Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions

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Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« on: April 18, 2012, 08:25:17 PM »
Last night I ran my first game of Dungeon World Basic. I'd run a few sessions of Apocalypse World maybe a year or more ago. So I had the basic gist of how the GMing and the players moves worked.

There were three players, all better versed in Apocalypse World but also new to Dungeon World. We had
- Hawthorn, evil cleric of the secret god;
- Hob, a neutral fighter with a big hammer; and
- Marlow, a neutral thief

Character creation went smoothly enough, though there was some confusion about whether load calculation (e.g. 7+str) used the Strength base score (e.g. Str 17) or the modifier (e.g. Str +2). We went with the modifier (e.g. 7+2) but the rules looked  ambiguous to us.

I used the Bloodstone Idol adventure from the red book, starting in the forest looking at the Hall entrance. The action started quickly, with the help of a few failed rolls, and quickly devolved into a brutal fighting, backstabbing and volleys maelstrom in the forest. The fighter died for a time and was writing up a Paladin, only to realise he hadn't subtracted his armour from the damage in took going toe-to-toe against a berzerk lizardman. The goblins took the opportunity to kill the few straggling lizardmen that we missed.

The group cut a deal with the goblins to kill the lizardmen and were lead into the hall. The group followed the goblin to the rope "bridge" across the idol room. They decided not to risk it, but the presence of the idol unleashed a cure light wounds from the cleric's mind.

Some trap checking, laying dead to rest, falling down stairs, exploding fireflies, running from fireflies, resting, getting mesmerised by the menagrie illusion, the group ended in at the base of the idol against more lizardmen. We ended our first session there.

This fight was pretty satisfying, with all kinds of mishaps and antics arising quite naturally from the player and gm moves. I'm not a fan of the static damage for monsters, as the players consistently had pretty poor damage meaning monsters even with similar weapons were constantly outclassing them in terms of damage.

Everyone levelled up, though it was the thief first--with his trap checking--followed closely by the cleric--with all the defying danger and discerning reality--and then the fighter a little later, maybe because fights tended to be over quite quickly and he never rushed to parley.

One issue was the fighter accidently picked a racial and signature weapon move that were identical. We corrected it but it would be good if there just was no such overlap to have to avoid.

Another thing was dealing with what a "trap" was. The thief rolled 10+ trap expert on the zoo of monsters illusion. I gave him his answers as I figured finding traps involves percieving irregularities in the environment, essentially what's needed to discover this zoo is an illusion. I didn't however allow that he could disable the illusion with a tricks of the trade because he just doesn't have the magical knowledge. But I'm no 100% sure on that call.

Lastly, an issue came up about GM moves. The thief managed a back stab move on a Lizardman who was baiting and taunting the fighter. The Lizardman was severly hurt, but not out, so the fighter took a swing at him. And failed his roll. This is when the issue arose: I said that the Lizardman ducked under the blow and stabbed the thief for 4 damage or something. And the thief player thought this was unfair because he hadn't failed any rolls. I said that the Lizardman was enraged by your dishonourable attack and the fighter had failed his roll and so given me a golden opportunity. The thief's player thought that if the thief got hit he might as well have not rolled 14 on his backstab. I ended up just forecasting the lizardman's imminent spear thrust, which I think ended with the thief losing his rapier and the fighter ending trapped under the dead weight of thoroughly pummelled lizardman.

So my last question is: are golden opporunities, like in failed rolls, meant to only apply to the player's character who failed the roll? Is doing otherwise unjustly punishing players? I'm not convinced it is unjust, if the fiction is followed, but I'm interested in other's opinions.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 11:01:35 PM by watergoesred »

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Saxon

  • 12
Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2012, 07:12:39 AM »
I'm no great font of knowledge when it comes to DW, having only played 3 sessions, and GMed another 2, but I will say, "no man wants to pay the penace for another man's sin."  Eventhough the fiction you wove flows nicely in the encounter, I think the Golden Opportunity produced by a failed Hack & Slash roll falls squarely on the shoulders of the one who failed it, in this case your Fighter.  The Thief will fail his own roll soon enough...handing you a golden opportunity to stick it to him! 

Where I do see one players failed roll causing a Golden Opportunity to effect all the characters is Carouse.  All the PCs contribute gold and throw a big party.  One PC makes the roll. They're all effected by the result.   

Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2012, 10:05:41 AM »
Dungeon World says nothing about hard moves coming down on the ones that triggered them. They're just hard moves that flow from the fiction. I think you did just fine. If the thief wanted to be safe from retribution he should have chosen "not in melee" as one of his choices. They're a dungeon delving party, consequences fall on the party as the fiction dictates.
Chris McNeilly

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stras

  • 130
Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012, 10:48:37 AM »
And the thief player thought this was unfair because he hadn't failed any rolls. I said that the Lizardman was enraged by your dishonourable attack and the fighter had failed his roll and so given me a golden opportunity. The thief's player thought that if the thief got hit he might as well have not rolled 14 on his backstab. I ended up just forecasting the lizardman's imminent spear thrust, which I think ended with the thief losing his rapier and the fighter ending trapped under the dead weight of thoroughly pummelled lizardman.

