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Author Topic: [DitV] Arenas  (Read 4008 times)
ctrail
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« on: July 25, 2005, 02:17:41 PM »

I've run DitV twice now, and had difficulty determining which Stats should be brought into play for a couple of conflicts.

Specifically, I've had several conflicts between two characters, or between a player character and an NPC, over whether or not one saw the other do something. The one trying to hide something should be physical (Body+Heart) in most cases, but what about the one trying to notice them? The conflict doesn't involve talking, isn't really physical for the observer, and isn't a fight. Should they just use Body+Heart as well? It seems strange that this wouldn't involve Acuity. I have been using Acuity for the observer and Body for the stealthy character, but I was wondering if the rules covered this, or if anyone had a better idea.

Also, several times there have been exorcisms, or other spiritual conflicts like seeking a sign. I have been using Heart+Will for 'spiritual' conflicts, but reviewing the examples in the book, I noticed that these conflicts were described as using Acuity+Heart, like a social conflict. But what if it doesn't involve talking, which is what I seem to remember being the definition for when to use Acuity+Heart?

I'd like to ask some more general questions about the arenas as well, which I think should help me make better calls in the future. Am I supposed to try to fit all conflicts into one of the four categories in the book? This seems supported by the text, except for when Acuity alone is used in the conflict involving being surprised. My players seemed resistant to this, though. They picked the Stats they did because they wanted characters with those strengths, so the player with a high Acuity seemed to feel cheated when I ran a stealth conflict using Body+Heart. On the other hand, if I were to just pick which pair of traits seemed appropriate to a conflict, I don't know that I would agree with the pairs listed in the book, and I'm afraid that I might mess the escaltion system up.

Speaking of which, could anyone explain what the purpose of the escalation system is? Initially, I thought it was to encourage people to escalate from social conflicts to physical conflicts, forcing them to decide if the stakes are worth hurting people and risking being hurt. However, looking at some threads on this forum, I noticed that you could 'escalate' from a gunfight to talking things over, and that you get the dice for escalating to a gunfight even if you are the one being shot at and don't fire back, so that doesn't seem to be the goal. Then why are the rules the way they are? What kind of behavior do you find that they encourage in play? If I had a better answer to that question, I might be able to decide which Stats should be applied more easily.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2005, 02:49:29 PM by ctrail » Logged
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2005, 06:47:56 PM »

To quote (or misquote) Vincent: Escalation means getting more dice, period. In some ways, this seems to take away some of the tension, but in others, it can really raise the tension level. Remember, also, that if you have a Talking conflict, then escalate to physical violence, then you get NO more Stat dice for escalating, but you can bring in traits and items, and you only get those if you use them in a given raise or see. The way I see it, Stats are just a baseline dice pool, the real power of escalation comes in which traits and items you can bring into play.

I would explain to your players that the stats shouldn't necessarily be read into too deeply; Acuity is good for talking and guns. It's not a measure of how perceptive you are in general. Body is good for physical conflict, violent or otherwise, it's not about how tough or strong you are. Heart is good for inter-personal stuff like talking and non-violent physical conflict, it's not Charisma. Will is about violence, plain and simple. It's not about how well you can stand up under torture, or anything like that.

It's kind of counter-intuitive, but once you get it spelled out directly, it's easy to work with. I chose to have a good Acuity for my character not because he was perceptive, but because he was good at two things foremost; Talking and Shooting.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2005, 05:26:34 AM »

Here's from a post in actual play.
Part of the GM's job in the first couple of sessions is to figure out, mostly by observation, the group's standards for raising, seeing, invoking traits, valid stakes, etc.

The thing to observe in play, by the way, isn't what the group's doing, but instead who's dissatisfied with what the group's doing. The player who shakes her head and uses withdrawing body language in response to someone else's raise, or who's like "that's weak" when someone reaches for dice - that's the player whose lead to follow. Everyone's raises etc. should come to meet the most critical player's standards. As GM, it's your special responsibility to pay attention, figure out what those standards are, and make sure the group (overall) lives up to them.
Now, I think that when you're hiding something and someone else is trying to spot it, it'll usually start entirely social, with a big easy possibility that you'll escalate to physical right away. By the second raise, I expect both sides will have rolled all three of acuity, body and heart. But I'm not the one whose lead you have to follow.

-Vincent
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ctrail
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2005, 12:20:14 PM »

Thanks for the replies!

