- 1 Basic Moves
- 2 Special Moves
- 3 Advanced Delving
- 4 Advanced Delving
- 4.1 Making Moves
- 4.2 New Classes
- 4.3 Adventure Moves
- 4.4 Changing the Basics
- 4.5 Development of a Move
- 4.6 The GM
- 4.7 Monsters
- 5 Moves in Detail
- 6 Multiclass Moves
- 7 Bard Moves
- 8 Cleric
- 9 Cleric Spells
- 10 Fighter Moves
- 11 Paladin Moves
- 12 Ranger Moves
- 13 Thief Moves
- 14 Wizard Moves
- 15 Wizard Spells
This page contains the moves that are available to all characters. These moves fall into two categories: basic and special.
Basic moves are the bread and butter of the adventurer’s life. They cover situations likely to come up in fights, tense negotiations, and dangerous areas.
Special moves come up a little more rarely. They cover things like gaining a level, taking a long journey, or returning to town between adventures.
All player characters have all the basic and special moves. Each player character will also have some moves from their class—we’ll get to those later.
Each move is presented here starting with its name, then the rules of the move. Some are also accompanied by a quick discussion of how to use the move and some examples of the move being used in play.
When you attack an enemy in melee, roll+Str. ✴On a 10+, you deal your damage to the enemy and avoid their attack. At your option, you may choose to do +1d6 damage but expose yourself to the enemy’s attack. ✴On a 7–9, you deal your damage to the enemy and the enemy makes an attack against you.
Hack and slash is for attacking a prepared enemy plain and simple. If the enemy isn’t prepared for your attack—if they don’t know you’re there or they’re restrained and helpless—then that’s not hack and slash. You just deal your damage or murder them outright, depending on the situation. Nasty stuff.
The enemy’s counterattack can be any GM move made directly with that creature. A goblin might just attack you back, or they might jam a poisoned needle into your veins. Life’s tough, isn’t it?
Note that an “attack” is some action that a player undertakes that has a chance of causing physical harm to someone else. Attacking a dragon with inch-thick metal scales full of magical energy using a typical sword is like swinging a meat cleaver at a tank: it just isn’t going to cause any harm, so hack and slash doesn’t apply. Note that circumstances can change that: if you’re in a position to stab the dragon on its soft underbelly (good luck with getting there) it could hurt, so it’s an attack.
If the action that triggers the move could reasonably hurt multiple targets roll once and apply damage to each target (they each get their armor).
Some attacks may have additional effects depending on the triggering action, the circumstances, or the weapons involved. An attack could also knock someone down, restrain them, or leave a big bloody splatter.
GM: Jarl, you’re up to your not-inconsiderable belly in slavering goblins. They have you surrounded, knives bared. What do you do?
Jarl: I’ve had enough of this! I wallop the closest goblin with my hammer.
GM: Okay, then. This is definitely combat, you’re using hack and slash. Roll+Str.
Jarl: I got an 11. It says here that I have a choice. Fear is for the weak, let those goblins come!
GM: You smash your hammer into the nearest goblin and are rewarded by the satisfying sound of the crunching of his bones. That and a knife wound as the goblin counterattacks. He deals 4 damage to you. What do you do?
GM: Cadeus, from the shadows, you’ve got the drop on those orc warriors.
Cadeus: I leap out and bring my sword down in a sweeping arc! Like this! Yeeeah!
GM: Well, they weren’t expecting that, they’re caught totally off guard and you slice into one. Roll damage.
Cadeus: I deal 6 damage.
GM: The orc collapses in a bloody heap! The second orc freezes and then he’s grinning at you with that horrible tusked mouth, raising his signal horn from his belt! What do you do?
GM: Bartleby, you’ve got Finbar the Magnificent, mightiest duelist in the land, completely disarmed and at sword point.
Bartleby: I won’t let you betray me again, Finbar! I run him through.
GM: Well, okay, that’s a hack and slash, roll+Str.
Bartleby: If you say so I got a 7.
GM: Okay, you run him through because he can’t even defend himself and umm, wait. You know what, he’s not in melee with you at all. He’s helpless, forget hack and slash, he’s toast. He slumps to the ground, coughing up blood but the sound of the guard alarm rings out. What do you do?
When you take aim and shoot at an enemy at range, roll+Dex. ✴On a 10+, you have a clear shot—deal your damage. ✴On a 7–9, choose one (whichever you choose you deal your damage):
- You have to move to get the shot placing you in danger as described by the GM
- You have to take what you can get: -1d6 damage
- You have to take several shots, reducing your ammo by one
Volley covers the entire act of drawing, aiming, and firing a ranged weapon or throwing a thrown weapon. The advantage to using a ranged weapon over melee is that the attacker is less likely to be attacked back. Of course they do have to worry about ammunition and getting a clear shot though.
On a 7–9, read “danger” broadly. It can be bad footing or ending in the path of a sword or maybe just giving up your sweet sniper nest to your enemies. Whatever it is, it’s impending and it’s always something that causes the GM to say “What do you do?” Quite often, the danger will be something that will then require you to dedicate yourself to avoiding it or force you to defy danger.
If you’re throwing something that doesn’t have ammo (maybe you’ve got a move that makes your shield throwable) you can’t choose to mark off ammo. Choose from the other two options instead.
Aranwe: So, I’m stuck down here on the floor of the ritualarium and that orc eyegouger is chanting his ritual up on the pedestal? Since Thelian has the rest of the rabble busy, I’ll aim my bow and take a shot at the chanting orc.
GM: An excellent choice—sounds like volley to me.
Aranwe: I got an 8, damn. Well, I’m low on arrows and even lower on HP. I better take what I can get. I roll my damage, then subtract the results of a d6, right? I got a 3. Is that enough to distract him, at least?
GM: Sure! The arrow digs into the eyegouger’s leg and he roars in pain, interrupting the ritual temporarily. Unfortunately, it looks like interruption might just be worse—a terrible rumbling echoes from the pit under the pedestal and the masonry of the room begins to crumble. What do you do?
Halek: Kobolds and an ogre? Man, what’s going on here? Well, if they’re coming to get me, I might as well let my arrows say hello. I take a shot at the mob. I rolled an 8.
GM: Well, what’ll it be? Danger? Ammo?
Halek: I’ll take the danger.
GM: Well, the kobolds swarm you and you manage to hit one as they approach—he falls down but as the rest approach, you realize you’ve lost track of the ogre. He smashes you with his club and you take 12 damage!
Halek: 12 damage? That’s the danger?
GM: You’re right, that’s not just danger. Okay, so you’re not mush yet—the ogre is looming behind you and that club is flying down at your head! What do you do?
When you act despite an imminent threat or suffer a calamity, say how you deal with it and roll. If you do it
- by powering through, +Str
- by getting out of the way or acting fast, +Dex
- by enduring, +Con
- with quick thinking, +Int
- through mental fortitude, +Wis
- using charm and social grace, +Cha
✴On a 10+, you do what you set out to, the threat doesn’t come to bear. ✴On a 7–9, you stumble, hesitate, or flinch: the GM will offer you a worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice.
You defy danger when you do something in the face of impending peril. This may seem like a catch-all. It is! Defy danger is for those times when it seems like you clearly should be rolling but no other move applies.
Defy danger also applies when you make another move despite danger not covered by that move. For example, hack and slash assumes that’s you’re trading blows in battle—you don’t need to defy danger because of the monster you’re fighting unless there’s some specific danger that wouldn’t be part of your normal attack. On the other hand, if you’re trying to hack and slash while spikes shoot from hidden traps in the walls, those spikes are a whole different danger.
