Chained Dog Syndrome
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Bill Foster: I've passed the point of no return. Do you know what that is, Beth? That's the point in a journey where it's longer to go back to the beginning. It's like when those astronauts got in trouble. I don't know, somebody messed up, and they had to get them back to Earth. But they had passed the point of no return. They were on the other side of the moon and were out of contact for like hours. Everybody waited to see if a bunch of dead guys in a can would pop out the other side. Well, that's me. I'm on the other side of the moon now and everybody is going to have to wait until I pop out.
Beth: The police are here.
Bill Foster: Did you know, Beth, that in some South American countries it's still legal to kill your wife if she insults you?

Falling Down

Basic Information

It's not a good idea to chain your dog up unless you have to - especially not in a public area like your front lawn. Thing is, there's people out there - usually kids - who think it's really funny to annoy the dog from just beyond its reach, and as long as the dog is still there, they'll keep doing it.
Sooner or later, the dog moves from the position of a mostly symbolic display against strangers to associating strangers with being poked with sticks whilst being partially strangled - and that can really ruin a dog's temperament. And then, one day, a kid misjudges the length of the chain - or the collar comes undone or something and there's bits everywhere and everyone blames the dog.

That's bad enough when it comes to man's best friend … but the same goes for people too, and it's often the people you least expect who snap the most violently. Of course people aren't literally chained up on a lawn (normally), but there's plenty of folk out there who spend their lives being continually annoyed by things they can't do anything about and, if denied any peaceful way out, may one day snap and start killing people.

This is usually the background behind spree killers and road-rage attackers - and it's not unusual for the chained dog to be perfectly obvious in hindsight: quiet1, solitary2, and a bit wierd3. Sadly, as with the real dog, it's rarely the ones that did the taunting that get bitten.


Falling Down is a great cinema example of this.
As is the Wanted graphic novel (forget the film) - although the protagonist then goes way off in the other direction.

1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • If your players are prone to baiting NPCs, let them have one of these go off just behind them and let them think about their contribution.
    • Perhaps leave the NPC lying about before hand - the PCs might have a chance to defuse him or channel that rage onto something else. Like a species that it's socially acceptable to massacre.
  • Your villain may turn out to be one of these - as good a motivation for being an omnicidal maniac or outcast necromancer as any.
  • A good occasional NPC for a law enforcement campaign - even if the PCs role is investigating the crime rather than stopping it.
  • The animal version could apply quite literally to some guardian beast - and make the job of the party animal specialist that much harder because the beast is at least partially insane.
  • Or just be a rampaging monster - a bull or bear escaped from a baiting pit would be a good monster in a pre-modern campaign, as would a deranged dog in a modern one. Many dogs 'trained' for dog fighting have much the same psychological issues - and the preferred fighting breeds seem to be bred a little unstable anyway.
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