You can never ask too many questions!
I was tempted to word this lesson learned as “you can never ask enough questions”, but that might be stretching it a little. Some of my biggest “regrets” as a GM is that I don’t ask enough questions, as asking questions is to ask for player input.
There’s a principle called “ask questions and use the answers”, and I should really get better at following it.
During the second session in “The Rise of Ri’leth” adventure, Eric wanted his Fighter to multiclass for wizard spell casting. I figured that I would find a way for him to loot a spell book or something, as it is required for spell casting. This was a big mistake, one that I felt required retconning in the third session.
I failed to let him find a spell book, which I’m almost embarrassed about. I wasn’t a fan of his character when I didn’t give one to him. He bought the advanced move fair and square.
This could easily have been resolved in the beginning of the second session with one simple question: “How did you find that brand new spell book under your arm?” If I had done this, then I’d been a lot more proud of that session. Don’t get me wrong, the session was great, but it would really have made that session even better.
Another reason why asking questions might be important is that you sometime have an awesome idea for a hard move, but you are unsure whether or not your player will think it as awesome as you do. In the third session of the three-shot, Falafael the Fighter wanted to trip a cultist leader to prevent his escape. He rolled a miss of course, which he always does, and I got an idea; why not let the cultist leader fall onto his own blade, atop the alter, making him the last sacrifice in the ritual?
In my head, it just sounded so funny and so obvious, but I was afraid to do it since it might seem a little “railroady”. So I just said to Eric that I was tempted to do it, looking for confirmation that he thought it would be cool. He just told me to do it.
No matter what he answered, I would have learned something about what Eric wanted in the game, which really just made it a win-win question.
Asking questions is one of those things that just make this question so damn great. In more traditional games, I wouldn’t feel it was appropriate to do it. And even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to improvise so heavily as I do in DW. I’m not that confident in my ability to improvise entire encounters in D&D, or even World of Darkness, but in Dungeon World it’s a breeze for me.
So, lesson learned: Ask more questions! About everything!