Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc

  • 24 Replies
Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2012, 01:44:33 PM »
Defy Danger makes more sense to me as well. And I'd probably give the damage bonus on a 10+ roll. On a 7-9, I would give a choice: which does the thief want to accomplish more? That the ogre hurts itself or that the falls prone.

But yea, I'm glad you made this thread and I can't wait to see what the local folk here are going to suggest to your situations 1-4, as I've been struggling with those very issues.

Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2012, 01:55:52 PM »
OK, inexperienced DW GM here, but I'm going to give my stab at zmook's 1-4, partly to see if experienced GMs agree with my calls.

1.  It's the thief's turn.  He successfully trips an ogre who was about to bash the fighter.  What bonus, if any, do you give to the fighter's next attack against the sprawling ogre?

For all of these, note that I don't really think there's a clear 'turn'. When zmook says this, I'm going to assume that he means that, on table consensus it seems like it's the thief's chance to say what he does.

My call on this one depends somewhat on my description of the ogre. If I've described it as lumbering and ungainly (likely, given my mental image of an ogre), I'm likely to just tell the fighter to deal his damage, no move required. I might make him Defy some Danger (with either Con or Dex, most likely) to avoid the ogre thrashing about trying to get up, but that depends a lot on how I've fictionally positioned it.

2.  The ogre, back on his feet, is winding up with his stone mallet to club the fighter into next week.  The ranger acts, and hacks the ogre from his exposed side.  What bonus, if any, do you give to the ranger's attack?

Here it depends on what the Ranger is trying to accomplish. Is she trying to outright kill the ogre? If so, it's probably just deal damage, but if that doesn't drop the Ogre right away (and it might well not), that monstrous swing is going to happen -- the threat was ignored, so it's a golden opportunity, right? -- and the fighter will probably take some damage and get to roll Defy Danger (Con) to avoid some real problems, given that I spent some description on the rippling muscle's as the ogre wind's up and the dried blood coating the mallet head.... If she's trying to distract the Ogre from actually taking that swing, she's probably making a Defend (the fighter) move, which might incidentally get to inflict his damage if she takes that option on a hit.

3.  It's the bard's turn.  He rolls Defy Danger to disarm the ogre, and the brutal mallet goes flying into the darkness.  Now the fighter Hacks the disarmed ogre.  What bonus, if any, do you give to the attack?

So I'm not sure why it has become the bard's 'turn' here. I obviously gave the Ranger a chance to respond already, right? I needed to say what happens before, which means probably resolving that threat I prepared here. But suppose the ranger didn't exist, and the bard jumped in to try to deal with the fighter's problem, and I resolved the bard's action as you described, with the mallet flying away and landing with a heavy thunk on the ground behind the ogre. Now what I do for the fighter all depends on the move I made after that. Is the ogre abandoning his weapon and now trying to just crush with his fists? Pulling out another weapon? Turning to try to recover the mallet? If the first two, the fighter is probably just hacking and slashing normally, but the ogre's weapon presumably doesn't have the 'messy' tag and it probably makes the ogre's other moves less effective. I might even reduce the damage the ogre does in return.  If I think the ogre is getting the mallet back, I'd probably say, "Sure, Fighter, you've got a clean shot to deal your damage, but it'll pick that wicked thing back up if you do. Or you could Defend the mallet from being picked up, right, if you want to keep that ogre away from it instead."

4.  The cleric drops a weighted, entangling net over the ogre.  It comes around to the fighter's turn again.  The ogre is now disarmed, netted, and the wizard just blasted it for big damage.  What bonus, if any, do you give to the fighter's attack?

"It's helpless. Do you want to kill it outright or capture it to haul back to town? I mean, (Bard), I'm sure you know someone who would love to have a live captive ogre to experiment on, right? Who would that be?"

Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2012, 02:10:11 PM »

These are all fantastic answers. For number 1 I'd also add "and also depends on what the thief did to trip the ogre, and how we narrated it falling"  to it, but that's pretty much it.

Also, #4 is just plain fantastic. Can I play at your table, Threlicus?

