22 thoughts on “Can you play well in a dirty and gritty world with DW’s rule?”

  1. Well, how do you define dirty and gritty low fantasy?

    I think it will depend on how hard the GM’s moves are, and what options are and aren’t available to the PCs. As long as everyone agrees to the basic premise of “Hey, this is a gritty low fantasy game” before you start, it certainly seems doable.

  2. Yeah, I think you can. It might be useful in the first session to have everyone take part in the world-building, to establish what’s appropriate. For example, is it OK if any player is a Wizard and if so how are public displays of magic treated by the people?

    The Walking Eye recently revisited Dungeon World for a few sessions and, if I remember right, their world was quite low-tech (if not low fantasy), barbaric stuff – the cleric’s god was a devourer of worlds, that sort of thing.

  3. About the “a sword cut can easily kill you”… I wouldn’t go there, that’s a slippery slope and soon enough you’ll try yourself wondering about how much realistic is this attack or that parry. Even in GoT, though, big strong characters like The Hound can “easily” kill 4-5 people without being harmed. 

    You can go as gritty as you want with the tone, but in DW (as in every other game inspired by Apocalypse World) the PCs are more than heroes: they are unique. They cannot defeat an entire army single-handed, mind you, but they can surely endure several wounds without passing out. Their Hit Points and armor are far better than an ideal “average” and they can surely perform impressive feats. Making them special and unique is one of the foundations of the game. You can surely tamper with that, but keep in mind that if you do, you’ll be changing the game quite radically…

  4. Well, I feel like you can separate out “low fantasy” and “gritty.”

    Gritty: yes, totally, easily. All you have to do is set the tone and maintain the world such that the player characters are real people. As an example, an ogre charges you. The player says “I set my shield and get ready to bat him away to the side, using my shield to redirect his weight.” If your dungeon world is less gritty, you might say “sure, defy danger with Str.” In a gritty game you might say “I don’t think that’ll work, it’s an ogre, it’s like a Honda Civic crashing into you, just setting yourself won’t do much.”

    Low Fantasy: I assume this means less magic, etc? That’d require a fair bit more work. Note that the typical bastion of high fantasy, magic items, aren’t a big deal, you could easily play a game of DW with the only magical item being the fighter’s sword (if they choose certain options) or even no magic items at all. Spells and rituals and gods, on the other hand, are pretty baked into several of the classes. They’d be tougher to take out. You could probably go low magic with, say, a barbarian+fighter+thief party, since magical healing is far from required. But if you have the wizard, cleric, paladin, druid, ranger (advanced moves), or bard you’re going to get a fair bit of magic.

  5. I’m inclined to agree with Nikitas Thlimmenos about avoiding the sword swipe can kill you type of thinking.

    Sure prep, and timing and training all matter…but they’re also kinnda boring. 

    It should not just be any sword swipe that can kill you. Very seldom in Game of Thrones is someone like the Hound, Jamie, or Barristan laid low by some commoner with a sword.

    If a character is killed by “ordinary” means, it is likely that they bloody well deserved it, and there was a great deal of significance in the ordinary.

    For example, it would be perfectly fitting for Tyrion Lannister to be killed by an ordinary “lady of the night”, because that ii a place of weakness for him.

    I think that makes sense.

  6. I heavily disagree that you should think about players only being killable by “real” enemies. Follow the fiction: a dagger in the gut is going to kill you just as surely no matter who put it there.

  7. Isn’t “this guy is a worthy opponent” equally subjective?

    “Subjective” is a tricky term. We don’t want the GM to be arbitrary, but we do want them to be subjective, because humans are awesome. If we try to eliminate the subjective we’re ignoring the greatest asset at the table: the people.

  8. It would certainly be a world where the GM had access to hard moves like “knock a character unconscious” and even “severely incapacitate a character” — it isn’t a “named” character who cripples Ned Stark, but a lackey.

  9. Oh btw: Ned wasn’t a player character in that scene, Arya/Sansa rolled a 6- on Discern Realities and the GM used Geofreys “Make a monstrous decision” move.

  10. I was speaking of the fight on the streets where Ned’s leg is crippled by a spear thrust (and remains so for the rest of the book), not Ilyn Payne executing him.

    I agree with you on the latter, but the former is very much a showdown between Ned and Jaime and their entourages of guards.

  11. May I quote you on “Judge the fictional situation, not the narrative worth.” because I think you are raising a very interesting point.

     I would like to create another thread on just this point with your permission

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