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Author Topic: [DitV] I don't want to say 'yes' and I don't want to put dice on the table...  (Read 7024 times)
MCroft
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Posts: 13


« on: August 28, 2005, 08:25:26 AM »

I had a pretty serious train wreck in my last session.  The dogs had just successfully gone in, guns blazing, and won a conflict with two posessed women for the stakes "Do the dogs prevent the demons from harming the children?"  They'd gone in guns blazing, but one of the demons had given the power "bullet-proof" to the posessee, so "I shoot her" was an action that they could ignore.  The players overcame this obstacle and all went well.

I ran out of dice, so the posessed women gave and fled, letting the players achieve their objective.  All good so far.

However, the players wanted an immediate followup conflict with the stakes being "Do the demon-posessed women get away?"  I didn't think the Dogs had anything they could do to stop them, and I said so.  I didn't think they could do anything the women couldn't ignore.

Given that they'd just beat these two women, it was pretty clear that they could have their way with them in a follow-up conflict, as well.  I didn't want to face a situation where the players had lots of dice in a conflict and they had to keep guessing what I would agree was an action that the women couldn't ignore.

The players were extremely frustrated that I didn't let them have the conflict, and felt that I had dictated something which I should have had a conflcit over.  I wasn't willing to let them have the stakes they wanted, and any lower stakes weren't worth it to them.  I didn't think I was railroading them, but they thought that I was.  I felt as if I was being pressured into having a conflict that they couldn't start and couldn't win.

We actually ended up calling it a night and continuing the next day, after tempers were down, and it went OK after that, but it was a whole lot of no fun that I don't want to repeat, and I want to make sure I have an approach to deal with that kind of log-jam.

Any suggestions?
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--Michael
Blankshield
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2005, 08:39:51 AM »

I had a pretty serious train wreck in my last session.  The dogs had just successfully gone in, guns blazing, and won a conflict with two posessed women for the stakes "Do the dogs prevent the demons from harming the children?"  They'd gone in guns blazing, but one of the demons had given the power "bullet-proof" to the posessee, so "I shoot her" was an action that they could ignore.  The players overcame this obstacle and all went well.

I ran out of dice, so the posessed women gave and fled, letting the players achieve their objective.  All good so far.

However, the players wanted an immediate followup conflict with the stakes being "Do the demon-posessed women get away?"  I didn't think the Dogs had anything they could do to stop them, and I said so.  I didn't think they could do anything the women couldn't ignore.

Given that they'd just beat these two women, it was pretty clear that they could have their way with them in a follow-up conflict, as well.  I didn't want to face a situation where the players had lots of dice in a conflict and they had to keep guessing what I would agree was an action that the women couldn't ignore.

There's lots of stuff I can think if that they couldn't ignore.

Right at the top of this list is Ceremony.  Demons and possessed folk and sorcerers can't ignore Ceremony.  There's also mundane raises like "I blow the back of her head off with my big ol' gun."  They can't ignore that kind of stuff.  "I get between them and the door."  "I trip her"  "I grab her"  "All that gunfire a while back has done some damage to the building, and a wall collapses on them."  "I locked the door when we came in."  All of that stuff is 100% legit, and not ignorable.

At the risk of armchair analysis, it sounds like you were really attached to having these two get away.  Can you give a little more background as to why that was?  Posting the session over in Actual Play would do worlds of good to the quality of this thread, I suspect.

James

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MCroft
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2005, 09:12:53 AM »

I had a pretty serious train wreck in my last session.  The dogs had just successfully gone in, guns blazing, and won a conflict with two posessed women for the stakes "Do the dogs prevent the demons from harming the children?"  They'd gone in guns blazing, but one of the demons had given the power "bullet-proof" to the posessee, so "I shoot her" was an action that they could ignore.  The players overcame this obstacle and all went well.

I ran out of dice, so the posessed women gave and fled, letting the players achieve their objective.  All good so far.

However, the players wanted an immediate followup conflict with the stakes being "Do the demon-posessed women get away?"  I didn't think the Dogs had anything they could do to stop them, and I said so.  I didn't think they could do anything the women couldn't ignore.

