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Author Topic: Death in Dogs?  (Read 5693 times)
Jonathan Walton
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« on: September 19, 2004, 07:38:37 AM »

This is mostly a Vincent question, but other people might have thoughts too.

What is the point of character death in Dogs?  What does it mean exactly and what purpose does it serve in the game?  I mean, just having all these dangerous pre-modern guns is just asking for some Dog to take 6 slugs in the chest and expire at the feet of her shocked comrades.  You imply a little bit about what death means in the Fallout and Life or Death sections, but I don't think I quite understand.  This was a problem when I was beginning to think about how to deal with danger and violence in Lions.

The thing Dogs has going for it is that you don't get random, meaningless (plotwise) death like you can potentially get in other games.  Every conflict matters, and if it's gotten to the point where you take 6 slugs in the chest, it's pretty damn important and someone's decided that it's worth dying for.  

So is character death (and the risk thereof) just a re-enforcement of certain ideas?  Specifically:
 
• that some things are worth dying for
• that if you make a stand, you might have to accept the consequences
• that the characters can make deadly mistakes
• that the west is a dangerous, unpredictable place
• being a Dog is tough and might include watching friends die

I guess I wonder whether re-enforcing these ideas is worth Fortune-determined PC death.  I mean, I know Vincent made PC death really unlikely, but the fact that it exists at all seems a little bit of a cop-out to me, like a concession to traditional ideas about roleplaying.  Why should a Dog die if their player doesn't want them to?  This seems a little counter-intuitive to me, given the spirit of the game.  

If there are more interesting stories to be told if the Dog doesn't die, then, by God, let the character survive so you can tell those stories.  If the game will benefit more by having the character die and seeing how the other characters deal with the aftermath, then send the Dog into the bosom of the King of Life, no matter what the dice say.  Fortune-determined death just seems to assume that players won't be able to make these kinds of decisions wisely and therefore needs the dice to do it for them.

Am I just reading things completely wrong?  What's up with this?
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2004, 08:20:46 AM »

Cop out! How do you like that.

As far as I know, nobody has seen a PC death in Dogs. So whatever we say here is just speculation and theory, and I'm no better informed than anybody else. Contribute one, contribute all!

Here's what I say: your Dog won't die when you don't want him or her to. If you don't want your Dog to die, you'll give up the stakes and not take the blow. As it should be! If you're taking the blow, that means that there is no more interesting story to be told than this one, right now. Whether, at the end of the conflict, your character lives or dies, this is the story.

-Vincent
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Christopher Weeks
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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2004, 07:08:16 AM »

As I was reading Jonathan's note, I was planning to say what Vincent said.  But I was going to quote from Jonathan to do it.  It seems like you answered your question before it was asked.

Chris
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2004, 08:19:29 AM »

V., something keeps going around in my head about this. If you recall, Tony "My Character Can't Recognize Genders" wound up out of reach of Meg's and my characters' reach and was beset by little blue child demons.

GM (You): What's at stake is: do they eat you?

So what bothers me here is, Tony got his ass kicked, then handed to him, then kicked again. We immediately launched a follow-up conflict so we could get the Smurfs off of him, but he lost; he should have been eaten.

So: does a follow-up negate the previous conflict? I didn't think it did. I think he got away with a little fallout, ("I've been eaten - 1d4"), but what was at stake there was, I think, mistaken. What should have been at stake was "Do you save your aunt" (which, I think, is why he went into the building in the first place).

Correct?
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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.
lumpley
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2004, 09:30:52 AM »

Yay, rules question! Rules questions are so much easier than philosophy questions.

J, that very episode cemented the rules for what happens when you lose a "do you die?" conflict. They're small rules, I don't blame anybody for missing 'em.

Quote from: Dogs
WHEN A CHARACTERíS CRITICALLY INJURED BUT GETS MEDICAL ATTENTION, I scoop up all of the Fallout Dice the player just rolled, add the Demonic Influence, and roll the lot. If the characterís dying but didnít roll any Fallout ó if the characterís life was named as whatís at stake in a conflict, for instance ó I roll 4d6 plus the Demonic Influence.

Quote from: and later
LIFE OR DEATH
Whatís at stake: ARE YOU DEAD?
- The stage: youíve been hit in the head with an axe. You Took the Blow and rolled an 18 for Fallout. Your companionís rushing to your side to provide first aid.
- Your friend rolls your Body plus his own Acuity. I roll all of your Fallout Dice again, plus the townís Demonic Influence.
- My Raises might include you falling unconscious, you hearing the voices of angels, your blood spurting, your pulse failing, your deceased loved ones welcoming you among them.
- Your friendís Raises might include medical attention, exhortation, and ceremony.

Thereís another way to die than by taking bad Fallout. Whatís at stake is: does my character kill yours? Itís possible for you to lose the conflict without taking any Fallout aítall, let alone rolling a 16+.

