Rethinking the Failed Climb Check

I’ve been listening to numerous actual play podcasts, and stumbled upon Sunday Skyper‘s Burning Beards campaign. A group clearly enjoying their game.

On my ride home from work, I was listening to Episode 8. At one point in which Ulfkell Son of Muggur, Flint Gotterdamn, and Fandral the Stalwart, son of Vandral Iron Girdle found themselves stuck in a watery pit.

I paused and thought about how I would establish consequences for this all too common obstacle. The intent, as I recall, was to climb out of the pit and get the lanterns so they could better see their surroundings. The situation was Fandral was climbing with a boost and guidance from Flint.

A classic consequence is to have them fall midway through their climb. But with the Let it Ride rule, this mandates that they can’t climb their way out. Not cool and doesn’t move much forward.

Options I was thinking of were:

  • You climb up but find the lanterns are gone or busted (or now coveted by a creature)
  • You climb up but sustain an injury
  • You climb up but damage/ruin some equipment

Also important when considering consequences is to bind helpers to the outcome of the test.

In this case, what I would’ve chosen was to for rocks to fall onto Flint and damage his axe (he has an instinct related to his axe) and Fandral sustain an injury but make it to the top.

Really, this is following the advice of Dungeon World with some hard moves:

  • Use a monster, danger, or location move
  • Reveal an unwelcome truth
  • Show signs of an approaching threat
  • Deal damage
  • Use up their resources
  • Turn their move back on them
  • Separate them
  • Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities
  • Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment
  • Offer an opportunity, with or without cost
  • Put someone in a spot
  • Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask

 

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