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Dungeon World Meets Blades in the Dark

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I would say:

It’s a setup move > to create content > which drives things forward (for good or ill).

So the loop is setup > create > drive.
Blades doesn't really have these, though. You can do a setup move, but it's a direct action, pursuant to the normal way actions work, that creates favorable fiction to enable the followup. That sounds similar to what you're saying here, but I think the difference is that the action used isn't positioned as a setup move, it's used that way. I find how you're setting this action up to look more like it's intended to always be a setup move, and never or rarely a direct move. And that's what I'm getting at -- Blades is structured in actions so that everything is a direct move on the fiction. Your Spout Lore action stand in here only ever does this indirectly -- you make this action, establish a new truth, and then do something with it with another action. You don't just spout lore at a problem and solve it, you spout lore at the problem and then do something else to solve it. While this works great as a concept -- clearly it works well in both AW and DW and I like this construction -- I don't think it fits with the more active Actions that Blades uses.

Again, YMMV. It's your thing.
 

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Right, I understand that, but Blades-style Actions do not follow quite the same model as DW style Moves. Review the actions list from Blades -- they are all active verbs and the descriptions are things you do. I think this is an important thematic point.

That said, if you want Spout Lore style moves in your game, then do so. I think you can get the same thing as above -- I don't think that having a Spout Lore move is specifically what enables that but rather the kind of play loop which a more active Action does as well.

So in Blades, Spout Lore or Open Your Brain is captured by both Study and Survey. Harper decided to make those kind of a mixup of those two moves and Discern Realities/Read a Sitch.

Here are the good examples from the book of the type of deployment that I’m thinking of exclusively putting in Illuminate:

STUDY
As the demon lunges for Arlyn, I start grabbing books and journals off the shelves. There must be one that details the Count’s investigations into this devil!

SURVEY
Okay, so, they’re chasing me along the rooftops, right? There must be a good spot where I can dive into a canal and disappear. I want to do a setup roll for my Prowl action next.


So yeah. As you’ve outlined above, you’re basically making a setup move to oblige content generation so the fictional positioning now opens up a new move (or move set).
 

Blades doesn't really have these, though. You can do a setup move, but it's a direct action, pursuant to the normal way actions work, that creates favorable fiction to enable the followup. That sounds similar to what you're saying here, but I think the difference is that the action used isn't positioned as a setup move, it's used that way. I find how you're setting this action up to look more like it's intended to always be a setup move, and never or rarely a direct move. And that's what I'm getting at -- Blades is structured in actions so that everything is a direct move on the fiction. Your Spout Lore action stand in here only ever does this indirectly -- you make this action, establish a new truth, and then do something with it with another action. You don't just spout lore at a problem and solve it, you spout lore at the problem and then do something else to solve it. While this works great as a concept -- clearly it works well in both AW and DW and I like this construction -- I don't think it fits with the more active Actions that Blades uses.

Again, YMMV. It's your thing.

The other option is to basically sort of mix up Discern and Illuminate (as Harper did with Study and Survey).

But I prefer the AW/DW division of Open Your Mind/Spout Lore and Read a Sitch/Discern Realities to the Study/Survey bleed in Blades.

So I think that’s where I’m settled at (at least for now).
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So in Blades, Spout Lore or Open Your Brain is captured by both Study and Survey. Harper decided to make those kind of a mixup of those two moves and Discern Realities/Read a Sitch.

Here are the good examples from the book of the type of deployment that I’m thinking of exclusively putting in Illuminate:

STUDY
As the demon lunges for Arlyn, I start grabbing books and journals off the shelves. There must be one that details the Count’s investigations into this devil!

SURVEY
Okay, so, they’re chasing me along the rooftops, right? There must be a good spot where I can dive into a canal and disappear. I want to do a setup roll for my Prowl action next.


