7 thoughts on “Help a one-time (so far) DW DM:”

  1. I know DM moves should follow the fiction, and I know I should foreshadow danger (so soft moves leading to hard moves). But how many soft moves before a hard move?

  2. Soft moves are for when the players look for you to take your turn in the conversation. Hard moves are when the players get a 6- on a roll, or ignore something requiring immediate attention. There are no rules about percentages of hard to soft moves, because it all depends on the fiction and what the characters and players are doing.

    I would not predetermine if more or less hard or soft moves should happen based on location. Doing so will hamper your ability to improvise and respond to character action. You could make a list of possible GM moves for different locations if you wanted to. General things, like “A spray of magma erupts from the ground” for a location above an active volcano, for example.

    Edit: The number of soft moves you make before a hard move should be however many you feel makes sense for the situation. I’m not trying to be unhelpful here, I just think that every situation will be different and therefore I can’t give a standard answer.

  3. One soft per hard is enough.  Not every soft move will result in a hard move.  Sometimes one soft move can mean multiple hard moves.  It can be fun to forgo a hard move in favor of a soft one to capture that moment where the party is threatened on multiple fronts simultaneously, but that potentially means more Hard Moves too in the immediate future.

    Soft and Hard moves are like Soft and Hard woods.  Some of the ‘soft’ ones are actually tougher than some of the ‘hard’ ones.

    Soft : ‘A giant hand, each knuckle the size of an oxcart,  stretches out of the portal, every inch covered with weeping eyeballs, and points to the sky.  Clouds instantly appear, cracking blood red lightning between them, over the Hamlet downriver.  The smell of sulfur almost overshadows the draft of miasmatic rot from the portal and the blood and fecal remnants of the King’s Army splattered across the killing field.  That storm looks ready to break any second, and something tells you it won’t be raining any water you’ve ever seen.’

    Hard : ‘The goblin’s rock hits you in the shoulder – take 1d4 damage, minus your armor.’

  4. I never use a hard move without first giving the players a (pretty clear and straightforward) chance to avoid it. So on a 6-, I can use a hard move, and on a golden opportunity, I can use a hard move.

    Then, if I want to make things less lethal, I make a softer move instead of a hard move.

    To answer your questions directly, the proportion of hard-to-soft moves is hard to pin down (it’s probably going to correlates with the ratio of 6- to 7+ rolled in the game). I would not bother to think about it at all, since the information you need (i.e. the roll result) is going to be in plain sight when you need it. In the same vein, I would not tamper with this ratio from location to location.

    That being said, you could make a list of hard moves for a location. Hard moves can be harder of softer (for example, “deal damage” can deal 1d6 or 1d12+3), so a very dangerous location can have harder hard moves, not more hard moves overall.

  5. Lots of awesome stuff in the answers above, do that. 🙂

    As a small addition: How hard you move and how often you make hard moves is a useful difficulty slider and will change the tone of your game. The game won’t fall apart if you err too soft early on; just pay attention and if you’re failing to fill the characters’ lives with adventure, that’s a clear sign to get more aggressive.

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