I am currently running a game of Dungeon World as a first-time GM.

In my party of 5 players, there is a barbarian who always rushes in to fight head-on, and also behaves very aggressively towards anything and anybody. He does a great job at roleplaying in character and IMO adds a lot to the fun we are having, as most of our players are first-timers, too. But on the other hand, we have a peaceful paladin and an also peace-loving druid; both would like to settle things differently. They are already so annoyed that they started plotting against him to lock him away and make him pause the game for a while, as they are also annoyed by him out of character (OOC).

I would really like to see them have some in-character (IC) dialog to settle things, because until now the only IC dialog happened on the few decisions they had to make. Especially the first time players are still getting used to roleplaying, and the barbarian (who is more experienced) helps a lot, so I wouldn't like him to be locked away or even killed.

Are there any good practices for encouraging IC discussion and dialog?


Note: We are now 3 evenings into the game, so its still pretty early and most of them are still getting used to playing. I wouldn't want it to end because of stuff like that, because they haven't even seen anything yet and it was a lot of fun so far.

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    Welcome to the site! Take the tour! I would recommend adding a system tag indicating what game you're playing. I know the problem seems like it would apply broadly, but there are some systems which have a built-in conflict resolution system that would be appropriate, and other systems where plotting against each other is encouraged, so answers appropriate to some systems would be very inappropriate in others. Thank you for participating and have fun. – Kamil Drakari Oct 12 at 14:32
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    Since you're playing dungeon world, I've given this that game's tag. – doppelspooker Oct 12 at 14:37
up vote 2 down vote accepted

IC actions proceed from OOC attitudes

It seems that your Barbarian player is playing one style of game, but the other two want to play another. Honestly, your first step is to get everyone on the same page regarding what type of game this is. From the sound of it, your Barbarian player wants a hack-and-slash adventure, and your other two want more of a social or cleverness-based game. Both styles are fine, but the important thing is that everyone is playing based on the same core assumptions, and that is an OOC function first.

Did you run a 'Game 0' where you agreed on a playstyle with your players, created characters designed in backstory to work together, and explicitly agreed on any houserules and conflict resolution strategy? If not, then I suggest pulling the players aside for an OOC session to discuss what you are all looking for. (Even if you did such a game 0, it's not a bad thing to do a pulse check to correct course)

If your Barbarian player is more experienced, then getting him on board with improving the health of the game will be crucial.

Every player says 'what would My Guy do?' but if what "My Guy" would do causes OOC player friction, then it's "My Guy" that needs to bend and adjust to benefit the game, not the rest of the game that needs to bend and adjust to him. The Barbarian could always be eager to rush in, weapons swinging, but it wouldn't hurt the player to give the other two PCs a chance to step in and calm him down sometimes to allow them to use diplomacy or find a clever solution rather than a violent one.

It also wouldn't hurt the other players to step up and IC express their concern for how hair-trigger violent the Barbarian is, and try to temper his temper (so to speak) for his own good, without resorting to a PVP solution and causing OOC drama. As long as the Barbarian can be allowed to cut loose from time to time, maybe when diplomacy fails, or when rage gets the better of him due to taunting or mockery, then everyone can find a balance that works for them.

A Barbarian that 100% of the time can be counted on to flip his $#!* at every opportunity becomes a one trick pony (and can be goaded by enemies into doing something disastrous). It's also frustrating for the other players, and I hope your Barbarian player doesn't want to do that.

I think you're going to have to accept that you need to combine an OOC discussion with an IC solution to the problem without coming down on anyone as 'the bad guy' for trying to have fun.

