The Fighter is trying to pry open the door to the dungeon, but his roll to Bend Bars & Lift Gates was a 7-9 and it’s…

The Fighter is trying to pry open the door to the dungeon, but his roll to Bend Bars & Lift Gates was a 7-9 and it’s…

The Fighter is trying to pry open the door to the dungeon, but his roll to Bend Bars & Lift Gates was a 7-9 and it’s taking a while and making a lot of noise. The noise has attracted bullywugs!

I announced their presence with a shifting in the reeds, and the growing sound of croaking. The Cleric hefts shield and mace and keeps his eyes peeled for danger, and the Ranger draws his bow and hangs back, covering the Cleric.

We resolve it as the Cleric rolling Discern Realities with the Ranger’s Aid, and that gets them a 10+. They learn that…

● they need to watch out for bullywugs creeping up on them in the grass, a few are really close but there are lots more out there!

● the ruin is useful; if they can get inside and close the door, they’ll be safe from the frog-men (for now at least)

● the bullywugs are about to charge, here they come, four of them!

(See me showing signs of an approaching threat with my answers!)

The Ranger lets fly with a Volley (with a bonus for acting on Discern Realities), hits with a 10+, and drops one of them. But that leaves 3 bounding toward you while the Fighter has the door like halfway open, if he let’s go, it’s gonna take forever to get it open again. Cleric, what do you do? (I’m putting them in a spot.)

The Cleric is like “Oh, no they don’t, they aren’t getting past me! I rush forward and smash the one on my left with my shield, then swing my mace at the one on the right, and boot the third one, in front of me!”

Bold move, Cleric, but I’m a fan and we’ve established he’s good in a fight, so let’s have it be a Hack & Slash. He rolls a 7-9, and so his attack hits. Now, I say that he deals damage to the one he shield bashed and the one he smashed with the mace, but not the one he booted. Let’s say he rolls damage twice, and does 2 damage with the shield and 6 with the mace, enough to drop one of them.

Of course, with that 7-9 to Hack and Slash, “the enemy makes an attack against you.” You’re the GM, which one do you do?

Option A: Use the bullywugs’ leap onto or over someone or thing move, and the bullywug that got shield bash jumps on the cleric and tackles him (no damage) and the other bullywug jumps over him and goes after the Ranger and Fighter (who’s still preoccupied), “Ranger what do you do?”

Option B: Deal Damage/Put Them in Spot and have the two remaining bullywugs pounce on the Cleric, doing d6+1 damage. “Ranger you see the cleric get tackled and stabbed, what do you do?”

Option C: Hurt Them and the bullywug on the right (the one that the cleric bashes with his mace) stabs the cleric in the shoulder as he gets his soft skull smooshed in, Cleric it’s a nasty, bleeding gash, take d6 damage. The other two are knocked down and back, though. Ranger, the cleric has that group in hand but you spot other groups of bullywugs getting closer, some approaching from the left and others from the right, they still haven’t come out of the reeds left, what do you do?”

Again, not necessarily what you think you should do, but which one do you think you would do?

29 thoughts on “The Fighter is trying to pry open the door to the dungeon, but his roll to Bend Bars & Lift Gates was a 7-9 and it’s…”

  1. I think it’s interesting that the Cleric did not choose Defend. I think all the choices would pretty much work. I’d be tempted most to do A or B. My real answer would be a combo of doing damage to the cleric AND having the other remaining frog leap over the cleric onto the fighter, making his life a lot harder. Since the Cleric isn’t defending, he’s just duking it out. Nothing is really blocking that extra frogman.

  2. Ray Otus how does the scene play out of the Cleric is using Defend? How does his description change? If he rolls a 7-9, when exactly does he spend the hold? What does the GM say next?

  3. Jeremy Strandberg Well, he could spend the hold to redirect the attack of the bullywugs to himself, making it into a clear cut “no one gets past me” situation. But he’d need to phrase it in a way that’s more “I’m going to obstruct them and keep myself between them and the door” rather than an “I go in swinging and clobber them with my mace” sort of way, so I think Hack & Slash was the right move for this situation. I’d probably go for A, but I agree that all of them are valid and interesting.

  4. Jeremy Strandberg Right. I think the description from the Cleric looks a lot the same, though he might say “Nobody’s getting past me!” He doesn’t do damage unless he chooses that option. He redirects the attacks to himself. Halves the damage if he can. On a 7-9 I would probably still have one slip by though. So the end result wouldn’t be much different except one B’wug would still be alive and the Cleric wouldn’t have taken any damage (or as much damage).

  5. Ray Otus On a 7-9, he only gets 1 hold, so if he picks “Redirect the attack” I’d say nothing gets by, but he’s not doing any damage and he’s probably taking some.

