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Author Topic: [DitV] Help with a new setting - King's Marshalls  (Read 6304 times)
Pelgrane
Member

Posts: 125


« on: February 15, 2007, 10:08:04 AM »

Steve - don't read this!

I ran a game called King's Marshalls using 1st Ed D&D rules. It was intended as the first in a series of "system matters" experiments. I'm going to run the same game using DitV rules, and I'm here for a bit of help defining some rules guiding the PCs, which they can then interpret as a basis for their moral choices.

The basic set up is as follows:
30 years ago after a great war, the many warring factions on the Peninsula agreed to appoint a King who would have responsibility for maintaining peace across the land. Standing armies would be elminated, the summoning of outer planar beasties, using gods to predict the future, and trade routes should be freely passable and open to all, and the King's taxes must be paid. To enforce these rules the King's Marshalls were created, to move from town to town ensuring that the King's rules are obeyed. Characters can be knights, magicians, or have other talents. There are gurat (orcs - the equivalent of mountain men, I suppose), and foreigners.

Magic I would just handle as a another trait - just describe magical traits of about the same specificity as other traits, and there you go. You couldn't say "I can do magic" as a trait, but "I can burn a man from the inside" would be fine. I considered having separate fall out for magic being dangerous, or having a magic escalation level somewhere, but that might lead to unecessary complication.

So, to the King's Laws

1. Every person must their head tax to the King. The Lord should collect it, but each person is responsible for it until it is delivered into the King's hands.
2. No magic that predicts the future, controls a mind, or summons a creature from elsewhere is permitted.
3. No person may plot against the King's rule. This is treason.
4. A person may worship any god, as long as it does not conflict with the other King's laws.
5. Murder is always a crime, and should be punished by death, unless a King's Marshall deems otherwise.
6. The King's Roads must be maintained, and no person may charged for using the King's Roads.
7. Every town must maintain a place for travellers to rest, which must charge only what is reasonable for travellers to pay.
8. All children must be fed and clothed.
9. All persons are free to marry whom they choose, but all must marry.
10. No Lord may raise arms except against an imminent threat, and never against a neighbour.
11. Except as it conflicts with the King's Laws, a Lord may otherwise decide his own laws.

I also need to work out town creation, but this is a start. I think I need a few more laws, or adjustments to these laws to add more personal conflicts. Suggestions?

Simon Rogers
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2007, 11:03:19 AM »

Mmm...  wouldn't having pre-written King's Laws defeat the point of the game?

I mean... if the characters have already written laws that tell them what to do, the only think left for the to do is enforcing these laws. And with the DitV system, it's a given that they can, period.

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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Pelgrane
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2007, 02:21:12 PM »

Mmm...  wouldn't having pre-written King's Laws defeat the point of the game?
I mean... if the characters have already written laws that tell them what to do, the only think left for the to do is enforcing these laws. And with the DitV system, it's a given that they can, period.

Absolutely not. The DitV rules are full of moral statements and laws, and people are pretty familiar with the Bible which forms a backdrop to the whole thing. We know how families ought to be structured, sexual mores, and the societies hierachies. It's entirely the moral interpretation of these laws which is the fun of the game. Having a holy book of laws doesn't stop disagreement, fighting and death - quite the opposite. The rules I've chosen so far are definitely open to interpretation.

The other thing I need is the steps to trouble - I know the last few:

Treason leads to
Rebellion leads to
War

Keeping the King's Peace is the primary goal.
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2007, 03:45:58 PM »

Theres a difference between social mores, customs, and bible versus that are subject to enormous interpretation vs. hard immutable laws, however.

I tend to agree that having these written down like this will basically turn the Dog proxy from interpreters of high judgement to enforcers of judgement. 

As an example consider the difference between:

Quote
Every person must their head tax to the King. The Lord should collect it, but each person is responsible for it until it is delivered into the King's hands.

and

Quote
Render unto Caesar what is Caesars

The first one brooks no real room for player judgement...did he owe? yes. did he pay? no. Bam.

