I don’t want to hijack someone else’s thread, so I made a new post about this.

I don’t want to hijack someone else’s thread, so I made a new post about this.

I don’t want to hijack someone else’s thread, so I made a new post about this. The thread is about things you don’t like about Dungeon World, and a couple of people have mentioned that Spout Lore seem pretty weak.

I’ll take flack for this, since it’s about what people feel are the worst things about DW, but I actually think (that is to say, In My Opinion) Spout Lore is the most powerful in the game because it’s tied so closely to the fiction; it offers a fantastic way to exploit your prep.

Characters are trudging through knee-high muck in the swamp (I have swamp on my brain because I’m working on a Smoldering Swamp) and you describe a splash not far off (portraying a situation that requires action). EDIT: Then ask “What do you do?”

The player can either just continue on his way and give you a Golden Opportunity or move away from that area, or trigger a Spout Lore (or something else too… just play to find out what happens).

Player asks what his character knows about the swamp. Sure, that’s Spout Lore, roll + INT.

10+ , “The swamp is teeming alligators with razor sharp teeth. They’re incredibly difficult to spot until their jaws are closing in around you…” (because they are stealthy) “…and snakes large and small slither along the cypress branches hanging over the water.”

(You’ve told them something interesting an useful about what they may find while they’re trudging through the muck: Alligators they can’t see and large & small snakes that may be falling into the water)

7-9, “There are lots of creatures in the swamp that live in or near it’s stagnant waters”

(Here, they know the sound was some kind a creature entering the water, but without any clue as to what it is they may decide to keep trudging along. It’s interesting, but up to them to make it useful)

6-, “There are lots of creatures in the swamp that live in or near it’s stagnant waters”

Yeah, that’s the same thing I’d tell them on a 7-9, but I’m going to think off screen too and put an alligator right next to them.

(Now, whether they jump out of the knee-high water or not, they’ve got a hungry alligator waiting to strike)

40 thoughts on “I don’t want to hijack someone else’s thread, so I made a new post about this.”

  1. I don’t have an issue with Spout Lore. We use it at the table sparingly, but it comes up about 1x to 2x an evening. I LOVE your gators in the water example.

  2. Everything you say is right, but the issue I have with Spout Lore is the trigger. In that, it requires your character to do very little and so what Spout Lore looks like in the fiction can be really hazy.

  3. I was the one in that thread who used the term “weak”, so I’ll elaborate a little:

    Spout Lore is used when someone says “hey because of Background X, would I know about Y?”. This seems like a situation where everyone looks to you to see what happens and doesn’t need a move. Instead the move itself limits and dictates how the GM may respond, which I think is different than exploiting your prep.

  4. Storn Cook it wasn’t a suggestion – just a thread about parts you didn’t like in DW. William Nichols​ got it – it doesn’t need to be a move, it’s already part of the system.

  5. Aaron Griffin but couldn’t you apply that logic to every basic move?

    E.g. you tell me that you’re attacking the orc and I judge your position, you weapons, the orc’s position and defenses, and make an appropriate GM move (like “deal damage,” either you on the orc, the orc on you or both, or “tell them the requirements and ask,” etc etc).

    But the game uses a move (Hack n Slash) to offload that decision and judgment from the GM, and also to give the player some reliability in the outcomes.

    Spout Lore does the same thing. By being a move (as opposed to just a GM opportunity) it’s telling the player that they can roll INT and, on a hit, get at least something interesting and hopefully something immediately useful. It tells the GM that, yeah, the player risked a move and got a 7-9 or a 10+, so this is what you owe them.

    Also, Brian Holland… if I was in your game, I might push back a little on your 10+ example. That doesn’t strike me as particularly useful information. I’d be looking for something concrete and actionable I can do about those snakes or crocodiles (even if it’s just “get your ass out of the water”).

  6. Jeremy Strandberg but those moves resolve a conflict in fiction – hitting a character with a club, watching them to find out their weakness, it telling them you’ll kill their family if they don’t so what you want. Spout Lore does not. It is not about conflict with other characters but about what the GM says

  7. Jeremy Strandberg, you’re right, “Although the gators in this swamp are difficult to see, you recognize the distinctive splash their enormous body makes as it enters the water. You look in the direction of the splash and see two beady eyes just above the waterline moving towards you. What do you do?”

