At the end of a Dungeon World session, the GM has to ask to the players 3 questions. They win 1 xp if they answer positively. The questions are:

  • Have you discovered something about the world?
  • Have you defeated a formidable foe?
  • Have you found a treasure?

My players "cheat" somehow like this: "I found a bear-owl, so I found out bear-owls exist in this world (discover something). We scared it by blowing a horn (defeat weak but rare enemy). That's how we found the treasure of music (treasure can be anything the characters value).

I was judging if they try to cheese me and choose their responses myself, but the rules doesn't say I have a word in it. So what are the correct limitations I can use? Am I doing it wrong?


3 Answers 3


You're part of the group

You say in your question that "the GM has to ask the players 3 questions". That's not true, though. The End of Session move says the following: (emphasis mine)

Then answer these three questions as a group

That means that you and the others all have basically equal say in answering the questions, though you as a GM can't mark xp (which is fine, you should be a fan of the characters and thus basically you should want them to become stronger). Thus, it depends entirely on your (whole) group for what you want to give out xp and for what you don't want to give it. That is a discussion you should have at your table.

Getting xp fast is not actually in the player's interests (that much)

You will probably see that the players will start to accrue xp slower as they go on and level up. They need more xp for each levelup, they roll a 6- less often (thus gaining less xp that way) and they might not actually want to earn xp that fast anyway. This is because of what happens when you reach level 11:

Once you’ve reached 10th level things change a little. When you have enough XP to go to 11th level instead you choose one of these:

  • Retire to safety
  • Take on an apprentice
  • Change entirely to a new class

This means that they will have to basically start over from 0 (well, they get to keep their attribute scores when switching to a new class). And this is non-negotiable, at least if you are playing by the rules (which, in Dungeon World, you really should.) If players want to keep their characters for longer, they need to level up more slowly. And they will come to see that. Or they might not care.

All of this is a good thing

At least kind of. Your players seem to want to get new abilities and levelups. That's a good thing! You will have much to explore. Where do these abilities come from? How do they work in your world? What does it mean for the inquisitor to be able to "smell guilt"? (Inquisitor is not a base class, I am using this example because it was a memorable one from my last 3 year long Dungeon World campaign that ended a few months ago). Still, there are two more things:

The questions are more restrictive than you realize

Let me go through your examples one by one:

"I found a bear-owl, so I found out bear-owls exist in this world (discover something)

That is a perfect answer to the question "Did we learn something new and important about the world?". This question should basically be answered with yes almost all the time, in my experience. Rarely does a session go by where you don't learn something new about the world. One of the most important things about Dungeon World is "play to find out what happens" after all. It has to be both new and important though. Simply finding out that grass is green in this world too is not enough. Finding out that grass is actually green in hell, after you heard all campaign that it would be black, burned and poisonous, might qualify though. That's for you and your group to decide together.

We scared it by blowing a horn (defeat weak but rare enemy)

The question does not say anything about rare (or weak) enemies though. The question is "Did we overcome a notable monster or enemy?". Was this Bear-Owl a notable foe? If yes, it does not matter if it was easy to get rid of in the end. Players come up with unexpected and creative solutions for stuff, in Dungeon World even more so than e.g. in DnD (at least in my experience). My group once fought a dragon, which was dangerous, but they were clever and lucky in approaching it, and then the fight was over after the cleric cast a spell to cut off its wing, duplicated it because of a good roll (thus cutting of both wings), the dragon crashing to the ground and the ranger shooting a few arrows in its eyes and throat. Those were basically two actions, and they were all it took. Did it feel awesome? Hell yeah. Did the group gain xp for that? You bet! We all agreed that they earned it.

That's how we found the treasure of music (treasure can be anything the characters value)

The question is "Did we loot a memorable treasure?". There was no "looting" involved, and it has to be memorable too. Looting a few coins from a bandits corpse? Probably not. Looting the legendary "Tooth of Time" from a dragon's hoard? Absolutely. Everything in between? You and your group have to decide. And talk about it. Over time, you will come to an understanding about what counts as "memorable" treasure for your group and what does not.

But my players come up with weird reasons (or reasons I disagree with)

That is a valid criticism. The question system is weird (compared to a more "normal" rpg like DnD I mean), and it's weird from both a player's and a GM's perspective. It takes some getting used to. And it takes some time to understand that its purpose is not simply to "get xp". The purpose (and the way it starts to work kind of by itself sooner or later, at least in my experience) is driving the players towards doing these things: Explore the world, Fight badass monsters and loot their treasure.