The second is just tailor made for trouble.  What is Caesar's?  Who is Caesar (an individual, an office, a proxy for government in general)?, what constitutes "rendering"? 


Consider also law #9.  Its pretty carved in stone.
"I don't want to marry"...tough its the law, period.
"I want my daughter to marry george, a fine upstanding young man, but she wants to marry steve, a total deadbeat"...tough its her choice per the law...she's marrying steve.

Dramatic family conflict solved by simple brute force application of The Law.



So, my suggestion is one of the following:

a) rewrite the laws so they are vague, indecisive, and open to rampant interpretation...basically as if they'd been designed by a committee who all knew a law was necessary but couldn't agree on what it should be.  For inspiration take a gander at the U.S. Bill of rights and subsequent amendments.  Half of those are so vague as to cause more confusion than they solve.

c) have the laws be nonsense that nobody follows...like UN sanctions.  Imagine the Marshalls as UN observors and "peacekeepers" running around a country where those in power are doing everything to thwart them, while those in need are putting all their hopes on the UN fixing everything, while all the while the peacekeepers are armed with mandates written by clueless politicians 10,000 miles away with no comprehension of the reality on the ground.  The Laws?  So much toilet paper...NOW what are you going to do.

b) have the moral issues that the Marshalls encounter have absolutely nothing...i.e. zero to do with the laws at all.  Present them with situations where the laws don't apply so they have to try and mozaic together a solution.  Of course, then there will need to be a reason why they are involved in something outside of the written laws...which could be any number of reasons from close family ties requiring them to take sides, to having had their jurisdiction expanded without any new laws being passed to cover the new areas of responsibility, to basic "if we don't do something, people suffer" going off the reservation to mete out some vigilante justice.

c) Scrap the laws altogether.  Instead open up the Dogs book to the sections where it describes the faith and community and culture and power structure, and just parallel that exactly substituting your own cultural norms and heirarchies for the pseudo 19th century mormon ones.  That way your Marshalls will start with exactly the same level of "gee, what's the right thing to do here" that the Dogs are.


I'm not saying you can't have a fun game with the situation as you have it established now...I'm just not seeing much point in using DitV to play it.
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Pelgrane
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2007, 01:24:34 AM »

Theres a difference between social mores, customs, and bible versus that are subject to enormous interpretation vs. hard immutable laws, however.

Thanks for the feedback. The UN peacekeeper analogy is helpful The problem with creating a universal set of mores is that point of the game is to apply to same laws across a wide variety of socities, rather than try to make a bunch of settlements conform to mores. However, I think I can open up the laws so that they are more easily open to interpretation. I can do this in the form of an oath that the Marshalls take instead of a set of laws.

I will definitely confront them with situations outside the guidance they have been given.

I'll think about how it might be worded, and get back to the thread, although "but above all else, keep the King's peace." should open interpretation pretty widely - they can break any other rule to keep this one.

Simon
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David Artman
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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2007, 08:38:01 AM »

Simon, i am inclined to side with Ralph, particularly if you want this to be a system matters experiment. The more clear-but your Laws, the less real decision-making is involved and, thus, the less escallation will be a difficult decision. Without morally ambiguous Laws, DitV doesn't get the traction it needs in situations, in my opinion. This is perhaps the hardest challenge to a GM that wants to use DitV system with a new setting.

As for specific Laws, how about these rewrites:
The Primacy of The King
4. The Law of the King comes before any religion.
3. Treason against the King is punishable by death.
10. A Lord's army is the King's army, first and foremost.

The Privilege of Lords
11. Second only to the King's Laws, a Lord's Laws are his own.
11b. A Lord is the enforcer of the Kings Laws and of his own. (This is a BIG one: it puts a Lord's interpretation of Laws into primacy, creating big conflict potential when the *actual* Voices of the King--the Marshalls--show up.)
6. The Kings' Roads are the Lord's to maintain, in the Lord's lands. (As above, this one leaves interpretation up to the Lord, which will usually be at odds with the presumably altruistic leanings of Marshalls.)

