How do I fix a cleric spamming Divine Guidance and slowing down the game?

The DW book doesn't limit that move, and there is no roll for the outcome, but I have been tempted to limit spammed moves like this to their levels as a number of uses and recharges when they meditate.

I don't want to break the rules or spirit of the game, but having the cleric constantly ask for Divine Guidance to ask for an answer instead of making character decision, is clogging up the flow, short-circuiting the narration and sucking the fun for the rest of the group.

EDIT: The player chose What Lies Beneath and Gaining Secrets

The specific adventure had the group delving burial catacombs to ensure that a cursed knight was still imprisoned in his secretly hidden tomb. The cleric kept using the move by stating, "I meditate and ask my deity for guidance. If I go/do X will I find the knights tomb" At one point he was approached by a tortured priest who offered a deal to work together, and the cleric used DG to ask, "If we trust this priest, will it work in our favor"

I am a very experienced D&D DM, but am new to DW.

I think their attempt at being concise may be the root of the issue. DOMAIN: What Lies Beneath, PRECEPT = PETITION: Secret Knowledge. PRECEPT is a general rule governing behavior or thought, the word PETITION can be missed because it looks like it's used simply as a "type" of cleric, Petition: Gaining Secrets. Petition is defined as "a request to do something". WHEN YOU PETITION YOUR DEITY ACCORDING TO THE PRECEPT OF YOUR RELIGION. The PRIEST is requesting the deity to grant him secret knowledge or a boon according to the rules of the religion governing the priests behavior. So the idea may be really that Gaining Secrets needs to be thought of as a little bigger than a DW version of Google. A true religious mystery... ??


3 Answers 3


You've got the petition backwards. Petitions are the things the cleric does to worship, not what the cleric gets from worshipping.

Your religion is cultish and insular, add Petition: Gaining Secrets

Petitioning by Gaining Secrets means learning a new secret for the cult, not being given one by the god. To petition What Lies Beneath via Gaining Secrets, the cleric needs to learn a secret for What Lies Beneath. This cannot be spammed, because it's limited by what the cleric can personally uncover in the world. One new secret discovered on their own = one new chance to use Divine Guidance to learn something else.

How it works is like this:

  1. Adventure and investigate the world, and while doing so discover a secret unknown to the god/cult.
  2. Discovering that secret gives the cleric an opportunity to petition What Lies Beneath — the god is pleased because they've uncovered a new secret for them.
  3. Trigger Divine Guidance to learn something different the god already knows.

What you've been doing instead though is:

  1. Ask for secret from the god via Divine Guidance.
  2. Get it.

… which would be inherently spammable. And that's why the move doesn't work that way.

  • \$\begingroup\$ While this is a great explanation, it's hard to fathom that a player could gain some secret knowledge that a god does not already have? The others make sense in this regard, Secret Knowledge does not, to me. Anyone have good examples? \$\endgroup\$
    – Roger
    May 1, 2016 at 16:17
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ @Roger No examples necessary—D&D gods simply aren't omniscient. \$\endgroup\$ May 1, 2016 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Roger Maybe the god already knows everything, but is simply pleased that her follower has uncovered a secret for themselves? \$\endgroup\$ May 22, 2020 at 18:16

You are incorrect that the rules do not limit the move. Your cleric should only be able to ask for Divine Guidance when they fulfill the precepts of their religion.

The description for the move Divine Guidance states:

When you petition your deity according to the precept of your religion...

There are four precepts listed in the Dungeon World rules; Suffering, Gaining Secrets, Offering, and Personal Victory. A cleric must perform the activity associated with their deity before they can ask for Divine Guidance.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I do not interpret the requirement the way you stated it. To me, "When you petition your deity according to your precept" means you can petition within the nature of the precept you selected, Gaining Secrets, in this case and is not a reward for Gaining Secrets. Unless I'm misreading it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roger
    May 1, 2016 at 4:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Roger If that were the case, then a Cleric with a Deity that has the precept Petition: Suffering would ask their god for more suffering. Which seems unusual to me. \$\endgroup\$ May 22, 2020 at 18:18

To quote the Divine Guidance move in full (emphasis mine):

When you petition your deity according to the precept of your religion, you are granted some useful knowledge or boon related to your deity’s domain. The GM will tell you what.

It is the deity's domain which limits the nature of the knowledge or boon granted, not the precept.

Since your cleric worships a god of What Lies Beneath, it would not make sense to gain divine inspiration about healing, civilization, or hidden things unless they were also things that "lie beneath." From the examples you mentioned, the cleric might have learned a hint about the location of the knight's tomb if it lay beneath the earth, but probably would not learn anything about the tortured priest unless perhaps the priest lives in an underground monastery or grew up in the undercity.

Since the domain determines what boon can be given, the petition determines the trigger for the move. Since your cleric's petition is Gaining Secrets, his deity would only have time for supplicants who have recently uncovered some new secret. In this thread, skinnyghost (Adam Koebel, one of Dungeon World's authors), relates this example:

"So if your Petition is Suffering and you SUFFER FOR YOUR FAITH then you get to ask for a boon or knowledge."

Finally, if the cleric persists in perpetually petitioning their deity, assuming he can keep discovering secrets on his own, perhaps the deity will become annoyed. Gods do have many other important divine matters to attend to!


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