I am currently looking forward to playing in a game that takes place in the lord of the rings setting and was recently talking to another player about fairy tale logic. Why should a dragon or monster take the time to talk to an adventurer, why should it honor a promise or agree to a riddle contest. The short answer is probably because it is sort of cool and makes for fun stories. I generally run very brutal, slightly “realistic” Conan style games but I always love the idea that truly old and powerful creatures obeying obscure forms of etiquette. Maybe it’s just for their own amusement, maybe there is actual power in it. Maybe they are just so old and sure in their power that they feel they can hold themselves and their servants/quests/victims to a higher standard.
From a fairy tale perspective it makes sense as a method to teach kids to be polite and intelligent. It also helps explain why a couple of kids lost in the woods might be able to survive an encounter with an evil witch. Sure she could just turn them into animals and butcher them, but instead she is trying to lure them into the oven under the guise of a friendly lady who just needs some help with housework. They could confront her and probably lose an impossible fight. Or they could be smart and polite and trick her into the oven instead.
Finally, this sort of storytelling is a refreshing change of pace from the traditional, murder hobo games where you solve every challenge by attacking it, setting it on fire, and looting the remains.
Whatever the reason I decided to collect some custom moves here for dealing with magical / legendary creatures or great kings. A couple of these were originally suggestions for a monster of the week game but I have changed them all to use DW stats. Feel free to adapt and use them in any game to give it more of a story book feel.
When you confront a being of magic with evidence of a broken promise roll + WIS . On a hit the being is gravely weakened. on a 10+ the being is magically compelled to do one service for the wronged party. It may not avoid or delay this penalty without painful or even deadly consequence.
When you speak the full name of a magical being, imparting each syllable with magic, roll + INT. On a 10+, gain 2 hold on the creature. on a 7-9, same as 10+ but the creature also gains a hold on you. spend hold to:
*receive an honest and direct answer to any question.
*force the creature to return to its lair till dawn.
*force the creature to give you something of itself.
*force the creature to appear.
gain +1 on this roll if you willingly give the creature a hold.
When you challenge a creature of legend to an unwinnable contest, explain how you actually plan to beat it and roll + STAT. On a miss, in addition to the GM’s move, you are caught cheating. On a hit the creature is forced to admit defeat and will honor any wager they agreed to. On a 10+ the creature is also impressed, does not suspect any trickery, and will certainly not take offense at being beaten.
When you are allowed audience with a great king or legendary creature, the GM will tell you the rules of etiquette you must follow to stay in their good graces. As long as you remain a well behaved guest, they will welcome you in their home and listen to your petition. Roll + CHA, on a hit they will offer what assistance they can. On a 7-9 they will require something (evidence, tribute, or service) from you. On a miss, in addition to the GM’s move, you will have worn out your welcome.
When you begin a game of riddles with a creature of legend, decide who goes first (generally the guest or challenger) and roll + INT. The GM will roll the die of fate and subtract the result from your roll. On a hit, depending on whose turn it is, you correctly answer the creature’s riddle or manage to stump it. On a 10+ you also get a +1 to your next roll. On a miss, you either fail to answer the creature’s riddle or it easily answers yours. The game ends when one opponent cannot answer the other’s riddle. you may agree beforehand to play best two out of three. Aiding another player must be done covertly to avoid accusations of cheating.
When you are within their power and appeal to the vanity of a great king or creature of legend, roll + CHA. Chose two on a hit, but on a 7-9 you are prevented from leaving and must continue offering compliments.
*You have their complete attention. They will not take any notice of your allies unless they directly attack or cause a great disturbance.
*They will not directly threaten or further entrap you. Some creatures like to talk to their prey while they ensnare it, luring it in close or cutting off its escape. Some creatures are just inherently dangerous to be around unless they are content to sit still and talk.
*They will answer a question or give you good advice. Such creatures are often ancient and know much hidden lore.