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Narrative Dynamics

A member registered Mar 22, 2019 · View creator page →

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Thanks for saying so!  I think FONT pairs well with a lot of other systems.  If things are going really poorly in your setting, send some poor souls into the FISSURE to see if they can bring things back from the brink.

Hi Paddy,

I wanted to get in touch with you about a review you left for my game FONT and wasn't sure where I could track you down.  Just wanted to say thank you and ask if you would be ok with me quoting your review when telling folks about FONT.  Sorry for the off-topic and thanks!


Thank you!  How would you like to be cited?  As kumada1?

@kumada1, would it be alright if I quote a sentence or two of your post when telling folks about FONT?

The BitD roll20 sheets are super cool.  Making a Rebel Crown playset for roll20 is on our to-do list, but for our own games we use google sheets alongside a video client (like zoom or discord).  This has seemed to be easier for folks to pickup across devices.  Here's a link if you want to check out the sheets.

We'll be sure to post any roll20 updates here.


Haha, thanks for saying so!

Glad you got the symbols sorted by the end of the game. :D

Thanks for saying so!

Hi Capt_buck!

Good questions, and it's cool to see you really diving into the system.

In terms of scale, I've found that the Pit of Mirrors can vary a lot.  Sometimes actions spiral out of control and twists introduce new dangers that need to be resolved.  I've had folks get lost on the way there or stalked by the jungle cat, or caught in the vines.  I've also seen groups come up with clever ways to avoid problems and they fly through it in  a few turns.

One thing that can slow the pace of a game without adding obstacles or forcing a roll: taking more time for questions and descriptions.  Really dive into the sounds and smells of the abandoned lab, ask about goblins past experience with weird creatures, about how they do something, about what they want out of a situation.  I find that spending more time 'in the fiction' can add a lot to play.

When players fail an action more than once, it can be useful to add new threats.  The danger for fleeing a burning lab could be that the acting goblin gets pinned under falling debris, or the adventurers come down the stairs to attack.  Ideally failing means that you aren't in the same position as you were before the roll.  That can keep a desperate scene lively and dynamic.

I agree that small things, without meaningful stakes (like going up and down stairs) doesn't need to be a roll.  Save it for the big stuff.

The orb making light/ the ooze being harmed by light is an intentional relationship.  Cool to hear you found a dramatic moment there.

I love the image of the tiny ooze dragging a goblin around from inside its guts.

Yes, that's precisely the intent!  I imagine that some sample formulas would be useful: we're hoping to include some in the upcoming expansion zine: Serpent & Oak.

Duet actual play from the Party of One Podcast (with Jeff Stormer):

Rebel Crown One-Shot with Nicolas Garcia, Judd Karlman, and Slade Stolar:

And they're up!

Hey Remi,

We realized there was some out of date info on the playbooks so we're revising them right now, but they'll be up later today!

Unsure about a play procedure?  Need examples of how something might work in play?  This is a thread for us to help each other out.

Rebel Crown community · Created a new topic Actual Play

A space to share accounts of your one-shots, campaigns, and prep.  Share what's happening at your table!

Wow, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.  I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed it.


Thanks!  If you get it to the table, let us know how it goes.

Thanks for saying so!

We go dark with it sometimes, too.  This often happens when say that the obtacle to overcome is some internal crisis, or when the FISSURE is made alien and unnerving.  Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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Great questions!

Yes, opportunities are specific adventuring leads with a payout. For example, a thief offers to pay the goblin double the value if they retrieve a specific item from a given location.  

Goblins work at their job locations and make Scratch based on the Go to Work roll (page 17).  It is intentionally a less-than-subsistance wage (unless you're a boss).  In order to survive, you need to keep adventuring.  Having to show up to work is mostly a bad thing. 

If the goblins carry Scratch around with them, it usually takes up 1/2 Inventory per Scratch.

The latrines let you gain 1 Scratch if you make a Grim favor roll to possibly get Sick.  The latrines aren't great.  But upgrading them makes them useful; good fodder for a quest.

You ask about whether it's just these goblins being paid poorly in town or if the whole town is in rough shape: it's the latter.  You can of course find your own tone here, but no one in Goblinville is living the high life.

Yeah, rumors are like opportunities but more vague.

If you still have questions, don't be shy.  Often others show up with good guidance on getting started. :D

"The goblins are not setting out on missions of destruction. This game doesn't work well with that premise. The goblins set out to find things or people that will improve their life in town. Focus on that. "

Well said!  Focusing on the premise of play goes a long way.

If folks want to hear some one-on-one actual play of a Goblinville session, Michael went on the Party of One Podcast last December.  It's got character creation and a quick session in about an hour.  Check it out!

