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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 79 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: (DITV) Understanding the mysteries of the d4  (Read 2712 times)
baron samedi
Member

Posts: 137


« on: July 27, 2006, 04:40:51 AM »

Hi fellow Dog lovers,

To better get a grip on DITV's system, I have a very narrow question regarding the construction of d4 Traits.

I do understand that more d4s mean more Fallout. Hence, guns (d10+d4) means better chances to win a contest, but greater potential Fallout. Where my reasoning lapses is when a trait has multiple d4 together (eg. 2d4, 3d4) and its net game effect, whether it is a positive or negative force. I

My goal : What I'm trying to do is defining a Trait that represents the internalization of a given culture, whether large (e.g. American or Aztec ideals) or narrow (e.g. membership in something like "the Cult of the Void" or "Scientology"...)

For example, the following ambivalent Traits :

"I have visions from the dark gods that grant me resolve, but colden my heart".
"Individualism makes me self-reliant, but disruptive in groups"
"Love for the Purple Princess fuels my will to accomplish great things, but I despair when she shows loves to others".
"I spill blood for the Blood God, but cannot discern friends from foes".

I know that I could use any dice type to represent one of the traits above (eg. 2d10 or 1d4 or whatever), but I want them to generate a game mechanic effect corresponding to what is desired, i.e. ambivalence, both a genuine (but not overpowering) strenght and a genuine possible liability. This would not be a Trait to evoke at a challenge's end of escalation (like guns, for example), but often at the beginning or middle of a challenge.

It wouldn't be a Relation but something integrated into a character's personal beliefs and behaviours.

Thus, I was wondering how a Trait could mechanically be built to "bridge the gap" between DITV and My Life with Master's "More than Human/Less than Human" elements (i.e. "This happens, unless that happens", or "This happens, but tha thappens too"). That would make a Trait being both positive and negative at various times, but not a handicap in all circumstances. This would apply not specifically in the DITV setting, but in a more general perspective, like a horror game or dark fantasy game or war veteran game for example based on DITV's rules (which are the best I've seen in RPGs so far, IMHO, as they put the focus on the character's choice and responsibility, not tactical choiecs). I've checked out Afraid's alternate rules, but it doesn't satisfy enough my need to understand the Esoteric Mysteries of the d4 Principle.
 
This is presuming that these non-superpernatural "ambivalent" Traits are as much good as they are bad for the possessor, i.e. half positive, half negative, not "powerful with unpredictable circumstances" (like guns). It would be an important Trait defining a character's group or culture, but not his defining Trait as an individual.

Would something like this be better expressed by:

1d4 (Isn't that too much flaw-like ?)
1d6+1d4? (Would that be a balanced, ambivalent trait?)
1d8+1d4? (Would the d8 be enticing enough to compensate the d4, making this more ambivalent?)
1d10+1d4 (Isnt' that too powerful a trait, making it clearly more positive than negative?)
2d4? (Isn't that a very negative and risky trait, or does the second die make it less negative?)
3d4? (Isn't that a very powerful and very risky trait, perhaps too powerful?)

Thanks for all comments. The four-sided pyramid menace of DITV is fascinating, but hard to grasp.

Erick

PS. Perhaps because of my unfamiliarity with American culture, I've tryied to find the meaning of the expression "Dogs in the Vineyard", but couldn't. I thought at first it was a game about talking dogs, but after reading it I presume it is an analogy for Eden ("the vineyard") and the Serafim or flame-bearing angels ("watchods"). Could anyone light my lantern? (Sorry if this seems out-of-topic).
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2006, 04:44:32 AM »

My personal opinion?  You're over-rationalizing it.  Positive, negative, do what you like with them.

"I love my wife - 3d4"
That says something about his relationship with his wife, no?  That while he loves her with all his heart, the relationship is full of AFGO's... "Another Fucking Growth Opportunity"

Just put down the dice, play, and see what they "mean" when you get there.
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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
baron samedi
Member

Posts: 137


« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2006, 08:22:00 AM »

Vaxalon,

Thanks for the advice, but I'm afraid it doesn't answer my question : Since system does matter, then from a design perspective it matters to choose the right dice allocation to obtain the desired game effect. The game effect of 3d4 isn't the same that 1d8+1d4, of course. I was wondering if the effect sought, i.e. "both negative and positive at once", was better achieved by one or the latter. Thus my question.

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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2006, 08:35:42 AM »

When your trait is 1d4, that means that you tend to get in a little trouble when you invoke it, but it helps you overcome problems a little, too.
When your trait is 3d4, that means that you tend to get in a little MORE trouble when you invoke it, but it helps you overcome problems a little more.

A d4 trait is, in and of itself, a strength that tends to involve consequences, moreso than a 1d10 trait does.

That's all.

You're not allowed to take dice of different sizes for any trait other than a gun.

"Dogs" definitely refers to watchdogs.

"The Vineyard" represents the Town; the dogs are required to watch over it, but do not partake in it directly.  Dogs don't eat grapes or drink wine.
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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
ffilz
Member

Posts: 468


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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 08:56:56 AM »

I had some initial confusion about d4 traits myself. Coming to DitV with a previous history with other games, I read d4 traits (etc.) as "disadvantages," but that didn't seem to be the way they work. Now I understand that a d4 trait is something that's helpful to the character, it's just that the help usually comes with strings attached. Because there's a good chance 2 or more d4s will be needed to match the value from 1d10, and even 1d6 will sometimes need to be matched by 2d4, the result is that you will need to use 3 or more dice when picking from d4s to see a raise, and a raise made with 2 dice picking from d4s is more likely to have the blow reversed.

