Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Topic: [DitV] Windy Valley Branch (at Dreamation)

Started by Andrew Morris, January 23, 2006, 11:54:02 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Andrew Morris

I was a bit worried about running sessions on Thursday night, since I figured attendance would be super-light, but I ended up having five players (which, of course, is one too many for Dogs).

I wanted to do two things with the session: 1) create a situation where nothing was really hidden, it was just a matter of deciding what to do about it and 2) have a town where pride comes from outside the Faith.

So, in Windy Valley, a Territorial Authority official, Walter Allen, has been abusing his power (granting marriage licenses). He's been collecting extra money on the side, but when Br. Jacob is unable to come up with the cash, Walter Allen tries to collect some...favors...from Sr. Constance directly. He deserves it, right? After all, he's helping these superstitious folks follow the law. Why shouldn't he take what he wants from them?

Injustice and Sin[/u]
Well, Sr. Constance goes running to her father, and Br. Jacob becomes enraged. He grabs a gun and puts a bullet in Walter Allen. Br. Ezra, the town's Faithful sheriff, intervenes and tosses Br. Jacob in the town's one jail cell. But Br. Ezra is torn as to what he needs to do next. Br. Jacob is well-liked, and many of the townsfolk believe he should be forgiven, and that his actions were understandable for a father. Things probably would have been worked out in time, but a rich man from Back East, Clarence Black, has won over a unit of TA soldiers to help him "bring the law of the land to the religious nuts." He moves in with his soldiers and starts talking to folks, convincing them that an assassin must be executed, according to law.

Demonic Attacks[/u]
Now Br. Ezra's in a pickle: half the town wants Br. Jacob set free, the other half believes he should hang. The TA soldiers start patrolling the streets at night, which leaves people too afraid to move around in the evening, when they'd usually be visiting neighbors and talking things out, making a peaceful solution even more difficult to bring about.

False Doctrine and Corrupt Worship[/u]
Clarence Black begins holding political rallies, calling for a "free election" of a new sheriff, with himself as a candidate against the incumbent Br. Ezra. His party line is that the Faith, while it should be kept as the ruler of hearts and minds, must bend to secular law. Black's followers believe that Sr. Constance should not be allowed to marry since her family cannot come up with the fees for the license. They also believe that the sheriff should not be from the Faithful, since he might hold more to the Book of Life than the law of the land.

False Priesthood[/u]
Almost by default, Clarence Black is the head of a cult, with beliefs that diverge from the rest of the Faithful. He's already got way more than the required three followers.

The Players[/u]
I didn't write down the names of the characters, and I let the players take their sheets, so I'll just refer to players by their names, and characters as "Tony's character" or "Krista's character," as appropriate.

Tony Lower-Basch was playing a young main raised in the Faith whose father died as a Dog (I assumed that he was a convert or something like that). His initiatory conflict was "I hope I learn that there are other ways to be a hero than getting yourself killed." I was a little unsure how to address this, so I gave him what I thought was an easy out: a little girl had lost her cat. I figured he could go find the cat and be a hero in the eyes of the girl, and the conflict would be about whether or not he believed it. But Tony seemed a bit put off by the conflict, so I ramped it up a bit by having him find the cat but have to risk his life to save the cat from a raging river. Tony immediately jumped on the side of not learning the lesson, which surprised me a bit, but I went with it. He "won" and became more convinced that martyrdom was the only way to be a hero.

Jeff played a mountain folk convert. Jeff was the first player to arrive, and had said that he found Dogs interesting, but he'd played it once before and didn't enjoy it, because of the way the GM ran it. Great! No pressure now, right? Anyway, his initiatory conflict was "I hope I wasn't scarred by my exposure to witchcraft." He visited his family and had a conflict with his grandfather about whether or not to drink the coffee, and he lost. I think he took "I was scarred by witchcraft" as his trait.

Clinton R. Nixon played a Dog whose parents had been judged and killed by Dogs. His initiatory conflict was "I hope I didn't break any bones." Since he'd put a trait on his sheet that he'd won a rodeo during his time at Bridal Falls City, I started the conflict the day before the rodeo, as he was trying to break a horse. I believe he won the conflict, but I didn't write it down, so I'm not certain. He can pop in and correct me if I'm wrong.

Russell played a rather tough, brooding, and harsh Dog. His initiatory conflict was "I hope I proved to my daddy that I'm as tough as nails." Going home to visit his family, he was accosted by his old tormenter, a local bulley who'd become the blacksmith's apprentice. It was a pretty hard-fought conflict, escalating twice (I think), before Russell managed to win it. His father had been watching the fight and could no longer doubt his son's physical prowess.

