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Author Topic: [DitV] A new Dog hits the trail  (Read 4147 times)
Doyce
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Posts: 442


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« on: October 16, 2004, 10:09:20 PM »

Every other Saturday, my wife attends a game that I'm not involved in, leaving me and my kid to bang around the house for about six or seven hours.  Lately, he's gotten into the habit of requesting that we play some kind of RPG.  Paladin was his first request, and following that I pitched the idea of Dogs in the Vineyard, since there's a bit of a thematic similarity (at least on the surface).

Now, I feel I should lay some background; "my kid" is my nephew, who is now 14.  He's been living with I and my wife for... it'll be five years at Christmas.  His request.  When he came here at nine, he couldn't read, do math, any of it, all thanks to my sister in law, his mom.  He's caught up to his grade level now and has been gaming with the grown-ups pretty much since the beginning (a lot of everything -- great math incentives).  He's not a big fan of 'games with guns in them', and he doesn't have a lot of exposure to the western genre at all, so there was some initial reluctance about DitV.  His exposure to firearms has been pretty nonexistant (which is weird to me, since I grew up on a farm and hunted a lot, but there you go).  Also potentially relevant: his exposure to any kind of formal religion is and always has been zero, though we do discuss issues of faith informally on fairly regular occassions and he finds stories and games that involve such things to be interesting and fun.

Anyway, facing his mild reluctance, I agreed that if we went through character generation and he wasn't interested in 'his guy', then I'd drop it completely and we could do something else.  He agreed.

We went over most of page five, some of page six and seven, then we skipped up to the Background notes for a typical Dog on pages 18, 19, and 20 and went through that pretty closely.  I showed him the picture on the front of the book at the appropriate point and he announced that, if he *had* a gun, it would be 'one of those that the guy has... not one of those other ones."

We started into chargen proper by talking about the kind of Community his character was from, but not getting into the dice benefits -- it was just story focus.  He decided on a Complicated Community, and described a small, dirty town on the edge of the mountains, off away from everyone, where there was a lot of fighting between the families in town: a really nasty place -- hardly felt like a community of faithful at all, but that wasn't for me to work out: I asked if it was and he told me yes, but it wasn't a good one at all.  Okay.

Somewhere in here it became clear that the character was a 'he' -- I don't make assumptions about this at any point with him -- probably half of his characters are females (unusual in male teen gamers) and not charicatures at all (also unusual in cross-gender play, in my experience and especially with younger players), but not this time.

We talked a bit about what his guy (some "Z" name was all he knew at this point) had done in town and he told me about fights he'd gotten in and problems he'd caused for his grandpa.

Quote
"You don't live with your folks?"
"Nope.  Grandpa came to take care of me when my folks died."
"How'd they die?"
"In the fighting.  Someone burnt their house down with them it.  I killed the guy who did it.  That guy's son is my age."


<keanu>Whoa.</keanu>  I really love doing games with him that let him open up during character generation -- he comes up with some amazing stuff -- stuff from someplace I can't even guess at.

So, we got down to assigning Stat dice:

Quote
Acuity 4, Body 3, Heart 4, Will 4


I asked about the one slighted stat, and he told me that he had to rely on being quick, mostly.

With traits, I used Vincent's recommendations for people who are stuck on what to pick and started him out by talking about whether or not he could shoot well.  Got a yes.  Asked how.

Quote
"Grandpa taught me."
"Okay. Why?"
"Because I'd already shot that guy, and he wanted to make sure I knew when I should and shouldn't."
"So not for hunting or anything?"
"No.  It's just something he thought I should know... he used to be a Dog."


Oh, oh my.  Sweet harmony of angels sing praise.  Love it.  We talked about the rest of his background a bit and got this:

Quote
Traits
Grandpa taught me to shoot 2d6
Grandpa was a Dog 2d6
I got in a lot of fist-fights in town 2d6
I like riding horses 1d8
I know how to cook 1d8


We didn't get a trait down for it, but his short temper is fairly well-reflected there, I think.  Certainly, we talked about it at length.

Then, we talked about how smaller dice might mean things getting complicated a lot more and built some relationships.

Quote
Relationships:
Grandpa 1d10
Girlfriend (Patience) 2d6
Son of the guy who killed my folks 2d4
Remaining: 2d4, 2d8, 1d10


I asked about the girlfriend and he explained that she was from a very 'good' family who didn't like him at ALL... she was away at college right now (I'd previously compared the age-group for Dog's training to college-age kids), maybe to get her away from him.  Hooeee.

We also discussed how Blood relationships could be added for free at 1d6 if he ran into a cousin or something.  Moving on.

