Tavern dwellers…

Tavern dwellers…

Tavern dwellers…

Let’s say you had a group who was very used to D&D style play and had a bit of an attention span problem, in 3-5 bullet points, what would you say would be the most important “rules” of DW with adequate description you would give them? I’m thinking no more than a handwritten index card with some white space. What’s most important? What resonates?

23 thoughts on “Tavern dwellers…”

  1. You specifically mentioned that your D&D players have short attention spans. Entice them with the fact that all a Dungeon World player has to do to pull of bad ass fantasy adventure action is to narrate it. The dice aren’t there as a hurdle to clear like traditional D&D play, they won’t have to spend that precious attention span tallying up bonuses and choosing feats and then hoping the dice work out. They get an immediate pay off and then use the dice to figure out how well it works out for them.

    You’re in a good spot pitching DW to impatient players. 🙂

  2. If they not going to pay a lot of attention, and they are used to D&D, I think you should really emphasize that the moves in their playbooks are special things they can do, but they are not the only things that they can do.

    A lot of detail heavy games like D&D train a player that as soon as trouble pops up, they grab their character sheet and look for the feat/spell/item/widget that can address the situation, and if it’s not an entry on the sheet, they often end up ignoring it 

  3. Christopher Stone-Bush I agree with all of Chris’s, though I’d change #3 to something like “we’ll pull out the rules when it comes up in story”. If you phrase it as GM control, some players are going to react poorly, even if that’s the actual truth. 

  4. Tom Miskey I might change that to:

    6-: The GM does something horrible. You may succeed, but you deserve to fail. 

    Because nowhere does it say a 6- you actually have to fail at what you said you’d do.

  5. – Describe what you’re trying to do like it was a badass movie

    – Don’t roll the dice unless I tell you or I will slap you

    – I deserve to be surprised with your knowledge of the world

    The first one is obvious. This is how the game mechanically works. Input “description”, GM looks for applicable move, roll the dice if application, describe output.

    I’ve seen players “take the initiative of rolling” before I tell them to. Punish that. They have to learn. It’s not because they say “I hack and slash the huge fighter in full plate that they actually can use the hack and slash move. Dungeon World’s way of handling difficulty is by using the description and having some moves not apply. How the hell do you plan on shooting an arrow, it’s a stone golem.

    The best way to illustrate the last point is to eventually ask them “who here speaks goblin” with your biggest grin. When they finally realise it’s not anywhere on their character sheet, explain them that in Dungeon World, what their character knows is not codified. This should blow their mind right here.

  6. “Don’t roll the dice unless I tell you or I will slap you” 

    man that sounds horrible. Why can’t the players roll their dice when they clearly triggered a move or intend to? If their description right now isn’t enough then ask them about more info on what they are doing. If they triggered a different move then they actually wanted they can rephrase their action or give further info. 

    A player clearly saying “I want to engange with this mechanical element – and this is how I am doing it” is not something wrong, or to be punished. That is perfectly fine gameplay. 

  7. Tim Franzke

    “If their description right now isn’t enough then ask them” I think that’s the issue he was getting at. I’ve had to shout STOP at a player who would toss the dice before I understood what his intentions were. And its akward if we have to clarify what he was doing and how I will respond if everyone already knows the dice result.

    But that’s just me…

  8. Tim Franzke 

    You’re not wrong… and I can see how shocking Patrick’s comment sounds… but I think (with respect to some of the answers I’ve seen you write both here and in the past) not everyone’s experiences with DW are necessarily like your own.  When you’re dealing with players (at one point one of whom helped actually BUILD D&D) who have always done things in a certain way, the conversion can be difficult.  

    That’s not a bad thing, but sometimes you have to use other methods and other approaches.  People are different in this particular hobby — both in the social norms they bring to the game as well as their own temperaments.   I’d challenge you to go a week on here without telling someone they are “playing the game wrong”.    😉

  9. From a different angle: It’s a lot easier to tell a player “stop! don’t roll those dice” than it is to say “you shouldn’t have rolled” after they get a 12…

  10. Tim Franzke Maybe I was phrasing it in a very dramatic way but let me explain. My players, when they started anyway, were playing DW like you play a board game. They thought of the moves as actions you can do and they would limit themselves to them. The moves you can do, became tools to resolve problems. When the players focus more on trying to trigger moves than contributing to the fiction, I slap them (metaphorically). Because the game is about creating amazing stories not “how am I gonna trigger a Defy Danger with Cha because that’s my good stat”.

  11. Andrew Fish  But dude, that’s like saying “The sky is blue, rain is wet, have fun.”  It lacks context. What does be a fan of the characters even MEAN to a new player?  These may resonate to you as a GM — or even an experienced player.  But they are meaningless without the context of the game literacy already.  

  12. Brennan OBrien   In short, it means the GM should be rooting for the characters to succeed in a glorious and epic fashion.  Some players and GMs have an adversarial relationship, such that  the GM is trying to defeat the characters and the players are trying to beat the GM.  A GM who is a fan of the characters isn’t an adversary, even if he’s RPing the villains and NPCs.

  13. Brennan OBrien OP asked for brief, he got brief.

    If experienced players hear that the rules are to be a fan of the characters and play to find out what happens, that should provoke a conversation.

    First statement in that conversation? “Those are the rules for the GM.”

    PbtA is a paradigm shift from my previous twenty+ years of gaming. And the fact that the GM is just another player, a fan of the characters and excited to learn what is going on. … man, that hooked me quick.

  14. Tom Miskey that is actually not what it means. 

    Think of the players’ characters as protagonists in a story you might see on TV. Cheer for their victories and lament their defeats. You’re not here to push them in any particular direction, merely to participate in fiction that features them and their action.

  15. Tim Franzke I never said a DM who is rooting for the characters has to make sure they always win.  Characters can and do fail, but the GM should, as you said, lament their defeat, not revel in it.  Some of the best stories happen when they don’t have a complete and total victory, maybe the villain got away, or may a hero sacrificed himself to save the rest of the group.

  16. Tom Miskey Tim Franzke And there there are those times when the player is rooting for character to fail. When players use their characters like stolen cars, be a fan of the characters takes on a different tone…. 

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