Compelled Betrayal

Compelled Betrayal

When this enemy manipulates your mind so you think another member of your party is your sworn enemy you can either succumb to the spell or rebel against it. If you fight off the effect, roll+WIS. On a 10+ choose 1, on a 7-9 choose 2, on a 6- choose 2 in addition to what the GM says:

  • It causes considerable mental pain, take 1d8 damage ignoring armor
  • You gain the Confused debility
  • You gain the Stunned debility
  • You must concentrate, and open yourself up to attack, the GM will tell you how

If you succumb to the compulsion and attack your ally you both mark XP and you roll+Bond with them. On a 10+ choose two, on a 7-9 choose one, on a 6- the GM will choose one:

  • You manage to call out a warning
  • The effect ends immediately if you take damage
  • The effect ends immediately if you deal damage to them
  • The effect will end after about a minute

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

This move is a two-parter, where you roll one of two different sub-moves depending on your decision. When it comes to mind control moves I think it’s good to give players at least some control over it. With this move they get to decide whether the mind control even happens.

I’m stealing an idea I heard on the Discern Realities podcast about mind control, which is giving the players XP if they decide to play into it. I think it’s a cool little mechanic to nudge players into an interesting scene, even if their characters would probably be better off if they didn’t do it.

The negative options for the fight it off move could probably use some work, but I think they fit thematically pretty well. My worry is that they won’t be harsh enough and that everyone will always choose to fight it off. If that’s the case I could always increase the number you pick so 10+ is 2, 7-9 is 3, and 6- is GM choose 3.

I like the negative options on the succumb and attack submove in theory, but playtesting might reveal their flaws. My idea is that you can pick different ways to end the effect, but each one means someone different is likely to get hurt.

Illusionary Defense

Illusionary Defense

When this enemy first feels itself threatened it creates two near-identical copies of itself. These copies deal the same damage, but have half the enemy’s current health and no armor. If you are the party member who got the best look at this enemy, roll+WIS. On a 10+ you know what to look for to distinguish the two illusions, describe the tell. On a 7-9 the same, but only one of the illusions has this tell.

View this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

This move is a classic in boss fights, and one I’ve used before without the custom move to go with it. This move kind of has two triggers to it, one to trigger the creation of the illusions, which is up to the GM, and the other to determine who rolls. I like the second trigger as it makes it clear that only one player rolls, but deciding who that is is left to the table to decide.

The difference between the 10+ and 7-9 results here is pretty small, I hope it makes the results feel different enough. I’m open to suggestions on different results, but I like the idea of the move giving the characters some way to target the right illusion.

It’s not mentioned in the move, and perhaps it should be, but my intention is that when the enemy is defeated the illusions dissipate. A single line describing that might be needed.

Statting the illusions is also something I’m not too sure about. Because they’re illusions I gave them less HP, but that might make them too weak. The move should be about finding the right guy, not about quickly killing the illusions because they die in one pop. Play testing will be what decides this I think.

Soulbox

Soulbox

This foe has placed their soul into a magical item, protecting them from Death. The only way to kill them completely is to break the item and destroy the soul within. When you destroy the soul container to try to kill the soul inside this foe is killed outright but you are caught in the vengeful backlash of Death itself, roll+CON. On a 10+ you take -1 forward to Last Breath. On a 7-9 you take -1 ongoing to Last Breath until you can break this curse. On a 6- you roll Last Breath immediately.

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

Horcux, anyone? I really wanted to write a move that involved Last Breath, but it needed to be something the players were aware of before they triggered the move. Having a player automatically roll Last Breath is the hardest of hard moves, so I wanted the player to know what they were getting into before trying to trigger the move. The potential result also needed to be worth the risk.

To address the first point, I wanted to write the trigger such that the move couldn’t be triggered by accident. If you find the crystal ball that holds the soul and you don’t know the soul is inside, it wouldn’t be fair to suddenly have the player roll this move simply because they dropped the ball into the trash and it shattered. Adding “to try to kill the soul inside” made it more explicit.

For the second point I think I’ve made the reward pretty good here: you win. The key thing will be making sure that the Soulbox is actually a viable option when fighting this enemy. No point in going on wild Harry Potter chase for a tiara or locket if you can just hit the guy in the face with a hammer and call it a day.

I’m not entirely sure about the difference between the 7-9 and 6- results. I like rolling Last Breath immediately but I’m not sure about -1 ongoing. -1 ongoing seems almost harsher, depending on how many times you end up rolling Last Breath.

