Hey there people, I just finished consuming the Dungeon World book and have a few questions.

Hey there people, I just finished consuming the Dungeon World book and have a few questions.

Hey there people, I just finished consuming the Dungeon World book and have a few questions. This will be a long-ish post, so please bear with me 🙂


How do you mechanically differentiate between a harder action and an easier action? Two players are trying to outrun the same rampaging troll, they both have to Defy Danger. It has been established that one is faster than the other, how do I include that in the resolution of the move(s)?

Secondary effects from threats – like being hit and thrown tumbling – how should that be handled? Should the damage be reduced a bit, maybe cut in half, to allow for a secondary effect?

Lets get (very) specific: In the Dungeon World book there is a combat example: 

“Right in the middle of some long goblin invocation the priest just drops to the floor. Her acolyte immediately starts shaking her to wake her up. Neither of them is paying much attention to the albino crocodile, which is no longer content since no one is rubbing its belly. The goblins on the fumes, though, they’re coming right at Rath.”

Ben jumps in. “I step between Rath and the crazed goblins and make myself a big target, drawing the goblin’s attention with a yell.”

“Sounds like defend,” I say.

“Okay, I rolled a 7, so I hold 1.”

“Great. The three goblins on fumes practically bowl Rath over as they slam into him, swinging their daggers wildly.”

“No they don’t!” Ben says. “I spend my hold to get into the way and direct the attack to me.”

“So Brianne steps in at the last moment, pushes Rath out of the way, and the goblins lay into her instead. Looks like 5 damage. Nora, Brianne’s got these three psychotic goblins all over her, Rath’s just put the priestess to sleep, the crocodile’s stirring, and Omar’s nowhere to be found. What are you doing?

Lets say that Ben failed that Defend roll, what would (should?) have happened? Should the Goblins just have dealt their damage to Rath or should Rath have had an opportunity to do something? 

In the same vein, say my characters are exploring a dungeon and step into a corridor that I know to be trapped. They are experienced adventurers, so they are assumed to be on the lookout for traps and the like. How do we resolve whether they spot the trap in time? In the fiction we all consider the adventurers smart and experienced, we know they would be looking for traps, but we also think there should be a chance they miss one… are they Defying Danger?

How kosher is it to have several characters make identical moves simultaneously? Lets say the room they are in starts collapsing, rocks fall and everyone (might) die. Can I ask everyone to Defy Danger at the same time? Probably with some differentiation in how they do it, the Fighter might hold his shield up and roll +str, while the Thief dodges with +dex, etc.

8 thoughts on “Hey there people, I just finished consuming the Dungeon World book and have a few questions.”

  1. Welcome to the Tavern. 🙂

    To answer your questions.

    1) You’ don’t mechanically differentiate between easier and harder actions like in other games. There are no modifiers to the die rolls based on how difficult an action is. Instead, there is just the fiction.

    If two characters are running from a Troll and it’s been established that one character is faster than the other, than that character simply runs farther than the other. That’s it.

    2) Why reduce the damage if there is a secondary effect? If a Troll catches one of the PCs and sends them sprawling with a giant fist, it didn’t pull its punch, did it? Nope. It still hit that character as had as possible.

    You don’t have to “trade” damage for a secondary effect like knock back or a knock down. That’s just part of the creature’s attack. If the creature has the forceful tag, its going to knock things around. If its poisonous, its going to poison targets. It it has the piercing tag, its attacks are going to shred armor.

    3) If Ben failed his Defend roll in that example, any number of things could have happened. There is no “right” answer here. Maybe the crazed goblins bowl into Rath as Brianne fails to get to him in time.

    Personally, I would have something else happen, as the GM had already established that Rath would be attacked by the goblins if no one did anything. If there was a failed roll on top of that, then I feel more nasty things need to happen. But exactly what happens is entirely up to the GM based on what’s happening in the story and the style of the play group. Maybe more goblins pop out from a hidden tunnel. Maybe the priestess starts to wake up. Maybe the albino crocodile is fully awake now. Maybe Brianne trips on a loose flagstone and loses her sword. Maybe Rath’s weapons go spinning away when the goblins crash into him. There is no “correct” answer other than something exciting (and probably dangerous) happens.

    4) While the characters may be skilled adventurers, I never assume that they are doing anything. If the characters step into a trapped hallway and none of the players have specifically said their character is on the look out for traps, well that’s too bad. They’ve probably sprung the trap. I think it’s a mistake to assume the characters are doing anything.

