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Author Topic: [DitV] -- Rebuilding towns & breaking Metaphysical rules  (Read 5576 times)
Darcy Burgess
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Posts: 476


« on: June 28, 2006, 04:39:56 AM »

So, a couple of nice people showed me the light about why my first Dogs town, Prudence Gulch really didn't grab us.

They did it by suggesting specific ways of making it better.  Here are their suggestions:

Joshua's ideas
Curly's ideas

I really, really like them both.  However, I'm troubled by the fact that Curly's ideas totally break the Metaphysical ladder of Dogs -- he's got Demonic attacks happening before sin -- in fact, if the demons don't attack, the sin doesn't happen (hooray paradox!).

So, that's what I'm interested in discussing -- the implications of mucking with the ladder.  I'm guessing that it's not just there 'cuz Vincent likes it.  There's definitely a reason for it.  So, is it muckable?  Or is this a situation of "don't mess with the text"?
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2006, 05:01:47 AM »

I wouldn't muck with the ladder.  One of the metaphysical underpinnings of the Dogs authority is that it is in the town's interest to eliminate sin; that all suffer when any transgress.

If the demons can attack whether folks are sinning or not, then there's no point in eliminating the sin.
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"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
lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2006, 06:01:27 AM »

I totally agree with Fred. Not that anybody'll be surprised - I did write the rules that way, after all.

Here's the deal with sin and demons. This is the real deal with sin and demons in Dogs; I'm lifting up the game's skirts here.

Pretend there's no supernatural causality at all. People make decisions and there are consequences, wholly material, wholly materialistic. God doesn't exist, demons don't, magic doesn't, immortal souls don't (although of course a person still has a soul, as in "I feel it in my soul" and "it's good for my soul"). Ceremony is wholly psychological, as is demonic possession.

Okay, so what's sin? Sin is when, in response to some unremedied injustice, you do something destructive to your community. "Sin," that is, socially destructive behavior, destabilizes your community. All the lines of love, friendship and blood that hold your community together come under stress, because now someone's acting against them instead of along them.

Here's how I put it once before: it's not a sin because God forbids it. God forbids it because it's a sin.

You'll notice that the sins in the game are, accordingly, extremely practical. In Dogs it's not a sin to jerk off, for instance, and contra the real-world traditions of my people - in Dogs, every single sin involves at least one other person.

That's sin, what're the demons? They're just plain bad luck. They're the stresses on a community that come about through nobody's action, nobody's fault, just the hazards of trying to make a life in the real world. The well goes dry, the flood rises, locusts swarm, somebody falls off a horse or tries to clean a loaded gun. Shit happens, that's all.

So here are four possibilities for town life.

1. Nobody sins and there's no bad luck, so nothing bad happens. The community trucks along doing its thing. This isn't suitable for a Dogs town.

2. Somebody sins, but there doesn't happen to be any bad luck at the same time. Now the town has to deal with it, but it can; its leaders come together and figure out how to help the sinner and her victims, and how to resolve the injustice at the heart of it. Its love and blood ties are strong and flexible. This isn't suitable for a Dogs town.

3. Something unlucky happens, but there doesn't happen to be anybody sinning at the same time. Again, the town has to deal with its bad luck, but it's totally equipped to do so. It rallies together, love and blood binds everybody in the face of adversity. Uplifting, but still unsuitable for a Dogs town.

And 4. Somebody sins, and then by dumb bad luck the worst possible thing happens too. The love and blood ties in the town, already bent by the sin, snap; the town just doesn't have the reserves of hope and faith and goodness to survive the double blow. It needs help. Help means someone to make hard decisions about what has to happen, what has to be violently transformed in order to return the community to sustainable health; these are decisions that no one bound by love and blood can make. THAT's a Dogs town.

Dress that up in the folk magic of my people and you get "while you don't sin, you have God's protection, but when you sin you make yourself vulnerable to the devil."

