In most games you would go turn by turn and everyone would count damage until the monster/villain is slain.

In most games you would go turn by turn and everyone would count damage until the monster/villain is slain.

In most games you would go turn by turn and everyone would count damage until the monster/villain is slain. However, I’m curious whether a GM in Dungeon World SHOULD or SHOULD NOT reveal the HP of an enemy during a fight? Should we instead keep with the fiction and vividly describe how the party is doing? Is letting the players know the numbers behind the fight pulling them away from the fiction?

Take this story here >

Would the encounter, with the right group, be better handled by holding back on telling the group how much more damage they would have to deal before they won?

I’m concerned about how this style of game mastering would affect the overall feel of a session, especially since I’m about to start a campaign of my own with my group.

11 thoughts on “In most games you would go turn by turn and everyone would count damage until the monster/villain is slain.”

  1. As a player (granted I haven’t played but two sessions), I know I prefer finding out about an enemies condition from the fiction, rather than knowing the exact amount of hp an enemy has.  My opinion at the moment is that enemies should hint at their health status by their description in the fiction.

  2. Yep…from the fiction, for sure. “He’s bloodied and weak, but the look of crazed desperation in his eyes tells you that he’s not done for just yet…what do you do?”

    Of course the real answer is “whatever the group is cool with!”, but speaking in numeric terms just seems boring. 

  3. Michael Pearce and kreg mosier have said it already… so, how about an example?

    “The hobgoblin warlord stumbles forward, hunched and holding the bloody gash at his side. His massive cleaver, which he swung so effortlessly only minutes ago hangs limply in his grip. He looks weak, broken even.

    But in his eyes you see another opponent; this one is fierce, unwilling to yield. This one finds the will to tighten his grip on that cleaver, to inch forward just a few steps more… The warlord lets out a cry filled with pain and fury, raises his weapon and swings at you; what do you do?

  4. You can also use 0 HP creatively, to indicate a foe’s ability to continue fighting. Perhaps at 0 HP they know they’re beat, and surrender.

    “The goblin chief grunts in pain at your blow, and drops his massive cleaver. He tries to get to his feet, but can only manage to get one knee under him. You see the defiance leave his eyes, and he speaks in broken common.”

    “You are…win, Invaders. Cannot stop you from kill and take.” He looks you in the eye. “You have kill…watch-fight. I ask,” you can tell he’s struggling to stay up, and struggling with the language.

    “Do not kill spawn-pods. Kill me, take all, but leave…childs to grow…” He painfully raises his head to look at a cave behind him. What do you do?

  5. Tommy Brownell however in Savage Worlds you can soak enemies wounds, so if you do this “sectrely”, then the players cannot tell how many wounds the enemies have. I often describe the thing into the fiction, so they can eyeball if I soaked, while they are not sure 100%.

  6. In Dungeon World you could give a monster a move like “To move in another combat zone and take a quick rest when heavy battered”.

    This can absolutely give the Master the power for describing the beated enemy retreating from combat – as in the action movies we enjoy so much – and waiting the heroes in the next room, with new enviromental features AND a bunch of extra HPs to keep the combat rolling for another while!

  7. I’m all for transparency. I would not reveal the number of HP left outright because: boring; however, I would give the information when asked about it openly. I think it’s very important that everyone at the table is clear on what is actually happening in the fiction. 

  8. As a player, I like the whole surprise factor of not really knowing how much this sucker has left in them for the fight and it pumps me up to think well when its my turn, I am gonna just bring the thunder to this fool and put him down..\m/

  9. I ran a game, for a group which included the person who actually owned the game, and had wanted to experience it as a player. His knowing the hit points of the various creatures (and announcing them) didn’t help maintain the mystique (but then again I was having to refer to his PDF for these details, so I should probably have prepared a little better up front). Though possibly I wouldn’t mind so much if NPC guards, soldiers and warriors in general didn’t seem to go down quicker than a PC wizard with no combat experience.

    Using the fiction to inform your players rather than the stats allows the GM to tweak the story a lot better (my personal preference would probably be to make more of the opponents tougher than ‘canon’, to add a touch of reality, or at least threat, to the encounters).

  10. I always keep the numbers a mystery but add descriptions to give hints like others have suggested.  Some enemies might even be more of a mystery.  How does one tell that an Ooze is hurting in the heat of combat?  It can be tough.  So mixing it up with mysterious creatures can add to the excitement too.

  11. From my Number Appearing Game:

    Laughter (the young dire hyena, the gnoll ranger’s animal companion) is worrying at the Big Sunloving Butcher’s leg, but that doesn’t seem to be bothering him, too much. He’s wearing heavy boots and partial grieves, a helmet with a nose-guard, a thick coat of fine ring mail and carrying a big sun-shaped shield. However, Halrag’s arrow finds a gap in between the mail and the helm and lodges itself deeply in his neck! Blood sprays out of his mouth as he roars and swings at Brudda!

    That’s obviously a mortal wound, right?  Now, if they can only hit him hard enough to get past his armor again before he kills Brudda, they’ll probably win the fight…  I’m not even telling you guys how many HP he has left!

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