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    I like the idea of making the barbarian give the others a canche to calm him down. It's something i can do without telling my players how to play. I will additionally make a Session 0, but out of personal taste i dont want to "tell them how to play". Setting a general direction of the game is a good idea anyways, so i'll do that first. Thank you. – WhiteMaple Oct 12 at 14:51
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    This answer sounds like you haven’t played/read the game involved. The answer doesn’t mention any of the tools Dungeon World already has built-in for such problems, and asking about “session zero” indicates unfamiliarity with how DW first sessions are designed to work. This would be improved by including the obvious DW GM mechanics that will have to be involved, and rephrasing the first couple of paragraphs to be relevant to a properly-started DW campaign. (Perhaps the campaign involved wasn’t properly started; an answer should help the GM diagnose that too.) – SevenSidedDie Oct 12 at 14:59
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    @WhiteMaple It's often considered good practice at Stack Exchange sites to wait at least a full day before accepting any answer (unless you are 100% satisfied and don't want more answers), because having accepted answer may reduce the likelyhood of getting other answers. On a related note, it's not bad form to change the accepted answer, if you start thinking another answer is better in your opinion. – WakiNadiVellir Oct 12 at 19:22

This is advice for games that are played in person or in a largely synchronous setting like a chat. If you're playing by forum a lot of it won't work well just from your end, and you'll need to establish an alternate gameflow by sharing your players' concerns with each other up front.

The hot-headed fight-happy guy who has to be restrained by the better angels among his companions is a reasonable character to want to play, and you can make it work, but not accidentally.

Nothing happens unless you let it.

Dungeon World is a conversation. When you're having a conversation about where to get dinner and somebody shouts "Jack in the Box!" you don't all just immediately go to Jack in the Box because it's the first thing somebody said, do you? You let everyone talk about where they want to go and make a decision together after hearing what everybody has to say.

In much the same way, when you're describing a tavern scene and mention a cloaked figure, and Grognak's player screams "GROGNAK SMASH!" and pitches some dice, that doesn't actually mean that Leafwillow and Sir Justice have to stand there poleaxed while Grognak smashes through three poker games and a marriage proposal to get at the cloaked figure. You're the GM. You control the universe. Nothing is going to happen until you say it does, and that means that you can take Grognak's input without saying what comes of it, and then turn to Leafwillow and Sir Justice and let them have their say.

How To Stop A Fight

Dungeon World has no concept of initiative order or equal goes. People take actions and get the opportunity to take actions as it is dramatically appropriate.

So, when Sir Justice stands in defence of the tavern patrons and rolls Defend, and when Leafwillow frantically grabs at Grognak to hold him back and rolls Interfere, this doesn't "use up their actions". It's not "Grognak's turn" again. You get to decide how the tavern reacts and who gets the spotlight as a result of it. "I'm going to let go" could turn out to be excellent leverage for Leafwillow to Parley, for example.

This is the usual flow of running Dungeon World, by the way. Everyone entangled in a dramatic situation, and you pick one person at a time to talk to and make some progress on their corner of it. For those times when you're just describing the world and not necessarily looking at anyone for an answer, you're not obligated to humor the first person to speak up - you weren't talking to anybody, so you can wait to hear from everybody.

It Revolves On This

But, again, while "the hothead who needs other people to hold them back" is a fine character concept, it's not one you can play accidentally. If Grognak is fine with being dramatically violent and Leafwillow and Sir Justice are fine with dramatically getting in his way, and letting the fall of the dice influence who wins out at one time or another, that's great. Just actually be sure everybody's fine with that, preferably by asking directly.

It's not really going to work out well in the long run if any of them think they can somehow sneak violence or peace without anyone being aware, talking openly in front of each other to the person who controls the universe. Anymore than you're going to keep having dinner with someone who ignores what everybody said and drives to Jack in the Box anyway.

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    Thanks for the answer, i will try to keep that in mind. Like i said, i'm new to GMing, i guess i still have to get used to how much control i have. – WhiteMaple Oct 12 at 17:27
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    Hmm. Right, I needed to consider that. I've added a little bit of something to clarify that you don't always need to wait to hear from everybody all the time. – Glazius Oct 13 at 0:59

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