*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 10, 2022, 03:17:20 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 72 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Dogs: A new crew, and New Dust Creek  (Read 3360 times)
DevP
Member

Posts: 576


WWW
« on: December 05, 2005, 09:47:53 PM »

I recently started up a new game of Dogs with a veritable dreamteam of local friends/players. We've had two sessions so far, one for character creation and one for our first town. (My previous experience with Dogs includes playing 1 oneshot and running 1 oneshot for friends; this happened to be a town where the dramatic conflict was a baking contest. Seriously. Will write that one up later.)

The players: all college-age, and all with some experience in a variety of RPGs.
  • T, playing Bro Derrick. Possible hooks: family, being a foster child from Bridal Falls, a straight-laced style, gunplay.
  • W, playing Bro Preseter. Possible hooks: intellect, connections back east, unorthodox style, ghosts. "I do not believe in a meaningful distinction between life and death".
  • E, playing Sis Gretrude. Possible hooks: family, healing, mountainfolk, learning. "I've read every book in my hometown - and and I made all my brothers read them too."
  • M, playing Bro Tobias. Possible hooks: family, mountainfolk, horses.

Interesting things that arose from character creation: W seemed to have a good idea of what kind of character to start building, and went with it; with some group brainstorming we were able to round out the edges. In particular, while Prester was a largely badass ghosthunter Dog, we also wanted to add something offbeat. So, Prester has 2d4: "I impulsively crochets". When Prester is talking, N frequently narrates this with the constant *click* of crochet hooks punctuating the slience. I think it works nicely.

The others took slightly longer coming up with traits and a direction from whole cloth; I hadn't recognized until then that Dogs requires some amount of faith in Development-in-Play, or at least this was my impression.

T has a little bit of trouble because he realized he didn't have as deep knowledge of Westerns to draw from. Interestingly, I suggested he also consider Jedi protagonist tropes, and that got his creativity unblocked nicely. (I think this is a good tip, if some of one of your players is slightly less familiar with the Western tropes.)

Also: wonderful coats!

Derrick: "My coat was designed by my Aunt. It's black, and has embroidery in shades of silver, grey and white. It depcits a winter scene. When I was 12, my foster father and I climbed to the top of one of the falls, in January, and looked down on the snow-covered world. The falls in winter are on my coat. I love the winter."

Prester: "Huge and collared. Black, grey and red. Depicts a soul rising from Hell to Heaven. Around the hem is stitched: 'Go you to the pit of Hell itself, My light is not beyond you.' Crocheted by me and my mentor Back East."

Gertrude: "My town spent 3 weeks on it. It has dozens of local herbs embroidered, and a map of the town with every household represented by a star. My mother put in a strip of her wedding veil. It has lots of pockets for guns, herbs, books."

Tobias: "Simple patterns, but with woven-in cornfibers."

I better understand why coats are considered excellent by default. Writing up the town in the next post.
Logged

DevP
Member

Posts: 576


WWW
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2005, 11:52:46 PM »

As the title suggests, the town is a derivative of Dust Creek, with some revisions that gave it all quite a different angle in play.

The Steward Jacob has taken to drinking to cover up the pain of losing his family to the fever. The blacksmith Henry took to drinking as well to cover his own pains, with the blessing of the Steward.  Sister Patience, the school-mistress, has taken it upon herself to pick up the slack on both levels.

Pride: Jacob and Henry feel entitled to drink to subdue their pains.

Injustice: The people are not being adequately served by their steward; Henry's son is not being adequately cared for by his father.

Pride: Sister Patience has deemed her self fit to intervene firmly both in the congregation and among the children, to keep people in line.

Injustice: People are starting to talk poorly about Steward Jacob - and even openly considering whether Sister Patience would be better for the job.

Sin: Drinking. Being lax in one's duties, as a Steward or parent. Not respecting the role of a Steward or parent.

Demonic Attacks: Drought! (I figured this was appropriate, given the influence of alcohol. Of course, I later realized I had a drought strike... Dust Creek. Shocking!)

