Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

[DitV] Snakes on the Plains

Started by Rob MacDougall, September 15, 2006, 12:29:39 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Rob MacDougall

Hi dog lovers,

I just posted a Dogs variant to my LiveJournal and the 20x20 Room - not an alternate setting but a bit of totally unnecessary laser-sharking on the magnificent original. Here's an excerpt:

Quote from: Rob MacDSerpents in the Garden
The shopkeeper from Back East? He ain't perfect, but at least he don't put on airs like he's never done no wrong.

The Town Steward lives in the bottle and dreams about girls below marrying age. Sister Fidelia wishes her husband were Steward, and pride bakes her dry heart like the summer sun. And Brother Virgil has kilt his shrewish wife a dozen times in his head. Is he righteous just because he's too cowardly to go through with it?

Watch how the townsfolk bow and scrape for a couple of green pups in colored coats. Watch the old sodbusters fall all over themselves to get one of God's Watchdogs to their dinner table, or into their daughter's beds. And why? Because they're scared of the night and the big old sky. And they're so grateful--pathetically grateful--for somebody else to take responsibility, to solve their problems for them, to tell them what to do. How much of being godly is just fear of getting caught? How can they call themselves the Faithful unless their faith's been put to the test? Brother and Sister Serpent, that's where you come in.

You can read the whole thing (including altered escalation rules intended to make true honesty more dangerous than guns and the injunction that the central question of the setting can only be answered through play) here or here.  Comments welcome anywhere.

Rob MacD


I quite like this, particularly the prelude, but there's one big issue-I'm not sure I understand 'Talking for keeps', the d10 fallout condition. Surely, anything you say that's serious enough to be a raise is already pretty important?
(Not that this isn't a great idea-again, I really like it-but I think that point could be slightly clearer).

As another question-would you have the Snakes interacting with the standard Dogs?

Call Me Curly

I glanced at Snakes on the Plains a few days ago.   

I saw the term "Serpents in the Garden" and went YES!

Only now did I read the actual description and find it not-quite what I'd hoped for.

I had hoped that the Snakes would be well-intentioned proactive do-gooders with guns; seeking to bring the gift of Knowledge to backassward hicks.

Reason leads to Equality leads to Progress which leads to Secular Humanist Rational Enlightenment; or something like that.

Instead, they're described as passive aggressive saboteurs.  Snotnoses!

The thing I found most thought-provoking about 'my' version of the concept...

is that instead of the Dogs characters starting-out as naive followers and being challenged into growing and adopting views more like those of the Player  (the usual DitV trajectory)...

instead, the Snake characters would start-out more in agreement with the player's contemporary views, and would have to be presented with story situations that would provoke the player to consider the limitations of their own actual views... and adjust those views accordingly.   

I'm pretty sure than playing a 'dumb'/'backwards' character who grows 'smart'/like-us is easier for players to enjoy;
than having ones' own actual views challenged.

Case in point, I have a vague recollection of Vincent Baker describing a game of Shock where he played a vacuumorph and didn't enjoy having his actual views be targetted.

Rob MacDougall

Hi Curly, hi Uberxael,

Thanks for your comments. Uberxael, the short answer to the question about escalating to 'talking for keeps' is, I'm not sure. This was a thought experiment as much as anything else. But I really like the idea of having certain talking be more powerful/significant than guns. As I said over at 20x20, the idea of flipping the Dogs escalation series so that words are deadlier than bullets came from Ron's comments in this thread on the Soviet Dogs variant / Ronnies entrant Defenders of the Union.

In Dogs, nothing is more powerful, or problematic, than the gun. In Serpents, the idea is that the characters are bad-asses who don't think that much of shooting some sod buster, big deal. What IS really problematic for all of them is their faith and their relationship with the King of Life. They are accustomed and inclined to being deceitful and superficial and avoiding real connection with the people they meet, but just as the Dogs are tempted to use violence to solve their problems, the Serpents may be pulled towards exposing their true hearts.

Somebody who rolled 18 fallout after a Talking for Keeps raise wouldn't necessarily require medical attention, but the effect of the conversation on him (fear of God? black depression? crushing guilt?) would be as eviscerating as if he did. Sort of like you can take social damage in Hero Quest that's every bit as incapacitating as physical damage. I dig the idea, as you can see in that Defenders of the Union thread, but for it to actually work in play, you'd have to REALLY sell your escalation to talking for keeps.

In the 20x20 comments, Vincent suggested making psychological first aid a healing conflict using the healer's heart and the patient's will, instead of the healer's acuity and the patient's body.

Curly: I like your idea a lot too. Yeah, maybe my serpents are "snotnoses." Ken Hite accused me, basically, of turning Dogs into a standard White Wolf amoral angst game, to which all I could say was "ouch." But as to what you say about reversing the usual trajectory of a PC growing and learning - that's cool and all, but my hope with this set up would be that the trajectory of these characters is NOT set, and they could go in any number of ways. Hence my insistence that you can't even decide what the Serpents are all about before play.

Dogs have the comfort of knowing that they're doing God's work. That generates some cool stories. But the story that speaks to me here is one of wrestling with faith and doubt in a situation where you have NO confirmation of God's plan or existence, and you have to make sense of your place in the universe alone.

Anyway, thanks for chiming in.