Two of my PCs in my Ars-Magica game have chosen to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from northern france.

I've decided that ArM5 makes a poor system for this journey as its primary focus is on magic. Therefore, I want to use Dogs in the Vineyard to simulate their journey.

What setting and mechanical changes would people recommend to make to dogs in order to have it reflect a pilgrim's journey?


Mechanically, I'm interested in what the highest level of escalation should be and probable links between fallout and experience back in Ars Magica.

Setting is the crucial sticking point for me: I need to create a hierarchy of trouble for a community, as per Dogs, and I'd love recommendations about resources that map to 13th century belief structures, especially the different sects encountered across the journey. While I'll be investing the PCs with what amounts to Dogs authority (probably blessing them as crusaders) I need to figure out what they'll encounter and it's the mapping of trouble that I'm having trouble with.

2nd Edit I am interested in the journey from France to Jerusalem. The pilgrims will be invested with a crusader's power in what amounts to a meta-crusade: "God is annoyed with the crusaders who sacked Constantinople. Find those who have strayed from the path and fix it." Players won't be given (initially) swords, but the escalation of fighting-to-wound and fighting-to-kill is actually quite apt and reflects potential fallout.

The question that's now in my mind is should the rules change for the Cathars in southern france and then again when they enter the conquista areas of Spain? In some ways, I see the "faithful" as the crusaders and the territorial authority as the dominion inspired by the cathars/moslem/etc...

A side question is: was there a catechism or other credo of faith back then? Is it fair to include conflicting dominion auras in Dogs?


3 Answers 3


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, held status connotations, was hideously expensive, and was very effective. That all maps pretty well to guns.

So the hierarchy: Pride, sin, false doctrine, false priesthood, hate and murder. Does this need to change? Are the PCs God's chosen, set to righting wrongs? They better be or Dogs is the wrong game to be playing. The things that need to change are what Pride and Sin mean (see page 61 in my edition at least). The organization of communities may be different, although the principles of stewardship will not be. The sins, and how demons manifest their presence, will also vary a little perhaps, although the list on p.68 looks pretty medieval to me.

You could probably have fun with the doctrine of original sin as well as the complicating nature of the indulgence, which would be a sacrosanct reality throughout Christendom.


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 extremely significant for pilgrims. So the four levels would be:

Peaceful, Angry, Fighting, Swords

And the attributes would need changing to suit (perhaps Righteousness and Soul should be in there).

As for the setting: as I understand, the "townsfolk" will mostly be Seljuq Turks. That is, they're Muslims.

The town creation rules would be rather different. As Jason says, the levels normally run:

Pride, sin, false doctrine, false priesthood, hate and murder

I'd replace Pride with Godlessness: after all, it's godlessness that causes them to sin, in the pilgrim's eyes. Then keep False Doctrine, False Priesthood and Hate the same. The highest level, replacing Murder, could perhaps be Blasphemy. That'll often involve some form of desecration (which was a known thing in the Crusades).

I hope that helps. It's not an easy hack!

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I assumed the hack would be about the journey to the holy land - once you get there, the Dogs model breaks, because you don't have any spiritual authority over the locals. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jmstar
    Oct 12, 2010 at 15:16

you don't really have to change anything, I don't think. Obviously the setting, but that's about it. Swords and bows instead of guns. If magic is involved, that could be the final escalation instead of shooting, I suppose.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I'm interested in how to adapt the setting. Specifically, the ideology of dogs isn't quite right for the 13th century and I'm wondering if there's a resource that could provide a similar thing. I was planning on "weaponed" combat as the final escalation but it doesn't feel quite right. Magic, if it happens will happen akin to ceremony, so I'm not fussed there. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2010 at 6:26

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