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1st time running Dogs!

Started by chris_moore, November 21, 2005, 10:41:04 AM

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I'm so excited.  My group wants to play Dogs! Hooray!
So, I'm creating a town, which will be posted here later today. 
Do any of you have pearls of wisdom about running Dogs, especially in the "pitfalls to avoid" department?
Thanks in advance,

Chris Moore
Iowa Indie Gamers!


Be prepared.  Have all your NPC's and their issues fully documented.
"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker


Remember that your goal is to dump the situation as forcefully and immediately into the players laps as you can.  Don't try to keep secrets ... if anything, the players should have that slightly panicky look that tells you that they wish people would just quit telling them things and asking them for things for one second, so they can get their bearings.

Note:  You do not need any sort of threat that is a danger to the Dogs.  If you want one, that's fine, but you don't need one and it often distracts from everything else.  RPG players are very accustomed to the idea that somebody is going to come and try to shoot them for no readily apparent reason.  They're less accustomed to the idea that someone will come up and beg to be forgiven for their sins.  As a result, the forgiveness gets their brains working overdrive, while the shooting lulls them into complacency.

More when we see your town, of course.
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum


Indeed.  I can tell you from personal experience that trying to turn a town into a mystery investigation is a bad idea.
"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker

Jason Morningstar

Oh, and take your time with initiations.   Make sure everybody gets involved in rooting for one side or t'other and throwing in suggestions.  Stay alert to where your group is setting the supernatural dial and honor that. 

That whole "say yes or roll dice" thing?  Take that to heart!  Ask yourself if a conflict is starting - encourage your players to look for them, too - and if it isn't, say yes.  Don't get bogged down on any point that does not matter.  They want to get somewhere?  They're there.  They want something?  They get it. 

I find that sketching out relationship maps is very helpful to keep track of what's going on.  You can hand the players a relationship map of their own representing the town - this goes a long way toward suppressing the "who are we missing? Who is he hiding from us?" urge.  Works for me.


Andrew Morris

Make sure to download and print out Jason's helpful tools. He's got a "book of life" and a great book with Dogs-appropriate names. The names book is great, both for helping the players come up with PC names and for when you need to come up with an NPC name on the spot.
Download: Unistat

Alex F

I'm also hoping to run Dogs soon, so I'll raise a question I have, which might help out Chris as well. Is there any advice for dealing with players angling for humour over everything else? I can imagine that once they grok the ``do what would be cool'' rather than ``maximise success'' aspect of the game might be tempted to amp up the ridiculousness.

For example, Jason's advice about initiations looks good, and I'm thinking that half-way through the first I will turn to another player and ask ``Tom, who are you rooting for - Jim to make it or fail?'' to get over the idea that there need not be only one good outcome to a conflict - and hopefully warm them to the idea that in play proper they can have conflicts with one another. But I can imagine they might interpret this as endorsement of clownish failure. On the other hand, I don't want to discourage humour at all! I want all fun, all the time.

Is this a mostly pre-play thing, a chargen thing, or an in-game thing? Or a they'll-figure-it-out themselves thing?



Andrew Morris

Sounds to me like you can deal with this by simply talking to your players before you sit down to play the game. Make sure everyone has the same aesthetic priorities you do. If they don't, play something else with them, and play Dogs with the ones who are on board with your ideas for that game.
Download: Unistat

Jason Morningstar

I'm not sure the best way to do it, but you really want to instill a sense of collaboration - get people shouting suggestions, applauding cool raises, really engaging in scenes (and initiations) even if their character isn't directly involved.  Some of this you can directly demonstrate, but I think a little explicit encouragement is good, too.  Let everybody know that it is encouraged and expected, because it makes the game more fun.

I've had players use humor to defuse intense and emotionally-charged scenes and it is a little disappointing.  Some discussion in advance may help with this, but unless it is a huge problem I'd just roll with it.  If it is a huge problem, find another player or another game, depending.