Sage LaTorra said in the thread on whether DW is suited from a gritty & low fantasy campaign that you should judge…

Sage LaTorra said in the thread on whether DW is suited from a gritty & low fantasy campaign that you should judge…

Sage LaTorra said in the thread on whether DW is suited from a gritty & low fantasy campaign that you should judge the “Judge the fictional situation, not the narrative worth” as to a lowly NPC killing a PC with a single blow.

I would like to ponder a moment on this sentence (hence I am creating a new thread) and put it in a wider context.

I think it is an interesting sentence because it pits fiction against narration but I am afraid I respectfully disagree.

I actually think the exact opposite which is that at DW, Narration trumps Fiction by miles. 

My understanding of DW rule system is that it was not created to simulate a fictional world but rather to tell an interesting story.

Do not get me wrong: I think that the GM should take great pains not to disrupt the suspension of disbelief around his/her table.

Once this is said, the GM should however not think in terms of plausible outcomes (hence there is no difficulty modifier at DW regardless of the task at hand) but rather in terms of interesting outcomes. 

Hence, screw the fictional situation if it allows you to tell a good story instead.

17 thoughts on “Sage LaTorra said in the thread on whether DW is suited from a gritty & low fantasy campaign that you should judge…”

  1. The great paladin getting killed by a lowly goblin with a rock is a good story, a tragedy, a cautionary tale. The excitement to my mind is that when you sit down you aren’t sure what it’ll be.

  2. “My understanding of DW rule system is that it was not created to simulate a fictional world but rather to tell an interesting story.”

    This is an incorrect assessment of the intentions of the game, but maybe not for the reasons you think. Everything the GM does should fulfill these things.

    – Portray a fantastic world

    – Fill the characters’ lives with adventure

    – Play to find out what happens

    Nothing else. You’re not playing to tell a story at all, you’re playing to see what happens when a fantastic world full of adventure gets explored by some kick ass people. If those people get stabbed to death by a goblin in the dark with their helms turned sideways, well, you played to find out what happens, didn’t you?

  3. I would like to posit that your character spending a week recovering from being gut-shot by a goblin bow can be just as fantastic and adventuresome as being Captain Invincible-Badass, depending on how the GM portrays their fandom of the characters.

    For me, I like seeing PCs get broken down and rising up from the shit to seize glory. You have to take a shank or two before you know how to bounce back.

  4. It is because PC’s die (and cannot come back) that we go on playing. Because the danger is there, there is always suspense. No suspense = boredom.

    But what a relief when Death says: “Roll 2d6” and the bones fall on 7+!

  5. Yeah, the fact that the unexpected and losing can make for great stories is part of what makes using the term “story,” especially as a yardstick for what should or shouldn’t happen, really tricky.

  6. Claudio Freda yeah, we may have a hard time with this. We use fiction in DW with an English meaning of roughly “something that does not actually exist,” though it can also be a genre of literature. We deliberately don’t use “story” or “narrative” mostly because in US gaming those terms come with a lot of baggage.

    Making interesting things happen doesn’t seem at odds with honestly portraying a world. In fact, that seems pretty much exactly like honestly portraying a world.

    I think the key to what you’re talking about is that you’re looking at what’s possible as an outcome, then choosing among those possibilities based on any number of other criteria.

    The opposite stance, which came up in another thread, was basically that players won’t die to, say, a lowly goblin. That’s throwing out the possible outcomes and deciding that something is more “narratively appropriate.”

    Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of games that work great where you think about what would make for the best story. DW isn’t one of those.

  7. Is DW suitable for dark and gritty fantasy? Absolutely in regards to the shared world views of the players and the game master. I’ve always tended towards a dark and gritty fantasy world with the exception that the players and their characters are the shining beacons of light that rather carry the world’s spotlight with them in. The world shakes and thunders at the characters’ footsteps and they make the differences in the world based on their choices. The kingdom would fall to a tyrannical king and be soaked waist deep in the blood of the innocent except that the characters have shown up and can change that outcome. Wars are won or lost at the presence of the characters.

    In the process of world building during the formative games it probably becomes apparent whether the players want a darker world or more high fantasy. I’ve certainly been having a blast doing old D&D modules with DW and seeing how the modules become nebulous in awesome ways and how  these generally disjointed adventures gel together to have aftershocks to previous adventures. I tend to lean towards dark and gritty but under the players’ actions and influence they make that world a brighter and more heroic place for their travels.

  8. I like that the rules don’t spend too much effort trying to synthesise physics. The rules are interested in actions and consequences. The rules say to create a fantastic, imaginative fictional world full of adventures, but leaves your and your players’ imaginations to do the heavy lifting instead of endless charts and convoluted math.

    The rules don’t care how many pounds you can lift, they care about what happens when you try to lift the Orc and toss it at its fellows. The rules aren’t concerned with how many inches you can jump or run, they concentrate on what happens when you try to take a running leap across the chasm spewing molten rock to save your friend.

    Dungeon World doesn’t directly simulate a fantasy world. It simulates exciting adventures and dangerous situations. Any world or story is woven from these things by the players’ shared imagination as they play.

  9. The real problem is when you take a certain interpretation for granted and then you try to go talk to other people about it, and they’re like “wtf?” You know, like when six different people use the word “story” and suddenly you’re dealing with seven different definitions and two separate flame wars.

  10. I think it is absolutely possible to make a DW game dark and gritty, it is completely dependent on the GM and the players. Does the GM want to narrate a dark and gritty world? Are the players willing to be characters in that world, knowing the risk of adventuring in that world? If yes, then yes!

  11. OK What is the definition of “dark”?

    “Dark” like in film noir? Cynical characters with existential angst and unresolved demons from the past? Overpowering weaknesses to balance their strengths? Private I’s and Femme Fatales? Dialogue brimming with irony?

    Or “dark” like in horror movies where evil abounds and there is nary a candle flicker of good? Where you have to fight your primal fear of the dark before you can fight a lowly goblin?

  12. If I ran into a goblin, I’d be terrified. Half the size of a person, hunched over to puts its jaw forward — and a mouth filled with needle sharp spikes! And it has a spear, and isn’t afraid to use it!

    And that’s just one. And where’ there’s one, there’s a multitude. And you’re often fighting them in the pitch black only possible in a cave. The last time i was in a (safe) underground fortress, I had my first and only panic attack. Now, add in tiny creatures trying to kill me? 

    Its terrifying just to think about.

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