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As Dogs get more powerful...

Started by zornwil, October 04, 2006, 05:18:16 PM

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I have looked around but haven't seen a topic on this...apologies if I missed it...

With the NPC generation method, it seems to me that inevitably the PCs will be just too powerful for any NPCs to represent a real challenge, unless you use a goodly number of NPCs against the PCs.  Now, I realize the PCs are supposed to win, especially when they are working together, but it seems to me that around 12 or so sessions there's likely (?) a break-point where NPCs just are so ineffective that PCs basically have no real challenge in conflicts.

Is that just me?  Am I missing something?  If I am essentially correct, what is typically done/what works at that point - create more complex towns with more NPCs and situations, generate certain NPCs that are more powerful, or just go on to a new campaign?  That latter one is not a bad answer, by the way, not at all.  I just want to be clear what works/doesn't work at the high levels of PC experience/growth. 
- Wilson


Like a tootsie roll, I've never heard of anyone getting past six towns in a Dogs campaign (anyone out there want to speak up?).  There've been previous threads on this, but things to consider include:

1) The Dogs can still provide opposition to each other, even if they can roll over the townfolk.

2) Even when your Dog can easily win the conflicts you still have to decide what judgments to pass on the townfolk, which in turn reflects your own views of things and is interesting.

3) I haven't had confirmation on this, but as you get more powerful and take less fallout you get less experience (because experience comes from fallout), slowing your rate of growth.

4) A sorcerer with a 4d10 relationship with Demons in a town gone to hate and murder can get 9d10, and even if the Dogs have plenty of dice of their own, a Raise 20 can still call for a gut check.

The biggest traits I've seen are "Big Bruiser 4d10" and "The Lord Guides my Aim 4d10", and "Hound of Faith 4d8" and "I'm a Dog 4d8".  (Not all on the same character, good lord!)  The Dog with "Hound of Faith 4d8" also has "Good with a Gun 3d10" after two towns, and this Saturday he'll be visiting a third town.  Pray for them.

As Vincent says, "Every die in a gun is a die that wants you to shoot someone."

My recommendation would be not to worry about it in advance.  Have your players make their Dogs, start running towns following the advice in the book, report back after 6 towns and share your conclusions.  If they actually make it to 12 towns, all the more fascinating.  But my guess is they'll crunch down to the chewy center of their souls long before then.


My group went to NINE Towns!  Do we hold the record?

Here's what I discovered once the dice started getting a little unweildy.

1) There is absolutely no reason for the GM not to Take The Blow unless he has something very specific in mind regarding the expression of an NPC.  This applies even at the shooting level.  Players start to feel a little pinch of sorrow when they escalate to Gun Fighting and you start taking the blow with eight dice all of them 1s and 2s.

1a) This means you can then always use your high dice to Raise.  Also, narrate things in such a way that all the PCs are targeted so that they all have See.

2) Escalate to Gun Fighting on the NPCs side rapidly.  This brings all your dice on to the table quickly and allows maximal application of the above.  It also pushes the players morally to see if they really want to gun this guy down or not.

3) Always pay attention to the dice pools around the table.  Once it becomes clear that you have no chance of delivering Fallout (not just winning which may be helpless from the get go) then Give.

This makes for some pretty short but very intense conflicts that really push the characters.



Quote from: cdr on October 05, 2006, 01:02:02 AMThe biggest traits I've seen are "Big Bruiser 4d10" and "The Lord Guides my Aim 4d10", and "Hound of Faith 4d8" and "I'm a Dog 4d8".

Mmm... I got a PC with "Good Shot" at 10d10. And other PCs can easily bulid to likely amount. We decide to top #of dice for a single trait/relationship to # of sides of die (10d10, 8d8, 6d6, 4d4) just because we scared ourselves...
aka Guglia aka Giovanni Gugliantini
Remember, Luke, say "yes" or roll dice


10d10 trait? My goodness...

All I can say is read Jesse's post carefully. If his suggestions don't get you rocking, it may be time to give the game a break. cdr also has some good points. Also re-read the section on your job as GM. You can, and should, react to the what the players do. Got a player with a 10d10 good shot trait? Throw a town at them with some horrible problems, but everyone is likely to garner lots of sympathy from the players. Make the sorcerer a 6 year old boy if that's what it takes to push the players buttons... (and make the demons seem like angels to the kids...)

