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[DitV] "Send 'em to Four Bridal Falls!"

Started by Bret Gillan, July 26, 2006, 02:11:18 PM

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Bret Gillan

This is a spin-off of a conversation I had with Jeremy Lahnum about his game, but I'm a little bothered by the "Send 'em to Four Bridal Falls" judgment that I've seen made in several Actual Play posts. It seems to me that Dogs is about judgment, and that "send 'em packin'" judgment is basically a cop-out. It's passing the judgment on to someone else. I mean, if I were running the game I would be tempted to have the elders say, "What did we train you for? Stop shovelling your shit into our yard."

Does this seem like a legitimate concern? Or me being a tightwad?


As GM, you are allowed to have the Elders say just that. At any time, totally allowed, and especially allowed within the context of town creation. Be prepared to roll dice over it.

So what? I don't understand the moral crisis, the "temptation." You choose to have the Elders respond that way, or you don't; it's entirely up to you.


Bret Gillan

The moral crisis was in wanting to avoid old, bad habits of trying to coerce the players into responding to the game the way I want them to respond, rather than a way they'd enjoy.


You wouldn't be having the elders respond that way honestly, because that's how they might legitimately respond and it's within your authority to choose. Instead, you'd be cheating! You'd be having the elders respond that way in order for you (as a player) to punish the other players for playing wrong.

That's the topic?

It's not a bad topic. Here's how I'd raise the question:

If the players are playing wrong, does that give you justification to cheat?
If the players are playing wrong, what does that give you justification to do?
Is there anything that gives you justification to cheat?

I'm interested in people's answers. Bret, I'm interested in your answers, since you brought it up. Everybody else, I'm especially interested in your answers if they're different from my own (my own being, as you'd guess, "no, quit playing, no").


Bret Gillan


My answers to your questions are pretty much in line with yours. I'm a little confused by what's happening in this conversation and if I made a misstep earlier on in terms of framing the discussion.

I guess my question isn't so much "Is cheating justified when the players are playing wrong?" but is moreso, "In this example, do you believe the players are playing wrong? Do you believe that using in-game elements to try to steer their play is 'cheating' or deprotagonizing?"


Yeah, this conversation is hiccupy. I don't get it either.

In Dogs, if the GM uses in-game elements to steer the players' play, she's cheating, yes. The rules are really clear about that.

In order to play wrong, the only thing players can do is not engage with the town. If they engage with the town in any way, they're playing right. Shipping people off to Bridal Falls is engaging with the town. Is it a lame cop-out judgement? Maybe; I wasn't there at that game, so I have no way of knowing. Even if it is, they're playing right.

If you're the GM, is it your job to get the players to not make lame cop-out judgements? It is explicitly not your job. Your job is to hit them harder next time, whether they make lame judgements or rock-solid ones.


Bret Gillan

Okay, maybe I just tripped over something that is obvious in the rules and the conversation is hiccupy because my question is a dumb, obvious one that is clearly spelled out in the book and you're giving me the benefit of the doubt and assuming I'm actually asking an intelligent, interesting one. ;)

So I guess the appropriate tactic isn't to try and steer them in any way, but to see that "lame, cop-out judgment" and hit it harder in the next town you make?

Bret Gillan

By way of an example I just thought of: have the problem in the next town be the result of the Pride of someone who was sent to Four Bridal Falls, and now feels he (or she) knows better than everyone else including the Steward?



Or you can just hit them harder with whatever. "So last town, you sent the guy who was beating his kids off to Bridal Falls. Here's a guy who killed his teenage son with a shovel. Do you send him off to Bridal Falls too, or have you grown a pair?"

Pardon the crude colloquialism.


baron samedi

Another possibility : Things go worse after the Dogs send sinners to Falls City; they end up corrupting people in that very town, or in a town while going there, and the killer/abuser/whatever the Dogs postponed judgement on repeats the same act, but more grievously there, and the people now blame the dogs for this? Isn't that a way to hit them harder ?


I've had NPC's sent to Bridal Falls so that they can begin their training to be dogs.

That was pretty cool.


We had this one (npc) kid in our game who wanted and expected to be sent to Bridal Falls to be made a Dog - but it was clear to us that all he wanted was a coat and a gun. We didn't send him.



To me, it seems like there's a possibility here that's not getting considered in quite so many words. 

Sometimes sending folks to Bridal Falls is players avoiding judgement, and ayup, you should crank up the pressure, or try some other game.  But sometimes, sending folks to Bridal Falls is the judgement.

The mentions in this thread of sending someone for Dog training is clearly that.  Another example would be from the first game I ran (Colorado City II, from this thread) where part of the judgement (there was a whole lotta judgin' going on) was that Bro Jeffs had to take all of these women he'd married deeper into the faithfull territory, as far as Bridal Falls if need be, and couldn't return to his proper wives and family until he'd seen them married with all due care.  The new Steward would take on the burden of his family until he could return.

I write games. My games don't have much in common with each other, except that I wrote them.


We talked about (but never actually ran) Bridal Falls City as a Town.  I was considering a corrupt Elder, a vaccilating, ineffective Dog Temple Steward, and a plague breaking out.

The players decided to stop playing vanilla Dogs and become Jedi before I did it... not that I'm complaining.
"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


Think about things from the NPC's point of view.  You've just been sent by the Dogs to Four Bridal Falls, maybe to get shot down there.  You've heard stories about what the Dogs will do sometimes.

What do you do?  Do you go or just take off?

Maybe you die in the wilderness.  And the Dogs hear stories about a wretched ghost, begging for judgement.

Maybe you live rough for a while and winter is closing in.  Maybe you kill a family in the wilderness for someplace to live.  You've been cast out by the Dogs already, how much further into Hell can you get?  The Dogs get sent to find out what happened to the Johnson family -- and find out what happens when you leave a mess for someone else to clean up.

Maybe you join an outlaw gang.  With your knowledge of the Faithful you can lead the bandits to hit the tender spots.  Then when the Dogs come to catch it they might be fighting, say, three name characters plus a bunch of extra guns.  Plus the Demons.

Yup, in any of these scenarios the Demons are going to be running at 5d10 and in their happy place.

See if they send somebody off to Four Bridal Falls again.
==Ed Freeman
==If there's no such thing as magic, why do we
  have the word?