The Forge Archives

Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: Valamir on July 11, 2005, 02:34:10 PM

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: Valamir on July 11, 2005, 02:34:10 PM
This may just be a matter of my own personal preference, but I'm having a little trouble enjoying the multiple dogs in one conflict rules (assuming for this thread all of the Dogs are acting together).  The breakdown for me seems to be the part where only certain Dogs have to see, but then all Dogs get a chance to raise, in turn.  The sheer overwhelming number of dice from a group of Dogs renders even the greatest threat simply a matter of running the GM out of dice and spreading the Fallout around.

Now I've seen this come up in other threads and one of the responses (and rightly so) has always been "They're Dogs...get 4 or 5 Dogs working towards the same goal at the same time and of course they're nigh unbeatable...they're Dogs"  I see the logic in that...but for me having run into such a situation in just wasn't mechanically fun.  Not the way one on one conflicts are fun.  Its such a forgone conclusion...the only reason to play it out is to see which Dogs score Experience Dice.  

A specific example from a recent play session.  After being unable to bring a wayward youth back into the fold I executed said youth (Jonas)with a single shot to the head as he knelt bound but unrepentant in the Steward's home (a story in itself).  At that moment the Steward's daughter (Patience, who of course, was in love with said wayward youth even though her father had forbidden their marriage) threw herself on me in a hysterical shrieking rage.

All of the Dogs were present.  The stakes were "does the daughter kill me for executing her beloved".  IIRC she had a knife and was prepared to use it.  This to me was a pretty cool conflict.  I was fully prepared to have my character stand there and take it, never escalating or calling on traits and making my raises of the "stand unmoved and don't even look at her variety".  I was fully prepared to take some d6 fallout for making the statement of "I won't physically harm this girl for her father's failings".

But all of the Dogs were there and for some reason the party mentality of "one of our own is in trouble...we'll all help" kicked in.  And that made it 4 Dogs against 1 hysterical girl.  The GM yielded almost immediately and what could have been a pretty cool conflict felt very unsatisfying.

Part of the problem was allowing the other dogs to participate in the Conflict at all.  It could have been just her and I with the other Dogs efforts treated as a follow on later.  I think perhaps there was a bit too much of the traditional "I can have my character do anything at any time and since she's present in the room I should get to act" mentality going on.  But I think a larger part was that the multi party conflict rules sucked all of the threat out of the conflict.

My suggestion for what would make the multi dog rules better (IMO) is to eliminate the part where only Dogs who are directly targeted have to See, and instead make ALL parties on the one side See EVERY Raise for the other.

Only the directly targeted Dogs have to take fallout, but all of the Dogs who want to "stay in" have to see.  That way when the GM plays a 12 for a burns alot of dice all around the table rather than just for the one dog who was being shot at (or otherwise targeted).  This keeps the tension high and makes the Helping Dice that much more useful.

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: Eric Provost on July 11, 2005, 02:51:07 PM
That's an interesting solution Ralph.

Would you expect any narration from the player that's Seeing just to remain in the conflict?  Or would you only expect narration from the players that are targeted by the GM's narration?


Title: Conflict Question
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on July 11, 2005, 08:03:27 PM
Bah. This was just other players interfering with something that was between you and her. The whole conflict should have taken two seconds in game time with the other Dogs staring agape and not drawing until follow-up.

I'm sure they'd have backed off if you'd said, "I want to take this one on the chin. You can all jump in on follow-up."

I don't see why you wouldn't want to call on traits unless you only had traits that wouldn't help you, though. I mean, traits like "I can take it" and "The King preserves my life" would be great for that conflict.

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: TonyLB on July 11, 2005, 08:13:46 PM
Ralph:  Do you know why your GM chose not to target everyone?  In that situation I certainly would have done so.

For instance, a Raise like "She slashes wildly with the knife, yelling 'I won't let any of you stop me!' " requires Raises from everybody who wants to stay in.

My experience has been that the multi-Dogs conflict will help you (a little) in pulling out an eventual victory but more importantly lets all of the Dogs get their hands on some deliciously painful fallout.  But then, my experience was working under the assumption that targetting everyone was just a matter of describing a properly broad Raise, so maybe that's where we differ.

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: GreatWolf on July 12, 2005, 05:28:35 AM
Well, as the GM in question, I can tell you that largely the problem is inexperience with the system.  I agree completely with Ralph that the final conflict lacked drama.  At the same time, from our understanding, PCs cannot join a conflict in process.  This means one of two things:  either your character needs to be in the conflict from the beginning, or your character stands around doing nothing throughout the conflict, regardless of how well it goes.  By this logic, then, if the other PCs wanted to intervene in the conflict, they needed to be involved at the beginning.  Thus, the outcome that Ralph described.

