I want to discuss a little more about Defy Danger and its suitability as a catch-all when no other move applies.

I want to discuss a little more about Defy Danger and its suitability as a catch-all when no other move applies.

I want to discuss a little more about Defy Danger and its suitability as a catch-all when no other move applies. For Defy Danger to trigger, there must be an imminent threat that the character is acting in spite of. To me, this means that the threat must be coming to bear immediately, and will impact the character if they do nothing. Therefore, a threat that is not imminent should not trigger Defy Danger. If a character wants to jump over a cliff, is that an imminent threat? It is only because the character threw themselves into harm’s way. If this is considered to be Defying Danger, then what of the Paladin who wished to pick someone’s pocket despite lacking a move for it in a prior discussion. Why is this /not/ Defy Danger, since they are putting themselves into harm’s way and creating an imminent threat for themselves?

21 thoughts on “I want to discuss a little more about Defy Danger and its suitability as a catch-all when no other move applies.”

  1. I think it boils down to this: some people feel the threat has to be present for DD to trigger, while other people feel an action that could cause danger triggers DD.

    Choosing to jump off a cliff and a non-thief picking someone’s pocket probably wouldn’t trigger DD for the people in the first camp, as there is no threat already present in those scenarios.

    I don’t think there’s a “right” answer here.

  2. Maybe this is just me reading too far into your question, or being semantic, but.. Those situations do not sound like defying danger, they are placing you in it. There is not enough information to possibly require a Defy Danger roll from the player in these examples you gave. Reason being, the fiction comes first, not the moves.

    That being said, I think I know what you meant. Those situations become “dangerous” quickly (a rather nebulous term, but I digress): danger occurs a moment later when the craggy ground is fast approaching the character’s face, and the question remains: how do you avoid that? (the answer to that likely triggers the Defy Danger move, not the jump itself). Likewise, the picking of pockets is not the danger, the likely possibility you will be caught is. So how do you avoid being caught? Notice that the dangerous action is not what triggers the move, the thing you do to avoid the danger is

  3. Mark Cleveland Massengale Yes, part of what I was getting at was if and how a danger that you throw yourself into can be defied. It’s a bit of a pedantic point, I admit, but it leads into the second point of having DD act as a surrogate for moves that someone might not have, as it the case with the pickpocketing Paladin.

  4. Jumping over a crag is not defy danger, jumping over a crag because your being surrounded by a bunch of goblins is. 

    One of my main problems with defy danger is that usually its just dexterity with the ocassional strength thrown in there. Ive never really had a defy danger Intelligence , or wisdom and usually patley covers a lot of Charasma danger. And what would you consider quick thinking anyway?

  5. DD is the easiest way to make custom moves, which is really what’s going on in these examples. 

    Fighter: I jump over the cliff!

    GM: Great. Roll DD Strength, and the danger is you trip and plummet to the earth.

    What has really happened here is the GM made a custom move on the spot:

    — When you jump the cliff of doom and fistbumps, roll +Strength. On a 10+, you do it, no problem. On a 7-9, the GM will offer you  a … . On a 6-, you fail and plummet to your doom.

    This moves just looks like DD, but it isn’t.

  6. Peter J okay so you are saying that Defy Danger will substitute for the thief’s Tricks of the Trade move, but the answer is that this is not really the case. Simplest way I can put it is: “avoiding being caught pickpocketing” is not equal to “successful pickpocketing”

    If I am a paladin, and I walk up to the merchant to pick his pockets, the DM is well within his rights to give me a different narrative response than the thief doing the exact same thing. The reason for this is two-fold.

    One: fiction. The thief is less likely than the paladin to be deemed in danger while picking the pocket (lighter armor, stealthier garb, plus thieves do the stealin!).

    Two: the moves triggered. Picking pockets as a paladin likely means nothing special in the terms of moves; the GM gets to make whatever move makes sense (I would probably make a hard move, and just rule the theft successful or failing based on the fiction). Contrast with the thief, who has triggered the Tricks move, and will get to roll, and this will either mean the thief picks those pockets “with no problem” or gets a say-so and better choices on a partial success.

    Further, after the fiction of the theft has been resolved, the DM will be looking to take another move in my case – DMs choice of whether soft or hard, and of any kind (likely necessitating Defy Danger). However, the thief probably avoids this last bit altogether, having already stolen things successfully as dictated by Tricks.

    Hope this helps

  7. Wait, why wouldn’t DD be right for someone jumping off a cliff? The cliff isn’t the imminent threat, whatever’s on the way down or at the bottom is.

