I’ve never GMed Dungeon World before and have only played a few *World games.

I’ve never GMed Dungeon World before and have only played a few *World games.

I’ve never GMed Dungeon World before and have only played a few *World games. I’m fairly confident about most of the concepts that make them different, but I’m still nervous about taking the plunge.

That’s mainly because I’m likely to get flustered trying to remember and seamlessly integrating the moves and agendas during the game.

Is there any advice for a first-time DW GM? Maybe focusing on only a few of the most essential moves?

10 thoughts on “I’ve never GMed Dungeon World before and have only played a few *World games.”

  1. Remember: the system, ignored, fails gracefully.

    If everyone keeps talking and saying what’s obvious that’s kinda fine. You get a “we didn’t even touch the dice!” Session. But if someone says, “Is that [move]?” or you recognize that this is something with interesting consequences pause, find the best move on the shared moves sheet (or let the player suggest one of their class book moves) and resolve it. No sweat, right?

    Ask lots of questions – about how they’re doing things, about how the characters connect and react, and sometimes about the world. If someone asks about something in a way that lights up Spout Lore, get their input – the Ranger is a gosh darn expert on some sort of environs, they’d probably know just as well as you.

    Take a recess half way through, look at your notes, and make sure they have a challenge to overcome tonight. Then breathe a big sigh of relief, write a few questions you’re interested in exploring next session and close your book.

  2. All of the GM moves basically boil down to: make something interesting happen. The list of GM moves exists to inspire and give you something interesting to say when you’re stuck.

    My advice: it’s way more important to have a feel for the way you GM than it is to always pick a move off the list. And that basically boils down to:

    1) Describe the situation (and answer any questions they have that would be immediately obvious)

    * Optional: ask the characters stuff about their past, what they’ve heard, how they’re feeling, etc.

    2) Make you move. You’ll generally do one of these…

    a) present an opportunity

    b) give them a choice of options

    c) telegraph trouble

    (“soft” moves almost always fall into one of these categories)

    3) Ask “What do you do?”

    If they do something foolish/stupid/weird, then clarify the situation and their intent. Assume that your players aren’t foolish/stupid/weird and that there’s some miscommunication. Reconcile that.

    4) If they do something that triggers a move, resolve it. They roll, read you the result, make choices, make changes on their character sheets, etc. Maybe you make a choice.

    5) Describe what happens as a result of the move, staying in the constraints of that move.

    On a miss, say what bad thing happens. Go with the obvious thing! If you’re stuck, refer to your list of GM moves for inspiration.


    Things you DON’T do:

    * Make a soft move and then tell them to roll something (no no! ask them what they do! and then go to the dice if they trigger a move)

    * Anything mechanical (like dealing damage, inflicting a debility, spending hold, etc.) without establishing what that looks like in the fiction.

    * Probably more, this is long enough already.

    Good luck! You’ll do great!

  3. Have the basic moves and their triggers at hand, and also keep the basic GM moves close by. Those are the two things that you’ll wish you had to reference with frequency. In particular, GM moves will help you come up with failure results that keep the story moving, especially during a fight (so that you don’t feel pushed to use “deal damage” literally every time).

  4. I’ll echo what Andy Hauge says.Print out all the materials you think you’ll need, especially the GM stuff, and just keep it on the table. Reference it as often as needed. I still do this, despite running PbtA games a lot.

  5. Dungeon World is fun but I Ignore every gm rule and run it how I feel. I let the players rolls guide me but everything the principles do is just codified experience of running d&d.

  6. You can basically remember a single move and be fine: Defy Danger.

    Roll+ whatever stat makes sense.

    10+ you do it

    7-9 you do it but something bad happens

    6- you probably fail (or not if its more fun that way) and something very bad happens

  7. I found it helpful to not stress about GMing “right.”

    For example, I spent lots of time making Fronts because the guide said to, but I honestly didn’t use them much during day-to-day play. Early on, I felt bad about that, and printed them out for easy access. Later I just sort of went, “I guess those don’t help my style all that much.”

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