Have you tried to smoosh something into DW that didn’t thematically/mechanically work?

Have you tried to smoosh something into DW that didn’t thematically/mechanically work?

Have you tried to smoosh something into DW that didn’t thematically/mechanically work? I try to implement political intrigue into DW and it doesn’t work for me or my players. Where have you seen failure in DW or where have you failed in implementation?

(This is not to say that DW is inadequate or lacking, but its not meant for every kind of gameplay)


-hexy crawling in a mega dungeon

-political intrigue



-large scale combat sets


7 thoughts on “Have you tried to smoosh something into DW that didn’t thematically/mechanically work?”

  1. Well, definitely, DW have a very precise focus : adventurers and murderhobos plungering dungeons.

    No surprise, it’s inspired by old-school D&D.

    That said, pbta is so flexible that it’s possible to stretch the system a lot to cover a very large spectrum. But I guess there’s a breaking point where if you stretch it too far from it’s goal, it will break.

    What’s the point of having armors, weapon tags, attack spells, ammo, dungeon gear, rations and most of the moves if you’re trying to frame love and romance?

    So I’d say, I feel like it CAN do almost anything but only if this is not the main focus. Like, you could easily create a “Fall in love” move but it would be mostly hand wayvy, something like :

    When you meet that special someone, roll+cha.

    On a 10+ you’re meant for each other,

    On a 7-9, you fall in love but you’ll need to do something worthy to have them fall for you.

  2. hex crawling

    well The Perilous Wilds covers this mostly. I didn’t read The Perilous Deeps, but I guess it covers what you mentioned : mega dungeon hex crawls.

    political intrigue

    if it’s 1 session or so, I guess it could work. You’ll have again to write down moves. I’d go with something inspired by Jason Cordova’s Labyrinth move where you gain holds for each clue you discover and when you have say 3 holds, you can spend them to discover who’s behind it. Playing a whole adventure in this mode would certainly make much of the system and moves kinda useless though. You’d have to make sure to include stuff so that the pc can use their moves (traps for rogues, fights for fighters, etc).



    When you wish to accomplish a project of lasting value, tell the GM what you hope to achieve. They’ll tell you 1-4 of the following:

    ■ It’ll take days/weeks/months of work.

    ■ It’ll cost you ______ coin.

    ■ First you’ll need to get/build/fix ______.

    ■ You’ll have to deal with resistance from ______.

    ■ You’ll need the help/support/approval of ______.

    ■ You’ll need to find/learn/obtain ______ first.

    ■ The best you can do is something substandard.

    ■ You’ll expose yourself and your allies to danger.

    The GM will connect any requirements with “ANDs” or “ORs” as they see fit. If you aren’t sure how to accomplish one of the requirements, ask the GM;

    otherwise a simpler move could work that way :

    When you have time and materials to craft something, describe what you are trying to achieve and the GM will tell you what tag it will have, then roll+INT.

    On a 10+, you do it.

    *On a 7-9, choose one:

    ■ You’ll need an additional material beyond what you have now

    ■ You need help or someone else’s expertise to make it

    ■ The best you can do is a lesser version, unreliable and limited

    *Large scale combat

    I think there’s something about this on Drivethru that is probably lot better though out but on the get go, I’d do a simple:

    When you command a unit in a large scale combat, tell what objective you’re trying to accomplish then roll+cha.

    On a 10+, nothing seems to stop your unit and morale is sky high. You accomplish your objective without much attrition.

    On a 7-9, you reach your goal but your unit is in bad shape.

    On a 6-, your unit is routed plus anything else the GM says.

    the other two mentioned, I’ve no idea what they mean 😛

  3. I ran an interrogation-focused session one time that had the PCs questioning 3 various NPCs, trying to determine which of the three was an illithid thrall. It felt semi-successful. The PCs that went beyond simple “parley” attempts had a better time with it. One would talk with the NPC to buy time and get them talking (defy danger) while another watched them closely for any tells (discern realities). Some used magical abilities to try and detect lies, get info, or get leverage on the NPCs so they could parley. That being said, others seemed to experience some frustration when a parley roll didn’t go their way or didn’t give them everything they wanted. It would have been smoother to boil it down to a simple mechanical roll, but I was hoping for something a little more in-depth. So, mixed results.