Here's an example of the flip-side of this rule.  One of the Dogs is trying to talk down Jonas and his posse, but it's not going so well.  Another Dog decides that she will open fire.  But she can't!  She wasn't involved in the conflict at the beginning, so she is locked out.  So I'm left scratching my head.  All the Dogs are there, being affected by the outcome of this conflict (if the first Dog loses this conflict, they are going to be in a world of hurt), but not all the Dogs can assist with said conflict.

I'll be honest.  I've felt that the DitV system has great potential and could be really amazing in play.  So far, though, I've felt like I've been wrestling with the system to get it to do what I want it to do.  Please don't take this like criticism of the system.  I have this nagging sense that I'm missing something fairly significant that would make all the difference.  So I'm willing to be schooled.

This might also kick this thread off-topic, so if someone wants to help me out, please start a new thread.

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: Sean on July 12, 2005, 05:32:31 AM
Hi Ralph -

I thought that the whole reason for the multi-targeting rules in the first place was to give the GM the option to do just the thing you want him to be able to do.

In the case of the hysterical girl, this seems easy: whenever she pleads her case, all the dogs have to deal with the raw emotionality of it, or whatever. It's just multiple targeting. And all the dogs take fallout.

Sometimes it's a little less plausible in combat, but on the other hand the GM can describe it that way every time if it's important.

I guess I don't see how making it mandatory to do something that's already there as an option every time really helps anything.

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: TonyLB on July 12, 2005, 05:36:05 AM
Sounds like you might benefit from some conscious application of follow-up conflicts.

I'm thinking particularly of a great Firefly scene, when the crew comes on their captain locked in mortal (and very lopsided) combat:
Zoe:  "Leave him... this is something the Captain needs to do for himself."
Mal:  "It really isn't!"
Zoe:  "Oh..."  >BANG! BANG! BANG!<

What Mal's done right there is Give on the one-on-one conflict, so that they can immediately roll into a follow-up conflict that is wildly in his favor.  Same thing can apply as an option (to be taken or rejected) in your Dogs games.

Essentially, if the other Dogs don't get in on the conflict then they are ceding Ralph his right to try it on his own.  But Ralph, in turn, needs to be very conscious of his opportunity to Give and roll into a follow-up conflict with new participants.

Which is, yeah, a little strange... how could the person being knifed choose whether his fellow Dogs can save him?  But dramatically it makes a world of sense.  It's your conflict until you Give.  Which is, I think, what he wanted in the first place.

Does that help at all?

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: lumpley on July 12, 2005, 06:56:53 AM
Tony's exactly right.

Seth, here's what happens when you've got it: the other players get more and more agitated as they watch the conflict play out and they say to Ralph, "give, come on, give! We can help!"

Cut people out of the beginnings of conflicts ruthlessly. Don't let them say "I might want to be involved later, so I'm involved now."

There are a couple tricks you can try, see how they go:

When someone raises against everyone, let them keep talking between sees. Like this. (

When someone really, really has to join in a conflict already in progress, treat 'em as an improvised object.

Also, make sure that your stakes are modest enough, generally - you want the potential for followup conflicts, win or lose.


Title: Conflict Question
Post by: GreatWolf on July 12, 2005, 07:24:31 AM

Any example invoking Firefly gets my attention immediately.

Also, it's quite helpful.  I had not understood before how follow-up conflicts matter.  Now it makes sense.    Until the current conflict is resolved, the participants hold the "spotlight" and cannot lose it.  Therefore, a follow-up conflict allows for a seam in the action where other characters (on both sides) can get involved in the action and thereby enter the spotlight.

So, going back to my two examples.  When the Dog was talking down Jonas, if the rest of the group had wanted to begin firing, the Dog who was speaking would have needed to Give in the speaking conflict and then allowed a follow-up conflict with everyone being involved from the beginning.  When Patience attacked Ralph's character, any help coming from the other Dogs should have also been handled as a follow-up conflict, if necessary.

Upon reflection, I can think of a couple of other times where I invoked the Escalation rules, where we probably should have instead switched to a follow-up conflict.

It's so much clearer now!

Thanks for the assistance, guys.

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: Valamir on July 12, 2005, 08:20:09 AM
Good advice.

