Barf Forth Apocalyptica

powered by the apocalypse => Dungeon World => Topic started by: HyveMynd on December 10, 2012, 02:39:17 AM

Title: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: HyveMynd on December 10, 2012, 02:39:17 AM
This is going to be a long post, as it's a combination of an actual play report and my thoughts on running the game for the first time.

So I finally ran a session of Dungeon World last Thursday night. I've MCed a few sessions of both Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts, but I've been itching to run DW for a while now. Both because it's one the easier AW-Powered games to get people to try (no Sex Moves, no over sexual overtones, and a well know setting/premise), and because I've wanted to stack it up against other fantasy RPGs (namely D&D Next).

Unlike other AW-Powered games, Dungeon World requires the GM to show up with an adventure (or at least the skeleton of one) all ready to go, much like a "traditional" game. So the night before our session I grabbed an old school D&D module, read through it, printed out its map, stocked the dungeon with some appropriate monsters and enemies from the DW book, and then made an Adventure Front with a few Dangers.

In the session I ran I created a single Front, The Cult of the Reptile God, which was composed of two Dangers, the Cult lead by an evil priest and the Reptile God. The human cultists were an Ambitious Organization: Cult (duh), while the Reptile God was a Planar Force: God (even though the entity wasn't actually a god, but a naga posing as one). So, with my Fronts, Dangers, map, and monsters ready, I was prepared to toss the characters into the thick of things.

I started the 3 PCs (the Dwarf Cleric Bjorn, the Elf FIghter Cadeus, and the Elf Wizard Galadiir) hot on the train of the evil Snake Cult who had kidnapped several townspeople from the village they'd been passing through. They'd already investigated and ransacked the local temple, killing the priest who turned out to be part of the evil Snake Cult, too! (That adventure didn’t actually happen, but it added some context and a motivation to a situation the PCs would otherwise have no reason to get involved with.) I asked each of the characters a question about the Snake Cult to establish some fiction. I asked Bjorn "What did you learn about the Snake Cult from ransacking that corrupted temple?" He replied, "They have giant snakes! As big as your leg, laddie!" Pretty much a given, but it made sense. (This particular player always uses a bad Scottish accent for his Dwarves.) I asked Cadeus "Why did you swear revenge on the Snake Cult?" and got "They killed my sister." as a response. I asked Galadiir "What arcane knowledge did you learn about the Snake Cult?" and didn't get an answer. As the guy playing Galadiir the Wizard is only a casual gamer at best and the least familiar with RPGs in general, I told him he could hold his answer until he thought of something. Looking back, I wish I had come up with better questions (ones that front loaded more information) or followed up with more questions to get more details.

I explained that the journey through the stinking, fetid mire of the Rushmoor swamp following the trail of the Snake Cult would take two days. I told the players to make the Undertake A Perilous Journey Move. This required a lot of out of character explaining, as they needed to know what the three "jobs" of the Move were. They finally decided Galadiir would take the role of quartermaster, Bjorn would be trailblazer, and Cadeus would be the scout. This is one of the Moves that is kind of hard to "wrap in fiction", especially in the beginning. Once the players know they are going to travel through hostile territory and understand what the three roles of the Move are, I imagine it'll flow a bit better. All three rolled weak hits and the journey took the predicted amount of time, used up the predicted amount of supplies, and nothing got the drop on them as they travelled. An uneventful, but wet, stinky, and miserable two days to the lair of the Snake Cult.

The adventurers found the entrance to the underground complex with no problem as the cultist weren't expecting to be followed and hadn't bothered to cover their tracks. They gathered just outside a rough tunnel with a slimy wooden staircase leading down into the soggy earth and discussed what to do. Bjorn, seeing the darkness they were about to descend into, found a rock and Cast A Spell to make it glow. The player rolled a weak hit and chose to attract unwanted attention. I was kind of stumped about what kind of attention he had attracted for a bit. Looking back, I could've had some sort of nasty swamp denizen spot the party and set up an ambush or start to threaten them somehow. I thought that was a bit cheap though, and so decided the party had made enough noise preparing themselves that they had alerted the cultists at the bottom of the stairs to their presence. I told Cadeus, who was closest to the entrance, that he heard faint voices and the clink of metal coming up the steps of the tunnel. This was me making the Show signs of an approaching threat GM Move.

