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Author Topic: [DITV] Some questions from an old dog trying to learn new tricks  (Read 8015 times)
Steven Stewart
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Ebisu Gamers


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« on: November 16, 2006, 03:12:48 AM »

Dogs in the Vineyard Questions Part I

I just got through reading the GenCon ’05 edition of Dogs in the Vineyard rulebook in preparation of maybe running it with my game group in the near future. First, I think the game looks good, and also looks exciting to play. I am really looking forward to giving it a test drive. I have heard a lot of great things about it. But even after reading the book, and going over certain sections again, I still have some confusion and questions in certain areas for some of you Dog veterans. Would appreciate any help you can give, in my local gaming circle no-one has run it yet so there really isn’t a lot of other resources for me to ask. My apologies for a long list, I have been going through the books and making notes as I go along. I have a lot invested in making it a “good” game for the players, as they are taking a step out from their normal gaming styles and system. I just want to make the best fun for everyone at the table, and if the session falls flat I don’t want it to be from not coming prepared. Most of the time I put my questions in terms of situations that I can envision happening at my table based on actual play of other (non DItV) games.

Character Creation and Initiation Conflict

1: Can you escalate during the Character Creation Initiation Conflict? One of the examples seems to imply that you can, but if so, does the GM roll more dice and/or the player for escalating to the next areana (e.g. from verbal to physical)? If so I don’t understand what the GM rolls since the initiation conflict is a fixed pool of dice.  For example if it starts off with “does my character learn to curb his swearing”, it starts with the player doing a verbal conflict with his teachers, but then later on there is what appears to be a physical conflict with forcing him to wash his mouth out with soap. Does the player get to roll his Body Dice and add to the conflict? (Assuming that he has already rolled Heart during the verbal part of the conflict) Or does he just stick with his original dice roll of Acuity + Heart?

2: Is there any reason why a character wouldn’t just “give” during a hope, growth, change of habits initiation conflict. For example, if the conflict is “does my character get over his fear of confrontation?” if I wanted that as player for my character to get over this fear, so I could add a new trait like “not afraid to stir it up” why wouldn’t I just give on the very first GM raise? Or is there a fundamental assumption in this that a player will want to take his “side” of a hope, growth, change conflict that I am missing? Or is this a case of wrong system for the type of player who would do that just to get a new trait that he wanted?

3A: The next two questions are about understanding the traits that you get from an initiation conflict. One of the examples in the book is “got my butt handed to me by a demon”. How could this be used in the game during a conflict? If I understand the system correctly, if my character had that, and I was in another conflict with a possessed person, I could use in my see and get to roll the 1d6 when I say “Well Brother Pleasant got his butt handed to him by a demon during his initiation, he knows all about their wiley tricks. He knows to be extra careful now and get the hell out of the way”. Or could he use it like this as well during a conflict as well when faced with a conflict “casting the demon out of the house” by saying as a raise and therby giving him 1d6 “Brother Pleasant thinks back to the last time he faced a demon, his heart is stout as he makes the sign of the Tree pushing the demon out of the house, he won’t fail this time…” Or could he use it during preaching to try to tell folks to give up their sinnin’ ways of going to the drink for solace, “You need to give up the whiskey boy, or the demons will be coming to this town. And let me tell you what you don’t want that, and launches into the story about how he got his butt handed to him by a demon”. Thereby letting him use his 1d6 trait “got my butt handed to me by a demon”. As a GM I would probably allow all three in the game, or am I missing something else here for how to use this particular trait? Am I am being to forgiving in the application of traits?

3B: Similar to 3A, I can’t figure out how a player could use “I learned not to swear in public D6” to their advantage during the play of the game. If I understand the rules correctly, the GM can’t use the players dice like they can in some games against them. So when would this come up in play? If there is a really good chance that it will never come up in play is it worth having on the character sheet as a Trait? Again, I feel that there is something important here I am missing, and if I could get it, could help with understanding the conflict resolution system and the use of traits in conflicts.

4: Finally I am having some difficulty in thinking up ways to turn the “I hope I did this…” into something cool like “got my butt handed to me by a demon” example in the book. Would appreciate any help of what other veterans have actually seen in their games. As example, one thought I had while reading the book was “I hope my character pulls the trigger when it counts” which I think could end up with two cool traits either way “anything but shooting 1D6” if he fails, and “doesn’t flinch when pulling his gun 1D6” if he doesn’t. Is this on the right track, or are these too general or too far away from the original statement “I hope my character pulls the trigger when it counts”?

Conflict Resolution System and Stakes
The next few questions focus around one of the example conflict stakes, “Who draws first?” I understand that it was put in the game to show the flexibility of the system, but I can’t quite get my head around its application in general play.

5A: If I understand it right, you couldn’t escalate during the conflict to gunfighting, since the stakes are who draws their gun first? Is that correct?

5B: If I understand the rules for follow-up conflict correctly, you couldn’t have a follow up conflict right after this one with the same two characters, since even though the stakes might be different (who shoots who), and the arena different (going from drawing a gun to actually shootin’),  since the participants are the same? Or because the stakes are completely different stakes it is allowable to do a follow-up conflict right after this one for “who shoots who”?

5C: If you could have a follow-up conflict, then why wouldn’t you just give on the very first raise of “who draws first”? By giving on the first raise you would avoid (A) fallout (B) get to keep a single highest die for the actual (presumably immediate) follow up conflict of “who shoots who?”

5D: When would this actually be used in the game? I could see how it might be used for initiation conflict, but in town gameplay, I would have thought from reading through the conflict and setting stakes, that doing a conflict for who draws first, and then who shoots who, could all be wrapped up into a single conflict, with the who draws first being a raise during the conflict? I can’t help but think I am missing something important from this example. I only ask to make sure I understand the stakes setting correctly. Is this just for example of how the conflicts can be very flexiable for different time frames, or do other players have examples of using, for lack of a better term, “micro-conflicts” in the game. I would be greatly interested in understanding when it is appropriate to use something like “who draws first” followed by “does he kill you in the gunfight” vs. “do I gun him down at the high-noon gunfight” as stakes.

