Class explanations?

Class explanations?

Class explanations?

What do you think about Classes that come with extra explanation of how they are supposed to be played or how certain moves work/are meant? 

On the one hand it is great to get a glimpse the design thoughts that went into the class and they might help you to see things you didn’t see before or to understand certain moves better. 

On the other hand… It may lead to lazy design I think. If you need 2 extra paragraphs to explain how a certain move is supposed to work then you haven’t written your move correctly. If one feels that people might missunderstand a move then one should change the move language, yes? I know the feeling of just not getting the wording right and wanting to explain it in non-move language but that is a crutch I think. 

So where does this come from? Apocalypse World has a detailed explanation of every playbook move and what it can and can’t do in the core book. I think there it is okay. It was the first game to use this kind of language and mechanic so a detailed explanation is highly helpful. However; it is only in the book and not on the playbook. Basically all moves are perfectly understandable on their own. Also the expanded playbooks that came later didn’t had these (I guess because Vincent thought people had read the core book and know how moves work). 

It is comparable to how DW goes into detail about how the basic moves work. And that is okay too because you need to explain the main mechanics of the game to the reader. They can extrapolate to the class moves from there. 

Monsterhearts talks about ways to play a certain skin and what you can do with specific moves. That is a choice that was made in that game and is on every skin. Basically it is okay there because it is everywhere, you know? The way you write moves in Monsterhearts is simply different. You write Move + Explanation. That is how it is done. 

So why do people write these in Dungeon World? 

Do you like getting extra knowledge and explanation classes and moves? Do you have any great examples were it really made it click in your mind? 

[Disclaimer: “Explanations might lead to lazy move design” is only my opinion and not a stated fact. I happily change my mind about that too. Please don’t take it as a personal attack on your design if you use explanations. I just want to talk about it.]

16 thoughts on “Class explanations?”

  1. Finished mostly. When you are still writing you can explain stuff further to maybe get help on how to phrase it better. But if you need that it is a warning sign for sure. 

  2. If we’re talking about finished product then I’m the boat of there should be no explanation. The design theme for DW and AW is, if you pick up a playbook, all the playbook moves on there should be self explanatory.

  3. Now how do you guys feel about the playbooks referencing “obscure” parts of the rules? Like a class who’s all about minions, which use the hireling rules. Should the playbook have a succinct explanation of hirelings, or should they have the GM explain?

  4. I see no problem with reprinting core rules on the sheet. Probably at the space right of the starting items. 

    On the other hand I like player to know the rules anyway. 

    In that case we are talking about a reminder or play-aid. Not really an explanation specifically. 

  5. Matt Stuart Agree.

    Extra text does not mean the playbook is poorly written. I see a lot of poorly written playbooks without extra text. The same go for monsters. Have a look at Johnstone Metzgers excellent monsters. Lots of text that add not only flavour but in the flavour really good stuff on how to play it. I think that settles the principle. Wether an author can pull it off successfully depends on his skill and not on the format.

  6. I’m a little split on this. I think the druid is a good example. They’ve got a move that doesn’t work like anybody else’s and takes a couple paragraphs to explain, and still leaves some stuff unclear. In my experience, new players have a harder time groking that move than the others.

    I’d say it’s workable, but limits your audience; some will enjoy new and unique mechanics, some will not want the extra effort involved with understanding them

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