So i'v been running an Elder-Scrolls themed Dungeon-World game for around 20 ~7 hour sessions now. Over this time, the PCs have leveled up a LOT, and have been deciding to keep their characters and just changing class.I have one PC who has just moved onto his 2nd new class and another who has +3 in 4/6 Stats and +1 in the others, so they rarely fail rolls. There are also 4 Regular player with 7 PCs between them... which does not help.

I have been having trouble with scaling up the difficulty/challenge to keep the game interesting, which has been extra hard as I have added loads of Homebrewed Magic Items, so they usually have the key to most situations they get into.

How would you go about maintaining the challenge of the game? Especially Combat, as they can consistently 1-shot even the most powerful creatures.

Below is a list of things iv done/tried to do, however I have gotten some backlash for even suggesting some of them.

  1. Increase the Stats of Monsters (More health, Armor, Damage etc..)
  2. Some Monsters have Magic "Wards", which absorb all the damage from a single attack, but break in the process (this was an attempt to prevent them 1-shoting everything)
  3. Increase the frequency of Soft Moves, to a point where the PCs rarely have an open opportunity during combat to make a move unhindered.
  4. Increase the amount of moves (specifically Defy Danger) that PCs have to make before they even have a chance of making an attack.

EDIT DUE TO UNCLEAR/COMPLICATED QUESTION: I have largely solved this issue in my game by: Doubling down on the measures listed above, which the PCs have reacted positively to, the PCs voluntarily choosing to cut down on moves that have tended to make them OP and by encouraging the players to only have 1 PC, rather than 2+.

  • \$\begingroup\$ VTC based on comments made by the author to my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ As it stands, there may be an answer here: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/27267/… \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 13:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ While you may have largely solved your problem, without editing into the question the comments that you made on the given answer, the question will likely remain closed. If those comments were edited into the question, the question could be reopened, and you could post the solution you found instead as an answer, reaping any rewards from it and helping others with it. Likewise, others would be able to post answers that may offer alternatives to your solution that others with the same problem could also try. (But, essentially, the question is yours and so are those choices.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


A 16 HP Dragon is required reading for anyone in this type of situation. It does a better job than I ever could of demonstrating that monster stats only go so far in Dungeon World when you're trying to maintain the challenge for powerful PCs. When I first read it, the real eye-opener was just how flexible monster moves are in defining challenges.

It sounds from your question that you've already started to consider how soft and hard moves can be used to help your situation. The article takes that a whole lot further. Further certainly than I would have even considered when I read it and was in a similar situation to your own.

PCs that have reached the power levels you're dealing with need these types of challenges to really be tested. The fact that they're shrugging off more mundane threats makes sense.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have read the 16 HP Dragon quite a few times", and it does touch on a few important points (use Tags effectively (Messy=Lost Limbs etc.) and use the fiction (burning down the village, tearing people to shreds). The only issue is that my PC party really falls back onto the mechanics even when I do pose a big threat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russ
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 12:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer could be improved by selecting a couple key points to quote or summarize from the link. A link itself is not considered an answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 12:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thinking about it, I think the issue revolves more around the PCs actively fighting against me as the GM when I try to increase the challenge by getting them to make more rolls (mainly Defy Danger) before they get a chance to make their intended moves, and me making more Soft moves to increase the chance that they will have to make a hard bargain. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russ
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 12:22
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ @Russ can you fold that information into your question please, as it completely changes its focus. If your players are leaning on mechanics and fighting the GM when you make moves, that's a completely different problem to 'how do I make my encounters challenging' \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 12:29

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