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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: DitV - Clash of Expectations  (Read 9556 times)
khelek
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Posts: 24


« on: May 18, 2007, 12:39:31 PM »

I love running Dogs, it brings out the worse in characters.

We have a group that is running a number of games, mostly small press, at a local Game Shop who have been kind enough to host us. This week I ran Dogs. I ran a town that was a variation of King's Ward Branch which I found on the Lumpley forum (of course I can not find it now!).

first I explain th setting, there was another player there that had played Dogs with me before and he helped out. I must say that my setting description was a bit haphazard. Thats okay, we got to making Dogs. One player wanted to meta-game a little bit, talk about who would do what, the talking guy, the shooty guy, etc. I tried to explain to him that Niche Protection was not that important in Dogs, and it was more the Personality of the Dog that balanced the party.

Either I explained it poorly or he did not understand, or maybe he thought I did not know what I was talking about. Never-the-less, he persisted, and I asked him what sort of character he wanted, he wanted a Gunslinger. Thats cool, of course you will all have guns. Mel, the player who had played Dogs before offered up the "Seven Samuri" as an example when all the characters are the same, and that you can not depend on being the guy who is The Best at one thing. I also made some allusions to the Fact that Traits could be useful at all stages of the conflict, and to wait your character toward only one aspect of the conflict spectrum is inviting trouble; also that sometimes other Dogs were your own worst enemy.

anyways, we eventually got four dogs, from all walks of life. three of the players passed their Initiation Test, the fourth gave as soon as we described the scene. Instead of heading back to the Temple he went to the dance and chased girls. The player did not even roll the Dice. Thats cool. (Of course, this decision would later tear the party apart, setting Dog on Dog, and requiring multiple exorcisms, awesome).

Play starts, conflicts are had, as so often occurs in Dogs things are solved with a gun. sometimes against more or less unarmed opponents. Looking back, this may have been the very classic and typical example of RPG conflict resolution. Where force is the Key, and you can choose to limit the amount of force you are using since damage is basically a countdown, and you can see your target getting closer to death with each hit. Since in dogs we all roll Fallout at the End, and the GM can twist your intentions by purposefully taking allot of fallout, it leads to unintended, and often harsh consequences.

In my (limited) experience dog groups seem to fall into two general camps, the Investigators and the Judges. The investigators like to hunt out the "Truth" before making a decision, and the Judges just start Judging. As a group the players fell into the second camp, though among the individual players some wanted to investigate. but once the guns come out, and people start dropping Judgment has to be made quick, and you have to decide if your are going to risk your life for an NPC who may or may not be innocent.

When faced with one man being held at the mercy of another. They shot the man in power, the Branch's Steward, and they saved the man who he had in custody, an Unfaithful man whom they were told was a sorcerer. When faced with a man about to kill a woman, who was said to be a witch, they attempted to stop him (by shooting him) to save her. I was talking to Mel earlier in the evening regarding setting of scenes. How ,in my experience, most of the time (but not always) players choose to support the underdog. And that Dogs offers one of the best ways to play with that tendency.

As the judgments and revelations progress the party begins to turn upon itself. Mel's character find that he may be the father of a child (does he claim the child or disown it, he could not seem to decide!) Eventually the climatic scene is the party turning on itself. Disagreements about judgment and punishment for actions taken earlier in the Game was the cause. here I forgot myself and did not focus on what the Stakes were as well as I should. without defining stakes no one would back down. That was my fault. Never the less the conflict came ot a close with two characters down after giving so as to avoid the fallout, and the last person giving to the force of a Exorcism.

Through the game we were laughing so hard we cried. cheering each other on. and being shocked at what happened. It was a great game, everyone had allot of fun, and the Town came to a dramatic close. Likely these dogs would have ot head back to the temple to recover their moral equilibrium. but who knows?


So as we packed up one player came ot me and told me it was a terrible game! (This is the same player who wanted to choose Niches for each character) He said: " I had lots of fun, but the system is terrible! who ever has the most traits will win." I told him that seemed true in most games, but that the question is not how are you going to win, but how far are you willing to go to win. We talked for a while, but he remained unconvinced that the game was suppose to work this way. That choosing when to give and when to escalate was a main element of Dog's game play.

did I explain it badly? was it a clash of expectations? any thoughts?


