming the mercs hadn't fired, this sets the scene for the PC's to talk, yet get increasingly tempted to shoot. But the players have brought along characters who are inclined to not talk
What I get in table chatter is Donnie's player asking "can I shoot something" and Gabe's player holding him back.
As soon as Gabe decides someone is a bad guy bullets will fly.

Quote
On a side subject - the higher moral ground!?!? If what differentiated the mercs from reavers was they were without the killing and eating, what differentiates the PC's from reavers?? Only that they didn't eat the mercenaries that they killed!? The PC's are fifty percent closer to reaver than the mercenaries who were the 'badguys'!
I like this comment.  The PCs are't rapists, while the opening scene established it part of the merc culture to help themselves to the townsfolk women.

One direction I had been thinking of pushing was have the townsfolk making those same comparisons.  Much as they dislike even hate the mercs, they've got to credit them with successful defence of the town.
This never eventuated in play due to the player's very heavy handed use of their latest asset.  Namely the only gunship on the whole world.

Quote
1- it always starts at talking. Escalation should revolve around the players' choice to do so, not the actions of NPCs.
We've been escalating in all directions.  Most often shooting to talking or vice versa.  Both players and NPCs have equal option to escalate rather than give.   
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"Damn! I should have turned invisible." - Stephen Moore aka Altaem
"…there are more watermelon-sized potholes nowadays than ever." - another Stephen Moore
"Passion Fruit: Alchemy of the Egg" - yet another Stephen Moore
Noclue
Member

Posts: 351


« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2011, 07:57:56 AM »

@Callan one thing that does come throughh in the OP is that the game handled the firefight just fine and that experience, where the PCs just started shooting was one of their better conflicts. That's actually not surprising. Dogs handles gunfights fine.

@Altaem your statement that "the Pcs aren't rapists," while the mercs were is interesting. In Dogs it is quite possible to come away from the game with the firm belief that your Dogs will all their lofty ideals are actually worse than the demons they're trying to defeat.
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James R.
Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2011, 05:10:49 PM »

@Callan one thing that does come throughh in the OP is that the game handled the firefight just fine and that experience, where the PCs just started shooting was one of their better conflicts. That's actually not surprising. Dogs handles gunfights fine.
Yeah, but that kind of highlights the dysfunction in how well it works if they just get their gamist shoot-on. I mean equally the riddle of steel RPG handles sword fights just fine as well, without spiritual attribute use at all.


Altaem,

Quote
What I get in table chatter is Donnie's player asking "can I shoot something" and Gabe's player holding him back.
As soon as Gabe decides someone is a bad guy bullets will fly.
I think in a gamist game I'd love to play next to Donnie, he sounds an enthusiastic team player!

But in a narrativist game where he's playing a judge - but he's out of game handing over his judge power to Gabe? He'll only shoot if Gabe judges he should? I think that's a problem.

Quote
Both players and NPCs have equal option to escalate rather than give.
Yeah, it just seemed that the player(s) skipped the talking phase with the mercs and went straight down to the gamist tactical/gamble of shooting. The talking is where the nar fun happens, as I understand it. It reminds me of a game I was in where some ritual to cause/summon a big evil was happening and a baby was a pivotal part of it. The instant one player gets in the room, he shoots the baby (with a mega damage blaster - it was Rifts). He was occams razor incarnate. I never saw it coming and even the GM thought there would be some hesitation. He had no interest in questioning the morality of the situation - he simply executed the move that would win. Which is fine - as long as as GM you don't keep squeezing genuine moral quandries from yourself looking for narrativist play that isn't going to happen.

Anyway, I've said alot. Have you ever done any gaming with these guys where between them they have actually had a discussion (from their characters point of view) about what is the right thing to do? If so, before Gabe gives the red flag to shoot, perhaps remind them of that gaming and suggest hey, perhaps such a discussion would be cool now? I'll leave my contributions at that - good luck! If you ever have a chance to try dogs with another group in the future, I hope you give it a whirl as it might be quite different.
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Altaem
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2011, 08:32:57 PM »

Quote
Have you ever done any gaming with these guys where between them they have actually had a discussion (from their characters point of view) about what is the right thing to do?
Sure have.  The most memorable one was a case where Johnson (Donnie's PC) was offered easy money to participate in a slavers raid on an unprotected town.
Gabe (same character and player, different world) tried PvP to get Johnson to refuse the offer and failed.
After the raid Gabe tried again.  This time to make Johnson feel remorse for his actions.  This time he succeeded.

