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Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: Chris Peterson on November 25, 2005, 08:51:51 PM



Title: Useless Traits?
Post by: Chris Peterson on November 25, 2005, 08:51:51 PM
I just finished reading the Dogs rulebook and it looks great! How, when, or why would a player use these seeming useless Traits belonging to some example NPCs in the rulebook?

  • "Black hair 1d10"
  • "Clumsy 2d4"
  • "I can't see well without my eyeglasses 2d10"

Most of my RPG experience has been pedantic, gamist D&D, so please be patient with my questions as my mind is still expanding to accommodate more narrativism! <:)


thanks,
chris


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Brian Newman on November 25, 2005, 09:37:17 PM
Well, the last two are easy.  "Clumsy" would apply any time your manual dexterity would matter.  "I can't see well without my eyeglasses" would apply whenever the character can't see well... but since it's 2d10, I'm surmising that it's the kind of thing where the character is actually better when fumbling around blindly and lucks into something they would have missed with their glasses on, because it was too obvious.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: fmac on November 26, 2005, 12:11:08 AM
Black Hair is rather difficult. Especially at for a player to take it at a d10. That's like saying that the blackness of this character's hair is one of the best, most important things about him. I find it difficult to imagine black hair being that interesting to a player.

It might come into play if someone messes it up in a fistfight, or if the character smooths it back while bracing to do something difficult, or plays with it nervously, or looks adorable coverin' their eyes, or shines in the moonlight.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Vaxalon on November 26, 2005, 03:27:18 AM
It has been my experience that pretty much any trait can be brought into pretty much any conflict, if the player is creative enough.

Black hair is one of the easiest, because smoothing it, flipping it out of his eyes, etc. can be tossed into any action as a throwaway gesture.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Chris Peterson on November 26, 2005, 01:03:31 PM
ok, so my initial interpretation was not that far off. I guess this is just part of the openness of DITV. I'm still doubtful about the usefulness of "Clumsy 2d4" and "I can't see well without my eyeglasses 2d10". Maybe those Traits make more sense for colorful NPCs the players' Dogs will encounter. For example, I think the NPC with "Black hair 1d10" was possessed, so her black hair might be a demonic clue or power..?


chris


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Vaxalon on November 26, 2005, 01:14:49 PM
Could be.  Or not.

Take "I can't see well without my glasses."

"Can you make the shot, Brother Jessup?"  ...  "I've got my glasses, haven't I?"  (add 2d10 to the pool)

"I trip over the carpet, landing against the gun cabinet, which falls over and lands on the cultist."  (add 2d4 to the pool)


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: lumpley on November 26, 2005, 01:18:19 PM
Here's what's awesome about "I can's see without my glasses 2d10."

I raise: He punches you! In the head!
You see, taking the blow: My glasses go flying.
You roll 2d10 into your dice.
I go: Uh oh.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: fmac on November 26, 2005, 01:48:05 PM
I need to learn to write more succinctly. In the time it took my to write my reply on here, Vincent and Vaxalon had already posted . . . With two of the very examples I was using. :p


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 28, 2005, 07:01:29 AM
I had a Dog with glasses who was farsighted 4d8 (or something).

She used a rifle.

When the shit was about to go down, she'd calmly take off her glasses and shoulder her rifle.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 28, 2005, 07:03:19 AM
Oh, yes, and I had a player who had "big, excellent hair, 2d10". We decided, after much debate, that it made a better Possession than Relationship. He used it in social conflict pretty much every time.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Transit on November 28, 2005, 08:14:25 AM
If I remember correctly, "Black Hair d10" comes from an example of a possessed woman NPC who also had a manifestation "my hair moves even when there's no wind" (or something like that) so I could easily see her black hair being a very creepy part of an exorcism.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Andrew Morris on November 28, 2005, 08:28:25 AM
And how cool would it be to counter a great social intimidation raise with, "My character can't see his expression since he's not wearing his glasses. Hand me 2d10, would you?"


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: lumpley on November 28, 2005, 08:39:07 AM
So Chris - is this making sense to you?

How's it sitting for you that I gain substantial mechanical advantage (2d10) from my character's substantial in-game disadvantage ("I'm blind as a bat")?

-Vincent


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: GB Steve on November 28, 2005, 08:55:26 AM
A PC in one of my games was rather ignorant and had the wonderful trait "I wouldn't know about that". It's a great counter to any argument. There is no other game I can think of where you can win an argument precisely because you are too dumb to understand it.

As such, it seems to me that there are no useless traits in Dogs. In fact quite the opposite, you can almost always shoe-horn any trait into any conflict. You can recognise good players because either they don't try to do this, or because they come up with very plausible explanations.

