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Author Topic: Would this [DITV] mod work? (seeking advice)  (Read 2952 times)
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« on: February 08, 2007, 03:00:19 PM »

Hi Vincent & crew, I am tempted to run a science-fiction verison of Dogs.  I've never run or played Dogs before, though, and I want to make sure I don't muck up the themes of the game while giving it a sci-fi facelift.

Here's my mod:
King of Life = humanism
Book of Life = human rights documents
The Faith = The United Planets (i.e., space UN)
Dogs = Field agents of the United Planets
The Towns = The Lost Colonies
Back East = The Core Worlds
Territorial Authority = The Core Fleets
Mountain People = Aliens

Now, I have a couple questions based on this:

Would it strain Dogs all that much if they had to settle matters in an un-Faithful town?  In this mod, the Lost Colonies have been independent for a while, and aren't crazy about the United Planets and the Core Worlds telling people what to do.  The "Dogs" have social influence and moral credibility, but dubious political authority. 

Would it strain Dogs to have marked differences in technology?  Like, the difference between Vincent's Tarkut chuckers, and Emily's 5th Gen Rasili ptimanya?  One of the themes I'd like to bring out is Progress, which has a scientific or technical component to it.  (In other words: if an entire planet is a century or two behind the times, can it be a planet full of "crappy _________ d4's"?)

Vincent, I also have two design questions:
* How does Ceremony relate to the themes of the game?  I'm using Progress/Humanism as the King of Life, which suggests Science! instead of the supernatural.  So I'm wondering what Ceremony might mean in this mod, and how it would tie into everything else.  (Right now, I'm speculating that the "Dogs" ship might be a source for this--it doesn't seem right to treat it as a Trait, Relationship, or Equipment.  But as a source for supernatural-ness, maybe...)

* How do Demons relate to the themes of the game?  I'm figuring that the outward signs of demons might be ignorance, war, poverty, disease, bigotry, etc.  And there's certainly room for evil alien invaders or space-pirates attacking the colony in the late stages of societal breakdown.  But I'm wondering how to tie it together.

Thanks!  I am really interested in giving this a try. 
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James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2007, 05:41:53 AM »

Right now, this is how I'm thinking of handling the team's starship:

First, the starship has crew and related personnel, so that if someone doesn't have the trait "I'm a Dog" they can have "Crewman for the Dogs" as a relationship die.

Second, players can take relationship dice with the crew: it's a way to keep NPC's around from session to session, which in a game taking place over interstellar distances can often strain plausibility.

Third, the ship & crew are a source of Ceremony in an undefined way.  I still have to think about this, and would appreciate suggestions!

In most planet-side scenes, the starship is just there as a setting or prop with little importance.  In space scenes, the ship comes into its own.  It has Body and Acuity stats, representing its design & equipment.  It has the Will of whichever character has the best relationship with the starship.  It has the Heart of whichever character has the best "I'm a Dog" trait.  In conflicts, individual characters can contribute their Traits and Relationships normally, but the ship has none of its own.  Escalation goes from Hailing, Equipment (i.e., chasing, sensing, deflector fields, tractor beams, etc.), Dogfight, and Suicidal Maneuvers (i.e., plunging into asteroid fields, veering into the corona of a sun, passing through radiation belts).  I'm not sure how to distribute Fallout among the characters involved, but I figure that will come in time.

Any more thoughts on the thematic questions raised in the first post?
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lumpley
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Posts: 3453


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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2007, 06:23:34 AM »

I have more thoughts than time just now. I'd love to hear what everyone else has to say. I'll talk about ceremony when I get a chance.

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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Posts: 2094

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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2007, 09:24:26 AM »

Hi!

I would look at a way to make the Dogs authority be internal to the society that they're policing.  Right now, they're like TA lawmen and sheriffs -- coming out from the core worlds to police the ragged frontier folk and get them into line.

What if the colonies are the humanists?  People who got away from the corporatist oppressors of the Core worlds to go out and form their own anarcho-socialist society based on mutual trust and shared joy in human progress.  The Dogs are an integral part of that society, making sure that the different groups communicate with each other, and keeping groups from getting too far out of hand.