Of course in this case where the stakes actually had my life on the line, going it alone where the consequences of giving are pretty severe is even more dramatic.  

Sean, the reason I made the suggestion was that I can't conceive of a situation where the GM NOT exercising that option is a good idea.  And therefor IMO it would be better served as the default.  Its an expectations setting thing.  If the default is only those targeted have to see, then occassions where the GM finds and excuse to target everybody becomes the stretch case.  If the default is that everybody has to see, then the occassions where there are special circumstances where the GM makes an exception becomes the stretch case.  

I think it should be the default to have to see, because Seeing represents the commitment and the cahones to stay in.  If there are three dogs facing 1 gun fighter, and that gun fighter specifically shoots Dog #1, then Dog #2 and #3 still have to see.  Which makes all kinds of sense in a "will to fight" "Coolness under fire" "overcome the shock of seeing your buddy gunned down" kind of way.  Their Sees in this case become not "dodging the bullet" but rather "sucking it up", "gritting their teeth in determination", "shouting 'no, you bastard'" etc.  It also means that when lesser characters with fewer dice are in that situation and have to see, they quickly run out of dice and yield...representing them not having the stomach for continueing the fight after seeing their buddy get gunned down.

That's the angle I come at it from any way.  Making that option the default and then allowing exceptions for special circumstances.  Rather than the reverse.

In any case, I did mention above that one of the options would have been to go alone and let the others jump in as a follow up if need be.  So it seems like perhaps we should have been a bit more ruthless at enforcing that sort of thing.  But even with the "dog pile" approach, I think the conflict could have still turned out ok, using that approach to multiple dogs.

I'd certainly be in favor of a little more ruthless application of game rules during play, Seth; but I think Crystal's used to a bit more free form role play so she might not feel the same way...and its generally healthier to defer to the pregnant woman...

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: lumpley on July 12, 2005, 08:32:31 AM
This is one of those designer's blind spots, I think. I don't know why anyone would ever raise so that not everyone has to see, if they possibly can - so I didn't think to point it out as "the default." I assumed everyone would default to it just naturally, same as me.


Title: Conflict Question
Post by: Valamir on July 12, 2005, 08:56:14 AM
Ah, well then color me largely in agreement with the way you play rather than my (potentially too literal) interpretation of how it was worded in the example.  Since the example was completely generic and involved specifically identifying at each pass who was targeted and who wasn't I assumed that that was the expected way to go.

The only change then really is that the "targeting" aspect includes not only the primary effect of the raise but the collateral effects also.

In a fist fight between 2 dogs vs. the local drunkard, the drunkard takes a swing at Dog #1.  Dog #1 has to see in order to block or dodge his actual punch.  But Dog #2 should see also, because a fist fight involves alot of moveing around stumbling and crashing into things, falling through windows and the like.  Dog #2's see thus represents simply all of the getting out of the way and keeping up with the other two so that when its his turn to raise he's actually in position to participate.  Without the see he'd be left behind as the fight moved on.  Making the see is what differentiates Dog #2 from a bystander.

That's how I'd run it anyway, Seth, if / when we get into another multi dog conflict that really does deserve to be multi dog.  I'd assume that everybody needs to see to stay in the conflict but color their narrations apprpriately.

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: GreatWolf on July 12, 2005, 10:13:01 AM
Quote from: Valamir

I'd certainly be in favor of a little more ruthless application of game rules during play, Seth; but I think Crystal's used to a bit more free form role play so she might not feel the same way...and its generally healthier to defer to the pregnant woman...

Well, there is that, too.  ;-)

Actually, I think that it will help to allow Crystal to make a new character anyways.  Her conception of her character shifted around to being almost exactly the opposite of what was written on her sheet.  Addressing that will help, too, I think.

But that's a separate issue.

Title: Conflict Question
Post by: Darren Hill on July 16, 2005, 04:13:52 PM
Quote from: lumpley
This is one of those designer's blind spots, I think. I don't know why anyone would ever raise so that not everyone has to see, if they possibly can - so I didn't think to point it out as "the default." I assumed everyone would default to it just naturally, same as me.


The example in the rulebook of the Brother standing by his brother against the other Brothers (is that confusing enough?) shows the GM making raises which aren't targeted with maximum efficiency.
So I started out not automatically targeting all the Dogs at once. But when I did target several, they got uppity - because they saw it as arbitrary. As soon as I changed to a default where I targeted everyone, and it was the unusual case where individuals got targeted, they accepted it much more happily, the contrary SOBs :)