Fictionalizing Discern Realties

  • 4 Replies
Fictionalizing Discern Realties
« on: February 21, 2013, 11:02:13 PM »
As our game groups explores DW, one issue that came up was that Discern Realties seemed a somewhat unsatisfactory Move as it allowed players to directly ask the GM questions, which caused PCs to step out of character. As a quick fix for some situations, we developed this Move which has PCs searching instead of asking direct questions. Thoughts on this issue?

Player Move – My Eye, The Beholder (replaces Discern Realties at times)
As PCs search rooms, look for traps or generally search for info about specific areas or objects. (Huge halls or landscapes should not be tested in a single roll.) Roll+wisdom. Modifiers added secretly by GM to not alert PC to type of hidden article: Traps: Thief +1.  Magical Traps, Presence: Mage +1.  Hidden doors, levers, subrooms: Dwarf +1.
Results: 10+ - success! All revealed or discovered plus optional +1 forward
7-9: If multiple items, only reveal 1.
- If only one item, inflict a cost or penalty (something approaching, -1 forward, threat, trapped)
- find one item, damage/lose/destroy/ignore another



  • 777
Re: Fictionalizing Discern Realties
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2013, 03:17:20 AM »
Seems ok Vlad, but in our experience you avoid the 'stepping out of  character' issue simply by following your principles: address the characters and be a fan of them, and it all seems to work out great. The options chosen on Discern have undergone a few changes over the history of the game and there is a reason why you should ask questions off the list.

Also, why would the GM need to secretly add modifiers? We find that it so much more fun to have a vague idea of what needs to be discerned (like a keyword on the map such as 'smelly' or 'vicious') and just play to see what happens and what is discovered. I know that is a little too impro for some, but the reasoning behind that sort of play really does infuse the moves. I think if you start secretly adding modifiers you play with the agenda of the game.

You have your hard and soft GM moves remember? Just bake those into your narration of the 'hidden' article. This allows for you (and the players) to narrate stuff into the game as you play along, creating the world and the canon of your Dungeon World as you go. It works a treat and you have far less book keeping of all those fiddly modifiers.

Re: Fictionalizing Discern Realties
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2013, 08:23:43 AM »
I suppose it could come down to how the PC asks the question - eg "my player is looking at the ground and walls to determine what he should look out for." instead of "what should we look out for?"



  • 777
Re: Fictionalizing Discern Realties
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2013, 07:24:54 PM »
Ohhh, I see. Well that sort of questioning occurs during the 'conversation' all the time yeah? I always bring it back by addressing the character, offering up a new tidbit or situation to deal with and always always end 'So what do you do?'

This focuses on the fiction first, (from the character's viewpoint) and allows for that immersive feel.
 So with your example, I assume the player [of Brinton the Cleric] is wanting to find out what to look out for in the room? So when they say: "my player is looking at the ground and walls to determine what he should look out for."

You need to establish the fictional context before dice are rolled.
You can’t just stick your head in the doorway and discern realities about a room. You’re not merely scanning for clues—you have to look under and around things, tap the walls, and check for weird dust patterns on the bookshelves. That sort of thing.

In which case I would reply; 'Sure Brinton, sounds like you are Discerning Realities yes? So what do you do? Gently nudge them (through careful and direct questioning to answer from their character's point of view, or even ask another character their opinion on the matter.

Once they describe what they are up to and they trigger the move through their narration of: When you closely study a situation or person, then they roll, and just get them to read verbatim the questions they want to ask (on a hit of course!) from the list. They are written in the first person so they intentionally immerse the player into their character's point of view.

So in your example, say Brinton rolled  a 7-9, you can tell them that their poking and prodding about allows them one question off the list what is it to be? They simply read out loud: 'What should I be on the lookout for?'

Now your response to this is crucial to setting the tone of your game. My favourite thing here (since we love impro) is to turn to another player and toss them a tidbit and ask them. So I might look at my map, see the word 'smelly' and a little icon of a pit. I turn to Brogo the halfling thief and ask; 'Hey Brogo, you notice an awful miasma steaming from that stone lined pit at your feet, what do you think Brinton should be wary of?'

Or I may have prep that says there is a otuygh lurking at the bottom of that pit, with the instinct to befoul... growing fat and strong on the offal of orcs, goblins and other cave-dwelling humanoids. I know that if the characters get too close then they'll have one of its barbed tentacles dragging them into that soggy, razor-toothed maw. So I say 'Well Brinton, your gut instinct is to keep well clear of that retch-inducing pit in the corner of the cavern. The bones and detritus littered about its stone-carved lip suggest something sinister is lurking in its depths... So, what do you do?'

Does that help?

Re: Fictionalizing Discern Realties
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2013, 05:17:49 PM »
Yes, it does help. As we increasingly discover, DW forces longtimer gamers to play in a different conversational style - or go back to a very old-school style - so very specific examples that spell things out are most useful.
I find creating an understanding of how this game can work is almost as entertaining as playing it.