AP: First time running the game

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AP: First time running the game
« on: June 25, 2012, 07:21:18 PM »
Ok, so I ran DW for the first time last night. It was with a new group of friends (one was an experienced roleplayer, the other 3 were new). We played over Google+ hangout, using Tabletop Forge & a Google Docs spreadsheet for the character sheets.

We started with Jason's Spider-Witch adventure, just to get a feel for things. In about 2 hours of play, we managed to roll up our characters and defeat the Goblins. We'll tackle Florimel herself next session I imagine.

The good:

Character creation was a breeze. The players picked up the 2d6 mechanic well, and the last breath move was a lot of fun. Overall, the players really enjoyed themselves, and are super keen for our next session monday. I was pleasantly surprised how well the game played out over video chat. Honestly, I can't think of many other systems where you could go from a completely fresh start to 1/2 through an adventure in 2 hours.

The bad:

As the GM, I'm not sure I get how combat is supposed to run and I'd appreciate help. I've only ever used strict turn-based systems before, where I will draw up a quick initiative grid and everyone gets one turn a round. But I understand DW isn't like that. I tried to follow  the system as best I could, and this is what happened:

1. Players enter room, Goblins square off on other side, getting ready to charge.

2. The Fighter says he will stand in front of the group, shield ready to protect the Wizard (Defend). The Thief wants to slink into the shadows to set up a backstab (Defy Danger dex?). The Cleric wants to cast Magic Weapon (or whatever it was), and the Wizard wants to cast Magic Missle at one of the goblins.

Now, the players want to do this all at once, and realistically they could. But I picked the fighter to resolve his first.

3. Fighter rolls an 8, gets 1 hold to defend the Wizard.

4. Thief is successful in his defy danger, is now hidden in shadows attempting to flank the goblins.

5. Cleric casts his buff on his warhammer.

6. Wizard casts MM, rolls a 7. Chooses to draw attention to himself. This is where is gets screwy (for me). In response, three of the goblins charge the wizard. One is knocked off his feet by the Fighter's defend move, the other two beat the wizard with their clubs. Was I supposed to roll anything here? Do the goblins just automatically hit, and automatically do X damage?

7. The Fighter and Cleric start hitting goblins, and the Wizard starts trying to cast invisibility on himself (was never succussful, ends up dying lol). I don't have turns as such for the goblins, they just get to hit the players whenever they roll <10 basically.

8. At this point, the thief has been sitting patiently, waiting for his 'turn'. I had to break up the flow of the combat with the other guys to deal with him.

This is my issue with how I was running the game. While most of the group daisy-chained their actions & reactions together very nicely, anyone who was away from the main group (even if they were only a few meters away in the shadows), seems to miss the train. I'm also unsure when I'm supposed to use any of the GM moves. When there's a lull? Cause with my group, someone is always wanting to try something.

Anyway, while the players had fun, I'm getting a strong 'you're doing it wrong' vibe from how I'm running combat in the game. Does anyone have any links to decent actual play video or podcasts? I think I need to see this actually play out.

Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2012, 02:32:53 AM »
I'm not an expert on the Apocalypse World style games by any means, so take anything I suggest with a grain of salt. :)

It sounds like the combat you described went fine up until this point:

6. Wizard casts MM, rolls a 7. Chooses to draw attention to himself. This is where is gets screwy (for me). In response, three of the goblins charge the wizard. One is knocked off his feet by the Fighter's defend move, the other two beat the wizard with their clubs. Was I supposed to roll anything here? Do the goblins just automatically hit, and automatically do X damage?

Having the goblins automatically hit the Wizard and deal damage seems like a Hard Move to me. I would have done that if the Wizard player rolled a 6 on his Cast A Spell attempt, as a miss means the GM can make as hard of a move as they want. A 7-9 is still a partial success.

Instead of having the goblins hit and deal damage, maybe a better GM move would have been to put them right up in the Wizards face. Have the goblins identify the Wizard as the biggest threat (attracting unwelcome attention) and start to rush towards the character (putting him in a spot). This way you are setting up your next GM move. "The goblins shriek and rush towards you full tilt. They'll be on you in a slipt second. What do you do?" If the Wizard just stands there or gets a miss on the dice, then I would have the goblins beat him silly.

7. The Fighter and Cleric start hitting goblins, and the Wizard starts trying to cast invisibility on himself (was never succussful, ends up dying lol). I don't have turns as such for the goblins, they just get to hit the players whenever they roll <10 basically.

