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Author Topic: How do I avoid slicing the conflict to a fun-defying bore?  (Read 4182 times)
oliof
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Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« on: November 14, 2005, 02:47:05 AM »

Sorry for the flurry of posts folks, but I had a very compelling game running that caused some qustions of course.

One of the things I genuinely mishandled in my last dogs game was the structure of the conflicts. I did not let the players choose the timing of their raises and sees.

Example: the conflict was Do I convince my fellow dogs that there is no option besides killing this sinner?. During the conflict, one of the Dogs wanted to leave the on-going discussion. He was on the side of the people who didn't want to decide on the spot to kill the boy. I had the feeling that this going from the conflict was a standard technique of winning a conflict by avoiding it, so I urged the player to come up with something that didn't put him out of the conflict.

Of course, this caused some unrest. I took away narrative authority from that player and forced the conflict into a certain framing. I didn't have in my mind that leaving the ongoing discussion was a 'valid' raise in the conflict. In addition, I put the player that started the conflict to a disadvantage because she could not improve her chances by only having to handle two Dogs and work on the third one in a follow-up conflict.

But why did this happen? I think my problem here was that I was falling back into the classic task resolution pattern, or even worse, the attack/parry mantra with disregard to the conflict at hand.

So my question for the experienced DitV GMs: How do I avoid slicing the conflict system to a task-resolution system it isn't built for and which does kill the fun out of the game?
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2005, 03:38:53 AM »

If the stakes were, "Do I convince my fellow dogs that there is no option besides killing this sinner right now, on the spot?"

Then walking away is tantamount to a give.

If the stakes were, "Do I convince my fellow dogs that there is no option besides killing this sinner, today?"

Then walking away is a valid see-and-raise narration, probably "take the blow".  The raise that follows might start, "A few hours later, over dinner, Brother Theo says, 'I've been reading the Book, and I think you should re-read this passage here, Brother Luke.'  He hands his book over, with the ribbon marking a page near the end.  Killing one of the faithful, one who hasn't rejected the Faith, just isn't the right thing."
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2005, 05:07:49 AM »

As for your larger question, I suggest that the key to policing the GM is with the players: if the players play with full cognisance of the rules and recognize their rights as to the agreed-upon basis of play, then the power of the GM is limited by this constitution. This is a sound solution to your problem, because the DiV rules very much degree against the GM making this kind of decisions. So admit to your mistakes and help the players learn the rules as best as they can, and you will ensure that in the future you will all help each other play as good as you can.

Other than that, it's a matter of practice. It's not enough to believe that a rules set will deliver salvation, you have to also understand why and how it does so. Only then can you make reasoned choices about the application of the system. Intellectual knowledge will transform into good habits, and before you know it, you're getting positive content out of rules that before where hampering your play.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2005, 06:57:54 AM »

Yeah, ditching out of a conflict is giving.

Staying in and then raising "I turn my back and walk off. 12." is the way to do it.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
oliof
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Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2005, 07:40:04 AM »

Yeah, ditching out of a conflict is giving.

Staying in and then raising "I turn my back and walk off. 12." is the way to do it.

Yeah, I should have let that happen. Part of unlearning the attack-parry meme, I guess. Especially as this was not about killing on the spot. It would actually have the minority dog at an advantage in trying to convince the remaining two and possibly dealing with the third dog in a follow-up conflict supported by two others. Ah, the possibilities...
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Neal
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Posts: 143


« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2005, 08:13:25 AM »

Harald, one thing that concerns me -- and it's something Vincent alluded to in one of your other threads -- is that the stakes for this conflict concerned "convincing" other PCs.  Remember that the player of a PC has ultimate control over the mind and soul of his or her Dog; that's a control that's not shared with anyone.  As Vincent said, the stakes should be set to actions, not ways of thinking.  "Does this kid get hanged?"  Not "Do the other Dogs agree that hanging is the right thing to do?"  They don't have to agree, after all: they can escalate anytime they want, if it's that important to them.  If it isn't, then they can just plain lose.
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