Intent and Task Discussion

Split Thread, baby!

Yeah, maybe. But players use often use plain language – even in the examples in the books! I deliberately wrote my example with the player (that’s me!) skewing a bit toward plain language for that reason. In a moment, you’ll talk about the GM maybe being off or distracted – human – but players have that pesky human element too. It seems right to extend the sympathy we’ll give the GM to the player as well.

I think the spirit of Let it Ride would suggest that this be accomplished by one roll (as would the text, “Tests must be distilled down to as few rolls as possible.”) This also seems like the links are happening at the same time, or maybe I’m just struggling with him while the ritual is happening, and then the effort to subdue him comes later?

Anyway, laying that aside, I think the bigger topic is Burning Wheel’s freeform Intent setting mechanic. So, you might say, “That sounds like two tasks to me, one to prevent interference and one to stop interference.” Then I might say, “Well let’s make it one Intent; my intent is to prevent him from interfering and to subdue him.” We can take a look at the example from the Seperate Intent and Task heading from the Codex pg 117: The intent is to draw blame to an enemy for the duchess’s murder, the task is her clandestine murder by stiletto. Here we have a task… That does something – murder the duchess. You might say that’s two intents, and I might just say my intent includes two things. You seem open to the idea that an Intent can include two things later on, so that’s good.

But… There’s a problem. Because seemingly we’re setting a precedent that the Task described by the player carries no in-game weight, we can’t just look at my Task and draw reasonable inferrences about what my success means to the world of the game. And so now, since my Intent is seemingly the only thing my GM cares about, I feel like I have to put everything in my Intent. “My intent is to subdue him and stop him from interfering with the ritual and not get hurt by him in the process and prevent him from calling out…” It seems like I now have to account for every concievable unenumerated factor in the scenario because my GM will take away from me anything I don’t put in there… Kind of as though I failed the test, frankly.

Honestly, what I’m taking from this thread (or the parent one, heh), is that we GMs could afford to honor our players Tasks more.



When we go to rolling dice in Burning Wheel we pause. We bicker and argue. We cadge for dice and we set the lines on Intent.

As GM I try and do two things: I describe what failure will look like and I make certain what success will look like. I also adjudicate the ability to be tested, Help, and FoRKs.

As a player I do my own things: I try and make sure my Intent is clear, I aim to ensure my Task is adequate to it, and if I feel the GM’s failure consequence is too kind I warn them (or if it’s a little inappropriate or could be done easier: I had a GM go into a complicated penalty for failing a Resources roll and asked them to just Tax me like the rules say instead, and they agreed that that would be basically the same without extra steps). I then try and convince the GM that the abilities I am good at are the right ones for the Task, and that my ally’s exponent 5 abilities are also appropriate, without being stupid or unreasonable about it.

But we always try and pause. I really threw my group one time when I didn’t, actually. The GM announced an Ob 5 test and I basically yelled “yippee” with 4 dice and chalked up a Challenging. They all paused shocked when I failed, and it wasn’t until a bit later we all understood what had happened. It also caused some other issues: I’d thought the test was for the whole fight but it was actually for a small part of the fight, and we should have definitely paused but I just wanted that advancement bump so bad.

I think you’re correct but not necessarily. I think it “can” he accomplished in one Test, but that doesn’t mean it has to be, and it doesn’t mean that it always would be. In your example, I’d definitely be wanting to carve battle lines and make them as clear as possible. If this Ritual is super important and easy to disrupt, then I’d be drawing out how it can be disrupted, how this cultist is disrupting it, and how you are stopping them.

I might want to look at using Fight! for example. Or I might say that the difficulty isn’t subduing the cultist, it’s getting to them before they get to the Ritual (Speed Vs). If the Ritual is going to be rolled afterwards, I might consider breaking it up to a Speed Test to get to the Cultist before they disrupt the propitations and then a Brawling test to subdue them and capture them, both Linked to the Ritual but having their own failure consequences (increased ritual cost by disrupting preparations, cultist escaping after being prevented from ruining the ritual).

On the other hand, I might just Say Yes, especially if I want the cultist to be able to try and run away this scene with information on what’s happened. If you haven’t rolled, your Intent isn’t sacrosanct.