I think all in all, the thrust of what is being said is if you want mechanical bonuses, aid; If you want better fictional options, do something fantastic, and probably have someone else aid too ;)

Edit: not that aid shouldn't change the fictional position, too, just that for clear mechanical bonus this is where you turn.

As far as number 5, hack and slash or defy danger work well. I might even call it a sneak attack if the thief had positioned himself that the move was coming out of nowhere. All good solutions, depending on what exactly is said.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 02:15:17 PM by Aaron Friesen »



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Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2012, 03:11:37 PM »
As for #5, it really depends on what has been established before, but based on my assumptions about ogres in general I'd say it's either sneak attack. Or defy danger with STR for Thief: he's certainly nimble enough to get in the right position, no need to roll. But pushing that damn huge thing to fall on the spikes is really difficult.
For the strong Fighter it would be other way round.



  • 777
Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2012, 04:39:07 AM »

But I'm still not clear what noclue's approach is.  Depends on the fictional positioning, yes, got it.  But how much?

If these situations still seem too unclear or hypothetical, then what I'd really like to know is:  what other information do you think you need?   I'm trying to specify the important facts of the situations, but if I'm missing something, that's part of what I want to know:  how do other people think about these things? 

Lots of information. See, the hypotheticals don't really help Because they don't engage with the players at the table, they are simply coming out of your imagination. Threlicus has been very helpful! And Aaron as always has very neatly encapsulated folk's help :)

But to go with it and try and help a little myself...

All of the examples are wanting narratively in some respects, but Number 3 is a classic example of needing clarifying the moves through the fiction. How do the moves narratively snowball into one another? Where are the authored connections? Simply stating that 'I hack and slash the unarmed troll' just wont do! So what do you do? 'I draw my signature axe and gleefully draw my thumb along its edge, plant my foot into the ogre's guts with a vicious kick and behead the bastard!' Cool, sounds like you are hacking and slashing to me? Yes? Then go with Threlicus's offering them an opportunity, most certainly with a cost.

I guess my take on this, is instead of wondering what mechanical bonuses to give when a move is less than 'cut and dried' (ie: most of the time), look to your principles and moves! They are there to help you in this sort of decision.

In your examples of the fight with the ogre I'd be definately using the principles of:
*Give the ogre life, a name, push his instinct hard (to turn the world to darker days)
*Ask questions and use the answers - What do you do? Ok cool! So what do you do? How do you do that?
*Be a fan of the characters - Heroics and adventure for ALL
*Think dangerous - its an Ogre after all
*Begin and end with the fiction - None of your examples do this. :(
*Think offscreen, too - Where are the Ogre's mates? Who is reacting to the melee? What happens when the ogre doesn't return to his kin?

And considering these GM moves to guide the fiction (instead of focusing on what mechanical bonuses to give)
*Have the Ogre fly into a rage in response to the disarms, being knocked prone and generally having a hard time.
*Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities - Allow the fighter to take it too the Ogre one-on-one, let the thief come up with sneaky tricks, encourage fancy shooting from the ranger...
*Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment - realise that unarmed or no, the ogre is still a force to be reckoned with.
*Offer an opportunity, with or without cost - All of Aaron's and Threlicus's ideas :)
*Put someone in a spot
*Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask

Temper your examples in this manner and each sentence becomes a paragraph of exciting fiction with nary a bonus to be found.



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Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2012, 05:36:19 PM »
Temper your examples in this manner and each sentence becomes a paragraph of exciting fiction with nary a bonus to be found.

It sounds like maybe what you are recommending is:  usually try to give opportunities in the fiction as bonuses, rather than mechanical modifiers.  That seems like a good idea, for whenever I can think of something interesting.

For the record, I was brief about setting up the fictional triggers for the questions I asked because I wanted to focus on the mechanics part, and I thought perhaps we could assume that that part was happening without getting bogged down in it.  Mechanics exist, after all.  The rules are part of the game.  We're not just playing free-for-all make believe.  "Start and end with the fiction" does not mean that there aren't any mechanics in the middle, and so I think it's reasonable to want to talk about how to manage those mechanics.

