13 thoughts on “Do you ever ‘hold’ hard moves on a 6- for use at a later stage?”

  1. I’ve been advancing the Front Dangers occasionally on misses. That then informs the kinds of things that can happen on later misses, when the situation is more suited to the events.

  2. I’ve done it in Uncharted Worlds, but I held the roll itself, not the result. The players salvaged and installed a big ass gun on their ship. The engineer reached for dice but I asked him to hold off. When they got into a firefight, I had him roll to see if it was still functional.

    In the end though, I think if you’re in a position where you’d want to just hold the hard move, maybe there shouldn’t have been a roll in the first place

  3. When moves are triggered the player has to roll, whether they want to or not. I look at GM moves the same way. When the dice come up as a 6 or less, the GM has to do something, whether they want to or not.

    Holding GM moves feels too much like “nothing happens” to me. When nothing happens, the fiction doesn’t change and the players/character have nothing to react to.

  4. I feel that advancing a front feels very much as nothing happens at the table and at the same time it serves as a valve to let off a 6- that you don’t want to handle right now. That is why advancing a front feels very much as a way to hold the 6- for later and I wonder if there are other fruitful ways to do it.

  5. Advancing fronts & countdown clocks offscreen is totally legit.

    My opinion:

    The GM’s move should follow from the fiction.

    • If the characters are in a safe place and the outcome of the role is relatively unimportant, the a fail should reflect that and the GM move should be mild. The big caveat here is that the GM should move the action foward with his move.

    • If the characters are in danger, the GM’s move should be the logical outcome of that danger.

    • If the characters are in a desperate situation the GM’s move should be catastrophic.

    I am completely against using fails to trigger moves unrelated to the roll.

  6. Ivan Vaghi​​ Yes. Advancing the front should be the direct fictional result of the failed roll.

    For instance: The thief fails to pick a lock. The players don’t know it but somebody heard him fiddling with the lock. So for the moment nothing happens. When he enters through the window later (instead of the locked door) the house owner is waiting for him with a shotgun.

    So this is “holding the hard move for later” or advancing a front but it follows directly and logically from the fiction. 

  7. This is why I love *World engine. Are 4 characters climbing a mountain? 1 of them fails the roll.

    >> Standard old and stinky RpG: you fall for X feet, roll damage. Try again (or maybe not, if you are dead).

    >> *World engine: “you had a VERY hard time with that climbing. Your friends help you from above, but still when you are on the top, you can see that now the plateau is crawling with enemies, in the distance. They had the time to set up a welcome party, and they are waiting for you, right ahead. What do you do?”

  8. Wynand Louw Disagree. I see no reason that advancing the plot on a 6- can’t be played out as a quick cut to something happening elsewhere that the players are aware of but the PCs aren’t. It’s a cliffhanger when something goes rough for the PCs. You hold the tension, tell them about something brewing, then return to their tension.

  9. There are two GM principles in play here: “Make a move that follows” and “Think offscreen, too”.

    “Think offscreen, too” argues in favor of advancing an offscreen threat on a 6-.

    But “Make a move that follows” does two things: first, it limits the circumstances in which you should consider that move. As +Wynand Louw says, this is a good idea when the in-fiction immediate circumstances are fairly low-stakes.

    (If the Thief tries to dodge a fireball and misses, the consequence shouldn’t be that the Duke launches his planned coup in their home city. The Thief should get hit by the fireball.)

    Second, it guides how you should express that move. This principle is why I don’t love either the “make a check mark on your notes and smile” technique or the “jump cut to villain’s lair” technique.

    (The Ranger is looking for orc tracks and misses, so the demon portal on the summit of of a mountain 400 miles away starts spewing demons? Whether the players find that out immediately or not, I think that violates the principle.)

    So here’s the combination: Advance the clock, but make it seem like it follows– and use some of your core moves at the same time. The Ranger is looking for orc tracks and misses, so you advance the clock on the demon portal– and you “announce future badness”: As the Ranger is looking for orc tracks, he is distracted by a thick pillar of sickly orange light rising like a beacon from the peak of a mountain on the horizon. The Wizard falls to his knees as he feels the aftereffects of a hole being torn in reality. The orcs are probably still out there too, if you still think that matters. What do you do?

  10. Ari Black

    To me it feels like cheating to make a hard move that is completely unrelated to the roll.

    Remember you do not need a failed roll to make a hard move. You can do it whenever you are given an opportunity also.

    But hard moves, as I see it, should always follow on the fiction, and if a roll was involved it should follow on the fiction that triggered the roll.

    Example: The players waste time bickering about what to do next. This is a golden opportunity to make a hard move.

    GM: “While you were arguing about what to do, the duke decided to execute the princess. So her cell is empty. You are too late. Sorry.

    Again this was a front that advanced off screen without the players realizing it. But it followed on the fiction and it followed the rule, “Make a hard move when they give you the golden opportunity.”

    Lastly the most important reason to advance a front is probably because it is necessary to make the story awesome. You dont need a failed roll for that!

  11. I am a big fan of having some Drama happen when a 6 or less is rolled.  You should have something to add to the story when this happens.  If it is a missed lock picking roll under stress, I may throw in a poison needle trap, or if a combat is happening, have one of the bad guys jostle the lockpicker and break their tools in the lock, or have the lock picker be put into danger.  Or if you are concerned with having stuff happen slightly off screen, the door opens and a large hand grabs the lock picker and yoink’s him in, shutting and locking the door. 

    For advancing the clock, well use the same rule as the golden opportunity.  During one of your descriptions you can present 2 options, one will advance the clock but seem the better way and the other is something a bit nasty.  Example:  The PC is chasing after a bad guy, some minion, and is distracted by a combat in another room or must choose to get hurt and keep going to catch the minion or stop and defend himself.  In stopping you advance the clock, the minion got away and can warn the Evil Wizard that the PCs are in the area.  In not stopping they take damage, not advancing the clock but keeping on the tail of the minion.

    There are a number of other ways this can be handled.  A few were in Star Wars: A new Hope.

    Han running down the Storm Troopers and coming into a large locker room filled with Strorm Troopers that are getting ready for an Assualt Action.  He turns and runs, ignoring the looming threat of the Assault but saving his hide. 

    Luke seeing his mentor in a light saber battle while they are escaping.  He can help his Mentor or Escape, not both.  In escaping the Clock advances as they leave the Death Star.  If he helps his Mentor (who is telling him to go) then there is the possibility of getting caught again.

    There are examples everywhere.  I am in favor of advancing the “doom clock” as it were as a part of over all actions, not the results of a single roll.

Comments are closed.