Dice and Dogs in the Vineyard

Posted in EpicTable Development, Screenshots on November 30, 2008 at 12:19 am

Last time, I discussed EpicTable’s support for game pieces on a tabletop surface. This post is similar in that it too involves moving objects around on the tabletop—only this time, the objects are dice. Dogs in the Vineyard is a prime example of a game that involves doing more with dice than just rolling them. Lets look at how EpicTable supports this functionality.

Dogs in the Vineyard, in the words of its creator, is a game in which the characters are “God’s Watchdogs in a West that never quite was.” It’s a really interesting game, well worth the time to check it out for yourself.

In the screenshot above (you can click on that to get a better look), the tabletop shows a Dogs in the Vineyard conflict in progress. In Dogs in the Vineyard, conflict resolution is handled by a roll of the dice followed by a poker-like series of “raising” and “seeing”. The conflict starts with both the player and the GM building a dice pool from traits that are relevant to the conflict. You can see in this example that the player with the gold dice has managed to bring in a d8 to bolster 6d6. The GM, with the dark red dice, has 8d6 to bring to the conflict. Both roll their dice. Now, they take turns raising and seeing. In this example, the player with the gold dice says what his character is doing and puts forward a 4 and an 8 for a total of 12. The GM is unable to match a total of 12 with just two of his dice, so he has to put forward a third die. He puts forward a 5, a 4, and a 3, describing how the NPC responds. This continues until one side gives or is unable to match the raise.

I’ve greatly oversimplified the conflict resolution of Dogs in the Vineyard. It’s a really interesting mechanic, and it has the effect of making a player keep reevaluating just how far he’s willing to take a given conflict. The point, though, from an EpicTable development perspective, is that this is a game that requires more of the tabletop than just a landing spot for the dice. EpicTable supports that with a shared surface that allows you to place and move and roll dice. Along the way, I’ve added some creature comforts like different surface textures. What you see in this screen shot is a light brown distressed leather, which seemed more appropriate to the Western setting than a wooden tabletop. The red and gold dice are (to this colorblind developer’s eyes) matched to the colors of the Dogs’ coats.

If you’re interested in this kind of tailoring of the virtual tabletop to the game, stay tuned. One of my goals for EpicTable is to make it easy for you to create support for the games you want to play. In upcoming posts, I’ll talk about the options you’ll have for creating character sheets, adding your own surface textures, game pieces, etc.

Closing Thoughts

As always, I appreciate any questions and feedback that you have. Please chime in on the forum via the comments link below.

Credits and Sources: Dogs in the Vineyard is a game by D. Vincent Baker. Die images by Brennen Reece. Leather texture from iStockphoto.

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