Take the 2-minute tour ×
Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

So in Dungeon World, everything breaks down to 'moves'. What about situations where a move is not available, but a check of some sort is called for, such as in the case of a non-fighter who wants to kick down the door? What mechanism do you use to resolve that situation?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 39 down vote accepted

No, there is no equivalent to a "skill check" in Dungeon World. Dungeon World operates on a different set of principles that don't require or really permit task-based resolution rolls. If you're playing DW, you have to give up the idea that everything requires a roll.

The most important principle for this question is that dice are only rolled when a move says to, and moves only happen when they are triggered. To trigger a move, a player has to describe their character taking a fictional action or set of actions that matches the move's trigger. Further, a character can't trigger a move that they don't have access to.

The basic rule of moves is: take the action to gain the effect.

So what does it mean to try to break down a door? Forget about breaking down a door with the right move available—I mean, what does it mean to break down a door at all in DW?

Player: I break down the door. I'm going to roll Bend Bars, Lift Gates and I get—

DM: Hold on there. Don't roll until the move is happening, and the move hasn't happened yet. So you want to break down the door. Cool, what's that look like?

Player: Oh, uh, I'm all like, "Stand back! I've got this," and I just lay into it with my shoulder.

This part right there is critical for DW to work. The players must describe not what they intend to accomplish, nor what move they want to trigger, but actually describe fictional actions that would trigger the move. Players don't ever get to say when a move triggers—that's the DM's job.

DM: Okay, you're the Fighter and that totally sounds like a "Bend Bars, Lift Gates" move. Go ahead and roll that. Oooh, a miss… Right, so you throw yourself at the door and it's just all "no way am I moving" and you bruise your shoulder. Take a point of damage.

The way the system functions, how their actions are described that lead up to the move trigger is an integral part of what's happening in the game. A key part of how DW works is that the consequences of a miss can depend (possibly, depending on the move the DM chooses to respond with) directly on the fiction that the player created in order to trigger the move. If you skip that, you very quickly get lost both as players and DM and misses – and moves in general – get really confusing. If the player in the example above had instead described chopping at the door with their axe, bruising their shoulder would be a nonsensical miss result, right?

So, if you decide on a "right" move before you establish the triggering fiction, you can get into a situation like what you're running into with your question. So let's look at when you don't have the "right" move.

Player: Oh, uh, I'm all like, "Stand back! I've got this," and I just lay into it with my shoulder.

DM: Really! Okay then, so you throw yourself at the door. You kind of bounce off. Now what do you do?

Player: Don't I get a roll?

DM: I can't think of a move you're triggering. What are you thinking of?

Player: Can't I, like, make a strength check or something? I just want to break down the door.

DM: You're a cleric, this isn't really your thing, and we don't do strength checks. Tell me what you're doing to break down the door.

Player: Well, I'm going to take a run at it and smash it down with my shoulder. I've got armour and stuff, so I think I could manage it.

DM: Yeah, okay, I can see you smashing it with your plate-armoured shoulder. So you're making yourself into a living battering ram. That sounds like Defying Danger by "powering through", the with danger being seriously messing up yourself and your armour. Okay, the door is so totally smashed down… Roll plus Strength to not get mangled!

Player: Uh, really? … Okay, maybe I don't want to do that. Let's back up.

Or maybe instead:

Player: That sounds like it could be awesome or terrible! Okay, let's do this… (Rolls)


So that's how you handle "not having a move" for what the player wants to do. Really, there is always a move, and you can find out the right move but simply asking the player to describe what they're doing to pursue their goal until they describe something that triggers a move. It might not be the move anyone would expect if you just picked the move first and then tried to figure out how to make it happen, but it will always be the right move, because the fiction has continuity and internal integrity.