This is an odd attitude.

One of the things in 4th edition D&D that I noticed is this sense of 'entitlement' of players, where the rules bind the GM like chains and only allow them specific moves, and the old freewheeling 'you tell me what your character does and I tell you the rest' has been codified and put into very tiny and well measured boxes.

One of the reasons that they say 'make the move, but never name it' is partially because of this I think.  Unless you've explicitly explained that  'if you do really well on a roll you're immune to fiction' I'm not sure why this is a problem (this isn't part of the game as I've been able to gather but it might be a house rule).  In classic games on their 'turn' the enemy can attack anyone in range - which the thief clearly is.  As far as I can tell you did nothing wrong.

In constructive options you can do a few things.

1.  If he whines in the meta address the character.  "The spear is hurtling at your head at high velocity little Thief what are you doing?"  If he decides to make a move in fiction (dodging for example) give him a defy danger roll to halve damage, or negate it.

2.  In Apocalypse World, there are 12+ roll moves.  Namely when you roll 12+ there is a 'critical' style effect where something cool happens.  This is the 'carrot' for rolling well.  I'm not sure why simply rolling 10+ isn't enough for some, but in my DW demo I've had people ask if these 12+ moves exist.  Apparently they're popular *shrug*.  If he rolls crazy good have his 14 count in the effect.  This way he's happy and feels like he did well without having to have this 14 protect him in-fiction and until he rolls again.

Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 11:16:49 AM »
As has been stated, you can take your moves how you like as long as it follows in the fiction. It's probably one of those things that doesn't come up a ton, so it looks "weird" when you do it in play. I noticed most players believe you shouldn't be able to do this, but you can.

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noofy

  • 777
Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2012, 05:51:26 PM »
Hey WGR! Welcome, great write up!
As others have suggested, I think you did fine :)

If the player cries foul, do as Stras suggested, and address the character. After the game you can discuss the GM principles and agenda if you like, but in the game, just keep rolling with the fiction. If you had dealt damage and killed the thief without some serious impending dooms, now that might seem a little harsh.

Ask lots of questions too. When the fighter missed his roll and you thought about what to do, the players (not just the fighter) know that a hard move is coming, but they don't know what you are going to do. Ask the thief how close they are, get them to tell you what they are thinking, planning, feeling. Then hook your golden opportunity into that.

Don't forget you can 'save' hard moves for later too if you have a really good fictional situation you want to spring on the players.

Wonderful AP, thanks for sharing!

Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 07:58:03 PM »
Thanks everyone. Your points are all good.

I haven't "saved" hard moves till later. This probably would've come in handy at a few points. I still feel like I'm warming up with this game.

I also really like the pointers for questions, especially about what's running through the character's head. I'll definitely try that more in the heat of battle.

The defy danger is another good option, forcing the character to have to react rather than instigate their own move. That's probably how I deal with it if this issue persists.

Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2012, 11:17:15 PM »
Well the adventure continues, with a transfer to the Beta 2.2 rules.

I spent a good hour throwing questions at the players about their characters, the world and their place in it. Worked really well. I had a nice big hex page on the table and just slammed things down. For instance: Marlow, the thief, is an assistant to archaeology professor at the University in Pelgrim, a good two days riding from the Hall beneath the Hill. Marlow's official job is to study sites and artifacts as directed. Everyone agreed this was good fun.

I used mostly questions that noofy posted recently, but I put them in a session journal that I mocked up to record players answer's, monster stats and other notes. It's worked pretty well so far. If you're interested: find the third iteration here http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6681148/Dungeon%20World%20-%20session%20journal%20-%20version%203.pdf I think the questions worked well.

Back in the idol room, the adventurer's examined the idol and were going to head up to the goblin nest to make good on the promise of gold they'd been made for killing the Lizardmen (they thought they'd cleared them all out), when big, dim Cassius walks in with a gigantic urn of clay. Rather long discussion occurs, with Cassius giving unknowingly giving away all sorts of info about Grundloch and the Idol. Things get heated, to the point where the goblins are laying bets on a match between Cassius and Hob, the fighter. Things are calmed down by wisdom of Hawthorn, the cleric, and Cassius slips off, seemingly convinced to only tell Grundloch about the the light in the pool, which blazed up during their conversation, but not about the adventurer's presence.

The adventurer's eventually decide to tail Cassius, by which time they've lost sight of him but guess he's gone past the illusionary menagerie. They get caught up stealing monster-illusion clay statues, arguing with the talking heads in the next room, and bickering about trinkets in the passage way to Grundloch's laboratory. I think Hawthorn raised a level solely on failed rolls, one of which found him mesmerised by the patterns of clay debris formed by the magical currents in the lab, rather than engaging with the rather suspicious figure hunched over one of the table.