6: Initiating Conflicts – is it usually up to the players to determine when to start a conflict, or the GM or both? Here is an example that I am having trouble with, during one of the town write-ups one of the characters wants to have one of the players marry her to avoid her suitor. Would it be appropriate to have stakes “Does Sister Hanna convince Brother Cadmus [the Player] to marry her?” If so, can I as the GM just throw that up at the appropriate time, or should I wait for the players to initiate that?  I would be fearful that if I set stakes like that the player of Brother Cadmus might be very upset that I as a GM hoisted that on him. I think my players would get stonefaced,  and then launch into a rant that the game can’t determine if their character marries somebody, stating that it is their call who their character chooses to marry. Is this something to discuss before starting the game, and get buy-in from the players on how comfortable they are with this? If we decide that the Player has ultimate authority regardless of stakes and conflicts over their characters actions, would this break down the system in Dogs? If the players can convince somebody to give up their sinnin’ ways why can’t that NPC convince the players that it would be in everbody’s best interest if they marry her? Would it be better to have stakes like “Does Brother Cadmus convince Sister Hanna that it would be a bad idea to marry him?” And really it isn’t more life changing for Brother Cadmus to marry her  than saying “does the possessed person murder Brother Cadmus in the night” but I think many of my players would object to the “getting hitched” stakes more than the “does he murder you stakes”. Especially as getting married means they have to stop being a Dog, unless it’s a secret marriage that no-one else knows about.   

7: Follow Up Conflicts and “Give” Dice – If you give in a conflict, you get to keep a die back. Do you lose this die, if the follow-up conflict isn’t the very next conflict you are in (i.e. the next conflict you are in isn’t related to the one you gave in)? For example, early in the game the Dogs give in a verbal conflict with Brother Michael who is brewing white lightin’ up in the hills. They decide it isn’t time to get physical. The player gets to keep a die back for giving, lets say its an 8. Next the players stir some stuff up in town, and have a few juicy conflicts. But now they decide to go deal with that moonshine still up in the hills, determining that it is the root cause of all the tom foolery going on in the town. Now they start a fight with Brother Michael who is trying to keep them from breaking up the still. Does the player get to use that 8 he got in the very beginning of the game for giving during the first verbal conflict? Or because there was a lot of other stuff going on in between he loses it. I would tend to go for letting him use it, since it is related to the earlier conflict, provided that the player made note of it at the time so I as the GM wouldn’t have to keep up with what all the give dice are for. Or can the player use that 8 in the very next conflict even if it isn’t related to the verbal argument with Brother Michael over his moonshining?

Towns and Running the Game

8A: I am having trouble understanding the Demonic Attacks part of town creation. In one of the examples it is suggested that the demonic attacks are the demons breaking stuff so people have to go buy it at the store. My understanding is that aren’t actual overt demons, and that the demon attacks are either the people of the town or just (super)natural forces. So for this example, as a GM would it be appropriate to have Brother Michael [a Dog] find out that the straps on his saddle have worn through or do I need to have a conflict over that? How far as GM can I take this? Can I just throw a conflict out there while the Dog’s are riding to their uncles farmstead, saying “Do you fall off your horse during the ride” and using the straps breaking as a raise during the conflict (rolling dice as demonic influence as per the rules) or is that going to far? Could I just tell the players to change the dice of their gun from 2d6+1d4 to 2d4 (going from excellent to crap) because of the demonic attack or should that be the result of a conflict “Does the Demons muck up your gun so it is crap” or would it be more appropriate during the first gun fight to use “your gun sputters and misfires because of the demons” as a see. And if that is appropriate could I then launch into a follow up conflict to make their gun go from 2d6+1d4 to 2d4. I know my players, and screwing around with their guns would definitely get their attention, but I don’t want to overstep the GM’s roles. Could a Dog do a ceremony at his Uncle’s Farmstead to get the demons to leave his tools alone, or should the Dogs have to root out the sins of the shopkeeper to get the Demon’s to leave the Farmstead alone?

8B: Similar to Demonic Attacks, part 6 of the town creation asks you to determine what the demon’s want. Who actually in the executor of what the demon’s want? Can I have townspeople do that even if they are not possessed? Based on what I read about possession, it would seem you might have to be a heretic to be possessed. But in the Boxelder Canyon Branch Example, it says demons will attack the town where the steward would be able to defend it. Who actually does the attacking, the farmhands? And why would the farmhands attack, because they want to join the cult? Are the farmhands actually possessed or is just their sin driving them to that? I guess I am having trouble understanding what “the demons” want section. One part of me thinks this is overt demons doing things, and another part of me is saying “this is what the GM should be trying to get the people in the town do”. If I go with the later, it all fits better in my head, it is just another way of saying what side of the stakes I as the GM need to take in conflicts. But I can’t reconcile how the demons are not overt and how they can attack the town without using agents to do so. Are the demons themselves attacking or are they using bandits, or Mountain Folk, or the people in the town or are there literally demons with horns and fire and brimstone and stuff tearing up the town?

questions 9,10 deleted since it exceeds the allowable limit.

Coats

11: I saw in one example that coats are used to deflect bullets (assuming the group is cool with that effect), and can tell from the rules mechanically, a numbers driven player can use their coat as a soak for their fallout. But I am also assuming from all the emphasis, besides just flavor, that coats can be used in other ways in conflicts? From inferring on the sections of coats, I would probably allow my players to use their coat dice whenever they are trying to be authoritative or using their position as Dogs (stacking with the I’m a dog trait), and also in situations where the coat reminds them of the love, support, and faith of the people who made the coat, and those memories that might strengthen their resolve, such as resisting the temptations of sin, or when they need to keep a cool head. Is this too liberal of an interpretation of coats? How have other players allowed them to enter into conflicts?

12: Is there ever a reason why someone who was trying to maximize their character effectiveness put less than 2D6 into their coat, since it can act as a soak for fallout? Is this looking at the game too mechanically? I can see where some of my players will ask me that question. I was interested to know if anyone has ever seen a player put less than 2D6 into their coat other than a GM suggesting based on the character’s background that they might not have an excellent coat? Unlike guns (which Vincent talks about why it isn’t necessarily a bad idea for the players to have excellent dice in guns) I can’t see the downside of having high dice in your coat?

