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Title: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: 5niper9 on May 19, 2007, 12:44:50 PM
Hi,
well, I have GMed several games of Dogs and played recently in one of it. We played by the book and I always asked for feedback by the other players. Although I am fascinated by the system and enjoy playing it a lot, other players had problems with certain aspects of the system.

The first aspect is related to more or less problematic stakes, I guess.
Several times we had stakes like "Convince Dogs that [False Doctrine] is acceptable." or "Win trust in the Faith"(as an accomplishment).  The problems were that the conflicts seemed weak. Let's look at the second conflict. In this accomplishment I played the side of "Win trust" and the player played "remain doubtful". We raise back and forth and because he did not want to escalate to gunfighting he lost. So after this conflict the Character should be without doubt (right?), but the player was not contend with it.
The other mentioned conflict went better, but as in the other one the player was not contend with the idea, that the stakes would "dictate" a certain behavior. I have to say that this conflict felt terribly wrong. I guess the right thing to do is to go for lower stakes, right?

The other aspect is modifications to the rolls.
One conflict was played while one of the characters was really tired and not really awake. The question was whether he should roll all his dice in this conflict or roll a lower number to represent his exhaustion. We did not roll lower dice and I have no objection to that but he mentioned it while we were reflecting the game. So is there such an mechanism?

Greetings,
René


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Moreno R. on May 19, 2007, 06:08:59 PM
Hi, René!! Welcome to the Forge!

Several times we had stakes like "Convince Dogs that [False Doctrine] is acceptable." or "Win trust in the Faith"(as an accomplishment).  The problems were that the conflicts seemed weak. Let's look at the second conflict. In this accomplishment I played the side of "Win trust" and the player played "remain doubtful". We raise back and forth and because he did not want to escalate to gunfighting he lost. So after this conflict the Character should be without doubt (right?), but the player was not contend with it.

I am not sure that stakes like these are acceptable in DitV. I should check the rules to see if they can be used if you play-by-the-book (I don't think so), but in any case I wouldn't allow then. They seem to me seriously un-fun to play, boring, and they weaken the central point of playing DitV: the judgemnt, and the accountabily of the Dogs, for what they do, to their coscience.

If the dogs make the wrong judgment because they lost a conflict and they are convinced by a sorcerer... what's the point? They did wrong but it wasn't their fault. It was the sorcerer's fault. He is bad. But we already did know that.  What does this tell us about the dogs? That they sometimes lose conflicts? This don't tell us nothing, and so the entire session is wasted. Instead of a difficult moral decision, you have a unlucky roll. Boring, as you said.

I suggest to don't allow stakes about "what the dogs think" or "what the dogs believe". Not for important things like faith and judgement. Your role as the GM is to show them the city in play, not to disguise it. Don't even roll when the dogs search for clues and traces, simply say yes and tell them what they need.

Keep in mind that you CAN use stakes like "the person xxx TELL that he trust the faith", and you should use them every time a player ask instead a stakes like "I want to convince the person xxx to trust the faith".  You can force someone to tell something with a gun, not to really believe something.

Quote
The other mentioned conflict went better, but as in the other one the player was not contend with the idea, that the stakes would "dictate" a certain behavior. I have to say that this conflict felt terribly wrong. I guess the right thing to do is to go for lower stakes, right?

I think that the player is right. Not in general, but in this specific game, this is really unfun. (I am OK with some games where a conflict can change a character beliefs, but NOT when the game is BASED on these beliefs...).

This is for the same reason that in Sorcerer there is not mind-control: in this kind of narrativistic game, where the point of the game is to play a moral or etical dilemma, mind-control really destroy the game.

Quote
The other aspect is modifications to the rolls.
One conflict was played while one of the characters was really tired and not really awake. The question was whether he should roll all his dice in this conflict or roll a lower number to represent his exhaustion. We did not roll lower dice and I have no objection to that but he mentioned it while we were reflecting the game. So is there such an mechanism?

There is no mechanism in dogs to "simulate" the lowering of traits caused by exhaustion, like the ones you can see in some "simulative" games, because traits in dogs don't represent in any way the "character skills". They represent the importance, in the story (for the player), of these aspects of the character.

