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DitV - conflict escalation

Bicorn

Active member
Validated User
I'm planning on running a game using a homebrew system that uses bits and pieces from a number of very simple systems. My overall goal is to foster a play experience that is noticeably different from the old-style complex systems and "traditional" roleplay that I and my group are used to.
As part of this project I'm intrigued by what I've heard of Dogs in the Vineyard's conflict escalation mechanic. Unfortunately, I don't have the book. So could someone summarize the basic idea behind the mechanic, and perhaps suggest how to incorporate it into a system that is primarily a mix of Risus and Wushu?
 

iconoplast

LE TURBO
Validated User
Well, you start by talking - trying to convince someone of something. If you win, they are convinced.

But if you start to lose, you have two choices: concede, or escalate - throw down and start fighting.

If you're losing again, same choice: this time, if you're willing to escalate further, then you're going to have to pull your gun and start shooting.

System-wise, you'd have your 'Talking' ability, your 'Fighting' ability, and your 'Shooting' ability, and you'd gerrymander things so the players were in a continual state of indecision: concede or escalate?
 

CKubasik

Retired User
Briefly:

There are four stages of conflict:

Talking
Physical (let's say, pushing)
Fist-Fighting
Gun Fighting

A conflic can begin anywhere on that scale. As the conflict procedes there's a dice mechanic where you bring in dice based on Stats, Traits, Relationships to other people, and Objects.

The dice are compared to the opposition in a clever litttle mechanice where you have to narrate what your doing to put your dice forward in pairs, and defend yourself by matching the attackers dice with dice eaqual to the attacks dice value.

If you run out of dice to match the attacker, you're going to lose the conflict. Whatever was at stake (trying to stop your brother from killing his cheatin' wife, or whatever, you dont' make it happen and he's on his way to do the deed.)

However, if you don't want to lose the conflict, you can ESCALAE the attack and move up the scale -- which allows you to draw in new dice from Stats, Traits, Relationships and Objects. (For example, if you've got a Knife, your Knife has a Stat, and moving from a shoving match to a knife fight lets you add more dice beause you've pulled your knife.)

So, in every conflict there's this cool choice -- do I surrender if I'm losing, or do I make the fight worse in the hopes of winning?

The "worse" part is because damage gets worse depending on the Escalation level of the conflict and always appropriate to the level of combat. In a verbal fight, you can take damage to your reputation, say. But by the time you get to a knife fight, you can get so wounded you lose points from your stats or even die. Once guns are pulled, not only does the threat of losing life go up, but there's a chance of being killed outright.

Finally, you can choose to "carry over" a conflict... That is, you surrender the conflict, keep your highest single remaining die, and then start a new conflict in a new arena that's based off the previous conflict. You need to start the conflict at a different Escalation level, so chances are things are already getting worse -- but you'll probably start at a better position with a full fresh set of dice.

That's pretty much how it works. At least those are the cool and unique elements of the conflict design in broad strokes.

Christopher
 

Mr. Teapot

Registered User
Validated User
I'm planning on running a game using a homebrew system that uses bits and pieces from a number of very simple systems. My overall goal is to foster a play experience that is noticeably different from the old-style complex systems and "traditional" roleplay that I and my group are used to.
As part of this project I'm intrigued by what I've heard of Dogs in the Vineyard's conflict escalation mechanic. Unfortunately, I don't have the book. So could someone summarize the basic idea behind the mechanic, and perhaps suggest how to incorporate it into a system that is primarily a mix of Risus and Wushu?

You might also look at Trollbabe Combat for Over the Edge to give you an escalation mechanic that might be easier to fit into your homebrew. Risus is the direct descendent from Over the Edge, so adapting it should be easy.
 

Bicorn

Active member
Validated User
Hmmm. Both those methods (DitV's and Trollbabe/OTE's) look promising... and DitV's combat looks interestingly similar to how I was planning to do fights. My idea was to let players roll each die as soon as they "earn" it by adding a detail (as per Wushu), deciding before the roll whether that die goes for "attack" or "defense". So they could see in advance whether they're on their way to winning or losing this round. Instead of a GM-set pool limit, their maximum number of dice would be determined by their Cliche (as per Risus.)

I was also pondering on allowing the participant to "break off" early, without spending all their dice, in exchange for lesser consequences if they lose - that way players wouldn't feel forced to keep narrating away when they're obviously losing.

One particular detail I've been looking for has been a way to determine the severity of a fight's consequences in a non-arbitrary manner - this is part of what led me to the escalation mechanic. By severity I mean actual "in-character" consequences. Both Risus and Wushu have abstracted injury mechanics (dice loss and chi points respectively), and as I'm planning a somewhat down-to-earth game - an odd choice considering the systems I'm drawing ideas from, I know - I'd like a way to let a fight's practical consequences vary greatly depending on the choices made during it.
 

Levi

Slayer Of Spambots.
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Hmmm. Both those methods (DitV's and Trollbabe/OTE's) look promising... and DitV's combat looks interestingly similar to how I was planning to do fights. My idea was to let players roll each die as soon as they "earn" it by adding a detail (as per Wushu), deciding before the roll whether that die goes for "attack" or "defense". So they could see in advance whether they're on their way to winning or losing this round. Instead of a GM-set pool limit, their maximum number of dice would be determined by their Cliche (as per Risus.)

I was also pondering on allowing the participant to "break off" early, without spending all their dice, in exchange for lesser consequences if they lose - that way players wouldn't feel forced to keep narrating away when they're obviously losing.

One particular detail I've been looking for has been a way to determine the severity of a fight's consequences in a non-arbitrary manner - this is part of what led me to the escalation mechanic. By severity I mean actual "in-character" consequences. Both Risus and Wushu have abstracted injury mechanics (dice loss and chi points respectively), and as I'm planning a somewhat down-to-earth game - an odd choice considering the systems I'm drawing ideas from, I know - I'd like a way to let a fight's practical consequences vary greatly depending on the choices made during it.
You, uh, want to read the Dogs rules.

It does everything you've named. With a side of chips.
 

Kiero

Retiring User
Validated User
Only caveat I'd add to the suggestion to simply get Dogs is that it's a lot crunchier than Wushu or Risus.
 
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