No matter how many ways I apply the move, Spout Lore doesn’t seem to work the way it’s explained in the book.

No matter how many ways I apply the move, Spout Lore doesn’t seem to work the way it’s explained in the book.

No matter how many ways I apply the move, Spout Lore doesn’t seem to work the way it’s explained in the book. Can anyone give me actual examples of how it was used in play?

My confusion point is illustrated somewhat by this example:

* players come across a stone door with a symbol on it

* one player announces he has seen this symbol in a book he read

Should we roll at this point? With the GM responding with maybe the name or topic of the book, or perhaps something else on a lower roll, or…

* player announces that the book was about the ancient stonecutting guilds. This specific one being a treasure door where they locked their magical artifacts

Do we roll here? If the roll fails or succeeds, does that affect the truth of what he said? What would be interesting and not useful here? What would be a good failure response?

I feel like the book expects the latter, but my group’s usage is closer to the former. Can someone clear this up?

14 thoughts on “No matter how many ways I apply the move, Spout Lore doesn’t seem to work the way it’s explained in the book.”

  1. I believe that once the player says, based on their history and knowledge that makes sense, that they have seen this before and where they have seen it, that’s where they Spout Lore. Then, based on the result, the GM provides truthful, hazy, or 6- result information that they would have learned from that place they saw it.

  2. 1) I call it “Recall Lore.” I think spout lore sounds perjorative and flippant, and avoids the implication of trying to remember. Spouting sounds like yammering.

    2) In my group, a player can’t announce “I’ve seen this!” he has to ask “Have I seen anything like this?” Unless you are specifically in a place they have been before. Thus, time to roll Recall Lore. Depending on hubris levels, a 6 will simply fail to be familiar OR give deviously wrong results.

  3. I personally don’t like the idea of lying on a 6-. I usually look at the “useful and interesting / interesting / X” continuum for the results and put “NOT interesting” in the X. So I prattle on about something really boring until they all smirk and go “ok ok!”.

    “Oh, yes, you certainly recall the symbol. It was once used by city planners to signify a resting bench. See, the workers that build underground tunnels often have to sit on the ground during breaks, so local planners decided to add benches to keep up morale of the laborers. They were made of a variety of materials, as it was not strictly regulated, but wood was most common. Of the woods, pine was used more than anything else, but fir and oak were also used. In fact, in some places, they even used red oak when building materials resulted in a surplus of… ” ok ok! jeeze!

  4. The first instance is where you would roll spout lore, if they are a wizard and have the book then they get +1. The gm would then say what was in the book that they remember following the move.

    The second one technically isnt allowed by the rules but some gms like that sort of thing so its up to you whether you allow it or roll for it.

  5. Drunkens & Dragons: Play D&D Like a Badass Do you treat it as the players cannot Spout Lore about anything unless they have actually been there in an active session with the GM? What about “accumulated knowledge” that relates to their precepts or magic knowledge from their history?

  6. In our group, the roll is to accurately access that knowledge given limited evidence. Our group also calls “discern realities” Investigate. I think these two moves are one area DW needs improvement, so we changed it right away.

  7. Make sure to check the principles. There’s nothing about lying, and boring the players doesn’t fit making their lives interesting. The one caveat I’d add to the rule as written is that the situation should be charged or dangerous. (Otherwise, why even roll?) Triggering a move frequently just to hear about somewhat interesting history seems like a poor use of dice in a game about dungeon-crawling.

  8. Aaron Griffin, I don’t like lying on a 6- either. I usually don’t think that’s being a fan of the characters.

    I’m not sure I like boring stuff, either, though. I’d generally be against doing something boring on principle, but I think it’s explicitly against the agenda and principles of DW.

    It’s really just a time-consuming version of “nothing happens”, which should never be the result of a DW move. It’s tempting, because the D&D equivalent of Spout Lore is a Knowledge(Area) check, and nothing happens when you fail a Knowledge check.

    In DW, on a 6-, you should make a GM move. “Bore them silly” isn’t on the list of moves.

    On the other hand, “Reveal an unwelcome truth/Announce future badness” totally are. They know something, and it’s bad news. That rune is the binding symbol for the guardian demon. He’s 8 feet tall and has wings made of shadow. Oh, hey, there he is.

    Also, “turn their move back on them”, so you can ask them what the bad news is. “What are the two scariest things you remember about the guardian demon bound in the rune?”

    Damian Jankowski, the way I run it is the character will say “I might know something about this”, and that’s usually enough to trigger the move text, which is “consult your accumulated knowledge.”

