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Alessandro Piroddi
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I don't suffer from Insanity ... I enjoy every minute of it!
I don't suffer from Insanity ... I enjoy every minute of it!

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Alessandro Piroddi commented on a post on Blogger.
Dropping my 2c, hoping to be more helpful than tedious ;)

You seem to look this thing from a setting/flavour/color perspective, trying to understand how can games offer an empty space that people will be willing to fill with their own creativity.

This is not an ideal point of view.
The thing is, at least in my experience, that THE RULES of the game are the real content...
The procedures by which people play the game ARE setting, as they express what we talk about, how we talk about it, and why.
The THEMES of the game.
There are no "neutral" or "generic" rules, ever. "Generic" systems are misnamed, as in truth they offer a very specific game experience even if their "color" is easily changeable.

Thus, Apocalypse World uses its rules, every little bit of them, to lead play towards one specific direction... and then spends one small paragraph to outline the few basic details of its "official" setting:
- The apocalypse was 50-something years ago, enough for the world to start rebuilding but not enough for a new order to be already established.
- You were born in the post-apocalypse world.
- People old enough to remember the old world are either dead or extremely rare (and by now, unreliable).
- By the way, fuel and weapons are plentiful.

The point of this is not to outline an alluring setting, but to further shape the practical game experience in the way the designer intended. This things you can do. This other things, forget about them. This? This is NOT the point of the game, ignore it. etc.
And then the presence of every single "move" and "playbook" and "principle" is there not to balance numbers, but to further shape the game experience.
To create an emergent setting not out of static info, but out of play actions.

Fate?
Fate is as generic as they come... but no matter what setting/color you throw on it, the practical effect would be a "pulp action" game.
You could come up with a setting inspired by a static situation, the day to day office life of a normal group of people in a normal city doing normal things... and STILL the game mechanics would put the PCs at the front and center of some dramatic situation where they are the movers and shakers of everything... the ones who WILL make a difference, no matter how hard they try to mind their own business, while exploring and bringing to the fore their personal demons and problems.
This is 100% because of the underlying mechanics of the game, no matter which setting you slap on them.

This is a trend because it simply works wonders :P
This is the allure and whole point of emergent play.

Someone could be amazing at writing stories, but maybe those specific stories don't appeal to all audiences. And rulebooks are universally read by only one or two people at the table anyway. And then only a small % of the offered setting material ever shows up at the table in actual play.
It's a big investment of designer/writer effort and time, producing material that ends up wasted, not being played or even read.

Emergent play allows players to produce their own content. Which often is HORRIBLE from an objective point of view. Seriously, most results are worse than the worst cheap soap-operas ;)
But it also is THEIRS... thus it ENGAGES them... thus it makes the game more real, personal and fun FOR THEM. That's why it has become a trend. It's a technique each game handles differently, depending on the specific design aims and goals it has.

So... for your own game... forget "luring players" through some magical amount of setting info that has to be just the right amount and quality.
Instead look at the FUNCTIONAL parts of the game experience you want to shape.
Have the rules describe clear and functional game procedures.
Have the procedures shape the game conversation.
What is the game about?
What is the core point?
How are the Players supposed to talk about it? Which choices can they make? And why? How are your rules supporting all of this?

THEN, when the game structure is there and working, you can think about a few details to add a specific color to your default game. To serve as a practical example. A "high quality" example if you will, produced by the designer just the way the designer wants it to be.

Depending on your goals, you will provide specific rules AND setting info to properly and specifically play your own unique cis-het-white-male-Australian fantasy that other can then "hack" to their own heart's content.
Or, go further and offer rules and setting info to directly allow and support your audience to straight away create their own fantasy (like Fate does, for example).
Or do something in between, depending on your ideas and goals for this game :)
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This is NUMBER TWO in a series of game examples that show where and how #FantasyWorld behaves differently than classic #DungeonWorld.
Here is the FIRST article (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AlessandroPiroddi/posts/bSyd1ABbYa2)
Here is the intro, for readability and clarity:

Recently +Jeremy Strandberg posted a series of example game situations in order to test the community’s reaction to a few critical details of his #Stonetop design, eventually culminating in a very interesting blog article (https://spoutinglore.blogspot.com/2018/09/hack-slash-part-ii.html) about his approach to the classic #DungeonWorld move Hack and Slash.

One of my supporters noticed this and expressed curiosity about how similarly or differently such situations would unfold if run through the lens of #FantasyWorld mechanics. I found the idea interesting, so here I am running the experiment to see what happens.

Be warned!
These examples where written with specific aims in mind, that I am completely ignoring. This first example was 90% context for a final GM decision, to highlight possible ways to handle “initiative” in play. I’m instead using 100% of the fiction to show how #FW would produce/handle it.

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SITUATION TWO
Original Post on the Dungeon World Tavern.
(https://plus.google.com/+JeremyStrandberg/posts/BQbLoxHH8LN)

The Thief, the Paladin, and the Cleric have followed the orcs' bloody trail down the dirt-packed tunnel and into an old cellar. It's dusty and cluttered, but the tracks end at the far wall, going right through it. Obviously it's a secret door. They spread out, looking for a way to open it. The paladin Discerns Realities, but even with the Cleric's Aid, it's a miss.
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/COMMENT
In #FW the Look Around move instructs the World to first describe what is obvious to the PCs senses and then ask “Do you want to know more?”. This is fair, and useful, and enriches the shared fiction. It also pushes the Old School idea that by imagining vividly a situation, the Players can puzzle out a solution. Having more details on the table also helps the World come up with answers to whatever may come next.

