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Author Topic: [Dogs in the Vineyard]a bump in my paradigm shift  (Read 1844 times)
Emily Care

Posts: 1126

« on: April 19, 2004, 11:34:08 AM »

So there I was, happily watching Meg conclude the character generation for her soon-to-be-Watchdog of God.  I'm interested to see how this young man sent "Back East" for a college education will fit into the grizzled, hard-bitten old West setting of the game.  Meg however chooses another aspect of the character to explore in this establishing scene.  

The character has strong faith, and according to the game text each pc comes out of their training having had some inspiration or insight that they will carry into their life as a Watchdog, or Dog.  This will help them detect the demons that afflict society, and help them set townspeople on the path to justice and righteousness.  I can't remember who suggested it, but in this scene, the Dog in training comes into contact with the divine, an Angel to be specific.  

They set the scene. Vincent, who is gming, asks Meg where she is, and she says she's outside somewhere during the training.  Vincent says, "You're camping with the other Dogs receiving their Initiation.  You've woken up early before everyone else." They have a couple exchanges about what the character experiences.  The day is beautiful, opening him up. Other people in the camp start waking up and making mundane camp noises.  He moves off to be alone, and the beauty of the day seeps in deeper still.  

Vincent says, "Well, I think a demon gets interested in ya."
Demon! Yikes! Meg looks dubious.  I realize I have something I want to say and speak up:

"Only if she agrees, Vincent. Meg, I have a suggestion that might aid you concense."  


Vincent says to me, "No, I get to say."  
Meg says to me, "I'm not having a hard time concensing."

Agh. What did I do wrong? Oh, that's right.  We've left our full-concensus game behind (for the moment) and have adopted the rules and mechanics of Vincent's game explicitly as ways to reach concensus within our social contract of play.  They rolled dice and everything.
That's right, I remember now.

Then Vincent says, "But kibbitzing is quite welcome."

I say to Meg, "Well, it's pretty strong stuff to contact an Angel. Makes sense to me that it would involve some strong opposition."
Meg says, "I can see that."

So its like I turned into one of those gm's who have a hard time accepting "just" being a player again.  Wasn't too bad, I backed off when they said I'd crossed a line. It was an odd feeling shifting back into working with a mechanical rules-set again.  Even when we use mechanics normally, as far as I'm concerned, the only things that are not open for discussion and negotiation are things any of us stake a claim in as ours.  And even then...  Mostly not much negotation is needed, but the option's always there.

Now, there's nothing wrong with mechanical rules sets. I dig the mechanics for Dogs, and had a great time doing the matching scene for my character.  And, of course, I trust Vincent as a gm.  It was even completely within our social contract for me to suggest something, but I was using the wrong justification for making it.  How subtle and strange. I've never had such a concrete example of how different one kind of play is from another. And yet how similar.  The outlines of authority invested in the players (including gm) became visible for a moment.

Funny too, I never say concense when we play our regular game.
Silly me.

What happened in the scene?

The demon attempted to distract the character with a reminiscence of a woman he may love. He shrugged it off.  He has an insight into the interconnected nature of all things, and feels a pulse of warmth and light in his heart.  The encounter over, we know he met an angel, but the character is only left with the experience, not knowledge of what it meant. Cool.

Emily Care

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
Andrew Cooper

Posts: 724

« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2004, 11:54:07 AM »

This is like the exact opposite of what happened in my game of The Pool.  My group is very used to playing the game within one type of boundaries.  We generally play D&D and Alternity.  All the Credibility for the game setting and whatnot lies with the GM (me), except for what lies within the perview of their characters.  We are used to this type of game and everyone operates well within it.  Sunday, I played a session of The Pool and suddenly the boundaries had moved, as far as who had Credibility and how much.  Interesting thing is that for most of the game the players acted just like they did in a D&D game, waiting for me to define everything.  Towards the end they started to push beyond what was normal for them.

I see it kind of like this.  Have you ever seen one of those Invisible Fences for dogs?  You bury a wire just under the grass in your yard.  You then put a special collar on your dog and when it gets close to the wire, the collar beeps and then jolts the dog slightly if it stays too close.  Soon you can take the collar off the dog and turn off the "fence" but the dog won't cross that invisible boundary that it has learned.

My game (and it sounds like that instance in your game) was like someone moving the wire that defined our boundaries.  You ran into a "beep" where you didn't expect one... until you remembered that you were playing in a different Social Contract in this game.  My players kept hearing silence where they expected a "beep".

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