DW doesn’t use a formal initiative system, instead bouncing back and forth as dramatically appropriate.  How would…

DW doesn’t use a formal initiative system, instead bouncing back and forth as dramatically appropriate.  How would…

DW doesn’t use a formal initiative system, instead bouncing back and forth as dramatically appropriate.  How would you approach an initiative system for DW?

45 thoughts on “DW doesn’t use a formal initiative system, instead bouncing back and forth as dramatically appropriate.  How would…”

  1. What do you think would be a good reason for that?

    Maybe to follow fiction: a character that’s more agile acting fast makes sense. Maybe he can be activated more often.

    But good storytelling will acomplish the same thing, I guess…

  2. The reason why DW doesn’t have an initiative system is that combat is not a second mode of the game to be entered and exited. Combat is handled just the same as searching a room for clues, bluffing your way past guards, or haggling with a merchant.

  3. If however you wanted to help Jason Brannen​, you could suggest things. Like d6 side or individual initiative, maybe modded by a Stat. Card based initiaitve is always fun. Stance or posture based initiative a la The One Ring. Fast and slow turns a la Shadow of the Demon Lord.

  4. Suggesting things that undermine the good parts of the game isnt helping.

    In the spirit of Play Better Games Damnit, if the game doesn’t do what you

    want it to do look at games that do

  5. So people are doing it wrong if they hack an existing game that they like the majority of to their tastes? Interesting, considering DW is hack of a hack.

  6. blades in the dark teamwork actions are pretty much what I would do with an initiative system in a PbtA game. Just treat them as a wholesale replacement of the aid/interfere moves.

  7. Other idea:

    every player has a momentum resource that builds from successes and depletes from hard moves. They can spend this momentum resource to interrupt something happening and act first. If this triggers a move and that move fails, of course, they are liable to lose even more momentum.

  8. I usually just have each side of a conflict roll a d6 whenever there’s a doubt as to who’d go first. The winner get’s to say what they’re doing first, the loser has to react to it until they can turn the tide and take the initiative. Easy peasy.

  9. Its one more system mechanic to take up mental space and energy. That’s a bit less braingoo that can be devoted to the narrative, and one more that is thinking about systems.

    As is, ther’es the narrative and going from person to person ought to emerge naturally. By making combat a subsystem, as others have suggested, you’re making it a different thing from DW.

    And that’s OK! Hacking is great. At some point, the hacked game isn’t the same game. This is one of those big changes that may cross that particular rubicon — that is, do so and the die is cast.

  10. As is, I don’t think I would use any initiative subsystem that distinguished between combat and non-combat. I’ve actually somewhat soured on the MC controlled spotlight of PbtA games. In that it’s fine when an MC is skillful at passing the spotlight at the right times, but very frustrating when that breaks down. Better still the communal spotlight control of a game like “Swords Without Master”, where the act of passing dice to another player indicates a change in focus.

  11. Brian Gracey to give credit where it’s due, this idea mostly comes from the World Wide Wrestling RPG though the way I would implement it would look pretty different from that game.

  12. A really quite delightful one. Fights start like this:

    GM: Who starts?

    PLayer: I do! I come out and slam into him. HE goes up against the wall, and I’m on it. This is all practiced last night, not a move yet. We wrestlen, and I set him up for his haymaker. It hits beautifully, and I go flying. But then, I come back with the Double Fists Of Doom, my signature move!

    Other PLayer: Dude, that’s so cool.

    GM: Heck yeah! Sounds like its time to make a move. I think this is all about how it looks, so roll + look.

    FIrst PLayer: Cool! I roll a 7-9, so I pull it off but initiative switches …

    Second player: Cool! You totally hit me, and it looks great ….

  13. I use initiative in DW without ever calling it that. It works like this:

    * One side starts with initiative depending on the narrative positioning so far.

    * If the NPCs have initiative, they act and the PCs have to react.

    * After that, the PCs each make a move.

