DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment

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DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« on: February 18, 2016, 04:09:03 AM »
Hi all.

Newcomer to this crowd.

I have been working on a smallish hack to fit DW on Middle-Earth (my players have been prompting me to nostalgia trip to MERP we played about 30-25 yrs ago :-), but I'm not wanting to touch MERP/RM anymore and somehow The One Ring doesn't ring my bell. I would love to try out DW on that. Basicly I am not aiming to any big mods, but want to have something that makes it fit better.

The one core mechanic I want to bring in is Shadow/Corruption. That's one thing I feel is beautiful in TOR, so I'm shamelessly stealing from it.

As I am not too experienced on AW/DW and not been hacking it before, I would love to have some feedback. This is the first writeup, so there must be problems...

As a background, there will be a Stat representing empathy, strength of characters conscience,  etc. I'm naming it Heart.
It derives a secondary Stat named Spirit, which represents the characters morality, straight of mind to aspire for good, the spark of Eru etc. Spirit is countered by Shadow, representing corruption and evil (I'm scrapping the Alignment rules).

Big part of this aims to fiction rather than mechanic. My goals for this is to present
- subtle descent to corruption, if the player wishes to succumb (=once you fall you risk sinking deeper)
- ever-present temptation to lean on shadow (= you can choose manifest your shadow to get benefit (also mechanically))
- everyone is not evil, you can fight it (=there's a way to stay untainted)
- it creates recognisable marks from ME Lore: even Heroes may carry taint, despair and hopelessness in face of shadow, elven grief, wanderlust, dragon-sickness, corruptive effect of power, etc.

So...Thanks in advance, looking forward to get any feedback


Dual stat SHADOW (starts on 0) <<<o>>> SPIRIT (derived from heart)
Value: 1 to 3.

Values do not counter each other. So shadow 1 spirit 3 gives you still spirit 3.

Everyone start with Spirit=Heart (modifier) and 0 Shadow, except:
• Common men are easier to fall...they drop spirit by -1 (to min. of 0).
• High men and Hobbits start with +1, elves with +2 spirit (to max. of 3)
• Mannish cultures living under shadow start with 1 shadow.

When you feel the Shadow
Whenever you encounter situation, where Taint of the Shadow is present: Spirit+roll.
On hit, you resist corruption. The spark of Eru burns bright in you: gain 1 spirit.
On 10+ choose 2, but if your Shadow is stronger than Spirit, choose only 1.
7-9 choose 1:
• Light of Valinor: remove 1 shadow
• You are not lured (if you are, -1forward to spirit or +1forward to next misdeeds, whichever happens first)
• You don’t manifest the taint of shadow you carry.

Miss: gain Taint shadow (see below for Taint).
If you must add shadow, you can always manifest instead. If you must add shadow, but can't (it's already at 3), you must manifest Instead.
The strength of manifest effect is scaled to current shadow score (by fiction).

Taint represents the power of Dark Lord affecting the people and lands. Taint has dual purpose:
- Whenever the characters encounter taint, in any form described below by their own actions or merely being in presence of taint, it triggers When you feel the Shadow -move.
- Taint has a score, affecting how strong effect it has on your character.

Tain is present in
0: Minor misdeed (cheating lying  etc. selfish acts of pure benefit). Accidental misdeeds. These are purely fictional, an opportunity for MC to make a soft move, to get things moving, spiraling towards darker deeds.
1: Harming fellow man (physicall/mentally/socially). Unnecessary cruelty towards minor servants of enemy (yes, even orcs). Taking by force. Violent threats. Cowardice, theft and blunder.
2: Killing or grievously harming fellow man in fair fight. Torture for 'greater good’. Orchestrating attack/war against ‘neutral’ people resulting number of deaths. Unprovoked aggression, abusing authority to influence or dominate.
3: Murder, malicious torture, assassination, betrayal
Automatic (adds 1 to 3 Shadow without roll): Killing close kin/friend, Oathbreak

Manifest (choose one that fits best the scene/your character)
• Lure of Power (resentful, arrogant, overconfident, tyrannical, evil in mind): you may choose to use your Shadow as a bonus to accomplish a goal (a scene, or string of actions with clear goal), but these actions counts as misdeeds then. Whatever you set to do, you do it with evil at heart.
• Curse of Vengeance: (spiteful, brutal, cruel, murderous, violent tempers): use any means as. possible to fight shadow. You fight without any restraint and show no mercy. Increase your harm by Shadow until next time you reduce your shadow. Note, that this results unnecessary harshness, which turns deeds more easily to misdeeds.
• Bout of Madness (rage, wretchedness, desperation, lust): you act without control. You will be prompted by CM. This affects your actions for duration of scene.

