fictional positioning

  • 12 Replies
fictional positioning
« on: March 10, 2012, 11:31:19 PM »
I'm hoping to run some DW soon and am trying to get a good handle on the rules.  One thing I've been wondering about, is what kind of ability to affect fictional positioning the PCs have.

In Apocalypse World, the Seize By Force move offers the option to take firm hold of something.  So if you want to seize the high ground, corner an adversary, or whatever, then you could pick that option.  As far as I can see, DW doesn't have an equivalent (well, Defy Danger is pretty all-purpose, I suppose).  When a player wants to do something in a fight other than defending or dealing damage, how do you handle it?  Is it entirely up to Defy Danger and the GM's whim?


Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 03:17:17 AM »
Could you give a concrete example of such a thing, neither attacking nor defending? To actually answer your question, I think the Moves work in such a manner that combat isn't quiiite a separate part of the rules from things like Parley or Discern Realities - - since non-fighty tasks are more clearly backed up with mechanics, they remain more viable options than Intimidate or Diplomacy might be in a fight in 3e.

As far as combat stunts and so forth, I figure that yes, Defy Danger will get a lot of use. But individual class moves should be entering play a lot: Bend Bars/Lift Gates encourages fighters to smash terrain and obstacles (even during combat), and of course casters have their spells. Still, in terms of just being clever with their surroundings, in true D&D problem-solving fashion, I figure Defy Danger is going to b your go-to. Think of it as the "ability check" Move, if it helps.

As for GM-whim, the game works better if you use only use Moves when a risk of failure would be interesting. Yep, that's the GM's call, big time, but I find myself frequently letting people do harm as indicated (or whatever) because there's no "seed of uncertainty" that could make things go awry. Use a Move when you need the dice to help you figure out what happens next.



  • 777
Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2012, 05:50:16 AM »
I think you limit the game if you think of fictional positioning in terms of moves. To do it, do it, right? So just say what you are doing fictionally and if it seems like a move, well then go with the best 'fit'. Or, if you really want to use a specific move, narrate how you go about it before rolling the dice.

Sure that makes defy danger the go-to move, but AW has  the 'parent' move too.... Its just the same as acting under fire in AW. Fire=Danger. In our games the players do much more than just hack n' slash or defend in melee situations. As Zac suggests, the playbook moves are a treasure trove of suggestions for your fictional expression.

So in any dramatic situation in which the dice hit the table (including fights) all the moves are appropriate and valid if they match the fiction. Fiction first always. Remember too that the dice not only give fictional cues for the players, but they risk the chance that the GM may make a move in return (especially on a miss). Moves are the conduit for ALL the players to inform the fiction. The dice just give us a few options to choose from.

Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2012, 03:54:47 PM »
Thanks for your advice.  Let me offer a few examples of situations I'm not entirely confident about how to resolve with the moves.  These are things that seem exciting and meaningful to me, so I'd prefer to let the dice decide.

Your companion is lying unconscious on the battlefield.  You're hunkered down in cover, and want to shoot arrows to hold back the approaching spear-wielding goblins, so they can't get to him before the cleric does.  This seems like defense, but you're not there in melee, jumping in to the path of an attack to protect your friend.  If they had ranged weapons, they could shoot back at you and you could treat it as a Defend (drawing their attacks with your fire), but they don't have any, so its one-sided.  Maybe treat it as a Dex-based Defend, where you get to pin down an enemy for each hold you spend (instead of directing their attack to yourself)?

You want to swing on a rope and kick one of the bandits off the side of a bridge, as they try to cross it.  It's an attack, but you're hoping to just knock someone out of the fight (temporarily or permanently, depending on what the bridge goes over), rather than deal your damage.  Maybe Str-based Defy Danger?

You have the disembodied heart of the evil high priest that contains his soul.  If you can touch him with it, it will go back into his body and end his immortality.  Naturally his hordes of undead are trying to hold you off.  You want to carve your way through their lines and reach him.  (I know there was an old module with this in it, can't remember which one)  There are far too many shambling corpses to just kill them all first.  Maybe require them to kill a few zombies first, then Str-based Defy Danger to break through?  Since its presumably a climactic fight, it seems like it should take more than a single roll.

Am I thinking along the right lines here?

Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2012, 04:15:32 PM »
I think Defend needs to have Con connected to it. It's about heart - about courage and steadfastness. But even just looking at it mechanically, Defend still works for a ranged attacker: you can choose whichever option you want, so you'll pick one that makes fictional sense in that moment.

As for the zombie example, I would just design a "zombie horde" that had low armor but high HP, so it'd take a while to get through them all but everyone could make some progress against them. If the players tried to bullrush through, I'd say that's Defying Danger+strength, yeah.

Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 05:01:52 PM »
As for pinning the goblins with arrow fire, I would use Volley.  Instead of dealing damage on a hit, I'd rule that the arrow fire was successful in preventing the goblins from advancing on the fallen character.

