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How do I explain to players why there are no situational modifiers in Dungeon World? Being used to other RPGs, they would expect modifiers for performing actions in a more challenging circumstance.

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marked as duplicate by SevenSidedDie, Phil, Joshua Aslan Smith, MrJinPengyou, doppelgreener Aug 5 at 10:11

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
I nixed the first question (which already has an answer), leaving the second, novel question. Feel free to revert. –  okeefe Aug 4 at 23:16
    
I'm voting to close nevertheless; the answer is that it has different mechanisms for making things challenging, explained pretty well in the other question. I'm not sure that "My players expect {game} to have a feature from {completely different game}, how do I explain it doesn't have that feature?" are a very useful kind of question to entertain. The answer is always just "Because it's a completely different game; they shouldn't be expecting it at all." –  doppelgreener Aug 5 at 10:13
    
@doppelgreener I assume you mean "not a very useful feature". While I agree with your comment in general, specifically because DW has lots of trappings from D&D and other old school games, and it is different from other systems (of course, that's from my PoV), I would like to understand the intent of the designer. –  Extrakun Aug 5 at 10:39
    
If you just want to understand the intent of the designer, tweet Adam, Sage, or (AW's designer) Vincent Baker. If you want to understand why the game doesn't use situational modifiers, the other question answers that. If you want to know how to explain it to your players... well, first you need to understand it yourself, which is answered in the other question. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 5 at 16:50

3 Answers 3

The Apocalypse World engine basically isn't concerned with difficulty on a short term basis. Generally, the math slightly favors player characters at all levels - a 7 gets you a decent result, and 7 is the natural result you're looking at as the average of 2D6 if you have no negative modifiers.

So where does the difficulty come in?

In the shorter term, the difficulty comes in how the GM makes Soft & Hard Moves and decides to frame the players' Moves. If you want to make anything harder, it comes down to giving the players harder choices or stuff along the lines of a step or two that might require Defy Danger. ("His cover is too good. You want a shot? You're gonna have to flank him. But that means leaving your own cover to get to it...")

In the longer term, the players will face the most threats of play - dice roll after dice roll of danger. Eventually, somewhere, you fail. And then things hurt. Not just hitpoints, but gear, or social rolls, or getting split up... and those things create new problems. It won't be a single problem, it'll be a failure in a situation that creates a cascading problem.

See, when problems KEEP coming, even having a 70-80% success rate isn't "too easy", it's just a matter of time when those problems finally kick in on you. And hurt. Eventually, difficulty catches up to you.

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Well, if you really want, and it fits the story, you can apply some modifiers. That being +/- Forward, or +/- Ongoing.

That being said, Dungeon World is more general than specific. You can use the conditions to explain a "Failure" or "Partial Success."

For example, Roy the Awesome Ranger, decides he's going to fire an arrow, through a dark tunnel, at the approching light. He:

Rolls an 11. "He's on fire... or at least his arrow is, as it passes through the goblins torch and into the body of the beast."

Rolls an 8. Chooses to lose some ammo. "It was dark down that tunnel, and you couldn't see some of the outcroppings. A few arrows struck some rocks, but as the light approached, and you began to see the gleam of feral teeth shining in torchlight, your arrow found it's mark."

Rolls a 3. "Whelp... that did it... Apparently the light has decided to go away from you now... because that arrow just embedded in the scales of a nasty looking Rock Serpent that was hidden in the dark... He's uncoiling quickly, and he's coming right at you.

Then, all the little things become story more than mechanics.

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Dungeon World isn't D&D (or any other RPG)

It's just supposed to have a classic fantasy "feel" to it. I think everyone else covered things pretty well, but I think the critic thing you're missing in thinking about this is that Dungeon World rather explicitly wants failure to be interesting. Not only is that when GM moves happen, but it's also when you gain XP. Everything is tied into this idea of story, then roll, then story; which means that by adding circumstance modifiers you're actually messing with the whole system.

It's also worth noting that if the narrative suggests something should be impossible (Volleying a target through a solid wall, Hack and Slashing toe-to-to with a Tarrasque, or Defying Danger through an army focused entirely on you to reach the general) you just can't do it. This shouldn't come up often, but when it does it's critical to remember this rule. Likewise is something is unlikely to fail - especially in an interesting manner - (throwing a torch into the next room, a coup de grace against a hostage, climbing a young and sturdy tree) it should just happens; no roll required.

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In summary, instead of just making a 'mundane arrow shot', go ahead and do a awesome one since the "DC" is the same anyway? –  Extrakun Aug 5 at 10:36
    
@Extrakun No, the "DC" might be the same, but the consequences might be different. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 5 at 16:51
    
@Extrakun Depends on what you mean by "awesome". One of the major points (for many people) of RPGs is to do awesome things. But, let me put it this way. Just how boring would it be to sit there and say "I shoot an orc. I shoot an orc. I shoot an orc." Your characters in DW should be awesome! –  Wesley Obenshain Aug 5 at 19:12

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