My friend and I are starting into Dungeon World, but we've encountered a problem while playing, and I'm not sure if it's normal. Whenever the GM is about to introduce a monster there is a few minutes of the game slowing down while he looks up the monsters in the book. Let me outline a situation when it comes up.

The party is exploring a weird occupied dungeon and due to some crazy (but creative) playing some sort of new enemy appears. However, play is slowed down for a couple minutes due to the GM shuffling around papers, writing stuff down, etc. Eventually everything works out, but some players lost their train of roleplaying thought.

Is this a mistake? It seems to go against the grain of Dungeon World to prepare all of the enemies beforehand. Maybe this is part of the minimal prep necessary for play.

In conclusion, my question is, is this slowdown for introducing enemies a normal part of RPGs/DW, or is it just the result of our relative newness with this type of game?


3 Answers 3


In my decades of experience, yes. Inventing a new creature from scratch is faster in Dungeon World because it doesn't have to match a strict power curve in the way that a homebrew D&D4+ monster does, but looking up an existing creature is always going to take a bit of time.


I would say its definitely both. Your GM is relatively inexperienced with the system and therefore refers to the book or other databases when it comes to introducing monsters. You probably haven't modified or made up any new classes yet, either (f.e. a thief that doesn't have poisoner but instead goes poof and stealths :) ). This, of course, means that things will slow down a bit.

Since it sounds like you aren't the GM, encourage them that they have the trust of the group to make monsters up on the fly.

Example: The group enters an old ruin with stone statues all aorund... the thief, suspicious, looks for traps - oh yeah, the statues are the traps and suddenly, some of them come to life!

Statues naturally will have high armor, maybe they can't even be damaged by mundane weapons because, well, stone. Magic would work, maybe the wizard enhanced the groups' weapons with magic before this if they were prepared? :D Huge stonestatues would also naturally have a knockback as an attack-effect, they would just try to corner and stomp a person basically. No piercing damage, though a hard move could be damaging some metal armor, certainly. The statues could have around 15hp if its a group, about twice that if its just one huge golem.

And thats how you make up a thing on the fly. Think about the fiction, what would make sense for a stone golem to have - they are strong & durable (4 armor maybe?) and they want to protect the area, so running would f.e. totally work in this scenario, they wouldn't give chase. It might help your GM to think of a theme for the dungeon and adhere to that. A cave infested by goblins will have different traps and other threats than a tunnel system made by giant worms.

To summarise: Given time, experience and especially trust from the group, a GM can and (in my opinion definitely) should make up creatures on the fly... it makes for more interesting play anyway, as I doubt that the book or a database would have stats for, say, Birds that are actually part of a tree creature and 'gather' people onto the tree spikes so that the tree can feed on the blood of the victims... (I go for weird - a lot).


"Prep" for a location absolutely includes the monsters that are likely to exist there. The Dungeon World monster creation rules are kind of involved, if you want them to be, and it's important when you bring in a monster to have a look at its moves so you can reasonably improvise threats based on monster, behaviors, and location.

So actually having a separate consult sheet for monsters ready to go is a big help to keeping Dungeon World moving, and your GM should consider prepping in this regard.

But in its essential form, a monster is hit points, armor, damage die, and the cool things you want it to do, making it easy to just completely make one up on the fly if you want to.

If your DM feels compelled to note down the monsters to strictly account for vital statistics and specific moves, yeah, that's counterproductive. No one is auditing your game to make sure all the goblins have died at 3 hit points. No one is going to blow a whistle and raise a yellow card if a goblin knocks a death wasp hive down onto the PCs because there's no line-item entry on the goblin movelist that says "employ insects". Players and monsters alike are doing things in the game world to achieve their aims. Sometimes that's going to mean damage, but there are lots of interesting things that can happen.

  • \$\begingroup\$ ...adds "employ insects" to all demi-human movelists... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 15:28

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