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Author Topic: Odd Man Out  (Read 5745 times)
Lord_Steelhand
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« on: March 25, 2005, 10:01:04 AM »

Has anyone noticed a trend in DitV with your players that one player, not always the same one, will play a Dog who doesn't beleive, or who is dubious about the Faith, etc?

I have noticed this trend in Actual Play posts and wonder why it seems so common.  I don't know that it is a problem, and good stoy can come of it come Hell or High Water, but it seems to be theme running not only in Dogs, but many other games where there is a defined order of things.

As tradition demands, I make no judgment, I am just suggesting a scene where what's at stake is getting into the heads of the players who have to be the "odd man out".

I will raise by suggesting, "Maybe they feel too constrained by the doctrine or the idea that Dogs are the King's watchmen in the lands of the Faith."

Anyone want to See?
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Judd M. Goswick
Legion Gaming Society
Simon Kamber
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Posts: 175


« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2005, 10:17:05 AM »

I think it's more a matter of unique characters (within a gaming group)

If you have a group with, say, three players, they will all want to have characters that are different enough that they don't end up with two players feeling that they're playing the same character. And the "dubious" character is one of the most obvious ways to fall, along with the over-pious.

In just about any group, character concepts are defined according to major themes in the game. In Dogs, faith is a major theme, so you'll see a large amount of characters with more or less extreme relationships to the faith.
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Simon Kamber
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2005, 10:27:43 AM »

Very true, Simon.

Common themes that seem to reoccur in characters...

Faith -vs- Skepticism

Raised to the Faith -vs- Converted

Chaste -vs- "experienced"

Proud -vs- Humble

Pacifist -vs- Violent

This minds me of a point someone once made about characters, specifically in Dogs, I believe, though it applies to almost any game. When we make characters, we're not usually trying to create people.. We're creating embodiments of an idea, a concept. The character may have three dimensions, but they're still usually pretty rough dimensions. It's only during play, after the character has experienced adversity and success that they become "real" people. It's much the same with books and movies, when you really think about it.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Lord_Steelhand
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Posts: 39


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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2005, 11:18:43 AM »

Good points, and I agree, but why is it more acceptable to play against the grain in Dogs than in say, Sorcerer where a character who doesn't summon and bind demons gets run?  It takes it a bit out of  framework for you to be an "Old West Paladin" without the Faith you serve.

It does say something that new Dogs seem to start with these conflicts.  It makes more sense to me that a new Dog would be bright and shiny with Faith, or just on the road down after some trouble in initiation (maybe with a demon?).  Maybe I am too much a purist, and putting my own bias in here (in fact, I am sure of it), but I would prefer a player make a character who is Faithful to start, at least for their first character.  There is time to fall later, in play.  Makes Dog training seem less flawed as well as pushing the moment of loss of Faith into the area of play (where everyone can enjoy it), rather than backstory...

...that being said, having no Faith allows the redemtion, if desired, to be pushed into the arena of play.

Again, not really a criticsim of what I have seen, more an intresting observation.  I think in a game about personal Faith and its relationship to community Judgement, you have to take both concepts straight on, not just Judgement with a side of "Thinks This Life is Crazy 2d6"...

edit to add -

As to how one can differentiate your Dog, there is always the old "I am the smart one, she is the gunslinger, he is the demon-exorist' style of different characters.  And how you came to be.  It doesn't make you a weaker concept if you are just doing the Dog thing because you felt the call, not because you burn with Righteous Fire or fume with Hidden Doubt.

I think this happens in other games where players want radical differences from the "baseline" character to show-off their play range.  Could this even be considered a very mild Social Contract violation in some groups.  I think mine might.

More questions -  Bob plays a Dog who doesn't beleive in a game where the supernatural elements are high.  He uses his doubt trait as a way of ignoring supernatural effects in calls.  If I, as GM, drop some demon dice into his pool because his doubt allows them into his heart, is the player justified in feeling that I have made a bad move?

I admit I am playing devils' advocate here.  Discuss or not at your leisure.

BTW, Vincent, great game!
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Judd M. Goswick
Legion Gaming Society
Simon Kamber
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Posts: 175


« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2005, 03:00:54 PM »

Quote from: Lord_Steelhand
Good points, and I agree, but why is it more acceptable to play against the grain in Dogs than in say, Sorcerer where a character who doesn't summon and bind demons gets run?  It takes it a bit out of  framework for you to be an "Old West Paladin" without the Faith you serve.

In Sorcerer, the very basic setup is "you're playing a character that summons demons". A character that doesn't isn't a sorcerer character.

In Dogs, you're playing a dog with some measure of faith, he is after all a dog. But that faith doesn't have to be absolute. You can play a dog with shaking faith if you want to approach faith from the shaking angle, without playing "against the grain". As far as I can see, there's no general consensus that dogs are fully faithful, the same way that, say, sorcerer has a general rule that player characters ARE sorcerers.

So, I think it's not so much a matter of playing against the grain, as it's a matter of exploring the faith theme from another angle. As you said, it could lead to a story of regaining, or gaining, the true faith, which I'd see as at least as interesting as losing it. It could also lead to the story of this seed of doubt being the nemesis of the character. Either way, premise is brewing.


