I was thinking about Spout Lore, and, searching the history of this community, ran into a very nice rewrite by…

I was thinking about Spout Lore, and, searching the history of this community, ran into a very nice rewrite by…

I was thinking about Spout Lore, and, searching the history of this community, ran into a very nice rewrite by Jeremy Strandberg. I like how it perpetuated the back-and-forth between the GM and player on a 7-9, while still allowing the GM influence over the total direction of the move. But as great as that rewrite is, I can’t help but feel like it misses my main issue with the Spout Lore Move.

That is, the vagueness of it all.

I mean, it sits right next to Discern Realities, a great move that equips the player with questions that push the fiction forwards in new and unexpected ways for everyone. Compared to that, Spout Lore looks like the equivalent of prodding the GM with a stick and saying “Hey. Say something interesting.”

Imagine if Discern Realities said “On a 10+, the GM will tell you something interesting and useful about the situation or person”. Yeah.

What if there were something similar for Spout Lore? A list of leading questions that lend structure to the move and give the participants some prompts to build off of.

Even a move as simple as Bardic Lore (player asks a question, GM answers) is much more powerful and much more directed.

Perhaps there’s some fundamental reason that Spout Lore has to be so vague, but I’m not sure. Ultimately, both Spout Lore and Discern Realities are used in very similar situations: You want some useful or potentially-useful information. The only difference is whether you already knew it or you’re learning it now.

What do you think?

8 thoughts on “I was thinking about Spout Lore, and, searching the history of this community, ran into a very nice rewrite by…”

  1. It sounds like you might like the moves from Apocalypse D&D (Tony Dowler’s original seed that became Dungeon World)

    Spout Lore (intelligence)

    Spouting lore means taking some time to examine or observe the thing and demonstrate your great intelligence. To spout lore regarding a device or magical artifact requires that you handle the thing experimentally, like tasting a potion, or pointing a wand.

    Roll 7-9, ask 1. Roll 10+, Ask 3.

    Questions about anything:

     Is it dangerous to me?

     What’s its name and history?

    Questions about a thing:

     Who is its previous or current owner?

     How does it work?

     What does it do?

     What’s it worth?

     Is it magical?

    Questions about a monster:

     What type of monster is it?

     How could I prevent it from attacking me?

     How effective is (particular plan or method of attack) likely to be?

    Discern Realities (wisdom)

    Roll this when you spend some time observing the situation or looking for threats or when you leave no stone unturned searching the area. If there’s nothing left to find, the DM will tell you so.

    Roll 7-9, hold 1, spend to ask. Roll 10+, hold 3, spend to ask.

    General questions:

     Where’s my best escape route?

     What happened here recently?

     What should I be on the lookout for?

     Spend and have an insight, taking +1 to an immediate follow-up action.

     Spend to ask one question off the Spout Lore list.

    Regarding a situation or place:

     Which enemy is the most vulnerable to me?

     Who’s really in control here?

     Is there magic at work here?

     What secret doors or compartments are there?

  2. For my part, I like the Spout Lore move as it is. We almost always trigger it when the player is fishing for some specific information, sometimes even a specific question, and that helps set the context for what they get on a 10+, a partial success, and a miss.

  3. I’ve not managed to congeal my thoughts on Spout Lore into something coherent. I have some questions that I haven’t yet answered for myself though…

    Does Spout Lore serve a significant purpose other than to reinforce that WIS and INT are different stats—that Clerics and Wizards are different? I.e. which came first, Spout Lore or WIS/INT?

    How does Spout Lore relate to Open Your Brain from Apocalypse World?

    “When you open your brain to the world’s psychic maelstrom, roll+weird. On a hit, the MC tells you something new and interesting about the current situation, and might ask you a question or two; answer them. On a 10+, the MC gives you good detail. On a 7–9, the MC gives you an impression. If you already know all there is to know, the MC will tell you that. On a miss, be prepared for the worst.”

    How do you model a character knowing something the player does not, or being smarter than their player if not with Spout Lore?

  4. I personally enjoy the move as is, but you make some good points. There can be times when SL and DR trip over each other, but I don’t know if that should suggest the only difference between the moves is if you already know it vs are learning it now.

    DR is grounded in the immediate fiction – the character has to be actively inspecting something; be in the same space with it. While with SL the character does not. It’s available to trigger at the slightest mention of something that interests the character. They can just hear about a creature or place at the tavern or be reading a book at a library and trigger SL. Perhaps this is where the vagueness comes from, SL could happen about any subject at any point in the fiction, while DR is limited to the here and now and thus can be more specific with it’s questions.

    Aside from it’s trigger, I just view SL as two questions with no player choice step: What about the subject is interesting? What about the subject is useful? Those questions don’t feel all that far off from those listed for DR.

    I find it much easier to answer the players questions when either move is triggered about something they are facing in the immediate fiction. The SL triggered on a subject they aren’t currently interacting with can be more difficult to answer. A common point in time for me to give some creative license to player and take some good notes for next sessions prep.

  5. Ive always had a hard time with DR. Ive read and listened to every article, post and podcast regarding it because i find it difficult to use. Learning from others here in the tavern, i now know its purpose and importance. However, in my experience with table top, ive found ways to handle the situations where DR would be necessary in my own way. Usually its as simple as just asking questions and providing answers without the structure of DR. For me, it feels more natural and less…stressful.

    SL is simple enough that i dont find it intrusive or obstructive to the story.

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