Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When a Druid shifts shape, they get a certain amount of Hold with which to carry out actions. An issue came up in the session I ran tonight with exactly what this means.

The player in question was of the opinion that whatever you spend the point of Hold on just happens, without having to make a roll. The situation was that he was this large monitor lizard thing that had a move called 'crunch on stuff' or something similar. What was unclear was whether he still needed to make a Hack and Slash roll to be able to cause the damage with the move, or whether spending the Hold meant he automatically succeeded.

I am wondering whether the issue comes from a poorly defined move on my part, as you could argue that 'crunch on stuff' is simply what Hack and Slash would be whilst in the form of a lizard.

Does spending Hold make you automatically succeed with the move?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

One of the writers of Dungeon World, Sage Latorra, addressed this in this thread.

A note on shapeshifting in general: taking on a new form is, in a way, saving up successes for particular tasks. The druid makes one roll and, through the clever selection of a form, can turn that into 1 or more successes. The cost of this is the new form: since everything is triggered by the fiction taking on a new form changes what rules engage. That's the fundamental tradeoff of a new form: that form's strengths turn your one roll into more successes, but that form also limits your options.

So it would seem that this move was indeed intended to be used as automatic future successes. The druid could also make a Hack & Slash roll without spending 1 Hold, though.

share|improve this answer
"The druid could also make a Hack & Slash roll without spending 1 Hold, though." Not by choice, though. Moves always trigger by the fiction, or not at all. If they crunch on stuff, they spend the hold, done. Only if they "attack in melee" without triggering "crunch on stuff" or some other move, would Hack & Slash trigger. – SevenSidedDie Mar 12 '14 at 23:26
Is it an issue that crunch on stuff seems to be a subset of hack and slash? Should I be being more creative with my moves so that doesn't happen? How do I know which of the two moves triggers in this instance, as it could theoretically be either – Wibbs Mar 12 '14 at 23:30
I think the more specific of the moves would be the one triggered. In this example, you're not just "attacking in melee" but doing so by "crunching on stuff" so the latter would be triggered. See also SevenSidedDie's comment. – Serpentine Cougar Mar 13 '14 at 18:46
"Crunching on stuff" implies other details. I'd let the PC break bones (free damage + fiction crippling), or destory armor (reduce AC). That may help distinguish it from Hack and Slash. – Alan De Smet Apr 18 '14 at 22:42
I typically word my shapeshifted moves as "When you blah blah, you may spend one hold to etc etc." I'd say, if two moves could trigger, where one is a basic move and the other is an optional move, the player should choose. So my player in bear form mauls an armored target (which triggers his Papa Bear move he can spend hold for, but also could trigger Hack and Slash), he can choose to spend the hold and resolve Papa Bear (which I still have him roll for) or not spend the hold and Hack and Slash normally. Normally for a bear, anyway. – gatherer818 Sep 10 '14 at 0:04

As stated by Serpentine Cougar it makes the druid automatically succed, but it has to be narratively consequent. Don't let the druid do whatever they want, it has to be consequent. The fact they don't have to roll for it means it must be "easy". If he is gonna hack and slash he should do it in human form. Going to animal form means there's some clear advantage or some action they can clearly accomplish.

A druid should fight in his human form. The druid wasn't designed (I think) as a human that transforms into a bear to fight all the time. I think the idea is a human that fights as a human and can transform itself into a bear to: throw enemies into the ground, scare enemies, break things, push things, destroy armor, etc... It's normal for players to want to fight as a bear (cause it's cool and seems really strong) but I don't think that's the idea.

Don't let them transform when the enemy is upon them with weapon raised, or not without defying danger. If they transform they can attack, but get in mind they will have only 3 holds at max. Untransforming in front of an enemy might give you a golden opportunity.

Also, you might make them roll for Defy Danger when they are in their animal form.

share|improve this answer
This answer misses the mark in some places. 1) Never forget that shifted druids can do "animal things" as naturally as the animal normally could. You spend no hold to do mundane things like fly as a bird or breathe underwater as a fish. Those are just characteristics of the animal. You spend hold when you're doing something fantastic or difficult. 2) A druid should fight however he wants. He uses the same damage die as a human or an animal. 3) They can transform whenever they please. It's their Move to do so. – Preston Fitzgerald Jun 24 '15 at 22:03

Your Answer


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.