It's Over Too Quick?

Here’s the situation: The intrepid hero has reached the princess in the highest tower. The lock is picked, the princess is on her feet and ready to go, and the hero’s player announces this: “I intend to escape the castle with the princess. I’ll fight my way out.” For the record, the belief is about more than just rescuing the princess, so this isn’t the final showdown where Fight! is required/appropriate.

But… it seems anticlimactic to simply say “Ok, roll sword” or even to say “Ok, there are a few guards rushing up the stairs. We’ll use Bloody Versus.”

Is this when I, as GM, need to step in and replace the task part of my player’s intent/task with a linked test that is more involved than their simple “I’ll fight my way out?” Is it appropriate to say “Alright, great. You’ll have to race to get out, since there are still plenty of guards to evade. So first we’ll have a Speed test. Then there will be a few guards intercepting you, so you’ll need to use Sword to get past them. Finally, the Guard Captain will be trying to bar your passage. The rest of the guard is hard on your heels, so you’ll have to quickly use Power to blast past him. Once you’re out the gate you’ll need to use Stealthy to find a place to hide from the rangers they’ll send after you.”
I’ll have changed the Task from “Fight my way out using Sword” to:
Run using Speed
Fight using Sword
Bull rush using Power
Hide using Stealthy

Is this a valid use of the system? Or should I just go with what the player asked for and intended and declared as task?

The root of my question is this: While I think the system allows for some great depth, I’m nervous that players will only go surface deep with it and won’t really dive in - is it good to plunge them in farther like this, or will I just wreck things? The player may be considering simply what they want (to escape) and then drawing a straight line from here to there, but that’s quick and easy and maybe won’t last long enough to feel meaningful.

As a GM you’re the one setting the world. His Intent is to leave the tower, right? Fight doesn’t have to be saved as a once-an-adventure thing, though it can make things drag if you use it too often. If getting out of the tower isn’t the big thing, and all that’s opposing him is a fight with a guard, yeah–a Bloody Versus seems like just the thing. It will be over in a few minutes, but that will let you move on to other things that matter.

Hi jdripley, this is where the combination of intent and task come in. As the GM, it is your role to determine whether the task–the player’s description of his or her action–can fulfill the intent. If not, drill down a little further, like you described.

Player: “I want to fight my way free of the tower.”

GM: “Great! Where do you go? What do you do?”

Player: “I grab the princess’s hand and we dart out the door.”

GM: “You hear boots on the stairs above. Sounds like someone’s coming down to investigate the noise.”

Player: “We run for it. Down!”

GM: “OK, you’re trying to outrun them? Speed test.”

Thor’s got it!

Also, if you go the linked test route, have ideas in mind of how things could go wrong for each test. :slight_smile: And I’d maybe slim it down to just a two-task or three-task chain.

The other point that should probably be highlighted–it’s not about whether something is resolving “too quick” but rather…is it resolving with the appropriate amount of depth, as you note?

The players don’t get to decide how many tasks it takes to get out of the tower. That’s the GM’s prerogative. They may say we’re trying to get out of the tower, but you can say even getting to the bottom of the stairs is going to be difficult with those two swordsmen trying to gut you.

It’s not just the GM’s prerogative, it’s how you zoom in and zoom out on actions of more or less significance. If you allow a major undertaking to resolve in one roll you’re giving it less importance. If you make something require a dozen rolls you’ve made it really stand out. Save the former for incidentals and really drive the latter when it’s high drama. That’s often when you’re pounding Beliefs, but you can gauge the mood at your table and decide how far to break down large intents, and that’s one of the arts you learn as a BW GM.

Thanks for the advice everybody!

So if the princess is incidental and/or her rescue is incidental (maybe this princess holds the key to saving somebody else, and that’s the main point) you could get away with letting the escape from the tower go with a single test. But if this is an important part of the greater whole, then it’s worth breaking down. Makes sense.

I have a feeling I’ve got a whole lot of un-training to do.

It’s more than that. Let’s suppose that you need to unlock the Great Gate, you’ve previously established that the royal family of Kingdom holds the key, and you’ve also established that Princess Whatsit of Kingdom is locked in a tower. A player could well say, “I want to rescue Princess Whatsit from the tower to get her key.” Maybe Princess Whatsit is otherwise entirely irrelevant. You could even just say, “Okay, roll X!” and have that one roll cover the entire infiltration, rescue, and exfiltration operation. Or once they’ve reached the princess you can Say Yes to any reasonable plan of escape. Should you? Not necessarily; in fact, I’d rarely have one roll cover so much stuff. But if it’s really entirely incidental to the plot everyone’s really interested in there’s no reason to waste time on it.

It’s probably better to flesh it out and somehow tie what the players want to do in with their beliefs, but you could just skip all the rolls.

This is the main issue. What’s the situation? What obstacles have you created prior to this moment that stand in his way? Where are the antagonists and enemies? Why hasn’t the princess rescued herself? She’s more capable than this jerk. If the answer to these questions is a shrug of the shoulders, then talk it out and move along. It’s not important enough for the dice to come into play.