DW GMs, do you cleave to monster moves as presented and try not to “move” beyond those two or three?

DW GMs, do you cleave to monster moves as presented and try not to “move” beyond those two or three?

DW GMs, do you cleave to monster moves as presented and try not to “move” beyond those two or three? Or do you view them as reminders only, and allow yourself to do whatever makes sense for the monster? For example, are you free to use your Troll to pick beings up and pull them to pieces?

21 thoughts on “DW GMs, do you cleave to monster moves as presented and try not to “move” beyond those two or three?”

  1. This is a hard question.

    Because, No, you should use the moves as written. That’s what they’re there for. It’s not the GM’s job to play”gotcha!” And keep adding moves.

    But at the same time, there are a Lot of things that can be done with the basic GM moves that cover more or less everything you could think of. So, anytime you’re “making another monster move” you’re probably just using one of your default moves.

    And it could be disingenuous to let your monsters do whatever, obviously.

    BUT if it makes sense in the fiction? Then you’re just realizing stuff and filling in blanks — which is what you’re suppose to do.

    So? I’d say: use the moves as written, but don’t be afraid to discover new things at the same time your players are.

  2. Obviously it has to make sense within the fiction, I just get tired of qualifying every question or discussion with that. I figure we all assume that. (As an aside, have folks played in many games where people were actually doing stuff that didn’t make sense in the fiction? I’m just not getting the pervasive reliance on that phrase in every DW discussion.)

    Yeah, you’re right Alfred Rudzki, “other moves” fall under the umbrella of the other basic GM moves. All is well.

  3. Yeah, that’s pretty much how I see making “other moves”. I feel like the monsters in the book are like mostly complete, with some invisible blanks to be filled in through play. 🙂

  4. No snark detected, Chris McNeilly 🙂

    The reason that phrase is so commonly used is because it is so, so relevant. No one can ever really give a 100% official answer to anything other than the mechanical rules — if its an interpretation at the table thing? It’s going to fall under “does it make sense in the fiction” heading.

    I was on the same page as you a whole back — I hated that answer while trying to learn Apocalypse World. Then, I ran it. Suddenly, that answer made sense.

  5. I have found that when making up monsters on the fly, sticking to about 3 monster moves feels right.  As said above, this means you’re not constantly throwing stuff out of left field at your party.  But if that sorceror was already turning their equipment into ice, then the move could end there, or that could announce future badness for him turning someone’s arm into ice.  

  6. Yeah, it just seems so obvious as to be meaningless. I can’t imagine playing any RPG and doing otherwise, ya know? If its just another way of saying “The mechanics are silent on the issue” that’s cool. Anytime mechanics are silent on an issue in an RPG it’s just default to figure out a way move forward that makes sense.

    I think about it so much every time I see I’m starting to convince myself it means something more mystical and maybe I’m not getting it.

  7. For many people coming from a D&D background, they were taught that first the mechanics happen, and then the fiction naturally arises from the mechanics. So, you attempt an “attack action”, and then if it hits, you describe the attack as a result of attempting a mechanical result. “Follow the fiction” in DW means that the mechanics are something that arise naturally from doing what makes sense within the fantasy world. It sounds like your prior RPG experiences have been much more rigid, but for many players, “doing what makes sense” has often taken a backseat to “playing a tactical minis game” or “adhering to an adventure path” or otherwise following the mechanical rules of a game to the letter, rather than thinking about what they mean.

  8. It’s definitely cool to use any of MC moves to represent what a monster is doing. All monster moves are in the first place are very specific versions of those. having a goblin separate them instead of calling more goblins is completely legit. As long as what is happening is true to your prep, the principles, and the pre-established fiction, you’re good. Trolls are big and strong, forceful even. Picking someone off and trying to rip off their arm is very in the fiction. I’d probably make a softer move telegraphing it first though.

  9. Chris McNeilly It’s because there are people who work the numbers in 3.x so that they can dig through stone walls with a sword and then when the DM tries to say “Uh, you break your sword? Obviously?” they say “NO IT IS RIGHT THERE IN THE RULES IT SAYS I CAN DO THIS YOU ARE CHEATING!”

    True story, I was told.

  10. Colter Hanna, that’s interesting. And also very strange sounding. I spent a lot of time with D&D long ago but I don’t recall it ever playing the way you’re describing. At least I don’t think so. It’s been a while. But it always seemed to me that the mechanics were trying to model whatever it was you were attempting to do inside the fiction. Fiction first still.

    I’m trying to imagine what it would mean to choose a mechanic first and then apply it to the fiction. I’m thinking about this. Right now it feels like a weird logic puzzle.

  11. Craig Hatler, we dabbled some with 3.5 and I’ve been trying to think of an example of this occurrence there. Like I said, even that was years ago at this point and my memory is fuzzy. Could you provide an example if you get the time?

    I know my discussion has taken a side road but since my original question has been addressed I’m cool with branching out.

  12. One of my PCs had taken levels in a ridiculous PrC called Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil. It gave you “veils” that emulated the colors of a prismatic wall. Red “blocks spells”. I had subjected him to an epic spell. He insisted the fact that it said it blocked spells meant that it’d block epic spells as well. I called BS and told him to save or be shattered to bits. Unfortunately he rolled a Nat 20 😛

  13. I think we stopped at 6th level so I have really don’t have any grasp of the mechanics you would have been dealing with there. I may be way off as a result. But was that really an issue of the player neglecting fiction? It sounds like the fiction (and mechanics) established that his character was immune to spells. And then he was faced with fiction that appeared to ignore what was established.

    Honestly, I could see that same exact situation coming up in a game of DW.

  14. Chris McNeilly

    I think +Colter Hanna is thinking about something like this scenario:

    GM:  It’s your turn.

    Player:  I roll, I hit, 13 damage.

    GM:  You kill him.

    Player:  I chop his head off.

    In the above exchange, the start was fictionless.  “I roll, I hit,” are pretty much as dry and fictionless as you can get.  You get to some fiction “I chop his head off” near the end, but even that is kind of dry.

    Dungeon World doesn’t allow this.  You need to describe how you are attacking, otherwise it may not trigger the Hack and Slash move.  In Dungeon World, you always start from the fiction (AKA “Fiction first”).  You throw some bones and interpret them.  Then you go back to the fiction.  The stress on fiction first really throws the emphasis on role playing over roll playing.

  15. The other thing to note about 3.5 and it’s ilk is the sheer volume and inaccessibility of so much of its rules. Balance, confusion, and time spent discussing rules can be a challenge, and can take over your game.

    When you spend more time discussing how certain parts of the rules interact than what is happening in the game, it stops being fiction first.

    In *World games, the rules are all in digestible, bite-sized chunks that are all right there in front of you, and operate on 2 to 3 simple mechanics. This makes referencing them when needed simple and unobtrusive. They’re also not necessarily about different mechanics interacting to get a physical fictional result. They can affect the fiction in lots of different ways which makes a fighter play very different in a social situation from a wizard, but doesn’t nullify his input.

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