The “follow the dice” discussion from the now horribly mangled comment section of the Undead Dwarves & Healing post. Link at the bottom.
First of all, let’s set a few things straight.
– This is not an attack on anyone’s way of enjoying Dungeon World.
– I’m sincerely sorry if what I said was offensive in any way. I did not mean to offend anyone.
So, to recap, the discussion was about whether or not Ben Wray made a good move with letting the Dwarf go undead instead of dead-dead. Tim Franzke argued, and I agreed, that it sounded more like an “7-9 bargain” without the actual bargain, only the bad stuff. The discussion then went into whether or not the GM was ignoring the roll of the dice.
There seemed to be two “sides” in this discussion; The few us that said he did, and the rest who was more like “meh, who cares?” Finally the question was asked, and rightfully so, by David Guyll: “What is the big deal?” I’ll try to answer this here.
To begin, I think this topic is tremendously important. I like to “play by the rules”, because the rules of the game is all about setting expectations for the game.
Expectations are the single most important preliminary for any game. The rules are what we agree upon before play, and as such it is the collective agreement on both the purpose and scope of the game, and even more simply put; how stuff just work in the game.
When we begin to tinker with the rules mid-game (screw before the game, that stuff is house rules and just as legitimate as any other rule. Of course, you might add) you risk disappointment. There’s a strong probability that there will sit one guy around the table who doesn’t like the sudden (and maybe to him totally unnecessary) overruling of a pretty well-established rule.
The disappointment often come because such a thing is arbitrary. We agree on the rules when we begin, even if we don’t talk about them. If we don’t the rules we agree to play by are the actual printed rules. Whenever someone willfully ignores the rules, be it the GM or any other player, someone else might get offended by that.
If the GM “saves” one character from death, even though the rules clearly states that he should have died, then what happens if he doesn’t save another? Would that be “fair”? No, it wouldn’t. Some people claimed that killing a player in the first session isn’t “being a fan of that character.”
My claim is the opposite, because it isn’t the GM that actually kills the character. It is the dice, and the players are themselves way more responsible for bringing out the dice than the GM is in my experience.
When a player goes into a fight with Great Abyss Lord Tentacula, then he knows that he might take enough damage to get his character killed. If he doesn’t, there has gone something entirely wrong with communication.
As such, not killing the character when he drops to 0 hp and misses his Last Breath roll deprives that player of making meaningful choices. Every fight is a risk, albeit a small one. They choose to take that risk. Removing the risk makes the choice illusory, a non-choice. It is, and I can not stress how much I really just mean this, railroading. You deprive the player of meaningful choice. It becomes an illusion of choice.
“Choice” is a funny word here that I use a lot, because I really honestly believe that when boiled down, role-playing games are purely about choices. “What do you do?” is all about presenting a player with a choice.
When the player chooses the dangerous route, honor that and let the consequences be what he was promised. Otherwise, he chose blindly.
I would much rather make a new character than be saved (yet again) by some deus ex machina. Others might not agree with this, but hey, this is my thread now, and I’ll sing if I want to.
So. That’s my thoughts, but they are surely not the only set of them. What do you have to say about all this?