Given that they'd just beat these two women, it was pretty clear that they could have their way with them in a follow-up conflict, as well.  I didn't want to face a situation where the players had lots of dice in a conflict and they had to keep guessing what I would agree was an action that the women couldn't ignore.

There's lots of stuff I can think if that they couldn't ignore.

Right at the top of this list is Ceremony.  Demons and possessed folk and sorcerers can't ignore Ceremony.  There's also mundane raises like "I blow the back of her head off with my big ol' gun."  They can't ignore that kind of stuff.  "I get between them and the door."  "I trip her"  "I grab her"  "All that gunfire a while back has done some damage to the building, and a wall collapses on them."  "I locked the door when we came in."  All of that stuff is 100% legit, and not ignorable.

I think the players and I agreed that they were unable to use the mundane raises for various reasons, but I could be wrong. The Ceremony is part of my concern here, because it is right at the top of the list.  I couldn't come up with a way to use the rules to model "you can try, but there's no reasonable chance to succeed" and my players didn't want me to gloss it.  I thought it would be a worse exercise is frustration if they had to keep guessing what I thought was 'ignorable'.  In hindsight, I'm not sure if it would have or not.

Quote
At the risk of armchair analysis, it sounds like you were really attached to having these two get away.  Can you give a little more background as to why that was?
Yeah, I think that's what the players thought.  From a mechanics point of view, they were two of the three members of the cult and I wanted them at the final conflict with the sorcerer because I needed the dice.  I would either have had to bring in a few more members whom the players hadn't discovered in the previous sessions (which would be a bit too deus-ex-machina for me to be happy with it) or else I would have had a conflict which would have been the biggest anti-climax since 'for God, for Country, and for Yale'. 

Did I fool myself into thinking that they didn't have a chance to succeed because I thought that if they did, it would limit the rest of the session to one of two unsatisfactory conclusion?  Possibly.  Were there better resolutions?  I could have made the time-scale of the conflict larger and had them chase the two back to the sorceress' lair, given there, and had the follow-up, 'now we fight' conflict, but I didn't think of that at the time.

I think my error here started with not agreeing on mutually acceptable stakes. 

Getting away from the specifics of this encounter, are there any circumstances where the players shouldn't be able to have a conflict but can't get what they want?
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--Michael
lumpley
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2005, 09:34:34 AM »

Welcome, MCroft. Remind me of your name?

Bad news though - you broke the rules.

Quote
Getting away from the specifics of this encounter, are there any circumstances where the players shouldn't be able to have a conflict but can't get what they want?

Not really. I mean, there are lots of things that can't really legitimately be at stake - "does God exist?" - but that's a whole different class of thing than you're asking about. Anything where the player can say "we do this" - "we exorcise the town, we catch the cultists, we bring the kid back from the dead" - you have no right to disallow.

Push for smaller stakes, sure. Say no, never.

-Vincent
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MCroft
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2005, 09:59:36 AM »

Welcome, MCroft. Remind me of your name?

Bad news though - you broke the rules.

Quote
Getting away from the specifics of this encounter, are there any circumstances where the players shouldn't be able to have a conflict but can't get what they want?

Not really. I mean, there are lots of things that can't really legitimately be at stake - "does God exist?" - but that's a whole different class of thing than you're asking about. Anything where the player can say "we do this" - "we exorcise the town, we catch the cultists, we bring the kid back from the dead" - you have no right to disallow.

Push for smaller stakes, sure. Say no, never.

-Vincent


OK, that helps.  If I ran it wrong, then I can avoid the problems I had by not running it wrong.  So, given that I broke the rules to avoid painting myself into a corner, it looks like I had a plot-point in mind and maybe even a solution, two things explicitly recommended against in the rules.  The PCs were moving right towards my solution, so it didn't bite me too badly until I didn't like how they were getting there.

However, I'm not sure what to do in the moment of "if this happens, the rest of this town will suck."

-Michael, who will now make a sig...
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--Michael
Blankshield
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2005, 10:25:48 AM »

Quote
Getting away from the specifics of this encounter, are there any circumstances where the players shouldn't be able to have a conflict but can't get what they want?

