Barf Forth Apocalyptica

powered by the apocalypse => Dungeon World => Topic started by: ambayard on March 02, 2012, 06:17:48 PM

Title: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: ambayard on March 02, 2012, 06:17:48 PM

My group and I are new to Dungeon World, and we think it's great. But, we don't know how to deal with Player vs. Player physical conflict.

For example, what if Gant swings his bloody hooked sword at Trent, and Trent back flips out of the way? Presumably, Trent is "defying danger" and Gant is "hack and slashing" -- what if they BOTH roll 10s? The results are mutually exclusive. Trent can't avoid harm and take harm at the same time. Or what if Gant rolls a 7 -- how can Trent counterpunch while he's flipping away? Also, how would the "aid or interfere" move work in this situation? Would they both roll that move too? What about everyone else? 

I feel like the system works very well when the response to a GM move is a player move, but player vs. player is a square peg in a round hole. I think the solution is a special "player vs. player hack&slash move" like the one for parley. Have I missed something?

Thank you!

Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: sage on March 02, 2012, 06:21:22 PM
Presumably the actions went something like this, yeah?

Player 1: "I stab player 2!"
Player 2: "I jump out of the way!"

What's actually going on here is Player 2 is Interfering with Player 1. Player 2 should roll to interfere, then Player 1 rolls Hack and Slash. If player 2 gets the 7-9 result they don't get stabbed but they're otherwise in trouble: off balance, maybe, or even on the ground. Depends on the situation.

Pretty much any time two players oppose each other one should be interfering with the other.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: ambayard on March 02, 2012, 07:25:33 PM
Hi Sage:

I like that method, but I still think there are technical issues:

Like, say both players want to fight (they are dueling or something) . . .

Player 1 has a STR of 8 (-1 to Hack&Slash) and a relevant Bond of 3.

Player 2 has a STR of 10 and a Bond of 0.

If they both roll 7s, the player who Interferes wins. Who should get the advantage?

Also, it seems like an Interfering can SUCCEED (causing a -2 to the other Player's roll), but still get hit by a high rolling Hack&Slasher.

And, an Interfering Player seems to be at risk of getting hit twice. If the Interfering character botches the roll, he suffers a consequence for failing AND he gets hit again, not because he failed, but because the other guy succeeded.

In practice, I think your method would work fine 90% of the time because nobody would look closely enough to sweat it, but are the issues above really there, or do I misundersand something.

Thank you again!

Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: sage on March 02, 2012, 07:40:04 PM
Player vs. player is meant to work differently. Being able to cut up goblins is not the same as being able to gut your friend, so yes, sometimes the great warrior will be at a disadvantage to attack the helpless but knowing Bard.

That said, a great attacker is a fearsome foe. Just interfering may not be enough. That's the case where the interferer rolled high but the attacker still succeeded.

The interfering player isn't always hit twice though. That's up to the GM. The GM's move needs to follow from the fiction but it doesn't have to be against that player directly. What monsters are attracted by the sounds of battle? What did the players miss while they were so busy stabbing each other? The answers to those could effect both players.

You also have the option of going with some of the "consequences" moves as I call them. You could tell them the requirements and ask: "As you try to dive out of the way you start to slip, you have a split second where you can lean back into the blow of plunge into the river, what do you do?" That's still a hard move, it's got consequences, but they aren't getting hit twice.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Anarchangel on March 02, 2012, 08:15:56 PM
You're conceptualising it incorrectly. It's not an opposed roll where only one can succeed, it's a serious of fictional moves. So.

Fighter decides he's had enough of the Bard's lip and attacks him. Hack and Slash.
Bard tries to leap aside. Interfere.
I'd roll the interfere first: roll+Bond, strength is irrelevant, using your numbers the bard gets a 10, so he succeeds in making it difficult for the fighter to hit him. So he anticipates the blow because he know the Fighter is a sociopath with a mean temper, or he starts crying and the fight has to force himself to hack down his friend.
Now the fighter rolls his attack: roll+STR, minus two for the anticipation or crying or whatever, 7+2-2=7, so he hits and does damage, but the Bard gets to make an attack.

Note that you could also have the fighter roll hack and slash first ("A 10! His longsword carves through the air. It's coming right at your head, what do you do?!" "I duck!", then the bard rolls interfere ("An 8! You duck your head under his blade, but the sharp movement causes you to lose your footing, you fall over!. Fighter, 10-2 is 8, you mange to adjust your strike, but doing so pulls you off balance and opening you up to the Bard's counter attack...")

