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Dogs' Rightitude

Started by Joshua A.C. Newman, September 28, 2004, 10:47:38 PM

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Joshua A.C. Newman

QuoteI think there's at least three separate meanings of the word "right" that need to be teased out here to discuss it -- right as in legally correct, right as in morally justified, and right as in the smart thing to do. Only the first one is a given for a Dog.

The first is a given (assuming you're not dealing with Territorial issues), the second is a given if the player decides it is. The player can decide that hir character's gonna say "Screw you, Kingy, I'm lettin' him live." That is, the King has other plans and the character's wilfully defying them, which in this structure, is immoral.

I think what you mean by "smart" is "efficacious", and if all the players are playing along, almost anything you do will be efficacious for the story, though it might get the Dogs in heaps of trouble, but that's where the fun happens.
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.


Actually it can get much more complicated than that, as the three types of right can contradict each other -- especially if you bring in the Territorial Authority.

You can be morally right and smart/expedient right but be legally wrong to the Authority (if not the church). If you haul the demon worshiper out and shoot them in the street it may be the will of the King, and it may be the most expedient thing, but it'll be illegal if it's an Authority town.

It's also easily possible to do something that is legally right (cause you're a Dog) and morally right, but not "smart/expedient" right.  This can be anything from endangering the majority for the minority (anti-Utilitarianism) to the more problematic situation of letting evil continue because it's the Will of the King.

Similarly in a situation in which the King wants the sinners to have more time to grow ripe in their iniquity and the Dog decides to fix the problem instead, it's possible to be smart and legally right – but morally wrong. (At least in one context of morality discourse, which is a massive bag of worms all it's own.)

In some ways I'd think a lot of Dogs games are going to run you into situations in which you can't be right in all those ways. You're going to have to do something uncomfortable, either for character or player, in order to get the goal you want.

As for what that goal is, and whether or not it is worthy, well, that's all about the players deciding. The important thing to remember is that in Dogs, unlike most RPGs, no one at the table is God. The GM is not the King and cannot make judgement on the PCs, and the same with the players towards each other's characters.

How you judge your own character is up to you.  (Which gives a nice cosmological irony, all things considered.)
- Brand Robins


In case my original post didn't make it clear, I consider this complexity a feature, not a flaw.