In a recent test of the rules, my group indulged in a small skirmish with some Goblins.

In a recent test of the rules, my group indulged in a small skirmish with some Goblins.

In a recent test of the rules, my group indulged in a small skirmish with some Goblins. And a couple of questions were raised.

1)      How do you duck or dodge? The thief had slipped and fallen to the floor and the fighter was running towards the Goblins. One of the goblins threw a glass ball of acid at the thief. The thief’s player said “I roll to one side” while the fighter announced she would dodge the acid spray as the ball shattered between her and the thief. So how would you handle rolling or dodging?

2)      Movement.  Another question that raised its head was, how far can a character move? Without specific movement rates, or turns, how do you stop a character simply running up to an enemy immediately?

29 thoughts on “In a recent test of the rules, my group indulged in a small skirmish with some Goblins.”

  1. 1) This would be a good use of Defy Danger. On 10+ the thief defltly avoids the acide, on 6- he can take damage or be horribly disfigured. And you could use a 7-9 result to make things more interesting for him: he could lose a weapon, have to strip off his armour before the acid burns through him, etc.

  2. As for movement – it’s all in the fiction. You can’t stop a character from running up to an enemy immediately – why would you? Instead, add actual barriers and offer dangerous choices. “There’s broken glass all over the floor. If you run to cross the room, you’ll need to Defy Danger”

    Remember – be a fan of the characters. If it’d be awesome to have the thief dive roll across the room and gut a goblin in one attack, then let it happen. You’re not their enemy.

  3. 1) if they are in danger, it seems to me that those declarations trigger a Defy Danger roll.

    2) follow the narrative, stay in the fictional situation you’ve created. What stops them from just running towards the enemy immediately? If the answer is “nothing”, well, they can. Otherwise, there may be difficulties or obstacles. If it’s very far, the enemy may have time to act or react – if so, make it clear and ask them if they want to proceed. If there are other combatants, and they try to reach a specific enemy, that may leave them open to other attacks. What you don’t need is “you’ve walked enough for your turn, now it’s my turn” – DW doesn’t work like that.

  4. 2) There is no need to track movement rate in DW. Combat is handled more like a movie or novel, and less like a boardgame.

    Think of what’s happening in the fiction, and make it interesting for the players, while always being a fan of their characters. If the paladin runs up to the goblin chieftain and there is no reason for him not to, why would you ruin everyone’s fun by making him wait?

    Of course there can be a lot of danger between the paladin and his enemy, and it’s up to you to make it react to what’s happening. Maybe the chieftain’s bodyguard blocks his way, or someones signals the archers to fire at the charging hooman. As long as you stay true to the fiction, make moves when required and ask the player “what do you do”, no one will complain about tactics =)

  5. In the the case of movement, you should be asking yourself ‘is there any reason why the fighter can’t just pile across the room and dive into melee?’

    If there isn’t, then they can do it. If there is, then you get to say something: “They’ve got acid grenades and you’ve got no cover; you’ll need to defy danger to get to them.” Or something like it. (a.k.a. tell them the cost or consequences and ask)

  6. So, next question (although I think I know the answer). Our fighter swings his two handed axe at the trhree goblins standing before him, he does damage. Can he choose to share the damage out amongst the three, or must the damage only be applied to one target?

  7. #1) A breakthrough moment for me when i was pretty new to running DW – a small squad of archers had the PC heroes pinned down.  I was still thinking in terms of “combat rounds” from decades of other systems, and decided that they had all chosen one target, our Wizard, and they were held to one action, readying an attack to shoot at the Wizard.  When The Wizard came out of cover, he had to contend with the arrows.  But i let other characters run from cover to do other things.  

    After the session, i asked for feedback.  One of the players pointed out that the archers weren’t bound to shooting just one arrow each per round.  Instead, they were constantly thudding a handful of arrows into the cover whenever a character poked his head out.  Instead of giving one character the task of drawing fire, i could have made it more dangerous for all of them.

    Better Option, Think Dangerously:

    “Heroes, you’re pinned behind a rock shelf.  One of you pokes your head up, and is barely able to duck as three arrows scrape across the stone and barely miss trimming your eyebrows.  You saw other archers scanning, disciplined, holding their fire.  What do you do?”

    Unless and until they handle the threat, anything that involves leaving cover is dangerous.  If they simply leave cover, they are gonna get hit.  Damage.  Arrows through valuable bits.  Eyes go missing.  Whatever i want.  I’m moving hard, because they’re ignoring a threat.

    But if they move out defiantly, they might trigger a move:  

    Do they throw up a distraction to draw fire, and run out between shots?  The archers are disciplined, but maybe they can be tricked.  Let’s find out, Defy Danger + Int!  

    Do they run, twist, turn, dodge and basically outmaneuver?  Defy Danger + Dex.  

    Do they jump over the rocks and charge straight at them with swinging weapons?  Hell, maybe no Defy Danger.  If they’re close, they may just Hack & Slash.  On anything less than a 10+ they get pin-cushioned, but on any hit they get up there and hurt an archer.  On a 10+, maybe they even get hit, but it’s only a flesh wound, no HP loss, no debility – just a cool scene where they brute force through a hail of enemy fire.

