GMs of Dungeon World: what is Death motivated by in your games, when it comes to the bargains he makes with dying adventurers? It’s not too hard to come up with generally “tough” choices to present players who hit the 7-9 on their Last Breath: put the Ranger’s animal companion in the crosshairs, make the Thief give up their prized trinket from their most memorable theft, force the Paladin to go against their divine oath in some way, etc.
What challenges me sometimes is making the Last Breath move’s hard choices follow the fiction in a believable way. The first time someone appears before the Black Gates, Death becomes a character just like any other in your campaign and should have agendas that characterize the interactions with PCs. Saying “the Druid must defile the great oak tree that sustains the Wood Elves of the Ithdell Forest” is one thing, but answering “why does Death want this?” is another thing entirely that I find myself getting caught up on.
Does Death want to take as many souls as possible beyond the Black Gates? Does Death believe in a balance such that a soul must be sacrificed to save another? Is Death a neutral party just trying to do its job? Is Death spiteful, and seeks to torment anyone who cheats it? Is Death simply cruel, and enjoys toying with mortals and watching the tragedy that comes from their attempts to escape its grasp? Any of these answers would result in very different deals when it comes time to deal with a 7-9, I feel.
I’m interested in hearing how other GMs tend to handle this question: what motivates your Death to strike deals, and in what ways does this tend to color the nature of those deals?