Not really. I mean, there are lots of things that can't really legitimately be at stake - "does God exist?" - but that's a whole different class of thing than you're asking about. Anything where the player can say "we do this" - "we exorcise the town, we catch the cultists, we bring the kid back from the dead" - you have no right to disallow.

Push for smaller stakes, sure. Say no, never.

OK, that helps. If I ran it wrong, then I can avoid the problems I had by not running it wrong. So, given that I broke the rules to avoid painting myself into a corner, it looks like I had a plot-point in mind and maybe even a solution, two things explicitly recommended against in the rules. The PCs were moving right towards my solution, so it didn't bite me too badly until I didn't like how they were getting there.

However, I'm not sure what to do in the moment of "if this happens, the rest of this town will suck."

Yeah, that (the don't have the end in mind) is what got you in trouble here.  Some thoughts on how to handle this down the road:

Right at the top of the list: let the chips fall where they may.  If the climax isn't where you think it is (shrug), so be it.  There's always some denoument and trailing action.  I bet you that if you'd rolled with it 100% and played it hard, the players would never have even guessed that you'd meant the big finale to be something else.

Right under that is saying flat out: "Guys, I can't think of any good way for these two to get away; your dice are going to stomp all over me.  But I've got a really cool scene in mind, is it OK with you guys if we let these two get away and cut straight to the followup I've got instead?"  And being ABSOLUTELY prepared to say "OK, we'll do it your way." with good grace if they're reluctant.

Other things you could do:
Give the followup conflict right away: They don't get away.  Launch a followup conflict of your own "The third member of their cult is framed in the doorway, and they rally.  Stakes I want are ..."

Mostly be aware that, while Dogs does put strict limits on the GM's power to affect what the players are doing, you have the same degree of directorial control and scene framing that they do.  As long as the NPC's are mostly good folk gone wrong and want conflicting things from the Dogs, then your town is pretty much guaranteed not to suck.

Anxiety is a hard demon to banish, but really, you have to.  "The rest of the town will suck" is shorthand for "they've already done the interesting things" which means "Pass Judgement and move on, Brothers and Sisters."

Hope that helps some...

James

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TonyLB
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2005, 04:11:18 PM »

Can you give us the executive summary of your town writeup?  Like, Pride: X, Injustice: Y, Sin: Z and so on? 

It doesn't have to be much, I'm just trying to figure out how you got into the very un-Dogs-like experience of finding that there was an achievement that the Dogs could achieve that would defuse all the tension in the town.
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Christopher Weeks
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2005, 04:53:21 PM »

Give the followup conflict right away: They don't get away.  Launch a followup conflict of your own "The third member of their cult is framed in the doorway, and they rally.  Stakes I want are ..."
Yeah, engineer it to start as non-physical, roll all the dice you can, take an ass-wallop of low-die fallout by seeing with a bunch of ones, saving your big die, and give.  Give your NPCs fallout, save the big die for your followup bonus, and bring in the cavalry.  Or let them bite it and replace them with mooks for the big show-down at the climax point that you were seeking.
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James Holloway
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Posts: 372


« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2005, 05:50:36 PM »

However, I'm not sure what to do in the moment of "if this happens, the rest of this town will suck."
Hi Michael,

this is a worry I've had occasionally, but I've never seen it pan out in play. Here are my thoughts:

a) the problem is solved at town creation. If you're thoughtful about the Pride and the Injustice and so on, you should be able to say "well, OK, possessed people are dealt with. But the real problem is (Brother Zephaniah's cruel abuse of his Stewardship or whatever), and as long as that goes on, more people will get possessed." Because the possessed people threatening kids is not a particularly interesting question by itself -- pretty much any Dog will react to it in the same way.

b) if you're worried that "the rest of the town will suck," let it suck. Ten times rather that than telling the players they can't do something when they know they can. That's not up to you to decide. And you'll find that your players will likely find the interesting question in the town regardless of whether or not your conflict goes down as you planned it. You might find it turns out OK after all.
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