Just got a newb question here as I know that DW is more fiction->trigger->move-reaction based but sometimes it feels…

Just got a newb question here as I know that DW is more fiction->trigger->move-reaction based but sometimes it feels…

Just got a newb question here as I know that DW is more fiction->trigger->move-reaction based but sometimes it feels limiting if you are a purist to the rule system. The game seems to claim organic flow and freedom yet moves tend to restrict some stuff. What if a mage with a particularly high strength score (hey, he may have been raised on a farm and learned his craft in down time) tries to plow through a door when he is separated from his party? No move is truly triggered in this situation as the fighter has the class move but it is in the realm of possibilities.

I know DW tries to allow each class to exemplify their own strengths but it sort of narrows real situations where a player may try something that would be normal for a person to do but somehow limits them via lack of said move. What if my party wants to be a group of rogues, trying to score the biggest heist and a scroll is found that allows them to cast a spell? Do I then just allow them to use another classes move but at a penalty?

23 thoughts on “Just got a newb question here as I know that DW is more fiction->trigger->move-reaction based but sometimes it feels…”

  1. First question is how does he do it? It’s one thing to say “I kick the door down”, it’s quite another to first discern realities, examine the door and look at it’s strengths and weaknesses. He’s a mage, it means he thinks first. So he examines the door and knows that the iron and rivets would make it a tough door to just muscle through, but he spouts a little lore about a farm girl and her angry father. Now he has back story and a reason why he can do something with a door. Maybe it was his first magic trick. He learned how to manipulate the lock and slip away. But the fiction should drive it.

  2. The wizard has full right to try to break through a group of bad guys, it would be a Defy Danger: Strength roll!

    In actuality a lot of the basic tasks fall into defy danger roll, whatever they are doing changes whatever stat they roll with it. Someone trying to lie his way out of a situation? Defy danger charisma. Someone else trying to win a drinking contest? Defy danger constitution!

    The point of some of the class specific rules is to make that class better at it than anyone else. Anyone can roll discern realities to find a trap, but only the thief can roll to find out even more about it. Or in your case, the fighter has the bend bars, break gates move to make him better at breaking things. However anyone can try to bend or break things, but they won’t have the same control over the situation as the fighter.

  3. In your example with the wizard, are we assuming he is in danger and plowing through the door is his only option? If so, Defy Danger with STR is your move.

    For your thieves reading scrolls, you might consider a custom move, which you can whip-up in about a minute if you have some idea what the limitations/consequences of a thief casting spells are.

  4. I thought hte first rules are 

    Portray a fantastic world

    Fill the characters’ lives with adventure

    Play to find out what happens 

    Anyway. When the Wizards says she kicks in the door but has no direct move for it, she the player is looking at you to find ou what happens. Then you make a GM move. 

    Maybe “Tell them the consequences and ask” like this: 

    Sure oyu can kick in the door but it will create more noise then you would like. Still want to do it?

  5. To add to what Charles Persall said, the class moves are really there to constrain the GM more than the players. At its most basic level, you could play Dungeon World using nothing but Defy Danger to resolve all moves. It wouldn’t be as rich as you’d like, but the core differentiation between 10+/7-9/6- is always there. 

    The difference is, if the Fighter needs to break down a door, he or she knows exactly what the risks are. They can, on a partial success, be sure that it will happen quickly, not damage anything valuable, be quiet, or quick and easy to fix. Not all at once, but those are all options.

    If the Mage needs to break down the door and rolls a 7-9, the GM can give the player a hard choice, defined however the GM wants. Now, if the danger of not breaking down the door is “Your pursuers catch you” then the hard choice can’t be “it takes too long”, although it could be “they’ll be right behind you.” Or they might have to shatter their staff to do it, or it might not close behind them. 

    Fundamentally, anyone can try anything if the fiction allows, and have a reasonable chance of success. But only those who are familiar  or talented with that course of action (represented by having a move) know what might happen when things go wrong.

  6. But breaking down a Door is only DD if the breaking down of the door is done to defy a danger. While it kinda is a catch all move it is only used when actually defying an actual danger. 

  7. Like Tim says, Defy Danger requires a danger to trigger.  No danger, no move.

    Also, what I said on reddit;

    Moves are about control. About repeatable outcomes, right? If you don’t have Bend Bars, Lift Gates but you are super ripped, you can still kick the shit out of a door, but you’re at the mercy of the whims of the narrative and don’t get to know what might happen to you in advance. This is true of just about any move in the game. If you’re a Fighter who happens on a spellbook and you want to try casting a spell out of it, depending on the fictional circumstances established by the ongoing narrative, you might be able to give it a shot. However, the kinds of 7-9 results you’ll get are likely to be harsher and crazier than the set that a Wizard deals with when she Casts A Spell, right? God help you if you fail your roll…

  8. Hey Adam,

    Thanks 🙂 I didn’t know you were active on both communities and thought id try and see what both thought. Thank you to the rest of you all as well 🙂 This kind of stuff really helps :D. 

  9. I think we’ve had this discussion before Tim Franzke (and it is good to get Adam Koebel weighing in)  but I handle Defy Danger differently. The trigger for DD says “When you act despite an imminent threat…”  which, of course means the move triggers if you try to do something if the midst of or despite danger.

    But I also call for DD when the characters attempt something that shouldn’t be an automatic success. As Dungeon World is a dangerous place, any and every action has the chance of going wrong and making things really bad for the characters, so to me, any and every action can essentially be acting  despite an imminent threat. You want to kick down that door? Sure. Defy Danger with Strength. If you get a 10+, then you bust it down with no problem. If you get a 7-9, well, you do it, but we’ll figure out what danger you have to deal with, because things in Dungeon World are always dangerous.

