I just had what I felt was a major revelation a few minutes ago, and I feel compelled to share it here.

I just had what I felt was a major revelation a few minutes ago, and I feel compelled to share it here.

I just had what I felt was a major revelation a few minutes ago, and I feel compelled to share it here.

There’s no “stealth” or “hide” move in Dungeon World. This was a real problem for me in the beginning, but I always told myself that this was just an application of Defy Danger.

I just “realized” (quotation marks because some might disagree) that this actually isn’t true. If you are sneaking somewhere, then you aren’t…

… powering through,

… getting out of the way or acting fast,

… enduring anything,

… using quick thinking,

… applying mental fortitude,

… or using charm and social grace.

As such, you don’t get to add neither STR, DEX, CON, WIS, INT or CHA to you roll. If the danger is that “someone will see you”, then there’s really no way of getting any relevant modifier.

The problem isn’t the lack of the move, it is a fault in our “training” as gamers. We are “trained” by most other games to assume that people always have a chance to spot us in some way, but we have to move away from that train of thought and instead realize something else: A person / monster / whatever will always and only spot you if the fiction dictates it.

Of cause, we know this on a fundamental level, because “fiction first” and all that. This is one of those places where I think GM’s are actually the ones to “blame”, not the lack of move.

When a player says “I’m going to sneak up on him”, you don’t say “Okay, roll Defy Danger, +DEX as it is the closest fit.” Instead, you should tell him the consequences or requirements and ask.

Before having this epiphany, I would have treated the situation as this:

Avon: “I’m going to sneak up on the guard!”

GM: “He might see you, and you’ll be defying danger to be seen. Roll+DEX, since that is the closest fit, I think.”

Here’s how I’ll do it from this point on:

Avon: “I’m going to sneak up on that guard!”

GM: “Though he can’t see you now, he is looking straight in your direction and would most certainly spot you if you just waltzed out in front of him. You’ll either have to divert his attention or find another angle to sneak in from. What do you do?”

What do you guys think?

29 thoughts on “I just had what I felt was a major revelation a few minutes ago, and I feel compelled to share it here.”

  1. The guard can do something before you reach him though, like starting to turn around or something like that.

    While it is a bit cruel (read: I’ll use it a lot muahahaha! Just kidding) then that would most certainly trigger defy danger, if the player takes action to avoid being seen.

    If they ignore the danger, then you have a really really sweet opportunity to give the player a hard bargain: So, you actually choose to cut his throat before he has a chance to defend himself, well-knowing that he will call out and raise the alarm?”

  2. Although if you are sneaking past someone and then she is turning around you could totally defy the danger of her seeing you by quick thinking or getting out of the way fast. (Or powering through if you knock her out)

    It just Kicks in later then a “sneak roll”

  3. I usually play theives and rogues and made this point sometime during Beta.

    I do think Deft Danger is the right move, it just need an option that related to stealthing around.

  4. I think that’s one way to do it. But I also think that you can be much more flexible when interpreting the areas that each stat covers.

    The book says that Defying Danger with DEX is “… getting out of the way or acting fast” include getting out of the way of someone’s field of vision.

    Defying Danger with CON is “… enduring anything” including enduring a painfully cramped position so that you can successfully hide from someone/something.


    Defying Danger with INT is “… using quick thinking” including figuring out the exact spot where this person won’t look for you.

    Dexterity also includes manual dexterity and “body awareness” (for lack of a better term), so I have no problem calling for a Defy Danger with DEX for hide or sneak type actions.

    Wisdom is often the “perception” stat, so I have no problem with players Defying Danger with WIS to be aware of their surroundings enough to hide.

    Charisma is charms and social grace. If someone were trying to hide in plain sight or blend into a crowd, I’d probably call for a Defy Danger with CHA.

    But all of that takes a backseat to the fiction. If the fictional situation is such so that the character can sneak up on, or hide from this thing with no chance of discovery, then you don’t make a Defy Danger roll. Or any roll. You might not even have to “tell them the consequences and ask”. You could simply narrate them doing it.

  5. Christopher Stone-Bush Just to make a point about what Alessandro Gianni said, you can’t really put the broad labels on the stats in DW as we have them in D&D.

    The stats mean what the triggers of moves dictate; a stat only helps you do things that lets you add the modifier to a roll.

    There’s no other “this stat means this” implications in DW. Not in the book at least.

    Didn’t we have this discussion before, a long time ago, by the way?

  6. If this discussion was had before, then I was not present for it.

    As open and interpretive as the rules in Powered by the Apocalypse games are, the responses that I’m “playing the game incorrectly” on the few comments I’ve posted lately is… odd.

  7. Well Apocalypse World defines what the stats mean. Dungeon World does not. That is just talking about the text here.

    And then we are not saying you are doing it wrong, we are talking about our interpretation of the text and the philosophy behind it.