If the PCs answer YES, the move instructs them to explain to the World how they try to discern more info, and only then they roll dice. This encourages Players to really immerse themselves in their character shoes, and gives the World precious info on what is going on. Just watching something attentively will have different consequences than touching and moving stuff, or smelling it, or roaming around a room, etc...

The final difference is, on a 1-6 the PCs still get to ask one question. And then the World makes a move. This means many things. It offers a consolation prize to the Players for choosing to risk rolling the dice. It moves the game along, as PCs get some useful answer. It offers the World a devious assist in performing a move, as it becomes devilishly easy to Reveal an Unwelcome Truth by answering to the Player’s question with something true and useful, but also inconvenient, problematic or outright dangerous.
COMMENT/
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I put them in a spot and as they search, the door opens from the other side. Two orcs stand in the doorway. One blinks. The other snarls and draws his cleaver. What do you all do?
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/COMMENT
Here the GM is using this Hard Move to introduce a monster in the scene. Looking back at the previous article the same move was used to:
- have a monster enter the scene
- have it position itself advantageously
- have it successfully attack all PCs
- have it successfully “hurt” all PCs

As previously mentioned this hand waving is undesirable to me, and as such #FW has no Put Someone in a Spot move. To introduce the two orks the World could instead use an array of other moves that more clearly produce just the one effect the World is entitled to.
COMMENT/
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The Cleric starts casting magic weapon. The Thief draws his rapier. The Paladin's polearm is leaning against the wall, and the quarters are too tight to use it, so he slams the door shut on the orcs.

I have the Cleric and the Paladin roll...
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/COMMENT
In #FW all actions are declared at the same time, NPCs included. So while the the PCs perform their actions, what do the orks try to do? And in answer to that, do the PC want to change their declared action?

Let’s imagine that the growling ork wants to jump forward into the room, while the blinking one fumbles to reach his vicious curved dagger. This makes the situation more dynamic and fluid, sets up future actions and consequences (lett/easier work for the World!), and clarifies the stakes for everyone.

Let’s also imagine that the PCs decide to stay their course and keep doing what they have already declared. This means that the Thief too has to declare something right now, not after both Cleric and Paladin have already resolved their actions. Declared actions can change at no penalty, but this way the situation is painted in clearer and more vivid details, and will resolve in a faster way.

For now let’s imagine the Thief declares to be waiting, at the ready, for events to unfold.
COMMENT/
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I have the Cleric and the Paladin roll at the same time (Cast a Spell and Defy Danger with STR or INT, his choice). They both get a 7-9. The cleric chooses to draw unwelcome attention, and that lends nicely to a "worse outcome" on the Paladin's Defy Danger...
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/COMMENT
In #FW the World has all characters, PCs and NPCs alike, resolve their declared actions one at a time, in the order the World finds makes more sense. This means that an action the World judges as “faster” will resolve before an action they consider “slower”. Honesty demands that the World makes this extremely clear and always offers the PCs an opportunity to back off and describe a different action.

In this example, the ork lunging forward to attack would be much faster than the Cleric casting a spell.
World : Cleric, the ork could attack someone, possibly you, before you get a chance to finish casting the spell. Are you sure that’s your action?
Cleric : Yes, I trust the Paladin and Thief to be even faster and buy me some time.
World : Roger that.

So the actual situation in #FW would look like this, already in resolution order:
The Paladin tries to slam the door shut while one ork lunges forward to attack whomever is at hand, In the meantime the Cleric starts casting a spell, and the Thief observes everything waiting for an opportunity to act. In the background, the second ork gets his weapon ready.
COMMENT/
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I have the Cleric and the Paladin roll at the same time (Cast a Spell and Defy Danger with STR or INT, his choice). They both get a 7-9. The cleric chooses to draw unwelcome attention, and that lends nicely to a "worse outcome" on the Paladin's Defy Danger...

"Paladin, you slam the door on the arm of the one who was blinking, cutting him off, but not before the other orcs spies you, Cleric, and barrels into the room growling "CASTER!" and swings his cleaver at your head, what do you do?"
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/COMMENT
Even within the #DW framework this result is, in my personal opinion, wrong. The GM has misinterpreted the rules, robbing the Paladin of their success. Why? Let’s take a closer look at the fiction...

The Paladin declares an action: to act quickly and slam the door. It’s a simple enough action that should not require any roll, but here the Paladin is under pressure, trying to be faster than the orks. This perfectly tiggers the Defy Danger move.
But what are the orks doing?
One was blinking, and now is fumbling with his hands to grab his dagger. Acting faster than him should not be a roll. It’s obviously not gonna react faster than the already moving Paladin.
The other ork is already moving towards the entrance ... can the Paladin act faster than him? Yes, it’s possible, but we don’t know for sure. This is what’s at stake.

So the Paladin rolls a 7-9. This means their action is successful, right?
Actually, it’s a complete failure.
The stake (act before the lunging ork) is not achieved; the GM has misread such result as a partial success, while in truth it amounts to a complete failure.

This kind of mistake is in my personal experience very common.
And more than being just a wrong application of the rules, this kind of resolutions tends to teach the GM bad habits, leading them to somewhat mess with even the most straightforward 10+ successes. No success is safe, the PCs end up always suffering in some way, because in the GM’s mind “success” means “boring” and “static”.
Which is simply false.
Success is boring if one thinks in terms of challenge and opposition, because the success represents an end to the challenge or opposition.