Thanks,

Jason

PS: The player had a great time during the play session itself, he was laughing and crying with the rest of us. it seemed more of a dissatisfaction with the underlying theory of Dogs.

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Mel White
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2007, 08:03:25 AM »

I love running Dogs, it brings out the worse in characters...
 So as we packed up one player came ot me and told me it was a terrible game! (This is the same player who wanted to choose Niches for each character) He said: " I had lots of fun, but the system is terrible! who ever has the most traits will win." I told him that seemed true in most games, but that the question is not how are you going to win, but how far are you willing to go to win. We talked for a while, but he remained unconvinced that the game was suppose to work this way. That choosing when to give and when to escalate was a main element of Dog's game play.

did I explain it badly? was it a clash of expectations? any thoughts?
Jason

Hi Jason,
I think it was a great game, thanks for running it!  I think Billy's dissatisfaction was due to a 'clash of expectations' rather than any flaws in the explanation or setup.  As background for other readers, Billy, Jason, another player, and I have been playing Burning Empires weekly for about three months, so we've gotten to know each other's likes and dislikes a little bit. Billy doesn't like ambiguity.  He likes his characters to be given a mission, to be 'hired in a bar' to do something.  He plays RPGs the 'old-school' way (despite being about 19 years old)--NPCs are meant to be killed.  When the GM presents a situation, clearly the players' reaction should be to choose sides and act.  And this is all cool!  Billy went into the game designing a gunslinger character who just wanted something to shoot at, and who wanted to be the baddest-ass shooter around.  You'll recall the silver-embroidered crossed-pistols his character had emblazoned on the back of his Dogs coat; and choosing the trait 'ambidextrous' so that he could shoot a gun from each hand--even though that's not strictly necessary to do that.  But then it turns out in actual play, that he couldn't hit anything!  You were able to match his dice through three or four rounds before being overcome.  I don't remember his character's exact traits, but I recall that most had to do with gunfighting.  That has two effects--his character was going to be looking for a gunfight, and his character would be minimally effective in anything but a gunfight.  Although, that being said, I just love (another player) Andy's application of his character's trait 'my ass is numb' in a gunfight to explain that the shotgun blast may have hit him, but it didn't hurt!  So it's not necessarily the number of traits, but creativity in applying traits to the situation at hand. 
Mel
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Adam Dray
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2007, 01:01:19 PM »

Yeah, I don't know to get that point across to the Billys of the world.

"Man, this game is too easy. I shot down the entire town with my rifle and they never even scratched me. I win!"

"Win what?"

"The game! I killed them all!"

"Do you realize that your character is a sociopath? You could have done anything in that game, and you chose to have your character murder an entire town."

"Woo! I win!"

"..."


I generally start a Dogs game with a reminder that there are no wrong or right choices in the game, that the GM has no power to judge you as a player during the game, but that you'd like to talk about the choices everyone made after the game. Players often have their characters do things that they wouldn't do themselves, and I like to remind players of that, too. I can show how terrible absolute power is by playing a sociopath with absolute power, or I can show the faults of blind faith by playing a Dog-priest who doesn't think critically. Those people aren't me at all, yet my choice of characters makes a statement.

It sounds like Billy didn't consider that playing a sociopath was making any kind of statement at all. Basically, as you said, it was a sort of a clash of expectations. Everyone else was playing one game; Billy was playing another.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
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Mel White
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2007, 03:29:52 PM »

It sounds like Billy didn't consider that playing a sociopath was making any kind of statement at all. Basically, as you said, it was a sort of a clash of expectations. Everyone else was playing one game; Billy was playing another.
I may have given the wrong impression.  Billy wasn't playing a sociopath--he didn't want his character to shoot everybody--he wanted to shoot the bad guys.  He just didn't want to spend a lot of time figuring out who was the bad guy.  As Jason said, in the comparison of some players who do investigating and some who start judging, Billy's character just started judging.  No ambiguity:  if a man is abusing another man, shoot the first man because the underdog is the good guy.  Man abusing a woman--shoot the man, because good guys don't abuse women.  So that's fine.  But then when he did try to shoot the bad guy, rather than either hit him or miss him, he wound up shooting the woman by mistake.  So not only is the situation now ambiguous--who should he help; the game mechanics are ambiguous in that there are more than just two results (success or failure).
Mel
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Adam Dray
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2007, 05:02:21 PM »

