Ok, another question(s) on how you guys handle things.

Ok, another question(s) on how you guys handle things.

Ok, another question(s) on how you guys handle things.

The players are in a room, and being jumped by monsters. One of the characters, the Wizard, isn’t much for combat – so he decides to look for secret doors.

1. How do you handle this? He’s described moving around the room, avoiding the monsters and studying the walls, etc.

2. Whatever method you chose, if he rolls well, do you have a secret door actually exist in the room?

40 thoughts on “Ok, another question(s) on how you guys handle things.”

  1. 1. He probably has to defy danger to discern realities

    2. He gets to ask questions from the list and you answer truthfully. There is “is there a secret door” question. But if a player asks “what here is not what it appears to be” I usually give them something that IS not what it appears to be.

  2. Ok – I just see this becoming a bit repetitive in the long run. This particular character has no overt combat spells, and even when he leveled he decided to avoid Magic MIssile. So his go to in combat is to turn himself invisible, and then search for things. I can’t imagine every room they are fighting in having a trap, or magical portal, or secret door.. it just seems to cheapen those things. Maybe I have to come up with a whole lot more ideas for things that could be ‘not as they seem’.

  3. Ok, though I do worry that the rest of the players are going to start to wonder: Why exactly is he useless in combat? He has the option to not be, and STILL be super useful in all those other situations too. But he’s actively choosing to be a burden in these situations that we know will come up.

    It’s like you go hiking, and one guy says: I’m really good at finding trails, but I’m not going to bring along water. I know that we’ll likely need water, but I just don’t like bringing along water. You guys carry all the water, and I’ll drink yours.

  4. And if he fails his roll he probably gets hit by an orc. There is always a penalty for a 6-. Even if he is invisible, moving around a battle is dangerous. It’d be easy to get hit with a wild backswing.

  5. It’s a bit of a balance between being a fan of the character and letting the player derp out too much. As written, discern realities requires you to “closely study a situation”… unless your combat is a siege that takes more than a few minutes, I’d be inclined to rule that he can start studying, but the roll wouldn’t happen until/if he has a few minutes to look, assuming he can do that without getting bumped/trampled by an enemy/ally, or caught in the area of some spell, wild swing, etc… in most cases, it’ll be after the combat, even without interruption.

    But that seems to be coming down a bit heavy on denying the player what they want to do. It might be more helpful to know why the player wants to play the character that way.

  6. I think it’s more that the player is trying to prove whether or not he can play a non-combat character in a game. I don’t know if that’s a very great disposition to take towards a game where combat will happen though.

  7. “You can’t just stick your head in the doorway and discern realities about a room. You’re not merely scanning for clues–you have to look under and around things, tap the walls, and check for weird dust patterns on the bookshelves. That sort of thing.”

    I’d take that to mean searching a room would be rather difficult in-combat. Using DR to figure out some the crazy illusion your opponent is using is more an in-combat move.

  8. You definitely can but whether or not you should and how that’s possible is going to depend heavily on the situation. I would make a point of endangering his comrades when he fails – put them in a spot because of his disregard for the combat at hand. Alternately, force the other players to make choices about advancing towards victory or protecting the Wizard while he pokes the walls.

    I guess my point is that combat is violent and visceral and shouldn’t just be a cloud of dust with arms and legs coming out of it blasting around in the background while you examine the room.

  9. The other thing is that it’s a golden opportunity to ask about this stuff – “how are you doing it?”

    A Fighter who is able to defend herself while scanning for a way out or a battle advantage is one thing – she’s trained for that stuff. Combat is not a lateral activity. You don’t participate in it willingly, it happens to you.

  10. I’d say that a player who is ignoring the combat to search the room is looking to you to find out what happens. Go ahead and make a move. I like “offer an opportunity” or “put someone in a spot”.

  11. When a wizard can DR with INT I picture it Sherlock Holmes like. He walks in and takes in everything in the room, he just needs time to process all that information.

    Would be a way to do it.

  12. 1. Pretty much what everyone else said: “What are you doing?” probably followed by Defy Danger, and finally Discern Realities.

    2. Once we’re into Discern Realities, you get the leverage of a limited set of questions. The wizard might be looking for secret doors, but that doesn’t mean it’s what they notice or find.

    (Disclaimer: the following is decidedly not rules-as-written) I am strongly in favor of giving positive answers to Discern Realities. “Nothing” seems out of spirit with Dungeon World. I start with what I know, move on to filling in an existing blank, then to changing the world. If all of those fail (pretty rare), “Nothing, and that doesn’t use up one of your questions.”