Reading
13: Can someone elaborate on why reading / not reading is interesting in play? Hopefully with not a tongue in cheek “just play you will see” response. If it is very interesting, then I want to make sure that somehow we bring it up into play. Is it something to do with using the book of life in the game?

Wrap-up

It may seem from the questions that I missing the point in Dogs, hopefully that is not the case. I think I understand the appeal of the game, and the type of play it aims to support. I have been playing with my group for about 3 years now, and I understand them a little bit, and am just trying to determine if this is the kind of game they will enjoy. So most of the questions are questions that they are going to be asking me, and I just wanted to be prepared for the answers. That way we can as a group decide if this is the game for us to try (which I really think would be fun and different diversion from what we normally do).

P.S. I know it is a long list, my apologies up front, just been stewing on it for a few days and rather than spread them out have been putting them all in one list. Thanks again for writing a great game!


 










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oliof
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2006, 03:59:20 AM »

Note: I only play and run this game, but I would handle things like below. I'll only answer the first seven questions for now.

Quote
1: Can you escalate during the Character Creation Initiation Conflict?

The player can escalate as per the normal rules, but not the GM. In other words, the player can escalate for more dice, but the GM only has his 4d6+4d10

Quote
2: Is there any reason why a character wouldn’t just “give” during a hope, growth, change of habits initiation conflict?

Except for the fact that the rules state he is going to play the character that hasn't changed yet, no. He still would have to tell how the change came to pass, though.
Regarding 'just getting the trait' - maybe you want to get the trait like in the example, because it's even more interesting than a bland 'I managed to overcome my fear'.

Quote
3A: The next two questions are about understanding the traits that you get from an initiation conflict. One of the examples in the book is “got my butt handed to me by a demon”. How could this be used in the game during a conflict?

In any way that fits the narration and does not cause the person in the group with the highest aesthetic standards to interfere. I would allow all of your three examples as a GM as well.

Quote
3B: Similar to 3A, I can’t figure out how a player could use “I learned not to swear in public D6” to their advantage during the play of the game.

It's a good trait for a scene where I would try to provoke the character to swear in a conflict, or where an NPC is swearing publicly. It may just be an expression of the jadedness of the character in question, which might help or hinder him in handling such a conflict. "I see the vein throbbing on his forehead like mine does when I suppres swearing. I lean into Brother Mica, saying 'I commend you for your self control Brother. Now, if you would only put that energy into taking responsibility for your wife, we would not need to have this conversation...'" might be an appropriate raise in a game I ran. Probably with crap numbers.

Quote
4: Finally I am having some difficulty in thinking up ways to turn the “I hope I did this…” into something cool like “got my butt handed to me by a demon” example in the book.

The resulting trait should reflect the initial hope and the way the conflict ended. Other than that, there is no bounds. For example, in one of the games I played in, the conflict was "I hope I will be able to keep my mouth shut", and I ended up with "I am promised to a faithful woman" (I won the conflict and kissed the girl rather than tell her what to do).

Quote
5A: If I understand it right, you couldn’t escalate during the conflict to gunfighting, since the stakes are who draws their gun first? Is that correct?

You cannot have anything as a raise in a conflict that would prematurely resolve the stakes, right.

Quote
5B: If I understand the rules for follow-up conflict correctly, you couldn’t have a follow up conflict right after this one with the same two characters, since even though the stakes might be different (who shoots who), and the arena different (going from drawing a gun to actually shootin’),  since the participants are the same? Or because the stakes are completely different stakes it is allowable to do a follow-up conflict right after this one for “who shoots who”?

Yes, you could have the follow-up conflict between the same people, as long as the other factors are different. Or you could give, have the other one draw first, and then have a follow-up conflict about who hits whom - this is especially potent if you're going to cut your losses and keep that single high die for the follow-up.

This might lead to an inverse-law-of-westerns where it becomes a truth that quick shooters die quicker all the time.

Quote
5C: If you could have a follow-up conflict, then why wouldn’t you just give on the very first raise of “who draws first”? By giving on the first raise you would avoid (A) fallout (B) get to keep a single highest die for the actual (presumably immediate) follow up conflict of “who shoots who?”

If you have a trait like "trigger happy" or "always shoots first", it might be a matter of principles. And it would probably work only once, because the GM will just say "Yes, you shoot first" in later situations like this. Then you still have to resolve the results of the shooting if you want.

Quote
5D: When would this actually be used in the game?

The most usual occurence of a follow-up conflict with the same participants might be a dog that shoots another dog and heals him afterwards. Also, it might be used in a scuffle between a dog and a powerful NPC, where the dog gives to have his brothers and sisters help him before fallout goes to dangerous heights. Also,  remember to roll for fallout before the next conflict (except if the winning side wants the two highest dice as a bonus.

Quote
6: Initiating Conflicts – is it usually up to the players to determine when to start a conflict, or the GM or both?

That really depends on the conflict. As the GM, I would offer the players conflicts if they don't seek them out, but not too many. The marriage example is a bit broken out of context - why does that woman want to be married? And of course, there can always be a follow-up conflict about the steward not allowing the marriage or whatever. Nonetheless, players should know that their characters might change in unexpected ways not directly in their control when playing dogs. Oh, and convincing someone that something is a good idea, doesn't mean they follow through with it. A marriage proposal the NPC wins could easily lead into fallout that generates a trait "still convinced he should have married Sr. Hannah".

Quote
7: Follow Up Conflicts and “Give” Dice – If you give in a conflict, you get to keep a die back. Do you lose this die, if the follow-up conflict isn’t the very next conflict you are in (i.e. the next conflict you are in isn’t related to the one you gave in)

If you cut your losses, the die kept back is useful only for the follow-up conflict of the one where you cut them (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16052.0).
It's not stated that this die is lost if another conflict comes before the follow-up conflict, so I'd allow keeping it in the rare occasion of an interspersed conflict.
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Warren
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2006, 04:54:42 AM »

As another GM and player, I'll try to take some of the other questions (I agree with the answers already given, by the way).

