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[DitV] Poll: Vanilla or Exotic?

Started by charles ferguson, May 19, 2006, 06:48:08 AM

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charles ferguson

I have my first game of Dogs tonight :D

Before I got the rules, I was determined not to play the default setting. The whole God & Mormon thing just isn't me. Now? I'm itchin to play a straight-up Dog, strong in the righteousness of the Lord.

Of course it's still not going to be so, at least not tonight. But I was wondering: what are people's experiences playing the default vs alternate settings?

Do you feel you've gained or lost anything by playing the original setting opposed to an alternate one, and if so, what kind of gains / losses?

Keen to hear!

Ben Lehman

I would play the default setting at least three sessions to get your feet on the ground, then do what you like.  There's a lot of subtle elements which are important to play and get missed in the ports.

I had my first serious idea for a alternate Dogs today (Polaris's Mu'hari from the Escape Velocity: Nova setting), and I've been playing the game since it came out.



Three as the absolute, bare minimum.  If you can, play more.

If you can't get folks involved locally, there's always IRC
"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


I think one of the best things about dogs is that many of the players don't feel connected to the setting initially. Many of the players that have sat down with me to play Dogs were avowed atheists and unintrested in a storyline such as Dogs put forth.

within a half an hour of taking up the Coat they were judging and judging hard.

My perspective on what was important changed form before first game ot after a couple games. The very undetailed setting is soo important, as is the lack of other law enforcement and the isolation of the towns. maybe other people find other things important but these struck me hard.


charles ferguson

Hi Jason,

Thanks man, that's exactly the kind of thing I'm hoping to hear. What your observations or gut feel is about why Dogs works so strongly in the setting Vincent's chosen, and if you've plyaed in other settings, what still worked/didn't work.

Ben, I'm not doubting, just trying to nail down what those subtleties might be.

For instance (based on a single night's play) could it be the relative closeness of setting to modern Western life means the players have less to focus on in terms of building physical color, which means less distractino from the emotional content (the real point of the game)?

I get the whole black/white moral imperative giving built-in conflict with the human faces the Dogs have to put to sin where they find it, but couldn't this happen in other settings also?

I'm sure there's others.

Lance D. Allen

We first played in a post-apocalyptic setting, but one where we transplanted the Faith and the Faithful pretty much entire. I don't feel like we missed out on anything, because it was still pretty Western, it's just that a few elements of color were different. Still, after reading some of the actual play, my aversion to the canon setting vanished pretty much entirely.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls


Charles, it really definitely COULD happen in other settings, but the setting has to contain certain elements for it to work right.
"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

charles ferguson

Hey Ralph

Quoteit really definitely COULD happen in other settings, but the setting has to contain certain elements for it to work right.

what do you see those elements as being?

Cos I really do believe you, but I'm not sure exactly what those elements are. I could take a stab (upthread) but I'd love to get some input from people who've got some hard experience, rather than just pure speculation.

There are other powerful games that are setting-neutral. So what are the elements that make Dogs not so?

Believe it or not, this question really is my question, rather than an attempt to trick y'all into answers I can then interpret as an implied blessing to run a non-canon setting for my first Dogs game :D

charles ferguson


The most important element is that the PCs have to have the authority to judge sin (so the sin ladder is also critical). Also important is the 4 arenas of conflict and how they relate to each other (the stats used, and the escalation). The ability to create shades of grey is also critical so that the judgement is not just rote quotation from the book of life. Demons are important also (though it strikes me that DiTV demons should be thought about in the same terms of "they are not real" as Sorceror demons).

The biggest issue I have with the often talked about Jedi version is the authority to judge sin, and perhaps the lack of shades of grey.

Frank Filz

Ben Lehman

Consider also the power relationships and shadings between the three very different societies living in the area (Mountain People, Faithful, TA.)  Where does the Dogs' temporal authority lie?  Where does the Dogs' spiritual authority lie?  Where does the Dogs' moral authority lie?

There are actually even more complicated shadings (converts versus migrants versus born-in-territory, etc), too.  I've yet to see an alternate setting which really has this level of complexity.



Ah, good point Ben. The Mountain People may not be critical, but the TA definitely is (and the non-faithful).

The shifting of Dogs into post holocaust, with everything else pretty much otherwise unchanged would seem to have the same quality. But then all one is doing is changing a few bits of color (what do the guns look like, possibly what are the symbologies on the coats).

Frank Filz

charles ferguson

Frank said:
QuoteThe ability to create shades of grey

coupled, I think, with the black/white imperatives of the whole "sin" thing. That is, the conflict between the black/white nature of what The Book says people should be doing and the grey shades of why they're actually doing it, fuelled by the Dog's absolute need to judge it all.

Because to me, (a) the Jedi creed seems to be just too relativistic to have this same power, and (b) the need for players (ie, individual Jedi) to judge seems to be somewhat problematic also.

Where do people find the individual vs community thing sits in this?


Hello Charles,

I played dogs in a fantasy setting, and in the standard setting. Strange as it may sound, I missed the guns in the fantasy setting. They have an immediacy and equalizing factor that swords or sorcery don't carry - any child can just pickup a gun and kill someone. I think this is important because it drives escalation to a point of no return (if you shoot someone and they take d10s of fallout, it won't be shiny happy fallout, but brutally tough).

Also, a fantasy setting does often carry overtones of heroism or epicness(?) with it that a straight Dogs game does not necessarily convey or need. One of my most avid players was one who heard of the Dogs game, didn't want to participate and went to the table thinking we were playing some crazy deadlands variant. I don't want you to deceive your players about what to expect from the game, but it often is surprising that people throw their thematic reservations over board quite lightly after they've seen or done an accomplishment.