For me, the Fighter's hack and slash 7-9 is the slightly problematic bit. What happens here? Does the Bard inflict his damage on the fighter? does he get an attack on the fighter? Something else?

I think, as the GM, I would ask the bard what they want to do. If the Bard has had enough of the Fighter's bullying and stabs him with his dagger, I'd probably just let him inflict damage (hey, don't start fights if you can't take the counterattack!), but allowing an interference-free hack and slash might be more in the theme of "moves snowballing".

What would other people do?
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: ambayard on March 02, 2012, 09:04:57 PM
I wish I hadn't mentioned jumping out of the way (though I was curious about it), because the example I actually care about is this one . . .

Hotar, the evil Cleric, is standing over the bleeding lifeless body of Mel the fighter -- Hotar's spell broke the Mel's spine moments ago, and now Hotar has the key of Obizmid in his clutches. The Paladin had suspected that Hotar might be evil, and he would have said something if that giant wasp hadn't killed him, but nobody in the party knew for sure about Hotar's betrayal until this moment. And, now, Hotar is going to use the key of Obizmid to unleash that cruel demon on the realm. With Mel's death, the only thing that stands between Hotar and imminent multi-planar catastrophe is the meek wizard Pol -- and Pol is wounded (1HP) and out of spells . . .

Hotar isn't in great shape either (1HP) and his god stopped listening to him some time ago, so now these friends become foes will fight to the death for the sake of all . . . no magics, no miracles, hand to hand, man to man.

Hotar STR 10 Bond w/Pol 0

Pol STR 8 Bond w/Hotar 3

I understand that it should not an issue of opposed rolls, but dig this . . .

If we say that Hotar is Interfering with Pol's Hack&Slash move, and he rolls a 7, then Hotar stares cooly into Pol's eyes and intimidates the poor Wizard . . . Pol will suffer a -2 to his attack (also Hotar is exposed to danger retribution or cost, maybe he drops his sword.)

If Pol rolls a 7, he gets a -2 because of Hotar's intimidation and another -1 because of his STR . . . that's a 4; I think that means that Hotar gets to punch Pol in the face . . . killing him.

Hotar uses the key and destroys the world.

On the other hand . . .

If Pol is interfering with Hotar's Hack&Slash and he rolls a 7 he adds +3 and gets a 10. Hotar remembers their friendship and hesitates in his evil plan -- taking a -2.

Hotar tries to punch Pol, rolls a 7 -2 =5 = failure. Pol punches Hotar . . .

and saves the world.

The Players BOTH said that they wanted to fight the other guy to the death. In the fiction they do the SAME thing, but depending on the GM's MECHANICAL decision about which one is Interfering and which one is Hacking and Slashing, the entire universe is either saved or destroyed. That's what bugs me.

GM vs. Player move is all about fictional decisions, player vs. player is about math because BOTH sides are rolling dice.


Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: sage on March 02, 2012, 09:19:55 PM
When both players are attempting the same action you look carefully at who's acting first: they're Hack and Slashing, the other is Interfering. Them's the breaks, but sometimes attacking or defending is harder.

If there's no clear fiction to who's acting first (no one is acting in response to someone else) and the actions aren't opposed (both are attacking each other) then I'd hack them both hack and slash and apply the results simultaneously. Fighting each other is bloody stuff for sure.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Anarchangel on March 02, 2012, 09:27:51 PM
Also, note that when Pol rolls that 4, Hotar doesn't get to punch him in the face, the GM gets to make a move.

If Pol rolled a 7-9, maybe they'd both kill each other. Otherwise, unless the GM is going to do damage, only a 10+ will result in one PC winning unequivocally.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Anarchangel on March 02, 2012, 09:32:34 PM
GM vs. Player move is all about fictional decisions, player vs. player is about math because BOTH sides are rolling dice.


No! The rules of the game don't change just because the players are providing their own antagonism. The GM is still playing and the players both have to follow the same usual rules of leading with the fiction.

The players can agree that the characters are going to fight to the death, but one of those character is going to make a move first, then it's all on. Just follow the usual rules, as sage says.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Quizoid on March 02, 2012, 11:25:40 PM
I still feel like the rules are a little odd and confusing. I can see the confusion. We might want a clarification/example in the next edition about PC vs. PC stuff.

I'm going to talk from here on out about this, simple-blandly narrated (for clarity) scenario:

"One PC stabs at another PC. The defender steps back."

So, according to the explanations by Archangel and Sage...