8A: I am having trouble understanding the Demonic Attacks part of town creation. In one of the examples it is suggested that the demonic attacks are the demons breaking stuff so people have to go buy it at the store. My understanding is that aren’t actual overt demons, and that the demon attacks are either the people of the town or just (super)natural forces. So for this example, as a GM would it be appropriate to have Brother Michael [a Dog] find out that the straps on his saddle have worn through or do I need to have a conflict over that?
Personally, I think it would be fine to just say "you discover that the straps on your saddle have worn through, even though they were fine yesterday" to a player. Using that as a Raise during a conflict would be fine as well, but I wouldn't start a conflict just to make the raise, if you see what I mean.

On the other hand, I think that altering the dice of the players belongings is off limits. However, “your gun sputters and misfires” is a great See. I guess you could start a conflict along the lines of “Does your gun get mucked up and turned to crap”, but unless there is a real NPC on the other side, you will only be rolling 4d6+Demonic Influence (no Escalation) against a Dog (who can Escalate), which tends not to go so well for you.

(Also note I rephrased the Stakes there a little to focus on the outcome (crap gun) rather than the method (demons). This is in line with Vincent's advice in the book to "Think outcomes, not methods; the methods come from playing the conflict through." -- p.77)

I guess I would let the Dogs perform a ceremony to cast the demons out of the Farmstead, but that doesn't mean that the Demons won't try to affect the situation in other ways. The way I play, the Demons can continue to cause havoc as long as the Town still has Sin in it, no matter what the Dogs do to them directly; see my next answer for more.
 
8B: Similar to Demonic Attacks, part 6 of the town creation asks you to determine what the demon’s want. Who actually in the executor of what the demon’s want? Can I have townspeople do that even if they are not possessed? Based on what I read about possession, it would seem you might have to be a heretic to be possessed. But in the Boxelder Canyon Branch Example, it says demons will attack the town where the steward would be able to defend it. Who actually does the attacking, the farmhands? And why would the farmhands attack, because they want to join the cult? Are the farmhands actually possessed or is just their sin driving them to that? I guess I am having trouble understanding what “the demons” want section. One part of me thinks this is overt demons doing things, and another part of me is saying “this is what the GM should be trying to get the people in the town do”.
I play it the latter way. How overt the demons are is up to you and your group; Dogs supports having "fire & brimstone horned guys" as well as "just supersitions about bad luck". Look at p.49 about the "supernatural continuum".

Our group tends to go for low-supernatural games. I take the approach that demons are just "the worse thing that can happen". So if the "demons" want to attack a town, for example, I might say that a bunch of Bandits, or Mountain Folk, or whatever just happen to make a raid on the town at that point. They way I play, they don't have to be possessed, or even aware of Demons; they just are just regular guys who saw an opportunity in a fractured community and went for it.

WARNING!! PERSONAL TAKE ON DOGS METAPHYSICS: This is how I see things, but it's not canon or anything. Going back to the previous question, I think that if you look at Demons as bad luck and the pressures of life on the frontier, then it's always present in every town. When a town is happy, unified and the townsfolk support each other, this bad luck can be dealt with, and the town gets through it. Dogs arrive, and just kiss babies, deliver mail, and move on.

On the other hand, when the townsfolk start to lose unity and commitment to each other (i.e. when there is Sin) the effects of the bad luck and pressure starts causing problems that the town can't, or won't, deal with effectively. And that's what the Faithful consider as Demonic Attacks. So you can perform a ceremony to get rid of Demons out of one building, say, but you need to get the town back in order before you can get rid of them fully.

But I say again, this is just my take on things.

11: I saw in one example that coats are used to deflect bullets (assuming the group is cool with that effect), and can tell from the rules mechanically, a numbers driven player can use their coat as a soak for their fallout. But I am also assuming from all the emphasis, besides just flavor, that coats can be used in other ways in conflicts? From inferring on the sections of coats, I would probably allow my players to use their coat dice whenever they are trying to be authoritative or using their position as Dogs (stacking with the I’m a dog trait), and also in situations where the coat reminds them of the love, support, and faith of the people who made the coat, and those memories that might strengthen their resolve, such as resisting the temptations of sin, or when they need to keep a cool head. Is this too liberal of an interpretation of coats? How have other players allowed them to enter into conflicts?
Sounds cool to me. I have had Coat raises like "I wrap my Coat around the injured girl to keep her warm", and "This slash in my coat here? That was from a Sinner who is with the King of Life now. Put down the knife, son", as well as the usual authoritative "badge of office" raises. Again, it will fall down to what the most critical player in your group will and won't accept as a valid Raise. (p. 77-78)

12: Is there ever a reason why someone who was trying to maximize their character effectiveness put less than 2D6 into their coat, since it can act as a soak for fallout? Is this looking at the game too mechanically? I can see where some of my players will ask me that question. I was interested to know if anyone has ever seen a player put less than 2D6 into their coat other than a GM suggesting based on the character’s background that they might not have an excellent coat? Unlike guns (which Vincent talks about why it isn’t necessarily a bad idea for the players to have excellent dice in guns) I can’t see the downside of having high dice in your coat?
I let my players take what they want for Coat dice, and I haven't had it be a problem. One thing I do enforce, however, is that to get a "good" (2 dice) coat, they need to give it a good, colourful description. A simple dark brown coat or poncho or whatever only gets 1 die from me.

13: Can someone elaborate on why reading / not reading is interesting in play? Hopefully with not a tongue in cheek “just play you will see” response. If it is very interesting, then I want to make sure that somehow we bring it up into play. Is it something to do with using the book of life in the game?
I don't understand this question, sorry? Reading / not reading?
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lumpley
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2006, 06:32:30 AM »

Steven, welcome!

The answers so far are good. Everybody, keep answering; Steven, if you have questions that people aren't getting to, point them out.

Here's one I'll pull out:

> Would it be appropriate to have stakes “Does Sister Hanna convince Brother Cadmus [the Player] to marry her?”

The way I'd do it is, "so let's roll dice, and she's trying to get you to promise to marry her. What do you think for stakes?"

In general, don't discuss anything beforehand with your players at all. It takes two sessions of real, actual play to decide what's a good raise and what's a good see, how the supernatural works, who launches what kinds of conflicts. A discussion about those beforehand will only muddy the real standards you're (as a group) creating.

