Author Topic: Probabilities and Balance  (Read 28579 times)

agony

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #30 on: May 23, 2011, 08:21:16 PM »
John, you're absolutely right that is where the hangup is. 

I understand fiction first, our group totally rocks Apocalypse World but for some reason we (or maybe just I - since i'm the GM) don't get DW it seems.

We also don't (or at least when started out playing DW) actually take turns.  Usually I go haphazardly around the table asking what the characters do, not in a specific order.  Typically I ask whoevers in the most danger what they do first.

Then I typically say what the monster(s) does.  The order may be messed with but I still make sure no one is excluded.  To me, it would be bogus to have one PC go, threaten a different PC, have yet another PC go, and then threaten another PC so that in the fiction the Goblin is leaping forward and stabbing multiple before a PC gets to go once.  So we have "fiction" turns if that makes sense.  No initiative or anything like that.

One of the problems was that Hack and Slash seems to automatically point towards the fiction of the monster attacking, at least in part to where it can't threaten the PC who performed the Hack and Slash.  We've played it loose where the monster can still go after someone else and I have certainly threatened all of the group's participants at different points but it's very easy for them to avoid danger with everyone having at least +2 dex.

John Harper

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #31 on: May 23, 2011, 08:33:02 PM »
Okay. Please do keep in mind that I'm guessing in the dark here, just based on my reading of your posts. I could be way off! I'm not trying to be "right" (Internet discussion so easily swings that way) -- I just want to keep banging my drum in case it's helpful. If you already have this stuff figured out, then feel free to ignore it.

But, if you say you're doing everything the way we're doing it, and we're still having roughly opposite results... I don't know what to say.

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #32 on: May 23, 2011, 08:41:54 PM »
@evilben

Ok, I see what you're getting at here.

Ogre attacks Wizard.  Fighter H&S ogre.  Maybe they trade damage.  Ogre damages Wizard.

vs.

Ogre attacks Fighter.  Fighter H&S ogre.  Maybe they trade damage.  Ogre damages Fighter(?).

It doesn't not say that.  True.

agony

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #33 on: May 23, 2011, 08:54:14 PM »
I think it would be enormously beneficial to post some extended combat examples from our play.  I'll try and do that when I get home from work tonight.

sage

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #34 on: May 24, 2011, 06:38:53 AM »
Sorry to come to this thread so late. The combination of real life stuff and getting logistics nailed down made me completely miss this thread. As usual, John has some smart things to say. I think over the course of Dungeon World I've discovered a lot of what he means.

Early on, there were some attempts in my playstyle and in the text to add a concept of rounds. That is, categorically, the wrong way to play this game. (Other games can totally work that way, certainly.) The thing to really embrace is that for something to be dangerous, it first and foremost has to be fictionally dangerous.

I'm working on some extended examples now which should make it into the PDF soon, but here's a few quick thoughts - please feel free to prod me for more information on any of them.

-Dungeon World fights are never wars of attrition. A monster without a strong fictional position doesn't last long.

-Monsters are bullets, and you have infinite ammo. Never mourn the loss of a monster, you have as many more as you can imagine.

-Death is maybe the least interesting threat. It's also mechanically somewhat unlikely. Don't take "how close are the players to dying?" as your guage of challenge.

-The fictional things a monster does are far more interesting than the amount of damage, and are limited only by your imagination.

-Action flows like a movie in DW. Think like a cinematographer (not a director): focus where the action is, follow the consequences elsewhere, get reaction shots, establish new threats.

-Don't think of a fight as any different from what you do before the first Hack and Slash or after the last HP.

-Remember to make moves whenever you need something to say. Make hard moves when a golden opportunity (including a miss) comes up.





We had a high level playtest last weekend, including a dragon fight. We had a great time, largely because the foes were, fictionally, well positioned. When the demons with flaming whips struck from within the Dragonsbane temple, the biggest issue wasn't their damage, it was that they could effectively attack at any range with their flexible whips. The only time anyone got close enough to the dragon to make a melee attack was when they were grasped in its claws.

This is probably a bit rambly, as I'm writing pretty late, but there's one last thought I want to get out. Dungeon World and AW both work very well when you move between players like the action sequences in a great movie.

Michael Pfaff

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2011, 03:04:11 PM »
hypothetical situation time. DM says the Ogre is attacking the fighter, the fighter wants to hack and slash. what rolls are made? would the entire thing get condensed into one hack and slash or would the fighter have to defy danger and hack and slash?

I imagine it would go down like this:

GM: "The ogre grits its teeth and hauls its massive, knobby club up above its head and as it starts to come down, you can feel the weight of the club forcing its way through the air. It's about to come down onto your head. What do you do?"

Player: "I hack and slash."