The Responsibilities of Citizens
5. Murder is punishable by death. (Ah, and now we must define murder....)
1. All must pay taxes on profits to the King, based on the extent to which the King's protections enabled the taxable profit. (hehe--This would NEVER pass as law in the real world, but it will be GREAT when pinged in DitV.)
7. Every town must maintain a place for travelers to rest, which must charge only what is reasonable for travelers to pay. (Actually, this is good as-is; very open to strife.)
8. Parents are responsible for their children's well-being. (Define "well-being." Good luck.... Wink )
2. Magic must be used responsibility and for the betterment of society. (Define "responsibility" and "betterment." I could see a Necromancer Lord thinking it very beneficial to his society, if everyone who died young was raised as an undead guardian!)
9. Marriage... (OK, I got nothing. What's the real hook to a mandatory marriage law? Only useful if the forced marriages lead to bad feelings or cheating--which is only relevant if there is a follow-up law against adultery. I'd just drop it.)

See? Not one of those Laws creates a binary decision. The wording is mealy-mouthed and vague, except when it drops bombs like "punishable by death." And I went ahead and did a bit of reordering, to emphasize priorities, primacy, and the role of citizens relative to Lords and the King (e.g. the only thing they are "granted" is a place to sleep for a good price; all the rest is responsibilities).

Hope this helps; let us know what other bits need tweaking and I am sure you'll get some good ideas!
David
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Pelgrane
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2007, 09:23:48 AM »

Simon, i am inclined to side with Ralph, particularly if you want this to be a system matters experiment. The more clear-but your Laws, the less real decision-making is involved and, thus, the less escallation will be a difficult decision. Without morally ambiguous Laws, DitV doesn't get the traction it needs in situations, in my opinion. This is perhaps the hardest challenge to a GM that wants to use DitV system with a new setting.

In a peculiar sense, I'm pleased that the laws are being criticised for being clear cut! Perhaps I should become a legislator?

I like your rules. I'll certainly incorporate many of your suggestions. I don't want all magic to be quite as ambiguous as you suggest - I want divination and the summoning of outer planar aid to be morally dubious - maybe you could help me here. Finally, I could do with some assistance with the steps to rebellion. (the equivalent of the ladder from pride -> demons). As I said, I have the last few.

Simon
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 389


« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2007, 09:34:26 AM »

I want divination and the summoning of outer planar aid to be morally dubious

You could forbid the use of magic to summon "demons from outer planes" or to ask them for information about the future, but you could leave a door oper for "good" aid from godly messangers or knig-allowed exceptions.  So that good people could do the former thinking that they are doing the latter.

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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
David Artman
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Posts: 570

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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2007, 11:07:10 AM »

I don't want all magic to be quite as ambiguous as you suggest - I want divination and the summoning of outer planar aid to be morally dubious - maybe you could help me here.
I think that if you start parsing it up, you get closer to binary decisions.

BUT, let's see what we can do with...
The Controls on Mages (below Lords, above Citizens)
12. Using Dark Arts is punishable by death. (Define "dark arts"--everybody knows them when they see them, right? Wink )
13. Using magic to harm another is punishable in kind, threefold. (Opens things right up for interpretations of "harm" and gauging the degree of harm.)
14. A Mage is expected to use his light arts for the betterment of his society.

Although... I am thinking having any "pro magic" stance will screw up the whole Sorcerers element from vanilla Dogs. I'd have to have my rules with me, to check out what they, mechanically, are supposed to be accomplishing.

Also, something I am realizing with my readings of alternate settings (specifically, Banthas): there's something to be said for your Laws/mores mapping fairly directly to the Steps to Rebellion. After all, most of the Steps to Being Fallen in vanilla Dogs directly correlate to increasingly bad sins. Maybe arbitrarily crafting Laws isn't the way to do it--even if it is in service to accuracy of the established setting. Rather, perhaps you should remap the Steps to what seems appropriate, from a Politics of State perspective (i.e. not a morality of Faith perspective), and those will bubble out the "real" Laws you should be violating in your Towns (Fiefs?). I try that to a small extent, below....

