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[DitV] Tower Creek at Pandemonium

Started by two_fishes, February 21, 2006, 06:26:09 PM

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I ran Tower Creek at the Pandemonium con in Toronto last weekend

Way too many people showed up to play and we ended up splitting some off to play an impromptu game of Capes at another table. I wound up with 7 dogs which was still way too many. Maintaining a narrative thread in a combat conflict was tricky, but possible. With a talky conflict things got pretty scattered. And throughout the play, I was unable to give every player the attention they deserved, but things went very well despite this.

I knew none of the players beforehand, except for 3 I had met the previous evening in a game of Donjon (and as an aside, it was some of the funniest play I've ever experienced. The Sweetly Retarded Farm Boy with the Barn Door shield and the Key to the Shed will never leave my memory. Nor will the Meatshield with the skill Too Stupid to Die.) None of them had playted DitV, though several of them knew of it.

The initiations went really well. Every rpg should have some kind of mini-session like this as part of character creation. They breathe life into characters that are blank sheets for all the other people at the table. We had a sister cure a child of polio; a brother get spurned by the prettiest girl in town; an alcoholic dog yield to the temptation of the bottle; another overcome by his fear of water; and another re-unite his fractured family.

As I said, I ran Tower Creek Branch sample town from the book. Two things changed about the town during play. The miscarriage occurred during the Dog's stay, and sister Edie was actually pregnant. The first one is something I had thought about before, and I threw it at the Dogs when I needed something to throw at them. The second was assumed by the Dogs, so I just went with it.

I handed out relations to Sr Wilhelmina and Sr Bethia at random, and added Br Cyrus as a half-brother.

The Dogs went to see Wilhelmina straight up, simply because of the relationship connection--they thought they could sleep in her barn. As written, what Sr. Wilhelmina wants is for the Dogs to leave, so there was conflict with her right away. They convinced her to let them stay, and decided to snoop around. Finding evidence of sorcerous rituals led to the first internicine conflict--with some evidence of sorcery in hand, some Dogs wanted to burn her, others wanted to find out more. They decided to wait

I threw in the miscarriage here. The Dogs split up. One them wanted to stay and drag Sr Wilhelmina to the church. She put a good ol' demon-aided beating on him.

The Dogs who went to find out about the miscarriage, named the child, and entered into a conflict to magically determine the cause of his death. I gave them a vision of Sr. Wilhelma praying for Sr Edie to concieve, "by any means necessary." So they all went straight back put a bunch of bullets into her. There was a follow-up conflict to this. The Dogs disagreed about whether or not Sr. Wilhelmina was doomed to hell.

They went straight from dealing with Sister Wilhelmina to deal with Sister Edie. They made her confess everything, and then entered into another conflict with each other on whether or not the child should be aborted. During that conflict, one Dog threw his coat into the mud and gave up the Dog life. I had some concern that the player was offended, but I think he just got very invested, and he did ask about where to buy the game afterward. Guns came out in this conflict, but it ended without them being fired.

After that, there was a very brief conflict between the Dog above and the Dog who initiated the abortion (he wanted to "show her a lesson"), and then we just did some mopping up, and finishing.

Despite a fairly light-hearted start, it got pretty serious by the end. Almost everyone seemed to get very invested in the final conflict, and I don't think it's a coincidence that it centred around something that is a contentious issue in the world right now. What was also very interesting to me was that once guns came out, some Dogs on both sides immediately gave and some stayed in.

This is probably related to the number of people involved, but I found it got to be a slog to get through a conflict. Near the end of the game I began to get very resistant to starting new conflicts and was just giving on anything that seemed trivial, really letting the players do the picking on where dice were thrown down.


Hey, all. Maiden post. Please forgive any lapses in decorum.

I was one of the too many players, and despite a rough Friday night (short, stupid story) was really glad I made this Saturday morning game. I've been lurking at the Forge and reading about DiTV and the rest for a year or so now, and was really looking forward to trying it.

I dragged along my compadre Wil, who, like me, has mostly played traditional hit points'n'equipment list RPGs. He really took to it. He loved the way the conflicts and story didn't go the way of the player with the highest status in the group, or the loudest roleplayer, or the GM's best friend, as in so many, many games. Just the conflict, the dice, the play.

Agree that after a lighthearted start as we toyed with the setting and the rules, things got very heavy, very riveting. It might have been taking on the unaccustomed role, for a roleplaying game, of moral arbiter, but the conflicts mattered. I felt...responsible for the outcome and hence really motivated to try and impose control. The conflicts mattered. We were invested. Very, very cool.

One thing we went over in the post-mortem, after all the big grins and "ahhhhhhhh...that was cool" was the player v. player conflict. The game seems rigged toi make them happen and they are absolutely a blast to play, but Wil rolled crazy high in one conflict, and it was fairly apparent that it was all over before the bidding and raising. The whole thing might have been more suspenseful if, when players faced off, they concealed their die rolls from each other. You'd know how many dice the guy across from you rolled, but not the results until they were parcelled out, bit by bit, in the resolution of the conflict. A bit of a poker game vibe. Is this done by any other Dogs players, or does it miss the point?

two_fishes, thanks again for a helluva game, buddy. See you next year!

Adam Dray

Welcome to the Forge, Ned!  and Mark, too, if you haven't been welcomed yet. Even if.

Mark, it sounds like the game went pretty well, despite the large group. I've found Dogs to be more forgiving about group size than a lot of other games. The potential for inter-party conflict increases with the number of players but then more players are involved in the conflicts. It all seems to work out. Initiations can be slow though. Look for my post a few months back about the Dogs game I played in at MACE. Similar problems.

Ned, regarding investment: YES. That's what the magic of Dogs is. Moral judgments, one right after another, as players weigh in about what is important to them (not necessarily their characters). Play is focused on what matters to the players. Super cool stuff. Glad you had fun!
Adam Dray /
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at 7777


Hi, thanks Adam. Hello! And hi, Ned,

The initiations weren't too bad. I started them as soon as the first player was ready, so they started to go around while other players were still finishing up their characters. I've found that they're generally very short & sweet. With 4d6 + 4d10 to play with and nothing further to bring in, they usually only go a quick half dozen raises or less.

Playing with hidden dice, poker-style is an interesting idea. It could certainly raise the game tension. I do wonder at the simple physical logistics of hiding your dice from other players, though.