    * If there’s NPCs that aren’t engaged by the PCs, or if there’s some reason they should get more attacks, all extra NPCs make moves and the PCs have to react.

    * Repeat the last two steps until something changes.

    That doesn’t sound like much, but it solved my problems. Everyone gets to act with the exception of NPCs who are actively engaged by PCs, who still get a move if the PCs fail.

  14. Well in dungeon world monsters and npc’s don’t ever get a turn. When a player trys to stab a monster and succeeds the roll. The player wins the initiative (they control the fiction) and kill the monster. if a player trys to stab a monster and fails the roll the the monster wins initiative can break the players arm before running into the shadows. In order to add initiative you need to give npc’s turns and that means you need to replace the dice rolling mechanics. And that means you need differ character sheets. Basically a new game

  15. Nope. It’s explicit in the game mechanics that if a PC can’t do anything about an action, it happens. If you’re mobbed by 5 people, a few of them are getting a move. The move is a GM move, so there’s no roll from me, but if I’m nice, I’ll give you a defy danger roll. Narrative positioning.

  16. This stems from one player’s feedback to me about a hack I’m working on.  In the most recent play test, I was going around the table, making sure everyone got the spotlight at least once before starting back at the top.  He suggested a “more formal initiative system, possibly based on Dexterity.”  I’m sure this had been discussed before and I wanted to see how different people have handled it. 

    I think just to mix things up I may use the Savage Worlds playing card method where after everyone goes, they draw a new card.  The GM never draws a card, but it mixes up the narrative a bit more.

    We’ll see.  I value feedback from the players who take the time to give it, so I thought this deserved some brain-time and discussion.

  17. I try and work the “GM as a DJ” concept. And a little bit of the film director as well. I don’t like a rigid order, it encourages players to tune out until it’s their turn again. The GM has to mix, spin, and cut between players so everyone is engaged all the time.

    Doing this successfully, all game, every session is hard work. It also takes practice and some cooperation from the players.

    As a bonus, if someone still zones out on their phone, you can have the troll throw a rock (or possibly the paladin) at them. And if they respond to “What do you do ?” with “I wasn’t paying attention”, then it’s time to roll for damage !

  18. I use spotlight tokens for people to make any move that would damage or hinder an opponent. Defy danger and reactive moves don’t need them. Each person gets one and when everyone has used it, they get them back. The last person who used one can’t use theirs until someone else had gone. Quick and easy.

  19. I really don’t like the SW initiative. I don’t it’s either fast, furious or fun. It makes no sense, it’s what I like the least about that system.

    But my buddies love it.

  20. The farthest I would go is to let players declare when they are ready to act, to build the round dynamically. Once everyone who wants to has acted, start a new round, but give anyone who didn’t act priority if they want it. If you need a place for the enemy in the order, they go first in the round. (This drives the “this is happening, what do you do” aspect of DW.)

  21. I wouldn’t. Initiative is uninteresting, unnecessary, actively undermines the DW rules as written, and pretty much only serves to arbitrarily limit player agency.

    That said, Brian Gracey is correct to point out that just saying “Don’t” is not very helpful. I can’t think of any possible way to do initiative in DW without essentially changing it into a new game, but I wish you luck nonetheless.

  22. DW’s initiative system ia basicly: it is the players rurn until they fail a roll, at which pojnt it is the GM’s turn and the all the playera get ro dexide how they respond. Leta imagine the gm says. “The goblin starts pushing his dagger into your neck. Blood ozeing from the growing wound. What do you do” two players might say “we are going to push that goblin off our friend (assisted defend) another might say “I stab that goblin (hack and slash)” while the guy getting stabbed might say “I try to push the goblin into the path of Daves attack (assist for hack and slash)”. The last guy might say “I don’t care if Tom dies I am looking for the goblin hoard” All of these things happen at once and every failed dice roll makes the situation worse.

    That is your initiative system. The GM introduces something and the players respond if they want to. When they want to. How they want to. And if they don’t want to they don’t have to.

