16 thoughts on “I am missing something what is the difference between a hard move and a soft move for a GM.”

  1. A hard move is something that immediately impacts the character or party, taking damage, being thrown, being separated from the group, a new enemy arriving, a cave collapse, etc. It’s the GM making a call that directly impacts the party or requires a roll. Hard moves kind of “just happen” to the players or to the situation. They usually come because players have either made poor decisions, rolled poorly or failed to plan/notice/act. A soft move is more descriptive and elicits action from the players but not necessarily a roll and if it does require a roll, the roll required is dictated more by the players action than the GMs action. It’s less threatening and moves the story/action forward. Their action then provides the fiction for the GMs next move which will either be soft or hard depending on what happened.

  2. Oversimplifying:

    A soft move is what you do to let the players know something bad is around the corner.  You can pretty much do this whenever you want.

    A hard move is when the bad thing eats them.  You typically do this when you’ve set up a soft move and they walked right into it anyway (silver platter), or when they fail a roll.  

    When they fail a roll you can:  

    1) set up a soft move by hinting at something more going on or trouble building (often as a result of the failure, but not necessarily).

    2) hammer them with a hard move that you’ve previously set up and thanks to the failure is now here.

    3) hammer them with a hard move that’s a surprise out of the blue (but still fictionally appropriate).

  3. Hell, the very same event can be a soft or a hard move, depending on how you deal with it :

    In a fight with a dragon, the fighter fails a Hack and Slash :

    Soft Move : The dragon open its mouth and raises it high. He breathes in deep. You see smoke coming out of its nostrils as it’s lowering its head towards you and your companions. It’s going to breath flames at you in seconds, what do you do?

    Hard Move : Your sword strikes the dragon’s scales and draws no blood. The giant lizard stares at you and in the blink of an eye, it spits fire all over you and your friends, everyone takes rolls a dice damage.

    And if the fighter begs you to let him defend for the hard move, let him. It’ll make him happy.

  4. When you make a Soft Move, all three:

    1. It follows logically from the fiction.

    2. It gives the player an opportunity to react.

    3. It sets you up for a future harder move.

    This means, say what happens but stop before the effect, then ask “What do you do?”

    When you make a Hard Move, both:

    1. It follows logically from the fiction.

    2. It’s irrevocable.

    This means, say what happens, including the effect, then ask “What do you do?”

  5. Repetita iuvant!

    a soft move is something that can be prevented from happening. A hard move is something that is happened, period. It may be cured, restored or removed, but for now you just have to stick with it.

    You do a soft move when the players are looking at you to see what happens.

    You can do a move as hard as you like:

    – when the characters deliberally ignore a threat

    – when someone rolls a 6-

    These are called Golden Opportunities. In these cases, you can do soft, hard, VERY hard moves as you like, as long as they reflect your principles and agenda.

    edit: just to specify, moves don’t necessary need to be something bad, especially the soft ones. You can offer opportunities with or without cost. You can give a class the chance to shine. And so on.

     The important thing is that they MOVE the fiction in some direction.

  6. I don’t necessarily agree with that Kasper Brohus . They often do, but I don’t think “should” is correct.

    If one takes the shorthand that soft moves complicate, hard moves hurt then I would argue that after misses complicating soft moves can often be as good (or better) then going for the more obvious here move.

    Sometimes increasing the number of the things you have to react to…or bringing one of those things closer, is a better option, even on a miss, then making a hard move.

  7. Kasper Brohus  my point of view is: you get the xp not because your character is less effective or damaged or whatnot. Who cares about hp in a game where even dying is cool? You get an xp because it’s the only time you don’t get to push the fiction your way and it’s the gm’s turn to do so. As the illustrious mr. Mazza said (and I hinted in my first post), more often than not the gm wants to antagonize the characters and put danger in their lives, and so he does when he gets the chance. But the point of a hard move is not to be mean to the characters (you can be way meaner with a lot of soft moves than with a single hard move), it is to say something they can’t do anything about. The “characters learn from mistakes” and so they get xps is a rationalization that still stands true, but it’s just a rationalization, nothing more.

    Last but not least, let’s not forget that xp-on-a-miss is something DW changed from apocalypse world because of how differently work the respective character’s stats. Stat-highlighting didn’t work for DW (as I saw on first hand); xp-on-a-miss is something that still pushes the player to the action with the same reward at a similar pace.

    However, as I said, this is my pov, a reflection of how things are felt in my games.

  8. Ha!…I’m “egregious”.

    I’m not sure that’s the word you were looking for …;-)

    Not that its wrong…I can indeed be quite egregious.

  9. No problem…I’ve seen others do the same.

    Technically it just means conspicuous, which could be conspicuously good or conspicuously bad. Common usage has leaned it towards the later, at least in English.

    I found it funny…there are plenty who would say of me “conspicuously bad is just fine” 🙂

  10. Ralph Mazza Alessandro Gianni I didn’t mean that they should take damage. I meant that something should happen that the players doesn’t want to happen. Whether that’s a hard or a soft move doesn’t change that 🙂

    The GM can take any spin he wants, any time, since it’s his responsibility to describe the immediate situation at all times. He doesn’t need those misses to have say over the situation.

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