The Princess’s advice move, Speak From The Heart, has been giving us trouble in sessions 2 and 3 of our new Dungeon World campaign. This is the first time I've made the class available, so we're still getting used to how it plays.

Speak From the Heart

When another player comes to you seeking advice, tell them what you think is their best course of action. If they act on your advice, they take +1 forward. At the end of the session, if at least one player who acted on your advice actually benefitted from it in the end, you mark XP.

Specifically, the other players have been attempting to trigger this move by asking the Princess's opinion on immediate decisions in the middle of the action, and yet the move — and the Princess in general — has a je ne sais quoi that has made me hesitate each time to agree that it has been triggered. In the end I've mostly ended up agreeing that it has triggered, but the move's outcomes have been less than impressive. Those falling-flat outcomes, and just something about the theme of the class itself, strongly suggests to me that that kind of trivial question is not supposed to trigger it.

For example, last session the first time the players identified Speak From the Heart as triggering, I thought for a minute and ended up insisting it had to be something other than a simple choice presented suddenly to the Princess… and yet somehow, mere minutes later, I exclaimed that it had triggered for something else that was pretty much the same kind of simple choice! Nobody called out the discrepancy, but I noticed it later (and later emailed everyone to apologise). Whoops! That is clearly not properly adjudicating the move.

The move is just not obvious in how it’s supposed to be triggered. The simple wording seems like most any question would trigger it, but I know from experience that that kind of trivial trigger makes a move pretty toothless, and just serve as a “tax” on the gameplay. The Princess simply voting in a group decision or answering a shouted question in the middle of battle doesn't seem like it should trigger Speak From the Heart, but looking at the move I can't think of why it shouldn't trigger. Apart from it seeming to cheapen the move and defeat its contribution to making the Princess properly Princess-y.

How does the Princess's Speak From the Heart move trigger, properly?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related? rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/49059/… \$\endgroup\$
    – firedraco
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 0:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @firedraco Definitely related; possibly even a duplicate. I'm not sure if it is, or if there's sufficient difference, so I guess I'll have to see the voters' verdict? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 5:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't have enough rep to vote, but I don't think it is a duplicate. Different move, different reasoning line in answer, similar but different wording... Looks different enough to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 8:21

1 Answer 1


The short version: it takes time and quiet to trigger

Shouting questions at the Princess in the middle of making (or setting up) some other immediate move doesn't trigger Speak From the Heart, but the reason why is buried in a quirk of the way 3rd-party classes for Dungeon World are commonly written by borrowing wording directly from other Dungeon World classes or other Powered by the Apocalypse games.

Basically, the subtext buried within our common understanding of “comes to you seeking advice” is exactly intended and required by the trigger, and so triggering the move requires having a focused heart-to-heart with the Princess about something that matters. Just moving to stand beside the Princess during a melee and asking whether you should stab Orc One next or slice Orc Two next won't earn a +1 forward for your H&S or XP for the Princess.

A quirk of development history

The move seemed very familiar, so I did some mental digging to figure out what was so familiar about it, and I suddenly realised — it’s almost word-for-word a move from Apocalypse World, the Savvyhead's Oftener Right move.

One of the things often overlooked about Apocalypse World's design is that, integral to its successful move-based design, it has commentary for the MC on each move (including the players'), for how to read and fully understand them all, and execute them well. There are parts of moves that are deliberately up for interpretation, but this commentary exists to ensure that parts of moves aren't interpreted based on mistaken understandings.

The commentary on the Savvyhead's Oftener Right move's trigger is (AW 2e, p. 197, emphasis mine):

“Comes to you for advice” means a whole 2-sided conversation, unhurried and thoughtful, about something relatively significant. Shouting out for advice in the middle of a fight doesn’t count, nor does asking the savvyhead whether to dine upon pigmaggot or screwfish tonight.

And this material from another game matters because the Princess's Speak From the Heart is a functional copy from that game. But being copied from the tried-and-true Savvyhead's move without copying the commentary that ensured it worked correctly has “stranded” it apart from an essential part of the move: the confirmation of what the wording is (too) subtly conveying to the reader of the Princess class. It's open for misunderstanding, and misinterpretation of part of the move that isn't designed to be up for that much interpretation.

So that “unhurried, thoughtful conversation” is what Speak From the Heart's trigger is getting at, and what the move requires for it to not be dysfunctional in exactly the way described in the question. The inherent implication that “Comes to you for advice” carries colloquially, and which has been causing that hesitation, is exactly what the move needs to trigger properly: it has to be in person, unhurried, and thoughtful, just like a real conversation we might decribe as “So-and-so came to me for advice yesterday…”, after the fact.

Yes, this means the move can't be shoehorned into the middle of another conversation, or a fight, or a simple group discussion about whether to go left or right or whether to camp now or later — it’s instead a whole thing/scene/personal moment of its own. Go to the Princess, have a heart-to-heart, and open up about your significant troubles what you need advice with, and you’ll both benefit. And it gives an incentive for planning ahead (because then one might trigger the move by consulting with the Princess), instead of always doing everything by the seat of one's pants in the heat of the moment.

The Princess inspires calm and resolution with many moves, and this move is no different, just more subtle about it than some of the others.

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    \$\begingroup\$ not to mention that shouting questions/answers at each other across a fight is a HUGE telegraph to the enemies: "Should I try to trip him up?" "Yes", enemy backsteps to avoid trip attempt \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 13:57

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