It’s bedlam!

It’s bedlam!

It’s bedlam! The bat-things are flying all over, attacking everyone. The cultists are in disarray, fending off bat-things and trying to get their bearings. It’s mostly dark, just a few braziers and starlight lighting the open-aired tower.

The Fighter rushes through the chaos and chops through the manacles, freeing the young lad who was going to be a sacrifice to the Night God. The Fighter then starts ushering the lad toward the exit. “I’m leading him by the wrist,” she says, “sword out and ready for danger.” We agree that this Defend and she rolls, gets a 7-9, holds 1.

We cut the action to one of the other PCs for a bit (the bard, wresting with the cultists on the tower’s edge). That exchange resolves with a cultist plummeting off the edge and the bard making a dash toward the stairs.

We jump back to the Fighter and the lad she freed. They’re making their way through the chaos, trying to make it to the stairs, too. There’s plenty of danger: the darkness, the bat-things, the cultists! The Fighter Defies Danger (with DEX, or INT, or even CHA… whatever. On a 7-9, maybe they get to the stairway but there’s a cultist coming up from down below.

Doesn’t matter, though, because the Fighter rolls a miss. The obvious move is separate them, and I say “as you’re dodging and ducking through the chaos, there’s a scream and the boy’s wrist is snatched from yours, a couple cultists are dragging him away, knife at his throat! What do you do?”

The Fighter, though, is like “Oh no they don’t! I spend that 1 hold from Defend and redirect their attack to me. Before they grab him, I yank him in front of me, so I’m between him and the cultists, then I spin and lash out at them. Hack and Slash?”

What do you think? Hack and Slash? Or does the Fighter just get grabbed/stabbed by the cultists?

14 thoughts on “It’s bedlam!”

  1. The attack / grab is redirected and the fighter is dragged away. They are indeed separated, but the lad has freedom of movement and uses it to run towards safety. The fighter doesn’t have freedom to maneuver; she can Hack and Slash but she better have a close weapon because she’s swamped by cultists.

    I like this result because throwing one’s self into a horde to allow an ally to escape is an archetypical Fighter move. And it honors the Defend by giving the lad freedom to move and restraining the fighter while also honoring the Defy Danger miss by separating them.

    tho I think I’d bypass the obvious move and not separate them in the first place because it reverses the progress of the action, threatens to moot the earlier success of reaching the lad, and could lead to a ping-pong slog of “I got the lad! I lost the lad.” I try to anticipate cycles like that and preempt them. Maybe put them in a spot here?

  2. Since the fighter spent the hold to redirect the attack to herself that should resolve before she gets to hack and slash.

    I would give her hold as a success that she isn’t separated from the lad if that is her wish but then the hard move has to come in another form such as, “ok, you keep control of the lad but your sword is grappled out of your

    possession” or “you keep ahold of the lad but you are absolutely being pummled. Take damage.”

    Make whatever hard move you want but that comes into play before the fighter goes to hack and slash.

  3. The fighter yanks the boy free from the cultists grip, and his weapon leave one of them bleeding, but they’ve cut off the exit and SUDDENLY a vampire bat SINKS IT’S TEETH IN HIS NECK! It’s deep in your jugular, feasting on your throbbing artery, I tell him, you see the boy look with horror up in the sky and… are you actually getting woozy?

  4. I would be very displeased as a player if the GM announced a hard move against an NPC, I spent hold from defend to redirect it, and the GM escalated the hardness of the move like that. That feels like cheating to me.

  5. To my mind the hold is there specifically to be used to negate a hard move directed at the defended character. I think the fiction would be clarified as to what the defend looks like, but it shouldn’t simply transfer the action of the cultists to the fighter. It wouldn’t make sense for the cultists to simply grab at the fighter, a character who is obviously a bigger threat than the one being defended. I’d probably play out the redirect as the fighter stepping between them and the cultists switching tactics. Since damage is exchanged as part of the hack and slash move, I’d let that move determine the effectiveness of whatever the cultists are doing. I feel like that is a more efficient way of determining the next step of the fiction.

  6. Jeremy Strandberg sorry, can you clarify the part you would be displeased about. Sometimes it’s hard for me to follow how all the comments interact with each other and the main post 🙄

  7. Oh, that was in response to Michael Esperum’s post, where the fighter spends 1 hold and now the cultists have cut them off and the fighter gets chomped by the vampire bat and is getting all woozy.

    That seems like out-of-left-field, unfair escalation when the move was already established as “the cultists grab the lad and drag him away from you, knife at his throat.”

    Having the fighter get grabbed and pummeled seems fine to me, maybe even getting stabbed or having his sword arm restrained. I don’t think I’d go so far as to disarm him, though, because again, that feels like changing up the move that the fighter paid to intercept.

  8. Joshua R. Leuthold “To my mind the hold is there specifically to be used to negate a hard move directed at the defended character.”

    But it’s specifically not negating the attack, it’s “Redirect an attack from the thing you defend to yourself.” The attack is still happening!

    Given the specific circumstances (the Fighter has a sword, the cultists have knives and grabby hands, the way the fighter described spending the hold), I can definitely see letting the Fighter escalate straight to H&S.

    But I also see John Aegard’s points about “honoring” the original attack and the miss on Defy Danger.

  9. Joshua R. Leuthold I guess the way I read it it would be following the fiction for the cultists to attack the fighter. The cultists were foiled by the fighter freeing the lad. They made a second attempt to get the lad and were probably foiled again by the fighters defend. At that point the fighter is clearly againt them and they would want to attack the fighter to make her stop screwing things up for them.

  10. Jeremy Strandberg I know the option he picked, just wanted to make sure my thinking on what the hold for Defend means was known before I explained my choice of escalation.

    With this corner case, I could definitely see either option as correct. I just tend toward consolidation of moves at my table when the outcomes can be seen to overlap.

  11. re: negating I don’t think there’s a lot of negating happening in DW or in pbta games in general — negating is boring and frustrating and makes the fiction herky-jerky.

    “I do something!” “No, I roll and prevent you from doing something!”

  12. I agree to some extent. By negating I simply mean changing the fiction to a new direction. I mean, that’s what hold is used for in a lot of cases. Whether you spend it to learn something new, and therefore shift how you approach a situation or person, or you spend it to prevent a thing from happening, hold is usually spent in reaction to something. It negates whatever would have happened prior to the spending and shifts the fiction in a new direction. Maybe negate is the wrong word, but it seemed clearer than saying mutate.

  13. Instead of the boy being grabbed, the fighter is grabbed and the boy can escape. Heroic move, but the fighter is in trouble now. As was said above, the attack redirected at the fighter must be resolved before any new move.

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