From the perspective of the attacker, it follows the logic of the rest of the game. He rolls his Hack and Slash and deals damage to the "enemy," if successful.

But, from the perspective of the player taking the hit, he did not ignore the Soft Move or roll a 6-, so it's odd that he takes what would normally be a Hard Move, suffering damage. Though, in this case, it's not really a Hard Move, just a result of the successful roll of another PCs Hack & Slash. It's also double-strange from the victim's point of view because that victim can only Interfere, and can't Defy Danger.

It seems you could also run it this way and still, "follow the rules," as is.

"One PC stabs another at PC. The defender steps back."

The attacker does not roll Hack and Slash. The defender rolls Defy Danger. The attacker "Interferes" with the dodging.  Perhaps this way would actually make more sense if the defender has no intention of "fighting back."
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: sage on March 03, 2012, 12:20:04 PM
Player vs. player will be different than everything else in the game. That's because it's not really a focus, and it represents something different.

Hack and Slash is normally about driving a blade into some deadly creature or twisted cultist.

Defy Danger is normally about getting out the of the way of a fireball or withstanding a mind control spell.

It's different when the person you're stabbing is the rogue who had your back that one time with the poison needle trap. It's different when the attack you're avoiding comes from a skilled warrior, every bit your equal.

Think of it this way: when fighting some lizardman the important thing is your general ability to stab or your quick reflexes to get out of the way. When fighting another player you know each other: you're both second guessing each other, trying to predict the next move, etc.

The moves feel a litte different because there is no GM move being responded to or ignored, no golden opportunity. That's why the GM's move on a 6- (for either party) can be softer than normal: tell them the consequences and ask, put them in a spot, etc.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: ambayard on March 03, 2012, 01:18:41 PM
Thank you for the responses everyone!

Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Anarchangel on March 03, 2012, 02:52:17 PM
Quizoid, bear in mind that Hard and Soft moves are terms to describe the things the GM does. Player moves have mechanical effect, so they're more transparent. The GM has principles and agenda as parameters within which they have a lot of leeway, so "Hard" and "Soft" are just tools for talking about the continuum of moves the GM can make.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: ambayard on March 03, 2012, 03:45:52 PM

Exactly. What you said is the source of the issue that troubles me. In Dungeon World, when irrevocable bad things happen to players it is the result of a GM Hard Move.

With one exception . . .

When one PC succeeds in a Hack and Slash move and deals damage to another PC, it means that the victim PC is taking harm even if the victim PC did not fail a roll. And, that's weird. It's weird because the moves are designed with consequences built in. The moves assume that the adversary is an NPC and not another player. If you defy danger in response to GM danger, you defy it; if you blow your roll, you get hit. The GM never rolls. The moves do not seem well equipped to deal with a situation when the adversary is ALSO rolling dice and might succeed in dealing damage to you whether or not you are successful. For that reason, it's problematic to treat PC on PC violence as if it's any other situation. It's not.

I think the solution Sage provided would work. Everyone makes a call and decides that one guy is Interfering and the other guy is Hack and Slashing. Fine. But, that decision really does give an objective advantage to one player or the other. The player with the low STR would much rather make the Interfere move, but why should he get to? What if his manner of interference is "hitting the guy with a frying pan"? You guys talked about "who goes first" and who is "defending," but from the point of view of the players, they are BOTH reacting to stimuli the way that they always do -- sequence doesn't matter. They are just making a move. The question isn't "who goes first," it's "which move is arbitrarily assigned to whom?" And, somebody is getting screwed by the mechanics.

But, still, I'm not saying it wouldn't work. It would work. It's just not fair to somebody.

There are probably other solutions too. I was thinking it might be a good idea to say that a player cannot deal damage to another on their own roll. Like, if player A rolls a 10 in a Hack & Slash against player B, player A should still "succeed" but the GM should narrate some fictional advantage or benefit. The only time a PC should take harm should be as a result of their own move (which is how it works in every other case in the game).

So, in the case you proposed several posts ago where a Hack & Slashing PC rolls a 7 and exposes himself to an attack, only at THAT point would the GM ask the other PC to roll a damage die to determine the harm.

The idea of having a special caveat for a player versus player situation is not new. Parley has a player versus player exception, and there might be other ones. I think it would make things easier in Hack&Slash.

With robots,


Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: noofy on March 03, 2012, 03:59:51 PM
Nicely articulated Ambayard.
Its true, character vs character mortal combat is not supported by the rules, and I like your idea that damage is only dealt to a player on their own roll.

