Hi, new to the ‘Tavern. *raises mug*

Hi, new to the ‘Tavern. *raises mug*

Hi, new to the ‘Tavern. *raises mug*

Looking at an online game, and they had raised a concern that with the “xp on 6-” rule, that people constantly took actions to fail, which made the game less heroic. Is this a common problem? Does it indicate that the challenges are too easy, and therefore the GM isn’t helping the characters being awesome and heroic? Any thoughts or suggestions?

21 thoughts on “Hi, new to the ‘Tavern. *raises mug*”

  1. This has never been a problem in my game. I remind my players “I’m not afraid to let you die”

    If they roll a 6- on something seemingly mundane, let it kick them in the ass. 

    Paladin: “well, I’ll just use ‘I Am The Law’ on peasants giving them mundane orders until I roll several 6-‘s in a row”

    GM: “Alright, after you command 2-3 peasants, word begins to spread around the town. By the time you get to the 5-6 peasant, a mob has assembled, and they don’t look friendly. Count up your XP buddy, and then prepare to defy danger or slaughter a town. Try not to die!”

    EDIT: You should always hear a groan from players who roll a 6-

    Also, welcome to the Tavern!

  2. It isn’t your job to create challenges!

    If XP is a drag for you and your friends just omit it; our rule is “level up after every session” and that works fine if it suits you.

  3. It’s not been a problem in the games I’ve run or played.  My theory is that if you’ve got Impending Dooms that the characters (and by extension the players) care about, and the Grim Potents are slowly ticking along, players will be thinking in-fiction, and in-fiction the characters certainly want to succeed.

    If it were to become a problem, I’d talk to the player.  But mechanically, the game doesn’t need to be nice. “Safe” things aren’t necessarily rolls. (You don’t Hack and Slash a peasant, you just murder them. Shopping isn’t Parley.) Failure is always an opportunity for a hard move; a character who gets a chain of failures should be in a very bad place, if not dead.

    If your concern is that failure can make characters seem incompetent, and thus not heroic, remember that you can actually let them succeed on a failure.  Maybe they accomplish what they set out to do, but something unexpected happens that mean it no longer matters.  Maybe they fail, but only because something  interfered: bad luck, a skilled opponent.

  4. It’s just a matter of remembering to always make a hard move on a 6-. Somebody loses an eye. The tunnel caves in. Gnoll arrows rain from the trees. Once the players understand that things get worse whenever they roll badly, they’ll stop messing about =)

  5. Experience for failure only makes sense if failure consequences are serious. For that matter, rolling dice only makes sense if failure consequences are serious. If a character takes an action for which no one can think of any interesting, realistic failure consequence, don’t roll—it just succeeds. Likewise, if a character takes an action for which no one can think of any interesting, realistic success consequence, don’t roll—it just fails (although it is polite to warn the player before you grievously injure their character). I mostly run Dungeon World for elementary-school kids, so this principle comes up a lot …

    Kid: Aww, I’m two experience points short of my next level. Okay, I cast telepathy on the ranger!

    GM: Great, it works as if you rolled a 10+.

    Kid: But I don’t want it to succeed! I want experience!

    GM: Realistically, since you aren’t in a stressful situation, you’d probably just succeed on even challenging tasks like spellcasting. We don’t roll for an action if a certain outcome is inevitable.

    Kid: What does “inevitable” mean?

  6. James Mendez Hodes “For that matter, rolling dice only makes sense if failure consequences are serious.”

    This is not actually true. The rules are there whether there’s risk or not. Only Defy Danger is really an edge case because, you know, “imminent threat” can be interpreted. But if you Parley, you Parley. If you Hack and Slash, you’re Hacking and Slashing. Consequences of the moves are irrelevant.

  7. Adam Koebel For the most part I agree with you, since conditions like the ones I mentioned are folded into the move text (e.g., it’s not hack and slash if the enemy is unprepared, just deal damage). There seem to be exceptions, though: the most obvious to me is Spout Lore, since “[y]ou spout lore any time you want to search your memory for knowledge or facts about something.” I have always assumed (and this may be a mistake) that certain very simple acts of recollection do not fall under Spout Lore. If I bite into a steak, wonder whether it’s overdone or not, and consult my accumulated knowledge about food to determine that trivial fact, do I have to roll and get random facts about steak? In this case, the thing I’m doing definitely counts as consulting accumulated knowledge about something/searching my memory for knowledge or facts about something, but the fiction and the corresponding lack of risk seem to obviate the move.

  8. Another example that comes to mind is Take Watch. “When you’re on watch and something approaches the camp roll+WIS.” I don’t have to roll each time a stray cat wanders up to the camp, do I?

  9. James Mendez Hodes it’s a slippery slope, is all – it’s really easy to let “say yes or roll dice” bleed into games where it doesn’t belong! Obviously the table needs to adjudicate whether the fiction is triggering a move, but you can’t go putting “is this worth rolling” into the analysis.  It’s more about looking at the trigger itself and the possible outcomes rather than assessing whether it is “worth it” to roll.

    If a player wants XP and wants to trigger a move they think they’ll fail, it’s not the GMs job to say no. When they fail, it’s the GM’s job to lay down the hammer and watch them squirm.

    Avon: Oh, I’m 1 xp from levelling!  I’m going to attack that peasant with my staff! I lay into him, shouting “die, peasant!”

    GM: Oh yeah?  Okay, roll it.

    Avon: I failed!  Time to level up!  What happens?  How much damage do I take?

    GM: Actually, you go to attack the peasant and your feeble blows do no harm to him. He draws a knife and shoves it into your guts. You take 4 damage and also, you’re bleeding internally, coughing up thick hot gouts with every strained breath. What do you do?

    Avon: Uh, what? I cast Magic Missile?

    GM: When you can’t even draw a breath?  You’re drowning in your own fluids, here. You gasp and moan and the words won’t come. You’re getting dizzy and the peasant looks ready to knife you again, he’s spotted your coin purse… what do you do?

  10. Basically, there’s room for interpretation, but the rules prohibit ever just saying “oh, you get an automatic 10+” or whatever.

    If a character eats a steak and is like “is this actually beef” then yeah, you’re Spouting Lore. Because if it is, you want to be sure and if it’s not, you want to be DAMN sure.

  11. Making a move, without a fictional reason, sounds like a golden opportunity to me. When you tune everything else out and study the floor, when you pick a fight, when you magic regardless of the consequences, when you are the law to get the your ale before anyone else – it’s actually kinda nice, like, I don’t have to feel bad for making a hard move.

  12. Marshall Miller I really had to overcome my desire to protect the players, and make more hard moves. One time, my thief rolled low in a hack and slash, and he received a brutal slice across his face and nose. 

    To this day, it remains his favorite part of his character. “You wanna know how I got these scars???”

    players enjoy setbacks, challenges, and overcoming them more than they enjoy loot and easy victories.

  13. It’s all part of “being a fan of the characters”. It’s a game about overcoming adversity using your badass skills and cool ideas, so the more adverse the adversity, the more badass the players are for having overcome it.  So long as you are fair and even-handed, dole out the hard moves as you will.  

  14. My players are masochists. They love rolling -6 not because they want exp, they wanna see the crazy outcomes I send their way and because of that we’ve had amazing adventures. They love staring adversity in the face even if that face is a pack of oversized baboons savaging your left arm until they snap it off.

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