Here’s my interpretation of the different ways the GM responds to player actions, by changing difficulty and threat.
Is this correct? Does anyone have any other way of looking at this?
Player Move Difficulty Levels
4 Impossible: That’s not fictionally possible at this moment. Try taking some other action that would change the fictional circumstances to make this possible.
e.g. Well the dragon is 1,000 feet in the air, so you realize your arrow would never reach it. Do you want to shoot anyway knowing it would be a futile gesture, or would you like to see if you can commandeer that airship other there?
3 Requires multiple Moves. Before you can roll for that, you must roll for some other move (commonly Defy Danger).
e.g. the kobolds are keeping you at bay with sharpened 10 foot pikes, so you will have to firstly Defy Danger to avoid those and get into range in order to Hack and Slash with your dagger.
2 Move. Roll your Move as written.
e.g. You are engaged in combat with the Orc, so roll Hack and Slash to attack it with your sword.
1 Auto success. Either it’s something that your character would never reasonably fail, and/or the result of a failure or partial success would not be interesting. You can just do it automatically without having to roll (however you have to deal with whatever consequences the GM says).
e.g. You have the halfling held firmly from behind with your dagger to his soft chubby neck, so if you’re sure you want to slit his throat, you will kill him instantly (but messily).
e.g.2 The door to the warehouse is stuck fast, so at first you can’t open it. However with a bit of shoving it springs open revealing what appears to be a recently vacated ritual. WDYD?
[As a hack (not RAW): difficulty 2.5 or 1.5: GM gives the PC +1, -1 (or advantage or disadvantage) on the Move roll based on circumstances.]
GM Move Threat Levels
4 Hard Move plus Soft Move:
e.g. The troll hits your arm for x damage, knocking you off balance; she now looms over you, ready to deliver the death blow. WDYD?
3 Hard Move
e.g. The troll hits your arm for x damage, knocking you off balance. WDYD?
2 Soft Move
e.g. The troll raises her giant club above you as her sinews pull taut, WDYD?
1 Fiction (no threat)
e.g. the troll turns towards you and licks her lips. WDYD?
An example of Low Difficulty, High Threat: The king is right in front of you and not expecting violence, so, yes, can can quite easily punch him in the face and automatically deal your damage. However, the many surrounding guards immediately knock you to the ground with their batons for x damage and pile on top of you, holding you fast. WDYD?
If there’s no Threat then you should usually have the PCs automatically succeed, but if you are Playing To Find Out, then you could require a Move roll with only a Fictional Change as the consequence. e.g. Well I don’t think it’s a given that you will be able to lift the gang leader’s unconscious ogre guard over your head in order to impress him. Roll Defy Danger with Strength. Failure? You struggle to even move the hulking brute, the gang leader laughs at you derisively. WDYD?