I'd just like to say though that the situations that you describe are heavy 'scenes', fully plausible though, especially in a one-shot or convention scenario with evil PC's.

I think it take a liberal interpretation of 'fair'. If the players are both clamouring to be be the one to make the hack and slash and not the interfere, I  can see the potential problems to 'fairness'. Hmmmm.....
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Anarchangel on March 03, 2012, 04:08:29 PM
There's a thread on Story Games about Initiative in Dungeon World ( which has some bearing here. The tl;dr version is that there's no such thing as simultaneous actions. Someone acts first and someone reacts immediately afterwards.

Have you read Apocalypse World, ambayard? Unlike DW, that's implicitly set out to pit PCs against each other, so it might be a useful book to read if you're wondering about how to hack DW to make PvP more fair.

Although having said that AW supports PvP, I don't see what in DW doesn't provide the same support. Yes, this is a game where a player can damage another player without a defensive roll.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Anarchangel on March 03, 2012, 04:14:20 PM
It seems like this would be easy to balance by allowing the defender to interfere, then to roll their damage on the attacker's 7-9. That way, the most likely result is probably both characters take damage.

Then the attacker knows what they're getting themselves into when they attack, and can choose to attack or not accordingly. It gives the advantage to the defender.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: ambayard on March 03, 2012, 04:36:16 PM
Anarchangel: Thanks for the link. I like your idea and several others that have come up. This thread has helped me wrap my head around the issue. I've only skimmed Apocalypse World -- I'll delve into it more.

Noofy: Word. Ideally the players aren't all trying to game the system to kill each other more efficiently. :)

Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Anarchangel on March 03, 2012, 04:49:41 PM
I agree. It's one of those areas in *World games that come up from time to time that make me go "hmmm..." and have to think through the implications of the rules in an interesting way.

Was this a situation that actually came up in a game, or was it theoretical?

I've never had an actual PvP moment in a DW game I've been involved in. I usually try to head it off at Chargen. It helps that Evil in DW (for PCs at least) is pretty much Selfish rather than "Team-Killing F---tard" ( (NSFW) :D
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: ambayard on March 03, 2012, 08:00:04 PM
Theoretical. But, a few of the characters in our party could easily end up at cross purposes, so it could come up.

Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: admutt on March 03, 2012, 08:00:17 PM
Oh, I can so see this coming up in a game.  :)

I'm still working my way through the Beta 1.1, but I would be tempted to let both sides in a PvP combat make simultaneous H&S rolls and then rule it something like this:

Player B
Player A  10+7-96-
10+Stalemate – Both PCs take Interference Penalties  
B takes interference penalty  
B takes damage
7-9A takes interference penalty
Stalemate – No Result
B takes interference penalty
6-A takes damage
A takes interference penalty
Stalemate – Both take damage

This way, as both PCs begin a Mutual Clobbering, successful rolls lean toward giving an advantage on the next exchange while failures result in the PC leaving themselves open to damage (or some other "hard move") from the opposing PC.

I feel that, being a fan of all the PCs, it makes some sense to allow them to have a better reaction to another PCs H&S then all those goblins, giants and demons did that they've encountered along the way.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: ambayard on March 03, 2012, 08:54:45 PM
admutt: That's awesome. I think I like your idea better than mine, but here's mine:

1. Players can only take damage on their own move.

2. When you attack another PC, roll + STR

On a 10+ the other PC must Defy Danger to avoid your attack

On a 7-9 the other PC must Defy Danger to avoid your attack, but you are exposed to retribution and the other PC may deal his damage.


Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: noofy on March 03, 2012, 09:17:44 PM
I still think that the answer is to be derived within the fictional positioning of the thing, rather than coming up with any number of mechanical adjustments to make it 'fair'.

Remember to remind the players why we are playing this game. To do amazing things, play off each other and explore the world. I can see the allure of a game full of betrayal and backstabbery, but that should be at least explored a little in the fiction. The player's will have flagged it with alignment / bond / class / move choice and probably set a few fictional events in motion before 'popping the question' of who gets to stab who in the ghoulies first. (and thus gaining mechanical advantage in the hack and slash / aid paradigm)

Remember too, to address the characters, not the players, but cleverly do so to reveal the player's thoughts on the situation. What sort of story are they interested in playing? Part of your responsibility as GM is to cater to this. Make sure you spell out the impending doom of their actions, give it real and significant fictional 'weight'. Give them consequences and ask too. Offer a carrot that is far more fictionally rewarding (to the player) than the death of a fellow PC.

