Apropos of nothing, I find myself fascinated by the different *modes* of DW play.

Apropos of nothing, I find myself fascinated by the different *modes* of DW play.

Apropos of nothing, I find myself fascinated by the different *modes* of DW play. The scale is no doubt a lot finer, but here’s what I mean:

Player: “I run down the falling yard-arm, grab a length of loose rigging, and swing around in an arc, slashing at the pirate captain with my cutlass!”

Epic mode GM: “Roll Hack and Slash” (The set-up is just “cool flavour” that helps give the game an epic, over-the-top sort of feel, where even Parley has anime action lines).

Fantastic mode: “That’s a defy danger to run, grab, and swing, let’s start with that.” (You try something improbable? Let’s roll to see what actually happens).

Realism mode: “You tumble off the falling yard-arm, and narrowly missing the deck, plunge into the cold salt-water.” (No roll offered, because the move “snaps the suspenders of disbelief”, which are quite tight in this case).

Now the last is sort of a bad example, as if the “mode” is understood and agreed on between the GM and players (and it should be) this certainly represents a disconnect. It isn’t supposed to come across as punitive or petty though, rather it’s a reflection of the principle “Fighters just can’t punch out the Apocalypse Drake *unless* there’s some pretty hella crazy mojo going on with their fist.”

I think I’d like to play around with a dimension or alternate plane where the “setting” is very different than what the players are used to.

9 thoughts on “Apropos of nothing, I find myself fascinated by the different *modes* of DW play.”

  1. I run a weekly, continuous game with story, consequences, etc. And then on saturday I run a very loose, free for all game, with little prep. That’s way more epic mode, and my thursday games are between realism and fantastic.

  2. Of the three games I’ve played (running one now, played in two) we seem to dance around “Fantastic” — some a bit above, and some a bit below.

    Character playbook choices have a fair bit to do with that, with a number of 3rd party playbooks in effect some thrive better toward the fantastic (and although some of the Grim World “Death Moves” are certainly epic, the playbooks themselves aren’t).

  3. I’m glad you brought up the potential for a disconnect with the “mode.”  It’s so important to know that there are different ways to play the game, and that it’s essential that the table is on board with the same tone.  If not, it would be really frustrating to try such swashbuckling acts!

    Can you clarify your last sentence re the setting, and how it connects to the above?  I’m curious what you are considering there.

  4. Yes. Travelling through a magic gate of some kind, the characters find themselves in a world where people can spring over their opponents, or run across lily-pads — or in another world where if that had been the norm they suddenly cannot.

    I wouldn’t throw them in and slam the door — perhaps they have to  learn the Dim Mak, or — buy some Toot Sweets, before returning to their “normal” campaign world. Or stay. I mean, up to them, really.

  5. Great breakdown of ‘modes of play’ Doug, I really like it!

    I think however, your last example is one of the GM not following their principles, rather than being ‘realistic’. I would be curious in the actual game to see the set up to that narrative outcome. 

    The player offered a quite engaging narration, presumably in response to the GM saying ‘what do you do?’. There were no ‘blank faces’ or ‘expectant stares’; the player was grabbing the story by the throat and rushing headlong into adventure. So sure, you think dangerously, even ‘realistically’, whilst being a fan of the player.

    I get that the GM move made here was ‘put them in a spot’,  but given that you feel in ‘realistic mode’ their run down the yardarm was impossible – be a fan, offer them a choice with consequences, give an opportunity that fits within their class’ abilities, or reveal an unwelcome truth instead of just plonking them in the ocean.

    We could all argue that a few different move triggers fired off in that description, (as you pointed out, H&S / DD are the obvious ones) and if ‘realism’ mode is just synonymous with being picky about triggers and what narrated fiction constitutes them , then support that realism by offering up all sorts of dramatic fictional elements that could lead to other triggers (and thus moves) being engaged.

    The fun of the game for me and my group comes from engaging with the conversation – the fiction – with enthusiastically supported, narratively detailed moves; not just having a story-telling session, no matter how ‘realistic’.

  6. In the third example, I’d have used “tell them the consequences and ask” before dunking them in the water.

    That more grounded, lethal mode of play can be fun, but there may be some unusual intersections where class moves come into play. It could be that unless one of your physics bending class moves apply, you are a normal person perhaps?

  7. Too much epic in films break the story for for me. The Lone Ranger jumps off a train onto another one that goes under a bridge under the first one. I love the scorpion chowing bunnies but that train switching move almost broke the film for me.

    So I find myself somewhere between the extremes. A fantasy story needs more than harsh “realism” but some stunts should be impossible even for James Bond or a Disney Princess.

  8. Adrian Thoen You are right. “That yardarm is only a foot wide and is unstable. You can try but it wont work. Of course you could drink your potion of feathery lightness and then do it.”

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