But in #FW (and supposedly in #DW too) we are all playing to find out. A success moves the action along just as fine as a failure or a new problem... and actually better, as it literally moves the events forward: so you managed to do this thing, and now what? What’s next? What do you do?

For this reason #FW’s Take a Risk move works differently than #DW’s Defy Danger.
10+ = you do it and give Advantage to someone (yourself included)
7-9 = you do it but choose one: get Disadvantage or give the WP a Soft Move
1-6 = World Move

7-9 is a success, so you do it.
The door slams in front of the lunging ork, blocking his advance.
No ambiguity, no possibility for the World to get things wrong.
Then... the rest of the 7-9 effect is resolved as the Paladin chooses to either get Disadvantage or offer the World a Soft Move.
Let’s say the second option is chosen. Now the World can do many things, but correctly and easily: they have a Soft Move, nothing more, nothing less, and a clear suggestion to not just come up with whatever on the fly but to actually go over the list of Moves and pick one of those.

A Soft move is a World move that becomes evident as a possibility but does not take irreversible effect right now. Here are a few examples:
Unwelcome Truth : Paladin you get the door closed, but immediately feel it heaving under your hands. Two angry orks are enough to soon breach it, even if you keep pushing it close. What do you do?
Inflict Harm : Paladin, as you push the door closed a blade pierces it, vibrating at just a few centimeters from your nose. It quickly vanishes, and you know that the next blow might pierce you. What do you do?
Opportunity with a cost : Paladin you slam the door but immediately realize that the locking mechanism is on the other side; if you want it to stay closed you’ll have to keep pushing it. What do you do?

But wait, the Cleric rolled a 7-9 too.
In #FW the equivalent move to Cast a Spell offers the following results for a roll of 7-9:

7-9 = the miracle is worked imperfectly, choose one:
..you are drained, get Disadv. ongoing to work miracles until you Long Rest
..you are distracted, the WP will describe a looming danger (Soft Move)
..you are hurt, suffer Nasty harm

As you can see there is no put in a spot option. Instead, the World is clearly offered a Soft Move.
COMMENT/
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The Thief interjects: "I lunge at him and stab him! Backstab?" No, not a backstab; the orc is hardly surprised or defenseless. It's just a Hack and Slash, you still want to do it? "Sure!" Rolls. 7-9.
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/COMMENT
For the sake of this example let’s imagine that at some point one ork manages to break into the room, and while Paladin and Cleric do their own thing, the Thief attacks. They roll the Brawl move...
COMMENT/
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"Okay, deal your damage. How much? Only 2, huh? Well, it's still up, and I think it checks it charge and twists back, your blades slices across its ribs."

Then, for it's attack, I choose to hurt them (the orc bloodwarrior does messy damage after all) and say "But as you spring back from your lunge it lashes out and just CHOPS into your forward leg, right above the knee and there's a spray of blood. Take d6+2 damage and your knee buckles under you, not bearing your weight." The Thief takes like 5 damage, ouch, but he's got like 13 left so whatever.
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/COMMENT
In theory #DW requires the Players and GM to put attention to the fiction. To describe stuff. Not in excruciating detail, but still enough to imagine what is going on in the scene. This is meant to be important before a roll, but also after, as fictional consequences should impact the game.
Unfortunately the damage mechanics hinder this process.

First the Thief rolls a 7-9, a success, which is pretty much negated by bad luck with the damage die. We don’t know how many HPs and Armor the ork has, but 2 damages are described as nothing more than a light scratch.
Meaning: the Thief’s successful attack fails.
And then, the ork inflicts a spectacular and gory attack... that the GM themselve thescribes as whatever ... 5 damages out of a pool of 13 are bad, but not so bad, and the fancy description is already forgotten.

In this specific example I want to give the GM the benefit of the doubt, so I am sure that later in the game they will remember that the Thief has a messed up leg, with a knee unable to sustain real weight. But in my personal experience the vast majority if GMs will not remember this. Fiction is used for immediate spectacle, but is then forgotten as they already have more than enough things to keep in mind.
Also, numbers are simpler and clearer than fiction, so it is extremely easy to focus one’s attention on them, overlooking the rest. Is this a bad and problematic wound? Eh, whatever, 5 out of 13 is not such a drama.

In #FW the instant a move inflicts Harm the game breaks, unless someone at the table takes care of clarifying a bunch of things. This can be done at the last moment, but it feels awkward... which is a feature, as it leads both Protagonists and World to be clearer and more descriptive beforehand.

World : Thief you lunge forward with your rapier, cool, but how? I mean, are you slashing out savagely or are you aiming for a specific target?
Thief : _Oh, I don’t know, what’s the difference?
World : Well, the ork is a mass of ripping green muscles slightly bigger than a big and strong human... already like this just slashing with a fine blade as yours would only inflict Nasty harm. But he is also wearing some sort of animal pelt that seems pretty furry and thick... so... just slashing might have no real effect.
Thief : What if I pierce him? My rapier is perfect for such attack!
World : Indeed, but he’s big. Pierce him wherever, and the harm will only be Nasty, but you’ll easily inflict it. Otherwise you could look for a weak spot, do you want to?
Thief : No time! Let me just skew this brute like a shish-kebab!
Knowing that the move requires an exchange of harm, the World describes the ork’s attack too.
World : So the ork was about to maul the Cleric when you jump in and stab him with your rapier; he reacts, trying to chop your leg off with his heavy serrated blade; this could be Serious.

