This past weekend, I was at JoshCon, the birthday house con run by my good friend Josh Rensch. It was an exciting, grand ol’ time, where we played games. The games I played all got hacked up, including Technoir & Dungeon World. I’ll blog later about hacking Technoir, but some folks expressed interested in what we’re doing with DW.
A number of people have been using my XP hack for Dungeon World, and Nora Last, looking to DM some Dungeon World at JoshCon, wanted to take it for a spin. As I listed off the options, I found myself saying “Let’s not use Aid/Hinder. It’s pretty weak.” So we didn’t.
Two characters had Converse highlighted, and after one of the fights, one of them wanted to Parley with the other to get him to do something. The details are fuzzy thanks to copious amounts of scotch, but what I remember was this:
The target of the Parley wanted to do an opposed roll, which we said was Hinder. I started thinking “man, he should be able to highlight tha…DUDE THAT’S CONVERSE HE SHOULD HIGHLIGHT THAT.”
I cannot recall if I was as loud as I imagine. Again, scotch. Anyway, I said “Mark XP. That’s totally converse,” and filed the thought away.
Then I emailed the co-creator of this XP hack, Colin Jessup, when my findings, to which he celebrated. It meant less work on our parts to make up new moves for Aid/Hinder in a hack we’re tinkering with.
Which means the new rule is: When you Aid or Hinder another PC, and the move you’re affecting is covered by one of your highlights, mark experience.
Then shit got interesting, because Nora took the hack in a different direction. Colin & I have build the idea as “moves have concrete highlights. X is Attack, Y is Defend, etc.” Spells and other “sub-moves” are split up appropriately.
Nora said “nah, I’m gonna interpret that on the fly.” Sometimes when Ben Demonslayer, my still-not-dead halfling fighter, did some crazy shit because Stunt is highlighted, Nora would check my intent. Sometimes, she would tell me that I wasn’t stunting, but defending, which I didn’t have highlighted. And that brought up some interesting thoughts.
I’m not sure if I like “open to interpretation,” partly because it means one more decision that has to be made in the flow of play. But it’s one I hadn’t considered until Nora did it. (Thankfully, I can tell Colin “you decide”. Design partners are awesome!)
She also challenged me, being a third level fighter, by not highlighting my Attack in one of the games I played. Which worked for me, because Ben had a good chance of surviving crazy shit. Level 1 characters are, by contrast, sweet sweet tasty death magnets.
That made me think about going easy on highlighting level 1 characters, so they have a chance to level. After that, change it up. That also supports the idea of platforms and tilts in stories, a la improv. It also goes into Carl Rigney’s philosophy on games where the first thing the players do should showcase competence, if the game is about that, as that first action will color expectations of that game & play session.
Finally, she did some awesome stuff with putting monster damage rolls in Dungeon World. That added some Push Your Luck style excitement, and I’m totally going to roll with that later.
Thank you, Nora, for being my guinea pig. Next up, getting crazy with Technoir…
 Hi, Jeremy.
 Hi, Nora.
 Hi, attempt at comedy.