'So you roll a strong hit and deal your damage without nary a scratch. You know that'll kill 'em right? If you do, you'll become the 'Scourge of Dingledale. You'll lose the sanctity of the town, you'll be hunted down mercilessly by every gold-hungry adventurer in the region. Or.....
Use their life as leverage in a Parley. After all you have their life in your hands. What do you really want from them?'

This then gives the 'stronger' PC a choice, they can still murder their fellow PC accepting fictional ramifications. Or they can allow the fiction to 'snowball' toward a Parley, giving the player in control of the deathmarked character a chance to accept fictionally juicy terms or lose their life. It also calls for another roll if the players go there, introducing another chance for a near hit or miss for you to intercede as GM.

All still by the rules without hacking.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: admutt on March 04, 2012, 09:38:56 AM
noofy - I agree with you.  Using the existing rules should work 99% of the time, allowing everyone involved to narrate a satisfying fictional result to one (or more) party member's betrayal of the group.

However, that other 1% of the time, when two (or more) PCs are warily circling each other with drawn weapons and preparing to spill each other's guts on the cold, hard ground?  At that point it's going to be up to the GM to tweak the rules slightly so that neither PLAYER gets upset at the outcome.  Sometimes, and I emphasize "sometimes", we're just going to need some sort of balance in this kind of encounter.

Whether or not this sort of encounter actually ends with the losing PCs guts spilled on the ground is still something that can be narrated within the rules.  Yes, definitely, the winner may decide that using Parley as his "damage" is more satisfying, or maybe he has another idea and comes up with a custom move on the spot.

And let's not forget the "Last Breath" move.   Specially when there might be a god looking on, waiting for some reason to step in and prevent something really bad from happening.

There are lots of ways that the fiction can take over again, but the actual "duel" between the PCs should provide both players with the opportunity to "win."

In the end, this is a game with shared authorship where everyone, not just the GM, should be a fan of all the PCs.  Is it bad to have a special rule (or suggestion, or hack) for a situation that might otherwise sour the game for some players?   You might never use this hack, but it might be something that other GMs would use.  Or, at least, something that other GMs might hack even more.

I think, when it comes down to PvP, perceived fairness is essential when there's a possibility that one player might come away feeling cheated or otherwise soured on the game.

YMMV.  Ours, too, as we get more experienced with this system.  :)
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: mease19 on March 04, 2012, 10:54:18 AM
Trying to kill another PC (while others watch) should have harsh ramifications and is kind of jerk thing to do because now the fiction is going to be about your having killed the other character instead of the awesome stuff everyone was working on making. 

When you get into a brawl with another PC, revert to stun damage.  As long as no one is killed, you may each rewrite a bond to reflect your [re]new[ed] friendship.  If you do, mark XP.
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: Quizoid on March 04, 2012, 02:45:04 PM
admutt, well put. I agree that fairness is important if things start to "get real," so that the players don't feel saddened.

mease19, I wouldn't assume player vs. player = jerk move. I've had great PvP moments. If it follows the fiction, it can be a lot of fun for all involved. Clearly, an element of PvP is built into the game, otherwise we wouldn't have the -2 to interfere clause. Though, I understand that this is a delicate thing. And, I probably do agree in that this has probably been done poorly as much or even more than it's been done well.

One solution: If it's a situation where one PC is clearly now against the goals and motivations of the group, and makes a move against the group, that PC gets NPCed and goes under the control of the GM. This can help prevent hurt feelings too, because it's not just what the players are used to, GM-created opposition. If the NPC is killed, or stays on "the dark side," that player can create a new PC.

Obviously, this doesn't work for those minor squabbles, or one where there is more of a party split (2 vs. 2, etc...). 
Title: Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
Post by: mease19 on March 04, 2012, 03:09:57 PM
mease19, I wouldn't assume player vs. player = jerk move.
I'm wasn't just talking about PvP generally.  I'm talking about when you either take PvP all the way to the death or when you out and out murder another PC (e.g. I stab him in his sleep).  When you do that, you've unilaterally shifted the focus of the whole game away from the shared narrative of the adventure and made it about what just happened.  I'm not saying it can't be cool to have one PC kill another PC on occasion but there's a lot of room for hurt feelings if there isn't mutual buy in.  

In stories/TV/film, it's common to have main characters get into fights throw a punch/slap but it becomes a whole different genre when a protagonist kills another protagonist - it usually turns out that the rest of the story is about the fallout of that act.   Some custom moves could make PvP fun and put some speed bumps between character drama (fisticufs, a slap, wrestling) and PC death or hurt feelings.