I’ve been pondering the 16-hp dragon recently, and thinking about the “+messy” tag for monsters.  I ran Jason…

I’ve been pondering the 16-hp dragon recently, and thinking about the “+messy” tag for monsters.  I ran Jason…

I’ve been pondering the 16-hp dragon recently, and thinking about the “+messy” tag for monsters.  I ran Jason Morningstar’s Slave Pits adventure recently, and the PCs ran into the plant with the +messy tag.  The first player it hit, it shredded the clothes off their leg.  The second player it hit, it gashed and disabled their hand.

Any other thought about how to play the +messy tag when used against the PCs?  A range of +messy monster/situation ideas would be useful.

14 thoughts on “I’ve been pondering the 16-hp dragon recently, and thinking about the “+messy” tag for monsters.  I ran Jason…”

  1. I believe the +messy tag was listed as the reason the dragon bit an NPC in half with a single bite, as well tearing the arm off an NPC.  It seems like disabling appendages in various ways might be a result of a +messy creature.  What else?

  2. How do people deal with what happens after the PCs have encountered a critter with the Messy tag? Presumably, they’ll be horribly scarred, missing limbs and other bits of bodies, etc, and in fact fictionally far worse off than the mere HP loss might indicate.

    How do you handle this? Does your game grind to a halt while everyone heads off to find a healer? Do you allow PCs healers to also treat things like missing limbs? Or do you impose Debilities, etc, on PCs who’ve been “Messily Injured”, or prevent them from regaining HP until they’ve dealt with the issue in-fiction?

  3. So far my Messy has only meant indirect and slobbering. A messy attack has splattered blood, done collateral damage to the surroundings or left a trail of goo. I haven’t used it to dismember. My instinct would not be to apply a penalty without some kind of advantage or means to lift the penalty. 

  4. Sarah Newton  I am also very interested to know how to deal with the messy tag without inflicting serious debilities to PCs. With an arm  cut off, you die in a few seconds even if you’re a hero.

    Should it just be an aesthetic/cosmetic narration or should it be an effect more crippling than the mechanical loss of HP ?

  5. I think inflicting +messy should probably depend on a few things:

    *  The needs of the story.  Do the PCs have a healer available that can handle a mangled hand or arm?  If not, will those injuries provide some interesting challenges for the PCs or be an awesome denouement to the story?

    *  The fiction of the bad guy.  A +messy gray slime will likely not decapitate, and a +messy dragon may not melt your shoes with noxious slime.

    *  Hard moves following soft.  Showing that the plant has sharp thorns by having it shred someone’s clothes, then having it tear a hand open.

    I would definitely impose in-game penalties for missing arms and/or shredded hands: bleeding, pain, lack of use.  I would kill the missing arm guy if he wasn’t stabilized right away.  You could grow an arm back, possibly, with the right magical assistance.  I inflicted a permanent 1d4 Constitution loss on a character who took a vicious belly wound (from an ally who was trying to give a healing potion to his unconscious body).

  6. Joel Watkins I would feel horribly gimped if my character ever got such a permanent stat penalty. Why would you even want to do that? I see no way how it’s “logical” or follows the fiction.

  7. I’m perfectly willing to use messy as an excuse to destroy gear and damage armor.  With enough Signs of Impending Doom, it could escalate to inflicting scarred or outright biting chunks off, but that would be for a monster I really particularly want them to be afraid of.

  8. The Wizard was mortally wounded by a spell he had cast.  It had been established in the fiction that he could “overload” his spells to take damage.  The Wizard had fatally overloaded a fireball to destroy the game world equivalent of the Hoover dam in a massive “hadouken” spell.  The Wizard was unconsciouly expiring in the Thief’s arms, who was unable to get him to swallow some healing potion.  The Thief pulled out an injecting dirk, filled it with healing potion, and jammed it into the Wizard’s stomach.

    I’m no biology expert, but injecting something into someone’s stomach with a dirk doesn’t sound like safe medicine.  It seemed like a sound trade off for cutting into someone’s digestive track.  Plus, “oh, you’re all better now” seemed kind of dumb.  I might let him heal the Constitution damage if he comes up with something entertaining.  🙂

  9. I presented a friend to Dungeon World and the 16hp dragon, he hated the way messy was handled in it, because he felt it was too arbitrary, in that regard he mentioned how FATE’s consequences are more interesting to him because he, as a player, gets to decide what he suffers, if anything.

    In my opinion using the tag to remove parts of the character is a very very bad rules decision, messy is a descriptor of how the damage applied by the monster works, sure, but having an arm removed might not sit well with a player just because a rule he doesn’t even know exist says it could happen if the GM wants it.

    It sure as hell can come from the contract between players and GM, it can even be something a player craves when fiction comes into being, but those are not rules. It is perfectly okay if everyone is on the same page (meaning it is not mere GM fiat) and the event doesn’t become a permanent penalty to a character, because that is something players rarely will sign up for.

    As a rule, the problem should be able to be circumvented in two sessions, if the characters pursue it, something should be presented to the players and characters as soon as possible, preferably in the same session.

    As suggested by Colin Roald using signs of impending doom is something that should be done prior to the loss of body parts, and even then I would probably tell the player something like:

    “The Dragon strikes you with its bite, you feel the teeth sink deep into your arm, blood runs down your side, under your armor. Roll damage!”

    The player rolls enough to go down to 0 HP, I continue:

    “As you feel the teeth sink you get dizzy, you have an option here: either take that damage entirely or take half damage and describe to me HOW you managed to avoid death at a dragon’s teeth, like loosing that arm.”

    I would turn that choice on the player, hell, I could even make a move for messy monsters, where the player can take the damage or reduce it (up to negate it), as long as he looses something fitting.

  10. Raoni Monteiro, I think it’s a nice touch turning the choice on the player. The thing I dislike mostly with in Joel Watkins way of handling the constitution damage, was that he gave another player the choice to gimp the Wizard. I think the actual player deserve such a choice.

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