Hi folks! First time poster here, looking forward to Gauntlet Con later this month!
I’m going to be MC’ing Jay Iles’ Rhapsody of Blood for my local gaming group in a couple weeks, and I have some questions about how the pacing of the confrontation sequences is expected to work.
The “Reactions” section (p.56) suggests that the GM makes reactions in the following four situations:
- When a player rolls a 6- on a move.
- When everyone’s looking to you to find out what happens next.
- When the regent’s clock ticks.
- When the players offer you up a golden opportunity [by taking an action that has been well-established in the fiction to have a specific and direct consequence].
That said, the example confrontation in the book has a number of cases where the GM appears to respond to a player’s declared intentions with a reaction that doesn’t seem to follow the above guidelines, rather than invoking a move that the player intends to trigger. For example (p. 28):
Mandrake: Time for me to get involved. I’ll . . . charge into that cloud looking to tackle the bastard.
GM: Alright, you charge out of Wendell’s sanctuary into the dust. But it’s choking, and actually filled with tiny ice crystals, so you’re having trouble finding the acolyte.
And again, on p.29:
Lucretia: Can do. I’ll follow the tendril back to its source, and try to stab up the acolyte.
GM: As you charge in, your ears pick up a sudden scream of warning from those ghosts: another tendril is pushing towards you, needle-thin.
In both of these cases, one could make a solid argument that the player was trying to Confront the foe head-on, which is an established confrontation move that calls for a +Iron roll to expose the acolyte’s weaknesses and generate progress towards defeating them. Rather than calling for a Confront role, however, the example GM makes an acolyte reaction and asks the player to respond. What justified this decision in the mechanics?
I’ve listened to a few episodes of the excellent Actual Play podcast of RoB, “Red Moon Rising” on Project Blue Book, and the same thing happens there in Episode 1 @18:00: the first explorer declares that they are drawing their rapier to “Confront” the regent, charging towards the regent, and that they “don’t really want to give them a chance to do anything,” and the GM responds not by calling for a Confront roll but by having the regent throw a fireball at the explorer.
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I’d like the confrontations to have some narrative heft and don’t want them to devolve into a rote stream of “someone makes a move to create an opening, someone make a move to strike, rinse/repeat two more times, on to the next ward”. Given the fictional positioning of a boss-fight, it makes sense that the antagonist would have ample opportunities to unleash attacks on the explorers. On the other hand, I feel like saying “what honesty demands” implies that if a player is clearly trying to trigger a move, and the fiction hasn’t explicitly established an obstacle preventing the move, the GM should let the move be triggered.
Does anyone have any advice as to how I should approach this friction and navigate it with my players? I’m frequently a worrywart, so “you’re overthinking this” is absolutely a valid answer.