Danger, here, is anything that requires resilience, concentration, or poise. This move will usually be called for by the GM. She’ll tell you what the danger is as you make the move. Something like “You’ll have to defy danger first. The danger is the steep and icy floor you’re running across. If you can keep your footing, you can make it to the door before the necromancer’s magic gets you.”
Which stat applies depends on what action you take and your action has to trigger the move. That means you can’t defy danger from a steep and icy floor with a charming smile just so you can use Cha, since charmingly smiling at the icy floor does nothing to it. On the other hand, making a huge leap over the ice would be Str, placing your feet carefully would be Dex, and so on. Make the move to get the results.
GM: Emory, as you climb up the side of the ravine you spy a cultist on a ledge nearby who evokes a frost spell and covers the side of the cliff with ice! If you want to keep climbing, you need to defy danger or you’ll fall.
Emory: No way, I am too tough. I grit my teeth and dig my nails into the wall, climbing one hand at a time. I’m using Con, okay? I got an 8, though
GM: Hmm, well, I think the only way you can gain any traction, tough guy, is if you use your dagger to pull yourself up the last few feet. It’s going to be lodged in there until you have some time to pull it loose and there’s an angry spellcaster nearby.
Emory: I can always get a new dagger when I get home. Time to finish this climb and that cultist.
GM: The athach is swinging his burly third arm down at you, knobby fingers gripping a broken branch. What are you doing, Valeria?
Valeria: So he wants to fight, huh? Let’s do it. I hack and slash him, swinging my sword at his legs.
GM: Now hold on there, champ. He’s already got you at a disadvantage. You can jump into the fray but you’ll take that club head on unless you defy danger first.
Valeria: Pfft, he’s no match for Valeria the Red! I leap aside like a leaf in the wind, then I start hacking and slashing.
GM: Defy danger with your Dex, please and thank you.
Octavia: I’ve had enough of this ogre, I’m going to drop my shield and swing my hammer in both hands. Hack and slash, right?
GM: You drop your shield? That’s a bad idea–now you have to defy danger because the ogre is going to bash you.
Octavia: Are you sure? Isn’t that what hack and slash is? Trading blows and stuff?
GM: Yes, duh, of course. I need another cup of coffee–hack and slash it is, make your move!
When you stand in defense of a person, item, or location under attack, roll+Con. ✴On a 10+, hold 3. ✴On a 7–9, hold 1. As long as you stand in defense, when you or the thing you defend is attacked you may spend hold, 1 for 1, to choose an option:
- Redirect an attack from the thing you defend to yourself
- Halve the attack’s effect or damage
- Open up the attacker to an ally giving that ally +1 forward against the attacker
- Deal damage to the attacker equal to your level
Defending something means standing nearby and focusing on preventing attacks against that thing or stopping anyone from getting near it. When you’re no longer nearby or you stop devoting your attention to incoming attacks then you lose any hold you might have had.
You can only spend hold when someone makes an attack on you or the thing you’re defending. The choices you can make depend on the attacker and the type of attack. In particular, you can’t deal damage to an attacker who you can’t reach with your weapon.
An attack is any action you can interfere with that has harmful effects. Swords and arrows are attacks, of course, but so are spells, grabs, and charges.
If the attack doesn’t deal damage then halving it means the attacker gets some of what they want but not all of it. It’s up to you and the GM to work out what that means depending on the circumstances. If you’re defending the Gem Eye of Oro-Uht and an orc tries to grab it from its pedestal then half effect might mean that the gem gets knocked to the floor but the orc doesn’t get his hands on it, yet. Or maybe the orc gets a hold of it but so do you—now you’re both fighting over it, tooth and nail. If you and the GM can’t agree on a halved effect you can’t choose that option.
Defending yourself is certainly an option. It amounts to giving up on making attacks and just trying to keep yourself safe.
GM: Avon, you begin weaving the spell to push the necromancer’s ghost back through the gates but the zombies are bearing down on you.
Lux: Don’t worry, squishy Avon, I will save you. While Avon casts his spell, I swear to protect him—I slam my hammer on my shield and yell “If you want to stop him, you’ll have to come through me.” I’d like to defend Avon.
GM: And with such gusto, too. Roll+Con.
Lux: I get an 11, three hold, right?
Avon: Better get ready to use it, Lux. I got an 8 on my spellcasting roll—I choose to put myself in danger.
GM: Of course you do. The zombies are drawn by the magical disturbance, lurching toward you on the attack. Suddenly, you’re swarmed by them, they’re everywhere! What do you do?
Avon: Squeak helplessly?
Lux: I’m on it. I spend a point of my hold to redirect the attack to me—I shove Avon aside and let the full fury of my goodness spill out in waves, angering the undead. To be safe, I’m going to whip my hammer in an arc and deal my damage. I might as well use it all up and reduce the damage by half. My god protects us!
GM: So, Hadrian, you’ve been defending Durga while she heals Willem, but now Willem is better. What do you do?
Durga: I leap forward to drive back the troglodytes!
Hadrian: I want to tangle with this crocodilian.
GM: Okay, Durga, the trogs come at you with their clubs.
Hadrian: No way, I still have hold left over, I want to spend it to redirect that attack to myself.
GM: You two are spread out, now. How are you going to do that if you’re 20 yards away? You lost your hold when you attacked the croc, my friend.
Hadrian: Yeah, I guess I’m not “standing in defense” anymore. Forget it, you’re on your own, Durga!
When you consult your accumulated knowledge about something, roll+Int. ✴On a 10+, the GM will tell you something interesting and useful about the subject relevant to your situation. ✴On a 7–9, the GM will only tell you something interesting—it’s on you to make it useful. The GM might ask you “How do you know this?” Tell them the truth, now.
You spout lore any time you want to search your memory for knowledge or facts about something. You take a moment to ponder the things you know about the Orcish Tribes or the Tower of Ul’dammar and then reveal that knowledge.
The knowledge you get is like consulting a bestiary, travel guide, or library. You get facts about the subject matter. On a 10+ the GM will show you how those facts can be immediately useful, on a 7–9 they’re just facts.
On a miss the GM’s move will often involve the time you take thinking. Maybe you miss that goblin moving around behind you, or the tripwire across the hallway. It’s also a great chance to reveal an unwelcome truth.
Just in case it isn’t clear: the answers are always true, even if the GM had to make them up on the spot. Always say what honesty demands.
Fenfaril: The floor was illusory? Damn those gnomes. Damn them straight to wherever gnomes go when they’re dead.
GM: Heh, yep. You’re in a murky pit, and there’s a shadowy humanoid shape, mottled and eyeless, moving towards you, mumbling.
Fenfaril: Mumbling shape, huh? What is that thing? Is it going to attack me? I’m sure I’ve read about them somewhere before, maybe at school?
GM: Could be. Spout lore!
Fenfaril: Bestow your knowledge upon me, brain. I rolled an 8.
GM: Well, of course you know of these things—the name escapes you but you definitely remember a drawing of a creature like this. It was in a hallway, standing guard over something. You know there’s a trick to get it to let you pass but you can’t quite remember. Why not?
Fenfaril: Obviously I was hungover that day. I was a terrible student. A trick, you say? Hmm
Vitus: I got a 10 on my spout lore about this gilded skull.
GM: You’re pretty sure you recognize the metalwork of Dis, the living city.
