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Author Topic: Thoughts and questions after first read...  (Read 2899 times)

Posts: 39

« on: April 18, 2006, 11:44:03 AM »

So these indie games are getting me pretty pumped about roleplaying again but my group and I are having a very rough go transitioning from our old "follow the DM" style to a more narrative style.  And now I've just read Dogs.  Its a great read of course but there's a simple feature within it that I want to comment on and then ask a few questions.

First of all, whether it was an intentional goal of design or not, I find it very generous that the game is so heavily themed.  Here's why.  At this point in our transition we're having very unsuccessful game sessions while we're figuring out how to make story happen right now with the characters in the center of it.  The big problem that I'm seeing is no player buy in.  Little to no investment in a character even though we discuss it extensively and what Keys or Beliefs mean to me as the GM.  Its a lot of pressure on a player to come out of a shell and say "Yeah, I want to make the story too and here's how I want to do that."  I think there's some creative growth that has to happen to a person that is accustomed to one of style of play before they're confident enough to throw their own heavy marking into the RPG story.  That's what I'm discovering with my group anyway.  The beautiful thing about Dogs to me is, at least I'm hoping, its gonna be easier to get the story going collaboratively because the theme itself requires buy in.  If my players are willingly playing this game after I've described it to them then they're in agreement on two things right up front:  1)my character is a heavy hitter in the Faith, and 2) I'm here to root out the problems of the Faithful and those problems are everywhere I look.  If you like that idea, you're bought in and invested.  If you don't, you're probably not sitting at the table anyway.  Its beautiful.  That takes a ton of pressure off of us as "growing" narrativist players.  We're all forced onto the same page and its a page we like.  From there, anything can happen.  I realize that's the point of any narrative game, to have plenty of creative discussion about story and characters beforehand and then make the scenes.  But Dogs makes it easy and I really have high hopes that my players and I will begin to truly see and enjoy narrative play from this product.

1)  Now, that comment aside...a few questions.  The first is concerning the Doctrine and how the players are pretty free to establish its interpretation in the game for the Dogs.  I as a the GM create the town and in doing so am establishing how far along the Pride->Murder progression the town is and what specifics have caused that.  That also means that real, in game, consequences are taking place because of that progression, Demonic Influence.  Having that upfront though means that I as GM, according to what I'm giving in the book concerning pride, sin, etc., am establishing what the "truth" in the doctrine really is.  Its clear that the Dogs are free to use their authority in the game to interpret doctrine and lay down new doctrine as fits.  What if their interpretation concludes that the actions with which I have granted egress to the demons aren't really sins in the first place?  If their word is Divine authority and they deem what I the GM considered sin (in regards to bringing in the demons) to actually be proper, how do you explain the presence of the demons?  Is there that concrete baseline that even the Dogs can't change?

2)  I'm not sure I fully understand the function of ceremonies.  I got from it that they don't provide extra dice but only change the nature of the fallout dice that occur from that one action.  I'm just not understanding why that's relevant.  It seems as if they're like mini-escalations that are specific to demonic forces.  If you wanted to escalate, why not just escalate normally?  Is it purely for narrative flare?  Standard conflict (talking, pushing, violence, gunfire) is still effective inside of demonic conflict, isn't it?

3)  In all the examples of play given the Dog PCs had actual blood relatives present in the scenario.  Is this recommended for additional buy-in?  Is it something the players put forth and represent with relationships?  Obviously they're not gonna have a family member in every town into which they ride.

Looking forward to giving this game a spin...

Chris McNeilly

Posts: 96

« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2006, 12:28:52 PM »

Hey Chris, I can completely identify with that first paragraph and Dogs easing your group into narrativist play.  Same exact thing is happening to my group and the buy-in came naturally for all of my players and stellar play ensued.

As for your questions, I'll leave the first two to others who are more qualified, but for the third it is rather simple; the addition of relatives does create greater buy-in but it must come by the player's own volition.  I simply ask prior to each town if anyone would like one or more relatives and give them options with bits of background for them to decide.  I have found this works rather well because one or two players will grab an NPC and latch onto them for the relationship dice as well as the bolstered opportunity to effect and contribute to story, providing for heightened stakes/conflict further into the session.

