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Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: Particle_Man on October 02, 2005, 02:36:41 PM



Title: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Particle_Man on October 02, 2005, 02:36:41 PM
I have looked over the infamous "Racist Nazi Dogs" thread and want a DotV game in which homosexual relations are not sinful and in which women are not limited to either being a Dog or being locked into gender roles (I don't mind them being locked in by a terrestrial authority -- I mind their violating their gender roles causing them to be possessed by demons because they are objectively sinning by the rules of the world).  I find both as problematic as I would saying that interracial marriage is an objective sin.

Now, can I do that and still keep most of the Cowboy stuff (which I like the idea of)?  I was told that I might be in danger of losing most of the interesting moral conflicts if I "liberalize" the Metaphysical world of the Dogs.  Is this so?


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 02, 2005, 03:10:29 PM
We can definitely talk about this. It's interesting territory. I have lots to say about it.

But first.

Have you considered letting your players do it in play instead?

-Vincent


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Particle_Man on October 02, 2005, 03:47:29 PM
I can see letting the players do a lot in play.  But how do I explain to them that homosexuals get possessed by demons because God doesn't like homosexuality?  Do the players declare war on God?  Do they side with Demons? 

I guess I don't see where what the players do affects the metaphysics of who gets possessed by demons and who does not, due to the definition of Sin.  Have I missed something?


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Darcy Burgess on October 02, 2005, 03:57:37 PM
Having finally read the game myself, I think my reply would be:

"God thinks whatever the Dogs say he thinks."


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Particle_Man on October 02, 2005, 04:50:38 PM
By that do you mean that the players and I would sit down and work out the Ceremonies and Sins and stuff ahead of time, before they make characters?

Or do you mean that the characters have enough power over reality that if they say "X is no longer a Sin" then the world objectively changes, demons can no longer possess homosexuals anywhere in the world, etc. (Basically on this option God does not exist and the pc's are reality-changing creatures a la that twilight zone episode with that weird kid "Its a Nice town" etc.)?


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: TonyLB on October 02, 2005, 05:46:26 PM
You're borrowing trouble.  Nobody cares about what's going on everywhere else in the world.  That's not part of your story.  As the GM, your job isn't to present the whole world, as seen from an objective point of infinite distance and perfect clarity.  You present one particular town with specific people for the PCs to judge.

So you present a town that is beset by troubles.  The well's dried up.  People are just plain ornery.  In that town is a homosexual couple.  Some people think they're the cause of all the trouble, because of (to the mind of those people) their terrible sin.  Heck, maybe even one (or both) of them think they're the cause of all the trouble.  Though, of course, since you've built it according to the Town Creation rules (right?) there's got to be a lot of other stuff also going on.

And that's what you present.  Period.

Are the homosexuals the cause of the demons?  Or is it some of that other stuff?  That's not for you to judge.  The players will tell you what they think on that score, and what they think is the truth.  More to the point, it's more interesting than any rigid idea of what the truth ought to be.  It's not THE truth, it's their truth.


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 02, 2005, 06:15:46 PM
Wow.

Sometimes you realize that someone just doesn't get it, and sometimes you don't have to realize it, he's standing on the Empire State Building and shouting it out.

Dude. There are no "demons" or "sins" when you play Dogs.

Those are terms people use in the game-world, and they think in those terms, yes. You can even dramatize those perceptions and attitudes all you want, by having magic flare up visibly and demons cackle and materialize.

But those are just dramatizations.

There is no in-game-world objective reality to which you must conform. There is no in-game-world morality. There is no in-game-world religious faith that is "true" in that game-world. When the Book that the Dogs carry says something in it (and who knows if it does, let's say it does) about how homosexuality is wrongly wrong ... well ...

... it's still up to the Dogs. It's their call, in that town, and in the face of this particular situation. You see? It's still up to the Dogs, and you play the Dogs' judgment.

I'm talking now to all the folks who keep posting here in what appears to be a state of RPG-induced brain damage. When the rules say, "What the Dogs decide is right," they are not talking about the in-game "reality" (which of course is not real). They are talking about you, the real people. It is on you to make the Dogs do what is right, and there is no in-game-world canon to turn to. The game-play process is asking you.

