Author Topic: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"  (Read 10238 times)

Doug Hare

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2012, 05:32:32 PM »
Is there any value or point to leaving monster damage values high, but giving players a Move to reduce damage if they get hit?

Say: when you take damage from an opponent roll +Armour*, on a 7-9 reduce the damage dealt by half**, on a 10+ reduce it by three-quarters**?

* or +Dex or + Con might also be options.

**Clearly, the proportions need to be considered carefully, the values I've used there were just placeholders to get the Move written down.

Naturally, you can't use this Move if you're surprised or unaware of the attack, in which case it's just the usual damge-armour.

Is it at all feasible? It keeps the dice-rolling on the players' side.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 07:22:01 PM by Doug Hare »

mease19

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2012, 05:50:14 PM »
What about:

When you take damage from an opponent, roll+Armor.  On a 10+, your armor protects you - take half damage.  On a 7-9, your armor takes the brunt of the damage - you may take half damage but reduce your armor by 1.

The problem with this type of move is that it would extend the combats without adding much to the fiction, even with the potential to bang up their armor.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 05:56:57 PM by mease19 »

noofy

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2012, 10:11:07 PM »
I like this train of thought  Doug (and Marshall).
What about a move that is a choice, but doesn't involve rolling (and thus the potential for even more failure / hard moves, and slowing the fiction down).

When you take damage from an opponent, Suck it up and take your damage (-armour) or you may take half damage but then reduce your armor by 1.


Doug Hare

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2012, 11:40:13 PM »
How about taking a -1 forward as you're knocked off balance or winded? Losing armour seems a little too much for me, but I'll confess, my play group's not even level 2 yet.

D.

nemomeme

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2012, 01:25:00 AM »
I ran a 1.1 game Sunday.  Three PCs.  A Paladin, a Cleric a Thief.

There was a combat against ghouls early on.  Five of them.  3 HP & 8 damage as I'd settled on it, with a couple Moves as determined by the nature of the ghouls in their environment.  It was the Thief with two of the ghouls for the first "round" with the Paladin, the Cleric, and three more ghouls joining in thereafter.

I felt like I had to really pull my punches at a couple points to keep the Thief from having to make the Last Breath Move forty-five minutes after he'd been created.  Even with the Cleric's Turn Undead Move about.

Worse, there was a narrative/fun break down as the Paladin and the Cleric had done a couple things each and it felt like the Thief player's "turn" to perhaps do something about the ghoul slavering over his throat but he indicated he felt a strong disincentive to do anything because he only had 6 hit points and the ghouls "hit for 8 damage."  I'd already had the ghouls make a non-damaging Move against him on his prior Miss.  He looked to the nearby Cleric character to bail him out of his predicament again.  The flow of the story just... stopped.

That's when I realized it doesn't only matter that the GM feels confident about how they're consistently applying their Moves & Damage.  If the player isn't sure how the rules work with regard to when they're going to get hit with a lethal dose of damage, the game can grind to a bit of a halt.  And this is with a friend I've been role-playing with for more than ten years with a lot of trust between us.

All three of the players felt doing a Hack and Slash Move was a huge risk if you were wounded.  We carried on with the session.  I think everyone had a great time overall but I didn't initiate a second combat even though there were a couple opportunities where I might have.

I freely admit my opposition budget may have been off as I feel my way forward with a new game.  But the decisions of what to do for "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You" when the PC is down to their last hp is still going to be present for me as the rules stand.

There are some interesting thoughts in this thread and in some of the others about various alternatives.  A couple seem promising, most others feel very "off" to me right off the bat.

Also, I'm sure you're aware the Cleric's Turn Undead still references monster levels.

One thing I like about monster levels with regard to some of these possible solutions is that they have the potential to provide an additional dial to the GM in monster creation.  Like monsters of a higher level threaten PCs this way but monsters of equal level threaten PCs that way.  (modifiers to death rolls or armor or -1 forwards or stat drain options, etc.)

noofy

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2012, 04:06:12 AM »
Great analysis Nemo! Thanks for sharing, that's too bad about the disconnect in play, and the thief player feeling hamstrung. Sounds like a tense driven session at the very least!

I guess you went with Ghould being able to devour a peasant and normally found in small groups? (thus the 8 damage). The last iteration of a Ghoul dealt 4 damage, but had some really cool attack moves based around biting, infecting and paralyzing. Did you copy those over?

Also, the thought of 5 ghouls against three level one PC's (even with turn undead) is a pretty intense life-or-death scenario! I'd have been reluctant to engage in Hack and Slash if I was the thief too! That's the job of the fighty types after all!

