What do you think of this stealth move:

What do you think of this stealth move:

What do you think of this stealth move:


When you move silently and hidden from sight, hold 3 Cloak.

When you risk revealing your presence while holding Cloak, roll 2d6+ Cloak :

On a 10+, you remain undetected.

On a 7-9, choose 1 (the GM will fill in the details):

– You arouse suspicion and lose 1 Cloak.

– You are spotted but have the drop on them.

– You stumble on an obstacle you did not expect.

– You leave behind incriminating evidence.

On a 6-, lose 1 Cloak in addition to whatever the GM says.

When your Cloak reaches 0, the jig is up.

(Credit to u/Qrowboat on reddit for 90% of this move)

Rolling 2d6+CLOAK is key here : the longer you stay hidden and the more stuff you do, the harder it is to remain undetected. No nonsense like “it was just my imagination” from the guards.

If you have a Thief in the party you might want to tweak some of their moves so they can do fun stuff with Cloak.

19 thoughts on “What do you think of this stealth move:”

  1. It’s a good move – I like offloading the resource management (and the narration) to players, and I think you have an opportunity to do more with that, to offer the Cloak-ee more interesting choices.

    In a general Dungeon World game, the way this is structured may pull a little too much focus on a sneaky character. Personally, I might change the behaviour of 7-9 and 6- to make things more interesting and risk escalating the fiction a bit faster. Something like:

    On a 7-9, choose one:

    – You arouse suspicion

    – You stumble on an obstacle you not expect

    – You leave behind incriminating evidence

    Whichever you pick, spend 1 Cloak or the jig is up.

    On a miss, the jig is up, but if you have at least 1 Cloak, spend it to get the drop on them.

    (I don’t like that “you are spotted” was included as a partial success here; it doesn’t feel congruent with the fact that you should remain hidden UNTIL you miss or have no Cloak left!)

    This changes the 2d6+Cloak roll slightly, because technically you can roll at 0 Cloak, but will be spotted AFTER we establish the fictional context for your near miss. The character is forced to spend Cloak to remain hidden here, which pushes the fiction more strongly towards “the jig is up” (love that phrasing here, by the way) on lower rolls!

  2. I think that’s a great rework of the move, thanks! It looks indeed a lot “faster” now fiction-wise and that is probably more appropriate.

    I will have to do some playtesting. I thought the initial one might be better as a playbook move, but your version could even be a basic move.

  3. I’m going to fiddle with things for Thieves, there is potential for some “upgrade moves” on Prowl About (that could be starter or advanced moves):

    Just my imagination : when you trigger Prowl About, hold 3 Cloak instead of 2 (that is if I change the basic move to hold 2 Cloak, which might be more balanced for non sneaky characters).

    Cat burglar: roll +Dex instead of +Cloak

    Smoke Bomb: spend all Cloak to transform a 6- into a 7-9

  4. The reason there is no dedicated stealth move is the the same reason there is no dedicated persuasion move. It’s cover already by a different move, defy danger.

    if you say you are hidden in the narrative you are hidden, and the gm is the one that throws curveballs at you to trip you up.

    “I wait in the windowsill till the guard passes, then quietly make my way down the hall in the opposite direction.”

    “You make your way through the manner undetected. Remembering the floor plan from the map you make your way towards the treasure room. Half way though, you see a light from another guard approaching the corner ahead of you. There is a door next to you, but you don’t remember where it leads, there is also a large chest ahead you might be able to hide behind further down the hall if you rush for it.

    What do you do?”

    “I don’t know where the door leads, it might go right to the manor barracks for all i know. I’m going to dive for the chest.”


  5. Patrick, of course and I understand that, it even works fine as is.

    But the same could be said about Hack and Slash, or Discern Realities. It’s a trick, all moves are a more or less complicated version of Defy Danger.

    Specific moves (broadly speaking) only alter Defy Danger by prodiving guidance to the GM, limiting the outcomes in favor of player choice or driving the fiction in a particular direction. This is what I am trying to do here.

    Also always rolling Defy Danger+Dex can be boring, a special mechanic dedicated to players that love stealth will feel more rewarding.