...

Here's how it played out.

As soon as the Dogs strolled into town, I immediately brought them to a scene of young kinds playing outside, on break from school, just as Sister Patience emerged to sternly bring them back in for extra lessons, rather than going back and doing chores as would be otherwise expected. Sister Patience asked the Dogs to come speak to the youth at the school; Derrick went to check in on the Steward, while the rest went inside the school.

Derrick came upon the Steward's quarters, and immediately noticed the half-empty liquor bottle that Jacob tried in vein to hide. Derrick dutifully heard about the major people in town - Blacksmith Henry, Ivan the foreigner vinter - and the details of the upcoming drought. As he was leaving to investigate the town, he told the Steward gravely: "We'll deal with this (pointing to the bottle) later."

(I'm happy with how I've avoided "hiding" information, and instead presenting potential story meat right upfront.)

Meanwhile, the Dogs were giving a friendly talk about "what it means to be a Dog" and so on. Sister Patience began to interrupt with increasingly bizarre and more pointed commentary, focused primarily at pointing out the importance of avoiding the sins of our parents, with a pointed look at Walder, Henry's son. Things were about to get wooly when he Dogs immediately dismissed the class. Gertrude and Tobias chastized Sister Patience in private; meanwhile, Prester went after Walder, bonding with him over their frustration with frontier life while getting information about what his friends had been up to at night. (We used a conflict, and it worked out, but there were some overly weak stakes, and was just getting in the way of further evolution of the plot. I probably should have said yes and moved on.)

After this, the four Dogs met up again and discussed what they knew. Their IC character seemed to drag a bit, so I tried to have Brother Louis come by and ask if the Dogs were here to "select the new Steward, as Sister Patience was talking about". They didn't actually bite, but rushed off to tlak with Henry, promising to speak with Louis later.

At Henry's Forge, Henry described his problems, and was interrupted by the pain flaring up again. Conflict: "Do we heal Henry's arm?" The Dogs were ultimately successfully, leaving Henry with a sore but ultimately healed arm, and a promise to quit drinking. (I was concerned here about if I wrapped this up too easily. Henry drank because he was in pain, and the Dogs healed the pain. Was that it? Should I have pushed harder to make this more difficult?) The Dogs then split up, to talk to Ivan and attend Louis's meeting.

Two Dogs went to Louis's meeting, quickly dispersed when a child ran up, telling them that Walder fell down a rocky hill while drunk on horseback. Conflict: Do you get Walder out alive? Yes. (But I had some trouble framing a conflict where the Dogs where fighting the Environment which was trying to harm Walder. I should have concrete framed the conflict as: Do you get Walder out safely, or is he mortally wounded (requiring a followup conflict to save his life.))

The other two Dogs went to Ivan's shop, where they had a very reasonable conversation with him, and I realized there was no conflict happening, nor any conflict between them I wanted to create. So, I had angry Faithful folks rush in with guns, eager to mess up Ivan's shop and do him harm in retribution for selling alcohol to the town. Conflict: Does Ivan get maimed up? No. (Here I had another 3-party conflict, Dogs against the Faithful against Ivan, but I framed it as above, making it work as a Faithful vs Dogs conflict. It worked, but there didn't seem to be much opportunity for Ivan to take a stray bullet or anythign like that.)

The Dogs then met back up in town in time to see a mob gathering, about ready to storm the Steward's house to displace him. In a very difficult (and purely social) conflict, the Dogs talked them down from rebelling against their Steward. However, the Steward, shamed by the near-rebellion, and had fled out into the desert, determined to leave town and drink himself slowly to death. The final conflict was: Do we convince the Steward to get back to town?

