BloodStone Idol, AP2

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BloodStone Idol, AP2
« on: April 29, 2012, 12:25:37 PM »
So we began this week by transitioning the characters over to Beta 2.2. It was quick and easy. Everyone had gained enough XPs to level in last session so we all just agreed to pick up with everyone starting level 2 and going forward with the new system. Rudiger the Fighter changed his alignment over to Neutral after deciding that Good wasn't what he wanted and Pox the Thief, after seeing the new option of Chaotic, switched to that. We didn't stick to Alignment change rules for this, just considered it early character discovery and moved on.

Since we took zero time to discuss ANY world stuff or character motivations for the initial session, we spent a couple minutes talking a little about that. Its still pretty soft right now. We know that Rudiger was a member of the Black Gauntlets and though we didn't really establish what these guys are we did know that they had a plan for creating a goblin/lizardman threat to the area so that they themselves could swoop in, destroy the threat, and be local heroes. I'm thinking they're probably a mercenary band or something, looking for a good payout to take care of a problem that they secretly created. Who knows.

But we do know that Rudiger has bailed on them and has moved prematurely to end the threat in hopes of gaining all the glory for himself AND exposing the Black Gauntlet's plans to the people of Battlemore (or something like that). I'm still not really clear on what Pox and Siggrun's motivations are. We do know that the group established a working relationship after some failed heist attempt on the Black Gauntlet by Pox and Siggrun. I think they were running some sort of con on Rudiger just before he bailed on the Gauntlets but evidently in the fallout of the failed heist Rudiger liked what Pox and Siggrun were trying to do and supported their escape from retribution. If it sounds confusing, it probably is. You know exactly what we know about it, we left it pretty soft. Honestly, we spent about 2 minutes on it.

So this session turned out to be a bit more action packed than last and we had a lot of fun. It included an epic standoff with lizardmen and their leader in a frozen chamber, a near disastrous (and failed) attempt on the lizard man lair itself due to some hideous aquatic version of a junk yard dog, and a quick but bloody showdown with the goblins.

To retell in detail would be a bore but let me just say that the system handled action packed combat so well that we were all flying around the battlefield, shield bashing, backstabbing, eviscerating and pretty much creating a brutal pink mist where ever we went. We almost entirely forwent noncombat mechanics but really got into colorful uses of the various combat moves. I think we all came away with our own personal favorite moments of the night.

There was a rough section just after taking care of the lizardmen where Pox tied off with his Rope of Tricks (named "Ox") with Rudiger holding anchor. Pox took a swim up the stream that flowed through the frozen chamber to scout out what we assumed would be the lizardmen's lair. He was attacked by some hellish lizard/fish with tentacles and things were looking grim for poor Pox.

As I recall, instead of trying to escape he began Hack and Slashing and this was going poorly for him. At the same time, Rudiger is trying to reel him back him. We were confused about what we should have been rolling in that situation. It felt like Rudiger was aiding Pox but that would have fell upon a Bond roll which just felt weird, instead of relying upon the fighter's greatest and most reasonable asset, his strength. But Defy Danger felt a little strange too because Rudiger wasn't necessarily in Danger himself. We ultimately went with a Strength Defy Danger, as Siggrun joined in. It was weird because I think we had Siggrun do an Assist to Pox (or maybe Rudiger) but that just doesnt' make much sense either. Either way, Rudiger failed the Defy Danger, the roped slipped away and Siggrun is pulled into the water.

The whole time, Pox is alternating between hack and slashing and defying danger, mostly all were turning up with weak hits. On the other end, it was a comic routine of Rudiger trying to get a hold on the dwarf (who still had the rope) but with two Weak Hits on Defy Danger was mostly just thrashing around in the water. By now Pox and the creature had floated downstream enough that we were all in close proximity and the fish was starting to lash tentacles out at Siggrun and Rudiger. Siggrun played his alignment and bailed out, saving his hide and frantically heading for shore. Rudiger chose to ignore the tentacle and made a last ditch grab for Pox with another Strength Defy Danger, got another Weak Hit and managed to throw Pox to shore while simultaneously having his legs wrapped up by the beast.

This led to Ruddiger making a couple more defy dangers to try to escape, getting weak hits again, so gaining no real traction. Finally he abandoned escape and just brutally hack and slashed his way out. Everyone survived but it was harrowing.