...So and then, like I said, a sorcerer is someone who'll use the town's misfortune ruthlessly for his own prosperity, and possessed people are people who'll toady up to him. Demons and sorcerers are, deep down, just plain bad luck and just plain bastards.

Now all that said, I like Curly's town just fine. The reason is, there is sin underlying the demon's attack. They've just been biding their time, waiting for the perfect opportunity. If the perfect opportunity comes a whole lifetime later, what do they care? They're not human.

-Vincent
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Call Me Curly
Member

Posts: 63


« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2006, 11:28:14 AM »

FWIW, according to the Faithful worldview, Phineas' senility itself
would be interpreted as a Demonic Attack, not a medical condition.
No need for the Freaky Weather angle. 

Hiram's father coulda been killed by some senile negligence on Phineas' part--
instead of a flash flood.
Similar to how the pharmacist in 'It's a Wonderful Life' screws-up a prescription.

---
Mucking with the progression of sin was an oversight on my part.
Not intentional.

That said, I'm not sure the muck-up would be a problem, if I were
running the game.   I have a Blind Leading The Blind approach
to the game's theology.   As if all the bibles were lost a long
time ago and everybody's trying to remember what-exactly
the scripture actually said.  Conflicting 'Rashomon' interpretations
lead to escalating trouble-- and the Dogs' pistols are the final arbiters.
If a Dog says a Demonic Attack happened prior to the Sin that
'caused' it, anybody who disagrees is a rules-lawyer heretic.
Likely to get shot.

I don't think that approach is at-odds with Vincent's explanation, above.


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Call Me Curly
Member

Posts: 63


« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2006, 11:35:18 AM »

One other thing-- suggested by Darcy's town-- is that the only 'real'
magic might be Mountain People magic.  It's always available out-there
to cure Alzheimers or re-attract a spurned lover.  But it's a sin
to use that option, instead of limiting oneself to impotent Faithful means.

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Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2006, 01:04:06 PM »

FWIW, according to the Faithful worldview, Phineas' senility itself
would be interpreted as a Demonic Attack, not a medical condition.

Damn.  That's awesome.  Put Phineas in a position of authority in the town (even an "elder statesman" role would do) and you have a whole mess of fun.  Nice.  Definitely no need for freaky weather at all.


I have a Blind Leading The Blind approachto the game's theology.   As if all the bibles were lost a long time ago and everybody's trying to remember what-exactly the scripture actually said.  Conflicting 'Rashomon' interpretations lead to escalating trouble-- and the Dogs' pistols are the final arbiters.

I'm having a bit of trouble reading the meaning in what you said -- are you talking about "in-game/in-character" reality, or are you talking about you, Curly, Dogs GM approach the game and your players this way?

Because I totally see the coolness in using that logic in some sort of freaky alt-mormon/dark ages west that really never was.

However, I'm kinda suspicious that just throwing the metaphysics out the window at a "people playing a game around this here dining room table" level is gunning for trouble -- Fred's reasoning has me convinced that would be the case.

Here's a tangential thought: the NPCs and PCs don't have a flipping clue about the Metaphysics, or at least, they don't have to.  Those rules are there just for you, me, and our players.  My players are aware of them -- but I made sure that they are aware of them as players.  For me, it's the same reason that the characters don't deal with things in terms of sees and raises.  (Or, to mix game metaphors, why they don't run around calculating each others' THAC0s).
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Call Me Curly
Member

Posts: 63


« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2006, 05:05:47 PM »


I'm having a bit of trouble reading the meaning in what you said -- are you talking about "in-game/in-character" reality, or are you talking about you, Curly, Dogs GM approach the game and your players this way?

Quote

How can I put this?...

I think the most fun use for metaphysical speculation at the game-table/
is to incorporate it into the fiction of the game.

So if Fred (out of character) were to say "hey, if Demons can attack with or without Sin, then what's the point of bothering to cleanse a Town of Sin?"...

I would then suggest that Fred make his PC ask that question... and be anguished over it.  Write it as a 1d4 trait!

I actively seek to push the PCs into a crisis of faith.

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