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Author Topic: DitV for Silver Age Supers...  (Read 5584 times)
damiller
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Posts: 10


« on: July 10, 2007, 09:10:22 AM »

How do I do it?

My input. I don't think that there is much need to change stats or anything like that, seeing as how superheroes generally are people.

My problem. Most Silver Age comics were about epic battles, not some of the smaller types of conflicts that would arise. In dogs, its no big deal if people are arguing over the fact that a Sister is wearing inappropriate clothing, that can be a very powerful conflict. But it would be stupid in a comic book setting.

I really like the mechanics, the back and forth, the tug of war. Brainstorm with me how I can bring these mechanics to the comic book genre.

d Cheesy
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David Artman
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2007, 11:26:37 AM »

First, run--don't walk--to this thread:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=23314.msg235100#msg235100

It details all of the elements of Setting that you might have to be tweaked to "re-skin" DitV for another genre.

Regarding this, however:
My problem. Most Silver Age comics were about epic battles, not some of the smaller types of conflicts that would arise. In dogs, its no big deal if people are arguing over the fact that a Sister is wearing inappropriate clothing, that can be a very powerful conflict. But it would be stupid in a comic book setting.

It sounds almost like you think you have to do Task Resolution to be able to "do Silver Age right," and you recognize that DitV is a Conflict Resolution system. But I'd go on to say that, while the battles are fun to see in comics, I don't think they generally provide very interesting moral stakes, which is what DitV tries to get at--all the morality is in the lead up to conflicts or the results of them, everything in between is wiz-bang and CGI effects. Vanilla Dogs has wiz and bang, too, but it's just part of the escallation of the conflict and of how one Sees and Raises and evokes Traits; it's not the point of play.

So, you don't want to set up conflicts like "do I defeat The Villainous Viper" (or, worse, "do I hit with my MegaBlast?") but rather you want conflicts like "will I defeat VV without causing any property damage or harm to innocents?" or "will I protect my secret identity?" or "will I sacrifice my Autie Em to save a bus full of children from VV?"

Hope this helps you get started. DitV is great for playing (im)moral agents, and porting it to a different genres means finding that genre's "sin" and "enforcer of righteousness." Everything else is, basically, Color.

David
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damiller
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2007, 02:20:59 PM »

Dave
thank you very much for the reply. I thought I had replied earlier, but was confused.

I think I realized my problem by reading your post here and the thread you linked to: DitV is about enforcing/deciding morality. On the other hand in the comics, especially the Silver Age, superheroes are all about stopping crimes.

I think this is my major problem. I want to deal with crimes, but DitV is about moral issues. Law breaking could be a moral issue, but it is not primarily.

This all arose as I thought about the laws I wanted for the genre. I looked at the comics code (established in the early 50s that codified what was and was not acceptable to see in comics). It would be a great set of laws/mores, I guess. But it seems silly to me that in a game about heroes they would run around stopping people from swearing. Maybe not, maybe my idea of the Silver Age needs to change.

That is my problem really, I think. I don't want "SuperMan" running around stopping people from swearing. It seems anticlimactic to the superhero genre, but perfect for DitV.

d Cheesy
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2007, 04:36:45 PM »

I don't think that DitV has to be a game of "moral choices". It has to be a game of hard choices (the conflict resolution sub-system work only if you put the players in the situation of having to choose between giving the stakes or accepting a bad raise, but the choice could be between stopping Baron Skull  or letting him go way to stop a dam from breaking and flooding a city, for example. Very silver age Superman...)

You would have to change all the sin ladder (and call it in another way) and work on the setting and the charactr allowed, but I don't think it's impossible.

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Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
David Artman
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2007, 09:26:31 AM »

I don't think that DitV has to be a game of "moral choices". It has to be a game of hard choices (the conflict resolution sub-system work only if you put the players in the situation of having to choose between giving the stakes or accepting a bad raise, but the choice could be between stopping Baron Skull  or letting him go way to stop a dam from breaking and flooding a city, for example. Very silver age Superman...)

Well that's basically what I was saying (I even put sin in quotes) but you're right: it's not strictly about some morality, per se.

