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Trying out Ironsworn for the first time tonight - PbtA tips I could pass on to the group?

So we're trying out Ironsworn with my main play group tonight for the first time.

2 of the 5 players have previous, if limited experience with PbtA from our Dungeon World experiment a couple of years ago.

What are some notes, tips, play details you think would be useful for the players to know as we get started? I.e., how to strongly advocate for their characters, how to get into a "fiction first" / "Say yes or roll the dice" mindset, how to avoid the D&D traps, how to explain scene-based resolution techniques (as opposed to granular action->resolution techniques).


As a GM, I'm fairly comfortable with my role. I have a very basic kicker / inciting incident that ties into the core gameworld + premise, but beyond that, have only the vaguest notions of what the players could encounter. I have no plot in mind, no intention other than to advocate for players to be awesome, and to push them towards adversity.
 

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1) Don't avoid rolling dice just because the odds are against you. Failing rolls is part of the point.
2) Even good Gamerunners will get stuck sometimes trying to think of a good "hard bargain or difficult choice"; suggestions are always welcome!
3) Think like a movie or a tv show, not like a second by second simulation or an MMO.
4) Your interactions with the other characters are as important as your actions against the environment and NPCs. Don't neglect them.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
When I GM PbtA hacks I don't give my players the list of "basic moves" at first. PbtA runs so much more smoothly and immersive when everyone's role-playing the way they tell you use the D&D skill system. Player says what they're doing, GM tells them what move that is. Far less "playing the character sheet" and way more getting swept up in the moment happens this way. If memory serves some hacks talk about a negotiation between the player and GM about what "move" best represents their character's action, but I feel like that's a trap, and all it's going to do is slow down the game.
 

My default advice with this type of game is to ensure some collective / group worldbuilding happens - either as deliberate activity prior to character creation, or as a lot of focused questions for the players to help define their characters' relationships with the world around them immediately as play starts.

It stops players hitting the stumbling block of asking GM permission for every last thing. 'Is there a tavern? Is it close by? Do I know the landlord? Do I know the regulars? Can I buy a shovel? Is my house close to town? Do I know who the mayor is?' It allows the players to put their characters 'into motion' without all that fumbling around.

PbTA really comes to life once the players have confidence that the MC has no need to gatekeep every element of setting, and actually only needs the resolution mechanics to bring adversity and conflict to life.
 

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