Can anyone tell me the difference between a “hard bargain” and an “ugly choice” as mentioned when Defy Danger…

Can anyone tell me the difference between a “hard bargain” and an “ugly choice” as mentioned when Defy Danger…

Can anyone tell me the difference between a “hard bargain” and an “ugly choice” as mentioned when Defy Danger results in 7-9? 

They sort of sound the same to me and I can’t seem to find those terms further explained in the book. Can anyone share some examples of each? 

13 thoughts on “Can anyone tell me the difference between a “hard bargain” and an “ugly choice” as mentioned when Defy Danger…”

  1. Hard Bargain: Hmm, yeah, that doesn’t work as well as you thought. How about XYZ instead? AND/OR Okay, you can do that, but only if you accept that XYZ happens too. Is that cool? (Note that these are real and not rhetorical questions).

    Ugly Choice: Hmm, okay. But you can’t have both X and Y. Which one is more important to you?

  2. Good question!  I’ve had similar things bounce through my head.  The DW Player’s Guide (available free on the internet) has some pointers, but more ideas might be better.  Oh Adam Koebel and Sage LaTorra ?  Can we get some permanent links on the left navigation for the official DW site and the Player’s Guide?

  3. Hard Bargain: they can get what they want, but they have to pay for it with something (safety, shame, something precious to them)

    Ugly Choice: they can’t get both, so they have to choose one to let go of.

  4. Well, it’s not just an opinion you’re asking for, it’s a choice: “You succeed if X” or “You succeed but X or Y, pick one” or something like that. It’s very important to note that they DO get what they want on a 7-9, or at least have the opportunity, but it’s not as easy as it would have been on a 10+, there’s some consequence they’ll have to face.

  5. Sorry; I was unclear. They don’t get what they want, because you’re modifying it and adding a downside. By definition, it’s not what they wanted, cause its not like their objective was “get pincushion’d by arrows while running through the trees.” The distinction is splitting hairs though — just explaining myself.

    They still get their objective, but you put your bloody fingerprints on it. How you do it doesn’t super matter, as long as you get their feedback in the process.

    I called it opinion, cause I always frame it as such.

    “So, hey, do you run out of ammo or do you lose your footing scrambling for a better position?”

    “So, hey, do you leave yourself open on your flank or do you get pinned in the corner trying to protect your flank?”

    Yeah, they’re choices, but the players get input, and I’m getting them to feed into things on the level of “how they think things go wrong.” Yeah, they’re choices; but it’s a conversation, no harm-no foul in calling them opinions.

    Sorry for any non-clarity. 🙂

  6. Oh, okay a Hard Bargain is sort of a compromise between the DM and the player whereas an Ugly Choice is the DM forcing the player to choose between two aspects of his action.

    Actually, it almost sounds to me like an Ugly Choice is a type of Hard Bargain.

  7. Look, honestly, don’t worry too much about the distinction. They’re not formally defined terms or anything, just natural language. Use them in whatever makes sense to you, following your principles and agenda.

  8. Defy danger confused me for a long time before I realized that the objective of the move is always avoiding the danger. On a 7-9, you avoid the danger but you may not accomplish what you were trying to do, allowing things to snowball.

  9. Yet Ben Wray, I still find it useful to clarify what the 7–9 options could mean because they didn’t inspire me until I understood them. Like, I’d look at them when I had to say something and I’d be like:

    let’s see hard bargain, ugly choice, worse outcome… ummm, what’s the difference… shit, what am I choosing between here… yeah, I’ll just make something up.

    This is how I think of them.

    Hard bargain: Pay this cost or don’t defy the danger.

    Ugly choice: Defy the danger but pay this or the other cost.

    Worse outcome:This is the cost of defying the danger. Pay it.

    So yeah, a hard bargain is a kind of an ugly choice where the choice is pushed earlier; avoid paying the cost by dropping the whole thing. You just walk away from the whole deal, so to speak.

    Whereas with ugly choice, at least how I parse it, you’re committed, knee deep; your choice is with which cost your willing to pay. And you will pay a cost because it’s too late, you’re already committed to defying the danger.

    And worse outcome, there’s no choice. Defying danger hurts. Suck it up, princess.

  10. Thank you Oliver, that makes a ton of sense. Understanding the difference helps me think up a larger variety of partial success results. (Which is important since there are so many of them)

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