In our last game, the Mammodon Barbarian, Yig, died.

In our last game, the Mammodon Barbarian, Yig, died.

In our last game, the Mammodon Barbarian, Yig, died.  He fell to cultist spearmen in the depths below the swamp.  At the gates of death, he wrestled with Ymir, god of all the ancient tribes, for the right to live.  Ymir snatched away his soul’s rune and said “You’re mine, now, little calf, but go back to the world, for I am not done with you.  I will see you in time.”

Yig’s player rolled a -6, so this wasn’t a bargain, this was Death saying “get back out there and finish your quest but remember, you’re done when I say you are.”  Yig is tasked with finding an artifact, the key to the Dragon Graveyard, and now, he’s a dead thing, walking a dark path.  

The game took a strange and awesome turn.

28 thoughts on “In our last game, the Mammodon Barbarian, Yig, died.”

  1. Not a good thing. It just makes all the actions and efforts of other players worthless. Because from now on, even if they don´t admit it, none of the players will have to fear that their character dies. They know you cheated the rules in the past… Surviving a confrontation or a fight with a strong foe is no longer epic…

  2. David Reichgeld re-read the Last Breath move.  On a miss, the character is dead, but it doesn’t have to be right now.  Think about Tony Stark.  He’s been dead since Iron Man 1, he just manages to hold it off.  If Yig ever lays down his quest, he’ll die.  His existence depends on the pursuit of his holy mission.

    It gives the player the freedom, too, to step away from the character whenever he likes.  He can say “Faced with insurmountable challenge, Yig finally gives up, passing into the great beyond.” and then he can roll up a new guy and away we go.  Consider this a “soft move” when faced with the golden opportunity of a missed death roll.

  3. Jeah, but your choice is meaningless. its has absoluteley no consequences for the character. Sure, he won´t be able to settle down, have a family and whatever, but since your playing adventures, nontheless, thats meaningless. Every time now, any other character on your group dies, the player can ask himself out-play “Ok, so the barb just lived on, why don´t I?” . And you thought them the lesson: Failing is without consequences. 

    Your option would be a hell of a choice for a 7-9.

    Of course this is my personal opinion, but in my eyes its not a good move.

  4. If the players ask that, they’re missing the point of fiction first.

    Why don’t they live? They weren’t a mammodon on a holy quest who wrestled his god. That’s really straight forward, I think?

    I think that’s a cool way of handling that miss. Yig’s life is no longer his own? Cool. I want to see what he does now. More excerpts please!

  5. That sounds like a strange 6- result to me too, but I’m not at Adam’s table and don’t have the context to know how it felt.

    Last week, my char rolled two 6-s attempting something crazy dangerous and then both the chars trying to help rolled 6-, and the net result was a weak “you slipped” so this week we may retcon it so that my char blew his arm off or something.

    GMing DW and other AW hacks is always a process, I find. Even veterans don’t always nail it every time (I know I don’t), but it’s really about the net experience more than getting every single call exactly right (thank goodness). The important thing is for the characters to feel like both the fiction and their choices actually matter.

  6. Jonathan Walton to give a little more context; when Yig lost his last hit point, I described how the move works and asked “what is death like, for the Mammodon.” and he told me all about how you face god at the gates of death and wrestle him and how he has this necklace of runes, each one representing a soul of a dead mammodon.  If you snatch a rune from him, you get into valhalla.  If he takes yours, you’ve died an ignoble death and he gets to decide your fate.  

    He rolled and got a 6-, which reads “On a miss, your fate is sealed. You’re marked as Death’s own and you’ll cross the threshold soon. The GM will tell you when.”

    So, I decided that Ymir would snatch away Yig’s rune, taking hold of his soul, the spark of his existence, and since we’d already established that Yig is a special mammodon wandering the earth in search of a stolen artifact, that Ymir wouldn’t accept his death.  He basically said “you can’t resign.  you’re not out yet.  you live, but only because you have a job to do, big guy.” and sent him back.

