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[DitV] Creating PCs for Convention-run towns.

Started by Eric Provost, October 06, 2005, 02:05:27 PM

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Eric Provost

I'll be attending MACE in November and running two sessions of DitV while I'm there. 

What's running through my head right now is how much, if any, character generation can and should be done for Dogs at a convention.  It's a dilemma for certain.  I mean, there's hardly the time to make up four characters and go through four initiations before hitting the town-proper.  So, doing it right really isn't an option.  On the other end of the spectrum is having pre-made characters complete and ready to go.  Everything filled out no questions remaining.  But that kinda sucks too.  I mean, authoring Traits and Relationships is such a personal tie to the players' desires.

So, I'm inclined for some kind of middle ground.  Something that can be done quickly (characters ready to go in 30 min or less) and still lets the players put a little personal touch on their characters.  That's why I'm here.  To pan for ideas.

Any thoughts?


Jason Morningstar

My gut feeling is that you should let people make up their dudes and run through initiations.  Whatever is left over is for the town. I think what I would do is run all the initiations simultaneously, cutting from one to the next raise by raise, to keep everyone engaged.  No way this is happening in 30 minutes, though.

That said, if you want to get to the town more than you want players deeply connected to their characters, why not have them pre-made and let players choose their PC, look over their traits and stats, and choose their initiation based on that?  One (pathetic) advantage is that you could front-load conflict a bit by ensuring that they have interesting traits.

If you have experienced Dogs players in the group, perhaps they could be persuaded to bring their own character and/or forego initiation if time is a factor.  Or maybe they could run an initiation simultaneously for you, like Lisa did for Lara in your recent session. 

By the way, I'm in your Friday game!  I will assist in any way I can.



How long's your slot? If you have four hours, make characters - it's better to summarize the end of the town than skimp on character creation. I've never, ever had character creation take longer than an hour, including initiations. Usually it comes in nearer 0:45.

Be ready to jump in if somebody's stalled out on traits, is all. Occasionally I've gone ahead and made someone write "I'm a good shot" on their character sheet - "just write it down," I say. "Now, where did you learn to be a good shot? Cool, that's a great trait, write that down too. Is shooting the only thing you do well?" and by then they're almost done.

Oh, and vigorously reframe their initiation conflicts when you have to. When they say "I hope I learned to have patience in the will of the King of Life," you gotta be right there with, "perfect, how about you're trying to get through scripture lessons?"

If you only have a two hour slot, though, I have no idea. Let me know what you come up with.


Doug Ruff

If you're really stuck for play-time, how about 'half-baking' some characters? If you've got prep time in advance, you can give players some handouts to help them fill in the gaps.

Here's an example of what I'm thinking about; I don't have my book with me, so don't be surprised if the numbers don't add up...

Your character's name here!

(Archetype: Repentant Sinner turned Dog)

Body 4D6 Heart 2D6 Acuity 3D6 Will 5D6

You're a Dog now 2D6
You like animals better than most people... 2D8
(...Except for who?) 1D10

You can still be a real son of a bitch when I'm riled 1D10
You're always on the look out for trouble 1D8
(What are you still scared of?) 2D4

(What was your worst sin before you repented?) 3D4
(Who helped you see the light?) 2D8


Tatty coat D4
Big fucking gun D8 + D4
Beautiful locket (whose picture inside?) D8


You can put the questions on a separate sheet, with instructions for altering the template. For example 'now think about what it was you did that was so bad. Write it down in the 'traits' area of the sheet, and write 3D4 after it.'

Also make sure each player has some unassigned relationship dice, and remind them at the start of (and maybe during play) that they can spend these dice to author a relationship with anyone else in the game.

If you have enough time, you could have more of these than there are players - just chuck them in the middle of the table and let the players choose the template that gets them most excited.

Hope this fits your bill - if you go with this, I'd like to see the templates when you're done.
'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'

Adam Dray

How about this: Give players a head-start with a skeletal character with traits and stuff, but let each player modify that character as much as possible by replacing any pregen trait with one of his own invention. Repeat as much as desired. If a player likes the character, he doesn't have to change anything. If he hates it, he can replace every trait with his own ideas. Or something in between. At the end of 30 minutes, put the pencils down and play.

I'll be at MACE. I'm not registered for anything at all yet though.
Adam Dray /
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at 7777


I've done character creation, initiation (what's that called?) and a town in well under four hours.

I start with the demo conflict with one of the players who has played the game before, just so the other players can see how the dice are rolled and how it basically works.  Than the prelude is the first conflict they play through themselves and after that it is game on.

I've run three con scenarios of Dogs in the past year and its always smooth.

Just make sure you have enough dice.

Eric Provost

Forty-five minutes for character generation and four initiations?  Is that with players who are familiar with the system?  Somehow I suddenly just can't remember how long it took us for any of the most recent initiations we've done recently.  If we could come in under 45 minutes with initiations and all I'd be happy.  I suppose it will just be a good thing to have players get those numbers and traits down in a short time then hop into initiations.  That should work.  

What I was really trying to avoid was over half an hour to get the sheets done just before thirty minutes to an initiation.  I'm going to take your advice to heart Vincent, push hard on trait authoring in a short amount of time, and liberal re-framing of initiation stakes.  The directness of it should keep the time to a sheer minimum.  So long as I make it a point that everyone should be paying attention to the flow of dice in the first player's initiation then that should cut down on excessive explanation time in the later initiations.

They're gonna be four-hour slots.  But... I don't even want to consider summarizing the end of a town.  I think that would suck more than packaged characters.  There's something particularly special about playing Dogs for the first time, looking back on the town when you're done with it, and knowing that you, as players, directed the story from front to back.  I don't want to loose that.

Doug & Adam,

That's what I was looking at originally.  Half-baked is kinda the philosophy I'd had in mind.  But the more I think of it, the more that I think that a rushed PC generation from the players will be more satisfying than me making the PCs... in any way shape or form.

I think what I'll end up doing is making a quick-ref sheet for the players that guides them through PC gen (follow along with me... like Picture Pages!) and gives the broad outline of how the dice flow in conflicts.  Big letters, small words, maybe some pictures.  A single-page to peek at.  Yeah.

I'll start on that now.


Frank T

Alternative: Limit the round to three players. Then four hours won't be a problem. I did character creation and a whole little town with two players in two and a half hours.

I also like Doug's "proto PC" idea. Whatever you do, though, make them describe their coats.

- Frank