Can someone help out with Dungeon World?

edited January 2013 in Story Games
What kind of game is it?
I have run it several times now, but I still don't get it. Most AW based games just seem to fall flat for me. I think the mechanics are interesting, the design is great, but I just do not know what I am supposed to do with it.
What kind of game do you play with it?
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Comments

  • edited January 2013
    Interesting question.

    In my somewhat limited experience with Apocalypse games (I'm familiar with and run/played AW and Monsterhearts, read one of the early Dungeon World betas, and have no exposure to any others), I have to say that they're basically for very player-driven games. The engine's design is ingenious in that the games practically run themselves once the consequences of partial successes and failed rolls start snowballing, but you need very invested players who are willing and able to declare things about the world when asked and to take action on their own instead of just waiting for the MC to give them things to respond to-- the MC role is very reactive in these games, and it's hard to pre-plan events when the results of moves can so quickly send events spiraling off into unseen territory. These games live and die by how engaged the players are with their chosen genre, and how good everyone is at thinking on their feet.

    So it's kind of hard to say "what kind of game you play with it" because that entirely depends on what the players at the table feel like pursuing. AW and MH both loosely establish a genre, and imply certain ground rules with their moves and playbooks and GMing principles, but beyond that one table's game is going to be very different from another. Apocalypse games are very old-school in that way, I think, and I imagine Dungeon World is no different.
  • They do definitely run themselves, and everyone love the system for that. But the more I sit here and think about the more I begin to think that the simplicity of the game is its weakness. The variety of mechanics, and tactics to engage with are limited. By the end of the first session we often feel like we have seen everything that the game has to offer.
  • They do definitely run themselves, and everyone love the system for that. But the more I sit here and think about the more I begin to think that the simplicity of the game is its weakness. The variety of mechanics, and tactics to engage with are limited. By the end of the first session we often feel like we have seen everything that the game has to offer.
    I can't help with your core question, but generally where I've seen and used mechaically simple systems successfully it almost always means that the play interest/emphasis/complexity shifts over to the fictional stuff.

  • It's about the fiction.
  • edited January 2013
    The variety of mechanics, and tactics to engage with are limited. By the end of the first session we often feel like we have seen everything that the game has to offer.
    I'd definitely agree with that, these aren't games about tactics or mechanical variety. I guess that might be a particular stumbling block with DW-- if you're coming to it from pretty much any modern version of D&D and attempt to play it in the same way, you're probably going to be bored. I'd imagine it's for people who want to play a game about pulp dungeon crawling but actively do not want the same level of mechanical engagement as D&D.
  • edited January 2013
    They do definitely run themselves, and everyone love the system for that. But the more I sit here and think about the more I begin to think that the simplicity of the game is its weakness. The variety of mechanics, and tactics to engage with are limited. By the end of the first session we often feel like we have seen everything that the game has to offer.
    Sounds like you're looking for entertainment in the rules and mechanics when the games are designed to focus on fiction. Ideally, you can find entertainment in the stories you're telling moreso than the rules that facilitate the story. Seems I have the opposite opinion of you. The simplicity of the mechanics and the focus on the fiction is what I like.

    The strategy and tactics is in the description of what's going on within the fiction. When you start looking for variety of strategy and tactics within the game mechanics, you might be disappointed compared to games like D&D.
  • The variety of...tactics to engage with are limited.
    Eh? Limited by...your imagination?

    Wait, maybe I don't get what a tactic is. I'm thinking of it as an in-character approach to overcoming an obstacle faced by a character in the fiction. Is that what we all mean? If so, I think of the variety of tactics available as (essentially) unlimited.
  • Yeah, the tactics in AW mostly happen in the fiction, not in the mechanics.
  • Yeah, the tactics in AW mostly happen in the fiction, not in the mechanics.
    I get that, I really do. But when they happen in the fiction they just do not feel like they matter.

