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22

Dogs in the Vineyard is a great game. It really demands that you play it by the rules as written, which may be a cognitive leap if you are used to fudging things. I think the rules are luminously clear, but they are pretty specific and work great when you do what they say. If you don't the game suffers. I would strongly suggest playing it straight the ...


18

No, you aren't misinterpreting at all. As GM, use the Territorial Authority as a source of conflict and tension when you want it. The presence of secular authority can make a cut-and-dry situation suddenly very complex. Players who really enjoy the unlimited power granted their Dogs may be forced to think twice about exercising it when the consequences are ...


18

Dogs is a great "gateway drug" to indie games. While it's chock full of crazy indie design madness, it also has a lot of things in it that will appeal to traditional gamers. Mind you, these terms "indie" and "traditional" are admittedly pretty slippery, but I won't get into that here. I know what you mean. Here's some advice for playing Dogs. Read the ...


16

Yes, a character in Dogs in the Vineyard can choose not to escalate at the same time as an NPC. PCs don't escalate until they do something escalate-y. In addition, fallout dice are determined by the action being done, not the current escalation level. If you've escalated to shooting, but you're trying to talk someone down this turn, you only inflict talking ...


12

Yes, anyone can escalate during Initiation. The GM doesn't get more dice, but the player might. Initiations aren't intended to be that difficult for players, but if the GM gets a really good 4d6+4d10 roll, the player might sweat a bit trying to beat it. When a conflict gets to that point, where it's a foregone conclusion that the player is going to win the ...


12

Because it's a character-centric, personal game, having too many players simply means not everyone will get to play properly. A large group is OK in a game that's combat-centric, because everyone gets a turn to contribute at least minimally; or in a game that's exploration-centric, because everyone discusses how to proceed and moves as a group. But, ...


10

Treat it as though your opponent had blocked or dodged your raise. You get the stakes, but your opponent gets to block or dodge your last raise for free.


9

This is predicated on the idea that DitV isn't a mechanical game, it's a psychological one. It's not balanced--mechanically. Yes, you get more dice for failing. Fallout can be made part of the advancement process. There are a lot of ways to game the system, and it doesn't care. DitV has no interest in mechanical balance or sense. Instead, DitV is balanced ...


7

The other answers are great in their detail. I'll just add a more broad gotcha: Dogs in the Vineyard isn't just a set of mechanics for determining the success or failure of actions, which is how most roleplaying games you've listed are designed. If you go into the game thinking that it's just a different "physics" system for doing the same thing as other ...


7

The game wants you to take the blow. If it punished you for taking the blow, you wouldn't do it, and the game wouldn't get what it wants! Don't treat the various options on the fallout tables as balanced or equivalent. The option to lose a die from a stat, for instance, is obviously way worse than the option to add a new d4 trait. Taking a new d4 trait is a ...


6

Fallout is the consequence of conflict, not necessarily a stick to drive the players. (That's the role of stakes--make them fear losing, to the point that they're willing to take fallout to prevent it from happening.) As a Dogs GM, fallout should be appropriate to the circumstances--be sure that you lead with the story, then work out trait damage, or ...


5

Look over The Structure of the Game chapter, starting at page 93. There's a lot for the players to be doing, and if you double the recommended number of players, there's not going to be enough satisfying interaction between the players and the town. At best, it's going to draw out play unnecessarily. Four Dogs is enough to throw a town into upheaval! Avoid ...


5

There's two answers, really. Firstly, the setting-based one. These are small towns, miles from anywhere, in the Old West. There's not much government going on. There's the Steward, who is nominally in charge, and there's you and your gun, to give spiritual leadership. So, if you exercise spiritual authority and execute some demon-possessed sinner, who's ...


4

You can certainly flash back: GM: So the guy brings the axe down. Player: All right. Flash back to the night before. I'm putting a rolled blanket in my bed, to make it look as though I'm sleeping there. You can slow time down: GM: So the guy brings the axe down. Player: All right. As it comes down, the light glints off the blade, ...


4

Escalation will definitely impact the games flavor a lot. Maybe talking - physical - fighting to injure - fighting to kill. Or talking - physical - hand weapons - swords. I've played hacks that put the sword in the place of the gun (with the extra d4 and at the top of the escalation ladder). it was the premiere piece of killing technology for a long time, ...