Personally, I would give the player's the option of having relatives at every town they ride into and let them determine the quantity and frequency. 

You can call me Charles
Posts: 3453

« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2006, 01:27:52 PM »

Chris, thank you! I hope you have a good time playing.

I'm going to take your questions in reverse order, easiest to hardest.

3) Me, I have like 105 first cousins. So many first cousins that the ones digit isn't the significant digit, I round off to the nearest 5. If I lived in the game, and I rode into a town, and I didn't have blood there, okay, that's fine. If it happened twice in a row? I'd wonder what was going on.

Lots of people drop the blood-in-every-town thing. I'm okay with that, if it makes more sense to you. I have first-hand experience just how fast and far my people propogate, so it seems sensible to me.

2) You can't punch or shoot a demon (unless your group goes pretty radical on the supernatural dial). Ceremony is just like guns, only you get to use it on demons.

Demons, sorcerers, the possessed, and the souls of the faithful, right? Demons is easy. Sorcerers and the possessed is fun - sometimes it's just deeply satisfying to use ceremony to counter overt sorcery or possession. The souls of the faithful is the trickiest, but watch for opportunities in play and I'll bet you'll find them.

And 1) what the Dogs can't do is make it retroactively not a sin. I've written quite a bit about this. Can someone point to some threads? I won't have a chance to search for them until tomorrow morning.


Posts: 1351

« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2006, 02:46:37 PM »

Hello There,

I've played Dogs four times now.  Twice as a player, twice as a GM.  Let me see if I can help.

1) This is almost a non-issue in actual play.   People do get stuck on the idea that the pressence of "demons" objectively validates the doctrine of the faith.  It does not.  Here's the conceptual exercise I use to get people around this problem.  The supernatural dial in the game is flexible and includes having it turned all the way to OFF.  Do you see how the Town Creation Process is still valid even if there are no supernatural elements in the game at all?  If not cross out Demonic Attacks and write in The Unluckiest Thing In The World.  Cross out Corrupt Worship and write in Behavior Your Community Doesn't Accept.  Cross out Sorcerer and write in People Who Take Advantage of Others Misfortune.

Once you see how those elements work without the supernatural you'll realize how easy and trivial and fun it is to drop in the supernatural weirdness.  In fact I usually do two passes on my town.  Once without the supernatural to make sure everything is grounded and then I do a second pass and "demonize" it.


In my last town I had this Sorcerer named Brother Jonathan.  The first pass of Brother Jonathan had him gathering dirt on the townsfolk and publishing it in a daily tabloid.  He would make accusations and predictions as well and would use rumor and lies to play people off one another in order to make his predictions come true.

The supernatural version of Jonathan used Sorcery to have visions about the people in the town.  He also used Sorcery to plant dreams and ideas in people's heads.  He could predict the future if he needed to but mostly he'd write the future and then use Sorcery to make it happen.  His "tabloid" became a document nailed to the town meeting hall everyday called, "Amendments To The Book of Life."  The Amendments were printed on a machine brought from back east and covered in arcane symbols.  In some cases Brother Jonathan didn't even know what form the future would take.  He just knew that if he printed it on his machine somehow it would come true.

2)  I screwed this up the first time too.  Demons are non-corporeal.  If you try to exorcise a possessed person you are not in conflict with the possessed person you are in conflict with the Demon (4d6+Demonic Influence).  So you use Ceremony to raise against the demon.  You can also get into conflicts with the demons over things like withed crops or rotting houses.

3) I'm not overly fond of the whole "relative in every town" thing.  But a) I have it on good authority from those who grew up in heavily Mormon communities that this is extremely realistic and b) that it really does draw the players in.


Posts: 47

« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2006, 03:39:42 PM »

I am not mormon, and there are certain towns that I will not hit on anyone for fear of accidently picking up a relative. :D

*note - lives in Utah

I believe there is actually a town write up that specifies the demons do not want the Dogs to approve of what the demons want, or it stops being a sin and the demons are forced out.

Posts: 221

Fresno, California

« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2006, 03:03:10 PM »

And 1) what the Dogs can't do is make it retroactively not a sin. I've written quite a bit about this. Can someone point to some threads? I won't have a chance to search for them until tomorrow morning.

Here's a good one: [DitV] Authority


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