  • Can you give us an example thadrine? Maybe an example scenario, a tactical decision, and how it felt flat?
  • I might suggest using tokens, drawings, minis, etc. to enhance the fiction and encourage tactical thinking (not on a grid or anything, just to represent the fictional positioning).
  • I've had some experiences at the table playing AW hacks where the fiction has gotten muddy, which makes the tactics pretty difficult to play out in an interesting way. However, I'd also had terrific experiences (playing The Regiment, for example) where the fiction has been really clear (thanks to maps and diagrams, solid descriptions, lots of questions, etc.) and the tactics have been really interesting. Is the fiction getting muddy, so people aren't really sure about the consequences of certain actions or how they are positioned relative to other things? If so, that can make tactical decision-making really hard.
  • The options are less mechanics and more fiction, so tactics means actual character choices instead of picking a power, choosing a given action on the list of possible ones, instead it is about how the character reacts, moves, what he wants and tries to do.

    So far the game only showed problems when someone misunderstood something or didn't hear something important to have the scene on their mind, otherwise we are all enjoying it.
  • @thadrine, maybe a concrete example from an actual game that fell flat might help? It's really hard to answer an open ended question like "what kind of game is it?" with anything but platitudes. Of course it's fiction first and requires proactive players who are invested...that's almost a given for most of the games we talk about here. DW play uses a set of techniques to create a certain experience. Generally understanding those techniques seems to help. Have you seen Scrape and Evil Mastermind's Guide to Understanding Dungeon World?
  • Sometimes the connection between rules and fiction can feel a bit bland if different stuff in the fiction is treated as the same thing in the rules. For example, in combat, you can talk about the tactical layout and the resources available in the fiction or you can convey a certain style that reinforces what place your character has in this fictional world or you can address the personal drama that empowers your character's actions. All of these are different layers of the fiction and yet the rules can just go "cool story, bro, here's your +1" which can make you feel like all the richness of the fiction is just being pushed through a funnel.
  • Sometimes the connection between rules and fiction can feel a bit bland if different stuff in the fiction is treated as the same thing in the rules. For example, in combat, you can talk about the tactical layout and the resources available in the fiction or you can convey a certain style that reinforces what place your character has in this fictional world or you can address the personal drama that empowers your character's actions. All of these are different layers of the fiction and yet the rules can just go "cool story, bro, here's your +1" which can make you feel like all the richness of the fiction is just being pushed through a funnel.
    I see where you are coming from, but... I think the key here is to get players to focus on generating changes in the fiction rather than in the game mechanics. For example:
    a PC is attacked by mechanical squid, and tries to throw a cloak over it. If you roll success
    option 1: you get +1 forward against it ... IMO bad as its just in the mechanics
    option 2: the squid is blind, zig-zagging around the room and flailing its tentacles ... much better as its in the fiction

    Note that this also means that players that try to throw cloaks over the squid to blind it are better off than those that just say "I dodge" or "I hit it". This is where the player involvement is key. You might kinda have to lead them along a bit at first with "what's your objective here?" or "exactly how do you do that?" type of questions when they say something bland. Also ham it up for your moves, throw characters against walls, pin them to the floor, etc to show them that anything goes (as long as it makes sense in the fiction/around the table).

    rgds
    rob
  • I'm not sure that I agree the *W games reward "creative" squid blinding more than "uninspired" hack and slashing. Garden variety "I stab him" seems pretty common and fully supported by the rules. The difference is that squid blinding is ALSO supported by the rules. It's not that the characters should feel like they are obligated to think up fancy solutions to situations or else they are failing, it's that they CAN think of fancy solutions, and the rules will still elegantly produce a result.

    I think the *W games are plenty complex. Probably more complex than many games that have multiple sub systems. I mean, at the bottom of most subsystems, all you are REALLY doing is determining the probability of success. Like, if you have to roll lower than a stat on 3d6 to determine success, you are just saying that you have n% chance of success. If you are calculating your OCV - the enemy's DCV and adding modifiers to hit and blah blah blah you are STILL just saying that you have an n% chance of success. Maybe it FEELS like the subsystems are different (or maybe I'm not being fair) but usually, all you end up with is a character's success or failure. The *W games are different because the rolls aren't really about success and failure -- they are about generating unpredictable outcomes.

