D&D General How to move a game forward?


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bloodtide

Legend
It's not really feasible to answer a question like that in the abstract.
Does my more specific example of the Werewolf pit trap work?



You regularly make sweeping generalizations like "the vast majority of other games DO manipulate things for set endings" with no evidence at all. This is bad form and bad argumentation.
I do wonder: what evidence do you need? Like I could do a poll and ask "does your game have character death?" But I know the answer will be 25% no never, 50% a weak maybe sometimes(that I count as a no) and 25% would say "yes it's part of the game". And as the topic has come up 100s of times, I know what a fair number of posters have said before. But, ok, if I had that poll as "evidence" would that be enough for you? Or would you just always be moving the bar? "oh well that is only what one poll says" So if I did five or ten or twenty, how many would be enough? Do I need video recordings of live game play? What is enough "evidence" for you?

I'm not sure how to understand you when you say things like "I don't care what the players think or say." Taken at face value, that sounds like you're being an insensitive boor. I'd like to give it a more charitable reading, but I don't know what that might be.
I understand how it sounds, but you want to keep it in context. I'm not saying all the time about everything: I was being specific. I was talking about things that might happen during game play: like the PCs being captured. In my game this is a possibility that happens. There are a ton of players that will whine and cry and demand that the game has no capture of the PCs ever. And there are a ton of DMs that both agree and bow their heads and say "yes player". So in my game, it's possible a PC might get captured...and if a player wants to whine or cry or complain.....I don't care.
Why put things in such a dismissive and demeaning way? It's unnecessarily rude and aggressive, not to mention highly counterproductive if your goal is to try to understand someone else's point of view. If, on the other hand, your goal is to be confrontational, then I suppose you get top marks. It definitely seems to me that you're not actually interested in learning the whys and wherefores of other ways of running games.
I don't see it in the same way?

The idea of a DM just sitting there, waiting for a player to make a move, so then and only then can the DM make a move....is wrong to me.

And I run half of my games with Scooby Do, Nancy Drew, or Hardy Boys level of mystery as that is the best level of mystery that casual games can handle.


It very much sounds to me like you have ensured there is essentially only one or perhaps at most two ways this could go. The party fails to notice the trap, and dies. The party notices the trap, and does not die. This is not being open-ended. This is a fixed path, it just branches once. You have not framed a scene; you have defined the two endpoints you will accept.
I don't agree. But then you are putting all the focus on the trap and ignoring everything else. I can see lots of ways this framing encounter can go, though sure many others can not.

I have done this framed encounter lots of times, so I can tell you exactly how it goes 99% of the time for New to my Game Casual Players. The players never even think the word "trap". They see the victim and have their character just stumble over to save them...and fall in the pit trap. Then the werewolves pounce on them with speed, violence and deadly force. The players being all Lone Wolf types ignore each other, the players have a hard time with the concept of a 360 degree battle, and there is a good chance several characters will die.

But then the players did just drink some Mt Dew and blunder into the trap, refused to work together as a team, and did not know many rules past "I roll 1d20 to hit".

When I run such a framed encounter for Hard Fun players, I lot of different things happen based on the intelligent actions of the players. Like: the players send a tester in to set off the trap, the players set up a counter trap, the players stage a "kill the victim" ruse, the players find a werewolf to "ask" questions and so on. And if the character do fall in the trap they don't just go "waaa?", they have their characters quickly get back to back and cooperate and work together as a combat team to win the encounter.



The final step of making this into a Front is to set a handful of Stakes, which are questions you think should be answered as part of the process of this Front resolving. (Keep in mind, having all the Grim Portents come to pass, so the worst results manifest, counts as "resolving" the Front...it just means it resolved by having the bad thing happen!) Stakes are extremely important because they identify specific questions that you, as GM, are no longer allowed to answer. They generally need to be tailored to your specific group, however, because they tend to be about the specific lives and goals of the PCs involved.
This is all very detailed. I would do this in my mind, and in my vague notes. Though...I don't really have 'words' for most of the events and actions: that is a nice way to define things.

So, for the sake of argument, let's say this group has a dragonborn Cleric of Bahamut, a human Barbarian, a tiefling Thief, and a halfling Fighter. Possible Stakes for this group could be:
Are these set by the players or the DM? I like to 3-5 Stakes(as you'd call them) running for each character...independent of the players wants or wishes. Though if a player wants to add a vague one I'll add it to the pile.
These things are now off-limits to you. You want to find out what the answer to these questions is. That means you are empowered to frame scenes where it's likely that these questions could get answers, but you are forbidden from simply declaring the answers yourself; they must arise from play, from players asking and answering questions.
This is really the meat of my over all question: how do you do this?

