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View Full Version : Does the sinner deserve mercy? Do the wicked deserve judgment? (Dogs in the Vineyard)


pence
05-11-2011, 10:26 AM
Some early support for next month's DITV games in the Virtual Tabletop thread.

Dogs in the Vineyard is an alternate-history western where you play teenaged Mormon paladins with the right under the King of Life and the law to pronounce judgment upon the wicked. Mormon is a bit misleading here - the Faith is nebulously defined and you can likely bring whatever relationship you have with western religion to the table. In full, your character is a member of The Order Set Apart to the Preservation of Faith and the Faithful. More casually, the King's Dogs or Life's Watchdogs. Or just Dogs. You have the hard-to-impossible job of riding into towns, uprooting problems, and enacting God's will on them - God's mercy, God's justice, or God's vengeance. Then, getting up the next day and doing it again. I picture the characters as people put into an intolerable situation.

Maybe if I snip part of the book the premise will make more sense:

When your character is acting to preserve the faith of a branch, he or she can take whatever steps are necessary, and no one can justly complain. Your character acts on behalf of the King of Life; if anyone has a problem, they can take it up with Him.

Check this out:

Brother Zachary is the worst thing in Steward Joseph’s world. It’s not just that he’s a sinner, it’s that he’s unteachable, unreformable. Too mean and too proud.

Brother Zachary is single-handedly destroying Steward Joseph’s branch. But when Steward Joseph goes to the King of Life for guidance, it’s all: see to his needs, call him to repentance, cultivate him, serve him, help him, show him compassion. That, after all, is Steward Joseph’s job: look after each person in his care. The King of Life tells Steward Joseph what’s best for Brother Zachary. Steward Joseph has invested more time and care and worry in Brother Zachary than in any other single thing in his life.

Your character comes to town. The branch has a septic wound. A thousand resentments, sins waiting to burst free. If you leave it as it is it’ll tear itself to pieces. Steward Joseph’s doing his very best by everyone, but it’s stone clear: Brother Zachary will become too much for him to carry. Steward Joseph will do something terrible, with lots of people caught up in it, and it’ll be bloodshed, sorcery, and damnation.

Your character doesn’t care what’s best for Brother Zachary, he cares what’s best for the branch. You have him drag Brother Zachary out of his house and shoot him in the street.

Steward Joseph comes in a rage. “All my work, all my time, all my investment in Brother Zachary’s salvation! And for what, you kill him!”

“Your job is to heal the wound,” your character says. “My job is to save the body.”

Now, remind me to explain character creation at some point, because I find it pretty cool.

Wolfgang
05-11-2011, 10:49 AM
Pence, remember to describe the character creation process. I'd like to hear it.

kaisel
05-11-2011, 11:06 AM
I got around to reading part of the book this morning before work. I love the fluff in the game, and the character creation, from what I read (mostly a quick skim) was pretty neat. Looking forward to playing this.

Ample Vigour
05-11-2011, 11:43 AM
A professional troll whose work I used to like called these "swine" games. It's kinda funny being reminded of geek holy wars after the fact.

Friend of mine broke the Dogs game system in half after five minutes. Never did get around to playing it.

pence
05-11-2011, 12:11 PM
If you go into the game hoping to play to win, I think it still works. If you plan to just escalate every conflict so you can get more fallout and traits, that leads to some interesting situations. The GM can always have an NPC Take the Blow, hard, rather than Give. Are you okay with shooting that eight-year-old girl? Even if she takes a bullet through the lung? If you are, then cool, you're still addressing the premise. If you only did it to maximize fallout, or prove (to whom?) the game was broken, or do violence to the rest of the table's shared imaginings, why are you coming to the table in the first place? To grief them?

professional troll

Ah, so.

Lucas
05-11-2011, 12:34 PM
"swine" games

There has to be an explanation for that term.

Ample Vigour
05-11-2011, 02:11 PM
There has to be an explanation for that term.

It pissed people off and got a lot of traffic to his blog. That's basically it. EDIT: IIRC, I think Egarwaen was at the same site I was back when this was a thing. He might know.

If you only did it to maximize fallout, or prove (to whom?) the game was broken, or do violence to the rest of the table's shared imaginings, why are you coming to the table in the first place? To grief them?

