This whole post makes me realize we are talking about THREE stances here!
I will only try and engage with two of them.
The GAMIST player is simply making moves with his character in 'pawn stance' where his goals are @Manbearcat
's 'win cons' for the particular game being played. Maybe you are implying your 'spreadsheet expert' (we all have one) friend plays this way, at least primarily. This is the stance which is most rewarded in GSP, presumably. Even alignment penalties being mostly a minor additional constraint abstractly based on 'character' (but so abstract it rarely produces really strong constraints). Samwise in this stance obtains the ring from Frodo's corpse, goes back to the shire (enstaving Saruman on his way) and rules it as a dread king.
The DRAMATIST is playing his character in '1st person', that is inhabiting the PC's mental and emotional state and deciding her actions based on that understanding/empathy. This seems to conform to what you claim to be doing with your BW character. You've already noted that BW supplies some mechanical rewards for this, although your gamist stance friend seems to be managing to reap at least as much, maybe more (my understanding of the details of the BW rules is a bit crude). This Samwise stands by his master's 'corpse', come what may.
These will be some disjointed thoughts:
(1) If the optimisation incentives are set up properly, Samwise will still try to destroy the ring. For instance, in our play yesterday of The Green Knight one of the PCs purchased the Engraved Mace from the bandits (via a Persuasion check) after the bandits had been persuaded to renounce their banditry (via an Intimidation check) rather than just take it from them, in order to avoid Dishonour. In the system Dishonour is (roughly) damage but also serves as a target number: the higher your Dishonour the harder Honourable actions and the easier Dishonourable ones, but you lose if your Dishonour reaches 20. And so for the first three Encounters my players adopted a keep Dishonour as low as possible
strategy while favouring Honourable actions (which further reinforce that strategy via various other aspects of the resolution system).
Hence, in a system designed to achieve it, there need be no move from optimised play
to expedient PCs
. But this is probably going to require some sort of metagame/thematic feedback loop (like the one in The Green Knight) to work. If all your resolution is confined to granular extrapolation of the fiction, and you have no personality/thematic constraints stronger than alignment with few or no teeth, then expedience will rule the day (as is notorious in D&D play - hence "murder hobos", Knights of the Dinner Table, etc).
(2) The above consideration means that my spreadsheet expert doesn't always play expedient characters. They often incline somewhat in that direction, but not always and even when they do not that extremely. (Certainly no worse tha Han Solo in Star Wars.) And he sometimes moves into the "inhabitation" decision space - eg yesterday in the final encounter the players split on their strategy in the final Encounter, with one adopting a Dishonour strategy (so as to get what he wanted by the end of the Encounter but without losing by reaching 20 Dishonour). There was no optimisation-based reason for the spreadsheet player to take issue with this, but he objected to it in his capacity as the conscience of his PC
, and hence made decisions that hindered the other players strategy and ended up contributing to that other player losing the final Encounter.
To use terminology from The Forge, much of the play was in Author stance (which facilitated essential cooperation) but at that crucial moment, when the need for cooperation had passed, both players shifted to Actor stance with the result that one hindered the other and caused him to lose. In classic D&D that would suck big time; but The Green Knight plays as a one-shot and so a bit of blood opera or similar at the moment of climax is acceptable and doesn't spoil the game for the players. (We can see here that win conditions
also intersect with replay expectations
to shape the parameters for what is acceptable play of a system.)
(3) When playing BW my spreadsheet friend certainly loves a bit of Author stance, so as to get the checks he needs to improve his PC. He sometimes inhabits his PC and thereby earns artha ("fate points") but sometimes he earns that by (more-or-less) running through a checklist of his Beliefs, Instincts etc (think roughly Alignment and Bonds in DW) and making sure he's ticked off enough of each for the session to earn his artha.