    The GM (or MC) moves are an important part of the equation that shouldn't be overlooked. Typically, the GM makes a "soft move" and then says, "what do you do?" The player then makes a "player move" (or chooses not to), and the dice are (usually) rolled. At that point there are numerous possible outcomes depending on the chosen move, the dice results, the fictional circumstances, &c. And, the game cannot be easily predicted. [Importantly, if the player rolls 6 or less it doesn't NECESSARILY mean that the thing the character tried to do fails, it just means that the GM "makes a hard move," which could, of course, include the character's failure. But, the character COULD ALSO succeed at whatever he or she attempts and suffer a hard move for a reason other than task failure.] So, the game goes 1. GM soft move 2. player move 3. consequences of player move (including possible GM hard move) repeat. Many other games follow pretty much the same pattern, but they have more elaborate number crunching -- which to me feels LESS engrossing. Chess is tactically complex even though you don't have to do any multiplication.
  • edited January 2013
    But all those GM moves cry out for creative fiction. "I stab him" is only fully supported in the rules to the extent that you can do it and know what to roll. If both GM and player take that tact with all their moves, the game will not be enjoyable. So, if the rules are intended to create an engaging experience, they will fail to support that approach. Whereas a game that has more mechanical choices, point buy systems, builds, feats, etc. can be fun for some players for challenge based play, much the way that a war game is. And there's a whole slew of middle in there that I'm ignoring.
  • You surely can play bland I stab him, I dodge, I riposte AW games, the game gets uninteresting extremely fast that way though, since there is very little mechanics to keep you engaged. My 3.X and 4th edition D&D games have all kept interest despite that blandness because the meccanical aspect of the game was quite engaging.
  • It sounds like the concern is that pre-game decision making about characters doesn't impact the game much mechanically. That's probably true. But, it might only be true because the various game designers have done the work for you in the form of play books. The Brainer and the Battlebabe are "built" to handle different situations. If the issue is that there aren't enough pre-game character generation choices to make, it seems like it wouldn't be too difficult to replace playbooks with some form of DIY point buy method and leave the basic resolution mechanic and move system the same. Would that be good?
  • I didn't see chargen mentioned upthread.
  • Isn't that what "point-buy, builds, feats, and mechanical choices" is all about?
  • If I may, I'm wondering if this is a question of not having the mechanical effects backing up the fiction in-game? You know, there's no real "score keeping" to track and no hard finish line. I haven't played any AW but there are countdown clocks and things to help give that "objective" score keeping. So it's there but can be overruled easily.

    Sometimes, in story games, there is a bit of dependence on GM/player fiat/storytelling that really makes the game. And that's a perfectly valid play solution - unless you're not feeling it. There seems to be a strong vibe to a successful AW-style game that you can hit or miss; it's all about hard, emotional choices. You may not always be up for deciding whether to buy food for the orphans or to buy more ammunition for the imminent attack.
  • The system is not truly about engaging the players with mechanics, it is about giving the GM tools to make the fiction engaging, to do otherwise you would need to tailor moves and playbooks to a particular game, imo.
  • Isn't that what "point-buy, builds, feats, and mechanical choices" is all about?
    Just showing examples of some mechanics that provide interesting tactical choices in games that aren't DW.

  • I feel like I get this concern with regards to tactics, I've yet to play any AW-inspired games, though I've read AW and DW and hope to run them at some point. And the tactics concerns in my opinion don't have to have anything to do with point-buy, builds, feats, etc (character sheet stuff). But let's say that the tactics involves a ranger using a waist high garden fence for cover while engaging goblin archers. There's little doubt that in the fiction, this would lead to blocking some but not all possible shots. Should we be creating a custom move that says "When standing behind partial cover take +1 Armor Ongoing?"

