[Dungeon World] The BBC XP Experiment

edited December 2011 in Story Games
If you're a Dungeon Worldanista you've probably read Ryan Macklin's post from a couple of months back: A Dungeon World XP Experiment. Last night I posted some further thoughts on the same system: A Dungeon World XP Experiment: A Commentary. Comments welcome here or in either comment thread.

Comments

  • edited December 2011
    You might consider combining defend and stunt, both involve manipulating the combat space to do something other than damage (i.e. tactics).

    Attack - when your move deals damage in combat
    Panache - when your move doesn't deal damage but has some other tactical effect in combat
    Discover - when your move inserts new information into the game
    Converse - when your move involves using your words
    Aid/Interfere - when your move involves being naughty or nice to those around you

    While I think this method of redividing the moves for highlighting gets closer to what AW does, I wish there was a way of doing it without adding another layer of information to the game (what category the move fits under in addition to the stat you roll).
  • edited December 2011
    [comment voluntarily withdrawn for not being on-topic]
  • Is there a reason why simply rotating the highlighted stats each session on a regular schedule, rather than picking them, wouldn't work? It'd mean you'd really rack them up some nights, but be encouraged to use other stats other times.
  • I've always thought that the best possible advancement rule is fail-to-advance, like in the Burning X games. It appeals to me on a sim level: beyond the basic competence level, you usually have to put yourself in a failable situation to learn, and having failed is an unforgeable certificate of being in a failable situation. It speaks to me as a story creator, too: danger, exposure, discomfort, and status revelation are good fiction material, and it's cool if we can incentivize that. And there's a real challenge to putting X World characters into situations where they're likely to fail, too. They're sexy, competent badasses.

    Here's how I'd do it. 1XP for a roll of 6-, no matter what. 2XP if you choose to endure duress rather than roll. Maybe add an option to the "Choose 1/3" type rolls that is "Gain 1XP", so you get less of what your character wants, but the character grows a little, gets a scar.
  • Posted By: mease19You might consider combining defend and stunt, both involve manipulating the combat space to do something other than damage (i.e. tactics).
    Defend also include Saving Throws, and I really like the idea of those giving out EXP.

    - Colin
  • edited December 2011
    I also like the "Mark experience" moves, in theory. In practice, I wish there were some more direct ones.

    When you act like a dumbass, you give your enemies the upper hand. Members of your party take -1 forward on INT, WIS, and CHA rolls against other characters. You get 1XP, and any other member of your party that makes a test at -1 also gets 1XP, max one per customer.

    When you step on your own tail, you'll need to make a saving throw to avoid disaster (for the purposes of that roll, your tail is a monster whose level is equal to your level). You get 1XP.

    Edit to add: crosspost with other Colin. Obviously, I agree with him.
  • edited December 2011
    Also, "endure duress" is the best - nay, the bestest - single rule in all of games. It's unfortunate that it's saddled with Poison'd, which isn't Vince's best work. It embodies a deep insight about the relationship between "playing the game" and "collaborative story creation". A lot of games have "automatic success" rules. More would benefit from "embrace failure" rules.

    Edited to add that link to Vince's blog.
  • Posted By: SteerpikePosted By: mease19You might consider combining defend and stunt, both involve manipulating the combat space to do something other than damage (i.e. tactics).
    Defend also include Saving Throws, and I really like the idea of those giving out EXP.


    Stunt isn't just about combat either. It covers all that fun Indiana-Jones-running-away-from-boulders-stuff (you know, archaeology) which I think is a fundamentally different thing to, say, healing someone.
  • edited December 2011
    I totally dig the xp for failing moves. That said, wording could be tricky. If you say 6- then it would make it harder to do custom moves that are backwards (for example I've done roll+ weight or roll+party# for situations where its good to be light or few in number and 6- is the desirable outcome and 10+ is not good at all).

    However, it doesn't get at letting other people say what they think it would be awesome for you to do. Perhaps you get xp for failing and at the start of each session the high bond player and GM each get to highlight a specific move that gives you XP (no repeats).
  • Posted By: ccreitzAlso, "endure duress" is the best - nay, the bestest - single rule in all of games. It's unfortunate that it's saddled withPoison'd, which isn't Vince's best work. It embodies a deep insight about the relationship between "playing the game" and "collaborative story creation". A lot of games have "automatic success" rules. More would benefit from "embrace failure" rules.
    One of the reasons the highlighted stats XP systems (& derivative systems, like this) appeal to me is that it doesn't reward or penalise based on success or failure, it rewards action, regardless of result. It's not succeed or fail forward, it's act forward.
  • Posted By: AnarchangelStunt isn't just about combat either. It covers all that fun Indiana-Jones-running-away-from-boulders-stuff (you know, archaeology) which I think is a fundamentally different thing to, say, healing someone.
    Maybe healing/dealing damage and saving throws as one category and panache as another. Panache would cover both defending and stunts as things you do in the real world that do not involve damage but instead involve positioning/tactics/bravery in the fiction.
  • I'm not crazy about the normal XP rules, but in my game the other night they did contribute to some fun. I'm playing a Fighter, and last session was the first time I didn't have strength highlighted, instead I had dexterity and charisma highlighted. A horde of lizardmen and goblins were approaching, and I saw that Volley would get me an XP, so I decided to hurl my sword at the biggest lizardman. Since I didn't have my normal weapon anymore, the fight became a lot more dynamic as I was trying to grab weapons off the lizardmen (defying danger in the process) and doing more creative attacks than I would have if I'd been using my normal weapon. So, in at least one instance, the XP difference between ranged and melee attacks contributed to some fun.

