15 thoughts on “Bonds don’t work for our group.”

  1. I have just about a year of experience running my own weekly 13A game, and co-GMing another 13A weekly game run by a friend. From my experience, relationship points with Icons are about connecting the player characters to the established setting and creating a safe space for player input to shape the narrative. Specifically, Dungeon World doesn’t have a setting to connect with (since you’re making it up together) and player input is baked in, you don’t need a “spend points to share narrative control” mechanic.

    To be honest, I think on the surface, this is an up hill fight. But Igor Toscano is right! What’s not working for your group? Without knowing that, I don’t think folks could provide guidance for you and your players.

  2. There are tons of different relationship mechanics you can replace Bonds with. But if you do, make sure you also replace the XP mechanic.

    Perhaps using something like up to 3 Drives from Inverse World per character instead of Bonds.

  3. Robert Doe I like this, but I actually prefer more active XP for Flags like this.

    In fact, I use the entire mechanism for The Shadow of Yesterday’s Keys in my DW game in place of Alignment.

    It works like this:

    – players start with one Key (http://files.crngames.com/the_shadow_of_yesterday/tsoy_secrets_and_keys.pdf)

    – when they act in accordance with that key in a way that complicates things, they mark XP (ignoring the 2, 3, 5, etc on that list)

    – buyoff happens at the end of session, produces 5 XP, and allows purchase of another key

    I don’t think this replaces Bonds, though, as Bonds should interconnect the party. But I guess some Keys can relate two players, so it may work.

  4. While Dungeon World has no setting, we certainly do; we’re a migrated a game set in Ptolus to use Dungeon World (see the Hacking Ptolus G+ community for links). We considered migrating to 13th Age first (to the point that I already know what the “icons” are for that setting) but liked DW better.

    Bonds, as written, are built to shine when connecting starting characters, when the players are figuring out who they are and how to gel together. Being ported from a prior game, all these characters already know each other. While we could hit the things bonds are supposed to hit, doing so just isn’t particularly interesting.

  5. Yes, but that rapidly becomes dull and, after a point, artificial. How dull? The players are fully aware that they can do this, and could churn bonds like this for XP easily, but doing so isn’t worth the XP to them.

  6. Huh, I find that bonds drive a lot of the action in play. Players can certainly work to resolve bonds for XP, but that’s kind of the point- DW incentivizes dramatic interparty interactions the way D&D incentivizes killing goblins. Besides, check me here- but I think as written you can only get experience for resolving one bond per session. When I think about migrating what I love about DW to another system to make it more dynamic and player driven, bonds are absolutely one of the stand out mechanics that I consider. That said, it takes all kinds- folks are looking for all sorts of different experiences in tabletop.

  7. Flags are derived from TSOY’s keys, so there’s real overlap there, but the philosophical difference largely comes I whether the XP is driven by a behavior (keys) or an in-party interaction (flag). Now, I love behavior driven XP in most games (Aspects behave this way too) but DW has a decent arsenal of behavior drives as is, so (to me) that feels like we’ll saturated soil.

    That said, flags also solve a different problem which not everyone has. Because they’re “pull” interactions, they continue to work even if the cast of the game changes. If your playgroup is strongly reliable, then flags may be unnecessary overhead, and keys/aspects might be the way to go.

    But if you do, still take time and thought to keep them externally facing and actionable. DW is not a game of rich internal landscapes, and if you replace bonds, the replacement should give play a push, not just offer a passive opportunity.

  8. A couple of stray thoughts:

    1) Part of our issue with bonds stems from bonds working to foster a type of play that our group already does organically without prompting. This makes them seem superfluous.

    2) When playing in a single-city setting like Ptolus, how characters and the city interact is a lot more interesting and important than how the characters interact with each other. If it were otherwise, why bother playing in such a setting?

    3) When looking to replace bonds, I’m not saying “I want to find something that does what bonds do but better”, but rather “I’m looking to jettison that whole notion, and replace it with something that creates character/setting drama instead”.

    4) Re: Rob Donoghue’s comment “the replacement should give play a push, not just offer a passive opportunity”, that’s exactly what I’m after. In particular, something like the start of session roll of icon relationships in 13th Age pushes play in a way that interests me, though the mechanism will need to be a little different.

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