I ran for a bunch of software engineers and chemists who took great pride in their ability to power through one fight after another. Shared imagining always took a backseat to killing shit at that table.

We played Iron Heroes instead. That game was the business.

pence
05-11-2011, 02:38 PM
Hmm, as long as everyone's on the same page and it's not just one guy with a conflicting agenda, I'm pretty sure the game will continue to function - the GM has access to all the same tricks as the players. If you're all kicking butt for guts and glory (metaphorically, you can kick butt without pulling your gun), there's no reason not to push back and encourage it. You just don't want to be caught unprepared. If someone has a trait like "I like talking things out 3d10" you can start a conflict in the physical arena. Or give an NPC "I let my fists do the talking 3d10" :P

I do like thinking about stuff like this, btw, since I hadn't really considered how to 'win' DITV yet. But it's probably not at its best unless your group wants to make moral judgments.

shivam
05-11-2011, 02:39 PM
this game isnt about kicking ass and beating down doors. you should probably be in the glistening chest thread down the way.

Egarwaen
05-11-2011, 02:41 PM
It pissed people off and got a lot of traffic to his blog. That's basically it. EDIT: IIRC, I think Egarwaen was at the same site I was back when this was a thing. He might know.

rpg.net? Yeah, I was, though I was more of trad games junkie then and didn't really pay attention to the Dogs in the Vineyard talk. I recall it had something to do with either catering to the lowest common denominator or pinning mechanical optimization to utterly abhorrent behavior, but can't remember which.

Ah! A friend of mine who also used to read rpg.net back in the day when it was cool suggested I check their wiki. It says (http://wiki.rpg.net/index.php/RPG_Lexica:STU):

Swine
a rhetorical term coined by notoriously abrasive forum poster Nisarg, for certain types of role-players--mostly "story-telling" advocates and self-proclaimed "narrativists".
He defines it like so:
"Swine" refers to more than just RPG f***tards. Generally a "swine" is a self-absorbed human being who wishes to be recognized for abilities or talents he does not have, and accomplishments he has not attained."
"He represents the infinitely inferior man in every respect, who nevertheless wishes to impose his putrid will on the world, and usually fucks the world up in the process."
He strongly believes in a form of Gonzo journalism to make a point. The term swine was adapted from Hunter Thompson's "Generation of Swine".

That tripped some memories. I believe the intent of it was referring to games where you start out as a badass, rather than starting out at the usual 1st level D&D point of rat-hunting and cat-chasing and graduating to interesting gameplay. The definition also seems to apply it to games with collaborative editing and authoring elements, rather than the traditional GM Viking Hat.

pence
05-11-2011, 02:54 PM
So basically, he's the pen and paper RPG version of that guy who runs that video game website who will google his name and find this thread and put it in his trophy case if I actually type it out.

(I swear, I'll get this back on track and post some character creation stuff after work)

pence
05-11-2011, 04:18 PM
Character Creation (just the crunchy bits):

1. First off, you choose an archetype for your character. This will give you a certain amount of dice to assign in three areas: Stats, Traits, and Relationships.

— Well-rounded: 17d6 for Stats, 1d4 4d6 2d8 for Traits, 4d6 2d8 for Relationships.
— Strong History: 13d6 for Stats, 3d6 4d8 3d10 for Traits, 1d4 3d6 2d8 for Relationships.
— Complicated History: 15d6 for Stats, 4d4 2d6 2d10 for Traits, 5d6 2d8 for Relationships.
— Strong Community: 13d6 for Stats, 1d4 3d6 2d8 for Traits, 4d6 4d8 3d10 for Relationships.
— Complicated Community: 15d6 for Stats, 6d6 2d8 for Traits, 4d4 2d6 2d8 2d10 for Relationships



2. Characters have four Stats:

Acuity is perception and intelligence
Body is athletics and constitution
Heart is charm and charisma
Will is confidence and aggression

Each stat must be at least 2d6, but you can distribute the rest of the dice however you want. So if you started with 15d6:

Acuity 2d6
Body 6d6
Heart 2d6
Will 5d6

would be a possibility, if talking wasn't your thing.