Like I have the Bar become Wolf sub plot 'stake': a small nature spirit shows up at my whim to taunt and tempt Bar. One of the werewolf brutes tries to turn Bar, one werewolf sneak just tries to confused Bar to get in a sneak attack. One werewolf lady tries to get Bar as a mate. So throughout the adventure each of these will happen, but with no set out come: it will depend what the player does. But none of them are 'off limits' to me...I firmly control each one.

I find it is rather the reverse. Most railroady DMs fix whatever specific event they want, and if that event happens to require that the PCs lose, so be it. The world is what the DM has declared it is. The players just happen to be witness to it.
Ok, but then how do you address things like many DMs declaring the PCs immortal and then altering the game around that?

Honestly, bloodtide, you are using two people you know as though they are representative of all DMs.
I'm not? I'm talking about the two of them. They got the whole question rolling. This is why I mention them.

I guess the question is: when I type "DM Scott is a soft DM that is Best Buddies with his players" why do you read that as me saying "everyone in the world"?

Responding to what you actually say here though, this still sounds to me like railroading. "Pure nightmare fuel"? That sounds like if a combat happens, you've designed it to be a major loss, and the only way that changes is if the players get insanely lucky or just happen to do the one thing you left in so they could succeed. That isn't framing a scene. That's trapping the PCs in a Saw-style puzzle.
I'm not a Saw fan. I do want an intelligent hard difficult game.
Working with your players. Not the crap awful thing your two terrible example DMs do. Actually listening to what the players find interesting, and then using that to develop real, actual, honest-to-God challenges, but ones that are open-ended, not nigh-insoluble meat grinders. Real, genuine possibilities of change and growth, driven not by what you want a scene to be, but by what the players choose to do in a scene.
Elaborate here a bit?

I'm all for what players choose to do in a scene.....but it will always be a Hard Fun Scene. That is my game. A lot of players like, or think they like, the Goofy Casual Game. And when they act that way in my game....it does not work out for them.


1. Framing scenes that truly compel a response. That is, scenes which are dynamic and engaging, which inspire the players to do something about the situation they're facing.
No problem here, assuming intelligent players.
2. Asking questions and using the answers. Questions are extremely useful for knowing what the players are thinking, and for letting them give you enough rope to hang them with! Further, every question you ask is also telling your players something.
This one does not work much as many players are clueless and unmotivated. I know what they are thinking: nothing. But telling players basic things also works here.
3. If they attempt to do something that doesn't make sense or which is inappropriate for the context, talk to them about it. Usually, the player wants to do something productive, they're just confused, or failed to connect the facts correctly. A simple discussion is almost always useful for getting the game rolling again.
Agreed here.
Secondly, if you will never accept anyone but yourself being in the driver's seat, then you cannot ever have any method other than the one you use, where you throw punitive fight after punitive fight at your players and ensure that whatever it is you wish to happen always happens. Whether you do this clumsily or deftly, eventually the players will figure it out, and you will be left without recourse when that day comes.
See fuzzy logic here? Like would I accept another DM running my 'dm side' of the game?

How does a player be in the driver set work? The player just says "there is a werewolf den for me to fight"....then they just look at me to create the den from scratch and run the werewolf side of the fight? If they are driving, should I not say "do it yourself"?

If you truly cannot ever accept that someone else might get to drive the story forward, then are you actually being sincere about wanting to find a different way to run games?
I was never asking for myself....
Your mockery does you no favors. There is nothing "at the level of Scooby-Doo" in my game, as I have repeatedly told you. You have just quite literally insulted both me and every player I have ever run the game for, and painted six years of story- and intrigue-heavy, serious roleplay as being nothing more than a slapstick Saturday morning cartoon. Simply because I tried to crack a joke and lighten the mood in the thread.
I can make Scooby jokes too. As said above I do use Scooby Do mysteries in my games.
 