    Maybe that is the answer, I don't know. Obviously if somebody comes at them from another angle, or with an axe, that move would not apply to their attacks. However I feel like without this custom move it'd be more or less GM fiat when the cover works vs. when it doesn't, or all tactical decisions of similar nature would merely result in taking +1 forward to your next roll, if anything. Regardless of the fictionally sound and reasonably intelligent approach to the encounter, without custom moves it seems like there's no particularly good reason mechanically why the ranger should fight from the fence rather than out in the open field. This to me feels like a (over-exaggeration) betrayal of the fiction. It wouldn't matter as much in a game without combat focus like Monsterhearts (which appears to have a good mechanic for enforcing who gains advantages/disadvantages in its area of focus). But since Dungeon World is very heavy on combat it feels awkward that we're simultaneously encouraging all this great fictional interaction while simultaneously giving it little ability to enforce itself mechanically in battle.

    That being said as I've yet to actually play a game of DW I cannot speak from experience. It could just be a personal stumbling block because the primary games I've run as GM are The Laundry Files (BRP), Eclipse Phase, and Traveller, which all have at least some tactical focus.
  • edited January 2013
    I think we just like to talk about this stuff. I do. :)
  • The way I've been dealing with it is to tie it directly into the fictional positioning. If you're taking cover behind a wall and roll a miss, you probably get hit and take some damage. If you get a partial success, I am more likely make the complication something other than damage, like "You send an arrow into one of your foemen and duck behind the wall just in time to avoid a volley of arrows, but the enemy keeps shooting, and it seems they've got a pretty good lock on your position. If you expose yourself again, you might get hit."
  • edited January 2013
    @parenon, If you try to stamp out GM fiat with custom moves, you will end up having to write a completely new game and that game will be a pale shadow of Dungeon World.

    Instead, the GM can make moves that follow from the fiction, in line with their principals and that fulfill the GM agenda. Even in the case of a ranger seeking cover behind rocks.
  • edited January 2013
    Cover is covered in the book though, on page 23 of the version with cover, under damage. (just saying). I understand your concern, the thing is, a lot of things are left for the Gm to decide, in DW or any other game. If you can't trust your Gm to be fair then you probably won't have any good game with him, I have learned that when everything in a combat is defined by descriptions being sure that the player is understanding the same thing as you are is the first step to being fair, nothing prevents you from using minis or draw stuff to explain though, I am just trying to improve my narrative and descriptive skills.
  • The way the fiction interacts with the mechanics in AW and DW is not immediately apparent, though it can be obvious in play.

    No, you don't get bonuses or penalties to rolls or damage based on your fictional positioning.

    Instead, fictional positioning is used by the group or the MC to decide when moves are rolled for, which moves are called for, and what kinds of consequences are appropriate.

    No MC worth their salt will make the same hard move (on a miss) for a character who's found cover as for a character who is standing out in the open, with no effort spared for defense.

    So, yes, there is a lot of GM fiat in there. But that human judgement of consequences is what makes it feel alive and rich.

    It doesn't feel like a fair, tactical fight (like chess). But in exchange it feels much more fluid, much more vibrant, much more exciting, and much more fictionally rich.
  • No, you don't get bonuses or penalties to rolls or damage based on your fictional positioning.
    I see stuff like this from time to time and I'm not sure if I'm misapprehending some of the terminology or I just disagree. Isn't reading the sitch and being given one or three ways to exploit fictional position for +1 (or more) to your rolls exactly what you're saying AW doesn't do?
  • There are some spare situations, but unlike D&D, for example, tactics doesn't relate to mechanical benefits, it relates to in-game benefits in forms of positioning and other fiction elements, for example, using tactics and successfully sneaking behind your campaign's arch nemesis would have him dead at your sword's point, unless he can't be killed by whatever weapon you are using.
  • Christopher,

    I don't know if we disagree or not! I see it as different, for sure. Here's why:

    1. You're attacking an enemy, and you've climbed up onto a table so that you can swing your hammer over their short shields. You read the situation and you know that this is how they're vulnerable, so you get +1.

