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In the example for the Aid/Hinder move, one character (Ozruk) is defending an NPC from hellhounds, when a second character (Aronwe) comes in to Aid the first. This grants +1 forward to the original defender (I think). It seems like Aronwe should have just also tried to defend the NPC. That way, Aronwe could also have deflected attacks, halved their effect, etc., which seems more effective overall, and more natural for the fiction.

So I'm wondering if there's an implicit message that only one character can defend a given target?

Thanks in advance!

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SevenSidedDie is right. I just want to amplify what he says. This started as a supporting comment but quickly grew beyond what would work in that context.

There is no implicit message that only one character can defend a given target. Very little in Dungeon World is implicit. In fact, some things, like the Hack and Slash requirement that you be attacking an opponent in melee, are so explicit that people sometimes are confused by them - assuming that Hack and Slash is just a To-Hit roll and not a Move, for example.

One explicit thing is that what works in the fiction is critical - more critical than SSD stated. The central precept of Dungeon World is always Fiction First. If the players can explain how they both defend someone / something, then they can. Otherwise, no. Dungeon World works like this:

Fiction->Move-v
   ^----------|

Players engage in the Fiction - the story being told at the table. They have a conversation where a situation is described and actions and their consequences are stated. The GM says, "You enter the tavern and the heat and light of the fire are both startling and welcome after the cold, moonless darkness of the road." A player says, "I hang my cloak on one of the hooks by the door and order hot wine for all of us." The GM says, "The tavern keeper nods at your order and you can see a table open, not as close to the fireplace nor quite as big as you might like. As you thread your way through to your table you catch a glimpse of a strange sigil carved into the hearthstone." All of this is the Fiction.

Eventually, something in that story triggers a Move - a piece of the rules that specify a series of choices or actions in terms of the game mechanics. Each move specifies a trigger. A player says, "Do I recognize the symbol carved into the hearth?" Now the GM says, "Maybe you should Spout Lore?" By consulting her accumulated knowledge about something, the player triggered a Move. The book specifies what you roll and what happens given the result. "I got an 8 - tell me something interesting!" The GM says, "You've seen that sign before, you are sure. You can't say for sure where, but something tells you it was on a tapestry last time, not carved in stone." This move is now resolved - the player rolled, the GM gave something interesting.

Now, the result of the move has to feed back into the fiction. It's up to everyone to do this, not just the GM, not just the player who rolled. "I quietly ask if anyone else noticed that sign on the hearth," says the rolling PC, "and I tell them about seeing it on a tapestry somewhere." Another player says, "Was it at the shrine we visited on our way out of Legerre? That place was rotten with tapestries." A third says, "No, those were all pastoral scenes! That sign was on the tapestry hanging behind the altar in Gruthak's tomb!" These players are contributing options to the fiction - they are having a conversation that implies a selection between choices - is this a friendly tavern or a haven for cultists? The result of that move must have an effect on the fiction one way or another.

The conversation will then continue until another move is triggered. Play proceeds in this fiction->move loop until the end of the session.

So it really does boil down to what's happening in the story - not the rules of the Defend or Aid or Hinder moves.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks again! I marked this as the answer since it included Seven's, plus more "spirit of the game" guidance for us newbies. \$\endgroup\$ – Stephan A. Terre Nov 12 '13 at 4:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StephanA.Terre - You are welcome, that's why we all come here! And welcome to the site! However, even though I'm happy to have my answer selected, I thought I should drop my standard notice in cases like this: I think it's generally accepted that waiting a few days before accepting an answer helps create more and better answers for your question, which helps everyone and the site itself. So maybe next time, wait a couple of days more? Thanks for the vote and comment, though! \$\endgroup\$ – gomad Nov 12 '13 at 10:03
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That does seem to be more in line with the fiction, yeah. Since what makes sense in the fiction is the guiding light of Dungeon World and other Powered by the Apocalypse games, simultaneous Defends are certainly OK in that regard. There's nothing in the Defend move that would make it exclusive either in wording or effects, so there's really nothing stopping you from playing it that way.

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Only for a moment-- and the moment's gone.

A general guideline to playing Apocalypse Engine games is that moves snowball, and that verb doesn't mean "stay in one place". In the process of resolving, a move progresses the fiction, and it isn't in the same place as it was before.

Combat isn't two sides lining up and taking turns to run forward and smack the other side, with nothing else changing. Conversations aren't stacking up "persuasion points" on some person who behaves as though they never heard you. Exploration isn't going over and over the same stretch of dungeon, hoping something will change.

Usually, only one character is going to have an opportunity to act in the here and now. After they act, things will change. But one move noted to break this restriction - not as explicitly in Dungeon World, but definitely in Apocalypse World - is Help or Interfere:

When you help or interfere with someone who’s making a roll,

That's explicit permission to act while someone else is going.

After Ozruk acts, something is going to happen that'll progress the fiction. Maybe afterwards things will still be in a state that Aronwe can Defend the prince, maybe not. The one thing Aronwe can definitely do right now is to help.

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