Last session I made a custom move when the characters needed to cross quite a bit of terrain fast. It is a tweak on the undertake perilous journey move. It created a lot of drama when two of four players failed their rolls, and that was fun (I think). Give me feedback on the move! (Thank you!) Negative or positive, hack it to pieces if need be. It’s all good.
When time is of the essence and you ride through a perilous area/wilderness at full speed, come hell or high water; you ride from some threats and problems, but risk greater problems.
On the following UPJ roll you take +10 for Trailblazer, but everybody rolls+(apropriate stat). On a 10+ you and your horse are fine. On a 7-9, choose one consequence. On a 6- the gm chooses two consequences.
* Your horse is injured or becomes lame. You get to where you are going, but your horse can’t carry you any further before it has had about a week to recover or receive proper healing.
* You attract attention from something dangerous that you can’t outride.
* Ta -1 to Scout for UPJ.
* It takes a toll, take a debility in strenght, dexterity, or constitution.
* You loose or brake something valuable along the way, tell us what.
3 thoughts on “Last session I made a custom move when the characters needed to cross quite a bit of terrain fast.”
You already used the move, right? And it worked well for you in play? If so, it doesn’t really matter what any of us think about it! It was a Good Move.
So, what are you hoping to get by asking for feedback? Are you thinking you’re going to use this move again and want help optimizing it? Are you looking for feedback to improve your custom-move-writing chops?
Like, I’ve got opinions (all sorts) about how I’d write the move differently, and I’ll gladly share them. But honestly I’m more curious how this move played out for you! What stat did your players roll, and how did you decide on it? Two of the four players got misses, right? What choices did you make? What did the other two players roll (and what choices did they make, if any)? How did that all interface with the Scout and Quartermaster rolls? What did this all look like in the fiction?
What I’m hoping…
So, we used the move once. That’s not a lot of testing to say anything about it. I might want to use it, or something like it, on another group I’m running for. So does the move go contrary to any principles, is it unnecessary complicated, is there anything for me to learn for next time I make a custom move? Stuff like that is what I’m hoping to get I guess. (Eeh, what you Jeremy Strandberg said in the second paragraph)
How the move played out for us.
Two of the players got 7-9 results. They chose to attract attention and to get -1 on Scout. The other two failed outright (one of them snakeeyes). That gave me four consequences to play with. I don’t remember which stats the players used, but there wasn’t any disagreement or discussion on which stats fitted. All the players came up with a rationale and narrative description for the stat they used.
I used one of the consequences for an aditional -1 to Scout, and the other three on “attract attention”. So that meant the attract attention consequence was quadrupled. I figured I was going to throw something really f#%@ing big on them. But I decided to split it up into at least two threats. For the Scout and the Quartermaster rolls they managed 7-9 on both, despite having -2 on Scout.
So for the threats. First they encountered a centaur who is the King of horses on the plains, and his great heard. They managed to solve that situation with diplomacy, at least for now. That might become a big thing in the future as the King of horses demanded that they free their horses within the next full moon, or he was gonna do it for them.
The next threat happened on the last leg on the journey, when they had to get to an island on a great lake. I dropped some vague hints about the threat before it happened, but on the lake in a pitful, little pram, they where attacked by a blue dragon. The attack was preceded by a sudden calm in the waters around their pram, then bubbles rising to the surface and a smell of ozone. Then the dragon smashed the pram with its tail. All the characters saw was a great, scaled, blue tentacle raising out of the water behind them and comming down hard on the pram. From there chaos ensued.
But after first having pulled out the big guns, I might have been a little chickenshit, because they all survived. One of the characters was at one point inside the maw of the dragon, and equipment were lost by some, but I got a little stressed I think, and let them roll straight h&s while in the water with armor on, or hanging on to the dragon. I should have demanded more defy dangers and narated some things as uneffective. But they were banged up and spitting lakewater as they crawled up on the island. I know one player were unsatisfied with there not being a hard enough consequence, but I know this player is a bit of a masochist. I’m a little bit unsure of what the other players thought. I got the impression that they generally were engaged with the custom move and it’s follow through.
