Hi all

Hi all

Hi all,

Another month, another session coming up with my semi-newbie players and their semi-newbie GM (i.e. me). I have another hypothetical game situation I’d like some advice on. Possibly I’m overthinking things (as usual) and worrying about what will never happen, but still…

The group now has about four or five different small items in their possession (misc booty from previous sessions). Since they are fairly analytical and methodical-minded, I’m pretty sure they will use a moment of quiet to try one or more Discern Realities (“I’m a Wizard, I check to see if this stone eagle figurine is magical!” or Spout Lore (“I’m a Ranger and my AC is an eagle — I’m sure I’ve seen this stone eagle figurine before!”) moves on them.

How would you handle that for maximum game fun? I suppose I can just let them attempt it as often as they want and go with the flow depending on how they roll. But if they roll well, that implies that I must already have available the correct answers about what these item are, or I’ll falter to come up with something on the spot (I’m really starting to dislike those three DR questions on a 10+, not to mention that “GM tells you something relevant to your situation” clause in Spout Lore 10+ !).

And even if they roll < 10, I still need to know what these things are so I can proceed in a fiction-appropriate fashion. But I don’t want to prepare too much — isn’t that the whole idea? How the heck do I know what the stone eagle figurine does? It seemed like a cute idea at the time. I’m sure I can think of something, but I’d much rather play to find out myself as well. But how to do that in the face of DR and SL?

Or maybe I should just say on a 6- “the figurine falls to the ground and shatters”. But I don’t want to do that four times, and I always worry that such hard moves will just be no-fun and cause them to stop using their own Moves in the future, which is not my intention either.

You’ve all already given me good advice last month on how to avoid hack-and-slash grinding of an enemy until its dead (and I can’t wait to try out your suggestions!), and I suppose this is the keep-identifying-until-we-get-it-right equivalent, and I’m just not sure how to prepare for it.

(For the record: my players won’t be trying to game the system or get antagonistic if I say something like “guys, house rule: one Spout Lore per item per session! But is that in fact a good way to deal withy this? I don’t know. Help!)

9 thoughts on “Hi all”

  1. Spout lore is a great way to move things forward.  My favourite is when they fail the roll, I tell them to ask a question and come up with an answer they really, really won’t like.

    “Great, you’ve detected the magical enchantment on it.  Someone has definitely been looking through this statue’s eyes for the last few days.  What do you do?”

    “When you listen close, you can hear a thumping coming from this large gemstone.  It looks like it’s about to hatch, what do you do?”

    It’s a great way to steer things towards any ideas you have, or tie different characters together.  (I want to create more tension between the wizard and fighter, and I want to introduce the fighter’s family.)  “Wizard, you recognize this crest as belonging to the Redbeards.  How do you know the Redbeards?  Hey Fighter, aren’t the Redbeards your cousins?”

    It’s super tough to come up with these answers on the spot, but it gets easier with practice.  It also helps to throw questions back to them.  (The rogue finds some weird roots that the druid is kind of interested in.)  On a 7-9: “These herbs are pretty rare.  They are super close to ones that the druid uses in rituals, but they have a weird side effect.  What is that side effect?”

    I agree breaking their stuff is much less fun, not only because it punishes them but also because it stops things.  Information moves are a chance to move things forward, start snowballing so the players can pick things up and take less pressure off you.

  2. Here is where Dungeon World Shines.  First off, Making a Move is your call.  They tell you what they are doing, not, “Ok, I Spout Lore.”  What are they doing to remember?  What research are they doing to do this?  Is the Wizard using a magical ritual to accomplish learning about it?

    You don’t just give it to them.  Make them tell you WHAT their in game fiction is.  Begins and ends with the fiction. 

    This is a bit less important where the Thief is concerned when looking for traps.  The fiction is he is looking for traps, tapping around, searching, observing, ect. 