Cadeus relayed this information to his companions and then took up an ambush position on the opposite side of the tunnel entrance. Bjorn unslung his shield and stood in front of Galadiir , who was busy preparing an offensive spell. The only Move that was triggered was by Cadeus, who I had make a Defy Danger Move with either Dexterity or Intelligence, his choice. In this situation, the danger Cadeus was defying was being immediately spotted as the cultists came out of the tunnel. He nailed the Move with a strong hit and was essentially invisible. After taking up their positions, all three of the players looked at me expectantly.

Realizing it was my turn in the conversation, I described a group of four cultists with scavenged, rusty weapons and black robes emerging from the tunnel entrance. Bjorn and Galariir had made no attempt to conceal themselves and were immediately spotted. The cultists rushed forward, eager to capture more prisoners for their god. Having taken my “turn” in the conversation, I asked the players what they did. Cadeus lept forward, sword in hand, and struck a cultist dead in a single blow. No dice roll or Move required. In this case, the cultists had absolutely no idea Cadeus was behind them and were not expecting the attack. Result? Instant death.

Bjorn roared “Norris!” and raised his hammer to crack the skull of an approaching cultist. The Cleric swung, but the cultist flowed sinuously out of the way causing Bjorn to strike the swampy ground, spattering fetid water everywhere. Blinded by the muck his hammer threw up, he felt the cultist’s dagger scrape across his shield. (The player got a miss on his Hack and Slash Move. I Put him in a Spot as my GM Move. I also rolled damage for the cultist, but rolled less than the amount of armor the character was wearing.) Galadiir stepped forward and sent a searing lance of white light through another cultist’s heart, leaving him a half charred corpse slowly sinking into the muck of the Rushmoor swamp. (The player rolled a strong hit on his Cast a Spell Move, throwing out a Magic Missile for 2d4 damage. Cultists have 3 HP and 0 Armor.) That left two cultists alive and headed for the blinded dwarf. Seeing that Bjorn and Galadiir were in danger, Cadeus ran to their aid. I told the player that would be a Defy Danger Move using Dexterity. The danger in this case was not being able to reach his comrades in time. The player rolled and got a weak hit, meaning I had to give him a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice. Cadeus rushed forward but stumbled because of the thick muck of the swamp, sending his sword spinning from his grasp. He could either reach Bjorn in time but engage the cultist weaponless, or check his advance to retrieve his sword. Like the heroic fighter he was, Cadeus continued forward to grapple the cultist. This flowed into a Hack and Slash Move, which resulted in another weak hit. Cadeus connected with a solid hit with his mailed fist, but the cultist was able to bring his sword to bear, dealing a superficial wound to the Fighter.

Meanwhile, Bjorn attempted to shake the slime from his eyes while both avoiding the cultists and protecting Galadiir. He needed to Defy Danger, the danger in this case being the cultist who would easily take advantage of the situation. The player convinced me that he could use Wisdom to Defy Danger, as that is the perception related stat. I agreed, and the player got a weak hit. Time for another worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice from me. I told Bjorn that he could wipe the slime from his eyes but find himself a few steps from where he was, thereby exposing Galadiir to danger. Or he could remain blinded and just raise his shield in the correct direction, hoping for the best. He chose the latter. It didn’t really matter that much, as Galadiir let fly with another Magic Missile from his Cast A Spell Move and dropped the cultist with another smoking crater in his chest. Cadeus continued to grapple the cultist, suffering more damage from the foe’s scavenged sword (another Hack and Slash Move with a weak hit result). Feeling something slump near his feet, Bjorn finally cleared his vision and saw Cadeus locked in melee combat with the last cultist. Shouting “Norris!” again, he charged forward, grabbed the foe’s head, and snapped his neck with a sharp twist. This didn’t even require a Move, as once again, the last cultist was completely unaware of the attack and certainly wasn’t expecting one, as he was preoccupied with Cadeus. No chance of exposing yourself to danger or damage means no Hack and Slash Move; you just do it.

Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: Nifelhein on December 10, 2012, 10:41:46 AM
Looks like a nice game to me, and a fun one!
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: HyveMynd on December 11, 2012, 12:21:58 AM
Continuing from where we left off last time…

Our intrepid adventurers head down into the depths of the Snake Cult's lair after dispatching a few guards on the surface. Being excavated from the swampy ground of the Rushmoor swamp, the walls and ceiling of the tunnel are little more than mud held up with rotting timbers every five feet or so. The wooden steps are slick, caked with muck and slightly rotted, making descent treacherous. I had each character make a Defy Danger Move with Dexterity, the danger being them slipping and falling down the 60' long staircase. Both Bjorn (the Dwarf Fighter) leading the party and Galadiir (the Elf Wizard) bringing up the rear slipped on the mud, plunging headlong down the steps. (Both players got a miss on their Defy Danger Moves.) Cadeus (the Elf Fighter) in the middle maintained his footing, but was hit in the back by the falling Galadiir. He could either catch Galadiir and have both of them tumble a short way down the steps, or leap out of the way allowing the Wizard to tumble all the way to the bottom. (The player got a weak hit on his Defy Danger, meaning I had to give him an ugly bargain. In this case it was take no damage but ignore Galadiir or take some damage as he helped his friend.) Again being the hero that he was, Cadeus grabbed Galadiir, taking some of the damage the clumsy Wizard would have otherwise taken. At the bottom of the steps, Bjorn spit mud from his mouth and checked the bruises the rapid descent of the steps had just given him. (Falling down the steps was d6 damage, ignoring armor. But I didn't roll that high, luckily for the player.)

Once the party regrouped, they examined their surroundings thanks to Bjorn's magically glowing stone. They were in the center of a roughly square, 30' by 30' room with an opening in the center of each wall and the staircase behind them. To the left, the corridor took a sharp turn, but had a faint ambient glow from somewhere further on. Directly ahead was a long corridor that opened into what appeared to be a large room with a few pillars and a pool of water. To the right, another long hallway that ended in a wooden door. Not liking the looks of the slightly lit hallway, they headed right to the wooden door. Galadiir lead the way with Bjorn right behind him and Cadeus standing farther back to protect the rear on lookout. The Ef Wizard pressed his ear to the door and listened for signs of occupation. All he could discern through the slightly rotted wood was the sound of gently lapping water, as if from a large but gentle body of water. (The player made a Discern Realities Move and got a miss. Not really knowing what GM Move to make, I decided to "bank" my response, saving a hard move for a later time. Describing the lapping water was what just what honestly demanded.) Fearing a trap, Bjorn and Galadiir pushed on the door with the Wizard's staff attempting to open it from afar. The door refused to budge. It took Cadeus walking over to the door and pointing out the pull ring on the door before the other two realized their mistake. (I had described the door with a pull ring when the players first looked at the door, they just didn't put 2 and 2 together until Cadeus' player said "Hey, dummies. It's a PULL ring!") Upon opening the door, the group was met with a vast expanse of brown, muddy water in a roughly circular 60' diameter room. In the center of the left wall they could just make out the dim shape of another passageway.

"Fuck that!" said Bjorn emphatically as he turned to head back down the hallway, followed closely by his companions. As they turned, there was a splash, a wet gurgling sound, and a whistle as is something was flying through the air at a very high speed. (I used my banked hard move to ambush the players with the Otyugh who lived in the lake. I had planned to have the monster remain quiet if and until they disturbed it, but them turning their backs on the doorway was a golden opportunity.) Unfortunately, Bjorn's player and I had a bit of a misunderstanding. He thought he'd said the party closed the door before turning around, while I had assumed they left the door open. So I had the player make a Defy Danger Move with either Strength or Dexterity to get the door shut in time. He got a weak hit, and had to choose between slamming the door shut causing a lot of noise, or having a few tentacles slip through the door before he got it shut. With a mighty heave, Bjorn slammed the door shut with a loud crack, which was quickly followed by several muffled, wet slaps and scratching sounds from the other side.