Vincent, my kid loves the system for assigning dice to Belongings.  Now then:

Quote
Belongings:

Coat -- Red and Blue with yellow bolts of lightning down each sleeve -- built by Grandma: 2d6

 (This was the first that a Grandma had been mentioned, but he seemed to think that that was simply understood; he learned how to cook. Duh. Silly me.)

Quote
Horse "Patience": 2d6

 (This was a beautiful horse that his girlfriend had given him just before she left for her school.  This made her family MAD and "they tried to take it back, but I just wouldn't let them."  I asked how his girlfriend would feel about having the horse named for her, and he said it was all right because it helped him remember her.  Cool.)  

(Ironically, I think he decided Patience was a cool name for a smart horse and *then* retrofitted it to his girlfriend. :)

Quote
Grandpa's shotgun: 2d8 +1d4


 (I asked him about this a bit and commented that I'd been surprised he hadn't decided to have his Grandpa's coat.  His response: "He still *uses* the coat sometimes, but he thought I'd need the gun."

Quote
Book of Life: 1d6
Jar of Earth: 1d6
A pistol from the Dogs (added during play): 1d6+1d4


I think you can see what items were important to him by the dice they got.

We dug through some name sites and he decided on Zebediah.  

I started putting a Town together (this was a pretty impromptu game, obviously), and told him he should go and think about "Something you hope happened for your character during training."

His immediate response: "Oh, I hope he learns to control his temper.  How long before we can start playing?"

We never got around to me asking him if he was still interested following chargen. :)


----

Summary:
GAH! This guy is like a whole DitV town rolled into one person.  I'll talk about initiation and the start of play in a followup post tomorrow, but it's clear to me that this boy's story is going to end right back where it started, in his home town. Some of what he said during Initiation and play illustrates this, but let me say now that he clearly felt exactly the same way.
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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.
clehrich
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2004, 11:34:59 PM »

God DAMN!  This kid clearly needs therapy or some very serious gaming.  :-)

Okay, so I'm reading this and I'm thinking:

1. Don't, under any circumstances, immediately throw him into all that hellish weirdness he's developing around his own character.  Make him pass judgment a few times, and get him in the groove a bit.  I don't mean make it easy.  Make him look for parallels to his own screwed-up life.  You know, just take his situation and play it back at him with a twist, so he has to judge people a lot like himself and his loved ones.

2. Having done this a few times, walk him into his own town and make him judge.  I say if he can take it -- you know the kid, I don't -- have his girlfriend raped and murdered by Grandpa.  Or something equally vile and violating everything he knows and loves.  Put him in a situation where he has to contradict his preconceptions.

What you want is for the kid to develop abstractive ability.  The ability, that is, to step back and say, "I'm deeply invested in this, but I must judge with the King of Life, not my own assumptions."

Damn this sounds like fine gaming.

If it's not too personal, I wasn't expecting you to say that this kid had no religious background.  How did he get to this point without any?  My very limited experience of folks who "raise" kids this way says they have a lot of religious preconceptions, but this isn't the case here.  What happened instead?  Feel free to ignore my question, or reply by PM; it's purely a matter of semi-professional curiosity.
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Chris Lehrich
Doyce
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2004, 08:21:09 AM »

Quote from: clehrich
God DAMN!  This kid clearly needs therapy or some very serious gaming.  :-)


Probably both. Luckily for him, both is an option :)

Quote from: clehrich

1. Don't, under any circumstances, immediately throw him into all that hellish weirdness he's developing around his own character.


No worries there.  I have every intention of putting his home town on his patrol route, but down the road a ways.  I plan on having each town be a little more degenerated and messed up as he gets further out to the apogee of his route, culminating in his home town.  He's helping me out in the foreshadowing by making use of the 'free blood relationships' along the way in each town -- inventing a cousin or uncle with a barn to bunk down in while he finds out what's going on.

Quote from: clehrich
2. Having done this a few times, walk him into his own town and make him judge.  I say if he can take it -- you know the kid, I don't -- have his girlfriend raped and murdered by Grandpa.
 

That might be a little beyond the pale for him, but there are parallels to that suggestion that are equally valid.

Honestly, the biggest problem we've had with our first town is just keeping track of the NPCs -- he's going this alone and really has to track everyone at once -- I sense it's a bit overwhelming for him, but he's being very proactive.  I'm going to list them up on a sheet with pictures next to them for the next time.  Much easier.

I also have to reset some of the "dials" I'd originally set for the game -- in the first couple of encounters in the first town, it's become clear to me that he's personally expecting some tangible demons to deal with -- possessed people with fiery eyes and bullets sparking as they bounce off his Coat -- that kind of thing.  He wants obvious displays of power from both sides.  I can dig it.

What I want to make sure of, though, is that the the showdowns with the demons aren't the Judging.  I want the Judging role to be something apart, something deliberate, with clear choices made as to who suffers what fate.

