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Author Topic: Ceremonies  (Read 6493 times)
Ben Lehman
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« on: February 24, 2004, 04:04:36 AM »

Okay, the Ceremonies, at present, need work.

A *lot* of work.

I think that the change of ceremony to Trait from Conflict is a good one, but there are some kinks that need to be worked out.

For one, there is no given way for calculating to number of ceremony dice you can throw down. This is key.

There is also something about the nature of ceremonies that calls for a little more... definition.  This is not simply that they are ritulistic and thus, most likely, codified in nature, although that's part of it.  It is also part of the nature of supernatural powers in RPGs, Ceremonies seeming to be the supernatural PC power in Dogs, and Demons the NPC power.

Demons get a nice codified list.  This is good.  At the same time, such an approach may not work for PCs, because ideally they will have more flexibility.

There are two types of supernatural powers in RPGs -- those that add effectiveness and those that grant ability.  In the old Ceremonies list, Treading on the Serpent and Speaking With the Authority of God are powers that "add effectiveness--" they take something you could do anyway and make you better at it.  On the other hand, we have Ceremonies like "Speaking to the Dead" and "Laying on of Hands" which grant abilities that you would not normally be able to do.  There is no "speaking to the dead" challenge in an RPG unless you have a widget that says there is, simply because it isn't something that most of us do on a day to day basis in the real world.

So I think that you should have a codified list of suggestions for sorts of abilities that a Ceremony might grant (healing, speaking to the dead, intuitive insight into enemies) and specify that ceremonies either add their dice to a broad type of normal behaviour (physical combat, or confronting) or allow an unusual ability but add dice only to that (speaking to the dead, magical healing.)

Or something else.  But, right now, this is an extant unsolved problem in the rules.

Thoughts, anyone?

yrs--
--Ben
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2004, 06:30:32 AM »

Quote from: Ben Lehman


I think that the change of ceremony to Trait from Conflict is a good one, but there are some kinks that need to be worked out.

For one, there is no given way for calculating to number of ceremony dice you can throw down. This is key.


  I think I'm missing something here.  If I have "Treading Out the Praire Dog" at 4d6 -- then that's the number of dice I throw down.

  If I don't have any specific magical dealie, then I suppose I could use my "Dogs" trait at whatever is appropriate.  I'm assuming that Dogs have a fair amount of ceremonial/ritual training.  Having specific magical traits just means having additional dice to throw in.

  I think, under the current system, the distinction between "augments" and "allows you to do something" is more blurred and less important.  If I get into a fist fight with a demon and then escalate with a "Hellbeast Freezes Over" ceremony I've both "augmented" my dice pool and I'm doing something not generally possible by the average person (assuming a magical block of ice envelops the demon).  

  Again, I think I'm not fully understanding your question.

Tom
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lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2004, 07:06:49 AM »

Ben: I disagree about the *lot* part.  They need some good explanation, but not much design work a'tall.

The explanation starts with: performing a ceremony isn't its own conflict.  You perform a ceremony as a See or Raise in some other, preexisting conflict.  Performing a ceremony a) doesn't give you any new dice unless you took that ceremony as a Trait, which you probably didn't, but b) it changes the Fallout you inflict, where otherwise you'd be inflicting "just talking" d4s, and c) it gives you a way to interact with demons, sorcerers, the possessed, and the souls of the Faithful that they can't ignore.

Presuming that you didn't put dice into ceremony as a Trait, there's absolutely no reason to bring ceremony into a conflict where you don't care to inflict Ceremonial Fallout or your opponent is just a person.  You can if you want, but to no mechanical benefit.

For instance, your character's in a gunfight with my NPC, and I raise you "I run across the street, shooting at you with both guns!" with a 10.  You See it in two dice - you get to say how you Block or Dodge the bullets.  You might say "I dodge and weave and keep pace with you."  You might say "I duck back into the doorway and bullets spack the doorframe."  Or you might say "I make the Sign of the Tree and your bullets just slide around me."   There's no dice advantage or disadvantage to any of those - choose the one that best fits your character and the circumstances, choose the one you like.  It's the dice you See with that cause your character to not get shot, and then you say what your character does.

Each of the elements of ceremony, in the text I'll give examples of conflicts you might bring it into.  Any design work they need, that's where it'll be.  I think that'll answer your effectiveness/ability question too.

