Do you guys use Defy Danger as a dodge/reaction to an attack?

Do you guys use Defy Danger as a dodge/reaction to an attack?

Do you guys use Defy Danger as a dodge/reaction to an attack?

Or do you wrap all of that up with hack and slash?

For example, you dive into the fray and attack a goblin. You succeed, and hit him.

Another goblin jumps into the pit, and attacks you…

Do you roll Defy Danger (since it’s a reaction), or is that another hack and slash roll (since you’re engaging another enemy).

25 thoughts on “Do you guys use Defy Danger as a dodge/reaction to an attack?”

  1. “Another goblin jumps into the pit, and attacks you. What do you do?

    “I spin and meet his face with my mighty hammer! CLOBBERIN’ TIME!”  

    “Cool, roll Hack & Slash.”


    “Another goblin jumps into the pit, and attacks you. What you do do?”

    “I dive out the way, rolling to my feet and getting my back to the wall of the pit.”

    “Cool, sounds like you’re Defying Danger with Dex. Yeah?”

    The key is:  *What do you do?*  What the player says they do determines whether they trigger H&S, or Defy Danger, or Defend, or something else.  You, as the GM, have every right to say “I dunno Hrothgar, do you really have time to whip you awkward hammer around before he lands on you?”  But it’s not your job to determine the move that the PC makes.  It’s the player’s job to say what they do.

  2. It depends on what the player says.

    “I block his thrust with my shield and stick my sword in his belly” is Hack and Slash.

    “I duck and roll under the table” is Defy Danger (Dex).

    In our games I’d say its about 50/50 and is totally dependent on the fiction.

  3. A lot of times my player asks once they fail or they have done a 7-9 they ask whether they could defy danger to get out of the damage. Ive always assumed not. What do others think?

  4. james day I don’t allow my players to avoid the consequences of a move.

    If they roll hack and slash, and fail, the outcome of the move is that they are hit. The can’t defy the danger that they brought upon themselves.

    Also, I AM THE DANGER!

  5. Wynand Louw  Jeremy Strandberg I think you’re right. I tend to phrase it in such a way that my players choose to dodge, but I will encourage them to meet an attack with an attack.

  6. I have a different version of this problem; No one ever wants to use Defend – they just want to Hack & Slash the face of whatever monster gets to them first, even when they’re trying to protect someone.

    I guess I should just have the rest of the monsters bum-rush past in that circumstance.

  7. Mike Pureka yup, Defend doesn’t get much play in my games either.

    In my newest game, Mythic Mortals, players can react to attacks in two ways: Dodge or Block. Dodge requires a roll underneath the card value, but Block merely reduces damage taken by your Card value, no roll required. So if your card is 6 of Hearts, you can either try to roll 2d6 under 6. OR you can simply reduce the damage by 6. It’s a good way to mix up reactions.

    I may implement this in DW somehow…..When you defend, add your Con score to your Armor, and reduce the damage by that number. No Roll Required. It doesn’t quite work. There’s no armor in MM, but there is in DW.

    More thoughts needed…..

  8. I think Defend is very much a Terrain/Item/NPC thing, at least thats how Ive used it best. Trying to defend player chaarcters doesn’t usually work because PCs have much more agency to get out of things.

  9. It helps a lot to make the attack more specific than just “attacks you.” You’ll get different reactions from “Another goblin jumps down, landing on your back!  He’s scrabbling with his jagged blade to find your throat.  What do you do?” vs “Another goblin jumps down with a spear, ducking and weaving. Speedy little bugger. You almost trip over the other goblin’s body as this one tries to back you into the corner. What do you do?”

    In both cases you’ve made a soft move to set up a threat, making it clear what kind of danger they’re defying, and what kind of attack they might have to endure if they don’t roll well.  The Hack and Slash 7–9 result is “you deal your damage to the enemy and the enemy makes an attack against you”, and as far as I’m concerned that wording is important.  It doesn’t just say “the enemy deals damage against you” – it says they get an attack, which could be any of their special moves or anything else you’ve set up in the fiction.  If the goblin on your back gets an attack against your throat, that could be armor-piercing damage, and if the goblin with the spear gets an attack, you could get hit and be tripped and cornered, –1 forward.  

    As a gameplay thing, I like to make Hack and Slash the aggressive, riskier move, and Defy Danger the safer, conservative move.  To make that work, the cost of a partial success on Hack and Slash should be higher than the cost of a partial Defy Danger.  If the player says, “screw the knife at my throat, I’m body-slamming him with my armored elbow” and then fails to roll well, she should get what she asked for.

  10.  colin roald I like your approach… but do you find yourself to have to explain or clarify in advance to the players?

    The fact that there is not always an exact setup of the moves, that all is ‘verbal’ rather than mechanic – sometimes can be confusing (at least at my table).