So yeah. As you’ve outlined above, you’re basically making a setup move to oblige content generation so the fictional positioning now opens up a new move (or move set).
While it's canonical, I find the Study example to be very passive. What's at stake here? There doesn't seem to be a statement of what these investigations will do about the current situation. This really seems more like an ask of the GM to tell them more about how the GM thinks things should go than a well formed action declaration for Blades. This is just me, and I see a few of these things in the books, and they always confuse me as being way too wishy-washy. I'd rather the Study action be, "I know the Count's investigation in on this shelf, and contains the ritual to banish the demon, so I'm going to find it while Arlyn stalls the demon!" This is active, it proposes a solution and sets stakes. It's not asking the GM to invent things for the player.

And I'm going to step away for a bit, as we seem to be heavily crossposting!
 

While it's canonical, I find the Study example to be very passive. What's at stake here? There doesn't seem to be a statement of what these investigations will do about the current situation. This really seems more like an ask of the GM to tell them more about how the GM thinks things should go than a well formed action declaration for Blades. This is just me, and I see a few of these things in the books, and they always confuse me as being way too wishy-washy. I'd rather the Study action be, "I know the Count's investigation in on this shelf, and contains the ritual to banish the demon, so I'm going to find it while Arlyn stalls the demon!" This is active, it proposes a solution and sets stakes. It's not asking the GM to invent things for the player.

And I'm going to step away for a bit, as we seem to be heavily crossposting!

In the situation what is at stake is:

* Do I get to oblige a new fiction that I can pursue in order to solve my problem?

or

* Does my effort complicate my life.

or

* Both

You can look at other moves as conceptually similarly (as a setup move), the only difference being physical space/obstacle vs backstory space:

I’m at this end of the breezeway. The next room is the engineering room where the lightning pillar module is located where I need to tinker to take it out and replace it. But there is a ghost/guard between this end of the breezeway and that end of the breezeway.

So the player will most likely (orthodox) make an Attune/Prowl move to navigate this obstacle, setting up the Tinker move.

I mean there is a contrast between backstory space and physical space. But I don’t think it’s as stark as what you’re proposing. I mean, in effect, every move is a setup move until the win con of the conflict is achieved (like, say, that Tinker move indicated above my have cemented the Score victory)!

Also, Blades’ backstory space is also governed by Flashbacks (as well as Study/Survey). My guess is that Illuminate in the proposed game would likely see a fair bit of usage as a Flashback Action.
 

* On Spells

What about Invoke or Conjure instead of Channel?

Or what about simply Spellcast?

I think any of those work, yeah. Invoke and Conjure may carry a little baggage from the schools in D&D, but really they do fit. Spellcast is maybe too on the nose?

Just some thoughts....ultimately Attune may work fine, as well.

Illuminate - When you recall your memories or accumulated knowledge to shed light on a situation; something interesting or useful, or both.

That works. I didn't have a problem with Recall, though.

All in all, I think you've got a solid list, and it's just a matter of pinning down a few specifics, which shouldn't be too difficult.

I don't want to backtrack on your progress or anything, but I may have some ideas about Doom and Quests and the like. And I'm also really curious to see how you approach playbooks.
 

I think any of those work, yeah. Invoke and Conjure may carry a little baggage from the schools in D&D, but really they do fit. Spellcast is maybe too on the nose?

Just some thoughts....ultimately Attune may work fine, as well.



That works. I didn't have a problem with Recall, though.

All in all, I think you've got a solid list, and it's just a matter of pinning down a few specifics, which shouldn't be too difficult.

I don't want to backtrack on your progress or anything, but I may have some ideas about Doom and Quests and the like. And I'm also really curious to see how you approach playbooks.

I’d be curious on your thoughts on Doom and Quests.