  13. Alan De Smet: If the Wizard were already invisible, would you still require the Defy Danger roll? If so, does casting Invisibility really do much for the wizard, especially considering he can’t cast other spells while maintaining it?

  14. As I understand it, it is certainly possible that in a simply situation everything is as it appears to be. I don’t think the move forces there to be a secret door.

  15. Michael Barrett depends on the fiction. Generally speaking, searching a room requires poking the entire room, and trying to avoid the fray while doing so is going to be dangerous. Especially given that Dungeon World fights tend to be very fluid. But the situation may vary. It might work well in a large room, especially if the wizard is searching a particular area. Or perhaps the wizard has a clever way to not get accidentally hit.

  16. I’d be a fan of his character. It is hard to be a non-combatant in a world of danger. Celebrate that difficulty. Put him in situations where that choice is challenged.

    Does he search for his own way out at his friend’s peril?

    In a situation where his actions could have saved a henchman’s life, how do his other friends feel about that decision? How about the other henchmen?

    Give him ample opportunities to help dire situations, at the cost of his belief. If the situation is that the wizard will either succumb to violence or the Impending Doom will come to pass, which will he choose?

    Encourage the other characters to write bonds about it. For or against…

  17. Indeed! Here’s some ideas from a GM who enjoys creative creative character development. I always tell my players, the more flavor you give me, the more I’ll custom make the mission for YOU!

    Make a list of 10 “things he could discover” during the next game. Roll a d10 and cross them off as they come up. Here’s a sample:

    1. He notices one enemy is clearly commanding/leading the enemy.

    2. He notices deep scratch marks on one stone wall and areas of blackened soot. There are old blood stains here also. And wait….is that the sound of heavy footsteps approaching?!?!

    3. These walls have looses mortar. They are also bulging and angled weirdly. (Warning for potential collapse somewhere later in the adventure)

    4. While fiddling with a wall sconce, he discovers that it is burning but there is no oil! And the flame gives off no heat. Weird….

    5. He notices an area of loose stone dust and gravel on the floor near the far wall. (It’s a trap!)

    6. There is an area where a few stone wall blocks do not have mortar! Perhaps this is a secret door. However, the mechanism isn’t readily apparent.

    7. Moving around behind the enemy, he discovers some terrain or environmental thing that could give his allies a significant advantage in the battle. Closing a portcullis, raising a drawbridge, locking a door, opening a door, etc.

    8. He discovers a cleverly hidden stone pressure switch on the floor! When stepped on, it opens a secret door on the opposite side of the room. Stairs lead down into swirling mist

    9. (For a failure) on the far side of the room, he knocks over a small metal figuring that clangs noisily to the floor. The enemies turn and move in. He’s surrounded!

    10. He notices that an enemy has Ioose fitting armor that is barely held in place by a single loose strap. Perhaps he could manage to pull it loose!

  18. While not solving the initial problem, I’d try to work in something that makes that wizard’s approach worthwhile in the future, to be a fan of him. Some kind of hazard that only a wizard would have the right knowledge and skills to deal with, that has to be dealt with during combat that he’s not participating in. Like a portal spewing minor demons that needs to be closed by ritual while the rest of the party fights the demons – because if it’s not closed, there’ll be no end to the fighting, and something bigger and nastier will come out.

  19. Thanks for all the advice guys – I’ll give it a go and see what happens. So far there have been 3 total combats. The first he turned invisible and ran after a fleeing orc. The second I decided to give him a chance to shine – they were being chased by an entire tribe of orcs, found some ruins of the ancient evil race, and he found a portal. The rest of the party held off the orcs while he deciphered the runes, gathered blood (from fallen orcs) and then filled the runes the correct runes with blood he had infused with his magic, opening the portal and allowing them to ‘escape’.

    The third time they got into a fight with a group of skeletons and he turned invisible/began looking for secret doors. Not wanting to have him feel left out, and him rolling a good Discern Realities check I went ahead and made a secret door in the room. He managed to get attacked by one of the skeletons and pinned against a wall, and one of the other players saved him. Now they have a secret door to investigate, though I haven’t yet worked out what I’ll throw behind it.