    Do they return fire?  Sounds like a Volley.  On a 10+, they hit!  On a 7-9, they choose: did they pop up several times firing hurried shots to drive them to cover before taking that one steady shot (lose an ammo)?  Or did they stay up long enough to take a careful shot, and get hit (expose themselves to harm)?  Or did they pop up, fire hurriedly, and hit for minimal effect (-1d6 Damage)?

    Does The Fighter break off a chunk of that rock and use it as a shield?  Sounds like Bend Bars/Lift Gates to me!  On a success, i’ll let them get a piece big enough to be effective and small enough to be portable, and they have a reasonable shield.  They get to move out of cover, because there is no longer a danger.  Arrows tink off to no effect.  Until i can strip that shield away from them….  On a fail, i may let them get that same shield, but when they stride confidently out into the arrow storm, the shield is shattered by the first few strikes.  (Or maybe it was the nose of a slimbering rock elemental…)

    Each character has a choice to make, each is exposed to that danger, and each can react differently.  Their individual reactions will determine which moves might be triggered. 

    #2) Regarding movement – this concern, for me at least, came from a long history of role-playing with an eye toward simulating reality.  Which is kinda silly when we’re fighting demons and dragons and what not, right?  In DW, we’re simulating an action movie.  We’re watching the hero be cool, and dangerous.  We skip the boring rounds of setup and moving to get where we wanted to be.  Instead, we cut to the exciting scenes where we ARE where we wanted to be.  We can either hand-wave those intervening footsteps, or resolve the entire move in one move.

    When a player wants their character to charge across the field toward those archers, i step back and think about it.  And maybe this is the first time i really consider distances.  I put the threat there, but i left myself blanks, so i didn’t really know quite how far they are, or what lays between.  but now the player wants to charge across, i’ll tell em what they see – is it a field?  something to climb or jump?  can they make it in one volley of arrows, or is it so far they would reasonably be exposed to several shots per archer?

    Does the player than take a good look to plan a route?  Discern realities!  

    Does the player want to rush across the field?  Maybe Defy Danger, or if it’s a short charge, Hack & Slash as i mentioned.  

    Does another player draw fire, or throw down suppressing fire?  Roll + Bond, cause you’re aiding!

    So the question isn’t “how far can you move this round?” because there are no rounds.  Instead, the question is “how far do you want to move, and what happens while you’re doing it?” 

  8. Movements tricky until you realize that each “aciton/movement” a character makes in DW is not always the same amount of time. If someone wants to move a great distance and you think it would be unrealistic for the other PCs to just watch, you can switch to another PC. So, fighter says they want to charge the goblin king whose a football field away, great – ask the other players what they are doing while he runs up there. And like others mentioned, if there are obstacles in the way, play those out.

  9. Andrew P (‘Justanotherandy’), in regards to your fighter swinging at three goblins quandary.

    You will no doubt get several answers to this question, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the, are contradictory.

    At my table, we used to allow a hero to attack multiple targets with one hack n slash move, but after reviewing the Rangers “Blot out the Sun”, we have gone back to “you can attack as many targets as you like, but it’s a separate instance of hack and slash for each”, unless you have a weapon that specifically targets more than one creature, or if your attack isn’t really hack n slash at all – think mowing down goblins with a steam tank.

    Here is what is says under blot out the sun:

    You may spend extra ammo before rolling. For each point of ammo spent you may choose an extra target. Roll once and apply damage to all targets.

    As you can see, not only is it an advanced move, but there is a cost in doing it (ammo).

    Granted, other people might handle it differently, arguing that one is melee and the other is ranges (orcs to ogres), but everyone at my table is comfortable with it.

  10. The mow down thing is a bit of a sticky one, as AJ Ferguson​ said. I’d let it hang on the fiction: ask the player to describe what her character does, describe stakes, and make her life interesting 🙂

    That, or let ‘distribute damage among several foes’ be a choice for 10+ on hack and slash.

  11. AJ Ferguson I like using “swarm mechanics” for things like goblins or rats that would fight like a swarm. You do damage to “the swarm” and each 3-5 total will kill one member.

    If they don’t fight as a swarm (say just two guys standing next to each other), then I would certainly do one roll per combatant, but allow it in the same “action” – so if Stavros the Strong swings Crushburt, his giant maul, in a large arc at a group of four armed guards, he may hit the first (11), disarm the second one who happened to get a rapier stab in (8), club the third to death (10), and completely miss the fourth (3), leaving him off balance with his back turned to the guards he just assaulted.

  12. Andrew P – i haven’t regretted it, and i honestly can’t think of a single person i’ve spoken to that has, once they’ve gotten a feel for the different style of play.

    I tried to play Pathfinder for awhile after getting into DW.  Every time i found myself stun-locked for an entire combat, or failing check after check until the DM just gave us a hint to move forward, or spending an hour to resolve a fairly simple combat, it was all i could do to stick it out.  