GM: "Cool, how do you do that?"

Player: "I lunge at the ogre and try to split its shin bone with my axe!"

GM: "So you're just going to suck up that club swing?"

Player: "Oh, heck no. I'm going to duck out of the way of that first, and then lunge."

GM: "That sounds like defying danger to me. You're acting despite an imminent threat. Let's see the roll."

And, then from there, the outcome of the defying danger will determine what happens next. Maybe the player's character defies the danger and gets to split the shin of the ogre. Maybe the player's character fails and gets clobbered by the club. Now he can't really lunge can he? He may have been knocked down or maybe dropped his sword, etc. Or, some other ugly choice or worse outcome.

sage

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2011, 03:09:16 PM »
Michael's response is great! That said, there's many other ways it could play out, based on the exact fiction in play. "Attacking the fighter" and "fighter wants to hack and slash" aren't exact enough to transform into actual play, because they're not fictional things. What does the fighter (not the player) actually attempt? Michael provided one example of that, there are infinitely more.

Michael Pfaff

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2011, 03:12:05 PM »
Michael's response is great! That said, there's many other ways it could play out, based on the exact fiction in play. "Attacking the fighter" and "fighter wants to hack and slash" aren't exact enough to transform into actual play, because they're not fictional things. What does the fighter (not the player) actually attempt? Michael provided one example of that, there are infinitely more.

Indeed. The key thing was asking, "What are you doing?" and "Cool, how do you do that?"

As you and many others (notably John Harper, over and over again) have said, those questions and the specific details of the fiction is what is going to push play forward and make the best use out of the rules (just like in AW).

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2011, 05:29:22 PM »
This probably misses the point, but I have to ask for my own understanding:

If the Fighter chose to "suck up that club swing", would he suffer the consequences (probably damage at least) and then Hack and Slash (if he's able)?  Doesn't Hack and Slash normally account for that sort of thing?

If he described bashing the club aside with his shield as he made for the ogre's shin with his axe, would that avert Defy Danger, rolling it all into Hack and Slash instead?

Did the Fighter have to Defy Danger because the description of the clubbing was so imminent?  If the description of the ogre's attack had stopped at "hauls its massive, knobby club up above its head" would the Fighter have had to Defy Danger then?  Was it because one Move was "harder" than the other?

Michael Pfaff

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2011, 05:40:54 PM »
This probably misses the point, but I have to ask for my own understanding:

If the Fighter chose to "suck up that club swing", would he suffer the consequences (probably damage at least) and then Hack and Slash (if he's able)?  Doesn't Hack and Slash normally account for that sort of thing?

I guess it depends on what the GM decides are the consequences of sucking it up. In my opinion, sucking up an ogre's club is a perfect time for a hard move. But, the move will determine what happens next, right? Like, I can't know if he can Hack and Slash unless I know what the GM's move is. If it's just crushing damage, then maybe, yeah, he can still try to Hack and Slash, but maybe instead it's something that puts him in a position where he can't Hack and Slash. I don't know.

If he described bashing the club aside with his shield as he made for the ogre's shin with his axe, would that avert Defy Danger, rolling it all into Hack and Slash instead?

Bashing the club aside is "acting despite an imminent threat" still right? To do it, do it. If you do it, you do it.

So, him blocking the club is acting in the face of imminent danger, imo. So, no, he'd still roll to Defy Danger.

Hack and Slash is, "when you attack an enemy in melee". So, we have to figure out if the Fighter bashes the club aside before he can attack right?

If he just wants to Hack and Slash, he needs to fictionally set that up.

Did the Fighter have to Defy Danger because the description of the clubbing was so imminent?  If the description of the ogre's attack had stopped at "hauls its massive, knobby club up above its head" would the Fighter have had to Defy Danger then?  Was it because one Move was "harder" than the other?

In your example, where the ogre is just "hauling it above its head", what happens next? The ogre just holds it up there?

Is the ogre hauling his club up imminent danger? I guess you as the GM need to decide that. If the ogre is just stretching his arms, it's not much imminent danger is it?

If he's planning to bring the club down on the Fighter's head, well, it's imminent danger. Giving the description is just misdirection and not speaking your move's name. Announcing impending doom needs to have teeth right?

"The ogre, yawning, lazily starts to lift his club... what do you do?"
"The ogre snatches up his club and starts to swing... what do you do?"

Your description evokes what's about to happen next. It's a way to develop a tempo with the fiction. And, I think it wanes and waxes depending on the situation and need of the game at that particular moment.

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2011, 05:59:06 PM »
So, the key point here is that Hack and Slash is (almost?) entirely non-reactive.  It's the move for aggressors.  If the enemy does something, and all you do is attack, then it happens first, and then you attack.