Even if he wasn't playing a sociopath, most of what I said still applies. Billy was probably playing an entirely different game than you. =)
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
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Mel White
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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2007, 12:09:53 AM »

Even if he wasn't playing a sociopath, most of what I said still applies. Billy was probably playing an entirely different game than you. =)
Definitely!
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2007, 04:57:07 AM »

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Mel White
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2007, 06:07:56 AM »

There is something that strikes me about this discussion, though. You know, if Billy was really playing a totally different game than the rest, how did it come together that everyone around the table had fun together? Mel, Jason, did you feel that Billy’s contributions to the game were worthwhile to you? If so, why? And do you think Billy appreciated your contributions? If so, why?
It was definitely a lot of fun.  Billy contributed by turning the action dial to '11'--as you mentioned, by doing things like starting conflicts out shooting.  So, although we may have started a scene with different expectations, once the shooting started, we were 'all in'.  And, to be sure, by the end of the game it was my character that was shooting the other Dogs. 
Mel 
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2007, 08:03:28 AM »

I]right way (tm)<every conflict no matter the consequences.

Franright way (tevery conflict no matter the consequences.

Frank
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Adam Dray
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2007, 09:42:13 AM »

Frank, I don't think everyone being on the same page regarding Creative Agenda is necessary to have a good time. It sounds like Billy found his own fun via the social interaction, shooting things, and enjoying the action. Mel talked about Jason's "dissatisfaction," though, so I'm assuming it wasn't the best game it could be. And Jason talks of a "clash of expectations," so I'm assume he's here to improve things, too. If they had fun and don't think anything needs to change for the next time, though, then I have nothing to add other than "awesome!"

Jason, you still around? I'm curious what you think now that we've all opined.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
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khelek
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Posts: 24


« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2007, 12:43:54 PM »

Still here and Reading!

Also still digesting the various view points and comments. Certainly I was not dissatisfied with the Game. If I could have run it better, it was primarily some of the typical problems i have: Setting Stakes. However I think that is not necessarily what we are discussing.

Billy brought his play style to the game, which as mel stated is about good guys and bad guys. He likes Missions, but also like to "do his own thing." He also likes to identify with the Underdog. However it played out, the game itself was great fun. Every one excepted what happened, and rolled with it. No one got angry over being betrayed (it helps when it is a short term game).

What got me was Billy's dissatisfaction with Dogs as a game system. While he liked Burning Empires he defintly approached play differently than I did, but we both took what we wanted from BE, and he has expressed interest in a BW game. However! while he (and the rest of us) had a great time playing Dogs billy would seem to not want to play again.


How about this approach to the situation:

Some times you run across a game that has bad mechanics or conflict resolution but a great setting. Often times I hear Shadowrun 2nd Ed or Rifts as an example o such a game. When confronted with one of these games some players and posters will tell you "it is how the game is played, not the rules that matter." I feel like Billy left my Dogs game with that opinion. That he played a game that was fun and interesting, but his fun was Despite the Rules. Where I feel that it is exactly the opposite that allot of my fun in Dogs comes from how the Rules effect play choices. <for example when "My ass is Numb 2d4" can save your characters life> when I play I know that the system is open to munchkin-ism. but since the game is not about Power it does not matter to me as much as when I play a game that is more focused on character competence.

So what shocked me is that he disregarded the rules and intent behind the game as inherently flawed, and thought it was only how it was played that was fun. Where I would state that allot of the fun we had was because the rules not only allowed these kinds of conflicts but demanded that we focus on them! (exclamation points brought to you by Rifts!! jk)

Mel et al., thanks for your feedback keep it coming.

Jason
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baron samedi
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Posts: 137


« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2007, 09:06:01 AM »

Hi guys,

This conversation reminds me of John Tyne's essay in the "Powerkill" RPG, the meta-rpg about talking to your psychiatrist about the people you killed and robbed. When stating "Billy wasn't playing a sociopath", a question arises: what is a sociopath?

According to Oxford's: "a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviour. "

It is my humble opinion that someone shooting people around is, indeed, a manifestation of extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviour. Thence a sociopath his character is. At least that's what they call them in the media when a school shoot-out happens.

