Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Rolling up some Dogs

Started by Emily Care, April 15, 2004, 08:30:51 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Emily Care


A Vacation in Godsland
Taking a break from our main campaign, Vincent, Meguey and I did some playtesting of Dogs last night.  We just did character creation.  Meg promised me that it would be just up my alley.  Now, I am notorious for having bad experiences with character creation--at least, when using a formalized system.  The blank form in front of me makes me freeze up, and lists of traits send me into blithering frenzies of taking random yet oh-so-useful suggested traits that make my characters into things like an eidetic albino with perfect sense of direction. (That was a long time ago, but really!)  Anyway, I approached Dogs with an open mind and had a great time.  

Char Gen, your way
The entry point for starting a character is the background type. Meg chose "Strong History",  I chose "Complicated Community".  Based on that choice Vincent, who was gming, read off the list of dice we were to allocate among our attributes, traits and relationships.  Meg's character seemed to have a lot of dice allocated to the traits section, while the bulk of my character went under relationships.  It is recommended that you start play with just a relationship or two determined, leaving others to develop in play. This may mean that my character starts out a bit less stacked than Meg's but it also means that I'll be picking up strong connections during the game.  That's fine by me.

I fleshed out the character by describing traits and allocating all those dice.  I needed a place to start to get a sense of the character, Vincent recommends putting "I am a good shot" under traits ('cause that's always good to have) and seeing where it leads you.  I wanted to try out a mechanic from a game I'm working on, so I picked a color (red) and did free association from it.  Got lots of violent and stressful words ("blood", "madness", "fury" among others), so I tried a couple other colors to see what I was in the mood for.  Turned out that red was the way to go. The final character incorporated each of these words.  I decided the character was a young woman who had spent her youth nursing her mad mother and helping run her household. She was  a crack shot with a rifle (see, she is a good shot), and owns the hefty and high quality rifle given to her by her Grandfather who taught her to shoot.  I put my highest dice into two internal traits: pent up rage, and serious doubt of the Faith and society.  

(Aside: Part of my conscious agenda in choosing characters is giving voice to issues from my past or psyche that want some room to play, they get exagerated in the characters, but it's always interesting to me to see what my subconcious wants to tell me. It's clear that anger and doubt are high on the agenda, I'm curious to see what comes of it.)

The making of one of God's Watchdogs
So after choosing some possessions, the final stop for character generation was the Initiation.  Boot camp for Dogs, if you will.  There are various things that happen to all Dogs:  your mettle is tested, you learn about the Scripture and doing battle with things demonic, you become inspired to do your work as a Dog.  I spent a little time thinking about all of this and happily scratched some notes.  "Doesn't loose doubt", "gains an inkling about the Word" etc.

Then Vincent asked me, "So what does your character want to accomplish?" I thought about the notes I'd scribbled, and wondered if they were what I wanted to explore.  Did I want to establish that my doubt indeed remained intact despite the brainwashing of the Initiation? Did I want to see if my rage had been triggered by the trainers? Not really. I didn't want to resolve those questions in a pre-stage of the game. They were my big questions that the character was posing, I wanted to save them up and savor them in play.  So what to do?

"How about her marksmanship? I definitely want her to shoot better than anybody else, hands-down." I say.  It makes sense to pick a trait to establish in play.

"Cool! Get your dice," Vincent says to me and starts picking through the table full of dice he'd taken out a bit earlier.  

"Okay, what do I get?" Acuity and Will. (8d6)  My trait of being a crack shot. (2d6) My gun's dice. (1d8) My trait that I killed and shot a man for robbing our farm (2d6). Maybe a couple more things I don't remember now.  Vincent took a bunch of dice for the Instructor I was shooting against.  Fewer dice, but higher in value.  

First to set the scene.  Vincent asked me what we were doing. I said we were out on a range and had people tossing cans in the air that we shot.  

"Okay," Vincent says, "You've been shooting cans. Now somebody at the far end of the field throws a nickel into the air. What's at stake is whether you hit that nickel. Everything in this conflict will happen between the toss and your bullet either hitting or not hitting its target."

Yikes!  But, cool yikes.  We roll.  I get a whole bunch of 5's, a six or two, some 1's and 3's and a single 7. Uh-oh.  Well, we'll see.

Vincent starts.  "That nickel is mighty small, and it is a long way away."
He pushes forward 2 dice. His raise is 13 (a 9 and a 4).  To meet it I have to match that total with the same or fewer dice.  I can do it, barely.

I push forward a 6 and a 7, I see his raise.  "I'm young, my eyes are good, I've gotten tricker shots. It's no problem."

My raise.  I put forward two dice, a 6 and a 5.  "I place my feet square on the ground, I hear my grandfather's voice in my ear.  'Feel the target, see where it's heading, relax.'  Time stretches out and I see the nickel turning slowly end over end."

Vincent says "Okay. I take the blow."  He matches with 3 dice. "It's a zen moment."  Nice!

But then, "Now I raise you.  If you make this shot, it is going to cost your instructor to lose face."  He pushes forward a 9 (yikes!) and 4.  

I've only got the little nubbly bits of my roll left: 5's, 4's, 3's, 1's.  No way I can match that in two dice.  I push forward 3 dice and I take the blow.  

I narrate:
"Yup, I realize that, and I say F*ck it.  My temper kicks in a little and I take the shot."

Wrap up
Way cool.  I took the consequences (3d4), we describe our Dog Coats (Meg's is Marroon with a chevron pattern, mine is crazy patchwork with wild blue bits (it's made by my Mom after all), but with wicked cool bullet holders built in to the sleeve.   We talk about the two of us getting assigned together after our Initiation, and we're ready to go: the loose cannon crack-shot, and the College educated fencer.  Let's go kick some *ss.

Emily Care
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games


Can I tell my favorite bit?  We were talking about it afterward:

You were like, "I was definitely looking at your dice and weighing my options and figuring."

I was like, "did it hurt the suspense?"

And you were right there with "no!  Not at all!"  Then you were like, "it's pacing - the dice are pacing!"

I was psyched.


Joshua A.C. Newman

Yeah, rockin'. You cracked the pacing issue I had with cappin' the rapist, it looks like.

To abstract the question, how would you deal with something like this between people, where one PC is trying to stop another in a second or two?
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.


Looks great, Em, you hit all the points.

I like making DitV characters because they develope very fluidly for me; instead of forcing something onto paper, it's just a process of uncovering. Very cool.

In answer to Nikola, I'm looking forward to finding out, but I imagine that 'time stretches out' sensation will come into play.


Quote from: Emily Care

(Aside: Part of my conscious agenda in choosing characters is giving voice to issues from my past or psyche that want some room to play, they get exagerated in the characters, but it's always interesting to me to see what my subconcious wants to tell me. It's clear that anger and doubt are high on the agenda, I'm curious to see what comes of it.)


 Well, if it's anger and doubt you want to explore, I think I've got just the game for you.  We can play it when you come over next week.

"OK, so you worship satan and he gives you the kewl powerz  every time you..."

p.s.  Cool write-up.
The Three Stooges ran better black ops.

Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.