I have a problem: It is just as easy to Hack and Slash at a goblin as it is to Hack and Slash the Apocalypse Dragon.

I have a problem: It is just as easy to Hack and Slash at a goblin as it is to Hack and Slash the Apocalypse Dragon.

I have a problem: It is just as easy to Hack and Slash at a goblin as it is to Hack and Slash the Apocalypse Dragon.

My proposed solution: A skill stat for NPCs. You subtract this from all Hack and Slash (and maybe Volley?) rolls against this NPC. This number does not go above 3, unless you are specifically trying to kill the players.

What do you think?

17 thoughts on “I have a problem: It is just as easy to Hack and Slash at a goblin as it is to Hack and Slash the Apocalypse Dragon.”

  1. According to the philosophy of DW, H/S a goblin is not the same H/S a dragon. It’s up the DM to use moves and prompts for Defying Danger to up the difficulty of the dragon.

    In other words, you can generally stroll up to Hack and Slash a goblin, but if you try to stroll up on a dragon, you’ll first have to avoid it’s fiery breath, it’s raking claws, and its swappy tail (swip swap went the swappy tail!) before you’re even in a good fictional position to try to Hack and Slash.

  2. The key is fictional positioning. It’s totally cool to hack & slash a goblin, because they don’t have much in the way of defense. The Apocalypse Dragon, on the other hand, shouldn’t even be remotely hack & slash-able – at least with normal weapons. If you’re wielding the Sword of the Ages and wearing the Armor of Ral’Theg (or whatever) then maybe you can hack & slash. Probably having to defy danger first, though.

    That said, if it works for you, go for it. PbtA games don’t do all that well with lots of mechanical penalties and such, however.

  3. Another way to look at it: you’re line of thinking is “There is no numeric difference in difficulty when attacking a goblin vs a dragon.” But numbers are just numbers – they only come into play when the fiction calls for it.

    If you’re in the right spot to stab a dragon, then yeah – it’s the same thing as being in the right spot to stab a goblin. But getting into that right spot is different with the two different monsters. One is relatively easy while the other is quite perilous.

  4. To expand slightly on what’s been said, a fighter can take a regular sword and Hack and Slash a goblin. He can’t take that regular sword and Hack and Slash an apocalypse dragon. The dragon is simply to large, powerful, and invulnerable to suffer damage from a mere sword.

  5. You are right, Zack Wolf, I really meant that there is no numerical difference. I must also address the point I overlooked (and that you all kindly pointed out to me) which is the moves that make combat with a dragon all the more difficult.

    Thanks for the input, everyone!

  6. Someone in my game last night tried to H&S the claws of a giant stone cat. It was like hitting another blade and the player was sent backwards from the reverberating hit without causing any damage [no roll, just fiction]. He quickly learned he could not simply, attack the paw. The only solution was to find an armor piercing weapon.. which just happened to be on an NPC, hmm…

  7. From the final session of my last campaign :

    Inquisitor, facing off against his arch rival demon-king world corrupter, who is floating 30 feet off the ground calling up earthquakes and down lightning : “I lunge at him, caution to the wind.  This ends today!  Hack and slash…” (shakes dice)

    Me (GM) : “He’s floating 30 feet off the ground!  That’s a heck of a lot of lunging.”

    Thoughtful silence.

    Me : “You could chuck your demonslaying dagger at him, or your sword.  Maybe climb one of those giant stone slabs currently blocking Solvellis (the Ranger) from joining the fray?  It’d take a bit of time, though, and you’ve got his full attention..”

    Inquisitor, placing dice back on the table : “I did not think this through.”

  8. There is a very nice article in an italian fanzine “Mondo Sotterraneo n.3”.  

    I have few time, so I can only post a dumb google-based translation, however I hope you can find some inspiration inside:

    The Method of Onion 


    It happens more and more often to present Dungeon World to novice players. One of the nodes is more difficult to dissolve explain how you face to make an obstacle (a monster, for example) more or less difficult to overcome. The basic mechanics of Dungeon World, in fact, provides for the shooting of two six-sided dice to overcome a fixed threshold (7 for a partial success, 10 for full success) regardless of the difficulty of the obstacle. This is counterintuitive to some, especially for those accustomed to games like Dungeons & Dragons, where the threshold to overcome is proportional to the difficulty of the undertaking. 

    In fact, a method to differentiate the challenges there. Explanation after explanation, I came to an effective method to explain the process: I jokingly called “the method of the onion.” 

    It’s nothing additional to those already described in the manual of Dungeon World, but it is a way of presenting the game that I found useful to clarify things for both novices that to myself. 

    “The method of the onion” expands the concepts presented in the article “A dragon with 16 PF”, translated by me for the first issue of “Underworld,” which is now a must-read for anyone who approaches Dungeon World for the first time. 

