I am getting ready to run DW for a group of trad roleplayers, and I find myself explaining a lot of the approaches I…

I am getting ready to run DW for a group of trad roleplayers, and I find myself explaining a lot of the approaches I…

I am getting ready to run DW for a group of trad roleplayers, and I find myself explaining a lot of the approaches I have to narrative gaming to them.

So, instead of just keeping those discussions between me and them, I decided to turn them into some posts (and resurrecting my old blog) in case someone else will find it helpful.

With all of that in mind, how do you handle HP in your DW games?


14 thoughts on “I am getting ready to run DW for a group of trad roleplayers, and I find myself explaining a lot of the approaches I…”

  1. Addramyr Palinor Yes, and… Basically what it represents and from that, how you narrate it. Do you let your players/npc toss characters across the room, sweep their legs to fall down, etc. as a part of Deal Damage move.

    Does this make sense?

  2. I haven’t changed the way I narrate HP in pretty much any games. HP, for me, is a combinaison of will to live, endurance, skill and luck.

    That sword blow would’ve kill any man, but you managed to move your body at the very last moment and only got a scratch on the shoulder instead of having your head chopped in two.

    The ogre did grab you by a leg and hurled you crashing unto a tree. It hurts like hell, but your will is greater and you raise on your two legs yet again, moved by anger and sheer will.

    The fireball exploded in your face but you duck behind a flipped hardwood table. Your skin burns but at least your face isn’t melted down.

  3. That’s pretty much my take as well, I just find it interesting seeing how it compares to people who started around dnd 3e. It was difficult for some players I spoke to to wrap their minds around HP not being a flesh wound 🙂

  4. I’m reading your blog, not sure you actually need to remake the Deal Damage move but if you do, I’d make it simpler to read such as :

    Deal damage

    When a source of damage is fictionally threatening a character, roll damage then describe the effect based on the result (bigger numbers meaning more severe effects).

  5. I agree with you, but I wanted to make the move very newbie friendly and explain inside that HP is more than just life points.

    The reason I wrote this was for people migrating from traditional RPGs and help them wrap their heads around it. For me and you the move in the book is plenty, but for people coming from D&D and such, this more verbose move is kinda the “training wheels” to get into the more narrative mindset.

  6. To answer your specific question of “how do you handle HP in your game:”

    * I deal damage all the time, but usually as an ancillary to another GM move that would inflict pain/have a chance to take them out.

    * In my mind, I’ve replaced the “Deal Damage” GM move with “Hurt Them.” And by “Hurt Them,” I mean “inflict an actual, problematic injury.”

    * With that said, I’ll often have them roll the HP damage first and then decide what GM move to apply based on that. Like you suggest in your move, big damage = harder, more punishing move.

    * The HP themselves often are flesh wounds, scrapes, bruises, and unspecific harm that we don’t really dwell on establish much in the fiction. The kind of thing that you can patch up, slap a poultice on, or sleep it up. I leave it vague and undefined so that we don’t have to think too much about whether applying bandages would actually do anything or whether that’s actually healed up overnight, etc. Because in my experience, that’s not really very fun.

  7. Jeremy Strandberg Jeremy, I’m missing something and hoping for your sage advice… looking at the article you posted, how does one address the variance in danger… I mean, we know a massive fire-breathing dragon probably does more damage than a pixie with a toothpick… I’m confused on how to apply the harm move considering the source of the harm. Any light you can shed?

  8. Brennan OBrien I’m not sure I follow the question. Are you asking about the Descriptive Damage Hack for Dungeon World article?

    Or are you asking how, with standard HP and more-or-less rules-as-written DW, one addresses the difference between the harm done by a dragon vs. that done with a pixie?

  9. Again, the power of PBTA games lies in the narrative.

    It would be very hard to justify that a pixie pokes your arm’s off with his toothpick while you don’t need much convincing when it’s the dragon’s jaw that does the same.

    If you rely on damage for fiction “power”, well a pixie doing max damage (let’s say 6) could poke you in the eye, while the minimum for a dragon, 7 (4 piercing) probably chew your bones through your full plate.

  10. Brennan OBrien from your question, is it possible you’re misinterpreting Jeremy’s “Deal Damage is a Crap Move” thread? He wasn’t saying not to deal damage – the players will still take hit points damage, and monsters still do their listed damage dice.

    He was just saying that you don’t need an explicit “Deal Damage” GM move, since the rules already allow damage to be dealt as a side-effect of other GM moves, and only dealing hitpoints damage can quickly slide into pure mechanics, unless the GM is assiduous about starting and ending with the fiction.

  11. Brennan OBrien yeah, I think that’s part of the problem with that system. As I understand it, the danger-level if the foe would impact:

    • whether the injury threatens death or not

    • what the potential long-term consequences are (sliced off arm vs cracked ribs vs nicked an artery vs needs stitches)

    • how “quickly” the GM jumped to an injury-inducing “hit” in the first place (e.g. pixie with pen knife is only gonna trigger this on a full miss, the ogre with club might on a 7-9; the dragon threatens lethal on a 7-9 for sure.)

    It’s pretty hand wavy, and I don’t think I’d ever use it myself. But we’ve drifted pretty far from the point of the OP. If you want to keep discussing, maybe make this its own post and tag in Paul Taliesin!

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