Should Drives/ Alignment Moves be positive, or negative?

Should Drives/ Alignment Moves be positive, or negative?

 Should Drives/ Alignment Moves be positive, or negative?

These are the EXP moves. Those ones if you fulfill give you an extra tick at the end of every session. Everything from Defeat a Worthy Foe to Destroy a Symbol of Civilization. Let’s look at it real quick.

Now what do I mean as far as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’? I mean, the immediate result of it.

For example, the Cleric has some pretty ‘negative’ alignment moves.


Endanger yourself to heal another. 


Harm another to prove the superiority of your church or god.

Both will cause problems for the party, and usually, in dungeon world, you gain experience by ‘getting into trouble’, or ‘failures’ or ‘negative outcomes’. 

However, here are two  ‘positive’ alignment moves.  


Teach someone the ways of your people.


Help something or someone grow.

Immediate positive results, with plenty to grow off and many ways to interpret them.

Drives, which I am starting to prefer, just make the ideas more personal (to the character) and change the way they are categorized. Instead, that last move could be labled ‘Growth’. This means that the character is motivated by and values ‘growth’, instead of ‘goodness’.

So which wording is better?

a ‘positive’ wording for a drive could be:


Use an arcane secret to expand your power.

while, a ‘negative’ wording for that same drive could be:


Endanger someone to expand your power.


10 thoughts on “Should Drives/ Alignment Moves be positive, or negative?”

  1. Hmm… I’ll dispute that a bit Tim Franzke. I feel  like drives and alignments should push the player to do things the character would do. Which doesn’t mean they also can’t push the player to do things they normally wouldn’t.

  2. I’d consider a positive and a negative, each of which drive the character in different directions (they open up different advancement options). You could get a point in one and head a specific way, a point in neither if you play it cautious, or a point in both (which might only give you a single point but gives you the option to advance in any way you choose).

  3. I don’t think I like the hole ‘positive’ / ‘negative’ position on it, I don’t see them as opposits.

     Its all about getting you charecter down the path you wan’t.

    Thats why I for instance don’t like the narrow wording of the good prist:

    “Endanger yourself to heal another.” I would much rather have it say “Endanger yourself to save or help another.”

  4. Tim Franzke Chris Stone-Bush​ I don’t see a conflict between a careful reading of both your statements. We always want interesting choices to be made at the table, we want to reinforce what the character is about, and we want the player to have to think about their choices once in a while.

  5. Plenty of people can be endangered by using arcane secrets. Read some Lovecraft for examples. Good intent doesn’t always result in good outcomes. Road to hell and all that.

    But you are right, one of those Drive options is clearly more aggressive than the other, but you can also endanger someone by using an untested arcane doo-hickey to try and save the town, Princess, etc, etc.

    Out of context it is hard to say which is “better” but the later one would probably result in more overtly aggressive behavior from the character.

  6. I think this goes into the streotypes of the class. The reason why the Cleric has those gains is because the streotype of the cleric is that they will heal others over themselves so its going to be positive. The wizard on the other hand seems to gain power for themselves over others so you have moves that are more selfish/negative language

  7. When I think of Alignment, usually I exclude the party from what the alignment is entailing ex “Use magic to aid another” Would be better for a situation involving important NPCs or a town rather than “I assisted the fighter with magic missile, more XP”

    As GM give players opportunities in the world to fulfill alignments. If you integrate these opportunities well, there will always be risks. My favorite alignment story is from my good aligned fighter, would not force bloodshed and eager to lend a helping hand, had to deal with the entire party being robbed by a sneaky child thief. He then took the boy’s father and ransomed his life. It saved the party’s coin but he didn’t feel right, feeling a painful guilt in what he had committed. If Alignments are evoking powerful emotions and prompting daring actions, it’s good.

  8. Hey guys, thanks for all your responses.  I was trying to outline the contrast between explicitly risky moves and their counterparts. Should one table of players do it all one way? I’m thinking it might be good and easier from the GM end, but at the same time, the move also reflects how the player is going to play their character. I guess I’ll see what works best for my group. 

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