Leadership in Belonging Outside Belonging

The Pack is a Belonging Outside Belonging game about domestic dogs who form a pack after they wake up to find all the humans gone. You play to survive and to find out what happened to the humans.

Conventional wisdom says that a pack of dogs has an “alpha,” who is dominant over the rest of the pack. (According to wikipedia, this isn’t strictly true, but it is apocrypha that’s widely accepted.)

I’ve been thinking about adding a mechanism to Belonging Outside Belonging that elevates one character to a leadership (“alpha”) role. That role isn’t necessarily permanent, and other pack members can challenge the alpha’s dominance.

How well do you think something like this would work at the table?

At the beginning of the session, there’s a separate pile of 3 tokens called the dominance pile.

Pack members would all have access to the following moves:

  • Weak move: Obey the command of the alpha against your better judgement
  • Neutral move: Disobey a command that would cause you distress or harm
  • Strong move: Assert dominance over the alpha so other pack members see (physically overpowering the alpha or disobeying a reasonable command)

Whomever holds the Alpha role would have access to these moves:

  • Win a challenge to dominance = put a token in the dominance pile
  • Flub an important decision = take a token from the dominance pile
  • Fail to give direction at an important moment = take a token from the dominance pile

When the dominance pile is empty, the character must give up the Alpha role.

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I think Yes it will work but. It’s only one gauge and. From my perspective it lacks canine we-ness. That is : it reads things from outside the pack. Like, some have named it “simulation vs emulation”.


This is pretty interesting, and definitely a different direction to take BOB. I don’t think there’s an inherent reason this wouldn’t work, but I have some reservations.

  1. Adding a second currency might just make the game more complicated. BOB is beautiful in its simplicity and ease of use, and breaking up the game more by having a second currency might not play out how you want it.
  2. BOB already has a mechanic for changing playbooks around! Maybe instead of “setting elements” you have “pack roles” with more stringent pick up/put down conditions. Whenever the Alpha cedes to another’s authority, they must put down the Alpha playbook. Whenever a dog does something incredibly stupid they pick up the Pup playbook. Whenever a dog protects one of their own at steep cost, pick up the Guardian playbook.
  3. Definitely read Bite Marks, which is a great game that already includes a rotating Alpha role. Maybe you can take some inspiration from there.