So the key is watch how the mechanics work to drive your story. System matters in that mechanics drive meaning.

In a sense, d4s represent (and are) temptation. You've got a big double handful of dice out there. There's no doubt you can win the conflict. But those d4s? There's a lot of 1s and 2s amongst them (with plenty from the other dice also - but something like half the d4s will be 1s and 2s). Those 1s and 2s will often result in fallout. Sure, you can win the conflict, but you're gonna have to see that 12 shooting raise with 3 or 4 dice... Temptation calls...

Beautiful, elegent, powerful system.

Frank
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Frank Filz
Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 09:03:53 AM »

It's totally, totally, totally alright to put down "I can shoot the wings off a boll weevil at thirty paces 1d4" on your character sheet.

What does that say about your character?

How about "My eyesight isn't what it used to be 2d10"?

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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
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 09:05:13 AM »

There is a parable about a man who sends watchmen into his vineyard (of olives) to protect the trees from his enemies.  In the parable the watchmen fall asleep and the vineyard is occupied by the enemy forcing the man to call his servants together to take the vineyard back.

I imagine that was the inspiration for the phrase.
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baron samedi
Member

Posts: 137


« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2006, 10:10:17 AM »

Humble tanks Vaxalon, THAT was exactly the answer I was looking for. :) I was also reading d4s Traits as disadvantages. So, d4 is ambivalent by itself, 2d4 is ambivalent AND important, etc. I'm considering this for alternate rules for alternate settings, not designing a character per see.

For the Dogs and Vineyard allegory, it is enlightening to understand at last. Is this a reference to a LDS parable ? Would you know what book of the Bible it comes from, if not? (It'd have made a nice quote in the book's preface.) I confess I don't know the New Testament much, I usually read only the Old. It's decidedly not obvious when reading the game's title. I'm reading symbolism and theology as a hobby, but I never saw this allegory specifically. It's beautiful, I think : they watch the grape, yet do not indulge in it. Thus name of "The Order Set Apart...", I understand now... Thanks!

Frank's quote, "System matters in that mechanics drive meaning", is also a beautiful one. "Mechanics drive meaning" : this pearl of wisdom should be somewhere in Troy C.'s Power 19. If only I could translate its meaning adequately in French to share with my fellow players, it summarizes so well DITV's core rules.... But there's no equivalent of the allegory "drive" in French, except as in "drive a car".  (I'd try "Le système compte, car les mécanismes provoquent le sens.")  My English isn't bad, but The Forge's way of thinking (short, punchy phrases, strong emphasis on active verbs) is tough to convey in French, which uses long and flowery sentences with passive style a lot.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts, these were lights in my shadows.
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2006, 11:06:16 AM »

I think you're thinking of this one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Workers_in_the_Vineyard

Which isn't really relevant, IMO.

I think this one may be closer to the truth:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wicked_Husbandmen

But it's still not perfect.

Personally, I think the name references an in-character parable which is never explicitly laid out, and rightly so.
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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
Andrew Cooper
Member

Posts: 724


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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2006, 11:21:46 AM »

Actually my understanding of the name is that it would be a combination of two things. The first is a common term/symbol of the Church which is a vineyard.  Christ being the vine and we being the branches.  There are also the places where the vineyard could be seen as symbolic for the world in general.  Regardless of how you interpret it, vineyards are a common Christian symbol.  Second, the group of in-game characters are a part of an organization called, in short, God's Watchdogs.  So, Dogs in the Vineyard would just be a compilation of those two things. 

God's Watchdogs in the Vineyard/Church/World/whatever.
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Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2006, 12:21:06 PM »

No, those aren't it Fred.

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baron samedi
Member

Posts: 137


« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2006, 04:59:14 PM »

Thousand thanks for the theology class. :)
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Glendower
Member

Posts: 182

My name is Jon.


« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2006, 09:03:17 PM »

I love having d4 traits I can use in "just talking".  Stuff like "I speak the truth, always" and "Public Speakin' ain't my thing" with a pile of d4s next to it.  It makes almost certain that I can take the blow during a conversation with 4-5 dice, which means a decent chance for experience fallout, and less of a chance to horribly die.

Though it's really hard to not want to win... one time I was out of dice after a rather annoying conflict that was "just talking".  I found myself saying "I have like 7 body.  I'm not going to lose this fight If I escalate to physical.  I can DESTROY this little girl and her Tomboy ways!" 

Silence at the table.  I just talked about roughing up a 9 year old girl for not being the girlie girl that the community expected.  I hung my head in shame.

"I'm a monster.  I give."

Due to my huge amount of fallout dice, that did get me:  "A little girl talked circles around me" (1d4) for my new long term fallout (I had several 4's to choose from in a small army of dice).  My fellow players had a FIELD day with that one.
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Hi, my name is Jon.
Warren
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Posts: 167


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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2006, 02:23:41 AM »

Though it's really hard to not want to win... one time I was out of dice after a rather annoying conflict that was "just talking".  I found myself saying "I have like 7 body.  I'm not going to lose this fight If I escalate to physical.  I can DESTROY this little girl and her Tomboy ways!" 

Silence at the table.  I just talked about roughing up a 9 year old girl for not being the girlie girl that the community expected.  I hung my head in shame.
Couldn't you have just hugged her? I guess it depends on what counts as physical escalation for your group, but (for my group at least) "physical" doesn't mean "roughing up".
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2006, 03:28:43 AM »

"Physical, Not Fighting" is a damn sweet escalation level.  You blew it, dude.
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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
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