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Author Topic: Ethically Neutral Town Creation?  (Read 6054 times)
Willow
Member

Posts: 202


« on: September 13, 2007, 12:32:52 PM »

So, Dogs has it as a given that the players are the arbiter of morality right?  Yet in town creation, the GM passes judgement on a whole bunch of NPCs- accusing them of pride, or sin, or of holding false doctrine.

Let's say I've got two young men that are in love, and one is killed by the father of the other.  There's lots of ways the players might go with this- they could punish the other young man, they could punish the father, they might punish both or niether, but a lot of the fun comes out in seeing what they do, and what they interpret as a sin, and what they don't.

Does setting up the two lovers as Prideful detract from that?  And if the Steward performed a marriage ceremony, does saying that the three of them are engaged in a False Priesthood weight things in the father's side?

In a town I'm creating, I skipped all that Pride/Injustice/etc.  There's some acts that *might* be sins, and they probably come from pride, and there's some ideas floating around that *might* be false doctrine, but who can judge that until the Dogs walk into town?
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Danny_K
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Posts: 198


« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2007, 12:44:31 PM »

You're not really getting around the issue, though: for one thing, how many dice are you going to roll for Demonic Influence, and when?

My two cents:
I think the Hierarchy system gives towns an underlying structure that's really important.  And it gives the players something to react to -- Dogs is not the game of moral relativists moderating conflicts among free agents (although that would be interesting), it's a game about people in conflict, embedded in a very specific hierarchical system.  It's overdetermined.  And then the Dogs come into the town and they get to choose whether to strengthen or cut up those bonds.  In Actual Play, people seem to come up with answer and rationalize it after the fact by citing logic and scripture.  Kinda like real life. 

Therefore, my feeling is that making a town this way is sort of like playing tennis without a net. It might be fun, but you're missing out on a big chunk of the total experience. 
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I believe in peace and science.
JC
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Posts: 150


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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2007, 01:11:16 PM »

So, Dogs has it as a given that the players are the arbiter of morality right?  Yet in town creation, the GM passes judgement on a whole bunch of NPCs- accusing them of pride, or sin, or of holding false doctrine.

Let's say I've got two young men that are in love, and one is killed by the father of the other.  There's lots of ways the players might go with this- they could punish the other young man, they could punish the father, they might punish both or niether, but a lot of the fun comes out in seeing what they do, and what they interpret as a sin, and what they don't.

Does setting up the two lovers as Prideful detract from that?  And if the Steward performed a marriage ceremony, does saying that the three of them are engaged in a False Priesthood weight things in the father's side?

In a town I'm creating, I skipped all that Pride/Injustice/etc.  There's some acts that *might* be sins, and they probably come from pride, and there's some ideas floating around that *might* be false doctrine, but who can judge that until the Dogs walk into town?

I think the idea of the pride-injustice-sin-etc. progression is that it reflects the standard social mores of the setting

so, as a GM, you're not pre-judging

you're just organising a progression that matches these codes

and in the game, transgression results in real, concrete harm

then the Dogs ride into town, and they have the power to decide if they want to punish the culprit, and how hard

or, if they want, they can declare that the standard social mores are wrong or inappropriate in this particular instance

(and since this is entirely subjective, it creates room for inter-PC confrontation)

so, to take your example of homosexual love: according to the codes, the young men are sinning, and that gives the demons access to the town, which will result in people getting hurt

I think this could be seen as the weight of social pressure to comply with the norm: if you don't act like you're expected to, you're a burden on everyone

so when something goes wrong, it's your fault

what I'm trying to say is that the codes don't _really_ say the lovers are wrong

they just give the NPCs a way to tell the Dogs "hey, we all think this is wrong... what do you think?"

that's what I think I think anyway Smiley
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Willow
Member

Posts: 202


« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2007, 01:36:03 PM »

My two cents:
I think the Hierarchy system gives towns an underlying structure that's really important.  And it gives the players something to react to -- Dogs is not the game of moral relativists moderating conflicts among free agents (although that would be interesting), it's a game about people in conflict, embedded in a very specific hierarchical system.  It's overdetermined.  And then the Dogs come into the town and they get to choose whether to strengthen or cut up those bonds.  In Actual Play, people seem to come up with answer and rationalize it after the fact by citing logic and scripture.  Kinda like real life. 

