Dungeon World: one book, two games?

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  • ...my original point on how DW can be misinterpreted by people who come into it from D&D. Even without interacting with the fiction, players (not the characters) can plan for hours looking for a way to roll for damage without triggering Hack'n Slash.

    In comparison, I don't think this issue ever happens with AW, because you either Go Aggro or Seize by Force, there's no escaping that web of moves :)
    So, I'm wondering about this. Go Aggro is triggered when you're using violence of the threat of violence to control behavior. SbF is triggered when you're exchanging blows directly. You could plan your way around these two moves to inflict damage from a place of safety if the MC was maintaining as loose a hold on the fiction as your DW example implies. I think the real difference lies in the fact the in DW the primary objective is known beforehand, delving the dungeon, while in AW the story unfolds solely from the interactions of the characters with the world and the MC's questions and proddings. So, it's harder to try to tip toe around the obstacles, since you create them while your tip toeing.
  • I think the "invulnerable dragon" and "attacking helpless victims" corner-cases tend to cast too big a shadow over this. The common case is that monsters are both dangerous and vulnerable to the equally dangerous PCs. That means that Hack & Slash is the move you'll almost always be using when PCs are trying to hurt monsters. Hack & Slash is indeed risky, but you can also say that the best defense is a good offense, so engaging a beatable monster in combat may be lower long-term risk. If a player thinks that one of their goals in play is to avoid using the Hack & Slash move they are wrong and confused about how to play this game. Hack & Slash is not a bad or stupid move. If a PC is trying to hurt a monster in a combat, it's Hack & Slash. It's almost never some weird contingent "First you Defy Danger, then you Hack & Slash" thing. Mechanically contingent moves are rare in *W games. If what they're trying to do is get out of the way and avoid engaging the dangerous monster, that's probably Defy Danger. If they're trying to fight the monster it's probably Hack&Slash.
  • I suppose the "try to avoid having to Hack and Slash" comes more from my readings of Monster of the Week, where it is a fundamentally dicey idea to try to Kick Some Ass. The game explicitly recommends that hunters find ways to attack the monster that don't involve triggering that move. Because the odds are high that they'll get a 7-9, and if things are a little worse, they get stuck on a 6-.
  • Having just played MotW last week I can understand what you're saying, @CarpeGuitarrem. In MotW the Hunters can only defeat the monster if they exploit its weakness. Running in and just trying to Kick Some Ass without setting things up first is a bad idea. Plus, when you Kick Some Ass, the Hunter is pretty much always going to take damage (they just might take 1-harm less on a 10+ of they choose that option, or they might not suffer damage if the Keeper makes a different move).

    DW Hack & Slash doesn't work that way though. Getting a 10+ on a Hack & Slash allows the character to avoid taking damage (unless they choose to deal extra damage). So Hack & Slash is, mechanically, safer than Kick Some Ass. So in MotW you want to find a way to outsmart the monster, or get it in a position where you don't have to Kick Some Ass because you're almost guaranteed to get hurt. That isn't always the case in DW. If you're a skilled enough combatant (meaning you can get 10+ results on Hack & Slash fairly often), you won't get too banged up when fighting monsters, and so you don't really need to spend hours finding a way to deal with the monsters outside of combat.

    All that being said, if the characters do want to find ways of handling monsters without resorting to combat, that's fine too. The moves will kick in based on what they're doing in the fiction, just like any other AW-based game, and things will snowball.
  • That's a very interesting but subtle distinction that does a lot. Interesting.
  • In comparison, I don't think this issue ever happens with AW, because you either Go Aggro or Seize by Force, there's no escaping that web of moves :)
    Huh? I've had numerous occasions in my AW games where harm gets dealt by PCs without it being Seizing By Force or Going Aggro. In fact, probably more often than either of them. I mean, you're right, there's no escaping the web of moves, because every time the MC/GM says something it should be a move, but it's damned easy to go a session without doing anything that triggers a player move. It just gets kinda lame, and with the moves all being MC/GM moves the PCs aren't really doing anything to relieve the pressure.
  • Go Aggro is triggered when you're using violence of the threat of violence to control behavior. SbF is triggered when you're exchanging blows directly. You could plan your way around these two moves to inflict damage from a place of safety if the MC was maintaining as loose a hold on the fiction as your DW example implies.
    Actually, also quoting from the book, if the character has the drop on her enemy, or if the enemy won’t fight back, or if the character is making a show of force but isn’t disposed to really fight, it’s going aggro. AW also says that when somebody tries to kill somebody without their fighting back, going aggro is the move. It’s like the player said “I’m going aggro” — by shooting from way over here with a scoped rifle, by looping piano wire around his throat from behind, by whatever one-sided murderous act — “and what I want him to do is fall down bleeding and die.” If he forces her hand, he forces her hand; if he caves and does what she wants, he takes harm just the same.

