I’m an experienced role player but new to DW, generally I’m enjoying it very much but I disagreed with a player over a 6- failed roll for the roll+con to summon burning brand as an immolator. I ruled that the weapon was NOT conjured on the fail roll.

I’m interested to know how other GMs handle a fail roll for this?


7 thoughts on “Hi”

  1. A 6- isn’t necessarily a failure. It just means that the GM says what happens by making a hard move. I typically still have the player do what he was trying to do but have some bad consequences

  2. Your players shouldn’t be “disagreeing”. This isn’t the sort of game that has enough rules to argue. The game is a structured conversation. The general idea is that on a hit (7+), what the player said happens, and on a miss (6-) the GM gets to say what happens. So if they rolled a miss, you could in theory say they light their hair on fire and take 2d8 damage if you wanted to (it’d make you kind of a crappy GM, and might violate Be a Fan of the Characters, but you COULD).

    What you say on a 6- roll is not specified in the moves because it is to be guided by the Agenda, Principles, and GM Moves. The situation matters more than the move.

  3. Your ruling could be valid. Certainly the weapon might not come through. But not conjuring the weapon (for me) isn’t nearly hard enough. I would have the weapon come through (or not), accompanied by something from another plane (introduce a foe)! Or have the weapon come through but the space-time rift caused by the spell stuns everyone for a few minutes (do damage), or speeds up/slows down time for a few minutes (change the environment), or the spell pulls in the caster and the weapon and caster meet in a middle space of some kind (separate the party). Something saucy like that.

  4. This move in particular doesn’t have any special rules for the 6- ‘miss’ case, so there’s no implication the weapon is necessarily conjured. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not, either. What you get to do here is make a GM move and, since it’s a miss, it can be a hard move.

    A few ideas for a Burning Brand misses where it’s still ‘successful’:

    Use up their resources: You draw on the smoldering energy and you realize you have been lax in your sacrifices; you conjure your burning brand, but one of your rations bursts into flame in your satchel. Thief, this happens right in front of you; what do you do?

    Deal damage: You summon your brand, but the energy drains you. Take a debility to your CON.

    Show a downside to their equipment: You summon your brand clumsily, but you know that new plate armor you just bought? Yeah, it’s absorbing the excess heat and it’s starting to glow. It doesn’t bother you too much as a Salamander, but it’s starting to get uncomfortably hot for your companions. Wizard, you realize the glow is also likely to attract attention; what do you do?

    Of course, you can also still have the brand fail to conjure, but I’d only recommend that if having it ‘not work’ is a dangerous and interesting consequence. For instance, maybe he was planning to use that brand to ward off a beast attacking one of his companions. In that case, the brand can sputter out and you can deal damage to the PC that was threatened. In these situations, make a move that follows and think dangerous, just remember to be a fan of the characters.

  5. I had a good fail once, where the GM made a hard move that pressed me for time when I was trying to do 2 different things. He still let me having a burning brand but it was a tiny bit of fire in my palm (described as like the pyromancy equippable in Dark Souls). Which was not ideal, but enough to start the fire in the grass I wanted.

    If your player is annoyed they don’t get it, it could be because they had a specific plan in mind that was just entirely removed because of a bad roll, instead of just being put in peril. Or they might be disappointed if the result of their move is just “nothing happened”. It’s unclear if you did anything else besides not give them the fire brand, but I’d find it quite boring to get a DnD style result of “it doesn’t do anything”.

  6. Richard Rogers was recently talking about a game, not sure which one, where “nothing happens” is disallowed as a result of a roll. this is brilliant. As I recall, Dungeon World has some advice somewhere about “things always change after a roll.” Certainly John Harper wrote it into Lasers & Feelings that way, and that was PbtA inspired. The point being, I think it’s implicit in PbtA games that something always happens as a result of a roll, not nothing. It may just not be the thing you expected. So the brand not appearing is okay only so long as something does happen that moves the fiction forward.

  7. I like letting them get what they want on a 6- unless it makes sense not to. Once a cleric rolled 6- on a cast a spell to cast Light. I told them it sputtered and strained, but finally flared to life, briefly illuminating the entire cavern (and the giant spiders clinging to the walls) before going back to just being as bright as a torch (and concealing the new threat from the party). Another time their light fizzled out and we established that the area of the cave entrance must be guarded from magic. They later used the entrance to kill a magical construct by leading it through the area, dispelling the magic it was created by and causing it to fall apart. No matter whether you give them what they want or not, make sure you add something to the world. It’s always more interesting that way.

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