Vitus: and? I did get a 10!
GM: Right, of course. Well, you recognize a few glyphs specifically. They’re efreeti, marks of a fire spell, but they’re different, a kind of transmutation magic. I bet if you cast a spell into the skull, it’ll turn it into a fire spell.
Vitus: Magic missiles of fire—hurrah!
When you closely study a situation or person, roll+Wis. ✴On a 10+, ask the GM 3 questions from the list below. ✴On a 7–9, ask 1.
Either way, take +1 forward when acting on the answers.
- What happened here recently?
- What is about to happen?
- What should I be on the lookout for?
- What here is useful or valuable to me?
- Who’s really in control here?
- What here is not what it appears to be?
To discern realities you must closely observe your target. That usually means interacting with it or watching someone else do the same. You can’t just stick your head in the doorway and discern realities about a room. You’re not merely scanning for clues—you have to look under and around things, tap the walls, and check for weird dust patterns on the bookshelves. That sort of thing.
Discerning realities isn’t just about noticing a detail, it’s about figuring out the bigger picture. The GM always describes what the player characters experience honestly, so during a fight the GM will say that the kobold mage stays at the other end of the hall. Discerning realities could reveal the reason behind that: the kobold’s motions reveal that he’s actually pulling energy from the room behind him, he can’t come any closer.
Just like spout lore, the answers you get are always honest ones. Even if the GM has to figure it out on the spot. Once they answer, it’s set in stone. You’ll want to discern realities to find the truth behind illusions—magical or otherwise.
Unless a move says otherwise players can only ask questions from the list. If a player asks a question not on the list the GM can tell them to try again or answer a question from the list that seems equivalent.
Of course, some questions might have a negative answer, that’s fine. If there really, honestly is nothing useful or valuable here, the GM will answer that question with “Nothing, sorry.”
Omar: I don’t trust this room—I’m going to poke around a little. I take out my tools and start messing with stuff. I pull candlesticks and tap the walls with my hammer. My usual tricks.
GM: Discern realities?
Omar: Oh yes. I discern all the realities. I got a 12. I want to know “What here is not as it appears to be?”
GM: Well, it’s obvious to you that the wall on the north side of the room has a hollow spot. The stones are newer and the mortar is fresher, probably a hidden alcove or passageway.
Omar: I want to ask another one. “Who sealed the room.”
GM: That’s not on the list, so I’m going pretend you asked “What happened here recently.” Looking at the stonework, you notice the wall actually bends out in places. The work is shoddy and awful—looks to you like the work of goblins. The only way it’d get bent out that way, though, is if there was something pushing it from within.
Omar: So either the goblins blocked it from the other side, or there’s something in there that tried to get out.
When you have leverage on a GM Character and manipulate them, roll+Cha. Leverage is something they need or want. ✴On a 10+, they do what you ask if you first promise what they ask of you. ✴On a 7–9, they will do what you ask, but need some concrete assurance of your promise, right now.
Parley covers a lot of ground including old standbys like intimidation and diplomacy. You know you’re using parley when you’re trying to get someone to do something for you by holding a promise or threat over them. Your leverage can be nasty or nice, the tone doesn’t matter.
Merely asking someone politely isn’t parleying. That’s just talking. You say, “Can I have that magic sword?” and Sir Telric says, “Hell no, this is my blade, my father forged it and my mother enchanted it” and that’s that. To parley, you have to have leverage. Leverage is anything that could lure the target of your parley to do something for you. Maybe it’s something they want or something they don’t want you to do. Like a sack of gold. Or punching them in the face. What counts as leverage depends on the people involved and the request being made. Threaten a lone goblin with death and you have leverage. Threaten a goblin backed up by his gang with death and he might think he’s better off in a fight.
On a 7+ they ask you for something related to whatever leverage you have. If your leverage is that you’re standing before them sharpening your knife and insinuating about how much you’d like to shank them with it they might ask you to let them go. If your leverage is your position in court above them they might ask for a favor.
Whatever they ask for, on a 10+, you just have to promise it clearly and unambiguously. On a 7–9, that’s not enough: you also have to give them some assurance, right now, before they do what you want. If you promise that you’ll ensure their safety from the wolves if they do what you want and you roll a 7–9 they won’t do their part until you bring a fresh wolf pelt to prove you can do it, for example. It’s worth noting that you don’t actually have to keep your promise. Whether you’ll follow up or not, well, that’s up to you. Of course breaking promises leads to problems. People don’t take kindly to oath-breakers and aren’t likely to deal with them in the future.
In some cases when you state what you want you may include a possible promise for the creature to make, as in “flee and I’ll let you live.” It’s up to the target of the parley if that’s the promise they want or if they have something else in mind. They can say “yes, let me live and I’ll go” (with assurances, if you rolled a 7–9) or “promise me you won’t follow me.”
Leena: “Lord Hywn, I need you to vouch for me or the Queen will never grant me an audience.”
GM: He’s not really convinced—it could be a big hit to his reputation if you embarrass him. “Why should I help you, Leena?”
Leena: Oh, while I talk to him, I absentmindedly play with the signet ring from that assassin we killed. The one he hired to off the prince. I make sure he sees it.
GM: Oh boy, okay. Roll parley.
Leena: An 8.
GM: “Enough being coy!” he looks at you cold and angry. “You and I both know you murdered my hired man. Give me the ring, swear to silence, and I’ll do as you ask.”
Leena: I toss it to him. We can always dig up more dirt on this scumbag later.
Pendrell: This is the place where One Eye plays cards, right? Okay, I walk up to the guard. “Hey there fellows, care to, you know, open the door and let me in?” and I’m being all suave and cool so they’ll do it. Parley is roll+Cha right?
GM: Not so fast, slick. All you’ve done is say what you want. The big smelly one on the right steps in front of you and says, “Sorry sir, private game,” all bored-sounding. It’s like he hates his job and wishes he were someplace else. If you want to parley, you’re going to need some leverage. Maybe a bribe?
When you help or hinder someone , roll+bond with them. ✴On a 10+, they take +1 or -2 to their roll, your choice. ✴On a 7–9, they still get a modifier, but you also expose yourself to danger, retribution, or cost.
Any time you feel like two players should be rolling against each other, the defender should be interfering with the attacker. This doesn’t always mean sabotaging them. It can mean anything from arguing against a parley to just being a shifty person who’s hard to discern. It’s about getting in the way of another players’ success.
Always ask the person aiding or interfering how they are doing it. As long as they can answer that, they trigger the move. Sometimes, as the GM, you’ll have to ask if interference is happening. Your players might not always notice they’re interfering with each other.
Aid is a little more obvious. If a player can explain how they’re helping with a move and it makes sense, let them roll to aid.
No matter how many people aid or interfere with a given roll, the target only gets the +1 or -2 once. Even if a whole party of adventurers aid in attacking an ogre, the one who makes the final attack only gets +1.
GM: Ozruk, you stand alone and bloodied before a pack of angry hellhounds. Behind you cowers the Prince of Lescia, weeping in terror.
Ozruk: I stand firm and lift my shield. Despite certain doom, I will do my duty and defend the princeling.
Aronwe: I emerge from the shadows and draw my sword! “Doom is not so certain, dwarf!” I stand beside him. I want to help him defend. “Though I do not know you well, I have seen you in battle, Ozruk. If we are to die today, we die as brothers!” I don’t have any bonds with him but I want to try anyway.
GM: Touching, really. Okay, roll+0 and if you succeed, Ozruk, take +1 to your defend attempt. Here we go!
