GM Struggles

Struggles, wins and losses of a gamer

Trying a New Game: Transition Plans

On my last post in the series of Trying a New Game (Selling the System), Undreren talked about Dungeon World being hard to pitch. I think a lot of the pain in pitching the system itself (since the game frame is the same as D&D’s) has one basic opposition: habit.

In Dungeon World, unlike many systems out there, the actions taken are defined by how the player describes them, by their actions and intent, this is not mechanical. Meanwhile my players and many others out there are used to framing their thoughts and actions in a game through the system mechanics.

Completely different filters are in effect, by wanting to play and run DW I also want them to think on the character’s toes, to make them act how they want them to, and not make a choice in the character sheet or on the basic moves sheet, but after so many years of playing D&D, Storyteller and GURPS, there is little chance that will happen spontaneously.

How I plan to make it work then?

I will actually not avoid them defining what their action is mechanically, they will feel more familiarity and be more comfortable framing their minds that way at first, but I do intend to move out of that as it progresses (if at all). Whenever they spend more time looking at the character sheet or moves sheet more than to the people at the table, and I notice they are struggling to find an action there, I will switch to them and ask, “What do you do (Character Name)? Just do the awesome thing you want your character to”.

The reason is simple, they know no better, D&D has very defined abilities, Storyteller has action declaration at round start and you have little room to change actions, since the cost is not low. GURPS has so many mechanics that we have a hard time even knowing what we don’t have to make a rules reference to.

My hopes are that they will notice that not everything is a hack and slash, defy danger actually covers more, because it has a more generic action trigger and that sometimes what they think is an action is so perfectly covered by fiction that no roll at all is covered. I marked in bold the most important thing here: Feeling the beat the system.

When players used to mechanics feel they beat the system by bringing exciting and cool descriptions, odds are they will try more of that, and repetition of success will not only make them want more, but also deliver fun to everyone at the table. This will bring a virtuous cycle where description brings more fun, which makes them want to describe it well.


fun (Photo credit: hodgers)

Fun falls, everybody takes full damage.


2 responses to “Trying a New Game: Transition Plans

  1. Undreren December 22, 2012 at 19:16

    I agree, pitching is only a problem because of habit. But I would still explain to them that it is intended for them to say what their character does, not which ability he uses.

  2. Nifelhein December 22, 2012 at 20:55

    I will most certainly say I want them to do that, and that the entire system is focused in giving us a good experience while doing it, but I know it will be an effort to do it the DW-way at first.

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