Conflict in Marking XP for Failed Rolls.

Conflict in Marking XP for Failed Rolls.

Conflict in Marking XP for Failed Rolls.

Some people, it seems, get really competitive about gaining XP and leveling. Last night, a player stormed out because the group was gently suggesting that rolling and rolling just to fail was perhaps not a realistic or constructive tactic. Another player leveled up twice in one session (at the end), again due to five or six failed rolls in a row.

I want to combat the competitive spirit at the table, but I don’t know if I can or should. I’m thinking of implementing a house rule: you can only mark XP from failed rolls three times per session. Also: stating that you’re looking for moves to fail will fail to trigger said moves.

19 thoughts on “Conflict in Marking XP for Failed Rolls.”

  1. The guy who rolls a lot for whatever reason is actually a GM’s friend. Huge number of misses by themselves do not ruin the game. The conflict between players is, that you should be solving.

    I had pretty similar problem once: group didn’t like me rolling too many weak stats with disastrous results. So I backed off. Try to talk your player into this or try to calm down the opposing side.

  2. Totally agree with Vasiliy Shapovalov. A 6- move should always pass the “Oh, Shit! Test:” If the person rolling a 6- doesn’t say “Oh, shit!” as soon as he/she looks at the dice, then you need to make harder moves!

  3. How is he rolling again and again? You can’t roll unless your character is performing, in the fiction, the actions that trigger the roll.

    Multiple rolls means doing that action multiple times. You need to stop and ask yourself if that’s possible: if it’s something like searching a room via DD then sure, you can try multiple times – but if your target or situation is dynamic, it’s not going to be possible for the trigger to always be valid, which means the player isn’t going to be able to attempt the same thing over and over again.

    Secondly, each attempt is going to take up some time. While one player attempts the same action five times in a row, what is the actual world around them doing? The orc patrol isn’t going to quietly wait for the players to spend five hours searching a room before happening to pass through it, the spiked ceiling isn’t going to just stop and hover in midair while your players make multiple attempts to find out how to disarm it, no one is going to just stand there while the Fighter keeps trying (and failing) to stab them, etc.

    Thirdly, a failed roll means you get to make a hard move. Make a hard move. Strip them of their equipment, do serious damage to them, introduce really unwelcome consequences, etc. They need to feel that they’re under pressure, and that dallying is going to lead to bad things happening, because that’s what the mechanics support. A miss should always mean that the cost of having attempted an action outweighs any potential benefit; if the benefit is high, scale the cost of a failure appropriately.

    Finally, be grown-ups, have a word with the player and tell him to stop trying to powergame roll failures

  4. Ed Gibbs , well, personally, I like having a mixture. Sometimes players should be a little sad that they succeeded, and sometimes they should be devastated that they failed.  

  5. Alex, Ed, Jason, everyone. Thank you. The guy who rolled six failures was helping/aiding or discerning realities. I allowed this to stump me on what hard moves to make, but I guess I should just make them anyway, and not worry too much about causal correlation.

  6. Discerning Realities is for studying something closely, so it takes time and interaction with the person/item/sitch. Aiding actually requires you to perform an action that helps the other player in their roll. Both of these take time and expose the player to consequences, so you’ve got a pretty easy way of introducing any kind of complication you want. 🙂

    Oh, and keep in mind that “the person you’re helping takes -1 forward” is a totally valid consequence of a failed Aid roll.

    Regarding causation, part of the fun of DMing DW is that the mechanics encourage you to improvise by introducing new dangers. They don’t need to have been previously established, they just need to be believable – and they can and should change things up quite a lot.

    “An orc patrol comes by” when the PCs are exploring a burnt-out farmstead or a room in a dungeon is both totally valid and also raises some cool questions: why are there orcs here? Why are they patrolling? Who do they report to? How come we didn’t know about them? Are they here in secret? etc.

  7. You failed your sixth discern realities roll in a row? I guess you didn’t notice that big fucking troll right there. He eats you. TPK. Done.

  8. When I’m stumped on hard moves, I’m a big fan of causing damage. Roll snake-eyes while trying to aid someone? You hurt them, roll damage! You blow a discern realities? You don’t see the trap spring above your head; roll damage!

    It’s not very fun, but at least it passes the “Oh Shit Test.”

  9. If your players pitch a fit, show them this post;

    you don’t get to just make rolls whenever you feel like it.  describe your character doing stuff. rolls might or might not happen. if you fail, it will hurt you.

  10. Remember to think off screen and that what happens after a failed roll does not have to correspond with the type of move they made.

    As Alex Norris said, the Orcs will come back around but it can be bigger than that too. A thunderstorm (OR FLOOD) rolls in! Try missing your DD on purpose player…I freaking dare you.

    Also, how old are your players? 8? Storming out like a child.

    They may just need to be reminded that you’re all there to have fun, perhaps let them know that before they can play again they need to listen to how this whole fiasco ruined the game for the other players.

    If that doesn’t work try giving each of them a lollipop and sending them to separate playgrounds. 

  11. It is especially silly to get competitive about leveling to a point where it creates hard feeling and disrupts the game for Dungeon World; one of its many excellent features is you can have a party of level 8 veterans and a level 1 character can join the group and contribute just fine.

  12. Matthew Gagan So true!

    Aaron Sturgill Sorry for attacking your players. I think I was running off of two hours of sleep when I posted last.

    It does really seem like their problem is one that has almost nothing to do with the game  and as such, should be addressed outside of the game.

    Good luck man, I am sure you will do fine 🙂

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