Say my Dog character, Jeremiah, drags that obviously demon-ridden Sally girl from her room, and prepares a terrible scorching exorcism to rid Sally of that demon who "obviously" made her do that awful act with her best friend Sue.

Now I, the player, and my friends, the other players, are about to find something out about me, and about one another. Do I have Jeremiah do it? Does he escalate to shooting if it goes sour? Perhaps he cannot. If he can't, does that mean he's a bad Dog? No - it means that's what I think is right, and Jeremiah has demonstrated it.

And it can be more subtle than that, too. Let's say I do go on with it! What kind of fallout does he take? If I pick something like "terrible scar," frankly, I just demonstrated that I, Ron, am comfy with a story in which homosexual acts are treated as demonic.

But what if I take "gnawing doubt" instead and pump it up to massive dice? See the difference in what that says about me? See how I just begged my GM to turn up the volume on later conflicts involving homosexuality? See how my fellow players are going to have to decide how their characters deal with my gnawing doubt?

From the text, p. 45:

Quote
Does this mean your character can't sin?

No. But it does mean that no one's in a position to judge your character's actions but you yourself. Your character might be a remorseless monster or a destroying angel - I the author of the game can't tell the difference, your GM and your fellow players can't tell the difference, only you can.

... Sin, arrogance, hate bloodlust; remorse, guilt, contrition; inspiration, redemption, grace: they're in how you have your character act, not (just or necessarily) in what's on your character's sheet. Those moments, in play, are what matters.

Your character's conscience is in your hands.

If I had my way, I'd insist that no one be allowed to post in this forum until he or she turned in a 500-word essay to demonstrate their understanding of that section, and had it critiqued. Lucky for you, I don't have that power.

But boy is it called for.

Best,
Ron



Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: ejh on October 02, 2005, 06:57:16 PM
Nah, having everyone ride in to "set him straight" is way too interesting and enlightening.

RPG-induced brain damage or not, if it has to be said explicitly that the Town Creation Rules do not necessarily represent the "metaphysical reality" of the game world, then heavens, let it be said explicitly!  :)

I feel clearer about Dogs having had this all said in so many words.  I don't know that I was exactly in the same boat as Particle Man but I still appreciate the additional clarity of each and every one of the replies.


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Darcy Burgess on October 02, 2005, 07:01:26 PM
Particle --

To begin with, I need to apologize for my rudeness.  I didn't check out your # of posts.  I just did.  Welcome.  I sure hope that you've been lurking, otherwise the "take no prisoners and beg for no mercy" approach around here can really blindside you.

What I meant wasn't either of the things you suggested.  Tony and Ron both touched on what was going through my head -- which is best illustrated by this:

"Dogs is about the judgements you make.  The rulebook presents the in-game "reality".  If that rulebook presented all sorts of things that sat well with you and me, then Vincent would have written a game devoid of real meat for you and me."

So, when I said that God thinks whatever the Dogs say he thinks, I wasn't talking about re-writing rules or retconning the in-game reality.  What I meant was in the moment -- when a whole town is outside waiting for the sinners to be struck down with righteous wrath -- you get to decide whether or not the sinner is wrong or not.  The rest of the "world" can stand there, slack-jawed in disbelief when you don't ventilate the "sinner", but they'd better snap that jaw shut and pronto, because yours was the only voice that mattered.


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Particle_Man on October 02, 2005, 10:09:13 PM
Well if things are that relative to the Dogs' judgement, I am not certain what purpose all that stuff about sins, demons and the Book of Life serve.  If it is totally up to the players, why are those other things there?

Maybe I could have a game where the players become the first ever prophets of some God, and their divinely given super-power is, when they lay down the law (and win the relevant conflicts), it is Accepted (by the relevant people, and by the God).  The God is new, and is waiting for advice from his prophets on what the Divine Judgements should be (so acts as more of an enforcement principle than a legislative one).  On this analysis, demons would be "Rival Gods" who don't have the ability that this God has (and so are destined to lose every time); the sorta-Mormon religion would thus not have any divine backing, unless the players agree with it.  Assuming that the players call all the shots anyhow, would this work as well as the default framework, or am I missing something?

Also, I understand that there is talk of "Firefly in the Vinyard", and other "vinyard variants".  I don't know about the others but, on the assumption that homosexuality/violating gender roles are not sins in "Firefly in the vinyard", and on the further assumption that "Firefly in the vinyard" would still have interesting, meaty conflicts, could I still have a "cowboys who lay down the law" kind of game without those particular things as "book of life" sins, but with other interesting, meaty conflicts?