Generally, the GM only makes a Move when the players miss a roll (<7) or ignore a threat. Remember, the 7-9 result is still a partial success. The Hack & Slash Move specifically says that the character takes monster damage on the result of a 7-9, but I think that's just about the only Move that results in damage on a "soft hit".

8. At this point, the thief has been sitting patiently, waiting for his 'turn'. I had to break up the flow of the combat with the other guys to deal with him.

I think this is just a skill that comes with practice. Some players will wait until they're asked for their action while others will jump right in. As the GM you just kind of have to be aware of how much time you're spending with each of the players and try to balance it. Sometimes it's easy to do that, as each Move can sort of be one turn. "OK. Wizard, you tried to cast a spell, Fighter and Cleric you both traded swings with the goblins. Thief? What are you doing?" Sometimes it's not that easy though. Generally I try to switch back and forth between groups when it's both a) logical to do so (meaning that we've resolved everything related to a single Move) and b) when it's dramatically appropriate. Cutting away right before something resolves is a great way to build tension.

I'm also unsure when I'm supposed to use any of the GM moves. When there's a lull? Cause with my group, someone is always wanting to try something.

Again, basically you're supposed to make a GM Move when your players look at you to find out what happens. When that happens, you make a soft move and ask them "What do you do?" You also make a GM Move when your players miss. If your group is always trying something, then that's great because it means that they're making Moves and should be rolling dice. Some of those actions will succeed outright (10+), some will snowball into more Moves (7-9), and others will fail (<7). When they fail, that when you make your Moves.

If you and your group are having fun, then you're not "doing it wrong". MCing or GMing an Apocalypse World-style game does take some getting used to. Listening to The Walking Eye Podcast's Dungeon World AP episodes really helped me. Maybe they'll help you too. :)
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Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 05:19:55 AM »
this is very helpful, thanks a lot.

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Jeremy

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Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 11:34:00 AM »
Generally, the GM only makes a Move when the players miss a roll (<7) or ignore a threat. Remember, the 7-9 result is still a partial success. The Hack & Slash Move specifically says that the character takes monster damage on the result of a 7-9, but I think that's just about the only Move that results in damage on a "soft hit".

Overall I agree with this.  But I think you could definitely deal damage on certain 7-9 results of Defy Danger, as long as that damage is a worse result or part of a hard bargain.  If the looming danger is 2d10b messy damage from the swooping dragon, and you dive toward the stairwell to get out of the way, then taking 1d4 or 1d6 damage on a 7-9 is a pretty good "worse" result.  (Worse than getting away free and clear; not nearly as bad as your arm getting ripped off.)

Convict:  check out the AP post below.  It's long, but I tried to be explicit as possible in how the conversation and the moves go together. 

http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=2808.0

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stras

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Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 10:19:05 AM »
This question of GM narration seems to crop up a number of times.  Check out:
http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=2796.0
He seemed to encounter a similar problem in his AP.

One trick for offscreen cameras is to describe a narrative focus shift.  Let me provide an example:

P1: I slice the wolf open!
GM: That sounds like a hack and slash - roll + STR!
P1: 9!
GM: The wolf latches on your arm, and while you strike it with your sword (whisper: roll damage) it clenches it's teeth, and paws at you (you take d6 damage).
Marlow (P2)! You hear the chewing of jaws on arm-bones while sidling into the shadows, and the sharp yelp of your friend as wolf-teeth hit bone.  What do you do?

Also keep in mind that the concept of a skulking thief isn't necessarily inherent (stealth is a great way to surprise someone, but it's tough to stealth in a 10/10 room).  Avoiding combat extends your life expectancy (significantly), but you can fight alongside someone who opens up an enemy to attack (such as with a defend shield slam) which is how you can slip a backstab in.

Hope that helps!

Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 10:37:28 AM »
Attention please: Hack & Slash DOES NOT make a monster deal damage to a player on a 7-9 roll. Check again the description. It says: "the enemy makes an attack against you". If the monster attack would have success it's totally another matter.

Example:
7-9 result on hack and slash:
GM: «you injure the goblin king in the shoulder with your sword; but he recovers fast and charges you with his spear. What do you do?»
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

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Jeremy

  • 134
Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2012, 11:05:07 AM »
Attention please: Hack & Slash DOES NOT make a monster deal damage to a player on a 7-9 roll. Check again the description. It says: "the enemy makes an attack against you". If the monster attack would have success it's totally another matter.

Really?  I totally don't read it that way.  To me, "the enemy makes an attack against you" implies that its successful.  It might not be damage, per se, but it's a successful attack.