Special moves are moves that come up less often or in more specific situations. They’re still the basis of what characters do in Dungeon World—particularly what they do between dungeon crawls and high-flying adventures.
When you’re dying you catch a glimpse of what lies beyond the Black Gates of Death’s Kingdom (the GM will describe it). Then roll (just roll, +nothing—yeah, Death doesn’t care how tough or cool you are). ✴On a 10+, you’ve cheated Death—you’re in a bad spot but you’re still alive. ✴On a 7–9, Death himself will offer you a bargain. Take it and stabilize or refuse and pass beyond the Black Gates into whatever fate awaits you. ✴On 6-, your fate is sealed. You’re marked as Death’s own and you’ll cross the threshold soon. The GM will tell you when.
The Last Breath is that moment standing between life and death. Time stands still as Death appears to claim the living for his own. Even those who do not pass beyond the Black Gates catch a glimpse of the other side and what might await them—friends and enemies past, rewards or punishment for acts in life or other, stranger vistas. All are changed in some way by this moment—even those who escape.
There are three outcomes to this move. On a 10+, the Character has cheated Death in some meaningful way. He’s escaped with something that, by rights, isn’t his anymore. Death is powerless to stop this, but he remembers this slight. On a 7–9, the GM should offer a real choice with significant consequence. Think about the behaviors of the character and the things you’ve learned about him in play. Death knows and sees all and tailors his bargains accordingly. This is a trade, remember. Offer something that will be a challenge to play out but will lead the game in fun new direction. On a miss, death is inevitable. The most obvious approach is to say “Death takes you across the threshold, into his bleak kingdom.” and move on. However, sometimes Death comes slowly. You might say “you have a week to live” or “you can feel the cold hand of Death on you ” and leave it at that, for now. The player may want to give in and accept death at this point—that’s okay. Let them create a new character as normal. The key thing to remember is that a brush with death, succeed or fail, is a significant moment that should always lead to change.
GM: Sparrow, as the knife blade disappears into your guts, the world fades away and you stand before the Black Gates of Death. Among the throngs of suffering souls, you spot Lord Hwyn, that sickly cur. It looks like all his ill deals caught up with him at last. He spots you across the bleak gulf and you feel the chill of his hunger in your very soul. Take your Last Breath.
Sparrow: Heavy. I got a 9.
GM: Death appears to you, wisps of black cloth dancing around his shadowy form. A pale hand touches your face. You hear his voice in your mind. “Come to me so soon, pretty Sparrow? You follow a river of souls, sent here by your blade. I do so love you for them. I’ll return you to the world, but you must make me a promise. In shadow you dwell, so shadow you shall become. Shun the light of day forever or find a quick trip back to my company. What do you say, little thief?”
When you make a move while carrying weight you may be encumbered. If your weight carried is:
- Equal to or less than your load, you suffer no penalty
- Less than or equal to your load+2, you take -1 ongoing until you lighten your burden
- Greater than your load+2, you have a choice: drop at least 1 weight and roll at -1, or automatically fail
A PC’s load stat is determined by their class and Str. Being able to haul more is a clear benefit when trying to carry treasure out of a dungeon or just making sure you can bring along what you need.
This move only applies to things a person could walk around with and still act. Carrying a boulder on your back is not encumbrance—you can’t really act or move much with it. It affects what moves you can make appropriately in the fiction.
When you settle in to rest consume a ration. If you’re somewhere dangerous decide the watch order as well. If you have enough XP you may level up. When you wake from at least a few uninterrupted hours of sleep heal damage equal to half your max HP.
You usually make camp so that you can do other things, like prepare spells or commune with your god. Or, you know, sleep soundly at night. Whenever you stop to catch your breath for more than an hour or so, you’ve probably made camp.
Staying a night in an inn or house is making camp, too. Regain your hit points as usual, but only mark off a ration if you’re eating from the food you carry, not paying for a meal or receiving hospitality.
When you’re on watch and something approaches the camp roll+Wis. ✴On a 10+, you’re able to wake the camp and prepare a response, everyone in the camp takes +1 forward. ✴On a 7–9, you react just a moment too late; your companions in camp are awake but haven’t had time to prepare. They have weapons and armor but little else. ✴On a miss, whatever lurks outside the campfire’s light has the drop on you.
When you travel through hostile territory, choose one member of the party to act as trailblazer, one to scout ahead, and one to be quartermaster. Each character with a job to do rolls+Wis. ✴On a 10+:
- the quartermaster reduces the number of rations required by one
- the trailblazer reduces the amount of time it takes to reach your destination (the GM will say by how much)
- the scout will spot any trouble quick enough to let you get the drop on it
✴On a 7–9, each role performs their job as expected: the normal number of rations are consumed, the journey takes about as long as expected, no one gets the drop on you but you don’t get the drop on them either.
You can’t assign more than one job to a character. If you don’t have enough party members, or choose not to assign a job, treat that job as if it had been assigned and the responsible player had rolled a 6.
Distances in Dungeon World are measured in rations. A ration is the amount of supplies used up in a day. Journeys take more rations when they are long or when travel is slow.
A perilous journey is the whole way between two locations. You don’t roll for one day’s journey and then make camp only to roll for the next day’s journey, too. Make one roll for the entire trip.
This move only applies when you know where you’re going. Setting off to explore is not a perilous journey. It’s wandering around looking for cool things to discover. Use up rations as you camp and the GM will give you details about the world as you discover them.
When you reach the end of a session, choose one of your bonds that you feel is resolved (completely explored, no longer relevant, or otherwise). Ask the player of the character you have the bond with if they agree. If they do, mark XP and write a new bond with whomever you wish.
Once bonds have been updated look at your alignment. If you fulfilled that alignment at least once this session, mark XP. Then answer these three questions as a group:
- Did we learn something new and important about the world?
- Did we overcome a notable monster or enemy?
- Did we loot a memorable treasure?
For each “yes” answer everyone marks XP.
When you have downtime (hours or days) and XP equal to (or greater than) your current level+7, you can reflect on your experiences and hone your skills.
- Subtract your current level+7 from your XP.
- Increase your level by 1.
- Choose a new advanced move from your class.
- If you are the wizard, you also get to add a new spell to your spellbook.
- Choose one of your stats and increase it by 1 (this may change your modifier). Changing your Constitution increases your maximum and current HP. Ability scores can’t go higher than 18.
When you return triumphant and throw a big party, spend 100 coins and roll +1 for every extra 100 coins spent. ✴On a 10+, choose 3. ✴On a 7–9, choose 1. ✴On a miss, you still choose one, but things get really out of hand (the GM will say how).
- You befriend a useful NPC.
- You hear rumors of an opportunity.
- You gain useful information.
- You are not entangled, ensorcelled, or tricked.
You can only carouse when you return triumphant. That’s what draws the crowd of revelers to surround adventurers as they celebrate their latest haul. If you don’t proclaim your success or your failure, then who would want to party with you anyway?
When you go to buy something with gold on hand, if it’s something readily available in the settlement you’re in, you can buy it at market price. If it’s something special, beyond what’s usually available here, or non-mundane, roll+Cha. ✴On a 10+, you find what you’re looking for at a fair price. ✴On a 7–9, you’ll have to pay more or settle for something that’s not exactly what you wanted, but close. The GM will tell you what your options are.
When you do nothing but rest in comfort and safety after a day of rest you recover all your HP. After three days of rest you remove one debility of your choice. If you’re under the care of a healer (magical or otherwise) you heal a debility for every two days of rest instead.