CandyLaser

Adventurer
Does my more specific example of the Werewolf pit trap work?
Different tables, different games, different norms, and the example is under-described. Do the PCs know that there are werewolves in the woods? Can they know? Can they spot the pit trap before they fall into it? Does your game use anything like passive Perception, which is normal in some editions of D&D? I don't know the answers to these questions, so I can't say. And to be clear, I don't particularly care about the answers, because I don't think there's much value in discussion the ins and outs of that specific encounter. If you're getting push back from your players then it's clear that there's a mismatch, either in play styles or expectations, and that suggests that there are communication difficulties.
I do wonder: what evidence do you need? Like I could do a poll and ask "does your game have character death?" But I know the answer will be 25% no never, 50% a weak maybe sometimes(that I count as a no) and 25% would say "yes it's part of the game". And as the topic has come up 100s of times, I know what a fair number of posters have said before. But, ok, if I had that poll as "evidence" would that be enough for you? Or would you just always be moving the bar? "oh well that is only what one poll says" So if I did five or ten or twenty, how many would be enough? Do I need video recordings of live game play? What is enough "evidence" for you?
Backing up one evidence-free generalization with more evidence-free generalizations does not make an argument more persuasive. You, in fact, do not know what the results of a poll would be, and you definitely don't get to preemptively claim that half the people responding to the poll with "yes, characters in my games die sometimes" somehow "counts" as a "no, characters in my games don't die." As to what counts as evidence, a poll would be better evidence than what you have offered now, which is 1) anecdotes about other GMs you know and 2) sweet Fanny Adams. I'd add that a poll about character death is only tangentially relevant to the topic at hand, because you've characterized these other GMs as bending over backwards to accommodate any impulse from the players, no matter how fleeting or out-of-line with the game thus far. Character death is only one part of that. Indeed, if these other GMs act the way you describe, then they would be happy to have characters die if that's what the players wanted, and it is what some players want. On character death specifically, there are whole swathes of the TTRPG community who play games like DCC, with its level 0 funnels, or Wicked Ones, which specifically advises players to run their characters ragged because lives are cheap, or Call of Cthulhu, especially in its purist mode.

Moreover, and I will be blunt here: I don't think you are a reliable source when it comes to how these other players and GMs behave. This is because you seem to have a habit of misrepresenting other people's positions here, ascribing to them attitudes and beliefs they do not hold on no evidence at all as well as assuming that your interlocutors are insincere or otherwise not participating in the conversation as honest dealers. You have, in fact, done so right here, in implying that I will "just always be moving the bar" in terms of evidentiary standards.
I understand how it sounds, but you want to keep it in context. I'm not saying all the time about everything: I was being specific. I was talking about things that might happen during game play: like the PCs being captured. In my game this is a possibility that happens. There are a ton of players that will whine and cry and demand that the game has no capture of the PCs ever. And there are a ton of DMs that both agree and bow their heads and say "yes player". So in my game, it's possible a PC might get captured...and if a player wants to whine or cry or complain.....I don't care.
OK, so it is the insensitive reading. It seems to me you should care, since it means you are doing things that other people find unpleasant, and generally that's a sign of a problem.
I don't see it in the same way?

The idea of a DM just sitting there, waiting for a player to make a move, so then and only then can the DM make a move....is wrong to me.
OK, so this sounds like you are saying you are uninterested in understanding other people's play styles. So why are you raising the topic in the first place?
I don't agree. But then you are putting all the focus on the trap and ignoring everything else. I can see lots of ways this framing encounter can go, though sure many others can not.
I didn't mention the trap at all in my reply. EDIT: This is a mistake on my part; the bit I'm quoting above wasn't in response to me. Mea culpa.
 
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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I do wonder: what evidence do you need? <snip> What is enough "evidence" for you?
I mean, some kind of survey data would be the right form of evidence to back up a claim of this nature. E.g. most folks take it reasonably seriously when WotC says that most D&D groups do not play into the teen levels (though many disagree about why this happens, nobody really questions that it happens.)

Because if all you really have is, "I've seen groups do it," well, that's perfectly fine for your experience, but it doesn't really speak about the community at large.

I understand how it sounds, but you want to keep it in context. I'm not saying all the time about everything: I was being specific. I was talking about things that might happen during game play: like the PCs being captured. In my game this is a possibility that happens. There are a ton of players that will whine and cry and demand that the game has no capture of the PCs ever. And there are a ton of DMs that both agree and bow their heads and say "yes player". So in my game, it's possible a PC might get captured...and if a player wants to whine or cry or complain.....I don't care.
Again, you speak of there being some huge swathe of people in these two categories, as though they make up a majority of both DMs and players. I have never seen any of them. That doesn't mean they don't exist. But, despite the fact that I have almost always played with strangers--and thus am getting exposed to a lot of people who don't always share my preferences or interests--I have never seen this sort of thing, this "whine and cry" at every little problem thing. And I have definitely never seen a DM who "bow their heads."

The only word I can use to describe your perception of these things is "extreme," and as a result you demand extreme solutions. The vast--genuinely vast--majority of people simply do not have this experience. They don't have players who will freak out about even the smallest problems. Yes, SOME people are like that. But "some people" means literally any amount greater than zero. I don't think I need to explain why "there exists at least one person who behaves badly" is not meaningful evidence for the claim "a majority of players whine and cry about every problem."

I don't see it in the same way?
Your posts certainly have communicated to me a dismissive, judgmental tone, where you presume that anyone who does not do things your way must be an abused, servile DM, ridden roughshod by their nasty, raving, petulant players. Further, I have noticed that you tend to jump on particular words or phrases (for example, your positive response to the DW phrase "exploit your prep"), often taking these terms out of context--which is frustrating, since you wish others to take your own words in context, even when that context is very much not obvious (as above with the "I don't care what the players think or say" statement, above.) Combined with past discussions, e.g. where you were hoping to find some "magic word" (your term) that could make the players behave the way you wanted them to--that reflects a not-real-great attitude of dismissiveness and condescension toward your players.

