Dogs in the Vineyard

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Dogs in the Vineyard

Postby ashmie on Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:26 pm

Thank you Dave for bringing this mind blowing, soul searching Indie game to the weekend. It was an eye opener and no mistake as Sam Gamgee would say.

I was really flagging at the second half of Sunday afternoon so my apologies my character only made it to 4 o clock before flaking out. Well done for seeing to brother Isaac and putting the town back together dogs.

I was really intrigued with this game and wanted to discuss it more with Dave and the other players who gamed on Sunday. I found it bizarre that having played Dark Heresy the day before and having no problems with enjoying burning towns to the ground with flamers I had really emotional ties to my actions in Dogs in the Vineyard.
Was it the religious training at the beginning that triggered that? Was it that we were gaming on a holy day? Was the subject matter out of my depth? Who knows, perhaps none of this. There was something hypnotic about it. At first I went in all gun ho but I soon realised we were dealing with a different kind of game here.
Call it psychodrama if you like. I found the dice and poker format a little alien to me. Rich and I said you guys are probably more familiar with this culture than we are as poker is played in the UK but no way is it inherently part of our background. The law changed a few years back so more people know the rules now.
A hand and seeing and raising are just terms from films for me so it was good to get to grips with new concepts. Likewise the religion setting I was unsure of the details and history so I found I was treading on eggshells a little. This clearly wasn't a game we could shoot the shit and crack biblical jokes in. Again sorry if I offended other players.

No I found it a real challenge and was gutted I couldn't make it to the end. It felt like counseling a little and there was a lot of judgment going on. Ultimately it left me with the feeling of wanting to give it another shot and delve into that world a bit more. How do you guys feel about it?

For example the dice mechanics? Does it enhance the story or get in the way? Did we have a chance to create that world from scratch? Perhaps we did. I can't actually remember who led the narrative but I'm sure it was us the players rather than the GM. If so then the game was a success right 'cos that was the point.

Thoughts please I'm really interested in this conceptual game. :)
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Re: Dogs in the Vineyard

Postby The Other Dave on Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:12 pm

It's a different kind of game!

I'll think about your points and write a bit more tomorrow, but I think your reaction is a pretty common one. It's a very human-level game about ordinary folks and their ordinary problems, and the town creation rules are constructed to more-or-less guarantee a lot of nuanced, shades-of-gray, meaty human drama. The fact that you, as a player, were conflicted about going in guns blazing was very much the point. Also, I didn't intend to lead the narrative in any particular direction, although in hindsight I may have nudged the group at a few junctures, which I'd rather not have done. One of the biggest pieces of GMing advice in the book is not to have an outcome in mind and just play the town.

I think you were also maybe a bit hung up on the religious aspect. I should have explained better that the Dog's special status within the Faith means that you, as players, are under no onus to have your characters follow the tenets of the religion, which is (again totally intentionally) fictional anyway, meaning there's also no danger of offending real-world people. For example, if your Dogs had decided to have the town select their next Steward democratically, then that would have been, as far as the characters in the fiction were concerned, dogma (although it would have probably caused some head-scratching), and that means of selection would have been on equal footing with the "usual" way of doing it. It just so happened that not all the Dogs agreed that this was the best way to do it, but none of you was "more right" with respect to the tenets of the Faith. Whatever the Dogs decide to do is, by definition, God's word as far as the characters in the fiction are concerned. (I hope that makes sense.)

As for the dice mechanic, it really does move a lot more smoothly after you use it a bit. Some folks feel it's "intrusive," and I think that's a valid point of view, even if I don't agree with it. Using the dice and the system actively even (heck, especially) in situations that you'd "just roleplay" in a lot of other games takes some getting used to. (I also, in retrospect, probably threw you for a loop in the mob-diffusion conflict by taking the blow of your shooting-in-the-foot raise with so many dice. I had the dice to see your raise with just 2 dice, in which case you'd have just shot the guy in the foot just as you described, but I had the dual goal of ditching crap dice while only endangering some nameless NPC I didn't care about, and showing you guys as players how the system can be gamed. When guns come out in Dogs - and once again this is an intentional design choice - there's always the chance that someone might die.)