    Do you give warnings in advance to the players? (like, if you go for hack n slash you’ll take ap harm, while if you defend/defy danger then I will hit ‘less hard’…)

  11. Davide Pignedoli my players generally know what to expect from me by now, but yes, I think it’s a good idea to make sure they have the same understanding of the danger. The first fight when you do stuff like this, you can make sure they understand exactly the tradeoff in mechanical terms.  Later on, you can just warn in fictional terms with something like, “You attack, really?  Sure, you can, but if you don’t pull it off cleanly, that knife at your throat is going to hurt a lot.”

  12. What Jeremy Strandberg said. Let the moves follow from the fiction. Even if a player says “I want to hack & slash”, they should embellish with what they’re doing. You can then confirm with “it sounds like you’re using Hack & Slash, is that cool?”

  13. David Schirduan Defy Danger is pretty much the generic template that 90% of moves in DW are based on. If you see it as just “roll Defy Danger”, I suppose it could feel overused.  If you think of it as “roll to see if you can do a combat roll under that spear point and spring up to tackle the goblin”, then every roll is different.

  14. David Schirduan It’s not just how you phrase the soft move, but also how you narrate the outcomes of their actions. If you encourage/reward bold action with awesome narration and outcomes, they’ll feel empowered to take bolder and bolder action.

    Be. A. Fan.

  15. You have to set defend up.

    “Brawndo, you see the Goblin charging Buttercup. What do you do?”

    This gives Brawndo the opportunity to say “I defend Buttercup.”

    If Brawndo just attacks with Hack and Slash, I will still do damage to Buttercup if he rolls 7-9, instead of redirecting the attack to him. If he says “I defend her” the attack will be diverted from her to him. 

    james day There’s no taking back a hard move, and no mitigating it. That is the difference between hard and soft moves. If you say “Take 1d8 damage,” it is a done deed.

  16. If you want the fighter and paladin to Defend, make monsters with mobility moves and have them beat up on the softies.

    Wizards and the like are the natural beneficiaries of Defend.

  17. Or give the characters something besides themselves to defend!  Not every fight should be Arena.  Sometimes it should be Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin.

  18. I think it can be simple things, for example my memorable occasion where we actually had a Defend was when my players were all in a room and there were salamanders coming towards it. The Fighter decided that the best thing to do was to defend the room so it would be easier to kill them. 

  19. depends on where you the GM end the description before asking what they do….

    …as you kill the goblin before you, another jumps down. seemingly unconcerned with the death of one of his tribe, he twirls his large curved blade and licks his lips as he circles the pit with you…. what do you do?

    is different than….

    …as you pull your blade from the goblin, its limp body falling to the floor in a pile of bloody shit stained meat. Another goblin jumps into the pit with you; bloodshot eyes and incomprehensibly yelling curses… most likely at your mother. It charges you, it’s curved sword raised high as it leaps at you… what do you do.

    In the first case a character is “safe” jumping straight to Hack n Slash. In the second case if they do that, they have ignored a danger that you have presented….

    it’s fuck fuck player time!

    they would take both the result of the Hack n Slash… AND receive a hard move for ignoring the danger. You could very easily deal them a pretty massive amount of damage for that, or better yet… have the rest of the goblins at the top of the pit pile into to in a blood frenzy for your hard move.

    in the second case, to avoid giving the GM a golden opportunity a Defy Danger of some sort is needed.

  20. also what others said about character positioning… if you end your description in such a way that they are not ignoring a golden opportunity and for example want to roll to a better vantage point, I would go with Defy Danger.

  21. Chris S In your second example, suppose the Fighter says, “As it leaps at me, I lash out with my sword in a powerful lateral swing, aiming to knock away its blade in the same motion as I end its life,” or even, “Well, my reach is way longer than its is, with those tiny arms and puny dagger. As it leaps at me, I raise my sword and skewer it; it’ll never be able to touch me.” To me, that would be attacking an enemy in melee, “trading blows and stuff” while still clearly addressing the threat at hand. Moves trigger based on players’ descriptions, not GM’s.

  22. Justus Goldstein-Shirley

     that is entirely possible Justus. and had I described the goblin that way I would totally go for the Hack n Slash… If it was a large curved blade and Goblin rage like I mentioned in the first example though I would say there would have to be a discussion on if you wanted to Defy Danger with Strength in the hopes of setting yourself up to deliver a killing blow, or ignore the attack and Hack n Slash. If we had already determined that goblins are all small, I would say that the player had a good argument for going to Hack n Slash.

    But I would be careful about letting characters determine to much of that in setting up a move vs establishing before the move.

    because that turns into… you are fighting a massive dragon who is breathing fire…blah blah blah…

    Fighter… OK I strike the cancer growth at the back of it’s neck paralyzing it.

    you… what who the fuck said it had cancer?!?

    you are allowing a character to pull a gun before showing it on the mantle piece.

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