Although... even your example above has a moral context: Ongoing Threat v Immediate, Clear Danger. A certain moral perspective would let the city flood, because Baron Skull is *probably* going to go on to do far more damaging things with his free reign while Superman is distracted... but another moral perspective would consider that a mere hypothetical and not as critical as the current, resolvable crisis. It seems to me that's speaks straight to core ethics (utilitarianism v. absolutism).

But all the semantics aside, it *is* better to say "hard choices" if one is trying to side-step the "sin" element to make a setting work with the base DitV mechanics. Just ratchet up the stakes until the players sweat, and you're on the right track....
David
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Archer5280
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2007, 09:18:51 PM »

My take is that DitV might work for certain Iron Age or modern supers games, but not Silver, or Golden Age. Silver and Golden Age superhero stories are about divisions between right and wrong, whereas DitV is most interesting when it deals in shades of gray.

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damiller
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2007, 05:58:47 PM »

That is a good point. I was thinking that because Silver Age had a very strong moral code to it that it would be good fit for DitV. But I have to say I agree with you Archer5280. The Dogs are far more analagous to Iron Age type supers than Silver's supers.

Which takes some of my problems with "town creation" away, but not really. Because I still don't really have an idea of how to make the "steps of wrongness" because supers deal with crimes, not social mores.

Honestly, on one hand the conversion of Dogs to Supers is easy. Dogs are expected to make things right, and people come to them to do so. Supers are the same way.

But the hangup I am still having is how to create the kinds of tension you get from Dogs in Supers because I don't know how to go up the "steps of wrongness". I could just use pride and such cause injustice is something supers battle with.

Honestly mechanics are not my strong point.

d Cheesy
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David Artman
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2007, 07:10:13 AM »

Which takes some of my problems with "town creation" away, but not really. Because I still don't really have an idea of how to make the "steps of wrongness" because supers deal with crimes, not social mores.
(italics added for emphasis)

Well, I'll side-step the entire ethics debate this statement could engender (crime <> social mores seems VERY dubious) and instead offer an alternative track (sorry Vincent):
Capes

It's intentionally supers and it intentionally makes supers "conflicts" more about individual sacrifice and the price of power than about wiz-bag, CGI-heavy combats. It could be considered a "Dogs for Supers" in its narrativist approach and focus on hard decisions. And you wouldn't have to do a bunch of re-skinning: order, unwrap, play.

But I still think you're getting too hung up on simulationism--on making every in-game encounter play out like the wiz-bang panels of a comic--when the real thrust of the narrative in the best comics has very little to do with punches and powers. Dogs can be skinned for any age of supers comics in which there were hard decisions made by self-directed characters. Sure, it probably can't do Dudley Do-Right versus Snidely Whiplash--clear-cut rightness and wrongness in conflict--but I gotta ask: why bother? Play HeroClix, if that's all you want....

Good luck in your efforts;
David
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zornwil
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2007, 09:28:28 AM »

"Hard choices" in the superhero realm, including some Silver Age comics, seem to me to be very much about conviction and consequence, an elemental statement, but it's important as this is the basis, and this is the overlap to Dogs.  If the PCs are not going to be in conflict related to their convictions and/or there are no serious consequences related, then Dogs probably doesn't make much sense to use. 

However, and I've been remiss in writing anything up here, we've embarked on using Dogs to play our supers game because these factors do weigh in so much.  A few brief comments, I'll try to write something more thorough later (along with linking the fairly significant adaptation of Dogs to action-adventure)....first and foremost, using Dogs works great for supers games in making talking matter.  The soliloquy of a bad guy, the opening words of the heroes, these all can inflict Fallout and therefore be meaningful.  That's powerful in conflict and, to me, well models not only how you see a lot of this speech-ifying in comic books, but gives the correct reinforcement in how it shapes conflicts, with braggadocio and such potentially putting pressure on others, and often forcing an escalation to physical/fighting lest one get out-talked - but nice in that one CAN and especially in less vital conflicts often does get out-talked, which can be a great lead-up to later follow-up conflicts. 

