Great advice from Jeremy Strandberg​

Great advice from Jeremy Strandberg​

Great advice from Jeremy Strandberg​

First, work on your skills as a GM. Lead by example. You should be describing constantly, setting the scene, visualizing it, clarifying it. Relative location, what the PCs see, hear, feel. The momentum of PCs and NPCs and hazards.

You don’t get to say “the orcs approach” or the “the orc attacks you.” And you damn sure don’t get to say “the orc attacks, Defy Danger with DEX.” No, you gotta be like “the orcs advance, leering and weapons drawn, spreading out to flank you, what do you do?” Or “The orc on your left lunges suddenly, swinging it’s homemade meat cleaver down at you like HA! What do you do?”

If you don’t give them good, compelling fiction to interact with, then you can’t expect them to them to think beyond the moves on the sheet.

When you ask the players what they do, and their eyes drift down to the moves sheet, be like “forget that. Look at me. The orc is swinging it’s huge, pitted meat cleaver at your skull. What do you DO?”

If they reply with something basic like “um, I dodge?” then be positive but prompt for more detail. “Okay, cool! Are you just jumping clear and trying to get away from him? Dodging to the side so you can counterattack? What’s this look like?”

Then, whatever they do and whatever move triggers and whatever the result of their roll, fold that description into the results! If they dodge backwards and just try to get away, and Defy Danger with a 10+, then they get away. “Okay, so you hop back from the orc’s attack and put a few more feet between you and them. But they’re still blocking the way in front you and they’re gonna close any second now. You wanna turn and flee back down the hallway you can, no problem. Or you can re-engage. Or whatever. What do you?”

Now, if you ask “what do you do?” and they reply with the name of the move, that’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with that, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But your job then is to clarify the fiction. “You Hack and Slash? Cool, tell me what that looks like?” “You Discern Realities? Okay, how exactly are you doing that?” “You Volley? Okay, but that orc is right in your face and gonna gut you if you don’t try to get clear first.”

Respond to their actions positively and enthusiastically, but don’t let them off the hook with poorly visualized action. If you can’t picture it in your head, it’s not clear enough. Talk it through, ask for detail, clarify.

Don’t play “gotcha.” The book talks about making a hard move when they give you a golden opportunity, but you shouldn’t treat that as a surprise. If someone declares that they do something that you think is a golden opportunity, and you think it’s clear that they’re doing something stupid, then clarify it first. Tell them the consequences and ask. “You’re going to charge the hydra and try to stab it’s torso? Okay, but that’ll mean dodging past its seven snapping maws. You’ll be Defying Danger with DEX just to get close, and on a miss, it’s gonna be bad. Like, fish-in-a-blender bad. You do it?”

Reward creative solutions. If they tip a statue on the orcs pursuing them, offer them an opportunity to escape or to take one of them out without a fight or whatever. If the wizard grabs a tapestry off the wall and tosses it over the orcs, let them Defy Danger with INT for quick thinking instead of rolling STR for heaving the tapestry. Be a fan!

And always, always, bring it back to the fiction. After a move resolves, reframe the scene. Describe what’s happening now. Make your move. And ask “what do you do?”

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