    If they succeed, the move makes it their job to build in the fiction that justifies them knowing it, which can be as straightforward as “It’s magic and I’m a wizard”, or it can be complicated and fiction-establishing, like “My unit of mercenaries got special training on fighting demons in the Shadow War”. (Which can totally be the first time we’ve ever heard of his company of mercenaries or the Shadow War.)

    I also color what they learn by the background the characters bring, so the wizard will know the name of the demon and the three things it fears, while the fighter will know that you’ve got to go for the joints where its obsidian breastplate is gapped to let the wings out.

  9. Perhaps I wasn’t clear. Prattling about “boring” information is not done with the intent to bore the players. They generally enjoy it with a mock groan or a “oh god damnit”.

    I’d also say it fits “portray a fantastic world” / “embrace the fantastic” with our own specific definition of fantastic (in the example above, the idea that the city is so old, was planned ahead, and built by laborers that had their morale considered are fantastical ideas in some definitions).

    As for moves that would explain prattling, I always considered it to be a combination of use up their resources (time) and reveal an unwelcome truth (they thought this was important, but it wasn’t).

  10. MM yeah…a thorough mind indeed! Still, I suppose the thrust of my reply was: A player must Use the Move to recall, not announce what they purport to know.

  11. In terms of lying, it simply doesn’t add anything interesting to the game. A 6- is  a perfect time to “Learn an Unwelcome Truth.”

    Russell Williams I know it’s simply syntax that I’m going to bring up, because I just prefer to play it this way as well, but the move itself is “when you consult your accumulated knowledge.” It’s not really a second part. So the player must have some reason to have known this. Whether it relates to their history, expertise, etc. If a warrior is going to Spout Lore about a rune, sure it can happen, but it should make sense somehow. Usually the player determines that, so it really can happen regardless, but should be between the GM and player to decide. The success/fail should relate to how much of that accumulated knowledge or information is actually helpful. Like I said – just syntax. 🙂

    It sounds like you are doing all that, but the way you phrased it I think can allow for some oddities to occur due to players not always understanding how they are supposed to approach the move, thinking that they just roll about random objects to learn information, which is quite accurate.

  12. I’ve seen it play out a bunch of different ways. Like…


    Artificer: “Let me see that…” (a move that lets them ask specific questions of the GM). “Um… what does this do?”

    GM: “It’s a combination lock. You set the dial on each of the four pillars to the right spot, and the door opens. Set the wrong combo, it probably sets off a trap.”

    Artificer: “Yeah, so I’ve spent years studying up on this tomb, right? Any chance I found the combination?”

    GM: “Sounds like you’re Spouting Lore? Roll it.” (Roll, gets a 7-9). “Okay, you remember seeing symbols like this before, a group of four of them in a 2×2 table, sorta like the pillars are arranged. That’s probably the combo, but who knows which way they were oriented. Hey, where did you see that anyway?”

    Artificer: “Oh, really old plans from the folks who built this place. Same document that let me figure out where this place was.”

    GM: “Cool, cool. So do try the combo? At which orientation?”


    GM: “You climb up the tree to get a closer look at that white mass. It looks like a cocoon, almost? Like made of silk? As you peer closer, you see the desiccated remains of a… deer?”

    Ranger: “Ah, crap. That’s not good. Hey, have I ever seen anything like this in these woods before?”

    GM: “I dunno, have you? Roll Spout Lore.”

    Ranger: “A 10. Nice!”

    GM: “Yeah, you’ve seen spiders that do this, particularly hunting spiders that jump and attack their prey. They poison it, weaken it, then drag it off and cocoon it so they can feed at leisure. But usually they do this to other bugs. You’ve never seen anything this big before.”


    Bard: “Oh, yeah, the Kravenghasts? They were big into devil worship! Their last son, Gavin, actually kidnapped like a dozen youths from the nearby town and sacrificed them to his infernal master. Then some adventurers come to town and execute him, burn his family manor down, and banish the devils! It’s all in the popular ballad ‘Fall of the House of Kravenghasts.'”

    GM: “Okaayy… sounds like you’re Spouting Lore. Roll it.”

    Bard: “Um, a 6?”

    GM: “Mark XP. Hey, Paladin, what secret does your Order keep that reveals that Ballad to be complete and utter horseshit?”

  13. The Obvious Lie sometimes adds something to the game.  “Oh, yeah, that’s definitely a cheap protection rune, best way to break it is just to stab it with a metal blade. For sure.  Anyone want to act on this information?”  And then let the volunteer mark XP (after eating the explosion).

    The other good way to treat failures on this kind of roll is as a “time passes” marker.  Are there any wandering monsters around who might have heard the party arguing?  Are there any Grim Portents waiting to be advanced?

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