When you put out word that you’re looking to hire help, roll:
- +1 if you make it known that your pay is generous
- +1 if you make it known what you’re setting out to do
- +1 if you make it known that they’ll get a share of whatever you find
- +1 if you have a useful reputation around these parts
✴On a 10+, you’ve got your pick of a number of skilled applicants, your choice who you hire, no penalty for not taking them along. ✴On a 7–9, you’ll have to settle for someone close to what you want or turn them away. ✴On a miss someone influential and ill-suited declares they’d like to come along (a foolhardy youth, a loose-cannon, or a veiled enemy, for example), bring them and take the consequences or turn them away. If you turn away applicants you take -1 forward to recruit.
When you return to a civilized place in which you’ve caused trouble before, roll+Cha. ✴On a 10+, word has spread of your deeds and everyone recognizes you. ✴On a 7–9, as above, and the GM chooses a complication:
- The local constabulary has a warrant out for your arrest.
- Someone has put a price on your head.
- Someone important to you has been put in a bad spot as a result of your actions.
This move is only for places where you’ve caused trouble, not every patch of civilization you enter. Being publicly caught up in someone else’s trouble still triggers this move.
Civilization generally means the villages, towns and cities of humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings but it can also apply to any relatively lawful establishment of monstrous species, such as orcs or goblins. If the PCs have stayed in a place as part of the community, it counts as civilization.
When you spend your leisure time in study, meditation, or hard practice, you gain preparation. If you prepare for a week or more, take 1 preparation. If you prepare for a month or longer, take 3 instead. When your preparation pays off spend 1 preparation for +1 to any roll. You can only spend one preparation per roll.
Dungeon World portrays a specific kind of fantasy adventure—one with elves and dwarves, heroes and villains, and characters struggling for riches and glory in a dangerous world. Maybe you’ve got an idea for something different—maybe your Dungeon World is set on a blasted desert planet, peopled by savage cannibals and ruled by haughty psychics. Or maybe you want to play a game where humans are the only race available, but they belong to clans or families as different from each other as a gnome is from a dwarf. All that is possible (and, in fact, encouraged) with a little effort. This chapter will explain how you can turn this Dungeon World into your Dungeon World.
The best place to start your journey into hacking Dungeon World is with the moves. Many of the fronts, dangers and other elements of your game will already contain custom moves, so it’s a natural, easy place to start. You might want to create moves to reflect the effects of some particular threat (“When you go alone into the Unhallowed Halls ”). You might create moves to cover something that’s particularly important to your setting (“When you swim in the dark waters ”). As you get more experienced you might create moves to expand a class or create your own class entirely.
Where do moves come from? You can start a move with the trigger. Some actions will just feel like they should be a move. This is the most common starting point for moves. You’ll see some action coming up and feel like it’s different enough from existing moves that it needs its own rules.
You can start with the effect. This is particularly useful for class moves. You know that casting a spell is something that the wizard does, so what triggers that effect?
Rarely, you can even start with the mechanics. Sometimes you’ll think of something cool, like a tamed demon whose happiness is a constantly varying stat, and go from there. Be wary of any idea that’s entirely mechanical. Since moves always start and end with the fiction, a mechanical idea is the least important bit of the move.
You can always use a move from another game, too. Dungeon World is just one of a handful of games that use moves and you might be inspired by one of those. It’s often not too difficult to modify an existing move for use in Dungeon World.
What role the move is fulfilling determines what kind of move you’re creating.
Moves for dealing with the environment or special features you’ve added to Dungeon World are special moves. These moves are usually the GM’s domain, a place to make parts of the world stand out. Since moves are always triggered by the players, most moves like this should be written or printed somewhere everyone can look them over unless the move covers something that the player characters wouldn’t have any idea about.
Moves that reflect some special competency or power, or something the players do, are usually class moves. If the move is clearly tied to a specific class, add it to that class. If the move is tied to some concept that multiple classes might have access to, like a move only accessible to those that have seen beyond Death’s Black Gates, you can create a compendium class for those moves. A compendium class is like a mini-class, it’s a collection of moves around a fictional theme. We’ll deal with them in more detail later.
If your move is something the players do but isn’t associated with any specific theme or class it’s probably a basic or special move. If it comes up all the time it’s a basic move, if it comes up more rarely it’s a special move.
Moves made by the players in response to monsters, such as the effects of a disease or pressing on despite a focused blast of wind from an air elemental, are player moves associated with that monster. Player moves associated with a monster are fairly rare, most of the ways a player will interact with a monster are covered by the basic and class moves.
Moves made by monsters against the players aren’t player moves at all. They’re monster moves, simple statements of what the monster does. Trying to make every monster move into a player move will seriously hamper your creativity.
Your Dungeon World is full of fantastic things, right? You’re likely to find that some of those fantastic things deserve or demand custom moves to reflect exactly what they do. Consider this one from Chris Bennet:
When you open a sewer hatch, roll+STR: ✴On a 10+, choose 2. ✴On a 7–9 choose 1.
- You avoid being covered in feces and rotting animal entrails from the sewers above.
- You avoid having a gelatinous cube land on you.
- You find a secret back entrance to where the merchant’s daughter is being held.
This move is strong because it is tied strongly to a particular place at a particular time. This move was written by request for Jason Morningstar’s Dungeon World game as the players entered some particularly horrible sewers to find a powerful merchant’s daughter. Two of the options here are very directly tied to that precise situation.
Why would you write this move instead of just using defy danger? You wouldn’t, always. Opening a pressurized sewer hatch is certainly dangerous, you could use defy danger. This move does have the advantage of setting up the choices ahead of time. This is actually a very strong technique: if there’s a particular situation that is likely to cause defy danger, you can write a custom move that describes the tough choice to be made to save yourself some thinking in the moment.
The other strength of moves like this is they call out something as important. By making the trigger “when you open a sewer hatch” instead of “when you act despite an imminent threat” the move calls out that these sewers are always dangerous.
Each class has enough moves to take it through tenth level but that doesn’t mean you can’t add more. Adding moves to a class can demonstrate your idea of Dungeon World. Take this one, for example:
When you claim a room for your deity, mark every entrance and roll+WIS: ✴On a 10+, the room is peacebonded: no one can take action to cause physical harm within it. ✴On a 7–9, the room is peacebonded, but the show of divine power draws attention. You can dismiss the peacebond as you see fit.
This move presents a slightly different side of Dungeon World, one that can demand peace (something that usually doesn’t come easily to PCs). This may not be right for every Dungeon World game, but it’s a great way to show how your Dungeon World looks, reflected in the characters.
When adding a move, look carefully at what class it belongs to. Avoid giving a class moves that infringe on another class’s areas of expertise. If the thief can cast spells just as well as the wizard the wizard is likely to feel marginalized. This is why the multiclass moves act as one level lower, so that each class’s niche is somewhat protected.
Be careful with any move that provides the same benefit as an existing move even if the trigger is different. Moves that add to damage, in particular, should be avoided for the most part unless carefully crafted with interesting triggers. The same is true of moves that add to armor. The classes at present have damage and armor increases that reflect the overall danger of Dungeon World. Giving them more can negate potential threats.
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet creating new moves and customizing the classes in Dungeon World, you’ll likely notice something. A class is just a collection of themed moves that work together to create a certain set of abilities and qualities that give the class their unique feel. If you’re up for it, creating a new class is the next natural step along the way.
