I suspect that next week my players will have rescued the kidnap victim and will want to quickly make their way back…

I suspect that next week my players will have rescued the kidnap victim and will want to quickly make their way back…

I suspect that next week my players will have rescued the kidnap victim and will want to quickly make their way back to the village she came from.

This involves travelling through the dangerous forest it took them two sessions to pass through previously, but now they’ll just want to hurry back, so I think Perilous Journey will be applicable.

My question: how does the GM decide if ‘trouble’ happens during the Journey or not? I suppose if sometime during the next session somebody throws a 6- I could have “you will be attacked by goblins in the forest on your way back” as a hidden result, or otherwise make that decision as a GM hard move somewhere, but that doesn’t seem to fit in well with the fiction.

Am I overthinking things as usual, or are there more interesting/fun ways to trigger “trouble” during a Perilous Journey? Or conversely, to decide that there will be no trouble — I want to play fair!

8 thoughts on “I suspect that next week my players will have rescued the kidnap victim and will want to quickly make their way back…”

  1. As the GM, you are mandated to “Describe the situation” and “Exploit your prep”, and one of the triggers for making a move is “When the players give you a golden opportunity”.

    So, if they are crossing the territory of Threatening Creature (which may be designated as such in your prep or revealed as such during play), you describe it, which might involve showing signs of threat or similar. Supposing they stay the course, that might be a golden opportunity.

    I get the impression sometimes that people think Dungeon World is Entirely Different than other RPGs that have a referee/GM role. But in this sense, it’s not very different at all. The main difference is that the rules are explicit about the GM’s role in listening to fiction created at the table, but that doesn’t displace the face that you will be adding dangers to the world during your prep.

  2. You might ask the players:

    – Ranger, you know a shortcut back. What Threatening Creature guards that path? Why are you anxious about it?

    – Druid, you’ve heard of a rare creature in that land whose essence you’ve longed to study. What is it?

    – Fighter, you heard that a war party is moving in that area—which warlord do they answer to?

    – Thief, you’ve heard tell of smuggling tunnels that might give you a shortcut back—whose cartel runs those tunnels and what are they known to smuggle?

    – Wizard, there’s a stone circle around here with teleportation runes on the megaliths. What demon guards the place and what is she rumored to collect as tribute?

    – Cleric, you’ve heard of a ruined shrine in this area, where your deity might offer a safe haven for your camp. What foul creatures have blighted its surroundings?

    – Paladin, your order told you about an Abbey in this area that offers hospitality to travelers. What temptation into corruption were you warned against there?

    – Bard, you’ve been to that Abbey before. Why do you want to return?

  3. +JohnAllderStephens I’m not sure I understand your answer! Those character questions you list (and the exploit your prep / golden opportunity advice) seem to me more suitable to a party setting out for an unknown journey of exploration, i.e. regular DW play.

    But the thing is, both me and my players know what’s in that forest (and I even have a couple of monsters on hand they didn’t encounter the first time), and I’m not looking to throw everything wide open to new adventures, as such.

    It’s really and specifically the Perilous Journey move (with the trigger When you travel through hostile territory, and the explicit mention of “trouble” in the scout roll results) that I’m wondering about.

    Does that clarify at all why I don’t quite understand how to apply your answers to my question?

  4. I’m sorry my answer wasn’t clear enough for you, and I think I confused matters with my second comment.

    In Dungeon World, I don’t think traveling through wilderness is any different than exploring caverns, catacombs, sewers, or anything else, apart from the availability of a move that explicitly lets you elide time where “nothing interesting happens”.

    So, if they are exploring a dungeon, how do you decide that there is hostile opposition in any given room or corridor? The answer is that it’s either a) part of your prep, or b) you discover it based on the events during play. Right?

    Either way, you simply describe the situation as they see it unfold and interact with it, showing signs of any threat that comes up. When they do things that trigger GM moves, you will use your moves—which almost always means revealing tension and danger. Some of that tension and danger will come from your prep, some of it will be the obvious consequences of their actions, and some will suggest itself or be dredged out of your imagination on the spot. Sooner or later, hazards will be front and center. Is that how you do it?

    The wilderness is no different. If you already know the area is hostile and dangerous, you’ll be “describing the situation” at all times, which will bring tension and danger into focus just like in the dungeon. They might avoid or evade the danger, just like in the dungeon, but if they don’t you use your moves.

    Does that make sense?

  5. If they’ve navigated through the forest before, they presumably know a way through and its hazards already. That means that barring something changing, they can just go through. However, things can always change, so the Perilous Journey move helps you decide if they have.

    Probably the simplest way to decide if there might be trouble for the scout to spot would be to just focus on the results of the other two roles’ rolls. If the Quartermaster or the Trailblazer roll a 6-, a hard move could be that one of the known hazards has roamed unexpectedly into their path, and the scout’s result determines how early they notice it relative to it noticing them.

    Having a front that related to some inhabitants of the forest might also allow you to “save up” a previous hard move. If you have a front about a necromancer who is growing his power base, and one of the front’s Grim Portents is “The necromancer occupies the ruined wizard’s tower in the forest and starts to study its secrets,” then ticking off that grim portent due to a hard move might result in you deciding that will make trouble for anyone passing through that part of the forest. A subsequent Perilous Journey through the forest would thus have undead minions to avoid or stumble into even if the Quartermaster and Trailblazer make their rolls.

  6. There’s also the old school method: If you have no idea whether they’ll encounter anyone on their journey, roll the Die of Fate.

    From World of Dungeons:


    > Sometimes the GM will roll the die of fate to see how the situation is established. Low numbers are ill-fortune, high numbers are good fortune (or at least not misery). The die of fate might be rolled to establish the weather, indicate a random NPC’s general attitude, or to determine if a wandering monster appears. The GM may also roll the die of fate if the PCs take some action for which sheer chance is the only factor in the outcome.


  7. Leo Breebaart: I feel you!

    If I read your post right, you’re saying that you know that there are perils, but you’re unsure how to decide whether they encounter a peril. Because the way the UPJ move is written, the assumption is that they will encounter a peril. And that feels wrong, right?

    If you want to use the rules as written, then: yes, they encounter a peril. Pick one of the things that you already know about, and combine that with the outcome of the Scout roll to set the scene. Zoom in, make a GM move, and ask them what they do.

    if the scout nails the roll (10+), you’ll probably be giving them an opportunity and asking what they do. They might observe it for a while (Discern Realities), ask you about its habits (Spout Lore), sneak around it (Defy Danger), launch an ambush (Volley), etc.

    On a 7-9 or 6-, the peril is probably going to be a confrontation or an ambush, with less opportunity to get around it.

    Regardless, the peril will be resolved. And once it is resolved, my reading of the UPJ move is that the rest of the journey is uneventful.

    But! It’s possible that the peril will spin out into a whole side adventure (they run away and hide overnight in a barrow mound, or they track the thing back to its lair to get its treasure, etc.) or generate consequences that dog them (kill one if the Forest Folk, and it’s kin find it a day later and then pursue the party). In either case, you might decide that the journey was sufficiently interrupted that they have to start a new perilous journey from that point.

    Personally, though, I’ve never really liked the UPJ move. I don’t like the assumption of “always 1 encounter,” or the assertion that “you need 3 people to safely travel,” or the assumption that the peril will be something sapient that you can “get the drop on” (as opposed to something like a storm or a raging river).

    The Perilous Wilds moves are a great substitute if you want a hexcrawl. But if you want something closer to the original UPJ’s intent, maybe these will work for you? http://goo.gl/UzDekI

    drive.google.com – Expedition Moves (redux).pdf – Google Drive

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