Krista played a somewhat ambiguous character. I wasn't sure what her central "thing" was, but it seemed to be proving herself as good or better than the male Dogs. Her initiatory conflict was "I hope I won the hunting contest." I had some trouble coming up with good raises on this one, but it worked out fine anyway, and she won the contest.

The Summary[/u]
I didn't take notes, so I'm going by memory here, which is very unreliable, at best, after four days of little to no sleep.

I was worried about how to keep pushing the Dogs, but very quickly, the players came to conflict and took most of that burden off my shoulders. They polarized quickly into two camps, and it was enjoyable to watch it play out.

In the end, the Dogs came to conflict with Clarence Black and the TA soldiers, then flat-out told the Faithful sheriff, Br. Ezra, what to say to win the election. They ended with four of the five Dogs being put in jail, at the insistence of Clinton's character.

Early on, they split up, going about separate tasks. Since the initiatory conflicts had already put us an hour and a half into our session, I made it clear that they (the players) could use information that other players had uncovered, whether by simply taking this into account so they didn't pursue dead ends, or flat-out having their characters know this, either as an intuitive leap or by hearing some townsfolk talking about "what those Dogs did/said." I had to cut back and forth regularly, and I'm not sure I did a very good job of it all the time, but at almost no point were all the Dogs in the same place.

My Observations[/u]
This game had a very different feel from the games I've GMed for my DitV group, no doubt due to the different players. We had a bunch of players with very strong ideas and beliefs that they brought into play right away. I believe (though I'm not sure) that all the players had played in or run Dogs before. In fact, there were three or four rulebooks at the table!

Dogs is a ridiculously popular game. I'd set the max players at five, simply because I'd have felt weird running a game at a convention and only offering two to four spots. Every spot was filled, and we had to turn away a walk-in. And this was on the first day of the convention.

Is there something about DitV that makes it the game that GMs play when they're not running games? Four of my five players had GM badges.

The game worked out well because the players took strong positions and defended them. As Tony later pointed out, it might not have worked if that hadn't happened. He had some good criticisms that I've completely forgotten, and I'd appreciate hearing from him about what didn't work or what almost didn't work.

Highlights of the Game[/u]
Clinton's character taking out a TA soldier by whacking him upside the head with a shovel.

Russell's character slapping Clarence Black after realizing he'd been talking down to him....a few scenes earlier.

Tony's, Jeff's, and Krista's characters healing Warren Allen, and almost immediately wishing they hadn't.

Clinton's character telling the sheriff to lock him up.

All the back-and-forth between Russel's and Clinton's characters.

Wrap Up[/u]
I'd love to hear from the players so I can get their viewpoints on the session. All in all, I think it went very well, but then, I have yet to have a Dogs session that doesn't. In a first for me, no one was dragged into the street and shot in the face or married/divorced against their will.
Download: Unistat


I thought the session went great.

At the beginning of the game I genuinely felt like I had a mandate from a higher power to help the faithful.  Four hours later it was beginning to sink in that we Dogs had done some not so righteous things in their pursuit of this mandate.  In the end I wanted the mandate lifted from my shoulders.  It was an intense emotional reversal for both me and my character, and I was considering having my character loose faith or at least have a crisis of faith, when we ran out of time.  I've been told that ultimately that's whats at the core of Dogs.  I think I understand that now...

I enjoyed taking the trait "Obnoxious Zealout".  It was fun, and a bit over the top.

I realize that the wording of traits makes a big difference in how much they get applied.  I think Tony got alot of use out of his "I've felt pain" trait, while my "I can use nature to heal" had little effect on most conflicts.

I enjoyed playing off of Russel's character, although I still can't figure out who was the slower one.  Both our characters had a tendency to not look at the long term effects of their actions.  In the end it had disastrous consequences for us.

Overall it made me want to run Dogs for my local group, and I think I have a much better handle on the mechanics of it all.  It was definitely a learning game for me, and I'm thankful everyone put up with me.

Jeff   aka Rising Bear - Brother Jeremy


Quote from: Andrew Morris on January 23, 2006, 11:54:02 PM
Is there something about DitV that makes it the game that GMs play when they're not running games? Four of my five players had GM badges.

Well, over at RPGnet some people mentioned that they had less fun in Dogs-style games because they had to break their immersion to come out and deal with the mechanics, which they didn't want to do in a social situation.