Your first consideration should be how the class relates to the existing classes. No character exists in isolation, so you should think carefully about why this class is different.
An excellent first step to creating a new class is to think about what fictional characters you’d like to take inspiration from. Don’t slavishly follow what that fictional character can do (after all, they weren’t in Dungeon World) but use them as a guide for what’s so cool about that character.
The inspirations for the classes in this book are fairly clear, and made clearer by the notes in the margins. Note that not every inspiration is taken entirely: the wizards of Discworld inspired the slightly pompous style of the wizard, but the wizard is far more competent and casts spells more like a wizard from Vance’s Dying Earth. The inspiration is one of style, not an attempt to recreate what a certain character could do in a certain book.
With a clear idea in mind you have a few basic steps that aren’t a concern when writing single moves: HP, Bonds, Look, equipment, alignment, races.
A class’s HP is some base+Constitution. Base HP is almost always 4, 6, 8, or 10. Having more HP than the fighter and paladin will take the spotlight away from those characters unless you’re careful. Having less HP than the wizard is probably character suicide. 4 base HP makes for a class that is deliberately fragile, they’ll need help from others when the swords come out. 6 base HP is for classes that aren’t ready to fight, but can at least take a hit. 8 base HP is enough to take some hits and get into combat a little, while 10 base HP is for skilled warriors and those who have no fear of battle.
Damage is chosen from the dice available: d4, d6, d8, d10. The classes presented here all use a single die with no static bonus, but there’s no reason not to experiment with other options: 2d4 or 1d6+2, for example. High HP and damage tend to go together, but your new class could be a pacifistic brick wall or a glass cannon—fragile but dangerous.
Alignments show the starting outlook of the class. Most classes will have Neutral as an option, since only the most dedicated classes are so tied up to an ideal that the self can’t come first. A good alignment move is something that happens with some regularity and guides the player to a particular type of action they might not otherwise consider. An alignment that happens as part of the normal course of play, like “When you gain treasure ,” doesn’t really show the character’s ideals. Adding some requirements, maybe “When you gain treasure through lies and deceit ,” adds an element of ideals. Now the alignment says something about the character (they prize pulling a con on the unsuspecting) and requires the player to think about how they play. Alignment is a telling fact about the class in the world, too. Everyone knows that paladins are supposed to be paragons of Good and Law, right?
Bonds are where the class’ outlook shines through. It’s the place where you, the designer, will most clearly interact with the player at character creation. Unless the class is particularly social or antisocial, write four bonds. If the class is very connected to others, add a bond; if they’re cloistered, remove one. Avoid bonds that dictate a moral or ethical stance but do think about how your class interacts with their allies—the thief steals things but helps protect the party from traps, the fighter defends his allies and kills monsters that might harm them, the wizard knows secret knowledge and shares or hoards it. You can use the rules for writing new bonds as a starting point, but avoid including proper names in starting bonds.
Look is largely left to your imagination. This is an excellent spot to think about your fictional inspiration. What did they look like? How could they look different? Including at least one choice about clothes helps establish style without making the player think about buying clothes.
The equipment choices should always include at least one weapon option and one armor option unless the class is clearly lacking in fighting skill. Dungeon rations are also pretty much required; a starting character without food going into a dangerous area borders on stupid.
A compendium class is a class only available to higher level characters who meet specific requirements. They’re called compendium classes because they first appeared in the Compendiums for Dungeon World Basic. A compendium class is the way to go for a concept that can be layered onto multiple other classes.
The basic structure of a compendium class is to have a starting move that is available only to characters who have had a certain experience, like this:
When you enter the bodily presence of a god or their avatar the next time you gain a level you can choose this move instead of a move from your class:
When you write a new bond, instead of using the name of another character you can use the name of a deity you’ve had contact with. Anytime a bond with a deity applies to the current situation you can mark it off (as if it was resolved) to call on the deity’s favor in a clear and decisive way that the GM describes. At the end of the session you then replace the marked off bond with a new one, with a deity or player character.
Note that the move is only available after the character has done a specific thing, and even then only at their next level. Compendium classes are best when they rely on what the character has done, not stat prerequisites or anything that happens without the player’s action. A compendium class that is available to anyone who just gained 5th level doesn’t stand for much; one that only applies if you’ve been to Death’s Black Gates and lived to tell the tale is more interesting.
A compendium class also usually has 2–3 moves that can be taken only if the starting move is taken. These are just like normal class moves, just with the requirement that you have to have already taken the starting compendium class move.
Compendium classes are ideal for concepts that don’t quite inspire a full class. If you can’t think of what the class looks like or how much HP it has, or if the class overlaps with existing classes, it’s probably better as a compendium class.
Adventure moves deal directly with the adventure underway. They can move the action along, change the rewards, or transition from one adventure to another.
If you’re running a short game, maybe at a convention or game day, you may find that you want to front-load the experience a little more. Here’s a move that covers “the adventure so far” so that you can get straight into a short game in media res.
Stalwart Fighter: As if the bandits weren’t bad enough! As if all the sword wounds, bruises and beatings at the hands of your enemies were insufficient—now this. Trapped underground with your adventuring companions when all you wanted was to return to the town and spend your well-earned bounty. No such luck, warrior. Sharpen that sword! Certainly, the others will need your protecting before safety is found. Just like last time. Once more into the breach, right? I swear, one of these fellows must owe you a favor or two by now
Have a look around and roll+CHA. ✴On a 10+, choose two party members. ✴On a 7–9, choose just one. ✴On a 6-, you’re surrounded by ingrates.
At a moment of need, you can cash in a favor owed you by one of the party members chosen. They must change their action to one of your choosing, once. You may not give them an action that would involve them directly taking damage, giving up a magic item they already own or coming to immediate harm. Use it to make them agree with you, or give you that extra ration you want, or giving you their slot in the loot lottery. Leverage is sweet.
The most important part of this move is not the roll or the effect, but the information and tone. It sets the stage for a quick adventure and gives the player reading it a starting point to work with. The roll and result here are interesting, but don’t greatly change the flow of the game. Handing out a set of these, one to each player, along with a playbook, is a great way to run a con game.
You can also adapt the End of Session move to reflect the adventure you’re running. When doing this it’s key that you show the players the new End of Session move. The goal isn’t to keep them in the dark about what earns XP, but to make the XP awards tie directly to this adventure.
When you end the session, instead of using the normal end of session questions, use these:
- Did we learn something about the Cult of the Scaled God?
- Did we rescue a captured villager or help defend the village of Secor?
- Did we defeat a major agent of the Cult of the Scaled God?
Moves always follow a similar structure. The most basic parts of a move are the trigger (“when ”) and the effect (“then ”). Every move follows this basic format.
Triggers are often fictional actions undertaken by the player characters but they can also be part of character creation or trigger at the beginning or end of a session. Note that a trigger never deals with precise units of time. Don’t write a move that begins “When you start a round adjacent to a dragon.” There’s no rounds (and adjacent is maybe not the best phrasing, as it sounds removed from the fiction of standing next to a damned fire-breathing dragon). Prepare Spells isn’t “When you spend one hour studying your spellbook” for good reason. Time in Dungeon World is a bit fluid, like in a movie where pacing depends on the circumstances. Don’t rely on concrete units either around the table (rounds) or in the fiction (seconds, minutes, days).
Here are some broad types of triggers:
- When a character takes action. Examples: Discern Realities, Arcane Art (Bard), Command (Ranger).
- When a character takes action under specific circumstances. Examples: Hack and Slash, Seeing Red (Fighter), Backstab (Thief).
