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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 91 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Les Dogs de la Vigne  (Read 3590 times)
GB Steve
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« on: July 24, 2005, 08:47:30 AM »

So it was SteveCon Paris this weekend, organised by Ben with accomodation provided by Régis. I popped over from London for two nights which was long enough to play Enemy Gods and to run Dogs in the Vineyard, both in French.

My French is a little rusty, I haven't lived there for near on 20 years and so, whilst I can understand everything everyone says to me and my accent is fine, I'm a little slow with the mot juste and sometimes even with the mot mauvais (as in saying troupeau (herd) for troupe (squad)).

I chose to run Fort Lemon again because I've already run it once in the UK (actually we're halfway through) so I'm familiar enough with it that I don't need to refer to the notes much.

There were 4 players Antoine, Régis, Ben and Nali. I had character sheets with all the crib notes and everyone could speak enough English to understand them which was great 'cos I didn't have time to translate everything. We took about 4-5 hours or so to play the game including creating the characters which took about 30-45 minutes. No one had played it before but Ben was familiar with the rules.

I explained something about the dice system before we got to the accomplishment phase so that the players realised the signifance of the d4. I also talked about the background in rather general terms. The players were well versed enough in history to understand the main points. I also told them that Dogs is not "un jeu à mystères".

And then we played. And it was good.

The players really got the hang of the system very quickly (but there are all very experience gamers) and more so had differentiable characters who weren't afraid to argue with each other over moral choices. Although I hadn't explicitly stated that the game was about such choices, I did emphasise such concerns when we had conflicts.

I also framed scenes fairly agressively to put the players on the spot and also ensured that their decisions had consequences. One such occasion was when a brother was beating his pregnant wife for drinking. One Dog went to intervene but another stopped him saying it was the husband's right, and besides he was only slapping her face. A conflict ensued and the PC was held back. Then the woman started taunting her husband and challenging him to kick her, which he duely did. This lead to a big fight in which two Dogs almost died.

All in all, everyone was very engaged and seemed keen to get their hands on the game. I'd bought a copy at Origins for Ben so there's at least one printed copy in France and I'd expect to see a few pdfs go that way too now.

If I had any quibbles they are these:
- Crowds have a big influence on conflicts. The players soon realised that they couldn't easily defeat anyone with a lot of backing. I think more use of follow-on conflicts might have helped here, or at least more tactical play. I don't think it's an insurmountable problem but it can sometimes lead to players becoming a bit disheartened.

- Conflicts take a long time to resolve. To a certain extent this means that the GM has to choose more carefully when to escalate and when to down, especially in a time-limited one shot, which is not always easy when you don't know what other conflicts are coming up. The time taken also means that there's a lot of focus on the mechanical aspect which can reduce the interest in the conflict for the players. I've not really thought about what could be done to improve this aspect of the game, given that the incremental nature of conflict resolution is crucial to fallout and the notion of deciding what you are prepared sacrifice to win. I must say that this isn't something that has ever bothered me as player (once) and GM (four times) but all my players (8 of them) have said the same thing.

We were running short on time so for healing I used a quick conflict method which was for each side to roll their dice and to just look at the totals. I did think about totalling the number of 1s on each side as fallout but I don't think that it would have added much to the game. I guess I could have just said that the PCs were healed but it seemed a critical point in the game and I didn't want to defuse the tension by letting them do the healing too easily.

- Group conflicts are hard to manage. All the business of who is being targetted and who can lend and when is not as smooth as it could be and I think some of the players didn't quite get this. I'm totally sure that I'm doing it correctly but it seemed to work.

I think some of the issues may have been dealt with more succesfully had my French been what it was 20 years ago but that's not to detract from a really excellent game that seemed to be enjoyed by all. If you can read French then have a look at Ben's account here (at the bottom of the page with photos).
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Bill Cook
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Posts: 501


« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2005, 09:15:50 AM »

That was cool, reading through the French thread. (Which, I can't read French, but you can sort of get some of it.) And the pictures were cool, too.)
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2005, 04:37:22 AM »

Hey, that's cool.  Could you share how it turned out for your Fench group, and (when completed) your other group?  As the author of that town, I'm interested in the outcome.

--Jason
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Andrew Norris
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Posts: 253


« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2005, 08:42:03 AM »

I passed that page through http://babelfish.altavista.com and the post recounting the DitV game actually comes out fairly comprehensible.

Some of the extra detail in that thread is fascinating. I was particularly struck by the fact that the situation where the man slaps his wife came about because she was drinking while pregnant, and he slaps her "for the good of the baby". When she dares him to escalate, she's basically saying "If you're going to hit me for the good of the baby, here you go, kick me right in the stomach". Oof. Pretty stern stuff, although I might be reading more into it because of the translation.

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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2005, 03:23:21 PM »

"In Dogs in the Vineyard, one plays the Mastiffs. You will have already understood that it is not a priori a funny play."

Gotta love Babelfish.  Still, that told me everything I wanted to know - thanks for the suggestion.
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GB Steve
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2005, 04:00:56 PM »

I was particularly struck by the fact that the situation where the man slaps his wife came about because she was drinking while pregnant, and he slaps her "for the good of the baby". When she dares him to escalate, she's basically saying "If you're going to hit me for the good of the baby, here you go, kick me right in the stomach". Oof. Pretty stern stuff, although I might be reading more into it because of the translation.
That's pretty much what happened. Except that one of the Dogs tried to intervene to stop the slapping but was prevented by his colleague. That's when the slapping turned to kicking.
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