More questions from the newb DW GM corner. This time mainly regarding combat. Again in no particular order.

More questions from the newb DW GM corner. This time mainly regarding combat. Again in no particular order.

More questions from the newb DW GM corner. This time mainly regarding combat. Again in no particular order.

1. Who goes first? I know there’s no initiative, and I can see how things develop once it all gets going, but in many examples I’ve read (eg the intro handbook) there is a clear combat initiator. How do you decide who this is, since the outcome has an effect on what rolls are made?

For example. You turn a corner and there are a group of goblins waiting for you. a) player says   ‘smash the first one over the head with my axe’. OK, sounds like Hack & Slash. b) GM says ‘the first goblin rushes you, spear coming toward your head’. OK, dodge out the way with Defy Danger. Same situation, but a critical difference based on who acts first.

2. How far down the rabbit hole do you make rolls? Say an axe is heading toward you and you Defy Danger but only get a partial result. GM says you side step the axe but in doing so step on a snake which is about to bite you. Do you DD again (with another potential soft fail on 7-9, which could result in another dodge onto another snake) or does the snake sink its fangs since you failed the roll?

3. Aid. This can be used with anyone right, not just those you have a bond with?

12 thoughts on “More questions from the newb DW GM corner. This time mainly regarding combat. Again in no particular order.”

  1. About starting combat, you can rule that surprise or otherwise adventurers being completely unaware(not even facing or failed discern realities) allows the enemies to simply do damage to the adventurers. Remember that there is no initiative, rolls like hack and slash represent more than the player’s Damage. It is allowed to represent the clash and struggle with the result of the roll telling which side is doing better.

    Speaking what rolls represent, mix up the scope of action. Treat about every roll like a movie director. Zoom in and slow down tense action with vivid details and more rolls that go in depth on small things, then make 1 roll encapsulate a sequence of action (think a defy danger DEX as a bunch of parkour instead of rolling for every jump)

    Quick note about lots of rolls is to avoid making the players roll the same type of roll, gets boring quick!

    Aid is allowed to be done when players help other players even with no bond established (keep a note for a possible future bond). Understand though that it is only other players, not NPCs.

    Hope i helped a bit.

  2. 1. Who talked first? Did a player say “I smash the first one with my axe?” or did they wait for the GM to say something after he introduced the goblins, thus inviting him to show signs of an approaching threat by saying the goblins rush? It’s really that simple.

    2. Maybe to dodge the axe they have to put themselves in a bad position, like between the ogre and the snakepit. Maybe they’re just thrown off-balance, take 1 forward. Maybe they parry with their own weapon but the force of the blow knocks it out of their hands and now it’s on the ground a few feet away. You don’t have to introduce NEW dangers like random snakes on the ground for every 7-9, or even every 6. Just follow the fiction. 

    3. Yup! Roll +0.

  3. Thnaks for the input. Re question 1 I was hping it might be a bit more robust than simply who talked first. It would be very easy for me, or my players – once they’ve got the gist of the system – to ensure they “talk first” or at least extend their sentence with “and he/she attacks with weapon”.

    Samual – thanks. I’m aware of what happens in surprise situations, I’m more unsure about who goes first in non-surprise situations, where both parties have the same time to react/attack. There’s no right/wrong answer, the outcome however does have an effect, as I tried to outline with my examples.

  4. To be honest I’ve always played it as the Players going first unless its coming off a move like perilous journeys where it specifically says that the players were caught unawares, or something else in the fiction says this like your snake example.

    Also if it is a move made by a failure or partial success usually I don’t let a player roll they just get the damage and thats the failure/bad thing happening from not getting to suceed.

  5. Andy W if you’re worried about your players always attacking first, ask yourself if you are always putting them in situations where attacking first is the best option. If you are, change things up a bit and give them new situations. If you’re not, then maybe you need to play up the consequences of their bloodthirsty behavior.

  6. Here’s my best advice for running DungeonWorld, particularly if you’ve run in other systems: just relax and let it happen.

    1) Whoever you think would logically go first, is the most interesting to go first, or the story dictates would go first, that character goes first.

    2) Similarly it goes as far down the rabbit hole as is interesting and fun for you and the players. Showing signs of an impending danger and putting the PC in a spot are great moves, but remember you have others you can make and mix it up as needed.

    3) See answers above.

    Hope that’s helpful.

  7. End all of your moves with “What do you do?” This will make it obvious as to the next logical action.

    You round the corner and find 3 goblins. What do you do? Vs. You round the corner and find 3 goblins. One is thrusting its spear toward your head. What do you do? First case will allow players to narrate actions that will likely trigger Hack and Slash. The second case will probably lead to a Defy Danger roll.

  8. Regarding #1, what Jim Sensenbrenner said is the key: you make your GM move and then you end it with “what do you do?”  If your players interrupt you and say “I attack immediately die die die!” before you ask them what they do, then they are breaking the rules of the game and (more importantly) polite conversation. 

    Another way to think of it is: when you say “there are goblins, what do you do?” you are making a GM move. Which move are you making?  That will be informed by the fiction, your prep, etc.  If the PCs have been stumbling through the darksome caves with a light source and making all sorts of noise, those goblins are likely to be waiting for them. Go ahead and make a hard-ish move like “put them in a spot” or even “deal damage”.  

    But you don’t say the name of your move, right?  You say “You round the corner and THUNK THUNK THUNK you get a bunch of arrows in the face! Take d6+2 damage. There are some small, plump shapes scampering off in the darkness. Goblins maybe, looks like a lot of them. What do you do?”  

    As for #2: that question generates more heated debate on this forum than just about any other.  In general, I’d suggest that you follow the fiction, insist on clear descriptions (from yourself and your players), and do what seems right. But remember to be a fan of the PCs.

    In general, if the player replies to a monster’s soft-move attack with a counter that seems legit (e.g. “I throw my shield up to block, get low, and stab my spear into its gut!”) I’ll happily let them hack and slash in response to the attack.

    But if circumstances are already against the PC, I might tell them the consequences and ask (“You’re sprawled on back, Sigurd! You can either block with the shield or take the blow and stab him, but you don’t have time for both. What do you do?”).

    If the monster has a trait/move that negates their maneuver, I’d hopefully have included that in my description (“The orc lunges forward with impossible speed, it’s axe swinging down on you like this. It all happens so fast, you’ve barely got time to react!”) and then judge the player’s response based on that. Probably they end up defying danger to block/dodge the axe, and if successful they might choose to attack (triggering hack & slash).

    If I left the orc’s blinding speed out of my initial description (but had it mind) and the player responds with something that feels implausible to me, we’ll stop and have a conversation. “Oh, yeah, this thing is like lightning quick, sorry I didn’t make that clear. You can probably get your shield up if you’re super quick or attack with the spear, but I don’t think you can do both.” And we talk about it and figure out what it looks like and then figure out what the moves are.

  9. Let me tell you that Dungeon World is a game that is very flexible enough that it can never really go wrong.

    Both of these options I can really see as valid and I think its really down to what you prefer and what the players prefer. Allowing Hack and Slash first your basically saying the players have agency, allowing the monsters first your saying in this world you have to react.

    Both have different play styles and I wouldn’t say one is better then the other…basically maybe go for both and see which you prefer. 

  10. 2: Make move that follows. Stepping on a snake when the Goblin attacks you is not illegal but it does not follow. If your moves follow they will snowball, and you will go aaaaall the way down.

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