System for GM-controlled play

Just wanted to dump this brainstorm out before I forget.

Imagine a PbtA-style roll. 2d6, modified by stats, 3 tiers of results. Different moves employ different stats.

Now imagine the tiers of results are defined like this:

High tier: Player gets to ask the GM questions they want answers to. This can be information the character seeks, or player hopes for how events will unfold. "Where are the exits?" might be a good question for one move, while "Do I knock him out?" might be a good question for another move. Answers are GM discretion, but err on the side of good for the players.

Low tier: GM resolves what's obviously at stake as they see fit. Outcomes are GM discretion, but err on the side of bad for the players. Additionally, the GM asks the player leading questions about ultimate negative effects of the outcome. E.g., "You get punched hard; does this more injure you or disorient you?" or "You get punched hard; how exactly does this disorient you?"

Middle tier: Player asks the GM some questions from the high tier, GM asks the player some questions rom the low tier, GM arbitration of what happens errs on the side of (what they see as) likelihood.

Okay, dump finished. More later...


  • This is pretty interesting, Dave. It's a way to inject colour into resolution, while leaving the details up to the GM. Something like "Do I knock him out?" doesn't tell us what happens, but it very, very strongly implies that the character has hit someone, and hard.

    I've thrown together a handful of similar mechanics in the past (including some I sent you years back). It would be fun to see one "come to fruition"! I'd love to see you take this to its logical conclusion.

    One possible issue: I'm not sure a "move-based" design is right for "GM-controlled-play", where occasionally it might be more useful for the GM to be able to decide when dice are rolled and what's at stake. (Moves, after all, tend to show us ahead of time what expectations we should have for future outcomes based on fictional detail; might this harm the GM's ability to create surprises for the players in this style?) But maybe you have a clever way of formulating the "moves" which obviates that.
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