Arcane Art

When you weave a performance into a basic spell, choose an ally and an effect.... (DW p.82, Bard Starting Moves)

Since a bard doesn't have spells, must the bard take Cast a Spell from another class (from their Multiclass Dabbler/Initiate) in order to even have spells to which Arcane Art would add effects?


I think the crux of this issue is the ambiguous grammar of the clause

weave a performance into a basic spell

I can see two interpretations of this fragment.

  • "I have a performance, and a basic spell, and I'm weaving them together".
  • "I have a performance, and I'm weaving together different pieces of the performance to create a basic spell".

I think you're using the first interpretation, based on your phrase "have spells to which Arcane Art would add effects". However, I think the second interpretation is the one intended by the authors, as it feels like it clicks better with the feel of the rest of the system.

Based on the second interpretation, I'd say it definitively doesn't require any multi-classing. This ability to turn music into magic distinguishes a true Bard from a mere minstrel.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Like "weaving reeds into a basket". You don't have a basket to start with. You weave the reeds to create a basket. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adeptus
    Aug 19 '16 at 3:59


This is one of those situations where the blurry line between proscriptive and descriptive can trip you up. The trick is to remember that you have that move.

It's not saying that if you do A then you, by dint of being a bard, can add on effect B.

It's saying that when you do A, because you are a bard, you also create effect B.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think most people have a hard time wrapping their head around how DW works because things like "choose an ally and an effect..." feel so different than what we're used to. I think this answer could be greatly improved by explaining why letting the bard create the spell and choose the effect isn't wrong and won't lead to cheating, metagaming, "cheese," etc. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19 '16 at 1:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude Hmm... I think you're right and have tried three separate times to rewrite it. It ends up being a jumbled mess each time, though. Any chance you want to take a stab at it? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Aug 21 '16 at 0:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm afraid I'm not well-versed enough in PbtA games to improve the answer much. I fear it would be as you said, a jumbled mess. However, I asked this question a while back which I think might help point someone in the right direction. The gist of it is that there are other checks and balances (namely, GM moves) that prevent the bard from making a spell too "powerful" and due to the way the game works, there is no such thing as "too powerful" if the rules are being correctly applied. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 22 '16 at 20:00

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