I have questions for you too. When are you going to play? I mean, how soon from now?

Would you please write up a town and post it here? Not THE town, just some town, for an example and to see how the town rules work. Take it all the way up to hate & murder, stick to the rules, and at the end of the process I think you'll have a much stronger grasp of how demons work. THEN talking about the game's metaphysics will make sense.

-Vincent
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ffilz
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2006, 08:47:16 AM »

Just to add more about the coat questions:

11. Sure lots of things. I've seen coats used to bind wounds in healing conflicts. This one definitely falls into try actual play, see how it plays out, then worry about legitimate raises. If you and your players are cool with coats being used to do amazing things, that that's what's right for your group.

12. I've had players take less than 2d6 coats. One thing your players will probably quickly notice is that they can stock themselves up with as many dice as the want by taking lots of equipment. They will also realize for themselves that the game isn't about racking up the most dice.

Frank
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Frank Filz
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2006, 06:16:09 PM »

Hi Steven,

Just finished running my first Dogs session (and the first small independent game that my group have encountered), and I also have many questions, but I can answer number 2 from actual play.

The player was going for "I hope I can overcome the pride I gained when I righteously killed my abusive father".

Well for a start I ruled that a Dog had condemned his father to death in absentia, and the then adolescent had carried out the sentence rashly but later excused by the Dog once the circumstances were explained. But, that aside, the player couldn't get why he just shouldn’t give. I convinced him to play his pride to the hilt and see what happened. We got to the point where the character had locked himself in his room and refused to eat. His tutors had broken in and dragged him out of his bed in the middle of the night, manhandled him down to the kitchen and attempted to dunk his head under a pre-prepared pot of hot soup. (Going for the cruel to be kind angle).

When the character grabbed a kitchen knife, we all realised that this was a cool time to give. He looked down at his knife and realised that his pride had driven him to the point of serious violence. He also decided his fallout (previous round) should be to ditch the F-off Knife that he had given himself in the earlier char-gen. "I could never use that knife now!"

If he had just said “I give” straight away there would have been no cool context and no meaningful fallout. Overall, this was an excellent result, and an ideal demonstration of how DitV creates drama. Actually all three of the contests in char-gen were gives by myself or the players, once the contest was well established and we could see where things were leading.

I was also asking myself question 1, with the same example in mind. I decided to escalate my side and check out the answer later. I have to say that it all worked out fine anyway, I used the other PCs stats as a guide and improvised traits within reason and nothing broke. I explained my reasoning and adhered to dramatic logic, the players were not shouting foul. However, I knew this had to be wrong as elsewhere the game does not rely on such tactics.

But, if the player chooses wisely (and all of mine did) this contest is so heavily weighted in favour of the player that it seems pointless without escalation (apart from a lesson in RPG wisdom which my players dont realy need). I feel that we got much more out of the contests by escalating, and the knife incident was a case in point. Regardless of rules I think I would take a set of pe-prepared NPC's into char-gen next time, just in case.
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Steven Stewart
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2006, 02:18:55 AM »

Thanks to Vincent, Oliaf, Warren, Frank, and Jamie for taking the time to help! Greatly appreciated. Espically for the actual play part that really helped.

I think your replies helped me get my head around the game a bit better. Point taken about having too much speculation “before play talk”, as it sounds like each group needs to determine that for themselves, and sometimes hypothetical’s only confuse the issue rather than make it clearer (as in my case in not being to get my head around the who draws their gun first stakes). But I gather that it might be worthwhile to mention the following to them before we make up characters together:

(A) This system supports more what you think is interesting in the setting and characters, and is less about maximizing “effectiveness” of the character. Which I sorta of thought before getting into it, just have to make that point to the players upfront. You don’t have to worry about taking the “wrong” skills and having an unfun game (i.e.taking farming (+10) if you going underground into the mines). The fun comes from  the players deciding what kind of messes to get their characters involved in. There isn’t a better or worse triat, you should go with what you find interesting to play and explore rather than trying to figure out how to get the “best”.  This comes up in some, but not all of our games, where the first question from a player is “insert numerical part of the character” is going to be best in this situation?
(B) The group as a whole are going to find “what works best for them” through the play. In this game it is not just the “mechanics or the DM” but also the players that need to take responsibility for what is acceptable and not acceptable in play. Compared to task based systems which usually have very precise definitions (rules) about a given task, when and how it is resolved, and what the results mean, this one allows a bit more freedom for the players (by that I mean all people at the table) to find what works best for them to support (A).

Have I got that right now? Or am I still missing something here?


To answer Vincent’s question about when we will play – not before January, probably early to mid Jan. I have two game groups, one that meets biweekly and are currently knee deep in the fall of TallStar Remnant, which won’t be over until at least Jan – I have little worries about introducing Dogs to this group which was formed for the sole purpose of playing Polaris so everyone there has already bought into taking off the training wheels before showing up; they are somewhat familiar with letting go of task-based resolution (and lots of other stuff too now that we are knee deep in it – I have put up lots of AP on this game already – the only issue there is that they like Polaris enough that we might just launch into a second game after our current one), and another more traditional group that meets once a month (and has been for 3 years) that rotates through a bunch of different games (but most derived from D20 or its other task based childern), until recently I got them to try some homebrew stuff that wasn’t task based and they didn’t dig it (well sort of they dug it, and I realized that I shouldn’t be trying to homebrew anything , but that is off topic and discussed on our website and playtesting post a lot), but it was homebrewed and probably flawed from the start, so I am thinking maybe some solid tested game is what they need to try before giving up on this style of gaming all together.

December is of course the Holidays and the group(s) do a “lighter” gaming day come Christmas party versus our normal 6-8 hour RPG session, we put the books away for a day and get the board (in this case LoTR Risk) and since some folks bring their (non-gaming) spouses, we take it a bit lighter. Which will be a great break from our last three months which consisted of trying my homebrew games. But in Dec, we will decide what the next big thing is, so that is when I will make the strong pitch for Dogs. I think maybe one guy is intrigued already. Just curious why the timing of when we play is important? I included all bits above about the group dynamics in case that is also important. 