    Wizard Spouting Lore:  In his massive studies, something similar could have been made.  His mentor may have talked about such a magic item with those types of markings.  You get the idea.  Sometimes Spout Lore must require some research time.  The fiction is that they are checking refrences, looking into books, looking things up.  Sort of like out of Charmed and the book they use, or “Tobin’s Spirit Guide – Ghostbusters

    ” or some such.  The fiction is that it is in a book.

    As far as exactly what it is?  Where here is where you can have the player fill in the map.  Ask the Player, “Well, you have found out about some of it, what did you find, you tell me.”  And if you agree then narrate around it and come up with a great story.  With the Spout Lore results, establish the quality of the item: “This is a minor magical item of some common origin…What is it?”  That way the Players will tell you what it is.  You don’t have to come up with it.  Once they have given you the seed, run with it in your story.  And if the Player comes up with what it is then it is more personal to the player for the character’s knowledge.

    As far as the Ranger: “These were a gift to the Rangers of the North by , They were rumored to have some minor magical powers but were mostly a symbol of honor…” Or something that would be appropriate for a Ranger to know.  He would have no real knowledge of what magic.  Use the Wizard for that, Ritual of Discovery to get the Spout Lore roll, ect.

    Try not to veto all of the player’s ideas as well.  Now, if you say, “Ring of Minor Magical Power” and they go off on “The One Ring” tangent or “Ring of Undetectable Person” as an ultimate Ring of invisibility then STOMP on it hard.  Your fiction that you gave them was MINOR. They are not playing into the fiction that you presented.  Feel free to make a move if they try something that silly.  A Min/Max Munchkin will be nearly the only one that wants more out of a MINOR magic item.  Also, if you go with the Very Powerful Magic Item from their description, throw a bunch of Cursed Item Tags on it. 

    Try to be on the same page as your players and give them some power as well, but they don’t chose the Move without having sufficient in game fiction for it.


  3. You can always ask them a question. “But, Ranger, what do you THINK it does? You know it’s magical. What power do you believe it bestows?” and then use of incorporate their answer.

  4. First, I think you have identified a hole in your prep. Since you seem to predict there will be inspection of the items, I think you should write down the eagle figurine’s actual function in your prep. This will ensure something interesting to talk about, create some risk, and guide your responses to their attempts to figure them out. Like if you know that rubbing a feather on it will summon an illusory eagle that scouts ahead, you can more easily decide what will actually figure it out. This will help you to decide what GM moves are most appropriate to the narrations they make. I also find this sort of prep helpful because then if you want to engage their creativity about its appearance or lore, which is often quite engaging, at least you have an idea from which to base these prompts.

    Second, i don’t recommend limiting their use of moves with a number. Rather, limit them in the sense that not every inspection or spouting is a DR or SL move. Like, you shouldn’t necessarily call for a roll in response to every inspection of a thing that Could be interesting, but actually isn’t; when there is nothing interesting happening, you probably just should give them the obvious narration and make another GM move. Said another way: I look at the player moves as more than just ways for the players to tell me what fiction they want, but also as a tool to engage interesting opportunities for storytelling I already have in mind. I don’t use the moves to invent drama when there isn’t any. For example, let’s say the PCs inspect the figurine and you’ve decided it’s just an art piece, then there is little risk to turning it over in their hands. You might just describe its appearance, give an appropriate impression of its relative value, and move on. If it’s magical though.. interestingness could happen from inspecting it poorly (effect backfires, draining of its power, angered spirits, etc).

    This hearkens back to point number 1. If you don’t prepare anything about the items during your prep, then their actions won’t be interesting as often as you or your players will probably like.

  5. You might also preemptively try to use the items before they get a chance to identify them, or just say that they personally can’t see anything special and then use them another way.  Maybe a wander recognizes a fancy necklace that was stolen from him by the goblins you killed (what would he be able to do in return for the necklace?).  Maybe a merchant spots the eagle statue and is suddenly willing to pay a suspiciously large amount of money for it (why would they do that?).

  6. When I have the chance, I like to prep some background and/or effects for any magical item they find, but I’ll usually do that between sessions.  You can try a formula like asking yourself:

     – What does it do? (pick something cool and thematic)

     – Who made it? (who would have the means & motive?)