Wolfen, you seem to be saying that all conflicts will fall into one of the four categories, and that the Stats don't describe the character the same way traits do, they actual describe which pair of conflicts you are good at. How would you handle the corner cases I mentioned? Because I'm not sure what noticing something, exorcising a demon, or seeking a sign from the King of Life should use. These don't seem like just talking, non-combat but physical, non-gun combat, or gun combat to me. Also, this approach has the disadvantage that my players seem to want Stats to be more like descriptive traits, and not what you described them as.

Vincent, you seem to be saying that I should watch my players lead for what Stats should be used in what conflicts. I'm afraid I may have made that difficult. I was the only one who had read the rules before my first session, so they followed my lead regarding when Stats could be used. Although they occassionally show distress at something they find counter-intuitive, like not using Will to resist being talked into something or Acuity to notice something, they usually wait for me to let them know which Stats they can use. Thus, I may not get a lot of information, except when they think something is really wrong. Do you think I should discuss this with them, instead of just observing?

I also don't understand the standards you mention using. Perhaps if they suspect that someone was hiding an object, or trying to sneak away, it could start social and escalate to physical. Are you also saying this is the case if someone is sneaking up on someone else? Because that doesn't make sense to me. If so, could you post an example?
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lumpley
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2005, 12:52:57 PM »

Although they occassionally show distress at something they find counter-intuitive, like not using Will to resist being talked into something or Acuity to notice something, they usually wait for me to let them know which Stats they can use.

Perfect! When they show distress, that's when you back up and say "cool, what stats does everybody [NOT just the person rolling] think we oughta use here?" That's how you find out what your group's standards are.

-Vincent
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ctrail
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2005, 01:03:01 PM »

Okay, I'm now satisfied that I know what to do to determine which Stats are used when.

I'm still interested in your explanation of what you do for perception conflicts, though.
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Warren
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2005, 12:54:52 AM »

Personally, if this came up in my game, I would have the spotter use Non-Physical (Acuity+Heart), and the sneaker use Physical (Body+Heart) to begin with.

But, I have to ask why you would make the players roll for this. I could be missing the point here, but remember that Vincent wrote "Actively Reveal The Town In Play". That means to me that any 'clue-finding' rolls automatically succeed -- Yes, they do spot the NPC doing something bad, but what do the Dogs do about that once they spot it? What would the NPC do if confronted? Bang! You've got a conflict that matters, rather than just one which the players are trying to find something out?

Another point worth considering, I find, is "What would happen if the players Give on these Stakes?" If it would slow the game down -- they have to go around and ask more questions to find out that this NPC is a bad guy, for example -- don't make it a conflict and just say "Yes, you spot..." I find it makes the game a lot more fun for all those involved, anyway :)

I hope this helps,
Warren



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ctrail
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Posts: 19


« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2005, 08:44:46 AM »

Warren, as far as when this came up...
One player character was trying to hide something from another player character. The first player is a mountain person raised among the faithful from an early age, who is still in contact with one of his people's spirits, a demon. It probably would have been more interesting if he had been caught, but I figure that was the players call. Ultimately, he had to give up trying to seek privacy and was unable to secretly contact it. I don't think it really slowed down the game, and may have built tension for when they do catch him at it.
Another time, it was about whether a group of NPCs got the drop on the Dogs. Again, I think it worked well either way, although it might have been worth the time saved to just say the Dogs saw them, which is what ultimately happened.
But I'll keep your advice in mind for when the townspeople are trying to hide their sins. I'll have to be careful that my old gaming instincts don't kick in inappropriately...
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Warren
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2005, 09:21:18 AM »

Yeah, I find that it can be hard to kick the old habits sometimes, but even the few steps I've made with Dogs have increased the amount of fun had at the table immensely, so it's well worth sticking with!

Yeah, PC vs. PC conflicts are out of your hands really, so as I said above, I would go for Body+Heart vs. Acuity+Heart for that. I notice that you seem to be stuck on Acuity+Heart = talking, whereas I consider it to be anything non-physical. I'm not 100% if that's canon, as I haven't got my book to hand, but I find it works better for our group, anyway.

Also, regarding exorcisms and spiritual conflicts; From your first post, you seem to think that these are somehow special:

Also, several times there have been exorcisms, or other spiritual conflicts like seeking a sign. I have been using Heart+Will for 'spiritual' conflicts, but reviewing the examples in the book, I noticed that these conflicts were described as using Acuity+Heart, like a social conflict. But what if it doesn't involve talking, which is what I seem to remember being the definition for when to use Acuity+Heart?

