On “never speaking your move’s name”:

On “never speaking your move’s name”:

On “never speaking your move’s name”:

I struggle with this principle. Under typical circumstances it makes total sense (I want to begin and end with the fiction.) I can agree fully with “usually don’t speak your move’s name.” But sometimes it’s really helpful to provide a hint of the mechanical structure.

Especially when teaching the game, It feels important to create some transparency about what I’m doing as a GM, and always occluding the moves I make clouds that transparency. I want to be accountable to the rules of the game, and it’s hard for that accountability to exist if the other players aren’t sure why I’m saying what I’m saying, or by what rule I’ve been empowered to say it.

So: anybody else out there occasionally speaking their moves’ names? Why do you do it? Why should or shouldn’t I be doing it?

10 thoughts on “On “never speaking your move’s name”:”

  1. I don’t tell the players what move I’m making against them. Even when teaching the game to new players. But before the game starts, and especially with new players, I explain that “on a 6 or less, bad things will usually happen to you character”. For players who are more mechanically minded, I explain that “I, the GM, get to make a GM move when you get a 6 or less, and those moves are things like…” and then I proceed to list a few moves. That’s worked fine for me so far.

  2. In normal play I never name the GM move. Sometimes I don’t even know it.


    In demo play I do.

    Demo play, aimed to show and teach the game is a different beast to regular play, I need to show more, show dirrefernt.

    So it almost always I go to a point, around halfway the game, that I announce: “I shouldn’t do this, it’s against the actual rules, but let’s take a look under the hood of the game”. Since I already has explained in a couple of sentences at the beginning how I’m bound by Principles and Moves I don’t need to add anything else, and can say: “See? You failed, so I get to do an Hard Move, and I chose it to be… this? Now I bring it on the fiction: goblin arrives. What do you do? See how it works? Fiction, then move, then fiction. It’s like what a player do, just without dice”

    After two or three times of this I stop: the concept has usually passed.

  3. I always took “never speak the moves’ name” as a way to say “show, don’t tell”. Don’t tell the PCs you split the group or make them expend resource or whatever – show them how they’re split, why they have to spend X resource, etc. So yeah, during the game I never – I feel it’s just bad form. While we’re on break and the question arise – “did you do a GM move here? Which one?” I have no problem with saying my moves’ names.

  4. In the past I’ve given new players the GM sheet to look over and even pointed out the first couple GM moves. The GM moves are basically the stakes of taking action – on a miss, the GM will pick a complication from this list. I think it helps new players get onboard with the idea of the GM as another player who is following a procedure to make their characters’ lives interesting and not someone arbitrarily punishing them.

  5. I think it’s usually obvious what move you are making, if you have the list handy. If you don’t have the list handy,then it doesn’t matter if you name your move or not. Therefore, I don’t think there is anything to be gained by naming your move, other than detracting from the fiction. I agree with Grégory Pogorzelski​ – if someone asks, either afterwards or right then, I have no problems saying, but it seems pointless otherwise.

  6. I don’t take the “never” too explicitly here. Actually, it took me a while to realize the text was specfically referencing GM moves. So that’s okay. I would rarely if ever say the name of GM moves anyway — they wouldn’t mean anything to the players. But the names of player moves need to be said sometimes, especially when teaching the game. There is no real difference in terms of dropping out of the fiction between saying “roll Hack and Slash” and “roll plus Strength.” The latter is more helpful in some instances. The former is more helpful if you need to direct the player’s eyes to a move in the playbook so they can see a list of choices there or something. As you all get comfortable with the game and with the playbooks, you kind of naturally stop saying the names. (If you don’t that’s when this advice becomes useful to remind you to stop saying the names and just do the thing!)

  7. “Never speak the name of your move” is a GM principle.  That means it applies to the GM.  And not to the players.

    GMs never make player moves, so this doesn’t apply to the player moves.  There’s advice elsewhere in the book for how to talk about those. 

    The GM Principle is correct. Never speak the name of your move.

  8. Yet it’s very cool when a player do something and everyone is so connected that they take the dice and roll them, resolving the move fluidly and without solution of continuity, never breaking the fiction, and everyone at the table knows what they have done.

    Wonderful but not so easy.

    Stick to naming moves when you are a player and to not when you are a GM.

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