[RPG] When should I correct the GM during a game


I'm currently playing dungeon world with a GM who doesn't really like following Dungeon World's rules. As a result my GM often either decides to break the rules or to change the rules. I am of the opinion that the game would actually be a good deal more fun for all if we would play the game as it was intended.

In order to attempt to bring us closer to playing the game by the rules, I have taken to pointing out when we are breaking the rules and how we might follow them instead. This works in one of two ways

  • After the game I point out rules that have been broken repeatedly or ignored as a whole. For example "Hey, I noticed that we have not been marking XP after failures. I think that we should because …" or "I noticed that you lied to the players on occasion X. While it might make sense in other systems the Dungeon World system forbids it because …"

  • During the game I might point out minor transgression. For example one of our players was looking for a cat so the GM asked him to roll a discern realities. Upon success the GM simply told the player where the cat was. I pointed out that that is not how discern realities works and we backtracked a little bit and did things properly.

However I feel like the latter of these breaks the immersion of the game. I genuinely think that if we were more strict about the rules we would all have a better time (and another player has told me they think this as well), but interrupting the game to point out transgressions feels very nitpicky and pedantic, and no one wants to play with a hair-splitter.

On the other hand everyone has seemed pretty welcoming of my objections. Of the times I've objected in the game we've always chosen to make some change towards the way the rules dictate, and I think everything so far has been appreciated by the group.

When should I point out rule breaks? How often should I? How can I decide which things to enforce and which to let go?

Best Answer

An important aspect of most Powered by the Apocalypse games, including Dungeon World, is that the game is a conversation between the players and the GM with interjections as rules are triggered.

Playing Dungeon World means having a conversation; somebody says something, then you reply, maybe someone else chimes in. We talk about the fiction—the world of the characters and the things that happen around them. As we play, the rules will chime in, too. They have something to say about the world. There are no turns or rounds in Dungeon World, no rules to say whose turn it is to talk. Instead players take turns in the natural flow of the conversation, which always has some back-and-forth. The GM says something, the players respond. The players ask questions or make statements, the GM tells them what happens next. Dungeon World is never a monologue; it’s always a conversation.

Because of how the conversation and moves interact, it's extraordinarily important that everyone agrees that a move is triggered so that everyone can respond appropriately, as fiction or the moves demand.

Everyone at the table should listen for when moves apply. If it’s ever unclear if a move has been triggered, everyone should work together to clarify what’s happening. Ask questions of everyone involved until everyone sees the situation the same way and then roll the dice, or don’t, as the situation requires.

If you disagree or have a question about whether a situation triggers a move, or how the move was handled, you are empowered to bring it up with the group. You are already doing this and appear to be having some success.

My concern is with your question's premise about having “a GM who doesn't really like following Dungeon World's rules.” This is highly open-ended and depends on how familiar you are with the GM and why your GM is acting this way. Depending on your comfort level—if, for example, the GM is a close friend—this could be a one-on-one discussion between game sessions with them about the rules of Dungeon World and their desire to run it as written, or confusion about how it works, or how they want to improve their GMing. If they're less familiar, you may want to discuss it with the other players first, and broach the topic as a group after a session. For a hostile GM, you could decide to walk away.

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