share|improve this answer
2  
This answer applies pretty cleanly to Apocalypse World too. –  Daenyth Jul 30 '12 at 17:58
1  
Ayup. The entire concept of moves rests on that foundation established by AW. –  SevenSidedDie Jul 30 '12 at 18:12
1  
It might be beneficial to note that rolling 6 or below on the Defy Danger roll above doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't plow down the door. It just means that the situation is likely to have complications. Taking damage is one, plowing through and stumbling into a room right between three hungry trolls is another. "Put them in a spot" ;) –  Undreren Nov 28 '12 at 13:34
    
@Undreren Gotcha. In this example the consequences have already been described, so no suprise trolls, but I'll make it clearer that the example GM isn't saying anything about failing on that miss—*only* the health and armour are taking consequences. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 28 '12 at 17:42
1  
Agreed, if you want trolls, you need to forecast them with a soft move first, like 'there are strange noises coming from behind the door' before they attempt. –  neontapir Mar 12 at 22:22

There are no skills, only moves.

If you need to get past a door and you don't have bend bars, lift gates, then you need to think about the situation differently. Say the room is filling with water and you need to escape. Your options could include defying danger to power through or discerning realities with What here is useful to me? to find a way out.

share|improve this answer
    
I don't think this answers the question, though I'm not going to downvote it b/c I might be wrong. I think what is being asked is what if the move isn't available to the class- not if there isn't a move specific to the situation. –  wraith808 Jul 29 '12 at 19:44
6  
If the move isn't available, it's not available. If you want to take action, you need to find another move that hopefully works toward what you want. –  okeefe Jul 29 '12 at 20:01

In the case of a character wanting to take a move that is not available to his class, he can't take the move. Kicking down a door (Bend Bars/Lift Gates) is a simplistic example that it might at first glance seem should be available to everyone. But, take the move Cast A Spell. If a fighter decided that he wanted to cast a spell, it would be outside of the capabilities of the class. It's the same for kicking down a door. Dungeon World is made so that each character has his use, which lends itself towards the character having his chance in the limelight.

There are basic moves that cover a lot of things, and if what the character is attempting to do doesn't specifically fall in the purview of another class, those can be examined to see if something fits. But to give a character access to the same abilities that another class has is to water down the usefulness of the characters.

share|improve this answer
2  
That's not how I play. Anyone can try to bash open a door. Anyone can try to cast a spell. They describe it, we figure it out. But only those who have a move, have a move -- for others it's handled through other means which likely means other moves, custom or basic. –  clweeks Aug 2 '12 at 13:34
    
@clweeks of course, anyone is entitled to play how they will. However, from intent, I think this is the way that things are - the answer above from SevenSidedDie illustrates this better than my answer. –  wraith808 Aug 3 '12 at 0:52
4  
Actually, I think @clweeks has it. There's no reason that a non-wizard can't cast a spell, except lack of a gimme move that just says they can with easy-to-access fiction. If a fighter wants to gather the Shards of Nemesil from the Nine Lost Vaults and consume a vial containing the whispered regrets of an orphan while chanting the Unmaking Dirge in order to summon the Apocalypse Dreadnought? They can totally try to do that, and the fiction will carry them through if they don't get in too much trouble from the moves that the getting-ready-to-do-this-ritual fiction triggers along the way. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 28 '12 at 17:52

Here's a slightly different perspective:

The Bend Bars/Lift Gates move allows for you to avoid some of the effects attached to going through the door:

Bend Bars, Lift Gates

When you use pure strength to destroy an inanimate obstacle, roll+Str. ✴On a 10+, choose 3. ✴On a 7-9 choose 2.

  • It doesn't take a very long time

  • Nothing of value is damaged

  • It doesn't make an inordinate amount of noise

  • You can fix the thing again without a lot of effort

Reading the move, we see it could have one or more of the following effects: take a long time, damage valuables, make a lot of noise and/or completely destroy the door or bars or whatever.

So, if you start banging/hacking/chiseling at the door with your ax, hammer or mace, etc., perhaps using up some adventuring gear along the way, all of those could happen without ever triggering a move. From this perspective, the Move allows you to avoid some consequences, and going without the move doesn't. Then, with all that time + effort, the fiction will allow you to open the door, albeit with a bucketload of consequences.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.