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Author Topic: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves  (Read 1391 times)

RaHor81

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Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« on: July 28, 2016, 12:29:51 PM »
Hi, I'm about to gm my first DW session on saturday and I'm really excited. There are still some things I need to understand and I'm hoping you can give me some advice.

How shall I deal with players making too concrete a move? The rules explicitly encourage the players to advance the narrative by describing their actions instead of just saying: I attack him.

My problem is the following:
gm: There's an Orc guarding the entrance, what do you do?
Player A: With my bow already in my hand, I shoot an arrow directly into his left eye...
...
The appropriate move would be volley I guess, but you could play out the same scenario with hack'n slash.

Now my problem: on a 7+ or a 10+ the action/move succeeds so the player would now roll for damage, which would be rather silly, since the Orc now has an arrow stuck in his left I because the player succeeded... he'd be dead by all means... How do I cope with the problem that player actions might just become ridiculously powerful thru thoughtful description?

Thanks in advance for any ideas
(sorry for any mistakes, English isn't my native language)

Fleuri

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 01:47:51 PM »
This seems like a two level resolution mechanic: The Volley roll determining if the shot hits at all and the damage roll describing how bad the hit was. This allows for some cool narrative too:

Consider that the volley roll would  hit for 10+ but the damage roll is terrible. In narrative you could tell that the Orc manages to just nudge its head out of the way and the arrow only scratches its temple. From there you can let the moves snowball nicely as the Orc flies into rage.

With a high enough damage roll that depletes the Orc's HP it falls down with an arrow in its eye. Fair and square. Brutal efficiency.

With the Orc almost dying i.e. it has only few HP left, you could as well have the arrow hit the Orc in the eye but surprise, it's not quite dead. Instead it staggers along the corridor screaming the agonizing pain, other hand clutching the arrow poking out from its eye and the free arm flailing around, trying blindly and desperately hit someone.

Rolls happen in the fiction and they create the fiction.

noclue

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2016, 04:09:01 PM »
The move Volley does not say "when you shoot someone in the eye." It says when you take aim and shoot at an enemy at range." The player is clearly aiming and shooting, so Volley seems appropriate, but the player does not have the authority to decide where arrows go. They can describing shooting for eyes. They even describe in great detail how they see the arrow entering the eye in their imagination, but when the move is triggered, a 10+ does not mean any arrows have entered any eyes. It means they roll their damage.

The GM is the primary narrative resolution mechanic in DW. Based on the results you may decide that they have indeed shot the Orc in the eye and killed him, but if damage isn't enough to kill the Orc, you would describe something else.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

RaHor81

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2016, 05:30:46 PM »
thanks, noclue, that's exactly the answer I was looking for.

Tatourmi

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2016, 10:49:00 PM »
The move Volley does not say "when you shoot someone in the eye." It says when you take aim and shoot at an enemy at range." The player is clearly aiming and shooting, so Volley seems appropriate, but the player does not have the authority to decide where arrows go. They can describing shooting for eyes. They even describe in great detail how they see the arrow entering the eye in their imagination, but when the move is triggered, a 10+ does not mean any arrows have entered any eyes. It means they roll their damage.

The GM is the primary narrative resolution mechanic in DW. Based on the results you may decide that they have indeed shot the Orc in the eye and killed him, but if damage isn't enough to kill the Orc, you would describe something else.

A bit of a weird question:

So, basically, the move triggers every time the players is trying to describe the arrow entering the eye, forcing a new narrative state, which prevents the player from ever including the death of the orc in the conversation? Or does the player just not have the authority to describe the orc's death?

If it is the second one, why? Is this written somewhere? Honest question about the way PbtA games work. I find it hard to grasp sometimes.

noclue

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2016, 07:10:59 AM »
It's a fair question. The move Volley triggers whenever they take aim and shoot at an enemy. In the example, it seems like the player's description of the character's behavior satisfied that requirement. Seperately, the players definitely do not have the authority to decide that the orc has died, at least without the GM doing something like asking them a question about it.

Quote
It’s a conversation between the players and the GM—the GM tells the players what they see and hear in the world around them and the players say what their characters are thinking, feeling, and doing. Sometimes those descriptions will trigger a move—something that’ll cause everyone to stop and say “time to roll the dice to see what happens (Page 13).”

How can something cause everyone to stop and say "time to roll dice" if players can just describe the orc dying?

Quote
The players have it easy—they just say what their characters say, think, and do. You [the GM] have it a bit harder. You have to say everything else (Page 158).

« Last Edit: August 03, 2016, 07:18:36 AM by noclue »
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Tatourmi

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2016, 10:30:19 AM »
It's a fair question. The move Volley triggers whenever they take aim and shoot at an enemy. In the example, it seems like the player's description of the character's behavior satisfied that requirement. Seperately, the players definitely do not have the authority to decide that the orc has died, at least without the GM doing something like asking them a question about it.

