One of the my favorite new game mechanics in Perilous/Freebooters is DURATION. As a reminder, duration is a “resource” that defines how long an effect or condition lasts. A Cleric’s blessing might have a duration of 1. A Magic-user’s spell might have a duration of 2. Duration is elapsed one “unit” at a time as a GM move. This is analogous to the orthodox Dungeon World move: “Use up their resources.” I place glass beads of a particular color into the central dice tray for duration effects and then remove them one by one until the effect ends.
I have a question about how other GMs might handle the moment of expiration for duration effects. I’ll set up an example first:
Jessoc the Figher uses Mettle to inflict the condition of “Stunned” with duration of 1+INT (=1 in this case) on her opponent, a Brigand. Another of the Brigands, enraged by Jessoc’s success, charges in with blood in his eyes. Jessoc turns, swinging her sabre to foil the oncomer, but… oops… rolls a 4. The GM takes this opportunity to “expire” the duration 1 “Stunned” effect and the first Brigand snaps out of his daze.
Jessoc sighs with relief. She has only a few HP left and the damage from that attack might have been fatal.
Now the question.
After making GM move concludes, the GM will normally turn to the players and ask, “What do you do?” This finds the player in a favorable position. With one roll they can deal damage, make an escape, change the story. But this doesn’t feel right to me after expiring duration. The “redirection” of the failed roll to expire the effect served as a kind of unexpected “buffer”—a secondary benefit on top of the obvious primary benefit that an opponents was stunned and out of the action for some time.
Instead, I feel that it should possibly be the GMs prerogative, after expiring a duration effect during combat, to ask the player to Make a Saving Throw (aka Defy Danger). Jessoc escaped the immediate damage but must now act quickly as both charge in.
Maybe she’ll succeed and then carry on the attack. Maybe not…
What are your thoughts?
PS: Yes, my players are learning to stack up such effects, forming multi-layer “duration shields” to absorb their failures! I would probably like to discuss what happens when duration is expired by failures outside of combat as well.