  23. Veles Svitlychny I didn’t like Swords Without Master’s pass-the-buck system. It effectively shut down any spontaneous interaction between players. So much that it became Fidget Without Master as everyone waited for everyone else to finish and got increasingly bored with having nothing to contribute during someone else’s turn.

    I prefer help rules to break up the concept of initiative.

  24. Initiative will never work in DW because the GM makes moves at players, and the players respond and roll if they trigger moves. So there is no way to give a GM character / monster a turn in the way initiative does. Also, since actions are generally initiated by the GM doing soft moves, player character initiative won’t work either. The best is for the GM to make sure every character gets a fair amount of spotlight.

    Initiative works well for tactical games. DW is not tactical, it is cinematic.

  25. Here is the closest I have come and this is only when you have a large group (defined as 5 to 7 players)

    Spotlight System

    Each player has 2 tokens: Main Spotlight and Sharing the Spotlight.

    The Game Master has a Bowl or container that is called Center Stage.

    When the Game Master asks, “What do you do?” after describing the scene, preferably with a soft move, the player he asked puts their Main Spotlight token in the Center Stage.  If they don’t have it then they need to have a Sharing the Spotlight token and put that in.  Any player that wishes to participate or co-ordinate with the action, places their Sharing the Spotlight token in the Center Stage too.  The GM asks the character that is the focus for what he is doing.  Then the others that have tokens in Sharing the Spotlight are asked how they help or modify events.  Moves Happen, Decription continues and on to the next player that still has their Center Stage Tokens.  When no player has their Spotlight Token, all the tokens are returned and an update of the scene is made, a new soft move by the GM, going to a different person than who started last.  Ideally you give every person a chance to start first but follow the narrative first.

    This may seem a bit complex but it should ensure equal spotlight time for anyone for a larger game.

  26. Tim Franzke I believe Wynand Louw is saying that DW is a game in which the mechanics are designed to serve the fiction, whereas something more traditional like Pathfinder is designed to put its mechanics before the fiction. “Cinematic” and “tactical” are commonly used code words for “fiction-first” and “mechanics-first,” in my experience.

  27. Ok, tested out the Spotlight system I mentioned earlier.  Failure as I kept forgetting to collect the tokens or have the players do so.  I believe that I have a new system.  I just had a 6 player game and skipped a person several times.  Unfortunately it was my wife.  Some players noticed and one player said that he was restraining himself from jumping in because he constantly wants to jump in on stuff.  I also had nearly every player wanting to jump in on something and some already had.  Bless Spell, Aid Another, and an action was attempted by someone before anyone else could go.  So, updated suggestion (not tested yet, if anyone wants to test great, I would love to hear it)

    Spotlight System 2.0

    Each player gets a Card or a Token that can be Flipped over.  On one side is “Spotlight” on the other is “Sharing the Spotlight”

    The beginning of the game all Cards are on “Spotlight”.  When the GM goes to a person and asks “What do you do?” they have the spotlight and flip the card over.  Then the action moves on to someone else, they flip it over when they “Have their Spotlight Moment ” or their little mini-scene.  At any time with an Aid Another, Defend or other passive action they may use it in the manner of “Sharing the Spotlight” then they ‘Tap’ or turn the card on it’s side.  If the PC still has their “Spotlight” side up and they wish to aid or defend or what not, they ‘Tap’ the card as well.

    By visually looking the GM can tell who has had a “Spotlight Moment” and who hasn’t.  The cards don’t get flipped over to the “Spotlight Moment” until all PCs are on “Sharing Spotlight” is up. (this is for big Player groups)

    Optional: If there is a lull, sleep, or otherwise major pause in the conversation then all cards are on “Spotlight Moment” waiting for the first player to jump in. 

    What do you think?  Keeping with the feeling of the game, limiting it a little but for the sake of keeping track of people and making sure that the less forceful personalities get equal spotlight or time on camera.  It may need some tweaking.  Let me know what you all think?

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