So, all of that to say yes, it was a terrifying and exciting scene. But, we had a TON of weak hit defy dangers and hack slashes there. That scene really stretched out and we were having real difficulties coming up with good weak hit tradeoffs. After about 10 or so, you start getting a little worn down creatively and then 7-9's start just becoming status quo results as you wait for that next roll to hopefully just succeed or fail outright. Anyone else deal with this?

So after all was said and done, we've pretty much wrapped up the Bloodstone Idol location. We still haven't explored the lizardman lair, after the hellfish we just abandoned that area for now. But we have the heads of a goblin chief and a lizard chief, we have weaponry that is obviously from the Black Gauntlet foundries as evidence of their involvement with the humanoids, and a map depicting battleplans from the goblins that is obviously not designed by goblin hand, further evidence of collusion with the Black Gauntlet.

As far as the new XP system, it seems to be pretty sweet. Under Redbook our Thief nearly doubled the Cleric and Fighter in XPs. The Thief rolls amazingly hot. I'd guess 90% of his rolls are successes so he gained very little roll related XP. I think the Cleric and Fighter both had 8 roll related XPs and the Thief had 3 or 4? We finished up with alignment XP awards (Thief and Fighter got theirs), resolving bonds (Thief and Fighter resolved bonds), and then we all got 2 of 3 end of session question XPs. We all leveled and went home having played a very exciting and fun session. Everyone's hooked on Dungeon World right now!
Chris McNeilly

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2012, 06:26:00 PM »
First off, I had so much freakin fun with this game. It just felt so pure and awesome. I can't wait to play again.

As with the first game, I struggled as the GM with the issue below. I'm sure 90% of it was inexperience, but as Donbaloo says, after nearly a dozen 7-9s seemingly in a row, what can you do? I felt like I could manage a combat scenario. But when the guys would try to defy danger to escape and 7-9 their rolls repeatedly, I felt a little lost with where to take the fiction.

After considering this today, I think I've come to a few conclusions that likely would've helped. Typically, on a 7-9, I didn't really give the guys a 'difficult choice'. So, in retrospect, I could've allowed them to escape, but at a heavy cost...like maybe the Thief's treasured Rope of Tricks is taken with the creature, but they get away. Or the Thief can stay with the rope, but risk the danger that comes with that.

So I really think allowing the same scenario to replay itself was probably my fault. I could've used the 7-9 as an out (with a cost) instead and moved along to the next scene.

The first game was fantastic, and this one was even better. So I think we're all getting a better feel for the mechanics and how to use them to drive the fiction. I really look forward to our next one!

So, all of that to say yes, it was a terrifying and exciting scene. But, we had a TON of weak hit defy dangers and hack slashes there. That scene really stretched out and we were having real difficulties coming up with good weak hit tradeoffs. After about 10 or so, you start getting a little worn down creatively and then 7-9's start just becoming status quo results as you wait for that next roll to hopefully just succeed or fail outright. Anyone else deal with this?

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2012, 07:23:09 PM »
Yep, Jester, you have it right. On a 7-9, they do it, so the situation resolves. There's a cost, or damage, or tough choice or something, but then you move on.

There should never be a status quo result with dice in DW.

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2012, 09:35:02 PM »
Hey John, how about the attempts to pull the thief back to shore via the rope? Is that an Aid to his Defy Danger or is it a Defy Danger for the fighter trying to pull him back?
Chris McNeilly

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 09:56:43 AM »
@donbaloo

Thanks for the write-up, good read. As for reeling the thief in, it depends on the threats that were established. Say the thief is engaged in some watery melee with the beast and weak hits on H&S. GM responds with a soft move to put the thief in danger by saying something like, "The hell fish unhinges its jaw and with a disturbing gurgle begins sucking the thief into its tooth-filled gullet. What do you do?" (Establishes a specific danger - getting swallowed whole.)

The thief is in danger, not the fighter. So it's a Defy Danger for the thief with modifier depending on how he wants to respond. (Sounds like Strength, honestly, if he's using the rope and fighting the current and fish.) The fighter Aids the thief with the rope. To me, the strength of the fighter is not in question at this moment. Everyone knows that he can pull a rope with the skinny thief holding onto it. This is a question of Bonds - how motivated is the fighter to save the thief based on their relationship. If there was no specific danger "on" the thief, I'd just say you reel him in, no roll. You'd still have to deal with the fish at some point if you wanted to progress further down the dungeon...