If you don't think that the answer to a question should be yes, say so. (But make sure to do it the other way around too, I often had to tell my players "I think that's a really important thing you found out about the world. Why don't you think it's important?"). And make sure to tell them that you don't say that just to "take away" the xp, but instead to make sure that the questions work as intended (see my last paragraph). And also: Make sure that this is actually why you dislike the answers your group gives. If it is because you think they are "cheating" or "overleveling": Both of these things do not exist in this context. It's not possible to cheat on these questions. Lie? Maybe. Cheat? No. And if you are afraid that they are overleveling or going to become overpowered:

There is no such thing as "overpowered" in Dungeon World

Well, technically there is, I guess. Characters can become strong. Like, really strong. The game wants them to be. The game wants them to have exciting adventures and to feel like badass heroes. It's literally the thing the game is good at. It's your job as a GM to make their lives exciting and fill them with adventure. And if you do that job correctly, they will not be any more or less overpowered than you (and the game) wants them to be.

  • 12
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a great example of my favorite answers on RPGSE: ones that take time to explain the idiom of a game, how to think its way. Please do me a favor and ping me in another day or two--when the question has become bounty-able--so that I can throw another couple-hundred points its way =) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Oct 20, 2022 at 17:11
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ Hard agree with @nitsua60 -- I've never even played this game, and I can recognize the quality of the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Oct 21, 2022 at 2:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you @nitsua60 and Novak for your kind words, I'm always happy to help people understand what is great about Dungeon World (and also talk about the flaws, sometimes) \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Nov 1, 2022 at 17:09

Consider this an addendum to Patta's already excellent answer.

The End of Session questions are your scorecard as a GM

I think you've correctly identified that tortured answers to the end-of-session questions are a symptom of an off-kilter game, but I think you're wrong say that your players are cheating.

Be a fan of the players giving themselves XP

Whether your players can honestly say yes to these questions has more to do with you as a GM than with your players' actions. These questions are the players' opportunity to tell you what was cool about the game they just played. You should want the players to have something awesome to say for every question, every session.

Sometimes, you won't be able to deliver that. I know I've had sessions where the party spends the whole session talking to the innkeeper and never goes out to slay the dragon. There isn't enough time in the day to run a game where every session will include a valuable treasure, a notable foe, and an exciting mystery answered. That's fine - 3/3 is the goal, but there's no failing grades here as long as your players have enough fun to show up to the next session.

The End of Session questions from the rulebook may not be right for your game

The next time you find your players giving weak, tortured answers to these questions, then (after completely resolving the End of Session move), ask your players something like, "What were the best and worst parts of this session?"

If they give answers that don't line up with monsters, mysteries, or treasure, then maybe your table would benefit from changing the End of Session move to something that reflects the way your table enjoys the game.

I once played a Dungeon World game that was about uniting the world against an encroaching evil (very Fellowship-like), so we changed the question about treasure to being about forging new alliances. This question worked better for that game, because nobody in the party was motivated by treasure.

Don't be afraid to customize Dungeon World for your table.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ While I would caution to customize Dungeon World (as a whole - changing the question should not be a problem if done with some thought) too much, at least without really understanding it first, I completely agree with you, you expressed some points that I had trouble expressing myself, thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Oct 21, 2022 at 6:38
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Patta - I think I agree about being cautious when customizing. You do have to really know why the rule is there before changing it - for example, changing the rule so that the GM answers the questions instead of the player in order to "avoid cheating" would be misguided. Dungeon world RAW says that people pick character names from a list, though, and the canonical answer I've heard for for why that rule exists is to encourage people to not take the rules literally. Regardless, I'll need to think more and perhaps re-word that advice. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim C
    Oct 21, 2022 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ My first experience with dungeon world involved me trying to gm it "my way", and ignoring some stuff and all that. It was horrible, almost turned me off the game completely. That's when I learned to be more cautious :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Oct 21, 2022 at 19:55

Stop considering it cheating.

It's not, that's not how dungeon world works. The questions are more of a way to incentivize recap and thinking about what happened at the end of the session and give out some extra xp - the answers are supposed to be 'yes'.

If the answers are 'yes' but also unsatisfying, that's a GM issue not a player one. If there's not interesting things to recap, that's largely on the GM (can be on the players, too, but, the questions specifically ask about npcs and world elements, which is more GM territory). So it's less 'the players are cheating' and more 'the GM isn't adding interesting enough things'.


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