Retreating from whatever was in that underground pool, the party headed towards the passageway with a bit of light leaking from around the corner. (The players didn't know it,  but they were headed into the part of the dungeon that housed the low ranking human cultists. The slamming door and loud descent Bjorn made upon first entering the dungeon had alerted everyone to the party's presence. Otherwise I would have required another Defy Danger Move, with the danger being not moving quietly enough and the cultists being ready for them. But the cultists were already prepared.) Galadiir and Bjorn quickly glanced around one of the turnings the passage took and saw a hallway ending in a T-junction with several doors on either side, and a group of cultists waiting for them. The cultists fell quickly to the combined onslaught of Bjorn's hammer, Cadeus' sword, and Galadiir's offensive magic, though the heroes did not escape the encounter entirely unscathed. After catching their breathes, they decided to check some of the doors in the hallway. Galadiir again pushed gingerly on a door with his staff, while Bjorn roared "That's not 'ow ya dooit, laddie!" and proceeded to the door in front of him a stout kick. Unfortunately the rotted wood gave way, and the dwarf's leg disappeared through the door up to his hip. (This was an on the fly custom Move I made up. All the doors in the dungeon were stuck closed due to the moist conditions, and I had the player roll+ STR to see if he got the door open. The player rolled double ones, resulting in the mishap.) At the same time, Galadiir listened at his door, heard what appeared to be female voices and realized something would be coming through within the next few seconds. (The player made a Discern Realities Move, got a weak hit, and asked his one question of "What is about to happen?") Taking up position just next to the door, Galadiir gripped his staff in both hands and prepared to smash the first thing that emerged.

The door opened, something moved, Galadiir swung and connected with a loud, wet crunch. Blood and brains sprayed the wall as a cultist dropped, her head reduced to a mass of red jelly. (Galadiir's player got a strong hit on his Hack and Slash Move, resulting in 4 points of damage. Again, cultists have 3 HP and 0 Armor. Head shot. Dead.) Cadeus, further down the tunnel than Bjorn or Galadiir, was again forced to rush forward, ignoring the roaring dwarf stuck halfway in the door. Galadiir swung again as another cultist emerged, this time hearing a wet thwack as his staff buried itself in the soft mud of the tunnel where it stuck fast. (The player got a miss on his Hack and Slash move, and I decided to Take away his stuff as my hard move.) Three female cultists emerged from the room, hoping to use their numbers to overwhelm on of the adventurers. Bjorn finally freed himself from the door while Cadeus slew another cultist, but not before feeling her dagger grate across his armor. (Again, Cadeus' player got a weak hit on his Hack and Slash move meaning he suffered damage, but I didn't roll high enough to get past his armor.) Of the two surviving cultists, one was slowly backing fearfully down the corridor (the way the party had originally come) while the other brandished her dagger and glared. Bjorn stepped forward, pointing his hammer at them. "Tell us who ya werk fer, and we'll leyagoo." he declared. The player got a weak hit on his Parley Move, meaning that the NPCs would want some concrete assurance of the promise right now. "Drop your weapons and we'll tell you." the woman at the back answered hesitantly. "I canna do tha." replied Bjorn "But I swear by tha Beard of Norris, no 'arm will com to you."

"Norris?" the other cultist spat. "His beard is thin and scrawny, like the beard of an old grandmother." With a roar of contempt, the insulted Cleric smashed the cultist into the wall with his hammer, silencing her forever. (A strong hit on his Hack and Slash Move with an ungodly amount of damage.) Terrified, the last surviving cultist fled back into the dungeon. "Le 'er go." Bjorn said. "We should check these rooms, first". The rooms were merely small 20' by 20' living cells with only moldy straw mattresses, though Galadiir did find a small snake's head pendant underneath the piles of dirty bedding. (The player made a Discern Realities Move, got a weak hit and asked "What here is valuable to me?") The group pushed on to explore the T-junction at the end of the hall, turning left into the squalid kitchen. Nothing was of interest, though Bjorn took a bottle of wine for later. The heroes then examined a rather curious passage leading off of the kitchen that appeared to go nowhere and simply dead ended after 40' or so. Galadiir started to walk down the tunnel, completely oblivious to the pulsing mass of greenish gunk clinging to the ceiling. (The player got a miss on his Discern Realities roll, meaning something bad needed to happen. Bingo! The old "Green Slime on the Ceiling" trick, a staple of the Gygaxian Era dungeon.) Bjorn noticed something wrong with the ceiling but didn't realize what he was looking at until it was too late. (His player got one question from the Discern Realities Move and asked "What here is not what it appears to be?" My response was that the ceiling looked "wrong".) Cadeus instantly realized the danger Galadiir had walked into and called out a warning. (His player got three questions from the Discern Realities Move and asked "What should I be on the lookout for?" and "What is about to happen?" I told him that he should be on the lookout for the Green Slime that was about to engulf Galadiir. A cheap answer I know, but when all three players ask about the same situation, there's only so much new information you can give them.)

