D&D (2024) What could One D&D do to push the game more toward story?

Starfox

Adventurer
Probably the single best-known "narrative" game is Apocalypse World. (...) The most important is the GM moves. When it's the GM's turn to speak in the conversation of the game, the GM make a move. And most of the time this is a soft move. GM soft moves include (inter alia) "announcing future badness" - in ENworld parlance this is a form of what is often called "telegraphing" - or "announcing offscreen badness" or "offering an opportunity, with or without a cost". In some circumstances the GM can make a hard move - this can include (inter alia) "inflicting harm" (ie dealing damage) or "separating them" or "turning their move back on them" (eg the PC as played by the player tried to discern a weakness, but instead reveals a weakness of their own). The list of GM moves does not include nothing happens.

Nearly as important are the player moves. These are little resolution subsystems that are triggered, in the course of play, by the player declaring a certain sort of action for their PC (eg trying to intimidate someone ("go aggro") or trying to exert leverage over someone ("seduce/manipulate")). If a move fails, the GM is licensed to make a hard move. The other time a hard move is OK is when a player hands an opportunity to the GM on a platter (eg the GM makes a soft move, the player proceeds in disregard of it, now the GM can make a hard move).
Just to see if I understand this, let me paint two examples, one using AW and one using 5E. The scene framing is the same, a thief-type character moving down a passage.

5E
DM: Roll Perception please.
Player: 6
DM You fall into A 10 foot pit and take 4 damage.

AW
GM: There might be traps in a passage like this. (soft)
Player: I am confident in my skills, watching for traps but I keep moving.
GM: You hear the soft fall of sand. (soft)
P: I try to find the source of the sand (roll fails)
GM: You fall into a 10 foot pit with <consequences>. (hard)

Writing this example, I found it much easier to elaborate the AW version, I had to hold myself back, whereas in the 5E version the style became almost telegraphic in brevity. But either could be elaborated in actual play.
 

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DarkCrisis

Reeks of Jedi
D&D does D&D well. There are a ton of games out there that are made for what you want, they just aren't called D&D. Expand your horizons. It's very worth it.
 

The scene framing is the same, a thief-type character moving down a passage.

These kind of examples fail, because the assumption about framing is wrong. In D&D the character is in the passage because the DM put them there. In AW they are there because the player put them there.

Only if you start at the point where you answer the question "Who authored the character's goal?" (not chose, authored) will you start to understand the huge gulf between Apocalypse World and the overwhelming majority of D&D.

In AW, the MC follows the player's quest. The mechanics exist to facilitate that.
 



* Nerf the hell out of spellcasting/spellcasters (the apex prowess and how prolific spells and rituals are) AND make all cast spells require a spellcasting check whereby failure by 4 or less = Success w/ a thematic Twist (like the noncombat action resolution mechanics) based on the spell school or spell being cast. Overpowered spellcasting is such a brutal problem for no-prep, Story Now play. This MUST be resolved and resolved in a compelling way.
How did you calculate the DC for the spellcasting check? i.e. 10 + spell level +1 because spell school in opposition?
And which spells being cast were isolated that increased the DC? Why not just increase their spell level?
 

Starfox

Adventurer
These kind of examples fail, because the assumption about framing is wrong. In D&D the character is in the passage because the DM put them there. In AW they are there because the player put them there.
Once the framing is done, does it matter how it is done?
Only if you start at the point where you answer the question "Who authored the character's goal?" (not chose, authored) will you start to understand the huge gulf between Apocalypse World and the overwhelming majority of D&D.

In AW, the MC follows the player's quest. The mechanics exist to facilitate that.
Basically, this style of game is constant godmoding (without the negative connotation)?
 

pemerton

Legend
Just to see if I understand this, let me paint two examples, one using AW and one using 5E. The scene framing is the same, a thief-type character moving down a passage.
Once the framing is done, does it matter how it is done?
I'm not @chaochou, but will respond to this question. The answer is Yes.

For instance, suppose that the AW MC/GM decides, in response to a failure, to "announce future badness".

What does "future badness" mean? It means "something that, were it to come to pass, would be adverse to the interests of the character as played by the player". In a context where the GM chose the framing as part of their control of the direction of the fiction, how can they announce future badness? This can only be done if it is accepted that the trajectory of the fiction is shaped by the players and their concerns.

The normative language and orientation found in "announce future badness" is replete in AW's GM-side moves: announce offscreen badness; put someone in a spot; offer an opportunity (with or without a cost); turn their move back on them; separate them; etc.

Opportunity, cost, turning something back on someone, being put in a spot: these all presuppose a disposition or orientation of the character, things they want and things they don't want.

Separate them does not do so at the linguistic level - but clearly does so at the operational level, as it is meaningful as a move only if the characters who get separated have an interest in being togehter.

To repeat, in a context of play in which it is the GM's concerns and desires for the fiction that shape the framing, these sorts of moves won't be able to be made.

5E
DM: Roll Perception please.
Player: 6
DM You fall into A 10 foot pit and take 4 damage.
What you are describing here is a framed scene, followed by a call for what is in effect a saving throw, followed by (in AW language) a hard move.

To me, this doesn't seem to be very interesting play - the player has not made any decision in response to anything of interest or value.

AW
GM: There might be traps in a passage like this. (soft)
Player: I am confident in my skills, watching for traps but I keep moving.
GM: You hear the soft fall of sand. (soft)
P: I try to find the source of the sand (roll fails)
GM: You fall into a 10 foot pit with <consequences>. (hard)
This doesn't seem to have anything in particular to do with AW. It actually looks to me like another example of how this might be done in D&D.

In AW, the GM makes moves in two basic circumstances: when everyone looks to them to see what happens next (typically this is a soft move, but if the player hands a golden opportunity then it can be a hard move); and when the resolution of a player-side move tells them to. In that latter case, if the roll is a 6- then the move will typically be a hard move.

So for some reason we haven't yet specified, the thief-type character is sneaking down a corridor. (Let's say Silas the Skinner is infiltrating an installation at the heart of any enemy hardhold. The floors of the installation are the same sand as the ground outside.)

Silas' player says "I walk down the passage". And then looks to the GM to see what happens next. The GM replies, "You hear the soft fall of sand: the floor is not stable" - this is a soft move, putting Silas in a spot.

Silas's player replies "I'm confident in my skills - I keep going down the passage!" This is Acting Under Fire, and so Silas's player has to roll ("if you do it, you do it" is the principle for player-side moves"). Let's suppose that the roll is 6 or less: the GM announces "You fall into a pit, about 3 metres deep. Take 2 harm." (That's a hard move, inflicting harm.) Silas's player marks the harm, and then says "I climb out", looking at the GM to see what happens next. The GM makes another move - and nothing happens is not a GM-side move! Silas's player hasn't handed an opportunity on a platter, so the next move will be a soft one.

Here's another version - after the GM announces the falling sand, Silas's player replies "Where's the sound coming from? What's making the sand fall?" This is reading a situation, and if you do it you do it, so Silas's player makes a roll. They're hoping to roll 7+, so that they can ask "Where's my best way in?" and get a truthful answer from the GM. But they fail, and so the GM announces "You fall into a pit, about 3 metres deep. And you're stuck down there." The GM has made a different hard move, turning Silas's move back upon him - instead of finding the way in, Silas is stuck with no way in or out. Silas's player then looks at the GM to see what happens next, and so the GM makes another move - and nothing happens is not a GM-side move! Maybe the GM decides someone comes to see who has been trapped in the pit; or decides that Silas, as he looks around, notices a hatch in the floor of the pit; or anything else that conforms to the GM's principles and agenda.
 



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