Thursday, September 15, 2005

[RPG] The Dogs ruin 1.5 lives

I ran Dogs in the Vineyard on Tuesday night for Celeste and Wayne. This is a game where you play preacher-cowboys in the Wild West who ride into town, root out the sin & pass judgment on the sinners. The tension and the challenges don't come from fighting or beating up monsters but from making moral judgments about difficult situations.

Character generation and the conflict resolution system took a while to get the hang off. It's a really nice Poker-based mechanic of raising and seeing that makes you ask two questions of every conflict: a) can I win? and b) what does this say about my character? Celeste described as the easiest system she's played with so far.

Wayne and Celeste were confronted with a superficially simple problem (a woman cheating on her husband). What's good about Dogs is that it gave every character involved in that situation extremely sympathetic motivations. I enjoyed making all 3 NPCs as sympathetic as possible and being upfront with Wayne & Celeste about what the NPCs wanted from the them.

Is it my fault that the husband, wife and lover all wanted completely incompatible things? :)

Fascinating to see the differences between Wayne and Celeste trying to figure out a solution. It was 'sort of black & white' vs. 'sort of nuanced'. Wayne's Dog wanted a clear cut solution; Celeste's s Dog wanted to understand the situation so that she could maximise everyone's happiness.

In the end, they annulled a marriage, Celeste's character ruined her uncle's life and neither player felt they'd improved the situation. And we all had a good time (I think!).

What I really liked about the game was that as a GM I felt deeply. This game is more about emotions and connecting with other players than anything I've played in the last couple of years, aside from Buffy.


Seraph said...

I'm hacked off that I missed this.

It sounds like it was really fun. But - is there scope in the game for a kinda "high noon against demons" situation ? That would be pretty kick arse.

Can't wait to play it man !

hix said...

You know, there is.

The game says to take your cues for how to portray the supernatural from the players. In the accomplishments (which is a little prelude for each character), the only 'odd' thing that happened was a halo of sunshine around a baby during Celeste's. So in that game, demons manifested as intangibles - shadows, sunlight, wind.

But things can get pretty curly if you dial it up. I don't think 'demons' make a personal appearance, but there's plenty of encouragement in the rules to go face to face with sorcerors and possessed people who have hella demonic backing.

Seraph said...

Freaking cool !

hix said...

Yeah. Cool.

& from the branch we played through, I've decided - sorry W & C - that challenge is good. Just like Buffy, it's pretty difficult to kill Dogs and it's extremely easy for Dogs who team up to get their way.

So I think I'll be upping the ante for the next branch we play.

The Gamester At Large said...

I think the whole game is predicated on upping the ante continually...