  6. I think the mechanics are interesting and something really cool is developing. A couple concerns i have: First an auto success of actually getting into stealth. I think there needs to be some kind of roll with the trigger. Maybe like shapeshifter where you get different amounts of cloak based on an initial roll. Second, +3 is really good. It’s going to feel odd if a full plate fighter is cloaked for half he sesssion.

  7. Andrew, notice the trigger, you have to be unseen and silent in order to get Cloak. That might not be so easy in the fiction, especially if you wear armor. On that sense I do not feel it is an auto success. If you can fulfill the trigger you deserve it.

    Edit: and the “real” move is actually the second part where you roll, that is not an auto success, especially Niall’s version that I prefer.

    I agree +3 is too much unless you are some sort of expert thief.

  8. Sébastien Brunet Then as the gm you’re not using your imagination enough to force the characters to make rolls or decisions outside roll+DEX. If they want to take advantage of their high DEX you can’t really stop them, and it’s not your job to stop them, but you can turn the story in ways that lets you take advantage of their low STR, or force them into a dialogue with a guard, ect.

  9. Patrick Schenk Even if you use another stat, rolling defy danger several times in a row might get old.

    And you are right about imagination. DW is heavily reliant on the DM ability to improv. That is an issue I am trying to address with this move.

    I agree the game works fine without a stealth move. Heck look at World of Dungeons, it does not need much to work. But that is a lot harder for the GM.

    Also moves help you put certain parts of the game in the spotlight. If you have a game that is about deceit and stealth, a custom move might help bring that out.

  10. Agree with you on the trigger. I exaggerated a bit for dramatic effect, but the goal was to highlight the ease in which a playbook that isn’t designed to be sneaky can get to a +3.

    Even using Niall’s version, I agree with Patrick Schenk that DD rolls are sufficient here. When you break the move down, it seems like it is just DD with a hold mechanic and a prescriptive list of GM moves added on top.

    However, I agree that a stealth move would be great for players that love stealth. I think the Discern Realities podcast recently covered the issue of stealth just being a series of DD+Dex rolls and it took too much spotlight time away from other players at the table. If I remember correctly they fell on a custom move that would cover the whole fictional “block” of going on a stealth run or mission. You’d roll once and use the result to tell the whole story and impacts of the trip. Maybe give that a listen. I’d have to do some digging to find out which one that was.

  11. Yeah, I’ve written custom moves like this before, and I like Niall’s additions above.

    If you want a difference between this as a basic move and as a special thief playbook version, you might consider something simple like this: With the basic move, PCs lose 1 cloak every time they have to roll this move, with a 7-9 complication not necessarily giving them away just yet, while the thief does not lose 1 cloak when they roll, and may spend 1 cloak to avoid a complication on a 7-9. Or, perhaps the thief may take actions to regain cloak while sneaking, like neutralizing a guard or creating a distraction.

  12. I don’t like this move, or this approach to stealth.

    The biggest thing I don’t like about it is (like others have noted) that it puts too much spotlight and game time on the sneaky character. The “Cloak” mechanic, with its countdown and its focus on small-scale actions and problems, will naturally push the resolution of the scene to a micro resolution.

    You roll+CLOAK to climb the outer wall, then to slip across the open courtyard, and again to hide when the patrol comes. Each roll is basically a Defy Danger with a variable stat and a little more control of the outcomes, and the opportunity for things to go sideways and giving the stealthy character more problems to resolve (alone, by themselves, the other PCs off screen and the other players getting antsy and bored and checking their phones).

    That level of resolution can be fun in small doses, or when there’s just one PC and the GM (or maybe if you had two PCs with this power). But most of the time, you’ve got to deal with the fact that there’s only 1 or 2 sneaky characters in the group that also has a dude in full plate and another clomping around in chain.

    Even with smaller, stealthier groups, I’d rather have a stealth move that establishes a scene rather than resolves a task. Like, give me something that tells us whether…

    10+ the PCs got the vault unnoticed, or…

    7-9 they got to the vault but roused suspicion and folks are actively seeking them, or…

    6- they’re not at the vault yet, not even cloak, but they’re in too deep to back out and just got themselves into a spot

    And then zoom into free play from there.

