I’ve always wanted to fight in large gangs against other gangs, but it was very difficult in most role playing…

I’ve always wanted to fight in large gangs against other gangs, but it was very difficult in most role playing…

I’ve always wanted to fight in large gangs against other gangs, but it was very difficult in most role playing systems. Mainly because those systems are simulations. The last battle simulation we had in Pathfinder was an utterly boring exercise in book keeping. We did stuff to increase statistics on a spread sheet and then had the battle based on that. There was too much mathematics and very little story attached to it. 

Because Dungeon World is not a simulation I believe it is easy to create a mechanic that will support compelling story telling. This is my go at hacking Mob Fights into Dungeon World.

I would really like feedback, and if anyone is interested enough to play test it, it would be fantastic!


5 thoughts on “I’ve always wanted to fight in large gangs against other gangs, but it was very difficult in most role playing…”

  1. Wynand Louw, what stops DW from being playable as-is for mob fights?

    If you describe the dangers in fiction as something that cannot be dealt with in a single instance than that changes the pace. You are allowed to zoom in and out as you see fit to make the fight flow the way you want.

  2. @ Matt.


    It depends on where you stand on the philosophy of DW.

    There is a spectrum of RPG’s: Fully narrative to highly simulative.

    When a game is fully narrative there may be no dice, no underlying numbers and statistics, just loose rules regarding storylines. It is basically improv acting.

    When a game is a simulation there is a number and a mechanism for everything and everything is decided by dice rolls and stats.

    Fiasco is a mostly narrative game. The dice only have the function of nudging the storyline in certain directions. GURPS and Pathfinder are on the other side of the spectrum.

    Where does DW lie?

    I believe somewhere in the middle, and here is why:

    1) The tag line is “Old style RPG with modern rules.” While the original D&D (the “old style” to which the tagline refers) was not much of a simulation it had its roots in miniature gaming, which is a simulation. There were tables and statistics and multiple dice rolls. And certainly the designers of DW often refer to the old D&D as the touchstone experience they tried to recreate in DW.

    2) DW is Stat driven: Each PC has 9 stats. The basic ability stats + armor, damage and hit points. Monsters have stats. A monster is officially dead when it has 0 HP. A PC lives or dies at the roll of a die. (Last breath)

    3) Dice are rolled (Trent and Deana of Grimworld say in their video: “At day we do all that, but at night we roll DICE!”)

    4) DW is more narrative than most mainstream RPG’s because there are no Difficulty checks or opposed rolls: At this point it breaks down as a simulation. 

    5) Some special moves favour narration over number-mechanics.

    6) Tags favour narration over number-mechanics.

    I think (imho) that there are a lot of people who would like to see DW more narrative and less mechanics driven than I believe it is. Many comments on this forum downplay numbers in favour of tags. I believe both are necessary. That is what makes DW shine in my opinion. 

    Lets say you have a mob fight with 50 combatants on a side. The PC’s can only engage so many opponents in the fight. What happens in the broader battle is totally and utterly beyond the scope of the current number-mechanics as is found in individual battles.

    So the larger battle becomes purely narrative driven, mostly by the GM. It may be a good story, with fantastic cinematic highlights, but it is still, at worst, told by the GM alone, or at best collaborative by the players also but with no possible surprise outcome. 

    What creates tension (excitement) in fiction? Uncertainty.


    Why are RPG’s played by millions and improv theatre by the few? Because RPG’s have the uncertainty, and thus the excitement of DICE.

    What are the RPG moments you never forget? That one in a lifetime natural 20 when you defied all odds and brought home the bacon. 

    So yes, you could play mob fights all in the fiction only based on tags. That is absolutely fine. You could also play sea battles (the other concept rules I posted) all in the fiction only based on tags. 

    But if you want to make the fiction really exciting, introduce uncertainty: DICE rules that prop up the fiction where it needs to be propped up to create tension.

    What I tried to do here was to bring Mob Fights, which are totally playable in the fiction without supporting number-mechanics, into the radius of the mechanics in order to create tension. And I tried to stay true to the core rules.

    Whether these concept rules are a success in its current form is debateable. I hope to be able to develop it into some sort of a success, eventually.

  3. Gottcha.

    Good on ya for wanting to make it better. There seemed to be too much focus on numbers (for my tastes) in your rule set. Taking away from the description and leading towards the chart based combat you described as unappealing.

    Custom moves kindda fill the roll of large scale narrative control for me. Give these examples a look:

    -When you command a battalion roll +Cha…

    -When you overtake another ship with a group of scurvy dogs roll +Dex…

    -When you lead a gang in a fist fight roll +Str…

    Then you just have the outcomes be something you find fictionally interesting based off of the same numbers and language that DW already uses.

    Thank you for the idea though, I’m defiantly getting hungry on the idea of a gang fight now…Hope my players are in the mood for a throw-down tonight! 

  4. Hi Matt

    Do you realize that the custom moves you just described are in principle exactly the same I tried to do here?

    The only difference is that I introduced a new  modifier, based on the story the GM wants to tell. And there are no charts! The only chart in the piece is the one giving the statistical chances of things happening with certain modifiers – which is the core mechanics of DW and all the custom moves you also proposed! I included it so that a GM could make an informed decision about what modifier to use DEPENDING ON THE STORY he wants to tell.

    I do believe that everything I propose use the same numbers and core mechanics DW already uses. What makes these custom defy danger moves different from a custom defy danger move like this one?

    Replacement Technique (DEX) 

    When you Defy Danger by switching places with an object in an instant, spend 1

    Ninjutsu and roll +DEX.  *On a 10+, you leave a clone behind to take the hit for you Take

    +1 forward against your baffled enemies.  *On a 7-9, you have to leave behind something

    to take the hit. 

    (From the Ninja playbook posted today. This move also introduces a new number: Ninjutsu…  Like the Mob Buff.)

    or  this one: “-When you command a battalion roll +Cha…” ?

    I really think we have the same approach. All I did was propose some structure to moves very similar to the ones you proposed. (AND THERE ARE NO CHARTS….)

    Enjoy the mob fight tonight!


  5. Thanks man! I will.

    Not sure what made me think that was different. Might be that it wasn’t purposed as a custom move but a “New Ruleset.”

    Either way,

    Happy Hunting!

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