    Later, you fight the same enemy again in the same space:

    2. You're attacking the enemy, and you've climbed up onto a table so that you can swing your hammer over their short shields. But you missed your "read a sitch" roll (which, incidentally, doesn't exist in DW). Or you didn't ask that question. Or you didn't have a chance to make the move. Or your stat for that move isn't very good, so you don't want to.

    Now, the advantage or tactic you're using no longer impacts the mechanics in any direct way. Do we agree on this?
  • Just to chime in on the shield example, Paul_T:

    You could, in #2, as an MC/GM, say that that fictional positioning allows your to ignore their shields, so they lose one armor, or that you're now able to make the H&S move.
  • Yes, that's it: if you are certain, from the fiction, that what you're doing is a tactical advantage, then there's more detail to that answer than just "it will give me a better chance at succeeding at hacking and slashing". At least, I think that will hold true for most cases. In your example it's the fact that you're ignoring shields. If nothing else, attacking someone at a disadvantage will mean the GM cannot, while respecting the fiction, give you the same result on a miss as they could have given if you did not have the advantage.

    Taken to its extreme, the strange thing is that you do get +1 when you read the sitch. Getting to know what the GM, who pretty much calls the shots, honestly think is the best way to beat his monsters, should be a great success anyway. This is how "read a person" works – when I get to know how to make your character come with me, no questions asked, I don't also get a +1 to my roll to manipulate them into doing that. The knowledge of what it would take, or what they're really feeling, is enough of a success.

    I agree that there's a difference between your two examples with the shield, but I think you should look at it the other way around: rolling for reading a sitch (mechanics) can give you a bonus (mechanics) conditional on you using a certain tactic (fiction). It starts at the mechanical end – or rather, the fictional end even before that, when you acually "do it to do it", that is, describe how you're reading the situation.
  • edited January 2013
    And so, going back to this:
    But let's say that the tactics involves a ranger using a waist high garden fence for cover while engaging goblin archers. There's little doubt that in the fiction, this would lead to blocking some but not all possible shots.
    And adding in a dash of this:
    Taken to its extreme, the strange thing is that you do get +1 when you read the sitch. Getting to know what the GM, who pretty much calls the shots, honestly think is the best way to beat his monsters, should be a great success anyway.
    You might use Discern Realities to discover the low garden wall and then take up a position behind it and get something like this:

    Ranger: Cadeus sights in on the orc leader and lets loose with an arrow.
    GM: Do your damage (Cadeus rolls 4) as their bolts bounce off the wall ineffectually. The leader takes an arrow to the arm and he's obviously wounded pretty bad but still standing. They're scurrying down there getting their flatbows reloaded and the leader has ducked behind the parapet, what do you do?
    Ranger: I'll take another shot.
    GM: Roll your damage again. You see one of the archers fall, an arrow sticking out of his eye. One of their bolts whistles by your ear, actually clipping it as it goes by, but the rest pelt the stones. What now?
    Ranger: One more time!
    GM: Awesome. Make a hack and slash roll. The orcs have found their range now. Bolts are sailing by you pretty close and one finds your shoulder for 3 pts damage. On the bright side, you can see an orc fall over bleeding from his abdomen where your arrow went right through him. Down below the leader screams something at a few of the orcs and they drop their flatbows and start charging your position. The other orcs are reloading. You can get off another shot, but after that the orcs will be on top of you. What do you do?
  • Yes, exactly.

    The fiction is reflected in the moves chosen, the descriptions offered, and the choices on the table to partial hits and misses.

    It's not reflected in bonuses and penalties in this system.

    For it to work as a fun tactical exercise, the group has to be able to use the fiction to inform the mechanics, as in the examples above.

    I think that if you're missing that, the game might not be... very interesting.

