Moves & actual play: intelligent swords and wooing werebears

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Moves & actual play: intelligent swords and wooing werebears
« on: September 20, 2010, 09:55:25 AM »
Last session of my OD&D campaign, the PC Ookla the Mok needed to be raised from the dead, leading to us doing a round of at-the-table individual actions/carousing for each of the two weeks in which he recuperated. I continue to find that the AW moves serve me best when we're in town, where time-scales, spatial relationships, and dangers are all relatively fluid and abstract. In the confines of the dungeon later this session, where the party tends to cohere as a unit and my resources for making trouble for them are more exactly specified, I found myself reaching for our usual OD&D ways of resolving things. (See exception below).

I find that I'm happy making up moves on the fly. I didn't give players the Dungeon World move sheet, and when I referred to it myself usually none of the moves was just right so I created my own to suit the occasion. I think that moves are important in AW, and less so for me, because:

- the structure of the AW moves tell you what the game is about; you're going to want to be concerned with whether people trust you, you're going to come under fire and seize things by force, etc. Adding moves to our existing game means we already have a feel for what it's about.

- the transparency of the AW moves assure players that this is a game with rules and that they can have some control over how they get screwed by a bad roll. Our OD&D resolution system runs on our established trust that, as a fan of the PCs, I want to see them get screwed in ways we'll all enjoy playing out. It also creates an expectation that some of the surprise for the players will come from my keeping some rules & game elements on my side of the screen; the moves work well with our expectation that the surprise for me will come from how the dice and player actions interact.

Here are some of the moves I remember from this in-town phase:

The fighting men Ookla and John Fighter devoted a week to re-asserting their bond with their intelligent swords and trying to explore the weapons' power. The OD&D rules for this aren't sufficiently dynamic to suit me, but I wanted to use them as a baseline. In OD&D your ability to master your sword's ego depends on your Strength and Intelligence. I didn't want to use dual bonuses, so I asked the players whether they wanted to prepare for this trial through mental or physical exercise. The OD&D rules also say that swords are materialistic (like special interests/carousing, this is another example of an Arnesonian treasure sink), so I also let them get a bonus to the roll based on what they spent.

Ookla the Mok's player rolled in the 7-9 zone, so as he asserted his will over his sword Thirster I gave him a choice of:

- what powers does Thirster have that I don't know about?
- what is Thirster's immediate goal?
- what is Thirster trying to hide from you?

He chose goal, so I told him it was to leave Ookla for a more powerful wielder, Captain Rakotis, who the Church of the Killing Frost was maneuvering into place to bring the sword under their banner (setting up a PC-NPC-PC triangle with E.N. Lightenment, a PC cleric of that church).

John Fighter's player rolled a 2, a failure even after spending 1,100 gp hiring people at the Temple of the Skyfather to create a shrine for his sword Heart of the Mok where acolytes would be hired to recite its deeds four times a day. As my move in response to this failure, I decided that this would awaken the sword's materialism and ability to speak, neither of which have been prominent in the campaign until now: "You gave me my name, and now hearing it I have more words. I want to hear others speak my name more often! I want my name written in more letters of gold! Large letters of gold!"

E.N. Lightenment sacrificed corn, barley, alfalfa, and any other valuables he could get his hands on in order to ask the Killing Frost about the frost giants who were its other servants. His player rolled in the 7-9 range, so I gave him a choice of:

- a vision of the nearest giants
- what they were planning
- why they were here

He chose the vision, and then went back for another successful attempt to gain the other two. Here, I set up a PC-NPC-PC triangle by having the frost giants planning an attack on the character's Lawful patron Patriarch Zekon, which was supported by E.N.'s Chaotic superior Deaconess Caja.

The final AW-style move I used as we wrapped up the dungeon portion of the session was when John Fighter, expecting to go toe-to-toe with a fearsome elemental, quaffed the potion of heroism he'd been saving for the moment when he hoped to sire a worthy heir to his lost throne. The fight ended sooner than expected, so he decided to use the remaining duration of the potion to attempt to sire the heir on a nearby werebear named Broomhilda. I really wanted that to happen, so I didn't dice for the success, only the consequences. On a 7-9, he chose the first out of these:

- Broomhilda will still respect you
- you will not incur the jealousy of Berries, a male member of the werebear den
- word of these events will not reach Patriarch Zekon

Response from James_Nostack on hearing about this in the session writeup:

(picks jaw up off the floor)

Props for an innovative use of a magical item, but I think this means your heir is a bear.

I'd love to play actual Dungeon World with folks sometime to see how things work differently in a game that's been using this approach from the start & applies it to actual dungeons.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2010, 09:57:37 AM by Tavis »