Screen time is fluid: in the Coffee Game we spent 3 hours on the particulars of how the party were renovating an establishment and encouraging locals to partake of coffee there whilst discussing philosophy and doctrine, involving Coffee-wise, Circles, Resources and Estate Management (and possibly more), but when there was a fight threatened it was a five minute description in the lead-up and then a single Firearms test. Travelling is broken up by descriptions of small encounters on the way, meant to challenge odd beliefs and add light; the well-worn paths and hired guides mean that the journey itself is Said Yes to.
In Channeling Wheel, fights are given room to breathe, often threatening to become Fight!s, and travel begins with descriptions of the harshness of the Forest and ends with a (usually quite difficult) test, with the interim only being expanded on, usually, as the result of failed tests or as embellished things avoided with successful ones.


My example was set in the discussion concerning whether a GM could undermine, subvert, invalidate, alter, or change a successful player’s Task. The example is about getting us to that point. So, in fairness, in my example, you already did. And you decided that my Intent and Task was good as is, and that a Vs Power test would be the mechanic we used to resolve it. Now I’ve succeeded. The spin-off discussion around other mechanics and establishing Intent and Task is great, but it is spun-off, heh.

That’s all great, and I’m sure we’re on the same page on these general terms. But my quoted text isn’t about general techniques like breaking out a conflict, or the GM using new or established fiction to determine an obstacle (You’re across the room; Test speed to see if you can get to him in time!). I’m talking about the concrete application of, “In order to subdue him and prevent him from interfering, you’ll have to make a test to beat him in a contest of wrestling, then make a test to beat him in a contest of wrestling again, but with a different ability so that we skirt Let it Ride by the narrowest margin.”

I’m not even really saying that it’s a rules violation (though if ever there was a series of test to distill down to as few rolls as possible…); I just find it very aesthetically unpleasing.

In this example, me too. Brawling is the skill for applying your Power to someone to subdue or wrestle them in a skilled manner. I wouldn’t separate out Brawling and Power in an example like this*

In this example, where the roll has happened, if I really wanted the Cultist to escape (or have a good chance to escape) and you’d succeeded on the stated Intent. I think we’re agreeing loudly mostly, but it’s Christmas and I feel like agreeing loudly about Burning Wheel.

Then I likely would try and claim that the situation had meaningfully changed when the ritual completed. I would draw attention to the clear differences in the scene before and afterwards, and the clear difference in the Intent of the NPC, and in fact your Intent, now that the Ritual has changed the world. I imagine you’d lobby for your Intent and Task being sacrosanct according to Let It Ride, and I’d either agree, introduce a new complication to the scene so it looks even more like LiR can stop applying, or reach a different compromise; I’d expect you to lobby for Advantage for having subdued him already.

*If I really really wanted him to have a chance to escape and to separate Brawling and Power, then I’d narrate a dark portal opening up where the cultist is and him being sucked through bodily by an immense magical strength. That’d be a Power test with LiR definitely not applying, after a Brawling test, with a very similar Intent and Task overlap.

Absolutely. In real table situations we don’t always adhere to best practices or even always strictly follow play procedures, I’ve been in a number of games where in the moment we go right for the dice, forget to explicitly state intent, and/or the GM forgets to actually think of the failure consequence before the roll. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect at the table. When I speak of best practices, I speak of ways that we can all contribute to the game running smoothly and keep us on track for those procedures.

A player asking “Wait what happens if I fail?” if the GM hasn’t stated it, likewise the GM asking for intent before announcing difficulty/attribute to be used even if they think they understand from context, are both part of those best practices.

And this might best describe your example from my view. I don’t think it is wrong by the rules, I just think that “Describe your task creatively to get extra bonus effects off one intent” is not the ideal form of communication for Burning Wheel. I think one of the core benefits of intent and task is that it forces the players to say explicitly what they want and avoids the cagey-ness of players trying to hide what they are trying to do from the GM. Burying extra intents in the task “I also want him subdued even after the ritual is over”, gets too close to that for my taste. In the spirit of being generous to the player, that might not be what they were trying to do, it might have just been “I want to stop him!” → Cool description of task → “Wait shouldn’t it follow that I still have him subdued? He shouldn’t get away!”, no bad intention involved.

