How common is it to create custom moves during play? For example, a PC wants to impress the king by reciting an epic poem, there is no danger to defy, and no real leverage for parley, so a move doesn’t get triggered. I could use a GM move but I suppose I could also come up with a custom player move on the spot. Which would you do and why?

Thank you!

14 thoughts on “Hello!”

  1. Short answer: Personally I prefer to make custom moves when I have downtime so I can really think about them. But sometimes you have to make them up on the spot, and that’s totally fine.

    Regarding your example though, if there is no danger to defy, no leverage to parley, and no other move gets triggered, then I would say the thing just happens. Honestly though, I think you’re missing an opportunity here. If a character is attempting to impress the king by reciting an epic poem, I would say there IS danger, as the character might bungle the recital.

    If there’s no chance of failure, or nothing is being risked by doing something, it just happens.

  2. Along with Chris Stone-Bush ‘s suggestion, the court itself could be the danger in the epic poem recital. Perhaps the court is one of those places where offense is easily taken. Or perhaps the courtiers spend a lot of time attempting veiled insults. There is this movie called Ridicule about 18th century Versailles, and one character is this amazing orator. He makes the mistake, however, of saying, “Now, for your amusement, I will disprove the existence of God” and he immediately gets imprisoned by the king, who despite being decadent, considers himself pious.

  3. I generally find that custom moves I make during play are basically Defy Danger with the possible 7-9 results pre-established before rolling.  Generally.  

    Like Chris Stone-Bush, I like to come up with the unexpected ones between sessions.

    But I also find that the more you play, the more you get a feel for it, the more you can riff on older moves that you want.  

    For example, a few custom moves I’ve written between play have involved magic that produces strong emotions, and now I know that a good way to handle those is 10+ you feel a little X for a bit but shake it off; 7-9 describe a time you felt X and take 1 forward; 6 as a 7-9 but you’re overcome and reeling until something snaps you out of it.    I can tweak that in play to handle similar situations pretty easily.  

  4. They’re something to be said for a perception of danger, too. If there’s no pressure, why is it a question? Say it gets done. If someone fears a bad result, that’s Defy Danger, even if the king laughs off a bad recitation, or decides a botched display demands a quest somewhere to regain Honor.

  5. When you perform in front of the King’s court, roll + Cha. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 1. You can spend your holds to:

    – Ask for a small favor, shelter or help from one of the nobles.

    – You get some piece of information about coutly intrigue and gossip.

    – You get +1 foward when trying to seduce them.

    On a 6- you babble or underperform in some way. The GM will tell you what happened.

  6. I would let the player roleplay whatever he wants to do to impress the king and after the amazement of the king or rejection of the performance I would give him a +1 or -1 forward to next Parley with the king or his courtiers. It’s a roleplaying game nevertheless. That’s what I’d do. 

  7. Oney Clavijo​ sure, just roleplay combat then too! Let the players talk out their thrusts and slashes and then adjudicate the narration at the end. /s

    Rules and rolls and risking things makes these situations exciting. There’s a reason a lot of people play combat heavy games – because it’s the tense part of a lot of roleplaying systems. And unless there is a way to share narration, or take the decision of the outcome out of the GM’s hands, its going to violate the Czege Principle (when one person decides both the challenge and outcome, it’s boring)

  8. These are all great responses! Thank you!

    One thing I’m trying to understand is how useful custom moves are during play. Are they a crutch? Should I just be using the GM moves and player moves? Or is it a technique that is commonly used. I trying to get a sense of best practice.

  9. Eh, it’s not about “best practice” or whether you “should” be doing anything.  Custom moves are just a tool in your toolbox.  The skill is in recognizing what value they add and when they’re useful.

    For custom moves that are basically just pre-scripted Defy Danger, the main value is in communicating expectations. It makes the risk/reward calculations more obvious to the players.  It’s really just an application of the GM move tell them the consequences & requirements and ask.  

    The other value these have is that they can make life easier during the game. If you have a Defy Danger-esque move written up in advance (or can just riff one from something you’ve done earlier), that’s one less bit of cognitive load you’re dealing with in-session as the GM.  If you struggle with coming up with good 7-9 results on Defy Danger on-the-fly, then you might find a lot of value in pre-scripting them.

    Custom moves that do more mechanically interesting stuff (like hold-and-spend moves or question-asking, or even-on-a-10+-you-gotta-choose-something-bad moves), are also good for setting expectations.  But they’ve got the added benefit of doing some world-building for you.

    Like, if you have a custom move that says “when you let the Gem’s power course through, roll CON and hold 3 (10+) or 1 (7-9), and spend them to a) volley with a blast of lighting, b) zap yourself instantaneously to another place you can see, or c) keep access to a spell when you would otherwise lose it… well, that sort of move tells you a lot about what the Gem is and does, the nature of it’s magic, and the what is possible with magic in your game world. 

    Another benefit for that sort of move is that it gives the players something fun to play with.  If you’ve got players that like a little more crunch, a little more resource management, etc., then these sorts of moves go a long way.  

    Final thought (I could probably go on for days): if you actually present the moves to the player (or at least their triggers) in a “formal” way (like on an index card or posted to a group chat), you’re basically daring the players to make that move.  You’re saying “hey, if you do this, something interesting will happen.”  And that’s valuable by itself.

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