So, ran my first (successful) game of DW at the weekend there. Had monumental fun.

So, ran my first (successful) game of DW at the weekend there. Had monumental fun.

So, ran my first (successful) game of DW at the weekend there. Had monumental fun.

But here’s the question….

Each time the party dispatched some grunts they wanted XP.

My understanding is that you only ‘mark XP’ when rolling a -6, playing to your alignment, or resolving bonds?

Is that right?

Because there was one player who was consistently rolling badly – failing just about every roll, and another player who was successful at everything they did (don’t believe the rolled a -6 all night).

So is it right that the useless character (who actually cause the party alot of trouble due to the ‘unwanted attention’) will end up with more XP than the character who actually took care of the situation (dispatched the grunts)?

That doesn’t seem fair to me….

61 thoughts on “So, ran my first (successful) game of DW at the weekend there. Had monumental fun.”

  1. Stuart – One way to look at is to think about XP as “lessons learned.” While the player who kicked butt was great at fighting off the grunts, he was much less likely to learn anything than the guy who was tripping over himself all night.

  2. Just a quick answear: yes, that’s how it works. But you can change your point if view of the whole things: he is not the useless character, but the one who has dealed with more trouble, after all.

    It’s also a matter of fiction and how you describe things during the game.

    If you make the life of the “useless character” interesting and challenging as a consequence of his bad rolls it’s a thing, if you just blame his character for the negative consequence it’s another completely different things.

    I hope I made myslef clear, I don’t speak english.

  3. Couple of points:

    First off, don’t forget the “End of Session” move. They also get XP for defeating a significant enemy, learning something about the world, and finding a significant treasure. It’s a bit of an expectations adjustment from other RPGs, I’ll admit. It doesn’t matter how many enemies they defeat, as long as they fought someone who wasn’t a complete pushover then they get one XP. You don’t need a ton of XP to

    Second, there’s not as much of a significant difference between a level 1 character and, say, a level 2 character apart from having the extra move, one more stat point, and (maybe) a few extra HP. Remember, hit points and damage dice don’t scale with level, so “keeping up” with higher-level characters isn’t as much of an issue as it would be in D&D. While a higher-level character might be doing more damage due to moves, characters are capable of a lot of things outside their combat effectiveness.

    Third, as characters level up the failures become less common. When you’ve got a +2 on a roll, you’re really only failing on a 5 or less on the dice, and when you get to +3 you’re only failing on a 4 or less on the dice.

    Fourth, to be frank there’s a difference between an “ineffective character” and someone who’s rolling shit. If someone has a +2/+3 stat (and is therefore mechanically effective) but can’t roll above a 2, that’s…not the system’s fault.

  4. Think of it like this: you get what you want or you get XP. The only way you miss out is if you sit back and don’t do anything (also known as a golden opportunity).

  5. I had this problem in a game where I was succeeding a lot session after session, to the point of lagging almost 2 levels behind others. That’s an extreme situation. The best way to think about it for me was: yes, I’m a level behind, but I AM A FREAKING HERO! Seriously, while everyone else was struggling to cast a spell or tumble out of the way of falling rocks, I was punching every bad guy in the soulgem and walking away in slow-mo from explosions.

    I do think there’s some weirdness about how narrative vs. meta rewards are doled out in game. But grousing about having a consistently awesome character is kinda bad form, imo.

  6. “..I was punching every bad guy in the soulgem and walking away in slow-mo from explosions.” – Travis Scott

    One day, I will have a character who is this awesome. Typically, I’m the eleven fighter who can’t even tie his shoes without triggering a hard move.

  7. That’s how I explained it to the players…. the guy failing his roles is learning from his mistakes, where-as the guy getting non-stop successes isn’t being challenged at all and is relying on what he already knows.

  8. I like that DW’s XP-for-failure system helps “level the playing field” between those who are failing a lot, and those who are doing great, perhaps because of lots of bonuses or whatever. It’s hard to get out of the mindset of “I’m not keeping up with my allies,” but your players really need to do that in order to stay in the spirit of the game. It’s not competitive.

  9. Also, the “failing character” (Human Chaotic Bard) – was failing in spectacular ways. eg; Pulling the “Power Stance” as he belted out “Carry On My Wayward Son” on his ukulele for the +D4 damage to the Theifs attack…. Roll=Snake Eyes. “One of your strings was horribly out of tune from where you fell over earlier – the dischordant racket reverberates inside the cavern, and from the distant depths you hear the sound of Goblin voices chattering”.

    The fact it was the Bard that kept rolling rubbish was funny, as we’d already established that he was an ex-celebrity bard with a pipeleaf addiction, who’s best days were behind him.

  10. “The reason the bard is getting XP is because he’s making us all laugh, dude. Don’t worry– he needs the extra XP/levels to become as awesome as you are already.”

  11. Dungeon World Experience points aren’t rewards you win after a battle. That’s what fame and gold and treasures and having intact internal organs and such are for. Dungeon World experience points represent /actual/ experience. For instance, maybe this XP is the lesson “I should check that all my strings are in tune before playing in a cave full of goblins,” and that XP is the lesson “my shots keep pulling to the left and hitting the Fighter, so I should probably aim more to the right.” When you’ve gathered up a healthy breadth of lessons from failures, you implement them and improve by leveling up.

    If the players want more of a reward for individual fights without the usual carrot of XP points you’d get in other games, maybe try tossing them a handful of GP and more frequent magical items instead?