Galadiir flung himself forward just as the slime dropped from the ceiling with a loud splat. Unfortunately, the acidic green goo was now between the Wizard and his companions. (The player got a weak hit on his Defy Danger Move, and his choice was throw himself backwards towards his friends but take damage from the slime, or completely avoid the slime but be trapped in the dead end. He chose the latter.) Bjorn recalled that fire would deal with the slime in short order, while the rattled Galadiir could only remember that slimes were asexual molds that reproduced by budding. (Bjorn's player got a strong hit on a Spout Lore Move, meaning I had to give him useful information about the situation. Galadiir's player got a weak hit on the same Move, meaning all I had to provide was "interesting" information. It was on him to make it useful.) Bjorn grabbed the bottle of wine he'd stolen from the kitchen and prepared to heave it at a support pillar, hopefully dousing the slime in alcohol. I told him this would be difficult, as the slime had sent out pseudo-pods in search of prey. They came dangerously close to the Cleric causing him to drop the bottle, which thankfully didn't break. (The player got a weak hit on a Defy Danger Move, and his tough choice was drop the bottle or hold onto it but take damage.) Meanwhile Galadiir backed himself as far as he could into the corner and prepared to Cast a Spell. I told him the same thing, that it was incredibly dangerous with tendrils of green slime actively seeking for him, and asked for a Defy Danger Move. Alas poor Galadiir couldn't get away from the slime fast enough, and felt the ooze engulf his outstretched arm. The Wizard spiraled down into darkness and heard the Black Gates of Death’s Kingdom begin to creak open to allow him passage. (The player totally Storked his Defy Danger roll, and I had the slime do damage as my hard move. I got the maximum result; a full 10 points of damage, which dropped the Elf to 0 HP as he wasn’t wearing any armor.)

Cadeus, who had been furthest back and avoided the tendrils of slime, rushed forward to grab the bottle from the floor and heave it against a support pillar. The bottle broke, showering the slime with alcohol, while Bjorn put tinder to flint, ending its existence with a whoosh and a hungry crackle of flame. (Cadeus' player nailed his Volley Move, chucking the bottle right where he wanted it. As a strong hit on a Volley Move would normally have done damage without any ill effects or hard choices, I just said that Bjorn's sparks would catch and kill the slime outright.) Meanwhile Galadiir stepped forward towards the Gates of Death but paused, remembering his mortal life and his unfinished business with the Snake Cult. With a shuddering gasp, he forced breath back into his body and returned to life. (The player got lucky and rolled a natural 12 on his Last Breath Move, to which everyone at the table exclaimed “Holy shit!” When you get a strong hit in the Last Breath Move, the character essentially flips Death the bird and doesn’t die, but is left at 0 HP and unconscious.) With the Green Slime now just a sizzling puddle on the ground, Cadeus and Bjorn were able to reach Galadiir, force the Cleric’s healing potion down his throat and bandage up his arm. Thanks to the potion, the Wizard was almost back to normal, though the slime had left one of his arms covered with some rather nasty looking acid burns. (The character now has the Scarred Debility, giving him a -1 to all Charisma rolls until the scars heal.) Burned and bruised, but as of yet unbeaten, the trio headed off further into the dungeon of the Snake Cult.

Unfortunately that’s where we ended the session as it was 10:30pm and people (me) needed to catch trains home. I don’t know if we’ll ever find out what happens to Bjorn, Galadiir, and Cadeus, since some of the players enjoyed the session overall but had some problems with the Dungeon World mechanics and rules. Hopefully I can convince them to at least finish exploring the dungeon. ;)
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: noclue on December 11, 2012, 01:46:31 AM
Was it as much fun as it looks?
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: HyveMynd on December 11, 2012, 02:10:35 AM
Sadly, I don't think so. I had a blast running the game and I know Cadeus's player would play again, but I don't know about the other two. Galadiir's player isn't a gamer and just hangs out with Bjorn's player, so he doesn't really care about or comment on the games we put in front of him. Bjorn's player had some issues with the game, specifically about the how magic works and with the Discern Realities Move. He said he probably wouldn't play again, and as Galadiir's player only shows up if Bjorn's player is present, that means out of three people I could probably only get one of them to play again. Which sucks.
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: noclue on December 12, 2012, 01:58:02 AM
Alright, I'll bite. What's wrong with magic and discern realities?
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: HyveMynd on December 12, 2012, 02:05:45 AM
The player and I have been politely debating the mechanics via email since the session last week. I'll try to summarize his points while not bashing on him, as he's not here to defend his side of the argument.

