So in Dungeon World, there doesn't seem to be any stat for initiative or any structure to the sequence of moves that people can make. Is the game intended to be simply played "round robin", or do some people tend to make entire series of moves in a row, or what? I'm coming from games like D&D and Pathfinder, so the absence to a structure to the combat turn order is both refreshing and confusing.


3 Answers 3


It's up to the GM to direct turns in combat by switching between characters, often by asking "What do you do?"

The easiest question to use is "What do you do?" Whenever you make a move, end with "What do you do?" You don't even have to ask the person you made the move against. Take that chance to shift the focus elsewhere: "Rath's spell is torn apart with a flick of the mage's wand. Finnegan, that spell was aiding you. What are you doing now that it's gone?"

The Example of Play chapter also demonstrates these transitions.

I suspect the same character making multiple moves in a row is boring and goes against the fill the characters' lives with adventure agenda.

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    \$\begingroup\$ An important concept in Dungeon World is that combat is merely an extension of normal play procedures and Move use, not a separate subsystem or mode of play. You don't "begin combat": you just do things, and sometimes that thing you just did requires resolution with a violent Move like Hack and Slash. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 4:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hand-E-Food: Rolemaster offered such a second-by-second combat tracking system, and believe me, it only works with computers... ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 9:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DevSolar I think HEF is tangenting off my comment about "just doing things" and resolving as necessary… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 16:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Heh, trying to imagine what a hoard of spiders looks like. Not too far different from a horde, I would imagine, but coming from inside a chest, perhaps? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 0:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ “My most precious and valuable spiders... attack!” \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 0:58

Make the game more narrative!

Even though you have turns, don't forget that in a round of combat all actions are contemporaneous. (In some rule-sets the terms "turn" and "round" have their meaning swapped... by the way the idea is the same...)

In a round robin approach you can just collect all players' actions in a turn of combat and just explain what happens accordingly to what you (the GM) decide for NPCs/Environment to happen.

Furthermore, players must always describe their in-game actions in order for a move to be triggered; for example, it's not permitted to say merely

I perform Hack and Slash move on target Xavier.

but maybe something like

I attack Xavier with my broadsword paying attention to what Lucy does.

Acting like this, the player can express his will to interact with Lucy the following turn.

It's enough to keep in mind that you are roleplaying and not playing a video game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for a more narrative approach. This is a step on the road to running systemless games. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 10:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ No player should ever be allowed to just say, "I use X move". Remember, to do it, do it. There are no moves in the fiction - the character has to undertake an action in the fiction that triggers a move in the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @gomad I totally agree :) \$\endgroup\$
    – vlad
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vlad The problem is your phrase "you can encourage players to…" which sounds optional, but it's not optional in DW. It's "players must …" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 16:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ One of my players regularly performs anything but a standard attack. Clotheslining, climbing, pinning, throwing one foe into another, and leaping off the back of moving vehicles are his standard attacks. After all appropriate bonuses and penalties, he invariably comes out on top. It greatly enriches the action scenes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 1:34

I try to imagine the narrative of combat as being a bit like a soccer game. The spotlight is passed back and forth and sometimes intercepted. You want to make sure that everyone gets a chance, but remember, the GM's mandate is to always ask "What do you do?" and to be curious about the situation. Think about who each action might affect and ask them how they respond. Luckily, you only have half as many active members of a battle to think about - the monsters only go when the PCs look to you as if to say "well, what does the Ogre do now?" or when moves indicate they get to do something. The players will pick this rhythm up and start jumping in to have their say, too.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good answer situated in your own experience. Welcome to the site, Skinny. Make sure to read our FAQ \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 23:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsunStanton skinnyghost is really speaking from experience, being one of the authors. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 2:20

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