PBTA moves capture what is fun about (A)D&D spells

edited October 2015 in Story Games
have any of you ever felt like moves have the same sort of feel as casting (A)D&D spells? I guess it's their if-then like structure.


  • No, because everyone gets to have them instead of just that one really annoying boring guy (me)
  • No really, because they activate as you roleplay to represent your actions and descriptions... not as an added special effect.
    It's like saying that when your D&D character talks to someone and the DM asks for a Charisma roll... this feels like casting a spell :P
  • If you mean the 7th level spell Vision, then yes. If you mean any other spell, then no.
  • I did not mean a one to one correspondence, and sorry if I've overstated the similarities. I just think moves capture what's fun about casting spells.

    Once they're triggered successfully, they have to be honored by the referee. It's not uncommon for them to have interesting options for the player that they would otherwise not have (in the trad games I'm used to). Sometimes they allow the player more significant control over the fiction than mere skills do. etc.
  • Now that makes a little more sense. I can kind of get on board with that!

    It's something a player can do which changes fictional circumstances in a powerful way (unlike, say, a Strength check or an attack roll).
  • Oh, in the sense that each spell is triggered by a specific fictional action ("I cast Magic Missile") and then the rules kick in? Sure, but this may be mostly because every other mechanical system in D&D (or D&D before a unified skill system, perhaps) is more like a mini-game where you play through the whole game instead of going fiction-trigger-rules-fiction.

    Combat is a little mini-game, pretty much like a wargame. Collecting XP and levelling up is a different mini-game, but still a game with definite player procedures and mechanical results. Exploration is a totally different game, much like a board game, with checking for traps and secret doors, a fixed movement rate, torches providing light for a fixed amount of time, wandering monster checks, etc. Having spells and choosing which ones you memorize is also a mini-game, but when it comes to casting them, sure, I can see how you'd play that out as fiction-trigger-discrete rules mechanics-and back to the fiction to describe the results.
  • edited October 2015
    well, it wasn't so much the fictional trigger that made me think of a comparison. At first, it was the structure of some moves and spells, which give several options to characters (or so I recollected). Thinking about it some more, though, I think it's like Paul T says: their power over the fiction.

    Like, take the cleric's Quest spell, which I think is a fun one:
    Quest (Enchantment/Charm)
    Level: 5 Components: V, S, M Range: 6" Casting Time: 8 segments Duration: Until fulfilled Saving Throw: Neg. Area of Effect: One creature
    Explanation/Description: The Quest is a spell by means of which the cleric requires the affected creature to perform a service and return to the cleric with proof that the deed was accomplished. The Quest can, for example, require the location and return of some important or valuable object, the rescue of a notable person, the release of some creature, the capture of a stronghold, the slaying of a person, the delivery of some item, and so forth. If the Quest is not properly followed due to disregard, delay, or perversion, the creature affected by the spell loses 1 from its saving throw dice for each day of such action, and this penalty will not be removed until the Quest is properly discharged or the cleric cancels it. (There are certain circumstances which will temporarily suspend a Quest, and other which will discharge or cancel it; your Dungeon Master will give you appropriate information as the need to know arises.) The material component of this spell is the cleric's religious symbol.

    I dunno, but this seems "move-like".
  • True. It's sort of like a seduce/manipulate.

    Interesting that most spells do not have a random component at all, whereas moves usually do.
  • Huh. That spell doesn't seem move-like to me at all.
  • If the entirety of your roleplaying experience consists of very traditional, D&D-like play (at least in some common play cultures), most rolls:

    * Allow the GM to tell you something or decide something. ("Hmmm, give me a Perception check...")
    * Allow you a chance to avoid a danger (often one you didn't even know about - "As you walk into the room... everyone, make a Reflex save...").
    * Give you a chance of failing at something. ("I jump onto the horse and roar threateningly at the rebels!" -"Wait a minute... let's see a Dex roll to see if you can do that.")
    * Tell you how well you did something. ("Ok, you hit him... now roll damage.")

    In almost all cases, there's fairly little fictional input going on, dice are rolled, and the GM tells you something (which, except for critical successes, is likely that you do what you were trying to do or that something bad happens to you).

    AW moves, in comparison to this, allow a character to effect a significant change on the fictional situation. There is likely a great deal of risk involved, as well, but, as the player, you know you have a good chance of changing the Situation in a major way and either resolving or initiating a significant conflict. After this roll, things will be different.

    In addition, a lot of moves give another player an important choice of some sort, initiating a back-and-forth between the players - you can agree to this, but... you can choose one of the following... and so on.

    I can see how, in a way, an AD&D spell might "feel" like a "move": you get to consistently do something which affects the Situation around you and changes things. You initiate it, you can expect significant results, and something big will happen.

    The Quest spell demands a response from the target, and gives them a weighted choice: do I go along with the spell's demands, or suffer ongoing penalties? There is no way to "nullify" this effect, like a GM who says, "Ok, you made your roll, but actually there was no trap there to begin with". It's out there and it's happening.

    If the current situation was all about convincing someone important to do something, you have just resolved a conflict. The story will now move forward.

    It's a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but I can remember some of my own experience playing in a very "traditional", GM-led style with task resolution where spells were one of the few ways players could really have an impact on things.
  • ^ Definitely this, Paul.

    Like I said, it's not like a one for one correspondence, but there is a similarity when you dig into it.

  • Isn't "I swing my sword" just as much a trigger that the DM has to honor in the fiction as casting a spell?
  • Combat is quite the same, yes, except it's not a single trigger-effect: it's a whole minigame.

    In something like AD&D, fighting people and casting spells are the only two ways players have incontrovertible power over their environment. Of the two, spells are more "move-like". (Although I'll grant this is a pretty far-stretched analogy, I can see what Dreamer is getting at, if I think back to my own rather semi-functional (at best) D&D experience.)
  • Isn't "I greet the barmaid" a trigger that the DM has to honor in the fiction of AD&D?

    Moves are just regular RPG play.
  • +1
    but with rails!
    (ducking and running)

  • edited October 2015
    I greet the barmaid, but there's usually no mechanic being triggered that guarantees me the kind of power a charm spell can get me or that a 10+ or 7-9 parley roll could.

    I do agree moves are regular rpg play as are spells in frpgs.
  • edited October 2015
  • Hmmm... both are invitations to undertake different kinds of actions. E.g. in AW the Chopper's "Fucking thieves" move — "when you have your gang search their pockets and saddlebags for something..." — is in invitation to the Chopper's player to have their gang do exactly that. E.g. the D&D spell "Unseen Servant" is an invitation to have your wizard summon a spirit servant to carry their bags.

    One difference — nearly all D&D spells let you do something that you can't already do under the rules, while many (most) *World moves provide a special rule for something you could already do under the rules. That distinction holds for the example above.
  • Paul: Okay, yeah. That makes a lot of sense.

    Like, I actually disagree with Jason, "I swing my sword" is an attack in the mini-game that is combat, but you have to do a bunch of stuff before you get there, and if you're not in a fight already, there are actually no rules for it. The GM has to decide on something, and could just say no if they want to, presumably. Maybe depends on the edition of D&D.

    To me, the triggers in moves are a way of being strict about when the rules apply, as opposed to many, many older games, especially skill-based games, that are pretty wishy-washy about when you roll dice. And so you end up rolling dice whenever the GM thinks it's appropriate, which is not always when it improves the game.
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