Quote
It’s a conversation between the players and the GM—the GM tells the players what they see and hear in the world around them and the players say what their characters are thinking, feeling, and doing. Sometimes those descriptions will trigger a move—something that’ll cause everyone to stop and say “time to roll the dice to see what happens (Page 13).”

How can something cause everyone to stop and say "time to roll dice" if players can just describe the orc dying?

Quote
The players have it easy—they just say what their characters say, think, and do. You [the GM] have it a bit harder. You have to say everything else (Page 158).

Thanks for the answer.

I get it for the move triggers now, I think. Moves work with intention and action, both things the player controls. So that's okay.

But I don't quite know about authority though. I mean I see it more clearly now. But I think it is still weird at a deeper level. Authority is what prevents a player from saying: "The planet cracks and swallows the orc whole". But say a player puts a ladder against a barn wall to climb it. Nothing weird is going on. Barn not on fire, bull not rushing him and so forth... This does not trigger a move, and I don't know of many Mc's which would create one just for that occasion. Yet the player directly affected the world, which is supposedly the authority of the gm.

The answer would be that the player had authority over his character's action, which allowed him to describe them moving the ladder. This is a good answer I think. Yet it then obviously leads to a game where any action of the character described by the player automatically succeeds if it does not call for a move. And then what prevents the player from adding "I do the exact movement set required to put an arrow in the orc's eye" is the fact that this, by the rules, invokes a move that will bat the resolution of the action away from player authority. "Yes, however it means you aim which triggers Volley, which may cancel out your description by changing the situation directly". This makes for a solid system.

Now what about specific actions that do not trigger a move? Or trigger a move that seems inappropriate? Say: "I put my hand together and hit at the planet's exact magico-telluric spot in order to crack it open". The player describes his actions. That is his right. He also has an intent, whose resolution is outside of his authority, but unfortunately he described in such a way that this intended result is a consequence of his action. So he should be able to add the cracking of the planet to the conversation. Obviously this should not be happening. I see two solutions:

First the M.c says "No". What this No means is that the player does not have the ability to position themselves fictionally to do this. An item may allow them to do so, but as is the character just cannot even describe this.

Second the M.c creates a move for the new situation, that enters into play right now. This is the "fun" solution but it breaks the game pace up quite a bit.

There is also another, weirder solution which is to create a move that encompasses these situations:

Getting specific: Whenever you get specific to achieve a precise outcome the M.c decides on the stat that will be called for and judges it normal, difficult, crazy difficult or impossible. Roll +stat. If it is difficult, the player takes a -1 to the roll. If it's crazy difficult, the player takes a -2 to the roll. If it's impossible, treat the result as a 6-. On a 10+ you do it, and it's every bit as awesome as you thought it'd be. On a 7-9 you do it but there's a catch, the M.c offers you a worse outcome, a hard bargain or an ugly choice.


noclue

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2016, 02:38:10 PM »
Would that new move add to your game experience? Why?
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Tatourmi

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2016, 09:21:24 AM »
Would that new move add to your game experience? Why?

Haha, yes, fair. It does not sound remotely like a fun move. The "bonus/malus" alone making it very antagonistic to basic PbtA doctrine (If necessary, I feel, for the move to be remotely playable).

It was only proposed for theory's sake. I don't know if the game works the way I think it does, but if it does I feel like the problem Rahor highlighted does exist, and such a move would solve the issue. Then again, I am a fairly new M.c :)

noclue

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2016, 04:03:01 AM »
Well, okay. From a theory perspective, players should try not to describe their characters doing things that aren't possible. If they make a mistake, the GM can point out their error and wait patiently while they correct themselves.

If the player says something that they expect to be routine, "I put the ladder against the wall," the players narration stands unless there's some reason that there action might not succeed or some information about the world that makes the narration invalid. "Well, as you go to grab the ladder, it transforms into a snake and tries to drive it's wicked fangs into your forearm. What do you do?" Or, "As you're carrying the ladder to the wall, it explodes in a cloud of smoke and debris. Through the clearing haze you see a dragon coming right for you. What do you do?" Or, "Unfortunatly, the ladder is too short to reach the rafters."
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Tatourmi

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2016, 12:59:01 PM »
Well, okay. From a theory perspective, players should try not to describe their characters doing things that aren't possible. If they make a mistake, the GM can point out their error and wait patiently while they correct themselves.

If the player says something that they expect to be routine, "I put the ladder against the wall," the players narration stands unless there's some reason that there action might not succeed or some information about the world that makes the narration invalid. "Well, as you go to grab the ladder, it transforms into a snake and tries to drive it's wicked fangs into your forearm. What do you do?" Or, "As you're carrying the ladder to the wall, it explodes in a cloud of smoke and debris. Through the clearing haze you see a dragon coming right for you. What do you do?" Or, "Unfortunatly, the ladder is too short to reach the rafters."

I see, so authorship on the world until perceived contradiction or move trigger by the M.c. Thanks for taking the time to respond!

noclue

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Re: Noob GM question about too concrete player moves
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2016, 07:41:42 PM »
Always glad to help! ;)
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER