Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What I Love about Dungeon World: Moves Snowball

It's kind of Dungeon World month, what with me running two Dungeon World games, and the Dungeon World Kickstarter running.

So one cool thing in Dungeon World is the way that moves snowball. In DW, when a player does something that engages the rules, we call it making a move. The thing with moves is that they tend to have ripple effects leading other things to happen, which call for more moves, rolling the adventure along. A really obvious example is attacking some monsters with the Hack and Slash move. This causes the monsters to react to your attach, which leads to more moves; maybe more Hack and Slash, maybe a Defend move to protect your friend, or a Defy Danger to run away, and so on.

But it's not just combat moves that snowball, and they don't always snowball in predictable ways.In an early session, the party's prize treasure, the Eye of the Cylops (which they needed to rededicate the temple of Thor elsewhere in the dungeon) was stolen by a sentient displacer beast with an excellent knowledge of the layout of the dungeon. Delicar the Displacer Beast fled through a series of blade traps pursued by Karl, the fighter. Karl tried to outspeed the trap, so I called for a Defy Danger move. On a 7-9 result, Karl made it through, but with some complication. I decided this meant that the Displacer Beast had time lay a hasty ambush. Karl barged into the next room finding no foe in sight. He wisely choose to scan for his enemy, so I called for a Discern Realities move.* Karl totally blew the roll, meaning that I, as DM, go to make a hard move in response (basically resolving the move however I felt was appropriate). Delicar lept out behind Karl, knife to Karl's throat.**

So now Karl's in a bad place. He contemplates his next move. "Careful," I warn him, "the consequences of failure could be pretty dire." I've already decided that if Karl tries to escape by violence, he might get his throat slit on a failure. Karl decides to talk his way out of this. I call for him to roll a Parlay move. And so on...

* At least I think that's what I called for. I know how the encounter ended up, but the details are pretty hazy.

** Amusingly, Karl managed to get himself into the exact same situation in about the same area with the same displacer beast about 10 sessions later.

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