    Personally I'm growing more and more skeptical of the "get XP when you roll the dice with a highlighted stat" thing. I know I'm forgetting to mark XP sometimes, and listening to The Walking Eye APs they seem to be forgetting, too. I think I'd prefer an end-of-session process where you look back at what happened rather than trying to do bookkeeping in the middle of the action, sort of like evaluating Beliefs in Burning Wheel.
  • Posted By: AnarchangelOne of the reasons the highlighted stats XP systems (& derivative systems, like this) appeal to me is that it doesn't reward or penalise based on success or failure, it rewards action, regardless of result. It's not succeed or fail forward, it'sactforward.
    I think it's specifically interesting to incentivize players to expose their characters, which is why I like fail-to-advance. And the endure duress rule is awesome before success or failure even enters into the equation, because it's about harmonizing player interests, as an authority-distribution mechanism, and then (once success and failure do enter into consideration) it thrusts a character into danger.
  • Posted By: AnarchangelOne of the reasons the highlighted stats XP systems (& derivative systems, like this) appeal to me is that it doesn't reward or penalise based on success or failure, it rewards action, regardless of result. It's not succeed or fail forward, it'sactforward.
    Totally. Rewarding action means the player's more likely to think "How can I take [this action] in this situation?" rather than "What's most likely to succeed in this situation?"
  • Posted By: mease19Posted By: AnarchangelStunt isn't just about combat either. It covers all that fun Indiana-Jones-running-away-from-boulders-stuff (you know, archaeology) which I think is a fundamentally different thing to, say, healing someone.
    Maybe healing/dealing damage and saving throws as one category and panache as another. Panache would cover both defending and stunts as things you do in the real world that do not involve damage but instead involve positioning/tactics/bravery in the fiction.

    So combine attack and defend into, say, Combat, and split defend into Stunt? What weakness do you see in this system that that change would solve?

    Personally I like the way Attack, Stunt and Defend are different categories that will encourage distinct styles of combat in the fiction. If have only one of those highlighted it will change my entire view of the combat.
    Attack: I'm looking to deal damage, close with the enemy, kick ass and take names (or maybe dance around at range and get my sniper on).
    Defend: I'm looking to stick close to the Wizard, protect downed allies, act as a mobile reserve to get people out of trouble, maybe tank a big monster and endure a lot of pain.
    Stunt: I'm looking to do ridiculous stuff, like jumping on top of monsters, swinging on ropes right at the Shaman at the back, placing myself in danger so the Fighter with Defend highlighted can come to my rescue.
  • Posted By: ccreitzPosted By: AnarchangelOne of the reasons the highlighted stats XP systems (& derivative systems, like this) appeal to me is that it doesn't reward or penalise based on success or failure, it rewards action, regardless of result. It's not succeed or fail forward, it'sactforward.
    I think it's specifically interesting to incentivize players to expose their characters, which is why I like fail-to-advance. And the endure duress rule is awesome before success or failure even enters into the equation, because it's about harmonizing player interests, as an authority-distribution mechanism, and then (once success and failure do enter into consideration) it thrusts a character into danger.

    Whether you prefer this style probably depends on the degree to which XP incentivises you. I am highly incentivised by XP; as a player in that situation, I might feel as if I were being penalised for success. I would probably never act with my high stats, so I'd be the buff Fighter who only ever negotiated, or alternatively, the weedy fighter with high Charisma who was comparatively ineffective in combat.
  • Posted By: AnarchangelSo combine attack and defend into, say, Combat, and split defend into Stunt? What weakness do you see in this system that that change would solve?
    Defend and stunt just seem focused on positioning and modifying the ability to attack or the amount or type of damage rather than actually doing damage directly (hence panache, doing something with style/flourish/indirectly). It also seems weird to highlight stunt for someone. You're saying you want them to be in the combat space but neither aiding/interfering, nor attacking or defending. Outside of combat, it seems like you're asking them to volunteer for lots of defy danger but what else?
  • edited December 2011
    Posted By: Anarchangel
    Whether you prefer this style probably depends on the degree to which XP incentivises you. I am highly incentivised by XP; as a player in that situation, I might feel as if I were being penalised for success. I would probably never act with my high stats, so I'd be the buff Fighter who only ever negotiated, or alternatively, the weedy fighter with high Charisma who was comparatively ineffective in combat.
    And in a dungeon game of adventure, being ineffective is often less fun.

