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The Defend move in Dungeon World is triggered when "you stand in defense of a person, item, or location" (emphasis mine). While our party was under attack by a gang of imps, our Cleric asked if he could defend two nearby members of the party. He read the move as being able to defend the location - being the room we were in, as being able to defend the party members in the room, where I read defending a location more like "Defend this doorway so no one can enter the room." I believe that part of the pressure of the move is choosing the one target to defend, but I fully admit that I could be interpreting this in an overly strict sense - so I would like to know whether or not a character taking the Defend move is able to defend multiple targets.

Somewhat related - but deals with Hack & Slash: Attacking multiple targets in DW

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Begin and end with the fiction.

Don't ask what you can do with Defend, ask what Defend can do for you! Remember, the player shouldn't say that they're using the Defend move. Rather, they should say what they're doing, and you should say what move it applies to and with what details. If the player can somehow describe a way in which they defend the entire room (perhaps via some sort of SWAT-style system of covering the area tactically), then they do it. The scope of the move's strength is variable based on the player's explanation and your ruling of it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Agreed. Defend is an easy ability to ignore; getting players to use it with broad scope is likely a win. \$\endgroup\$ – BlackVegetable Feb 17 '17 at 15:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't disagree with your answer, however the GM is not a rules arbiter in the same way they are in other RPGs. Pg. 18: "Everyone at the table should listen for when moves apply. If it’s ever unclear if a move has been triggered, everyone should work together to clarify what’s happening. Ask questions of everyone involved until everyone sees the situation the same way and then roll the dice, or don’t, as the situation requires." \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain Feb 18 '17 at 4:14

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