I’ve got a vague memory that people around here think that “chaining” moves together directly, without going via the…

I’ve got a vague memory that people around here think that “chaining” moves together directly, without going via the…

I’ve got a vague memory that people around here think that “chaining” moves together directly, without going via the fiction and a new “what do you do?”, is a bad idea. For example, this wouldn’t be seen as a great move design…

“When you try to cast a spell within the destablised zone, roll +WIS. On 10+, you’re fine – roll Cast a Spell as normal. On 7-9, roll Cast a Spell but also…”

…because this move sends you on to another move (“cast a spell”) without doing anything in the fiction.

Is there actually a disadvantage to doing that?

16 thoughts on “I’ve got a vague memory that people around here think that “chaining” moves together directly, without going via the…”

  1. I favor putting fiction in between moves and not triggering multiple moves with one action, but this is a chaining example that works. You’ve already established in the fiction that the spell caster is in the destabilized zone. It adds flavor and a nasty environmental effect.

  2. As vanilla Apocalypse World does that (you can do it but it is acting under fire) that is an okay thing to do but should be explained in the fiction as well. What is it that causes you to have to do X?

  3. In the course of play, triggering more than one move in a chain is fine, but having a move trigger another move as written seems to be a bad idea. (There are moves that change how another move works, just not ones that trigger multiple moves)

    the fighter charging in and doing a homerun slide so she can stab the soft belly of the dragon would trigger defy danger and then hack and slash because fiction.

    A character with a move that says something more like “when you spout lore you also discern realities and cast a spell” would not work so well.

    The example in the post sounds like a perfect Defy Danger +WIS. And then the wizard casts after that.

  4. I think a more elegant way is to modify the roll of the original move with new fictional outcomes instead of nesting rolls.

    “When you cast a spell or utilise your magic in the phantom zone, on a 7-9 you also…”

  5. Tim Franzke But think about how many threads have cropped up over the years asking for clarification on those situations.  That could be a problem of the specific wording of Seduce/Manipulate, but I think it proves the point moves-triggering-moves should be done with caution. 

    I think a more successful example might  be accept a physical challenge from Sagas of the Icelanders, where on a 7-9 you pick 2 of 3, and one of them is “you don’t tempt fate while doing so.”  And tempting fate is a move.  It works there, I think, because there’s already a physical challenge clearly at stake and it’s really easy to see how tempting fate would flow from that. 

    Rob Alexander: I ran the numbers at one point, and asking for 2 rolls (like a Defy Danger before you can Cast a Spell) is about the equivalent of a -2 penalty (with a lot of caveats there). And as a buddy of mine once said, “I hate rolling just to see if I can roll.”  So I’d go with Adrian Thoen’s approach or even just “When you cast a spell within the destabilized zone, choose 1 in addition to whatever effects your roll dictates.”  (Choices could involve taking damage, taking your time to cast it, drawing attention from other magical creatures, or even gaining some sort of corruption/taint score.)

  6. It seems to me that chaining rolls together is effectively the GM fishing for failure, like a GM constantly calling for rolls until the player fails the action they were trying to do in a more traditional game.

  7. Adrian Thoen that’s a good point and a good suggestion for handling environmental or other special effects, it don’t forget that Dungeon Moves are a thing. At least since the Dungeon Starters were released anyways. There’s certainly a lot of scope for special moves based on all sorts of special circumstances, at least some of them will interact with the regular moves mechanically.

  8. Jeremy Strandberg thanks, I’d embarassingly failed to think about the statistical angle as such. In the specific example you used either Adrian Thoen’s version or your tweak of it sound good – they modify the move’s effects without changing the probability of each outcome class. (a side effect of that is that it’s easier for the GM-as-move-designer to understand the effect on the game overall, I think)

    (If 6- is left unspecified, the GM can, as normal, take the situation into account when making a hard move – the move could, and perhaps should, be more disruptive than a normal Cast a Spell failure.)

    That said, my real example is one of taking a standard move and making it harder. It’s roughly this:

    “When you try to cast two spells simultaneously roll +WIS. On 10+ you’re fine, roll Cast a Spell once and apply the result to both spells. On 7-9 continue as 10+ but also…”

    i.e. I’m trying to provide a higher-risk higher-return variant of an existing move. What do people think about this? Is it a good idea to have this kind of move?

    (One thought about this new example – the number rolls here is the same as if they’d cast the spells one after the other as normal.)

  9. PK Sullivan I think my new example isn’t “fishing for failure” in any sense – it’s presenting an alternative risk-reward tradeoff.

    Also, when someone says “fishing for failure” I tend to think of a GM asking for roll after roll until they get the failure they want. In contrast, both my examples are known to the player up front (at least after the first time) and call for a specific number of extra rolls (one).

  10. Rob Alexander Why not keep it a single roll at higher cost?

    When you unleash two spells granted by your deity simultaneously, roll+Wis. On a 10+, both spells are successfully cast and neither is revoked by your deity—you may cast them again later.

    On a 7-9, choose one:

    >One spell is successfully cast (as if you rolled a 10+ on Cast a Spell) and the other fails (as if you rolled a 6- on Cast a Spell)

    >Both spells are successfully cast, but choose one option for each spell on the regular 7-9 Cast a Spell list

    On a 6-, the GM gets to make 2 moves.

    You can always remove the 6- text and let the GM decide what is appropriate.

  11. Rob Alexander, is this a move anyone could use? Or an advanced move?  Cuz I don’t think I’d spend an advance on it.  As a general “table” move (or even a race/background move) I think it works just fine.

  12. Jeremy Strandberg it’s a move that comes free with something else – once you know two or more themes from the Great Song, you can try to play two of them at once.

    (Not quite sure how you learn themes yet, but each theme is basically a spell/bard song. So they’re valuable in themselves, this is just a bonus option)

  13. So, I think the final move is:

    When you try to play two themes at the same time, roll +WIS.

    ·      On 10+, both themes have their beneficial effect

    ·      On 7-9, choose one:

    o   One theme has its beneficial effect only (as if you rolled 10+ to play it on its own) and the other fails (as if you rolled a 6- to play it on its own)

    o   Both themes have their beneficial effect, but are also subject to their ugly choice (as if you rolled a 7-9 to play them on their own)

    ·      On a 6-, both themes go wrong and the combined effect is disastrous

    I normally don’t like specifying 6- effects, since there’s already a general subsystem to handle that (and few core DW moves specify them). In this case, however, I think a reminder to the GM is useful – if this move is triggered, then the failure result should be unusually bad.

    Thanks all for your help with this.

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