I need some advice from other Dungeon World GM’s.

I need some advice from other Dungeon World GM’s.

I need some advice from other Dungeon World GM’s. During a combat I will be narrating a soft move against one of the players where an enemy is right on top of them and the axe is coming towards them. I’m trying to put them in a situation where they have to Defy Danger. But instead they will often narrate a Hack n Slash action. “It’s about to bite me? I slash it with my sword!”

I’m trying to put them in situations where they do more interesting actions than just one Hack n Slash after another.


9 thoughts on “I need some advice from other Dungeon World GM’s.”

  1. As you slash it, the axe (remember the axe) hits you hard in the shoulder. Give them the damage , or effect, then have them roll the hack & slash if it’s still possible.

    From your description it seems they could be ignoring the fiction.

  2. “If you charge in like that, it will definitely bite you, but you’ll be able to hit it no problem, otherwise you’ll need to take evasive action somehow. What do you do?”

    (Say the consequences and ask)

  3. Make a move when the players give you a golden opportunity.

    The axe is coming right at them? They’re taking advantage of the enemy coming right at them to slash their sword at it.

    That’s a golden opportunity. Deal damage.

    Then resolve the hack-and-slash, which could result in the axe blade biting even deeper and triggering your deal damage move again.

    If you’re nice, you might consider the mode “Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask” when they tell you they just want to slash at the enemy. “You can do that, but the axe is guaranteed to hit you if you do. Sure that’s what you want to do?”

    (Essentially what Yan said, but with a little more mention of the moves involved).

    It’s reminiscent of wot.wikia.com – Sheathing the Sword even if the player doesn’t realise it is what they are doing.

  4. You could also put them in positions where they are up against something the are not supposed to harm. Having the target of a rescue job attack them puts them in a tough spot.

    You could also have the one attacking them be the only one who knows the way out of where they are.

    The one attacking could also be an innocent under mind control, especially if the are a friend or relative.

  5. My opinion: In most cases, responding to an incoming melee attack with a counterattack (including a parry/riposte) is 1) totally legitimate and doable, 2) a solid real-world tactic, and 3) triggers Hack and Slash.

    That’s the default, the standard. The result of the roll tells you who’s attack succeeded, and the damage roll(s) tell you how solid the hit(s) was(were), and the tags (messy, forceful, etc.) inform the fictional outcomes.

    Fictional circumstances can and should make Hack and Slash impossible. But you should always have good fictional reasons, and those reasons should appear in your narrative and description. And if the players don’t respond the way that you think is realistic, clarify the situation. Tell them the consequences and ask.

    For example, the PC might not be able to Hack and Slash because of…


    GM: “He’s swinging his ax down at your head, like HAH! What do you do?”

    Player: “Stab him with my dagger! Hack and Slash, right?”

    GM: “Dude, no. He’s like 2 or 3 ft away, with that ax coming down now. You want to duck inside his guard before it comes down, that’s gonna be Defying Danger with DEX, and then a Hack and Slash. You still do it? Or dodge? Or something else?”

    Bad Positioning

    GM (after the PC’s hit with a forcefu attack): “You stumble and fall face first into the turf. You hear a ‘YAAR’ and twist your head up to see this dude coming at you, bringing his ax down at your neck. What do you do?”

    Player: “Can I just stab him with my sword?”

    GM: “Not really. I mean, you’re like sprawled face-down. Your sword arm’s over here, on your right and this dude’s coming from your left.”

    Player: “Huh. I guess I roll away from him, trying to get to my feet.”

    GM: “That’s what I’d do, to. Defy Danger with DEX.”

    Enemy Skill

    GM: “You’re squaring off at this guy, and it’s like BLINK his ax is coming at your head. What do you do?”

    Player: “Step to the side and lash out with my sword! Hack and slash, right?”

    GM: “No, man, this attack is like super-seriously fast. Like, someone cut a few frames from the film fast. You’re can barely even react, much less counterattack.”

    Player: “Really? Huh, okay. I guess I’ll just whip my shield up and block it, crouching down under the shield. Defy Danger with DEX?”

    GM: “Maybe? It sounds more like Defend to me, actually.”

    Player: “Oh, sure! Roll+CON it is.”

  6. Oh, and as for ways to encourage more interesting moves than just Hack & Slash…

    * What +Victor Wyatt said: give them a reason that they can’t just kill the enemy

    * Present them with foes that can’t be killed normally (incorporeal ghosts, air elementals, swarms of locusts, carnivorous vines controlled from a central root that’s buried 5 feet in the earth, an iron golem, etc.)

    * Present them with foes with traits that “block” the PCs from just walking up and attacking: fliers, monsters with reach, super-mobililty (quicklings), terrifying foes, huge foes (“just what good do you think that knife is going to do against this rhino?”), stealthy foes (“where’d it go?”), super-skilled foes with moves like “Counter all the but the most inspired of attacks”

    * Give the monsters “controller” moves: “mesmerize a foe,” “turn the environment against them,” “hurl fireballs (far, area, ignores armor),” etc.

    * Swarm them with endless hordes of little guys, put provide some sort of way out of the situation

    * Environmental dangers: collapsing floors and ceilings, curtains on fire, mushroom patches that release choking spore clouds, flooding rooms, fighting in shallow water with something slithering around in there, lightning traps on the fritz, pressure plates in a pattern around the floor that send poison darts shooting from the wall

    * Put something valuable and fragile in the middle of the fight: a priceless vase, a rescued child, a mirror that binds an insane ifrit, a circle of chalk runes that are keeping out the angry ghosts

    * Include environmental features that can be exploited: a caged beast, angry at it’s captors; a bubbling cauldron of who-knows-what; a chandelier, with foes conveniently beneath it; ropes and buckets and sacks of flour and bookshelves.

  7. I agree with everything Jeremy Strandberg​ said, other than the example of the hero rolling Defend to block a blow with his shield. I tend to have them DD with CON if they are in a situation where they use a shield against damage coming at themselves. I think it’s just more beneficial to completely negate damage (most of the time)

  8. Great advice.  Sometimes it can be hard to draw out the descriptions from the players and to draw out the descriptions from yourself.  You must do so.  Do not allow the players to interrupt the description of what is going on.  If they do so, then point out that they are doing so the first time, then the second time assume that their character is not interested in the description and proceed as if they have heard it and ignore it.  When they complain that you did not give them that detail let them know that they interrupted you, so it is obviously battle haze or the character was distracted.  That said, the game does have a clear statement to let them know you are done describing, “What do you do?” 

    The hardest part of this is to give a clear and engaging description that demands a response.  A soft description of what is going on does not bring about an evocative experience, it does not push the players to give descriptions.

    Get them out of the habit of describing one action, “I slash at it with my sword.”  That is more one action not a small scene.  The rolls and action are meant for small scenes and lots of interactive descriptions.

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