"So  you're saying 10 monster of different types is impossible for a group of goblins, but 10 monsters of the same type is a standard encounter?"

I see the confusion.  That group of 10 monsters you referenced isn't a 'standard encounter': they are a death sentence for that village.  I seen that goblins take out one or two that they managed to ambush, but taking the group head-on would likely be disasterous.  This is the case in many of our adventures: the goblins are small creatures in a perilous world.  There is no expectation that they can take on every threat they run into.

"So what I'm understanding from your answers is that each encounter only has one monster block regardless of the number or types of monsters?  We just add more armor or moves to that monster block to get that feeling?"

Yes, exactly.

"Only one twist? Doesn't that make armor pointless or discourage goblins from coming up with their own twist?"

Leather Armor can only be damaged once before it needs to be repaired.  It's really useful, but it works once and then you need to think of something else.  Also, armor takes up precious inventory  and it isn't relevant to all situations.

"Monster armor and moves are basically the same thing, just one is more flavorable than the other? "

Yeah, that's a reasonable way to put it.  However, since armor is crossed out first, monsters with armor are likely to stay in a fight longer than a moster with highly specific moves (who will flee as soon as they are out of moves that make sense in the context".

"Finally, how do you narrate the monsters dying or running off? If you have 10 clerics with 3 moves, that would give them 2 armor for being in a group and outnumbering the goblins. The goblins hit one, reducing their armor by 1 and I'm assuming killing one of the clerics? The problem being that there are 10 clerics and only 5 (3 moves 2 armor) things to cross off. If the narration says they killed 5 clerics over the course of 5 actions, then that would cross off all 5 boxes and leave 5 clerics still alive. I can't just have them run off and escape, the players would chase them down. So how does this work in this game?"

When the clerics are out of moves that make sense in the present context, they flee.  When they are out of moves, they are dead.  This is more cinematic in its pacing; the GM might say "Their spirit is broken and you cut them down without further difficulty.  On their bodies you find..."

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I made a flowchart outlining the moment-to-moment procedures that pace a session of Goblinville. I was inspired by John Harper’s diagram showing “what you actually do in World of Dungeons” and Jeremy Strandberg’s Framework for GMing Dungeon World.

I hope this is helpful for new Goblinville GMs getting a sense of how the different parts of the system come together.

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Oh I missed a question:

"How many twist can be added to a roll or is there even a limit? "

Yes, one twist per roll.  We found that more than that makes it hard to remember what each element of resolution represents; it slows down rolls without adding much to gameplay.

Also, there's only one Twist space on the player sheet:

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Hey Nate,

These are  great questions, and I think they highlight some important points for folks coming to Goblinville from other systems.  I'm going to try to answer through an example.  If you still have questions, let me know.

Four goblins enter a tomb and they are attacked by six skeleton warriors.  A skeleton warrior has 3 moves: shamble, push over, and slash. 


 However,  they also have armor:

With Chainmail (2 armor),  a group of enemies (+1 armor), and the goblins outnumbered (+1 armor): the skeletons have 4 armor.

At the table, a skeleton stat block might look like this:

(A pack of six skeletons is tough.  It's worth noting that a pack of nine skeletons is not necessarily tougher, but we found that these rules made fighting groups of monsters challenging without turning it into a slog. )

The GM frames their approach based on the moves: "The sacrophogi burst open, and a skeletal warrior emerges out of each one.  They shamble toward you, blades drawn."  Since problems like this target the first goblin in marching order, the GM turns to that player and says: "You see the skeletons' bent and rusted swords still have a jagged edge,  what do you do?"

The player says that their goblin attacks the nearest skeleton with their broken bottle.  The GM assesses the positioning:

The skeletons are bigger, better armed, and more numerous.  The goblins are in a definitely in a bad position.

The GM passes the player their action die and restates the action (you might harm the skeleton), then hands over a danger die and states the danger (you might get knocked to the floor). The goblin is also risking harm (from the sword) so they grab a third die.

The player then resolves the action, danger, and harm.  Maybe they are panicked (from the harm roll) and tackled by a skeleton, but they managed to stab one ( the GM crosses out an armor on the skeleton stat block).

If another player describes their goblin helping the first one to their feet, then the GM sets the conditions for that roll: action (you help your ally up and improve your positioning), danger (the tackled goblin is injured), and harm.  Note that this puts a goblin at risk who is out of the marching order, but still leaves resolution in the players' hands.  I've seen so many players mark a condition for their own goblin to protect an ally.

To address a few of your specific questions:

Monsters don't need a place in the marching order.  They present dangers that set the terms of the players' rolls.  Since each roll resolves the goblin's action and the danger they face (along with potential harm and twists) the GM doesn't need a turn.  That said, they should constantly be putting pressure on the players and asking how they respond.