I think this final conflict may have had weaker stakes, but there were some other problems as well. Firstly, in both this conflict and the last, I had chosen to keep things on the social, non-violent level. There was geting to be some fatigue at the "anecdote battles" that emerged. Also, at one point Prester escalated to Gunfighting and shot the Steward in the foot: "If you want to wallow in your own pain, then try real pain." T wanted Derrick to intervene and stop Prester from doing this; I had no real idea of how to do this mechanically, except to say "no". T ultimately agreed to express shock in-character, but it was an awkward moment. The Dogs were ultimately successful, despite great difficulty.

Sadly, I think I messed up the denouement. Once the Steward was returned to town, I thought it would be fun to have the Dogs deputize a new Steward for the town. However, in practice this required me to make up some rules about how Steward were selected, and moreover got the players stuck in some IC political discussion. This dialogue really couldn't go anywhere, because the players had no real knowledge to work from (the only NPCs they knew about where Henry and Patience; not a great choice!). and we just wanted to wind down a good session. This was clearly my biggest mistake of the session. The Dogs ultimately decided on making Henry the Steward, which was certainly an interesting outcome, but I really should have skipped this episode altogether, and just had a new Steward already en route from Bridal Falls.

...

So, how do I think I did? For one thing, I was pretty good at not hiding the plot from players, and rather just giving them the story meat upfront. This was overall a very satisfying session, and I'm quite jazzed for the next few. But, there were some technical things I hope to clean up on.

Firstly, I found that there was a problem of Damn Fine Narration, in that my players are very good at narrating. I think I may have had the dice to pull out some rugged win from the mob scene, but Bro. Tobias made a final stirring point, using his trait "When I was young, my sister and I were lost in a cave system." He told the very compelling story of how they cooperated to get out, and finally ended with "Today, you people are lost in a mighty dark cave of your own." I really couldn't bear to follow this up and was satisfied with it, so I Gave and pocketed the highest remaining dice for later, as per the rules.

Secondly, our non-physical conflicts - and this was the majority - became a series of anecdote battles, and there was some fatigue in this regard. I'm not sure if it's the GM's appropriate role here to ask for shorter raises in rhetorical battles.

Also, I found blocking a well-spoken raise to often be anti-climactic; I started using the technique of interrupting a players raise with the opposing characters rebuttal, if she had a block or reversal in hand.

Related to this: I realize I had wanted to give them a "softball" town where escalation of violence was mostly unlikely, and I wasn't necessarily helping my players to doing so. When I create the next town for my players, I'll have to try harder to

Traits: Players were concerned about the broad use of traits, and found themselves both preferring to take 1d4 traits as fallout (instead of lowering their stats) and chose to use their Reflection Fallout to increase their universally useful "I'm a Dog" trait. In other words, they were maximizing the "effectiveness" of their characters in lieu of other options. As a result of my reading threads here, it seems that I probably don't need to worry, and can just follow their lead.

Stakes: I ready some finer points of stake-setting on the threads here, and I think I have a better idea of how to set superior stakes. (I posted my question about multi-party conflicts in a separate thread.)

After the game, one of my players did mention that he thought the "stake setting" part of the system was a bit more difficult to understand, as it was hard to compress many conflicts in a binary set of choices of outcomes. I think more smooth stake-setting would help most here.

Also, it was mention that players felt they simply had to win each conflict, and so they pulled out the stops on each one. On one hand, this means that the stakes were often compeling. On the other hand, it may be that my stakes did not provide for an adequately grabby story if there was a failure, and they failed in this regard.

Final comment: when players saw what the system was doing mechanically - in terms of fallout and experience - they were really impressed. They definitely enjoy the system.
Logged

Danny_K
Member

Posts: 198


« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2005, 08:48:34 AM »

Also, it was mention that players felt they simply had to win each conflict, and so they pulled out the stops on each one. On one hand, this means that the stakes were often compeling. On the other hand, it may be that my stakes did not provide for an adequately grabby story if there was a failure, and they failed in this regard.

I think this may be related to the "softball" quality of the town you mentioned -- without significant amounts of Escalation, there's just not that much Fallout to worry about.
Logged

I believe in peace and science.
ScottM
Member

Posts: 221

Fresno, California


WWW
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2005, 08:53:16 AM »

Sounds like you had a good session.  Is your all-star team ready to return for another night, or was this another one shot?