The idea of a DM just sitting there, waiting for a player to make a move, so then and only then can the DM make a move....is wrong to me.
Question: Is it a problem in chess, that a player must "sit there and wait for a player to make a move"? Is it a problem in poker? In blackjack, where the players aren't even competing with one another?

Because that's what this "waiting for a player to make a move" thing is. In any game with at least relatively healthy DM/player interactions, the players should always be "making moves." Asking questions, examining their resources, considering their options, discussing amongst themselves, making declarations. The only time they shouldn't be doing something like that is when they've turned to you, wanting to know what happens next, which is precisely one of the times DW speaks of as being when you make a move.

And I run half of my games with Scooby Do, Nancy Drew, or Hardy Boys level of mystery as that is the best level of mystery that casual games can handle.
I flatly disagree. None of my players have been "hardcore" in any meaningful sense. We have had at least three distinct mysteries: a jewel heist (the party tracked down the culprits but they'd been killed by cultists), a high-profile assassination (IIRC I mentioned this earlier, the party correctly identified the real killer and prevented a diplomatic incident), and the ongoing mystery of the black dragon hiding in the shadows, trying to take over the city economically. Outright character death has never happened in my game, and yet my players genuinely cared about solving each of these mysteries, as well as other unknowns, e.g. finding out who betrayed the party so an over-boss in the black dragon gang knew to only appear as an illusion, not as himself.

I don't agree. But then you are putting all the focus on the trap and ignoring everything else. I can see lots of ways this framing encounter can go, though sure many others can not.

I have done this framed encounter lots of times, so I can tell you exactly how it goes 99% of the time for New to my Game Casual Players. The players never even think the word "trap". They see the victim and have their character just stumble over to save them...and fall in the pit trap. Then the werewolves pounce on them with speed, violence and deadly force. The players being all Lone Wolf types ignore each other, the players have a hard time with the concept of a 360 degree battle, and there is a good chance several characters will die.

But then the players did just drink some Mt Dew and blunder into the trap, refused to work together as a team, and did not know many rules past "I roll 1d20 to hit".
Genuine question: Do you actually think these players are representative of D&D players in general? Because this sounds nothing like the vast, vast majority of players I've ever worked with. And this is part of why I say your tone comes across as dismissive and condescending; you seem to think basically all players that haven't been through your "nightmare fuel" DMing are lazy, stupid, impulsive, uncaring, and just...generally very unpleasant.

When I run such a framed encounter for Hard Fun players, I lot of different things happen based on the intelligent actions of the players. Like: the players send a tester in to set off the trap, the players set up a counter trap, the players stage a "kill the victim" ruse, the players find a werewolf to "ask" questions and so on. And if the character do fall in the trap they don't just go "waaa?", they have their characters quickly get back to back and cooperate and work together as a combat team to win the encounter.
Okay. I'm not a Hard Fun player. I don't like meat-grinders and "nightmare fuel."

I also take traps seriously and am cautious--sometimes to a fault. I think critically about the world and story, and my character's place in them. I ask serious questions and expect to be asked serious questions as well.

What am I? By your description here, I seem to not even exist. I'm not Goofy Casual. I'm also not Hard Fun. What is there that isn't one of those two things?

And if you don't believe that there is such a thing, then...well, we really can't have a conversation. You have defined things in such a way that no discussion is possible. Everyone either does things the right way (yours), or the wrong way (anything that isn't yours).

This is all very detailed. I would do this in my mind, and in my vague notes. Though...I don't really have 'words' for most of the events and actions: that is a nice way to define things.
Many have said that DW's rules feel like someone managed to write down best practices for game masters. There is a good reason for this feeling--and it is one (of several) reasons why the books say you really, really shouldn't outright break or change the core rules. They were designed with great care, and changing those things can have massive (and often negative) impact on the experience. (Note, this does not mean you can't write new moves. You are expected to do that. "Changing the rules" in this case is stuff like adding or removing Principles, the particular methods you use, or altering the Agendas, which are your high-level ultimate goals for GMing, stuff like "portray a fantastic world.")