But I would not call that best practice, nor would i want to encourage any new Burning Wheel players that this is “Secret BW lifehack to get more out of your tests!” or anything of that nature.

As for if that is a good linked test or not… I completely understand where you are coming from, it was presented as one of three options, and there are probably more I didn’t think of. I believe there are SOME fictional situations where it does make sense to get that nitty gritty, but in general it probably is a situation where the test should be condensed.


Oh no! And here I am about to fuck it all up!

Merry Christmas, by the way!

Okay… Why, Why?

And also, how? Wait a minute, this is my example! How does my friend baptising this pagan’s child meaningfully change his ability to get out of my grasp? (You don’t actually have to answer this part, I was just having fun with how people were building on my example, and wanted the use the “Wait a minute,” line.)

Why is the honest question.

Why work so hard against Let it Ride? How does contriving a new bit of fiction to give me the chance to lose again make your game better? If nothing else, why not ask me, “The ritual is complete, you’ve got this defeated, sobbing father in your arms – but his son gets to go to heaven, good job :smiling_imp: – what do you do with him?” Why wasn’t that on your list? Maybe I’ll want to kill him, and you can call for a Steel test. Maybe I’ll want to convince him to be baptised so he can join his son in the afterlife, abd you can call for a… I don’t know, man that’s some rough stuff to think about. Maybe I’ll want to… Let him go, because I don’t need to restrain him anymore.

:smiley: Is this how you read my post?

I feel like there’s some presumed malfeasance on the behalf of players and that that is getting projected onto me, like I’m trying to encourage players to swindle the GM and other players, and I’m not. I just don’t believe that the only place for meaningful narrative effect of a player’s actions is in their Intent.

Can we communicate in good faith?


Because I wanted the Cultist to escape, or have a chance to, and in the heat of the moment I missed the bit of your Intent that was implied. “Because I want to” and “because as many times as I learn how important it is to let you kill my darlings and put yours in the crosshairs, i find it difficult.”


It appears that you have activated my trap card. “I agree” with an unfortunately only implied, “what’s next?”

Discovered Check. Or “You activated my trap card.”

I’m afraid I still agree with everything you’ve said:
Your resolution works as well as any.
Poor communications kill. Dialogue works, compromise and moving forward will work. Respect LiR and try and keep things moving to a fresh Beat.

You’re thinking of Suasion, probably with a hefty Disadvantage if it’s even allowed. Or Intimidation, perhaps with Advantage as well as Disadvantage, and a dead father in the failure consequences. There’s me agreeing again :slight_smile:


Oh man, I think he’s completely unreachable right now. In shock.

The “I agree” is so small, Why!

In the spirit of Christmas, what say we call it a draw? :joy:

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I believe that these discussions can server as valuable information for new players, in the days of the old forums when I was a newbie, I learned much about burning wheel by reading threads that came before. I like to believe that discussions we have now will help new players in the future.

My intention (I am trying to avoid using “intent” outside of its rules meaning), is mostly to clarify what I see as best practices for those that come after. Perhaps this is a bit presumptuous of me.

I do not mean to ascribe intention onto you. I do not know what your intend. I also in my previous post described a perfectly innocent scenario in which the player really did only have the intent to let the ritual be performed, and no deliberate, second intent, it just arose organically out of their cool description.

I don’t think I have disagreed with this either.
If you wish to have a man take up arms, giving a speech about honor and duty will have meaningful effects on the fiction compared to browbeating him and calling him a coward.
The intent is the same but the task changes the fiction.

If you describe your intent and task as you did here:

I agree, the man is wrestled to the ground. But the GM MIGHT think that because your stated intent was only “to prevent him from interfering with my friend completing the ritual”, that you subduing him was just for that brief moment, that the wrestling was an ongoing act and while you DID subdue him, you did not do so indefinitely, and that it only lasting as long as the ritual was perfectly in line of your intent.