    After a handful of those games, i realized that Pathfinder, and that style of play, simply was no longer something i was interested in, at least for now.

  13. To give you one of those foreshadowed contradictory answers to the “distributing damage” question: if it makes sense in the fiction–and frankly, especially if it’s the Fighter, because this is the kind of thing that a badass master of melee combat is meant to be doing–I let them deal damage to each enemy they’re attacking. Not even divided out, just the full damage to everything.

    That’s actually in the rulebook, in the section for Hack and Slash on page 56: “If the action that triggers the move could reasonably hurt multiple targets roll once and apply damage to each target (they each get their armor).”

    If they’re taking a swing at a few goblins that are just standing up and unable to defend themselves properly, as you describe, I’d call that a perfect situation for the above.

    To the point that Blot Out the Sun exists: I can see the point (why does the Ranger need a move for this and the Fighter doesn’t?), but I present two counterpoints (aside from the “it’s in the rulebook” thing):

    1) There isn’t a Blot Out the Sun-style advanced move for damaging multiple enemies in melee, so that feels like saying that the Fighter needs to take a move that doesn’t exist so therefore they can’t do it at all. You could certainly write such a custom move, but see the following:

    2) I think of Blot Out the Sun in the same way as Tricks of the Trade. Any character could hypothetically attempt to pick a lock, probably with Defy Danger Dex or Int. Tricks of the Trade just gives them permission to do it any time, without needing to justify it, and gives them more controlled mechanical outcomes. Blot out the Sun is the same way: theoretically, any character could fire off a bunch of shots really quickly if it made sense in the situation–say, if they were hidden high above the enemy and were aiming for high arcs so they could get off several shots before the first one landed. Blot Out the Sun just gives them permission to do it any time they like, with the baked-in cost of marking extra Ammo. If you made a similar move for melee, I’d think of it in those terms: it wouldn’t be giving permission to cosplay as a lawnmower every once in a while, it would give permission to do it all the dang time.

    …All that said, I generally take the 13th Age route and treat horde-style enemies as a single monster, as Aaron Griffin suggests. Every so much damage kills one, which also reduces the damage the mob deals (because monsters get extra damage for ganging up on people, when it makes sense for them to do so).

  14.  As I see it, The Blot out the Sun move gives the player access to “attack as many targets as you like” with no space limitations (The Bow of course has a range)  

    That means that you can shoot after both the Goblin shaman on the altar to the right and the Goblin Chiftan charging in from a side cave to the left. If you are hacking and slashing, you can only hit the goblins around you.

    And that’s why the ranger needs a Move and a Cost.  

  15. Rasmus wernersen, sure, that’s one take on it, but I would counter that the Ranger is limited by how much ammo she has. Remember that this move requires you to burn ammo for extra target.

    If you allow the fighter to attack multiple targets with a single hack n slash, they could theoretically do so every time they take action, virtually unlimited and without the requisite of an advanced move.

    To us, it seemed a little wonky, that’s all.

    Granted, with hack n slash, you aren’t doing full damage to each target you hit, you have to divide it, so maybe there’s the trade off right there.

  16. True AJ Ferguson​​ it is a fine balance, and I agree that it is all about the fiction.

    The only player I have had hit multiple enemies, was a

    fighter with forcefull or messy tag on his huge axe, can’t remember which tag exactly, and it was against a bunch of small Lizard men. it sounded fair at the time, and didn’t feel overpowered or anything.

  17. I have, in the past, let characters divide damage from a hack & slash between the enemies.  I’ve also let them set up a cascade, full damage to the first enemy, 1/2 to the next, 1/4 to the next, so on until they’re doing doing damage.

    I think the important part is making it clear, before dice touch the table, what they’re doing.  And let the players argue for or against it.  Listen to them, all of them, and adjudicate it whichever way makes the story interesting.

    I’ve also been known to end combats with enemies on the field.  Big Bad is dead and we still have some minions on the field… ehh.. “They look like the want to run.  Are you done fighting yet?  No dice, just tell me what you want to do….”

  18. AJ Ferguson

     I see your point but I envisaged something different. Imagine the fighter running around the corner to be confronted by a three goblins in a close line. To all intents and purposes they are one target, so she is only making one attack (it’s just that a double handed axe in full swing is going to take some stopping), If the goblins were a sensible distance apart, then no she couldn’t treat them as one target, So it would have to be a custom move or something, only applicable to heavy, two handed weapons and the stupidity of the targets.

  19. Hack & Slash is a melee move, you can’t use it to attack multiple enemies at once unless it’s reasonable to do so. Which means PCs can’t just hack&slash the entire goblin army at once. Plus, being in melee combat with multiple enemies is dangerous. Sure, it’s great if you roll a 10+, not so great if you get anything less.

    Blot out the Sun is for Volleying, where it’s not usually going to be possible to shot multiple targets at once. To do so without being a ranger, you’d have to have some kind of weapon specifically designed to do that – like a cannon or bomb. Blot out the Sun is special because you can easily target multiple monsters without having to get close or obtain a special weapon.

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