How do you deal with the “awkward” tag on weapons?

How do you deal with the “awkward” tag on weapons?

How do you deal with the “awkward” tag on weapons? I can’t seem to do anything better than give a -1 to hit. Because in the fiction, thats what swinging a Maul is: Is harder to hit with it than with a sword. But maybe you have better ideas.

19 thoughts on “How do you deal with the “awkward” tag on weapons?”

  1. Use it when they fail:

    “You totally miss the troll, and the momentum from your swing spins you out of around, exposing your back to the snarling monstrosity.”

  2. It’s going to come down to the fiction at the time. Though I wouldn’t do a modifier. If you want to show it being harder to use, you might give the enemy a soft move even on a success or prevent the PC from doing anything tricky with it.

  3. Work it into the fiction and your GM moves and the results of their moves. Just like the range tags.d


    Player: “I swing this maul overhead and smash the goblin wretch.”

    GM: “Really? Cuz he’s like right in front of you and ready with a long knife. You do that, he’s probably just gonna step in and knife you. You sure?” (tell consequences and ask)

    Player: “Oh, uh, okay, I’ll kick him back in the face, then smash him with the maul.”

    GM: “Cool, sounds like you’re defying danger with STR, the danger being the goblin that’s inside your reach. Yeah?” (again, tell consequences and ask)

    Player: “Okay, sure.” Rolls 10+.

    GM: “Okay, that works! You kick him and he goes staggering back a few steps. But in the time it takes for you to swing that awkward maul, his guard is back up. Roll H&S!”

    Player rolls a 7-9. Gets 7 damage, forceful.

    GM: “Okay, yeah, so… splat. You just pulp the little guy, right? But as you wipe the blood from your eyes, AIIAY! like 3 or 4 more goblins come charging at you from the shadows. They’re gonna be on you before you can even heft that massive thing out of the puddle. What do you do?” (using the goblin move CHARGE as the attack from the H&S 7-9 result).

  4. Ari Black mostly in the first tell consequences part. If the PC had a sword or just a non-awkward ax, I’d have gone with straight H&S. (Wasn’t clear from my description, but I was picturing them starting at close range).

    It also comes in at the end. I frame the fiction in a way informed by the awkward tag: the fighter is getting it out of the goblin pulp, and the other gobbos will be on him before he can bring it to bear. Whatever he does next, it’ll be sans maul.

  5. Ari Black yeah, rereading it, I did let that example get away from me… I still hold by the core principle, though: work the tag into the fiction, the same way you’d use a range tag. 

  6. An awkward weapon could be more about its non combat effects. It is big and unwieldy, it usually cant be slung tidily so it gets in the way. So when you roll that 7 when trying to flee a danger it gets caught across the doorway and you have a choice of abandoning it or wasting time to free it. Of course you can carry it in your hand but then you have one hand less to grab the safety line or handrail or bag of loot or whatever. And if you are trying to fight in a narrow space or with low ceilings or as part of a formation that is where your -1 or -2 penalty to the die roll shows up. Otherwise, where there is room to swing it, its clobbering time.

  7. Given how big a +/- 1 can be, I try to just handle things within the fiction rather than handing out mechanical modifiers so for me, it’s a rare thing

  8. Jeremy Strandberg is right on target with my approach as well.

    The weapon tags are almost all fictional, giving flavor to the story and moves, rather than mechanical. It is a disservice to the game to translate “Awkward” into “-1 to Hack & Slash,” although that’s an understandable thought when you first transition to DW from other games that assign conditional modifiers throughout skills tests.

    I’d highly recommend that you look at the list of GM moves that the authors provide: these are what the GM can do. Go through these moves, and think about how each might apply in a scene, whenever you get the chance (i.e. on a 6-, during a ‘golden opportunity,’ or when the players look to you to see what happens). I like to keep the GM Moves chart by me with each Move numbered 1-12. When i’m called upon to make a Move and nothing is immediately apparent, i can roll 1d12, and then find a creative way to make whatever i rolled make sense in the story.

    When you’re looking at the list of moves, also think about tags that are in play with the events that triggered the GM move. You’ve got the text of a move to start you off, and any tags to help you put a little spin on it:

    Finally, you are allowed to share some of the GM fun with players. Ask them for ideas on what happens when they swing that awkward weapon around!

    Successes and Failures:

    Keep in mind, on any move that the player rolls a 10+, they are successful. Tags should add flavor, but should not diminish the success at all. An awkward maul pulls the hero off balance momentarily, but they use that to generate even more momentum for a flourishing spin, or their hit smashes the environment and throws splinters at the enemies’ eyes! They are the hero, and get to show off!

    On a 7-9, they were successful and should get what they attempted, but there can be some cost. Perhaps the awkward weapon leaves the off-balance and open to counterattack (7-9 H&S) or it hits an unintended target also. I generally use Soft Moves unless a Hard Move result is prescribed by the trigger (7-9 H&S, the enemy counter-attacks), or if a situation presents itself for a Hard Move that makes sense and is fun.

    On a 6-, the character is open to some trouble; the GM can move hard or soft as appropriate to the fiction. I tend to make Hard Moves on 6-, but i try to vary it; don’t always, or only, do damage.

    Examples of soft/hard moves:

    Soft move: While you drive the goblins back, your weapon pulls you off balance and the over-swing smashes through a load-bearing beam. Now the ceiling is collapsing – what do you do?

    This is a Soft Move because you’re giving them an opportunity to react to it; with a success, they can avoid consequences, and maybe even find some advantage (e.g. they may ask questions that lead to a chance to use the collapse to block the goblins from further attack). But if they don’t react, or if their reaction includes a failed move, they might take a Hard Move (cut off from allies, take damage, get pinned into place by debris, etc.).

    Hard move: You’re so focused on your foe, you barely register that (insert friendly NPC) is moving in to join the attack, and has just put themselves in the path of your swing. You can’t stop the swing, but you could just let the weapon go; what will it be, smash into the friendly, or lose your weapon mid-combat?

    This is a Hard Move because they are going to suffer some consequence. They will lose a resource, either a weapon mid-combat, or a friendly NPC. Whichever they choose, make sure to make it meaningful within the fiction. If they choose to lose the weapon, press the attack on them, and give them a chance to improvise, scrabble for a new weapon, or be an unarmed hero! If they choose to hit the NPC, make sure to acknowledge that choice by giving them consequences – the NPC knew something or someone, or will be avenged, or the Heroes will be shamed, etc.

  9. I haven’t crunched any numbers just going on what I have heard commented on in the community and the fact that DW (to me) isn’t a game about getting modifiers or penalties. I have lots of other games for that. Giving mechanical benefits and penalties just seems against the spirit of DW, but I can certainly see other groups feeling differently

  10. Paul Sheppard I’ve just started using environmental interference for conditional effects. I stole the aid/interference idea from and say that, because of circumstances, whatever they roll will be reduced to the “next level” down.

    Tying that back in to this discussion, if a PC armed with an awkward weapon tried to attack something that was quick or nimble, I might give them an interference on their roll. They generally know how good they are, so knowing that it’ll be the next result down, they can get a feel for how good they are against the enemy.

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