  6. So, I think the “strict” reading of the Defend version of this looks like…

    Cleric: “I raise shield and mace and try to fend them off, they are getting past me!” Rolls Defend, gets a 7-9. Holds 1 defense.

    Everyone’s looking at me, the GM, so I make a move. I use the bullywug’s jump onto or over someone or thing and I’m like “Cleric one of them bounds straight at you, it’s going to tackle you spear first, and the other two bound past you, what do you do?”

    Now the cleric is choosing whether to spend 1 defense to halve the damage on that incoming dude (and probably keep his feet) or somehow explain backing up and intercepting all three bullywugs, which honestly I’d be a bit skeptical of.

    Maybe you’re right, maybe he can only intercept one of them (plus the one that originally attacked him) but now he’s taking d6+1 damage and swarmed by bullywugs.

    Of course, the Cleric might also be like “screw it” and attack the incoming bullywug, casting defense aside and attacking instead, H&S style. Which, if he’s got a decent STR, isn’t necessarily a bad play.

    So, not really disagreeing with you, Ray Otus; just talking it through myself.

    I think the interesting distinction is that, by ceding the initiative and letting the GM describe their “attack,” the Cleric has a little more choice and control over the final outcome, but has to adapt to the changed circumstances that the GM presents (one bullywug attacking directly, two others going around).

    Whereas by seizing the initiative and describing an aggressive attack, the Cleric is largely dictating the terms of the engagement.

  7. Jeremy Strandberg I don’t really like that approach. In fact, I think it’s not quite right. I think that the situation is:

    GM describes the situation with the onrushing Bullywugs.

    Cleric readies his shield and moves to intercept, rolls defend.

    Cleric gets a 7-9 and picks “Redirect an attack”

    NOW the GM can look at his moves and pick one, but since the cleric has chosen to redirect the attack to him, picking the “Leap over” Bullywug move is no longer appropriate for the GM.

    The fiction here is being pulled by the game mechanics — in much the same way that it’s not okay for the GM to make a move on a 7-9 hack&slash that prevents the player from doing damage, it’s not okay for the GM pick a move here that negates the player’s choice to become the focus of attention.

    The player rolled fair and square and subjected themselves to the consequences, it’s not the GM’s job to subvert that by not actually giving them what they want. There are plenty of other sacrifices inherent in choosing that particular option on Defend that don’t negate the player’s choice.

  8. Ha. I didn’t pay attention to the roll. Yes, the Cleric only gets 1 hold. And I kind of agree that in spending that 1 hold he redirects all the attacks from the fighter to himself for that one turn. I don’t think I’d let anything get by but he would indeed take damage!

  9. When my players roll a 7-9 on a Hack and Slash, I often have the creature attack first, with the player’s attack then doing what they envisioned, that way they don’t feel like they were ripped off when the monster does something after their attack. An example here might be, “The first two bullywugs leap at you, stabbing with their weapons. Roll damage. You push them back, shield-bashing one, smashing the other in the face with your face and booting the third backward. Roll your damage for the first two.” Then I always include a soft move, so I would add something like, “Ranger, the Cleric is doing a fantastic job fighting off these frog-men, but he’ll soon be overwhelmed by their numbers without help. What do you do?”

    Also, in this example, it’s obvious the Cleric is highly concerned with holding the creatures off from his friends. One option I would put forward would be to give the Cleric a Hard Choice for their 7-9 instead of the other options: “You can either engage all three of them to hold them off exposing yourself to their damage, or you can engage two of them to do your damage and be attacked back.” Hard choices are great since you look at the multiple things a player wants to accomplish, and you make them choose between them. Here, whatever the Cleric chooses then flows directly into the Ranger’s next spotlight. 1- “Ranger, the Cleric is holding off the frog-men, but he’s barely getting any hits in, and he’s taken damage. What do you do?” or 2- “Ranger, the Cleric engaged two of the Frog-men, but the third is charging straight for you. What do you do?”

  10. Mike Pureka so that is really interesting!

    Just so I’m clear on this, you’re saying that the Cleric would basically roll Defend, get 1 hold, and then immediately spend it, before looking to the GM to see what happens?

  11. Jeremy Strandberg Why not? After all, you have to begin and end in the fiction. I would think that most of the time a character Defends that they spend at least 1 hold immediately.

  12. Ron Shier that’s an interesting approach, describing the enemy’s attack before the PC’s attack.

    It works fine if you’re basically just dealing damage, but if I say that the enemy’s attack is that the first bullywug leaps on the cleric and pins him, then I’ve “stolen” the cleric’s action at least as much (and probably more so) than if he gets like 2/3rds of his attack/bash/kick maneuver off and then gets tackled.