It' for this reason that you can have a trait like "I am blind as a bat and I could't hit the broad side of a barn from five paces: 5d10" that would help you in a gunfight much more than a trait like "I am the best shooter in the world, I can hit the wings of a fly from 200 paces: 1d6"

In your example, if the characters had a temporary trait like "exaustion", he should have got MORE dice simply using that trait in a raise or a see: "I try to hit him, even with my exaustion...", and BAM, there you got bonus dice for exaustion.


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Darren Hill on May 20, 2007, 04:13:08 AM
Regarding your first conflict, I was going to reoly with something very similar to Moreno, but he said it better than I could.

Make stakes explicit, about actions - so if one side wins, something happens.

Regarding the reduction of abilities in certain cvases: actually there is one example in the rules of something like this. An ambusher uses and axea to attack a dog while he is sleeping. The dog gets only his Acuity dice at the start, to represent his alertness and ability to wake himself up before his head gets lopped off.
Maybe that example will help.


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: The Mule on May 20, 2007, 03:04:16 PM
1.  The dice do not represent the physical capability of the characters!  If your characters are exhausted, missing an arm, or otherwise reduced in capability, it is in no way reflected in the dice.

The dice reflect the narrative strength of your character.  It's very common to conflate the two concepts.  I think Dogs tries to avoid problems with this by stipulating at character creation that you're making fit characters.

I liked the example of
Question:"If I have the trait "Blind 2d10," how can I shoot the badguy?"
Answer: "With the 2d10 you get from the Blind trait."

2."Convince Dogs that [False Doctrine] is acceptable" 

This touches too closely on a character's conscience.  It depends on what you mean by "acceptable".  The GM can totally set stakes to convince the Dogs to allow False Doctrine to continue.  You can't, however, convince the Dogs that it's *right*.


"Convince the Dogs to stand aside while NPC does "Act X"," or maybe even "convince the Dogs to do Act X themselves" is an awesome conflict.  It is also totally allowed by the rules, as Indicated by Vincent (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16114.msg171930#msg171930)

If the player doesn't want his character to do Act X, there's no way he should lose that conflict.  If I were faced with such a situation and saw it totally unacceptable to be convinced, I would pull out every last trait I had on my sheet, I'd have my guns blazing, and every step of the way I fought those stakes I'd be making some powerful statements.

Stakes aren't about "Are you okay with this happening?"  They're about the raises that take place in the conflict.  "Win stakes, or stop Raise Y?"  Raises require that decision, (at least, the ones where you've got to Take the Blow), and forcing the player to make that decision in a powerful issue like the stakes you've outlined is great.



Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: 5niper9 on May 21, 2007, 07:36:58 AM
Thanks, your answers made it easier for me to unterstand where we messed up.

To sum it up:
1. Conflicts should not aim at the mind of characters, but at the actions.
2. Reducing dice is not a matter of the GM, but only of the Player who can represent changes through Fallout.


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: The Mule on May 21, 2007, 12:03:43 PM
Thanks, your answers made it easier for me to unterstand where we messed up.

To sum it up:
1. Conflicts should not aim at the mind of characters, but at the actions.
2. Reducing dice is not a matter of the GM, but only of the Player who can represent changes through Fallout.


1. Is slightly incorrect.  Conscience does not equal mind!  Conflicts should never aim at conscience.  To illustrate the difference, I like the example: NPC X sets stakes "Convince you he's innocent of crime Y."

That conflict touches on the character's "mind", but doesn't tell him *what's right*.  I can lose the conflict and shoot him anyway.  All that means is I just shot a man I thought was innocent.  My character still has total freedom to think this is right or wrong.

NPC can try to scramble your perception, or possibly even memories, as much as they want/is reasonable in your game's supernatural level.  They cannot scramble your conscience, your sense of what makes something right or wrong.


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: 5niper9 on May 21, 2007, 01:48:52 PM
*sigh*, just as I thought I got it...
Your comment confuse me.

So let us look at an actual game scene.
There is a single Dogs facing a big group of people who think women should do the same things as men. This group would do everything (escalate) to pull the single Dog to their side.
We set the Stakes to: "Convince the Dogs that women should do the same things as men."
The player of the dog did not want to give in so she escalated and rolled in a lot of her traits, but the group were too strong and she was about to lose. In the end we broke up that conflict, because it felt so wrong and was no fun.

