New gm here hoping to get some advice for my first game this Saturday.

I’m a bit stuck at hack n slash.

As I’ve understood it combat is like a back and forth conversation where the players and the gm makes moves respectively.

What does that mean for a +10 result at hack n slash IF the player chooses to avoid the enemy’s attack. Won’t that just mean that when the conversation shift back to the gm, the enemy attacks any way? How do I reflect in fiction that the player is safe from harm as a result from their successful roll. Do I let them attack again directly after, triggering a new hack n slash?

Thankful for any input!

29 thoughts on “Hi”

  1. Hi! This is the way I do it: player attacks with is war hammer: 10+ on a blow coming straight from above!

    Player your attack is extremely powerful! Crashed by the weight of your weapon, your enemy falls to its knees! Player number 2, what do You do?

  2. The action doesn’t have to do damage or have any real effect.

    “Your dagger slips through the Lizardmans scales with ease, the lumbering brute shoves you back a few steps and swings down his macuhitl, missing you by an inch and cracking a few obsidian teeth into the temple floor. What now?”

  3. But yes, it’s always going to depend upon the fiction, but it usually goes like this:

    GM: One Single Powerful Monster is rumbling towards you (points at group), it’s going to hit you unless you…

    Player 1: Hack and Slash, rolls 10: Gives full damage, takes none.

    GM: Sweet! Okay, player 2, what do you do?

    Player 2: Maybe Hack and Slash, maybe a Defy Danger roll to do something creative that might set up a disadvantage for the monster.

    (after that roll; result, and narration, GM moves on to Player 3 and so on. It’s not a “combat round” so not everyone necessarily gets a turn… but yeah usually I narrate it out so that everyone gets a turn 🙂 )

  4. I once had Ghurka inspired kobolds with Kukri invade a party’s home in the jungle to assassinate them before their dragon arrived to force their tribe to swear fealty.

    Good times.

    I love ancient/non European weaponry

  5. Won’t that just mean that when the conversation shift back to the gm, the enemy attacks any way?

    Likely true, in many cases! However: Dungeon World (like many descendants of Apocalypse World) is structured around control of when the MC gets to make a move. They don’t just get to make moves whenever! So “when the conversation shifts back to the GM” can take a while 🙂

  6. Don’t get stuck on moving back and forth between player and GM. After the move is rolled, describe what happens. If anything happens that would cause the player damage or trigger another move, roll into that. All consequences come from the fiction. This kind of fictional positioning can take some getting used to, but once it clicks it makes a whole lot more sense than “everyone takes turns to hit each other”.

  7. Don’t get too stuck on the idea of moves as a thing the player does, by which I mean this:

    GM: “What do you do?”

    Player: “I am going to roll hack and slash!”

    In a perfect world the player would never tell you what move they are using ( obviously as things get more advanced that is going to happen sometimes ) so any time the player tells you what move they plan to make, you need to ask them how they do it:

    Player: “I am going to roll hack and slash!”

    GM: “But what do you actually do? How does Artos attack the troll?”

    Player: “I’m just going to charge in, blade swinging towards its throat.”

    GM: “That’s an 11 so roll your damage, and you are now close in with the troll, your sword slashes across it’s skin and although the hide is tough you seem to have hurt it. The troll screams in pain…. Barizard, it looks like Artos has hurt the troll, but it hasn’t stopped, it’s attention seems to be on you rather than him- what do you do?”

    Once you have enough detail to picture the scene it is much easier to judge what naturally happens next and to draw it around to the next character or to continue the chain of events the first character has triggered.

  8. Just wow you all!

    Thank you for all your response!

    It really did help me a lot to think a bit different about the whole combat situation. I mean I’ve read and thought I understood the fiction-first concept. But what you’ve answered tells me that I should perhaps be even braver and rely on the fiction even more than I first thought.

  9. Think of it like this: generally on a 10+, the conversation does NOT shift back to he GM; on a 7-9, the character acts and the conversation switches back; and on a 6-, the conversation immediately switches to the GM.

    Combat may be a normal conversation, but moves interrupt the conversation. This is true out of combat as well.

  10. Aaron Griffin Thank you! That makes the system sound and seem just as easy as I had imagined and hoped for. I think I’m going to print your explanation and add it to the play kit.

  11. Also remember that other characters and unattacked enemies don’t remain static while the player acts. After the 10+ it may be appropriate to move to another player or narrate the actions of other participants in the scene, not just the target.

  12. Hey Rasmus,

    Congrats on starting up a DW game and welcome to the family! If your player is choosing to only duck out of the way, that sounds like Defy Danger, not Hack and Slash.

    But, what I would do in this situation as GM is narrate that the monster missed and that it is left off balance and that it is the perfect time to strike.

    Now, as the GM, you can choose to let the player deal damage for free WITHOUT rolling a hack and slash (as your player just kind of did anyways and rolled a 10).

    The second option is to have the player narrate how he/she attacks the off balanced monster, but the have them roll hack and slash again (assuming your player is actively trying to deal damage).

