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Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: Levi Kornelsen on December 07, 2005, 03:22:12 PM



Title: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 07, 2005, 03:22:12 PM
Several friends of mine, having heard the basic premise for Dogs in the Vineyard, have told me that they'd love to see it run as a live-action game.

Has this ever been done?


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Vaxalon on December 07, 2005, 04:39:26 PM
I doubt it but.... it would be cool.

The mechanic would have to be changed, though.  Dice don't work in LARP.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 07, 2005, 04:48:18 PM
The mechanic would have to be changed, though.  Dice don't work in LARP.

Believe me, this I know.

There are, however, piles of other good mechanics out there.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Andrew Morris on December 07, 2005, 07:03:49 PM
It'd be rough to make a DitV LARP, no doubt about it. Unless you're willing to have a bunch of small tables everywhere (and each player carrying around a pocketful of dice), that is. And the mechanics would be painfully slow for a LARP, since you'd essentially just be playing the tabletop game, but walking around in costume while you did it.

Believe me, if someone found a way to convert DitV to LARP, I'd play it. Dogs is perhaps my favorite game....definitely in my top five of all time, and I enjoy LARPing.

My gut reaction is that it would have to use mechanics every bit as good as those in DitV, since that's one of the core attractions of the game. I know I can throw myself right into the grasp of the mechanics, and they're never going to let me down, no matter how well or how badly I roll.

As to dice not being useable in a LARP, I've actually seen it work. You put some dice in a see-through box, shake it up, and read them off as you need them. This works if you only need a dozen or fewer of the same type of die (in the Storyteller games, for example), but I can't see it working for Dogs.

There are some other hurdles, as well, and I can't see any way to get around them, as much as I'd like to see a DitV LARP.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 07, 2005, 07:27:10 PM
Believe me, if someone found a way to convert DitV to LARP, I'd play it. Dogs is perhaps my favorite game....definitely in my top five of all time, and I enjoy LARPing.

My gut reaction is that it would have to use mechanics every bit as good as those in DitV, since that's one of the core attractions of the game. I know I can throw myself right into the grasp of the mechanics, and they're never going to let me down, no matter how well or how badly I roll.

Well, I ordered the physical book about two hours ago (or rather, my SO did so with her credit card), and requested that if the PDF is free with that, I'd like it, too (I'm not sure if it is). 

...And I have more experience with working on LARPs than tabletop games, by a very wide margin.  So, I'm going to see if I can't find a way.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Blankshield on December 07, 2005, 07:40:25 PM
Hmm.  The big hurdle I see is not the dice problem per se, although I do think you would have a hard time functionally duplicating  the raise-see process.  Something card-based, perhaps.  

No, the big thing I see is that Dogs, even more so than most P&P games, is very very strongly focused around the protagonists.  You'd need to run it as something like a Sunfall dungeonquest game, with a couple hour scenario that resets for each group of Dogs.  Less linear than a dungeonquest, obviously, but you'd need the same kind of actor/player focus and support to make it really work.  Otherwise you'd get the standard Sunfall "fuck the plot, my character wants to do this" play - which is fine for Sunfall, but works less well when it's the Steward of the town.

(For the people not Levi, who knows what I'm talking about, Sunfall is a local LARP-style that is a fairly bog-standard set of rules with a play culture that - with rare exceptions - has developed a strong tendency towards one-shot theme play, often a bit wacky.  The Dungeonquests are highly linear scenarios that function pretty much exactly the same as True Dungeon at Gencon has turned out to be, except without the D20 rules-set and the big budget.)

James


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 07, 2005, 08:03:20 PM
Hmm.  The big hurdle I see is not the dice problem per se, although I do think you would have a hard time functionally duplicating  the raise-see process.  Something card-based, perhaps.

From what I understand of the system thus far (enough to understand your comments, certainly, but hardly everything), cards would certainly be on the agenda as the first things to test.

No, the big thing I see is that Dogs, even more so than most P&P games, is very very strongly focused around the protagonists.

Absolutely.  Therein lies the challenge, and a portion the interest for me.  It sounds hard to do, and do faithfully, James; that's part of why I want to try and do it.

You'd need to run it as something like a Sunfall dungeonquest game, with a couple hour scenario that resets for each group of Dogs.  Less linear than a dungeonquest, obviously, but you'd need the same kind of actor/player focus and support to make it really work.  Otherwise you'd get the standard Sunfall "fuck the plot, my character wants to do this" play - which is fine for Sunfall, but works less well when it's the Steward of the town.

I'm not entirely sure that's the model I'd aim for.  However, the standard WoD game model would be completely out of the question.  There are, I think, quite a few other ways, and I wouldn't mind trying them.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Ice Cream Emperor on December 08, 2005, 12:42:09 AM
You'd need to run it as something like a Sunfall dungeonquest game, with a couple hour scenario that resets for each group of Dogs.

