Using clocks to track combat progress

I’m in a discussion about combat in Dungeon World and the pros and cons of how to represent injury, and I got thinking about how to represent progress in combat generally. It occurred to me that it seems like the natural way to represent the progress of a combat in BitD would be with clocks representing the tactical position, as we do so many other ongoing situations, but BitD doesn’t do that. Instead it deals with discrete harm levels, although it does work a bit like a clock in some ways. I’m wondering why that is, and what it might look like if combat status was tracked using clocks.

There is another game I’m familiar with that uses a system like that, HeroQuest. It uses something called Resolution Points that track the situation in a conflict, which works a bit like a clock for each participant in a contest. I was wondering if this was ever considered during the game development process?

Well, you could represent combat with clocks, and I have. Harm though isn’t a measure of progress but is a consequence of dangerous actions the characters make. They can affect the future fight, but also last long after.


Yes, I’m a little confused by the question.

BitD represents conflicts and obstacles with clocks. A combat opponent is just a particular obstacle, and combat is just one way to fill the clock.

Harm isn’t only an outcome of combat, but of any failed roll - like Tubal said, it’s a permanent consequence separate from any obstacle clocks.

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Yep. Band of Blades does this explicitly by recommending certain monster tiers having certain clocks. It’s not a really hard rule but it’s there and I find it’s kind of interesting circling all the way back around to what amounts for hit points but soooo much better because they put the fiction first!

Chming in late: In one sense, a clock can just be (as has been said) hit points placed in a circle.

Howeverrrrr, I like to do something slightly different.

Clocks in a fight, as I like to use them, do not represent “and then man falls over dead” but instead substantive changes in the ongoing fiction. Cutting the venomous tail from the giant deathlands scorpion is a clock that means you no longer risk getting stabbed by that thing. Pressuring the Red Sash swordmaster as a group so that someone can disarm her is more than just dealing four of the eight HP to kill someone.

Foes are not defeated when their bars are empty/full, but rather when fiction dictates that they are no longer an effective threat. This is usually due to some combination of harming them, breaking their morale, or removing their tools of aggression.