So I’ve been fortunate enough to get to be a part of Brendan Conway fun project for DW called Chain World.

So I’ve been fortunate enough to get to be a part of Brendan Conway fun project for DW called Chain World.

So I’ve been fortunate enough to get to be a part of Brendan Conway fun project for DW called Chain World.  Wherein a group of players invite a different guest player in for one session and the next that guest takes over running the game.  What I would appreciate from you good people at the tavern is how do you recommend running a BIG BAD…like oh I don’t…say a DRAGON? The description in the core book feels a bit empty.  I get that much of the joy of DW is what the group comes up with together on the fly I just would like to think about some mechanical aspects beyond a series of “hack n slash” and “defy danger” rolls.  Thoughts ?

5 thoughts on “So I’ve been fortunate enough to get to be a part of Brendan Conway fun project for DW called Chain World.”

  1. For BAM (big ass monsters) really play up the reach and messy tags.  

    Reach: Look at the Hobbit when the dwarves enter the secret entrance to the mountain.  The reason Bilbo has to go in alone is because Smaug’s “reach” with his fiery breath can attack the dwarves from a great distance, so their only option is to send the thief in on his own.  Merely getting into range is an adventure.

    messy: Lake town, with every roll of 7-9 before Bard pulls out his black arrow and +1 forward from the thrush’s secret, buildings get toppled and burned.  Messy can be the area around the characters, not just rending the characters armor (the default description in the book about the messy tag).

    ????: Something reminiscent of the great japanese kaiju video game “Shadow of the Colossus” would be something as well.  Really evoking how large the creature is.  Which I guess is the defy danger rolls to get into sword reach.

  2. Allow me to be the token voice of dissent: you don’t need any special rules. I find that dealing with big bads is more about:

    1) Statting up the creature in advance

    2) Statting them up big, and mean, and true to their fiction

    3) Using the qualities, moves, and description as an excuse to play hard

    4) By play hard, I mean: don’t be afraid to interrupt their actions with GM moves:  tell them the consequences or requirements, reveal unwelcome truth, show a downside of their class/gear, turn their moves back on them, give them an opportunity with a cost, etc.

    Another way to think about big bads is to think of a list of “blocks,” or things that are preventing the PCs from just beating on it. Like for a dragon, blocks might be:

    It’s terrifying: your hands shake, your body is telling you to cower or run, you freeze up

    It can fly: you’ve got to get close enough to wack on it (or attack from range)

    It’s got reach: messy, forceful, [b]2d12+4 reach.  If you just walk up to it, it will rend you.

    It’s really big: where are you attacking it? With what? Is that legitimately going to do any harm, or just annoy it? 

    Present those to the players as things they need to overcome in order to land a telling blow. Let them come up with ways to get around it, yeah?  Let the discern realities to find something they can use to their advantage or something that’s not what it seems.  Let them defy danger with WIS or CON to overcome their fear, and defy danger with DEX to dodge inside it’s reach.  Let the fighter defend the ranger and spend 1 hold to open it up to an ally, allowing the thief to leap at it and plunge a dagger in it’s eye.

    And on a miss (or a hard bargain), bring how just how horribly dangerous this Big Bad is.

  3. One thing I like to do with “Big Bads” is to emphasize their considerable knowledge and experience, provided it makes sense for the situation.

    Most Big Bads, in my games at least, aren’t just in charge because they’re the strongest being among their respective race/organization/etc. They’re in charge because they see the world differently–their vision of the future is broader than just day to day survival.

    The bandit chief isn’t in charge just because he’s the strongest fighter–that’s just how he proved he was the strongest. No, he’s in charge because he’s lived in the mountains his entire life and has spent years cultivating relationships (both friendly and not so friendly) with other groups in the surrounding area. He knows how to find every hiding place, every natural resource, every untamed beast to unleash on his foes–all of it.

    But what does all this mean when he goes toe to toe with the PCs?

    It means that unless he’s the chivalrous type, there should be no fighting “fair,” especially if he’s fighting the PCs in a 1-v-5 situation. If he wants to stay alive, he should be using every trap in his lair, every ally in his Rolodex, every weapon at his disposal. He should be running and ducking for cover at the most opportune moments.

    He knows where the secret door is. He knows that the rogue’s weapon is poisoned because a few of his men escaped the fray and reported it to him. He knows that if he can just trick the Barbarian PC into charging into the fragile eastern wall, it will reveal a horrifying monster that he has kept caged for years.

    If the Big Bad is intelligent, then it’s not just him/her that you’re fighting. You’re fighting a web of contacts and resources that the Big Bad has spent decades building.

    And if the Big Bad is not intelligent, then perhaps a higher power manipulating them is.

    Food for thought.

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