- When circumstances dictate, no character action. Examples: Order Hirelings, End of Session.
- When a character uses a thing. Examples: Magic items, Heirloom (Fighter).
- From now on. Examples: Serenity (Cleric), Poisoner (Thief).
Moves effects can be anything you can think of; they are as limitless as your ideas. Don’t feel constrained to making rolls, +1 bonuses, and swapping stats. Since all moves flow from the fiction, a fictional effect like “They treat you as a friend” is just as powerful and useful as +1 forward—maybe more so.
Here are some broad types of effects, any given move may use more than one of them:
- Roll. Examples: Defy Danger, Cast a Spell (Wizard), Called Shot (Ranger).
- Substitute stats. Examples: Dwarf (Fighter).
- Negate damage. Examples: Man’s Best Friend (Ranger).
- Give a bonus or penalty, forward or ongoing. Examples: Underdog (Thief), Smite (Paladin).
- Deal or heal damage. Examples: Volley, Backstab (Thief), Arcane Art (Bard).
- Choose options. Examples: Spout Lore, Discern Realities, Ritual (Wizard).
- Hold & Spend. Examples: Dominate (Wizard spell), Trap Expert (Thief).
- Ask & Answer. Examples: Charming and Open (Bard), Spout Lore.
- Change circumstances. Examples: Reputation (Bard).
- Mark experience. Examples: End of Session.
- Call for more information. Examples: Parley, Ritual (Wizard).
- Add options. Examples: Called Shot (Ranger).
Moves can also change the basic structure of the game. Consider this one, to avoid the use of damage dice:
When you would deal damage, instead of rolling the dice, substitute each dice with the listed number. d4 becomes 2, d6 becomes 3, d8 becomes 4, d10 becomes 5, d12 becomes 6.
Moves like this change one of the basic features of the game. Be very careful with moves that muck with the fundamentals. Moves should never contradict the GM’s principles or agenda, or break the basic “take the action to gain the effect” rule.
There are some parts of the game that are exceptionally easy to change. The amount of XP to level reflects our view, but you can easily make leveling more or less rare. As well, the kinds of things players are awarded XP for can be easily changed—if your game isn’t about exploring, fighting monsters and finding treasure, change the End of Session move to reflect that difference. Make sure to share it with your players before you start the game.
Another basic that’s occasionally asked for is a way to make, say, fighting a dragon harder. The best answer here is that fighting a dragon is harder because the dragon is fictionally stronger. Just stabbing a dragon with a normal blade isn’t hack and slash because a typical blade can’t hurt it. If, however, that isn’t enough, consider this move from Vincent Baker, originally from Apocalypse World (reworded slightly to match Dungeon World rules):
When a player makes a move and the GM judges it especially difficult, the player takes -1 to the roll. When a player’s character makes a move and the GM judges it clearly beyond them, the player takes -2 to the roll.
The problem with this move is that the move no longer reflects anything concrete. Instead, the move is a prompt for the GM to make judgment calls with no clear framework. If you find yourself writing this custom move, consider what difficulty you’re really trying to capture and make a custom move for that instead. That said, this is a valid custom move, if you feel it’s needed.
Let’s look at how one move developed over time. Hack and slash was one of the earliest Dungeon World moves, originally written by Tony Dowler. The first version looked like this (this version has been reformatted and edited for grammar only):
When you wade into combat, attacking your enemies, deal damage to the enemy you’re attacking, take that enemy’s damage, and roll+Str. ✴On a 10+, choose 2. ✴On a 7–9 choose 1.
- Prevent one ally from taking damage this round
- Kill one enemy of lower level than you or deal max damage to otherwise
- Put an enemy right where you want them (drive them off, prevent them from fleeing, etc.)
- Divide your damage amongst any number of targets you can reach with your weapon
The first problem with this move is that one of the options, preventing damage, is far less useful than the others. Being able to outright kill an enemy is nearly always better than preventing that enemy from doing damage. The first major revision was to drop that option:
When you wade into combat, attacking your enemies, deal damage to the enemy you’re attacking, take that enemy’s damage, and roll+Str. ✴On a 10+ choose 2. ✴On a 7–9 choose 1.
- Kill one enemy of lower level than you or deal max damage to otherwise
- Put an enemy right where you want them (drive them off, prevent them from fleeing, etc.)
- Divide your damage amongst any number of targets you can reach with your weapon
This left only three options which is a great number of options to have when a 10+ lets you pick two. The player making the move always had to not choose one option. All of the options are also clearly useful. But there’s still an issue, easily the biggest issue with this move: the fictional action doesn’t tightly relate to the outcome.
Consider this situation: Gregor attacks an eagle lord with his mighty axe. He describes his fictional action: “I swing my axe right down on his wing with a big overhead chop.” Then he rolls the move, gets a 10, and makes his choices. Max damage is a clear choice and comes right from the fiction. The other options, however, don’t make much sense. If he chooses to divide his damage, how does that flow from his one fictional attack? How did that one chop also hit the treant behind him?
Scoping down the fictional effect of the move lead to this version:
When you attack an enemy who can defend themselves, roll+Str. ✴On a 10+, you deal your damage but your enemy does not get to deal theirs to you. If you choose, you can take your enemy’s damage and deal double damage to the enemy. ✴On a 7–9, you take the enemy’s damage and deal your damage.
Here the move now has only the effects that could clearly follow from a single attack. Any action that couldn’t reasonably lead to a counterattack isn’t hack and slash, so now the trigger matches the effects. Unfortunately double damage was a bit much, so we changed it to this:
When you attack an enemy in melee, roll+Str. ✴On a 7–9, you deal your damage to the enemy and take their damage. ✴On a 10+ you deal your damage to the enemy. You can choose to also take the enemy’s damage to deal +2 damage.
+2 damage is a clear advantage, but not a game breaker. The only problem here is that it reduced the effects of an attack to taking damage. Monsters do so much more than just take away your HP; monsters hurl you about the room and destroy the ground you stand on, why can’t they do that in response?
When you attack an enemy in melee, roll+Str. ✴On a 10+, you deal your damage to the enemy and avoid their attack. At your option, you may choose to do +1d6 damage but expose yourself to the enemy’s attack. ✴On a 7–9, you deal your damage to the enemy and the enemy makes an attack against you.
This version (the final one) allows a monster to “attack” not just deal damage. That opens up a whole host of interesting monster moves to be used. +1d6 damage instead of +2 makes the choice more exciting (and slightly more powerful). The rewording adds clarity.
Changing the GM’s side of the rules is an entirely different beast from writing custom player moves. Writing GM moves is the easy part. Since a GM move is just a statement of something that fictionally happens, feel free to write new ones as you please. Most of the time you’ll find they’re just specific cases of one of the moves already established, but occasionally you’ll come across something new. Just keep in mind the spectrum of hard to soft moves, your principles, and your agenda, and you’ll be fine.
Changing the GM’s agenda or principles is one of the biggest changes you can make to the game. Changing these areas will likely require changes throughout the rest of the game, plus playtesting to nail it all down.
Play to find out what happens is the least changeable part of the GM’s agenda. Other options, like “play towards your set plot” or “play to challenge the players’ skills” will be resisted pretty strongly by the other rules. The moves give the players abilities that can change the course of an planned adventure quite quickly; if you’re not playing to find out what happens you’ll have to resist the moves at every step or rewrite many of them.
