As I mentioned last week, due to work commitments I've had to take a few weeks away from regular games nights and Dogs in the Vineyard. Dogs is the first campaign that I've run, and it's been really enjoyable. It is a system where there are so many different directions that a game can go in. Even with the simplest of backgrounds and a handful of NPCs rolled up you can get an intriguing game going.
I read the final section of the pdf a few days ago, and there were some neat thoughts that have helped steer my thinking a bit more as well. Vincent Baker describe it (paraphrased badly by me) as a noir investigation that happens to be set in an alternate West. And with several factions possibly at play, none of them exactly in the right - but one or more of them probably very much in the wrong, it gives the Dogs something to do.
In the first and second sessions the Dogs set up a town meeting, so that the guilty/sinful could confess in front of the whole town and hopefully get rid of any bad blood that existed. This worked really well, a solution that I didn't see coming at all. Quite a facilitated solution in fact, the Dogs didn't immediately pass judgement, but brought out into the light everything that was going wrong. And they were happy with how things ended up.
And yet in the last town they were deeply unhappy with the situation as they arrived in the town of Jewel: daily sundown services where people confess the wrong they have done so that the demons are kept at bay. Leaving aside the demons (whose existence wasn't proved until the last session), they did not like the Steward leading these public confessions. And then one of them said, "Is that different from what we did?" - which was a great realisation. It was in no way planned by me (the setting detail of the sundown service had been made before the start of the campaign), but was a neat thought. The Dogs do have a final say: I don't judge their choice of actions, and there is no higher authority in the game that says they can or can't do something, other than their own thoughts/beliefs.
If the Dogs start to doubt past actions perhaps that leads to something interesting - as I plan for possible future sessions - can I exploit their doubts somehow...? Present them with situations where they might really disagree? Can I devise a situation that's not "on-rails" but which is a kind of Kobayashi Maru? Not so that I can say "that was a bad decision" but so that THEY can't see a way out, but have to act all the same. And when they do act, how will they respond to the consequences?
(lots of half-formed questions there! Apologies)