When that happens, treat it exactly as though your attacker hit you with four dice Fallout, of the size appropriate to his weapon ó d10s for a gun, d8s for an axe, etc. ó and you rolled a 16. If you get medical attention, we roll over into this new conflict: are you dead? If you donít, we donít: youíre just dead.

For instance, I have a possessed person hit you in the head with an axe, whatís at stake is does he murder you, I put forward a fat Raise and you donít have the dice to See ... so you have to Give. Youíre dying of an axe in the head. Ouch. Your companion rushes to your side. So now we roll forward into this conflict where whatís at stake is: are you dead? I roll 4d8 + Demonic Influence, just as though youíd taken 4d8 Fallout.


Roll a 20 for Fallout = dead or dying.
Roll a 16-20 for Fallout + medical attention = "last chance" conflict.
Lose a conflict where your life's at stake + medical attention = "last chance" conflict.

Dogs rushing to your side is medical attention.

So that's just what happened with Tony's character. He lost a "do you die?" conflict, you and Meg rolled a conflict where what's at stake was "can you rush to his side?" and, having won that conflict, you gave him his "last chance." All by the book.

Now it's a significant thing: it's by Taking the Blow that you stake your life for good and final, not by "what's at stake is: my life." Furthermore, if you lose "what's at stake is: my life," I'm rolling 4 dice + Demonic Influence, but I have no way to escalate. Any Dog worth a bean will beat that, if he or she means to.

This all contributes to my answer to Jonathan.

I'm the GM. When I say, "this guy tries to kill you. What's at stake is, does he kill you?" the answer is always "no - but let's find out how close, how bad, and how much it costs."

When I say, "what's at stake is, do you save the town's soul? I Raise you six slugs to the chest with my 10 and my 9: do you See or Give?" that's when you're staking your character's life.

-Vincent
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2004, 06:31:22 PM »

Finally got it.

So it's like this: you can always survive, if you really want to, but the question really is at what cost?  Sometimes it would be worth it to Take the Blow and die, just to avoid bad consequences for others or yourself.  

I almost feel like this should be explicitly mentioned in the rules.  After all, in a game based on Christian principles, which probably includes self-sacrifice even if Jesus isn't a part of the setting, you know you're going to have some players who'll seek to martyr their character for something they believe very strongly about.  I know the wuxia-freak in me will want to do that.

What's at stake is: do you die instead of your loved one?

Take the frickin' blow.
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Doyce
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2004, 09:16:31 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
Yay, rules question! Rules questions are so much easier than philosophy questions.


Well, I'm going to be slow-pitching you for weeks, then, probably.

Quote from: Dogs
- The stage: youíve been hit in the head with an axe. You Took the Blow and rolled an 18 for Fallout.


I meant to ask this before and I forgot: I seem to be misunderstanding something, because it doesn't seem like an 18 on Fallout for an axe is possible:

 - Axe hits you.
 - Later, roll upteen gazillion d8's of fallout or whatever.
 - Take the two highests dice rolled...

The maximum fallout would be 16 for anything short of a gun, wouldn't it?  What did I miss?
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2004, 04:56:46 AM »

You didn't miss anything, dangit.

Rr.

So you roll a 16...

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2004, 06:19:24 AM »

Crap.
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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.
Doyce
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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2004, 06:50:47 AM »

On one hand, I'm sorry I bummed you guys out.

On the other hand, I hope I'm helping improve the second and subsequent thousands of reprintings that will inevitably be necessary... or at least the pdf.

On the third hand ("He's unnat'ral, burn 'im!"), I'm tickled I got the rules right.

[edit]
Had to share this conversation.

Wife: So... what do you win for noticing first... like... a copy of Dogs for me?
Me: Oh sure. Just 22 bucks Shipping and Handling.  And a free beating from the layout guys.
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2004, 07:08:28 AM »

Quote from: Doyce
On one hand, I'm sorry I bummed you guys out.


No bumming, really. It's too bad it's somewhere that really requires clarity, but it's good to know.

Quote

On the other hand, I hope I'm helping improve the second and subsequent thousands of reprintings that will inevitably be necessary... or at least the pdf.

On the third hand ("He's unnat'ral, burn 'im!"), I'm tickled I got the rules right.


Yeah, V., we should fix this. Fortunately, a 6 is the same width as an 8 so it won't move around the rest of the type.

As for further editions, we're planning a second edition already. I don't want to promise when it'll be out, though, since more people will be involved.

Also, I'm happy that you understand the rules. I think they're pretty good.

Don't forget to post your towns after you play them! They'll go up on the Lumpley Games site in the Directory of Towns.

Quote

[edit]
Had to share this conversation.

Wife: So... what do you win for noticing first... like... a copy of Dogs for me?
Me: Oh sure. Just 22 bucks Shipping and Handling.  And a free beating from the layout guys.


Oh, if only there were layout guys. Instead there is layout guy.

I'm very happy that there have only been two errors discovered in the First Edition. In the GenCon Edition, there were probably 75. That's the bitch of tight deadlines. But that's also the nice thing about a beta test, which the GenCon Edition kinda was.
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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.
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