Are these set by the players or the DM? I like to 3-5 Stakes(as you'd call them) running for each character...independent of the players wants or wishes. Though if a player wants to add a vague one I'll add it to the pile.
They are set by the GM (and not strictly spoken--the rules neither require nor forbid it, so it's up to you.) Note that these are stakes only for this one adventure front. Generally, each "campaign front" will be made up of several adventure fronts (e.g. at least 3), all with their own stakes, and the campaign front itself will have more that look at the campaign level of play rather than individual adventures (e.g. "will Barbariccia resolve her hatred of her father that she believes abandoned her?") Many of these stakes will be, as you say, independent of anything specific the player is looking for, but they should in general be something the player would find interesting somehow. After all, you want them to decide something, or declare something, and if they just think all answers to a given thing would be boring or irrelevant, they're not going to be interested in answering! And yes, some of the time you may even set out stakes that the player has chosen, but it would be because you want to know, not because you're under obligation to answer. (It's just...like I said, if the players have already made clear they care about some particular thing, they'll WANT to answer questions related to it, so it's often smart to pick some of those things.)

This is really the meat of my over all question: how do you do this?

Like I have the Bar become Wolf sub plot 'stake': a small nature spirit shows up at my whim to taunt and tempt Bar. One of the werewolf brutes tries to turn Bar, one werewolf sneak just tries to confused Bar to get in a sneak attack. One werewolf lady tries to get Bar as a mate. So throughout the adventure each of these will happen, but with no set out come: it will depend what the player does. But none of them are 'off limits' to me...I firmly control each one.
Why is a small nature spirit showing up "at your whim"? Such "whims" should generally speaking not happen--that is, you shouldn't be doing something solely because you feel like it with no other link to anything else, other than very early in the game. (This is because, for the first handful of sessions, everyone is still learning who and what the PCs are, so you don't really have many things to link to. Once the game has gotten going, however, there should be plenty of things to hook into.)

The other problem, here, is that these things you've cited...those aren't framed encounters (like the trap). They're specific events you've declared will happen, no matter what. In general, for DW, you should avoid such things. Instead of "a werewolf sneak will definitely try to bamboozle Barbariccia to get a sneak attack on her," framing a scene of this nature would be something like...

(A) You decide that the town has a sneaky werewolf, hidden among them, acting as a spy for the rest of the pack. This would be part of the danger, and one possible source for some of the Grim Portents as the Front plays out (e.g. the sneaky werewolf might work to pit the townsfolk against each other). He likes manipulating people, controlling them, making them do what he wants without them realizing it.
(B) During a previous scene, where the party triumphantly returned to town with a werewolf they'd killed, the Barbarian threw a huge party to raise town morale...and hopefully get some leads or help. That's the trigger for the basic move Carouse (spoilered rules text below.) And since her Herculean Appetite is "conquest," she got to roll 1d6+1d8 rather than 2d6: full success! ...but the d6 (6) was bigger than the d8 (5), so (per the Barbarian class rules) "the GM will also introduce a complication or danger that comes about due to your heedless pursuits." So, she got her three choices--she befriended a useful NPC (the LG second-in-command Hunter who genuinely wants to save the town, not just destroy the werewolves), heard rumors of an opportunity (there's an abandoned, allegedly-haunted watermill upriver that the werewovles might be using as a base), and gained useful information (Sister Redbridge hid the mayor's silverware and the chapel's silver candlesticks in the chapel undercroft before she went missing.) But by not choosing the last option, she was entangled, ensorcelled, or tricked--in this case, the werewolf sneak stole her sacred tribal bracelet, without which she cannot ever return to her tribe, but she was too drunk to notice. Now she must get it back.
When you return triumphant and throw a big party, spend 100 coins and roll +1 for every extra 100 coins spent. ✴On a 10+, choose 3. ✴On a 7–9, choose 1. ✴On a miss, you still choose one, but things get really out of hand (the GM will say how).
  • You befriend a useful NPC.
  • You hear rumors of an opportunity.
  • You gain useful information.
  • You are not entangled, ensorcelled, or tricked.
You can only carouse when you return triumphant. That’s what draws the crowd of revelers to surround adventurers as they celebrate their latest haul. If you don’t proclaim your success or your failure, then who would want to party with you anyway?
(C) When the crew heads out the next day, the sneak makes his move. He attempts to distract Barbariccia with her bracelet, in order to get a good, solid hit in.

That's a framed scene: something has happened, which motivates the character. The bad guys use their situation to try to achieve something. The players, in response, must now do something about it. Maybe Barbariccia is overcome with joy at finding her bracelet and doesn't consider the danger, meaning the player has just given you a "golden opportunity." Maybe the player is now wary because the thief stole her most prized possession from right under her nose, so she takes a more careful tack. Etc.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that she is more wary, avoids this little trap, and the party is able to capture the sneak-werewolf alive. He knows if he goes back to town, the hunters will kill him, regardless of what the party thinks. So he makes an offer: he's already good at sneaking around, maybe he can play double agent--and even bring one of the party with him as a "new" member of the Pack. He offers to bite Barbariccia, since the Pack would LOVE to have a raging berskerer werewolf to help them fight! Now Barbariccia has a dilemma: the werewolf curse WOULD make her stronger, and strength is one of the only things she cares about....but it would be betraying Dronaash's trust, whom she has come to regard as almost a replacement for the father that abandoned her as a child.