Quote
Finally, I could do with some assistance with the steps to rebellion. (the equivalent of the ladder from pride -> demons). As I said, I have the last few.
Morality of Faith Steps -> Politics of State Steps
PRIDE -> Pride ...Works fine; but this pride is leading not to Sin but to Crimes.
INJUSTICE -> Injustice ...Again, fine; but now in the context of politics rather than morality: taxes set too high, not maintaining the roads, whatever--all those "little laws" are just niggling color that you use to hammer the Crimes below.
SINS -> Crimes ...Against the Kings Law.
DEMONIC ATTACKS -> (see below--this one is HARD)
FALSE DOCTRINE -> Unlawful Declarations ...Actually asserting that the "right" law is NOT the Kings Law.
CORRUPT WORSHIP -> Sedition ...Spreading democratic of nationalistic ideals; enforcing Lords Laws in violation of the Kings Law.
FALSE PRIESTHOOD -> Rebellion ...Actively disregarding the Kings Law, be it secretly or openly; drawing neighboring Fiefs into your Sedition.
SORCERY -> (see below--closely related to Demons)
HATE AND MURDER - Secession ...Forming one's own Kingdom within the real KINGdom.

As I suggest above, a BIGGER task for you is mapping Demons (and their puppets, Sorcerers) into your setting. Sure, you've got "folks can summon demons in this high fantasy setting," but that's not what's really happening, under the hood, mechanically, with DitV "Demons." Rather, Demons (I think) are there to provide dice that have at least a snowball's chance in Hell of making the Dogs Give and take scary Fallout. SO what in your setting is the underpinning influence for Rebellion, the thing which makes it REALLY start to snowball? Is it really "evil entities possessing otherwise decent--but currently Criminal--folks" or is it going to be more amorphous like "nationalistic influences" or "democratic leanings?" Likewise, do Sorcerers actually represent dark mages--I think that's incoherent, in the actual progression of Steps, but you might want a more "overt" demonic element? Or are they more like Radicals or Terrorists or Demagogues--ormal folks with very abnormal views (from a monarchy's perspective)?

Retooling DitV settings takes a strong understanding of the whys and wherefores of setting elements as they engage mechanics. I, unfortunately, am still a neophyte. But I hope the above gets you closer; and maybe some real expert DitV Drifters will chime in.

All the other mechanical trappings should be super easy to map:
Coat & Gun = Armor & Arms (Sword, Halberd, etc)
Escalation = identical (except Guns -> Any Lethal Arms)
Belongings & Relationships = identical (Relationships in particular will be KEY, as you want Marshalls deciding if they are going to hang their Secessionist cousins, brothers, MOTHERS!)

David
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Pelgrane
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2007, 05:54:57 AM »

As I suggest above, a BIGGER task for you is mapping Demons (and their puppets, Sorcerers) into your setting. Sure, you've got "folks can summon demons in this high fantasy setting," but that's not what's really happening, under the hood, mechanically, with DitV "Demons." Rather, Demons (I think) are there to provide dice that have at least a snowball's chance in Hell of making the Dogs Give and take scary Fallout. SO what in your setting is the underpinning influence for Rebellion, the thing which makes it REALLY start to snowball? Is it really "evil entities possessing otherwise decent--but currently Criminal--folks" or is it going to be more amorphous like "nationalistic influences" or "democratic leanings?" Likewise, do Sorcerers actually represent dark mages--I think that's incoherent, in the actual progression of Steps, but you might want a more "overt" demonic element? Or are they more like Radicals or Terrorists or Demagogues--ormal folks with very abnormal views (from a monarchy's perspective)?