Perhaps the Playbooks need a short Blurb similar to the Guide to Chargen in AW where it says 'play this character if you like__________' or 'play is character if you want to____________ in play'.

When you feel like this:
Quote
I freely admit my opposition budget may have been off as I feel my way forward with a new game.  But the decisions of what to do for "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You" when the PC is down to their last hp is still going to be present for me as the rules stand.

My advice is to throw it back on the players, address the characters of course, but disclaim desicion making and let them decide. I wasn't there of course, but knowing that with one more melee engagement the thief will die if hit (did he consider other more promising narration - and thus moves - within the fiction?)
So as the thief looks at you, frozen into inaction and the conversation halts - make your move.

'Hey Cleric, you see that the theif is about to be eaten alive by the pack of ghouls hemming him in. You could drive them back before your gods holy light, saving his dishonest hide, but the three you have been turning will undoubtedly tear you to shreds' [offer an opportunity with or without  a cost]

Dan Maruschak

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2012, 06:00:22 AM »
I don't think that the DM is a 'neutral Arbiter' Dan. The rules explain what your role is, its totally on the side of the characters. Dungeon World calls you to act in a particular way as GM for the rules to work at their best. Sure, you are refereeing and adjudicating, but always with your agenda and principles in mind. Dealing damage to the players is a HARD move, one of the hardest you can make and you need to think if that is warranted fictionally (in or out of combat)?
I'm not sure if you're disagreeing with me. My read of the rules is that you're not on anyone's side, you're there to play it straight:
Quote from: Dungeon World
Be a fan of the characters
Treat the players' characters like characters you watch on TV. You want to see how things turn out for them. You're not here to make them lose, or to make them win, and definitely not to guide them to your story. You're here to portray the interesting world around them and see how interacting with that world changes everything.
My reading of the "be a fan" principle is strongly influenced by my experience with a different game where I found that eliminating any kind of "dynamic danger scaling" from my GM toolbox let me appreciate the players' contributions to the game in a way I couldn't when that lever was available to me (I talk about it in this blog post, in the indented quote section).

noofy

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2012, 06:42:49 AM »
I don't think we are disagreeing either Dan :)

On a miss on hack and slash, you can still just deal damage (as established) and the character has not dealt any damage in return, so that in my mind is still way HARDER than a 7-9 result.

I read your blog, interesting thoughts on prep. I found a similar process with all the Burning games (especially the heavily structured MG). Prep is still vital, its just a different kind of prep. But you are still playing to find out what happens yeah?

But back to hack and slash and dealing damage. I concur that a DM shouldn't be making too many decisions about if the PCs should live or die (though they could). Rather, warn the players. Tell them the stakes (as framed by the fiction) and ask.

If monsters deal large amounts of damage then they are dangerous and should be respected as such! There are far more inventive ways of dealing with a monster than simple hack and slash, though sometimes that's the tried and true D&D way.

Anarchangel

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2012, 08:00:13 PM »
My take on the role of the GM is this: I'm a fan of the characters, and I'm there to make live dangerous, exciting and heroic. So my job is to push the players to the limit and make them be awesome to survive. It's a fine line, and sometimes a character will fall over the edge, but if they die being awesome, then that's an awesome death.

I don't see myself as neutral, to me, that implies that I"m just applying the rules impassively. I don't. I pull blows, I foretell doom, and when the PCs know how deadly it is and have made the choice to stick it out, I'll pound them and see what falls out.

In my Living Dungeon World finale, the Ysolde the Archmage (L4 or 5 Wizard) was facing down an Avatar of Orcus, blasting it with fireball after fireball and absorbing attacks with his mirror image until they were all gone, then he threw his magical simalcra in the way of the crushing fist of the Avatar, and missed. "The fist drives into you for 30 points of damage", I said. I knew the blow would kill Ysolde When from the other side of the table, a hand is interposed, thrust between me and Ysolde's player, it's Regulus the Paladin (I think, level 3, just), "I have two Defence hold, I throw myself in front of the Avatar's fist, and half the damage".

DUNGEON WORLD!

noofy

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2012, 08:42:25 PM »
Round of riotous applause and cheering uncontrollably! Woot!

DUNGEON WORLD!!!!!! Your games rock Angel-A.

Anarchangel

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2012, 10:40:31 PM »
I'm planning to be at conventions in Wellington on May 5 (Day of Games) or Christchurch on June 2-3 (Buckets of Dice), noofy ;)

Mike Olson

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2012, 07:14:52 AM »
"The fist drives into you for 30 points of damage", I said. I knew the blow would kill Ysolde When from the other side of the table, a hand is interposed, thrust between me and Ysolde's player, it's Regulus the Paladin (I think, level 3, just), "I have two Defence hold, I throw myself in front of the Avatar's fist, and half the damage".

