Cool or not cool?

Cool or not cool?

Cool or not cool? 

The characters are fighting some Yeti in an icy cave with stalactites and stalagmites and icicles. The Yeti attack is forceful and a character misses while in melee with them. 

You as a GM say: “They hit you with a massive backhand punch and you are flung into the air. Take [monster damage]. but man you really won’t like this but you are landing directly in a bunch of spiky ice and rock spikes. Take a d4+3 damage from that”.

Extra damage from environmental stuff that was clearly described to be there? Overkill in such a situation or perfectly fine?


36 thoughts on “Cool or not cool?”

  1. Cool but that seems like a bit much for damage on top of the monster’s damage. Alternately, the ice is brittle and shatters all around you burying you in a pile of icy debris.

  2. It’d be more interesting if the ice spikes did something other than cause damage.

    Trap characters in a spot by getting them/their gear impaled.

    Separate characters from one another by falling from the roof to flash-form a spike-y barrier.

    Damage/remove gear by catching it (your bowstring snapped on a ice-stalagmite when you were thrown back / your shield is impaled at the top of that spike now).

  3. The art of GMing is to almost but not quite kill some members of the party. So if the character was on full health it is cool. If he was already mostly dead, probably not.

    Also some players die more graciously than others.

    So the answer is, it depends.

  4. Voted cool, but the damage feels very static compared to guidelines i the core book.

    As my comment above suggests, I think a d10 is a better it, because DW features a lot of swingy damage, and that makes armor more worthwhile.

    With low die + high bonus, you make the outcome more certain, which is just personally dislike.

    But yeah, a monster in its own lair? Sure, it should abuse its terrain. 🙂

  5. I would say deal the environmental damage instead of the monster damage.  The yeti picks them up and flings them into some shards of ice.  The environmental damage could be greater than monster damage, but you don’t need to do damage twice, and now they’re on the other side of the room.

  6. I don’t like the specific scenario (like, I don’t think the yeti would hit you hard enough to impale you on icicles), but down with the concept: a foe deals damage and deals extra damage because they flung you into a “danger zone.”

    Change it to: fighting an ogre on a bridge. He thwacks you (damage) and you go flying (monster move) and then, shit, 20 ft drop.  That’s gonna do more damage. 

  7. I either deal the environment damage, or the yeti damage followed by an opportunity to avoid the environment damage ( “the yeti picks you up and hurls you across the cave, cleverly aiming your body towards the I’ve crystals you see earlier . This is gonna hurt either way, but can you do anything to defy or avoid that danger?”) sometimes, the player will do something smart to not get impaled, or just roll out of it with a solid Dex roll.

  8. As a player I would expect the damage from both the Yeti and the Ice. Because I would be trying to use it ficitionally to my advantage also.

  9. Wow, I’d hate to see the gentle softballs you guys equate with “hard move”. Many of these replies seem to intimate that the GM should be creating and scaling challenges, which is not the GM’s job.

  10. Solution 1 (my usual): you take damage from the yeti, then:

    “you are flying towards the spikes; what do you do?” – soft move.

    Solution 2: take condition from the yeti and damage from the spikes.

    Solution 3 (worst one): take damage from the Yeti and [hard move-no DMG] from the spikes

    Up to me: 1 source of damage for each move, UNLESS fiction strongly calls for it. In this case, you should Tell the conseq. and ask.

  11. Jeremy Strandberg my mental picture was of Dresden Files Yetis and they are basically white, furry fey ogres that are massive

    But i see your point. 

  12. Jason Morningstar: I have 2 groups of PbtA-based games. One is brand new coming out of D&D; fewer punches pulled, there. The other has an 8 year old in it– I give that group every opportunity to find clever ways to avoid damage.  I’ve played games where the result of a 6- was decapitation.

    See, it’s the mid-air move that can be really dynamic for players. “I turn into a bird and fly!” (druid) or “I cast heat lance at the icicles before I land” or “I ball up and hold my shield against my back so I land shield-first!” Or whatever. The point in my DW games isn’t to present a harsh and unyielding world. It’s to present challenges that the players have opportunities to deal with. Dealing both damages without an opportunity just seems like a waste of an exciting spotlight moment.

  13. Giving them a chance to do something mid-air is totally cool as well. 

    But what if the move would be forcefully throw them into icicles? Then you can’t really do that. 

  14. Yeah, if the yeti move is “throw them onto icicles,” then I don’t give the mid-air move, but then the damage should be the yeti’s damage, not the environmental damage.

    I was seeing it more as the environment has a move (“Icicles: impale and rend”).

