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this is an embarrassingly small question, but it's bugging me and my troupe greatly. The short form of the question is, "Can a player choose MORE THAN ONE item from a list of items on their DW character sheet as starting gear?" In DW, your character sheet offers starting equipment options for each class. Sometimes, it's clear that the character just gets the indicated item (e.g., the cleric automatically gets dungeon rations, and there's no choosing involved). Sometimes it is clear that the character must choose one, and only one, item from a list (e.g., the bard may choose ONE instrument from the list of instrument options, and the bard may also choose ONE of the following items from a list of four options: adventuring gear OR bandages OR halfling pipeleaf OR three coins). In cases like this, the language is clear: "Choose one" means that no matter how long the list is, you can only choose one of those items.

Where my troupe runs into problems is when the starting gear options for a given character are vaguely defined. For instance, the druid should "Choose your defenses: A) Hide Armor B) Wooden Shield." Some in my troupe say this means "Chose ONE of these two defensive options, EITHER the armor OR the shield." Others in the troupe argue that the sentence does NOT limit the choice, so they should be free to choose BOTH the armor AND the shield as long as they are aware that their weight load will be affected by that choice. But then other troup members point to situations such as the druid's choice of weapons: "Choose your armament: A) Shillelagh, B) Staff, C) Spear." Could a druid then choose TWO of these items? All three? Or just one?

In the case of the druid's weapon, this is largely an irrelevant decision, as practical concerns limit the choices here. One can't reasonably carry a shillelagh, a staff, and a spear all at the same time without the task of carrying the items becoming burdensome and awkward, and one can't USE two of these items together at the same time, so my players will typically choose just one weapon in such a case. But other cases are NOT so straightforward, such as when it would make GOOD SENSE for a druid to choose to take BOTH hide armor AND a shield. The same issue comes up with the cleric, who can "Choose your defenses: A) Chainmail, B) Shield." It's hard to imagine a character going into battle with ONLY a shield, especially not a traditionally armored character like the cleric. The wizard faces a similar choice: "Choose your defenses: A) Leather Armor, B) Bag of Books and 3 Healing Potions."

Perhaps my troupe is just hung up on words, as the only time this really becomes an issue is when the "Choose your defenseS" option comes up, using the plural of "defense." A similar situation occurs with "Choose your armS" (plural) instead of "Choose your weapon" (singular) In the example of character creation given in the DW rule book, they create a wizard who must CHOOSE BETWEEN leather armor OR the books and healing potions. So in short, when there is a list of items to choose from on a DW character sheet as starting equipment, are we supposed to assume in every case that the sheet SHOULD read, "Choose ONE of the following defenses/arms/weapon sets/etc."?

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You choose only one of the options. This isn't actually ambiguous in English—choosing from a lettered list is a convention that always means "or" except when specifically stated that more than one can be chosen.

The ses in the words like arms or defences do not indicate anything to the contrary — that's another feature of English that's potentially confusing, but also unambiguous. In English, the s can mean either a word that's grammatically plural or grammatically categorical. Categoricals are words that indicate represent kind without meaning singular or plural. You would not say “choose your defence” or “choose your arm” — at least, not without being grammatically incorrect. For those uses, the categorical must be used, and the categorical is formed the same as the plural — but does not mean plural.

So the Druid must choose either Hide Armour or a Wooden Shield but not both, and similarly for the other classes with these choices.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not so sure that ordered lists always indicate "choose one". They do in tests, where you're most likely to see this sort of choice, but those tests also specify to chose only one. The ordering can be there just for easier reference. \$\endgroup\$ – Epsilon Rose Oct 15 '15 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Can you provide a source for that, because as a native English speaker that doesn't sound correct to me.I can very easily say "I choose A and B." \$\endgroup\$ – Epsilon Rose Oct 15 '15 at 18:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. it is. You could choose to take only one, two, or even none. Or you could choose to take all. \$\endgroup\$ – Patta Oct 15 '15 at 18:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I read "Choose: a/b/c" as "Pick one" unless otherwise specified. And @Patta, maybe it would be if the choices weren't all strictly beneficial or countered each other in some way. \$\endgroup\$ – firedraco Oct 15 '15 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am bewildered as to why the developers wouldn't, instead, just write Pick one defense and Pick one weapon and, ideally, add to each from the list below to headoff smartasses. But, then again, I've written a lot of tests. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 15 '15 at 19:34
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The Bard's options strongly suggest that "choose one" is implicit:

Choose your armament:

  • Dueling rapier (close, precise, 2 weight)

  • Worn bow (near, 2 weight), bundle of arrows (3 ammo, 1 weight) and short sword (close, 1 weight)

If it meant "pick as many as you want," the short sword would be its own bullet.