I was just about to quote the Moves Discussion section, but I realize that it only cites a 10+ example where the player chooses to "expose yourself to the enemy's attack."  Which is different from the 7-9 result of "and the enemy makes an attack against you."

Hmm...  now I'm doubting myself.

How do others play it?

Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2012, 11:14:00 AM »
My interpretation has always been that the monster making an attack against you means either that it does one of its moves or just deals damage.
-Jeremiah

Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2012, 12:10:50 PM »
It can be damage or it can be a move.  It's intentionally left unspecified so that the GM can have room to choose.

Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2012, 01:16:00 PM »
I usually deal damage on a 7-9 roll of H&S only if it was done in response to a monster normal move.

That is:
GM: So the goblin charges you with his spear. What do you do?
Player: I don't give a damn about his puny little spear! I just pulverize him with my 8 feet greatsword even before he gets into reach.
*roll 7-9 -> both deal damage to each other*
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2012, 01:25:18 PM »
I usually deal damage on a 7-9 roll of H&S only if it was done in response to a monster normal move.

That is:
GM: So the goblin charges you with his spear. What do you do?
Player: I don't give a damn about his puny little spear! I just pulverize him with my 8 feet greatsword even before he gets into reach.
*roll 7-9 -> both deal damage to each other*

Valid.  It's dealing damage as established.  "You are going to get damaged because of X, what do you do?" but, you know, not speaking the names of your moves, like a good GM.

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stras

  • 130
Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2012, 01:55:34 PM »
Attention please: Hack & Slash DOES NOT make a monster deal damage to a player on a 7-9 roll. Check again the description. It says: "the enemy makes an attack against you". If the monster attack would have success it's totally another matter.

Example:
7-9 result on hack and slash:
GM: «you injure the goblin king in the shoulder with your sword; but he recovers fast and charges you with his spear. What do you do?»

Unless I feel a more appropriate monster move is there, I frequently deal damage on a 7-9.  If two people are locked in combat (again everything is mitigated by fictional positioning) it's established that they're swinging at each other: both taking wounds makes perfect sense to me.  Even Conan battling someone would usually come out with cuts and scrapes.  It also seems kind of mathematically off to make someone do an additional roll every middling hit (first you hit them, then they threaten to hit you, then you have to roll to dodge where if you get a 9 or less you probably are just taking the damage anyway) where 6- will hurt you badly.  On a 7-9 you get a bit of what you want (you hit them) and they get a bit of what they want (they hit you, they hold onto the idol, they grab your coinpurse, they speak words that make your ears bleed and claw at the edges of your mind...).

Doing it the other way leaves you with narrative flow problems:  "The wolf charges" I swing my sword! 8! "You hit it... ... it recovers and... charges... ... " I counter it's lunge by shoving a sword in it! 8! "You hit it! And it's snapping at you..." I smack it's face away with my pommel, trying to break it's jaw! 8! ...

Because to me that sounds like the player getting everything they want (not getting hit, and getting a hit off) which is a 10+ no?


My point however was that dealing damage is quick and simple (even as other options are available) so I just used it here because it's a simple 3 line example that was meant to illustrate the narrative shift to a different character >_>
« Last Edit: June 27, 2012, 02:01:41 PM by stras »

Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2012, 02:02:57 PM »
Doing it the other way leaves you with narrative flow problems:
you should read my second post.
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.

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stras

  • 130
Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2012, 02:08:33 PM »
Well played (other) adam :)

I guess I read that as more an indictment of the player ignoring the threat, but I see what you meant (same as me: in fights mutual stabbification frequently occurs). Correct me if I'm wrong.

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noofy

  • 777
Re: AP: First time running the game
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2012, 09:19:35 PM »
This discussion highlights to me the need for MORE wonderfully evocative monster moves (attacks). Even if you don't have specific moves for that particular monster, a list of 'common' attack moves (or even just tags) that influence the narrative other than simply dealing damage is a handy thing to have on hand for those rather all to common 7-9 results.

Narrative 'attack' effects like stunned, battered, disarmed, forced back, pinned, knocked out, surrounded, on-fire, frozen, afraid, mesmerised, entangled, exhausted, knocked prone, winded...

You can always add a point or two of damage in addition, or simply just roll the monster's damage. I find however that the fiction just sings when the attacks are resolved as effects or conditions, it gives the players a narrative cue to hang their descriptions of the moves snowball on. A sort of instant compel 'to do it, you have to deal with this.... How? What do you do?'