Here's another example of ceremony in play.  This is from character creation:
Quote from: In draft, I
Example of accomplishment: I come around to your turn and you say, "I hope my character healed someone dying."  We take sides: I'm the dying person's illness or injury, and you're your character.  We set a stage: Your character's just seen a boy trampled by an ox and she's the first person to him.  He's thrashing and puking blood.  Conflict: go!

You Raise: "I put my hands on him to calm him down and examine him."  I Take the Blow to See: "Cool.  He's still shuddering and burbling but you can get his shirt open."  I Raise: "His ribs are all smashed and floating, and now he's drowning. He stops breathing."  You Block or Dodge to See: "Oh no he doesn't.  I mark his forehead with Consecreated Earth to hold him in Life."  You Raise: "I whisper to him, 'what's your name?' "  I Block or Dodge to See: "He can't draw in enough breath.  His mouth moves but no voice."  I Raise: "His eyes go wide and his body starts to relax."  You Take the Blow to See: "He's seeing Heaven."  You Raise: " 'Child, don't go, you have work yet here.' "  I'm out of dice, I can't See your Raise, so: "He looks so calm, and then the pain rushes back over him.  He doubles over, trying to scream.  Other people are joining you, one's a doctor and he takes over.  The kid will live."

You roll Fallout for the Blow you Took, but let's just say that there's no lasting consequence.

You add "I healed a boy trampled by an ox 1d6" to your character's sheet.

Notice that, given what's at stake - "I hope my character healed someone dying" - you might not have used ceremony at all.  You might instead have used first aid and medicine, and the conflict could've gone exactly the same way.

Tom (and everybody): I'm doing away with "Ceremonial Traits" as such - now, Ceremonial Fallout will be based on the elements of ceremony you perform, just as though they were weapons.  Anointing a possessed person with Sacred Earth inflicts d10s, Reciting the Book of Life at a possessed person inflicts only d6s.  Like that, and I feel kind of dumb for not starting there.

So do you get your "I'm a Dog" dice whenever you perform a ceremony, whatever the ceremony is?  Maybe, I haven't decided yet.  The "I'm a Dog" Trait is giving me grief.

-Vincent
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2004, 08:06:47 AM »

Quote from: lumpley


Tom (and everybody): I'm doing away with "Ceremonial Traits" as such - now, Ceremonial Fallout will be based on the elements of ceremony you perform, just as though they were weapons.  Anointing a possessed person with Sacred Earth inflicts d10s, Reciting the Book of Life at a possessed person inflicts only d6s.  Like that, and I feel kind of dumb for not starting there.

So do you get your "I'm a Dog" dice whenever you perform a ceremony, whatever the ceremony is?  Maybe, I haven't decided yet.  The "I'm a Dog" Trait is giving me grief.


  Uh...hrm.  Let me make sure I get this.

  If I beat up on people, I get d6 Fallout.

  If I recite the Book at 'em, I also get d6 Fallout.

  If I shoot 'em, the fallout goes to d10, but the gun also gives me a pool of dice correct? (I don't see the Trappings list, but I thought that's what happened.)

  It's a little wonky.  I see where you just use ceremonial elements to affect the supernatural, but then it seems like it'd be more of a tool which would actively add dice to your pool the way guns, knives, etc. does.  If so, when would it kick in and when is it just a color thing for Raises and Sees?  (that Tree of Life to dodge bullets would always be in play if it actually added dice or did something beyond color)

  I think I'm just about there on the understanding.  I just want to know what the difference is between shooting a demon and smacking it with a gob of Sacred Earth, if any.  Also, can Dogs make more Sacred Earth?

Tom
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lumpley
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2004, 08:30:00 AM »

If you recite the book at them and they're a demon, you inflict d6s.  If you recite the book at them and they're just some guy, you inflict d4s.

If you shoot a demon, the bullet goes through it with no effect - and in fact, shooting a demon doesn't count as a Raise, so you don't even get the dice for the gun.  (You also can't Anoint it with Sacred Earth - it gots no bod.)  If you Call it By Name, that counts as a Raise (but you don't get new dice) and if it Takes the Blow, you inflict d10s.

If you shoot a possessed person, you get the dice for your gun plus you inflict d10s - but if the demon's preserving the body, you only inflict 2d10 instead of 3d10 (or 3d10 instead of 4d10, etc).  If you anoint a possessed person with Sacred Earth or Call him or her By Name, you get no more dice but you inflict d10s in full.

If a sorcerer calls down upon you the wrath of the lightning, you can Sing Praises to Block or Dodge, turning the lightning aside!

