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Author Topic: [DITV] Bad Touch on an NPC  (Read 6581 times)
Supplanter
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« on: January 02, 2006, 06:27:36 PM »

We finally got to play Dogs this afternoon. I GMed for Bill, with whom I game regularly, and Glen, who is a longtime gamer whom I've known for awhile but never gamed with. We planned a five-hour session and my goal was to get through chargen and an entire town in that time. I chose New Gidea by Judd Karlman from Chris Weeks' Dogs aids site since it was "low level" and contained to one major and one minor problem.

Now we had a lot of fun. Since Glen's background is in WOD, D&D and Savage Worlds, I made sure, with Bill's help, to explain ahead of time about picking traits because HE thought they were important. and that traits would be "calling to him" during the game - IOW, don't take a bunch of good scores to "protect yourself" against things that you'd rather not come up in-game (see the recent "flags" thread) because once it's on your sheet and you want to win a big conflict, you're going to go there. I also explained that the game was not about me deciding how well he and Bill upheld the tenets of the faith - what he and Bill did would, by definition, be upholding the tenets of the faith. "No Alignment bonuses!" as I put it.

Hey, good for me. Glen absorbed all that and played accordingly. But what I really want to talk about is what I got wrong.

The Dogs, Brother Caleb (Glen) and Brother Azaria (Bill) cornered Brother Seth in his printing plant and tried to get him to repent of ihs crazy notion that the King of Life had chosen Seth as his instrument of vengeance on the wicked. ("Prophet of the Gun" as the writeup has it.) Bill escalated to fighting and then Seth decided to shoot his way out of the plant. Glen gave and narrated Brother Caleb diving into the bolthole where Brother Seth had been hiding from the town's lynch mobs. Bill took 3d10 of gun fallout and had Br. Azaria follow Seth out the door and out of town, both running. Br. A. never drew on Br. Seth, just ran and tried to talk him down. He won the conflict and Brother Seth collapsed to his knees along a bluff, repenting of his folly and begging the King of Life for forgiveness.

Bill rolled his fallout and Brother Azaria collapsed on the spot, seriously injured. Glen rolled 12 on his own, lesser fallout, which went up to 16 when he couldn't cover it with his measly 3d6 Body.

So there they were in bad spots, particularly Brother Azaria, who was out in the brush bleeding to death. I decided that Brother Seth was so impressed by Brother Azaria that he ran back to town to get help, knowing that it would expose him to his enemies. Both Dogs won their healing conflicts. When Brother Caleb clambered from the bolthole with the help of the blind Steward's wife, the sight of Brother Seth dangling by a rope from a strut of his printing plant greeted him. Seth's enemies, including the father of the rapist Seth ahd killed, stood around watching their handiwork.

At this point the Dogs got into it with the lynch mob. They talked the rapist's buddies into repenting of their sins, but his Father, Balaam, drew on them and ran off. Bill had Br. Azariarun him down and force him to give too. Then he shot Br. Balaam where he lay.

It was a nice climax. But before that, I pretty much robbed them by killing off Brother Seth before they could pass judgment on what he did. They talked him into repenting of his delusions, which meant that they HAD had a chance to judge whether his doctrine was false or not (Answer: Yes!), and to do something about it. But they didn't get to decide whether to protect him from the mob or turn him over to them, whether to give him a trial in New Gidea or elsewhere or whether to consider his statement of repentence adequate punishment. I offered up his sacrifice as a tribute to the impression Brother Azaria had made on him, and because it would heighten the conflict between the Dogs and the lynch mob that had been simmering all session: "I see what you did about Seth, but what about these other guys now? Huh?" But they hadn't necessarily done what they wanted to about Seth.

In discussion after the game, Glen defended it as a plausible continuation. "After all, we weren't around to stop it" and "it makes sense." It was defensible on some level as a consequence of the players choosing to take heavy enough fallout to put themselves out of commission for a period of game time. But I stressed that it was still something *I had done*. Other things could have made sense. I just didn't think of them.

Other than that misstep on my part, things went very smoothly. Glen found the resolution system "a bit too complicated, though Bill liked it fine and I adore it. They ignored the prisoners in the jail on the theory that: "Not Faithful? Who cares about them?" The town writeup leaves out the rape victim herself, Br. Seth's sister. I added her in, and since you wouldn't have a single woman living by herself that meant creating her parents too. The Dogs tried to talk her out of blaming herself for having incited the rapist, but gave, then successfully talked her into coming with them to the next town so she could start afresh. The dead rapist's wife reproached herself for "not having been a *good wife*" if you get her drift and they comforted her as best they could. Br. Seth's wife tried to keep his hiding place secret but gave in the face of massive amounts of dice from two Dogs at once getting her to spill. The only other problem we had was the minor one our group sometimes finds in freeform-trait games of tending to "over-explain" how traits are being invoked and used, but that goes down with practice and comfort with the system. I'm definitely looking forward to playing the game again.