In your last post you said conflicts should never aim at the conscience, which I totally understand (and would enhance it to the complete mind), but where is the subtle distinction in relation to the stakes?
You said:
Quote
That conflict touches on the character's "mind", but doesn't tell him *what's right*.  I can lose the conflict and shoot him anyway.  All that means is I just shot a man I thought was innocent.  My character still has total freedom to think this is right or wrong.
I think, I do not understand. Sure, the conflict is comparable to my example, but the reaction of the character to this conflict is totally seperated from it.
When the character is convinced that the man in front of him is innocent, how can he not think killing him is wrong?
And when the player says "I'm going to kill him anyway" beforehand, what is the conflict good for?

I'm confused.
René


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Darren Hill on May 21, 2007, 03:15:44 PM
I don't like the Mule's example either.
Conflicts should be about what happens, right here, right now.

So your example: "convince the dogs women should do the same as men," could probably, "convince the dogs to allow women to do this particular thing, in this town, despite the fact that women normally aren't allowed to do that." Normally you wouldn't have all those qualifiers in there, but even if not stated, they are implied - just because that's the way Dogs conflicts work.

Stakes should be immediate.

You could also have, "convince the dog not to shoot this person (right here, right now)." if the dog loses, he can't shoot this person (right here, right now), but he's free to decide why. (The events of the conflict may encourage him towards a specific reason, of course, but that's only encouragement.)


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: The Mule on May 21, 2007, 03:59:09 PM
Some people believe that sometimes killing an innocent man is the right thing to do.

The idea is the stakes can never be "X means the right thing to do is Y"

The stakes *can* be "You think the situation is X" or "You do Y".


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: The Mule on May 21, 2007, 04:27:19 PM
I'm sorry, I should actually answer your questions.

.
There is a single Dogs facing a big group of people who think women should do the same things as men. This group would do everything (escalate) to pull the single Dog to their side.
We set the Stakes to: "Convince the Dogs that women should do the same things as men."
"Should" is unacceptable.  You can instead, if you wish, say "convince Dogs that Doctrine states 'women should do the same things as men'".  The first is conscience; the second perception.

.
I think, I do not understand. Sure, the conflict is comparable to my example, but the reaction of the character to this conflict is totally seperated from it.
When the character is convinced that the man in front of him is innocent, how can he not think killing him is wrong?
And when the player says "I'm going to kill him anyway" beforehand, what is the conflict good for?

Last question first: The conflict differentiates between the outcome "Player shoots a man he thinks is guilty of crime X" and "Player shoots a man he thinks is innocent of crime X".

How can he not think killing him is wrong?  Maybe "innocent" was a loaded term that I should not have used.

NPC X is accused of the crime of murder.  My player thinks he committed the murder, and is going to shoot him.  NPC X convinces me, through conflict, that he did not commit the murder (this is what I meant by innocent).

If my character is convinced that "the facts are X", and believes "X means the right thing to do is Y," then I'm probably going to do Y!  You can tell me the facts are X, but you absolutely cannot with the dice tell me that my character thinks "X means Y is right".  It's up to me as a player to decide what my character thinks the right thing to do in situation X is.

My character just shot a man he believed to be unjustly accused.  What does that say about my character?  Maybe he's a utilitarian!  Maybe he's haunted by it forever after.  What does that say about my character?

Lastly, I'm sorry for confusing you.  It really is an easy, simply way to play the game to just say "No conflicts over internal matters".  I only argue the point because I think some of the *best* conflicts are over internal matters, and the consequences that result from them.  A sorcerer making you fall in love with her?  That's awesome.  A man you as the player knows is guilty convinces your character he's innocent?  How far will your character go to protect him?  That's awesome.

If you don't think it's so awesome, I'd urge you to give it a try, but I can understand if you don't think it's worth the bother.

Heck, I may not even be right about the rules!


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Moreno R. on May 21, 2007, 06:40:37 PM
Thanks, your answers made it easier for me to unterstand where we messed up.

To sum it up:
1. Conflicts should not aim at the mind of characters, but at the actions.
2. Reducing dice is not a matter of the GM, but only of the Player who can represent changes through Fallout.

Hi, René.   

"The Mule" and I don't agree about stakes that change the mind of the character (you can see the discussion there (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=23939.msg234512#msg234512), there's no point in repeating it here), so it's normal that when you answer one of my posts agreeing with me about it he doesn't agree with you.  But in my opinion, you nailed it just right in these two points I quoted.