You might argue “but I said I subdue him, if he struggles afterwards and can still break free that is not him being subdued!” but that, I think, is a semantics argument, not a rules one, a semantics argument I am INCLINED to take your side one, but not to the point where I can’t see how a reasonable person might take the other side on.

But if you had CLARIFIED either when stating your initial intent “I want to subdue him and have him at my mercy to stop him from disrupting the ritual”, or after stating your task “So he’d be pacified, right?”. The GM knows more clearly what you want! You reduce the ambiguity of the situation considerably, the GM knows what is significant to you the player, and what is color. You are reducing the mental overhead of your fellow player and not relying on them interpreting you perfectly.

If both players understand each other quite well and what is meant, is your example more than sufficient?
I would say so, but, even if your own hypothetical, it WASN’T sufficient. The GM did NOT grasp based on your description of the task, that him being completely subdued so much so that he was still in that state AFTER the ritual was what you were intending to establish by your task. And there is the disconnect.

In terms of best practices in general, I would look at page 116 to 117 of the codex where Luke basically goes “Yeah we don’t announce failures before the roll that often at BWHQ, but it is mostly because we’re in a good space where we can get away with that, it probably still is best practice to do it.” And this is what I would say is one of those similar things. By not making that additional action explicit in the intent, you are relying on the GM to get what you mean and what your task actually looks like and agree on the logical results of it. If you are playing with your friends and you can rely on them to grok you when you do that, more power to you. But if you are a NEW player, or you find you are having difficulties with this sort of thing regularly, making sure all your “meaningful narrative effects” ARE enumerated in your intent, it becomes EASIER (not guaranteed, your GM can still meaningfully misinterpret your intent) to avoid these kinds of things.

Doing my best :wink:

Yeah, I think so. It sort of seems like you mean to curtail discussion on this forum so that it’s only applicable to new players (and passing judgment based on that personal, only-just-articulated standard). I love new players – I new players, I love ya; post a topic with questions, and we’ll be happy to help; slide into my DMs and I’ll run a Fight! demo for you, we’ll do lunch* – but I also want to hear what people have to say in general.

How would you run that as the GM? I gave my cool description, you describe the guy getting away, and I say, “I’ve got him subdued, he can’t just scram, right?”

It’s not a semantics argument. Here, let’s take the word “subdue” out of all discussion. Let’s even say that my Intent and Task was, “I want to stop him from interfering with the ritual; I grab him and stop him from moving toward my friend.” Then I succeed. Then the ritual is completed. Now what?

Maybe you’ll say that he breaks free and bolts? Then I’ll say, “I’m not gonna let him go! I tighten my grip and pull him to the ground.” Either, it’s a Power test, and Let it Ride kicks in and I win. Or you call for a Brawling test, and well, you know I feel about that: You’re just skirting Let it Ride on a thin technicality, and that sucks. Bad form. Or you’re going to say, “He’s already free,” and you skirt around having to give me my (successful) test by saying yes to yourself in a very unsporting way. Are any of these best practices? Or… Or, what? How does this not play out in this way? If you’ve got an idea, I’m happy to hear it.

Actually, in my example, the player – I think that’s me, right? Hi! – was playing in good faith, but just didn’t articulate himself perfectly. The GM, meanwhile, knew what the player wanted perfectly, but then deliberately backpedaled the player’s success to protect his “precious NPC”.

Actually, actually, that’s not really true. But it is AS TRUE AS YOUR INTERPRETATION. It was pretty open in the example, really. This is what I mean about you seeming to project player malfeasance: If the GM can be innocent of not catching all of the player’s priorities because people aren’t perfect communicators, then the player can be innocent of not articulating… myself perfectly because people aren’t perfect communicators. If the player can be guilty of undermining Intent and Task by slipping part of… my priority into Task, then the GM can be guilty of undermining Intent and Task by trying to walk back the player’s success with garbage description.

Now might be a good time to ask again, how would you handle this good faith situation as the GM? Do you say, “Sorry player, I didn’t know you wanted to subdue, so he’s not subdued,” or do you say, “Oh, yeah, I guess he is subdued; let’s go from there.”

I just don’t believe that the only place for meaningful narrative effect of a player’s actions is in their intent.

You will.

