Is this weapon tag explained better anywhere in the DW book?

Is this weapon tag explained better anywhere in the DW book?

Is this weapon tag explained better anywhere in the DW book?

“Stun: When you attack with it, it does stun damage instead of normal damage.”

What does that mean. Do you reduce them to 0 HP and just have them be unconscious? Maybe have them wake up with the Dazed disability? That’s how I’ve handled it before, but I’m wondering what y’all do.

20 thoughts on “Is this weapon tag explained better anywhere in the DW book?”

  1. It’s dungeon world. It means it does stun damage instead of normal damage.

    “What does that look like?”

    Tags are not mechanized. They are directions to “insert fiction here”

  2. Ralph Mazza this is the key answer. DW is about the fictional positioning, not the whittling of HP in one form or another. Stun damage could end a fight right there, if you ask yourself “what does this fight look like when this guard just got whalloped full force in the back of the head?” Or not, depending on context, whether the roll was a 7-9 or a 10+, etc.

  3. That’s a good answer Ralph Mazza and J Stein, but it IS kinda weird. Why bother listing damage for a weapon if it has the stun tag then? Having it just knock someone out without any kind of stat attrition is like giving the weapon a move that substitutes for Do Damage. (Though I suppose you could do the damage and then just knock them out, additionally. But that makes stun weapons REALLY strong in the hands of players.) I mean, you can say DW is “not about the whittling of HP,” but it has HP — so sometimes it is. Though I agree with the general sentiment. I always figure if it starts to feel like HP attrition, I am not using monster/GM moves enough in place of or in addition to damage.

  4. Here’s the text from chapter 1, Playing the Game >> Harm and Healing >> Stun Damage:

    Stun damage is non-lethal damage. A PC who takes stun damage is defying danger to do anything at all, the danger being “you’re stunned.” This lasts as long as makes sense in the fiction—you’re stunned until you can get a chance to clear your head or fix whatever stunned you. A GM character that takes stun damage doesn’t count it against their HP but will act accordingly, staggering around for a few seconds, fumbling blindly, etc.

    But let me just say: I hate the text above. It implies that the “stun” effect is either/or. Either you stun someone (an no HP damage) or you deal damage to them.

    But why not both? Sure, non-lethal “damage” could have a stunning effect, but wouldn’t getting clobbered on the side of the head with a mace also stun you?

    In practice, I treat stun as additive, just like forceful and messy. You get hit with an attack that has stun, then yeah… you’re staggering around and out of it, or maybe reeling in pain.

    And if a creature has a move that would stun someone without any real chance to kill them, then… yeah, that’s just a monster move. Describe it in the fiction and ask them what they do.

  5. Ray Otus “Why bother listing damage…?”

    My honest impression? There are big chunks of DW where DnD was grafted onto AW without…

    I want to say “without thinking about how the two actually worked together,” but I don’t actually believe it was thoughtless. I think the authors intentionally chose to preserve DnDisms so as not to scare off the DnD players, even where that meant it didn’t necessarily optimize for its AWness. They made the safe assumption that story-gamers and DnDers would each interpret the gray area to their preference.

    The result is things like that, where you have two overlapping mechanics.

    That said, I function on the idea that “HP is for stuff that will kill you; everything else is fictional positioning.”

  6. Yeah, Jeremy Strandberg, sounds like the tag just adds a debility. But a weird one. I could see rolling Defy Danger to avoid taking the debility. But Defy Danger every time you try to do something while stunned? Ouch. And … boring (too many rolls). Why not just – 1 forward or something? As written, it’s too messy and there is still the discomfort of having the weapon have a damage roll. When do you apply damage and when do you apply stun? Does the weapon wielder get to choose? Odd.

    I sort of agree with you about the monster move. Meaning, literally, instead of having a golem’s fist have stun ability, you would give the golem a move like “knock them out cold.” Right?

    Honestly I think stun might just be a dumb tag. If it didn’t exist, I could just use the 6- or 7-9 result to get there when it makes sense anyway. Oh, you rolled an 8? Ok. You pierce his groin with your dagger, roll your damage, but get knocked upside the head with his mace in return. Kabong! The lights flicker for a minute and your ears are ringing. You can’t hear a damn thing other than that stupid ringing now. (Or whatever fictional effect I want – like you are are disoriented and don’t know which way your party went, or you’re nauseous and take -1 DEX forward because of your loss of balance.)

  7. Agree, the “stun” rules are pretty awkward. How I’ve always handled it was the weapon does its HP damage and also stuns the target for a little while, like the Ranger’s called head shot.

  8. Ray Otus I think we agree.

    There are definitely examples of monster moves that effectively just stun someone, like the maggot-squid’s “paralyze them with a touch.”

    I generally deal with a stunning attack (with or without damage) the same way you describe: “Kabong! The lights flicker for a minute and your ears are ringing!” and then either ask what they do or shift the spotlight and/or make a follow-up move right on top of it (reflecting the fact that they’re out of it).

    “…and your ears are ringing. What do you do?” (and whatever it is, it’s probably Defying Danger)


    “…and your ears are ringing. Then, like, maybe the room’s spinning? Like your feet are just dangling, and you can’t breath, and then you realize that the orog you just stabbed has you by the throat, hoisting you off the ground, sqeezing and pulling back to give you another wack with that mace, what do you do?” (probably no Defy Danger… my follow-up move was taking advantage of them being stunned)


    “…and your ears are ringing. Cleric, you just saw Thief stab that orog in the junk, but got walloped on the head and they both like crumpled on top of each other. But then, here comes the orog’s buddies, three of them, charging at your flank, what do you do?”

  9. One reason I can think of for Stun damage to be listed is overcoming armor. If most or all of your Stun damage is mitigated by the target’s armor, nothing happens. You could build the fiction of the stun based on how much is taken after armor soaks it.

  10. Keep in mind the weapon doesn’t stun just because the tag says stun.

    “How are you doing that” is your friend here.

    “I try to stun the guard”

    “How are you doing that?”

    “I sneak up behind him and hit him in the head”

    It’s at this point that describing the guards stout steel helmet constitutes announcing future badness.

    Stun doesn’t last forever. It lasts for as long as it makes sense to last.

    How long does a guard wearing a steel helmet have difficulty functioning when walloped in the head.

    Then go from there.

    “I try to stun the Ochre Jelly!”

    I believe that falls under “Handing it to you on a silver platter”

  11. That’s a pretty cogent explanation Ralph Mazza. Essentially it’s a tag the wielder can choose to exploit in situations where the GM/table agrees it makes fictional sense. I like that answer and think I might just play it that way from now on. I would probably still apply the damage. If the player were explicitly trying NOT to do damage, I would do ONLY stun on a 10+ and damage plus stun on a 7-9. Thus they might accidentally kill a guard they meant to stun. That would be a neat/awful twist.

  12. BTW, the question arose because I was writing a MONSTER and was thinking of putting the stun tag on it’s primary attack. I guess I’ll just always put that in the moves for a monster instead, though the asymmetry of it bothers me a little.

  13. Jason Cordova and David LaFreniere – minor thingy for Discern Realities to discuss? Maybe lump it in with using other weapon tags like forceful and messy?

  14. Ray Otus I was going to say something similar to Jeremy Strandberg. What’s odd is that I don’t see a weapon in the standard list on p324 that included a stun tag. Are there any in any of the standard playbooks?

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