People who GM a lot in any game are generally expected to be able to operate outside of immersion, so I think that they are more likely to be comfortable with the demands placed on them when playing Dogs, or any of the games that distribute the roles and responsibilities that are traditionally the GMs to the players.

Krista E

Well, at the request of a couple people I met at Dreamation, I have gotten my butt to the 'puter to register on the forge and put my two cents in. So Andrew, you better feel lucky you're the first person I'm responding to. :P

And now on to DiTV:

Playing DiTV at Dreamation was most definitely a blast. I played both Andrew's game on Thursday night, and Rob Bowell's game the next morning, and I admit, I liked them better than the longer running DiTV game I'm in. Now, I'm not saying that I dislike my other game, it's just that I love a game with lots of action, and it seems to me that the one-session Dogs games had more of it. I suspect that it's due to players not worrying as much about whether or not their character is going to die (if you're only gonna play it for one day, who cares, right?) but either way, I must say it never felt better to end up with 15 d20 at the end of a gaming session (though that was during Rob's game, not Andrew's) - it means I really let my character go all out.

Andrew, in response to your comment on the ambiguity of my character, it was done for a reason - mainly, that if others don't know what you're about, they don't know what to expect, and I love surprising people.

Playing with everyone that was involved was very exciting as well. From Tony's character goading the others with his argument that it's not the Dogs' job to take care of half the stuff going on in town to Clinton's character pushing for himself to be thrown in jail (as his way of showing he stood for his beliefs even when they pertained to himself), I was kept at the edge of my seat for the entirety of the game, wondering what would happen next. Andrew did a fine job keeping order in the game, despite all the characters jumping from scene to scene, and everyone was so vibrant and full of enthusiasm for the game, which made everything all the more enjoyable. All in all, I give Andrew's DiTV game-session two thumbs up.

~Krista, or, as I was known in the game, Sister Submit (that's sub-might) ;)
"All really great lovers are articulate, and verbal seduction is the surest road to actual seduction." ~Marya Mannes


I had a blast playing that game.  And then I had another blast talking to people about it later.

Dogs in the Vineyard says "Okay, you've got this mandate from God!  No wriggling out from under it!  If there's something that's causing the town trouble, it's your problem to deal with."

We totally spent the whole session wriggling out from under that.  At least I did.  I was pushing for a judgment of: "This is not a question of God's Will ... God wants you yahoos to figure it out on your own."  As I said to some folks at the booth later, "The reason we have government is to make sure moral, concerned people aren't forced to choose between watching things go straight to hell or shooting someone in the face."

And, of course, my character was totally ready to die for that moral stand.  But then, as previously mentioned, my character was willing to die for a drowning kitten.  I think that very readiness was why nobody ever attacked me.  That "I'm ready to be a martyr, 2d4" trait was better than any body-armor ever invented.  "Hey man, look at him ... he's into it.  You can't be doing murders when they're into it."

In terms of the things I critiqued, Andrew, it was pretty minor stuff about presentation.  You had some information-bearing NPCs (particularly Clarence Black) make themselves consistently hard to find, and hard to get information from.  That made finding out "What's going on here?" into more of a mystery than I think it needed to be.  But overall I would totally say that you can't argue with success:  it was a great session, and you get the credit for that.
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum

Krista E

I had finally managed to pull away from the computer and get myself to bed when I realized I forgot to mention something (and if I waited until morning, I might forget again), so here I am to talk to you about your GMing, Andrew.

Now, with DiTV, I thought you did a pretty good job (though after Tony pointed it out and I reflected on his comment, you did make it a little difficult to get information out of Clarence Black) but in regards to your GMing in Inspectres, I have something else to say - despite the fun of the game, you weren't as solid as you could have been. Granted the GMing in Inspectres is minimal, you still came off as flimsy. Knowing what I do about you, it seems to me that it's all because Inspectres is not a game you can really plan before-hand. With DiTV, you have to plan ahead - creating the town and the NPCs - which allows you to prepare for what's in store, but with Inspectres, everything is done on-the-spot, and you are left almost completely unprepared for what may happen (other than the general knowledge that games can take a turn for anywhere).

Perhaps in the future when you know you'll be running a game where the GM's characters are created the way they are in Inspectres, you would do well to just open up your book to the page for character creation, roll some dice, and try to envision how you'd like your character to behave. That way, when you have to act out a certain character at the snap of a finger, it'll come more easily to you (because you'll already have some ideas brewing in your head).

I hope that made sense. If it didn't, I'm sorry, and I'll try to explain better next time.
"All really great lovers are articulate, and verbal seduction is the surest road to actual seduction." ~Marya Mannes