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Author Topic: [DitV] Choosing traits  (Read 8336 times)
Andrew Morris
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« on: June 30, 2005, 10:09:58 AM »

Now, I know (or at least, I think I know) that Dogs in the Vineyard isn't supposed to be "balanced" or support Gamism. But I do have a question. Why wouldn't a character put all his dice into traits like "I'm a Dog"? That can be used just about any time, because whatever the character is doing, he's doing it because he's a Dog.

Moreover, why not put dice into "I'm good at what I do" or "I never accept failure"? It seems like assigning traits is easy to abuse. Say you have the Strong Community background. What's to stop someone from taking:

"I'm a Dog" 2d8
"I'm good at what I do" 3d6
"I never accept failure" 1d4

Using these traits, they could use them all in just about any situation. While this character will probably be more effective, he'll probably be less interesting than a character with:

"I'm a Dog" 1d4
"I've got a sweet tooth" 1d6
"Large animals make me nervous" 2d6
"I don't think I could face down a demon" 1d8
"I couldn't shoot a woman" 1d8

So, I'm just wondering is there anything in the rules that affects this, which I might have overlooked? Or is just up to the GM to monitor this? Am I missing something basic?
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mister.ribbit
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2005, 10:37:45 AM »

I'm no expert here, but I'd try not to monitor anything.  Just remind your players that if they put lots of dice in a trait, that that makes that trait very important to them.  The Dog who has "I'm a dog 3d8" really identifies with being a dog.  I would argue that you'll get just as interesting a character out of either instance of traits, they'll just be different.  If you're worried, try coming up with conflicts that challenge the character's identifity somehow.
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Ryan
Andrew Morris
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2005, 10:58:16 AM »

Ryan, I get that you're supposed to put dice into what is important to you as a player. But what I'm getting at is that there doesn't seem to be any reason (mechanically) for taking non-general traits.

As an example, you could take "I'm a good fighter" and it you could use it in any situation where you could use the trait "I can dodge a punch." But the reverse isn't true. So, mechanically, the first trait is superior to the second.

The same thing happens with the relationships "Brother Hezba" and "Brother Hezba thinks I should dress nicer." The first could be used in any situation where the second was applicable, but the second couldn't be used in all the situations where the first would fit.
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lumpley
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2005, 11:13:27 AM »

Hey Andrew.

"Why wouldn't" questions are so weird. "Why wouldn't a character put all his dice into traits like 'I'm a Dog'?" The answer is: no reason especially. Or, a bunch of reason which individually don't have much weight but taken together are almost irresistable.

It just never really happens that way, is all. Try making a character without trying to prove the point, you'll see.

Anyway, as GM it's not your problem anyway. If it's anybody's problem it's the whole group's. If everybody but you is cool with it (whatever "it" might be, not only bogus traits), then it's your responsibility to chill and go along. Especially as GM. If this were a democracy, the GM would only get to vote in case of a tie.

-Vincent
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2005, 11:25:10 AM »

Fair enough. I've never run DitV before, so I'm just trying to figure things out in advance.
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lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2005, 11:27:07 AM »

(This is funny, I'm responding a post behind you.)

Ah!

Quote
As an example, you could take "I'm a good fighter" and it you could use it in any situation where you could use the trait "I can dodge a punch." But the reverse isn't true.


Actually the reverse is pretty much true.

You shouldn't consider the specificity of a trait to be a limit on its applicability - that's just not how it works in practice. Instead, you should consider it to be a limit on the player's characterization of the action. The effect of more specific traits isn't that it's harder to get those dice, but that in fact it's easier to see how you will get those dice.

There's no mechanical incentive to create narrow OR broad traits, neither has the advantage mechanically. Narrow traits are often more inspiring and easier to play with, non-mechanically.

Make sense?

You also might want to recheck the relationship rules. You get your dice for "Brother Hezba" and "Brother Hezba thinks I should dress nicer" in exactly the same circumstances: when Brother Hezba is your opponent in a conflict, what's at stake in a conflict, or coming actively to your aid in a conflict. The emotional content of the relationship has no bearing at all on when you roll its dice.