I can see this working something like: the GM(s) prepare three or four towns, each with a very similar number of NPCs. The goal is to have PC Dogs + NPCs = number of players, with GMs playing any number of additional NPCs as necessary. Then you play through one town, and everyone swaps characters -- and runs through the next town. If you want a game with 4 Dogs and 8 major NPCs, you want 12 players -- and after three towns everyone has had a chance to play a Dog. Also, they're all totally exhausted and burnt-out... but hopefully in a good way.

I think the town-generation rules, with the emphasis on having explicit goals for every major NPC (what they want the Dogs to do, etc.) are very well-suited to creating LARP-happy scenarios.

As for replacing the die the mechanic, I got nothin'.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Vaxalon on December 08, 2005, 04:15:46 AM
Here's the beginning of a mechanic.  I don't play LARP, so I don't know how reasonable it is.

At the beginning of each Town, each Dog player gets an index card labeled with the following digits: 112223333444455566789 and a 10.  You could do this by pulling cards out of a deck of cards.  Rather than being divided up by attributes, traits, etc. they're merely labeled for escalation levels; Diamonds = Just talking, Hearts = Pushing and shoving, clubs=weapons, spades=gunplay.

When a card is used in a conflict for a raise or see, the player takes the card from his hand, shows it,  and puts it in his pocket.  At the end of a conflict, he refreshes his hand from his pocket.  Raises and sees work as in Dogs.

At the end of a scene in which a character takes fallout, his highest card is demoted by the size of the fallout; so a character who takes d8 fallout, and his highest remaining card is an 8, would lose the 8.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Brendan on December 08, 2005, 07:11:59 AM
At the beginning of each Town, each Dog player gets an index card labeled with the following digits: 112223333444455566789 and a 10.  You could do this by pulling cards out of a deck of cards.

I like this idea, except I don't understand it.  I think you mean "an index card and a hand of x cards?"


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 08, 2005, 07:39:54 AM
Not quite sure how the index card idea works - I get some of it, but not all.

The first idea that comes to mind for me, personally, would be for each player to have a hand of cards; say, seven or so, regular playing cards, though the actual distribution of numbers required would likely mean leaving some cards out.  All traits normally represented by dice would instead have two ratings - plays and limit.  Plays would be the number of cards from their hand they can use on a task; Limit would be be the highest number that any one of those cards can have; in most ways, cards would function as die results.  After use, a card would be placed in the player's "boot" (wherever they keep cards not in use).  Whenever dice would be re-rolled, players pull all "boot" cards into their hands, quickly shuffle them hand-over-hand, and draw three cards, sight unseen, from the hand of their opponent - effectively, they trade three random cards each draw (roll).

Not sure how fallout would function.

However, that would likely be very slow, and system shortcuts would need to be built to speed it up; it might not work at all, and might need to be tossed.  We'll see.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Graham W on December 08, 2005, 12:02:27 PM
Bloody hell, a DitV LARP.

I think the biggest problem would be maintaining the rhythm of a conflict and not getting distracted by the mechanics. You'd want it to be:

Dog: I quote the Book of Life: "No woman shall lie with another woman."

*quick test*

Woman: I look at the book in fear. "Don't hit me. Leave us in peace."

*quick test*

Dog: "There can be no peace in a house like this." I bring the Book down on your shoulder, forcing you to your knees."

*quick test*


Too much rolling dice or drawing cards during that would sap energy from the scene. Ralph's system seems good from this point of view, because it's very quick - it just involves showing a card. 

There's also a question of what sort of stance we're using. It's unusual in a LARP to be able to say "The sun comes over the horizon, blinding you and spoiling your aim". But it seems important in a Dogs LARP.

I'm faintly embarrassed for mentioning this, but my 24-hour LARP [a href="http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/Dirty_Freaks.php"]Dirty F***king Freaks[/a] was an attempt at a Dogs-like resolution system in a LARP. It's a very flawed game but there might be something in it.

Graham


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 08, 2005, 12:21:44 PM
Bloody hell, a DitV LARP.

I think the biggest problem would be maintaining the rhythm of a conflict and not getting distracted by the mechanics. You'd want it to be:

*Snipped example*

Too much rolling dice or drawing cards during that would sap energy from the scene. Ralph's system seems good from this point of view, because it's very quick - it just involves showing a card. 

Hmm.   My mental image of the card sytem I was thinking of was:

*Conflict begins*

Dog: I quote the Book of Life: "No woman shall lie with another woman."

*The Dog's player, who is holding his 'hand' in his left hand, hidden from the other player, pulls one card into their right hand*

Woman: I look at the book in fear. "Don't hit me. Leave us in peace."

*The Woman's player looks at the cards, held similarly, and pulls two out to show the Dog. *

Dog: "There can be no peace in a house like this." I bring the Book down on your shoulder, forcing you to your knees."

*We've escalated - both players flick their own cards back into their left hand simulataneously, give them a single shuffle, draw from their opponent at the same time, and the dog then 'shows' a new card.*


Which isn't much slower, really.  I think.

