Do you have a question for The Angry GM! Well, because people can’t get it right, I had to set up a separate page with instructions. About how to send a f$&%ing e-mail. Ready How to Ask Angry to learn how to submit a question.
Dillon, a Son of a Bitch asks,
What if, either because they guessed it or are just joking about it, your players talk about an upcoming plot line, twist, scenario, etc. long before you’ve reached that point? Do you keep on course? Do you try and change it into something unexpected?
Let me answer your question with a question. Imagine you’re filling out a sudoku puzzle in a magazine. And the creator of the puzzle is watching you through binoculars. I know that’s creepy. It’s just hypothetical. And he realizes you’re on track to solve the puzzle very easily. You’re just flying along. So, he suddenly runs in, slaps your hand away, changes a few of the numbers in the puzzle, punches you in the throat, and runs away.
I think you see what I’m getting at. It doesn’t matter how far in advance the players see it coming. It doesn’t matter if they see it because of a joke or because they really figured it out. When the twist comes up and it’s exactly what they anticipated, that feels like a victory. Because THEY figured it out (or stumbled into it because it’s a good punch line).
I can throw out a thousand other analogies, but don’t do this. They didn’t RUIN the surprise for themselves, they WON. To players, WINNING is better than BEING SURPRISED. That’s why it’s a GAME.
I’ve been reading up on Dungeon World combat and its narrative flow seems really appealing. So much so that I’d like to home brew a system that retains the PCs abilities but allows me to narrate D&D combat in dungeon world style. What I’m worried about is breaking the balance and either making things too hard or too easy. My initial guess is to map a roll of 10-15 into the dungeon world 7-9 range. >15 the PC succeeds in its attack or defense. 10-15 the player succeeds with complication.
Do you think this would work? Is there a better method?
Yes. There is a better method. It’s called JUST PLAY DUNGEON WORLD. I mean, at a certain point, you’re just being sort of bullheaded. If you like what Dungeon World does, play Dungeon World. If you like D&D, play D&D. But the thing is, they don’t work well together. And here’s why.
Every move in Dungeon World is designed with the in-inbuilt assumption that the action is risky or costly and the dice will determine whether you get what you wanted or you pay for it. That’s the balancing factor. You can make this attack, but you’re going to expose yourself to damage. You can cast this spell, but there’s a chance it’ll cause you a problem later. You can try to recall lore about this monster, but if you do, you could end up getting hurt. Notice how DW doesn’t have any limited resources. Even the “Vancian” thing of “forgetting spells” is keyed off of failing on actions.
D&D is built more directly on a resource expenditure approach. Taking an action generally can’t hurt you, but you always expend a resource. You use an action in combat. You use up time. You use up ammunition. You use up supplies. You use up a spell slot. Whatever. No matter what happens, the action will cost you something and the only thing the dice determine is whether you wasted the resources or got what you wanted. Thus, all abilities are balanced based on the types of resources they use. This requires an action. That requires a bonus action. This weapon requires two hands. That spell requires a fifth level spell slot. This thing can only be used once between rests. And so on. You always know what the downside is in D&D, that is to say, you know what you have to pay. But there’s all sorts of different types of resources built into the game.
The point is, it’s not just the dice rolling system that makes it work. It’s also the structure of the moves and the GM countermoves. If you want to try to Frankenstein them together, go to town. But it’s not something I would do. In the end, the games give very different experiences and there’s major differences in how the games are structured on a narrative level.
But if you try it anyway, good luck! I hope it succeeds! Because f$&%ing around and experimenting is important. Don’t let me dissuade you. It’s just that you’re wandering off the map and into “here there be dragons” territory in my book.
In the past you’ve denigrated re-skinning monsters. I was curious how you feel about “re-skinning” in that a monster retains its basic “ecological” position, but undergoes a cosmetic change.
Example, in a setting using Anthropomorphic races in place of standard D&D races, I wanted to change the various goblin races (Goblin, Hobgoblin, Bugbear) to an animal race. I even had a mind to make Orcs into a Badger race!
Do you think this would be a useful conservation of work, or just a lazy short cut?
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: you don’t need my permission to run your game any wrong way you want. I literally do not give a s$&% what you do. And I’m not going to steal your DM screen and kick you out of the International Secret Game Master Cabal if you don’t do the things I tell you to do. And you don’t need my approval or even my respect. It’s your game. Do your thing.
And if all you want from me is validation, then you don’t have it. But you don’t need it. My validation is worthless. Everyone’s validation is worthless. Only your validation matters and you should get over that.
But if you want my genuine opinion, read on. If you can handle it. But you might not like it.
Reskinning, to me, seems like an utter waste of potential. Especially here. It seems like you have a particular vision of a world in mind. And that’s really cool. GMs should have visions. It’s much more fun to run a world that comes from your heart and soul. But, me, personally? I’d feel a little unsatisfied with taking a cool vision and then just treating it like a coat of paint to be slapped over existing content.
Take badgers, for example. Badgers are fascinating animals. I mean, I’ll hand it to you, the orcs “Aggressive” ability actually does mirror a badger’s ability to cover distance in short bursts very quickly. But badgers also burrow. And they can lock their jaws in a vice grip. And some can spray a stinging, stinky musk in defense. Hell, a five minute read of the Wikipedia page also reveals medieval legends about badgers teaming up to dig complex burrows using tools. Charging is the least interesting thing that badgers can do. And, on top of that, there’s the famous honey badger vs. snake thing. Does your world have snake people? How do they interact?
You see, that’s where my objection to reskinning really comes from. I look at the idea of badger people and say “I don’t know much about badgers, let me check that out” and I discover clamping jaws and anal stink and legends about badger miners. And that s$&% gets me excited. I’m like “my world needs badger people.” And then someone turns around and says “well, I just used orc stats,” and I die a little inside.
Look, I know making original stuff is a lot of work and I know people don’t always have the time. I’ve taken my shortcuts too. Because I am busy as hell and don’t have the time to do all of the crap I want to do and realize all the visions and still work and maintain a living space and poop and do all the things I have to do in a day and have time to run games and maintain a website. I get all that. And if that’s ultimately your situation, do what you gotta do. Because you have to be practical first. It doesn’t work any other way.
So, really, my disdain for reskinning comes first and foremost from my irrational belief that you – whoever you are – can do better.
“For of all sad words of tongue or pen;
The saddest are these: ‘it might have been!’”
– Maud Muller by John Greenleaf Whittier.