To be valuable, mechanics will reflect the situation described in fiction, and their outcomes will inform the narration of results.  Some of you all seem to think I'm doing something out of the spirit of the game by considering mechanical bonuses for narratively-described situations that seem to call for them.  I strongly disagree.  The rules explicitly says they are intended to be descriptive: "when the character changes in the fiction the player should change the character sheet to match." (p30)  Presumably the same should go occasionally for rolls in combat.

Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2012, 06:06:27 PM »
Lots of good advice here, but, yeah, sure. Just make a custom move if you want to.

When you have a clear advantage, take +1 forward. When you have clear disadvantage, take -1 forward.

No big deal. Try it out, see if you like it.



  • 777
Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2012, 10:31:06 PM »
Oh, I though you were focusing on the mechanical bonus part of moves without giving thought to the narrative consequences (they go hand in hand after all). John's advice is simple and tried and tested. Heck, even I ran with that for a while in AW.

I wasn't suggesting that you were acting not within the spirit of the game Zmook! I was trying to help. I thought you may have been in an 'mechanical bonus only' mindset, and was offering my thoughts on how to buoy that up with narrative options as outlined in the principles, moves, instincts and monster attacks. You already seem to have a handle on that so great!



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Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2012, 02:38:42 PM »
I'm sorry I got frustrated.  I appreciate the help.

John's advice is simple and tried and tested. Heck, even I ran with that for a while in AW.

I think that's what I'm trying to ask:  how did that work for you, and why did you stop?

It seems pretty workable to give out -1s and -2s when it seems appropriate, but for bonuses I'm sort of acutely aware of how little wiggle room Dungeon World has left for me.  Characters can already pretty easily collect themselves +3 on the rolls they make most often, which means failure only on 2-3 (8.3%).  If I make it easy for them to get another +1 situationally, they fail only on snake eyes (2.8%), and the probability of full success (10+) goes from 58% to 72%.  That's *substantial*, so I need to limit giving that out to times of major advantage.

I suppose that's workable.  The fiction maybe really supports only three states:  normal chances (just roll to hit), can't-really-miss (just roll damage), and somewhere in between (take +1).  Maybe there's not really any need for more than one level of "somewhere in between" that still allows a chance of actual failure.  (+5 is an auto-hit, after all.)

Still, can't help wondering if anyone has ever tried a 2d8 variant on the basic AW move.  Success on 12+, partial on 9-11, and failure on 8- gives almost the same base odds as the usual numbers on 2d6, but the impact of bonuses is scaled down just a bit, leaving a little more room to let players earn themselves advantages in combat through crafty tactics.  Which is really part of the "old-school style" that DW advertises, after all.

But I'm not quite ready to houserule that drastically -- am going to play a few more sessions as written, and see if we can come up with enough interesting in-fiction bonuses for tactics that mechanical ones don't seem necessary.



  • 777
Re: Effects of non-damage combat moves: disarm, trip, etc
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2012, 01:41:57 AM »
Yeah, I see where you are coming from. But what's to stop you giving the mechanical disadvantage / advantage concept a whirl? Its easy and simple.

We stopped, because when you start saying things like 'Oh you obviously have a clear advantage because of.... take +1', the move lost some of its narrative power. I became a strong proponent of the offer a consequence with or without a cost move, and using Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask ALL the time.

So for instance, if a player was heckling for a +1 advantage for their hack and slash roll (for a variety of reasons) and it seemed reasonable, I'd be like 'Sure, your dominating position on the cavern outcrop gives you a direct advantage over the lizardman as you swing into the fray... Tell you what, you can roll hack and slash sure, and even if you miss, your ferocious attack will do a few points of damage. What do you do?'

What this did was allowed us to fictionally pull apart the cues in the moves and allow for some fictional lassitude. My favourite is to add one more choice from a list (or take one away).

By the way, I LOVE for 2d8 paradigm! Not just because I love d8s either. It does give the bonuses a little less 'oomph' and means that if you go down the Critical Success Move result for advanced moves, a 16+ is a rarity (a good thing).