Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dog Days Update 1

Ok, so I started to research Dog stuff.  Dog Days sort of came about as a dare from a friend, and I've always thought FAE looked like the basic means for any narrative with competent characters in it.  Here's a copy of the updated text.  Maybe it's better.  Maybe it's not.

Le shrug.  This remains untested, and still is a living document- it'll change more.  But I like how it's ending up.  It's still less than 2000 words long, which feels fine to me.

The Dog Days.  
A Fate Accelerated Canine Disaster Survival RPG romp.

Theme Song, yep, I went there: The Dog Days Are Over (Florence + the Machine)

Fireworks launch on the 4th of July.  When the explosions end, though, human civilization is no more.  You wake up after the electricity is gone.  You wake up after most of the people have fled in the night.  Your eyes blink open, your ears sting.

The earth is exploding around you.  But you aren't human.  You are a dog.  A dog that had hidden from the fireworks only to find the 4th of July also was the end of their home.

Dog Days is a little RPG about a pack of domestic dogs during the worst summer for humanity.  Do they aid their former masters, or do they go wild in the face of survival?


Dog Days uses FAE (Fate Accelerated), cuz I'm lazy at the moment.  What follows are most of the alterations.  This is mostly an un-playtested musing.  I don't know if I ever plan on running it, but here are the bare bones of the rules I'd use for it.

Dogs have the following approaches available to them instead of the normal six: Hungry, Curiosity, Playing, or Barking.

Use this array instead of the normal one for stating them out.  Choose one at Good (+3), one at Fair (+2), one at Average (+1) and one at Mediocre (+0).


Your canine needs a name.  Select one from the following list.  These are the most popular names in the US (according to google anyway).

20 Popular Male Dog Names

Max, Charlie, Buddy, Cooper, Jack, Rocky, Toby, Duke, Bear, Tucker, Oliver, Jake, Bentley, Teddy, Riley, Milo, Bailey, Buster, Dexter, Leo

20 Popular Female Dog Names

Bella, Lucy, Daisy, Molly, Maggie, Sophie, Sadie, Chloe, Bailey, Lola, Luna, Lily, Roxy, Zoey, Stella, Penny, Coco, Gracie, Zoe, Abbie


Dog Days only has three aspects for its dogs: Breed, Problem and Taste. There's also the matter of the Alpha, which is an aspect with its own rules.


These aren't precise breeds, but sets of aspects to choose one from.  This is a set list.  Select a breed before you select your Problem aspect.
Absent-Minded Hunting Dog;
Energetic Tiny Dog;
Paranoid Attack Dog;
Smartass Terrier;
Lazy Retriever;


Each dog has a problem aspect, something taken from the following list as well.
Rescued From a Shelter;
Homesick For Humans;
Generous to a Fault;
Very Fugly Dog;
More Bark Than Bite;
Rude and Crude;
Soul of a Killer;


Lastly, each dog has a Taste aspect.  This is something the Dog always has a temptation for, something that even calms them in the face of disaster.  Whenever a human gives a dog something that fits with their Taste aspect, it removes 1 feral stress from their Feral Stress track.

Unlike Breed or Problem aspects, it’s encouraged for players to make up their own taste aspect for their dog.  If inspiration is needed for potential taste aspects, here’s one or two.

Taste For Fast Food;
A Scratch In the Right Spot;


Alpha is a character aspect that is earned.  The Playing approach only is used for it.  Determining Alpha requires a dog to play with all the other dogs in the group, to establish their role.  If a human is around, most companion dogs defer to a human as alpha.  But to make Alpha in a group of dogs, you have to win a contest.

Any member of a pack can start a new contest for the role of Alpha.

Alpha means you get first say on resources.  It doesn't confer the alpha to be the de facto boss.  The alpha instead serves as the one who gets food first.  Most often, this also means they get to mate first, etc.  Hopefully you don't need to focus on that part.


Dogs have Conditions, instead of a physical or mental stress track.  This game makes combat more dangerous on purpose.  

Mild Conditions: Bruised [], Hungry* [], Angry []
Moderate Conditions: Hurt [], Ravenous* []
Severe Conditions: Broken [], Wounded []

*These conditions you can be rid of by eating something, anything edible you've found.

Hunger is a constant concern with canines.  Almost always, you mark off your Hungry condition after any scene where you didn't eat anything.

Dog Stunts.

Here’s a selection of stunts all dogs can take.  Each dog starts with up to three stunts.  Use the usual FAE method, although these are meant to be idea fodder if you need them.

Human Handler.  You know how to approach humans, or at least to get them to trust you quicker than other dogs.  If given a moment or two and the chance to lick a human, you can spend a fate point to put the Friendly aspect on them.
Alpha Dog.  Other dogs tend to defer to you, and it’s harder for them to oust you from leadership.  You always are in charge.   Your first victory on a playing contest to be alpha is always guaranteed.


Feral is a separate stress track.  These are separate instances that you can choose to take a point of Feral Stress, with an immediate benefit.
1. Attack a human.  You take a point of Feral stress and immediately lose the Scared condition if you have it, and gain 1 Fate point.
2. Go a whole day with the Hungry condition.  You take two points of Feral stress.
3. Eat a dead human.  You take two points of Feral stress and immediately lose the Hungry or Ravenous conditions if you have them and gain 1 Fate point.
4. Hunt humans for food.  You take three points of Feral stress and gain 1 Fate point.

You have four feral stress boxes, if they all fill-up, you immediately gain three points you can spend on your approaches.  As long as your Feral Stress track is full, you have the Feral aspect.

Feral Stunts.  

When your Feral stress track is full, you gain the following two stunts.

Scent.  Whenever you Hungrily track something's scent, you gain a +2 to the roll to find that prey.
Vicious.  Whenever you Barkingly try to dodge something attacking you, you gain a +2 to the roll to avoid being hit.


After the fireworks on the 4th of July, you've managed to stay hidden from the noise.  You wake to find your home is gone, destroyed by something you don't understand.  The door is open, you aren't barred.  Your people aren't around.

Players at the start of the game begin with a Brainstorm session (see Atomic Robo).  But this uses whatever Approach their dog is best at instead of a skill.  The Brainstorm is to try to explain what happened, what the nature of the disaster was and what happened to their humans in particular.  Players and the GM should feel free to use this to help sketch out the disaster they're dealing with.

The core question of these rules is to ask whether the players go feral or aid humans they encounter.  Attacking "bad" humans can lead a dog down the feral path, but so can going without food for awhile.

The dogs are trying to figure out what happened to their humans.  This is should be the core question each dog is trying to answer.  It should also give them all a reason to work together.


Each dog has a set of Questions they need to answer over the course of the arc of Dog Days.  This is a checklist of questions they need to mark off as they answer them.  Sometimes they raise more questions.  Once all of a Dog’s questions have been answered, their story is all wrapped up.


All of the dogs in the game come from the same neighborhood.  Like in Apocalypse World, generating a map will be helpful to guide things along.  The focus of the game will be trying to answer the questions the dogs have: where are their people, what has happened, and what will they do to survive?


This was just a musing, not a fully fleshed out thing.  I could do more.  But if this is enough for you to run this and you do, please let me know how it worked out for you.  I might revisit it, or I might just leave it up here like the other many things I muse about.