I’ll have a formal Actual Play post at the 20’ by 20’ Room later, but right now I just want to say that Dogs in the Vineyard rocks hard. Whoa, but that’s a strong game with a beautiful clarity to it.
At first glance it maybe doesn’t look like the setting and the system are so tightly linked. But they are, maybe not so much in the details of place and time but certainly in the moral certainty aspect. The key aspect of the system is the ability to escalate: the ability to slap down a bunch more dice and say “I’m willing to go this far to make this thing happen.” That is reinforced by the moral correctness of the player characters and creates a very powerful dynamic at the table.
I had probably too many people — five is more than is recommended — but I wouldn’t have wanted to lose any of the PCs. There’s this nice touch in character generation where you don’t say “My character prioritizes skills over stats.” Instead, you say “My character had a complex upbringing,” and the prioritization of stats, skills, and relationships falls out from that. It encourages one to think about one’s background. My PCs were great. Also, you get to use the conflict skills during character generation, so you’re used to the system by the time it’s time to start thinking about shooting people.
“My father was a Dog, but he was also an alcoholic and I learned growing up that you fend for yourself or you go hungry.” “I’m an orphan, and I loved the Temple, and I’m wearing a coat that was made for someone else because I have no family to make a coat for me.” “I’m a sinner waiting to happen, because I want to be with another woman and I’m slipping over the line from ‘I do what is right’ to ‘It’s right because a Dog does it.’” “My mother was a Dog but I got lost as the youngest sister to six brothers, and I’m looking for people to stick up for.” “My father was a Dog, and of course I’m a Dog, and of course Dogs are better than others, and of course I’m going to be the best of them all.” See? Awesome PCs.
I’m head over heels with this system. I imagine that’ll fade but the immediate reaction is huge. Oh — here’s my town writeup, which is OK for players to look at if they’re curious. Wow, but it’s easy to run Dogs.
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