    Lastly, if your player just wants to run away you could let them (since they already rolled a 10).

    Use your GM senses to gage pacing.

    Good luck on the new game and let us know how it goes.

  13. Welcome to Dungeon World!

    You’re getting great advice in this thread. I’m gonna offer a bit of a different perspective.

    First, i don’t look at pacing a game as “trading moves, one-for-one” – in fact, the game explicitly guides you on when you should make a GM Move: 2) When the players look to you to find out what happens; 2) when you are given a golden opportunity; or 3) when they roll a 6-.

    If a PC describes an action that triggers Hack-and-Slash, ask them to roll the dice. If they roll a 6-, consult your GM moves, and proceed as appropriate to the GM Principles and Agenda.

    If they roll a 7+, follow the instructions of Hack-and-Slash. If it’s a 7-9, they trade attacks, and likely receive damage from the enemy (though not necessarily – perhaps they get swallowed whole, or entangled, or swarmed – what are the Monster’s moves that make sense for the attack?). If they roll a 10+, they decide whether to accept an incoming attack in exchange for dealing extra damage, or if they make their attack and fend off all counter attacks for the moment.

    Now that the Hack-and -Slash Move has been resolved, pay attention to the conversation to see what happens next; don’t assume that you simply make a GM move.

    If the Hack-and-Slash is resolved and they look to you to find out what happens, make a GM move. After The Fighter hits a Hack-and-Slash with a 10+, another player may want to jump into the fray, or use that as a distraction to do something else – if someone is inspired to act immediately, don’t interrupt them simply to take a GM turn. You will get LOTS of GM “turns”! If someone has an immediate follow up to the Hack-and-Slash, pay attention to whether they have triggered a move of their own, they simply do a thing that fits the fiction, or if they are giving you a golden opportunity.

    The reason this is important is to help break the idea of “initiative order” and turn-based play. A single player may run through a series of several moves before another player gets spotlight. Assuming a trade off after each move brings us around to a mindset of establishing a turn order; instead, think of other ways to manage spotlight.

    Great advice i’ve read or heard, i think from Richard Rogers’ +1 Forward podcast, was to let the PC do something significant, and then get up to the next “cliffhanger,” and then switch to another player. Leaving the first player with that tension keeps them more engaged in what happens next, instead of letting their attention wander because they “did what they get to do in a combat round.” It also puts the next player into a dramatically charged scene as they get the spotlight. As you get practiced at this, you will be able to give players lots of opportunities to share and/or hand-off spotlight as well. Anything you can do to get the players to do your work of exposition and/or spotlight management should be welcomed. Sit back, and let them amuse you for awhile!

    A final piece of advice, since you’re new to GMing Dungeon World: there are 12 GM moves. Write/print them out and number them 1 through 12. When you are called upon to make a GM move and you aren’t sure what the right next move would be, roll 1d12, and use the resulting GM Move. This will help you get used to all the Moves instead of focusing on just the few that you understand best. This will help you further develop your understanding of the GM role in Dungeon World, and your ability to improvise well.

  14. It bears repeating something from prior responses: unlike in some other games, the GM does not get a “turn”. The GM can only act when players fail rolls, when players are looking to the GM to do something or when a move says they can. The 10+ on a hack and slash isn’t any of those things.

    (Also, on the 7+ hack and slash result, remember that the text says the “enemy makes an attack against” the PC, not the “enemy deals damage against” the PC. The “attack” might be to just deal damage; it might be something else.)

  15. Yeah though i would be careful in that if your monster doesn’t do anything even after 10+ rolls it will be a boring fight and the players will win so sometimes even on a successful attack the monster should do something to make the combat more dynamic…it good to have goals for the monster instead of killing players for this reason

  16. I see a lot of “you don’t get to make a GM move on a 10+” in the comments so far. I disagree. A lot.

    You might not get to make a GM move on a 10+, but you probably do, and will, and should.

    Consider what happens on a 10+ to Hack & Slash: you deal your damage and avoid the enemy’s attack (assuming the PC chooses that option). The player will roll damage. The player will tell the damage to the GM. And then… what?

    Everyone is looking at the GM to see what happens.

    They don’t know what the result of their 6 damage is going to be. Will it drop the foe? Do they have Armor? Do they have more than 6 HP. How will the monster react? Everyone is looking at you to see what happens. Which means you should make a GM move.

    You can argue that this is still resolving the player’s move, they’re waiting for you to “end with the fiction” and describe the results of their move. But when you are done with that, they are still looking to you to see what happens. GM move time.

    “Okay, 6 damage? Cool, your attack works like you said, you knock his shield aside and slash deep into gut. His eyes bulge, and he staggers but he doesn’t go down.”

    If you stop there, everyone is looking at you.

    If you say to the attacker “What do you do?” then you are implicitly making a move: offer an opportunity.