4

Vincent explains this on the Forge (where there is even more information). The rule change I'm the GM. My NPCs take a stack of fallout, but nobody cares if they live or die or what. How it used to work: I pass all their fallout dice, unrolled, to the players, to roll with their dice in the followup conflict. How it works now: I roll their ...


4

My first experience of playing Dogs in Vineyard made me realize that there was now a system that I could use to build really interesting stories, and found that it works best with a group that knows each other and respects each other. Where D&D can bog down into repetitive mayhem, the escalation mechanic in DitV gives nuance and levels to conflict that ...


3

I played DitV with some good friends who are able to roleplay fine, but they were really taken aback by some of the aspects of the game. I was mastering and found myself trapepd into old reflexes. So... Don't hesitate to force your players! The rulebook says that it's fair game. If they don't want to be convinced of something that's a conflict. Set the ...


3

Here's a cite: "If you give instead of raising, it's called "cutting your losses," and you get to keep the single highest die showing on your side. Carry it into a followup conflict without rerolling it. It's on page 64 of the illustrated book, under "Giving," and then again on page 67, under "Followup Conflicts."


3

I like Jason's suggestion of swords as the highest level of escalation. Drawing a sword has similar symbolism to drawing a gun. That way, the four levels are: Social, Physical, Hand-to-hand, Swords If you want something more complex, try splitting Social into Peaceful and Angry. That escalation, from Peaceful to Angry, doesn't matter in Dogs, but it's ...


3

I submit that in Dogs in the Vineyard, every conflict reasonably engages every player, even if every character is not involved. Here's why: Every conflict reveals information about the situation the Town is in, and its people. Every conflict reveals information about the moral fiber of the involved characters. Every conflict reveals information about the ...


3

One way is: run conflicts for things the whole group cares about. If the conflict is "Does the axe murderer kill you in your sleep?" (or similar), then only one Dog really cares about the outcome. If it's "Does the Steward leave town?", then, even if one Dog takes the lead, everyone should care about the outcome. Other than that, however, it can be ...


3

Let's say you are fighting over a precious vase: the GM raises a 19 and says "he pulls out the gun and shoots you in the kidney." You respond "No way: I throw the vase at him so he has to get it," giving the conflict and parrying the raise. Page 64: Giving When you Give instead of Seeing, you don’t need to Take the Blow. In fact, one of the best ...


3

The player was a trickster and questioned if he could raise by stating "To play a trick on my friends, I wasn't sleeping in my bedroll that night." Which sparked a question of what levels of atemporality are possible in a scene. That's a perfectly legal Raise. What actually happens depends on the GM's See. The GM Blocks or Dodges, or Reverses the Blow ...


3

Well, the way I use initiation is to teach the players the rules. So, if no one cever has to escalate during the Initiation, then, in my opinion, the GM is not doing their job. I have had players fail their Initiation. I play it hard and use dice tactics to push the players. It not easy, it doesn't happen often, but it is a great way to show people the dice ...


1

Based on my own (somewhat limited) experience, you want about 15+d6, preferably around 20, per player. d8s get thrown around with less regularity, so about 8 of them should do. I've only ever needed around 5d10 per player. d4's get whipped out about as frequently as d10's, but they come in pairs, so get somewhere between 8 and 10 per player. I can't even ...


1

The point of the initiations is for the player to generally win and to teach the player the mechanics of invoking traits, raising, and (if necessary) ceremony. Remember, however, that a player has to escalate with ceremony against demons. A carefully staged initiation will require that the player uses both traits and ceremonial escalation, helping them set ...


1

I would suggest you do not. I have run games like Nobilis with players that are mostly non-participating. Some of them are here for the journey and like to watch what others do stuff. Some are really only there to play with their friends and it is more of a social event for them. The best middle ground is to give them a moment where they can engage, that is ...


1

I think one of the main points of the game is to give you that conflict to deal with and then figure out how you solve it. The escalating mechanic asks you how far you're willing to go to get what you want or think is right, and the tiers of verbal, physical, knife and gun combat have some setting parallels as well, of which breaking the law is one.



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