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Author Topic: "We're only doing what the Faith says!"  (Read 4174 times)
matthijs
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« on: April 13, 2006, 10:32:12 AM »

This pattern is occurring in several of my Dogs games. I'm running a loose campaign, with a pool of 7 players; when I want to run a game, I send them all a message, and usually three random people are able to turn up.

First of all, I'm getting feedback I like: The towns are hard to judge. Something bad's going on, but the players don't know who to judge, or how. I take this as a sign that they have to both think and feel.

Second, when it comes to judgement, players hide behind their characters. I go "Wow! You pass judgement like that?", and they say things like "Well, my character's like this, so he would judge like this". A phrase I've heard many times is "In those days, with these characters, with that faith, we have no choice but to pass this judgement". I point out that it's a fiction, the faith hasn't been defined anywhere, and they made their own characters. I'm trying to make the players take some sort of responsibility for their rulings.

I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I get positive feedback from players; they say they're very into the game, get the shivers, think about it between sessions. Still, it's as if, at the crucial moment, it gets too intense, and disconnect occurs. There's giggling, there's group think, over-the-top ideas going into D&D territory.

I can't put my finger on it, but I get the feeling I'm handling something exactly wrong. I don't know what, and input is appreciated.
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2006, 10:36:30 AM »

The problem is that you are conflating the character with the player.
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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!"
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2006, 10:38:04 AM »

A phrase I've heard many times is "In those days, with these characters, with that faith, we have no choice but to pass this judgement".

"Sure, sure, that's a fine rationale.  But you don't need to justify yourself to me, so I don't know why you're bothering.  I think it's cool that you, personally, made that decision.  Much cooler than anything the fictional character did or thought."
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matthijs
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2006, 10:48:48 AM »

The problem is that you are conflating the character with the player.

No. The problem is that the players don't see that they are the character.
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Glendower
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My name is Jon.


« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2006, 11:25:07 AM »

No. The problem is that the players don't see that they are the character.

Some players can't get by this.  Some players won't.  Sitting in the "I'm playing my character" bubble is a nice, safe place, and a lot of people don't want to leave it. 

I have yet to find a solution to this kind of behavior. 
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Hi, my name is Jon.
Julian
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2006, 11:54:11 AM »

No. The problem is that the players don't see that they are the character.

Some players can't get by this.  Some players won't.  Sitting in the "I'm playing my character" bubble is a nice, safe place, and a lot of people don't want to leave it. 

I have yet to find a solution to this kind of behavior. 

Why is it a problem in need of a solution?

Anyway, the players are not the characters. The characters are a creation of the players.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2006, 11:55:50 AM »

Yes, but the moral judgments being rendered in the game are moral judgments that the players stand behind ... if not as the only response to a situation then at least as one possible response.

If they don't stand behind it, personally, then the character can't.  The character is fictional.
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matthijs
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2006, 11:58:44 AM »

To clarify:

I want players to involve themselves personally and get into their characters. I do _not_ want them to use characters as a buffer between themselves and the fiction. I would like advice on how to make this work in this specific case.
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Julian
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2006, 12:15:15 PM »

Yes, but the moral judgments being rendered in the game are moral judgments that the players stand behind ... if not as the only response to a situation then at least as one possible response.

If they don't stand behind it, personally, then the character can't.  The character is fictional.

Sure, the character's fictional. The character can also make moral judgments that the player will not, indeed cannot, support, because it is fictional. It isn't the player.

To clarify:

I want players to involve themselves personally and get into their characters. I do _not_ want them to use characters as a buffer between themselves and the fiction. I would like advice on how to make this work in this specific case.

You can't.

If the players are more interested in creating fictional characters and making statements about what the fictional construct would do than they are in making statements about what they themselves think is right, then that's what they're going to do.

And frankly, I don't see a problem with that.
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2006, 12:17:17 PM »

Quote
If they don't stand behind it, personally, then the character can't.
Quote

Gonna have to say that this statement is straight-up false, Tony. I've made lots of decisions based on how my character would do things, but they're not things I'd "stand behind". I think the other famed (or infamed) Lumpley game is a good example of just this sort of thing. You make characters that are despicable losers, and you make them do things that, unless you're seriously disturbed, are not things you stand behind.

