Friday, August 24, 2012

It's all in the Moves

Time to make a Move
Daniel Perez asked a simple question of me prompted by my previous post about playing Dungeon World: did the game mechanics facilitate the experience you describe?

To which I answered:

...the mechanics faded into the background.

Daniel called BS and asked again:

How did your Moves and other mechanical parts help to achieve the experience?

After giving it some more thought, here is how I answer that question:

When you go to dice in Dungeon World, something always happens.

Actions in DW are described as Moves in the rules. When you make a Move roll 2d6 + modifier. On a 10+ you make your move; you hit the Orc and roll damage. On a 7-9 you still make the Move, but there will generally be some fallout, backlash or a hard choice; you hit the Orc, but the Orc hits back. On a 6 or less the GM decides what happens. Based on the moves available to the GM, something is going to happen. A good GM ties this something into the fiction of the current Move. Perhaps I over-extend my sword thrust and the Orc sends my weapon flying across the chamber. The fiction moves forward in a very satisfying way.

So the rules put everything on the shoulders of the GM, right? Well, yes and no. While a lot rides on those shoulders there are a lot of Moves for the characters to make. The choice of Moves has a big impact on play. There are Basic and Special Moves that affect all characters. These represent things that happen often in the fiction regardless of the character's class. But each class also has Custom Moves.

Custom Moves are what a class is all about. Sure, my Cleric can Hack and Slash, but that is nowhere near as effective as Casting a Spell. These Custom Moves are where a class really shines. They direct play through player choice.

There are not a lot of Custom Moves at 1st level. This keeps the character focused and puts the player squarely in the driver's seat though their power of choice. As a Cleric I was looking for every opportunity I could find to use my Custom Moves. This is the primary way of interacting with the fiction. If I roll poorly the fiction may not go the way I was hoping or planning, but it will certainly keep moving forward.

A final incentive for encouraging characters to make a Move: XP. If a character should fail in a Move - roll 6 or less - they get one XP. So even when they fail, characters are still moving forward toward the next level.

Circling back around to Daniel's question, the short answer is something always happens when you go to dice in Dungeon World and that makes for very dynamic and satisfying play.

Follow your bliss,

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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