Mr. Ron Edwards: With all due respect, I don't think I would have bought the game from Vincent/Lumpley if I had come across your "RPG-induced brain damage" comment.  I am trying to get information.  My ignorance of this play style, and even my habits of thought picked up from other play styles, do not amount to brain damage.  Brain damage is a real medical condition, and tragic when it occurs.  If you believe in the virtues of this game, perhaps you could use other words than those you have chosen.  The ones you have chosen seem to be designed to exclude the ones being described from being considered "worthy" to play this game or post in this forum, and are thus less likely to result in educating people, which I wish to assume was your intention in making your post.  In addition, it seems paradoxical to request a 500 word document to demonstrate understanding of certain points of the game *before* one is allowed to ask for information about those very points.  Is there another Lumpley Games forum for beginners that I have somehow missed?


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on October 02, 2005, 11:13:36 PM
Well if things are that relative to the Dogs' judgement, I am not certain what purpose all that stuff about sins, demons and the Book of Life serve.  If it is totally up to the players, why are those other things there?

This is somewhat intricate, and the book doesn't go into the theory. But here's my understanding:

The setting of the game, including the theology of the Faith, is intented to be a backdrop over which the players get to demonstrate their choices. Being as they are choises, there has to be something you choose about. Thus the setting. However, the setting itself doesn't implicate right or wrong choices, it only tells us what the NPCs in the setting would like the PCs to choose. The theology, for example, is not there to tell the players how to choose; it's there to tell them how the elders of the faith would like them to choose. Similarly the demons are not there to tell the players what not to choose; they are there, again, as opposition to the in-game Faith's way of life.

I suggest that you simply ignore what the book says about right and wrong choices in the game. It seems to confuse people more than help them. The only thing Vincent means by it, as far as I can see, is that the GM shouldn't impose his own morality on the game. He doesn't mean that the game world doesn't have morals, or that the world wouldn't try to impose it's opinion. For example, it's perfectly possible for the dogs to degree something and for the whole town to disagree and turn against their authority, if they get radical enough. Or the classic "elders of the Faith send a death-squad after you" scenario, that can happen, too, if a PC insists that the Faith is wrong and continues as a Dog anyway. There is no rule in the game about the PCs being always right in the eyes of the people of the Faith.

This is all very confusing, because the book is talking about two kinds of right:
1) The players are morally right, insofar as anybody is. The GM can't say otherwise.
2) The characters just happen to be in a morally authoritative position. When they ride to town, the people tend to look to them for advice and support. The Faith states that the Dogs can interpret scripture. This, however, is only religious authority, not magic power; people can, and will, challenge it.
The above two things are completely separate, as far as the rules and the purposes of the game are concerned. It's only when you collate the two ideas you get the problems with "what if my player decides that the Faith is wrong" kinds of paradoxes. There is no paradox, because there is no necessity for the Faith and the player to agree. All it takes for the equality to break down is for one or more NPCs to decide that they don't believe in this "false Dog" who obviously isn't interpreting scripture anymore, but creating it instead. That happens all the time in the game, even the local Steward can disagree with the players. The only difference between this and PC heresy is who has more guns.

Now, the setting is the way it is for a purpose. You'll notice that the players have freedom to invent their own scripture in the Book of Life when they feel like it. This is not because the religion is whatever the players say, but to faciliate a maximal freedom for the players to interpret the Faith of the setting. It would suck if the players would actually have to look for scripture in some book to find out if their position is defensible in the Faith. Much better to assume that everything that's even borderline believable is already in the scripture, and actually both sides can find support for their position. Which is not far from the truth, if you look at actual holy writings in the real world.

For the original question: I suggest letting the players change things in the game, because that's more interesting. But that also means that they will have to fight the fight again and again in each town they go, because they have the in-setting inertia of the Faith to deal with. If that's not your cup of tea, then change the setting instead.

I hope that helped some. I would also hope that Vincent made a sticky or wrote an article on his web-site explaining this stuff; it seems I only ever write about this topic on his forum.

Quote
Mr. Ron Edwards: With all due respect, I don't think I would have bought the game from Vincent/Lumpley if I had come across your "RPG-induced brain damage" comment.

