33 thoughts on “So, here’s a quick monster I made. Let me know what you think!”

  1. So, firstly thank you: Chris Stone-Bush​, Christoffer Skuthälla​, Ryan Abrams​, and Douglas Santana​ for the comments and +1’s. As for its strength in its stats, I shall be honest, I am pretty bad at running Dungeon World so I have to beef up my monsters to make sure my players have a challenge. What sort of stats and special qualities would you guys recommend?

  2. Interesting write-up in general, but i don’t care for the DW write up specifically. It’s written very mechanically, and lacks the openness to interpretation i’d hope for in a DW Monster, giving each group a chance to interpret it in neat new ways.

    Number of Creatures

    No. Appearing – A tag might be more appropriate than adding a new mechanic that implies the GM needs to determine number randomly. I’d recommend Solitary, or Group, depending on which is more accurate to the concept, realizing that a GM can bring in whatever number is appropriate to the scene – the tags are suggestions of “normal” behavior.

    HP and Armor

    I also don’t care for 16 HP 3 Armor. This strikes me as “these guys are tough!” – but that’s really not that tough if The Fighter has pushed for max-damage and has a few levels. Instead, give it special qualities and moves that reflect how it is tough. And then as GM play it accordingly. Make it last longer by having it fictionally difficult to “get the drop on”, not by giving it so much HP and Armor that successful hits are less significant. Remember, when the PCs do hit something, it should hurt. Level 1 PCs are already badass heroes.


    Custom damage tags Ennui and Blinding could instead be made into special moves, rather than tags on attack. Monsters generally get a single damage die for attacks, and that die counts whatever form their attack takes; i’d set the damage stat to:

    Unarmed [1d8+2, armor piercing 2, forceful]

    and write moves for Ennui, and for Choking Dust

    Instinct and Moves

    Motivations/tactics – i can’t see any benefit to laying it this way instead of as Instinct/Moves.

    Instinct: Keep the workplace running smoothly.


    – Ensure discipline

    – Suppress disorder

    – Summon hordes of laborers

    – Ennui

    – Choking Dust

    Defy Danger as Saving Throw

    Calling for specific Defy Danger rolls is reminiscent of treating Defy Danger like a Saving Throw.

    Custom Moves

    Ennui – When the grey folks dull stare meets your eyes, their weary boredom soaks into your soul. Take -1 ongoing to any act disruptive to their plans while you remain within their presence.

    * as GM, you can share this move with the Players before using it. Then, as a Soft Move, have a Grey Folk seek to lock eyes with the Player, and ask “What do you do?” If their reaction leads to a hard move, use Ennui on them.

    Choking Dust – When you are caught within the Grey Folks’ choking dust, you cannot breathe (assuming you must) or see (assuming you normally can). You are blinded, and gasping for air until you escape the dust. Likely confusion and panic will set in as well.

    Note that i’m moving away from heavily prescriptive +/-1 modifiers in general. In Ennui, i keep the -1 ongoing, but only for actions that the Grey Folks would find disruptive. For Choking Dust, i’ve removed the penalties altogether – being choking/blinded/confused/panicked will likely change the fiction sufficiently to change how moves are triggered, rather than simply adding a penalty to triggered moves.

  3. Thank you for taking the time to write up that stuff, Andrew Fish​! I will work on an edit of the monster tonight and include the great advice I’ve gotten from you and others. I’ll post here when I have included the edit on my blog.

  4. So, I read your write up again, and thank you by the way, Andrew Fish​. What I am about to write will probably be heresy in these circles, but I thought defy dangers were like saves. And I may be running it wrong, but 3 of my 4 players could 1 shot kill the monster if they roll pretty well. They are all level 5 to 6, and all the stuff I have read on how to run the game doesn’t really apply to them. They made all their characters to work well mechanically with one another. I have to pretty much ambush them to actually make them feel like there is a challenge to the fight. Finally, the GM world/dungeon moves are useful but instances where they might be able to be triggered never come up. As I said, I’ve read the pdfs that folks have tossed at me, but they were only of some partial help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  5. That was a great comment by Andrew Fish, and I agree with everything he says. You don’t make monsters more dangerous in DW by giving them outrageous stats. You make them dangerous by giving them moves ans special qualities that make then dangerous.

    Have you read the post of the 16 hp dragon Ian Hagan?  

  6. No, I haven’t, Chris Stone-Bush​. Any assistance you could provide me with my aforementioned problems would be really appreciated. I enjoy running Dungeon World, I am just bad at it.

  7. So, reading that helped, Chris Stone-Bush​, but it raises more questions. The fighters arm got ripped off. As a GM, does DW allow me to do things of that magnitide whenever I wish? Secondly, can I just throw out Hard Moves whenever I want?

  8. The short answer here Ian Hagan is “follow the fiction”. You can not do things of that magnitude whenever you wish. Nor can you throw out Hard Moves whenever you want. There are guidelines about when you can do those things, usually in the form of tags moves.

    The dragon in that example had the “messy” tag. That means its attacks result in horrifically messy damage. Missing limbs, sucking chest wounds, that sort of thing. The messy tag gives you permission to have the monster deal damage of that magnitude.

    This is a separate issue, but it sounds like you’re trying to run DW like another game. D&D or Pathfinder perhaps. That’s not going to work out very well.

  9. To be honest, Chris Stone-Bush, I think I might be doing just that. I have been trying to run it loosely, but I end up with ultra easy encounters. So, with ‘forceful’ could I have a monster knock someone against a wall without a defy danger roll?