  13. Ray Otus So that’s a bigger conversation, maybe?

    My take on Defend is that it’s meant to be “take up a defensive position” >> roll and get hold (or miss and expect the worst) >> spend hold in response to GM moves.

    I’ve certainly seen the “jump in and Defend and spend your hold immediately” approach in play, and it works okay. But that doesn’t seem like the intent of the move to me at all.

    (My reasoning for that: the trigger, the fact that it’s “hold-and-spend” instead of “pick X/pick Y”, the first two paragraphs of explanatory text, and the both examples. Plus, “leaping in to defend” feels much more like a Defy Danger with DEX or even a Hack and Slash to me.)

  14. Jeremy Strandberg I feel if you don’t do it that way, Defend becomes a terrible, terrible option because using it is basically a non-action. It’s like saying “I’m going to stand here and see what they do to me.” You already have a situation you are responding to – someone is either under attack or about to be – and if you don’t get to spend hold immediately, it ends up being “My friend is in danger! I’ll… wait for the GM to make another move and then maybe I’ll do something!”

  15. Curious. Do you all let a player ‘interject’ a Defend? I do sometimes. GM: the Bullywug leaps at the Fighter and… Dwarf: “Not on my watch! I block him with my body!” If it was a hard move I would just do damage to the cleric instead of the Fighter, and allow the Defend. Even though it kind of interrupted my GM move. But I’m pretty fast and loose. LOL.

  16. Jeremy Strandberg, The idea of having the enemies attack first isn’t meant to be a hard constant, but to demonstrate that the Hack and Slash role represents an exchange that can go in any order. If you’re set on the tackling move from the bullywugs, then you could describe a scene where the Cleric engages all three in a violent wrestle, he’s booted one away when he’s tackled to the ground by the other two, then he bashes one with his shield and maces the other in the face.

    It can really go in any order at all that helps you bring the scene to life. Heck, it could easily start with being tackled by all three, while he kicks, shield-bashes, and maces them in defense of himself. The one booted could still be thrown further away, while the other two are essentially wrestling with the Cleric on the ground, putting him in a spot, and calling on a reaction from the ranger.

  17. Ray Otus, Oh I absolutely let my players interject. I encourage it even. I find that when players are jumping in like that, they’re at their most engaged, and it usually encourages them to work together, which is always a plus.

    If the Cleric is diving in the way of an attack on the Fighter, I think that’s an awesome narrative moment! And I could see it easily going multiple directions. On a 10+, the Cleric is hardened and ready to receive the brunt of the attack, and stands stalwart because of being able to halve the damage and even possibly attack back. That can be a game-changer! On a 7-9 the Cleric still gets to play the self-sacrificing hero by redirecting the attack to himself and taking the damage. And a 6- should be a very dramatic moment where the Cleric is just a little too late. It makes an amazingly cinematic moment where you can even encourage the Cleric to act on vengeance for harming his friend.

    Either way, these results of Defend all build excellent teamwork, and can often resolve Bonds as well!

  18. Jeremy Strandberg, On Defend: I can’t agree that jumping into an actionable moment with a Defend move would be better done with Defy Danger. Essentially every single move is a Defy Danger move but with more options given to the player, mechanically speaking.

    Defend is the same as Defy Danger+CON, except that it allows the player to redirect attacks to himself, halve damage, and even provides a counter-attack option on a 7-9 where with a Defy Danger these might not even be applicable. Hack & Slash is the same thing as a Defy Danger+STR, except that a player is given the opportunity to do his damage even without retribution, or even to do added damage.

    I see every move as being Defy Danger+ in a way. I saw a post once where someone was talking about how any character can attempt anything, but if that character doesn’t have a move for it then they’re simply rolling Defy Danger. DD is essentially the non-move. I think the best example of this is when a thief disables traps versus another player disabling traps. A non-thief Defies Danger because that’s all they can do, but a thief has more options on their very similar roll. Trap expert and Defy Danger would both be roll+DEX, making them mechanically identical, but the Trap Expert move gives the thief more options.

  19. Ray Otus Ron Shier

    So the Wizard casts a spell, rolls a miss, and you start making a hard a move like “Before you can the spell off, the Scarlet Sorcerer flicks his crystal wand at you and BOOM, you’re blasted with hellfire! Take d10 damage that ignores armor and you’re on fire!”

    If the Paladin then said “I dive in front of the fiery blast!” you would let the Paladin roll Defend, right then and there, to intercept the attack that you made as a hard move in response to the wizard’s miss?

