So, Take Watch.

So, Take Watch.

So, Take Watch.  How do you guys play it?  It says “When you’re on watch and something approaches”, so I guess the DM is first supposed to decide if something is in fact approaching, otherwise the move won’t trigger.  I usually make the players tell me who’s on which watch, then roll a d8 to see which hour of the night the encounter happens, assuming I have something in mind.  Like if I know the necromancer makes a habit of sending his demonic familiar out to scout around every night, maybe.

It would work even better if I had an old-school random encounter table and rolled for it once an hour or so, but I’m also almost never that prepared.  Do you have any tricks for improvving it?

15 thoughts on “So, Take Watch.”

  1. it’d need a little reworking, I think, but I always thought Take Watch would be better if you 1 – just roll when watch is taken, and that roll will perhaps determine if anything approaches, and 2 – roll +[Number of characters taking watches] rather than +WIS. 

  2. I love the d8 to decide who is watching bit. It always ends up as the highest WIS player in my games. I really like adding the random character component. Will use!

    Usually if they Make Camp in a dangerous area, then I have them Take Watch. It doesn’t always need to be a direct beast or other threat. I sometimes use the result to propel them into the next part of the story.

  3. colin roald​ Jarrah James​ has hit on the way I use Take Watch in that I use it only when I have something to do with it. If I bring up the watch, it ALWAYS means something is going to happen. Like Jarrah James​ wrote, it doesn’t always have to be a big thing or direct threat, but it has to be something.

    As far who’s on watch, I stuck to my d&d habit of an eight-hour stop in which a group of four would get six hours of rest each. This way, the players decide, knowing that I may call on the low-roller. I use this to put in the tension that I want. Sometimes I want the high-roller to have their moment and other times I want to put the low in a potential tight spot.

  4. My biggest complaint about the move is that it should function more like a wandering monster table and it does not.

    When the move itself presupposes that “something” is approaching the camp we are not playing to find out what happens at that point. Additionally it is triggered by the GM and not the players which is odd and the only move like it in the book.

    Personally I tend to use it when I need a result for a PJ move gone awry. I decide, there will be a night encounter, random up the who/when and go from there. I consider this move more of a stage for something else.

  5. Yeah like perilous journeys it assumes you have a monster/danger that will approach the camp. I wouldn’t make the move if they were in a safe place.

    For example i used the move in my previous game to show the the looming threat of the forest they were in

  6. I don’t see why supposing that something is approaching the camp is not “playing to find out what happens” any more than the GM knowing what monsters live in the old ruins is. The game isn’t supposed to just spew random content at you all the time. Sometimes the GM makes decisions – moves – and then you find out what happens as the PCs meet those threats.

  7. I think my problem has been trying to use this move without something like an old-school random encounter table to back it up.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a random encounter table, but DW never really mentions anything like them in its advice to GMs, and if you’re running off a one-page dungeon starter then you don’t have one.  Anyone have any clever ideas to spur creativity?

  8. Mike Pureka in theory it’s not different.  In practice, “on the first night in the wilderness they will be attacked by wolves” can feel scripted in a way that “the cave on the hill is occupied by a necromancer” doesn’t.  It’s a fuzzy line, though, and GMing style can push either of these scenarios in a scripted or dynamic direction.

  9. Ask players! They always have cool suggestions. Ask your fighter what did they fight here last time? Ask te Wizard what here is a magical threat and stuff like that,

    Also Im sure the location itself should hint at a few ideas. Also one thing that inspires me a lot it seems now is finding images on google for the location the players are in.

  10. Historically, I’ve done just what you first describe: have the players set the watch, pick what happens based on what’s already established (in play or prep), and roll to see which shift gets it (if it’s not obvious).  If we know the area’s dangerous but haven’t really established the details, I’ll ask the players what their characters know or have heard, and build an encounter based on that.

    Did you back The Perilous Wilds?  Jason Lutes revised the Make Camp move to include a sort of random encounter generator (roll +nothing; 10+ uneventful, 7-9 GM picks a disturbance, 6- here comes trouble).  The disturbances & troubles are vague, and a big chunk of the book is random tables to help spur ideas when exploring an area that hasn’t been established.  

  11. I drafted a random encounter move for this but never used it. Something like:

    If you have 6 players, assume the marching order is the watch order, roll d12 and anything under 6 is an event on someone’s watch?

    Eh, my games never seem to scream for this kind of hex-crawl camp moves. We’re usually too busy getting to the Big Scene Locations.

  12. I’m so glad this conversation happened. Those moves are the only ones in the game that I think I have a hard time following through on their triggers. I am super excited about the perilous wilds and am hoping it’s not too pricy. Also, the point people made about only using the move when something is going to happen is very valid. I still think you should keep your players on their toes and ask about watch times. Additionally, using the perilous wilds move method without the tables also seems like a great method. So let’s see: “when you hear something go bump in the night, roll+WIS/nothing. On a 10+, it’s a natural, harmless noise. Tell us about it. On a 7_9, something causes a disturbance. On a 6_, the unnatural disturbance gets the jump on you.”

    I like this approach the best because it is a move that follows and there’s so many ways you can use this. In a land of undead, it could be rolled every shift, as heroes must wake up every few hours to fight a new wave of zombies:the dead don’t sleep. Also, each result could be used in difference ways. A 7_9 could be anything from wolf howls keeping your entire party up all night, or orcs spotted coming over the nearby ridge. A 6_ could be an elephant running through their camp, trampling tents, a carniverous tree you camped under or an assassin sent to kill you in your sleep. It can end in an elaborately planned ambush by mercenaries or a heart to heart between two frightened travelers losing hope. Basically, have your heroes set up watches every night and when you want something unexpected to happen at camp one night, trigger this move.

  13. colin roald It’s not so much “on the first night in the wilderness they will be attacked by wolves” as it is “they’ve been sent to defeat the lycanthrope king, and they’re making camp in an area they know to be dangerous. Sounds like it’s time for an encounter with the wolves!” Random encounter tables are not really in DW’s style; take nighttime encounters from your Fronts instead. Their enemy knows they’re coming for it or its treasure, and sent some agents out to cut their throats while they sleep. No reason encounters at night have to be unconnected to the ongoing plot.

  14. Eh, sometimes there’s an obvious attack resulting from a Front, and sometimes you just have a one-page adventure starter and are making it up as you go along.  DW supports many styles.

  15. Okay, sure, if you want to have “random” encounters, that’s fine. The more important distinction though is that I agree with you that planning, “they will get attacked by wolves on the first night” is not playing to find out what happens. However, deciding, when they make camp in an area known to be infested with [wolves/bandits/zombies], that it’s going to mean trouble for them, is just fine. No need to be truly random about it; just use your own discretion to decide if it’s a good time to have an encounter or not, and if so, pull the encounter from the fiction in some way, even if it doesn’t advance the plot and isn’t related to any front. It’s “the forest is full of wolves” the same way you say “the tower has a necromancer in it.” Making camp in the woods can lead to a wolf attack the same way climbing the tower will lead to fighting the necromancer.

    Though I guess I’m not sure why only having an adventure starter would mean you can’t connect nighttime attacks to the adventure at hand? If it’s an adventure featuring a lich, send some zombies at them. If they’re retrieving an artifact, it’s rival adventurers. If they’re trying to find the lost temple in the wilderness, some wolves are fine. Even if you haven’t organized it as a formal front, the adventure is presumably still about something.

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