Best,


Jim
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Supplanter
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2006, 07:56:43 PM »

Glen's writeup on his blog!

Best,


Jim
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dunlaing
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My name is Bill


« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2006, 07:14:04 AM »

I'm Bill, Brother Azaria's player.

For one thing, I was just happy to get a chance to play Dogs in the Vineyard, which I had been looking forward to for a while, so... Thanks Jim and Vincent!

I had a great time and I really liked the system. I like systems that can put meaningful resolution choices in the player's hands. Often, diced resolution systems will water this down significantly since you can make a siginifcant effort and still roll poorly. Diceless and resource-based systems have held appeal for me for just this reason. Dogs does an excellent job of incorporating these sorts of choices into a diced system. I have to choose whether it is more important to me that Brother Azaria Block the latest Raise or if it is more important that I have high dice left for a later Raise of my own. Far too many systems just don't have any such mechanism in them for making these sorts of decisions which make the conflicts feel much more dynamic to me.

On to Jim's issues, of which I think there are two:
  • The Death of Seth
    This one did feel a bit like a "bad touch" to me. And not just because we "hadn't necessarily done what [we] wanted to about Seth," but further because I don't think that Brother Caleb and Brother Azaria were headed down the path toward agreement on what to do about Seth. Brother Caleb was making comments about how it was clearly wrong for Seth to do what he had done, while Brother Azaria was sort of holding his tongue until after they had Seth in custody, but also making comments that had much more of a "Seth shouldn't have done it that way" flavor to them. I felt like if we had woken up with Seth alive, we could easily have gone into a Dog vs. Dog conflict over what to do about Seth and whether what he did was really all that wrong. Brother Caleb had been talking about bringing Seth to Bridal Falls for a fair trial, while Brother Azaria was wavering between deciding that Seth needed to become a Dog or that Seth should go on with his life in town with a minor punishment. That would have been some good stuff to work out. As it happened, there was no Dog v Dog conflict in the session (although there was one Raise of Brother Caleb's that I came real close to Seeing in order to make a point later on.)
  • Over-explaining Traits
    I think that this is not just an issue of lack of familiarity with the system, as Jim sort of implies. I think it's a necessary step in the first few attempts at the use of a trait, done awkwardly. If I write down "I can resist any woman's charms 2d4" and we leave it at that, then nobody really knows exactly what that trait means. Is it that Brother Azaria can resist any woman's charms, but he often ends up offending them? Is it that Brother Azaria only thinks he can resist any woman's charms? Or is it that Brother Azaria is secretly gay?
    For me to finish defining Brother Azaria's trait, I have to call on it in play. If I call on it when the GM describes Sister Chastity baring her underthings and leave it at that, not enough communication has really taken place for anyone (besides me) to know which possibility is true. If I call on it in that situation and specifically narrate that Brother Azaria is resisting any lustful urges, then I'm starting to narrow it down (it's probably not the second option.)
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dunlaing
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My name is Bill


« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2006, 07:19:23 AM »

At this point the Dogs got into it with the lynch mob. They talked the rapist's buddies into repenting of their sins, but his Father, Balaam, drew on them and ran off. Bill had Br. Azariarun him down and force him to give too. Then he shot Br. Balaam where he lay.

If Balaam hadn't escalated to gunfire, Brother Azaria's next raise would have been to shoot him anyway. Brother Azaria's shooting of Balaam ended up being in a followup conflict after having won the "admit that your lynching of Seth was Vengeance and repent" conflict, so it was a pretty dark event. After all, Balaam (an older man) has just fallen to his knees and repented, and Brother Azaria drops his shotgun, pulls out his revolver, and shoots him in the head.

I was mad at that point about Seth being killed, and I took it out on Balaam. So did Brother Azaria (who had forged a 2d6 relationship with Seth in the prior conflict).
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Supplanter
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2006, 08:38:17 AM »


[li]The Death of Seth
This one did feel a bit like a "bad touch" to me. And not just because we "hadn't necessarily done what [we] wanted to about Seth," but further because I don't think that Brother Caleb and Brother Azaria were headed down the path toward agreement on what to do about Seth. Brother Caleb was making comments about how it was clearly wrong for Seth to do what he had done, while Brother Azaria was sort of holding his tongue until after they had Seth in custody, but also making comments that had much more of a "Seth shouldn't have done it that way" flavor to them. I felt like if we had woken up with Seth alive, we could easily have gone into a Dog vs. Dog conflict over what to do about Seth and whether what he did was really all that wrong. Brother Caleb had been talking about bringing Seth to Bridal Falls for a fair trial, while Brother Azaria was wavering between deciding that Seth needed to become a Dog or that Seth should go on with his life in town with a minor punishment. That would have been some good stuff to work out. As it happened, there was no Dog v Dog conflict in the session (although there was one Raise of Brother Caleb's that I came real close to Seeing in order to make a point later on.)[/li]

Damn, that would've been interesting. Esp. because one of the things that intrigued Libertarian Me was that Brother Caleb's chief expressed concern about Seth the vigilante was that his vigilantism was transgressing on Dog perqusites.