  15. Jason Morningstar

    Since I play DW full improv every encounter (challenge) my PC’s face is created on the fly.

    According to flow theory if the challenge is too easy, the player becomes bored. If the challenge is too hard, the player loses interest. So to keep the player in the “flow zone” (or fun zone) the challenge has to be difficult but still potentially beatable.

    This means that (an improv) GM’s job is absolutely creating and scaling challenges.

    Or did I misunderstand you?

  16. Wynand Louw I believe Jason is saying that a DW GM’s job is not scaling challenges – and he is 100% correct, because it’s not. In DW you present real challenges. If the real challenge in the fiction is “oh no gonna get skewered by yetis” then that’s what it is. It’s not looking at your notes and going “hm well everyone’s looking kind of grumpy, so lets nix these icicles and make things a little easier”

  17. Huh.

    Thinking about it some more, I would not, but the reasoning might be kind of strange.  

    Additional damage is a weird thing in Dungeon World. To my mind, there is something essential about the damage die used by characters and explicitly the way in which it doesn’t reflect the fiction.  Whether the fighter has a toothpick or a claymore, he’s rolling a d10, because he’s the fighter. And by and large ways to increase that damage are baked into the character, not the scene.  This is a mixed thing, but it has the twin upshots of keeping characters from scrabbling for damage bonuses and forces the GM to think more broadly then just using damage to describe effects.

    Now, it’s a very legitimate question whether that same logic applies to monsters. There’s probably a reasonable case that it doesn’t, but I’m inclined to say that it does (and now I’m going to have to look through the bestiary again with this question in mind) and from that position, adding damage to the attack is not the route I would go.[1]  Instead I might, for example, make it the attack (“the critter knocks you into the ice, which drives into you”, effectively making the attack armor piercing) or I might add another consequence (you’re stuck. Maybe you take a status).  But an extra attack worth of damage feels like the wrong tool.


    An extra attack? One that the character might try to defend (turn your shield in midair before you hit the ice!) or defy danger (twist to try to miss the big one (dex) or try to smash the points before you hit them (str))?  Now it’s not just fiat damage, it’s an awesome action moment.  THAT, I could get behind.

    But all that said, I don’t think extra damage is bad, and if I were doing this off the cuff, it would have the virtue of being a quick resolution, and I will never object to quick and dirty (see the footnote for an example).  So while I wouldn’t do just damage, I don’t think it’s bad to do just damage.

    [1]  Qualifier – this is more true of vanilla DW than the way I run it. Since I use Min/Mid/Max for monster damage, I might just bump the attack up one category without feeling too bad because I’m lazy.

  18. There is nothing that says a GM can’t award additional damage to the fighter who maces a villain in the face and because of his forceful tag that knocks him off a ledge let the fighter roll more damage for the fall.

    Or a Wizard whose Magic Missile is bursts of concentrated air for that matter.

  19. I say cool. With two conditions, the players have to be aware of the ice being pointy and the players have to have the same option to use the enviroment against the creature.

  20. True, there is nothing that says that (and, even without damage, Forceful is incredibly powerful in play). Just speaking to what I find valuable about the role of damage in DW.

  21. I also prefer my Forceful without Messy. I’d rather have Double Forceful. 

    The messy often overshadows Forceful during gameplay in my experience. 

  22. Alfred Rudzki We’ll have to agree to disagree.

    TPK is fun once every year or two but if it happens every time it most emphatically is not fun. Having to run away from a fight once in a while is also fun. But having to do it every time is absolutely not fun. Steamrolling boss monsters withhout breaking a sweat or losing HP every time is simply boring.

    That means the GMs job is most definitely scaling challenges along a bell curve. Some will be unbeatable, some will be walkovers, but most should be close shaves.

    What Kasper said is also immensely important. There should be forewarning for unbeatable challenges. In other RPGs monsters are statistically graded. If you play those games RAW you can more or less calculate probabilities before a fight. In DW you can’t because most of the action is not in the numbers but in the fiction. So there has to be some warning (even a vague one) in the fiction that fighting would be a bad idea.

  23. Not cool. Doing two lots of damage on a Hard Move is flat – even with the description of landing on ice spikes the character doesn’t get to interact with the fiction, they just take more damage.

    Better to do one lot of damage for the overall move and use the fictional effects of the spikes to cause serious problems for the character:

    – “You’re stranded in a forest of icy spikes” (Separate them)

    – “Your weapon lands somewhere among the spikes” (Use up their resources)

    – “Your armor wedges you down between the spikes” (Show a downside to their class, race or equipment).

    – “As you start to pull yourself off the icy splinters you realize there’s a huge ice spike teetering above you” (Put someone in a spot)

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