I guess the answer is: ceremonies only let you do things you couldn't otherwise, they don't, in fact, increase your effectiveness.  Unlike weapons, which both let you do things you couldn't (like shoot someone) and give you more dice.  I think that's okay.

-Vincent
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bluegargantua
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2004, 09:36:35 AM »

Quote from: lumpley

I guess the answer is: ceremonies only let you do things you couldn't otherwise, they don't, in fact, increase your effectiveness.  Unlike weapons, which both let you do things you couldn't (like shoot someone) and give you more dice.  I think that's okay.


  Hmmm...OK, I think I've got it.

  You will need a list of these ceremonial bits though.  And if it's generally available to Dogs, those should probably be convient to fit on a character sheet somehwheres.

  None of this stops you from taking a Ceremony as a specific Trait or getting some other wierd mojo as a trait, correct?  Although it now flops into a weird space where it does let you do new things and get dice for it.  Still, it's likely that this will be something completely off-kilter.

Tom
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lumpley
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2004, 09:47:48 AM »

How about you, Ben?

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2004, 09:42:47 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
How about you, Ben?

-Vincent


BL>  Okay.  I still think something needs to be clarified, which is -- what supernatural abilities do the Dogs have?

In previous drafts, they could speak to the dead.  Here they are seen using a sort of lifesight and interaction with demons in terms of an excorcism.  What are the prerequisites for an exorcism?  How do you "track down" a demon that encircles the town so you can even start to perform it?

I guess that, in the end, my point here is that the powers need a little more explanation, particular in regards to what they can and cannot do.

yrs--
--Ben
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2004, 09:46:27 PM »

P.S.  I cannot find, in the text, any way to calculate "Ceremonial Fallout."  And some writing about specific use (does extra fallout to demons, etc) would be very helpful.
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2004, 07:37:44 AM »

More explanation, check.  I'm not sure it'll ever be what you want it to be, but it'll be better explained.

How you track down a demon is: you launch a conflict where what's at stake is "do I track down this demon?"  The specific actions you use to See and Raise will probably involve ceremony, might involve questioning people, might be sudden bursts of insight or walking all over town with a dowsing pendulum or just with your eyes closed.  It's up to you and your player, by which I mean: once you say what's at stake, set the stage, and roll your big handful of dice, it'll just happen as if by magic, and it will be wicked cool.

Same thing with everything else.  I'm not gonna say that Dogs can talk to the dead and here's how, because maybe they can and maybe they can't.  What they can do is find out where Old Man MacNaftin hid that box of gold coins - and if that happens to mean talking to his ghost, so be it.

My experience in play is that very quickly your group settles on a comfortable level of supernatural action.  Sometimes it's very low, without any overt magic at all, certainly no bullets sliding off you or having conversations with ghosts.  Sometimes it's like the Exorcist, where the demons and sorcerers can do all sorts of spectacular things, but the Dogs' magic works very subtly.  Sometimes it's like Green Snake or a Chinese Ghost Story, with the Dogs as mystic monks battling demons and ghouls with lightning bolts and flying and invisibility and stuff.

Even if you don't talk about it as a group upfront, you'll be able to tell what level your players want by the Traits they write on their character sheets.

Here's what it says about Ceremonial Fallout in the outline:
Quote
If you have only one Ceremonial Trait, your Ceremonial Fallout - that is, the Fallout you inflict on demons and sorcerers when you hit them with ceremony - is d6s.  If you have two or three Ceremonial Traits, your Ceremonial Fallout is d8s.  If you have four or more, your Ceremonial Fallout is d10s.

But like I say, that's not how it'll work in the real game.  I wish I could just quote the real game here but it ain't all writ yet.  So instead here are my notes:
Quote

- Anointing with Sacred Earth.  Sacred Earth is consecrated river clay.  All Dogs carry a jar of it.  You anoint someone with it by marking it on their forehead. [Ceremonial Fallout: d10s]

- Calling by Name.  When you call someone by their full, whole name, with authority, their soul can't ignore you. [Ceremonial Fallout: d10s]

- Invoking the Ancients.  This means simply declaring your authority as a Dog and an office holder of the Faith. [Ceremonial Fallout: d6s]

- Laying on Hands.  Generally you put both your hands on the top of someone's head, but whatever's good. [Ceremonial Fallout: d8s]

- Making the Sign of the Tree.  The Faith's most sacred symbol is a stylized tree, the Tree of Life.  You make the Sign of the Tree by holding your right hand up at shoulder level, palm forward, with your fingers wide spread. [Ceremonial Fallout: d8s]

- Reciting the Book of Life. The Book of Life is the Faith's scripture. [Ceremonial Fallout: d6s]

- Singing Praise.  Lots of the Faith's rituals incorporate sung hymns. [Ceremonial Fallout: d6s]

- Three In Authority.  Whenever possible, have at least two other Dogs or office holders of the Faith perform ceremony with you.  (Dogs are generally sent out in groups of three or more, although two is acceptible because most branches have a Steward who can make the third.) [Ceremonial Fallout: increases die size one step, to a max of d10s]

Maybe that helps?

