I’m hoping some of you could help me out.

I’m hoping some of you could help me out.

I’m hoping some of you could help me out. When you introduce a special item or an object/location with a custom move, how much do you reveal vs make them “figure it out”?

Take for example a shrine with a custom move. When they come across it, do you tell the players if they do such and such and roll this will happen? Do you make them guess? Spout Lore? DR?

11 thoughts on “I’m hoping some of you could help me out.”

  1. Tell them everything that you want to establish as important about it and ask what they do. If it’s important to them they can spout lore.

    Fundamentally DW doesn’t have a ton of great tools to be a mystery game. It has always worked better in my games to see what the players do now that they know what cannot be unknown.

  2. In my experience, it’s always better to give them more, and direct information over less, indirect information. Hinting that a guy has a lot of body hair isn’t enough to make your players suspect he’s a werewolf. Mentioning air movement doesn’t tell them there’s a secret door.

    Remember: your players are not adventures with sword skills and spell books. They are real modern humans. Don’t expect them to think and infer like a character in the game. Tell them what the characters would infer. “The guy has a lot of body hair, something you’ve only ever seen that one time the palace guard strung up a werewolf to die” or “there is air movement in that chamber, but it’s abnomal – there must be a passage somewhere”

    Make them roll when things are risky. If there’s no risk, just answer their questions.

  3. I’m with Aaron Griffin. I always use movie viewing analogies with DW and in this case if you don’t highlight the importance of an item “on screen”, or give more details to player, it will be forgettable. In a movie if an item is mysterious or important the camera is going to hang on it for some extra beats, perhaps a subtle zoom, crescendo of music, and a hard cut to a different scene. I try and translate this into table top by describing, at times, what the camera is doing, but it can be achieved in other ways like Aaron described. In the end, give them enough that it’s begging for some investigation.

  4. If there’s a custom move, there’s a trigger for it. How you’d approach telling the players should be consisted with what has been established, especially with how obscure the trigger is and how much the PCs understand the world.

    For example, if your shrine requires a specific set of esoteric rituals to have the move trigger, and none of the player characters should logically have any idea about how to approach that – don’t tell them. Only do this if you think it’d be interesting for them to learn the rituals later on – that way you are establishing signs of approaching threat (those shrines are rarely anything but!), setting them up to backtrack, and hopefully leading up to answering one of your GM questions relating to the shrine and appropriate Front.

    On the flip side, if the shrine is something the player characters should have a chance to understand, I’d give them the details of the ritual to find out even on a 6- on a Spout Lore roll – there are many other hard moves to make for that one, defaulting to player incompetence is a bad habit 😉 Personally, I like to dish out revealing an unwelcome truth.

    As others have said: be generous with information. Keep the Agenda in mind, and look for opportunities to make GM moves to challenge the group. Say yes and be open about things, unless the moves & agenda tell you otherwise.

    But don’t explain the details of the move before they trigger and roll it. If they should know potential outcomes, tell them in an in-setting way (directly via pc or npc knowledge or indirectly via the enviornment) but don’t explain. PBtA games work very well when the narrative triggers mechanics, which in the end are there to influence the narrative. Don’t make them take mechanics focused decisions when encountering something new, it robs them of the joy and terror of finding out blindly 😉

  5. Sometimes if I write a custom move ahead of time I put the trigger on one side of a 3×5 notecard and the rest on the back. When they become aware of the move being possible I toss the card on the table but usually they don’t get to pick it up until they trigger it (particularly if they don’t know all the risks involved). Toss a button on the table and someone will want to push that button.

  6. Aaron Griffin I dont k ow…I kind of like giving the players clues so they can figure it out and feel smart. I feel what your talking can be a bit to spoon feedy…but I dont know that could just be me…

  7. james day playing a game if “guess what the GM is thinking” is rarely fun for players.

    Can you tell me a specific problem with something being “spoon feedy”? Remember the characters are supposed to be proficient and good at what they do.

  8. Like the werewolf example usually something like that should be a little bit mysterious because most werewolf fiction i know has a big bit of it guessing which villager is the werewolf and i feel people love to play that out.

    Its also not guessing what the gm is thinking its actually putting genuine clues to get to the answer.

  9. james day unless the GM is a professional mystery writer, I emphatically believe it is a game of “guess what the GM is thinking”. These clues exist in a fantasy realm not subject to real world rules.

  10. Are you familiar with Alfred Hitchcock’s quote about the difference between surprise and suspense?

    goodreads.com – A quote by Alfred Hitchcock

    Assuming the move has some pretty bad consequences on a 7-9 and/or a miss, if you don’t let the players know the details of the custom move before they roll it, you’re giving them a surprise. If you do let them read it in full before rolling, they’re now in suspense.

  11. Aaron Griffin yes but you can put clues in that lead the players to the right conclusion. Footprints to a certain butcher, a lot of that meat in a pantry in a persons house…that person seems incredibly hairy. Usually I have no problems with players figuring out with all these clues and they feel smart with them figuring out.

    Its not for all games I grant you but something like a werewolf thing where as I said a lot of the fiction is about the mystery of who it is I definitely would employ it.

    Robert Rendell I actually agree with letting players know the move because that is how you interact with whatever it is and yeah it is guess the gms mind if you dont say how to interact with it

Comments are closed.