So I’m struggling with how to mechanically factor in something my player wanted to do.

So I’m struggling with how to mechanically factor in something my player wanted to do.

So I’m struggling with how to mechanically factor in something my player wanted to do.

He’s an elven fighter with a forceful, messy two-handed war axe. He wanted to wade into a horde of ghouls with his axe flailing about trying to strike at all the ghouls at once (he jumped directly to narrative with his intent to chop all their heads off in one awesome swing, which is totally sweet). 

I was at a loss for what to ask for. In the moment I was thinking Hack and Slash, but now looking back, I’m thinking more Defy Danger, but I’m not sure whether beheading piles of ghouls in one move is something I’m comfortable leaving to one roll.

What would you have done?

18 thoughts on “So I’m struggling with how to mechanically factor in something my player wanted to do.”

  1. I would use hack and slash, since it seems he is wading into melee. The entry for hack and slash includes then line, “If the action that triggers the move could reasonably hurt multiple targets, roll once and apply damage to each target (they each get their armor).” I would limit the number of ghouls he could potentially hit to, say, 6. And then of course he would be exposing himself to up to 6D8 of piercing damage by wading in there like that…

  2. There is no try in Dungeon World.  You should have asked how he was trying to do that.  The answer is: I jump in and swing my axe with abandon.  Now it’s a hack & slash.  The beheading comes with the description of the damage being done.

  3. You could make them a set of monks. Just have one hp pool, and when you deal x damage out of that pool one of them dies. Then, if he can deal enough damage in one blow to empty the pool, just have him behead them all.

    Or, if he has a really good narrative reason to be able to behead them all at once, just make a custom move with whatever relevant state, on a 10+ he does it, on a 7-9 he does it but with a complication, maybe they were bait?, then on a 6- make a hard move.

    In the case that the narrative makes it clear that he should be able to do it, just let it happen as the narrative suggests. You roll the dice when failure is interesting, after all.

  4. If they had been zombies, you could have made the case for them being an environmental hazard which could be overcome by defying danger (basically they’re so slow that you can kill them like dodo as long as you don’t let them dogpile you).  Then they could hop right down in there and disable the zombie threat with a defy danger (Dex).

  5. So would you have him roll his damage and apply it to all the ghouls? That’s what I’m struggling with currently. In the moment, I penalized his Hack and Slash and had the damage go for all the ghouls if he succeeded. He rolled a 7-9, so he got a shot in that almost killed the entire chamber of ghouls in a whirling slash, but they also swarmed him in a pile and he took a MONSTROUS amount of damage. Good old Fighter.

  6. Joshua Bailey I think we had the big mook group discussion last week. I don’t think it’s a good idea and it doesn’t give every monster life.

  7. Jason Lutes So I printed out an abbreviated version of the basic moves as player handouts and I didn’t even look at the multiple enemies portion in the explanation in the book. So he can totally wade in like that. I love it! And it totally didn’t end in his death (it totally did end in his death, but that was just a minor setback really).

  8. I remember a rule about splitting the damage between multiple targets.. Was this changed at some point?

    I like the apply to all better btw, gives the fighter a lot more potential.

  9. I’m inclined to agree with Joshua Bailey on the custom move idea. Hack n’ Slash would cover it, but it seems like it could be at odds with the narrative. If the fiction actually allows him to jump in the middle of a group of enemies, then it seems like he would have a momentary advantage (surprise). A 7 – 9 Hack n’ Slash roll resulting in decapitation doesn’t make sense unless ghouls are adept at attacking with no heads, since they get to attack. And saying they attacked him before they were decapitated also doesn’t make a ton of sense, since it’s awfully hard to take a big swing like that when you are being tackled by a horde. I suppose that you could get creative since Hack n’ Slash says the enemy “makes an attack” rather than deals damage, but I find it hard to imagine what that would be like.

    The custom move makes sense because it lets the fighter be totally awesome, but still gives the GM the ability to add something that might make more sense than what Hack n’ Slash allows for.

  10. AFAIK the fighter should damage all the enemies he can hit according to the fiction, up to how many the table agrees is logical. However, any enemy whose attack he is ignoring (i.e. not trying to avoid), automatically hits him.

    Also remember that damage for multiple opponents is not rolled normally: only one enemy rolls, and you add one for each extra enemy. Obviously this is for multiple mooks, if you have named enemies you are better off considering each separately in the fiction.

  11. Andrea Ungaro I totally botched that damage roll! Thanks for the reminder. It was still totally awesome at the table, but I’ll have to remember that when we hit our next session so when he inevitably wades into the thick of things I’ll get it right next time.

  12. I allow multiple attacks for all classes as long as it makes fictional sense.

    The way I do it is if you spend less than half the amount of damage you do on a kill, then you can take the remaining damage to an adjacent target.

  13. My 2 cents: I let my players with 2handed weapons to roll H’n’S and “d&d cleaving” the enemies. So if every ghoul has 3HPs, and the warrior rolls 11 damage, with a single move he can chop 3 heads (9 HPs) and his massive axe ends the run in the neck of the fourth ghoul (2 HPs).

    Now, if the warrior rolled a 7-9, then the ghouls can inflict damage too. If those ghouls usually do d8 damage, then they get d8+3 (+1 for every ghoul after the first one in the mob). Of course, 3 on 4 ghouls are dead, however you can follow the fiction, saying that the axe struck in the neck offer a meager parry from the attack of the remaining ghoul.

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