    Fortunately, it's a very natural step to make. Just don't forget to make it!
  • I'm still not grokking something. In the post immediately above, what are you agreeing with, Paul? What does using the fiction to inform the mechanics look like? Under what circumstances and in which games doesn't that happen? Based on the stuff I'm writing below, about the hammer-table-shield example, can you tell what I'm missing?
    1. You're attacking an enemy, and you've climbed up onto a table so that you can swing your hammer over their short shields. You read the situation and you know that this is how they're vulnerable, so you get +1.

    Later, you fight the same enemy again in the same space:

    2. You're attacking the enemy, and you've climbed up onto a table so that you can swing your hammer over their short shields. But you missed your "read a sitch" roll (which, incidentally, doesn't exist in DW). Or you didn't ask that question. Or you didn't have a chance to make the move. Or your stat for that move isn't very good, so you don't want to.

    Now, the advantage or tactic you're using no longer impacts the mechanics in any direct way. Do we agree on this?
    I understand the scenario you've set up such that incident 1 happened and then incident 2 did. Right? If that's the case, there are some things I want to interject before addressing whether we agree about the impact of tactics on mechanics.

    During incident 1, you read the sitch and got told that standing on the table to reach over the shields would give you a +1. Why aren't you just taking that +1 during incident 2? You reference failing to read the sitch which implies to me that you've rolled again, but I don't see why. The move (and I know I'm talking about AW and not DW here -- I know one well and the other only peripherally) includes this line, "whenever you act on one of the MC’s answers, take +1" (though the emphasis is mine).

    But that may be just nit-picking if your real point is that you can fail the roll or not ask that question or not make the roll because you're not very sharp in the first place. OK, so if you're not very sharp or you failed the roll, that means you're not good at analyzing battlefield tactics (or it just didn't work out this time) and didn't appropriately realize how best to work around the enemies' shields.

    Is that tactics not impacting mechanics? It's mechanics impacting tactics impacting mechanics.

    So let's say you like getting a +2 for flanking in some other game. You love that; It's easy advantage! Only this bugbear you're facing is in a corridor and has goblin minions at his back you can't get someone around him to engage that rule. Is that a case where your tactics don't impact the mechanics?

    In AW, your tactics impact mechanics in (at least) the following ways:
    - You can get +1 by reading a sitch and acting on the MC's answers.
    - The moves available to you are based on what you do and how you set things up.
    - Preparing in specific ways, or manipulating the situation shapes which MC moves are available.
    - Those same preparations and manipulations shape which results are 'on the table' for certain moves (e.g. what a soft hit looks like when acting under fire or going aggro ).
    - Some preparation or manipulations (tactical engagement, right?) can cause custom moves to spring up out of nothing. (e.g. when you oil the corridor through which the goblin charge is going to take place, as long as you keep the goblins on the oil, take a +1 ongoing against them whenever their stability would otherwise help them defend themselves, etc.)
  • Christopher,

    All I was trying to say is that there will often be situations where you won't get that +1 (particularly in Dungeon World, where "read a sitch" isn't a basic move).

    Here's my original posting, which you responded to:

    No, you don't get bonuses or penalties to rolls or damage based on your fictional positioning.

    Instead, fictional positioning is used by the group or the MC to decide when moves are rolled for, which moves are called for, and what kinds of consequences are appropriate.
    [...]
    If I were re-writing it now, I would add the word "usually" or "always" after "don't" in that first sentence, but I don't think that changes what I was trying to say in any fundamental way.

    I'm not sure what we're disagreeing on. I read your posts and I can't find anything that suggests we're not on the same page. Help me out?


  • Maybe we do just mostly agree. That makes things easier. I think when you wrote, "I think that if you're missing [the ability of the players to use the fiction to inform the mechanics], the game might not be... very interesting," it feels like an indictment of the games we're talking about but maybe simply misunderstood..?
  • Christopher,

    I would give some benefit for an advantageous positioning, like a +1 or ignoring a shield if that is exactly what you were going for, I would not go all out on giving bonuses though, reserving the +1 when no fictional benefit can be taken from the scene / fiction instead, thus whenever the advantage is already proven and paid for in the fiction the mechanics would stay the same, otherwise, take +1.