Now the scene is set, the actions are clear in everyone’s mind, and the expectations are well established too.
The Thief then rolls a 7-9. This means that harm is exchanged, but first one option is selected from the available list. This means two things.

One.
The harm itself will be meaningful. Nasty harm means that the ork will possibly..
..look and feel like a mess: bloody, bruised and teared up
..lose hold of something important he were carrying or wearing
..lose footing or end up in a problematic position
..be held by something that clutches/tangles/impedes you
..go out cold, unconscious or incoherent

Looking at the list it appears obvious how the way the attack was described already rules out a few possibilities, restricting the available choices of the ork that, except the first one (which is a one-time “free pass” that the World could use to reinforce the presence of the ork as a big brute not easily wounded), all mean a big advantage for the PCs.

Two.
The Thief also gets to pick one option from the Brawl move list, achieving even more. Maybe they ensure the safety of the Cleric. Maybe they hit a vital point after all, inflicting Serious harm. Maybe they waltz out of the way, reducing the harm they are about to suffer. Etc.

But the ork inflicts damage too.
In #FW the target of Harm freely chooses the appropriate Harm effects from the list, with a few caveats:
1) the effect must be available/unmarked
2) the effect must fit the fiction

So while the Thief is presented the full list of options, the way the ork attack was described already disqualifies some options! So... it’s important!
How would it look?
First of all, one level of Harm inflicts one effect from each level up to the inflicted one.
So receiving harm of Nasty level inflicts one Nasty effect.
Receiving harm of Serious level inflicts one Nasty effect and then one Serious effect (in this specific order).
And receiving harm of Deadly level inflicts one Nasty effect, then a Serious effect, and finally one Deadly effect.

Looking at the Nasty effects the Thief chooses to look and feel like a mess. It fits, it’s there exactly to act as a relatively safe buffer, so it’s an obvious choice (if available).
Then looking at the Serious list the Thief could..
..get a new TAG “the scar from...” that will last long after healing occurs (another safe buffer option)
..be actively impeded by pain and injury in doing anything requiring effort or strain
..have broken or mauled one or more of your limbs, which are now inoperable
..have their senses severely impaired (I’m crossing it out because it doesn’t fit the fiction)

To summarise a long process that actually takes only a few moments at the table, selecting the options that would produce a similar situation as the one in the original example...

The Thief lunges forward to stab the ork, which reacts by swinging his machete-like weapon in a low circle, aiming at the Thief’s legs. The ork grunts in pain as black blood spills from a fresh wound (looks like a mess). In turn, the powerful blow brings the Thief to the ground as one knee buckles painfully (lose footing) and crimson blood sprays from a horrifying laceration (long lasting scar). But in all of this, the Cleric is now safe, as the Thief managed to draw all the ork’s attention (one possible effect from the Brawl list).
COMMENT/
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You're the GM. You turn the spotlight back to the Cleric. What do you do?

Option A: Cleric, you see this happen: the lunge, the chop, the spray of blood. The Paladin's leaning against the door with the other orc's arm sticking out. What do you do?"

Option B: Cleric, you see this happen: the lunge, the chop, the spray of blood. The Paladin's leaning against the door with the other orc's arm sticking out. This orc, though, doesn't even slow down, it presses the attack on the Thief, stepping in going after him with the back-swing, and you can see the Thief stumble. What do you do?"
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/COMMENT
As shown in the first example of this serie, this is not a relevant question. Mu.

If the Cleric had already declared their action, and this was finally the moment to carry it out... then the World could only use Option A. This is barely the resolution of moves and descriptions previously declared and described. As the situation as changed, the Cleric is given (just like anyone else at every moment) the opportunity to either follow through with their original intention or react to what is now in front of them.

If instead the round of actions and resolutions was over, than the World could only use Option B. Everyone, including the NPCs, gets to describe what they would like to do next. Characters are never static. The fiction always flows. It is barely what honesty demands to describe what’s going on, to allow the Protagonists to make informed choices.
The only variable would be to describe the ork action and then ask what the Cleric (and the other PCs) do... or ask the PCs what they do and then describe the ork’s action. The difference being, in the first case the World is pressuring the PCs in a reactive stance, while in the second case the World is allowing the PCs to take initiative and only then presenting opposition (to which the PCs could freely react, changing their declaration if they feel it’s important).
COMMENT/
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#FantasyWorldRPG #FWrpg
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ALTERNATIVE WIZARD MAGIC
I'm pondering an alternative magical system for the Wizard class in #FantasyWorld and I would like to hear your opinion about it.

gDoc link : https://goo.gl/yNBfzB

It is a mix of my current rules for spell casting, some inspiration drawn from old rpg modules, and the list at the end of The Magician playbook by Cameron Burns .

It would really mean a lot to me if anyone could vote AND offer a comment about their motivation.
What's wrong?
What's cool?

Also, suggestions for the missing elements in the Spell Record lists are more than welcome (I'm terrible at coming up with this kind of content) :P
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Love it
50%
50%
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50%
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Recently +Jeremy Strandberg posted a series of example game situations in order to test the community’s reaction to a few critical details of his #Stonetop design, eventually culminating in a very interesting blog article (https://spoutinglore.blogspot.com/2018/09/hack-slash-part-ii.html) about his approach to the classic #DungeonWorld move Hack and Slash.

