The Druid advanced move Balance reads:

When you deal damage, take 1 balance. When you touch someone and channel the spirits of life you may spend balance. For each balance spent, heal 1d4 HP.

Is it possible to intentionally deal damage to yourself? If so, could you do that to gain balance?


3 Answers 3


Fiction first. Ask questions and use the answers.

  1. Ask what they're doing.

    I'm stabbing myself so I can heal someone.

  2. Ask how that works in the fiction. If they come up with something that the group finds interesting and plausible in the fiction already established, let them do it. If not, say something along the lines of “It doesn't sound like your magic works that way.”


Page 21 of the rulebook says:

Dealing damage means you roll the damage dice for your class; sometimes your weapon will add or subtract damage too.

So the question becomes "Can a Druid intentionally harm themselves in order to roll their damage dice?".

There isn't a basic move which would trigger a damage dice roll (Hack and Slash, for instance, says "When you attack an enemy in melee" and Volley says "When you take aim and shoot at an enemy at range").

So, not unless the DM created / approved a custom move that made it possible. They probably should in order to follow the principle of "Begin and end with the fiction", but that would need begin with the player narratively justifying it.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ That seems… constricting? To be honest, I'm more of an Apocalypse World*/*Monster of the Week guy, but in those games (that run off the same engine), a PC can totally just say, "I stab myself," and suffer the consequences. Is such a thing literally impossible in DungeonWorld without the MC's permission? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 15, 2017 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan — The DM's principles say "Begin and end with the fiction". If they stab themselves, they stab themselves and should suffer the consequences. They might lose hit points, but that isn't the same as triggering "dealing damage" which is a specific mechanic. (And that does need the DM's permission, because they arbitrate the mechanics, but they would be betraying the principles if they didn't follow through the logical effects of what happened in the fiction). \$\endgroup\$
    – Quentin
    Dec 15, 2017 at 14:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ It sounds cool enough that you get to roll your damage die to gain a balance, which you can use to heal another. And since your damage die is a d6, it wouldn't really be able to exploit it anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Dec 15, 2017 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik And the idea of self-blood-sacrifice to fuel magic has a long tradition. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Dec 15, 2017 at 18:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Dealing damage" isn't a specific mechanic that can be "triggered". It's not a move, it doesn't engage the move rules that describe how moves trigger, and triggering isn't a mechanic/concept outside how moves trigger. That quote just explains how to resolve moves that say to deal damage; that's causally the opposite of the situation. This is misinterpreting how the mechanics get involved in this fiction situation. (I'm ignoring the GM move for dealing damage, because that's not what's being quoted and works even more differently.) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 15, 2017 at 23:02

I'd say it is acceptable. Creative, but acceptable.

While it is true that Basic Moves does not contain any such thing as Harm Yourself, and Hack and Slash explicitly talks about attacking an enemy, note that Hack and Slash also says that it applies only for a prepared enemy.

It says if you attack an enemy who is unaware of you attacking or restrained and helpless...

You just deal your damage or murder them outright, depending on the situation. Nasty stuff.

Let's see if there is a Murder Helpless Enemy move. Nope, no such thing. However, the rules explicitly say that's something you can do. Thus, concequentially, I do not see any objection to inflicting damage on yourself in the same way, e.g. by using your dagger seppuku-style or such, and apply damage on yourself right away — without subtracting armour, obviously. I'd say d4 ("bruises and scrapes at worst") would be a bit tame, but d6 would be appropriate ("spills blood").

This might even make sense lore-wise if you see it as a sacrifice which you use for "paying" for the healing.


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