Just a thought; isn’t the point of “grim portents” to give you a ready list of GM Moves to use on a miss?

Just a thought; isn’t the point of “grim portents” to give you a ready list of GM Moves to use on a miss?

Just a thought; isn’t the point of “grim portents” to give you a ready list of GM Moves to use on a miss? Like, preparing for bad rolls advance?

30 thoughts on “Just a thought; isn’t the point of “grim portents” to give you a ready list of GM Moves to use on a miss?”

  1. Not exactly. The point of grim portents is to give a specific threat a list of stuff that it does on its way to messing everything up. You can use them like hard moves on a miss, or you can use them to set the next scene.

    They prepare you for pretty much everything, not just misses, since it’s the choices the players make that determine when a danger is defeated, not just good rolls. The might concentrate all their efforts on one danger and ignore a second. So you keep moving that second danger along on it’s “plotline” regardless of what the roll.

  2. Sure. Mostly what I mean is they’re not JUST moves you make on a miss, and that the main point is for them to make dangers that feel like real things, with their own agendas, so it doesn’t seem like the GM just making shit up on the fly all the time. They are a tool that organizes “GM moves” plus “NPC motives” plus “possible scenes to frame” into one simple list.

  3. OK. The question was mainly asked because our second session is coming up, and I feel we advanced the story enough that I can actually make a front, suitable to the story. I feel I “get it” now. Thanks 🙂

  4. Ah! Yeah, cool. In that case, if it helps you write them, you can totally make a list of hard moves you would like to make and then give them to specific dangers and form them into grim portents lists or countdowns. That’s just as legit as thinking up a danger and asking yourself “what would this thing do?”

  5. I find that they’re the moves that I do when the players decide to futz about and waste time.

    They’re the bad things that happen if the PCs don’t intervene, so whenever the PCs say “Hmm… We should probably make camp and rest up before rushing into danger,”  I start checking off Grim Portents.

  6. Dylan Boates _Make Camp_ doesn’t allow the GM to make a move? Only if it somehow trigger the golden opportunity clause.

    In my view, the character can only be in a hurry if it is already established in the fiction. As such, making camp wouldn’t be a golden opportunity to me.

    If they know they are running out of time, then it’s an entirely different story.

  7. Yeah. I think that’s a golden opportunity, provided that we already know that they’re running out of time.

    However, I don’t think the CHARACTERS necessarily need to know that they’re on the clock.

    I don’t want some weird “Schrodinger’s Evil Plot” situation where the villains plans don’t advance until the PCs are aware of the plot.

    Instead, there’s an understanding between me and the group that the world is a thing that changes around them and if they spend a significant amount of time not taking action then things are going to happen without their input.

    However, these things don’t have to be things that are BAD for the PCs. (Just like any GM move.)

    I’ve totally seen situations when the PCs decided they didn’t really mind the default course of events and just let shit happen while they dealt with more important things.

  8. Yeah, what Tim said as well.

    The GM can make a move whenever it’s their turn to speak. That move can often be “Show signs of an impending doom” accompanied by checking off a grim portent. (Since grim portents are basically “signs of an impending doom”. That’s what “grim portent” means.)

  9. Page 266 in the Holy Book, at the top:

    You make a move:

    •  When everyone looks to you to find out what happens

    •  When the players give you a golden opportunity

    •  When they roll a 6-

    While the book is not very specific about, what a golden opportunity actually is, a golden opportunity must come from established fiction. Otherwise it would betray the principle Make a move that follows, since it states that your move should always follow from the fiction, as explained on page 163.

  10. Tim Franzke You should think off-screen, but until something is shared with the group, it is not established fiction. Thinking off-screen doesn’t mean that “I can do anything, whenever I want”. It merely means that the effects of a move can be unknown to the players, and in a sense this is the same as making the move later.

    The examples in the book about when the GM has a golden opportunity all have the thing in common that the PC’s ignore a threat. You can’t ignore something, if you don’t know it exists.

    I wouldn’t be too liberal about interpreting when something is a golden opportunity. I feel it betrays the collaborative storytelling effort of the group.

  11. I’m not trying to force anything upon anyone, and I don’t want to point fingers. What I say is just my honest interpretation of the rules. Your game is your game, and as long as your group is happy, then you’re not doing anything wrong 🙂

  12. I think the important part to keep in mind is that checking off the grim portent isn’t your move. It’s establishing some prep off screen (which you can do at any time) and should probably be accompanied by a move that SHOWS the players how the situation is evolving.

  13. I’m not sure what you mean by “bringing a Grim Portent to bear on the players”.

    If that Grim Portent is directly affecting the players, it’s probably a move. If it’s not directly affecting them, it isn’t.

    For example, in my last game there was a city under siege. One of the grim portents was that the battle for the city begins, so I checked it off.

    The players made camp and I told them they could see smoke in the distance over the city.

    Now, that was me making a move (Show signs of an approaching threat) but checking off the portent itself wasn’t.

    If the players were underground and couldn’t see any sign of the battle, I could have just decided without a move “That city is totally under attack by now.”

  14. I mean, a demon can only ravage a town and eat the entire populace as a part of a move, whatever the reason the GM got to make the move. A grim portent is just a list of things that might happen, but they shouldn’t happen unless it’s the GM’s turn to make a move, right?

  15. I don’t think so. The GM moves are all phrased as things that happen to the PCs. Something that happens off screen without directly affecting the PCs isn’t a move, it’s just prep.

    I don’t have to make a move to decide that the city over the hill is full of elves, right?

  16. Ahh, I think we might have been talking past one another. The GM is responsible for “describing the situation”, and I would describe your second paragraph as doing exactly that.

    To me, a move can be abstractly described as changing a state, while defining an initial state would fall under describing the current situation.

    My logic might be fallible, but that is how I differentiate between these too things. 🙂

  17. Maybe we’re on the same page after all.

    I agree with what you just said, but I don’t think it requires a move to change the initial state as defined by the GM’s prep without directly affecting the PCs.

    So I might have planned that the city wasn’t under attack, but the PCs haven’t gone there yet, so it’s no big deal if I change my mind.

    If the PCs had some sort of vested interest in the city, things may be different.

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