To the second point, I will do some homework on Towns this weekend and post. I think I get where you are coming from. So I will save follow up questions regarding demons, running towns, Dogs making doctrine, and how to determine when the “sin” has been dealt with sufficiently to move to next town, etc, until after that, which is the other part I am struggling when thinking about what the game will be like.

But if I could, I just want to go back to question (5D)  “When would this actually be used in a game?”, I meant when would someone set stakes “who draws their gun first”. I guess I am still having trouble with that one (not how to actually work out the see and raises and such but when it would be appropriate stakes). I may be missing something, but it seems almost 98% certainty that it would be followed up with “who gets killed” or “who gets shot” or something like that. The only case I could see is that if the situation the whole town was tensely watching to see if the Dog would draw first, and if he does say that the Dog murdered the other guy, since the Dog pulled his gun first (which wouldn’t that be ok, since in the structure of stewardship, the Dogs are the authority in the situation – ie. Their actions are doctrine?). But then this may be my “aesthetic standard” coming into play. I don’t think I as a GM would set these stakes, ‘cause I know the players would just give at the first time to get the die and take no fallout, and it sticks in my graw that you get an “advantage” for being second draw. I might let it slide the first time.  And like a previous poster said, if a player pulled this in a game once, and then just gave on the first raise, I would push for different stakes the next time, calling the “who draws first” lame if I knew that they were just going to give on the first raise.

I guess the other time I could see using it would be for a “wow cool scene” where the Dog shows how right they are with the King of Life, that they can get the draw on anyone and gun them down, maybe even getting a new trait out of it in the future (like Righteous Draw). But in that situation the Dog would want to win that stakes and wouldn’t give on the first raise, so I am cool with that. But I think it will take a while before folks at my table do something like that, but I have hope. Maybe something will click, and it won’t be a problem. Perhaps I just answered my own question? 

Finally to clarify the question on the reading / not reading. In the GenCon ’05 edition, there is a bit discussed about traits gained during initiation that having “learned to read” and “didn’t learn to read” be interesting traits in play. But I couldn’t understand why that was? Can’t help but think I am missing something important here. I can go back to my old CoC (can’t remember what edition it was, but it was a while ago back in my teens) days when reading a book was the fastest way to getting out a blank character sheet, but not sure about it Dogs, is it the same?

Again, thanks for the responses guys. I really do look forward to trying it out. These kind of games that explore people and characters I find really interesting right now (and am having a blast with Polaris which has some of the same type of appeal to me since it deals with people and how they react in situations). And I really dig a lot of the old murder ballads, and similar type of older folk music that has a “certain edge” to it, so when the soundtrack mentioned religious tunes and murder ballads I got really pumped. I won’t actually have to scramble to find the right music for a game for once, I’ll have plenty on hand already.  And I also appreciate everyone’s patience with my long winded posts, really I am trying to learn how to get my questions across more succinctly. 

Last thing for now, since I need to go reread the town section and get crackin’, but since I hope Vincent reads this I wanted to say thanks for a few things in the book: I thought it was really cool for the name Pleasant to be in the names list. My wife has someone up in her family tree from this time period named Pleasant Fountain (no kidding), who was involved in the Kansas-Missouri conflicts (some other strange names too in the family tree from this time period like Doctor. Who was the 7th son, and I guess there was a belief that being the 7th son of a 7th son and so was supposed be good healers, so they named him Doctor, which was his actual first name, or so I am told, I think they just ran out of names by the time they got to 7 ;) but it could make for a good concept for a Dog. Trait – 7th Son of 7th son  - 1d4. And also thanks for coats – I dig ‘em.

And the bit about say yes or roll dice, really helped when reading the book. It is a nice security blanket to have when going in with a new game that is different from what one of the groups has played before. In spite of all my questions I think the whole book is very well written for introducing us old dogs to new tricks.

If needed I can expand on some of our more recent AP and group dynamics if that is helpful, I originally had a lot more about that, as a reaction from the when will you play question since our group has been talking a lot more about that stuff than we used to. But I cut it out before posting, seeing as how the post was getting long again and that wasn’t actually asked.
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Thomas Lawrence
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2006, 05:28:42 AM »

But if I could, I just want to go back to question (5D)  “When would this actually be used in a game?”, I meant when would someone set stakes “who draws their gun first”. I guess I am still having trouble with that one (not how to actually work out the see and raises and such but when it would be appropriate stakes).

For it to be stakes as to who draws first, it's presumably important to somebody and has some bearing as to something. If it's not, don't have the conflict.

So long as it's actually important to the characetrs involved who draws first, then there isn't a problem with Giving meanign that the character who draws second gets extra dice because of it. He's still had to accept an important loss because of it - he had to shoot second, which was something he didn't want to do. If he doesn't actualy care whether he shoots first or second, it shouldn;t have been the conflict. You should just skipped straight to the actual ahootign each other part, or whatever the conflict is really about..

Depending on the circumstances, it might make more sense for the loser of the conflict to be the one who draws first. Honestly, that scenario makes a lot more sense - drawing first is easily framed as a loss of nerve, paints you as the agressor and furthermore doesn't mean that you shoot first

Quote
Finally to clarify the question on the reading / not reading. In the GenCon ’05 edition, there is a bit discussed about traits gained during initiation that having “learned to read” and “didn’t learn to read” be interesting traits in play. But I couldn’t understand why that was?

Simply because they're both usable by the player. There are many gam,es in which the one trait would be a continual impediment and annoyance and the other always beneficial, but not Dogs. Both traits may be used by the player to win conflicts, when they can be brought in. "I can't read" is a great trait when you need to demonstrate vulnerability, for example.
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2006, 05:57:35 AM »

"I'm totally gonna gun that guy down. He SUCKS."

"Yeah, well he's totally gonna gun you down too. Stakes?"

"Who kills who. No flinching."

"Cool. Let's play the conflict out as who draws first, okay?"

"Sweet!"

The only followup conflict would be the possible lifesaving one.

The lesson is that you can apply constraints to conflicts, when you want to.

-Vincent
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Steven Stewart
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2006, 03:50:56 PM »

"I'm totally gonna gun that guy down. He SUCKS."

"Yeah, well he's totally gonna gun you down too. Stakes?"

"Who kills who. No flinching."