0: I'll news, spreading them, gossiping.
1: Entering land under shadows influence, old battlefields, places of blood, murder and destruction (ruins, Moria etc.), lair of orcs, cave of troll, den of thieves. Witnessing power of shadow; destroyed lands, fresh corpses, etc.
2: Entering land under shadows control (Angmar , Mordor, southern Mirkwood, lair of dragon, etc.) or evil old places (barrow downs, dark forests, deep caves). Being enslaved by Dark Lords minions. Natural/accidental death of close kin/friends
3: Entering stronghold of the Enemy (Dol Guldur, Carn Dum, citadels of Mordor, Minas Ithil or core of area ruled by Nazgul/Orcs). Inside ancient barrow. Witnessing power of shadow in action; attack of orcs on defenseless people, marks of wanton violence, torture, mutilation. Violent death of close kin/friends
Automatic (adds 1 to 3 Shadow without roll): Direct contact to shadow world, presence of high servant of shadow or Sauron himself (e.g. contact via Palantir). Entering core of evil (Barad-dur, throne room of Nazgul).

Manifest (choose one that best fits your character/you feel grows your characters story)
• Despair: Lose -1heart.
• Grief (elves only). If your spirit drops to 0 you will abandon everything and start travel west. Note, that if CM and you so agree, this may be a story in itself, and your spirits may be healed in process. However, once the grief sets in, it stays, and you always long for Valinor. Each time you Grief, the desire to leave grows stronger.
• Wandering-madness (idle, forgetful, uncaring, cowardly). You don't feel at home anywhere anymore. You don’t feel attached to places nor to people. If you stay in one place longer than a season, you grow irritated, morose and restless. -1forward if you stay.

Tainted treasure/Dark knowledge (also love/lust/desire of something you cannot get)
0: stealing, studying dark deeds, encountering dark lore. Performing magic. Unanswered desires.
1: Taken from hoard gained by misdeed: orc or troll-treasure or thieves loot. Money from Mordor. Studying dark lore.
2: Taken from hoard of Dragon. Performing dark magic.
3: Stolen from ancient barrow or stronghold of the Dark Lord. Legendary artefacts. Using cursed items.
Automatic (adds 1 to 3 Shadow without roll): Accepting gifts from the Dark Lord.
Items created by Elves are pure things and do not carry taint, even after rescued from tainted treasure.

Manifest (choose by category of desire):
• Dragon-sickness (grasping, mistrustful, deceitful, thieving): you must to possess it, by any means possible.
• Lure of Secrets (haughty, scornful, scheming, treacherous): you are drawn to secrets and dark arts.

Re: DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2016, 01:04:08 AM »
This is a pretty interesting concept, and, although I'm not sure Dungeon World, as written, is a great fit for Middle Earth, I like your approach to measuring Taint and Spirit and all that kind of thing.

I'm not 100% sure I understood all of your rules (some of that post might need to be rewritten), but so far my feeling is:

1) Conceptually, I like it.
2) The specifics are either confusing, or perhaps they need to be simplified a bit, for smoother handling in play.

I'd love to hear more about it.

Re: DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2016, 07:19:04 AM »
Thanks for commenting.
As said, this is first write-up, and not throughly thought out yet.
My main concern is that it is too complicated to run smoothly.

The thing is, that while I trust (hope) this to feed directly to fiction, more than leaning to rules, but I still want to have some mechanics at hand.

I'm not also running purely impro, but will have prepared scenarios, which would me to allow pre think some cases. So the taint will be more like ready number at play rather than always estimating it. Then again, I tried to formalise it in a way that it is easy and quick to throw in without prep.

Some parts are surely for campaign play, and may be a bit too twiddly, but Move & Manifesting is the core thing for the players. When evil is strong, they should feel it. And they may grab a bit of bonus from it, with a price of slipping towards dark side.

The one thing I'm rethinking is the manifest part. Now reading this it looks like that Misdeeds are much about mechanics (adding to rolls) while other (blight/treasure) are directed to (long term) fiction. I'm not sure if that's a good balance. And I wonder why anyone would choose 'Madness' for the Misdeed (unless player wanting to avoid other options).
I would like to have short term options affecting the situation at hand and then long term fiction feeders in all Misdeeds/Blight/Treasure.