Getting offended by Ron is like getting offended by a talk-show host. Satisfying perhaps, in that you can feel good about being more sensitive, politically correct and all that, but ultimately pointless, because it doesn't make the issue itself go away. I suggest just taking it; nobody else thinks you're brain-damaged just because Ron implies so, but they will if you start fixating on it.


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Bankuei on October 02, 2005, 11:35:21 PM
Hi PM,

The core of this discussion is "objective morality", and what folks here are trying to say is, "It doesn't exist".  

You know that opening paragraph to the Conflict chapter?  It literally asks, "What do you do?"  The objective morality to the world is not laid out, because once you do, you have no reason to ask that question anymore.  "What do I do?  I do whatever God tells me to do."  Problem solved, movie's over in the first 5 minutes. "Ah, but what does God tell you to do?"  Oh, now we have something interesting, see?

What function does Sin hold in the game?  Sin encompasses all things that lead to conflict between people- which ranges from treating each other crappy to simply living differently.  Some of these are "morally wrong", some are just differences between people.  The role of the Dogs isn't just figuring out which is which, but then also giving these people plausible ways to deal with their differences.

What about demons?  Demons represented as dice are there to escalate the game to a climax.  The conflict between people gets worse and worse, unless the Dogs do something.  This is why you can play Dogs with demons simply being people's excuses for treating each other bad and bad luck and it still works- dice-wise, "demons" as a concept still serve the same purpose.

So, let's take your example- homosexuality.  As a "sin", it means it's leading to conflict between people, obviously because the Faithful disapprove of it.  And, it wouldn't be much of a conflict if the people left each other alone, now would it?  So escalation occurs, and the demon dice make it more and more likely that someone's going to get hurt, defending their way of life (note, that can be either side...).  And here come the Dogs, to try to help the town.

Let's say the Dogs tell everyone homosexuality is cool, did they just give the finger to God?  Nope, because God hasn't said jack about homosexuality, God hasn't said anything at all. No objective morality has been established.  It's not God who's been saying anything about anything- it's the Faithful.  And the Dogs just said, "Fuck that!  These people love each other!"

And that's what Dogs is about.  There's a philosophy, there's a way of life, and there's conflict about that way of life.  What is right?  What is bunk?  What are the conditions where that changes?  Where is that line?  

No one's going to tell you.  You tell me.

Chris


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Darren Hill on October 03, 2005, 01:49:15 AM
Here's another way of looking at it.
Occasionally you see a film, TV series, or book in which a homosexual character exists, and the author uses that story to highlight the issues faced by homosexuals and society. To do this, the author can't simply tell the audience what he feels; he has to create situations which show the injustice, and has to put his protagonists in situations that are clearly unfair, to provoke them into making decisions and showing their humanity or inhumanity.
That's your role as GM in Dogs.

You are personally offended by the idea of limiting gender roles and sexual orientation. So, one thing to do would be to make those issues very real in the game world, and give your players the opportunity to be offended and the power to change the world.

Of course, as Eero hints, you have to be sure that the players will enjoy the opportunity provided - if they don't consider it suitable fodder for a game, you can change the setting to eliminate that conflict - there's still plenty of meat in Dogs to provide other sources of conflict.



Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 03, 2005, 05:14:15 AM
Hi. I'm moderator here.

No one is to post to this thread but me and Particle Man, until I get to have some good dialog with him.

Thanks!

-Vincent


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 03, 2005, 06:11:43 AM
Hey, P_M. Welcome to the baptism by fire, glad you got through it.

I'm Vincent, what's your name?

What's confusing to a lot of people is that Dogs maybe looks like it presents a setting with metaphysics and stuff, a "world" where "God" is "real," but it doesn't. It presents a procedure for play, nothing else. Now - that's legitimately confusing, especially to gamers, but so what? I bet that most people who really figure it out are going to figure it out through play, not by dead reckoning. My approach here therefore is to tell you how you can play the game without feeling like a homophobe, because without that, no amount of explaining is going to serve you.

So I want you to just totally and absolutely blow off everybody who posted above. Later on, you can go back and reread them and see what makes sense and what doesn't, but for now just stick with me, okay?

Okay.

