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Author Topic: Worth it for Town Generation?  (Read 2776 times)
TTrotsky
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Posts: 3


« on: October 29, 2005, 12:37:09 AM »

DitV was recently recommended to me for its Town Generation system. I don't need a new rule system now, so the mechanics of character generation, escalation, combat, etc. won't be of use to me. Similarly, having read through posts in this forum, and the examples of Actual Play, its clear to me that the setting as written wouldn't interest me, either. (Neither of these things are a criticism of the game, I should point out, just a statement of my personal interests and current needs). So, basically, if I did buy it, it looks likely that Town Generation is the only thing I'd be buying it for - and, obviously, I'd be adapating that to a moral/legal system and setting relevant to my existing HeroQuest fantasy campaign.

So, I'm wondering, is it worth it? How much of the book is taken up by the Town Generation once you've taken out the Book of Life and other specifics (am I, for instance, paying $40, or whatever it is, for just 2 pages?) Judging from posts here, it's not terribly difficult to adapt it to a different ethical code, but how easy would it be to adapt to a campaign where the characters don't move around much? That is, they tend to encounter problems within the same large city, rather than travelling about from town to town, so I won't need to work out details of where they are, just what's going on that they have to resolve (I'm guessing this isn't a major focus of DitV, so that it won't be a problem, but it's better to ask). Has anyone else tried to use the Town Generation system in a different game, and how did it work out?
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Neal
Member

Posts: 143


« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2005, 07:19:20 AM »

The Town Generation system in DitV is great for generating backstory.  It sets up a hierarchy of "wrongness" so that some towns are rougher than others.  The basic idea is that some folks have done things that were wrong, and those deeds have set in motion a series of consequences the PCs must sort through and judge.  While the game privileges acts of spiritual wrongness (Pride, Sin, False Worship), a clever GM could easily rename and/or rearrange a few things for a more secular world.  To my recollection, no other game (and certainly no other Wild West game) has done this.  Even if you're not interested in the idea of sin-sniffin' Mormon shootists, the Creating Towns section of the rulebook does have a lot to offer, not the least of which is that it's the only system I've seen that pretty much forces an adventure setting to make some kind of logical sense.

Where the book is thin is where it deals with geography and demographics.  Those just aren't the focus.  Vincent lists some buildings one is likely to encounter in a small town and a larger town, along with the folks who work there.  If you've bought another Wild West game recently, you already have a more extensive treatment of these things.

Is it worth the price of the book to get your hands on the rules for generating a town's backstory and hierarchy of wrongness?  That's a tough question.  If you're like me, you've probably spent twice this much on a much-hyped game product that's turned out to be total crap.  DitV is not total crap, so yeah, in that sense, I'd say go for it.  Besides, you never know when you might want to try out a new system, and if you do, well, there's one sitting on your shelf.

Some numbers:

My edition of Dogs in the Vineyard cost me $20 and comes in at about 100 pp., paperbound.
(By comparison, my Arthaus edition of Aberrant cost me about $35 and came in at 229 pp., hardbound.  Over 65% of that book was self-indulgent fluff -- badly-written fiction and other material extraneous to my understanding and running of the game.)

My edition of DitV devotes eighteen pages to town creation (including one page in an earlier chapter that lists the kinds of shops to be found in a typical town).  Most of those eighteen pages, however, deal with the handling of "what's wrong" and include suggestions about how Pride enters into... well, just about everything from gender roles to the handling of money.  "Creating Towns" is there to help a GM build a town with something in it for the Dogs to take care of.  It is aimed entirely at giving the players something to do.

Finally, my edition of DitV presents a self-contained and unique game system and setting in less than 100 pages, something I haven't seen in a while, at least since the first wave of indie games crashed against the breakers of Big Gaming.  (Man, I miss my copy of Bunnies and Burrows!)

I hope this has been of some help to you, Trotsky.
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oliof
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Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2005, 09:42:14 AM »

The Town Creation rules obviously make most sense in the game setting itself.

In addition, they are a great tool to think of a group of people, and how their own actions put them in danger. This is totally isolated from any setting, world view or gaming preferences.

If used by the letter, they create a consistent and believable background on which You can orchestrate whatever kind of conflict You need Your game to run on.

What You need to do is replace the Sin progression scheme with some other progression scheme. The progressesion scheme also always urges you to decide what the demons want and warrant to those caring to their needs. The demons is just the effect the current level of sin has on the real, factual world. What the demons want and do is what endangers the community. This can be hard physical facts, like Sr. Bethany neglects her duty on the well, because she thinks her fine hands mustn't show any signs of hard work. Because of this, the wellspring is poisoned, and the people drinking the water suffer from their skin peeling off the backs of their hand. This could be a simple hygienic issue, or demons of vain being bound to the well by Sr. Bethany's inappropriate behavior. It's a call the group makes. In the end, it does not matter much - it's just color.