    It’s an awesome moment as they vault the edge and disappear, but it’s totally fair to find out if they manage to grab on to the roots and hold on well enough to slow their tumble (Str/Con, to their advantage) or splash down into the ocean right beside the jagged rocks (Dex) — without being separated from the others, losing grip on an object, getting banged up. 

    james day (DD-Int) Vault thieves grabbing the perfectly weighted item from their pack to replace the gemstone on a pressure-plate pedestal and stop the crushing-walls trap. Solving a Rubik’s Cube at gunpoint, or equivalents. Cribbing just enough of a powerful spell to shout an interrupting word at the right time.

    But yeah, most impending danger is usually tied to a physical-attribute and Parley or free roleplay covers most of the face moments. 

  8. I think Chris Stone-Bush has it. DW is basically free-form role-playing until the moves trigger, and trigger-matching is pretty vague for most moves, there’s tons of wiggle room.

    Personally, I think the present-danger interpretation isn’t very helpful, since all it does is remove a resolution tool. (If you cleave to that interpretation, it seems the obvious next thing to do is to make a custom move that’s basically identical, just with a trigger that responds to recklessly caused dangers.)

    With respect to surrogate moves, what occurs to me is that skilled people have higher chunking than those without. To a talented pickpocket, cutting a purse might be a single action, conceptually. To a paladin an oaf, who has never done this before, it makes sense to ask things like, “Great, okay, how do you approach the merchant?”  Then the “danger” might be that the merchant gets wigged out by someone so massive skulking behind them, before the paladin’s oaf’s purse-cutting blade is even out of its sheath.

  9. The paladin example here muddies the waters, because the danger he faces that a thief does not is metaphysical (i.e. is a paladin who steals really still a paladin).

  10. I’ve had DW sessions where we haven’t rolled dice for over an hour, because the players weren’t triggering any moves.

    Instead, they say “I want to do X”, and it either works or something else interferes. If they are lacking a skill, I ask “how are you going to do that?” and basically make them be as descriptive as possible. Often this will clue me in to if they will succeed or fail, based on how likely or awesome the plan sounds.

    Often, if they are approaching a dangerous situation, I will give them warning that they are putting themselves in a rough spot because I don’t generally hand out damage until they’ve ‘earned’ it. Once they describe how they’re going to defy the danger, I’ll call for the roll.

    If the threat of danger is imminent, then I’ll let the players give me their “best pitch”, basically coming up with whatever crazy plan may work. This is the time where I am a fan of the players because I am encouraging them to be as narratively awesome as possible. If they fail, they often still take the damage (and/or get put into a worse spot).

    I guess my point is that you don’t have to roll for everything.

  11. I think Michael Prescott​ said it pretty well. The game is a conversation until a move is triggered, but those triggers are somewhat open to interpretation. Different groups will handle things differently, and as long as everyone at the table is cool with what’s happening, everything’s cool.

  12. The way I’ve seen it handled is the character does (action), and the DM then presents the danger that results due to that action. So, someone jumps off a cliff, the DM gets to say “Ok, you’re now hurtling toward the ocean, there are a lot of pointy rocks down there. What do you do?” At this point, you are basically asking the player to pick which stat they are going to use to save themselves. A creative player could even get charisma in there “I whisper to the wind to answer my prayer and save me.” For a paladin trying to pick-pocket, the DM could say “Ok, so you lumber up to the merchant and stick your greasy paw into her pocket, she turns around and shouts ‘Thief!’ What do you do?” Note that this is also a great opportunity for the player to use charisma and try to talk their way out of the situation.

  13. From the Dungeon World book:

    “You defy danger when you do something in the face of impending peril. This may seem like a catch-all. It is! Defy danger is for those times when it seems like you clearly should be rolling but no other move applies.”

    That last sentence seems to sum it up nicely for me. At my table, when a player takes a course of action where there is something at stake and it would seem like success of failure can’t be garunteed, I feel they have triggered the DD move.

    Also from the book:

    “Danger, here, is anything that requires resilience, concentration, or poise. This move will usually be called for by the GM. She’ll tell you what the danger is as you make the move.”

    I think this gives the GM a ton of flexibility in applying it.

    Fundamentally, there seems to be a little less player choice/control over their destiny on 7-9 when it comes to DD as opposed to a player move specifically authored for the same set of circumstances.

    That’s the risk one takes when they do something outside of their realm of specialty, all the Paladin attempting to pick pocket vs. the thief doing the same.

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