For swinging on a rope to knock someone off the bridge, I would use Defy Danger DX to execute the swing.  Upon success I'd have them roll Hack & Slash, success indicating that they knock them off.  This gives a good chance for the target to get an attack off against the swinging hero too.

The moves are pretty flexible and there are several feasible solutions for different situations.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 05:07:40 PM by Glitch »

Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2012, 05:17:37 PM »
I think it would shake out like this:

1. Arrow cover to pin down goblins

I think I'd call this Parley. You have leverage over the goblins -- (if they rush your friend, they'll get lit up). And, you want them to do something (stay back). Somehow you have to make the situation clear to the goblins, so you're either using well placed shots to demonstrate your intentions or your just yelling to each other (a similar scene happens in the Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven). Either way what you're doing is meant to be intimidating, so Roll + CHA. On a 10, they get it and stay back. On a 7-9, you have to give some concrete assurance of your promise to kill them. So, I'd say that you have to spend one ammo for an especially impressive shot/series of shots to really make your threat sink in. On a fail, you waste the ammo AND they ignore you and charge.

2. Swing Bridge Kick Fall

This where the GM makes the text book tell them the requirements or consequences and ask move. You say, "sure, but the dude might grab you and pull you off the rope or dodge your kick and swing at you like a pinata -- want to try anyway?" If the PC goes for it, then do Defy Danger as usual with either STR or DEX depending on which danger you throw at him. (Or just let the PC kick the bad guy off the bridge -- you warned that there might be consequences, but that doesn't mean that the consequences MUST come to pass. I'm fond of the occasional automatic win).  

3. Zombie Horde

I think this one is hard to answer -- it depends on your GM move and on the player's decision.

"There are numerous corpses shambling around between you and Bad Guy and the nearest one lunges at you WHAT DO YOU DO?" That's one thing.  

"You are overwhelmed by zombies clutching at every part of your body and you cannot possibly kill them all before they devour you WHAT DO YOU DO?" That's another thing.

Either way, what happens next is in the hands of the player. They might make any number of moves.

But, assuming they push through with sheer determination  -- knocking down zombies and trampling them. Then, yeah Defy Danger with STR makes sense to me.

In my view, the bottom line with all of this stuff is that your job is to make a GM move and their job is to make a player move (or decline to do so). You won't know which player move they are making until they make it. There isn't a "correct" player move. So, in your "use arrows to pin down the goblins" example -- I think that would be Parley (like I said) but only if that's what the player ACTUALLY SAYS. If the player just says, "I shoot at the goblins" then I'd call it Volley.



Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2012, 05:48:35 PM »
Good call on parley with the goblins using your arrows as leverage.

For the zombies, that's where anticipating a horde can let you craft a custom move for that situation.  Then you let the player decide if he wants to wade through the shambling masses.



  • 777
Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2012, 08:43:36 PM »
Wonderful replies everyone! I really like this thread :)

I think that Marshall and Ambayard have drawn out a fine guideline though about implementing moves. That being the GM's responsibility is to ascertain what the PC is trying to do and work with them as co-authors in detailing the fiction (via the moves).

Questions questions questions. Get down to the nitty gritty before just going with the first move option (though this can be o.k. too). The Defend / Volley / Parley with the goblins situation is a great example of this. All those approaches are equally as valid and applicable, you just need to focus your questions to determine which one its is.

Also, Marshall is the champion of custom moves 'on the fly', but you can be too! Its not that hard, and one of your privileges as GM.
Since moves always start and end with the fiction, a mechanical idea is the least important bit of the move. Moves always follow a similar structure. The most basic parts of a move are the trigger (“when...”) and the effect (“then...”). Every move follows this basic format.

I generally use the defy danger model as an easy go-to model, though the question format of discern reality or the hold-based format of defend are good too.

I hope everyone's ideas gives you some inspiration for creative narrative play Kalyptein.

Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2012, 11:27:53 PM »
Definitely lots of great ideas.  I'd never have come up with using Parley, but that really shows off the flexibility of the moves.  Hopefully I can put all this to good use soon.  Thanks!



  • 17
Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2012, 07:20:13 PM »
For the arrows another option is to just tell the player that he can keep the goblins at bay with his arrow fire and have him mark of an ammo as my MC move (use up their resources), then once the cleric gets there I would ask if he is going to heal now or carry him back before the Goblins rally for another attack (Show signs of doom) and go from there.

Don't forget your moves, more often then not if you are in doubt about which move the players need to make it is time to hit them with one of yours.

- Colin

Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2012, 06:50:12 PM »
Colin: That's really good. :)

Re: fictional positioning
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2012, 06:52:53 PM »
Don't forget your moves, more often then not if you are in doubt about which move the players need to make it is time to hit them with one of yours.

This line should be in the book.