    Or, like Andrew Alwood suggests, a move that resolves the stealth run off camera. Like this:

    plus.google.com – You know what sucks, in pretty much every game system? When the sneaky/stealt…

  13. Jeremy Strandberg: I see where you’re coming from, but I inferred it was specifically for a game focused on stealth, not a game where the paladin in full plate would be getting bored. After all, he did say “If you have a thief in your party,” you might do more with it…

    Don’t get me wrong, I like your scouting move too. I just think that between these two moves, we’re talking about two different sorts of adventures (or parties, or even settings) here.

    Assuming you actually want to play out stealth scenes on camera (and if you like stealth action video games, maybe you do!), would this move work for that?

  14. Jeremy Strandberg focusing on “small-scale actions and problems” that “will naturally push the resolution of the scene to a micro resolution. ” is actually what I prefer. I am not fond of resolving situations with broad strokes, on the macro level. It is a bit too “narrative” for me. But I get what you are saying, I believe this is a matter of taste and playstyle.

    If I have 3 players I don’t mind putting the spot on one of them. And if a player is a thief, he won’t be happy that I resolve is whole infiltration operation with a single roll and a “so tell us how you did it?” (I understand that those are my kind of players, some will look for something else in RPGs).

  15. Jeremy Strandberg: That’s the move I was thinking of! Not a DR podcast. Sorry about that. Great move.

    Jason Tocci Sébastien Brunet: moving table taste and play style aside (the notorious ender of Dungeon World discussion threads), I still don’t think you need more than DD here if you are going to let a character roll on small-scale actions. However, as Jeremy stated, I encourage you to avoid it if unless it’s a short scene. It will not be fun for the other players at the table after the first time or two, if that. Yes stealth video games are fun to play, but (I know I’m making a generalization here) not all that fun to watch, that’s why we don’t have a “stealth” genre of movies.

    I always go back to the structure of a movie as a barometer of dungeon world entertainment. Stealth scenes in movies are typically a quick montage of highlights and then either the objective is achieved or the jig is up pretty quickly. You gotta keep the fiction movie like and create moves that support that. This one just seems to add additional mechanics.

    I go with DD and then sneaky character and I just rattle a few highlights back and forth: GM does quick environment/situation framing and sneaky describes how he/she avoids it. Sneaky gets to feel like a bad ass until it’s the most interesting moment for the 7-9 or 6- result to come into play. 5 minutes of back and forth with minimal extra rolls. I’ve had good results with it. Mechanically simple and pushes the fiction forward quickly. Kind of like H&S and Volley, one roll can cover engaging with multiple foes, one roll of DD can cover multiple small-scale stealth actions.

  16. I kept thinking before, “I feel like I’ve seen something just like this somewhere, in a really good game that’s all about stealth,” and I was blanking. Then John Harper linked to this thread and noted it’s a neat way to implement a mechanic from Blades in the Dark. (He and others do note over there than the 7-9 choices are a little weird to put in a player’s hands rather than the GM’s, though.)

    Honestly, I think this is a good move in a game where everybody gets to use it, and the sneakiest sneaks get a special bonus – kind of like how just about every game still has combat scenes even though the Fighter is the only one super focused on combat.

  17. Thank you for all the feedback.

    I disagree about stealth games not being fun to watch but, well, this is not the place ☺

    This is a different topic but are players really that much unfocused they cannot stand to be out of the spotlight for 5 minutes ? It’s impossible to engage everybody all the time… If everyone gets its little vignette from time to time I think it’s cool. But fair enough I see your point.

    And with this move the GM can really speed things up if he wants to, it’s not like you have to play out every turn of a knob or every step.

    Maybe there is a way to include the rest of the party on a 7-9? “There is trouble with your companions” : a patrol finds them outside or something.

    And always include them on a 6-.

  18. Other players can always help if they want to get involved. It’s pretty easy to justify helping a sneaky PC, they can just create a distraction. If they don’t roll a 10+, you can cut back and forth between the trouble their distraction causes and the sneaking thief.

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