Take Watch concerns

Take Watch concerns

Take Watch concerns

Sometimes the wizard/cleric/whoever needs to reset/recover/rest/recharge/whatever for just an hour. Often times they will want to do this in the middle of a dangerous area, like a dungeon. I don’t like to use the Take Watch move because it assumes the outcome, i.e. if you are using the move a it’s because something IS approaching you are just determining the party’s ability to react to it. Take Watch, to me, always seemed like a move I’d ask the players to do if they failed a PJ roll and I wanted to attack the camp at night with the local fauna. It’s not really written to be initiated by the players, at least the way I read it.

I was thinking about something like an “On Guard” move for when your players take a rest in a dangerous area but not make a full Make Camp move.


When you keep an eye out while someone rests or recovers roll+number of other players (not companions hirelings or other NPCs) who are assisting you with the watch to a maximum of three. On a 10+ you are able to rest and remain undetected. On a 7-9 you encounter something you’ll have to deal with or be discovered.

21 thoughts on “Take Watch concerns”

  1. I say if you take a breather to do wizard homework in the middle of a dungeon, you deserve what you get. Simply being in a dungeon entails that, yes, Virgina, there is a murderous horde coming to get you.

  2. That’s not being a fan of the players, imho, and how can you ever run a mega dungeon unless the cleric can refresh his spells once in a while?

    The move is, to me at least, the players attempt to hide from or mitigate the danger of the area at least for an hour.

  3. Well, the take watch move could be written better, actually… If it’s not satisfactory, I would rewrite the whole thing (which I likely will when I run DW again).

    “Take Watch: When you stand guard or make a patrol, roll+wis. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 1. When something approaches your camp, the MC will spend 1 of your hold but give you plenty of warning about it approaching. When you make a move against a threat to your camp, you may spend 1-hold for a +1 against it.”

    Probably not quite perfect, but… I can think of some more fictional alternatives as well, like some roll-and-ask move…

  4. When you rest while others keep watch, roll+WIS. On a 10+ you recover in peace. On a 7-9, you are nervous and paranoid–you recover but choose 1:

    You take twice as long to recover

    You resort to consuming a ration for comfort

  5. I was considering using WIS or some other stat, but I was thinking it was a situation where one or two party members did some quick work while the others kept their eyes out,more eyes means higher chance of success.

  6. Resting in dungeons has always been a last resort in my group. Either you go back to town, rest, and come back; or you press on knowing that you’re really low on resources.

  7. Well not everything that finds you in the dungeon must lead to a fight. The goblin spots your camp and retreats to get help. A traitorous shapechanger just wants to hang out with you etc.  

  8. IMO, there’s nothing wrong with your approach, +Eric Lochstampfor. However, if you change the fictional trigger of the Take Watch move, you will increase the uncertainty. As written, the GM is the one to decide whether something approaches the camp or not. Then, if someone is on watch, they will roll to find out what happens. If none is on watch, they’ll give you a golden opportunity. Being the GM on the care of the encounters facilitates the fulfilment of their agenda and principles. I mean, most of the time, it is better to let GM decide whether an encounter is appropriate than flipping a coin.

  9. Pedro Pablo Calvo That’s my issue with Take Watch. It’s a move the GM tells the players to take, not a move the players initiate to find out what happens, like a Hack N Slash or a Discern Realities. As such I think it is one of the clunkier moves in the Basic Move set.

    I just wanted a move that the players could initiate and the dice would determine the outcome, more akin to the wandering monster tables I would consult back in the old school days. I think the dice rollls are needed to make it clear there are actual stakes and you could not get the rest you were hoping for, and you could make your situation worse.

  10. But the GM is the one who decides if something is approaching the camp, no? Otherwise I think you have a fundamentally different kind of game. Not a bad thing, just different.

  11. +Noah Tucker, that’s exactly what I meant… In my opinion  Eric Lochstampfor​​, is designing a GM move (i. e. random wandering monsters table to assist him) not a player move, since inherently, the action that triggers an encounter is not completely on the player’s side (on the contrary, it has to do mostly with the GM) … 

  12. Well Take Watch also makes a lot of other assumptions that are not covered by my move. It assumes only ONE player is acting as lookout and everyone else is asleep. In other words it’s not really appropriate if you are just resting for an hour for one party member to recover spells/hold/wrath etc. It’s more for when something approaches your camp. It’s not taking a quick break in the orc larder to recover spells and hoping no one finds you.

  13. To be clear I am not suggesting replace Take Watch, I’m just saying I find it to have a very narrow set of circumstances where I find it useful as a GM. Like I said I use it when a PJ roll (or tow or three) is failed.

    In that situation I’ll usually have a player roll to determine what day of the PJ and what shift of the Watch after they’ve established who takes what  shift and how many there are, then call for the relevant roll.

  14. More than one can be on watch. If so, everyone on watch will roll. On the other hand, 4 hours are usually enough for the group to recover and everyone take their guard duty.

  15. No where in the MC move does it say you recover spells or anything other than 1/2 your HP. Recovering spells isn’t even a move it’s a fictional thing you have to do. If you were to Make Camp and recover spells that would be 5 hours total.

  16. I dislike what the On Guard move says about how the world works. It says “the more people you have keeping guard in the dungeon, the less likely you are to be detected.” That doesn’t jive with my sense of reality. The wizard quietly studying by candlelight while the rogue keeps watch from the shadows should be considerably less likely to draw attention than the cleric chanting prayers aloud to his deity while the paladin, fighter, and barbarian pace about on lookout.

    I’d go more for something more like a random encounter move, something that takes fictional inputs to help determine if the party is or isn’t detected.  Off the top of my head…

    _Random Encounter

    When you dilly-dally or rest for a while (an hour or so) in a dangerous area, roll and add…

     +1 if you’re right out in the open

     +1 if the area is well-travelled or heavily populated

     +1 if you’re doing or have something that tends to draw attention

    On a miss, go unnoticed but don’t mark XP. On a hit, something approaches! On a 7-9, it’s an isolated danger or maybe even friendly. On a 10+, it’s something dangerous, either a big bad or something that works for them._

  17. +Jeremy Strandberg, I don’t think that Take Watch move promotes the idea: “the more people you have keeping guard in the dungeon, the less likely you are to be detected.”

    Take Watch

    When you’re on watch and something approaches the camp roll+Wis (…)

    If you do something in the fiction that attracts attention on you, most probably something will approach the camp. It’s that easy. Take Watch has no direct influence on the probability of being detected.

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