Anyway, hope this inspires/intrigues. I could see this tuned to any scope with bad/good/dark/light/evil/good conflicts in character.

Re: DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2016, 01:33:08 PM »
I've been running DW for my daughters a while, and they've just started reading Tolkien, so I've been thinking about this topic.  These are my musings, trying to meddle with DW as little as possible structurally--adding only one new track, and then custom moves, and some Fate color.  These rules haven't been tested in play, but they are informed by our actual DW play.

The Hope / Shadow Track

You start out with 6 hope boxes, no shadow.
Shadow is a one-way street; though hope can be regained, shadow can never be reduced.
There's a new debility, Weary: -1 forward. Weariness is removed after a Make Camp in relative safety.

When you hit 0 hope, you take Weary, and permanently mark off one hope box, which is now a shadow box.  Each time you mark a shadow box, the GM will read you a new Fate.   Cross out your old Fate, it is no longer true.  Everyone's starting Fate is "I shall know not a whisper of darkness.". The shadow fates are primarily fictional, though especially at higher levels the GM may require you to act to defy them.

Hope and Shadow Custom Moves

New GM / monster / location / item moves: drain hope, drain all hope

When you give hope to a companion, roll +Bonds. On a hit, restore one hope.
10+ Choose 2
7-9 Choose 1
 Remove their Weariness
 You do not lose one hope

When you see a companion who has lost all hope, roll +WIS or +Bond, your choice.  On a hit, restore all their hope.
7-9 Choose one
 *You lose all your hope
 *Make a shadow roll
6- GM chooses

When you make a perilous journey through Shadowed Lands, or when you Defy your Fate, roll -SHA (but do not roll if you have 0 SHA).

10+ You have dark and disturbing dreams, but awake refreshed.
7-9 You are haunted by visions during the day, and sleep only fitfully.  Choose one:
*mark weary
*go mad; your GM will tell you what you do, take 1 XP
*increase shadow, take 2 XP
6- GM chooses

The Fates
0 I shall know not a whisper of darkness
1 I shall live untroubled
2 My days shall not be haunted by visions
3 I shall not be tempted by visions
4 I shall not be obsessed with visions
5 I may yet walk in the daylight
6 I shall yet remember the light

When you must cross off your sixth and last Hope box, make a Last Breath roll to be Taken By The Dark.

Re: DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2016, 01:18:26 PM »
Quite nice.
I love that your version fits in about 1/3rd of mine :-)

So, in rules-wise it feels very compact. I like the 'weary', very thematic.

One thing that has been bothering me is how to play the madness. On my rules it seems a choice that won't get selected (other choices have more tangible results, even benefits of sorts). It's very fictional, so potentially very entertaining, but then that requires players to be very versed in diving in fiction. So I'm concerned it plays out too lame, or is used only to get the character out of situation. But it should be a defining moment in character, result in desperate and big actions, and possibly against friendly NPC's or even over PC's.
On the other hand, I don't like at all as a GM to take an arbitrary control of PC behaviour.

Re: DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2016, 03:24:19 AM »
On the other hand, I don't like at all as a GM to take an arbitrary control of PC behaviour.
A few months late, but if you're still reading this thread: one approach I've seen DW using to handling mind-control-y effects on PCs is to use the carrot of XP.

"When you succumb to (specific temptation), mark XP."

That gives the player free will about what their character does, but presents them with a genuine temptation in parallel with the temptation their character is experiencing.

Re: DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2016, 06:34:10 AM »
That's insanely simple solution :-)

Thanks. This been on hold for a while, so your answer was by no means too late.

Re: DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2016, 08:29:12 AM »
Well, it does get a bit complicated. Something along the lines of

7-9 You are haunted by visions during the day, and sleep only fitfully. 
You may choose to increase shadow, and take 2 XP
If you do not choose to do so, the GM will tell you what your character might do in a fit of madness, if you accept: gain 1 XP
If you do not accept: mark weary

It does end up a bit long

Re: DW Hack: Shadow/Corruption, please comment
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2016, 09:00:08 PM »
There is a new PbtA game out on drivethrurpg called "Fellowship".  It takes a more structural approach to a Tolkien-like story.  I haven't read it, but surely it has some useful and transferable thoughts on this subject.