I had thought it was covered in our play report, but there's only a vague reference.
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=26840.msg255545#msg255545

In FitV there was discussion too.  The problem was I'd set the magnitude of the problem too high.
All the characters agreed that staying to fight reavers and protect the town / world was suicide.
They were in total agreement that saving a ship full of innocents was the limits of what they could hope to accomplish. 
Note to self; To create an ethical dilemma, it has to be within the characters power to pursue all options.
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"Damn! I should have turned invisible." - Stephen Moore aka Altaem
"…there are more watermelon-sized potholes nowadays than ever." - another Stephen Moore
"Passion Fruit: Alchemy of the Egg" - yet another Stephen Moore
Altaem
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #24 on: June 01, 2011, 07:02:21 AM »

Just a quick summary of the story for the session as it's not really what I want to focus on.

The players secure the merc ship as a follow up from the previous session.
The pilot is interrogated and they quickly discover the bulk of the merc forces are not here.  They've just made enemies of a powerful organisation.
Having a pressing need to fly their 2 ships out of the area Gabe talks the merc pilot into switching loyalties and joining their crew.
Gabe decides they need to “legally” own the new ship so they fly to the space port looking to capture the merc leader and with him the ship's papers.
They discover a riot at the space port with refugees storming the grounds from all sides trying to force their way onto any available transport.  Among the chaos they spot the mercs about to steal another ship.
They swoop in dominating the port with their gunship.  A furious gun battle is fought out in which the merc leader is shot and the surviving mercs surrender.
Much to their disappointment they discover the mercs gunship has no papers, it's thoroughly illegal and very dangerous to take into Alliance patrolled space.  Unwilling to suffer such restriction to their movement they elect to sell the ship, conveniently to the people who had offered them big money to more their cargo.
Now well off, if not rich they choose to risk staying on Lilac to train the locals to fight off reavers.
We're just assuming that goes smoothly, next session will be set on a whole new world.


Conflicts of interest:

Does the pilot spill vs Does he resist?
I decide this should be a single player against the pilot.  Gabe volunteers as he's the one with a tone of talking traits.  Koji wants to stand in on the interrogation adding his fearsome presence.
I disallow Koji's stats and traits, but allow his 2d8 katana to be “leant” to Gabe.

Follow up conflict; Does the pilot change loyalties to our crew vs does he fool us and play along?
Gabe's talk dice pool massively swamped the pilot's.
With the threat of Koji still in his mind I have him not risk escalation and instead have him give.

Everyone at the table agrees Gabe won that too easily for the stakes requested.
I agree but I'm struggling with the rules on this point.  It didn't seem appropriate to bring the pilots extensive piloting skill traits into play.
Maybe a mistake on my part?  Something as significant as changing someone's loyalty should allow them to bring in every trait regardless of relevance.  The sum total of a character's traits are in essence their soul.
Despite awarding Gabe the victory here, I think we'll all be calling for follow up conflicts on this issue.  The pilot is now a permanent addition to their crew.


The action scene:
Do the mercs escape on a new ship vs do we stop them (preferably by capture).

On the whole this played out fairly well.  I think I made a mistake in treating the merc leader plus his entire band as a single NPC entity.  This made life difficult for the players as they wanted to apply gunshot fallout to the merc leader while inflicting morale fallout on the remaining band.
In the end I made 2 piles for fallout inflicted and let the player's direct where they wanted their fallout to go.  In future I shall separate any NPC characters from their cardboard cut-out goons giving me 2 distinct dice pools to work with.

One action I like was my large raise “The mercs rush up the loading ramp using the ship to block your line on sight.”
Followed by the player's block “Our ship swings around hovering just above the ground, nose guns pointing into the heart of the other ship”.

What other game than DitV allows diving for cover to be an “attack” and sighting through a scope to be a “block”.  We're definitely enjoying the free narration of our raises and sees.
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"Damn! I should have turned invisible." - Stephen Moore aka Altaem
"…there are more watermelon-sized potholes nowadays than ever." - another Stephen Moore
"Passion Fruit: Alchemy of the Egg" - yet another Stephen Moore
mark2v
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2011, 04:12:28 AM »

The reason I do nto run DitV with my group is that the group is to fast to fight to "shooty." it is what they enjoy, thier dogs would look for excusses to blow something up, I have no doubt. After reading the game a couple of times I came to the conclusion that they would not enjoy what it puts forward. So we play a more pulp action system that suits what the group enjoys doing. Perhaps your problems are similar and a more action oriented rules set would serve you better?
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Mark 2 V
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