Tricks of the Trade

When you pick locks or pockets or disable traps, roll+DEX.... On a 7-9 you still do it, but the GM will offer you two options between suspicion, danger, or cost. (DW p.136)

So a thief gets a 7-9 when picking pockets. Does the GM slap the thief with two of the three listed downsides? Does the GM pick two and then the thief picks one of those two? I think both "offer" and between vs. among are tripping me up on this one.

How many setbacks does the thief get, and who picks them?


A 7–9 on Tricks of the Trade is a game of “Would You Rather?”, with the GM asking the question. “[T]he GM will offer you two options between [three options]” means that the GM will be selecting two, and then offering them to you as options, so the end result is the Thief choosing one (but the GM having input too).

But it's more than simply a way for two participants to have input into picking one from three — this structure passes through the GM's Agenda and Principles, so there's a transformation after the GM's choice and before the Thief's choice: the GM picks two, crafts a dilemma out of them, and presents the in-fiction dilemma to the character.

That last bit is what makes the move sing: the GM should make these real situations that require a choice, not just “uh, choose danger or cost, then I'll make something up.” It should be more like

The rest of the party is past the pressure plates, so it's your turn to get moving, but now you realise you're not sure you can extract your toolkit from the mechanism under the plate you levered up without priming the rest of them again. You could leave it behind to permanently jam it, or extract it and take the risk that the pressure plates between you and the rest of the party might be live again. What do you do?

This is a natural result of following the GM's Principles to Address the characters, not the players and Begin and end with the fiction, when combined with the text of the move.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ -1, which feels weird because I agree with everything in this answer. Problem is, the answer asserts a view and gives a gameplay example without justifying why it isn't one of the alternate readings the question suggests. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Aug 26 '16 at 11:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoelHarmon Good call, holding the answer to the fire. I've added some (albeit simple) reasoning so it's not just a bare assertion. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 26 '16 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Giving (and receiving!) constructive criticism is one of the key responsibilities of stack users, so you're welcome for the critique and thanks for your update. However, it still seems like a solid answer to a somewhat different question. I still read it as asking for "what does this move mean", not "how can I implement this move", so I'm stuck with just removing my downvote. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Aug 27 '16 at 4:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So I think all three answers are correct--coming, as they all do, to the same conclusion. I even think that Adeptus' answer is easiest to follow. But I accepted this one because I've found the reinforcement of/education in DW philosophy most helpful as a secondary benefit to getting the factual answer. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 27 '16 at 11:10

On initial reading, I thought it meant that the player picks 2 of the 3, and they take effect.
But if that was the case, why say "the GM will offer you two options"? Why not just say "Choose two of the following", as is consistent with the wording of the rest of the Moves?
So, that is unlikely to be the intended meaning.

Another possible reading is, the GM picks 2 of the 3, and they take effect.
But then, there are no "options" and no "offer", the GM just decides.
So, that is unlikely to be the intended meaning.

That leaves only one possible meaning that I can see.
The GM picks 2 of the 3. From those 2, the player ("you") picks 1, which takes effect.



By my reading, the DM offers the thief two options to pick from, implying the thief picks one of those two. The DM is restricted to picking two of the three listed options to offer to the thief.

If you were to read it as the DM slapping the thief with two of the three, then the slapping would have to correspond to the DM's verb "offer", which seems nonsensical.

As generic (and thus weak) support, a quick survey of other moves in DW seems to lean toward a 7-9 giving one actionable setback.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer might be right, but I'd love to see some support for it. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Aug 26 '16 at 3:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Joe I've included all the support I'm aware of. In DW, all of the rules that apply to a move are contained within that move. The only other thing I could think to look for is an example of play that happened to contain a use of this move with a result of 7-9 (no luck). The only thing I didn't really comment on is the possibility that "between" refers to three things, not two. I elided it because I think it's a correct grammatical usage. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Aug 26 '16 at 3:22

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