I don't really know what is the "official ruling" about this. The fact that Vincent didn't chime in make me thinks that it's a matter of choice for each group (well, it would have been in any case, but it's different when the designer say to you "it's in your hands" and when instead he say "do this" and you don't).

So, it's possible that, while in my group any "changing mind" or similar "mind-control" stakes would result in a boring and uninteresting game, in The Mule's group they make for a more enjoyable game. Maybe it depends on exactly where you define the boundary between "coscience" and "mind". I simply see no such boundary in my mind so there isn't one in my game.

So, what I can say is that you should think about which of these two way of playing would be more apt to your group, and decide for yourself the kind of game you would like to play.


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Darren Hill on May 22, 2007, 06:39:07 AM
For what it's worth, my view is similar to Moreno's.

People new to DITV often stumble over conflicts with ill-defined stakes, or 'wishy-washy' seeming stakes. By making the stakes about actions (and even better, acvtions that must happen now), and leaving thoughts out of it, it's much easier to avoid this
Every single sample conflict in the rulebook is like this, as well. (I just checked to be sure :))


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Valamir on May 22, 2007, 09:10:21 AM
There's actually a whole lot of tangledness going around relative to stake setting in this thread.

Stakes are not declarations of what happens if you win.

Stakes are what is being fought over.

Identify the point of contention...that is "what's at stake" for the conflict.  DO NOT go any further.  If you're setting up stakes as any sort of "If - than" you're just asking for trouble.


So, you have a group of women who think women should be able to do the same things as men.  You have some Dogs who think otherwise (if you have Dogs who come down on different sides from each other...so much the better).

What's at Stake is "Women's social role in this Town"

Not convincing anyone of anything...leave that "If the women win, the Dogs will be convinced" stuff to the Raises and Sees and Blow Taking...not the Stakes.


Things get much smoother if you don't write out Stakes as "If then" statements.


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: lumpley on May 22, 2007, 11:00:34 AM
Yes! What Ralph (Valamir) said.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Moreno R. on May 22, 2007, 11:58:43 AM
Mmmm...  I did read Ron's posts on story-gems about "chesting" and the use of stakes, and I already got the "don't pre-narrate stakes".  But I still thought that the one who wins the conflict has the final word about what is a stake.

I mean: in the example: What's at Stake is "Women's social role in this Town", the one who win the conflict (Player or GM) has the final word about the social role of the women? Can he say at the end of the conflict "you accept that the social role of the women in this town is this"?

I mean: there is something REALLY at stakes, or it's only a excuse to get dices rolling for raises and sees? Because it's difficult to get the players to accept hard raises, if there's really nothing at stake...






Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: xenopulse on May 22, 2007, 12:28:55 PM
I'm confused as well.  This is what I make of your post, Ralph:

"Winning the conflict has no effect.  The only effects are those that come out of raises and sees."

Is that right?


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: The Mule on May 22, 2007, 04:57:53 PM
Maybe "winning the conflict has no cause, only raises and sees create cause"?  So the winner determines the effect that all the already accumulated causes has on whatever was at stake?

So if I go into a shop and want lower prices, I'm not sure what I'd stake.  "Do I get lower prices?" would be my informal way of stating it.  What's really at stake?  The shopkeeper's nerve?  My money?

So my character wants the price to be as low as possible, and the shopkeeper wants the price as high as possible.  So what's at stake is "the price"?

If I want someone to fall in love with me, is what's at stake "her love"?  If I want PC X to think scripture agrees with my position, is what's at stake "PC X's knowledge of scripture (in how it relates to my position)"?  If I win, I say "PC X knows scripture relates to my position in this fashion"?


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Brand_Robins on May 24, 2007, 09:12:42 AM
I think Ralph's post is clearer if you read it in context of the Stakes setting from Afraid. (At least, I didn't have a problem getting it, and that may be why.)

In Afraid it says to not set the stakes as a final outcome, but to set them as what is hanging in the balance. The person that wins the conflict then gets to decide the stakes in a way that is consistent with how they won the conflict.

So if your stakes are "your life" you don't say, "If I win I put you on your knees and shoot you in the back of the head" you just say "the stakes are your life." You then play out the conflict, and if you win you get to say what happens based on what happened in the conflict. If you lose, the other person gets to say.

Significantly, if you win you could end up saying, "I don't kill you after all" or if they win they could chose to have you kill them anyway. Not that such is overly likely, but if it makes sense with the fiction it could happen.