    Now, Yig is this weird, soulless creature – living and breathing but without a soul in his possession.  The quest isn’t just about the key or his people any more, it’s about his soul.

    So, he’s dead and has paid the price, but Death won’t let him give up the ghost.  I can’t wait to see what happens NEXT TIME Yig meets Ymir.

  7. Jonathan Walton this is the same player who is playing Amakai the Seeker in our DCC game and is probably the best player I’ve ever had in terms of just taking little things and running with them.  He’d make an awesome DW / AW GM.

    (we’re talking about you, johann grenier) 

  8. Rolling 6- for a move is not the same thing as failure, right? I think that consequences should be the carrot of a good story, perhaps sometimes by putting the character in a new and interesting place different than where he was planning on being/going, rather than being a “bye, thanks for playing” stick. Everybody’s had a character that’s just flat out died, why not explore some options?

  9. Scott McGougan “Most moves won’t say what happens on a 6-, that’s up to the GM but you also always mark XP.”

    So in this case, I made a move to “Reveal an unwelcome truth” (your life, poor Yig, is not your own) and play kept on rolling.

  10. I can’t take all the credit for the awesomeness of my characters Adam. You have created (in both games) a real visceral experience that has allowed me to raise my roll playing bar. I feel that nature of these two games in particular, let me be as experimental as I want to be.  It has been challenging creatively, but I feel that I have been able to bring things to the table that help make the game lively in terms of a living breathing world. I feel that I lead by example so that that other players can see that they can do anything and in turn I learn from the amazing creativity that they bring to the table.

  11. Adam Koebel I think that freedom codified into the rules can lead to some awesome places. It took a while for my ingrained concept of “anything other than success must be failure” to yield to that notion. Now there’s a whole new raft of spots Yig can himself in!

  12. Opportunities are a foot; when I come across a cleric can I be turned?  Or does the paladin in my group turn on me when I do something that isn’t up to his moral code. All fun stuff to stew on. It is all reminiscent of 70’s comics and fantasy movie fluff.

  13. It sounds like adam’s followed the spirit and the letter of the move. The more detailed explanation of the move says “maybe not right now, maybe not tomorrow, but Death has claimed you.”

    It’s also not just about “keep adventuring” for the mammodan, if he ever completes his quest, Ymir will tap him on the shoulder and say “nice work. Here’s your place in kickass bad-dude heaven.” Ad that’s it.

  14. I have just reached 2nd level with Yig and so far it has been pretty fun. Currently my appetites are “riches and property”, “fame and glory”. I’ve added “power over others” to sort of round out my barbarian. Although I’ve only had a few chances to explore my appetites. Using the d8 for rolls has had an equal amount of positive/negative outcomes. It’s really been fun giving the mammodon race life. Maybe Adam Koebel can post some of his notes of my descriptions so that other players can see what is in my minds eye for them. As to the other abilities for the barbarian, “What Are You Waiting For” hasn’t worked for me yet, “Unencumbered, Unharmed” is pretty cool. My favorite though is the “Outsider” fiction. Coming up with sweet back story for my barb is awesome, especially combined with mammodon race. 1 exp reward for back story yes plz!

  15. You know, I have been retooling World of Dungeons to fit some D&D 4e concepts, and I am now officially stealing this as one way to introduce Revenant pcs.

    So, hello Barbarian Crow, too.

  16. Awesome way to handle Last Breath Adam Koebel 🙂

    I find it funny though that David Reichgeld think that it removes the feeling of consequence for the players. As I see it, the consequences are just so far unknown.

    Besides, I’m not a fan of consequences aimed at players. Character death is mostly detrimental for the player, not the character. Unless the death had meaning somehow.

    Death by selfsacrifice = awesome story potential.

    Death by series of bad rolls, and with a total lack of meaning; not so much.

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