    I have found both times I have run this variation, that the reward cycle is more focused on what the player wants to do in a very direct fashion without a layer of obfuscation.

    For example: the fighter with Attack gets rewarded for fighting which is probably why you choose the fighter to begin with, instead of getting rewarded for being strong and doing strength things. To quote Ryan's blog:

    "Intent: saying “I want you to use a stat” is not inspiring language. Saying “I want to see you do X” is. By communicating & pushing forward that, you charge the engine of the game. In AW, intent & stat are intertwined. Here, they aren’t, since multiple stats can serve the same intent and a stat can serve dramatically different intents."

    - Colin
  • Posted By: mease19Posted By: AnarchangelSo combine attack and defend into, say, Combat, and split defend into Stunt? What weakness do you see in this system that that change would solve?
    Defend and stunt just seem focused on positioning and modifying the ability to attack or the amount or type of damage rather than actually doing damage directly (hence panache, doing something with style/flourish/indirectly). It also seems weird to highlight stunt for someone. You're saying you want them to be in the combat space but neither aiding/interfering, nor attacking or defending. Outside of combat, it seems like you're asking them to volunteer for lots of defy danger but what else?

    Other things that have fallen under Stunt from play - Bend Bars/Lift Gates, sneaking about, a flying character trying to avoid gun fire so he could swoop in attack, said flying character also pulling off some tricky flying through a radiation crater, grabbing the General's hat/control module and escaping, climbing a giant digging machine and avoiding the blades.

    Stunt is generally the I want to see your character jump into dangerous situations highlight and do things besides punching them.

    - Colin
  • On the other hand, folks around my neck of the woods are using DW with kids, so having an experience system that's reasonably easy to track is a bonus feature for me. I'd probably err on the side of giving XP in addition to the highlighted stats, awarding it for cool failure or creative stunts or dramatic success. Maybe doing so flies in the face of the design's crisp structural-mechanical approach, but it seems simpler to me. With kids, I tend to favor a generous approach to XP.
  • So maybe defend falls under stunt as a way of entering harm's way to do something other than directly attack...
  • When I highlight Stunt, I'm saying: "You are good at coming up with awesome dynamic ideas and I want to see that."
  • edited December 2011
    Posted By: mease19So maybe defend falls under stunt as a way of entering harm's way to do something other than directly attack...
    Give it a go and let us know how it goes. If you don't see enough difference between Attack, Defend and Stunt there's probably a play-style difference that we're not seeing.

    (FYI, Colin and I are part of the same Los Angeles DW scene; it might be that our style of play is quite different to that of others)
  • edited December 2011
    Posted By: AnarchangelWhether you prefer this style probably depends on the degree to which XP incentivises you. I am highly incentivised by XP; as a player in that situation, I might feel as if I were being penalised for success.
    That's a fine point. What if there were some moves of the "be a dumbass"/"step on your tail" sort, available alongside a more traditional kill goblin/take stuff XP rule, or an AW-style highlighting rule? That would empower people like me, who enjoy seeing characters thrust into player-authored danger, without giving even the appearance of penalizing success.

    Just to get it out there, the character failure-based XP mechanic I laid out is basically an AW-ization of the mechanic I'm using in my in-progress Cthulhu game. There, character failure is often triggered by horrible revelations, and ought to lead to madness and death, and that's awesome, so it really is my goal to get the heavily armed steroid-slamming jock-soldier into a position where he's got to read Aklo or die trying. Or, you know, get the tweedy academic into a firefight with cultists... that's cool too.
  • Posted By: ccreitzPosted By: AnarchangelWhether you prefer this style probably depends on the degree to which XP incentivises you. I am highly incentivised by XP; as a player in that situation, I might feel as if I were being penalised for success.
    That's a fine point. What if there were some moves of the "be a dumbass"/"step on your tail" sort, available alongside a more traditional kill goblin/take stuff XP rule, or an AW-style highlighting rule? That would empower people like me, who enjoy seeing characters thrust into player-authored danger, without giving even the appearance of penalizing success.

    Just to get it out there, the character failure-based XP mechanic I laid out is basically an AW-ization of the mechanic I'm using in my in-progress Cthulhu game. There, character failure is often triggered by horrible revelations, and ought to lead to madness and death,and that's awesome, so it really is my goal to get the heavily armed steroid-slamming jock-soldier into a position where he's got to read Aklo or die trying. Or, you know, get the tweedy academic into a firefight with cultists... that's cool too.

