As a GM, how often do you assign situational modifiers?

As a GM, how often do you assign situational modifiers?

As a GM, how often do you assign situational modifiers? (taking -1 for a very difficult move) It only takes +5 to push failure off of the table, and that seems easy to accomplish starting with a +3 from an attribute of 18. I have noticed people calling for some very complex moves that encompass multiple things on their turn.

23 thoughts on “As a GM, how often do you assign situational modifiers?”

  1. In my understanding, I never give bonuses or penalties for moves. Unless I missed something while reading, I just take it as being a fan of the characters and letting be awesome instead of making it harder for them.

    I also think that if they’re trying some sort of complex/dangerous/etc move then the risk of what DOES happen when they fail is penalizing enough, haha.

  2. I never do. Discussion around Apocalypse World from Vincent concerned an experimental move something like “If it’s felt a move is exceptionally difficult, take -1”, and (if I remember this correctly) it was felt unneccesary after a couple of sessions.

    +5’s never happened in my group, though. It doesn’t seem likely to happen – aid another and Bards, or multiple people helping, I suppose. What else? DW magic items shouldnt give a bonus to chance of success.

  3. I’d say that a natural two should always be a fail, and that eliminates any worry of failure being “off the table”. 

    But yeah, I never throw around modifiers. It just doesn’t feel like it adds anything.

  4. I never do it.  The only bonuses come from +’s forward or ongoing and Attribute Modifiers and any penalties come from debilities.  There is no “this is hard take a -2.”

    It’s one of the things that makes *World games a breeze to run.  I’ve never seen a shortage of failure either =)

  5. I have used modifiers and negs, but only in DW hacks (home-brews still in the works) where the numbers aren’t quite as consistent. It works okay I guess, but I don’t know that it really adds anything.

  6. Like others, my own answer is “Never.”  But I’m interested in “I have noticed people calling for some very complex moves that encompass multiple things on their turn.” Am I correct in understanding that your players are describing multi-step actions?  I would generally break them into individual moves (but being careful to not turn it into “I’m going to keep adding rolls you need to make until you fail.”).  When the character has made some concrete progress (or concrete setbacks), I’d stop and find out what another PC is doing.   For example, “I run across the room past the goblin archers, pry open the chest, then stab the magical heart inside!”  Probably Defy Danger to get safely across the room, then off to other players, then perhaps some sort of move (Bend Bars?) to force the chest, then off to other players, and finally to the stabbing.

  7. Alan De Smet . You nailed my answer to a t. I do not allow more than two rolls for any characters actions, that’s a defy danger, and the move they defied danger to be able to do. That’s it.

  8. This seems to go against DW phillosopy. Note that there are no modifiers on the most common rolls, like volley. Instead there is a trinary system of auto success, trigger a move or auto fail. As for me personally I’ve thought about it in theory but in practice I’m yet to encounter a game situation that called for a modifier.

  9. Thomas Roberts I experienced that kind of limit before and it took a a lot away from my enjoyment of the game. Why do you have such a rule?

  10. I never do this. If you really think something is extra difficult, ask yourself why that’s the case. Most often, you will see that there is an extra complication that needs to be overcome. Don’t apply modifiers, just, as is appropriate to the fiction, deal with the complications first through their own moves. This increases risk of failure or complications, and also tells you exactly at what stage in the attempt something goes wrong, which is useful information.

    For instance, attempting to navigate a particularly deadly gauntlet could just be broken down into dodging the particular dangers, etc.

  11. Never.

    Difficulty is represented in two ways in DW:

    First, in what move triggers. For a particularly skilled character, a situation might not trigger Defy Danger that would for another character, or vice versa.

    Second, in what happens on a miss/7-9. If you’re doing something that’s “hard” you can expect me, as the GM, to make a harder move if you fail.

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