The reasons for doing things are varied. I often make decisions based on my character's personality, but the character's personality is that way because I see conflicts and situations arising from it that I'm interested in exploring. Sometimes I play a character vastly different from myself out of pure escapism.

Here's the thing, Matthijs.. Don't worry too much about *why* your players make their decisions. Play the town aggressively, and without apology. Your players will be thinking about the decisions their characters make, even if they try to pass it off as "that's what my guy would do!". If you want to see a decision that's purely rooted in the player's motives, push the envelope. "And now? Do you make the same judgement now? Even now?" They can't make moralistic decisions, even in a fictional content, without being affected by it.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
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matthijs
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2006, 12:18:28 PM »

Julian,

If you don't see a problem, nor a solution to the problem I see, you're not helping me, I'm afraid. We probably have very different philosophies of play.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2006, 12:33:11 PM »

And frankly, I don't see a problem with that.

Julian,

Matt does. Further, this is his thread and obviously a big problem for him in this game. It is reducing his enjoyment of play. End of story.

Yes, the answer might very well be: "You're out of luck, the players will never want to." But I don't think we are even close to concluding that outright yet.

Now, Matt, I do have the following observation for you: I played Dogs at FM this past weekend. First time. Something came up in play that really struck me as a player. I really wanted to see my character go with it, but at the same time, I could totally see how it might be a conflict with the Faith. I decided, instead of me declaring one way or another what Seth thought, it should be a Conflict of Seth's faith versus his reason, his faith versus his Back East education.

I thought it would be interesting to see what happened if we rolled because I could see it both ways: would Seth conclude the Faith was compatible with Communism -- and what would the other Dogs say...or DO? Or would he have to go and browbeat this idealistic young woman back into line, and then what if he failed to do that? I was fucking psyched. We rolled, and it was one hell of a Conflict!

Note, I'm not saying what the results were, because that isn't important here: it was the intensity of the conflict to me personally, and to the others at the table, that mattered.

So, are your players having a blast? Then I would say help them to realize why they are having a blast doing what they are doing. Changing what they are doing might make things unfun for them, while understanding why they are grabbing these Conflicts can only increase that by putting the Fun to Me right out there for them to bring up consciously in play, rather than feeling it out. To me, that is the isssue: not whether they themselves are saying "here's what I think", but failing to take conscious ownership of their own fun, whether or not they are making personal statements or exploring the character.

How do you do that? Talking with them as a group about this would be a good start. Heck, point them to this thread.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Liminaut
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2006, 06:02:39 PM »

... and they say things like "Well, my character's like this, so he would judge like this". A phrase I've heard many times is "In those days, with these characters, with that faith, we have no choice but to pass this judgement".

You know, there are a lot of game systems that pound this approach into player's skulls *cough*alignment*cough*. You might try getting all Rogerian with them.

"Why do you feel you have no choice?"
"What is it about these days that makes it inevitable?"
"Tell me about the faith you want to have."
"How does this judgement make you feel?"

After all, it's not the Dog's job to pass judgement according to their religion.  Their job is a lot harder.  The Dog's job is to define their faith through their judgements.


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==Ed Freeman
==If there's no such thing as magic, why do we
  have the word?
Ben Lehman
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2006, 12:53:33 AM »

I will note that you don't have to take the idealist approach when you play Dogs.  If, after the game, you step back and say "we did a horrible thing, there," you're still getting a punch out of the game.  It's not that the players' desires have to map to the characters'.  It's that the players must stand in judgement of their own fictional decisions.

yrs--
--Ben
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TonyLB
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2006, 04:44:25 AM »

Ben:  But, like the towns themselves, if the Dogs are too easy to judge ... if they are obviously either right or wrong ... then I think you do lose the thematic punch.

First game I played, one of the players played a guy who was sexually excited by demons.  Someone went through a horrific possession right in front of him, and his response was "Damn that's hot."  And, to be honest, there was nothing there for me to judge.  That was so clearly outside rational human behavior that any judgment had already been made, pre-emptively, by the way the player played it.  He was not wrong, he was alien.

The moment when he sat in judgment and said (roughly) "Look ... she's a witch.  She's gotta die, and she's goin' straight to hell.  You're all agreed I'll do the killin'.  I don't see where it's any of your business how I do it..."  That was chilling.  Because, y'know, as twisted and horrific and disgusting as his argument was, it was something that I could totally see a normal human being saying in a situation that screwed up.
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