  8. Christopher Stone-Bush I’m sorry if I implied that, that wasn’t my intention. There’s just no section in the book that explain each stat in sequence and say what they “mean”.

    The general consensus of the thread, and I believe Sage and Adam actually made the point, was that the individual stat means what you want it to mean.

    While your way of handling stealth isn’t implied by the rules, it isn’t unsupported either. You have basically just made a custom move, which is just as correct as anything else!

    I have just chosen a way to handle it that I prefer to yours. It isn’t objectively better by any means. 🙂

    EDIT: Ninjaed by Tim Franzke 

  9. this plays in well with the optional Thief version, the City Thief, which has a move that makes it blend into shadowy areas perfectly. It’s not a roll, it’s not a modifier on a roll, it’s merely an upgrade to what the fiction says about that character. 

  10. no one said incorrectly. We said “not by the core rules”. Stats in DW are used in very explicit ways. The discussion was had sometime ago, when a newbe asked “what the stats mean? I can’t find in the book any description of them”, and I distinctly remember Sage saying something in the lines of “strength is the ability of attacking enemies in melee, acting despite an imminent threat by powering through, and carrying a heavier load”. Period.

    If you want to expand what a stat means in your games, because you feel in your stories you need to give more significance to specific things not covered by the core moves, you’re very welcome to do it!

  11. I think your partially right in following the fiction and de-programming habits from other games.

    I think the biggest change is instead of saying “what move do I used in this situation” say “what happens? Does it make sense, is it interesting? If it isn’t interesting can I make it interesting by adding a danger?”

    A player move is answering a question the fiction asked that isn’t clear-cut. Can the thief sneak up on the goblin? Yes. Can he sneak up on the goblin when the ground is covered in dead, dry leaves? Dunno, Defy Danger +DEX to step lightly.

    Can the heavily armoured fighter sneak up on the goblin? No. Too noisy. Can the heavily armoured fighter bind his armour to muffle the noise? Yes. Can he do it before the group of goblins he can hear behind him arrives? Defy Danger +WIS to quickly figure out which bits make the most noise.

  12. I agree with Tyler Provick . You need to figure out who’s trying to do what and how. I’d give a hard look at the character’s class and race here: light-footed elven ranger or tiny halfling thief? Easy one. Clumsy dwarven fighter or drunken barbarian? Good luck.

  13. Eric Nieudan Yeah, I pretty much agree with Tyler Provick. What he illustrates is actually pretty important, because that is another (and crucial) way to be a fan of the characters; by showing them that they are all cool and skilled in different ways!

    Off topic: Eric Nieudan and Bastien Wauthoz, we should totally continue last session, and soon!

  14. Discern Realities would definitely be used if you were planning out your stealthy approach, without the pressure to do it quickly.  Because of the extra time spend studying the situation, you can get extra information on a success.  

    In the situation with the armored fighter, he doesn’t have time, so the best he can hope for is to keep silent.  Although if he had more time, he probably wouldn’t even have to roll to figure out how to make his armor quieter.  

  15. One neat aspect of this is that if the player comes up with a smart way to sneak up on an enemy, they may be able to silently approach and eliminate them without ever having to roll.  Tactical roleplaying!  

  16. Yeah, tactics in *World games are a lot different than those in more traditional games. If there’s no danger and doesn’t trigger a move, then the GM decides what happens. (The players “look to the GM to see what happens”)

    But if the players had a clever idea, then the GM is compelled to “make it work”, for otherwise he wouldn’t be a fan! He can add a complication, but it should work in most of the way 🙂

  17. Hmmh I liked the essay but then you guys fell into a crunchy discussion. If your going give the Cleric suzerainty over the Divine and the Wizard suzerainty of the Arcane, why would I just not give the same regard to the Thief, to the Fighter?

  18. “I’m going to sneak up on the guard”

    “Describe how you will do that”

    Then based on the fiction described, ask for a roll. I think the open questions are not asked in trad games, that are asked in DW. The “How”, not just he “What”.

  19. My Street Rat has an advanced move 

    ◊Blend in

    When you stand still in a shadow you will not be noticed at all.

    When you move stealthily, roll+Dex On 10+ you are not noticed. On 7-9 you attract some attention but probably still get away with it.

    When you attract unwanted attention in a public place, roll+Int On 10+: You disappear in the crowd. On 7-9: You disappear for a minute or so.

    This does not take away the GM’s responsibility to create difficulties according to the situation. By giving the move to the character, it just establishes the fact that he is better than others at doing it. Like, anybody can lift a gate. But only the fighter has a move for it, because he is so much better at it. 

    The Street Rat is here: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/120748/The-Street-Rat-A-Dungeon-World-Playbook

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