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[DitV] Mobs

Started by ctrail, July 25, 2005, 06:49:08 PM

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Had a weird moment in a game last night. The players were going to confront the Steward of the town and his cronies, and decided to bring some loyal townspeople along to help with the conflict. I was happy that they only wanted to bring along an extra seven, but I was concerned that they really could have asked for as many as they liked. Since they get 2d6 for every ally they have, they could just choose to get a huge entourage, and easily defeat any conflict in the game. I don't mind them winning lots of conflicts, but I'd like them to have to make difficult decisions about what they will do in order to win them, and certainly to have some more interesting raises in order to incorporate traits and belongings instead of relying upon the Stats of a small army. I could have a conflict over whether or not they get their entourage, but I'd almost certainly lose it. It seems strange to me that allies serve as an effectively unlimited and relatively painless source of dice, and this seems like it could potentially mess up the rest of the game. Is there something I'm missing? I'd just not worry about it, except that they have already used this tactic in a moderate way once, so it seems like more serious uses may follow.

On a related note, any suggestions on how to size oppositional groups? Sometimes I want to include an angry mob or possee, and my intitial instinct is to say that their are twenty or thirty members, but this seems like it would be an impossible foe. Which seems strange to me- I don't see why the Dogs should find it hard to sway a mob, in fact that seems like something they should be good at.

In a way, it seems like giving groups dice for numerical advantage instead of for descriptive traits only is a throwback to simulating reality which doesn't match up with the way the rest of the system works.

Lance D. Allen

If you want to discourage the players from getting mobs to back them, remember the golden rule of DitV: Say yes or roll the dice. If rolling the dice seems a foregone conclusion, and doesn't interest you, then give. Don't even take it to a conflict. If the players want conflicts, they'll take the hint, and start doing their part to frame the circumstances to be more interesting.

To be honest, Cronies or not, if I saw a group of Dogs with seven townsfolk, I'd run, give up, commit "Suicide by Dog", whatever. If you want, let them create the stakes, then give early on, or simply say yes before they frame the stakes.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls


Most conflicts with mobs should be with the ringleaders, not the whole mob. Just because the Dogs - or the steward, or whoever - have a bunch of people with them doesn't mean that they get dice for them.

You should be very clear when you establish stakes for a conflict just exactly who, of all the fictional people present, is actively participating in the conflict. "I stand and look intimidating" is active participation in very few conflicts.


GB Steve

I think this possibly needs to be made a bit clearer in the rules then. What do you call active participation? Here are some actual situations:

If an NPC is organising a lynching and the crowd are baying for blood, do they count as active participants if the Dogs are trying to stop this happening? The conflict is about stopping the lynching. Does the lead NPC get 2d6 for each person in the crowd?

If the Dogs are confronting a Federal Marshall, one pulls out a gun and says 'You know, I've got authority to use this thing from God' and the Marshall says "Well, I've got my four boys with me", pointing at his men sitting around the room does the Marshall get 8d6 for his boys? The conflict is about getting the Marshall to take someone into protective custody.


So I see two different solutions being proposed here.

Wolfen, you are saying that I should let them have a mob if they really want it, and let them use it to easily defeat the opposition if they want it, and then rely upon them to self regulate. If they don't like the trivial conflicts, they will stop, and if they do, so be it. I can still create situations that will be difficult to pass judgement upon. However, my fear is that they will rely upon the free stat dice, and avoid making the hard decisions about what traits to use, when to take fallout, and when to give, that make the game so interesting. If I use this solution, I hope my players enjoy that part of them game as much as I do, and that they realize I'm relying upon them to not use every available resource to win the conflict. Because in the other games we've played, the expectation has been that they should use every available resource, and that I should make conflicts that will still be interesting under this assumption. I'm afraid they may not like the idea that they have to pull punches in order to make the game interesting.

Vincent, you don't think that the mob should necessarily add bonus dice, since they are not actively participating in the conflict. Is it safe to assume that you think that if only active participants contribute dice, they won't always be able to justify as many dice as they want, solving the problem? I'm not sure I understand what you think counts as active participation. I'd be interested in you answers to Steve's questions about this. Or how about the situation in my game, where the characters asked one of the Dog's parents and five other unnamed members of a conspiracy to replace the Steward to help them in a fight against the sheriff and two of his deputies?


