Jacinta (demiurgically_m) wrote in roleplayers,
Jacinta
demiurgically_m
roleplayers

Dogs in the Vineyard - system

Last night I played Dogs in the Vineyard for the first time. The GM and one other player knew the system and the setting, but for the two of us it was a case of learning as we went.

Overall it was an interesting game, the fact that others had played before really came through. While I enjoyed the game and the evening, there were some aspects of the system I wasn't sure about. Overall, I am not sure that it is a roleplaying game. It seems to be closer to storyteller. We all tell a story based on the tactical dice game we were playing.

I some of you have played as well, and would be interested in what you all think about the system and flavour.

I had spent three and a half house driving immediately prior to the game, so I may have been a little slow to pick things up. When it is your turn to act on the conflict, the GM hat is handed to you; you can control both yourself and the world (provided the outcome is as the dice have determined). All of the players have all GMed before, so I was looking forward to this. During character creation all three of us happily GMed the scenarios, but I noticed as the game went on we tended to resume the more traditional 'Players react with their chr, GM reacts with the NPCs and environment'. I'm hopeful that when we play the second session, we can focus on this aspect a little more.

As the mission unfolded, all the NPCs we encountered we able to explain why the mine collapse wasn't their fault. We had a couple of conflicts, ranging from internal dialogues to verbal differences of opinion and in one case, a fight with makeshift clubs. At the end we decided everyone was shirking their responsibilities and gathered the whole town to hear our sermon, shaming them into action.

One conflict all three of us were there, but I felt my chr wouldn't be interested in taking part. The other two chrs were talking to a bully. The conflict escalated to a fight. At that point I felt that my character would want to step in. The system doesn't let a chr join a conflict partway through, which I found a little weird, and at odds with the story my chr would want to tell. I had to wait until the conflict had ended and then choose to start a new one. The result was that one chr was beaten to a bloody pulp while I literally stood idly by.

Another system issue I had was just after the fight. The chr was badly wounded and had to be taken to the doctor. A conflict was raised on whether he would live or die. From a system point of view, if a conflict goes bad your chr gets fallout dice (which can be good, but are mostly bad). So players want to employ strategies that avoid fallout dice. In the 'heal or die' conflict, the fallout dice were going to the NPC doctor, which meant tactically we played differently than we would if the fallout dice were going to affect our characters. Because of this I think we drifted from the spirit of the rules.

There were some interesting conflicts. At one point another chr was propositioned by a girl. The rest of the conflict was neither verbal nor physical, instead taking place entirely inside his head. Stakes used included "I'm not popular at school, she couldn't possibly want me", "Dogs are in a position of power, power attracts" and a physical prop - the chr literally held out the religious book to ward the girl off. From an external viewpoint, the conflict consisted of her making a proposition, him frowning, grabbing her to push her back, pausing, then him thrusting the religious book between them. The rest was purely internal dialogue.

A nice conflict took place in the sermon at the end. Two chrs spoke up on the stage, the third prowled the audience, supporting us. System-wise, this meant he could physically hand us dice to help our side of the conflict. The GM used some nice raises. He made it rain to open with 'the audience doesn't want to be here'. To my line that the Life King had sent us to discover who was untimely responsible for the mine collapse, the GM raised with doubt - if that was true, why wouldn't the Life King have sent us before the collapse while the situation was still building and save all the pain and suffering. I was low on dice, so brought in another trait 'heartless bastard'. I returned with I didn't actually care about these people; I just wanted to be on stage. Because I rolled badly, the fact I didn't care about the people I was preaching to came through and my parts of the sermon weren't as effective as they might have been.

Anyone else care to share thoughts/conclusions on the game?
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