Therefore, my feeling is that making a town this way is sort of like playing tennis without a net. It might be fun, but you're missing out on a big chunk of the total experience. 

Well, what am I missing?  There's still certainly sins, there's still certainly conflicts, there's still certainly pride and injustice- I'm just not about to decide what's what.

One thing that particularly inspires this is Demonic Possession; this is something that, no matter how sympathetic the circumstances, will bring down the wrath of the pcs.  I don't want to assign someone as objectively bad and evil and a sorcerer until the players have already assigned that to them.
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Willow
Member

Posts: 202


« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2007, 03:37:49 PM »

FWIW, I'm not trying to poke holes in the Dogs rules for town creation, but wondering more about what this bit of the rules adds to play.
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Valamir
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Posts: 5574


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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2007, 07:46:52 PM »

I don't know that I can articulate why it works the way it works.  But I can say that nearly every AP report of unsatisfying Dogs play I've seen can be traced at least in part to not following the Town Creation rules as written, and most every AP report of fantastic play I've seen also involved a town that did follow the guidelines as written.

Based on my ownexperience, following the Town Creation progression to the letter IMO is the single most important thing to do to prepare for good Dogs play.

I know "don't question it, just do it" isn't the most rewarding of explanations, but its the best advice I got.
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Filip Luszczyk
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Posts: 746

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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2007, 01:48:16 AM »

As for demonic possession, it's not always the case. A lot depends on how the supernatular dial is set in the game, and specific characters and circumstances are a factor as well. You have no obligation to decide that your character will condemn someone, especially if the person doesn't grow horns and breath fire. By assigning Relationship with the Demon to an NPC and showcasing it later in play you don't mark him or her as a target for the players - you're just saying that this is a really, really tough case. It's still up to the players to decide how their characters will relate to this. Finally, who's guilty - the possessed or the person that caused the possession, or maybe just the demon itself?

Also, consider the paragraph under Relationship with the Demon in Using the Relationships section, and what having it means to the character's soul.
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lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2007, 04:28:24 AM »

You're asking me to lift the game's skirt and show you its legs here, Willow.

Town creation = listing NPCs and saying what they want. Pride, injustice, sin - those are just cues or devices that you use to play your NPCs with conviction.

The reason you start with pride is so that you know which NPCs have genuine righteous indignation and which have false righteous indignation; which are genuinely humble and which are conniving. Without this, you'll play them all flat, because you won't know who's true.

If you can skip pride, injustice, sin, in your town writeup, and still decide which NPCs are true and which are stupid and which are self-interested and which are impatient and so on, feel free. What you'll find, though, if you manage to do it, is that the town has judged those two men's love, just the same as if you had judged it yourself.

-Vincent
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 04:30:19 AM by lumpley » Logged
Willow
Member

Posts: 202


« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2007, 12:04:07 PM »

I'm going to write up my town and link to it, and then maybe we can discuss it in less theoretical terms.
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Willow
Member

Posts: 202


« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2007, 01:45:38 PM »

Here's what I'm talking about.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=24834.0
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JC
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Posts: 150


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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2007, 02:40:39 PM »

your town is very cool

it certainly has enough meat

not sure if it has too much

but I don't see how your setup is really any different from what you get with the regular progression

I mean, you've got proud people (Br. Matthias and Sr. Delilah, as well as Br. Ebenezer)

and you've got sin

the next likely step is corrupt worship, with Br. Hazeah

am I missing something?
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