There are bog-standard super-evil demon summoners, but the interesting ones are, for example, people who predict that people will behave in a certain way and then pre-empt it (think Minority Report), people who use extra planar help to do work they should be doing themselves, and people messing around, not really knowing what they are doing. It's the impulse for indepence (defined by the King as selfishness) which is the drive behind most sedition. If I was designing a background from scratch, I would align it more directly with the DitV rules, but the whole point of the exercise is that the background is fixed, the system changes, and we see how actual play develops. Even if it isn't a perfect one-to-one mapping, it's still worth doing.
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Pelgrane
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Posts: 125


« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2007, 02:59:06 PM »

We played our first session. It's working really well so far. I'll try to post in actual play tomorrow. Every post here helped make the game more enjoyable.

I overcame the whole demons issue by separating demons (the scarey things people summon which they aren't supposed to) from "proximity to war" (the equivalent of demons in DitV). It's the latter which is important - the former are just window dressing. DitV sorcerers are seditionists, traitors and rebels. I handled magic as follows:

When a magician is created, the player takes up to 8 dice from stat dice to create d8 magical traits. Any take the blow roll which includes magical d8s is treated as one category worse (magic is dangerous). Examples of magical traits people chose: Mental Control, Voice of Command, Summon Elemental. One character took a relationship with a familiar which worked well. Magical conflicts have been enjoyable, and magicians always seem to risk using them, due to their relatively puny stats.

The priest got to choose his own ceremonies, appropriate for his beliefs. There is ripe ground for conflict between the religious beliefs and the King's Law.

Simon
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GB Steve
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2007, 06:36:31 PM »

I enjoyed the game too and the rules were sufficiently ambiguous to allow, even in our short game, for much healthy generation of conflicts although religious affiliation has lead to quite some too.

I can see this as being quite a new experience for our one player not yet exposed to Indie gaming.
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Pelgrane
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2007, 12:55:15 AM »

The King's Laws
The Law of the King comes before any religion, or other law.
Treason against the King is the worst of crimes.
A Lord's army is the King's army, first and foremost.

Lord's Laws
Except as he is a Lord, the Lord is a subject.
Second only to the King's Laws, a Lord's Laws are his own.
A Lord is the enforcer of the Kings Laws and of his own.
The Kings' Roads are the Lord's to maintain, in the Lord's lands.
The Lord must ensure that there is a safe place for travelers to rest, which must charge only what is reasonable for travellers to pay.
 
Magician's Laws
Except as he is a magician, the magician is a subject.
Using magic to summon dark powers from outside this world is punishable by death.
Using magic to harm another is punishable in kind, threefold.
A magician is expected to use his light arts for the betterment of the citizens.

Subject's Laws
Murder is punishable by death.
In return for the King's protection, all must pay taxes on profits to the King.
Parents are responsible for their children's well-being.

Traditions with no force of law
These came in very useful as a conflict generator.

Travel on the King's Road should be free.
If a person is hungry and without means, the Inn should provide food from the left overs.
All persons with no work should be offered a job by the Lord.
On Lord's day, the Lord will go about in disguise, and grant a boon to any that asks.
A God outside his home is a guest at best.

PRIDE ->  Crimes
INJUSTICE -> Injustice ...Again, fine; but now in the context of politics rather than morality: taxes set too high, not maintaining the roads, whatever--all those "little laws" are just niggling color that you use to hammer the Crimes below.
SINS -> Crimes ...Against the Kings Law.
DEMONIC ATTACKS (things going wrong because of seditious influences)
FALSE DOCTRINE -> Unlawful Declarations ...Actually asserting that the "right" law is NOT the Kings Law.
CORRUPT WORSHIP -> Sedition ...Spreading democratic of nationalistic ideals; enforcing Lords Laws in violation of the Kings Law.
FALSE PRIESTHOOD -> A demagogue arises. Rebellion ...Actively disregarding the Kings Law, be it secretly or openly; drawing neighboring Fiefs into your Sedition.
SORCERY -> Treason
HATE AND MURDER - Secession ...Forming one's own Kingdom within the real Kingdom.

Simon
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David Artman
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2007, 01:00:57 PM »

Cool deal, I'm glad it all worked out. Be sure to link this Alternate in the Sticky Alternates thread at the top of this forum! Smiley
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Pelgrane
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2007, 09:16:23 AM »

Done. Here is actual play.

Simon
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