Why? Why doesn’t his new-found honor and courage melt away once he takes up arms, the way my grip melts away the moment the ritual is complete? Why does one successful test change the fictional world while another doesn’t?

The prophecy comes true! I know, I know. This is a different context. I think it’s important for new players to learn that the Task is not just meaningless “fluff” that you bullshit so that you can roll dice and get your Intent. I would prefer to teach new GMs to sincerely pay attention to the world that is being created by their player’s actions.

The battle’s everlasting.

*We will not do lunch.

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Can I ask you for the same charity and lack of assuming bad intentions you are asking from me?

I don’t feel that “speaking up to add additional clarity for the sake of a new person who might be reading this thread” is the same thing as “Curtailing discussion”

Where in the scenario do I step in vs your hypothetical GM?
At the very start where you state intent and task?
There’s a very real world where I think you both wrestling him to the ground, keeping him there, and stopping him from messing with the ritual is all well and good for one test and things go just fine.
There’s a world where I think it is a bit much because of other fictional situations, perhaps my aforementioned magic circle situation, perhaps capturing this guy and the ritual both feel like (separate) very BIG DEAL things and a single test doesn’t feel right.
I drill down in those cases, trying to figure out what your intent is, once it becomes clear you want both, I either lay out the difficulties of getting both “Avoiding the magic circle will give you this penalty” Or whatever. Maybe I say it is the linked test, maybe you cry foul, we either quickly agree one way or the other, or I make a ruling and I ask you to discuss it with me after the game.

Is it after the end of your scenario, the dice are already rolled and such?
I likely cede the point and the game goes from there. Maybe I am feeling upset or stubborn or what have you, but here in forum land where I have time to think about my responses, I will, concede that the situation SHOULD proceed how you described it.
Now if this is just a one off thing? That’s where it ends. If this is a regular problem between us, at some point we need to have a talk, about how we can BOTH help each other understand exactly what each dice roll means.

I agree.

Both players and GMs are human and not perfect communicators.

But let’s talk about malice first.
The player can try to weave their description of task in such a way that they get are getting more than what the GM thinks they are trying to get. They are deliberately trying to confuse the GM in this situation and trying to get an advantage.
The GM can deliberately ignore task and be like “Oh you got your intent” to give them less than the player should have gotten.
If you compare the two, the GM is cheating, the rules say something else, and as such the GM is probably the “worse” of the two. The player isn’t cheating per se, but it is something I would find distasteful. Much, perhaps, the same way you do with the power and brawling linked test.
If either side is playing with intentional malice, play advice probably isn’t going to fix those people. The best I can do for new players is go “Yeah don’t be those people”, and my attempts to do that part may have lead to the implications of malice on the whole post.

Now let’s assume good intentions.
There are two scenarios for the player.

  1. The first is, that subduing the guy and getting on top of him was the first thing they thought of to stop him, they didn’t really have long term intent to do anything until the ritual was done and realized that meant they were on top of him, cool! There’s not really MUCH I can expect the player to do there, if they didn’t think that part through until much later. If they realize it before rolling dice, clarifying with their GM would be nice, but if they don’t realize it they don’t realize it, hey, human.
  2. The second is, they wanted this guy under their power from the beginning, and they EXPECTED their GM to understand that from their description of their task. If this normally works for you and your group, and things mess up only very very rarely (and because we are not perfect communicators ANY system will do that every so often), great. But if this is a problem regularly, or you are new and don’t know how your group operates, being more explicit can ONLY help.

The GM, assuming good intentions, did not understand the player’s task properly (if they did understand and choose to ignore it, we are back up to malice above), their failure was to not clarify in that case, you absolutely should pause play when the player is about to roll dice, and make sure you both agree on intent and task. If they KNEW they didn’t understand properly, they absolutely should have done this, and not just assumed. But if they THOUGHT they understood and then there is a disagreement after. Again if it is a very rare thing, happens, will happen with any system, but if it is common, they need to start getting into the habit of asking more questions to be extra sure.

