Saturday 20 July 2013

Integrating Dungeon World's Moves into 13th Age

Having recently read my newly acquired copy of Dungeon World some of the concepts have set me thinking. My curiosity was particularly piqued over the Moves aspect of the game, specifically how this could be applied to my home-brew campaign currently using the 13th Age rules.

13A puts a big emphasis on the Fail Forward technique of challenge resolution, every action that the players undertake will have some form of positive outcome, albeit not necessarily the one they desired. The story/action will always move forward, it never stagnates and crucially the players are kept happy most of the time as they're not failing (too hard)

So how do we apply Moves to 13A? It's especially tricky as this is DW's entire mechanic for challenge resolution. There are two very broad categories of moves - Player Moves and GM moves, each trigger the other and its this mechanic that creates the momentum that propels the narrative forward.

13A already has robust system that handles combat, and as such removes a need to bring over the majority (if not all) of the Player's Moves thus breaking the mechanic, so we need to reinterpret Moves and think of them in a different way.

Moves = Consequences 

(or another way to mechanically deal with Failing Forward)

The reality is this will mostly occur out of combat in the "exploration phase", encounters with dangerous enemies in 13A already have nice mechanics that measure and resolve challenges. This means that we really wont need the Players moves, but we do still need a way of measuring and triggering the GM moves when our players climb, barter, track and perform all of those actions that come up against some sort of skill challenge (not the 4e ill-implemented mechanic of the same name) so we'll use the DC system for this.

We already categories challenges into Normal, Hard and Very Hard DC's - a function common to most modern d20 games. If we look at DW's mechanic of a "threshold" of success - a 7-9 yielding partial success with a drawback and 10+ a full success, we can apply a similar technique when we look at our DC's in 13A.

When attempting an action, set a DC as you normally would - if they succeed you get a positive consequences (the action is a success, the game moves forward) 

If they fail, they get a partial success (remember failing forward!) with some type of negative consequence.

For example, in a recent game I GM'd one of my players was searching for an entrance to a lair of enemies they were questing after. I wanted him to succeed, and so did he - but it felt very natural to have him make a skill check to search for the place. Of course as luck would have it he rolled low, so (failing forward) he incurred a penalty for not getting a good result, but still found his way.

Adapting this type of mechanics relies much more on a GM's improvisational skills, and works best with loose framework adventures where you have the freedom to influence the course as you see fit - heavily preplanned modules can be hard to riff off, and don't always lend themselves to this style of challenge resolution.

I've listed a couple of the GM Moves from Dungeon World that straight away jump out as superb consequences to aid the fail forward technique, there are more and each has a great qrite up in the DW book so I suggest grabbing a copy and having a look

  •  Reveal an unwelcome truth
  • Show signs of an approaching threat
  • Use up their resources
  • Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment
  • Offer an opportunity, with or without cost

I'll be writing up the moves into a more solid list of consequences to post here at a later stage so stay tuned. In the meantime happy adventuring!

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