In Dungeon World, if the GM describes a hazard and a player disregards it should that trigger the Defy Danger move or be considered a Golden Opportunity that triggers a GM move?

For example:

GM: The swamp beast lurches out of the mist, a massive twisted hulk with a tangle of grasping, strangling tentacles reaching out to towards anything within reach. What do you do?

Fighter: I run up and hit it with my sword.

Surely that isn't a simple Hack & Slash. But should it trigger a GM move or a Defy Danger move?

Would it change the answer if the Swamp Beast had the Reach tag but the Fighter's sword only had the Close tag?


There are a number of things the Fighter could have said that would help clarify this. "I dodge past the tentacles to hit it with my sword" or "I force my way through the tentacles to attack with my sword" or "I hack at the tentacles with my sword" or something like that would help a great deal. But just ignoring the threat the GM described altogether - I'm not sure how to deal with that.

The GM could prompt the Fighter to clarify what they're doing. But the GM !!just described the tentacles!! and was clear about the threat they posed.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain how your example is "disregarding the hazard"? The player seems intent on confronting the the hazard directly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 9:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ The trigger for Defy Danger is "When you act despite an imminent threat or suffer a calamity ..." The danger here is the mass of grasping tentacles. The fighter, despite these grasping, strangling tentacles, is going to swing at the Swamp Beast. \$\endgroup\$
    – mcwyrm
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 10:19
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Hm. I think this question would be better with a more obvious example, because there's a lot of argument to be had between player and GM here about things like "well obviously I meant to dodge its attacks" or "oh I didn't realize the tentacles were that long that it's a problem just to get in slashing range" . \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Feel free to edit it, if you like, or outline a better example in an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – mcwyrm
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 10:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Grr. Possible duplicate: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/124229/… \$\endgroup\$
    – mcwyrm
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 10:40

3 Answers 3


The GM could prompt the Fighter to clarify what they're doing. But the GM !!just described the tentacles!! and was clear about the threat they posed.

Was the GM clear?

A common problem in Theatre of the Mind is where one person thinks they are being clear, but their words are actually open to some interpretation.

The GM and the player might have very different ideas of just how threatening those tentacles are.

reaching out to towards anything within reach

Quickly? Slowly? Just what is their reach anyway, are they a meter long or ten?

And if the character charges forward and gets caught in the tentacles, without even trying to mitigate or win a beneficial side effect then is that in keeping with:

Be a fan of the characters

This sounds like time to:

Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask

So the GM might respond with:

Those tentacles are moving pretty quickly, it's clear that if you charge straight at the main mass of the creature then they are going to grab you before you get there. Are you going to let them, or will you do something about it?

… and then maybe they'll chop their way through, or dodge past them, or just let themselves be wrapped up and try to power through with brute strength.


The way you are asking, if a character is ignoring something, they are probably not describing doing anything to defy it at all. So if they are really ignoring something, then it probably is a golden opportunity.

But ignoring something requires being aware of it. There's quite a big possibility that the GM's description of the situation was not clear enough for the player. They may be acting on different assumptions of reality.

In any case, it is prudent to take a moment to clarify the situation. This ensures that nobody feels cheated out of their agency. The simplest first step is to emphasize the danger and ask if they are sure.

GM: Fightgar, the swamp beast is brimming with 5-meter tentacles all around. Are you sure you just want to run up and try to hit it?

At that point, you have signaled that there's danger to defy. If you get an answer like "I cut my way through" or "I duck, dodge and weave through" then there's your trigger for defy danger, and the detail to pick the attribute modifier to use.

If the answer is just a plain "yes", then you can be reasonably sure that Fightgar is ignoring the danger and you have your golden opportunity.

If you get your golden opportunity, you make a move as hard as you like. If you feel like the situation could use some more detail, it probably is better to open up with a softer move, like tell them the consequences and ask

GM: Fightgar, that's a one-shot attack. You would be way too entangled to move afterwards. Are you sure you want to push it?

If that's a "yes", then just let them. The aftermath is interesting enough.

Then of course it's the usual moves snowball, following the fiction. Properly executed, Fightgar may even be unable to make a single swing at the swamp monster.


I'm going to ignore the example from your question (which was covered well by Quentin) and focus on answering the opening question itself: In Dungeon World, if the GM describes a hazard and a player disregards it should that trigger the Defy Danger move or be considered a Golden Opportunity that triggers a GM move?

Let's say the GM actually does clearly describe a hazard, and the player actually disregards it. In that case, this is what would happen, in this order:

  1. By disregarding a clearly described threat, the player is giving the GM a golden opportunity.
  2. The GM makes a hard move. The GM then asks the player, "What do you do?"
  3. If the player says what they do to deal with the calamity they just suffered, then they trigger Defy Danger. Otherwise, they may trigger another move, or play just moves on.

Here's an example:

GM: There's a blazing wall of fire between you and the amulet. It looks like, maybe, five feet thick. You'll have to walk through it to get the amulet. (Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask.)
Player: Okay, I walk through the fire and grab the amulet. (Disregarding the danger, gives a golden opportunity!)
GM: Ooookay, sure. The fire burns you really badly. It's, like, eating at your skin, almost like it's hungry. Take d10 damage ignoring armor. (A hard GM move.)

At that point, can either do nothing:

Player: Whatever, that's fine. I grab the amulet from the pedestal. Ahaha! It's mine at last!
GM: It's all yours. You feel its magic flowing through you. Now, how do you get back to your friends?

Or they can say how they deal with the calamity they've suffered:

Player: I'm trying to make it through the flames as fast as I can. I'm really booking it. (Describing how they're dealing with the calamity of the flames.)
GM (or whoever): Okay, sounds like you're defying danger+DEX, by getting out of the way or acting fast.

Defy Danger only triggers in the second example.

Defy Danger triggers when a player a) acts despite an imminent threat or b) suffers a calamity and says how they deal with it. If they don't do either a or b, then they don't trigger Defy Danger.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments on how to improve this answer would be appreciated. Thanks! :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 17:57

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