Ovinomancer and Fenris both had input that was sufficiently significant to change my mind so if you’ve got something in mind, it may do better work than what I’ve outlined.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
In the situation what is at stake is:

* Do I get to oblige a new fiction that I can pursue in order to solve my problem?

or

* Does my effort complicate my life.

or

* Both

You can look at other moves as conceptually similarly (as a setup move), the only difference being physical space/obstacle vs backstory space:

I’m at this end of the breezeway. The next room is the engineering room where the lightning pillar module is located where I need to tinker to take it out and replace it. But there is a ghost/guard between this end of the breezeway and that end of the breezeway.

So the player will most likely (orthodox) make an Attune/Prowl move to navigate this obstacle, setting up the Tinker move.

I mean there is a contrast between backstory space and physical space. But I don’t think it’s as stark as what you’re proposing. I mean, in effect, every move is a setup move until the win con of the conflict is achieved (like, say, that Tinker move indicated above my have cemented the Score victory)!

Also, Blades’ backstory space is also governed by Flashbacks (as well as Study/Survey). My guess is that Illuminate in the proposed game would likely see a fair bit of usage as a Flashback Action.
<Checks clock and makes sure this quoted my last post>

We seem to be talking past each other. I don't disagree that your formulation above could look like a setup move, but I disagree that it is. Dealing with the ghost is a direct threat, and it's dealt with directly. Play then moves to the next obstacle. A setup move, on the other hand, is made and the same obstacle still exists to be dealt with. To me, a setup move isn't getting past the immediate obstacle to attend to the obstacle at the end, it's doing something to make the immediate obstacle easier to overcome -- it doesn't advance to the next obstacle. This is what I see what I look at your Illuminate action (if that's still the current name). It's couched to suggest that you use it to gain an edge on an immediate obstacle, and doesn't look couched to be well used as a way to overcome an immediate obstacle.

I think the temple traps scene from the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a good toy example to look at. As Indy approached each of the three traps, he recalled his teaching and then used those to physically overcome the traps. The way you have it phrased, and the way I understand Spout Lore from DW, the play would look like a Spout Lore check which would establish how a trap works, then a Defy Danger (or other move as appropriate) to leverage that into passing the trap. This is how I see your current Illuminate action phrased out as all -- it's passive and established new facts about the current obstacle, but doesn't directly bypass the obstacle. I think it would be better to have this ability couched in terms of 'do' rather than 'recall', so that the play example could be using Illuminate (and I like Assess better) directly to say that you're using your knowledge of Grail history to get through the trap. One roll, and done.

One of the things I see different about the two above examples is that in Blades, I can always choose to use any Action as a setup, but I can also use it to directly attack the problem. Spout Lore, on the other hand, never (or rarely) directly attacks an obstacle, it's always (or usually) a setup for something else. I think importing this kind of primarily-setup move into the Blades structure does some minor damage to that structure, in that now I have one ability that is distinctly different in use cases from the rest.

Anyway, last from me on the topic.
 

I’d be curious on your thoughts on Doom and Quests.

Ovinomancer and Fenris both had input that was sufficiently significant to change my mind so if you’ve got something in mind, it may do better work than what I’ve outlined.

Okay, I may not have seen all the feedback from Fenris and Ovino, so forgive me if I have similar feedback.

If I understood everything Correctly, Legend is your Heat equivalent, right? So as the Company accrues Legend, their entanglements become more dangerous and so on. And Doom is your Wanted equivalent? So when enough Legend is built up, you get a level of Doom.

Quests are ways for a PC to voluntarily miss X sessions to reduce Doom, much like incarceration in Blades. I'm mostly just laying this out here so that I'm clear on it; if I've misunderstood, please correct me where I'm wrong.

********

Some thoughts.

You had mentioned the players selecting the threats that they may face, with these examples:
Tier 1 - Corrupt Government
Tier 3 - Werewolf Cult
Tier 6 - Possessed Fire Giant

Is there some way to connect the Legend/Doom to these Factions specifically? Kind of the idea that as the Company's Legend grows, this looming enemy begins to take more notice of them. Then perhaps a Quest could be tied to this threat....maybe learning more about the Werewolf Cult, or maybe acquiring a resource that can help, depending on the result of the Quest roll. Maybe on a failed roll, this threat somehow manifests and hinders the PCs.