  4. DW is definitely better at some things than others, but there are ways to handle most of those things using the tools DW presents. It’s a remarkably wide-open system.

    Political intrigue: fronts, dangers, grim portents, and stakes will get you most of the way there (with lots of Spout Lore, Discern Realities, Parley, and DD w/CHA in play). I think the hard part about this is that it’s just hard. Keeping track of all the NPCs and factions and whatnot, and who owes whom and who has a grudge against whom and who wants what and and and… it’s so much. How does this PC action affect this NPC’s opinions? Etc. Some people love this stuff, and are good at it. I’m not, and no amount of prep or mechanical support has ever made me feel otherwise.

    Romance: again, I think dangers & stakes are keys here. Give the romantic partner an impulse/instinct, some personality, some GM moves, and (if it makes sense) grim portents/doom. Like:

    [ ] Lady Vivian’s servants are aflutter with gossip

    [ ] The duke finds out about your relationship

    [ ] The duke sends Lady Vivian to the summer castle

    [ ] The duke arranges a marriage between Lady Vivian and Archduke Grossout

    [ ] DOOM: Vivian is married to Grossout against her will, and is taken to live in Castle Faraway

    Stakes: Will the duchess stand up to the duke for her daughter’s happiness? Is Vivian willing to run away with the PC? Can Vivian’s lady-in-waiting keep the relationship a secret?

    Crawling through a megadungeon Works with rules as written. No problem. It’s mostly just a matter of zooming in and zooming out to the preferred level of detail.

    Who-Dunnit Regardless of system, this is usually just about prep. Decide who did it, when, where, how, and why. Introduce some other characters who have potential motives. Figure out why the PCs care. Go. Discern Realities, Spout Lore, and Parley will get a lot of leverage here.

    The key thing, I think, is to be a little coy with your Discern Realities answers. “What here is not what it appears to be?” gets you “Samuel is clearly nervous and you’re sure he’s not telling you everything.” It doesn’t give you “Samuel did it, you’re sure!”

    Crafting What Addramyr Palinor said. Basically, tell them the requirements and then ask what they do. Make the requirements as interesting or mundane as you like, in order to jump the PCs into something that is interesting.

    Large scale combats There are like a dozen different approaches to this floating around, including the mostly complete drafts of Inglorious. It mostly comes down to a question of: what level of detail do you want to handle this?

    Mundania Not sure what you mean by this, but it makes me think of the Apocalypse World principle of “barf forth apocalyptica,” meaning: constantly add details or prompt players for details about the world around them.

    I’ll grant you that DW isn’t a great fit for playing out “a day in the park with my kids,” but PCs having kids, and a home, and asking them about it, and using that as a bookend or motivation for adventure works great ( #stonetop ).

  5. Reading through the other comments on here and reflecting on my own experience, I think one simple thing that would have greatly enhanced our interrogation/investigation sessions would have been to explain the change in tone to my players, and gives examples of how to move forward using the DW moves.

    Up to that point, our campaign had been mostly action-heavy with some political machinations in the background. I wish I had simply said at the start of the session:

    “Since you all are interrogating these suspects this session may look a little different. There are a lot of ways your characters can go about this. Obviously parley will be helpful, but you may also want to try and get characters talking, which might be defy dangers. You may want to closely examine a suspect as they talk, which could be discern realities. You may want to fact check their story, which could be a spout lore. Or you may have other abilities or ideas on how to go about it. Let me know if you feel stuck!”

    I think a simple prep and some guiding examples like that could’ve made a really big difference.

  6. Jeremy Stewart Dunno if you’ve read this but it might help prevent another “mixed results” if you run into this again.

    It addresses the fact that in DW “There is no GM move called “make an arbitrary decision.” There’s also no GM move called “have a freeform social interaction.”

    Basically the answer given to the question (that is only somewhat related but the answer still applies to this subject specifically) is that the GM has to properly trigger and make moves, even in social encounters. I think it applies pretty well to the investigation scene.


  7. I ran a very political game. Defy Danger CHA was used all the time. It worked great. I do agree that keeping track of the details that has nothing to do with the game mechanics, but the complexity of what is going on can be daunting.

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