    Now, if the characters peer into the hallway and one of the players says “I look for traps.” then my response is “OK. How are you doing that?” Then based on what the player says I answer them honestly. If they start tapping floor tiles with a 10′ pole and the trap is a pressure plate in the floor, then I’ll tell them they hear a click when they hit the right tile. If they pour water on the floor to see if there are cracks, then I’ll tell them if the water disappears. Basically, if they describe their character doing something that can discover the trap, then I honestly tell them what they discover.

    By the same token though, if what they are doing has no way of determining if there is a trap present, then I honestly tell them the results of their action. None of the floor tiles seem to be a pressure plate. The water just stands there, not going anywhere. You don’t see any trip wires or hidden arrow slits. If they miss the trap, then they miss the trap. Setting it off might result in the player getting a Defy Danger roll to avoid the crossbow bolt if they have some advanced warning. Then again, it might result in them simply getting a bolt to the gut.

    5) you can totally ask for player to make the same move if the situation warrants it. Your collapsing room is a good example. Describe the situation and ask everyone what they’re doing. If everyone just runs, then Defying Danger with Dex is probably appropriate. But wait until you hear what the characters are doing before you tell them what move is triggered and what stat is used. If the Fighter runs, then Defy Danger with Dex makes sense, but if they hold up their shield, I might call for Defy Danger with Str.

    Hope that helps. 🙂

  2. It helps a lot, thanks 🙂

    In the example with the troll, the intent was that the troll is going to catch one of them and while one character is faster, a burst of adrenaline, or a stumble on a rock, might mean that the faster character is caught. Which seems to not be an option here.

    Another thing that is a bit unclear is Alignment and Bonds. 

    Alignment… from watching and reading a bit, it seems that each player should select a move from either their class or their alignment, and when they perform that move they get exp. However, that doesn’t quite line up with what is in the book – the impression I get there is that you have all the moves from your alignment and from your class… which is it? If I am a Good Ranger, do I get exp when I “Endanger yourself to combat an unnatural threat.”? Or do I get exp when I do that OR any of the other examples from the good alignment?

    Bonds – It’s a bit unclear how many I start with and when I can add new ones. It seems I start with at least one, perhaps up to three, and I can definitely write new ones when I resolve a bond… are there other times when I can write in a new bond? Can I add a new bond when I feel like it (or when the group/GM agree that it fits). Having Bonds is a big advantage, it makes you better able to help the others… so how many and how I add them seems relevant.

  3. Regarding the Troll chasing two characters, the faster character could still be caught. If that player rolls a 6- on their Defy Danger move, you still get to make a GM move. It could be to catch that character, or throw an obstacle in their way or whatever. There just isn’t any mechanical modifiers to their roll because they are faster. All it means is, barring some disaster, the faster character will cover more ground than the slower one.

    If both characters escape the troll, the faster character will be ahead. The faster character will reach the door first. The faster character might have time to turn around and lose an arrow at the troll. Whatever happens in the story, you just have to take into account that one character is faster than the other.

    For Alignment, I’m pretty sure that you only pick from the options on your class playsheet. So if the Ranger chooses the Good alignment, they only mark XP when they “Endanger yourself to combat an unnatural threat.” They don’t mark XP if they meet the requirements for the Good alignment on other playsheets. You can also only earn that XP once per session. At the end of the session you check to see if the players met the triggers of their alignment. Any who did get to mark XP.

    For Bonds, you can fill out as many as you want when you start the game. You have to use common sense here though, as some Bonds are the opposite of others. If one says “(Name) smells more like prey to me.” and another says “(Name is a mighty warrior.” then you couldn’t but the same name in the space, as that doesn’t make sense.

    Other than that, there is  nothing stopping players from putting the same character’s name in multiple Bond slots. I tell my players that ‘s a bit cheap though and ask them to not metagame.

    You resolve Bonds as part of the End of Session move. Basically, if both players agree that the Bond is no longer relevant (for whatever reason), then it gets crossed off, and the player can write a new Bond with any character they want.

    It’s worth noting that the number of Bonds each playbook has can’t change. The Bard for example, has six Bonds while many other classes only have four. A character can’t increase the number of Bonds they have, only change their content. You can also have Bonds with NPCs if you want, assuming those NPCs are important to the story.