He really likes the "total success/success with complications/failure" mechanics of AW-Powered games overall, but thinks they were implemented poorly for the Cast A Spell Move. The player contends that the three options presented on the 7-9 list are boring, especially when compared to the options other Moves present. He feels that "drawing unwelcome attention" will always mean "more monsters show up". Taking a -1 to all future Cast A Spell Moves is also unsatisfying to him, as he feels that's incredibly boring. Losing the spell until the next time the Cleric or Wizard can prepare spells is too harsh for his tastes, as he says the classes don't have a "back up". Though I'm not sure what he means by that. He'd like to see something where the spell goes awry, kind of like the areas of Wild Magic in the old Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

My point is that the AW-Powered games give the GM loose guidelines of what happens, not specifics, and that "attract unwanted attention" and "putting yourself in a spot" can be interpreted very broadly. If it makes sense for more baddies to show up based on the situation, that's what will happen. Let's face it, that's the easiest thing for the GM to come up with when on the spot, and perhaps I overused it during our session. But there are other things that qualify for unwanted attention. Maybe some extra-planar entity takes notice of the spell caster and starts sending him visions. Maybe the spell does go awry and has some adverse effect the character has to deal with. So while the player sees the Move as being less interesting than other Moves, I see it as almost identical to the others; relying on player creativity to really shine.

His biggest sticking point was with the information gathering Move though, Discern Realities. He really hated being constrained to the six questions the Move offered and just wanted to ask whatever he wanted. He also thinks that the Move yanks you out of the fiction more than the information gathering mechanics of other traditional games. To use his example, the party searched for secret doors during the session, but none of the questions directly ask about a secret door. He realizes the question to pick is "What here is not as it appears to be?" but doesn't seem to like that one.

He says that a traditional game goes like this:
1) Player wants to check for secret doors. 2) Player rolls dice. 3) GM tells the player what the PC finds based on the result.

And that DW and AW both go like this:
1) Player wants to check for secret doors. 2) Player rolls dice. 3) Player determines how many questions he gets to ask, and chooses which ones. 4) Player asks first question and GM answers. 5) Repeat for other questions allowed.

He doesn't like how the player has to ask the questions to the GM rather than doing it in the fiction.

Again, he's not totally wrong. My argument is that the player knows what they are looking for before rolling the dice. They know what question they want to ask before making the Move, and therefore shouldn't have to pour through the list trying to decide what they want to ask. The list also never changes. It's always the same six questions, which the players are always aware of. If you only get to ask one question, you should ask the one you had in mind. If you get to ask three, the other two are just a bonus. Plus, if none of the questions on the list will give you the information you want to know, then you don't need to make a Discern Realities Move. Just ask the GM and they'll tell you the information.

While other games have different skills (Bluff, Insight, Nature, Track, Empathy, Investigation, etc.) to cover different situations, DW just has the one Move to cover everything. So the questions have to be broad enough to apply to just about everything the players could "closely examine". Personally, I think the player is just being a bit too narrow in his approach. One of the principles of AW-Powered games is that the GM has to be completely honest at all times. If the characters would notice something about a situation, then they do. So long as it's not hidden. Anyone would be able to see the tracks on the muddy ground, or that the king is fidgeting on his seat, or that the path leads into a low cave.

Asking questions from the Discern Realities Move gives you information that your character normally wouldn't have access to. Asking "What happened here recently?" about the tracks you found will reveal what made them, how many there were, and what they were doing to make those tracks. Asking "What is about to happen?" or "Who's really in control here?" would reveal how the king will most likely react to your news of his son's death, or that it's really the queen who makes all the decisions and is using her husband as a puppet. Asking "What should I be on the lookout for?" or "What is about to happen?" could reveal the presence of bandits lurking just past the cave's mouth, or that the cave actually goes nowhere and they players really should be watching the tree line just off the road.

So in my opinion, nothing is wrong with the moves.
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: noclue on December 12, 2012, 08:44:01 AM

He feels that "drawing unwelcome attention" will always mean "more monsters show up".
Umm, not always. In a fight it might mean that all the monsters turn toward you and try to eat you. It might mean loud noises and flashing lights announce your presence inthe dungeon, giving the monsters a heads up that a wizard is come and time to prepare an ambush. Anyway, the choice doesn't just say bring unwanted attention to yourself. It also says or put yourself in a spot. That's a blank check to the GM.

