A little too much DD with Dex? (In-combat soft move variety)

A little too much DD with Dex? (In-combat soft move variety)

A little too much DD with Dex? (In-combat soft move variety)

In running combat, I find there to be a pretty frequent occurrence (especially after a full success) where the move snowball stops and there’s no obvious direct next action implied by the results of the roll.

My natural response is to use a monster move to put someone in a spot. Since it’s coming in with no setup, I think this should be a soft move.

And it always, always ends up that the response to this soft move is Defying Danger with Dex.

The zombie swings its club at your face? I dodge. DD with Dex.

The wizard’s wave of force sweeps you into the air and tosses you towards a pillar? I try to break my fall. DD with Dex.

Basically, the go-to response to every attack in progress seems to be getting out of the way. It feels a little repetitive and it also makes high-Dex characters feel nearly untouchable.

(It’s cool for them to be able to dodge well– that’s what they’re built for and I’m a fan of them. But I feel like the way I’m running things is putting an inordinate amount of emphasis on dodging.)

I think the selection of the move itself is fine– use a golden opportunity to use a monster move to put someone in a spot.

But I think something about my narration leads to the players picking the same solution every time.

How do you set up incoming attacks as soft moves so that players consider options other than DD with Dex?

7 thoughts on “A little too much DD with Dex? (In-combat soft move variety)”

  1. Maybe turn to another player and say “you see your friend in trouble, what do you do?”

    It’s still a soft move, but the implication is that they can’t DD by themselves and need the other player to take action either to eliminate the soft move that is threatening or to at least create an opening that would allow the character who is in trouble to DD. This can allow a large variety of action in response to the original soft move (defend, fight, spell, verbal distraction, etc.).

  2. Another thought – try “softer” soft moves. Instead of “the zombie swings”, go with “the zombie shambles toward you”. Instead of “the wizard tosses you”, try “the wizard starts uttering a dark incantation”. This approach will also encourage more variety of response.

  3. Start suggesting alternate ways to avoid taking damage – you could have a Strength defy danger to stubborn your way through that wave of force or constitution to block the zombie’s blow with your shield. Hell, a monk could use wisdom to defy danger in a fight by calling on his training in the mountains.

    Ultimately, go with what your players want – if they want to dex their way out of a problem they can dex out of, let them. But if the other players mention that it’s always dex to defy danger, use a soft move that leads them to trying something else or just straight up suggest using something else.

    Remember, it’s all about fun first, not balance or mechanics or any of that tripe

  4. Basically what Rebel Wulf said. It’s more or less on the players to decide how they react to stuff you throw at them, and if all they can come up with is dodging, then they better put their best scores in Dex!

    If you want to encourage them to use other stats, you’ll probably have to show them how. Maybe something like this:

    Soft Move: An orc is charging you! What do you do?

    Strength: I kick it in the face! (could conceivably also be hack and slash)

    Dexterity: I dodge out of the way!

    Constitution: I raise my shield to take the brunt of the assault!

    Wisdom: I anticipate where the orc’s axe is swinging and step out of the way.

    Intelligence: I fire a magic missile at the chandelier above him, hoping it’ll knock him down! (again, this could even be hack and slash)

    Charisma: I yell out “Look! Behind you!” hoping to get him to stop his charge and turn around.

    Some people think Dungeon World is a really simple game, but it’s not, because of stuff like this. It requires the players to step away from the videogame mentality of reacting to the world, and instead actively create and interact with the world around them. Like, that Intelligence example above. You didn’t say there was a chandelier up there, right? But the party is in a ballroom after all, so it’d make perfect sense.

    Also, notice in the examples above that two of the reactions are actually handled in DW as attacks. That’s perfectly okay. There’s no initiative in DW, no turns, so if the Fighter wants to respond to an impending attack by attacking first, that’s fine. Likewise, if the Bard wants to know the Orc Empire national anthem that makes all orcs who hear it stop what they’re doing and place their hands over their hearts, that’s valid, too (Spout Lore, perhaps, or one of them Bard moves).

    For the first couple of sessions, you may just need to take your players by the hand and be like “An orc is charging you! Belgar the Strong, do you want to smash its face in before it can swing its axe at you?”

  5. Wow all great advice that im totally going to use as i have a similar problem. I have done the player other player is being attacked and it has worked well.

    I would also suggest having in your mind terrain and what weapons actually would do as having this in mind really helps in adding spice which will get the players to think of different things. For example how do the players get through reach weapons.

  6. Here’s another “Welcome to DW” trick: give two moves at once. “Grognar, an orc is charging you! We’ll get back to that in a second; Thoris, what are you doing?” This gives Grognar’s player a chance to think of something to do rather than getting the deer-in-the-headlights looks and just blurting “dodge!”

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