3. Traits are little descriptive phrases that you assign dice to. You assign dice however you want, but you can't mix sizes of dice (d4s, d6s, d8s etc.) So "I'm a great shot 2d8" is fine, but "I'm a great shot 2d6+2d8" is not. You'll roll those dice when they apply to the situation in question. "I'm a Dog" should be one of your Traits; if it's not, you need to create a Relationship with the Dogs in the next step.



4. Relationships are people, places or things your character has a relationship with. You don't have to assign them at character creation (and you should hold on to dice to assign them during play), but if you didn't take the trait "I'm a Dog" you need to create a Relationship with the Dogs. Like Traits, you'll roll these dice in conflicts involving that person, place, or thing.



5. Next, you have Belongings. There is no limit to the belongings your character can have, save what the people at the table think is reasonable. You don't have a pool of dice to divvy up here, either, so as long as everyone at the table agrees, you can do what you want. Belongings get dice like this:

— 1d6 if it’s normal.
— 2d6 if it’s excellent. It’s only excellent if people meeting your character would notice and comment on it: “ooh, that’s a mighty fine horse.”
— 1d8 if it’s big. Similarly: “holy smokes that’s a big knife.”
— 2d8 if it’s excellent plus big.
— 1d4 if it’s crap. Crap plus big is still just 1d4.

Guns get an additional d4, so "Excellent, big gun 1d4+2d8", or "Crap gun 2d4". If you bring the item into a conflict, you get its dice.



6. Finally, you have an Accomplishment; something you hope your character accomplished during their initiation at Bridal Falls City, phrased as "I hope my character..." For example, "I hope my character exorcised a demon." Then you play out a conflict that occurred during your initiation, using the regular conflict resolution rules, and gain a new d6 trait related to how it played out. Something like "I exorcised a demon d6", or "I didn't exorcise a demon d6", or "I exorcised a demon, and I never want to do it again d6".

Ample Vigour
05-11-2011, 05:33 PM
I wanted to play this game so I could have "The Sad Fate of Two-Gun Corky Corcoran 2d8" as a trait.

aww shit, the Viking Hat. Chef Kyle was a cool cat.

Umby
05-12-2011, 03:37 PM
I think I want to play the game just for the funny situations. However, I am a newbie at RPing, very much so. I'm not quite on the up and up on how these dice work, again. I know 1d6 is the standard die with one roll. What counts as a success, and what do you mean by "assigning dice"? I'm sorry about the stupid questions.

pence
05-12-2011, 03:58 PM
Hmm, answering the question about success might require a look at how the conflict system works. But to answer your question about "1d6", yes. 1d4 is one four-sided die. 2d10 is two ten-sided dice. 1d6+3d8 is one six-sided die and three eight-sided dice, etc.

As far as 'assigning dice' during the character creation, I probably condensed stuff from the rulebook too much. I'll use the traits as an example; let's say I have a Complicated History background, and therefore have 4d4 2d6 2d10 for traits. I would have all those dice in front of me, and I'd have to split them up however I wanted among any number of Traits that I write myself. So...

"I used to break horses with my dad 1d6"
"I can't see well without my eyeglasses 2d10"
"I'm a good shot 2d4"
"I used to hunt with my brother 1d6"
"I'm a good cook 2d4"

is one way I could divvy them up. Or I could just do

"I used to break horses with my dad 2d6"
"I can't see well without my eyeglasses 2d10"
"I'm a good shot 4d4"

or whatever. You just need to stick those dice on some traits. Once per trait per conflict, if you bring those traits into the narrative, you get to roll those dice (which is generally good for you). Like, "I'm going to put on my eyeglasses so I can look him in the eye while I'm talking to him, so I'll roll that extra 2d10," or "his punch busted up my eyeglasses, and that makes me furious, I'll roll that extra 2d10."

Umby
05-12-2011, 04:02 PM
Oh, that sounds peachy keen. If you're wanting to set a game up, count me in!

shivam
05-12-2011, 04:03 PM
basically, it's about applying your traits to your current situation, and then rolling the amount of dice you have set with each trait.

I had a guy who was Unrelenting In The Face of Evil 2d10, so when i was confronted with a vile tax collector, or with someone who went against my moral code, i could use those dice in the conflict.

Wolfgang
05-12-2011, 07:21 PM
Oh, that sounds peachy keen. If you're wanting to set a game up, count me in!