Taking a -1 to all future Cast A Spell Moves is also unsatisfying to him, as he feels that's incredibly boring.
Again, I make with the disagreement. It's only as boring as you choose to make it. What does it look and feel like when your god withdraws their favor from you? What does that commune look like when you spend an hour or so, quietly begging them to return to you?  And what are you going to have to do to find an hour of downtime in a dungeon?

Losing the spell until the next time the Cleric or Wizard can prepare spells is too harsh for his tastes, as he says the classes don't have a "back up". Though I'm not sure what he means by that.

Me either. Forgetting spells is bog standard DnD.

He'd like to see something where the spell goes awry, kind of like the areas of Wild Magic in the old Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

They go awry on a miss.

He doesn't like how the player has to ask the questions to the GM rather than doing it in the fiction

Hmm, okay. It doesn't seem to be much different from other moves that call for player choices to me. Choosing whether you're going to draw unwanted attention or forget a spell is just as meta.

So in my opinion, nothing is wrong with the moves.

I agree.
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: Nifelhein on December 12, 2012, 12:32:30 PM
HyveMyind, I can relate to your players in those places in particular because I haven't really liked them myself, even though I can see them work I can see that it requires more extrapolation that the rest of the game has already built into the other moves.

Regarding magic, the revoke spell mechanic is basically D&D homage and root showing itself, something old time D&D players will quickly recognize and is easy to understand from that perspective, harder to emulate in fiction, as D&D has always been for me. You can make him compromise to that but you can't make him like it if it doesn't make sense to him, and it probably never did in D&D as well.

Drawing unwanted attention, in my opinion, immediately calls to my mind the put the character on a spot move more than the unwanted attention part, but the wording is meant for the player and yet makes more sense to the GM. A better wording that wouldn't correlate anything to him but would to GMs, for example, could be:

• Your spell has unintended side effects. The GM will tell you how.

This would give him an idea that something went awry with the spell itself, but the GM would be free to use any moves along with it, an example:

"Meeko is facing a group of orcs, all his companions are already face down on the mud and there are still 3 of them left, he casts a fireball spell at the 3 of them, the small space they are in has forbidden him to up until now. He rolls and gets an 8, browsing the list he picks the "your spell has unintended side effects" choice.

The GM consults his moves and decides that the fireball could trigger a separate them move. He tells the player: "You cast the spell with all your might, but you feel the energies being charged by your own desperation, the fireball explodes higher than you would normally, hitting the ceiling. This causes a minor cave in between you and your party members who are all unconscious. The orcs are dead, you have seen them die just before the rocks came down, there is a passage behind you, a small breeze blows through the area, making the dust settle towards the corridor. What do you?"

In my opinion it is the same option, just this one would make it clear to player that is is more open ended.

The -1 penalty is boring indeed, because it is not descriptive, it could be substituted by something more interesting, maybe fold the penalty and revoke into the same option.

The spell disturbs the fabric of reality as it is cast, but you can take them into yourself to prevent mishaps — you can either take -1 ongoing to cast a spell until the next time you Prepare Spells or you can forget the spell and be unable to cast the spell again until you prepare spells.

You then have a left over spot for a third choice, if you want, but the same choices are all there, just with more fictional meaning.

As for discern realities, that is a tougher one, I can understand the mechanical choice, and the questions are not spot on because that also leaves more space for creativity to bring new things even after they were answered. The player wants to ask whatever he wants because he wants control over the answers, the list is there to avoid the game crawling to a halt as a player decides what questions to ask and formulates them.

In D&D he wouldn't even ask anything, he would be so far away from it that all he could ask for is to roll the dice. Here he knows what he is searching for, the character may even be on the same page as he is, but he does not know what actually is there, if anything, the move, imo, evokes me to actually create something that may not even have been there originally, the player tells me that this is actually relevant by wanting to trigger discern realities, then I elaborate, they may use the move because I created something they want to understand more closely, sure, but to me the untapped potential is on creating something on the spot.

Discern realities is a metagame mechanic imo, mostly because it is not really about making something in the fiction, but about asking about something that the players got intrigued/ curious/ interested/ cautious of. This means it is something the players trigger out of their own minds, much less than the characters would willingly.