In one of my longer games we had an agreement that players would police themselves to throwback any of the sillier raises.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Andrew Morris on November 28, 2005, 09:13:05 AM
As such, it seems to me that there are no useless traits in Dogs. In fact quite the opposite, you can almost always shoe-horn any trait into any conflict. You can recognise good players because either they don't try to do this, or because they come up with very plausible explanations.

In one of my longer games we had an agreement that players would police themselves to throwback any of the sillier raises.

Yes, I'm not sure if it's in the rules or not, but in my Dogs game, I make it clear that if any player finds something too lame, we don't run with it. This is especially true for anything I do as the GM. So far, the system has worked very well. We don't really like "shoe-horning" traits into the game, though. Sure, you can do it, but we're very careful that the narration justifies the use of the trait, not the other way around.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Chris Peterson on November 28, 2005, 10:59:20 AM
So Chris - is this making sense to you?

How's it sitting for you that I gain substantial mechanical advantage (2d10) from my character's substantial in-game disadvantage ("I'm blind as a bat")?

-Vincent

I am definitely more comfortable with these oddly useful traits, though some traits still seem so universally applicable that my Suspension of Disbelief flickers and I just see raw dice mechanics instead of character actions. <:)

thanks!
chris


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Andrew Morris on November 28, 2005, 12:33:22 PM
Yeah, I'm pretty sure my players would veto "Ready for any situation 3d10" if anyone tried to put it on their sheet. But then again, I can't remember if the veto rule is in the book, or something we've tacked on.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: lumpley on November 28, 2005, 12:35:57 PM
Group vetoing is in the book, under "establish local standards by following the lead of the person with the best, strictest tastes."

-Vincent


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 28, 2005, 12:43:44 PM
I call it the "bullshit rule".

I've never seen anyone use it in Dogs, Under the Bed, or Shock:, though apparently it was applied a little too harshly in one game of UtB. It's a touchy thing, and I'm trying to figure out a better way to negotiate that stuff.

I suspect a strict definition of the world would come from any strict delineation of Traits, and that can really only come from play, not from the text, unless the designer's being overbearing.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: dunlaing on November 28, 2005, 01:38:47 PM
"Ready for any situation" 3d4 would be a pretty cool trait.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Transit on November 28, 2005, 02:04:00 PM
Some suggestions for other "universally applicable" traits:

"Look! Behind you!" 1d6

"Plays well with others" 4d4

"I'm really lucky whenever I want to be" 4d6

"Makes a mighty fine cup of coffee" 2d4

"Spontaneous and unexpected pie fight" 8d4

"Your shoelace is untied" 6d6

"I have some extra dice here in the pocket of my Dog's Coat" 6d6

"The King of Life loves me more than you" 8d8

"I cheat at Dogs in the Vineyard" 11d20


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Kintara on November 29, 2005, 02:14:03 AM
Some suggestions for other "universally applicable" traits:

"Look! Behind you!" 1d6

"Plays well with others" 4d4

"I'm really lucky whenever I want to be" 4d6

"Makes a mighty fine cup of coffee" 2d4

"Spontaneous and unexpected pie fight" 8d4

"Your shoelace is untied" 6d6

"I have some extra dice here in the pocket of my Dog's Coat" 6d6

"The King of Life loves me more than you" 8d8

"I cheat at Dogs in the Vineyard" 11d20
The funny thing about those is that they would each work in their own way, well, mostly.  I mean if your intent was to make your character silly, then some of those will encourage you to play the character that way.  Applicability means something, but if it's universally applicable and used constantly, it's also going to reinforce the style of that trait on your character that much more.  "I'm really lucky whenever I want to be." is a good example.  It sounds twinky, but it also definitely has thematic ramifications in a Dogs game that might be pretty interesting.  It might be more "useful," but it also creates a pull on your character's story that could easily mean something very interesting for everyone.

Besides, "winning" isn't all it's cracked up to be in DitV. ;)


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Darren Hill on November 29, 2005, 04:50:53 AM
Most of those universally applicable traits are perfectly acceptable traits to take in Dogs, local group permitting.
(Probably not "I cheat at dogs")
My favourite of this sort from an actual game was
"Tumbleweed rolls by: 2d6"


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: DevP on November 29, 2005, 08:09:21 AM
"I cheat at Dogs in the Vineyard" 11d20 wouldn't work... unless the Faithful had a game called "Dogs in the Vineyard" where people play out the epic lives of Watchdogs, and it's a common pasttime or more whimsical youths and adults. If your character was the type to play this game-version but cheat there... I think I have a headache.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Transit on November 29, 2005, 08:54:04 AM
"I cheat at Dogs in the Vineyard" 11d20 wouldn't work... unless the Faithful had a game called "Dogs in the Vineyard" where people play out the epic lives of Watchdogs, and it's a common pasttime or more whimsical youths and adults. If your character was the type to play this game-version but cheat there... I think I have a headache.