That's framing a scene (sneak-werewolf tries to catch a PC off guard to bite her), and then framing a second scene (sneak-werewolf begs for his life, offering to help the party) in a way which fully lets the player decide. A different story will be told, depending on what Barbariccia chooses to do. And she isn't limited to only "yes" or "no"--there are many possible ways she could push this forward. Perhaps she threatens the sneak into obedience without needing to accompany him. Perhaps she calls on the spirits of her ancestors to put a curse on him if he betrays them. Perhaps she agrees to the bite, but only after consulting Dronaash and asking him to trust that she's making the right decision. Many, many stories, and many seeds for future stories, can branch from just this one choice, from this one player.

That's the kind of "move" you are waiting for players to make. They should never be thinking about sitting on their hands. There's too much to DO!

Ok, but then how do you address things like many DMs declaring the PCs immortal and then altering the game around that?
Being perfectly honest? I don't, because I've never seen that problem, and never had any need to consider a solution for it. It's a bit like asking, "How do you address things like many players out there not speaking any English?" I just...don't.

I'm not? I'm talking about the two of them. They got the whole question rolling. This is why I mention them.

I guess the question is: when I type "DM Scott is a soft DM that is Best Buddies with his players" why do you read that as me saying "everyone in the world"?
Because you use it as the only contrast to your own DMing. There is your way--"Hard Fun," which is described by you as positive--and then there is the "Soft Best Buddies" way, which is exclusively described in the worst, most negative terms you have available. No other ways are mentioned, and, per your OP, you have expressed a genuine confusion about, and ignorance toward, any other possible way of running a game.

I'm not a Saw fan. I do want an intelligent hard difficult game.
Okay. I hope you can understand how someone would read "nightmare fuel" and think of horror movies. Because that's literally what the trope Nightmare Fuel is about: things that are so horrible they can give you nightmares.

As an aside, overall this post in particular has been much more conciliatory, so I want to make clear that I've noticed and appreciate the change.

Elaborate here a bit?

I'm all for what players choose to do in a scene.....but it will always be a Hard Fun Scene. That is my game. A lot of players like, or think they like, the Goofy Casual Game. And when they act that way in my game....it does not work out for them.
See, this is what I mean by it doesn't really sound like you sincerely want to know. You'll always run a "Hard Fun" game, which (by your own admission) is a railroad. There is no option for doing anything else--and the only alternative you mention here is a "Goofy Casual Game." Hence, you seem to believe there are only two options: Hard Fun, or Goofy Casual. Anyone explaining anything else gets classified as either trying to make you run a Goofy Casual Game, or as giving bad advice for how to run a Hard Fun Game.

There are games which do not do the "Hard Fun" you describe...and which are also not "Goofy Casual." My game is not "Hard Fun" (and, frankly, I don't think I would enjoy running a "Hard Fun" game the way you have described it here and elsewhere.) But it isn't goofy, and it isn't casual. I include things like mind control/conditioning, slavery (it's illegal, but just because it's illegal doesn't mean people don't do it, sadly), murder, political and economic corruption, poverty, organized crime, drug addition, etc. My devils do not screw around, they aren't like D&D devils that constantly self-sabotage, mine are calculating, manipulative, charismatic, and genuinely committed to getting people to WANT to make deals with devils, so they ALWAYS keep their promises and never hide crappy clauses in their contracts. I have been quite serious about lore and history, and impressing upon my players that history and symbolism are extremely important in this world. (I even have a timeline! I won't link it here, but yeah, I have an actual timeline covering about two and a half thousand years of world history, though much has been forgotten about anything older than ~700 years before present, other than the BIG HUGE events nobody forgets about.)

Hence why I've (mostly) tried to use examples from my own game when I can. The werewolf thing is obviously made up, since it's your example situation, not mine.

As for what I mean by "work with your players": Ask them meaningful questions, which they actually need to think about. Don't just give them everything on a silver platter (because that's obviously bad), but genuinely care about what it is they want to see from the game. The vast majority of the time, players want to see cool things, solve difficult problems, legitimately win, etc. If you talk to them, learn what it is they actually care about and value, you can almost always get good results.

This one does not work much as many players are clueless and unmotivated. I know what they are thinking: nothing. But telling players basic things also works here.
See, this is the thing I referenced above. This is dismissive and, frankly, insulting to your players. You think they are thoughtless, clueless, and unmotivated. Why? Being thoughtless, clueless, and unmotivated is exceedingly rare in my experience. People really are thinking! They may not think the way you think, but they ARE thinking. Learning to communicate effectively, learning to find out what it is they're thinking, learning how to take those thoughts and preferences and weave them into a challenge worthy of the name--that's what this whole process is about.