As GM, you have three choices wrt homosexuality in your game. All are legit, none are game-breaking or wrong or feeble or wimpy or anything like that. You get to simply choose, based on your own native whim.

Choice 1: present homosexuality as problematic, let your players judge if it's so.

Choice 2: present homophobia as problematic, let your players judge if it's so.

Choice 3: present no problems wrt homosexuality, case closed.

The first thing to do is create a town, by the rules in the book.

If you choose choice 1, make a town where the pride is love between two men or two women. Have that love lead to some reasonable injustice - she won't be courted by the steward's son because he's not her lover, for instance. Have the injustice create sin, and so on up the ladder.

If you choose choice 2, make a town where the pride is that somebody hates that two men or two women are in love. Have that hate lead to some reasonable injustice - he's the shopkeeper and he won't sell them food, for instance. Have the injustice create sin, and so on up the ladder.

If you choose choice 3, make a town where the pride has nothing to do with love between two men or two women, and neither does the injustice, and neither does the sin, and so on up the ladder.

So if you will, please go ahead and choose one and create a town. Just wing it out, don't deliberate, you aren't going to play this town so it doesn't have to be awesome, it just has to follow the rules. Don't hesitate to use my "for instance" injustices, if you're having trouble coming up with one yourself. For ease, have there be only three or four named NPCs and stop at demonic attacks - but be sure to say what the three or four NPCs want the Dogs to do.

I'm happy to answer questions meanwhile, if you have any, but creating this town is really the next step!

-Vincent


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 03, 2005, 06:33:08 AM
Oh, and you might like to know that in real life I'm left-of-Democrat and I'm very proud to live in Massachusetts right now. In play, the game does NOT celebrate its setting's conservativism.

-Vincent


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Particle_Man on October 03, 2005, 06:06:43 PM
Okay, (and here's hoping I am doing it right) lets take case 1 and start with Abigail, daugher of Clarence (the Steward).  Abigail falls in love with her friend Beatrice, and the feeling is reciprocated.  They have sex with each other.  Clarence discovers a love letter Beatrice wrote to Abigail and knows of their love, and that they have had sex.

Since, “unmarried women are supposed to be receptive to courtship”, but not from other women, Abigail’s father Clarence won’t allow her to see Beatrice and wishes Abigail to be married to Dudley as soon as possible.

Pride: Abigail considers her love to transcend sin and virtue.  Abigail, with respect to Beatrice, believes that her father is wrong to keep her from her love.

Pride creates Injustice: Abigail sees Beatrice behind her father’s back.  They continue to have sex, and fall more and more in love with each other.

Injustice creates sin: “It’s a sin to have sex with someone you are not married to”; “It’s a sin to lie”.  “between two women sex is a sin”.  Abigail continues to lie to her father, saying that she is no longer seeing Beatrice, but seeing her and having sex with her secretly.  Yet she is not responsive to Dudley’s courting, and that is something she cannot hide from her father.

Demons: “inspire lust” between Abigail and Beatrice (and also start to do so in other women in the town, though no other women have yet acted on it).  Abigail and Beatrice grow more and more in lust with each other, and find it harder and harder to be discreet.  Abigail is ready to proclaim her love (getting a set up for False Doctrine, but you wanted me to stop at Demonic Attacks).

Abigail wants the Dogs to give “permission” for her and Beatrice to live together as lovers (even to be married to each other).  Beatrice wants the same.  Clarence wants the Dogs to convince his daughter to marry Dudley ASAP.  Dudley wants the dogs to find out why Abigail is not responding to his courting.  The Demons want to inspire so much lust in Abigail and Beatrice that they will be open about their sexuality, and also to lead other women to abandon their husbands and live with other women.

If the dogs never arrived?  Clarence might well kill Beatrice.  Abigail might well kill Dudley.   

Is that enough to go on?


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: James Holloway on October 04, 2005, 01:28:11 AM
Well, everyone has a different level of problem-density they're happy with. My instinct would be to add one more problem. Maybe a girl, Elizabeth, is attracted to women but was forced by her parents to marry Frederic? Now she resents both him and them, and has wronged them in some other, more obvious way. It's an example of Injustice leading to Sin on the part of the person who was wronged, but not as sympathetic a Sin as the other cases. Depending on how many players, how long a session, it might make the town a little too "busy," though.