Maybe this can be tied to the Town in some way. Do you plan on having a claim map or some equivalent? Perhaps a Threat that manifests due to a poor quest roll means that some part of the town is destroyed or some NPC killed (loss of a claim).

Incomplete thoughts but just some ideas. I'll read remaining posts more thoroughly and hopefully have more soon.
 

So I entirely missed the bit about Folktale being an analog for Rep. Until I noticed it, I was thinking Doom could maybe be both Heat and Rep.

Is that feasible?

Essentially, this would connect Tier to Legend. Which when you think about it, it makes sense.

If players can spend Legend the same way that they spend Rep in Blades to have extra DT Activities, that gives them the ability to avoid Doom if they want. But it would be at the expense of going up in Tier. Seems like some potentially interesting decision points.

Again, just spitballing.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Apropos of nothing, I was just thinking on the structure of play, here. There's a lot of assuming that Blades style approaches are good, and so there's matching of Blades mechanics to slightly different takes, but I wonder if that's really a good thing? Blades works due to it's very tight coupling of subsystems -- heat/wanted/stress/trauma/rep/tier/factions all work to create the feeling of the seething mass of barely controlled chaos that is Duskvol, and especially the criminal element of Duskvol. I'm wondering if just riffing off of this is sufficient, or if a different tack is needed?

My thoughts then went towards "what's the purpose of adventuring in this game? How is this operationalize to create a feedback loop?" I was inspired by Doom to think, what if there were an overarching Doom? What if the characters were doomed to begin with, and are adventuring to find their doom and potentially stop/embrace it? What structures would be needed to enact something like this?

Clearly, we need a stress analogy -- this is too integrated into basic play loops to remove, and that's fine. Stress is almost entirely mechanical anyway (there's no real fictional changes based on how much stress you have, it operates even more like hitpoints than hitpoints). That's good, keep it, no changes needed.

What about factions? Yes, but no. The tight integration of factions in Blades works because everyone is piled up on everyone, so anything impacts someone (lots of pronouns there). I think this gets strained a bit when things become more spread out. And I think pacing will absolutely be different in this fantasy hack than in Blades, so immediacy is lessened and the faction game weakened perforce. Heat is a neat idea, but I don't see how you can integrate the wanted system on top because the incarceration loop really doesn't work well (not a fan of the quest mechanic you have). It seems really strained. Reputation is good, and I like it, because that fits.

So, maybe... let's say the PCs are Doomed. They earn Doom like heat -- managing Doom is managing the big bad thing at the end. When you earn enough Doom to gain an equivalent of a Wanted level, you get Curse, which could be either a persistent debuff or a new aspect to the lands that causes new problems -- the game escalates. You can clear Curse, but not through an incarceration loop, but through undertaking a special score loop that you earn no other rewards for. This, however, ticks the Big Doom, and, when you clear Curse, you have to also announce a bad truth about the Big Doom. This creates a loop where the game becomes increasingly about this slowly built Big Doom, and also a nice end point, which would be dealing with the Big Doom.

Reputation can work to improve tier, which I like the tier system pretty well for mechanical and fiction reasons.

This is rough, but it I'm really trying to grasp what the end play loop/goal/focus is, and this was a thought I had about how you could maneuver some of the Blades systems to do new things and make it very thematic to the game. Fantasy almost always ends up fighting the big bad, and I love the idea that this big bad is created through play as you try to get strong enough to face it. It also allows for a lot of replayability, which may or may not be a design goal.

I'm still stuck on factions. They really work best when you're piled in on top and can't get even fictional separation, but I feel like the idea you can just wander the wilderness for adventure (not really, but a week long perilous journey means the faction game is that much slower paced and less visceral) cuts against.
 