I know that my group had a lot of trouble with setting stakes. As for starting with a soft town... it was probably a bit more difficult to run than a straight out shooter, but you've preserved the option for towns all along the progression.

Did the players just not latch onto anyone else?  Did they meet more people but discard them?  (I ask, because you mentioned that there were only two real choices for Steward.)

Good luck,
Scott
Logged

Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.
rrr
Member

Posts: 37


« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2005, 07:01:36 AM »

Hi Dev,

Thanks for playing the town!  I'm fascinated to see someones else's experiences based on something I designed. In some ways it played out similarly to when I ran it first time, and in others, very different.

I really like the addition of Sister Patience as a pretender to the throne of the Steward.  Adds a nice angle to the town, and makes things a bit more meaty.

I agree it's a "softball" town.  When I wrote it I wanted to ease players in, rather than leap straight into Hell and Damnation. 

With more DitV play, I personally have found I like gentle seeming towns like this for a couple of reasons:  1) it gives ample opportunity for DitV's excellent system to do stuff other than fire-fights.  2) I like to sometimes play a town where the sin in question isn't necessarily one we as modern folks would find that bad, i.e a little alcohol.  I find it's easy for the players to cast judgement if the sinners are rapists or something.  It gives the players a nice bit of thought about things if they themselves aren't necessarily opposed to the crime.

My only other comment would be regarding this bit:

At Henry's Forge, Henry described his problems, and was interrupted by the pain flaring up again. Conflict: "Do we heal Henry's arm?" The Dogs were ultimately successfully, leaving Henry with a sore but ultimately healed arm, and a promise to quit drinking. (I was concerned here about if I wrapped this up too easily. Henry drank because he was in pain, and the Dogs healed the pain. Was that it? Should I have pushed harder to make this more difficult?)

On a rules level, I would be wary of allowing the Dogs to resolve two issues with one Conflict, which is I feel what you've done.  A piece of advice given frequently about Dogs is that you should try and keep the stakes small.  Having the stakes be "Do we heal him AND therefore stop him drinking" (which is effectively what happened) is too big in my mind. 

When I ran this conflict the Dogs did exactly the same thing, they healed Old Henry.  But if you recall the injury is a badly set break.  In order to "heal" it, you have to break it again to reset it.  Which they did, and so of course his reason for drinking was dealt with... in the long term.  in the short term he was still in a lot of pain, having had his hand just rebroken.  So I brought the drinking issue to the fore by having him ask the Dogs if he could have some alcohol, just to numb the pain whilst his hand mended again...  causing a further conflict "Do we show him that alcohol is always wrong?" When I played it, the scene naturally just unfolded like that, so I didn't have to have two issues dealt with by one conflict.  I don't know if it just wouldn't have worked with the way things played out for you, but I would try not to give too many stakes away for free personally.

Other than that it sounds like you have a great game, and I also love your players coats!
Logged

My name is Drew
I live just outside north London, UK
Here's my 24hours Ronnies entry: Vendetta
DevP
Member

Posts: 576


WWW
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2005, 10:24:05 AM »

Scott: The plan is to have 2 or 3 more sessions for these characters, basically to play through the in-game winter and be done as the real-world winter is about to break. (It's nice to have a chance to stretch my GM legs in a multisession game. I feel like I've been otherwise stuck to doing one-offs for a while.)
 you've preserved the option for towns all along the progression.

Quote
Did the players just not latch onto anyone else?  Did they meet more people but discard them?  (I ask, because you mentioned that there were only two real choices for Steward.)
I think it was more that there were just not that many more interesting NPCs, other than: Ivan, the Steward, Henry, Henry's wife (briefly mentioned, Walder, Patience, and some semi-anonymous acolytes of Patience. They simply hadn't encountered many other folks who were Steward-worthy material, and in truth that was because I didn't really anticiapte that; I didn't put forward any NPCs and potentially problematic Steward material.