  20. Jeremy Strandberg I myself would not, unless the circumstances were very unusual.

    To me, Defend is an answer to soft moves. But that’s why it needs to kick in immediately, or it just becomes “Let the GM do another move before you get to do anything.”

  21. Jeremy Strandberg, I absolutely would allow the paladin to do such a thing. The hard move still happens, just to the Paladin instead of the Wizard in this case. It shifts the spotlight away from the wizard, so he still doesn’t get to cast his spell. BUT, now the Paladin feels like a paladin and a hero, and the Wizard feels like his bacon was just saved by his friend, possibly resolving bonds. This now becomes an epic moment where the Paladin’s Defend roll determines what plays out. Either he’s bolstered against the attack turning the tides completely, or he’s just able to take a hit for a friend and possibly get devoured in flames needing the help of another, or his defense fails and the wizard eats the fireblast! To me, that’s an awesome scene that’s just dripping with drama!

  22. Jeremy Strandberg Maybe. There is no hard initiative system in DW. Let’s see the result. On a 1 pretty much all the Paladin can do to affect the situation is redirect the damage to himself. On a 3 he can do that and half the damage and give his ally a +1. Sure. That seems cool to me. On a 6- the spell blasts them BOTH!!

  23. Usually I’d be happy to introduce more dangers, especially announced like in C), but using monster moves is a favorite, so I’d let one jump and let the Ranger have to choose between defending The Fighter or helping the Cleric, like in A).

    In case of defend, I’d let the Cleric spend hold immediatly to hold all three off the fighter, but since they have a special jumping ability I’d probably make a soft move by having one jump over the cleric, and then say: “Fighter, you’ve just splintered the door and you just need another minute. Cleric, you have two in front of you, but one of them just leaped over you’re head and is just behind you. What do you do?

    Maybe these are the answers:

    A) Cleric: “I yell, ‘Protect [Fighter’s name], [Ranger”s name] – and swing my mace to dispatch the two in front of me.

    Now the ranger has to volley or defy danger, or the fighter is stabbed in the back (and has to restart opening the door).

    B) I swipe the legs of the one who got past, turning my bakc briefly to the other two, before I try to fend them off and injure them.

    In this case I’d probably let the Cleric receive damage from all Three and maybe hurt two, depending on the damage roll. The Ranger would spot four more approaching and the Fighter would hear another encouragin sound from the door’s materials.

    Sidenote: I haven’t seen much defend, other than a cleric who saved the day when battling a wyvern while climbing up a mountain (they found a useful Place to stand on their DR) ; and a Paladin who saved his Cleric boss when they climbed Down a Cliff and battled a chimera that had threw poisonous tail spikes.

    I really like when People take the defend action.

  24. Addendum/sidetrack:

    Just because the Fighter is occupied With an action I would involve the player. Maybe I ask if they has fought or heard of these creatures before ? (If he has, maybe he can help by yelling warnings?)

    Or maybe I ask him personal stuff, like “did your little sister ever take forever to get ready, or were she always enthusiastically nagging you to be finished With farm work/dinner/putting the horse in front of the cart for a trip to town?”

    I really like these questions, Jeremy Strandberg, makes me think and now I’ve scheduled two DW Games this week!

  25. Is it just me that’s on the fence with damage to multiple enemies? Thing is, when you start doing that, players usually start to do it all the time. Makes sense, why would you attack only one if you can bash multiple at once. I feel like stakes should be higher when you wish to damage multiple enemies at once (well unless you want to picture them going through a swarm of goblins). I’d tell them the consequence/requirement and ask : “Sure you can shield bash then mace smash, sounds cool, although doing that would put you in a bad tactical position if you can’t manage to kill both of them. Still want to do that?”

  26. Addramyr Palinor I’m with you on that. The book itself sets a precedence that it can be done. But yeah. It encourages a sort of gonzo narrativism that I don’t love. I will allow it if the character is a fighter type or ninja or something and is in the middle of a bunch of low-level foes. IOW, it has to make sense in the fiction. Also I might/will probably reign it in a little by reducing damage or exposing them to moves or whatever.

  27. Addramyr Palinor Ray Otus I’m fine with it, as long as it makes sense. E.g. an established warrior, plenty of room, a weapon or weapons for which it makes sense.

    Big thing I do that’s different from RAW, though, is have the player roll damage separately for each affected target. It’s more rolling, but if you roll damage once and apply it to every target, and the targets have the same HP & armor (common), then you either drop all of them or none of them, and that’s kinda dumb.

  28. Addramyr Palinor IMO the danger is that all od them attack him. But I don’t know if I’d roll damage twice, use the same die (that was RAW probably) or split the die.

    We can think of it like „estabilished warriors are AoE” 😀

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