Hi everyone!

Hi everyone!

Hi everyone! I have a question about GMing for you. This is the case: A party composed of some core classes and a dragon player character are underground dungeon crawling and reach the Giant Assasine Vine chamber. The vine attack and the dragon uses dragon breath on the giant plant. The narrator (me) rules that the fire sticks and burns the vine filling the whole Dungeon in heavy choking smoke. The characters escaped the fire running unprepared into a number of nasty pitfalls and traps. The characters were jammed for hours because of the fire consequences and blamed on the dragon player for starting it. Question: was my move too hard?

My friend “H” who’s is a game master of Dragon Age thinks I should have just let the fire damage the monster and that running all the fire consequences ruins the fun for the dragon and for the players and makes the dragon looks useless and unfunny to play.

18 thoughts on “Hi everyone!”

  1. It’s hard to know just from the narrative description. If the dragon PC (awesome, btw!) missed with his move (6-) and your move was that he killed the assassin vine but the smoke was an issue, that’s not a very hard move. It forces action but doesn’t inflict consequences, so that sounds perfect.

    If you made that move in response to a 10+, then maybe it was quite hard, but it sounds like a fun consequence, so I would be fine with it.

    It sounds like the actual problem was either a) later, with the flight through the traps being too hard, or that b) you have a social contract issue at the table, unrelated to the game rules.

  2. Play to find out what happens.

    What happens when you set fires in enclosed places is, they fill up with smoke.

    I’d say if they rolled a 6 or less, your move was fine, but your question brings up a point I’ve run into in GMing different types of games and that’s fires in the story.

    I’ve run super hero games with fire blasty type PCs before I’ve I usually rule that the FIRE is the primary source of danger when there’s a fire, when in reality most people choke to death from smoke long before they burn. BUT we aren’t talking about reality and it’s really cool to have a sword fight atop the rafters of the burning church, but no so much if smoke is in everyone’s eyes and they are coughing during their monolouges which they most likely would be. How often has Batman cornered the Joker inside a burning building?

    If the Dragon PC is going to breath “realistic” fire evrytime then it’s not a very useful move and is more trouble than it would be worth. I’d rule “Be a fan of the players” and only bring out the secondary aspects of setting things a flame when a 6 or less is rolled. Perhaps it wasn’t clear to the players that they were “playing with fire” but moving forward they know that sometimes fires get out of hand, which they do in fact do.

  3. If you’re punishing the player for using his move, it’s not a hard move, it’s breaking the rules.

    If you just state the consequences, make a move only when allowed, and follow the tone, it’s not too hard.

    About following the tone: your group will have established a playing mood, where things like realism, jockes, sex, violence are (or not) allowed to access play.

    You can modulate this by, for example, describing the terrible mess the fire causes, without many mechanic (or narrative) PENALTIES for the party.

    “It’s all a mess, fire everywhere. you’ re stuck in those pits, the hot smoke passing over you; ecc ecc; what do you do?”

    “It’s all a mess, ecc ecc,  you all take -1 CON for the smoke, have to defy danger to escape, and spend at least three hours trying”, instead, well, it’s different.

  4. Big moves mean big consequences.  If you had a move like “Strength of Titans” that gave a brute Hulk-like strength, it’s not “too hard” of a move to cause structural damage that makes the dungeon start to cave in, as long as you warn the players first.

    The more I play DW, the more I think that Tell them the requirements/consequences and ask is the most versatile and important GM move. It lets you moderate crazy PC antics in a way that remains true to your principles.

    “Draco, you know that using you fiery breath down here could set the whole thing ablaze and make this dungeon a smokey death trap. At the very least, it’s gonna suck all the oxygen out of this room.  You still wanna do it?” That gives the players the chance to back out. It also gives you and your players a chance to have a conversation about what everyone envisions happening when a dragon breathes fire on a living plant in an enclosed dungeon chamber with poor airflow.  

  5. Jeremy Strandberg If you’re not going to let a dragon breathe fire in a dungeon without crippling consequences, I hope everyone at the table is very clear that that’s the game you’re all playing.

  6. I’m assuming this is the Dragon playbook using the Breath Weapon move, in which case it does require a roll. That move even allows the player to choose “you cause no unwanted collateral damage”, so it’s not like this is a surprise. As long as the player didn’t pick that option I’m fine with this.

  7. I do not – it must have been posted in the Tavern some time ago, although I did a search and couldn’t find it. I have a PDF but no notes about where it came from. But here’s the relevant move:

    Breath Weapon

    When you unleash elemental destruction with a roar, deal your damage, ignoring armor, to all targets in an area, and roll +CON. *On a 10+, choose two. *On a 7-9, choose one:

     You can use your breath weapon again before making camp to recharge it

     You cause no unwanted collateral damage

     You do not leave yourself exposed to reprisals

  8. Hi again. Yes, the player is playing the dragon playbook. He rolled and choose the option of breathing fire again that day. They spent one extra hour of real time solving the smoke problem. The playbook is here in the tavern somewhere. Thanks for your imput.

  9. Oney Clavijo I think your move was completely reasonable then. One of the principles with the “choose X” moves is that if you don’t choose something that says “Y will not happen”, then Y is guaranteed to happen. Your player had the option to avoid collateral damage and chose not to.

  10. Agree it was reasonable. I’d add that you’re not obliged to go that hard every time they risk unwanted collateral. At your option it might be quite minor next time, but you’ve got this in your pocket.

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