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2004, 09:56:57 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
More explanation, check.  I'm not sure it'll ever be what you want it to be, but it'll be better explained.


BL>  Just a note on "what I want it  to be."  My main goal with this game is that you, the designer, be happy with it.  Any flaws I point out are not "It should be this way or it is the suxxor" but "I think this might be worth considering" or "You might have overlooked the implications of X."

Quote from: lumpley

How you track down a demon is: you launch a conflict where what's at stake is "do I track down this demon?"  The specific actions you use to See and Raise will probably involve ceremony, might involve questioning people, might be sudden bursts of insight or walking all over town with a dowsing pendulum or just with your eyes closed.  It's up to you and your player, by which I mean: once you say what's at stake, set the stage, and roll your big handful of dice, it'll just happen as if by magic, and it will be wicked cool.


BL> Sweet.  Clear as glass.

Quote from: lumpley

Same thing with everything else.  I'm not gonna say that Dogs can talk to the dead and here's how, because maybe they can and maybe they can't.  What they can do is find out where Old Man MacNaftin hid that box of gold coins - and if that happens to mean talking to his ghost, so be it.


BL>  Right.  The thing is, for instance, I wouldn't have even thought about the Dogs being able to talk to the dead.  In what I consider standard Christian thought, mediums are consider pagan at best, satanic at worst.  Talking to the dead is really cool, and it's something that I want to at least be considered for entry into my games but, honestly, if you hadn't suggested it it would have been a demonic power, if present at all.

My point, perhaps, is this:  Flexibility is cool, but defining some of the places where you *can* flex is very helpful for us less wildly creative types to get a satisfying experience out of the game.  Particularly in regard to Mormon Stuff like, I gather, talking to the dead.

It would be very useful to have something along the lines of: Supernatual Powers -- some considerations.

Quote from: imaginary poorly written game text

perhaps in your game dogs are just people, ordinary men and women who need to confront the problems of ordinary men and women, and demons are just metaphors for the dryrot inside the community.  or perhaps the demons are great hooved monstrosities that are just hidden from sight, and bullets slide off you armor of faith.  i think that dogs can talk to the dead, sometimes and only if they were righteous in life, and that when they make the sign of the tree demons must flee from them.


Quote from: lumpley

But like I say, that's not how it'll work in the real game.  I wish I could just quote the real game here but it ain't all writ yet.  So instead here are my notes:
Quote

- Anointing with Sacred Earth.  Sacred Earth is consecrated river clay.  All Dogs carry a jar of it.  You anoint someone with it by marking it on their forehead. [Ceremonial Fallout: d10s]

- Calling by Name.  When you call someone by their full, whole name, with authority, their soul can't ignore you. [Ceremonial Fallout: d10s]

- Invoking the Ancients.  This means simply declaring your authority as a Dog and an office holder of the Faith. [Ceremonial Fallout: d6s]

- Laying on Hands.  Generally you put both your hands on the top of someone's head, but whatever's good. [Ceremonial Fallout: d8s]

- Making the Sign of the Tree.  The Faith's most sacred symbol is a stylized tree, the Tree of Life.  You make the Sign of the Tree by holding your right hand up at shoulder level, palm forward, with your fingers wide spread. [Ceremonial Fallout: d8s]

- Reciting the Book of Life. The Book of Life is the Faith's scripture. [Ceremonial Fallout: d6s]

- Singing Praise.  Lots of the Faith's rituals incorporate sung hymns. [Ceremonial Fallout: d6s]

- Three In Authority.  Whenever possible, have at least two other Dogs or office holders of the Faith perform ceremony with you.  (Dogs are generally sent out in groups of three or more, although two is acceptible because most branches have a Steward who can make the third.) [Ceremonial Fallout: increases die size one step, to a max of d10s]

Maybe that helps?


BL>  Very cool.  But, still, see above.
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lumpley
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2004, 07:48:30 AM »

Gotcha.  Good!  You're right.

-Vincent
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