Both parties have room for improvement, and it is absolutely wrong to expect the other guy to entirely take on your communication failures. But at the same time if you are trying, asking your friend if they could help you out the player could ask: “Would you mind repeating my task back to me when we roll dice so we are sure we are on the same page there?” and the GM could ask: “Can you make sure key points are enumerated in your intent?”

Well I would imagine that going into battle and seeing your friends die around you would be a significant change in the situation. But my main thrust was obviously poorly communicated. Are you the kind of person that inspires or browbeats someone? One could argue that both are persuasion (could be other skills as well), and the intent is the same either way, but the task tells OTHER CHARACTERS what type of person you are, which colors the success (or failure) of the rolls and how any NPC (and maybe PC, up to the other players) present will evaluate you. THAT is what I meant by that section, how you go about it of course matters.
Another example: Intent: “I want to cause a distraction in the plaza”
Two variations of tasks for that: “I use my musical talents to play a merry tune and get everyone’s attention”
“I use my explosives to blow up the fountain” (And yes, we both agree the fountain will be blown up in this case and, barring some magic, miracles, or a reconstruction effort will remain blown up after the distraction is over)
Those two methods are going to have WILDLY different effects on the fiction going forward. Task absolutely matters beyond just “what dice you roll”.

I think I just addressed this above and I feel we mostly agree, but since there seems to be some sort of disagreement still going on, I’ll ask you this:
What is the purpose of stating intent. If, as you have previously said, subduing the man would emergently lead to him being unable to disrupt the ritual, why state intent at all? If our tasks make what would happen obvious, and the player gets their desires based on that, why do we need both for every roll?

I’m going to quote across to the other thread (I hope that’s okay / the best way of doing things). Thanks to Gnosego and others, this is really interesting and helpful to me.

I definitely consider dice pool before calling for a roll, or in a slightly more appropriate sense, I consider previous rolls of skills, and let them ride. I find myself calling for lots of smaller rolls at the start of a campaign, then letting things ride longer term later in the campaign.

This is something that I’m slowly learning, BW runs well calling for less tests. Which ties in to not letting the game drag, and not getting bogged down in obstacles which aren’t related to BITs.

This reminds me of a joke about BW being a game where you can end up spending 20 sessions getting ready to set out on your quest if PCs keep writing beliefs about preparations (and then about the consequences of pursuing those beliefs). I don’t know if this is deviating too much again from the start of the thread, but does anyone have any thoughts on simple ways to prevent this? I tend to remind my players ‘if you write a belief about something simple, I have to make it more complicated’, which they find helpful (and keeps things moving).

Again something I’m slowly learning. If I’m unsure at all ask the player about an intent (and then maybe negotiate intent and task if it’s not appropriate), also when pass/fail outcomes aren’t clear, then state them for the players. I think breaking down obstacles is very helpful to players for this, a base obstacle, plus modifiers either from the intent or task. I’m maybe lucky in having players who are happy to negotiate with me as the DM, but happy to move on once things are set. Which is somewhat related to the ‘no weasels’ and ‘but weasels’ rules (sorry don’t have a page number handy). I try to give players the option to clarify an intent and task, and lobby for advantage, but don’t let them change their intent entirely (/ only change task when I feel like as a DM the PCs were lacking some critical info).

To borrow from my old boardgame group, we have this concept of ‘the spirit of the deal’, where finding my lawyer type opening in a deal is still considered a betrayal. With you example, I’d say the intent is to stop the npc interfering with the ritual, and the task is brawling/power (honestly I’d probably let the player pick). If as a DM I’m uncertain about any other condition (eg stop him shouting out) then I’ll ask the player and these might become +Ob, or conversly +D advantage (the player puts their character in harms way). Although if a successful roll means to player gets their intent in the manner they describe, then I think it’s best to stick to that, you tackle them to the ground, and the ritual can be complete.

I’ve been on the flip side of this, where a player takes the challenging test, but the failure condition is more severe than they thought. Definitely a good time to stop and be like okay are we sure / hopefully as a DM get in with the failure condition before the roll.

Hell yeah, thank you all for your inputs, I’m always floored by how passionate people are about this game.

I would be tempted by this, it’s one thing to pin someone to the ground for a few moments, another to then try to tie them up. Or, if the players wanted to execute them, then the cultist is almost certainly going to have something to say about it.

