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[DITV] First IRC session

Started by JC, July 10, 2007, 05:05:27 AM

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After my first (pretty negative) experience with DITV, I decided I had to learn how to play this game properly before trying it again. Nobody here in Paris seemed interested, so I turned to the online indie RPG community.

After a week or so of wandering about on the Internet, I finally got some players together. Two players actually: F and J. I was GMing, and since I'm a beginner, two PCs was just fine. Plus it says in the book DITV works well with small groups.

We played through IRC, which was a first for me. Luckily, the others had used it before. We tried out some online dice-rollers, but nothing worked, so we stuck with the IRC bot and scribbling in the end, which turned out to be no big deal (as long as you recap regularly).

Also, F suggested we create a blog to share character sheets and so forth. That proved to be a great idea. I'd never used one before either, but it's really straightforward. You can check out this masterpiece-in-progress (with both character sheets) over here: In the end, these and other technical issues took a little while to resolve, but nothing horrible.

We went through char-gen pretty quickly, using the blog. The characters turned out very nice and consistent (for lack of a better word), with evocative Traits, and supercharged with emotional goodness. See for yourselves on the blog.

Then, onto initiations. These took much longer. I think part of that was due to the slowness of the pure-text interface. But mostly it was because I'm still getting used to DITV's rules, and Nar play in general.

The initiations were wonderful. The first one had me laughing out loud in front of my computer. Here's the short version. What's at stake is: "does Brother Micah learn to listen instead of just barking orders" (he's an ex-cavalryman). Brother Micah is leading a group of younger Dogs-in-training down a mountain trail. They spot a wild horse. Brother Micah decides he'll catch and break the horse. A fellow initiate (Brother Cadmus, an NPC) tries to warn him, telling him his brother once got badly hurt going after one of those. Brother Micah doesn't like to be told what to do, and they start arguing. Meanwhile, the youngest fellow of the bunch decides he'll catch the horse himself, to impress the others, and Brother Micah in particular. He's inexperienced, so he's bound to get hurt. Here's what Brother Micah yells at him to keep him from going after the horse: "Get back here, it's much too dangerous! Didn't you hear what Cadmus said? His brother once got hurt real bad, going after one of those!". I couldn't stop laughing.

The other initiation was great too, but in a much more serious way. Brother August is an ex-gunslinger convert from back East, and he smokes. What's at stake is: "does Brother August quit smoking". He's sitting on a bench behind a building at Bridal Falls, and he lights up. A teacher shows up and says "I hope that's your last cigarette". Brother August commands respect, and so replies "I don't think so... Why don't you join me?", implying the teacher should either join him or leave him be. The teacher joins him but says "If someone finds me smoking here with you, you'll have to tempt him too, and I'll have to help you. We could end up tempting the whole community. Is that what you'll do once you're out on the trail?". Brother August draws deeply on his cigarette... and chokes! Man, that one gave me shivers.

At that point we had about 20 minutes left, so we just roleplayed a little on-the-road discussion between the two PCs. This was also real emotionally intense, adding nicely to the character's backgrounds, and tying them together neatly.

All in all, a very satisfying first session. We're due to play again on Sunday, and we'll start with the town I prepped then.

Now, some comments.

First of: IRC is pure text. That means it's kinda slow. But for beginners like me, that's not really a problem. It gives you a chance to think about your raises and sees. The fact that everything's written down also help you see the conflict's structure more clearly. I guess I'll want to switch to something voice-based (like Skype) once I get better at this game, though.

I also learned some stuff about DITV's rules. This will probably seem obvious to the experts, but there you go. So, I learned that you can escalate from any arena to any arena. Kind of makes the term "escalate" counter-intuitive, if you ask me, but hey. Next, the growth/learning/change type of initiation conflicts can be played both ways. They don't have to be flipped. You can flip them, but it's really a matter of which way round the player prefers play the scene. This is a relief, since those flipped conflicts confused me to no end.

Finally, I was reluctant to "play to win", as far as the dice were concerned. But the players encouraged me to go all out. I understand now that the stronger the adversity, the more chances they have to define their character's motivations, behavior and background. So watch out, next time, I'm taking no prisoners!

That's it for the first session. Players and others alike: feel free to chime in!

Christoph Boeckle

That's neat, I'm happy you managed to find arrangements for play! Your session sure seems to have been very good and I hope you'll be able to continue along the same lines.

I quickly looked at the blog and the characters. They look fine, except relationships should just name an NPC. Those for Brother Micah are phrased like traits, and this might restrict the number of situations where the player can use them (that is, conflict with the person, or about the person).

Filip Luszczyk

More descriptive Relationships shouldn't be a problem as long as we remember how they apply to conflicts, I suppose.

QuoteAll in all, a very satisfying first session.

One thing that didn't work for me well was the slowness of Irc. Creating two characters, initiating them, and playing out a short conversation, plus some moderate amount of tabletalk took us about 6 hours. Three moments of tension doesn't feel like a terrible pay-off to me, in relation to the time invested. Irc can shine with some games, but I think that in Dogs the medium is rather hindering than supportive.

As for flipped conflicts, it's been a while since I've been using pre-set outcomes - hence the trouble with clearly establishing sides and goals in my conflict, I suppose. I've been instinctively trying to identify the thing the conflict was about, assuming that the winner will simply resolve it according to the development of the conflict and his final goals (as opposed to pre-stated motivation for his side). For the same reason I didn't fully get the problem of going outside the defined stakes in John's conflict, as it was only in mine that I switched my mindset back to pre-setting the outcomes.

Also, I don't think you can "learn nar" - it's rather about learning new techniques used in these particular games you try out.