     – How did it get here?  (what’s the backstory)

    I typically find that once I’ve got an idea of what the object is and what it does, and where the party found it… well, the backstory sort of all starts to string together from there. 

    When I need to come up with something on the fly, though, I like to turn it back to the characters (not the players) and ask them a pointed a question about what they know/have heard/etc.  

    Example:  in our last DW session, after a lot of tribulations while following his god’s guidance spell, the dwarven cleric spotted something gold and shiny in a nearby lake. I had no idea what it was, so I asked the player “Hey, when Dwarven Badguy left in disgrace all those years, there was some important relic that went missing, what was it?”  And the player came up with “The Divine Standard,” the original and primordial standard measurement of which all other measurements are approximations. It’s just a lump of metal (in a fancy gold case), but it’s of incredible importance to the dwarven people. And yeah, that’s what they found.  

    I would have never thought of that, and it’s awesome. Partly it worked because of who I asked (that player is natural content generator), but a big part of it was how the question was couched: asking Kark (not Brian), about something his character would know about, couched in terms that made it relevant to the current situation, building on details that we’d already established.  

    So when your wizard Spout’s Lore on that eagle figurine… first, ask them what accumulated knowledge they’re drawing on.  Then, think about what they tell you, and what you’ve already established in the world, and how whatever it is got here, and maybe ask the character about that.  Like, “Okay, wizard, so you studied all sorts of magic craftings and items in your apprenticeship. But we’ve established that this is a primitive backwater… what people could have made such a thing as this?  Oh, the Korali? What have you heard about them?  Where do they live?  Oh they’re gone? Interesting, interesting…”  And guess what?  The wizard just gave you the interesting piece of information.  And on a 10+, maybe you give them the useful part:  “Yeah, cool… and you remember that Korali figurines usually each had a given name, and you could activate it’s powers by saying that name aloud.”  

  7. Oh, and… the wizard checking to see if the stone figuring is magical isn’t Discern Realities… it’s not closely studying a situation or person.  Unless you’ve given them cause to believe it’s one or the other, they’re not discerning realties, they’re giving you the opportunity to make a GM move.  

    The most obvious one tell them the requirements and ask.  “You can cast detect magic to determine whether it is magic or not.  But you’d need access to an arcane laboratory/a Korali spirit/mind-expanding lotus powder to really evaluate it’s properties.”  

    If they do Spout Lore and roll a miss, and it would otherwise be “safe” to do so (e.g. not in the middle of a fight, no immediate threats, etc.), then tell them the requirements is still a solid move.  “Yeah, you think this looks familiar, but you’ll be damned if you can think of why. You’ll need to get access to a library like the one at the Academy if you want to learn more.” 

    Like Kevin Farnworth suggests, Reveal and unwelcome truth is also great.  “Oh, yeah… that is where you’ve seen this before… it was in your textbook on Faimus Accursed Objectes 2nd Ed.  It’s a quarry stone… once you pick it up, it’s yours and you can’t ever seem to shake it. You become incapable of hiding from anyone. Anyone who tries to find you, succeeds.  And, according to the book, the only way to rid oneself of the stone is to die.”

  8. Great suggestions, everybody, thanks! Dungeon World Tavern comes through for me again. Tonight’s the game, I’ll report back here afterwards and let you know how it went. 🙂

  9. Ooh, one more thing: remember Defy Danger is the default move if you’re not sure what else should happen.  This is great because it means that by default, the situation is dangerous.

    The wizard wanted to shut down a portal to another dimension that was spewing out monsters.  How would they do this?  No idea, but ask what they’re doing and then tell them to roll Defy Danger.  The danger being…maybe the portal explodes, maybe they get sucked into it, maybe it can only be closed from the other side, maybe something big gets through before it closes…tons of options.

    If it’s something simple, they can just do it, no dice needed.  If it’s something you might want consequences for, then you can start coming up with different consequences.

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