    Don’t forget you can always ask the MC or other players to highlight something you suck at too if you wanted to focus on that as part of the same table dialogue where you talk about highlighting things you don't want to do in the game.

    Also even if you don't have something you suck at highlighted, making a move from that is a great way to create opportunities for you to use the moves you do have highlighted. Though even better I like to mix and match - in the first playtest we had the Fighter character with Converse and Attack highlighted, this resulted in him always trying to talk his foes out of fighting and then destroying them when they refused.

    Generally though as a personal preference I prefer Dungeon World to be about what the characters are awesome at and the perilous adventures they have, with dashes of "holy crap the fighter totally just missed noticing that trap why did we let him lead the way?". So it is possible that we are talking of different play priorities and styles, though in other games I am totally with you on this – like Mouse Guard, BW or AW.

    - Colin
  • edited December 2011
    The interesting you have here is that AW is essentially a drama game (much as is Lady Blackbird), and DW an adventure/travelogue game. Same underlying action mechanic works, clearly, but they have totally different needs when it comes to reward cycles.

    That's not to say that this idea will work for everyone. It works for me and those I played with, and as far as a hack goes that's all that matters. If I had the sort of highlighting Creitz suggests for DW, I would turn the game down because I don't care for that in my "kick your face and take your stuff" game.

    Which makes me chuckle a bit: are people already trying to make DW do "more than it was designed for," much like people did with old school D&D?

    Between that and the hack community that's sprung up around trying to "fix" it, again much like old school D&D, Sage & Adam have fucking won.

    Won what, you ask? Achieving the exact experience they seemed to set out for: recreate old school D&D with modern sensibilities.

    And to that I say: fuck yeah. Let's keep hashing out ideas and making drifts. Your DW needn't be mine. And that's badass.

    - Ryan

    [Edited for disambiguation. It's like I'm on fucking Wikipedia.]
  • Posted By: Ryan Macklin
    That's not to say that this idea will work for everyone. It works for me and those I played with, and as far as a hack goes that's all that matters. If I had the sort of highlighting Colin suggests for DW, I would turn the game down because I don't care for that in my "kick your face and take your stuff" game.
    For second I was like, but my highlighting is your highlighting... then I remembered there are multiple Colins in this thread. :)
    Posted By: Ryan Macklin
    And to that I say: fuck yeah. Let's keep hashing out ideas and making drifts. Your DW needn't be mine. And that's badass.
    Hear, Hear!

    - Colin
  • Posted By: mease19You might consider combining defend and stunt, both involve manipulating the combat space to do something other than damage (i.e. tactics).
    Separating them is something I found desirable, especially as different classes work.

    It'll be likely even more so with the Geiger World hack, with moves building off of Stunt & Defend ideas. (And it's interesting to now design moves with that paradigm in mind, rather than just purely retrofitting the previous ones.)

    - Ryan
  • If you roll a stat that is not marked yet, mark both an XP and the stat. If you marked your third (fourth, fifth) stat, delete all stat marks.
  • I will fight the other Colin for my name. First to three falls, falls count anywhere, loser gets unmasked, winner fights for the Intercontinental Championship. I'M BRINGIN' THE PAIN, AMERICA! TELL ME YOU LOVE IT!
  • Might I suggest you start by coming to Living Dungeon World in LA in a few weeks!
  • Posted By: ccreitzI will fight the other Colin for my name. First to three falls, falls count anywhere, loser gets unmasked, winner fights for the Intercontinental Championship. I'M BRINGIN' THE PAIN, AMERICA! TELL ME YOU LOVE IT!
    Bring it! My name is built on the tears and blood of countless defeated Colins and Collins!

    - Colin
  • I'm Climbing to the Top Rope. [roll: 5 +2hard] I'm going to spend my hold right away to "dramatically set up a pin". You can yield to mark XP, or advance the pin clock to resist. Right from the opening bell, I'm on the attack! I run up the buckles with a feral scream and reverse 'sault off the top, landing on your chest!
  • The "Rudo Aerobatico" playbook is really flavorful, by the way.
  • Where's that from?
  • edited January 2012
    There's a fantastic pro-wrestling hack, "The Squared Circle," which does a great job of using a kayfabe status to make moves apply both in the ring and in the lives of the wrestlers once the masks "come off" - exploring the nature of fame, its irresistibility, and the stress of having it be largely out of the performers' control. It essentially swaps in that stress for sex. The Juice Cultist is the coolest face, I think*, and if I ever get to play that side I want to do a juicer. But to me, it's the heels that really sing. The Aerobatico is amazing. I'm so psyched right now.

    * I love player-authored trouble. Love it so much.
  • For those playing along at home, the BBC XP system has now grown up to be folded into the Living Dungeon World project. You can read about that here: http://anarchangel23.livejournal.com/451435.html
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