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[DitV] Old Habits Die Hard

Started by joshua neff, April 02, 2005, 12:34:50 PM

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joshua neff

Our regular gaming group took a break for a couple of months, while I wrote a novel and dealt with school. We started up again last night. I ran Dogs in the Vineyard. Boy, was I excited to be running this! Overall, I think it went really, really well.

Except for one incident which is sticking in my head.

The group is: me, my wife Julie, our friend Ryan, and Mike Holmes. I invited a coworker, Beth, to join us as well. She went to high school with Ryan, she has a lot in common with Julie, she's very smart and funny and cool, and she told me about previous gaming in which she got burned. Seems she played D&D before and was told by the other players, "You're playing this wrong. You're doing the wrong things." I wanted to show her a better experience.

So, we got everyone in the same room and we made characters. That went really well. We ended up with: Mike playing "Brother Zachariah," the cool, mysterious one; Julie playing "Sister Lydia," the troubled, evangelical one; Ryan playing "Brother Abel," the nice, straightforward one with the good shootin' skills; and Beth playing "Sister Mariah," the smart one.

We handled everyone's accomplishments, and I think I handled the conflicts well. I was a bit shaky, since it's a new system, and I was teaching myself along with everyone else, but overall I was happy with the way things went.

And then we launched into the first town, Monarch Hill. As soon as the Dogs rode into town, I threw the situation at them. The townsfolk they met immediately began asking them to help. And the players began taking sides immediately, in fun and cool ways. Beth, I noted, really got into it. "Oooh," she said, "that Brother Cuthbert they mentioned" (who no one had actually met yet) "is on my list. I don't trust him." I was proud of myself for having the NPCs be open about their issues, pulling the players into the town conflicts.

And then I completely screwed up. A player was in Brother Cuthbert's house, looking for clues. Well, there aren't really clues to find in this game, not in that way. Nevertheless, there was something cool to find in the house. Something scary and, I thought, really grabby. What did I do? I didn't let the players see it. I completely stonewalled the player. It seemed like it wasn't the right time to reveal it yet (although now, I can't say why I thought that), so I threw up a brick wall. And worst of all, the player was Beth, the one I wanted to make sure didn't feel like she was "playing wrong." Well, she didn't play wrong, but I did. Her next couple of scenes were spent "looking for clues," and it dawned on me that she was looking for clues as to what I wanted her to do. I felt like smacking my head with something big and blunt.

On the plus side, everything else went really well. My favorite bit was when Julie's character confronted Brother Cuthbert, who seemed not all that impressed that the Dogs were in town. She forced him to his knees to pray (and Brother Cuthbert isn't a small guy--but Sister Lydia is pretty big, too), then she invited herself to stay the night at his house, to keep an eye on him. He went inside "to get blankets for you to sleep out on the lawn," and returned with a shotgun, which he aimed at the Dogs. Ryan put his Brother Abel between Cuthbert and his fellow Dogs, pulled out his own gun, and got into a standoff with Cuthbert. Beth's Sister Mariah pulls out her own gun, and it starts to look a bit John Woo (although no one's shooting yet). Then (and I love this), Sister Lydia steps out from behind Brother Abel, no gun drawn, and says, "Why don't you just shoot me? I'm the one you're angry with."

And then we ended on a cliffhanger, because it was getting late and Beth had to go pick up her sister.

The session was a lot of fun, and I'm very happy with the DitV mechanics. I only wish I hadn't stonewalled Beth at that moment. The session would have been much cooler, I think, if I hadn't.

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes

Jason Newquist


I really enjoyed your write-up.  Sounds like some fun PCs with cool players.  Some followup questions, if you don't mind me asking!

What were the Accomplishments like?

Was chargen, overall, individuals making their own characters, or did you see some exchange of ideas?

Did you talk about game expectations like where to turn the Supernatural Volume Dial?

Did you create the town before the characters were created, and did you therefore feel it necessary to adjust it to fit the characters a little bit?


joshua neff

Okay, first of all: I talked with Beth today at work. I didn't mention my own feelings about the game, I simply asked her if she had fun. She enthusiastically said she did, and made sure we were playing again and that she would be in on it. So I remain my own toughest critic.

Now, on to your questions, Jason:

1) I thought the Accomplishments went well. The first three (Mike, Julie and Ryan, in that order) went for talkin' contests: Mike tried to impress a scholar at the Dog's Temple, and succeeded (but took Fallout, which was cool); Julie tried to improve her oratory skills and failed; Ryan tried to improve his social skills, and succeeded. Beth went for a physical contest and tried to improve her horseriding skills, but failed (but withdrew from the contest before she could take Fallout, which was also cool).

2) I encouraged everyone to contribute to the character generation and would ask people to share what they had decided upon. I also encouraged people to make suggestions, although I don't recall too many suggestions being thrown around. During play, however, everyone threw out suggestions and kibitzed--which is typical for our group.

3) We didn't really discuss the Supernatural Dial. We did discuss how demons work and how they don't have corporeal forms, but we didn't really get into how high or low we wanted the supernatural aspect in the game. I didn't want to spend too much time talking about stuff, especially with a new person. I thought it would be better to just dive into play and see how the players approached the supernatural element.

4) I created the town before characters were created. I planned on quickly assigning some sort of blood connections between townfolk and Dogs, but completely forgot about it until well into play. So, I decided that the next town would have blood kin, and this town would serve as an introduction to the game. (The Pilot Episode, if you will.)

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes

Jason Morningstar

Dogs is very fault tolerant.  I ran my first session with a fatal misunderstanding of the escalation rules and it was still fun as hell.  I also struggled with the conventional approach to GMing and "secrets".  It sounds like you have a good group who will learn with you - you are definitely your own worst critic!