This sounds much more fun than Mafia.

shivam
05-12-2011, 07:22 PM
This sounds much more fun than Mafia.

i dont know that it's your type of game.

Umby
05-12-2011, 09:02 PM
I dunno, Diplomacy is pretty great. Oh whoops you said mafia hold on

How can I sign up for these shenanananananigans?

Wolfgang
05-13-2011, 12:39 AM
i dont know that it's your type of game.

I like roleplaying - it's weird antagonistic guessing games that get tedious.

Googleshng
06-06-2011, 11:39 PM
Dogs in the Vineyard is an alternate-history western where you play teenaged Mormon paladins with the right under the King of Life and the law to pronounce judgment upon the wicked.

Mind elaborating on that some? Is it just straight up 1880 or so, but with random (government sanctioned?) Bible Cowboys wandering about? Is that strictly a frontier thing, or are the also buttoned down East Coast Artimis Gordon types in the mix?

Also, am I the only one who hasn't already made a character, or is it really good that I just bumped this since apparently at least some of us are playing in like... 20 hours? And should I just PM said character at you when done or what?

Lucas
06-07-2011, 12:27 AM
I haven't made one either. As it turns out, though, I might not have time to play this week anyway. I'll have to see how things go the next couple of days.

pence
06-07-2011, 07:58 AM
Mind elaborating on that some? Is it just straight up 1880 or so, but with random (government sanctioned?) Bible Cowboys wandering about? Is that strictly a frontier thing, or are the also buttoned down East Coast Artimis Gordon types in the mix?

It's pre-statehood Utah, with the names changed. The landscape of Utah is strange enough without needing much help to seem fantastic. Government sanctioned? Sure, as long as you don't mean the Federal Government:

Representatives of the Territorial Authority will generally be either a claims officer or other bureaucrat, or a circuit rider not unlike you Dogs. Only larger towns will have any sort of Territorial law enforcement — a sheriff — but he’s most likely to be Faithful, elected to the job by his congregation. The Territorial Authority’s real concern is that taxes are paid and nobody interferes with the mail — it worries about “keeping the peace” only insofar as lawlessness interferes with taxes and mail.

It’s worth pointing out that the Dogs are authorized by the Faith to do some things — like shoot sinners in the street — that are against the law. Exercise your authority cautiously.

As for people from Back East, I'll quote the book once again:

Back East is all decadence, sin, cruelty and occultism. It has huge cities, each with a population bigger than the entire body of the Faith, and they’re foul, stinking places. The few wealthy practice unspeakable vice and violence and bribe the law to look away. The majority suffers poverty, disease, filth, crime, slavery — and even still are too blind to turn to the King of Life.

Small communities of the Faith remain Back East even now, although fewer and fewer.

Occasionally, a Faithful family will send a child Back East to college. Those are perilous years.

Way I see it, it would be in-genre to encounter a Brother who is just returning from Back East... the premise is riding into town to dig up all the filth and sin bubbling under the surface, and who better to bring demons into a town?

Character creation... heck, I'll let the author handle it again:

At the first session, you need to:
— Get a group hit on the setting and setup of the game. If you want you can just read out the “Background” section in the character creation chapter.
— Create characters. Follow the procedure, out loud, at the table. Don’t anybody come with a character already made.

Comb Stranger
06-07-2011, 10:14 AM
Dibs on demon-elf magus!

At the first session, you need to:
— Get a group hit on the setting and setup of the game. If you want you can just read out the “Background” section in the character creation chapter.
— Create characters. Follow the procedure, out loud, at the table. Don’t anybody come with a character already made.

O wait

pence
06-09-2011, 03:42 PM
Heads up, no game tonight. I'll go for a future date when I'm more 'on' than this week.

In the meantime, enjoy this gun:
http://i54.tinypic.com/ibxwno.jpg

kaisel
06-09-2011, 03:52 PM
Heads up, no game tonight. I'll go for a future date when I'm more 'on' than this week.

In the meantime, enjoy this gun:
http://i54.tinypic.com/ibxwno.jpg

Phew, while I was really looking forward to playing, I would probably have had to bow out today, as I have to prep my 4e game for tomorrow. Looking forward to this starting though.

Lucas
06-09-2011, 05:13 PM
Man, that's a sweet gun.