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 04, 2005, 05:16:08 AM
James, seriously, no one post here but me and P_M until I say otherwise.

Thanks!

-Vincent


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 04, 2005, 05:52:33 AM
P_M: Cool, perfect.

Now what you should see is this, you ready? Abigail and Beatrice's affair is causing problems for the people around them. Not because it's a sin, not at all. Just because the people around them have expectations and needs and desires, same as anybody, and they happen to be incompatible with Abigail and Beatrice's love. I bet that every one of your friends, queer and straight, can relate.

When the Dogs arrive in this town, the talk is all sin, possession, damnation, perversion. But the truth is human beings with incompatible needs, stuck together in the pressure cooker of a small town. And the truth is what the Dogs have to deal with.

The Dogs might look at this town and say, "girls, stop goofing off and marry men." Or they might say "guys, you need to back the hell off and let these girls follow their hearts. Hell, I'll marry them right now if they want it, are you gonna stand against me?" Or they might say, "girls, I know it breaks your heart, but your community is more important than your love; I'm asking you to make a bigger sacrifice than they'll ever understand." Or they might say "weekdays for married sex, weekends for fun." Who knows what they'll say?

You play the game to find out what the Dogs will say. Even more, you play the game to find out how you and your players feel about what the Dogs say. You might find that your most lefty friend gets into fire and brimstone mode and has her character gun the girls down, saying "they weren't suitable for marrying anymore anyway." And you might find that your most lefty friend is shaking with hatred for her own character and wishing him dead and in hell, and everyone around the table is in awe and in touch.

So: the role of the demons in town creation is not to say "God says this is a sin." It's to make you, the GM, go "things were already pretty tense, and then the worst possible thing happened." Like "everybody already resented the rich shopkeeper, and then wouldn't you know the well dried up? It was like a match to tinder." Or "the steward was already struggling to deal with his son's unreciprocated love for this girl, and then his wife started sleeping with other women. Christ almighty, it's enough to make a man shoot someone."

See what I mean?

Do you want to try one of the other towns I suggested, to compare and contrast?

-Vincent


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Particle_Man on October 04, 2005, 06:53:01 AM
Oh, for the record, I am Alex and I live in Canada (where gay marriage is legal in the whole country, and has been legal in my home province for years).

Let me process this a bit.  There is a newspaper column that has a weekly "what if" column about "ethical dilemma in business" - sort of, "you are a worker/boss in this situation, what would you do?"  I guess you could call it "Suits in the Vinyard" if you like that modern touch.  Is that what this is? 

I am now seeing the situation like this: I describe a "What if" situation, and ask the players "what would they do." There is no IC God/King of Life (but there are IC believers), the "Demons" are not vs. God/King of Life but just naturally arise wherever there are incompatible human needs (if some humans wore red and other humans didn't like that, the demons would arise just as readily), and the Dogs are IC seen as the arbiters (partly because they got the guns, and partly because there is no one else to appeal to - kinda like cops except that they answer to no one), and OOC in fact are the only arbiters that "matter" (because the game is all about PC decisions, and perhaps how their characters' decisions differ from their own).

If this is correct, then if the Dogs say "its ok for women to have sex with women, I will marry them myself here and now" then the people accept this, the conflict between human needs stops, and the demons stop because they have "nothing to work on".  This would also explain why demons could be at work in one town and not in another, with regard to the same situation (Imagine (for illustrative purposes, although I guess this would not happen in a game, because you would never exactly "clone" a conflict because that would be boring for the players) Estella and Francine and George and Harmon in the next town, where the Dogs have not yet visited - even after they marry Abigail and Beatrice, that doesn't mean beans in the next town, which has not been judged by the Dogs yet - unless I have this wrong and the Dogs' judgement on one town somehow has a "ripple effect" on all towns).  So the Book of Life is not for the Dogs, because it has no control whatever over them.  It seems like the Book of Life, etc., is subject to any interpretation at all by the Dogs.   It is just to help set up what a town is likely to have its faithful believe.

So assuming the players go from town to town, spreading the "gospel of gay love" (and assuming I can keep generating conflicts around this) then there would be no conflicts at home because IC the PC Dogs are given this power, and OOC because they are the PCs and thus the only characters that matter so that no one will ever gainsay them (except for digruntled mooks that are there to be killed by the PCs).

