Is it possible to attack multiple enemies with a single strike in Dungeon World? All of the examples give the player only damaging a single enemy even if they end up hacking and slashing with multiple enemies.

Say a barbarian player says "I sweep my mighty two handed sword at the goblins, hoping to sever their torsos from their puny little legs."

My realistic response would be, no way, it's difficult enough to chop a single persons head off cleanly even when it's on a chopping block in front of you. I'd handle it as a hack and slash targeted at one goblin while being in melee with x goblins.

My fan of the players response would be, sounds like it's "could" work. How would you then handle it? Give them a -1 attack penalty and deal with it as combat as usual, dealing excess damage to each subsequent enemy? Give them no attack penalty but if they don't do sufficient damage to go clean through all the enemies they're targeting, say their sword gets stuck in the last enemy they hit?

The same could go for a giant that's swinging a tree trunk at a group of bunched characters who are busy defending / healing the poor sap who got hit with the first tree trunk swipe. That could count as not being a fan of the players though.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Please consider changing your title into an actual question like "what happens when a character attacks multiple targets in dungeon world?" \$\endgroup\$
    – iraserd
    Oct 3, 2014 at 8:50

1 Answer 1


Yes, of course! Whenever the fictions establishes it!

That means, whenever a PC (or NPC for that matter) is convincingly able to hit multiple targets, it can do so.

How do you handle that mechanically? You have the PC roll any defy danger and/or hack&slash as usual, let them roll their damage and apply the damage to every target hit.

On/around page 56 in the rule book (explanations below the Hack&Slash move) it is stated: "If the action that triggers the move could reasonably hurt multiple targets roll once and apply damage to each target (they each get their armor)."

Now what are the implications and consequences? Dungeon World is all about going with the fiction. High risk or difficulty of a task is not reflected by the roll (hence you will never find a difficulty adjusted roll in Dungeon World), but by the consequences on a miss. A miss on such an attack provides the GM with a truly golden opportunity for a hard move. As the PC put a lot of risk on the table, you can then choose to answer with an appropriately scaled harder hard move.

An example from an actual game of mine: The group had just opened a big stone gate by solving a dwarven riddle. Behind it, some goblins were also trying to open the door (to escape the cave that was the lair of an undead chimera). When the groups' s Barbarian saw the cluster of goblins, he said: "I take my 2-hand sword and spin around, whirling through the crowd!" I had him roll defy danger on STR, because he was powering through a horde of goblins. He rolled a 7-9 and as a result had the choice to lose control over his Barbarian rage or get overwhelmed by the goblins. He chose to let his fury go wild and sprawled through the goblins, dealing his damage to all of then and killing a lot of them (a horde of goblins minus a lot of goblins is still a horde though...). In the process, he lost grip of his sword and flung it down a slope. And one thing should be clear to everybody after the first miss on a Barbarian's mighy cleave: being in the middle of a goblin horde with your sword flung to the other side of the cave is a glorious opportunity to satisfy some Barbarian appetites!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 8, 2017 at 4:40

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