One of my supporters noticed this and expressed curiosity about how similarly or differently such situations would unfold if run through the lens of #FantasyWorld mechanics. I found the idea interesting, so here I am running the experiment to see what happens.

Be warned!
These examples where written with specific aims in mind, that I am completely ignoring. This first example was 90% context for a final GM decision, to highlight possible ways to handle “initiative” in play. I’m instead using 100% of the fiction to show how #FW would produce/handle it.

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SITUATION ONE
Original Post on the Dungeon World Tavern.
(https://plus.google.com/+JeremyStrandberg/posts/Bi8WtmKgqbK)

The Ranger, the Fighter, and the Wizard are holed up in a mostly-buried building, like an old cellar or something: sturdy, its one entrance covered by brush. Easy to defend. They've bound their wounds, eaten, and set watch.
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/COMMENT
In #FW the “They've bound their wounds, eaten, and set watch.” would take a bit more time. The Long Rest move explicitly supports and encourages Protagonists to do useful things, making hard choices about the available time and resources. Then it prompts them to share a moment around the campfire to chat, discuss, reminisce, plan, complain, etc. This bonding actually earns XPs at the end of the session.
After both logistics and bonding have taken place the flow of “action” scenes is resumed.
COMMENT/
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During the Fighter's watch, he hears something creeping about outside. Getting closer. They've been dodging the mutated inhabitants of this ruined city, and they're on edge. The Fighter rouses the other two, quietly.
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/COMMENT
In #FW the Long Rest move takes care of this part too. Depending on how the PCs spent their time, a roll is made: on a positive result the move prompts the Protagonists to take a moment to imagine and visualize the territory they are making camp in, and describe one noticeable detail they find beautiful (10+) or dreadful (7-9). Otherwise (1-6) the World makes a move.
COMMENT/
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The Fighter and Ranger each notch arrows. The Wizard stands back a bit and gets ready with the magic. (It's a small space... like a big closet.) It's getting closer, closer, closer. NOW! The Fighter shoots through the brush. Maybe we resolve it with a Volley, maybe it's Defying Danger. Doesn't matter. He rolls snake eyes, a miss.
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/COMMENT
As the target is at short range and moving slowly the World might judge that the Fighter (an expert user of weapons) just succeeds, inflicting Harm as established. But because the target is not visible and the shooting window from within the small chamber is narrow and the situation is getting more and more tense by the second ... then the fiction could fit the Take a Risk move.
Either way the mechanics make it clear that it is either not a move or specifically this one move and no one else. Non-ambiguousness of moves and clarity of trigger are main design goals.
COMMENT/
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So CRASH... this thing bursts through the brush and into the room! Tall and gaunt, eyeless, tentacles coming off its shoulders, creepy fine hairs all over its skin. HIISSSSSS!

One of its tentacles lashes around the Fighter's bow-arm, the other tentacle wraps around the Wizard's throat, and it kicks the Ranger in the stomach and sends her flying back, gasping for air. In close quarters, this thing is awful.
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/COMMENT
What happened in the fiction is:
- a foreshadowed possible threat has been revealed as an actual one: a monster!
- it has positioned itself in an advantageous way, with no opposition
- it has attacked all PCs, with no opposition
- such attacks have all landed successfully, with no opposition
- they all have inflicted “harm” to the PCs, in the form of problematic fictional positioning, again unopposed

This would equate to several different Hard Moves performed all at once, an illegal action even in DW. Except, this is all actually one single GM move: Put Someone in a Spot. This move is a blank pass to put the PCs in whatever bad positioning the GM feels like, with all the surrounding narration that is required to bring such situation about.

#FW works differently.
First of all, there is no Put Someone in a Spot move, nor an equivalent passepartout. The World has to pick something specific from their list of moves.

Secondly, #FW uses fictional harm in place of numerical damage. In this frame, problematic positioning is already inflicting harm. Describing the Fighter and Wizard as being grappled and actively restrained, and the Ranger as being pushed back and made gasp for air... in #FW this is real damage, this is real harm.

Describing a creepy sound turning into an actual monster can be a Reveal an Unwelcome Truth.
Having the monster position itself in a strategically problematic position... that could just be a natural consequence of how the location and circumstances were described. Maybe some detail about tentacles flailing around. But that’s it. That’s the Hard Move. The end. The only thing coming up next is the famous “What do you do now?”.

In order to describe a monster attack and its consequences, the World would need to perform an Inflict Harm move, which in this situation would not possible. At most the World could try to keep the “initiative” by describing the monster’s imminent intentions, putting the Protagonists in a reactive position.

But let’s imagine something else happened to give the World another Hard Move to perform... allowing them to describe the monster’s attack.

As harm is purely fictional the World will need to add a bit more detail to their description in order to figure out what level of harm this attack could deal, how much pressure the PCs are under, and exactly which harm effects they will be allowed to choose. In practice it would look like this:

World : So CRASH... this thing bursts through the brush and into the room! Tall and gaunt, eyeless, tentacles coming off its shoulders, creepy fine hairs all over its skin. HIISSSSSS!
Fighter, one of its tentacles lashes around your bow-arm! It’s thinner than a human’s arm, but it’s grip feels as strong as that of a strong man. Looks like Nasty harm.
Fighter : Darn! I guess I have to mark “you are held by something that clutches/tangles/impedes you”.
World : Yup. Wizard, the other tentacle wraps around your throat.
Wizard : I guess I’m held too.
World : Looks like it. Ranger, you are instead kicked in the stomach by the mutant.
Ranger : Mmm... I could lose hold of something important I was carrying or wearing, but I don’t want to drop my weapon. So I say that I lose footing or end up in a problematic position ... the kick sends me reeling a few steps back, gasping for air. Since the room is so small I guess I have my back to the wall?
World : Sounds about right.
COMMENT/
...
..
.
The Fighter draws a dagger... [...] ...you're the GM. You turn the spotlight on the Ranger.
.
..
...
/COMMENT
In this example we are assuming the GM has given the spotlight to the Fighter. What do you do? And the Fighter is describing their action and rolling the appropriate move. After this is resolved, the GM turns the spotlight on the Ranger.