The enforcers sent out from the United Planets are just corporatist thugs trying to make your worlds safe for investment and exploitation.  Or are they?  Maybe they see their way of doing things as better, and the communism of the humanists as really morally sketchy.

yrs--
--Ben
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James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2007, 10:05:06 AM »

Ben, I think those changes would make it much more like the traditional Dogs set up, with possibly a lot more tension with the Territorial Authority.  I'm not convinced that's what I want, though, and here's why:

Thematically, I would like to run a game about the White Man's Burden.  (A bit of Kipling in there for you, Vincent!)  If we assume that there are some absolute standards of morality, what responsibilities do outsiders have to police societies/governments/cultures that don't measure up to the standard?  What happens when exercising this responsibility calls the "absolute standards of morality" into question?  See, e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur.*

In classic DITV, the imperialism angle of this is suppressed somewhat: the Dogs share the same culture the townsfolk.  And while the Dogs win every theological argument by fiat, the players end up feeling uneasy because they've vicariously imposed their theology on others.  From what I can tell (without playing it), DITV is about the horror of having power and responsibility over other people.

I'm wondering, what if we take theology out of the formula and use cultural values instead?  To me, this implies that the "Dogs" should be from a different culture than those they judge.  So far, so good.  But I'm wondering if the townsfolk calling the Dogs' moral authority into question in the fiction has any effect on the after-play reflection.

* These examples shouldn't be taken to imply this is an exclusively American issue.
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Falc
Member

Posts: 80


« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2007, 08:50:23 AM »

Would it strain Dogs all that much if they had to settle matters in an un-Faithful town?  In this mod, the Lost Colonies have been independent for a while, and aren't crazy about the United Planets and the Core Worlds telling people what to do.  The "Dogs" have social influence and moral credibility, but dubious political authority.

That depends what you mean by "un-Faithful town". The key of Dogs is NOT their political authority, but their moral authority. They judge sin and sinner, not crime and criminal. Whatever political authority they might have in any given town would stem completely from people in office being Faithful.

This means that, in a completely non-Faithful town, there's nothing for them to do. There is no-one they have any real authority over, no-one they're allowed to judge. Well, correction, they can judge all they want but it won't mean anything unless they decide to also mete out justice. Sort of like what you were talking about in your next mail, which I'll get to. I am making this post up as I go along and am starting to slowly see a few things develop.

But to finish my current line of thought, it would make an interesting game to have an un-Faithful town and the Dogs arriving to police the Faithful community of said town,and thus in particular the way in which that community interacts with the others.

So let's get back to your sci-fi version. The key will probably be how much moral authority the Dogs really have and how many 'subjects' they have on any given planet. To be blunt, if they arrive on a planet and no-one is interested in what they have to say, no-one feels concerned, ... That's when your game would fall apart.

So... While I still have some thoughts going around in my head, there's one that keeps coming back.

You need to write out a planet generation chart, similar to the town generation. Forget all the rest for now. If you can't do this, it'll never work because you won't have interesting places to play in.

For starters, you say that the Lost Colonies have been independent for a while already. This, more than anything, seems to ruin your options. Try writing out a plant generation where 'Declaration of Independence' is one of the last steps. I would even say that you could compare it to 'Hate and Murder'. Of course, this does lead to a very different situation from regular Dogs games: perhaps the Dogs might decide that allowing the planet to indeed reach Independence is the best thing for them.
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James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2007, 08:54:01 PM »

So let's get back to your sci-fi version. The key will probably be how much moral authority the Dogs really have and how many 'subjects' they have on any given planet. To be blunt, if they arrive on a planet and no-one is interested in what they have to say, no-one feels concerned, ... That's when your game would fall apart.

That's true.  But!  Presumably the lost colonies believe in human rights (of some kind, even if it's not from the "Dogs'" pedigree).  So it's not that the town doesn't care per se; the "Dogs" are weighing in and critiquing on issues that cut to the heart of the social set-up.  And that's going to have an effect on the rulers, the masses, etc.

Also!  The "Dogs" are part of a larger re-contact mission with the Lost Colonies, and the Core Fleets are moving around these parts too.  And the Core Fleets will be less interested in respecting the colonists' point of view.  To plant it back into the 1830's Utah setting for DITV: if you've got a non-Faithful town, and the Territorial Authority is beginning to come around a lot more often, does the town submit to Bridal Falls, or does it knuckle under and take orders from Back East?

Which is to say: there would be thematic and fictional reasons for the colonies to take the "Dogs" seriously.

Quote
You need to write out a planet generation chart, similar to the town generation. Forget all the rest for now. If you can't do this, it'll never work because you won't have interesting places to play in.

I'm actually thinking of using a published RPG setting for this, so coming up with colonies isn't an issue, but you're right: to make sure I've got the themes working right, it's a worthwhile exercise.  Can anyone explain how the Town Creation rules function to generate Situation and Premise?  (sorry for the jargon)
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