Just curious about something as a brand new GM to Dungeon World with four sessions under his belt with his party.

Just curious about something as a brand new GM to Dungeon World with four sessions under his belt with his party.

Just curious about something as a brand new GM to Dungeon World with four sessions under his belt with his party. Lately, my players have taken to using the Discern Realities roll which I’m like “awesome! They get to ask me questions!” I typically respond with cryptic answers, never straightforwardly, especially to the question “What’s about to happen?” And I try to think from the perspective of the characters and think “okay, they see x on the horizon, or in their field of view, and that can’t mean anything good.” A recent example is they asked me what was about to happen and I told them they see black, skeletal things with weapons coming for them in a phalanx formation in answer to “What’s about to happen?” The issue is that this seems to be annoying my players xD. Am I doing something wrong, or am I instead doing something really right? And if I am doing something wrong, how would I go about fixing it? Do I just tell them straight-up “you’re about to fight these draugrs?” Or is there some other way? Just curious as to what the people think.

11 thoughts on “Just curious about something as a brand new GM to Dungeon World with four sessions under his belt with his party.”

  1. How is it annoying them? I usually try to get an idea of what information they are trying to achieve by asking the question. If you answer their question with information that doesn’t really answer what they WANTED to get out of it, it can be frustrating. It’s like, if I ask “What here is valuable?” when looking for a secret entrance, it doesn’t help me if the GM tells me that there is a blue pelican in the corner. That might be a valuable rare bird that is worth a lot of money or could help the players, but that’s not what I might have really wanted out of the question. 

    This does not mean that you have to always cater to their every want with these answers, but after all, they did succeed on gaining some info with this move. Not getting what you want out of it can be frustrating.

    Try taking what they want out of it, and putting your own spin on it. Sure, maybe they want a secret entrance, but then you could tell them the entrance is an open window on the third floor. Now they have opening they wanted, but you didn’t necessarily have to make it easy to get to.

  2. If you look at the example in the book, it seems like the GM is telling the players what they observe AND what they conclude from those observations, with the assumption that the conclusion is correct (Succeeding on the move guarantees this.)

    The whole point of the move is to compress the process of looking-in-the-right-places and asking-the-right-questions, so if you make the players do that stuff after they succeed at the move, of course they are going to get annoyed, because risking a fail on the move for no real benefit sucks.

  3. If your players are annoyed with what is going on that is a sign of them not liking what you do (duh). I would give players helpful information. Otherwise you turn them off of using one of the basic loves of the game. That shouldn’t happen. If players don’t want to use basic moves something is wrong.

  4. My take on Discern Realities is you should tell them straight up what’s going to happen, no implication. I say that because players only have your words to go on, and if there’s ambiguity in your words they will have doubt. And player doubt drags down their ability to make decisions and take actions.

  5. Be generous with information. Always say what honesty demands. Always say what your prep demands. Especially when they succeed on that roll, tell them everything they discern AND full and complete answers to their questions–they earned it.

    If you feel like you’re withholding (not saying that you are–IF), don’t.

  6. Be willing to give away information if the players/characters look for it. Discern Realities is how the characters figure out what is going on: if they roll it and ask you questions, you job is:

    >Look to the fiction

    >What is there?

    >How does it answer their question?

    >Tie the fiction into the answer they want.

    Go ahead and give them whatever conclusion they could reach through whatever method of examination they chose. This last part is important: remember, the move is triggered by fictional action. If the characters are poking and prodding a doorway with a trap in it, they aren’t – necessarily – going to learn about the Kobold ambush waiting to be sprung.

  7. It seems as though then I need to scale back a bit on the cryptic and instead think a bit more fictionally. And ask a lot more questions. thank you guys! I’ll try that take next session and see how it goes

  8. The “What is about to happen?” question needs to introduce new information. If they ask it and you tell them that draugrs are approaching when they had no idea about that previously, that’s new information they can work with.

    If they see draugrs approaching, then Discern and ask the question, and you say “draugrs are about to attack,” that’s of no use to them because it was already obvious. But you can spin the basic information into something useful with something like, “You notice they are marching in three distinct units, and from the shape and size of the ones on the flanks, you’re guessing their goal is to surround you. What do you do?”

    If I feel stuck on answering a question like that, I often go back to the obvious thing (“You are about to be attacked”) and give them a specific detail that can be used to their advantage.

    That being said, I also sometimes tell them a given question doesn’t apply, and that they can ask another in its stead. 

  9. Also, if you don’t know the answer, refer the question back to the/other player. Then ask: How do you know that? I do this from time to time to the delight of the players.

  10. Sometimes when asked what is valuable to them I’ll ask back, “what would be useful or interesting to you right now?” Then I’ll use the answer in a “you find that, but…” Statement or use it and put a twist on it.

  11. Thank you for this post. I have been having trouble with this one, coming from the D&D Perception check world.  My next game will be much better due to this thread.

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