Spelleater

Spelleater

When this foe feeds off the energy created when you cast a spell, it opens its mouth and sucks that energy into its body, roll+INT. On a 10+ choose one, on a 7-9 choose two. On a 6- the GM will choose two:

  • It uses the power it siphoned to heal itself for 1d8
  • The power charges its next attack, which deals +1d10 damage forward if it lands
  • This interference drains your mind, take 1d8 damage ignoring armor
  • The power is redirected to two allies you name, they take 2d4 damage ignoring armor
  • You forget the spell

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

I like the description of this move and the image it invokes, but in terms of fiction vs mechanics this move definitely leans more towards mechanics. The options you have to choose from are also pretty harsh, so I’d only say a monster was a Spelleater if I really wanted to up the difficulty.

I am trying to make each of the options here a viable result. If the monster is very low, do you risk healing? Do you empower its next attack, knowing it’s more damage but also avoidable? Do you, a spellcaster, take damage yourself or do you pass it off to your allies?

This move would require quite a bit more playtesting for balance purposes. Because it’s so mechanics heavy and has so many numbers I’d like to play around with it a lot more before calling the list of options finished.

Can Dish It Out, But Can’t Take It

Can Dish It Out, But Can’t Take It

When you are insulted by this enemy and have a cutting retort, roll+CHA. On a 7-9 they are taken aback and momentarily drop their guard. On a 10+ the same and all allies take +1 forward when acting against this enemy.

Your mother was a hamster!

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and edit it here on GitHub.

This one’s a ton of fun for the GM; you get to insult your player’s characters almost non-stop!

I don’t really have a lot to discuss with this move. I think it’s simple and solid, and encourages more verbal interaction during the fight. That’s something that always seems to be missing in my battles. The characters and the bad guys will start by exchanging a few words, then once swords are drawn it’s 100% about killing and never a moment to spare to chat.

When using this move I’d recommend presenting this enemy as arrogant and nigh untouchable unless you can trigger this move. Picture a master swordsman who nonchalantly deflects all of the Fighter’s attacks while asking them if this is their first time using a sword. “I’ve fought training dummies with better footwork than you.”

There’s no extra 6- option for this move because I don’t think it’s required.

Chain Lightning

Chain Lightning

When you are struck by this enemy’s chain lightning attack, its power rampages through you before attempting to jump targets, take their damage and roll+CON. On a 10+ you absorb the entirety of the attack and it does not jump targets. On a 7-9 the lightning uses its remaining power to deal damage to a party member of your choice, but it does not continue to jump. On a 6- the lightning courses from you to another party member of the GM’s choice and triggers this move on them.

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and edit it here on GitHub.

This move was inspired by the Chain Lightning in a Bottle magic item that I heard on Episode 9 of the Discern Realities podcast. I first had this move using the deescalating damage die size that the item has. You would be hit by the move and would roll+CON to reduce the damage die size. This would continue jumping from person to person on pretty much all roll results until the damage die size was down to d4.

Vin Moves are meant to be applied to many different types of enemies, so I couldn’t be sure how that would work with monsters with small die sizes. There was also a lot more book keeping involved as well, as you’d have players rolling their CON and remembering what die size they were on. This new version simplifies things quite a bit I think.

This move doesn’t add as much to the fiction as some of the other moves I have, but I think it’s a good way to spice up an enemy’s attacks. I also like that it’s up to the player to choose who the lightning bounces to. It might be worth exploring that more, and perhaps including Bonds in some way.

 

Marked for Vengeance

Marked for Vengeance

When you deal the final blow to this foe it lashes out with its final breath and marks your body. A symbol materializes on you that those it is in league with will be able to detect from miles away. Describe the mark and what form it takes (tattoo, scar, brand, etc) and roll+CON.

  • On a 10+ the mark will itch when those that can detect it are within a mile or so of you
  • On a 7-9 the mark will cause a minor burning pain when they are almost right on top of you
  • On a 6- the mark will pulse with a searing agony when they are within reach of you and you will take -1 forward

This mark can be removed, but it’s a difficult process that is beyond the skill of most healers and magic users.

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and edit it here on GitHub.

This move is one I really like. Being marked with scars and brands is cool, and having an organization on your tail is a great plot hook. Having the brand start to tingle is a great “reveal an unwelcome truth” or “point to a looming threat” move for the GM to make.

I quite like the fictional differences between the different results. The -1 forward on 6- isn’t even totally necessary, but I like it there.

An earlier version of the move gave some examples of “those it is in league with” in parentheses after it. I’m considering re-adding those for clarity so it would read “those it is in league with (followers, allies, siblings, masters, etc)” but I’m not sure it’s necessary.

 

Spellshifter

Spellshifter

This enemy has the ability to morph spells cast in its presence. When this foe attempts to mutate a spell you’ve just cast roll+WIS. On a 10+, your spell has the desired effect, but it looks entirely different, describe how. On a 7-9 choose another spell you have prepared, it will be cast instead and on the same target. If you have no other spells prepared treat a 7-9 as a miss. On a 6- the GM will choose a spell from your class of your level+1 or lower.