In #FW spotlight works differently.
Everyone involved in the action (NPCs included) declares their action, then the World manages the spotlight to resolve such actions however they think fits best the fiction. This also works as a free and clear phase, so everyone is allowed to revise their statement if they want. This too is a tool to, among other things, convey difficulty.

The World could be the first to declare the next action the mutant intends to take, keeping the Protagonists in a reactive stance:
World : Now that the creature is in the room and has you all at its mercy, the tentacles start to really thrash around. It tries to shove the Fighter hard against something, strangle the Wizard, and claw at the Ranger’s face with its bare hands. What do you do?

Or the World could ease up the pressure and let the PCs declare their actions first:
World : The creature got the drop on you but now is your chance to strike back. What do you do?
Fighter : With the free hand I grab one of my daggers and try to cut myself free from the tentacle.
WIzard : I start formulating an attack spell in my mind.
Ranger : I shoot an arrow at it!
World : Wait, remember that you are in a problematic position, with your back against the wall you can’t really do the movement required to effectively use your bow.
Ranger : Right. Then... I charge ahead at it, my bow firmly in both my hands, and smack the creature hard in the face with it!
World : Cool. On it’s part the mutant tries to shove hard the Fighter against something, increase the pressure on the Wizard’s neck, and meet the Ranger head on, clawing at their face.
Wizard : Wait, then I also grab the tentacle with both hands, trying to prevent it from strangling me, while I keep formulating my spell.
World : Ok. Let’s start seeing how things go with the Fighter...
COMMENT/
...
..
.
The Fighter draws a dagger with his left hand and lashes down at this thing's tentacle, hoping to chop it off and get free. He rolls Hack & Slash, gets a 7-9, does some crap damage (maybe 2 HP, and this thing has 8).
.
..
...
/COMMENT
In DW the Fighter is successful in performing the attack (7-9) but then this success is diminished by the bad damage roll. Somehow the GM has to decide what this all means, and in the end opts to describe how the Fighter has failed at breaking free from the tentacle, which was the whole point of the attack. On top of that, there is the mutant’s counter attack.

In #FW rolling the Brawl move addresses such details more clearly.
With a 7-9 the Fighter causes harm, but suffers harm too. Additionally the Fighter can select one option from a list, allows the Fighter to break free from the tentacle’s grip. Now the World has to pick the harm effect suffered by the mutant: by the fiction, plunging a knife into an arm-like tentacle looks like inflicting Nasty harm, and the effect chosen by the Fighter narrows this further down. The mutant can really only pick one possible option (to lose grip on something they were holding) and the World marks it down.
COMMENT/
...
..
.
For its attack, it flings the Wizard into the Fighter, hurting them both (d8 damage each) and dazing them for a moment. (using a monster move: perform a feat of terrible speed and strength)
.
..
...
/COMMENT
Now the mutant has to inflict harm too, but the declared action (to shove the fighter onto something) can’t be carried out anymore. The World needs to describe something new. So he declares that the other tentacle instead of strangling the Wizard throws the poor sod hard against the Fighter.
Both Fighter and Wizard suffer Nasty harm because of this, both mark down the “problematic position” effect as they are a tangle of arms and legs on top of one another, but also erase the mark on the “held” effect because no tentacles are grappling them anymore.

The World now gives the spotlight to the Ranger...
COMMENT/
...
..
.


#FantasyWorldRPG #FWrpg
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IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
To me the triggering conditions for "observation moves" such as Read a Sitch or Discern Realities have always felt murky and confusing, leading to pretty awkward interactions.

PCs have eyes and ears and noses, meaning that they constantly perceives things. Their Players rightfully expect to get descriptive info just by virtue of that. But it's hard for the World to present all possible info on a new area/situation/character/item up front, not to mention that such info-dump could easily feel slow and overwhelming for the Players. So when a Player asks What do I see? (or hear, or smell, etc) I always offer a description of what I believe could be obviously perceivable, maybe with some extra bits to account for the PC's Class/Playbook and their fictional positioning.
To me this is what honesty demands, to quote some famous words.

From what I've seen in games where I'm not the World and from many Podcasts and Vlogs, not all GMs do this. And even when they generally do, they don't always remember to do it.
I think they should. This is one problem I hope to fix with #FantasyWorld.

Now let's look at the moves' triggers:

Read a Sitch
When you read a charged situation...

Discern Realities
When you closely study a situation or person...

Both seem to suggest a degree of intentionality. The PC is not just looking around, they are actively observing. Seems clear enough, right? Not for me and the vast majority of the people at my tables, it would seem :P

What usually happens is, the Player asks for info in a generic way (what do I see?) and I describe what is obvious and that's the end of it. The Player has their answer and uses that to inform their play. No further intentional observation is performed, even though the current information evidently leaves the PC struggling for options to address whatever problem/situation they are facing.