"Cool. Let's play the conflict out as who draws first, okay?"

"Sweet!"

The only followup conflict would be the possible lifesaving one.

The lesson is that you can apply constraints to conflicts, when you want to.

-Vincent

OK - that helps a lot, I think I understand it now. Many Thanks.
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Steven Stewart
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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2006, 07:00:46 PM »

Dogs in the Vineyard Town Creation – By the Book

Earlier in the post, Vincent recommended:

Quote
I have questions for you too. When are you going to play? I mean, how soon from now?

Would you please write up a town and post it here? Not THE town, just some town, for an example and to see how the town rules work. Take it all the way up to hate & murder, stick to the rules, and at the end of the process I think you'll have a much stronger grasp of how demons work. THEN talking about the game's metaphysics will make sense.

I had thought that I could have answered this by now, but making a town up from scratch, well it can be hard. I think the biggest problem I had was getting out of the “old dog” habit of trying to make clear cut villains and heroes and the shades-of-gray NPCs that I usually populate my games with. So what would happen is I would easily get stuck at different  parts of the process, or couldn’t fill in gaps. But after some mental wrangling (and hopefully a bit of rewiring), I got the following town. Appreciate any comments  regarding the town itself, and if I am going down the right track?

Hope Acis Falls
a small branch up in the hills, early spring has broken and the passes should be thawed…

1A Pride: Sister Kingswill (A widow) has fallen into despair and won’t move from her small homestead far up in the hills back to her Brother’s  household (the Steward Brother Hiram). She has fallen into despair because during the harvest in the fall her husband of only a few months was shot dead by a Dog for brewing moonshine and selling it to others in the area and the mountainfolk. She still hasn’t recovered.

Brother Hiram isn’t dealing with the problem as her eldest male relative in the town, instead of convincing her to move back to the town (he doesn’t want to bring that despair into the town) he has promised her that his sons will help her in the spring with the planting, and has his kids a few times go out and check on her through the winter, and given her quite a bit of supplies to help her through it.

1B Injustice The Steward, Brother Hiram, hasn’t really dealt with the problem, and has spread himself too thin, instead of worrying about his own home and the town, he is splitting too much time with trying to deal with Sister Kingswill homestead as well. Some of those supplies might have been better distributed to others like Brother Josiah (another farmer up in the hills) who has been hit hard by the winter too.

Brother Hiram has his daughter, Sister Lavina, and one of his nephews (a troublemaker from another branch sent to Brother Hiram to set him right) Brother Cuthbert doing double the amount of work they should be, they gotta take care of Brother Hiram’s houshold and Sister Kingswill.

2A Sin Sister Lavina and Brother Cuthbert have discovered the old still of Sister Kingswill late and deceased husband along with several jugs of white lighting and have been partaking of it. They really aren’t doin’ any of the work that they are supposed to either, and some of the grain and hay has been spoilt.

Brother Cuthbert has also been bringing one of the local girls  Sister Submit up to the barns as well. Sister Kingswill doesn’t really seem to notice what is going on, and spends most if not all of her time in a daze of depression. She has even taken to take a nip or two of the some of moonshine to take the edge off.

2B Demons Attack The demons have been keeping the mountain passes pretty closed up, heaping a lot of snow on the town in the early spring.

They also have been going into different  goods that folks have stocked up for the winter and ruining them. Firewood has gotten rotten, oil has gone rancid, fungus on the cellar goods. Hay has gone mildew and the grains gone bad. Many folks in the town are having a hard time just getting’ by in the winter. Hardest hit is Brother Josiah who has been talking smack about the Steward behind his back [this might also be Pride].

They also have been stirring up trouble by striking various children in the community with the fever, which the folk around there called the Mountainfolk Pox. Brother Josiah’s only son, a young bright lad of 5, Newton, has been running a high fever, and has the red-eye too. 

2C The Demons want sin to become Habitual. Stirring up trouble in the supplies is stirring up trouble against the Steward and the bringing disunity to the whole community, as only half the town has been hit by some of the demon attacks (of course the Steward and those who support him aren’t, and those like Brother Josiah, who think that the Dogs should have shot Sister Kingswell with her no good husband when they had the chance, are hardest hit.

3A False Doctrine: Sister Lavina wants to help her daddy out, and thinks that all these folks have been givin’ him a bum wrap, even if he does make ‘em all go up to her very depressing aunt’s house all the time. Brother Cuthbert (remember the trouble maker) tells the now gathering group of late-teen  - early 20’s unmarried kids in town that hang out at the barn, about a Mountainfolk belief that when things start going sour like they have, they do a fertility dance at the beginning of spring.

Brother Josiah and some others like Brother  Pleasant blame the Steward for it. They think the King of Life ain’t right with Hope Acis Falls on account the Steward won’t do the right thing and turn that sinniner  Kingswill out of town. They reckon all they gotta to is run her out of town and things will get better.

3B/3C Corrupt Worship Sister Lavina, Brother Cuthbert, Sister Submit, Brother Jackson, and Sister Prudence, and several others have been “partaking” of Brother Cuthbert’s supposed fertility rituals up at the Kingswill Homestead. They keep addin’ folk when they can, and some folk in town know something is goin’ on up at the Kingswill homestead, but are not sure exactly.

Brother Josiah and Brother Pleasant are very close  to taking things into their own hands and run Kingswill out of town.

4A False Priesthood Brother Cuthbert, Sister Lavina, Sister Submit, Brother Jackson, and Sister Prudence all make up a cult, lead by Brother Cuthbert.

4B Sorcery Well the cult has been directing the demons to various things, but mostly they are trying to keep folks away from Sister Kingswill homestead (using things like rock falls, weather, and even more direct attacks like striking down folks with the MountainFolk Pox if they get a hint that they are stirring up talk against Brother Hiram the Steward or Sister Kingswill.

4C The demons want to kill someone, in this case it is the Steward, Brother Hiram. But they want one of the townsfolk to do it.

5A Hate and Murder The demons know that Brother Josiah and Brother Pleasant are going to “take care of Sister Kingswell” one way or another, and whisper to Sister Lavina that Brother Josiah and Brother Pleasant are going to find out about what has been going on in the Barn out back in the homestead. Sister Lavina just asks the Demons to take care of it. They do so, but not in a way that she might of thought, they take the life of Brother Newton (the five year old boy, an innocent) to keep Brother Pleasant and Brother Josiah at their own farmstead.