My approach is very close to Actor stance all the way. (I'm sure there are moments of Author stance, but not too much. I get enough of that when I GM!) I don't really need to go through my checklist to make sure I get my artha - I just play my character as characterised by his Beliefs, Instincts etc and my artha falls out. So I do as well or better than him on the artha front. But my character doesn't mechanically improve very quickly, because I'm not really setting out to make the checks I'll need to get improvement; I tend to just make the checks that the situation demands, and see what falls out of that. But as I've posted, BW has other elements to the system - particularly around consequence narration and subsequent framing - which mean that that sort of "indifference" to technically optimal play won't hose me. The contrast with classic D&D is in my view pretty marked.
In the Samwise context, it's not just standing by Frodo's corpse come what may. Because that sounds pretty static. The GM should be narrating scenes that generate dynamism - eg Samwise has a Belief about protecting Frodo and also a Belief about seeing the mission through, and now they can't both be realised, and in deciding which one to honour within the parameters of the GM-established scene (we know how Sam did it in the book, though he came to regret it not much later) he earns Mouldbreaker artha (ie artha for dramatically roleplaying out the clash between your Beliefs and/or Instincts).
What's key for me
and hence what I'm resting my distinctions on, is between (i) adopting a "bird's eye" view of all the parameters that create the decision-space for declaring an action for Sam (including which move has the best mechanical chance of success, which one will earn the most artha which will buff moves down the track, etc), and (ii) inhabiting Sam as a character, making a decision on basis, and letting the mechanical consequences fall where they may. Not all RPGs really allow for (ii) as a viable approach, at least without a lot of GM fudging and manipulation of the fiction, but I think BW is one and I suspect (though can't claim to know) that DW might be another. Prince Valiant is one too.
Currently, I am playing a Paladin in Dungeon World. I have two healing actions available to me, Lay on Hands (which keys off CHA (+2 bonus) and the 7-9 complication transfers the damage or disease to me) and Cure Light Wounds via Cleric MC Advanced Move (which keys off WIS (+ 1 bonus due to ongoing debility and the 7-9 complication is either (i) lose spell subsequently to this Casting, (ii) take -1 ongoing to Cast a Spell or (iii) draw unwelcome attention or put yourself in a spot). Both heal the same amount of damage.
I am at the ranch of my aspiring protege, whom I hope to recruit to my faith as a Jean d'Arc figure from prophecy. We prepare for an assault on the ranch by dishonest and powerful competitors. Meanwhile, her mother suffers from consumption and will die soon if not treated. I consider my two healing options. Cure Light Wounds carries less overt risk (I will suffer HP damage and another debility if I roll 7-9 and transfer the disease to me via Lay on Hands), right before a big fight. But taking that risk of greater personal harm might sway my potential padawan to believe in me and my cause. Instead I use Lay on Hands. I roll 10+ and the NPC eventually is recruited to my cause, thematically. Skilled Play?
In our most recent session, all three of us (my Paladin, my wife's Wizard, and my protege NPC) suffered significant damage in a BBEG type fight against an extra planar entity. Our next step was to take a downtime move, which would afford some healing (among other possible action choices), before proceeding through the planar portal to the Feywild in hope of recruiting the wicked eladrin once in service to the Prince of Frost as soldiers in our war against our nemesis, that very same Prince. During downtime, when nothing is narratively at stake, I use Cure Light Wounds as my healing move because nothing is narratively at stake and the risks to me are lesser in these circumstances. Skilled Play?
You're using "skilled play" as a descriptor of moments of play, rather than as a descriptor for an agenda of play. Which obviously is perfectly permissible!, but I just wanted to make the difference from my own usage in my posts in this thread clear to anyone reading along.
What you are drawing my attention to is that DW, a bit like D&D (unsurprisingly) has multiple mechanical pathways to much the same in-fiction state of affairs. This is a contrast (not necessarily a super-sharp one, but certainly of degree) with BW and Prince Valiant. I think this does tend to open up more room for optimisation-type reasoning, which certainly seems to be governing your downtime decision, and obviously is a factor in your ranch decision.
Because of the dominance of optimisation considerations in the downtime case I don't see any need to push the inquiry further. (If I've missed something, though, tell me!). But with the ranch example I am very curious: as you character
, what is going through your mind in deciding which sort of healing to use?