So, I’m getting started as a new GM (to Dungeon World and RPGs in general) and trying to learn the ropes.

So, I’m getting started as a new GM (to Dungeon World and RPGs in general) and trying to learn the ropes.

So, I’m getting started as a new GM (to Dungeon World and RPGs in general) and trying to learn the ropes. Haven’t played with anyone more experienced in DW and my players are also new, so inevitably I’ll be making some mistakes. We made it through the first session and had a good time, but I’m pretty sure I cheated several times, taking GM moves out of turn while caught up in the narrative and intensity of the situations. I imagine this is only going to get trickier in the next session when I introduce Fronts and try to start tracking ‘background’ moves too.

Are there any good tricks to help remind myself of when I should/shouldn’t be moving and to avoid taking more than one move at a time? I imagine it’s mostly a matter of practice and experience, but maybe there’s some good mnemonic aid. I was thinking of maybe making myself a set of cards to pick from (probably put several possible moves on each card; mostly just a way to remind myself that I’m only picking one) but not sure if that actually helps or would just get in the way of the story.

9 thoughts on “So, I’m getting started as a new GM (to Dungeon World and RPGs in general) and trying to learn the ropes.”

  1. Have you read the Dungeon World Guide linked off It’s great, and most everyone recommends it highly:

    I think that you as the GM can make moves pretty constantly without breaking the rules – one of the triggers for making a move is “when everyone looks to you to find out what happens”, which is basically any time you’re talking. Those should only be soft moves though.

  2. Robert Rendell Yes, I have read that. Really liked the examples in that guide. I think combat was where I was getting tripped up the most, since it’s fast-paced, lots of player moves triggering, which means misses and follow-on hard moves, plus I’m trying to keep track of all the monsters and make sure the narrative isn’t leaving any of them out of the action for too long and, well, it just gets a bit overwhelming. 🙂

  3. Anytime the other players look at you to see what happens, make a move. It’s almost impossible for the mc to be making “too many” moves.

    Probably your two most common Mc moves will be “announce future badness” and “tell them the consequences and ask.” Make liberal use of those and no one will feel cheated when you go for the throat with hard moves. Which you absolutely should because by DW RAW heroes are significantly advantaged over monsters.

    So deal damage AND take away their stuff. Make the hard choices you offer their life or their friend’s. They’ll tell you when it’s too much, and then you just ask what they think makes more sense in the story, and do that. And then reveal an unwelcome truth.

    There’s a secret move that I use that I cribbed from a different Vincent Baker game: “Only say details, not what they mean.” The heroes will always interpret the signs for you. They just won’t always be right, because you’ll think of something devilish in the interim.

  4. Dan Bryant don’t be so hard on yourself.

    There’s a really (really) fine line between just describing the situation and making a GM move. Also, there’s a very blurry line between individual GM moves.

    If you really are worried about making multiple GM moves in a row, just try to be extra diligent about asking “what do you do?” after each one.

  5. Don’t be afraid to get out a rough map to make sure you know what every monster is and what people are doing. I think its a pretty legitamate way to go but make sure you tell the players we are only using it as reference not to do d&d style grid play.

  6. Yeah it’s in fact very liberating to be using minis without having to think much about rules. You just move around anywhere on the board (that makes sense) without the need to count squares, difficult terrain or check for opportunity attacks or such. Just rely on your common sense to see whether this move makes sense. And remember there is no rounds so distance crossed isn’t an issue but trying to pass by that big ogre, climbing that cliff or moving through those dense thorny bushes could become a Defy Danger move. 

  7. Rebecca Her On a side note, I’m feeling a lot less stressed about it all after the second session. I can see things moving and pieces starting to come together. The players must’ve had a good time, because we just finished yesterday and they’ve already asked if I could run another session tomorrow. 🙂

    Still probably making some mistakes, but we’re having fun and building a world together, so I think things are on the right track.

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