Why?

In my experience, it's mostly because in the natural flow of play the Players just forget about the Read/Discern moves. It doesn't come spontaneously, it's a detour from their train of thoughts.
When, to help them out, I remind them that they could look closer to get more answers, they often go "Oooooh right!" and describe the few additional details needed to trigger the move.
This is functional... but it can feel a bit like mothering, which isn't ideal for the Players nor for the World. As I said, it's awkward. And at my tables seems to happen with both n00bs and veterans alike.

Now, this is not a universal constant.
Sometimes the fiction fits the trigger so well there is no doubt, you are rolling the move whether you want to or not. Sometimes the Player is intentional in the description, aiming to trigger the move. Sometimes the Player is intentional in the description, aiming to avoid triggering the move. (each roll is a risk, after all)

But the awkward instances happen often enough as to be a noticeable nuisance for me. This is the second problem I want #FW to address.
After much testing my current solutions look like this:

LOOK AROUND
When you observe a situation, a place or an object, the World Player will tell you what is obvious and clear, then ask “Do you want to know more?
If you say YES...

...clarify how you go about gathering the info and to what you play close attention, then roll+WIS. Ask the World Player questions, all at the same time, up front. If you act on the answers you get Advantage.

10+ = ask 2
7-9 = ask 1
1-6 = ask 1 + World Move

- where’s my best escape route / way in / way past?
- which enemy is the most vulnerable / threatening to me?
- who’s in control here?
- what has happened recently / is about to happen here?
- what here is useful / valuable to me?
- what here is not what it appears to be?
- what should I be on the lookout for?


READ A PERSON
When you observe someone during an interaction, the World Player will tell you what is obvious and clear, then ask “Do you want to know more?
If you say YES...

...roll+WIS and, through the course of the interaction, spend your hold to ask their Player questions, one by one. If you act on the answers you get Advantage.

10+ = hold 2
7-9 = hold 1
1-6 = hold 1 + World Move

is your character telling the truth?
what is your character really feeling?
what does your character intend to do?
what does your character wish I’d do?
how could I get your character to __ ?

#FantasyWorldRPG #FWrpg
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THE LONGEST JOURNEY
The one move I have completely re-done the most often has to be the Journey move.

I want travel to be a moment of wonder and exploration, with just enough thrill to it as to keep Protagonists on their toes.
But also, I have no interest in dealing with the logistics of it, or with stuff like random encounters, and I certainly don't eat for travel to be just an excuse to "fight stuff outside".

And I want it short and concise, abstracted away.
And I want it colourful and flavorful, described in detail.
And it has to not be a creative burden for the World.
And it has to not be a creative burden for the Protagonists.

And so I went through quite a few iterations of the move.
I don't know if the latest one will be the final one, but after the latest tests it sure feels kind of right and on the spot ;)
Here is the move...




_TRIGGER
When undertaking a long journey if you know the way...

[If you don’t know the way then you can’t Journey.
Do something else to obtain  a map, a guide, detailed directions, or simply pick a destination you know how to reach.

Vague directions like “somewhere in the forest” always make the journey dangerous and cause Disadvantage.]

EFFECT
...and the territory is relatively safe and civilised, nothing unexpected happens.


...but the territory is dangerous and wild, each Protagonist rolls+NOTHING.

Before their roll, each Protagonist can get Advantage if they can imagine and describe one feature of the territory they are journeying through. Simply name one specific place, creature, plant, rock, river, hole, sound, anything... and then explain why it is noticeable.

Before each roll the World describes a different problem or unexpected event:


10+ = say how your PC helps to solve, avoid or overcome it; you can tell the whole story of how it happens, or work it out beat by beat with the other Players. These are “past events” being recounted, so no moves are triggered.

7-9  = same as 10+, but the effort puts you at Disadvantage.

1-6  = same as 10+, but the situation forces you to either spend one Supply or suffer one Serious Harm effect.

In any case, perform now the Long Rest move. Each Utility action,  Bond action and the outcome of the WATCH roll could happen at a different time during the whole length of the journey, describe them accordingly. If no unforeseen events interrupt the journey, then the Fellowship arrives at its destination.
_


This way the voyage is abstracted away while still offering the Players a chance to really imagine and visualise the places and environments and creatures they come across, bringing the landscape to life.

It gives them a chance to showcase some cool element of their characters by facing (and solving) the problems or weirdness that the World throws their way.

It has the chance to affect the PCs in a tangible way, representing the hardships of travel both in the short (Disadvantage) or long (Supplies/Harm) term.

Adding the Long Rest move as a final and integral part of a Journey means giving a bit more importance to the "logistics"of travel, as it's an opportunity to spend Supplies or to feel bad for not having enough Supplies.
It also creates a structured space for PCs to roleplay, regroup, plan ahead.
And most of all the WATCH roll injects the possibility for the World to perform a Hard Move, maybe interrupting or derailing the journey, maybe causing a fight, maybe setting up a nasty or unexpected arrival at the appointed destination.

All of this, while providing tons of golden material for the World to use in the game.