    This would keep Ability Modifiers relevant at all times, and instead of focusing on bonuses and penalties I am focusing on fiction, if there is no relevant benefit for the fiction to impact the rules, than the +1 is given.

    This keeps the idea the rolls have, since you either get what you want in some form or 1 xp for your trouble.
  • Yeah, I think giving someone +1 or -1 is kinda anti-AW in terms of how fictional positioning is handled. I mean, the +1s that you get from Reading a Sitch are basically an incentive for the players and GM to have a conversation about what's happening (i.e. the player using Read a Sitch), and then following through on the fictional positioning that is described in that conversation (the player acting on the answers with +1).

    Instead, fictional positioning matters more in that it places limits and creates opportunities in terms of what the GM and players can describe. If the archer is shooting from behind some cover, as GM I can't effectively describe the enemies shooting back at the archer with any real effect. Hard moves I make on them are unlikely to include "deal damage as established" because that damage would be pretty negligable because they have cover. On the other hand, the enemies may get frustrated with this situation and decide to, say, set the archer's cover on fire. That's an opportunity for the GM to take advantage of. All fictional positioning is like that, in that it creates a new context for both players and the GM to describe different things happening.
  • This is really interesting to me. I always found the static situational bonuses of D&D to be annoying, like "flanking" was just a Thing you could do and it was always the same. In DW, if you've established that the enemy can't defend against you, then you often get to just deal damage, not get a bonus or something. In my experience, it engages the fiction in ways previous dungeoncrawlers never did. So the idea that it's somehow less tactical is boggling my mind.

    Granted, if you're super into seeing everything laid out numerically ("I have a 25% better chance now!"), then DW is probably not the system for your group. It's not any better or worse, I guess, it's just not your taste.
  • edited January 2013
    The rules for read a sitch and discern realities are different. In AW, read a sitch says, "Whenever you act on one of the MC’s answers, take +1." In DW, discern realities says, "take +1 forward when acting on the answers."

    +1 forward means +1 to the next single roll you make. That's a limit that exists in DW but not in AW.

    This suggests to me that in AW RAW, the intent is for the PC to get that +1 whenever the information happens to be useful again in the future. But not in DW RAW---in DW, you take your bonus now, while you have the chance, and who knows what happens next time.

    ETA: I suppose the DW rule has an ambiguity: It might mean, you take +1 on your next roll only if you are acting on the MC's answers (otherwise you lose the bonus). Or it might mean, you take +1 on the next roll you make that acts on the MC's answers (and the bonus will wait until that happens). Either way, though, "+1 forward" suggests to me that you get +1 for one roll per answer and that's it.
  • I suspect that when people say "fictional positioning" the group who feels like there aren't enough tactics just hears, "GM fiat and hand waving when it comes to the detail." But, I don't think that's exactly what is happening in DW. Maybe some of the frustration over the tactical limitations of DW come from an attempt to graft DW rules onto another more war gamey system when the rules in DW do a different thing . . .

    I don't think it's useful to imagine an event in DW as if you are watching it from a bird's eye view and then plot it on a hex map, or anyway, not for the same reasons you do it in a war game. There aren't a series of rounds in DW in which the PCs each take a turn and then a round when the bad guys take a turn. There IS NO "bad guy turn." The MC never "gets to go" in the traditional sense. Like, in the garden wall cover example, you don't get a +1 to reflect the fact that you are protected because that just doesn't matter. It's not like the MC will roll his attack, take your position into consideration, and then calculate the effect of cover. The MC NEVER ROLLS EVER. The MC will only make a "soft move." That's all the MC ever does unless prompted by a roll. So, if you're crouched behind a garden wall that is providing partial protection from archers, the MC will make a soft move like, "the archers got smart and shot a flaming arrow into your garden wall -- it is now on fire, WHAT DO YOU DO?" or "you are safe where you are, but your blind NPC friend is likely to be a pin cushion, unless you run into the no-man's-land and save him, WHAT DO YOU DO?" or "you are protected from most of the archers who are firing wildly, but you notice one archer in a black mask take his time and take aim for a small gap in the wall, WHAT DO YOU DO?" or whatever. Then you do something -- that something is (usually) one of your player moves -- each of which will create a different outcome because they are different moves AND because your roll will result in a different outcome. So, there are all kinds of tactical choices to make based on the soft move you are reacting to, the type of character you have, the moves you have, &c., and no matter what you do, there will be a mechanical effect.

