The CHILLS Technique

A while back, I wrote this on G+ in response to +Jason Tocci, +Rob Donoghue, and +Adam Schwaninger making a little mnemonic for how to dole out consequences when GMing. There’s definitely overlap with PbtA games, but how you use GM moves is really down to personal style.

And I believe the consequences of an action should give you CHILLS:

Collateral: There is some additional harm as a result of your action – maybe some scenery is broken, maybe someone gets hurt, or maybe someone unexpected takes notice of you.

Harm: The most direct and simplest of consequences – what you did causes mechanical harm to a character. This includes allies or hirelings, slightly overlapping with “Collateral”, but the emphasis is on the mechanical bits if possible.

Interference: Something or someone gets in the way of your success or failure – perhaps a new threat emerges or the situation changes or even just a simple distraction occurs. It could even be an unexpected ally, doing you a favor which you now need to repay.

Loss: You lose something or someone important in some way – you drop a sword, your child is kidnapped, or your grenade falls down a crevasse. Again there is some overlap with “Collateral” here, but the focus is on being fully deprived of something and needing to solve that issue.

Lesser Outcome: This one is pretty plain – you set out to achieve something and you don’t quite make it. You take down three thugs with kung fu instead of all six, the car starts but the tank is nearly empty, you find a gun but no ammo, etc. This is the classic “yes, but…” result.

Shitty Choice: This is my personal favorite – the consequence of your action is that you must choose between two undesirable things. You can shoot the guy and he drops the antidote, or he gets away; you can save the life of one of two bystanders; you can disarm the bomb and lose your hands, or let it blow up your headquarters.

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