As to using Dogs for combats and such, one thing a friend said that I liked is think of each Raise as a panel in a comic book.  The See may or may not be in the same panel.  But thinking of it as a panel gives that nice inspiration and fits in that, just as with Dogs, a panel may be later in the fight, may be a flashback, or may be the very next punch.

For my taste, the modeling of superhero battling works great, in part because Dogs basically forces that each Raise matters, so you can get Raises such as threatening to shoot hostages, a bizarre new power fluctuation, and so on.  It also works well for me because it's easy to do the broad sweep of power use without lots of crunchy modeling of every possible effect.  For example, if you have Gravity Lad and so long as we know he manipulates gravity, his Raise of "I neutralize the gravity in the area, flinging the mob into the sky!" works easily, and the dice do all the mechanical heavy lifting. 

You have to put some thought into appropriate SFX each way, but I won't get into that here.  Suffice to say I think you do get the "gee whiz" CGI-ish stuff well enough with Dogs. 

As to dealing with crime, I'm not sure what the issue is.  Spiderman doesn't have to deal with people swearing, per se, and the basic ladder to big crime is pretty basic sin-related stuff (especially from a simple Silver Age view).  The ladder of crime for Silver Age probably goes something like (bear in mind this is just a quick thought, I prefer super stuff that is not so pure Silver as below):

Pride leads to Frustration - the proud bad guy is not getting what he should be, whether it's recognition of his great genius or worldly success or whatever; I would throw in the concept as well of an Obstacle here, something that is causing the Frustration (society's laws, a never-gonna-be-your-lover, etc.)

Frustration leads to Gaining Power - in order to get past the frustration, the frustrated party Builds Power, whether by forming a criminal enterprise or gaining mutant powers and then building up resources (using robbery or the like); this might be the first real level, the level at which bad guys are simply doing robberies and so on

Gaining Power leads to Corruption and Madness - the bad guy's gain of power leaves him heady and arrogant, and the ends justify the means; at this stage, the bad guy is recklessly endangering others to get what he wants

Corruption and Madness lead to Grand Schemes - this is the level of big, grand, self-aggrandizing schemes, a 3rd level, with big plots

Grand Schemes lead to World-Destroying Situations - naturally, things go out of control and the world may end (or maybe they're in control and the bad guy has reached the level of not caring anymore, "you can all die!") - this short of stops short as it's only 4 levels, maybe it's 5th and Pride/Frustration is 1st but rarely something the supers deal with by the time the story starts (the supers deal with it more with side stories with kids who might go bad, maybe)

A simple alternative is that rather than worry about mirroring Demonic Influence exactly, just allow it as Opposition Influence and the higher values mean more heinous or serious levels of opposition. 
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- Wilson
sinanju
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2007, 06:23:23 PM »

I've been toying with Zornwil's "action adventure" adaptation of DITV rules. Last night I ran a (very short) little test session with a couple of players doing Superheroes. I thought it worked very well, as did my players.

I started with them stumblng across an armed robbery in progress. Alarms going off, gunfire. Robbers boiling out of a jewelry store toward their get-away vehicle. First conflict: Do the PCs stop the robbers from getting away. Black Flag (a "Captain America" type) leaps on the hood of the car and tells them "You're nicked!" with a verbal raise. Bad guy immediately escalates by trying to ventilate him with his Uzi. Black Flag Dodges with, uh, a dodge. He raises by trying to punch out the bad guy; I blocked by having a bystander get in the way.

It went on in that vein. I occasionally gave the players hints as to ways they could use the dice and the narrative element of the game. ("You know, time is flexible in this system. You could narrate simply punching out all the bad guys in a single raise," for instance.) At one point a fleeing bad guy raised by shooting a bystander; intent was to force the PC to choose between helping the injured bystander or continuing the pursuit. PC blocked by leaping into the line of fire himself, using his "I've Had Worse" trait shrug off serious injury.

Eventually the PCs were victorious, and I explained that they could--having won the stakes--narrate how the stakes fell out. They could say that the bad guys were all caught, that some of them escaped, or even that they got away after all; since they won the conflict they got to decide how the stakes were decided.