    In the end I just worry about tailoring every scene to his particular skills – especially the combats. It’s going to start to wear thin if there’s always a magic portal, special runes, or secret door that only he can deal with, I think. That said, I think I have to get over the idea that I have to make it easy for him – if there’s a combat, and he wants the challenge of having to figure out how to be useful, I’ll give it to him.

    A bigger concern for me is that another player, when the Wizard leveled, asked him to pick up Magic MIssile to help in combats and he didn’t. I can already see the other player getting a little annoyed- but he’s too nice to ever say anything directly. I just worry about what effect that’ll have on the game. As of now I haven’t toned back the combats because one PC can’t really contribute to it, and the other players are carrying that weight.

    Should I be doing that though? Should I be scaling back the combats a bit since one of the characters is, for the most part, less combat inclined? All the other players have plenty they can do outside of combat, but they are also effective in some way in combat.

  20. Michael, I think you can and should still engage him in the ENCOUNTER, if not the combat directly. Have him be engaged with the flow of combatants, take notice of and then exploit the enemies weaknesses, create distractions, search for exits, spring traps, etc.

    Then, if he is just the player who insists on wandering off and doing his own thing completely separate from his comrades, well, then I think the group needs to address it. Much the same as the thief who steals from his friends. Or the treasure hog who always claims the choice loot. That’s a player dynamic issue.

  21. Random comment: Our dog is of the same color as our living room floor. We love him and all, but because of this coincidence we accidentally step on him a lot, especially when his attention is focused on something other than us humans.

    Being invisible actually opens up a lot of GM move possibilities – the enemies can’t spot him, but then neither can his friends. And some heroes always seem to swing their swords dramatically. XD

    Of course, being invisible is magic and shouldn’t gimp the magic user intrinsically. But I think the issue here is that more traditional RPGs have this notion that invisibility=less danger, whereas in DW I feel it is more proper to say invisibility=the situation changes.

    For the record, I want to play a wizard that doesn’t ever use Magic Missile, too. I personally think that finding ways to contribute to the fight without dealing the damage yourself is a very interesting challenge. Things like making the rogue invisible or contacting a spirit to ask about the golem’s weak point, stuff like that. 😛

  22. Yeah, I don’t like the idea of them suddenly being susceptible to being hit by their friends because they used invisibility – it sort of makes invisibility a hinderance.

    In my mind invisibility means you’re basically free of being directly targeted – suddenly making them more likely to be indirectly targeted doesn’t seem like a lot of fun.

    Honestly, he could be using Invisibility on the Ranger to give him a chance to do called shots, which would be useful. So far invisibility has only been used on him – I wouldn’t say that those uses were wholly selfish, but they were in the end used to keep him out of trouble.

    For his second level spell, instead of Magic Missile, he took contact spirit. I think he’ll get a lot more mileage out of that than the other spell he took at first level, which was Telepathy. That spell seems so limited in use, I think it ought to just be a ritual honestly.

    We’ll see what happens if/when he gets into a combat and tries to turn invisible and then look around for secret doors and what not and the answer is: You don’t find any secret doors or traps. I think I’ve been too easy on him with giving him something whenever he rolls well to find things. That said, if he rolled poorly I guess I would feel justified springing a trap on him or something like that. I just don’t want every single room to have a secret door or magic runes that he finds because he’s searching.

    Thanks again for all your comments! BTW, I don’t think the player is a bad one – I’m mostly just worried about the other players being upset by him refusing to engage in combat directly.

  23. Michael, that’s exactly why you can let the dice rolls determine the outcome of his invisibility, the same way you would with any other Dungeon World roll. Did he roll a nat10+? Then heck, his plan worked gloriously! If he rolled a nat2, then perhaps he springs a trap or something else unfortunate.

    I also don’t think you need to scale down the encounter difficulty because he isn’t engaging in direct combat. However, you CAN “force his hand” by using his own bad rolls to introduce threat and natural consequences of his own actions!

  24. Oh, I hope you didn’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the world should retroactively try to screw over the wizard for casting invisibility on himself. I’m just of the opinion that Invisibility does not negate danger, it just changes the nature of the danger that the GM can use as a move on a 6-, or the imminent threat on a 7-9. 🙂

    And yeah, the wizard doesn’t seem like a bad player per se. He seems to be contributing to the fiction as a whole, it’s just that fighting isn’t what he’s all about. Maybe it would also help if the other players are reminded of that – if it all works out, the know-it-all scholar who’s useless in fights is a common dungeon trope anyway, and if played right the group overall would still have a very positive experience. 🙂

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