I’ve posted on the Story-Games forum a piece of a larger PbtA fantasy project I would like to have feedback about.


In this post I offer a heavily fiction first harm system meant to completely substitute DW health points and even AW harm segments, for both PCs and NPCs.

It’s supposed to make damage feel threatening and meaningful without necessarily making the PCs die like flies, while still allowing the GM to make other characters as fragile or resilient as needed.

The rest of the game system leveraging this core mechanic (moves, classes, etc) will come in future posts 🙂


  1. Like it. I’ve been fiddling with no HP DW variants myself (posted mine a few days ago).

    I don’t like the Hardiness at all. I mean, you remove HP then add them back again (in a bit different form).

    I’d prefer a move that allows to reduce/ignore a harm. It’s fun to roll anyway!

  2. What Addramyr Palinor said basically sums up my response to this!

    …ok i’ll stop being lazy.

    I’d like to add that although I totally see what you did with the ‘pick one harm from the list and if you cant, scale it up’ I would be interested to know how this holds up in actual play. I can see this take up a bit of time in terms of having to pick and/or discussions about what would fit the fiction. I might be wrong about that.

    Another concern I have there is that it is quite graphic in terms of descriptions. I personally don’t mind, but I know quite a few players who would not really enjoy going into that much detail gore-wise.

    An alternative to that could be to turn it around. Say you have 3-4 slots for a certain type of harm and ask the player to describe what wounds they take, and note that down. All slots filled = move one up. Deadly slots filled up = you die.

    This may be a bit faster in play while still preserving the general idea, and still being distinct from HP by having the fiction be leading.

  3. Addramyr Palinor

    The Hardiness points are something I’m considering for removal, but I’m not so sure yet.

    I like the idea of allowing the Protagonists a small amount of “narrative protection” in the form of points they can spend to mitigate the harshness of combat.

    But already they are very few (just 3 for everyone, and upgreadable to 6 through levelling up IF you take them in place of new Moves or extra STAT points) and difficult to regenerate once you spend them (only 1HP is recuperated through a full Make Camp move).

    But yeah, I’m still mulling over them.

    On the other hand… I’m afraid I’m not a big fan of additional die rolls in this particular area of the game ^_^

    Gerke Bouma

    In actual play I’ve seen the system go slow only the very first time the Players use it.

    Afterwards it gets quickly internalised and pretty much supports what would otherwise be the normal flow of combat descriptions.

    I also noticed that having the list of effects written down on a sheet instead of just being in the book helps a lot… and that having the list be PART of your own character sheet, with check boxes and everything, helps even more.

    Usually the fiction itself makes it clear which effects fit or not.

    When a Player picks an unfitting effect it is glaringly obvious to the whole table, they all speak up, and the problem is fixed.

    When there is no clear/obvious consensus, the Player has the final saying… it really does not break the game, nor the immersion, to pick an effect that is not 100% perfectly fitting 😉

    About the gore level, I don’t see it. Could you offer me an example?

    In my view…

    The Nasty effects are simply situational conditions: you fall down, you lose an object, you are being held, etc.

    The Serious effects are described as functional… a limb is unusable, a sense is numbed, the pain is an obstacle to be defyed, etc

    The Deadly effects tell you in how much time you will die if help does not come.

    Nowhere there is a gory description of how the damage looks on your body, of blood and guts and whatnot.

    Or am I missing something in your meaning? 🙂

  4. To be fair, this is well within the philosophy of DW: give them options to pick from to speed things ups.

    In my alternate version of the no-HP I’ve done this and while it allows for harm effect to fit perfectly the narrative, it slows down the pace while in the end, you still see the same tags added over and over. I think in the end that having pre-written tags that you check off is better and actually faster.

  5. Alessandro Piroddi With my comment on the gore I meant the descriptions yes. Doesn’t bother me personally, but might bother some. Definitly not saying you should remove it, but just wanted to point that out.

    Having thought on it some more I can see why checking off a list may be a preferred option and actually speed things up. I shut up and actually test it for myself 😀

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