11 thoughts on “Are you supposed to take action for the monsters or are they only acting when a pc fails or succeed at a cost?”

  1. A little of both. 

    When it’s your turn to talk, you make your moves: put them in a spot, show signs of a threat, use a monster move, tell the consequences & ask, etc. 

    How you describe your moves should take into account all the threats in the scene, not just the one(s) the PC is directly engaged in.

    So, like:

    GM:  “Barbarian, you’re blinking after the gargoyle that just flew off with the halfling when you hear a rush of wind and spot something diving towards you, what do you do?”  (GM move:  _show signs of an approaching threat_.)

    Barbarian:  “Another gargoyle, coming at me?  I whip my broadsword at it, gutting it as it attacks me! Hack & Slash?”  Rolls a 7-9, and 5 damage, forceful and messy, but it’s still up.

    GM: “Okay, you don’t gut it, it gets its arm up in the way, but you do cleave through its arm and check its momentum.”  (Not really a move, just narrating what happened and including the barbarian’s tags.)  “Unfortunately, whoomp another one lands behind, unexpectedly, and rakes across your back. Take d6+2 damage and you stumble forward on the stairs towards the first one, what do you do?”  (The enemy making an attack >> GM moves:  gargoyle’s attack with the element of surprise and a little bit of put them in a spot.)

    Barbarian:  “I let myself fall forward and use my momentum to gut the first one, getting out of reach of the one behind me. Hack and slash again?”  Yup! Rolls a 10+, and plenty of damage to kill it.

    GM:  “Yeah, just like you said, you run it through and stumble out of reach of the other other one. You manage to get your blade free, flinging the dead gargoyle into the abyss and twisting around just as the other one leaps at you, trying to bowl you over the edge of that last stair. What do you do?” (GM move:  _put them in a spot_)

  2. Jeremy Strandberg, I get putting them in a spot when the 7-9 is rolled, but I’m confused by the putting them in a spot again at the end where the 10+ was rolled. This is something I have a problem with in my games. The PCs roll a 10+, so that should be a success, but then the success sort of ends the momentum. I see the reason for putting them in the spot (keeps momentum moving forward, giving them something to react to), but what is the rules justification?

  3. Randy Stoda Why put him in a spot?  Because it was turn to say something, and that was the move I chose to use. 

    The barbarian rolled a 10+ on hack & slash, meaning he deal damage and avoided the enemy’s attack. So he runs the first gargoyle through and gets out of reach of the other one, even gets his sword free and repositions himself in time to react.  That’s not me making a move, that’s me narrating the result of the 10+ and the damage rolls.  (Some GMs would let the player narrate that outcome.)

    But after describing the outcome of the PC’s move, it’s my turn to describe what happens next. To make a GM move.  Following the fiction, what’s the most likely and interesting thing to happen?  The other gargoyle pounces!  What do you do?

    If the barbarian had rolled a 7-9, I’d probably narrate it the same way except that the second gargoyle’s attack would have already connected and now it and the barbarian and tumbling over the edge together, what do you do?  I’m still making a GM move, but in this case the 7-9 result of “you expose yourself to an enemy’s attack” gives me permission to make that move much harder (deal damage, throw him off the edge) than I’d make after a 10+ result.  

    And if somehow the barbarian’s second hack and slash had taken out both gargoyles on a 10+, and there was nothing left immediately threatening the barbarian, I’d have shifted focus to the halfing being carried off and made a move on them.  

    Does that answer your question?

  4. Yes, so from a rules perspective, you’re making a move when everyone looks to you to see what happens, right?  That’s where I think I fall down.  Coming from a dungeon crawl style of play, when the Gargoyle’s dead, they’ve looted the room, then I look at them and wait for them to act.  In DW, when they look at me, I get to make a move, and I sometimes have a hard time keeping the narrative moving forward.

    I also need to work on ways to move the narrative forward in ways other than “another monster attacks.”  That’s a real challenge for me.

  5. Yeah, it really stands out from “classic” RPGs. Once you start playing more and more narrative based RPGs, you get the hang of it.

    That said, as the rule say it, most of the time it will come instinctively. I think you might be doing it backwards. My understanding is : don’t try to come up with a move to advance the story forward. Just try to move the story forward and then check if this correspond to a GM move.

    You already know that the next step after beating the crap out of the gargoyles is that trap that was set up on the treasure. Well, just move forward to that scene with a short description and hit your group with : “What do you do?” and the thing will flow naturally.

    I think… ?

    (For the record, I’m also total newb to DW)

  6. Randy Stoda The good news is that with a dungeon crawl, you can generally assume there’s this sort of constantly ongoing move: offer riches at a price. Even if there’s literally no immediate threat, there’s always the overarching situation: they’re in a dungeon, where danger lurks around every corner, but also riches, and your resources are limited. You don’t have to make that move, it’s always going on. So if you just describe the room they’re in and ask “what do you do?” you’ll get something to work with.

    As for changing up your moves during fights: a lot of folks swear by keeping the GM moves list handy and putting tics next to each move as you use them, so you can see which ones you are or aren’t using and then stretch yourself to balance them out.  I don’t do that myself, but I do glance at the moves when nothing obvious comes to mind.

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