Question: How do you guys play it when the players want to ‘stun’ or ‘incapacitate’ an enemy.

Question: How do you guys play it when the players want to ‘stun’ or ‘incapacitate’ an enemy.

Question: How do you guys play it when the players want to ‘stun’ or ‘incapacitate’ an enemy. My group wanted to knock out a Snogre (a blueish ice ogre I made up) without killing it. I had them basically use the hack and slash move but fiction it out to knock it out when HP reached zero for the monster. Are there better ways to do it?

23 thoughts on “Question: How do you guys play it when the players want to ‘stun’ or ‘incapacitate’ an enemy.”

  1. Pavel Berlin That’s a neat house rule. That’s how 4e D&D worked as well. It explicitly stated that you could, if you wanted, knock them unconscious for a few minutes (long enough to tie them up) or disarm them and put a sword to their throat.

    Finish Him!

    When you reduce a monster’s hit points to zero tell the GM how it is defeated and choose whether it is killed, knocked unconscious or otherwise neutralized.

  2. Follow the fiction, just like normal! When they say “we want to knock it out,” you say, “cool, how do you do that?” And then you have them make moves as appropriate, based on what they do and what the fiction requires. It’s probably not Hack N Slash, since that involves a direct toe-to-toe combat with something, but it totally depends on what the players try to do. Some of the things they do may not be moves, which is fine; they might just do those things if there’s no danger to defy or other move triggers. Remember that the players aren’t limited to doing things that are clearly move triggers! This isn’t 4E played unimaginatively, where you look at the available moves and pick one! They can do whatever they want; you just keep an eye on the fiction and ask them to roll whenever they trigger a move. In any case, that’s the approach I find works best.

  3. I think Hack and Slash still applies. Consider that the enemy is attacking you but you want to knock it out. To that end, you are trying to avoid its attacks while dealing blunt force damage – flat of the blade, pommel, whatever. The same for a messy weapon. The messy tag applies to a normal attack with that weapon. If you use the weapon differently, the messy tag may no longer apply. Asking the player how they intend to deal subdual damage is the key for me.

  4. It depends i guess. A Fighters Signature weapon with messy is HUGE (and forceful). You basically have to swing it in a way that connects hard with your enemy. Maybe the balance doesn’t even work to allow you that maneuver, maybe its just spiky everywhere and you will hit them bad.

    To remind everyone:

    Messy: It does damage in a particularly destructive way, ripping people and things apart. 

  5. Yeah but again, even using the pommel is a method. I think in the “saying yes” category and being a fan of the players, I would never say “you can’t do that with a messy weapon” as long as they can tell me how they are doing it and it makes sense. Maybe they are holding back force, maybe using s blunt part of the weapon, who knows. I guess my view is that, unless it absolutely makes no sense at all, it can be done. After all, ask yourself as GM – does it matter? Is it a point worth arguing with the player whether they can knock someone out with their weapon (assuming they have an explanation for how)?

    Punching is a different animal at least in terms of using Hack and Slash, because punching is not a melee attack except for classes that specifically allow using hands as weapons.

  6. If that downside is true and concrete, I agree. My point is that most weapons with a messy tag assume a normal attack. That tag is not true if I tap someone with the weapon. If I raise my great axe with two hands and angle it so that the flat of the blade strikes you instead of the edge, messy tag or not, I haven’t splattered your brains all over the floor. Consider a piercing weapon that ignores armor. That tag assumes I’m shoving the weapon point-first into you. What if I’m not? What if I say to you I’m going to purposely slash with the edge. Would you argue that the piercing tag applies even though I’ve given you a good fictional reason why it doesn’t? As a GM, I wouldn’t, but maybe that’s just me.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree here except in the rare cases where there truly is no possible way to use the weapon without being messy.

  7. when you hit someone over the head with your giant axe, even if it is the flat side of it this will do more “damage” to you then knock you out i think. 

  8. Still not agreeing. If the character’s Strength was average or less, maybe so. A character with a higher Strength is able to resist the inherent force of gravity enough to lessen the blow. From my point of view, your argument isn’t strong enough that I as a player would be confident in your decision, but again it’s a case of agreeing to disagree. I rule DW scenarios with more leniency than you is what this boils down to – there must be a true and concrete reason why the weapon can under no circumstances be used to deliver a knockout blow, else it happens. In your case, the messy tag stands in all circumstances. Difference of opinion and GM focus.

  9. I think that is the point i wanted to make. 

    It is not that you can never ever do this with a messy weapon. But it needs creativity and maybe some defying of danger. 

  10. I’d ask them how they’re trying to knock out their target. What methods are they using, and what precautions they’re taking. If it makes sense, I’d the ask for whatever move works, defy danger, etc

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