Stance...  Well, that's a fine question. 

Also, Dirty F***king Freaks is interesting.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 08, 2005, 12:23:21 PM
Ooop - sorry.  In my little example, I missed saying that when the Dog moves his first card from his left hand to his right, he shows it to the player of the woman.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Vaxalon on December 09, 2005, 12:28:13 PM
Bringing director stance to a LARP, even in a small way, seems like a bold thing to do, and I applaud anyone who attempts it.

There ought to be a way to distill the Dogs conflict system down.  Perhaps the right way to go about it, isn't to cut down the system, but to boost the scale?

Imagine that 'resolving' the whole town is a single raise-and-see conflict, and each raise-and-see is represented in the game as what we would call conflicts in a normal Dogs game?


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 09, 2005, 02:29:26 PM
Entirely independent of task resolution, my first thought was something along the lines of having each player create one protagonist (main character) and one town - they'd set a cast of characters for their own town.  Then, when the game was in action, there would be two or three scenes running, with a few players as protagonists, and the rest as extras, at any given time.  After scenes 'let out', players could mingle and decide which town to run at next, and with which characters.  As towns get used, the players for them would write new ones for the future...

Pushing this even further, it'd be possible in that structure for some players to create protagonists that weren't Dogs - things like regulators and rangers from the authority, sorcerers, and so on, and have them muddle up towns already "fixed" - which could happily introduce protaginist vs. protagonist 'overplots', as the Dogs spread the word that a Sorcerer has been working his way down the towns on the east side of the county (or whatever), and needs to be caught and put down.

That general area of group structure springs to mind; it opens up the ability to use stances and agendas beyond the normal limits of most live game structures.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Andrew Morris on December 09, 2005, 03:33:21 PM
Oh, Levi, I realised no one had asked you the single most important question -- have you run and/or played Dogs over any length of time?


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 09, 2005, 03:50:27 PM
Oh, Levi, I realised no one had asked you the single most important question -- have you run and/or played Dogs over any length of time?

Nope.

I also hadn't played Werewolf or Vampire in any form before I ran them live.  I was running tabletop games for four years before I was a player in one, and running live games for two years before I played one of those.

It's just how I come at games; getting in at the "deep end" has a long history of working better for me.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Andrew Morris on December 09, 2005, 07:06:11 PM
Oh, ouch. I'd be really worried about this. Dogs has a unique feel to it that I haven't seen...well, in any other game. Without really experiencing, understanding, and reproducing that feel, you'd just be creating a generic LARP set in the DitV universe. It might be fun, but it sure wouldn't be Dogs.

My strong recommendation is to get some Dogs actual play in (running or playing, preferably both). You'll see what I mean. If not, oh well, you just spent some time playing an awesome game! Win-win situation for you.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 09, 2005, 07:32:58 PM
Oh, ouch. I'd be really worried about this. Dogs has a unique feel to it that I haven't seen...well, in any other game. Without really experiencing, understanding, and reproducing that feel, you'd just be creating a generic LARP set in the DitV universe. It might be fun, but it sure wouldn't be Dogs.

My strong recommendation is to get some Dogs actual play in (running or playing, preferably both). You'll see what I mean. If not, oh well, you just spent some time playing an awesome game! Win-win situation for you.

I'm waiting for my own copy of the book right now - and I have a few players warned that as soon as I get it, we're making characters.  Assuming that goes well (which I expect it will, though it may take a session or so to 'get it'), I'll keep them running while I check to see if the people telling me "run it live!" are serious.  If so, I'll use my tabletop group, and any other experienced DitV players around that are interested, as a core starting group for stepping it up.  If not, I'll probably work on Live rules anyway, just to see if it can be done, because it's an interesting challenge conceptually.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Andrew Morris on December 09, 2005, 10:37:24 PM
Excellent. I read the book, and expected Dogs to play a certain way, but the actual experience of it surprised me. The amount of trust I now have in the rules to lend a satisfying and interesting play experience without ever needing to "fudge" a roll is incredible. It's good to hear you'll be playing it soon. Your Dogs LARP will be better for it.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 09, 2005, 10:55:15 PM
Your Dogs LARP will be better for it.

It would, from what I already understand, be almost impossible outside of a plan like that.  In effect, one of the basic principles of the game that I already get is needing to trust the players and their creativity once they know their way around.  A group of 'educated' players, on the spot and already enthusiastic, can teach a LARP's worth of new players to know their way and trust their own creativity far, far faster than one person.

In the meantime, I'm reading the threads on the board here.  There's some very, very great stuff here - which leads me to a question I'll raise in another thread.


Title: Re: Live Dogs
Post by: Levi Kornelsen on December 20, 2005, 11:14:36 AM
The groundwork for the kind of game I'm talking about, which includes some RPG theory-stuff, I'm working on over here:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/the_tall_man/

Eventually, when my (now running) DitV tabletop reaches critical mass, it's expected to form the basis of the Live Dogs game I hope to run.