A’right, guys – let’s talk about Tags.

A’right, guys – let’s talk about Tags.

A’right, guys – let’s talk about Tags.

I’m building fronts and beasties for my new campaign, and am (only mildly) confused by the loose tags for monsters.   Let’s take Messy, specifically.

I’m working on an automaton – a sort of clockwork contraption of whirling blades that would essentially be tagged as Stupid, Clumsy, and Messy.  As I understand things, these tags essentially give me license to affect the fiction in ways that are appropriate to the tag.  That is, the beastie is intended to be really dumb; it lacks self-preservation, won’t notice even obvious traps or ambushes, and would charge heedlessly at an enemy even with a gaping chasm filled with lava between themselves and their target.   Clumsy?  They’re easy to knock over, prone to falling over, and don’t handle things like stairs well.

However, Messy has direct consequences to the players – getting hit by one of these things isn’t a couple of clean wounds; it’s more like running into a blender set on frappe’.  I get how this works fictionally – how should I treat this systemically?

Is this a matter of more hard moves for damage, with bigger consequences?    When do we maim or visit fictional consequences beyond damage?  Is the answer always ‘when the fiction dictates it to be so?’

2 thoughts on “A’right, guys – let’s talk about Tags.”

  1. It sounds like a cop out, but that’s it right there.  If the monster didn’t have messy and it hit a PC, you’d be within your rights to narrate pain and blood but probably nothing that wouldn’t heal up right.

    Messy means broken bones, torn flesh and nasty damage that sticks around.

  2. Messy is a description tag as well, wounds aren’t simple cuts and bruises, they are open wounds with flesh torn around and apart, sometimes chunks missing, if they go unhealed they become ugly and so on. In my mind a messy monster’s attacks are dangerous in an obvious way, you don’t have a shred of doubt, and it is brutal.

    It is like watching an alligator attacking its prey, it is vicious and it is obvious.

    As for consequences beyond damage, the fiction surely has a say in it, but the players must be cool with it more than the fiction. I had a character that was blinded in D&D 3.5 because in the fiction a war hero noticed my eyes were being used for scrying by the bad guys, I didn’t doubt it was needed.

    I wouldn’t be happy if it happened because a robot swung at me though, so it really depends on everyone’s moods and dispositions. When it comes up in my game I will make an offer when someone gets a huge blow by a messy creature:

    You can take all that damage or you can choose to tell me HOW you go on after what happened, even giving a choice, if they take it, I ignore the damage and go with the fiction and fictional results, if they don’t take it then I apply damage with descriptions but no larger overall impact.

    In the end I will have gauged them for how far are they accepting loss of part of their characters, and I don’t mean members, I mean of how they envision them.

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