DUNGEON WORLD!
That was an awesome, perfect moment -- in part because taking that blow brought the paladin down to 2 HP. He couldn't take another one like that. It really upped the stakes.

nemomeme

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2012, 02:13:09 AM »
I don't know whether the Thief player considered "more promising" narration. He's still going to have to roll if he does something. In my mind there was no safe Move once the Thief was on his back with a ghoul slavering over this throat, and he'd already gotten into that position via Attacks from misses and 7-9 H&Ss; the only Move that makes sense to me if the Thief misses again is the hard one to do damage. The safe maneuver was to instead look pleadingly at the Cleric (and to me for my okay) even though the Cleric had just done a couple cool things.

Maybe it was just a perfect storm of me assigning too high of damage for my ghouls, the Thief going ahead of the rest of the party for one round, the Thief H&S'ing early w/o benefit of a Defender, and a Paladin that decided to give the Thief a +1 forward with his 7-9 Defend hold instead keeping it for a re-direct or a half-damage when he did join the fray. If we hadn't *just* finished character creation for a new game that I wanted to make sure these buddies would enjoy, guys I hadn't gamed with for a few months, I probably would have said "Piotr (the Cleric) is busy dealing with his situation. We're back in time a few moments and *you've* got to do something to get out of this mess." And then had him roll and risk hitting him again for 8 damage.

It definitely felt lame. Letting the Cleric go again and thereby keep the Thief alive felt lame and having the Thief make the Last Breath move would have felt even more lame.

I told another Adventurer's Guild member about some of the issues I'd seen with combat and he wrote, "Damage as a hard move is a challenge for me. It feels transgressive, like bullying."

Without some sort of changes, I think it's going to feel like that to me sometimes too for a Step On Up X-World game.
 
Regardless of *my* comfort level, I wouldn't be surpised to hear of other situations where PCs are looking to the gal nearby who's at full hitpoints to do something (again?) rather than stepping up to try something heroic and interesting themselves when they're in the soup.  This is the exact opposite dynamic from even the grittiest of the D&D OSR clones where doing *something* is always better than doing nothing when you're in dire straits, when you're at that that moment where heroes and the most enthralling of war stories are born.  Or to hear of other GMs who are uncomfortable pulling the damage trigger in a pattern unpredictable to their players.

Anarchangel

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #28 on: February 25, 2012, 02:51:53 AM »
I will often put a weaker character in a spot like that ("The ghoul leaps at you, slavering, cruel teeth aimed at your neck") then cut away to the other players ("Omar the thief is about to be mauled by a ghoul and there are two more advancing on you, what do you do?"). This usually results in someone else saving them before they have to risk their own skin.

I think the solution to your problem is to be aware that you can paint yourself into this corner and to strive to avoid it before it happens. So if you're not prepared to pull the trigger on a hard move, don't get stuck in the situation where you feel you have to. I imagine you'll recognise this situation before it arises next time you play.

I like to start adventures with easy fights for this reason (like a swarm of Cave Rats: 2 damage (1 piercing), 6HP). It lets the players get a feel for the way the moves work and the consequences of various moves in a relatively safe way. Then in the next fight, try to hit someone who can take it hard early; so if it's those 8 dmg ghouls, hit the Fighter hard, so the Wizard can see the danger.

The essence of AW is that you usually don't get what you want, and every action you take actively moves the story in a different direction, so I don't think there's a mechanical solution to your problem.

Glitch

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Re: "The Enemy Makes An Attack Against You"
« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2012, 02:56:24 AM »
That was a tough spot for you as GM.  I like your instinct to put the pressure on the Thief and ask them "what do YOU do, with a slavering Ghoul descending on you with its foul breath and rotted pointed teeth?"  Rather than Hack & Slash again, the Thief might have tried to roll and slip out of the Ghoul's clutches (Defy Danger with DEX) or simply extend his arms and hold the Ghoul as far away as he could (Defy Danger with STR).  On these rolls, a 7-9 doesn't automatically cause the Ghoul to make an attack.  And it might have given the Thief some time for the Cleric or anyone in to move in and help.

I hear what you're saying about the feeling of being bullied with the Damage move.  It sucks when a Fighter rolls a 1 or 2 for damage a few times, and is consistently hit back by a walloping 8 from the Ghoul.  I think many players coming from D&D style games will find this pretty unfair, but it's easy enough to house rule having the GM roll for the monster damage.  Although this breaks the Cardinal Commandment of *W games ("The GM shalt not roll dice") it might make the players feel like there's more fair game mechanics behind the narration.