6A What do the people want from the Dogs
Brother Hiram wants the Dogs to sort out the problems in the town, but doesn’t want Sister Kingswill harmed nor does he want her to move back in with his family

Brother Pleasant wants Sister Kingswill run out of town and wants them to remove the Steward from office, he will also want the dogs to force the Sister Kingswill to sell him her land at a “fair price”

Brother Josiah wants Sister Kingswill dead (he thinks it is all her fault), and he wants the Dogs to bring his son back to life.

Sister Kingswill wants the Dogs to leave, or kill her so she can be with her husband

Sister Lavina wants the Dogs to bless her union with her Cousin Brother Cuthbert and with Brother Jackson

Brother Cuthbert wants the Dogs to tell him it is OK to be the Steward of his “family”.

Sister Submit wants the Dogs to bless her unborn child that she is carrying from Brother Cuthbert

6B What the Demons want The demons want the cult to flourish and for Brother Cuthbert to become a breakaway steward starting a new “Branch”.

The Demons want Josiah to kill the Steward, but not because the Dogs think it is OK.

The Demons want Brother Pleasant to run off Sister Kingswill, but also want the Cult to tempt Brother Pleasant as one of their own. Possibly wanting Sister Lavina to father his child.

The Demons want the Steward to ignore the rest of his family but Sister Kingswill to spread new injustice through the town.

The Demons want the Dogs to discover that the death of Newton was because of Sister Lavina telling them to, so that she will ask the Demons to take one of the Dogs.

The Demons want the Dogs to blame Sister Kingswill for the whole damn mess, and think that the previous batch of Dogs who came through town should have shot her too.

6C What would happen in the Dogs don’t come The cult would seduce more members into it. Brother Josiah would kill Sister Kingswill, and would make a deal with Lavina to raise his boy from the dead but it would be as something that was not touched by the creation of the King of Life. Lavina would become the mistress of the town under the sway of Brother Cuthbert, those who opposed would be struck down by the Pox and those who didn’t would be rewarded.


Just a few more questions after that exercise:

(A) I assume from other posts that might be too meaty of a town to throw at first time players?
(B) How do you know during play if the Dogs are done with a town. I know that it is mentioned that whatever they do is doctrine, and that you as a GM can’t “judge them” or have “an ending in mind”. But in general, if the Dogs don’t deal with everything in the town (assuming you as a GM reveal it) and decide to move on you just go with it and let them ride off? Or do you conflict for more folks to try to get them to deal with the problems? Or is the fact that you presented the situtation to the players, and the fact that they decided that didn’t dealing with enough to say to say “that was their doctrine”, i.e. choosing not to get involved with that aspect is a “decision by the players” and therefore is doctrine?

Appreciate any feedback and help, especially for Question (B) which was nagging me the whole time I wrote up the town. We are slated for trying this out just after the new year with my regular group, but if they don’t bite I might try to rustle up some other folks in Tokyo to do a one off (with the option of being more regular).

[Acis are a type of flower that blook in early spring, I envision the slopes of Hope Acis Falls around the two homesteads flower with it in early spring covering the fields around the farmsteads in a white flower]
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Ludanto
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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2006, 07:50:55 PM »

With regard to "not finishing" a town, that's the players' choice.  However, if they go back to that town, which is an option, things will likely have gotten much worse.  That's my opinion.
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Copperhead
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2006, 01:18:12 PM »

With regards to the coats question, my current DitV character is a big-arse son of a blacksmith do-gooder and boy am I glad I took a 2d8 coat (he has a loving family and to fit him, it needed to be BIG, hence 2d8) :)

First session, I ran into a burning building to save a (dead, I just didn't know it) man, ended up having the roof fall in on me.  My fallout rolled semi-low, so I burned the coat some to take the fallout for me.

In the next town, we got shot up pretty badly, leaving me the only one mobile out of the three of us.  Again, the coat took the fallour for me, as it now had bullet holes and was drenched with blood from where I was healing/carrying the other two dogs into town. 

By the end of the third town, my coat was a ragged mess that had to be cut apart, bits of it used as applique in the making of a new coat for me by my aunt, who was horrified to see me walking around like a mobile bloodstain.

And even though it was a little bit of fallout-whoring by me, it reallllly made the character pop.  Especially when I'm standing down the entire town, my usual peaceful nature turned into a rage that left me just shy of putting the place to the torch :)
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« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2006, 08:33:19 AM »

Hey Steven.

It's a fine town. If anything I'd recommend more villains for a first session town (but don't rewrite this one to add villains, just make up a new one - and that'll wait anyway).

Does "what the demons want" make more sense to you now?

Do you see how there isn't a single, game mechanical executor of the demons' wants, but that instead they will create generalized pressure on the entire town in play? It's like a list of things for you to fall back on, as GM, if ever play slows down.

-Vincent
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Steven Stewart
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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2006, 03:59:13 PM »

Yeah that makes a lot more sense now for what the demons want

Where I am still having trouble is the second question, what does the GM do if the Dogs don't deal with everything? It would seem that implies some judgement on the GM part. If that is the intention cool, I can run with that.

For example, what if the Dogs go up to farmhouse and say, "yup, you kids have a nice little branch here", shoot the neighbors, tell the steward not to fuck with the kids, and move on. I know that is probably extreme, but it helps me understand the "how to run the game bit better". My natural inclination would be to say, well there are still a lot of unresolved issues there, particullarly if the dogs didn't do anything to convince people of their actions, but rather just did them.

So if the Dogs leave, and return to that particular branch it would probably still be fucked up. At least that is how I could see it. But the demons are the tricky part, since the Dogs dealt with stuff, do the demons go away? Or are they still there brewing under the table? So when is a town demons free? When the GM thinks that the dogs have dealt with everything (which doesn't feel right to me?). Or is it well there are only demons in the town when the GM and Players thinks that makes for an interesting game session? If it is the latter I take it that is some sort of group discussion that needs to take place?

Thanks,

Steve
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