The questions are a bad ting if you just want to ask whatever? Sure, but they also give room for more than they give to be there. Asking "What here is not what it seems?" can tell you the same as asking "Is there a trap in here?", but it can also tell you a lot more, and of something else as well.

If he truly wants to ask something else that is not on the list, tell them to, as long as the question is generic and open enough to not pertain a single situation. This would make him struggle to find something, and if he does, the game actually gains for it, they will learn to ask the questions that actually contribute to the game instead of the ones that uncover something that is there.

In short, I see Discern Realities not as a way to uncover a pre-planned thing, but as a means to trigger new and interesting things based on player interest, it is not about what I prepared but about what can come to the game right now that would make it more fun / interesting.
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: Jeremy on December 12, 2012, 03:50:02 PM
One: it's possible your player just doesn't like the game. That happens.

Two: the game's a conversation, right?  So when he's looking at a list of choices like "draw unwanted attention or put yourself in a spot" vs. "reality unravels around you; take -1 ongoing to cast a spell," have a conversation about what each of those might look like. 

"What kind of unwanted attention might there be?"  he can ask.  You, then, can talk to him (and include the other players) about what those possible outcomes are.  "Well, there's nothing immediately obvious here, but the chanting might echo down the hallways and alert others to your passing.  Or maybe there's an arcane entity deeper in the dungeon that might notice you.  Or... hell, where did you get your powers from anyway?  Did you come by them legitimately, or did you maybe steal some power from someone/thing?" 

Regarding the -1 to ongoing spells, don't focus on the -1.  Focus on "reality unravels."  HOLY SHIT, REALITY UNRAVELS!  How can that be boring?!?  Example: our wizard was the potential victim of a ritual sacrifice by some orcs.  Paladin comes to the rescue, but not before some of her blood hits the altar.  She casts magic missile at one of the orcs and takes "reality unravels, -1 ongoing to cast." Her lightning-like magic missile torched the orc, but a vortex appeared above the altar, drawing her power off and arcing down into the altar.  And it kept doing that, ominously, until the paladin smashed the orc-priests face on the altar.  Sure, the wizard took the -1 ongoing but the real problem (that's becoming increasingly apparant) is that some of her energy got fused into the being that was summoned with the ritual. 

Regarding Discern Realities, sounds like what he wants to do is ask you things like "Are there any groove marks in the floor? Do any of the books in the bookcase seem out of place, or have a weird wear-mark on them?"  Like, he wants to engage with the fiction and feels like the moves from the list are forcing him away from that fiction.  Yes? 

If so, just say "sounds like you're asking 'what here is out of place, yeah?" And if he agrees, have him roll +WIS. On a 7-9, answer his question and build off of the details he gave you (or, if you have the details preplanned, tell him "no, you don't see any of that, but you do notice a draft coming from the wall opposite the bookshelf... sure enough there's a crack there and one of the bricks has some where marks on it.").  If he gets a 10+, answer the question and then he gets the chance to ask any follow-up questions.

The best part about that move, I think, is that it scales really well to the players' sense of immersion, interest in interacting with the world, and your prep.  Maybe that same player is having an off night and doesn't have the energy to get creative and clever.  "Ugh, I look around for like a secret door or something." "OK, roll to Discern Realities."  Hit.  "So, you notice that one of the books on the bookshelf looks really out of place, maybe fake.  You're pretty sure it's a trigger for something like a secret door."  Or maybe neither you or the player has taken the time yet to visualize the room, but the villain came in here and now he's gone.  "I'll search about, looking for something out of place. Discern Realities?"  Yup, hits.  "Yeah, you find a secret door in the far wall.  What detail did you notice that gave away its presence?"  No idea.  Ask the dwarf's player.  "Hey Bjorn, this looks dwarf-made. What's the most common tell of a dwarf-made secret door? How could Jack have spotted it?"
Title: Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
Post by: noclue on December 12, 2012, 04:37:27 PM
I think the Discern Realities text says that if the player asks a question that's not on the list, the GM can just answer the most equivalent question. So if he looks for secret doors he's already asked his first question. The GM answers if there's a secret door or anything else out of place. The player doesn't have to look at the list any more unless he rolls a 10+. Then then GM just says whether he finds the secret' door, etc. followed by "would you like to know what else you notice?"