Fill the characters’ lives with adventure could be rephrased, but it’s hard to really change. “Fill the characters’ lives with intrigue” might work, but intrigue just seems like a type of adventure. Removing this agenda entirely will require major reworking since the move structure is based on this. The effects of a miss and the GM’s soft moves are all there to create a life of adventure.
Portraying a fantastic world is maybe the easiest to change but it still requires considerable rewriting of the class moves. A historical world, a grim world, or a utopian world are all possible, but you’ll need to carefully rethink many moves. A historical world will require magic, equipment, and several other sections to be nearly entirely rewritten or removed. A grim world can only survive if the players’ moves come with darker costs. A utopian world won’t need many of the moves as written. Still, this is the easiest part of the agenda to change, since it requires changing the moves, not the basic structures of the game.
The GM’s principles are more mutable than the agenda but still can seriously change the game with only minor modifications. Address the characters, not the players; Make your move, but misdirect; Never speak the name of your move; Begin and end with the fiction; and Be a fan of the characters are the most important principles. Without these the conversation of play and the use of moves is likely to break down.
Embrace the fantastic; Give every monster life; Name every person; Think Dangerous; and Give them something to work towards are key to the spirit of Dungeon World and fantasy exploration. These are changeable, but they amount to changing the setting of the game. If you want to change any of these, you may have to make changes to all of them.
Leave Blanks; Sometimes, let them decide; and Ask questions and use the answers are important to running Dungeon World well. They also apply to many other games in the same style. The game will be diminished without them, but the conversation of play will continue. These are also some of the most portable principles, applicable to many other games. They may even work in games with very different play styles.
An additional principle that some people prefer to add is Test their bonds. This principle is entirely compatible with the others and with all the moves, but it changes the focus of the game somewhat. Fronts need to be rethought to work fully with this, and you might need to add moves that speak to it.
The easiest place to modify monsters is in the questions used to create them. The simplest changes have to do with adjusting lethality or randomness to your liking.
A more interesting change is to change the questions being asked to present a different view of monsters. The views built into the questions imply that monsters are more or less like other creatures: they can be of many alignments and won’t always be opposed to the player characters. If you want to make Dungeon World about hunting down evil monsters and destroying them, you might rewrite some of the questions, maybe adding this:
- It’s an intrusion of the Old Ones Beyond the Walls: Planar, +5 damage
- It’s a product of the Old Wizards of the Red Tower: Construct, +5 HP
- It’s from The Time Before Man: Primordial, +5 damage, +5 HP
When creating new monster questions you can either reinterpret existing monsters by answering the questions for them again or only use the new questions for new monsters. If the new questions you add or change are key to your vision of Dungeon World it’s best to redo all the monsters you use; if the question only applies to a specific kind of monster anyway you can just use it for new monsters.
For the purposes of these multiclass moves the cleric’s commune and cast a spell count as one move. Likewise for the wizard’s spellbook, prepare Spells, and cast a Spell.
When you first select a multiclass move that grants you the ability to cast spells you prepare and cast spells as if you had one level in the casting class. Every additional time you level up you increase the level you prepare and cast spells at by one.
When Ajax gains 3rd level he takes Multiclass Dabbler to get Commune and Cast a Spell from the Cleric class. He casts and prepares spells like a first level Cleric: first level spells and rotes only, a total of 2 levels of spells prepared. When he later gains 4th level, he prepares and casts spells as a second level Cleric.
Treat the areas of your lore like books. Is the upwards-flowing waterfall you just came across something important that would be covered in a book or college course called “On Spells and Magicks?” If so, your Bardic Lore of that name applies.
If you care enough to ask a question about it then it’s probably important. Don’t second guess yourself: if you care enough to want to know more about it then it has some importance.
Speaking frankly means you really are being open with them, not just giving the appearance of openness. It’s your true sincerity that puts others at ease and lets you get information out of them; if you’re trying to maintain a lie at the same time you won’t get very far.
Of course, the creature you effect must have some way of harming your target of choice. Spurring a wolf into a frenzy to attack the eagle lord circling above doesn’t do any good, the wolf doesn’t have a way to attack it.
Acting on the answers can mean acting against them or taking advantage of them. Either way you take +1 forward.
If you like you can prepare the same spell more than once.
It’s up to the creativity of your deity (and the GM) to communicate as much as possible through the motions and gestures of your deity’s symbol. You don’t get visions or a voice from heaven, just some visual cue of what your deity would have you do (even if it’s not in your best interest).
Casting Magic Weapon on the same weapon again has no effect. No matter how many times you cast it on the same weapon it’s still just magic +1d4 damage.
That said, even a weak enchantment is nothing to be scoffed at. Having a magic weapon may give you an advantage against some of the stranger beasts of Dungeon World, ghosts and the like. The exact effects depend on the monster and circumstances, so make the most of it.
Treating the zombie as your character means you make moves with its stats based on the fiction, just like always. Unless its brain is functioning on its own, the zombie can’t do much besides follow the last order it was given, so you’d better stay close. Even if its brain works it’s still bound to follow your orders.
The base description you choose is just a description. Choosing a spear doesn’t give you Close range, for example. You could choose a spear as the description, then Hand as the range. Your spear is something special, or your technique with it is different, just describe why your weapon has the tags you’ve chosen.
The exact nature of the spirits (and therefore what knowledge they can offer to you) is up to you and the GM to decide. Maybe they’re dead ancestors, echoes of people you’ve slain, or a minor demon. Up to you.
Armor and shields that are reduced to 0 armor are effectively destroyed. You’ll pretty much be paying for a new one anyway, so you might as well drop them and haul out some gold instead.
Your +1 forward applies to anything you do based on your knowledge of the spell’s effects: defying it, defending against it, using it to your advantage, etc.
Your bonuses only apply when your animal is doing something it’s trained in. An animal not trained to attack monsters won’t be any help when you’re attacking an otyugh.
Reducing armor until they repair it means that they lose armor until they do something that compensates for your damage. If you’re fighting an armored knight that might mean a fresh suit of armor, but for a thick-hided ogre it’s until they’ve had time to heal up (or protect the wound you left).
In order to make more doses of your chosen poison you need to be reasonably able to gather the required materials. If you’re locked up at the top of a tower you’re not going to be able to get the materials you need.
In order to use this move it’s really got to be your most valuable possession. It’s the honest value you place on it that draws others, no lies.
Your disguise covers your appearance and any basics like accents and limps. It doesn’t grant you any special knowledge of the target, so if someone asks you what your favorite color is you’d better think fast. Defying danger with CHA is a common part of maintaining a disguise.
You can prepare the same spell more than once if you like.
Maximizing the effects of a spell is simple for spells that involve a roll: a maximized Magic Missile does 8 damage. In other cases it’s down to the circumstances. A maximized Identify might result in far more information than expected. If there’s no clear way to maximize it you can’t choose that option.
Likewise for doubling the targets. If the spell doesn’t have targets you can’t choose to double them.
The exact effects depend on the circumstances. A goblin orkaster’s spell might just be ended, while a deity’s consecration is probably just dimmed. The GM will tell you the likely effects of Dispelling a given effect before you cast.
“Nearby”depends on context; a few paces or so in an open space, considerably more in an enclosed room. Be careful!.
In some cases the GM may choose the last option more than once to list each unexpected benefit or weakness.
The exact type of monster you get is up to the GM, based on your choices. If you want a non-reckless swimming creature you might get a water elemental, a 1d8 damage +2 Str creature might be a barbed devil. Whatever the creature is you still get to play it.