The part of the rulebook I inadvertantly flouted, I think, was the part early on about "I'd like to have a [whatever] here. Is [whatever] okay with you guys?" where [whatever] = "Dangling corpse of the Sinner you just saved." I was otherwise "playing the town" and recalling that "the NPCs want what they always wanted" (Seth dead).

I wonder what I'd have done if you "threw the challenge flag" as soon as I described Seth's body hanging there. I like to think, at least, that the conversation goes roughly:

Bill: He's dead? Why?

Jim: Sacrificed himself to get help for YOU, Brother A.

Bill: I wasn't done with him. I saw the Seth situation going somewhere cool.

Jim: Yeah, but you're almost dead out past the edge of town. How do you even get help for your healing conflict if HE doesn't get it? You can't go anywhere cool if you're dead.

Bill: Well there was Brother Absolom in the printing plant. And there's no law says Seth has to get caught. Or couldn't HE have healed me?

Jim: He's got fewer acuity dice than Elihu. I also thought it would be interesting to see what you do with the lynch mob once you came to.

Bill: Well . . .

Jim: Well?

Bill: Lynch mob? I mean, where's the moral ambiguity in THAT?

Jim: Now that you mention it.

Bill: Whatever. I'll take the chance if I have to.

Jim [Sees Bill feels really strongly about this]: Hm. Okay, let's retcon it. I'm not wedded to Seth's death. It was just the first logical outcome I thought of to you guys' injuries.


If you'd called for a conflict over whether Seth was actually dead, I think that would have opened up a separate can of worms. We'd have had to hash out the same continuity issues, like, if you're seriously wounded and haven't rolled your healing conflict, CAN you enter a conflict to keep Seth from running off to get killed. Somewhere in the discussion around that, I probably get the idea that killing Seth makes for a worse story than what you've got in mind and suddenly there's no conflict anyway, since we both want the same thing. But it's an interesting question: could the player of a seriously wounded PC delay a healing conflict to have ANOTHER conflict beforehand? Is there anything specific about this in the rules?

Best,


Jim
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lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2006, 08:44:10 AM »

But it's an interesting question: could the player of a seriously wounded PC delay a healing conflict to have ANOTHER conflict beforehand? Is there anything specific about this in the rules?

There's nothing specific about it in the rules.

I personally endorse, fully, conflicts like "Sister Faith [a Dog] is badly wounded. What's at stake is, do you get to her in time to give her medical aid?" I do those all the time.

Conflicts where the wounded Dog is engaging in another conflict while seriously wounded - I'd leave those case-by-case.

-Vincent
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2006, 11:49:17 AM »

As a data-point you can use to decide, back in the game where I was playing Br. Thaddeus "Dove" Gentry, he once took injury level fallout while trying to go through a demon-enhanced rainstorm (our supernatural dial was pretty high) to save a friend who lay dying of internal injuries. Alex (Lxndr) made the call that Br. Malachi could make it until help came, and that Thaddeus would be able to make the healing conflict before succumbing to his own injuries. The rationale being, in part, that the rules don't put any sort of actual restrictions on what the character is capable of while in a state that requires medical attention. The other part being that Thaddeus won the conflict about getting to Malachi in time to help him even though he took the fallout. Br. Raven came later and also had to win a conflict to arrive in time to save Thaddeus.
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Judd
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2006, 01:10:46 PM »

I could have sworn I had the woman who had been raped, who Seth saw himself as avenging, in the adventure.  If she didn't make it to the adventure write-up, that's my bad.  She was certainly in the adventure whenever I've run it.

I can clearly recall during the initial writing of this town worrying about making her too much of a victim and someone came up with the great idea of making her a strong and powerful member of the community.

Hm.
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Supplanter
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2006, 06:57:55 AM »

Thanks for the feedback, folks. The ideas on how the conflict system could be used in the case of a wounded dog are interesting. I'm inclined to think that, in the case, Bill should have gotten his way without resort to the conflict system because his idea was "better," meaning more pleasing to me AND Bill than my own. The wrinkle would be possible objections by Glen, though it's not clear what conflicts he could call for that would enforce the "Seth dies getting help" continuation.

In the case of a conflict to "reach a wounded Dog in time to heal [him]," if ALL the Dogs are out of action, whose dice do you roll?

Judd: No worries on the sister; she was easy enough to work in. I didn't do the powerful member of the community thing, though. I just had her actively determined to blame herself for being raped. She won the initial conflict by escalating to physical not fighting and ripping open her bodice in front of the Dogs, while she sullenly said, "I know what I am." She was wearing her woolen bloomers underneath, but boy were they embarrassed.

Best,


Jim
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