Recommended viewing on this topic: High Noon, Bad Day at Black Rock, possibly 3:10 to Yuma.  Maybe even The Magnificent Seven or Seven Samurai. What's at stake is: "Will the  peaceful townfolk risk their lives to help the Dogs?"  Say yes or roll dice, right?

Rio Bravo was Howard Hawks' rebuttal to High Noon.  Lawrence & Jewett in The American Monomyth discuss how the quintessential western story is how a community is threatened by evil that it's unable (perhaps unwilling) to deal with itself, so a stranger comes to town and saves them, but can never be part of the community, and has to move on.  DitV isn't quite that, since the Dogs are part of the community as well as apart from it, but some of the above may provide food for thought.


Steve, I'll give your examples a go, and say what I'd think -

NPC organising a lynching, mob baying for blood.

Let's say your Dog just walks up to the NPC, and begins to recite a section from the Book of Life that talks about who has the authority to take a life. Here, I'd argue that the baying of the mob is going to be working against the Dog - he's got right on his side, as always, but the crowd are noisy, and are reinforcing the NPC's internal argument, such as it is.

Is everyone involved clearly participating, and clearly helpful to the NPC? Well, no. So in this case I'd be inclined to just throw the demons in.

You've got a Dog up against a Marshal, and the Dog's drawn his gun. The stakes are "will the Marshal take this guy into protective custody" - now, I'd argue that that pulling a gun while just talking might be an escalation to guns - which is pretty damn heavy when you're trying to persuade someone - or the Dog's player could be being canny, trying to roll a couple of extra traits into the contest. Now, the Marshal's got his four boys, and I can't help but wonder if this isn't just the negotiation stage, before rolling - drawing a gun would change the stakes from "can I persuade this guy" to "can I force this guy", and on the force issue then, well, yes, 8D6 for his boys, or 4D10 for secular authority (demons) standing against God's Will. Either way it seems dangerous - so I'd give the player of the Dog the choice on the stakes - is he persuading or forcing - and then I'd see what I could get behind it either way.

That second one's fascinating, by the way - what happened next?
my name is drew

"I wouldn't be satisfied with a roleplaying  session if I wasn't turned into a turkey or something" - A

GB Steve

Thanks for the input. What you said leads me to think that the answer is, it depends on the circumstances of the game and the flow of the game.

Taking the second case first. I read the Dog's action as "show me your authority" so the Marshall (actually, my mistake, it was a TA Major but that's not important), not wanting to play his full hand yet, was saying "for a start, there's not just me". So I gave the Marshall the extra dice and the Dog pushed the talking as far as he could but wasn't up to escalating. So the Dog lost.

The stake was "Take this person into protective custody" against "tell me what they done". Having found out that the people in question were cannibals the Marshall ordered them arrested anyway, but on his terms. There was a big crowd outside who were about to burn these 'obvious' demons but the soldiers' might prevailed and the mob let them take them away. As the two people, a man and his wife, were dragged off, the woman, obviously pregnant bit a soldier and ran off. She was shot dead but her baby was still alive.

A dog used a conflict to determine if there was a demon presence. There was, not in the baby but in 3 supernumery soldiers. He hit them sacred earth which revealed their true forms (we'd discussed at the start of the game that the players didn't want supernatural abilities but would like the supernatural to show itself in the denoument), the Dogs then used ceremony to despatch the demons as the horrified crowd and soldiers looked on. In this case, no dice were awarded for the presence of the mobs, they were too horrified to intervene.

The end of the game happened very quickly but we had run out of time so the player looking for a demon presence was a gift to wrap the game up.

The other case was a precursor to the second. I granted the NPC leading the crowd lots of extra dice. The Dogs saw they were losing and gave to go in search of help. I may have been more lenient in other cases but they hadn't really done much to get the crowd on their side during the game and, if anything, had strenghted the hand of the NPC.