I think I was expecting them to make Patience the Steward, or even keep the old one, but they went with Henry. Actually, we had a briefest OOC conversation about the idea of making a woman the Steward here. Certainly such a thing had never been done in the world of Dogs, but there was also the thought that they didn't want to turn the session into just pushing our modern progressive liberal morality onto the world. This kind of issue may come up again, and probably with interesting consequences. (In the case of Patience, the Dogs didn't want to just give her the power she seemed to want, so that was an overriding factor.)

My only other comment would be regarding this bit:

At Henry's Forge, Henry described his problems, and was interrupted by the pain flaring up again. Conflict: "Do we heal Henry's arm?" The Dogs were ultimately successfully, leaving Henry with a sore but ultimately healed arm, and a promise to quit drinking. (I was concerned here about if I wrapped this up too easily. Henry drank because he was in pain, and the Dogs healed the pain. Was that it? Should I have pushed harder to make this more difficult?)

On a rules level, I would be wary of allowing the Dogs to resolve two issues with one Conflict, which is I feel what you've done.  A piece of advice given frequently about Dogs is that you should try and keep the stakes small.  Having the stakes be "Do we heal him AND therefore stop him drinking" (which is effectively what happened) is too big in my mind. 

When I ran this conflict the Dogs did exactly the same thing, they healed Old Henry.  But if you recall the injury is a badly set break.  In order to "heal" it, you have to break it again to reset it.  Which they did, and so of course his reason for drinking was dealt with... in the long term.  in the short term he was still in a lot of pain, having had his hand just rebroken.  So I brought the drinking issue to the fore by having him ask the Dogs if he could have some alcohol, just to numb the pain whilst his hand mended again...  causing a further conflict "Do we show him that alcohol is always wrong?" When I played it, the scene naturally just unfolded like that, so I didn't have to have two issues dealt with by one conflict.  I don't know if it just wouldn't have worked with the way things played out for you, but I would try not to give too many stakes away for free personally.

I actually played out somewhat similarly for us. They had a healing scene (including some ugly "rebreaking") with the result that his arm was healed, but still hurt like hell now. Henry understood things would ultimately get better - but asked for a "last drink" to deal with the pain now. The Dogs scolded him and threw his liquor into the forge. He seemed to agree, grudgingly, and went along with it.

So, I did effectively "give" them this second conflit for free, but not definitively. It felt right that Henry was obedient for now, but it would make total sense for him to relapse later in the session. As events unfolded, it didn't seem necessary for Henry to relapse yet, so I let him be. (If they return to Dust Creek, perhaps they'll find Henry transformed?)

Quote
With more DitV play, I personally have found I like gentle seeming towns like this for a couple of reasons:  1) it gives ample opportunity for DitV's excellent system to do stuff other than fire-fights.  2) I like to sometimes play a town where the sin in question isn't necessarily one we as modern folks would find that bad, i.e a little alcohol.  I find it's easy for the players to cast judgement if the sinners are rapists or something.  It gives the players a nice bit of thought about things if they themselves aren't necessarily opposed to the crime.
Scott: The plan is to have 2 or 3 more sessions for these characters, basically to play through the in-game winter and be done as the real-world winter is about to break. (It's nice to have a chance to stretch my GM legs in a multisession game. I feel like I've been otherwise stuck to doing one-offs for a while.)
 you've preserved the option for towns all along the progression.

Quote
Did the players just not latch onto anyone else?  Did they meet more people but discard them?  (I ask, because you mentioned that there were only two real choices for Steward.)
I think it was more that there were just not that many more interesting NPCs, other than: Ivan, the Steward, Henry, Henry's wife (briefly mentioned, Walder, Patience, and some semi-anonymous acolytes of Patience. They simply hadn't encountered many other folks who were Steward-worthy material, and in truth that was because I didn't really anticiapte that; I didn't put forward any NPCs and potentially problematic Steward material.