Yeah, they were all meant as humorous suggestions, that one in particular since it references the game from within the game and uses D20s.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Simon Kamber on November 30, 2005, 04:54:44 AM
My favourite of this sort from an actual game was
"Tumbleweed rolls by: 2d6"
Awesome trait!

Personally, I'm fine with easily applicable traits as long as they, as Kintara said, creates a pull on your characters story.

What I'd watch out with isn't the traits that are hard to use though. It's my experience that some simply don't turn out as the player intended them. In these cases, it seems reasonable to allow the player to change them. I mean, if a player has a trait that he hasn't used for the whole first session, it seems fair that he's allowed to change it.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Vaxalon on November 30, 2005, 05:26:15 AM
This ties to something I ran into when running the one-shot in LA.

The players were in a big final conflict with the cultists and were running out of dice... they had rolled in every trait they had, and they STILL were going to lose... when i suggested that they could use some of their free relationship dice, and declare a relationship with the cultists.

"What, you mean that we like them?  I don't understand."

"No, I mean, like, "I hate Brother Zachariah's guts."

They blanched.  "Man.  I hope it doesn't come to that.  That really... says something about the character, doesn't it?"

"Yah.  Is it worth winning, for your character to let the seed of hatred sprout in his soul?"

"Damn.  Doesn't have to be hatred, though, you know."

"Oh, of course.  Whatever relationship you want is fine... but whatever it is, it'll say something about your character, to do so."


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Chris Peterson on November 30, 2005, 01:40:20 PM
The players were in a big final conflict with the cultists and were running out of dice... they had rolled in every trait they had, and they STILL were going to lose... when i suggested that they could use some of their free relationship dice, and declare a relationship with the cultists.

If the character kills Brother Zachariah, can he "sell" that Relationship for its dice? What are the rules for ending a relationship? Is it easier (or even more difficult) if that person is dead? hmm..


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: lumpley on November 30, 2005, 01:42:05 PM
There are no rules for removing a relationship from your sheet or somehow unassigning its dice.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: oliof on November 30, 2005, 02:06:44 PM
One of the more grating tasks was one character, Br. Jakob,  that had "I have a task here 2d10". At one time in the game I asked the player to define what this task was for this town. He did so, and funnily was revived by another character, calling Br. Jakob by his name. The two final Raises fighting for this character involved shouting "You still have a task here!" and breathing back life into the mouth of dying Br. Jakob.

Regards,
     Harald


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Transit on November 30, 2005, 03:06:03 PM
If the character kills Brother Zachariah, can he "sell" that Relationship for its dice? What are the rules for ending a relationship? Is it easier (or even more difficult) if that person is dead? hmm..

To me it would be too easy to let a character just "forget" the relationship he had with someone - especially someone he killed, and have that relationship disappear without a trace, and have the player get free dice out of the bargain.

Just because Brother Zach is dead, doesn't mean the relationship is over.  (And depending upon how "supernatural" your game gets, just because Brother Zach is dead doesn't mean his ghost won't be comin' round a'gunnin for some payback.)

Rather than the relationship ending, I would think that killing someone might make the relationship an even stronger part of the character.  (i.e.the guilt/regret/joy/whatever the character feels from killing Brother Zachariah stays with the character, and affects the way he deals with others for the rest of his life.)



Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: fmac on December 01, 2005, 03:19:12 PM
I think the fact that you're stuck with the relationships you have is part of what makes them work. It adds tactical depth to the game; you can take a relationship with someone for dice, but you're not getting those dice back for other things. If you care enough about a conflict to take those dice, then your character cares enough about someone that it's going to stick with them.

It also makes a situation where a veteran dog starts running out of relationship dice, and is only gaining new ones through fallout (complicated relatioships, at that) and experience. That's cool, because you can tie that into in-game events. So you have a Dog who's been around for a while, developed relationships with certain people; help some, left some of behind, buried some, shot a couple and left them for dead in the cruel desert sun. After a while, it gets harder for the Dog to say, "this person is important to me, as an individual." What does *that* mean for the character? That they're burning out, having seen too much already, losing the ability to empathize with their charges? That they start investing experience in relationships to show that they're still connecting?

Imagine a conflict against a sorcerer where a Dog have to Give because he's used everything else, and doesn't have a relationship die left to assign. What's *that* say?



Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Vaxalon on December 04, 2005, 06:35:33 PM
That's a Dog that's ready to retire, I think.

A nice, long rest.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: Neal on December 05, 2005, 08:20:14 AM
Some suggestions for other "universally applicable" traits:

*Snipped* some very funny stuff...

I had an NPC with the Trait "Just can't be shot: 2d6."  The NPC was supposed to be a veteran of some nebulous Indian war or another, and had come through without being shot.  Of course, I rolled those dice in play, getting a 2 and a 3, and one of my players shot the crap out of that NPC.  So much for that.

The other side of this is the Trait that just sits there and stares up at you, challenging you to find a way to use it:

"I happen to know for a fact that chinchillas are generally nocturnal: 1d6"

"How come the soles of your feet always itch when you have boots on?: 1d4"

"Is that broth I smell?: 2d8"

"Every state has a capitol city, and I've memorized them all: 2d10"

"That old guy in the park sure plays a mean game of checkers: 3d6"

"When the wind is southerly, I can tell a hawk from a handsaw: 2d8"

"I used to think 'lugubrious' meant something like 'wet and squishy,' you know, like a 'lugubrious' bowl of Yorkshire pudding, but I have since learned otherwise, to my everlasting sorrow: 3d10"

The worst thing is, there's probably not a person reading this post who hasn't already thought, "No, I could probably find a way to bring that one into play."  That's the danger of useless Traits.  They're like George Carlin's leftovers; someone's going to feel personally challenged to find a use for them.

GM: "With a crack of powder and a cloud of smoke, he fires his ancient fowling piece at you.  My Raise is 12 to you."
Player: "Ah, back home, we had an ancient fowling piece just like that one.  Pa would sometimes take it down and clean it while Ma made supper.  I still remember those suppers: the fresh biscuit, the good brown gravy, and ooooh, the broth.  That rich chicken stock with the green onions and the herbs.  That broth always makes me think of home, gives me the courage to fight on when I think I can't fight anymore.  Wait.  (Shooka, shooka.  Clatter, clatter.)  Is that broth I smell?"


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: fmac on December 05, 2005, 02:31:34 PM
"I happen to know for a fact that chinchillas are generally nocturnal: 1d6" "Well, we know the boy was taken during the night . . . So it just might've been chinchillas. I'm going to find some tracks, and if it's chinchilla prints we'll know for sure. I raise with 6."

"How come the soles of your feet always itch when you have boots on?: 1d4" "I take the blow. I don't have a comeback for that, so I'll shake out my boot to avoid making eye contact while I think. There must be a rock in there or something!"

"Is that broth I smell?: 2d8" Already taken care of. ;)

"Every state has a capitol city, and I've memorized them all: 2d10" "You think you know better than me, boy? You think you're pretty smart? Well then tell me, what's the capital of Maine? I know. How 'bout you? Guys, think that counts as a Reversal?"

"That old guy in the park sure plays a mean game of checkers: 3d6" Now, we could settle this with guns . . . But I don't think you want to die, any there's another option. You folks got a checker board around here? Okay, so do you figure checkers counts as physical? How 'bout speed checkers? I really want to get that 5d6 out . . .

"When the wind is southerly, I can tell a hawk from a handsaw: 2d8" Okay, I have no idea what's going on here. Let's time lapse a couple days, until the wind is southerly. Then I'll have it figured out. Dodge!

"I used to think 'lugubrious' meant something like 'wet and squishy,' you know, like a 'lugubrious' bowl of Yorkshire pudding, but I have since learned otherwise, to my everlasting sorrow: 3d10" "I understand your sorrow, Sister Marah. You and that husband of yours, me and 'lugubrious,' like 'wet and squishy' . . . We both know what it's like to have the things we thought we knew turned upside down. You're not alone. I raise 15 - she can't deny that!

I just looked over my players' character sheets, and there is actually one trait on there - between the three of them - that hasn't been used yet. That's "We're all family: 2d6." Funny, I didn't expect it to be so elusive.


Title: Re: Useless Traits?
Post by: dunlaing on December 06, 2005, 08:28:28 AM
"I happen to know for a fact that chinchillas are generally nocturnal: 1d6" "Well, we know the boy was taken during the night . . . So it just might've been chinchillas. I'm going to find some tracks, and if it's chinchilla prints we'll know for sure. I raise with 6."

Those would be some big-ass chinchillas. Frankly, if I came into a town and there were chinchillas big enough to drag off boys, I might just decide then and there that this whole town done gone wrong and we are gonna need another box of bullets.

My chinchilla is pretty big for a chinchilla, and at best, I think he could drag off a pizza crust.