I think I’d decided based on beliefs, if this is all a big deal, and the ritual isn’t the narrative end of the scene, then I’d just say yes to the players. If the ritual is just the start, and there are other beliefs at play, then it might be time for another test.

Dunno how new I am, but I’m definitely learning.

I’d shy away from ‘he breaks free’, however some other test if it’s appropriate. Though best case would be clarifying ‘do you only care about subduing him while the ritual is ongoing’.

Yeah when this happens I tend to stop and think ‘okay who’s losing/gaining more from this’, if it’s not that important / game changing I’ll let the player have their understanding of the situation, if it’s game changing I might rule against the player and call for another test (or in a really extreme situation go back to the original test and redo it).


To add to this, if I feel like my players are trying to game their intent and task (to gain more benefit), I’ll either add Ob, or I’ll make them be clear, and then state pass/fail outcomes.

As a player I’ll try to be clear with my intent, and the negotiate an appropriate task with the DM. I guess taking time with important rolls is probably a good takeaway from this.

I don’t know yet. I don’t think it’s uncharitable to look at your characterizing my initial post as

with the concern that

and see this criticism as suggesting that I should not have posted what I did the way I did – that is, I should have curtailed my discussion – for the sake of a hypothetical new player in the future that might… I don’t know, be tainted by my perverse views of the game? That sounds so bad, doesn’t it! :sweat_smile:

So, yeah, I don’t know if I can assume you’re speaking in good faith; I’m really having a hard time understanding where you’re coming from!

But, hey! You should be able to expect me to communicate honestly, at least.

Really!? You’re that explicit!?

So, in the exploding fountain example, the fountain being destroyed wasn’t part of the Intent? How would they have different effects on the fiction going forward? And if they really do have meaningful differences (effects) on the fiction going forward, what is the problem with my example? Is it just that you think the GM has complete authority over those consequences?

  • Our tasks don’t make what would happen obvious all of the time. At least not all of what would happen.

  • Intent helps make sure the fiction is moving in the direction of the player’s agenda.

  • Intent lets us determine an appropriate Task for pursuing the player’s agenda – maybe subduing him wouldn’t emergently lead to disrupting the ritual; maybe he’s a smoke elemental or a brain-frying telepath. Now we have a chance to get that out in the open. Frankly, stating the Intent as stopping interference rather than as subduel is an anti-trust measure – in most cases and Intent to subdue is would prevent the guy from interfering.

  • Intent helps us determine the most important thing to the player in the moment.

  • Intent gives GMs a meaningful vector for assigning failure.

That’s about all I’ve got off the top of my head.

Do you have any response to this, by the way:

It seems like it would get exhausting putting in every reasonable expectation I have for a test into my Intent. Do your players not get bogged down?

That’s totally different, right? You’re not thinking, “What’s the probability of this character getting X successes;” you’re thinking, “What is the world my players’s actions have created,” yeah?

Nah, those are abilities. One of them will be tested in attempting your Task. A Task “is a measurable, finite, and quantifiable act performed by a character.” Some examples include “stabbing someone with a sword” or “persuading someone by revealing their wife’s affair.” Task will point to an ability (ideally, an obvious one), but the player gets to describe what in in the fiction there character does (or tries) to accomplish their Intent.

Heh, we disagree! :sweat_smile: For my money, the GM feeling that, “The narrative pacing would be better,” does not constitute a legitimate and drastic change in the in-game conditions.

What does this mean? More benefit than what?

To clarify, obstacles are set by the inherent complexity and difficulty of the Task; a weightier Intent doesn’t make for a higher obstacle. All other factors aside, a king dies as easy as a pauper.

AHHH!!! Real Quick: The simplest solution is to tell them to stop writing Beliefs about shit they don’t care about. If someone does care about it, ask if they can find something to care about where the group as a whole is going for a while. Sell your situation to them, and ask them what they think is cool about the situation, then have them write Beliefs about those things. Move pieces in your Big Pictures and/or create a time dilemma: A rival group of adventurers just set out for long forgotten Black Garden; they’ll probably find the grail soon! How important is getting your finery laundered compared to the grail? Don’t award Artha for Beliefs they don’t roll for! That’sallIgotfornow!