Positioning can easily go from good to bad in a single action.  Maybe the goblins want to attempt something that would be impossible if not for the advantageous position that they're in.  The GM can slide the position tracker to 'bad' and let the goblin take their shot.  If a player is surprised that an action puts them in bad position, let them reframe what they are attempting.  Maybe they can achieve something more modest with less risk.  The position tracker helps the players and GM maintain a shared sense of the stakes of  a given situation: move it when it makes sense to.

It sounds like you're concerned the player might refuse to have their goblin act (since they face consequences on a failed roll) but I haven't seen this happen in play.  If the player says their goblin does nothing, the GM should ask what they hope to accomplish/ what they want out of the situation.  You could say: "if you stand still this skeleton is going to run you through with a sword. Is that what you do?"  If they say yes, then they mark injured.  i'm not saying that you should inflict conditions without a roll, but Goblinville is all about telling players the potential consequences and asking what they do.  In practice, if you ask the player what they want to accomplish, then they end up moving the game forward (either with a roll or a good idea).

Mixed units of enemies certainly comes up sometimes.  The only change you make is to replace those generic armor slots (that monsters get from being in a group) with specific moves from the other types of monsters present.  Here's a necromancer with his skeleton guards:

One thing to note, in your example you ask about "3 clerics, 3 skeletons, 3 zombies, and a necromancer".  Those are probably impossible stakes for a group of goblins.  I would recommend starting with the adventures from the books, seeing how tough a human or two can be for a goblin, and playing from there.

Happy to answer any other questions that come up, or to tag in some other players on the forum who have experience with running conflicts.

Well done.  Sounds like a fun session!

Ah cool, I wouldn't do a grim favor there because then something bad happened to the players and they had no choice or decision point that led to it.  I would just have the crows swarm them and and start picking at them aggressively.  That  puts the ball in the players' court.  What do they do?  If they want to drive them off, that's an action roll.  Maybe they goblins will scare them crows off, but maybe they'll panic.

You can still resolve that in a single roll, rather than an extended conflict, but they players are driving the action.  They know what's at risk and they have the opportunity to try avoid it. Maybe things will spiral from there, but maybe not. Alternately, if you just want to convey 'this place is scary' you can do that in your description, without touching the mechanics.

Your instinct not to inflict conditons without a roll is spot-on.  Goblins mark conditions from failed rolls, or if the fourth turn ends and they haven't made camp.  Conditions are pretty bad, and they snowball sometimes.  Keep throwing problems at the goblins and you'll see conditions stack up quickly enough.

Yeah!  Glad to hear you loved it.  That's rad.  And I've found it holds up ok if you miss a couple of rules: the core resolution makes sure players have interesting choices.

Your question is a good one.  Making sure there's always  a risky action and a danger keeps situations dynamic: players will rarely get everything they want.  That said, it can take practice for the GM to smoothy distinguish actions and dangers.  If there are dangers around, but the players aren't taking risky actions, there's no need to make a roll.  Keep that danger in your backpocket. 

That said, often a danger makes an otherwise simple action risky.  Crossing a room is easy, crossing a room with lava pits is  not.   The action is make it across, the danger is mark panicked.  You could keep your cool but wind up stranded on a narrow ledge (someone will have to help you out).  You could make it across but be panicked.  Or maybe you're lucky and you get through with a cool head.

Your insinct to use Grim Favor rolls to resolve risks that aren't tied to the goblin's actions is spot on.  If there's an escalating situation (like a cave-in) you can roll Grim Favor to see how bad it is.  You can also just escalate problems at the end of the turn.  You have a moment to think about that stuff while players are rolling back into Marching Order.

One thing to keep in mind is that these rolls are narrative beats, they punctuate a moment of uncertainty where events could take a turn for the worse.  If the current situation isn't that interesting, that's fine.  Say yes (the action succeeds) and keep following those goblins around until they get into some real trouble.

If you have specific examples of where you were unsure how to resolve, I'd love to hear them.  Real world examples tend to be the most useful.

The Twist die is from the general pool, not that player's Action die.
Offering Twists is a great way to stay involved after you've taken your action for the turn.

For folks looking for examples of adventuring in / near town, Issue 4 should provide a some solid examples.  Eager to hear how other folks put together town adventures.

Ah got it.  It does sound like a challenge to keep the space plausible and consistent despite its strangeness.

I can see that!  I've come to rely on grim favor rolls a lot when in uncharted territories.  Something for terrain might be:

6: Easy to traverse

4-5: Uncertain / there's an obstacle or hazard

1-3: Critical hazard or imminent danger

Once I  know how generous I'm being, I can usually decide what's plausible.