Hey guys, I’m absolutely in love with DW after running it for a couple groups, but I’m a little unclear on how a few…

Hey guys, I’m absolutely in love with DW after running it for a couple groups, but I’m a little unclear on how a few…

Hey guys, I’m absolutely in love with DW after running it for a couple groups, but I’m a little unclear on how a few things are supposed to be presented to players. Specifically, custom moves, Compendium Classes, and magic items. My question is: how do I tell my players about these? (Long post ahead.)

With general custom moves, my assumption is that I just keep them handy, and if the players stumble onto the trigger, tell them to roll for the appropriate stat, and then give them the chosen result without revealing that this was a particular move, or what the other options were. Is this correct/acceptable? Should I be telling them the possibilities before they roll, or even telling them what the trigger is before they have a chance to do it?

Secondly, CCs. The triggers for these are so specific that I have a hard time imagining that they’ll stumble onto them by chance. Should I be making/selecting these between sessions as a response to something that happened already? Should I be telling players that, say, there are legends that people who do XYZ have managed to gain some abilities, so they can choose to seek them out if they’re interested? Should I show them to my players outside the sessions so they can pick ones that seem interesting and have their character seek them out?

Lastly, magic items. I’m torn between my desire to just let the PCs know what they do (since it’s more fun to use magic items on grand adventures than it is spending half an hour trying to figure out how it works, and heroic fantasy novels rarely include scenes like that for good reason) and my desire to lend verisimilitude to the world and make magic feel special by making them work for it a little. If they find a sword and I just go, “okay, you can use this move now,” that feels a little boring. I suppose it’s easy enough to allow a wizard to wave her hands over it and determine what it does…

What do you guys do? RAW doesn’t really specify, and I don’t see an obvious good answer for these. My default is secret custom moves, mostly just not using CCs, and telling PCs what magic items do so that they can get on with the adventure, but I’m not convinced that this is the best way of going about things. Thoughts?

9 thoughts on “Hey guys, I’m absolutely in love with DW after running it for a couple groups, but I’m a little unclear on how a few…”

  1. I’ve kept custom moves a secret before, but I think it really depends on the situation. Lately (like, the last six months or so?) I’ve really been coming into the school of thought that an open game is a more fun game, so at the very least I’d let the players know in broad strokes the kinds of things they might expect to happen on a given adventure. Spout Lore is your ally here, as much as the players’.

    CCs, I take the tack of asking players to take a look at them and inform me of any they’re interested in pursuing, so I can give them opportunities in play to meet the conditions. As you say, they can get pretty darned cornercase; player/GM collaboration is a basic necessity for a lot of them.

    As for magic items, I go with Spout Lore. One of the examples from the book for Spout Lore is actually identifying a magic item; a 10+ result got specific effects, and it was implied that a 7-9 result would’ve given general history that might or might not have helped. This approach rewards characters with high intelligence, and lets them show off, which is super cool.

    I personally take the approach that if they fumble the Spout Lore roll, they can still figure the effects out through use or downtime. The latter doesn’t happen in my dungeons, so if they try to spend a half an hour fiddling with the thingamajig in the middle of the Caverns of Pain, that’s giving me a golden opportunity for a hard move, though I might be nice enough to give them the effects for their trouble. If they hold onto an item long enough to get to camp or town, I’ll just give the effects to them; they’re high fantasy superheroes, they can figure this stuff out if they’ve got the time.

  2. I’m a big fan of transparency in gaming – keeping secrets from players was a big thing in D&D when I was a kid, but I feel it’s all a little silly.  If someone is abusing knowledge, they’re not a very fun person to play games with, so why would I?

    With that in mind:  Everything would be open.  Compendium classes?  Let the players play for a bit, then explain the basic idea.  Since it’s something that a player might conceivably want to custom create with you, be open to that idea.  I think it’s fine not to use them if nobody is into them though.

    Custom moves?  Custom moves should only appear if they’re cool, and WHY would you EVER want to spend time making something cool and NOT share it with your players?  It doesn’t matter to me if players suddenly want to angle toward it.  If it makes sense in the narrative, I let them, and if it doesn’t, I explain why.  If it’s not an exciting custom move that I want to share.. I don’t use it.

    With magic items I’d discuss it with the group.  What do they think is fun?  The onus of fun does not rest solely upon the GM’s shoulders.  If fun is having mystery items that bring up side quests to identify, then I do that.  If fun is only the bard or wizard or whoever can even hope to identify it, then I’m going to make those particular PCs feel important by giving them this extra chance to shine. And if everyone would rather just move on with no big fanfare, well, why not? I don’t want to force them off track just to find out their new dagger is only a little special.  I think the only time I’d make a deal out of something against the player’s wishes would be if I needed to emphasize something really being important.  Yeah sure, you can figure out how any little magic ring works, but this is the One Ring and there’s nothing else like it before or since.  There’s going to be a story arc here, all about identifying it or learning to harness it, and the item is going to matter somehow to a long running plot.

  3. Yes to all of the above.

    I think that the purpose of DW is to be collaborative and telling the truth to the players is even in the rules.

    I think that custom moves should be shown to players, or the options should be at least given to them to choose their fate. It’s just more fun and, frankly, less work for you.

    In terms of compendium classes, I’d even go a step further than the above. CC triggers as written are often comically specific, especially the more esoteric ones. I think that the players should have a trajectory in mind for their characters and the trigger for a CC is a drive for them. You should decide with the player what a campaign appropriate trigger is for the CC because maybe you don’t have a dark pit of Flarghn in your game, and shoehorning one in for the sake of a CC would be odd.

    Magic items, I agree with the above. If it’s more fun to make it a chore, make it a chore, if it’s more fun to swing the magic sword around, then let them feel the power as soon as they pick it up.

    Each game of DW is different, by design. You shouldn’t use the same world rules each time you play. Maybe in one campaign you have lots of high INT characters, well then maybe lore is a bigger deal and the research of magic items is important. But maybe in a different game you have a bunch of Conans and Cronks. Let them swing that sword, it’s not in their job description to figure things out.

    It’s always a case by case basis in DW. That’s the fun 😀

  4. When I make a custom move I write the trigger on an index card and the move text on the back. I then leave them in the center of the table like Checkovs gun.

  5. Just chiming in to say I am so proud of my custom moves, I share them with the players to let them see how awesome they are.

    I am also so unsure of my custom moves that I show them to the players to allow them to show me where they could be improved.

    Sometimes, just the way a player reacts tells me what I need to change, and everything gets better.

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