  4. DW is flexible so there are other ways to answer some of these questions this is how i would rule it.

    1 troll run:   in DW the narrative is a mechanic and the mechanics are the narrative.  if you have established that PC A is much faster than PC B you can just say PC A pulls ahead and is safe from the troll.  PC B must roll to save.  the GM NEVER gives a +1/-1 or anything to a roll.  if you ask a player to roll in DW then something is at stake, a fail means BIG trouble that is B A D. so dont ask for a roll if the worst that can happen is that someone slips and falls in some mud.   if that troll catches PC B then that will hurt and the risk of death or mission failure should be there. you as GM have narritive power too, ask if PC A is trying to run as fast as they possibly can. if yes then she leaves PC B behind and narritively PC A is so far ahead they arnt  close enough to PC B to help if he fails the roll. “split the party”

    2 when a PC gets a partial success, the monster may deal damage OR make a move. ie.  if PC A rolls 7 on a hack and slash, the gelatenous cube may deal its damage OR suck PC A inside of itself.   When a PC rolls a 6-… the GM make a hard move and is mean!  The cube deals damage and sucks PC A up. never do a hard move without warning a player first ie.  “warn of approaching doom”  

    3. depends on the trap. you are the GM and you decide that there is a tile on the wall which if pressed causes the ceiling to fall.  the PC’s enter the hall.  you describe the hall and ask “what do you do” if they say “check for traps”  you ask “how?”  if they say “i watch my step and check for loose floor tiles”  they arnt looking for your trap and wont see it and so you say “dust trickles down from the ceiling and the the air seems silent and heavy as you walk, the tiles seem firm and un-moveing” (you just warned of impending doom)  if they say “i run down the hall as fast as i can”  you say “PC B! you stumble after PC A who suddenly runs down the hall, you think you might slip what do you do?”  if PC B says “i fall to the ground and scramble after her”  no tap triggers.  if PC B says “i grab the wall and stop myself from falling”  you yell ” your hand sinks into the wall as you trigger an ainchent mechanism THE CEILING IS FALLING ON YOU take 1dX damage you have seconds to live what do you do?!”  “i run for my life!”  “defy with dex… Oh ya and PC A you reach the end of the hall in time”

    4.  you say ‘the tempol is collapsing”  the fighter says “i charge at the stone wall, trying to bust through and escape the temple”  noy you as the gm could say, defy danger with str.   or you could say “that is a bend bars lift gates roll”   or if you know whats on the other side of the wall you could say “you burst through the wall flying through the air like a bloody battering ram, you are suspended in air, rubble flying around you for a moment before realiseing that you have burst through the outer wall of the temple and that a thousand feet of ragged rocky slope looms benieth you, you are falling down the mountain side”   at this point someone eles may say “i leap after him and try to grab his hand befor opening my umbrella, and hopefuly slowing our fall”  you ask for maybe a defy with quick thinking for the grab and perhaps reduce the eventual damage they take for useing an umbrella.  meanwhile PC A says “i watch them leap and decide to take my chances with the collapsing temple, i dive into the nearest doorframe and try to brace it”  you can decide that of the three PC A was the smartest by not leaping through a wall down a 1000 foot cliff and escapes unharmed, or have her defy with str.  up to you/

  5. ah your other questions:  you get all your starting moves (the collum on the right)  you pick 1 alignment, when satisfy that alignment you get 1 xp but that only happens once a session.  you pic a race and get that move.   everytime you lvl up you take 1 advanced move and add 1 point to one of your stats.

    each class can only have as many bonds as are listed on the sheet.  some classes can have more bonds than others.  you can use any bond you want (the listed ones are just suggestions).  my pc’s usualy start with just 1 bond and get more as they interact.  

    after your troll scenario PC B could say i want to make a new bond “PC A ran and left me to die, i will return the favor” if PC A agrees then PC B writes down the bond and it is resolved when the favour is returned or when PC A saves PC B’s life, or when PC B forgives PC A ect.

  6. Welcome. Lots of good feedback from other peeps so far. I will add:

    When you play Dungeon World for the first time, forget everything you think you know about RPGs. Then tell your friends a story, ask what they do, and when something dramatic happens roll dice. On a 10+, the hero succeeds without complication. On a 7-9, they succeed, but… On a 6-, things get worse than they were before the roll.

    Don’t worry that there’s not a rule for every situation. Don’t know what’s going to happen before it happens. Don’t be afraid to ask the heroes what they think should happen.

    And have fun! 🙂

  7. Yeah, I think I feel better dressed for running it. What attracted me initially was running a game with the sixth world hack, but I think I need to try running DW itself first… or play it. Thanks for the help 🙂

Comments are closed.