  10. Sorry, I can be vague. I meant that I was basically running Dungeon World like a loose version of D&D or Pathfinder. Removing the initiative system, playing fast and loose with movement, and taking it easy on range. I appreciate you taking the time to help me, Chris Stone-Bush.

  11. Sure. I love DW and want to help people run it.

    Personally I don’t think you need to run a “loose” game of D&D or Pathfinder; DW has a system of initiative, movement, and range already. Just use what’s in the book.

  12. Ahh, once again I have been too vague. I do use the rules in DW, I just meant that I have been treating it like it was a looser version of Pathfinder rather than its own beast. I was coming at it through a formulaic mindset (ex: Bob the Barbarian does x at y range, so that means I have z number of options) rather than a more free-form mindset (ex: Bob the Barbarian cleaves the goblin in two mere feet away from a hulking Orc Warboss. The Warboss, already driven mad by the failure of his puny goblin warband, charges at Bob swinging his huge cleaver.) So, would I always give a player a chance to defy danger when they are being attacked? Also, do I allow a single defy danger if a player is being swarmed by multiple enemies, or just a single defy danger? I wish there was some way to repay you for your assistance, Chris Stone-Bush. Want a weirdo monster or place written up in a strange way?

  13. Thanks but I don’t need any repayment. People running great games is all the reward I expect. 😀

    Would I always give a player a change to Defy Danger? That depends on the situation.

    I generally use DD when the bad thing happening to the character can be prevented, avoided or reduced by their action. The Orc Warboss swinging his arm back for a mighty blow. Goblin archers drawing arrows tight against their cheeks. Those actions allow the character a chance to react before things get bad.

    But some things don’t give the character a chance to reach. Either because the monster or effect is so powerful or dangerous, or because you’re making a Hard Move. The Orc Warboss is a dangerous melee opponent, so I would not give players a chance to Defy Danger if they roll a 6- on a Hack & Slash against him. If the characters are walking down a dark tunnel and take no precautions, then they don’t get to Defy Danger when the goblin archers start shooting at them from ambush.

    Other games determine these things with mechanics. Dungeon World doesn’t. Or at least not as much as other games. DW determines all this by the fiction. Use what is happening in the narrative to decide what happens mechanically.

    As for your gang up question, are the monsters attacking the character in a coordinated group? Maybe a single Defy Danger roll then. If the monsters are all attacking on their own, maybe a DD roll for each. Maybe. But realistically, how many opponents can one character deal with before dodging the attack from one leaves them open to another’s attack? Even if the monsters aren’t attacking as an organized group, I might only give the character a single DD roll to avoid one attack. After that the monsters just start doing damage. Groups of monsters, eve weak ones, are dangerous because there are so many of them. You need to reflect that in the fiction of your game.

  14. Very cool, thank you for the advice, Chris Stone-Bush. I think all my major questions have been answered. Would it be alright if I tag you into further questions later on when they arise? I shouldn’t think it’d be too often since I run my game every other week, and next week is not DW.

  15. Though I may name a monster after you Chris Stone-Bush. Your name, or part of it, brings to mind a strange telepathic coral like bush. 🙂

  16. Chris Stone-Bush has given consistently great advice in this community, and has led you well once again.

    I think i’d like to expound just a bit on Defy Danger, and how i came to understand it as different from saving throws.

    First in this is looking at GM Soft Moves versus Hard Moves – a Soft Move might be “the archers unleash a volley of arrows; they scream through the air as they seek you out. What do you do?” This is a Soft Move because there is no immediate cost to the PC(s) – they can react however they choose.

    That said, if they choose to react in a way that doesn’t get them out of the way of those arrows, the next move is a Hard Move: “You’re full of arrows. Roll damage!”

    If they react in a way to respond to the danger, look at what they’re doing, to see if it triggers a move. If they cast a spell to put a barrier between them and the arrows, they are safe. If they roll Volley to counter-fire and get a 7-9, and opt to expose themselves to danger, then i’d adjudicated that they get their attacks in, but they also take damage. If they’re close enough to engage someone in Hack&Slash and get a 10+, i’d consider letting them use an opponent as cover, if it’s feasible, because 10+!

    But if they react solely to escape the danger, i’d look at their method, and depending on this i’d identify the stat they’re using for Defy Danger. If they want to tear off a nearby door and hold it as a shield, + STR. If they dodge behind something sturdy, + DEX. If they catch the attention of an oblivious ogre and ask it to bend down so they can whisper a question in its ear, secretly hoping it’ll intercept all the arrows in its backside.. well cool! + CHA!

    Defy Danger is NOT a saving throw. Saving throws are prescribed in their games, like D&D or Pathfinder, by the rules. A spell mechanic or other action will tell the players which Save to roll, and what the effects are. If and when there will be a saving throw is determined by the person undertaking the appropriate action.

    Defy Danger is a Move; it is triggered only when a player whose character is in danger meets the condition of the trigger – when they act in defiance of that danger. And that is only possible during a Soft Move – when you’ve laid out an imminent danger and give them a chance to react. It is perfectly OKAY when the GM is given a golden opportunity, or when the players roll a 6-, to simply hit the PCs hard enough to make them pay attention.

    And in some case, it’s more interesting to rip their arm off with a messy 16HP dragon than to inflict enough damage to kill them. If they survive getting their arm ripped off, then you get to play to find out how they continue to be badass. Do they get a golem limb? Restorative magic? Or learn to fight one-handed? Can’t wait for the next session to see how we dig ourselves out of this hole!

  17. Thank you Andrew Fish​! I will report how my next session goes. I really appreciate all your help with my monster and my difficulties with DW.

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