Are custom moves that were written for a specific location or event hidden from the players until a character does…

Are custom moves that were written for a specific location or event hidden from the players until a character does…

Are custom moves that were written for a specific location or event hidden from the players until a character does the trigger event? If no, when should they be revealed? If yes, should they be hinted at?

22 thoughts on “Are custom moves that were written for a specific location or event hidden from the players until a character does…”

  1. Okay, that makes sense.

    My concern is being fair and open while still maintaining the thrill of exploration. If I just showed them the move the moment they lay eyes upon the location, it wouldn’t be exciting. If I don’t show them the move until after they triggered it, that could be seen as unfair.

    Your follow-up question in parentheses totally nails it though. I’ll show them the move when they trigger it and they can decide for themselves if they still want to do it under those conditions or not.

  2. I’ve used the reveal of a Custom Move before a campaign as a form of Reveal Future Badness. “Laerad’s Curse,” which everyone who lives in this fantasy world knows about, tells the players that, if they touch the ubiquitous roots of the World Tree, they may become monsters. It also tells them that areas overrun by the root are most likely lousy with transformed wildlife or even unlucky adventurers. The revealed move helped me establish setting and threat in one fell swoop.

  3. Now, if we’re talking about a Custom Move that isn’t common knowledge, like “when you touch the Red Jewel of Aja,” my reveal would happen the second they trigger it. The player gets shown the full write-up and all the horrible consequences, then roll. For these moves, though, it is usually nice to include Horrible Choices… Unless the fiction heavily hinted at how touching the artifact was a bad idea, in which case the consequences for failure will be as hard as is warranted.

  4. Option: write the move on a card and write its trigger on the reverse. When they encounter a situation where they could trigger it, place the card, trigger-side up, on the table. Its a dare. If they spout lore, discern realities, or just do it then flip the card.

  5. I think the GM should hint at the danger as a soft move prior to springing it on them if at all possible. Especially if the triggered move is a hard move.

  6. Do whatever feels right to you. I personally would rather it just be something discovered in the moment if I’m a player. Likewise as a GM I’m likely to just do the move or let the player trigger it when it happens.

    Take the example from the book, the Stepping into the Light move. If I’m a player and he GM SHOWS me that move prior to me entering the light, that’s a bit of a letdown to me. Just surprise me with.

    And remember, nine times out of ten, a custom player triggered move is likely just a well thought out and predefined Defy Danger. We don’t have issue with calling those out in the moment if need, right?

  7. Chris McNeilly, if it’s a hard move isn’t that kinda breaking the rules, if not the spirit of the rules? I thought the idea was (and I may be drawing this more from AW than DW) GM can do a soft move unless the PCs fail a roll them he can follow up with a hard move (assuming it works into the fiction).

    If you have a Custom GM Move that says “Take 18 hp damage from falling rocks” triggered by walking into the room, that shouldn’t just be sprung on the players, should it?

    This is a good question though (and I don’t mean the above questions to be rhetorical). Is a Custom Move the players rolls for a “hard move?” Or are only GM moves that change things irrevocably called “hard moves.”

    If your custom move is:

    Picking up the glowing gem, roll +Con. 10+ You are granted 9th level wizard spell to be cast once, 7-9 Choose one: Granted a seventh level wizard spell and everyone gains a sick condition, Cast a third level wizard spell right now and the gem gains a bond with everyone in the room, or the gem pulses with power and s worth 100gp. 6+ The gem discharges it’s magical energy; take 25 hp of spell damage.

    Is that a hard move? Am I correct that hard moves shouldn’t be sprung on players without them being warned fisr?

    Thanks for the clarification.

  8. Falling rocks is a good example. Think about landmines in movies, people step on them and have that ‘oh crap, I can’t step of without it exploding’ moment. The rocks are a trap so you’re going to tell them they’ve triggered it in response to a failed roll. Maybe they were searching a room and rolled a 2 on a discern realities move. Now you show them the disarm rock trap custom move. Do they want or even have time to disarm it? Maybe their Int is low and they’d rather try to jump out of the way by defying danger with Dex… Showing them the move defines the stakes and acts like a hard choice. 

  9. Yeah, it’s always going to depend on what’s going on with the scene. In my imagination, your rock falling example seems too hard. I wouldn’t just deliver damage for waking in a room. But I wouldn’t have a problem springing a trap that forced a Defy Danger that could result in that on a miss.

    Your gem move would need context for my taste. If its just a random looking gem in a pile of gems and you just throw that move on them when they scoop then up, seems hard. If its a single gem sitting on a cushioned pedestal, and it makes the hair in the back of your neck prickle when you approach…the move is all good in my book.

  10. At Don Corcoran – (having not played – can’t wait ’til I get rid of that qualifier), you can also make a hard move when the players give you a golden opportunity.

    Using the example in the book, if I walk into a room and there is an evil portal and it’s giving off a light source, you can bet your momma’s apple pie (what) that I’m going to be a little cautious before approaching it.

    If a player walks up to the light willy-nilly, that’s possibly a golden opportunity.

    Also, scope is probably a question as well. Technically, “you take 1 point of damage” is a hard move, just like 18. But if the move is “SURPRISE! Take 1d4 damage,” I’m more okay with that.

  11. I also feel that how hard the move can be appropriately totally depends on the situation. It is not ok to let a player be skewered on a spear trap because of a single miss, but you can snowball for only so long before you have to.

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