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Author Topic: [DitV] great play and minor troubles  (Read 3189 times)
Nigel Evans
Member

Posts: 8


« on: May 05, 2006, 05:58:53 AM »

Right, so after a long-term game ended, my group decided that we'd play some Dogs one-shots before launching into the next big thing.  A few people had suggested doing a substantial run of Dogs, but there's seven of us, so that's been shelved for the moment.

So, for the purposes of getting some Dogs done, I volunteered to run, and we split the group up into two teams of three players each.  I ran both times, and we did the same town on succeeding weeks with the two teams.

As I'm a lackadaisical workshy fop, I went with a previously written town.  Whitevein, as it happened:  http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=18799.0

We did the character creation all together, and it was notable for the amount of sheer enthusiasm the process caused, a bunch of notable traits ('Demons done come to Chastity', 'We watch the flocks at night and in the dark days of winter', 'I weep in the early hours') and the fact that everyone wanted solidly high end supernatural.  Two of the Dogs were more or less professional exorcists, for a start.  It's probably relevant that roughly half the group had some indy game experience: half a dozen sessions of a rather splendid Trollbabe game run over IP.

Initiations came and went smoothly - people got the hang of the conflict system, and five of the six were successful.  Is that unusual?  The sixth only failed because I saw Exorcist Dog 1 was going to smash me completely in his demonic binding, and I escalated, resulting in me rolling the King's own set of dice results.

Anyway, two sessions happened, and we all had a great time.  I came away buzzing from the sessions, and the game made good on its promises of judgement, desperate conflicts, mud, demons and blood in the streets.  Fine stuff.  Two of the players who steadfastly refuse to run games mentioned that Dogs would be the kind of game that could tempt them to do so - high praise indeed.

The sessions went similarly at the beginnings and endings, and differed in the middle, from a plot point of view.  The main differences were: Team 1 gave Sister Ella an exorcism and community service, and Team 2 shot her in the street, and Team 1 sent Abigail to be a Dog, and Team 2 rehomed her with one of the Dogs' relatives.  Team 1 made August the new Steward, Team 2 sent him out for a pilgrimage to the wilderness and sent for a new Steward from the city. Both times, Beven was brought back to the fold and appointed sheriff, and Zider and the old Sheriff ended up as bloody pulps after a gunfight.

We had a few issues:

One of the players (a very longtime D20/WW veteran) had a fairly rough time adapting to setting stakes and whatnot. I guess that's to be expected, but it's not much reported in these parts.  He got the hang of it though, although he very nearly lost his dog to not giving on a fairly minor conflict that went south and ended up with all the fallout dice in the world.

Two of the players (one in each Team) found the business of narrating at the same time as doing dice bidding to be quite a strain, and conflicts proceeded quite slowly while they were involved.  Both players are traditionally 'mechanically disinclined' and don't get engaged by system activity.  I mean, they were all excited about narrating stuff and what was going on in the SIS, but they felt the constant dice stuff impeded that somewhat.  They both said, more or less, 'isn't there a short way of doing this?'.  Anyone else had similar experience?  Is there a sensible 'short way' for conflicts that are important, but would be reasonably done quickly? Does the problem go away with practice?

I was a little fast and loose with the NPC creation process and exactly how many dice I got to roll, as GM.  The players gave themselves pretty broad traits, and had  fairly permissive standards about what was applicable to a conflict, so they were rolling a lot of dice.  I ended up being quite generous with how many dice I awarded myself, in the interests of things not being a total walkover.  I used a lot of demonic influence, but that was OK, as both teams had an exorcist and generally liked the supernatural stuff. As it happened, I lost I think one conflict through PCs running out of dice across the two sessions, and they gave maybe two more.  They won the rest  - again, is that unusual?  They took a lot of fallout though, and I think aaa of them hit the 'medical aid or death' stage at one point or another.  I suppose that if I run with the same groups, I'll write a town myself, and bring in lots of stuff with the opportunity for more dice, like mobs.
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Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2006, 06:38:01 AM »

Initiations came and went smoothly - people got the hang of the conflict system, and five of the six were successful.  Is that unusual?  The sixth only failed because I saw Exorcist Dog 1 was going to smash me completely in his demonic binding, and I escalated, resulting in me rolling the King's own set of dice results.

The GM doesn't get to escalate during the initiation conflicts, by the way.
No, it;s not unusual for PCs to win - the initiation conflicts are an introduction to the system, and they are pretty easy to win if players want to win.