  10. “But I also call for DD when the characters attempt something that shouldn’t be an automatic success.”

    That’s definitely a hack of the move and the game itself. Not necessarily a “bad” or “wrong” idea but a drift, for sure. Can you talk a bit about how that might affect the Agenda / Principles of the GM?  

  11. Huh. I hadn’t realized I was modifying the game that much Adam Koebel. But cool! My first successful hack! 😉

    I’d have to think more about how that affects the Agenda/GM Principles, but the process goes something like this:

    1. Does the character’s action carry the risk of failure? If no, then they just do it, and I narrate the result. If yes, then continue to the next question.

    2. If they fail at their task, could something interesting happen? If no, then they just do it, as above. If yes, then it could be a Defy Danger. Picking a lock with all the time in the world? No Defy Danger move. There’s a chance of failure, but nothing really interesting will happen if they do fail. They’ll just try again until they succeed. Picking a lock when there’s a time crunch, like the Prince getting kidnapped if you don’t get through the door fast enough, then it becomes a Defy Danger move.

    3. If failure could be interesting, have them make a Defy Danger move. If they get a 7-9 or fail, use the situation to present them with a hard choice, or make a GM move as usual.

    For example, in the first game I ever ran, the three PCs were descending a slippery, filth-caked wooden staircase into the lair of the Snake Cult. I had them make Defy Danger moves with Dex, as the stairs were slippery. There was no imminent threat, and the characters hadn’t suffered a calamity, but I read the situation as dangerous, the danger being “you might slip down the stairs injuring yourself and possibly alerting the cultists to your presence”. The Dwarf Cleric in front whiffed, and pitched head first down the steps as a result, taking some minor damage (GM Move = deal damage). The Wizard in back also failed his roll, crashing into the Fighter in middle of the group. The fighter got a 7-9, which I presented as “OK. You can catch the Wizard as he falls past you, but you’ll both take a little damage as you tumble a few steps, or you can get out of the way and just let the Wizard crash all the way to the bottom.

    I honestly don’t think this changes the Agenda or Principles at all. From my perspective, I am very much “filling the characters’ lives with adventure” by making their actions dangerous, and “playing to find out what happens” as I ao often making up on the spot whatever danger pops up.

  12. This creates a weird moment though: 

    A thief tries to pick a lock and has to roll Tricks of the Trade. 

    A Druid wants to pick a lock and then you have to check if there is some thing that could go wrong or not. 

    This in a way is not consistent. Also, who decides if the action carries a risk of failure? You? The group? The player? 

  13. Christopher Stone-Bush ohhhh, no, you’re using the move exactly as-written.

    For example, in the first game I ever ran, the three PCs were descending a slippery, filth-caked wooden staircase into the lair of the Snake Cult. I had them make Defy Danger moves with Dex, as the stairs were slippery. There was no imminent threat, and the characters hadn’t suffered a calamity

    The “imminent threat” is “you could fall and bust open your skull”. There’s Danger to Defy, for sure.

    It’s a simple move, and worth checking no matter what. If there is a danger, you have to defy it before you can do what you really want. Sometimes that means DD then the move you should be making, sometimes it’s just DD on its own.

    Tim Franzke keep in mind that, for the Druid, nine times out of ten when they say “I pick the lock” and can’t justify how, I say “no. you can’t. you can spend as long as you like wasting your time trying, though…”

  14. I didn’t think I needed to say it, but Step 0 of the process I (vaguely) outlined above is “Is there another move that covers the current situation? If yes, use that move.”

    I didn’t think I was doing anything radical with the rules, Adam Koebel (bummed to find out it wasn’t my first AW-hack). Maybe I just interpret “imminent threat” and “danger” a bit looser than other GM’s do. I’ve called for DD when characters attempted to hide (the danger being they’re spotted) or when they try to open jammed doors (the danger being they make a lot of noise or leave obvious signs of their passage). Hell, I could see lighting a torch triggering a DD roll in the right circumstances (making noise, catching something else on fire, drawing attention to yourself, etc.).

    But not everything calls for a DD roll as I said. Only if failure has interesting consequences. To use the above example, if the Druid shapeshifts into an elephant and smashes open the locked chest, there’s no DD move. They’re a freaking elephant and just do it. If however, the Druid shapeshifts into an elephant and then says “I smash open that chest quietly” or “I smash open the chest without damaging the incredibly delicate crystal instruments inside” then we have a Defy Danger roll.

    I don’t know if other GMs do this, but sometimes I call for a Defy Danger roll when the characters aren’t aware of the danger. From a metagame viewpoint the players realize they are in a dangerous situation as soon as I call for the roll, but the characters might not realize it, and might not even realize that their action has consequences. That same game where the party slipped down the wooden staircase, they made a lot of noise while exploring part of the Snake Cultists’ lair. Enough failed rolls happened that I decided the Snake Cultists knew exactly where the PCs were, could track them by sound, and set an ambush.

    When they unknowingly get to the ambush site, the Wizard cautiously peeps around a corner to see what’s ahead. I call for DD roll before describing what he sees, because suddenly there’s an axe swinging towards his head. The character wasn’t aware of the danger right in front of him, and so wasn’t acting despite an imminent threat. The only thing that gave him a chance of getting out of the way in time (rather than me making the GM move of dealing damage) was the fact the party was trying to be cautious.

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