I think I was expecting them to make Patience the Steward, or even keep the old one, but they went with Henry. Actually, we had a briefest OOC conversation about the idea of making a woman the Steward here. Certainly such a thing had never been done in the world of Dogs, but there was also the thought that they didn't want to turn the session into just pushing our modern progressive liberal morality onto the world. This kind of issue may come up again, and probably with interesting consequences. (In the case of Patience, the Dogs didn't want to just give her the power she seemed to want, so that was an overriding factor.)

My only other comment would be regarding this bit:

At Henry's Forge, Henry described his problems, and was interrupted by the pain flaring up again. Conflict: "Do we heal Henry's arm?" The Dogs were ultimately successfully, leaving Henry with a sore but ultimately healed arm, and a promise to quit drinking. (I was concerned here about if I wrapped this up too easily. Henry drank because he was in pain, and the Dogs healed the pain. Was that it? Should I have pushed harder to make this more difficult?)

On a rules level, I would be wary of allowing the Dogs to resolve two issues with one Conflict, which is I feel what you've done.  A piece of advice given frequently about Dogs is that you should try and keep the stakes small.  Having the stakes be "Do we heal him AND therefore stop him drinking" (which is effectively what happened) is too big in my mind. 

When I ran this conflict the Dogs did exactly the same thing, they healed Old Henry.  But if you recall the injury is a badly set break.  In order to "heal" it, you have to break it again to reset it.  Which they did, and so of course his reason for drinking was dealt with... in the long term.  in the short term he was still in a lot of pain, having had his hand just rebroken.  So I brought the drinking issue to the fore by having him ask the Dogs if he could have some alcohol, just to numb the pain whilst his hand mended again...  causing a further conflict "Do we show him that alcohol is always wrong?" When I played it, the scene naturally just unfolded like that, so I didn't have to have two issues dealt with by one conflict.  I don't know if it just wouldn't have worked with the way things played out for you, but I would try not to give too many stakes away for free personally.

I actually played out somewhat similarly for us. They had a healing scene (including some ugly "rebreaking") with the result that his arm was healed, but still hurt like hell now. Henry understood things would ultimately get better - but asked for a "last drink" to deal with the pain now. The Dogs scolded him and threw his liquor into the forge. He seemed to agree, grudgingly, and went along with it.

So, I did effectively "give" them this second conflit for free, but not definitively. It felt right that Henry was obedient for now, but it would make total sense for him to relapse later in the session. As events unfolded, it didn't seem necessary for Henry to relapse yet, so I let him be. (If they return to Dust Creek, perhaps they'll find Henry transformed?)

But yeah, the next town will push harder all around - more escalation, and more difficult problems to resolve.
Logged

DevP
Member

Posts: 576


WWW
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2005, 10:26:25 AM »

That is the wierdest form of the "doublepost" I've ever seen. Apologies.
Logged

DevP
Member

Posts: 576


WWW
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2005, 10:33:18 AM »

Another thing that I thought was interesting: I found myself with recurring motifs in this town and the one from my one-shot:

Community vs. Individual Choices The last town present a conflict about what someone wanted to do with their own resources and property, and what right others had to it. This town is about one's personal choices about drinking, with the opposition forming a nearly Prohibitionistic entity.

Semi-Innocent Libertarian-ish Outsiders. The last town had a Mountainfolk Trader, who thought it was his free right to sell his foodstuffs to whomever he chose; this town had Ivan, who talked about the kings who chased his uncle out of the mother country, and how much he loved the hard-scrabble freedom of the frontier. Ivan was clear that he had no grudge against the Faithful, but didn't see any reason to be enforcing their personal laws, either.

This makes sense, since I personally am in favor of lots of personal freedom, and having an outsider present their own viewpoint, outside of the hierarchy of the Faithful, has felt like a good way of throwing more complications into the mix.

But, I don't want to be repeating myself. I'll see how much more different I can make the next town.
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!