-Just a What if?

-Just a What if?

-Just a What if?

GM: The orcs are on the hills above you. All of them with bows. They fire. Arrows darken the sky. What do you do?

All players except One: We scurry beneath rock, etc. to avoid the arrows! (Defy Danger)

Player One: I do nothing.

-What would you do? Technically Player One hasn’t taken a move. Can you hit them with damage anyway? Thoughts appreciated. A new player had this question and I don’t think I answered it sufficiently.

19 thoughts on “-Just a What if?”

  1. Easy — “do nothing” in that situation is their move, mechanically speaking, it’s a “golden opportunity” for you, so you just deal damage (or whatever other “hard move” you want to make.) I’d almost be tempted to make the result worse than a 6- for being obstinate, but hey.

  2. What would I do? I’d describe the character being riddled with orcish arrows and dying a horrible death.

    The player has made their move: nothing. You described a situation that demended a reaction and the player had their character ignore the threat. That means it’s time for you to make a GM move. Most likely Deal damage.

  3. Couple ways to look at this.

    1) They are looking to you, which triggers a GM move.

    2) There is no such thing as Nothing ( ;p) and they choose not to defy danger. Therefore its essentially a 6-


    Google sniped. Damn i love this community. Soooo active

  4. Sherman S Did you probe their non-action? Was there a reason? Did they want to show how well they could sustain damage (perhaps a DD+CON)? Were they doing that cliche movie action where the character opens his arms to the oncoming barrage only to expect to never be hit by one? Other than that, Golden Opportunity is definitely the key here.

  5. Make sure the player understands the tone of the game you’re playing. If your buddy, Steve, who loves kung fu movies shows up and is playing a Fighter and is has given themselves a jian straight-sword and is expecting to be cutting arrows out of the air… make sure you know that and get him on the same page as everyone else, if they’re here for some Game of Thrones “anyone could die anytime” muddy bloody violence.

    Beyond that, keep in mind the following: the GM makes moves under three conditions. When someone rolls a Miss, when someone presents a Golden Opportunity, and when the table looks to you to see what happens next.

    So, in the above, I would double check that the player knew what they were doing. Then, yeah, here comes the harm, as established.

  6. To add on to Damian’s comment… and especially if you and/or your players are new to DW… you said, “Player One”… but there’s no initiative in DW. Maybe they’re hesitating or waiting, feel free to slow down time, and go around the table to handle the other players’ actions (possibly involving more than one move, but not likely in this case). Finally, after the rest have resolved their Defy Danger rolls, come back to your “player one”, and say, “still doing nothing?”, I’d still ask them to describe exactly how they’re doing nothing. Damien’s comment referenced some cinematic things that may be worth trying to work into a Defy Danger move, but if they insist on taking the damage, I’d feel justified in doing double the damage the other players took on a 6-, but short of outright killing them (from full HP), but maybe I’m just a softie (still new to DW).

  7. Yea, I”m just always curious why the player is doing nothing. That always feel to me like the player is just intentionally trying to mess with the game or the GM. I can understand this happening because a player is shy or new, which is why I always probe a bit in a nurturing and non-aggressive manner.

    However, even in other systems that have initiative, players are never just doing nothing., so I hesitate to believe that the player doesn’t understand the flow of the game. Even if you were new to RPGs and the GM is asking you what you do in this situation… I dunno, just feels odd. There has to be a reason that you choose not to move when something is coming your way, even if the whole point is to show off your resilience, make a mockery of your opponent, or whatever. If they maintain their resolve in doing just absolutely nothing, I don’t hesitate to share the sharp end of a GM move.

  8. You have already “revealed an unwelcome truth.”

    If they say they do nothing, then I would say something like “You quickly surmise that there are over one hundred orcs on the hills above. Standing where you are means certain death. The only thing that might save you if you stay your ground is your armor and luck. What do you do?”

    In other words “reveal the consequences and ask.”

    Very specifically, the “Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask” GM move states:

    This move is particularly good when they want something that is not covered by a move, or they’ve failed to move. …

    If they stand their ground after that, and no other PC does anything to change the situation, roll damage and include +1 for one hundred orcs (dealing damage from multiple monsters). Then deal that damage and move on to the Last Breath move. Player One may get a stay if they are lucky, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    If Last Breath gives them a stay on a 10+, leave them at 1 HP. They are miraculously alive. Let the fiction play out for other outcomes; perhaps Death was impressed by their lack of fear and needs something done.

  9. Right. As other people have said, this might possibly be a new player not understanding how DW works. If that’s the case, explain there’s no initiative or formal turns like in other games and point out that standing about doing nothing while a rain of arrows darkens the sky probably means the character will die.

    Or maybe there’s a miscommunication regarding the tone of the game. Maybe the player thinks their character can wait until the last second to slice arrows out of the sky in a display of superior martial skill. If that’s the case, you all need to have a talk and get onto the same page about setting and genre expectations.

    Or maybe the player understands all of that and for some reason is going to stand there and have their character get peppered with arrows. If that’s the case, they’ve handed you a golden opportunity. I would not make another soft GM move as Jim Jones​ suggests. I would also not roll damage. Follow the fiction. The sky had been darkened with the sheer numbers of arrows heading towards the characters. Anyone not in some kind of cover is simply going to die.

  10. Chris Stone-Bush I guess it relies on the tone of your game and another soft move is one way of communicating it to the player in fiction.

    Your suggestions are a great way of handling it as well.

    Maybe the player doesn’t want to play Dungeon World. That’s a discussion that may have to happen as well.

  11. What more can be said? I agree with nearly all of the above.

    Up to 3 things may be happening here and you need to know which it is, in all fairness:

    1. The Player doesn’t understand the system and that a response is needed. To that effect, “Doing Nothing” is basically death and gives you the right to just kill him, no rolls. The Player needs to understand that with out action this is the result.

    2. The Player knows the system and incorrectly thinks that if they don’t “Make a Move” that no rolls are made, so he is safe. The Player needs dissuaded by this fact and if they rules-lawyer it then simply show him the rules of the Golden Opportunity from above. Which allows you to make a Hard move, in this case following Fiction First concept (which overrides the Fan of the Players) flows, so to that effect roll damage add +1 for each extra Orc firing, subtract Armor Value, and Boom, It is now time for Last Breath: Be as harsh as you wish in your judgement and his discussion with Death.

    3. The Player may not understand fully, explain and leave it open that here is where they decide, fictionally, how they are going to handle it. If they are planning on using a Move from their character then now is the time to tell you the GM. Who knows the player may want to meet your incarnation of Death and want to deal with him. Or he just simply may want another character and to suicide this one. Find out Why he is “Doing Nothing” get metagame on it. He may be waiting for an “Initiative” or to “Go”.

    Ultimately, it is up to you the GM to make it a fun game filling the character’s lives with action. Filling it up Fun and Action. One bitter pill of a Player can ruin it for all. It can be that something else is going on here.

    The kind GM would ask a lot of questions as to Why and determine if they understand.

    A Less than Kind GM would just smack him down for the sake of the game.

    Hope it turns out well.

  12. Thanks all! This was just a thought experiment. The player was just trying to understand the system (me too) and I wanted to be sure and clear. Once again, thanks!

  13. Player wanted to understand the dynamics of the moves and how they tie to a character’s decision making. Not really a misunderstanding, but trying to understand a new system that is unlike most they’ve played. Goes for both the player and myself.

  14. In a less dangerous circumstance, “I do nothing” could also prompt a trigger for Defy Danger with Constitution in standing one’s ground.

    Jon Snow definitely did that and he kept rolling 7-9 in the Battle of the Bastards

Comments are closed.