Can anyone point me to where “getting the drop” is defined in the DW rules?

Can anyone point me to where “getting the drop” is defined in the DW rules?

Can anyone point me to where “getting the drop” is defined in the DW rules? The only thing I’ve ever found is “The best fight for you is one where you have the drop—since hack and slash is triggered by attacking in melee, and a defenseless enemy isn’t really in melee, the move won’t trigger—you’ll just bury a weapon or spell in their back and deal your damage.”

8 thoughts on “Can anyone point me to where “getting the drop” is defined in the DW rules?”

  1. I would look at the monster moves, which sometimes tell you if a creature is likely to take characters unawares. Use these moves in response to failures in things like the Take Watch move. If it’s a soft move, give players a roll Defy Danger Dex roll not to be taken unawares. If it’s a hard move, have them Defy Danger not to take damage. In other words, assume players have the jump unless their opponents get the jump from a GM move. And watch out for the thief’s Shoot First move. Don’t step on that.

  2. Like a lot of things DW, it’s left up to the fiction. You can certainly have it be contingent on a Defy Danger to sneak up unnoticed, though. Or not, if you have some fancy magic item that lets you move silently. Or maybe they’re really distracted because you poisoned their lunch and so no roll is needed to even sneak up.

  3. Yep, that’s exactly what it means. If you can get in the right situation, you don’t have to Hack and Slash. If I sneak up on someone via a move and stab them, that’s not Hack and Slash, that’s dealing damage, because I’ve just stabbed them.

    It’s the same principle as if, say, I was to drop a boulder on top of someone by rolling it over a cliff onto them. I don’t Hack and Slash for that, because I just dropped a boulder on them.

  4. So then when a monster or danger gets the drop on a PC, that PC is forced to begin with Defy Danger, rather than attempting some other move like Hack & Slash…

  5. Precisely! Or, if the situation is bad enough, you can move straight to dealing damage as established. Especially if the players put themselves in a bad spot.

  6. Maezar think of it less as what the PC is forced to do and more how you frame your GM moves, which moves you make, and how hard those moves are. You shouldn’t (generally) be dictating what moves the players are making. You should be making a GM move and asking them “what do you do?”

    So, let’s say you’re Undertaking a Perilous Journey (standard moves, not Perilous Wilds… though it’d be pretty similar with those) and the Scout rolls a 10+. That means they got the drop on whatever danger they encounter.

    You don’t tell the player “yeah, you sneak up on owlbear and catch it unawares, go ahead and deal your damage!” That’s assuming too much about the PCs actions. Instead, you make a GM move like offer an opportunity with a cost.

    “You’re moving silently through the woods when you hear something big shuffling just ahead of you. After a couple tense moments, the huge muscly form of an owlbear pads into view. It hasn’t noticed you (you’re downwind of it, thank gods) but it’s rooting around in the underbrush and doesn’t seem to be in any mood to go anywhere. If you stay stock still and wind holds, you’re pretty sure it won’t see you. But you know your friends will come blundering along in a couple minutes. What do you do?”

    Basically: you’ve given the initiative to the player. They now get to decide: sneak closer and make with the stabby? Slink away and try to warn his friends? Do something else? Either of those is likely to trigger Defy Danger. He’s got the drop on the owlbear, but that doesn’t the situation is safe.

    By contrast, on a 6-, the UPJ move strongly implies that the danger gets the drop on the scout. But really, I can make any GM move following my principles, as hard as I like. Obvious choices would be deal damage (narrated as “HOLY SHIT OWLBEAR take 1d10 damage as it comes out of nowhere and just mauls you, sending you flying, what do you do?”), or introduce a new type of creature (“The brush shakes and before you know it there’s this screech mass charging you you’ve got split seconds whaddyado?”). Again, whatever they do, they’re probably defying danger. But maybe they plant their feet and brace their shield against the charge (Defend) or fling a knife at it from the ground (Volley) or quickly think about what you’re supposed to do when an owlbear attacks (Spout Lore). Key thing is: you took the initiative and now they’re in a reactive position. But how they react is up to them.

    (Side note: You could also get fancy on a 6-, and go with a GM move like separate them. Just cut back to the rest of the party with something like “You keep expecting Krikor to slink back and make contact with you, but… yeah, he doesn’t. He’s like an hour overdue. What do you do?” and if they keep on the trail, follow that with reveal an unwelcome truth and say “a short while later, you find a spot blood spattered on some leaves, bright red and still fresh. Krikor’s mangled boot lies ominously in the trail, and bloody path appears to have been dragged through the brush, what do you do?” You’re still “getting the drop” on the scout, but it happened off-camera.)

  7. Ok, Two schools of thought.  One Hard Move, one Soft Move.

    First off, By “Getting the Drop on them” I am assuming that you mean that your fiction is such that the players are unaware of the attacker being able to attack them and do not have their guard up for that type of attack.

    Following that definition, You don’t make a Hack&Slash because a Hack&Slash specifically states that the enemy is able and prepared for fighting.

    On the Nice end, If there is a chance of avoiding it then a Defy Danger would be appropriate.  A Failure is that you get to do damage and have the fiction of the attack successful.  On a 7-9 you have the attack fail and they got out of the way (a 7-9 is a full success still) BUT some sort of Drama happens as well.  If it is a Boulder rolled down a hill, yes they dodge out of the way but fall down too, or somehow compromise their position, allowing you to do another soft move.  This is the Nice Soft Move option.

    On the Hard Move option:  You deal Damage to the unsuspecting group and bring in the fiction, now make a soft move that is the follow up of the attack now that they are aware of an enemy.  Sort of like a surprise round where the enemy is successful.

    Weather a Hard or Soft Move, There is no “Drop” in the system.  Go with the fiction and go with the results.

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