  8. Brian Holland I don’t think “did this happen in the past?” is a good internal conflict. Perhaps “did I remember the specifics of the event” would be, but Spout Lore doesn’t do that.

  9. Brian Holland You’ve got an implied soft move there: future badness. Doing a soft move on a 10+ isn’t particularly generous. I’d go, instead, with setting up the PCs to be in a position to attack a crock — that is, giving them the power position.

  10. +Aaron Griffin, Spout Lore triggers when you consult your accumulated knowledge about something and says nothing about time (and neither does my example). Granted “conflict with yourself” was poorly worded. Knowing or not knowing something is a conflict between you and the world (that is to say, you and the fiction).

    “Did I remember [or do I know] the specifics of the event” IS was Spout lore does. It is a consultation of your knowledge of a subject, with the results indicating how much (or little) of that knowledge you posses.

    If Harry had gotten a 10 on his Spout Lore check regarding Nicholas Flammel, he would have known about the Philosopher’s Stone and what it meant. His “accumulated knowledge” would have included that information.

    But instead, his “accumulated knowledge” of Nicholas Flammel was lacking because he rolled a 6, so he vaguely remembered seeing or hearing that name before. Thus, we got a lot of fiction about him trying to figure out who Nicholas Flammel was, including a late night trip to the forbidden section of the library.

    I think it works with memory too, because if Hermione had remembered that book she had checked out for a bit of light reading earlier in the story, the fiction would have changed. She had in her possession a perfect place to look to get answers, but she didn’t remember that she had it. Had she used Spout Lore, and rolled a 10 she would have gotten “You don’t know who Nicholas is, but you remember the book you checked out from the library for a bit of light reading has [blah]…” but she didn’t, she also rolled a 6

  11. William Nichols, I would agree if the Alligator wasn’t stealthy and nearly impossible to notice until it’s jaws were clinched around your arm… The fact that you DO notice it despite it’s stealth puts you in a position of power (IMO).

  12. Oh man, so what would have happened if they hadn’t spouted lore? A hard move? Maybe straight to “death roll” or “Lock jaws around limb” ?

    That seems a bit harsh. But, if on a 10+ the result you’ve given is, effectively, “You are about to be murdered by gators. What do you do?”, then I’m not sure where else you’d go.

    In short: I think you’ve painted yourself into a corner.

  13. William Nichols, I’m using the Alligator as an example of Spout Lore, not the entire world. The fiction doesn’t demand that an alligator attack them because they didn’t Spout Lore.

    That “splash” I told them about may have been a limb falling, or a “relatively” harmless snake. I’ll play to see what happens because thus far all I’ve told them is that there’s a splashing sound and asked what they do. They may say “Ooh, I don’t like the sound of that” and try to get out of the water. That sets up a new situation, one that I may use to Put someone in a spot or Use up their resources. I’ll Use a move that follows the fiction that they give me.

  14. Point being you’ve used a soft move to potentially setup a hard move, and you did it on a 10+. That is what I am objecting to; on a 10+, the situation should not become worse for them.

  15. In my opinion it’s not a worse outcome. Alligators (here) can’t be seen until it’s too late! You’ve consulted your accumulated knowledge and know that these alligators make a loud splashing when they enter the water. You know exactly where a big bad enemy that would chew you up is lurking, so now you can avoid it completely.

    That sounds like a pretty good outcome to me! Better, say that continuing to move and tripping over that limb that fell and losing your sword or torch in the muck!

  16. No, because I’m not going to presume that they’ll Spout Lore. I’m also not going to presume that they’ll just try to hike out of the muck, or continue walking in it, or stand their and pick their nose. I’m going to ask them what they do. Then when I know what they’re attempting to do, I’ll do whatever the fiction suggests would be appropriate.

  17. And already on a 10+, you’ve got a soft move. That continues to seem inappropriate. And points out, as was Aaron Griffin’s original point, that this move is weak sauce.

  18. I’ve already stated that the original 10+ move was not optimal, but the 10+ move revised with Jeremy Strandberg’s input is a solid, helpful result. With a move about knowledge, KNOWING how to track the “invisible” predator is not soft.