Well, I ended up writing a bunch right now anyway, heh. I may be more coherent in the morning, though.
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Re: Dogs in the Vineyard

Postby ashmie on Tue Mar 08, 2011 9:13 am

Ah I see. That's a lot more clearer now. Especially as I thought I was taking liberties with the Mormon faith. That's making a lot more sense.
I thought the dice worked really well in training, we were quick with them and it was punchy int he dialogue. If we stop and think for too long that's when it's too slow maybe.
I'm keen to try this again. If you bring it to Joshin sometime or to Tsu someday perhaps we could play it again. Even next year if you want to run something again in 2012 festival. I hope you had a good day too. Thanks for running it. De Profundus has some good bits on psychodrama I will post on here later.
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Re: Dogs in the Vineyard

Postby Moyashimaru on Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:08 pm

I was really happy to finally get a chance to play Dogs. I've heard so much about it over the last year or two, and I found it to be the most fulfilling RP I've had in some time.
The thing I liked most about it was how the dice paced the storytelling. In other games, a player will just rely on his natural gift of gab to control a situation despite the character in question being a northern barbarian with a charisma of three[1]. The dice mechanic in Dogs deliberately undermines rhetoric and forces all players to be clever in order to get the maximum benefit of what dice they player has available.
As for the setting, I wasn't put off by it, but I can see how it might have that effect. I had similar misgivings when I first heard about it, but then I read the rules, heard some interviews with the designer and some APs and got over it.
So, Ash, if you ever want to give it another go and can't wait twelve months, I've got the rules right here. And now, thanks to ToD, I know what to do with them ;)

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Re: Dogs in the Vineyard

Postby The Other Dave on Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:19 pm

Man, y'all are starting to make me wish I lived in Tsu, heh.

I'd definitely be up to give Dogs another try (and if Moyashimaru wants to try GMing, I've never actually played it, so that could be cool too), if we can figure something out all logistical-like.

(And I don't know if you guys are just being polite or what, but that was actually not one of the best games of Dogs I've ever had - the town felt kind of lackluster from my end. That probably comes back to what I was talking about with Moyashimaru after the game, how one of the GM's jobs in town design is to think of some decision that seemed easy for the players in the previous town and push the issue in the next. "A town should be forgiving of peoples' pasts, huh? Well, how about this guy?")
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Re: Dogs in the Vineyard

Postby ashmie on Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:33 pm

I agree. the ethics and the story line were all there but we could have worked more on the details of the towns atmosphere. We were pushed for time I suppose. :)
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Re: Dogs in the Vineyard

Postby Moyashimaru on Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:11 pm

Hey, folks, I've been wanting to reply to this thread for a while, but things have been busy for everybody, hm?

The Other Dave wrote:Man, y'all are starting to make me wish I lived in Tsu, heh.

I'd definitely be up to give Dogs another try (and if Moyashimaru wants to try GMing, I've never actually played it, so that could be cool too), if we can figure something out all logistical-like.

(And I don't know if you guys are just being polite or what, but that was actually not one of the best games of Dogs I've ever had - the town felt kind of lackluster from my end. That probably comes back to what I was talking about with Moyashimaru after the game, how one of the GM's jobs in town design is to think of some decision that seemed easy for the players in the previous town and push the issue in the next. "A town should be forgiving of peoples' pasts, huh? Well, how about this guy?")


Careful what you wish for, ToD...
I think it was a bit of a learning experience for us as players, and it was a new approach to RPing that I really liked. In retrospect the town was a little hard to envision, but only in retrospect.
As far as pushing buttons is concerned, I think I detected a bit of that when you killed my character's family after I took my initiation trait, but from my understanding it takes a few scenarios to build up the tension between a character's beliefs and the problems presented by the GM. Could be wrong, tho.
I'd give GMing Dogs a try, maybe at an upcoming game day. We can hash out the details when the opportunity presents itself, or maybe after run CoC.
More on that later,
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Re: Dogs in the Vineyard

Postby ShogunPat on Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:42 am

I really liked the dice mechanics in the game, they were simple enough to be learned quickly but it takes time to really learn where best to allocate your dice. The conflict resolution was also unique in its poker style which I found quite interesting and made it more engrossing than standard roll and deal damage.

The adventure itself was quite interesting in its construction and execution <-no pun intended, and it felt less like we were reaching for some predetermined answer and more like we were unravelling a mystery which in my experience can be very difficult to do. Usually the Pcs are either led by the nose and it becomes quite dull or the clues are perhaps too vague and lead the Pcs to becoming bored with the whole thing.

However this game is very similar to improvisational theater. Where you have a setting, characters, and a conflict and what happens is up to the players. A perfect example is the TV show "Whose Line is it Anyway?" At least me it provided a unique role-playing experience and a satisfying mystery scenario.
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