When I started making content for my first DW campaign, I was really taken with the idea of player choices with…

When I started making content for my first DW campaign, I was really taken with the idea of player choices with…

When I started making content for my first DW campaign, I was really taken with the idea of player choices with long-term or drastic consequences. This lead me to create the following item:

Maul of Winter Eternal (2 weight)

This enormous hammer is crafted from unmelting ice, twisted black metal, and the horned skull of some ancient beast. When you swing it, roll+CON.

* On a 10+, the air before you freezes.

* On a 7-9, as above, but one of your limbs succumbs to frostbite until you warm up.

* On a miss, as above, and lose the limb.

Last session a player acquired it, and I can tell from his face that he’ll never swing it. I’ve tried to encourage him by emphasizing the potential scope of the item’s power (e.g. flash-freezing a powerful dragon, freezing the entire sea, etc), or suggesting ideas to reduce the downside (replacement limbs from an artificer, having an enchanter build in failsafes) but the response doesn’t seem enthusiastic.

How would you encourage an item like this to be used, and convey that the risk/reward balance is worth it?

16 thoughts on “When I started making content for my first DW campaign, I was really taken with the idea of player choices with…”

  1. * Flash-freezing a powerful dragon

    * Freezing the entire sea

    * Plunging the region into winter

    Is it purely a problem of conveying the scope better? I imagine that you are literally wielding winter.

  2. I only have two thoughts about this, knowing what my own pool of players want out of games:

    1. Some players play tabletop games to “win”. I definitely know some of my friends that would never, ever risk an item that could harm them to this extent unless they were forced to. You’re not going to sway those players without making them feel uncomfortable.

    2. This item appeals to those players that want to experiment and leave their mark; it sounds like you may be one of those kinds of players. 🙂 I would spice up the language on the 10+ to be as zany as possible, those try-anything do-anything players will take your language and run with it.

    My suggestion that needs to be work-shopped is “On a 10+, freeze anything that stands in your way.” The player could freeze a dragon or a sea, certainly, but could also stop the march of a damning prophecy working against the party, or perhaps even stopping time by slipping into the frozen world that exists between moments.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll see if that baits my player. He may be the first type of player; two campaigns of min-maxing D&D 4E have bred that tendency into our playgroup.

  4. Consider making the loss inherent.

    When you swing the hammer, anything the hammer touches freezes solid, including your arm.

    Now it’s a sacrifice you choose to make or a cruelty you inflict on whoever you convince to use the hammer in your stead.

  5. Kevin Bishop Yeah, traditional gaming recent history has not encouraged Dungeon World’s “play to see what happens” philosophy.

    My only additional input is that data is your friend. Allow your players to really witness first hand the chaotic fun of playing to see what happens. After a while, with more data and more good times being had, they may warm up to swinging that limb-freezing hammer.

    “Hey, remember when Lucky agreed to be the host for that Inevitable’s spirit? His body started burning away but he kept getting visions that allows you guys to track down and stop the chaos cult. Sure Lucky died but was reborn as a constellation as a reward. This hammer is just like that decision, that whole adventure wouldn’t have happened and it was a badass story. And now the cleric is using Lucky’s constellation to divine portents. Swing that hammer!”

  6. Once they’ve had a few encounters like the one you describe, I think it’ll break them out of their risk-averse stance. They just haven’t seen one play out yet. This item was my first offer of “go big and see what happens,” but they haven’t taken it yet. I don’t want to force it down their throats too hard too fast, so I haven’t stuck them in a lose-lose situation to let them discover that even losing is a way to advance to new (and cool) story states.

  7. My thing is I don’t like the miss. As you just pointed out, losing in DW is a way to advance the story in exciting, cool ways. So why confine it to a mere lost limb? Maybe a 6- could end up freezing a hireling to death, or destroying the town they’re actually trying to protect, or something like that. And the 7-9 is a little vague. Vague isn’t bad sometimes, but in this case, “frostbite” could mean everything just short of losing the limb (to include permanent numbness). I sure as hell wouldn’t want to use something like that! So maybe you could make the 7-9 a little more static (“as above, but the cold crawls up your arm for 2D6 damage to yourself”) and make the 6- more interesting (simply by not writing down a 6- result, and letting your sadistic imagination run wild when that 2 hits the table!)

  8. My advice: go bigger.  Like, really big. For example:

    While you bear the Maul of Eternal Winter, you are unphased by even the deepest, harshest cold.  When you swing the Maul of Eternal Winter and utter the true name of the horned beast from whose skull it was wrought, name an obstacle in your path. It is frozen wholly, encased in ice like a glacier. Also, roll +CON. On a 10+, there’s no more fallout than what you’d expect. On a 7-9, pick 1 from the list below. Each choice can only be made once.

    □ From this day forward, the sun rises an hour later than it should and sets an hour earlier.

    □ A polar vortex is unleashed upon the land, with temperatures plunging and a blizzard that lasts for days.

    □ A horde of chittering ice-demons is unleashed along with your wintry blast.

    □ A great deal more than you expected is encased in ice. Like, miles more.

    □ One of your limbs is frozen solid, becoming living yet unfeeling ice.

    □ Your heart is now a block of black ice. Rewrite all your bonds to be with winter, the Maul, or the cold. Your alignment becomes “Winter: Snuff the warmth and light from community.”

    □ You are followed now by Eternal Winter. Wherever you go, winter is there.

    On a miss, pick 1 from the list and be prepared for even worse.

  9. sounds like you made a cool magic item and the player just isnt into, be his fan and accept it and play to see what happens… like someone bad comes and takes it. You should never railroad a player in DW or any other RPG for that matter.

  10. I completely agree. I’m not looking for tricks to force my players to use the item, just advice on how to present items like this with a balanced enough choice that players are likely to be tempted for the fun of it.

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