As for the idea of differenting characters by specialities, I think that's exactly what is happening. Only, the characters here are tools in adressing premise, and in that sense, the ability to approach faith from a sceptical viewpoint IS the "character's" speciality. Whether he's good at shooting or excorcising demons is, as far as I can see, completely irrellevant in this context.
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Simon Kamber
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2005, 05:46:30 AM »

Simon pretty much said what needed to be said, but I'll address a few specific issues you've brought up, Steelhand.

Quote
I think this happens in other games where players want radical differences from the "baseline" character to show-off their play range. Could this even be considered a very mild Social Contract violation in some groups. I think mine might.


So your group has a social contract to never play outside the "norm"? I'm not sure I understand what you're saying, if this is not the case. There is an established "norm" for Dogs.. I will quote as closely as I remember, "Without exception young, unmarried virgins". I could be wrong, but I think maybe Vincent may have set up this phrase to encourage people to challenge it. Some of the most interesting Dogs I've seen have been exceptions to this rule.. Either they weren't young, or they weren't virgins (don't think I've seen a married Dog, tho'). Exceptions are interesting, challenging to most people, and that's what most people like to play.

Quote
More questions - Bob plays a Dog who doesn't beleive in a game where the supernatural elements are high. He uses his doubt trait as a way of ignoring supernatural effects in calls. If I, as GM, drop some demon dice into his pool because his doubt allows them into his heart, is the player justified in feeling that I have made a bad move?


I would say yes, but for a reason only indirectly related to Dogs. You're making decisions for his character, and that is commonly considered a bad move in most any game. Your best bet would be to suggest it to him, and let him decide. Even something as unstated as having certain d10s you always roll for demonic influence, and occasionally pushing one toward him with a grin is cool. Dropping the dice into his pool isn't really your call as a GM, though. If he grasps the idea of Dogs, he'll probably be keen on the idea of using demonic influence, because it makes things more interesting, and adds drama and tension to the situation.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2005, 08:35:19 AM »

Quote from: Lord_Steelhand
More questions - Bob plays a Dog who doesn't beleive in a game where the supernatural elements are high. He uses his doubt trait as a way of ignoring supernatural effects in calls. If I, as GM, drop some demon dice into his pool because his doubt allows them into his heart, is the player justified in feeling that I have made a bad move?


I'd say that this is pretty much against the rules. There are no facilities in Dogs for the GM giving or taking dice. Let him take a trait if he wants. Don't take away the player's theological/demonological perspective an supplant it with your own.

Ask him if that's what he wants. He might say "My unbelief is my shield" and then it's true. Or he might add in "Demons aid me without my knowledge".

There's no reason to do an end run around the rules on this, and there's certainly no reason to destroy his character concept.
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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.
Lord_Steelhand
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Posts: 39


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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2005, 08:37:27 AM »

I can see that point, and do agree that anything that lets premise be addressed by the player in a unique way is a good thing.

As to the social contract issue, what I mean is not that my group doesn't allow you to play outside the norm, but it does have an undercurrent of "play it by the baseline the first time before trying to get too far off the reservation".  Again, not spoken or enforced, per se, but still looming in there.

As to the "young, unmarried virgins" qualifier, I have seen at least one post where a Dog had a former lover.  I suppose what is too far outside is up to each player's comfort, with a nod to overall comfort.

I do see that the demon dice for those who are falling enforces far too much GM judgement (which, in Dogs, would be any) into the mix.

Thanks for mulling the issues around with me, guys.  I think I can see where the idea of the shaken Faith Dog comes from.  I also see I have a slight bias towards always playing premise as a positive statement.  I tend to play premise, as a player, as "Strong Faith is...", not "The Man with Faith is..."

I guess I am too much a child of pulp fiction...<grin>

I think for my next Narritivist game, I am going to try and approach the premise given from an inverse direction than usual.  Boy, I hope it Sorcerer though...something about 0 Humanity appeals suddenly...<evil grin>  As to Dogs, the appeal of the stalwart man of faith with his pistol standing between his changes and the Devil Himself is too cool to me to abandon as a player yet.

Now, GMing, the player's choice of premise, internal setting, etc needs to remain sacred.  Being a newly-educated narratisist has meant shaking a lot of incoherence out of my GMing...  I will make sure my biases, until gone or dealt with, do not creep into my sitting on that side of the table.  

Now, if I am playing Brother Faithful and you are Brother Lost, I will either recruit you or shoot you...<grin>
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Judd M. Goswick
Legion Gaming Society
Lance D. Allen
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Posts: 1962


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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2005, 09:10:15 AM »

Steelhand,

Don't make the mistake of believing that you have no creative input as the GM, even when it comes to a given player's character and approach to premise. As a player in any position you have the right to suggest and offer ideas, which can include whether or not a given character is under demonic influence. It's the player's right to accept or deny the suggestion, but you're totally within your rights to suggest.

Personally, I think suggestions from the GM and other players tend to make a character's background and actions richer and it also seems to encourage investment in the character by the other players.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
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