Last weekend I GM’ed my second-ever DW game with my group of mostly-new-to-RPG players, and with no experience and five players it was both exhausting and exhilarating to do, because of all the mental multi-tasking and improvising it required from me.
There were two situations I think I handled badly that I would like to get some feedback from more experienced GMs on, if possible.
First, I did not just want to throw endless slugfests, so I tried to set up enemies with annoying, even life-threatening moves that had to be ‘solved’ in other ways than just brute force: e.g. a tiny 1HP, blood-sucking, stun-inducing bampf lizard that when hit by anything immediately teleports away undamaged to another player, that was controlled by a magic object hidden nearby that needed to be found and destroyed.
In the end this worked out quite well (they threw the object away instead of destroying it, so I spontaneously had to decide on whether there was a range-effect involved, etc. etc.), but the thing is that by the end there were only two party members left unstunned. Instead of this giving my players a sense of major stakes (a la the 16 HP dragon), and a satisfying feeling of danger overcome, it turns out that the stunned party members just kinda felt left out of the fight, and started zoning out during the gameplay. (Which because of my inexperience probably also took much more wallclock time than it should’ve.)
Does anyone have any specific tips and tricks for course-correcting something like this when you see it happening halfway through, without it coming across as the GM again just starting to make arbitrary God decisions?
My second problem was coming up with 6- moves to make when my players kept rolling low. Yeah, I know about Suddenly Ogres, and I know I can sometimes just say “no, sorry, turns out you don’t remember anything relevant to this mysterious inscription after all”, but you can’t keep doing that without things derailing completely (or at least I couldn’t).
So again, does anybody have any generic tips and tricks for dealing with this? I suppose I could try and predict some likely situations in advance of the session (i.e. I told them about the inscription, so I could have been better prepared for a failed Spout Lore), but that also smacks too much of them following my ‘designed world’ on rails rather than discovering stuff together.
I realise that the the above is perhaps all a bit too vague, and that the answer may boil down to simply “you will get better at this over time”. But I thought I’d ask anyway.