Discern Realities: Trigger the questions separate from triggering the move?
In my Bardic Lore question last week, James Young wrote:
> If he’s used to Pathfinder he might be used to that passive roll-and-listen style. “I roll perception. 18. What do I see?”
That pretty much nails the experience, and I think the same expectations crept into a Discern Realities attempt he made during that session.
To be honest, handling Discern Realities has been hit-or-miss for me on the GM side, even though I’ve been running Dungeon World off and on since 2013. So the trouble during this session wasn’t entirely due to Pathfinder expectations.
During one scene, the Bard stopped to carefully look and listen to the environment—the inside of a strange “clock tower”—which I took as a trigger to Discern Realities.
He rolled high enough to ask 3 questions, and picked “What should I be on the lookout for?” as his first question.
Me: “That depends on what you are doing. How are you investigating that? Are you poking at the springs and gears?”
Me: “Hmm. I can’t answer that yet, but I might be able to answer it as you continue investigating.”
Bard: “Okay. What here is not what it appears to be?”
Me: “Right on! This is not a clock tower! There are small windows at intervals opening to the night sky outside. You can see some of the machinery is controlling the position of lenses facing the sky. The lenses are directing faint rays of what must be starlight to a central column of crystal that forms the core of the tower. The crystal seems to be responding to the light by pulsing and turning slightly. Could be a sensor of some kind…”
Bard: “I really want to know what should I be on the lookout for. I guess my next question is what is about to happen?”
Me: “I can’t answer that from just what you can see or hear without doing something more. Want to interact with the scene more and ask again later?”
Bard: “Sure. You said there’s a door here?”
I suppose I might have said “You don’t notice anything to watch out for / anything imminent about to happen.” That’s supported by the text: “Of course, some questions might have a negative answer, that’s fine. If there really, honestly is nothing useful or valuable here, the GM will answer that question with ‘Nothing, sorry.'” But that seems like a worthless response in light of the risk of triggering a GM move on a miss.
Now that I write about it, I guess I jumped the gun on triggering the move. The text says straight up “You can’t just stick your head in the doorway and discern realities about a room. …you have to look under and around things, tap the walls, and check for weird dust patterns on the bookshelves.”
I realize this could be a perfect time to ask the players and use the answers, but I also see that I was responding as though the questions must be triggered by the details of the investigation.
That’s the nub of my question: When you run Discern Realities, is any investigation that triggers the move sufficient to answer all the questions, OR are some of the questions disqualified based on the nature of the investigation?
What do you say?
For my next session, I was thinking about using D. Vincent Baker’s alternate “Perception Test” moves from Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions. They are written up for B/X-style D&D, but that makes them very easy to adapt to DW. They have three separate triggers covering more specific situations, and the questions available for each are more closely tied to the specific triggers.