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Does support a play style1 where players carefully prepare for an encounter by manipulating the circumstances to their advantage, think of strategies for a large battle, and go on a quest to research a spell? Or does the GM agent item "Fill the characters’ lives with adventure" conflict with this style?

A classic example2 of preparing for an encounter and manipulating the circumstance is:

  1. the characters need to face a group of goblins/orcs/… (probably to retrieve some item);
  2. the characters are aware of a group of owlbears nearby that they probably have to face as well;
  3. the characters decide to lure the owlbears into the first encounter to form a distraction and thus be able to retrieve the item without facing the enemies directly;
  4. the characters research owlbears and discover that owlbears like honey;
  5. the players buy large quantities of honey; and
  6. they put their plan into motion.

I'm afraid that especially item #5 (and to some extend #3, #4, #6) may conflict with the dungeon style of play. Buying large quantities of honey is not adventurous – we may even consider it boring. So if the players play out the act of buying honey and they look to the GM for what happens next. The GM is obliged by the agenda to fill the lives of the characters with adventure, thus:

  • The shopkeeper is a doppelganger; he jumps over the counter, his claws grabbing for your throat

Is more in accordance to the GM agenda than

  • The honey costs x; continue with your creative plan.

Is it possible to avoid dragging down every plan of the players/characters with unexpected 'adventure'/complication? Is it possible that some plans/actions just work? Is it desirable to sometime have things work without complication3 or would this destroy the spirit of ?


1 For this question I assume this play style is chosen by the players; in reality things may be more complex since there will be no direct interaction between the GM and the player since I'm attempting a cRPG/interactive story telling game (definitively not intended as a point and click hack and slash).

2 I remembered the telling of the encounter somewhat differently than the forum post at enworld.org, below is how I remembered it. Thanks Steve V. for the comment with the link.

3 Of course occasionally even a great plan can fail for a stupid reason such as that the town's honey vendor can't sell any honey; because his basement is infested with monstrous spiders.

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There's "Filling the characters' lives with adventure" and then there's "Can't walk down the street without a fight." If everything you do involves danger and violence, it actually reduces the impact on the players of the things that are important.

So, yes, things that aren't in themselves terribly interesting, but make other things more interesting should be allowed to just happen. That assumes, of course, that the players' ideas make sense at a basic level, or they'll cause an entertaining disaster later.

The DW rules have the Supply move, which doesn't require a roll if you just want something that's readily available locally (DW p. 79). If it isn't, roll +CHA, on 10+ you can get it anyway, on 7-9, you need to pay more, or settle for something similar, and on a 6− the GM gets to say what happens (which means making a GM move).

The DW rules don't say that filling characters' lives with adventure doesn't involve fights at every turn in the road, but the ideas of campaign design with Fronts (DW p. 185–203) are about having some structure and meaning to encounters, and having plenty of foreshadowing and drama. Random fights don't really fit that model.

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One way this can play out in Dungeon World:

Wizard: I did some research on Bugbears before we left, I think I recall a way we can manipulate them.

GM: Sure, roll Spout Lore. Okay, 9,...well, you know that bugbears really like honey.

Thief: Thankfully Wizard and I spoke about this earlier, so I prepared for this. I have some honey in my adventuring gear.

GM: Okay, mark off one use of your gear.

Here we conveniently backdate the preparation to before we left, eliminating the awkwardness of attempting to 'pause' the current danger and go back to town to prepare.

Speaking more generally, long-term planning can be a real challenge, in that players often get caught up in 'planning paralysis'. As the players get used to the system, though, they start to realize that they don't need to plan out every detail, since a lot can be improvised on the spot. Since long-term plans don't need to be super concrete, they don't require as much time to prepare and so and there's less conflict with the Think Dangerous principle.

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