Hunt & Track (WIS)

When you follow a trail of clues left behind by passing creatures, roll+WIS. ✴On a 7+, you follow the creature’s trail until there’s a significant change in its direction or mode of travel. ✴On a 10+, you also choose 1:

  • Gain a useful bit of information about your quarry, the GM will tell you what
  • Determine what caused the trail to end

For that last bullet point — do I as the GM say how the trail ended (it went up in the trees, it went into that cave, the trail is all over the place it must be near), or does the PC determine that?

If it's the player, what are some things she could say? My friend is confused by it. Can she literally say, the trail ended because we found the wolf (or whatever it is leaving the trail)?


This seems to be a situation that could go either way. In the case of either the DM or the Player establishing what ended the trail, we seem to have a unique case in Hunt and Track.

The Move

If the player is the one establishing what caused the trail to end, then this is the only move in the base game that allows a player to establish fictional circumstances that are not the results of the character's actions*. Normally, this would fall solidly into the GM base of: describe the immediate situation around the players at all times. Note that if the player is establishing what caused the trial to end, they are limited to "a significant change in its direction or mode of travel" by the 7-9 result.

If the GM is the one establishing what ended the trail, this is the only move that provides information that does not end with "The GM tells you what it is," or something similar.

Thinking Off Screen

This could just be personal experience, but I've found that generally when a ranger is using Hunt and Track it is in response (knowingly or not) to moves I have made while Thinking Offscreen Too, per the principle. Dan Bryant mentioned:

"I think the driving perspective behind my interpretation is that I feel like the fiction doesn't actually exist until it has been narrated"

While this is definitely true and Play to Find out What Happens encourages us to allow for flexibility in the fiction based on what has been established, the world is NOT only what has actually been stated at the table. Instead, Think Offscreen Too instructs us to

Make your move elsewhere and show its effects when they come into the spotlight.

Allowing the Ranger to establish what ended the trail seems like it would come with the risk of taking away that opportunity.

Communion of Whispers

When you spend time in a place, making note of its resident spirits and calling on the spirits of the land, roll+Wis. You will be granted a vision of significance to you, your allies, and the spirits around you.

✴ On a 10+ the vision will be clear and helpful to you.

✴ On a 7–9 the vision is unclear, its meaning murky.

✴ On a miss, the vision is upsetting, frightening, or traumatizing. The GM will describe it. Take -1 forward.

This is another situation where it seems natural that the GM would establish the results of all three results, but is only specifically called on to do one of them. I'm not completely sure it supports one side or the other: The player narrating a clear vision could simply be filling in the blank spaces that GM's are required to leave by their principles, but a murky vision is much less easy to work into the fiction/facts of the game. Still, the move was similar enough that I felt it warranted inclusion.


Determine can be defined as both:

  1. to conclude or ascertain, as after reasoning, observation, etc.


  1. to decide upon.


Because of the unique situations, and the various definitions of Determine, I think playing it either way is probably fairly safe. I think how the move works is probably best left up to individual groups to decide. This can be done either in the situation or for the move as a whole. For my games, I will still lean on the GM establishing, but with "Ask Questions and Use Answers" as an option, as it seems more like to produce consistently positive results.

*The only move I've found remotely similar in effect would be the Bard's Unforgettable Face, which specifies that this previous interaction is absolutely "Your call." As well, this decision is in a trigger, rather than a result.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Upvote for noting the ambiguity about "determine". \$\endgroup\$ Oct 16 '18 at 15:39

I'm quite new to this, but my reading is that the Ranger decides. The rules for player Moves are very explicit when the GM has to describe the results, such as responding to questions in Discern Realities, providing information in response to Spout Lore, or the various GM-offered consequences on a partial success to Defy Danger. In regard to this Move's text in particular, as @doppelgreener alluded to in some comments, the "determine what caused the trial to end" option looks totally different to the previous option which visibly is information that comes from the GM.

However, it's certainly possible that the Ranger's narration of what caused the trail to end could trigger other Moves. Hopefully they introduce something interesting to riff on. Still, suppose the Ranger says "the trail ends because the wolf we've been chasing has stopped and is now in front of us." Well, let's say I take that as a golden opportunity and use it to reveal an unwelcome truth.

Looking up from the wolf, you realize why it has stopped. A hill giant steps from behind a tree and glares at you all menacingly. Ranger, what do you do?

This does make things challenging if you had a specific plan in mind for where the trail was going to lead. But that's part of Dungeon World! The players get to make things interesting for the GM just as much as you get to make things interesting for the players. In the above example, you could probably have the wolf escape in the scuffle, so now the Ranger's choice basically just meant they had to fight a giant, then try to pick up the trail again to where you originally wanted them to go. What could've been a choice removing adventure instead turned into a whole new conflict that they had to resolve.

As far as what the player is allowed to say, I'd say that they need to stay consistent with the fiction. You might also have negotiated agreements around the table about the kind of things you want or don't want in the campaign, so the player should abide by those as well.

Another caveat, as I understand the rules, is that the player should be narrating things from their character's perspective. This means they can describe things the character perceives or remembers about the world (which does give them a lot of leeway to describe how the world works), but they can't truly state facts independent of perspective.

Suppose the player says:

I find gold on the ground and there are no hazards around that prevent looting it.

I might respond:

Well, you definitely see what looks like gold on the ground. You also feel really confident that there couldn't possibly be any hazards around. Dangerous places like this never have hazards around suspicious piles of gold on the ground.

If, given this freedom, the player goes completely off the rails, there are probably lots of ways you can turn their move back on them. I'd play it as the cheekier they make their narrative, the more leeway for consequences I get in my response. If they say the trail ends in a fabulous treasure, you can be certain that this treasure will not arrive free of (quite dangerous) complications. If the player wants to create their own plot hook, by all means, pull on the hook.


If you get to tell the GM something, the game will tell you.

The difference between the two options, why one has "the GM will tell you what" and the other doesn't, is that when you're asking about a useful bit of information you're not specifically asking the GM to tell you about this creature's diet, or how wounded it is, or if its movements tell you anything about its blind side. The GM picks something useful to tell you.

When you're asking about how the trail ended, there's only one thing that you're asking the GM to tell you.

In general, moves where the player is expected or permitted to tell the GM things will explicitly say that the player should tell the GM. For example, the Wizard's Ritual:

When you draw on a place of power to create a magical effect, tell the GM what you’re trying to achieve.

or the Bard's A Port In The Storm:

When you return to a civilized settlement you’ve visited before, tell the GM when you were last here.

So the responsibility for deciding how the trail ended still lies with the GM. They can, of course, disclaim that responsibility back to the Ranger, like if the Ranger rolls a 12 and they're not tracking something particularly elusive, but it's the GM's to give away.


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