    Instead of making a distinction between Go Aggro and Seize by Force, DW handles violence with a smaller net provided by Hack'n Slash and Volley. It's strange how sneak'n stab is a basic move in AW but not in DW.
  • Instead of making a distinction between Go Aggro and Seize by Force, DW handles violence with a smaller net provided by Hack'n Slash and Volley. It's strange how sneak'n stab is a basic move in AW but not in DW.
    Well, I see what you're saying but, except in the case of the scoped rifle, I never really assumed that Go Aggro was a quiet move. Usually there's going to be some sort of confrontation. Yelling, shoving, making a scene, stuff like that. I've never really considered it to be the "sneak and stab" move.

    Also, and I think this is a big distinction, Apocalypse World isn't a class based game. Dungeon World is, as it's emulating the class-based game D&D. And in D&D the "sneak and stab" stuff is the domain of the Thief. Give everyone "sneak and stab" capabilities in the form of a Basic Move, and you've taken something away from that class. You're treading on the Thief's Backstab Move. Other classes can try to be sneaky, but they'll just won't be as good at it.
  • I've never really considered it to be the "sneak and stab" move.
    I mean sneak'n stab as in a way of rolling to deal damage without being dealt damage in return. AW calls it a one-sided murderous act.

    That's a good point about DW being a class based game, but Backstab is "When you attack a surprised or defenseless enemy with a melee weapon, you can choose to deal your damage" which any character can already do, but with the option of actually taking the chance of rolling for the move.
  • I mean sneak'n stab as in a way of rolling to deal damage without being dealt damage in return. AW calls it a one-sided murderous act.
    But as you point out, DW already has that move. It's the first paragraph under the Hack & Slash Move in the book.
    Hack and slash is for attacking a prepared enemy plain and simple. If the enemy isn’t prepared for your attack—if they don’t know you’re there or they’re restrained and helpless—then that’s not hack and slash. You just deal your damage or murder them outright, depending on the situation. Nasty stuff.
    As you said, any character can do that. Even the Fighter in her big clunky, noisy platemail armor can straight up murder someone, if she's hiding around a corner and the target just starts to stroll by because they have no idea she's there. A similar situation happened in the very first DW game I ran. The Fighter heard the steps of a group of cultists as they ascended the wooden staircase (that was me Showing signs of an approaching threat) and hid behind some nearby bushes. I called for Defy Danger, with the danger being the cultists spotting him. The player nailed the roll, the cultists came up out of the dungeon, and had no idea there was anyone nearby. As they looked around, the Fighter bounded from cover, cutting one down before any of them could do anything. No Hack & Slash, just "Roll your damage to see if he's dead. Yup, he is." The Wizard did the same thing later in the session. He hid around a corner with his staff at the ready, a cultist charged out of the doorway with no clue where anyone was, and CRACK! The Wizard's robes were all splattered with blood and brain jelly.

    So there is a move to deal damage to a foe with no chance of being attacked back; attacking a surprised or defenseless target. How the characters get themselves set up for that situation is all completely on them though.
  • AW also says that when somebody tries to kill somebody without their fighting back, going aggro is the move. It’s like the player said “I’m going aggro” — by shooting from way over here with a scoped rifle, by looping piano wire around his throat from behind, by whatever one-sided murderous act — “and what I want him to do is fall down bleeding and die.” If he forces her hand, he forces her hand; if he caves and does what she wants, he takes harm just the same.
    Good point.
    It's strange how sneak'n stab is a basic move in AW but not in DW.
    What HM said.
  • Had the chance to ask this during a recent AMA on http://www.reddit.com/r/DungeonWorld:
    Thanks for doing this! Why have you chosen not to have a move like AW's Going Aggro? Do you wish to reward one-sided murderous actions by not having them trigger a move?

    Sage answered:
    In a dungeon-ish environment, one-sided murderous activity is winning. We want to make that a clear path...
    ...because that path almost always leads to more trouble.
    Adam answered:
    Parley covers a lot of the same stuff, for one. I mean, DW isn't as socially focused, so the space between threat-of-violence and act-of-violence is very narrow.

    PC: I snarl at him, drawing my sword menacingly. "Back away and nobody has to die."
    GM: Sounds like a Parley to me, your leverage is "I will sword you."
    PC: I rolled a 7
    GM: He needs a concrete promise of your swording.
    PC: I lunge at him, menacingly swiping the sword in a wide arc.
    GM: He flees!
  • I laughed. That was a great example. "He needs a concrete promise of your swording."
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