A bit later Iron Man arrives on the scene to congratulate them on catching the robbers--and then open a conflict by telling them that they were not in compliance with the Superhuman Registration Act. Black Flag and Iron Man had a very entertaining argument as they struggled over whether Black Flag would agree to register. They both pulled in a number of traits, including Black Flag grabbing the front of his uniform and talking about how the government gave him this uniform to fight fascists in WWII (bringing in his 2d8 big and excellent costume!). They both blocked, turned the blow and took the blow as the argument progressed.

Eventually Iron Man escalated to physical by laying a hand on Black Flag's shoulder and telling him that the SRA was the law and he was obligated to comply. Eventually, though, Iron Man raised by ordering one of the cops at the scene to take Black Flag into custody. It was either that or escalate to violence, which he wasn't willing to do. As expected, Black Flag wasn't willing to fight the cop, so he Gave.

In retrospect, I'm not sure I had Iron Man perform a valid raise, since having the cop arrest Black Flag didn't really address the stakes (did Black Flag agree to register). On the other hand, by allowing the cop to arrest him, Black Flag arguably gave in--since he'd be taken to be booked and IDed. Still, it worked at the time.

 In a follow-up conflict on the way to the station, Black Flag convinced the cop to let him go.

So, all in all, I think the DITV rules, as Zornwil's mods, worked very well for a superhero game. Treating "superpowers" as the supernatural, and allowing the group as a whole to work out where exactly the dial gets set seems to be very effective. If Peter Parker has "Spider Strength 2d10" as a trait, how much exactly can he lift? Well, we'll find out in play as he tries to lift various things in conflicts and either succeeds or fails.
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damiller
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2007, 09:18:31 AM »

Zornwill- even though your ladder was, as you indicate, just made up on the fly with no real thought, I find it to be exactly the thing that was keeping me from really being able to grok doing Supers (any age) with DitV. That clears up most of my problems actually. I just could not for the life of me come up with any type of ladder upon which to create problems that the Supers had to deal with.

Also what is this "action-adventure" spin on DitV I couldn't find the discussion anywhere.

Thanks a bunch.

d Cheesy
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2007, 10:31:59 AM »

Quote
Also what is this "action-adventure" spin on DitV I couldn't find the discussion anywhere.

This thread is probably the most relevant one on these forums, and there's a bunch of related topics about one or two pages of threads from here Smiley

I don't think there is any take-it-from-the-box-and-play-it action-adventure mod anywhere, but it essentially boils down to this:

1.Take a copy of Dogs in the Vineyard.

2.Cut out the default setting and put in something more suited to an action packed game. I'll give you bonus points for going all gonzo.

3.Downplay all the moral and hard choices stuff, or simply cut it out if it goes in the way.

And you're basically left with Wushu, only it has a decent amount of character detail and mechanical choices, and the gameplay doesn't feel like talking for talking's sake.

Obviously, at this point someone, somewhere, will probably say that you're for playing the game all wrong. But hopefully, you will be too busy having fun killing ninja nazis to care Cheesy
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zornwil
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2007, 09:21:28 AM »

I thought I was on subscription, maybe not, or I would have replied earlier re the action-adventure thing. 

I will post something on this ideally later today, I'll create a new thread and put in the current modifications.  But I do caution that I feel it's a halfway different game, clearly, than original Dogs, and it would be playing "Dogs all wrong", as Filip mentions, but I think that the core mechanics do lend themselves to a certain variety of action-adventure, action-adventure where there are stil hard choices, inter-PC conflicts are encouraged, and "talking matters", so it's basically a new game but with the engine heavily from Dogs.  The biggest changes, in my mind, relate to lethality's role, to NPC construction (NPCs have a different level/role in challenge to PCs, given the game shifts in focus to be as much about PC-versus-NPC as original Dogs is about PC-versus-himself and PC-versus-PC).  I will try to write up more on why use core Dogs mechanics for action-adventure in my to-be thread.  What's been holding me back is the write-up on actual play experience that should accompany it...
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- Wilson
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