Consider the mob setting that crops up now and again. Let's say Selfishness leads to Mistrust leads to Murder.Why is that so? What are the consequences of greed, theft, mistrust other than people being money hungry, emptying their bosses pockets, becoming paranoid and finally killing themselves or someone else helping them in the act? For example, at the selfishness level, the whole organization runs in the danger of being perceived as thieves by the bosses boss if someone takes money from the coffers of the family. Hard times for everyone, we lost 20,000,000$ and need them in six hours or one of us is going to die. *Wham* mistrust and possible murder. (yes the progression scheme is very short, this is for illustration and fits our perception of mob war flicks).

Case in point: I never thought of mob adventures like this before reading the Dogs Town Creation Rules. They may not apply to any and all sorts of problems You might want to develop, but it's way more applicable in a broad way then it seems at first sight.
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Brian Newman
Member

Posts: 53


« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2005, 10:29:58 AM »

"Town" can really be anything -- planet, neighborhood, church congregation, fraternity house... the specifics don't matter.

What does matter is the idea behind town generation -- that the PCs will be the moral authority stepping in and resolving the situation from a position of authority.  In Firefly, the authority is "we're the good guys" or "we have our guns pointed at you".  I'm not sure what it would be in Glorantha, especially in an Orlanthi town.  Now, maybe Dara Happan elders cleaning up the heretics in the homeland... that could be interesting.
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TTrotsky
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Posts: 3


« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2005, 01:07:12 PM »

Where the book is thin is where it deals with geography and demographics.  Those just aren't the focus.

Which is a good thing, from my perspective, since its generating the backstory that I'd want it for. Demographics I don't need, especially since my campaign is a fantasy one, largely set within a single city.

Quote
If you're like me, you've probably spent twice this much on a much-hyped game product that's turned out to be total crap.

Oh, sure, but not on purpose Smiley That's what I'm trying to avoid this time - not that I expect most of the book to be crap, of course, but that it won't be stuff of any use to me, even if of high quality.

Quote
My edition of DitV devotes eighteen pages to town creation (including one page in an earlier chapter that lists the kinds of shops to be found in a typical town).  Most of those eighteen pages, however, deal with the handling of "what's wrong" and include suggestions about how Pride enters into... well, just about everything from gender roles to the handling of money.  "Creating Towns" is there to help a GM build a town with something in it for the Dogs to take care of.  It is aimed entirely at giving the players something to do.

That's useful information, thanks.

"Town" can really be anything -- planet, neighborhood, church congregation, fraternity house... the specifics don't matter.

OK, that's good to know.

Quote
What does matter is the idea behind town generation -- that the PCs will be the moral authority stepping in and resolving the situation from a position of authority.

Hmm... don't know if that will be the case. Or, at least, it may not be any sort of authority that the locals will necessarily respect. Still, your comment about Firefly implies that that might not be much of a problem.

Quote
I'm not sure what it would be in Glorantha, especially in an Orlanthi town. Now, maybe Dara Happan elders cleaning up the heretics in the homeland... that could be interesting.

FWIW, it would be Lunars cleaning up reactionary Dara Happan and Carmanian types. So the 'Sins' would be Bigotry, Inequality, Misogyny, that sort of thing.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2005, 01:55:18 PM »

Welcome to the Forge TTrotsky!

A "Town" is really a snarled mess of relationships gone awry. It's totally abstractable to any other game system and is one of several shining gems in this game.

HOWEVER!

Town Generation will be broken if the GM has a solution to the problem in mind. You absolutely, positively, totally must trust the players to resolve the issues. Clues cannot be hidden from them (though it might be entertaining to keep them hidden from the characters). That means that, if there's a fight, say, you have to say, before the fight begins what the players will win through that conflict. Like, the player can say, "I want the guy to tell me everything he knows."... and if he wins the conflict, you have to give it to him. This is built into the conflict resolution system, and you're tossing out another gem by not using it. Or maybe you're just storing it for later.

Town creation assumes that the characters are going to discover everything and their solution will solve the issues in the town. If you assume this, as well, it could probably work well.Don't forget to post your results up here!
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
TTrotsky
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Posts: 3


« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2005, 02:51:57 PM »

Town Generation will be broken if the GM has a solution to the problem in mind. You absolutely, positively, totally must trust the players to resolve the issues.

Well, yes, I realise that,

Quote
Like, the player can say, "I want the guy to tell me everything he knows."... and if he wins the conflict, you have to give it to him.

HeroQuest works pretty much like that anyway, so that's not an issue. Although, personally, I'd rather base results like that on roleplaying, with dice-rolling assisting the outcome, not being the sole determinant of it. (For example, one of the PCs has the power to make people Question Their Assumptions, which can be very handy when getting them to spill the beans - but they've still got to ask the right questions to take advantage of this). Would that be a problem?

Quote
Town creation assumes that the characters are going to discover everything and their solution will solve the issues in the town.

I can't guarantee the players will completely succeed every time, but I certainly wouldn't assume that they wouldn't discover everything, either.
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foucalt
Member

Posts: 66


WWW
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2005, 06:41:22 AM »

Absolutely worth it just for the town generation. However, be forewarned, once you read it, you won't want to use just the town generation.

Come for the town generation, stay for the amazing play!
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David Younce

dave dot younce at gmail dot com
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