Intent & Task - Not sure if we did it right

Was this correct?

My character was investigating a case of a missing corpse. Yet he must leave town do attend to something more important. So he asked someone - a new friend who appeared from a successful Circles test - to go on with the investigation while he’s gone. Here is what we did :

My Intent : I want NewFriend to find the Corpse while I’m away.
Task : I tried to convince NewFriend to continue the investigation during my travels (and we rolled Persuasion).

Question : was My Intent correct? Or is it too “dissociated” from my character, too “story-game”-ish?


There’s not really much of a right or wrong to the scope of intent and task. Different people prefer to do it different ways.

If finding something is very difficult, you can’t just roll Persuasion to make someone else do it. Maybe they can’t. But in that case, the GM says that the task (Persuasion) can’t accomplish the intent (finding a corpse). If it’s just a matter of time and effort, sure, you talked the guy into doing it and he did it. Or maybe you Circled up an expert detective who is exactly the right person for the job? Then Persuasion is fine again.

You could consider a Resources test to pay this new friend for the work, if it seems reasonable. And often I don’t require Persuasion after Circles. You can find someone to persuade, or you can Circle up someone whose aims align with yours and who’s willing. If the intent of Circles is to find someone who can help do the work when you’re away that’s what you get, no extra Persuasion required—because that would invalidate the intent of the Circles test.

… so I suppose the more you broaden the scope of intents, the more you give players agency on what we call the “mataplot” in more traditional rpgs?

As Wayfarer suggested, it’s hard to talk about intent and task in any absolute way. At it’s core, it’s “what you want to accomplish” and “one of many possible actions that will lead to that result.”

So, in your example, it really depends on how favorably disposed that character is/was towards you, at least if I was the GM. If they were not on good terms/ambivalent it would likely have been a Duel of Wits. Your friends tho? Yeah, a single persuasion role could do. It’s really more about context than anything.

As Wayfarer points out, rolling Persuade only means that you will have ensured the character will continue the search; it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll find anything.

If this was understood when the Intent and Task were declared, then it sounds like you were using it just as intended.

I’d be very careful with that. If your intent is to have your friend find the corpse while you’re away and the task is rolling Persuasion, success means your friend will find it. Not giving the intended results is violation of the intent on a success. That’s why sometimes you have to say no to intent-task pairings, or even intents. Maybe this is something you must do for yourself. Maybe your friend simply isn’t competent. The GM has to say yes or roll the dice in BW, but it’s just as important to know when to Say No. Sometimes the scope of the intent is simply too big for their to be an appropriate task.

It’s obvious when the task is “conquer the kingdom.” That’s never going to be a single dice roll! But for littler things that could be a roll, the GM has to keep in mind their importance to the game and the plot. If it really matters, if it’s a huge deal, and if it’s actually a many step process, maybe over a long period of time… don’t roll the dice. Make the players divide it up into many smaller intents with many tasks.

That’s how games work. It’s lots of little pieces of play adding up to one big game.

On the other hand it’s perfectly valid to say, “Oh, if you convince him to look while you’re away I’m going to say Yes to him finding something. But you may wish you didn’t ask.” And then cackle gleefully. :wink:

Alright, you simply nailed it. So this why a GM is still mandatory in BW : somewhere, you need someone to Say No to some intents. And, even if you have good arguments to back a particular decision to Say No, in the end, the person who decides which intents are acceptables and which are not. So the job of the GM is not only to propose Obstacles, but also to rule if a player’s intent is acceptable or not.

That’s why it’s “Roll the Dice or Say Yes” in the book. First the GM decides if it’s a valid intent for a given attempt, then either has someone roll for it or just lets it happen.

Ah, this makes sense. I think that I meant that the intent should be modified by my “if this was understood…” but you are correct in pointing out that this could very easily lead to a misunderstanding. Your post right above this one really clarifies the GM’s role in this case.

Could be that the test to have the new friend look for you keeps the trail from going cold… So without it the difficulty to find the corpse would climb.

It could be, but again, you have to establish intent before the roll. If player and GM agree that those are the stakes, you can roll for it, but you can’t think your friend will find the corpse, make the roll, and get told by the GM that actually the difficulty didn’t go up.

Also, outside of a linked test that’s a pretty anemic result from a roll. Not always, but I’d be very wary of tests just to maintain status quo.