Quote
One of the players (a very longtime D20/WW veteran) had a fairly rough time adapting to setting stakes and whatnot. I guess that's to be expected, but it's not much reported in these parts.
One of my players has a lot of trouble with this, after at least half a dozen sessions, and other games which have a similar mechanic.
Quote
Two of the players (one in each Team) found the business of narrating at the same time as doing dice bidding to be quite a strain, <snip>
Does the problem go away with practice?
The players I had with this problem took at most three sessions to get over it.
Quote
<snip>They won the rest  - again, is that unusual?  They took a lot of fallout though, and I think aaa of them hit the 'medical aid or death' stage at one point or another.  I suppose that if I run with the same groups, I'll write a town myself, and bring in lots of stuff with the opportunity for more dice, like mobs.
It's well known round these parts that conflicts where the players are united will usually go their way. (Caveat: depending on how much the GM pushes them with his raises.)
One trick is to create situations where the players aren't going to be united - so their most memorable conflicts will be with each other.
You should be hoping for the players to get into animated discussions about what to do, and as soon as that happens, tell them to roll dice - it's a conflict. If they aren't doing it already, it'll be unnatural first few times, but it soon gets fun.

Also, if the players are getting lots and lots of fallout, that may mean you are facing them with conflicts that they can't bear to lose. In my last town, one of my players had the conflict: does this woman persuade me to dig up her baby and name it? Since the baby was dead and buried, he saw that as tantamount to necromancy, and didn't want to do it, but when he saw that to win he was going to have to escalate to violence against the grieving woman, he chose to accept a loss.
The point: ensure your setting of stakes - at least some of the time - is not too painful for the players to lose, so that they have a real choice. If the conflict is over, "do we kill these bandits before they kill someone," then they will naturally push to win, every time. Not all conflicts should be with enemies - some should be with people the Dogs can have sympathy with, but these people want the Dogs to do something the Dogs think is unwise. The players can win, but might have to beat up a few harmless townsfolk - do they really want to do that? (And if they do, that's cool.)

Another thing: if you have a bunch of players united, you want to create raises that will cause one or more to drop out. A huge raise (especially a violent one, but not a talking one) is often good for this - players who have to take the blow will often think, "I can't take that, but my comrade can, so he can carry on the fight." With their numbers diminished, it's a lot easier to threaten the remainder.
It also helps to try to come up with raises that make them think - they may chosoe to give because they actually start to agree with their opponents, or because to continue makes them think of their own character differently.
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TheHappyAnarchist
Member

Posts: 47


« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2006, 07:45:06 AM »

More simple?  There are people that find the dice system too complicated?

That blows my mind.  There are only a small handful of games that are more mechanically heavy than Dogs.

What are they used to playing before?  Strictly narration, no dice?  Wushu?
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Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2006, 08:02:21 AM »

Hi Nigel,

My group of players for Dogs ranged from folks who had no problem adapting to a couple of folks with really hard time getting it.  Unsurprisingly, the "hardcore gamer" had the hardest time of the bunch.  She deeply believes that "role-playing" and "roll-playing" are diametrically opposed and felt completely out of place dealing with both the resolution and the idea that winning or losing Stakes had actual consequences and you couldn't "just do it again" right away.

Even still, within 3 sessions, we got down to where conflicts took 5-10 minutes if only a couple of Dogs were involved, and around 30 minutes if everyone was throwing in on the conflict and escalating.

Chris
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Nigel Evans
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2006, 06:27:43 AM »

OK - thanks folks, it seems that the consensus is that the dice rolling/narration thing is likely to ease for those players.  Glad to hear it.

Darren - thanks for the detailed response.  As for Dog vs Dog conflicts, I can certainly see what you mean.  As it happened, there weren't any in the two sessions I ran.  There was very nearly one, but the player backed down the moment a conflict was mentioned when he was arguing with another dog.  I would have normally pushed further, but this was the player having trouble with other stuff, so didn't.

Oddly, the conflict that caused the most fallout was one of the least important ones: it was 'do we track down the fleeing sinner / does he get away for the moment'.  Nothing too horrible to give on, but there was d10 fallout in spades from it.

On your last point: well made, and i was doing such things (I made quite a few 18 or 19 raises through the game) but they just weren't giving.  I guess that's a matter of experience on their side - we'll see what happens when I run for these folks again, although that's not likely to be very soon.

Mr. Anarchist - the two players in question's long term gaming pedigrees:  One: shadowrun, ars magica, trollbabe, megatraveller, CoC.  The other: rifts, D20, CoC, ars magica, 1889, trollbabe, many others. The problem wasn't system weight as such, it was having to do narration and dice shuffling together.

Thanks, Nige.
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Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2006, 08:03:49 AM »

Quote
I guess that's a matter of experience on their side...

This definitely mirrors my experience.  Folks became much more amenable to giving on conflicts when they realized what the fallout options were likely to be (though, folks also became "D4 hogs" in terms of fallout, which isn't a bad thing either).

Chris
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