  12. D&D and DW reward different things because they’re about different things. D&D is about overcoming adversity, so it rewards that. DW is about exploring the world and your character, and about dealing with the consequences of your actions, so it rewards that.

  13. I agree with every comment here. On the other hand, if you have a group that’s more of the “winning=advancing” crowd, the compromise is to make your GM moves harder. I myself am a big fan of “taking away their stuff.” It’s a pretty serious penalty without straight-up killing them. If, in your game, XP is a consolation for poor rolling, then you can make your moves so hard that your players mumble “at least I got XP,” then yell “NICE! XP!”

  14. Any time you transition hardcore D&D players to DW you’re likely to get a little resistance to some of the ideas. The games look similar on their face, but they’re doing very different things under the hood.

  15. I guess we were all still in the “video game” mindset of “Kill = XP+Loot”… you should have seen the looks the players gave me when they searched the troop of Goblins they had just defeated and all they found were some smelly, soiled loincloths and a few sticks. They were like “Where’s all the gold?!” >:)

  16. It’s weird when you think about the idea of traditional D&D-esque goblins having cash. Like, why do they need money in the first place? It’s not like they’re going to run down to the corner store and buy supplies and stuff.

  17. I see goblins as having a barter economy. And when I say “barter” I mean “I have more physical power or social status than you, therefore you will give me what I want.” Only, y’know, in goblin speak. I also see goblins as maybe taking a few of the shiny coins they take off the humans they kill, but they probably don’t see them as currency; they fashion them into jewelry or melt them down and make little goblin sculptures or whatever.

  18. Brian Engard The gold is like a goblin’s way of keeping score. The more coins you have, the better you are at stealing stuff from those stupid humans.

    What I’m saying is that gold coins are a goblin’s gamerscore.

  19. I’m actually liking this idea; goblins are actually teenage orcs, running around “pwning” (orcish slang for “dominating”) people for no other reason than some nebulous score. The main goal is getting a “cheeve” (orcish for “token of recognition”).

  20. For me it boils down to the Story Games ethos: the collectively told story is more important than those of the individual characters. When that is your guiding principle, players missing is awesome. Their failures let you make hard moves, which gives them more opportunities to be awesome. And make no mistake; they should be failing awesomely as well as succeeding awesomely. The outcome of the move should always be interesting.

    If one were to play DW with a more traditional, character-first attitude, then yes, a constantly failing player is a nuisance. But when you view failure as an opportunity to tell a richer story, then that character becomes a prime driver of the fiction.

  21. The great thing about Dungeon World is that the three outcomes allow you to do different things with the story. A 10+ allows you to showcase a character’s awesomeness, really shining a spotlight on them. A 6- allows you to make hard moves that drive the story, snowballing one into the next, creating more conflict and story for the players to deal with. A 7-9 is a little of both, and gives you the option of letting the player choose to be awesome at the cost of a hard move.

  22. Yeah, The Bard’s many and fantastic failures provided the bulk of the entertainment for the evening, either making an unholy noise with his ukulele (and not buffing anyone) – attracting anything close-by; he was also overweight and at one point was hanging by his little finger off the edge of a chasm – it was the thief’s job to clean up after him. Can’t wait for the next session

  23. To get back on topic here…

    Failure in *World games is different to how it is in D&D, and really most other games.

    In D&D, most of the time there’s no real immediate consequence for failure. When you fail a roll outside of combat, it usually just means “you can’t do that thing you were trying to do” and you stop there. In combat, when you miss there can be as much as a 20 minute gap between your turn and your opponent’s turn, so there’s no feeling of connection between the two.

    But in *World, when you flub a roll then the consequence happens right there and then and you know it’s because of your failed attempt at whatever. Something happens because of the failure (so it’s not just “oops, you can’t do that, you’re done”), and that something flows naturally from the failed action (so you don’t have the “I missed the bad guy, now I have to wait to see how he reacts” thing either).

  24. Brian Engard Not to mention that failure is just as interesting as success in a narrative. I’d say moreso, because seeing a character fail and keep trying really helps endear him to you.

  25. I particularly like it when my players fail on their Discern Realities and Spout Lore rolls because I tell them what they think, tell them how their thinking is tragically incorrect, and they act on their characters’ faulty information anyway. It’s fantastic.

  26. Also, getting back to the original question again, You don’t get XP for killing shit in DW, you get it for being true to your ethoses of your character and the game.

  27. You do get a little XP for killing shit (defeating a noteworthy enemy), but not for killing a bunch of goblins. You get it for going after the goblin king and taking him down, or defeating the giant that’s plaguing the town. Live big or go home!

  28. One thing to also note about ‘failing upwards’ as my group calls it. Yes, you can fail a number of times in a row and get lots of XP but the flip side of the coin is the compounding of the failures and therefore more and more serious consequences.

    My character was trying to do everything and being a barbarian he was not good at key ones therefore was leveling up quickly. An end result was that he lost a leg (well the lower half anyway) and was heavily penalized for a time until he was able to find a steam punk style bronze one (now he calls himself Azog Goldenboot) at a later time. Lessons learned but through a painful experience…..

  29. It’s also worth pointing out that not only does the XP required to advance increase as you go up in level, but as your stats increase you will fail less often, getting XP at a slower rate.

  30. So if the stars were aligned just right someone could, by Defeating a single significant enemy, mark XP three or four times? If the defeat resolved a bond and played to a characters alignment (and race)?

  31. Yup. Of course, that’s assuming the only thing that happened during a session was the fight and nothing else. Still, in a normal session players will usually get 3-5 from the EoS move.

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