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Unless it reads 'Choose one' you can choose multiple or all, but you probably won't due to carry weight.


I am learning that the DW rule paradigm is "If we didn't write it RAW, it's up to you and your players to play to find out." However, playing to find out, isn't clearly applicable to something like character creation. We can still consider other parts of the system and remember to include the fiction in making these decisions on what makes sense.


What the rulebook has to say

Each class has choices to make for starting gear. Keep your load in mind—it limits how much you can easily carry. Make sure to total up your armor and note it on your character sheet.

Mentions load and also mentions totaling up your armor when considering load, this could be read to mean that a character could have multiple pieces of armor. However, the italicized fiction example immediately following makes it seem that each of the choices made by Avon were made with mutually exclusive options.

I’m worried about my HP, so I take armor over books. A dagger sounds about right for rituals; I choose that over a staff. It’s a toss-up between the healing potion and the antitoxin, but healing wins out. I also end up with some rations.


My Case

This fiction example is not enough to convince me that all gear choices are "choose one from the list", and the Gear sections for each class are structured in a way that I read as allowing characters to select multiple where not explicitly prohibited by a "Choose one."

The carry weight system in DW restrictive enough that the additional carry weight of picking multiple armor or weapon options would seriously cut into ability to carry extra rations, equipment and, importantly, loot. This limitation should disincentive enough for most players to take only one of the options from each list, even if they could choose more. Thus, the result of gear selection is expected, but not limited to, one from each category. Reinforcing this line of thinking, the choices listed under the explicit "choose one" list for each class are items, or combinations of items, that would clearly be worth their carry weight penalty to take.

A Druid could take every possible weapon and armor starting out, take one of the 0 weight "choose one" options and, with 14+ Strength, not be over-encumbered. As soon as its time to pick up the magical rucksack of destiny (2 weight) on their first quest, however, they'll be facing some serious problems. I would also expect the GM and other players to make sure this PC was following their own fiction and backstory. No child of the peaceful deep forest setting out into the world is going to be heavily laden down with weapons and armor, but a fierce veteran of the druid/orc clashes on the outskirts of the eastern woodlands may have cause to be a bit more equipped for battle. Additionally, a player would have to justify why they carried a spear and a staff, which would be both awkward to manage and redundant in most functionality.

There are softer restrictions against and clear weight trade-offs attached to taking more than one item from the armor or weapons lists in the gear choice part of character creation. This, in my mind, fits with the Dungeon World style of not saying "no", but instead providing the player with choices and trade-offs. Additionally, the explicitly labelled "choose one" section indicates that the other sections are not under similar constraints.

A follow up question could be: "Can I chose none?" I would say yes, except for the choose one section.


Regarding other answers

Since I am necro-answering this question and disagreeing with both established answers, this is a small section addressing each of those answers. My answer up to this point could stand on its own, this is more of an appendix.

In regards to @SevenSidedDie's answer, I agree with the English lesson, but disagree with the idea that the format implicitly restricts players to one choice. Furthermore, I see the explicit labelling of one sections as "choose one" to be evidence that the other sections are not under the same constraints.

In response @Russell Borogrove's answer, which posits that the bundling of a short sword and a bow in the Bard's gear selection, instead of having the rapier, bow and short sword as separate choices shows that a player may only pick one. Dungeon world is not presenting individual weapon choice, I agree, but this does not convince me that a player cannot choose multiple options. It simply adds a soft fiction impediment to having both the bow and the rapier (that being, "please justify why a bard has a short sword and a rapier"). Additionally the rules never offer a ranged weapon without bundling a close weapon with it. I agree that the RAW encourage and expect players to only choose one weapon/bundle, but disagree that they set a hard limit, except where clearly stated.

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