Having played a lot of Dogs I have to say in many cases this kind of stakes setting doesn't make a big difference, but in some multi-way or very dynamic or confused conflicts it is an absolute lifesaver. You should never have stakes set that could end up coming to pass and not making sense with the things you actually did in the conflict, and this is a solid way of preventing that.

(Also, does anyone have a link to Afraid? I think linking to the actual text on Stakes there would help.)


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: xenopulse on May 24, 2007, 09:15:43 AM
Ahh... thanks Brand.  I realize now that Ralph was just clearing up the confusion about stake setting, how and when; I thought initially the post was wrapping up the dispute about whether thoughts or actions could be determined as outcomes of conflicts.


Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Moreno R. on May 24, 2007, 11:51:22 AM
Brand, I already read Ralph's reply that way as a possibility (see the second paragraph in my last reply) and I still had problems with that.

Let's see if I can explain it better.  At first, when I began to play DitV, I used stakes worded like "if I win, this will happen".  We never arrived to the sort of "stake escalation" than Ron called "chesting" last year, but still this caused some little problem in very antagonistic conflicts with very important things at stake.

So when I read Ron's posts about the "pre-narration of stakes" I took a clue and began to frame the stakes as "I want / you want", as Intent, and not as results (and intents that applied to real, visible things, not "i convince" or "i make him think").  In the example of the "Women's social role in this Town", I think I would frame the conflict between the dogs and the townspeople as something like "I want to force the people of this town to admit that they sinned against the King of Life" and "Instead I want the townspeople to hold to their beliefs". What would happen then would depend on the raises and sees and declarations. It the conflict escalate to gunfighting and the dogs win maybe at the end the people ask for mercy and declare anything the dogs want. Or maybe there's no need and using simple words the dogs win the conflict and the people ask for forgiveness from the King of Life with tears in their eyes.

But the intent is clear. It's like an arrow.  The way the conflict go  can modify the means, the arrow can fall much short or hit the target, can do a lot of damage and fallout or not, it can go well or really wrong. But the players called for a conflict resolution about their intent. They lose, they don't get it. They win, they get it.

And it must be a real choice, there must be a real possibility of both things happening, or the conflict is not a real conflict and you could simply say yes.

And this is the way I read what Ron said: state what you want, not what you will get if you "win".

Now, let's see the same situation if we don't state what we want, but simply say that "Women's social role in this Town" is a stake.

We roll, somebody win. And he get the conch shell.  He can narrate everything he want, the only condition is that he can't cancel what happened in the conflict.  OK, I (the GM) win. So I rule "the dogs attest that the townpeople are right, the King of Life smile on this town, they were wrong".

You see as this don't violate the conflict, and IS "deciding what happen to the thing at stake", but is outside the parameters of the first example of stake-settings? The dogs didn't put at stake what they believed, but it's possibile to use a wording of the result that chance that.

You go into a conflict without having a clear idea of what you are putting at stake, in this way, because in the narrative all is tied, and you can change a lot of things tied to the stakes, in a way that can force someone's agenda on the group.. 

Or, the other way around. The GM win, but he say that people change their mind anyway, because "it would be better for his story", making the conflict meaningless.

My problem with this, is that I don't see the difference with "who has the conch shell say what happen". I assume that there is a difference, but if I should use this kind of stake-setting in my games, not seeing that difference, it would BECOME conch-schell narrativism.

(to be clear, I am not preoccuped by having someone abuse the conch shell. I am preoccupied by the kind of confusion, vetoes abuse and distrust that could go from this. In my experience the clarity of the stakes is the most important way to teach players used to "mainstream games" to trust the system and the other players. I don't want to lose that)



Title: Re: Questions concerning my game reflection
Post by: Valamir on May 24, 2007, 01:53:27 PM
My post takes your post as a given starting point Moreno.

Dogs is "Say yes or roll the dice".  So before you even reach for dice there has to be a conflict of interest where somebody said something somebody else couldn't say "yes" to.

That should already cover the "what's your intent part".  Your intent is whatever you were doing / saying that triggered the conflict in the first place.

The stakes then aren't your intent...they're the battle field...or as Brand said "what's hanging in the balance"


If you're already golden with how to make Dog conflict work, the distinction is just a quibble.  But if you're struggling to get them to work, I think its a good road marker.