If you start by believing that your players are thoughtless, clueless, and unmotivated, you'll never get anywhere. It's not possible to run a game in that context. You'll just be cramming whatever interests you down their throats, heedlessly.

See fuzzy logic here? Like would I accept another DM running my 'dm side' of the game?
No. I am speaking of giving players the ability to drive the story forward.

How does a player be in the driver set work? The player just says "there is a werewolf den for me to fight"....then they just look at me to create the den from scratch and run the werewolf side of the fight? If they are driving, should I not say "do it yourself"?
Not at all. Again, the limits of reasonableness and consistency apply always--both to the GM and the player--but with the example above, the player is in the driver's seat when she decides what to do about the werewolf sneak. You, the GM, are not deciding what story will happen. The player is. For that moment, you are not in the driver's seat. You are not defining where the story will go. You will use the answer to that question as part of framing future scenes, most certainly. Players do not occupy the driver's seat 24/7; indeed, they usually only do so at critical moments. Part of the fun of Dungeon World (or indeed any PBtA game) is working to make "critical moments" happen a LOT. Because those are the moments where, by playing, you find out what happens!

I was never asking for myself....
Then I don't understand why you asked at all. The point of asking a question like this:
So, then the question is.....is there another way?
Yes, the question came up because some folks asked for your advice. But if you are asking, does that not mean you want to know? If you don't actually want to know, why would you ask? It doesn't sound like these DMs who were asking for your advice said, "Hey, could you ask your forum friends about it on our behalf?"

I can make Scooby jokes too. As said above I do use Scooby Do mysteries in my games.
I mean, fair enough I guess? It just came across as very dismissive, taking my words out of context to paint something as inherently foolish and unserious, when I literally said (immediately after, in something you cut out) that I was joking around in order to lighten the mood, and then explained myself much more seriously. I was very frustrated, because it read as you taking the humorous part out of context, and then using that as a reason to interpret what I said as being foolish and unserious, and thus worthy of dismissal or condemnation.
 
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bloodtide

Legend
I mean, some kind of survey data would be the right form of evidence
So other then an internet poll, the best I can do is the, er, 500 gamers within 100 miles or so. But even if I did that....it would still just be from the people I know, right? So, it kinda sounds like your saying "no one can never say anything as they can't back it up with a poll".
Again, you speak of there being some huge swathe of people in these two categories, as though they make up a majority of both DMs and players. I have never seen any of them. That doesn't mean they don't exist. But, despite the fact that I have almost always played with strangers--and thus am getting exposed to a lot of people who don't always share my preferences or interests--I have never seen this sort of thing, this "whine and cry" at every little problem thing. And I have definitely never seen a DM who "bow their heads."
If you have gamed with more then a couple players it's odd you have never met a crybaby player. They are not that uncommon. And DM that bow and roll over for thier players are also common. Though it's also word play about what you see. If a DM "somehow" runs a game where the players are beyond happy all the time, you'd just say it's a "great game". Of course, I'd look at it and say "um, the DM is just doing what the players tell them too...so it's a bow DM game and the players won't cry as they always get whatever they want. You'd just say it's "collaborative storytelling" or something like that. So...then it kind of goes nowhere.
The only word I can use to describe your perception of these things is "extreme," and as a result you demand extreme solutions. The vast--genuinely vast--majority of people simply do not have this experience. They don't have players who will freak out about even the smallest problems. Yes, SOME people are like that. But "some people" means literally any amount greater than zero. I don't think I need to explain why "there exists at least one person who behaves badly" is not meaningful evidence for the claim "a majority of players whine and cry about every problem."
I think this is more a social circle sort of thing. When you have a nice DM and nice players they all sit down and have a nice game. Everyone is on the same page, and agrees on nearly everything....so nobody rocks the boat.
Your posts certainly have communicated to me a dismissive, judgmental tone, where you presume that anyone who does not do things your way must be an abused, servile DM, ridden roughshod by their nasty, raving, petulant players.
Know I never typed that...
Further, I have noticed that you tend to jump on particular words or phrases (for example, your positive response to the DW phrase "exploit your prep"), often taking these terms out of context--which is frustrating, since you wish others to take your own words in context, even when that context is very much not obvious (as above with the "I don't care what the players think or say" statement, above.) Combined with past discussions, e.g. where you were hoping to find some "magic word" (your term) that could make the players behave the way you wanted them to--that reflects a not-real-great attitude of dismissiveness and condescension toward your players.
Magic words are real. A set type of people can be amazingly programed with the right words.
Because that's what this "waiting for a player to make a move" thing is. In any game with at least relatively healthy DM/player interactions, the players should always be "making moves." Asking questions, examining their resources, considering their options, discussing amongst themselves, making declarations. The only time they shouldn't be doing something like that is when they've turned to you, wanting to know what happens next, which is precisely one of the times DW speaks of as being when you make a move.
I get that the "twist" of a lot of these games is to take the classic vague ambiguous RPG type game and make it more like board games, or poker or chess.
Genuine question: Do you actually think these players are representative of D&D players in general? Because this sounds nothing like the vast, vast majority of players I've ever worked with. And this is part of why I say your tone comes across as dismissive and condescending; you seem to think basically all players that haven't been through your "nightmare fuel" DMing are lazy, stupid, impulsive, uncaring, and just...generally very unpleasant.
In general, yes. The vast majority of gamers are Causal, it's not that they are "bad" people.....but they think of the game as just a "random distraction" for a couple hours. They don't want to "think to hard"...about a game. A lot of DMs are casual, and even more 5E D&D pushes this type of game. Such DM just say "there is a dragon over there, roll to attack" and everyone has a fun game.

