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Under "When to Make a Move", the rules say:

You make a move:

  • When everyone looks to you to find out what happens
  • When the players give you a golden opportunity
  • When they roll a 6-

So if I've set up a big fight scene in a goblin cave or something, and Fightgar runs in to take a cut at a goblin, gets an 11, and chooses not to boost his damage to trigger a goblin move, what then? Nobody's really looking at me since the fight's kind of obviously what's happening, there wasn't exactly a golden opportunity, and the die roll wasn't low enough.

Do I just pick some player to go next and ask them what they're doing?

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I went looking for an answer to this in response to a comment in another thread but couldn't find it on the site, so I asked it myself. Feel free to close as duplicate if it is one. \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Feb 28 '18 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems likely that OP is referring to my comment on this answer, if anyone is curious about that source. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Feb 28 '18 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ To some extent, "resolving" the 10+ is making a move. It's not a hard move, the move is "describe what happens when you lop off that goblins head in with your sword." How do the other goblins react? Does the head go flying and land at another PCs feet? \$\endgroup\$ – aslum Mar 7 '18 at 15:34
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Dungeon World is a conversation. As the GM, moves are part of your end of that conversation.

Those three options are presented as a list, but they aren't really equal in intent or effect. Right underneath it says you'll generally be making softer moves "when everyone looks at you" than in the other cases.

"When everyone looks at you" isn't meant to be some special circumstance, like the players are completely stumped about where to go next and they look at you for guidance. "When everyone looks at you" just means that your turn has come in the conversation.

Fightgar just wounded or killed a goblin. But there's all these other goblins! How are they going to react to that? It's your turn to talk. Everyone's looking at you. Make a move.

Moves are not inherently adversarial. They are inherently progressive.

A move doesn't mean you're necessarily doing something terrible to the players. You're presenting them with a prompt to act, closing out your part of the conversation, and looking to them to figure out how they respond. So you can offer an opportunity that fits a class' abilities:

Shanksworth, the goblins all look stunned by the sudden interruption. You couldn't ask for a better distraction to try and get past them to the cage where they're keeping the prisoners. What are you doing?

Or you can put someone in a spot:

Wizzrobe, the staff-wielding goblin in the back shouts at Fightgar and this angry red rune burns itself out of the sky right above his head. The edges of it kind of flail around in space and you can see they're projecting lights on the ground trying to home in on Fightgar. That can't be good. What are you doing?

Or reveal an unwelcome truth:

Fletcher, it looks like they were planning for this. Or at least a couple goblin skulks were planning for this. They leap out of the shadows above the cave entrance, knives out, one of them plunging right for Fightgar's back, the other one looking to drop on Clericsdottir. What are you doing?

Or, heck, deal damage:

Fightgar, the reaction is visceral and instant. You're swarmed from all sides and what the spears lack in discipline and technique they make up for in ferocity. Roll me worst of 2d6 plus five damage, but at least you get your armor for it. Clericsdottir, it doesn't look like that's stopping any time soon. What are you doing?

It's all going to depend on your judgement and what you've prepped about the goblins. Think about how things have gone so far, what you've established about the goblins, and use your moves to keep things going in the direction you want. These moves all say very different things about the goblins, after all!

So, if "everyone looks at you" is just for your part in the conversation, then what are "on a 6-" and "on a golden opportunity" for?

Interrupt with something worse.

Those are your explicit permission to break into the conversation when either of those things happen.

On a 6-, the players are kind of expecting it, and you still have the same license to narrate the action as you did before - it's just worse than you might have thought, if you want. If the goblins were going to respond at the "offer an opportunity" level before, you might still let Fightgar deal damage, but then follow up with the "unwelcome truth" or "deal damage" routes instead.

On a golden opportunity, the players aren't going to be expecting it, necessarily. Like, if you've described the approach to the goblins as over a bunch of ratty old pelts with bits of scrap metal poking up at them and Fightgar charges ahead anyway, well, that's a golden opportunity. You can interrupt that, or at least take control of the conversation at a convenient breaking-in point, to set off the concealed bear traps and force Fightgar to deal with those first, before he even resolves his attack on the goblin.

Be aware of when people aren't looking at you.

There are exceptions to the conversational flow. If you've previously set things up so that players are helping each other out, either directly by rolling Aid Or Interfere, or indirectly where one player Defies Danger to set another one up to act, on a 10+ you can just use your part of the conversation to describe what happens. You've told them what they can expect to happen in advance, so you don't need to make a move unless that's changed somehow.

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Short answer: No, you don't make a move on a 10+.

Long answer:

DM moves

DM moves are an extremely flexible toolbox for the DM to add to and change the fiction. They explicitly only happen in three conditions:

  • When everyone looks to you to find out what happens
  • When the players give you a golden opportunity
  • When they roll a 6-

The only explicit way a DM move happens as a result of a player move is on a 6-.

But Everyone Is Looking At Me

The crux of the question seems to be that everyone is looking at the DM, and so the DM gets to make a move. The problem with this view is the trigger for a DM move is "When everyone looks to you to find out what happens".

The player just rolled a 10+, so everyone already knows what's going to happen. The character succeeds at what they set out to do when triggering the move. The DM does not have free reign to add to or change the fiction in any substantial way.

This means it's the wrong time for the DM to make a move. However, it's always the right time for the DM to apply the Agenda and Principles. At this point, the DM is responsible for doing things like portray a fantastic world and address the characters, not the players.

So What Do I Do Instead

With those in mind, the following is clearly wrong:

Alan, your fighter hits the goblin and he dies.

Boring. Remember, the fighter has a Messy weapon. Oh, and he'd named it.

Fightgar, you feel the satisfying crunch of metal and bone as Wrathbringer crushes your foe.

You could instead remember to give every monster life, even if you're about to take it away.

Fightgar, you can smell the rotten stench of the goblin and see the fear in his eyes as he watches his doom come down.

Or perhaps the table is less interested in visceral descriptions of battle and more into the world building and character relationships. Consider using a Bond or Alignment here, like "defend those weaker than you".

Fightgar, you dispatch the lead goblin. You feel good about fulfilling your promise to the residents of Localthorp.

Or, my personal favorite, take ask questions and use the answers literally.

Fightgar, exactly how did you dispatch this poor goblin?

Or

Fightgar, you feel a sense of satisfaction as you see the goblin fall unconscious to the ground. Any witty remarks?

What Next

At this point, the move is now complete. It started with some fictional trigger and ended with some nice detail and a positive result for the character. What happens next depends on how the players react and how you read the table. This may or may not involve a DM move. Some possibilities:

  • You throw the spotlight on someone
  • You use a Bond to change the spotlight. "Claire the Cleric, you promised to defend Fightgar until you can save his soul, but he's run headlong into a battle again. What do you do?"
  • You keep the spotlight on the same character for more time, because it's their scene and/or they've been out of the action previously
  • One of the players chimes in with something they'd like to do, so you let them have the spotlight
  • Make a quick sketch of the room to draw maps, leave blanks
  • You call for a break (10 minute or end of session, as real life requires)
  • You do a recap of what the characters are all up to and what has been described in the environment, to make sure everyone's on the same page
  • You remind Fightgar that he ignored something in the world, which triggers a golden opportunity and you make a move that follows
  • The players stare at you, possibly slack jawed, waiting to see what happens. You think dangerous and make a move.
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