Then, y'know... let those judgments flush out some angry demons looking for a fight. :)

Quote from: clehrich
What you want is for the kid to develop abstractive ability.  The ability, that is, to step back and say, "I'm deeply invested in this, but I must judge with the King of Life, not my own assumptions."


Which is really exactly at the developmental stage that he's at, as far as his characters go -- as in that's really the next logical step for him.

Quote from: clehrich
If it's not too personal, I wasn't expecting you to say that this kid had no religious background.  How did he get to this point without any?  My very limited experience of folks who "raise" kids this way says they have a lot of religious preconceptions, but this isn't the case here.


Hmm.  I guess it wouldn't be accurate to say he has no religious preconceptions; you really can't be exposed to America's Midwestern culture (where he grew up until age 9) without getting some exposure on billboards and television and so forth.   To be specific, his mother ... well, his mom quite frankly only had time to get him to school about 75% of the time, let alone any after school stuff or church functions -- for that matter, I don't believe he was baptized or the like early on.  The mentoring and socializing role that that kind of activity would have simply wasn't there at all.

My wife and I are non-practicing members from different denominations (her family was pretty much an "Easter/Christmas only" family, and mine was pretty much everything but the supplemental Wednesday night sermons).  It's not something we ever considered continuing as adults and speaking for myself it's never been something I've missed.   We visited a number of different established churches in our area when our nephew moved out with us, to find out if he found any of them to be something he wanted more of -- in much the same way we did with extracurricular activities and sports -- nothing stuck, so we left it alone. (I'd suspect that those visits constituted the net sum of all the places of worship he'd been in his whole life.)

He's at an age now where he questions -- some of those questions are faith-related and we talk about them openly and honestly.  He finds games like Paladin and DitV interesting partly I think because of the idea of an active and protective Faith at work.  I suspect there may even be a point in the next couple years where he may want to explore that area again on his own -- that's fine too.
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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.
stingray20166
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2004, 01:04:20 PM »

Quote
2. Having done this a few times, walk him into his own town and make him judge. I say if he can take it -- you know the kid, I don't -- have his girlfriend raped and murdered by Grandpa.


No offense, but where did this idea come from?  Grandpa and the girlfriend tie the character into the reality of the game -- why sever that and leave him adrift?  

I just feel like I missed something, but I reread the post and can't see it.

Quote
"He still *uses* the coat sometimes, but he thought I'd need the gun."

I love this!  Grandpa is a cool character (which is why I thought it odd that clehrich thought he should be offed).  

Oooh, I can see the return to the home town, though.  A letter from Grandpa asking for help -- Grandpa is holed up 'cause he's too old to fight -- the Dog arrives to sort things out and the circle is complete.

Sigh -- I just wish it was MY game we were talking about!

Nick
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DannyK
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2004, 03:16:10 PM »

Doyce, it sounds like a great game in the offing.  I'd be tempted to play it really loose at first, let him project onto the NPC's and towns.  I have a feeling from your description that, given an interesting town, he'll pull a lot more out of it than you thought was there!  

By the way, it's a great thing you're doing for your nephew.  I thought I should say that.

Danny
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clehrich
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Posts: 1557


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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2004, 04:26:31 PM »

Quote from: stingray20166
Quote
2. Having done this a few times, walk him into his own town and make him judge. I say if he can take it -- you know the kid, I don't -- have his girlfriend raped and murdered by Grandpa.
No offense, but where did this idea come from?  Grandpa and the girlfriend tie the character into the reality of the game -- why sever that and leave him adrift?
No, good point.  I guess I was thinking that DitV isn't something I'd want to play again and again; a sort of short-arc campaign seems ideal.  So I was thinking you could come full-circle by confronting him with his ultimate nightmare, where the whole basis of his family-Church parallel judgments is shattered.  He has to pick between the King of Life and his emotions, of whatever kind.  And then you end the story.

Sorry -- I just took that for granted when of course I didn't say anything of the kind.  Oops!  Brain fart.
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Chris Lehrich
stingray20166
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2004, 11:49:17 AM »

Quote
you could come full-circle by confronting him with his ultimate nightmare, where the whole basis of his family-Church parallel judgments is shattered.


Ah-ha!  OK, now I'm with you -- not a bad idea at all.  

And Grandpa was lying about being a Dog!   Yeah, I like it.

Thanks for the clarification.

Nick
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lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2004, 12:05:45 PM »

Oog.

I agree with Nick in his first post - the grandpa and the girlfriend are good, positive characters who deserve good, positive treatment. Length of arc notwithstanding.

Nope, if it were me? When he returns to his home town, he has to confront her family and win the right to marry her, as part of dealing with their Pride and whatever probs it's caused.

He's as plain as said that that's what he's after. There's no reason to screw it up for him.

-Vincent
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