In that case I can just offer my sincere apology if I made you feel like your posting or attempt at discussion was unwelcome, or if my disagreement came across in such a way that made you feel uncomfortable. Offer a virtual internet handshake and a “agree to disagree”, and a hope we can both come across to the other as more charitable in the future.

Have a great holiday, if you celebrate (and still a good non-holiday specific day in general if you do not), and a great new year. :smiley:

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You do the same!

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I’d say the fountain exploding is part of the task in this example. Now I’m not 100% following the full narrative across these two threads, but I’d say the explosion is an escalation, and the government forces would react in a more extreme manner (vs a more mundane distraction). On a failed roll I’d definitely be tempted to say the fountain explodes (as the intent is create a distraction), but the guards zero in on the PCs, and now you’re also being chased for blowing the fountain up.

I’d say intent to stop him is fine, the player is then making a suggestion for task, which the DM needs to either agree to and set an obstacle, or say no that task won’t work and then have a discussion about what will. I’d say the spirit of the intent is not harming the character, but if I wasn’t sure I’d ask the PC, or even make a suggestion ‘do you care if this npc lives or dies, it will be easier to just kill them (say shoot with a bow)’. If everything is obvious I try to move the story along, but if it’s important to BITs then ask the players what their PC would do any why. Eg a belief: ‘the ritual must succeed at all cost’, instinct: ‘always try to limit loss of life’, if it’s easier to stop the npc by risking their life, then it’s an interesting internal conflict (or intra party).

I’d definitely say intents should be as simple as possible from the players, and it’s the DM’s job to put choices out if they want to complicate things.

Yeah although it’s a mix, if it’s an entirely new obstacle, but low Ob, I might say the PC is skilled enough to just say yes. I suppose I could say it’s let it ride, but I’m letting it ride that the PC is skilled enough, rather than they’ve demonstrated an ability to overcome the specific obstacle.

I mean this for the case of a misunderstanding between players and GM, I don’t want to disrupt play if the misunderstanding isn’t too important to the narrative, but if it is then me and the players might need to figure out how to resolve the situation. Or more mechanically, if it’s not a major step to completing a belief, then we can move on, if by going with the players version I’ve failed to properly challenge a belief, then we need to discuss. Or even if the misunderstanding has a PC succeeding a roll, but contradicting a belief (against the players will), then we probably need to stop for a moment.

So two versions of this, the players add ‘and’ statements to the intent. A simple example ‘I purchase X… and Y… and Z’, they’ve added Y and Z, depending on relative expense of the objects this may add Ob to a simple purchase of X. A simple example of them trying to ‘game’ the system ‘I purchase caving supplies for the party’, GM sets an Ob, the players pass, then say they have a vast quantity of explosives, but the GM has assumed they mean like rope and maybe pickaxes. Though usually the way my players try to game the system is describing an intent to try and make the task use a skill they’re good at, when sometimes it’s not an appropriate task (to bring the right the way back around, shift the skill check to persuasion instead of falsehood).

Yeah for sure, only if adding to the intent adds to the difficulty. Running into the throne room and stabbing the king is a lower Ob that cutting your way through his guards on your way.

I see you’ve experienced this also. Yeah my main strategy is asking them if they really care enough, and telling them I’ll have to make it harder (whereas they can probably just do the thing in a single roll if they change their belief).

Okay this I definitely need to be better at, specifically the time dilemma, I do the ‘okay you don’t have time for both’. But I think I could do much better at increasing the sense of pressure on the party, from time flowing generally and the big picture moving.

Happy holidays to you guys too. I think we can probably put it all down to being passionate about the game.

Thanks to all for the discussion, definitely helpful to my understanding. Intent and task if a very interesting concept, and like everyone has said, we don’t always follow best practises. However, it’s important to know when this isn’t a big deal, and when it can be.

May you players write interesting beliefs and your GM’s understand your intents.

Oh wow, lots of discussion. I have been on holidays and didn’t see the thread. Will read in due course. But I appreciate that everyone has been interested in this topic.