-Vincent
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TonyLB
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2005, 11:30:16 AM »

I could totally imagine somebody doing this for the first Dog they created:  they'd have an expectation (from previous games they'd played) that the challenges they need to rise to in the game are measured by character-effectiveness, and so they apply their player-skill to the process of character-creation, in order to maximize their ability to rise to those challenges.

But, seriously, you don't win anything in Dogs by being massively effective.  All you do is have a little less fun on the way to having figured everything out, delved every sin-blackened heart, uncovered every dirty secret crying to be known.

But you're going to get to that point, where you know everything and have to judge, whether the character is as optimized as possible or as sloppy as can be imagined.  Everybody in the game (GM included) wants you to get there.  What your character-effectiveness does is color the journey, not change the destination.
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2005, 11:38:51 AM »

Okay, I think I get what you are saying. You can use any trait for any conflict, you just have to be clever enough to find a way to justify its use.

But, if that's the case, why not roll all your dice for everything, then? Just roll them all, then pick out the ones you want to use, and justify them at that point?
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TonyLB
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2005, 11:50:04 AM »

Well, for me, rolling a trait is making a statement that it's relevant.  I can always make that statement.  But sometimes I choose not to.

"Know my own sin", for instance.  If I'm trying to get to the bottom of who sexually abused a mute little girl, do I use that Trait?  Do I, in short, say "My sins go so deep that I can think the way this guy thinks"?  For some characters, yeah.  For some characters, no.

Say someone comes up and talks to me, just man to man, about a woman he loves... and he's trying to get me to tell him that she's a good woman, and I'd rather not (for a whole host of reasons).  Now... do I roll "I'm a Dog 3d8"?  'cuz this guy didn't come here to talk to a Dog, so using that Trait is trumping his personal contact with my own authority.  Which is a statement I alway can make, but often will choose to avoid.
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2005, 11:52:30 AM »

Quote
You can use any trait for any conflict, you just have to be clever enough to find a way to justify its use.


Oh no no no, not at all. You can use any trait for any conflict, potentially, you just have to find a way to bring it to bear.

You don't get a trait's dice for justifying it. You get a trait's dice for making it concrete in a see or raise. Making it concrete in a see or raise.

Here's a terrific post on the subject by Eric. He says "excuses aren't narration." Ralph agrees with "show, don't tell."

You don't get dice for justifying how your trait would apply. You get dice for bringing your trait into play.

-Vincent
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2005, 12:33:24 PM »

Sure, but that just sounds like a difference in narration. Instead of saying, "I use X trait," you're saying, "This is how I use X trait."

I can't remember if you have to do that as you include the dice for the trait, or if you have to do it when you use the die/dice from that trait. If the former, then obviously, you can't do this, but if the latter, you could.

"Uh, what? I got a 10 on my 'Likes bunnies' die? Hmm, I notice that there's a bunny in the middle of the gunfight, so I dive wildly toward it, trying to scare it off so it doesn't get hurt. That throws of their aim enough that they don't hit me." Or something along those lines.
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coffeestain
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2005, 12:43:40 PM »

Andrew,

You roll the dice as you bring them into play by narration.  Bringing a trait into narration should be considerably different than either "I use X trait" or "This is how I use X trait".  Those are justifications.

A proper narration should invoke the trait in the minds of the audience without ever having vocalize the actual words written on the sheet.  The narration should put the trait on display.  The trait shouldn't be the narration.

Best,

Daniel
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lumpley
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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2005, 12:52:48 PM »

Um, wow, okay.

a) You roll a trait's dice when you say what your character does to bring the trait into play, not before.

b) Once you've rolled a die, you don't have to keep track of which trait it went with. It's just a 10 you have for any raise or see, not a "likes bunnies" 10.

-Vincent
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2005, 01:01:41 PM »

Right, okay. I'd forgotten when the use of traits was described in relation to the rolling of the dice.
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lumpley
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2005, 01:34:01 PM »

Whew. You had me worried.

-Vincent
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