My gut feeling is all these concerns (and realities of 10d10 traits), are potentially agenda clash, or fear of it. Talk about your concerns with the players (but don't turn the discussion into a group therapy session - unless your group really needs such - and is likely to actually improve as a result), and then play the game. If the players are committed to the game, my gut feeling is you won't see problematical numbers of dice. Players may choose to reduce traits from fallout (or even experience - experience let's you CHANGE the die size, or REDUCE the number of dice). Or players may choose to retire their "super" characters.

I did have a game start to go sour because we all got into trying to "win" and pumping traits as quickly as possible, and grasping for objects from the surroundings constantly, and such. I realized that Dogs just wasn't the game for our current state of mind and group of players. We had a fair bit of fun with the game, but realized we would be better engaged by a game that actually catered to the gamist agenda that we were clearly itching for.

Another suggestion - make sure your watching the most critical players reactions to raises. Consider that you really do need to shoot that gun to pull in the 10d10 shooting trait - now it's always possible that someone could take a shot, roll their 10d10, and then push forward a small raise, and then go on to use the 8s and up rolled from the 10d10 to talk, thus avoiding threatening to kill someone. If your players regularly pull such tricks, try and save a bunch of 1s and 2s for when they take that shot, and either reverse the blow if you can (which doubles the effect of one of your dice - always a good tactic in dealing with players out-dicing you), or take the blow with as many dice as possible (so you put forth a 5 raise as you shot over my head, unfortuantely, you misjudged the wind and the bullet caught me smack between the eyes - take the blow with 5 dice...).

Frank Filz


I'm so sorry for not responding earlier!  I didn't realize I wasn't auto-subscribed when I posted this, so I just thought no one responded, then, today, I realized that was unlikely so came and looked, voila!  Great feedback, much appreciated!  It makes a lot of sense (and I can't tell if my guys are willing to go to 10d10 or not, but I wouldn't be too too surprised if somebody didn't push the envelope to that, but they're pretty good about putting abusive things on the table and discussing them)
- Wilson


On another note, we're already at 4d10 Traits after 2 towns (though one town was multi-session, though in that town, also, 2 PCs got killed and so with their new characters, given how that works and increased system understanding, they've created these). 

Also, I think PCs grow quickly once people start to get the hang of non-lethal vs lethal Fallout and so on. 
- Wilson

Darren Hill

Just as a side point:
Quote from: cdr on October 05, 2006, 01:02:02 AM
3) I haven't had confirmation on this, but as you get more powerful and take less fallout you get less experience (because experience comes from fallout), slowing your rate of growth.

This hasn't been my experience.  Getting experience fallout without much risk is pretty easy. Players just need to ensure they get in a few social exchanges during a conflict, and take the blow then. A few 3-4d4 blows will soon give you plenty of experience. This is a technique that most players I've seen learn very fast.
(Of course, if that conflict gets deadly, all those small dice really complicate the later healing rolls).
So, in short, experience/growth can stay pretty constant regardless of how powerful characters get.


Something that my players did was choose to reduce dice in things.  So fallout isn't necessaryily about increasing.


Quote from: ffilz on October 05, 2006, 04:40:29 PM
10d10 trait? My goodness...

Well, I didn't say it is a problem... :-D

Last game, they din't fire a single shot at people (just a couple of cats) and had just ONE conflict. But it was amazing. More on this later. ;-)

aka Guglia aka Giovanni Gugliantini
Remember, Luke, say "yes" or roll dice


We only played five towns, but we didn't find too much dice inflation.  Long-term fallout tended to cause damage about as often as experience added it.
"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

Joshua A.C. Newman

So I'm thinking like I'm a GM of a town, and someone has 10d10 in "I shoot real good."

... and I'm thinking, what do they shoot about? What are their Relationships? What can I make them have to decide to shoot at, cuz they're gonna get what they want if they can shoot about it.

The six-year-old kid is a good idea, but dig into the previous towns. What were they willing to throw down over? Say they came down on the side of a homosexual couple last time. What if killing a member of another couple will solve a problem — like, let's say it's the owner of the General Store, who's the town's rich man, and his lover's the male owner of the hotel. They're in love — honest love — but the General Store owner is bleeding the town dry to buy stuff from Back East for his lover? He's even gone so far as to buy out the police force and institute a debtor's prison, complete with corporal punishment, and someone was beaten to death (sort of accidentally) on his watch.

See what the players want to do about that. The question is, "Who do I shoot?" not "Will I win a gunfight?" Make sure that they understand that they'll be leaving this nice guy — this hotel owner — without his lover. He'll be a broken man.

Maybe that's the best solution. Who knows!
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.