    With this article, as well as provide a good tool for veterans, I hope to convince doubters that, yes, there are companies in Dungeon World more difficult and less difficult and, above all, this method works very well. 

    Dungeon World is a game based on the narrative. Every detail down to the table that is important, and can be either a pretext to launch into acts that would otherwise be impossible a danger that interposes itself between the protagonists and their objectives. In this article we will discuss the second type of details. 

    I present the Brave Sir Reginald. Hello Sir Reginald! The knight is about to face a dangerous troll. Not those cute and experts love of Frozen. Sir Reginald does not fear the troll and can not wait to bring home the head of one of these beasts as a trophy. 

    GM: You see a troll in the distance. The troll will charge you with his club. What do you do? 

    Sir Reginald: The troll does not scare me! The load with my sword and try to piantargliela in the lower torso before the club! Shooting for assault? 

    GM: Of course! Why not? There is a mutual exchange of shots, so it’s fine. 

    Sir Reginald: I did 11: complete success. Yay! I millemila damage. 

    GM: The troll die in excruciating agony while evisceri his heart with your noble weapon. 

    Sir Reginald: Alala! 

    Boring, is not it? The threshold of 10 is fairly easy to overcome if the character has modifiers of +2 or +3, and even though “millemila ‘is not a regular issue of damages, some warriors go there pretty damn close. 

    Oddly enough, what I’ve just presented is one of the most common mistakes of Dungeon World GM novice: submit opponents that do not threaten in any way the characters. 

    Now let’s see how to play hard. 

    GM: You see a troll. The troll is a huge monster, three people as high as normal. With each step the earth trembles and you find it difficult to remain in balance on the ground that vibrates. His hands the size of a foal waving at you with a club as long as a man in an attempt to crush you before you can get close to him. What do you do? 

    Sir Reginald: The troll does not scare me! The load with my sword and try to piantargliela in the lower torso before the club! Shooting for assault? 

    GM: Well, no. You can not reach the troll with your weapon fine, however noble and glorious. 

    To get closer you will need a minimum export to the blows of troll: his club has an immense scope. 

    What do you do? 

    Sir Reginald: My glorious shield will protect me from the blows of the troll! I defy danger with COS: I did 11. 

    GM: Get a solid blow on the shield, but it is you who are intact. You come running at the foot of the troll, who begins to pound mightily on the ground, making you lose your balance.

    What do you do? 

    Sir Reginald: Crying my trusty blade into the ground to support me! I defy danger with COS and I 7: partial success. Damn, that notice them mortacci her. 

    GM: Can you stand up, but remains disarmed of your noble blade that is driven into the ground. Taking advantage of the occasion, the troll moves one of his huge hands trying to grab you. 

    What do you do? 

    Here you start to think. What is the main difference? Well, at a mechanical level in the second case, the player had to make a shot more. 

    So this is the secret, Claudio? Divide the challenge in more shots? Good stuff: I do it purports eons ventordici with different games. And then Dungeon World was not to be the game that limited the absolute power of the GM? So in the end, it is not the GM to decide when the battle ends, deciding when to challenge the danger or not? 

    Wait, dear hypothetical interlocutor. See, I told you that the mechanical difference is that, and it’s true. but 

    it looks like the GM presented the troll in the second case. She did everything in order to highlight the dangers. 

    He listed a number of details that dangerous only later found to be an obstacle to Sir Reginald. 

    List them briefly. 

    The troll is huge: as high as three normal; 

    When the troll stamps his feet the earth trembles; 

    He has great hands as foals (therefore capable of grabbing a man in full); 

    He’s waving a club long taking the brave knight from a distance. 

    Now let’s see what happened next. All these details have reappeared during the battle, before the club and the enormity of the troll, then the earth trembles at his every step, and finally the big hands as foals. 

    The GM has not decided that Sir Reginald should defy the danger every time, because it is not in his power to decide how we should tackle an obstacle. GM has instead placed as an obstacle to the details that he had established at the beginning, leaving the player to choose how to deal with them. 

    Consider the troll like an onion and details how its layers. To get to the heart of the onion must overcome its layers. In short, every detail must be neutralized (to cut your hands to troll), exceeded (dodge the club) or bypassed (the troll attack while sleeping). 

    My advice is to write them, if there is time and the obstacle is quite important, on a sheet of paper. 

    How to detail not only count the things that the GM said when presenting the monster. All the details set out in advance are valid. Whatever has already been said in the past or present on both sides of the GM counts. For example, you might already know that the troll’s skin is hard as stone or that it regenerates quickly if it is not burned by the fire. 

    The method of onion works well, very well. Used to define the difficulty in terms of micro-obstacles to be overcome and, at the time when you get them, generates the scenes exciting, just as those of a good book or an action movie. 