Some of that is where I was thinking with the Doom angle. There’s a weird west hack called A Fistful of Darkness. Instead of Heat/Wanted it has Doom and then the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!

So doing something a little different may be in order to evoke the flavor/genre you’re going for. But any changes have to be considered against disrupting the tight interaction of all of Blades’ different parts.
 


Apropos of nothing, I was just thinking on the structure of play, here. There's a lot of assuming that Blades style approaches are good, and so there's matching of Blades mechanics to slightly different takes, but I wonder if that's really a good thing? Blades works due to it's very tight coupling of subsystems -- heat/wanted/stress/trauma/rep/tier/factions all work to create the feeling of the seething mass of barely controlled chaos that is Duskvol, and especially the criminal element of Duskvol. I'm wondering if just riffing off of this is sufficient, or if a different tack is needed?

My thoughts then went towards "what's the purpose of adventuring in this game? How is this operationalize to create a feedback loop?" I was inspired by Doom to think, what if there were an overarching Doom? What if the characters were doomed to begin with, and are adventuring to find their doom and potentially stop/embrace it? What structures would be needed to enact something like this?

Clearly, we need a stress analogy -- this is too integrated into basic play loops to remove, and that's fine. Stress is almost entirely mechanical anyway (there's no real fictional changes based on how much stress you have, it operates even more like hitpoints than hitpoints). That's good, keep it, no changes needed.

What about factions? Yes, but no. The tight integration of factions in Blades works because everyone is piled up on everyone, so anything impacts someone (lots of pronouns there). I think this gets strained a bit when things become more spread out. And I think pacing will absolutely be different in this fantasy hack than in Blades, so immediacy is lessened and the faction game weakened perforce. Heat is a neat idea, but I don't see how you can integrate the wanted system on top because the incarceration loop really doesn't work well (not a fan of the quest mechanic you have). It seems really strained. Reputation is good, and I like it, because that fits.

So, maybe... let's say the PCs are Doomed. They earn Doom like heat -- managing Doom is managing the big bad thing at the end. When you earn enough Doom to gain an equivalent of a Wanted level, you get Curse, which could be either a persistent debuff or a new aspect to the lands that causes new problems -- the game escalates. You can clear Curse, but not through an incarceration loop, but through undertaking a special score loop that you earn no other rewards for. This, however, ticks the Big Doom, and, when you clear Curse, you have to also announce a bad truth about the Big Doom. This creates a loop where the game becomes increasingly about this slowly built Big Doom, and also a nice end point, which would be dealing with the Big Doom.

Reputation can work to improve tier, which I like the tier system pretty well for mechanical and fiction reasons.

This is rough, but it I'm really trying to grasp what the end play loop/goal/focus is, and this was a thought I had about how you could maneuver some of the Blades systems to do new things and make it very thematic to the game. Fantasy almost always ends up fighting the big bad, and I love the idea that this big bad is created through play as you try to get strong enough to face it. It also allows for a lot of replayability, which may or may not be a design goal.

I'm still stuck on factions. They really work best when you're piled in on top and can't get even fictional separation, but I feel like the idea you can just wander the wilderness for adventure (not really, but a week long perilous journey means the faction game is that much slower paced and less visceral) cuts against.

Good post.

Let me think on all of this and I'll get a response up sometime later this weekend.
 




Was it one half baked idea in particular or all of them collectively? I must know.
I can't take any disagreement with my ideas. The fact that you guys have dared to disagree with my singularly incredible insight and awesomitude is really an affront to my pontificating platitudinous porcupine.

But I'm a nice person while you guys are terrible (and dumb - see above). So, like I said...I'll spend some time this weekend coming up with a way to dismiss your ideas softly while pretending like I don't know that my ideas are superior in every way...I just need time to figure out an arrangement of kind words that gets that done (so I can continue presenting myself as the nice guy).
 



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