  19. I’ve changed to fictional situation to “you have a bead on something that you would otherwise be totally oblivious to because your accumulated knowledge about this swamp is so great”. Now if they decide to walk straight at it KNOWING that it has a bead on them, yeah, I’m going to hard move the heck out of them… but if they use what I’ve given to them to avoid it then the alligator slinks away looking for easier prey.

  20. I’m surprised you don’t see that it’s not the MC move announce future badness or, since we’re talking about Dungeon World and not Apocalypse World, it’s not the GM move Show signs of an approaching threat because the Alligator IS NOT A THREAT because you have bypassed it’s greatest asset, which is it’s ability to attack unseen. It has been COMPLETELY NEUTRALIZED AS A THREAT because of the knowledge gained by a successful SL roll!

  21. You’re correct, but it exists now because I exploited my prep. But it will never be a threat (after the 10+ roll) because the characters know how to avoid it. I have not introduced a threat, I have Embraced the Fantastic and used the characters accumulated knowledge of the swamp to be able to recognize a mighty, stealthy stalker that would rip them apart if they were unable to do so.

  22. While I don’t think the book ever explicitly uses the words “Yes and”, it also doesn’t say to explicitly NOT use “Yes and”.

    The result is both interesting (Knowledge of the existence of a mighty, stealthy predator [a lot of people think, say, dinosaurs are interesting])…

    …and useful (knowing how to avoid said beast, which would easily kill you without said knowledge [pretty useful in my book]).

    AND fictionally, that means they have avoided a threat soundly with their brains.

  23. Aaron Griffin said “Spout Lore is used when someone says “hey because of Background X, would I know about Y?”. This seems like a situation where everyone looks to you to see what happens and doesn’t need a move. Instead the move itself limits and dictates how the GM may respond, which I think is different than exploiting your prep.” But asking about a specific thing isn’t looking to you to see what happens.

    Further, I have done no more than this move is equipped to do. I replied with something that was both interesting and useful, and the fiction did more with it. And fictionally this…

    How do you respond to this example?

    “Do I know anything about this bomb?” (10)

    Interesting: You know they were designed with a back-door bypass for easy dismantling of the trigger.

    Useful: The wires you need to clip to use the bypass are striped red and white.

    Does it not follow fictionally that these two pieces of information, one interesting and one useful would allow you to avoid avoid the threat of detonating the bomb?

    Your knowledge is what’s overcoming that threat.

    What if you only got the Interesting bit?

    Does it follow fictionally that you know how to disable it just because you know of the bypass? No.

    If they open a shipping container and see the bomb then “look at me to see what happens* I’m not obliged to tell them either of those pieces of information. I’ll probably start the timer ticking, because they’ve given me a Golden Opportunity. If instead they ask me if they know what that thing about that bomb, it triggers Spout Lore and I do have certain obligations based on the roll.

    Yes, it’s limiting, but only as much so as Discern Realities which has a list of questions the players can ask. Forcing that limitation gives you a framework to answer the question in a knowledge based way. On a 10+ , the answer must be both interesting and useful.

  24. On a 10+ Spout Lore in the Swamp:

    Ranger, you’ve been here before. Your animal companion bares its teeth at a peculiar looking log in the water. You recognize it immediately: a swamp croc, taking a nap. You point it out to the group and you can navigate around the shallows in the daytime with little risk by the characteristic “eye bumps” on a log.

    Bard, you’ve heard tales of the swamps before. Bogs that go more than ankle deep tend to leave visitors without any ankles.

    Druid, your attunement to swamplands gives you great knowledge of the local flora and fauna. You breath deeply and catch the fetid scents of rot. You taste the tepid algae filled waters and the sour stench of decay. There is at least one Giant Swamp Croc nearby and it has fed on something in the past week… or two… and it may still be hungry.

  25. One issue I’ve always had with Spout Lore (and Discern Realities) is that they seem associated with the wrong attributes.

    I’ve always associated memories, knowledge, and experiences with wisdom. One becomes wise over time, accumulating knowledge. Wizards, monks, etc.

    But figuring out things, understanding relationships, anticipating the next action…that seems like it requires intelligence. Like an IQ test. Here are some clues, what do you make of it?

    I propose that Spout Lore is a Wisdom roll, and Discern Realities is an Intelligence roll.

    Anyone agree?

  26. Wizards have a move to make Discern Realities with Int. Making it a core part of the game renders that option worthless (or free for the Wizard who wants to intellectualize)

Comments are closed.