See the move here on VinMoves and edit it here on GitHub.

The difference between a 7-9 and 6- result here is something I like to see in moves. The outcome isn’t numerically worse, like taking 1d6 damage vs 1d8 damage, but handing control over to the GM means it will likely be a very different result, and in a fun way. Letting the GM pick a spell you don’t have prepared also gives them a lot of freeing.

I really like the chaos that this move can throw into a fight. One issue I ran into with playtesting is that limiting the change of spell to other prepared spells can be kind of wonky if they’re forgotten a lot of spells. This is a bit of an edge case, so I’m going to leave it for now and hopefully someone can suggest a small change that clears this up.

If the player finds themselves with only 1 spell prepared and they roll a 7-9 on this move it treats the result as a miss. This was put in because otherwise there wasn’t any clear idea what would happen.

I originally had this move trigger each time a spell was cast in range of the enemy, but I found that too limiting for me as a GM. I’ve changed the trigger so that it’s very much in the hands of the GM. You could still use this move on every spell cast but now you have the option to reserve it for a golden opportunity or a 6- roll.

One thing I’m worried about is that after the move is first triggered and players are made aware, they might not cast spells at all. I’m considering adding a bonus to the 10+ option so that this move ups the reward as well as the risk. Here’s what I’m considering: “On a 10+ your spell looks completely different, describe how. Additionally, you may choose to take one of the options from the 7-9 list of your spell casting move, to combine the effects of any level 1 spell from your class.” I won’t be adding it for now, as I don’t think it’s entirely necessary, but I’m going to keep that idea logged away for future use.

Snake’s Window

This next move is much shorter, and quite simple, but I like its trigger:

Snake’s Window

When you roll double 1s in the presence of this foe it finds an opening into your mind – it catches glimpses of what you’re about to do almost before you know you’re going to do it. This effect lasts until the foe is defeated, someone else rolls double 1s, or you find some way to break the spell.

“The eyes are the gates of the mind, and you have left yours unguarded.”

You can view this move here on Vin Moves and edit it here on GitHub.

One of my Dungeon World groups is always pointing on when they get doubles on their rolls, asking for a bonus of some kind. It’s mostly in jest at this point, as they know that’s not a real DW mechanic, but they still like seeing doubles. I think a move happening because of a roll instead of the other way around could be a fun change of pace.

This move will definitely need some more play testing, as the effect might be stifling to players. My hopes are that players will use this as an opportunity, and attempt to trick their enemy with false thoughts.

Originally this move read “it knows what you’re about to do almost before you do” but I felt that was too powerful, and too strict. The new version clarifies that they’re “glimpses” which gives the players and the GM a bit more wiggle room.

Famous Weapon

Famous Weapon

When your group first hears of or sees this enemy’s notorious weapon, the party member with the most knowledge of weapons knows of it and rolls+INT. On a 7+ choose two and describe them:

  • It’s said to leave lasting wounds beyond cuts and bruises
  • It crackles or shimmers with an elemental force
  • It is a sentient weapon with a mind of its own
  • It is holy (or corrupt)
  • It is a long lost weapon of a famous order, guild, or family
  • It was constructed using a rare and powerful material

On a 10+ the GM will tell you what tags, bonuses, and additional effects the weapon has.
On a 6- the GM will choose two, but the weapon will not easily serve a new master.

View this move here on Vin Moves and here on GitHub.

This first version of this move had you rolling when you first saw the weapon, but I changed it to include hearing about it. I wanted the GM to be able to put this move into play whenever the characters are poking around about a well known enemy and start collecting rumors.

I also originally had this move be rolled by the player with the highest Intelligence score. I think going off the scores is a cool mechanic I’ll explore in the future, but the new version that’s based on knowledge of weapons is truer to the fiction.

I originally started writing this move with the intention of forcing the player to pick their poison, and choose things about this weapon that would make the encounter harder. This would be things like Forceful and Messy tags, or +1d4 damage, or heals for X. I changed my mind on that and now want to leave those mechanical effects up to the GM based on the descriptions given by the player.

With the options you can choose to give the weapon this move should help shape the lore of the world you’re in. I particularly like the option where the weapon is being sought by a group, as that could make a new adventure on its own.

GMs should be heavily encouraged to ask lots of follow up questions. If the weapon is made with fabled Dragonbone or Ironblood forges, then what are those? Where do they come from? Who has access to them?

The players are going to want to steal this weapon, I can feel it. I think it will be fun to let them craft it themselves then hopefully win the fight and get to take it.