    If you switch the focus and are like “Ovid, you see this happen, what do you do?” you are, again, offering an opportunity.

    If you say “He like, opens his jaws hissing and lunges at you, what do you do?” then you are making a move: show signs of an approaching threat (or a using a monster move, or putting them in a spot, however you want to frame it).

    If you say “Ovid, you see Hawke gut the lizardman and the lizardman hiss and raise his spear, you can tell he’s about to lunge at Hawke and you just know Hawke’s gonna cut him down, and then you’ll never learn where the nest is in time! What do you do?” you’re making a GM move: tell them the consequences and ask.

    If you say “Okay, Ovid, while that’s happening, you notice something moving in the brush beyond them, looks like something sneaking through the tall grass, what do you do?” then you’re making a GM move: show signs of an approaching threat.

    If you know that there are 3 other lizardmen creeping through the tall grass, and Ovid is preoccupied on the other side of the clearing with that stone monolith, and you don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t just pounce on Hawke and gang up on him with the wounded lizardman, you’d totally be in your rights to say _”Before you can move in and finish this one off, there’s a burst of movement from your left and three more of them come charging at you, all spears and turtle-shell shields and hissing teeth, you’ve barely got time to react, what do you do?”, making a GM move of put them in a spot.

    They roll a 10+, they roll damage and tell you what it is, they’re looking at you to see what happens. Make a GM move.

    About the only time you would NOT make a GM move in this case is if the players knew that the lizardman had 0 armor and 6 HP and they rolled 6 damage and they just sort of took the initiative from you.

    PC: “6 damage! Yeah! He goes down?” (you nod) “Cool, I spin around and stare out into the darkness and the weeds, looking for signs of any others. Discern Realities?” (“Sure,” you say! “Roll it.”)

  17. Jeremy Strandberg great comment. The heart of what your saying, if I hear correctly, is that no matter what, moves (action) chain. Regardless of roll value, narrative continue to roll. The value just predicates what that looks like.

    On that point, I don’t see +10 as, the GM doesn’t make a move either. This is what I see:

    +10: players are successful, GM continues with narrative

    7-9: players are successful with an active complication provided by GM narrative

    -6: something else happens

    I think it is just as important to remember that a -6 does not mean ‘fail’. -6 may mean that player expectation is not met in the narrative.

  18. Andrew Huffaker Great summary there!

    I totally agree with the notion that as a GM, you could and should make moves on 10+’s as well. This is not ‘cheating’ or ‘being hard on your players’. The function of moves is to keep the game going.

  19. GM: The clouds are dark and rolling in heavily overhead. The trees sway as the wind begins to gust. Ahead of you stands a man dressed in robes and reading from a large book. He looks at you as he speaks, then points. ZAP! A bolt of electricity crashes down from the clouds directly infront of you! what do you do?

    Wizard: I cast that spell i learned in the library…uhh “Haste” onto the Barbarian.

    GM: Ok, roll to Cast Spell.

    Wizard: 7-9, ill choose to be put in a difficult spot.

    GM: ok. You feel the atmosphere around you change and the hair on your body stands up. What do you do?

    Barbarian: can i attempt to stop the incoming attack?

    GM: sure, how?

    Barbarian: with the help from the haste spell, ill draw a metal rod from my adventuring gear. The kind the extends. And toss it into the ground aways from the Wizard.

    GM: sweet! Ok, the lighting, like a white snake, comes crashing down and can be seen swisting and turning in mid air as the bolt bites the rod. Its power dispelled into the earth.

    Ranger: Nice barbarian! I want to take this chance to fire a shot.

    GM: sure, how do you pull it off. And roll to Volley.

    Ranger: i string an arrow, line my body to the target the way ive been tought at the range and release. 11! Thats…7 damage!!!

    GM: the arrow flys true, the wind blows and causes the arrow to shift slightly, but that is to be expected and pierces the mans gut. He falls to his knees and drops the book. What do you do Barbarian?

  20. Andrew Huffaker no no, I really appreciate taking part of the discussion and realizing that there are different interpretations of the system.

    I figure that each gm will add a unique twist our method, and I guess that there comes a point where I will have to stop trying to prepare and learn beforehand and just give it a go and see what suits my play style.

    But as I’ve previously said, all your input is greatly appreciated and I will be sure to take the time to read through the thread as part of my prep.

  21. Rasmus Fonseca great! We are all rooting for ya. I don’t know if this was stated, but I seem to remember it being said recently by Deep Six Delver​ elsewhere, that hack and slash is not necessarily blow by blow. You could narrate a hand full of moves and then roll H&S as a way to mechanize mthe outcomes and momentum of melee. I would say that my players sometimes narrated an entire fight and only roll H&S once at the end just to montage for pacing.

    This system is loose enough that no one real answer exists, but you’ll meet everyone’s needs for sure.

  22. On a 10 plus I still narrate the enemy attacking but the blow glances off the players weapon, armor, or shield. No matter the roll there is an exchange of attacks…it just totally favors the player.

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