13 thoughts on “What should a custom move for starving accomplish?”

  1. You need to put this in the context of the game; When you feed starving children in the free city of Gygax, take +1 forward on all actions in the Beggar’s Quarter.

  2. When you are starving in the Crimson Wastes roll+CON per day: on a 10+ you are just miserable, on a 7-9 take 1d4 damage; on a miss take 1d4 damage and a disability.

  3. Defy danger + CON already exist. If they continue to operate while hungry, just have them roll every new day, if they fail just have them mark the different negative effects, like weak, shaken, ect. Once they run out of things to mark, they start taking direct damage, and don’t regenerate while resting.

    No need to make a move for something the game already supports.

  4. Need to make it adventure or dungeon focused. In the Haunted Wastes if you fail a +CON due to starving you also attract 1d4 hungry ghosts who will attack the party at midnight.

  5. For protagonists in fiction, starving seems to come up when a character is stuck in some barren wilderness like a desert or on Mars, or so poor and disempowered that they’re begging on the streets. It’s a slow process, so in-game it might be a move that only triggers on a Perilous Journey or during a time pass. You want it to be something more than just resource management though… there’s a sense of despair to starvation, although I’m not sure how you’d convey that directly in a move.

    Another thought: Dungeon World already has you tracking rations, so I guess you could tie your custom move to that. Without rations, you can’t trigger Make Camp, so you’re already not healing…

    Perhaps you could model the actual move on Jeremy Strandberg’s drowning rule from his “Drowning and Falling” document? “If it’s been more than a week since you ate your fill and a move tells you to mark off a ration which you don’t have, roll +CON. On a 10+ you soldier on; on a 7-9, mark a debility, or take your Last Breath.”

    Actually, looking at the “Drowning and Falling” document, I see that Jeremy has a placeholder for “Starving to Death”, so he may have some ideas already.

    docs.google.com – Drowning and Falling: Custom Moves for DW

  6. Robert Rendell​ I talked to Jeremy today. He gave me some tips in an interview. Great stuff, should be coming out in a few weeks.

    He knew right away that he didn’t have a move for starving, so we had a good laugh.

  7. I’ve been thinking about the initial question, “what should a custom move for starving accomplish?”

    IMO, a custom move about deprivation (of anything: food, water, sleep, shelter) should:

    1) Make the players want to avoid it (i.e. it should be suitably bad/punishing that we make sure we fucking bring enough rations).

    2) It should start small, but get steadily worse, becoming more and more of a focus the longer you go without.

    3) It should be more about limiting options, making hard choices, and the growing need to do something about it than it should be about mechanical penalties.

    4) Ideally, it should do this without creating a mechanical death spiral (even if a death spiral is realistically what happens when you suffer from extreme deprivation).

    Applying Debilities definitely jumps to mind, but Debilities both lean toward a death spiral (you’re Shaky makes it harder for you sneak up on something and kill it for food!) and have a tendency to be overlooked in the fiction and thus become kinda boring. (At least, that’s my experience… your mileage may vary… hence my recent polls about Debilities).

    The other mechanic that jumps to mind is Encumbrance… it’s a move that rarely sees use, but it’s pretty elegant: up to you Load, no worries; a little beyond that, take a penalty; more than 3 over, then every move you make is a difficult choice: either fail or drop something (and roll at -1). The really interesting thing, there, is that you don’t have drop down to below your Load. You just have to drop “1 weight”. That’s brilliant! I sorta wonder if a starvation/deprivation/exhaustion mechanic could do something similar. Though I’m not really sure what exactly that would look like.

    The other thing I keep thinking about is that deprivation is really just permission/invitation for a GM to make more and more (and harder and harder) GM moves related to the deprivation. So maybe it’d just be ~3 separate “conditions” that a PC could acquire, each with a list of worse and worse GM moves.

  8. Jeremy Strandberg that last part about having 3 conditions to acquire is exactly where I was thinking. The only thing I’d like one of the conditions to be is something like ‘you gain the condition ‘hangry’ and the GM gains 1 hold on you.’ The hold would be used to suggest an action that the PC could take; some negative social behavior. If that player takes the suggestion, they gain 1 xp or whatever. The term hangry is tongue and cheek, but you know what I mean.

    I like the idea that the PC may also get the condition ‘encumbered’. It leads to more choices. Does the PC drop their shield or their adventuring gear, etc.

  9. Philosophically, I think that starving should accomplish all the things that you mentioned but also be fun for players to implement. The detriment should be equal to the amount of fun it replaces in game play. I don’t find a lot of fun remembering to +/- 1’s to my rolls. Nor have I had anyone really admit that dealing with rations adds more fun to the game anyhow.

    So I keep thinking about striking the balance between the negative of starving with the entertainment that could go along with making it a facet of game play.

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