I think I get it now, though it's a paradigm shift for me.  Probably an important one, though, and I can see how it perhaps ties in better with the fiction.

agony

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2011, 06:00:56 PM »
But Hack and Slash seems to encode the defender striking back, doesn't it?  

So that would include a threat of danger already?  Making the Fighter also roll to Defy Danger would seem to be somewhat unfair.

I think that's what Ludanto is saying and that is why the Fighter is so beastly in our games.  We play that Hack and Slash includes Defying the monster's attack (as the move implies) so the fact that a Fighter will get a 10+ 60% of the time means that he doesn't take damage very often.  That's really the essence of my original post.

By the way, sorry for the lack of extended examples of our combat - I've been busy and lasy with other stuff and couldn't find the motivation to type out a long combat.

Ludanto

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #42 on: May 27, 2011, 06:08:52 PM »
@agony,

I think Michael's sold me.  The "opponent striking you" and the "opponent striking back" are two different things.

That is, taking damage from Hack & Slash is a result of the player's Move, the Hack & Slash.  It has nothing to do with the GM's Move of "Showing Signs of Doom (damage from a club)".

The best the Fighter can do in this case is not give the opponent a chance to act.  If he attacks at first sight and manages to avoid missing, the opponent is relegated to basically "defending itself".  Otherwise, it makes a Move, which might involve threatening/inflicting damage.

evilben

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #43 on: May 27, 2011, 06:14:51 PM »
i think this is what i am hung up on as well. the encoded part of hack and slash that deals damage back to the fighter gives the move the feel that the target is fighting back (hence all the confusion about weather it can do anything else or not, i always assumed the target was fighting back and thus occupying its attention). at least with the damage numbers that we have been playing with, the ability for the fighter to take damage twice in a single 'round' makes attacking while being attacked a very suicidal enterprise.

@ludanto: by that reasoning then we get back to the track of the fighter hack and slashing to keep the monster locked down while the rest of the party has their way with tea parties and such.

Michael Pfaff

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Re: Probabilities and Balance
« Reply #44 on: May 27, 2011, 06:22:57 PM »
But Hack and Slash seems to encode the defender striking back, doesn't it?  

So that would include a threat of danger already?  Making the Fighter also roll to Defy Danger would seem to be somewhat unfair.

It depends on what's happening. In my example, and some others give, like having to maneuver close to a dragon to attack it in melee, the Fighter needed to Defy Danger just to get into a position to Hack and Slash.

That's how moves work. They snowball. It's not just a back and forth: Round 1, you hack and slash, the monster attacks, Round 2, you hack and slash, the monster attacks... etc.

Also, offensive moves are about cadence too. So, you Hack and Slash, and the Ogre gets to hit back right? But, the cadence for that description goes right back to the Fighter to react, doesn't it?

Player: "I hack and slash..."
GM: "Cool, how?"
Player: "I cut into the Ogre's shin with my axe." *rolls 7-9*
GM: "Your axe cleaves into the Ogre's shin and it howls in rage. Fire lights in its eyes and the giant slams his huge fist into your chest. (take damage)"

At that point, the GM can say, "What do you do?"

And, it's back to the Fighter. The situation has changed of course (cause he's hurt now, or maybe his allies are doing stuff...).

The interesting this is, on a 10+, even though the Fighter hasn't taken any damage, he has suddenly just shifted initiative to the GM to make a move (likely, announce impending doom).

Like this:

Player: "I hack and slash..."
GM: "Cool, how?"
Player: "I cut into the Ogre's shin with my axe." *rolls 10+*
GM: "Your axe cleaves into the Ogre's shin and it howls in rage. (Hack and Slash resolved) The Ogre looks at your puny axe and you can see his animosity toward the tiny thing. He starts to reach for it, as if to take it away from you! What do you do?"

I think that's what Ludanto is saying and that is why the Fighter is so beastly in our games.  We play that Hack and Slash includes Defying the monster's attack (as the move implies) so the fact that a Fighter will get a 10+ 60% of the time means that he doesn't take damage very often.  That's really the essence of my original post.

I don't read the move that way. The monster doesn't only act within the confines of the mechanics of the moves. If your fighter is standing there, and I say, "The dragon's nostrils flair up and fire and smoke flicker from them! What do you do?" If he's just like, "I attack it!" I'm going to be like, "Sure, but it's about to breathe fire, you'll be exposed entirely. Are you sure you don't want to react to that?"

He doesn't get to cancel out the fiction because he's attacking. How I read Hack and Slash is, when you attack an enemy in melee, you're initiating combat with them. You both are going at each other, and you're both dealing damage. If you score 10+, you have the option to mitigate the damage or deal more damage.

You're not Defying anything, because by definition you are initiating a sequence of back and forth attacks.