I guess there are a lot of questions in the above. 



Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 04, 2005, 07:38:05 AM
Alex, pleased to meet you.

And: well, yes, sort of.

The "sort of" is because nobody's human needs and expectations ever go away just because a Dog tells 'em to chill. The steward's not just some thug destined to die, he's a human being whose whole life and livelihood depends on the Dogs' judgements. They come in preaching that it's better for a woman to marry another woman than to marry his son, for instance, and he's going to take exception. He's going to argue, preach against them, accuse them of speaking for Satan not God, say that he'd be doing God a favor if he killed them himself, and ultimately he's going to try to follow through.

That's how the conflict resolution rules work.

Everybody in the town has his or her life, pretty much, staked on what the Dogs decide to do, and through the game's resolution rules they have the power to make the Dogs' lives pretty difficult.

...if the Dogs say "its ok for women to have sex with women, I will marry them myself here and now" then the people accept this, the conflict between human needs stops, and the demons stop because they have "nothing to work on". This would also explain why demons could be at work in one town and not in another, with regard to the same situation...

So far so good, given my caveat that the people don't just accept this, but in fact have to have it beaten into their heads.

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(...unless I have this wrong and the Dogs' judgement on one town somehow has a "ripple effect" on all towns).

Since you, the GM, get to create every town according to your own whim, you, the GM, get to decide what effect if any the Dogs' judgement on one town has on the next. There aren't any rules in the text about it, and there's no reason for you to try to be consistent with any made-up in-game metaphysics.

(What'll happen instead is that as a group you'll create in-game metaphysics that are consistent with the decisions you make as a GM, which is kind of a fun process, completely painless and not worth worrying about.)

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So the Book of Life is not for the Dogs, because it has no control whatever over them. It seems like the Book of Life, etc., is subject to any interpretation at all by the Dogs. It is just to help set up what a town is likely to have its faithful believe.

The Book of Life is a tool for anybody to use to try to get their way. The steward, proclaiming that the Dogs have fallen into sin, will quote the Book of Life, and the game's resolution rules will give the scripture oomph. The Dogs will counter with quotes of their own, oomphy too. Sometimes the Dogs will, in fact, be brought low and proven wrong by the Book of Life - if that's how the dice go.

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I guess there are a lot of questions in the above.

Did I get them all?

-Vincent


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Particle_Man on October 04, 2005, 11:00:25 PM
OK, the Dogs' decision shuts down the Demons (IC they are given this power (somehow? There is no King of Life but I guess if Demons are just "bad luck + tensions" then this just meanst he bad luck stops when the Dogs' make a decision), OOC it don't matter how, their characters are the important characters so their decision goes), but does not shut down the townsfolk, necessarily (but the Dogs are fairly bad ass so that they can usually win vs. recalcitrant townsfolk)? 

Next question: Does each IC session end up being followed by some OOC 10+ minute "debriefing" where the players announce their judgements of their own characters?  Is that part of the game?


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 05, 2005, 05:44:42 AM
OK, the Dogs' decision shuts down the Demons (IC they are given this power (somehow? There is no King of Life but I guess if Demons are just "bad luck + tensions" then this just meanst he bad luck stops when the Dogs' make a decision), OOC it don't matter how, their characters are the important characters so their decision goes), but does not shut down the townsfolk, necessarily (but the Dogs are fairly bad ass so that they can usually win vs. recalcitrant townsfolk)? 

I don't get this. The Dogs' decisions don't make any mechanical difference - possessed people are still possessed, sorcerers are still sorcerers.

IC, there usually is a King of Life, who gives the Dogs power over Demons, as represented by ceremony and as administered by the conflict resolution rules. But look, the way you're drawing the distinction between IC and OOC isn't helping you. You're thinking about IC as though it exists independent of actual play - that's how you're able to say things like "there is no King of Life" and "the bad luck stops when the Dogs make a decision." In fact, there is no IC except while you're actually playing the game. And while you're actually playing the game, the fictional stuff you're creating is definitive.

As real people in the real world, you follow the procedures of play, as presented by the game text. What results is that you create fiction, as a group. The fiction you create has a certain structure, because the procedures you follow create a certain structure, but there's literally no sense in talking about the nitty-gritty details of your fiction (like "does God exist?") before you've created it.