    I don't see why this requires more narrative skill on the part of the player than systems with more number crunching. In the example above where the MC and the player only want to read moves from their sheets and do the bare minimum amount of narration (which is a hard group for me to imagine, but just for the sake of argument) it would still work. The MC would choose from his monster moves just like a DM chooses a dragon's breath weapon or its claws, the MC would make his soft move, "the dragon inhales and you see smoke come out of its nostrils -- it seems like it will exhale soon WHAT DO YOU DO?" then the player makes a move like "I jump out of the way" (defy danger) or "I stab it before it can exhale" (hack and slash) or whatever, then you roll the dice . . . when the smoke clears, the GM makes another soft move, and you proceed.

  • edited January 2013
    But generally players who enjoy games with limited narration are finding their fun elsewhere, like tactical simulation or overcoming challenges. In DW there really isn't a whole lot of places to find your fun if you strip the narration out of it. Even your dragon breath example is starting to insert narration and evocative details.
  • Tactical miniature using play with a heavy focus on meta-game elements and system tweaking definitely isn't what you will get with DW.
  • Christopher,
    Maybe we do just mostly agree. That makes things easier. I think when you wrote, "I think that if you're missing [the ability of the players to use the fiction to inform the mechanics], the game might not be... very interesting," it feels like an indictment of the games we're talking about but maybe simply misunderstood..?
    Yes, that sounds right to me. My indictment was:

    The fiction is reflected in the moves chosen, the descriptions offered, and the choices on the table to partial hits and misses.

    It's not reflected in bonuses and penalties in this system.

    For it [i.e. the game] to work as a fun tactical exercise, the group has to be able to use the fiction to inform the mechanics, as in the examples above.

    I think that if you're missing that, the game might not be... very interesting.
    What I was trying to say was that if you play Dungeon World and you approach it mechanics-first ("What can I do here? It looks like I have the choice of two basic moves..."), without anyone (particularly the MC) using the fiction to constrain move choices (e.g. "OK, you suffer damage," regardless of what move was missed or under what circumstances), you probably won't have much fun.

    For example, like this:

    "Ok, you see a monster! It roars and raises its claws! What do you do?"
    "I hack and slash it, with my sword!"
    "Ok, roll the move."
    "Partial hit. You both inflict damage, roll the dice. What do you now?"
    [repeat until someone is defeated]

    That probably wouldn't be the most fulfilling game.

    I think that some people, when they read the rules (and even when they use them at the table), well, this is how the see the game operating.

    Imagine for a minute that the GM/MC isn't quite getting the game, and this is how they're running the fight. You're a player in this game, and you've never played before. You look down at your sheet: what can you do? You can't see too many options for gaining a bonus to the roll, and you can't see any way to increase your damage, or maybe you can see something, but it's only one option or two options.

    "Man," you think, "what a boring game."

    I'm taking a wild guess by posting in this thread that this is what the OP may have meant when s/he wrote:
    [...] the more I sit here and think about the more I begin to think that the simplicity of the game is its weakness. The variety of mechanics, and tactics to engage with are limited. By the end of the first session we often feel like we have seen everything that the game has to offer.
    What else could they mean? I'm curious. My mind immediately went in this direction, but maybe there's another interpretation.
  • Paul T: That is for sure a thing (great description, by the way). Hard to know if that's what's happening in the original poster's game without more information, but it certainly can make for less interesting play.
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