As for Defy Danger, John states exactly how I understand it to work. I made some rules of thumb for Defy Danger that I'm training myself to adjudicate quickly. Here it is in case it helps (and I'd love input to clean it up or make it better):

Defy Danger Weak Hit = You get out of the danger, but...
     Worse Outcome: get into another danger.
     Hard Bargain: it costs you something, right now.
     Ugly Choice: getting out creates two new choices, neither good.

I've found that worse outcome and hard bargain are easiest to "see" in the moment. Ugly choices are more subtle and situational in my experience. I've gotten one or two of them into play to good effect. (e.g. Thief and cleric fighting The Minotaur. Thief wants to move past the thing to acquire something on the other side of the battle. Cleric is in melee, danger of gigantic mordenkrad about to drop established. Cleric Aids thief by knocking Minotaur off balance. Gets weak hit. Thief weak hits the Defy Danger. I made the call (ugly choice) that the cleric and thief were both in danger of being smashed by the mordenkrad, but thief got to pick who took the hit - himself or the cleric, who had already taken some damage in the fight. Cleric wasn't happy with the choice, obviously, heh.)

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stras

  • 130
Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 10:24:13 AM »
These are some good breakdowns.

Not to stroke ego's but reading posts like this helps me be a better GM in this game.

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 12:35:57 PM »
Yeah, thanks for the assist amigos. Iserith, that's a cool and direct breakdown. Makes an easy guide to follow and think about in play. Thanks for sharing!
Chris McNeilly

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 03:11:11 PM »
Hey Iserith, in your Hard Bargain suggestion it seems like a fine line for the GM to walk there. Have you ever doled out the Hard Bargain and the player was like "Damn, that's harsh dude...I'd just rather have had the danger!"? It seems it would be possible to go so far that it made the weak hit Defy Danger more like a fail. Any experience with that? Even make sense?
Chris McNeilly

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2012, 04:42:00 PM »
I haven't seen anything come up that was pointed out as too harsh. If anything, the players with whom I frequent are looking for more threat and danger, not less. It certainly seems possible that a hard bargain might make a Defy Danger feel like a fail, but the DD roll was to do something specific (or should be). They still get to do what they set out to do. It just, in this case, costs something.

I'd note that the cost needn't be permanent. Catching onto the ledge before falling into the Pit of Bones might simply mean dropping one's shield and sword down into it - lost for now, but retrievable when the group can focus on the task of climbing down and getting it. It could mean not falling because you were impaled on one of the spikes around the edge, meaning there's a bit of damage. The fiction should say what is reasonable and what isn't. 

I guess I'd throw it out there and see what the player says. If there is pushback, I don't have a problem reversing and putting them in a new danger. Or offering them a choice between the two. To be honest, it's not like I'm any kind of authority on DW as I'm still learning it myself. But these kinds of things fall into the realm of general DM/GM stuff so I feel confident in its application with the right group.

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2012, 09:18:12 PM »
Awesome, thanks for the detailed thought Iserith. All good information!
Chris McNeilly

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noofy

  • 777
Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2012, 02:02:47 AM »
Great Ap! Thanks. Bloodstone Idol is surely one of the all time classic dungeons.

Hey Chris, I sort of came on an epiphany in regards to 7-9's and the ubiquitous hard bargain or ugly choice vs original danger creative quandry last weekend.

I added a list to my DM screen (along with the principles and moves)
12+ They get their story intent with a little bit extra
10+ They get their intent, celebrate it!
7-9  They get what they wanted, but at a cost... I get a soft move too
Miss I get to make as Hard a move as I like! Indulge!

Costs:
*complication
*Hp
*Equipment
*Magic
*Treasure
*Bonds

This has really helped jog my memory during play and give me ideas for 7-9 results

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2012, 07:35:58 AM »
Ah sweet Nathan, thanks for sharing. I think you and Iserith have provided some very good guidelines on the ole Weak Hit problem. Jay (Ice Jester) the GM has been reading along too and I think we're all excited to put some of these tips to work!
Chris McNeilly

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stras

  • 130
Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2012, 10:51:06 AM »
I'd really like to see a GM's moves sheet included with the characters with precisely this sort of thing (or things such as principles and moves) on it.

Re: BloodStone Idol, AP2
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2012, 11:48:29 AM »
I made up a cheat sheet that I have in front of me at games with agenda, principles, and when to make a move. Even still, I probably don't use it as much as I could.