    You did not answer my second question. What prevents a GM to remove or add details as and when they wish, in order to push the story where he wants him? 

    Well, first of all, the GM can not add and remove details when he wants. It can do so only at a move. We remember when the GM can make a move: 

    When the players look at him to know what happens, for example, when nothing happens interesting; 

    When players provide him with a golden opportunity, or ignore a threat clearly presented; 

    When a player fails a roll. 

    In some cases the GM operates on a partial success, following the instructions on the move enabled by the player, but these cases do not concern us. 

    Now, the introduction of the troll is clearly an example of the first type. The player has moved to a new area and is at the GM submit to the trolls. In this case, the GM can describe all the details that hazardous wants: Just that is consistent with what has been said so far and agreed on the nature of the trolls. 

    If you want to add new details when things are already in motion, is more complex. 

    The most important moves that the GM can do to add detail hazardous shows signs of an approaching threat and reveals an uncomfortable truth. Also offer an opportunity, with or without a cost, and explains the requirements or the consequences and then ask can be applied, depending on the context. 

    The GM can do these moves only in one of the three cases listed above. Therefore, the possibility for the GM to make the situation worse and will always depend only on the choices of the characters or the outcome of the dice. Therefore, the GM can not increase or decrease the difficulty of the fight at will. Because GM is constrained and limited in this way? The reason is simple: so that it can be responsibility away the outcome of the challenge. In this way, it is no longer the responsibility of the GM to decide, with spintarelle more or less strong and judging the actions of the characters, a challenge is to end. The GM can worry about putting in the field of interesting obstacles to overcome and can play with the players to find out what happens next, relying entirely on the rules of the game to determine the outcome. 

    Wait, but it does mean that if a GM has prepared in advance of hidden hazardous situations can not blow them out when he wants, but only when he has the chance to make a move? 

    The answer to this question is a very clear yes, at least literally interpreting the manual. I play this way and allows me to enjoy the full development of the story, knowing that I do not have responsibility for how it will end. 

    I noticed, however, that some GM think that you have prepared in advance of a threat (such as a trap or ambush) means that it must manifest itself at all costs, regardless of the conditions necessary for the GM to make a move. My personal opinion is that all the dangers of this kind are to be introduced, however, at least with a soft step 1. The manual is imperative on this: every threat must be made ​​clear to the players before being brought to completion. 

    Of course, this question can be interpreted in different ways from mine, but the important thing, in my opinion, is one: that the GM is honest and committed to find out what happens with the players. 

    Thank you, Claudio, I finally figured out how this wonderful game and are ready to move on to the straight path! You are beautiful and very smart!

  9. I love to see my players facing big boss in DW, and build him like a multi layered challenge, as the article suggest.

    In addition to that, I did lot of DW math, and I come at the conclusion I HAVE to boost Solo Bosses HPs, to give an hardcore experience to my players’ high level characters.

    Finally, lot of multi target boss attacks (huge blows hitting the whole party, frenzied multi armed attacks, dozen of homing magic darts etc), OR build the Boss like a multi-stage monster: take the stat of a dragon, multiply by 3x like they are facing 3 Dragons in a row, and in fiction when they beat the “first” the dragon, I narrate they see the dragon losing his powerful magic shield, so they know the passed the 1st stage. Then, when they beat the “2nd” dragon, I narrate they see the heavy scales, now really broken and weak, dropping along the wounded dragon body… And it’s time to face the “final” dragon 😀 (this is very console videogame style, and they love that kind of games)

  10. One other piece to add here. In addition to the idea that you have to set yourself up for Hack and Slash (whether that means having good enough gear, making it to the right spot, or whatever) remember that Hack and Slash is always risky. A 7-9 doesn’t mean that the monster deals damage, it means that the monst makes an attack. For a goblin, that may mean “poke with a sharp stick,” but for a dire lion that may mean “rip flesh from bones.” Even if they both deal 5 damage, those are very different effects.

    Emphasizing this can encroach on the principle of never naming your move, but there’s room there to reinforce that Hack and Slash is the shortcut approach to killing monsters. The “best” way to beat them is to figure out a way to make your damage automatic, which generally involves a little more cleverness.

  11. The other trick about DW is that the numbers on moves aren’t about degree of difficulty, they’re about consequences. Can the players put the stakes on the table to get a H/S roll against the dragon. How does that compare to going toe to toe with a goblin. The mechanics of the game back that up to a degree, but the fiction of fighting a dragon absolutely dominates the situation, you have to raise the stakes, and keep raising them, just to get a decent stab in with a sword.

    Unless you’re huge, made of stone, on fire, mechanical, or just completed the Ritual you’ve been working on all campaign. But even then, it’s still all about the fiction. Even in D&D “I hit it with my axe” is rarely the best option when dealing with a dragon.

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