2007-01-31 : NPCs in my Dreamation Dogs game

Matthew, Mayuran, Shane, and John, here are those dice I promised you:
a. 6d6+2d8, 4d6+1d10, 3d6, 1d8+2d4
b. 5d6+1d10, 3d6+2d8, 3d6, 1d10+1d8
c. 7d6+3d4, 4d6+2d4, 5d6, 2d6+1d8
d. 9d6+1d10+1d8, 2d6+2d8, 2d6+1d4, 1d6+2d10

(Anybody curious: these are NPC dice for Dogs, following the rules for nonhuman threats in Afraid.)

1. On 2007-02-01, Ludanto said:

Well, I'm good and confused. :)


2. On 2007-02-02, Sempiternity said:

Ooh... nifty!

If you don't mind, I'd be interested in hearing how that works/worked-out, in comparision to the standard rules for Dogs NPC generation.


3. On 2007-02-02, Vincent said:

It works easier and just fine. I'm like, "the steward? He's a (d)."

For fallout, instead of changing NPCs' traits and stuff, you just every time give the PCs the two best fallout dice for the next conflict.

Our long game last fall, we used these, and it worked fine. You lose some NPC meat-stuff but you gain some easiness. For con play, though, I don't imagine I'll ever make NPCs by the book again.


4. On 2007-02-03, nemomeme said:

Thanks, Vincent.  Easy use is an appreciated option.


5. On 2007-02-03, NinJ said:

... except that we had to learn to not use (a) when something needed kick. Though, now that I think about it, using (a) expressly for the pupose of creative Giving is interesting...

Are you still using regular demonic influence dice?


6. On 2007-02-03, ShaneJackson said:

Thanks Vincent!
And thanks again for running the game for us.  I hope you were able to enjoy running the game for us as much as I enjoyed playing it.  It was a real learning curve for me, but I found it to be very rewarding, and I really enjoyed meeting you and small-talking about your religious past.
I'll always remember how you snickered at us as you ramped up the pressure.  Hope to see you at nerdly.


7. On 2007-02-03, Vincent said:

Shane! It was my pleasure.

J, absolutely yes with the demonic influence. In fact, the rules for sorcerers and possessed people are even more important when you play this way than when you play by the book.


8. On 2007-02-03, NinJ said:

Yeah, that was my guess.


9. On 2007-02-04, Jonathan said:

Is each set of dice a level of escalation?  I'm trying to parse what the dice collections mean, and reading the Afraid document led me to this conclusion.

So if I pick the Steward's stats as d, his "just talking" dice is 9d6 with a 1d10 and 1d8 trait, then his physical dice is 2d6 with a 2d8 trait, and so forth.  Is this correct?

Also, it was previously mentioned in a discussion that there was an alternative way to create characters in Dogs.  Can someone direct me to that information?


10. On 2007-02-04, Vincent said:

Each set of dice is a level of escalation in this particular conflict. The steward always leads with 9d6 1d10 1d8, whether the conflict leads with just talking or gunfighting or what. The first escalation, whether it's to physical or to talking or to whatever, he rolls his 2d6 2d8.

The dice sets come in in order, in other words, arena independent.

I don't know any alternate ways to create characters in Dogs, though. Can't help you with that.


11. On 2007-02-06, Warren said:

Is that the way things are supposed to work with the NPC's in Afraid as well?

I had thought that the groups were listed by arena, so "6d6+2d8, 4d6+1d10, 3d6, 1d8+2d4" would be:

Just Talking: 6d6+2d8
Physical: 4d6+1d10
Fighting: 3d6
Guns/Murder: 1d8+2d4

Huh. I guess this way is even easier than that. Cool :)


12. On 2007-02-17, Jenskot (John) said:

Hi Vincent,

This is John from Dreamation (thanks for running for us, you rock!). We playtested this method last night and a minor issue arose.

We had a few conflicts where neither side wanted to escalate although came close a few times. Both sides were talking but for in game political reasons, escalating would have been disastrous (but fun!). The players had a huge advantage using the new NPC rules because they could creatively add in their traits for additional dice without escalating. While the NPC could only add trait dice by escalating. Using the old rules, all of the NPCs trait dice would be available, even without escalation.

Would it be reasonable, using the new rules, to use trait dice from future escalation? And by doing so, making these trait dice no longer available if you do indeed escalate?

Thanks so much,


13. On 2007-02-19, NinJ said:

That's a character backed into a corner. Escalate! If the player doesn't want the NPC to escalate, they've gotta give!

(sez me)


14. On 2007-02-19, Vincent said:

Yeah, a conflict where no one is willing to escalate should end as quickly as possible, move on to the good stuff.

However, instead of borrowing against future escalation, give yourself some town dice, to spend into conflicts. Just follow the book's rules for that.


15. On 2007-02-20, Jenskot (John) said:

NinJ, Vincent, thanks so much for the responses!

I agree about escalation in general. I've run the same Dogs scenario over 13 times in the last 7 months for over 40 different players with players constantly and gloriously escalating back and forth. 90% of those involved have no problem escalating, giving, launching follow up conflicts and more. Escalation rocks!

But I don't want the lack of escalation in this specific example to cloud the playtesting issue. Although escalation is definitely a considerable part of it.

This is more an observation that the new NPC rules act differently than the old NPC rules in ways other than simplifying NPC generation (which may be intentional).

Respectfully, assuming I understand, I don't agree that a conflict where players are extremely resistant to escalate should always end as quickly as possible. It's very much a pacing issue that's highly situational. Some of our finest sessions have had conflicts just like these. They do a great job of building extreme amounts of tension. And we keep pushing it till it's about to burst which makes giving or escalating extremely dramatic. Cut away too quickly and you can rob a lot of that potential energy. I agree that a conflict that is going no where should move on. But the tension building to the point of knowing you are against a wall can be amazing. The dice lend themselves to pacing and tension. These variation rules offer less dice to build pacing and tension for NPC in specific situations. Although they do an absolutely amazing job for streamlining NPCs. LOVE it!.

I like the idea of using town dice. But I wanted to be clear on my intent above for playtesting purposes.



16. On 2007-02-20, Vincent said:

Very cool. Thanks John!

You could also use these dice for some (less significant) NPCs and by the book dice for (the more significant) others.


17. On 2007-02-20, Jenskot (John) said:

Vincent, that rocks (and is clean) and will be exactly what I do moving forward!

Thanks again!


18. On 2007-02-20, Piers said:

On the using these dice, particularly in combination with ordinary dice, some observations from Afraid:

Last time I ran the game I used four different types of dice pools for characters, more by accident than anything:

1. A Monster, per the rules, with defined traits

2. Slaves, also per the rules, with 4 types of traits separated by level of escalation.

3. A victim, by the player character rules, because I was testing letting the players make the victim.


4.  Everyone else, by these dice.

I have to say that these simple sets of dice are much easier to use, particularly in Afraid, when you sometimes cut between conflicts and have to pick them up later.

For comparison, the Monster and Victim were fairly straight-forward, but a bit more tricky, and the Afraid rules for NPCs were actually a complete pain in the arse.  It is the sheer number of dice that causes the trouble.  While the categories for traits seem transparent, when you combine them with the 5 different levels of escalation, it becomes a real hassle.

I promise that I'll get round to a full report eventually.


19. On 2007-02-20, Vincent said:

Piers, cool. I'm not surprised that the mid-range NPC rules sucked in practice. I expect that when the game gets published it'll use these simple NPC dice for everyone but the monster.

Slaves and acolytes will get some dice from the monster, like demonic influence.


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