Last time I talked about Worldbreakers, we discussed the purely narrative side of it. In this article, we’re going to dig in and explore some possible mechanics behind it, while also exploring more of the possibilities this idea represents. It’s been a while since I posted the last article, so you might want to go back and brush up the subject.
At some point, the Worldbreaker decides to use its world-breaking action, but something has to trigger that.
The simplest way to do it is to decide on the fly, as the GM. If the conflict seems to be becoming less interesting, you’ve run out of ideas to use, or it looks like the characters are about to stomp your creation, flip the switch and let your Worldbreaker break the world. While this may actually be the best way to go about it, this is an article on the mechanics of Worldbreakers, so I’ll present a couple more-mechanical ideas as well, but these ideas will simply be an estimation of the point that the conflict slows.
It makes sense that the creature would decide to gain a bigger advantage when it believes it might not survive with the current situation. What would make it believe that? Being hurt a certain amount. To set up a consequence trigger, you simply need to choose one of the creature’s consequence slots. When that slot or a higher one takes a consequence, you trigger the Worldbreaker action.
Often, campaigns to take down the really big monster force the characters to go in search of a MacGuffin that will help/allow them to do so. If this is the case, you could decide to make it take a few rounds before the MacGuffin can be used, whether it’s because it needs to be charged up or it takes a few tries to hit the monster with it. It doesn’t matter how you make it take time to go into effect, just matters that it does. And, as soon as it goes into effect, the monster gets desperate and activates its big move.
There’s something else that can often cause a fighter to get desperate: running out of options. If a creature has thrown all of its other weapons at the characters, and it’s down to the last ditch effort, it’s time to be desperate. An example of this could be a dragon running out of uses of its fire breath. You can set a similar type of limit on the monster, and when the limit is reached, the next thing it does is use its Worldbreaker move.
If you want, you can leave the trigger to chance, possibly with an escalating probability of triggering. All you need to do is decide on a number that you need to roll above to trigger the move, preferably a bit high. Then, at the beginning of the monster’s turn, roll the dice to see if it triggers. If you want to, you can add a bonus to the roll that increases every round, which allows you to make the target number impossible for the first round and then get increasingly probable as the fight goes on. You could even put in triggers that forces the roll or increases the bonus.
We’ve had all this vague talk about the Worldbreaker’s big move, but now it’s time to buckle down and really talk about it. First off, from now on, I’ll be referring to it as the Surge. It’s shorter than most of the other descriptions, and it’s kind of evocative of the effect that I envision for the move.
Get Some Separation
First things first, the Surge causes the Worldbreaker to separate itself from the characters, often by sending them flying from a huge pulse of power or swing of its arms, but it can also be from the monster heading to another zone. The separation happens no matter what. The characters can try to overcome any other effects of whatever is causing this separation, such as damage or aspect creation, but there’s nothing they can do to stop being separated.
Shake It Off
The next important part is that the Worldbreaker shakes off all or most of the Aspects stacked up against it. Any situational Aspects, that reflect mood or positioning are definitely removed, as well as any Aspects that represent effects such as being dizzied or on fire. Unless it makes no sense for an Aspect to be removed by the monster removing itself from the situation and trying to re-prepare for battle, it is removed. If you feel this is too powerful, you could decide that it gets a chance to roll to overcome these Aspects.
The Big Bang
Lastly, the Surge should have an additional effect against the characters. Whether it’s the pulse of power, swinging of arms, taking to flight, or a huge leap, something should hit the PCs. It can cause damage, create an advantage, or both. The PCs can resist this (unlike the “separation”), but it is done so with Overcome (click to see a more in-depth explanation about ‘defending’ with Overcome), not Defend or Counter-Actions. The effect should be severe, so characters will want the chance to succeed at a cost if they need it.
I’m afraid I’ve run out of space. In the next article exploring the mechanics of a Worldbreaker, we’ll dig into the changes that affect the REST of the conflict, detailing the possible changes to the monster as well as the what else the characters have to deal with.
If you’ve got comments or critiques, let me know. This is really a work in progress, so anything you have to say is welcome.
Until next time… Game on!