They thoroughly searched this room, unlike most areas so far, and turning up the Infinite Folio amongst the rotting books and St Holmes Key, a magical spade from within Grundloch lab trunk.

Then a war trumpet sounded, a blast of air cracking magic burst and a line of almost 50 strong, but stiffly mesmerised, Lizardmen marched from the ice cavern through the lab and off. The adventurer's didn't follow but instead proceeded into the ice cavern, looting some treasure left by the open door and, in the encampent on a broad high ledge, found bundles of spears and arrows with the same mysterious sigil they'd found on other weapons earlier. When Hawthorn clambered down, he found his feet becoming rapidly encased in ice, whereupon the Ice Heave appeared and the Marlow and Hob burbling about what to do.

And we ended the session there. 

One question, when Hawthorn saw the  column of marching Lizardmen pass him, he Discerned Realities and spend his one hold on "Who's really in control here?" Now, I have him clear description of their rigid gait, glossy eyes, and strict marching formation, and even threw in that it looks like magical influence. But I wondered if this is playing enough with an open hand. Maybe I should have said something stronger like "You suspect Grundloch has activated the Idol and is using it's power to enchant  the Lizardmen tribe." That's sounds more of a reward for a hit than what I actually gave. What do you think?

Another thing was dealing with what a "trap" was. The thief rolled 10+ trap expert on the zoo of monsters illusion. I gave him his answers as I figured finding traps involves percieving irregularities in the environment, essentially what's needed to discover this zoo is an illusion. I didn't however allow that he could disable the illusion with a tricks of the trade because he just doesn't have the magical knowledge. But I'm no 100% sure on that call.
Regarding my earlier question on a thief disabling magical traps, I found the Alexandrian's article Disarming Magical Traps http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/12909/roleplaying-games/thought-of-the-day-disarming-magical-traps. Exactly the stuff I was looking for. I ended up using this approached when they returned to the illusion room; they gleaned info from Cassius about Grundloch's approach of using clay models, so I said Marlow quickly found a small clay statuette behind each illusionary monster. They managed to  safely collect the Griffon statuette and stuff it in a sack. They're probably hoping to pull it out to surprise someone or to hock it to some banker as a scary deterrent in the garden of their family estate.

Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2012, 09:21:28 PM »
Here's my version of  the Frost Heave using Beta 2.2 rules. I envision it as slightly smaller than the impression I got of the version in Basic rules.

Frost Heave (ice elemental)
Solitary, Big, Planar
16 HP; 4 Armour
Ice, hail (d10+1 damage)

Special qualities: Made of ice

Instinct: To end warmth in all its forms.

Moves
    - Freeze a person, item, or place.
    - Fill an area with fist-sized hail.
    - Construct a wall of solid ice.
    - Bring an ally across from the abyss.
    - Encase something or someone in ice.

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noofy

  • 777
Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2012, 10:05:42 PM »
That was wonderful! I'm glad the questions were of some help, your use in play was exactly how I had intended them (and use consistently) to be used in chargen.

I'm so excited to know what happens with the Frost Heave! Whenever my players have encounted this monstrosity, things have always been a little.... Icy. :)
I Really Like your 2.2 adaption, but really, all that matters is its moves, who would take on that elemental behemoth?!

In regards to the discern reality roll, the info you gave was fine, but I might have then thrown the question back on the players, 'so Hob, who do you know that is capable of harnessing the power of that creepy idol and enslaving a vicious tribe of lizardfolk via mind control hmmmm? So, what do you do? '
That way you give them the info, allow 'them' to come up with the answer, and embed it in the fiction of the characters, rather than a narrator delivering meta-game tidbits of information.

Huzzah! More!

Re: Bloodstone idol: Actual play and questions
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2012, 09:41:55 AM »
Session Three in the Hall beneath the Hill. Starring Hawthorn, Hob and Marlowe.

I found out that nothing comes between Hob and his precious hammer. Not even if its embedded in the living ice maw of a Frost Heave. I mean, he killed the blighting thing with a shovel just to get that scrappy old thing back!

The trebuchet launched cart-sized rock nearly took out the whole party after they flailed a burning 2-by-4 out over a underground waterfall. Shame.

Hawthorn finally found the page in his newly acquired Infinite Folio that details the Bloodstone Idol and its Order, what they are and something of what they do. He worked out more of its working after interrogating a dead goblin-zombie. Plus he realised the Idol is awake.

Urlaz, the lesser demon who's trapped in the underground temple, nearly got Hob to open the front door; what with promises of whoring and indomitable scepters who would blame Hob. Unfortunately, Marlowe and Hawthorn were there to taunt the demon into a cussing tantrum and ruin his whole schtick.

O, and they found 3 rubies the size of a fist. Well Hob did, after single-handedly digging through a pile of rocks. I really never thought that magic shovel he found would be so friggin useful. Just goes to show, nothing more frightening than farmer with a shovel.

But where is that ensorcelled army of frost-crusted Lizardmen? And where is that mystery man Grundloch?

Hopefully next session won't be postponed quite so long as this one has been.