Cool! That sounds like a pretty damn fun set of encounters!
As for feedback on the move itself. I don’t think it’s breaking any principles, per se, but I do think that the interface between it and the normal UPJ is a little clunky.
Mechanically, you’ve got the players trading an auto 10+ on Trailblazer in exchange for everyone making a roll, and those rolls potentially wracking up costs or complications. The math on that is pretty punishing… when you’ve got 4 folks rolling, the chances of a miss are pretty damn high!
But… because your custom move specifies “on a miss, the GM picks 2,” they’re kind of insulated from the really hard moves that you as a GM can inflict on a miss… so it kind of balances it out.
Still, it puts a lot on you as the GM, right? From how you described this, you had to pick 4 (!) results, the players had to pick 2, and you had to fold them all into something that made sense with their Scout roll. In the end, you ended up with 2 potentially deadly encounters and a Scout roll that indicated even(ish) footing when they encountered them. And you said that one of the players felt like they got off “easy” for having rolled so many misses.
There a couple different ways you could handle it that wouldn’t be quite so fiddly. For example, you could call for a “group Defy Danger” for the fast pace, resolve it, and then go on to the usual UPJ move. I use this custom move for that sort of thing:
When the GM calls on you to struggle as one, they’ll describe the challenge you face. Tell them how you deal with it and you each roll +STAT. On a miss, you find yourself in a spot (the GM will describe it or ask you to); on a 7-9, you do you part and pull your weight just fine; on a 10+, you do well enough to get someone else out of a spot, if you can tell us how you do it.
That’s mathematically a lot more forgiving than everyone making their own Defy Danger roll, and it ends up with either everyone getting 7+ and you just move on, or a cool vignette with one or more PCs getting into trouble and others pulling them out, or (if there are more misses than 10+’s) you zoom in on the spot and resolve it through normal play.
So, like, taking your example… you’d have called on them to Struggle as One and told them that the challenge they faced was crossing the Chrion Flats at breakneck speed and (hopefully) without drawing attention from the Horse Lords. Then, when two PCs rolled misses and two rolled 7-9, that could have dumped them into a scene where they’re surrounded and penned in by the centaurs, with their king and his guard bearing down on them. Or worse, they’re already captured and disarmed, and you ask them how they got into this mess!
Then, after they resolve the group roll (or the situation it generates), you go into the usual UPJ. Because the group roll has already established that they’re making good time, a 10+ here means they put even more distance between them and their pursuers (and if possible, maybe they lose their pursuers entirely). A 7-9 means they make it where they’re going before their pursuers catch up. A miss means their pursuers catch up, but not until right at the end of the journey, and you zoom in and it’s a race against time!
Now, here’s a totally different approach: collapse your custom move down into the UPJ move itself. Basically, keep the same roles and rolls but adjust the possible outcomes. I might do it like so:
If the scout gets a 10+, they spot trouble just before you all plunge headlong into it, with a moment’s chance to avert disaster; on a 7-9, they manage to raise the alarm but it’s too late to avoid trouble; on a miss, they lead you into an ambush.
If the quartermaster gets a 10+, one of you must choose 1 from the list below; on a 7-9, each of you must choose 1; on a miss; you each choose 2.
* Your horse collapses, dead from exhaustion
* Your supplies (adventuring gear, rations, bandages, poultices & herbs, even ammo) are all lost or used up on the way
* You’re exhausted by the journey; mark Weakened, Shaky, or Sickened (your choice)
If the trailblazer gets a 10+, you reach your destination with time to spare; on a 7-9, its down to the wire and you find yourself in one last desperate sprint to the end; on a miss, you’re overtaken or arrive too late.
With this ^^, you end up with all the same possible outcomes as your custom move (debilities, costs, dangers) but without quite as many rolls and choices and interactions of rolls.
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