As I play it, exorcisms are just conflicts like any other (Stakes: "Do we exorcise the Demon out of Sister Hobson?"), and generally start off just talking - "The power of Christ compels you!" kinda-stuff. What's that if not talking? If the Dog decides to smear some Sacred Earth over her face, well, that's a fair Escalation to Physical. I'd be happy for that Raise to count as Ceremony, too and cause increased Fallout if I had to take the Blow. If you had to pin her down as she scratched at you with her fingernails or somesuch, that could be an Escalation to Fighting, but as Vincent makes clear, this is up to your group to decide.

But, yeah, my point is that - certainly as I play it - spiritual conflicts play out just the same as any other, with the caveat that has been mentioned in another thread of "God isn't an NPC".

[Edit: Also, remember, as discussed in this thread, that the Fallout taken by the Demon during an exorcism tends to fall on the possessed after the stakes are resolved, which means that if a Dog shoots the Demon, they may well end up with a Demon-free but dying victim to deal with]

- Warren

« Last Edit: July 27, 2005, 09:26:24 AM by Warren » Logged
Darren Hill
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2005, 07:28:09 PM »

Warren, as far as when this came up...
One player character was trying to hide something from another player character. The first player is a mountain person raised among the faithful from an early age, who is still in contact with one of his people's spirits, a demon. It probably would have been more interesting if he had been caught, but I figure that was the players call. Ultimately, he had to give up trying to seek privacy and was unable to secretly contact it. I don't think it really slowed down the game, and may have built tension for when they do catch him at it.

This sounds to me like the stakes of a conflict - "does Secretive keep something hidden from Nosey?"
The way I'd do it:
First, decide who goes first. If Nosey is actively looking, he goes first. If Secretive is actively trying to hide something, let him go first.
Get that person to describe his first action - how does he act nosey or secretive? This can tell you whether it's a physical or non-physical conflict (note: the rules say "non-physical", not "social", so that category covers mental actions, too).
Let's say Secretive says he is hiding whatever it is under his coat - that sounds like a physical action (unless the player thinks otherwise), so we start with physical (and he can use his Coat dice, too).
That player then backs up this initial action with a Raise, and maybe gets a trait to roll into it too.

The Nosey has to See. he might decide to See with a trait like "I see everything," and declare that he spots a surreptitious movement by Secretive - his attention is drawn.
That player could say, "I'm not using a physical action - it's non-physical." That's fine - he has now escalated it to Non-Physical, and bother characters get to roll their dice.
The player then gets to roll that trait, and chooses which dice to See with.

Or maybe it started differently.
Secretive says he talks, trying to distract Nosey and direct his attention elsewhere. That sounds non-Physical, so that's what the conflict starts with. He backs up his statement with a Raise, and it's over to Nosey.
Let's say Nosey doesn't escalate on his See, and Blocks with a non-physical action (he talks, and notices Secretive's attempt at verbal misdirection).
Then he Raises, and says, "I grab Secretive's Coat and open it," - he's just escalated to Physical, and Secretive now has the opportunity to Take the Blow (e.g. "startled, he has hold of my coat, but the trinket is hidden under my shirt") or Block (e.g. "I step out of reach").

Quote
Another time, it was about whether a group of NPCs got the drop on the Dogs. Again, I think it worked well either way, although it might have been worth the time saved to just say the Dogs saw them, which is what ultimately happened.
You could do this as a conflict where the stake is: "do the NPCs get the drop on the Dogs?" If they win, though, what will happen to the Dogs? Te gunfighter quickdraw example from the rules, and genre conventions, suggest that now the Dogs are completely at the mercy of the NPCs - unless they go along with the NPCs wishes or win a conflict of "get out from under the NPCs guns," which may involve fast talk and misdirection, culminating in leaping for cover behind rocks or whatever.

A final note: these types of conflicts tend to fall flat if the PCs (and GM) are stuck in the mode of declaring PC actions the way you do in traditional games. Is this a problem for your and your players?
To explain, the players have to know more than their characters, and use that knowledge in formulating appropriate raises and sees, even declaring Sees and Raises for characters other than themselves.
For example:
Secretive Raises: "I lift his shirt to reveal..."
Nosey Sees: "At that moment, Secretive's horse is attacked by a rattlesnake. As he turns away..."
Nosey Raises: "... I move the trinket from under my shirt and into my hat, which I'm holding in my hand."
Secretive Sees: "As I kill the rattler, Pancho, the ranch hand, notices your movement and...
Secretive Raises: "says 'Brother Nosey, what is that you put in your hat?' I raise an eyebrow and wait for your next explanation."
And so on.
Clearly, here, both players know something is up - they may both know what the trinket is, but their characters don't. In Dogs, players are required to juggle this knowledge much more adroitly than many games.
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