And yes, in structural terms, the Dogs usually win, of course. Kind of like how Russel Crowe's and Guy Pearce's characters won in LA Confidential, Denzel Washington's character won in Devil in a Blue Dress, and Harrison Ford's character won in Blade Runner. Or, y'know, did they?

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Next question: Does each IC session end up being followed by some OOC 10+ minute "debriefing" where the players announce their judgements of their own characters?  Is that part of the game?

No, although happens informally pretty often. Also, look up "reflection fallout" in the book.

-Vincent


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: Particle_Man on October 05, 2005, 04:01:04 PM
I think I must be making one or more assumptions that don't apply here.  I thought I understood things but I guess I need to take another stab at it.

The game is about player judgements of their characters' judgements in "tough" situations.

The game is not designed to be a complete, coherent world.  Only the parts with the player characters in it matter, so everything else is left undefined.

Now the characters have the authority to judge from their bosses.  So their bosses are not going to "overrule" them.  Nevertheless, the townsfolk that don't like the judgements of the Dogs will oppose those judgements.  Now does this constitute the townsfolk (or at least the disgruntled townsfolk) judging the Dogs?  I thought no one but the Dogs and Players were meant to do this, but it seems that the townsfolk can too.

The judgements of the Dogs are in some way important to resolving the conflicts in the town.  This despite the fact that their judgements do not automatically shut down the demons that feed off (and in turn, feed) these conflicts (yet I thought that once the dogs make a judgement about doctrine, then if they say "homosexuality is ok" then the demons no longer get to have "homosexuality is ok" be false doctrine and lead to Hate and Murder).  More work has to be done by the Dogs to put the Dogs' judgments into effect.  The OOC reason why this conflict was not resolved by the townsfolk themselves is that the pc's are important (because the players are important), so their judgments are the key ones (so only the Dogs' judgments have even a chance of resolving these messes - there is explicitly a description of what would have happened had the dogs not arrived).

Now that description of what would have happened had the dogs not arrived is the only nod to a world outside of the dogs.  Everything else is set up for the benefit of the players solving these moral quandries.  The "What would have happened" never actually happens.  The Dogs always go from town to town, always arriving just at the right time to stop what would have happened from happening.

Because the play is about resolving moral dilemmas, there are some restrictions on what the Dogs can do.  In effect, if they stayed in between towns and never moved, or went back east, or killed the heads of their order, the game would be effectively useless, so these things will not happen.  Rather, there are background conditions set up solely to ensure that the Dogs will make moral decisions. 

The enjoyment of the play is designed to come from having one's character make these moral decisions, and then as a player judging one's character's decision.  Theoretically, one could as a player also enjoy judging another character's decision, and one's character might oppose another character's decisions (various permutations arise - one's character might oppose the very action of another character that you as a player approve of).

The players will in play determine whether there is a King of Life or not by their characters' actions.  Or else each player effectively IS the King of Life, judging his character.

In any case, it is the player's judgment of his character that is where the enjoyment of the game is.  Thus it is the judgment that matters.  The characters' judgements are still interesting, but they might will be opposed by disgruntled townsfolk and so are not definitive either in-game or out (in game a townsfolk might judge a Dog to be wrong, and out of game a player might judge his character to be wrong).

Now presumably, in addition to this enjoyment there will also be enjoyment from "roleplaying a cowboy type" and from "beating up/killing bad guys" (but usually not taking their stuff), but these are secondary compare to the enjoyment of having one's character make a decision and, as a player, judging that character and other players' characters.

So my "pro-homosexual marriage" friends, as players, might enjoy playing characters that are homophobes, and then judging their characters as "Bad".  Or they might enjoy playing characters that consistently are pro-homosexual marriage, and going from town to town changing the way things were done before, and judging their characters as "Good". 

And usually the towns will be isolated moral experiments, and so will be out of contact with each other except for "fluff" purposes (unless it really helps to set up the moral conflict in the new town to have stuff from older towns affect it).


Title: Re: On removing homosexuality and violating gender roles as sins...
Post by: lumpley on October 06, 2005, 08:43:06 AM
Alex, it's time for you to go back to the game text.

Read through it again. This time, don't think about how or why things work. Instead, imagine yourself sitting at a table with a few friends. At every stage of the game, do you understand what you're supposed to do? Does it seem easy or hard?

-Vincent