My game is much more Old School.....and unlike any game the vast majority of players have ever seen. They get confused just as no dragon in my game "just sit there waiting to be attacked". My dragon encounters are legendary, I ran over 20 summer pick up games for just this. The players get flabbergasted in my game when a dragon drops boulders on the PC....or throws them off a cliff. They have never seen that in a game before, they don't "think about the game that way".

For some, it can be an amazing eye opening experience. I have a SPelljammer game....made up of such (former) players. They rrally wanted a Spelljammer game....could not find a DM...so they asked me. And they agreed to my extreme game style.....and found it not to be so bad. They lost lots of characters at first, and we had a long season of their wrecked 'jammer. But they were able to adapt. Today, they are much different players...and the Spelljamming game goes on.
What am I? By your description here, I seem to not even exist. I'm not Goofy Casual. I'm also not Hard Fun. What is there that isn't one of those two things?
I have no idea. Guess we'd have to game sometime.
Why is a small nature spirit showing up "at your whim"? Such "whims" should generally speaking not happen--that is, you shouldn't be doing something solely because you feel like it with no other link to anything else, other than very early in the game. (This is because, for the first handful of sessions, everyone is still learning who and what the PCs are, so you don't really have many things to link to. Once the game has gotten going, however, there should be plenty of things to hook into.)
As DM the game reality is at "my whim"...... I don't agree with the "things should not happen at the DM's whim" Why not? That is how the game works. I'd guess you'd want some explanation, but I don't think that is needed as it's pointless. I could make one up to keep a player happy, but I'd just make up whatever they wanted to hear.

Because you use it as the only contrast to your own DMing. There is your way--"Hard Fun," which is described by you as positive--and then there is the "Soft Best Buddies" way, which is exclusively described in the worst, most negative terms you have available. No other ways are mentioned, and, per your OP, you have expressed a genuine confusion about, and ignorance toward, any other possible way of running a game.
I'm not sure why you think this. I did not mention the other 101 ways as that is a lot to type.
Okay. I hope you can understand how someone would read "nightmare fuel" and think of horror movies. Because that's literally what the trope Nightmare Fuel is about: things that are so horrible they can give you nightmares.
It's accurate.
See, this is what I mean by it doesn't really sound like you sincerely want to know. You'll always run a "Hard Fun" game, which (by your own admission) is a railroad. There is no option for doing anything else--and the only alternative you mention here is a "Goofy Casual Game." Hence, you seem to believe there are only two options: Hard Fun, or Goofy Casual. Anyone explaining anything else gets classified as either trying to make you run a Goofy Casual Game, or as giving bad advice for how to run a Hard Fun Game.
Well, I'm not looking to change my game at all. I and my 50 ish or so players are just fine and happy.
See, this is the thing I referenced above. This is dismissive and, frankly, insulting to your players. You think they are thoughtless, clueless, and unmotivated. Why? Being thoughtless, clueless, and unmotivated is exceedingly rare in my experience. People really are thinking! They may not think the way you think, but they ARE thinking. Learning to communicate effectively, learning to find out what it is they're thinking, learning how to take those thoughts and preferences and weave them into a challenge worthy of the name--that's what this whole process is about.
This is the thing again. Some DM get players that are amazing founts of creativity and briliance. I get players that say "I want to have fun".

Yes, the question came up because some folks asked for your advice. But if you are asking, does that not mean you want to know? If you don't actually want to know, why would you ask? It doesn't sound like these DMs who were asking for your advice said, "Hey, could you ask your forum friends about it on our behalf?"
I want to know.... They are both more casual DMs that would never go online to "do RPG stuff", they just run and play RPG games.
 


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