In Dungeon World there is a GM move titled: "Use a monster, danger, or location move". For monsters, I've generally already come up with specific moves and a host of monsters my players may face in the near future. However, the locations the players choose to visit vary considerably. Thus, crafting a handful of custom moves for locations ahead of time seems disappointing as they will typically not be encountered. (The exact location needed isn't visited.)

There is a related question on RPG.SE that answers how to create custom moves quickly (insert a link here if you can find it!)

My question is thus: How can I either get far faster at creating custom location moves while GMing, or create custom location moves that aren't so specific that they are never encountered/used?

Related Context

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure you want to make "custom moves" for these on the fly? The whole idea of custom moves is that you only make them up for special situations; the basic moves are fine in most situations. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 5:23

2 Answers 2


Location moves are just things that happen in a specific place.

You might be thinking that location moves are the complicated custom moves like player moves are - the player rolls dice, adds a stat, and there's a bunch of possible results. And sometimes they might be. But more usually location moves are not "custom moves", but just simple statements of something that might happen in a place, in just the same way monster moves are simple statements of what a monster does.

So when you invent and place a location during prep - when you Make Maps, or when you make it up at the table, think about things that could happen there. Write them down. These are then your location moves.

So, The Castle Gateway: Its location moves are:

  • The drawbridge shuts
  • The portcullis falls
  • Boiling oil cascades from the murder holes.

That took me very little time (though it might be a easy place to define). Note that they're specific and flavourful, and wouldn't happen just anywhere. No generic stuff; the game does that through the standard rules. Nor do we define results - the portcullis might trap them, separate them, pin them, but we don't care as we make it up, that's what happens in play.

Of course, you don't even need to write them down. If the players are in a place and you think of something that might be expected to happen, something completely obvious, then that's a location move: If the players are arguing in a library, then "A librarian says 'shush'" is a location move.


Try creating generic location moves that can be reflavored to different places.

As an example, you could make a move called "The Environment Closes Off" to represent: 1) A door slamming shut behind the players in a dungeon. 2) A sudden lava flow blocking a safe passage in the Underdark. 3) The City Guard collapsing a merchant's cart across a roadway, turning a road into a dead end.

Take a list of generic circumstances, and just leave them open ended enough to apply to many situations. Now, this could be construed as simply renaming the "Separate Them" GM Move, but I've found that with PbtA systems, a simple rename can make a big difference for an inexperienced GM. The first time I saw AW2E's illustrated Threat Map, it basically blew my mind. It framed the arcane-sounding "fronts" mechanic in a very easy-to-understand way, and made a very intimidating system feel much more accessible.


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