Not that Billy's a sociopath or anything, but irresponsibility from consequences is everywhere in RPGs. I think that RPGs drive out the most sociopathic trends in anyone; few would challenge the notion that a shooter killing people without proper trial procedure, outside a context of crisis (e.g. war), is sociopathic behaviour at its best.

Which was the point of Tynes' game, and which your friend Billy illustrated. When fundamentalists critizice RPGs for immorality, that's probably the kind of behaviour they have in mind... and it's a good point about "takign a stand on values" (e.g. killing people for XP and gold).  DITV brings that behaviour up to your nose, I think, which is a great part of its appeal. Thence, the assumption clash I think... The paradigm wasn't winning (gamist), it was about meaning (narrativist).

Smiley
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Web_Weaver
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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2007, 01:21:25 AM »

Hey all,

I think that we need to be careful when we talk about how certain types of players interact with the Dogs rules because the reward cycle of Dogs is on a longer scale than a single conflict, and can take 3 or 4 towns to really kick in.

To illustrate lets put ourselves in the shoes of the stereotypical "traditional roleplayer". We'll define him as a guy who is used to task resolution and quick reward cycles like experience points or the like.

We start playing dogs with the expectation "this is an rpg, I have played loads of these" and concentrate on understanding the mechanics and trying to do stuff effectively. But, during the first few conflicts our intended tasks get subverted by the conflict system, the only reward appears to be winning or loosing and the fallout system seems to be analogous to damage. Worse still, it becomes apparent that winning and loosing isn't always about the dice which flies in the face of most dice heavy games. We begin to be disorientated and look for a new tactic.

We are slowly encouraged to adopt a tactic of managing fallout dice and push harder on raises in the conflict to get the other guy to back down. (This is echoed in the talk of turning the action up to 11). Next, we realise that any trait can be used to push harder or provide fallout options and that we can make the fallout both interesting and potentially positive by using it to add more traits and or dice.

At this stage the reward cycle STARTS to kick in, the behaviour encouraged by the rules is "play hard and flexible" & "make Fallout work for my character".

Then after a few plays we begin to realise that the conflict is mechanically about clashing over stakes and narration of the dice, and that fallout is about reflecting meaningful character consequences. So what type of player are we now?

So after all that my main point is let the game do the talking and stop worrying who "gets it", because if a game is designed well the agenda is emergent not the other way round. The agenda issues here are related to the rewards emerging from the conflict and the encouraged behaviour.

So to turn it back to actual play, at this early stage did you notice Billy beginning to manage fallout, either mechanically (pushing forward small dice and taking blows) or character driven (rationalising interesting consequences when applying fallout). Because this would be a better indication of how far along the path he is of grasping the rules. The dissatisfaction may be temporary while the reward system kicks in fully, or it may linger and resolve into a dislike of Dogs for more considered reasons, but try not to prejudge the early reactions its just a symptom of the disorientation phase.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2007, 06:08:57 AM »

Hey Jamie,

I don't think it's that easy. Many people here around tend to believe that a well designed Forge style coherent game system will just make a player display a certain Creative Agenda. But reward mechanics are not that powerful. They are a good tool for communicating and focusing goals and preferences, but these goals and preferences need to be there in the first place.

I think if someone plays Dogs, by the rules as written, for one full session and states afterwards that he doesn't like the mechanics, then probably he just doesn't like the mechanics. And the idea that the mechanics will somehow convert (cure?) him if he continues playing is somthing of an urban myth around this website. I don't even know where it came from.

You know what? I would really like to hear what Billy himself has to say. Jason, Mel, do you think there is a way to point him to this thread?

Frank
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Web_Weaver
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« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2007, 10:28:48 AM »


Hi Frank

To keep it brief and not take the thread into theory your restatement of my position is not representative of my views, and I mainly agree with you apart from the single session aspect, and then specifically for the game in hand which in my experience takes a while to sink in. My hypothetical was just that, there is no such person as the "traditional roleplayer", that is why I defined him narrowly.

To use a Monopoly analogy, you can only fully appreciate the economy of the game if you play it to the end. Sure some people are going to decide its boring half way through, but usually when they have some idea of how property works and how the money flows as opposed to twice round the board.

Nearly every game I have ever played or witnessed played has an "ah I see" moment, and I am only suggesting that reaching that point is the best place to judge whether you like it or not. I don't think that is controversial.
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