Here’s an idea I have about a GM moves.

Here’s an idea I have about a GM moves.

Here’s an idea I have about a GM moves.

One of the base gm moves is “show advantage of a certain character skillset or move”. I think this is an important move because it encourages players to fulfill niche roles more and makes playing that character feel special.

But I’m wondering, just in theory, do you ever make a move when suitable to punish someone whos power gaming trying to create a damage machine rather than a person, or trying to make and use some sort of exploit in their playbook or rules?

For example, put the fighter who focuses only on damage dealing and murdering all problems in a situation where he can’t win with killing. Or put the wizard in a position where his magic won’t work. Remove the druid or ranger from all natural connection or resources. Or give the paladin an ugly, dishonorable choice both ways. I dunno, it could makes games more challenging and allow other party members to shine and support the disadvantaged one.

8 thoughts on “Here’s an idea I have about a GM moves.”

  1. I agree with what the other commenters have said, try not to “punish” PCs for things the players do naturally. I have 1.5 power gamers in our group but as long as it doesn’t break fiction, I embrace what they do. I try to be a fan of the characters, even if I’m not a fan of how the player tries to play said character.

    Also, what you’re describing is already a gm move, in fact it’s one line below the move you referenced: Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment.

  2. Show the downsides of their class, race, or equipment is also a core GM move. So putting the fighter in a place where violence is a bad idea (or showing the consequences of their violent actions) is totally legit. So is somehow putting the wizard in a position where their magic is useless or limited or constrained.

    But only if you do so according to your principles, including be a fan of the characters.

    Seeing how the characters react when their usual tricks are limited or suboptimal is one way to be a fan. But looking for a way to punish a player for optimizing their build isn’t.

  3. Well, one of the GM moves is Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment.  So nothing wrong with ‘countering’ a strong tactic by introducing a challenge that circumvents it.

    That said, I haven’t seen DW as being particularly conducive to ‘power gaming’ in the traditional crunchy sense.  You can try to optimize your triggering of moves to make sure you’re only rolling with favorable stats, but that just means you roll fewer misses and thus gain XP more slowly.  There really aren’t a lot of other mechanical knobs to min/max.

    In my mind, Dungeon World isn’t actually a game about rolls at all.  It’s actually a (cooperative) battle of wits, waged through the formation of a fictional narrative.  The GM has a bit more flexibility in some ways, but is nevertheless just as constrained by the evolving fiction as the other players.  Dice rolls help to guide the pacing, ushering in cinematic highs and lows along the way, but the real meat of gameplay is in the fiction and the real power gamers in DW are the ones who know how to make the story work for them.  As a fan of the players, that’s when the GM can be the happiest.

  4. 2 Observations.

    1) Never make a move to punish a player. (You may punish characters. Oohh yea!)

    2) Also, while depleting their resources is a very good move, taking away their awesomeness is not. So be a fan of the characters and let the fighter be THE Fighter, the wizard THE Wizard etc.

    Having said that, your ideas for forcing the fighter into parley and the wizard into combat etc. are good, as long as it is limited. Make them feel like a mortal fish out of water, but only sometimes.

  5. “punishing” no.  But it is certainly possible to be disappointed in your heroes.  “Being a Fan” means that you want to encourage them and help them make the right choices.  A Hero that bashes everything down isn’t really a hero, they are a bully.  Until more modern interpretations of Hercules he was simply a bully.  He was given his 7 impossible tasks and that served to humanize him, a bit.  Fiction did the rest. 

    So I think that your best option is to “Show the downside of a class” where he cannot bash something down.  Admittedly, as said prior, it should be a rare case but…

    1. A King that is beloved by his people but not so nice to the party.

    2. Diplomatic Immunity of a bad guy from another country.

    3. I like taking a fighter’s mind once in a while and using him to “Bash Things” just like the player would but as a counter to the party.

    4. A powerful entity that needs countered.  Cannot be bashed into submission.  Strategy and guile are needed.

    5.  An interesting possiblity, Magical Swap.  Have the Players swap characters.  They keep their name but swap skills and bodies with the same mindset.  How about your fighter that is now in the rogues’s body and must think like the rogue, if he thinks like his old self it may not work.  This becomes more interesting when he sees another play his body and do things differently, better or worse.  And he sees what a brute he has become.  Now this might not work.

    All are some interesting possibilities.  Help your Player’s diversify and enjoy a greater spectrum of reality.

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