In my last test, the Fellowship decided to go back home. Since it was a trip of a few days through a dangerous and hostile forest, this triggered the "adventurous" part of the move.
We ended up discovering that:
- some parts of the river have "mirror waterlilies"
- the is a boneyard in the forest that people avoid and call Brittle Knob
- there is a clearing somewhere in the forest where a sort of living-vine is turning unlucky travelers into statues
- there is a hunter's hut, burned down a long time ago, where someone died... ghosts dwelled there, but the Cleric put gifted them with peace at last
- in the forest, at night, sometimes child screams can be heard, but no one has found out why or where do they come from
- during the long rest the Dwarf Bard asked the Bharrest Paladin and the Human Cleric to bring a special letter to the White Mountain in case he should die in the upcoming crisis

This stuff is gold for the World, and I basically did not lift a finger, the Players came up with all of it, and all I had to do was turn these ideas into a current problem or curiosity.


#FantasyWorldRPG #FWrpg
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My #Patreon June Update!
- #FantasyWorld developments
- game design consulting by Ron Edwards
- future #WorldDomination polls

https://www.patreon.com/posts/19770923
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IT'S A KIND OF MAGIC
This post is different than the usual ones insofar it is not about what I have done, but rather what I want to do in the future.

Currently the Wizard and the Cleric have not undergone radical changes. Like all the other Classes their moves have been overhauled to be compatible with the new sub-systems (Dis/Advantage, Harm, fiction first, etc). But their core element, their magic, is still the usual one.
The one offered by #DungeonWorld and then refined and streamlined by the good fellas of #WorldsOfAdventure.

Divine and Arcane magic systems are pretty much identical, the same exact thing with a light reskin.
Both are vancian, a list of specific effects to be selected and prepared.
Both offer the same move-roll effects.

It works. It's familiar, a veritable classic. And the short list goes a long way in helping players make quick and not so suffered choices at the moment of character creation.
A big plus in my book.

On the other hand, I yearn for something more unique and expressive.
But...
I am really not satisfied with what I have seen around so far. There are plenty of unofficial variations on the "magic user" theme but they all seem to end up in the do whatever camp, with moves that allow the player t come up with any effect they can imagine, if only they respect the established boundaries.

My problem with this approach is that the costs seem to outweigh the benefits.

Yes, it is creative and expressive. Supposedly.
But then the practical game effect seems to often be very bland.
When everything can be done by magic then "the arcane" becomes mundane.
When one tool is too convenient, then it becomes the ONLY tool worth using.

Then there is the SOCIAL problem.
Too often I have seen players get frustrated because they feel like every use of their "creative" magic needs to first be vetted.
Too often I have seen GMs feed their worst habits because they feel like they have to somehow thwart the use of this unpredictable force.

There is the USABILITY issue.
Because a list of spells might feel limited, but by the same virtue it is also immediate and easy to use by all sorts of players.
On the other hand a vague open ended system of creative magical effects is much less immediate.
I personally like it more as a concept, but I've seen enough people struggle with such a thing, or be outright intimidated by it, to know better.

A procedural system of creative magic can offer an amazing expressive outlet, but requires more effort. Many players shy away from that, and get a negative feedback when they feel that their descriptions and ideas are not up to the group expectations (not to mention the nagging feeling of being observed by everyone because they might "cheat" if they don't do things properly).
A good old list of spells is just that: simple, obvious, solid. And it can easily include flavourful descriptions baked right into the spell text... offering readily usable descriptions and ideas.

. . .

So, what should I do?
Considering that I want to keep in place the notion of a somewhat recognizable "wizard" and "cleric" ... what are my options?

Sticking to the good old list of spells?
or
Concocting a procedural system of open-ended magical effects?
or
Is there another way? A hybrid option? A crazy new idea? An old forgotten wisdom?

#FantasyWorldRPG #FWrpg
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Signal boosting for this worthy Kickstarter ending in just 6 days! :D

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/herogames/champions-now
Champions Now
Champions Now
kickstarter.com
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ONE FOR ALL...
My original view of #FantasyWorld was built to support my favourite kind of rpg style. Namely, the one that offers freedom, agency and spotlight to individual protagonists rather than the classic fantasy trope of the adventuring group.

But through months of playtesting and feedback I came to realize that this might not be the best design choice for #FW.
It's something I find hard to give up.
But after ranting so much about things like system does matter and coherent design I can't just ignore this one big glaring point of incoherence in my own design.

So, while the game text originally shaped all PCs as members of a Fellowship, and guided them to find a common goal, and then to establish personal reasons to care about the whole thing...

...it also went on to clearly state how PC could become enemies, how the Fellowship could simply be split or abandoned, and how story would then follow each individual's journey.

I see now how this, like most incoherent elements of a design, in actual play goes from being useless to actually creating friction and problems at the table, depending on who is playing the game.
And so it shall be, that the game will have a sharper focus on the Fellowship as the only possible unit of play.

Protagonist Characters will still be free to organically do whatever they feel like doing. And the game will support and encourage character exploration, introspection, and the kind of hard choices that could generate good drama.

But Protagonist Players will know that leaving the Fellowship means leaving active play. Loner PCs will turn into NPCs, free to follow their own calling. While new PCs more fitting to the current goals and needs of the Fellowship will be introduced into the main story.

To this end, both the Experience and the Drive mechanics will shift gears, pushing Protagonists towards action and change.

This is a bit of a scary change for me.
Going away from my favourite style, from my comfort zone.
But I feel it is in the best interests of this one specific game.
#FantasyWorld is being designed to be a lot of cool and ambitious things, but not a PbtA-Game-Of-Thrones (not out of the box anyway ^_^)

What do you think about this?
When you play fantasy, do you like the "adventuring party" dynamic?

#FantasyWorldRPG #FWrpg
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