I do understand that it might be important for ranged weapons, as you couldn't throw a dagger as far as shoot an arrow from a bow. However it doesn't seem so important with the melee weapons.

I am wondering is there any actual use of the weapons' range? Are there any published expansions suggesting rules like that?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Aside from a handful of dungeon starters and similar splats, there are no official expansion products for Dungeon World. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 5:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good question; while the answers below are technically correct I find that we ignore melee weapon range something like 95% of the time in practice. Especially because it doesn't work smoothly with monsters trying to get in on your reach, since they can't really roll. I guess in theory if I had a halberd the GM would always make a soft move before an actual hard move attack, but who's got time for that... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk It's all about framing. If you choose to strike, you're giving up the threat of action in favor of actual action, which gives the enemy the opportunity to slip inside your guard. But as long as you know they're coming the Reach should (theoretically) guarantee you the first strike. In other words, if your reach matches your opponents I might move straight to damage. But if your range is farther than your opponents, I should basically have to make the soft move of them trying to get inside the guard first. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 18:32

4 Answers 4


As with everything in Dungeon World, tags exist both as mechanics and as fictional elements. The Range tags exist primarily for this purpose. After all (Dungeon World, pg. 326):

Dungeon World doesn’t inflict penalties or grant bonuses for “optimal range” or the like, but if your weapon says Hand and an enemy is ten yards away, a player would have a hard time justifying using that weapon against him.

So how do the mechanics affect the game? Well imagine the following scenario.

GM: You spot the goblin overhead, just as it begins its dive toward the half-giant you're escorting.

You: My dwarf takes up a defensive stance and intercepts it.

If you have a Reach weapon, such as a halberd, there's probably no problem here. You make your Defend move as normal. But say you're wielding a pair of daggers with a range of Hand. How exactly are you supposed to intercept the goblin over your ally's head? I mean, you could try to climb him but you better do so quickly! (Defy Danger with Dex) This, of course, has a mechanical as well as fictive consequence since you are making more moves, potentially giving the GM more opportunity to act.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ And in the other direction, if that Goblin succesfully jumps on top of your head, that Halberd isn't going to do much good anymore. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 8:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly. Dungeon World is all about creating fiction. The hand tag lets everyone involved know that whatever you want to do with this weapon is going to have to be within certain fictional constraints, unless you want to get really creative (such as throwing it or something like that). All things that can be imagined and fictionally justified are allowed in Dungeon World. That's why the Defy Danger move is so broad. You want to throw your broadsword at an enemy? Go for it. Defy the Danger of missing (or of throwing out your back) with your Strength. Etc. etc. etc. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 18:41

The primary use of range is that it provides a constraint in the fiction of the game.

Dungeon World, Chapter 18: Equipment

Weapons have tags to indicate the range at which they are useful. Dungeon World doesn’t inflict penalties or grant bonuses for “optimal range” or the like, but if your weapon says Hand and an enemy is ten yards away, a player would have a hard time justifying using that weapon against him.

Hand: It’s useful for attacking something within your reach, no further.
Close: It’s useful for attacking something at arm’s reach plus a foot or two.
Reach: It’s useful for attacking something that’s several feet away—maybe as far as ten.
Near: It’s useful for attacking if you can see the whites of their eyes.
Far: It’s useful for attacking something in shouting distance.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is page 326 in my PDF. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 5:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WesleyObenshain Probably an original PDF. The original PDF had pagination that didn't match the print book, and I believe was later revised to match. My original PDF agrees with your number. (Sadly I can't confirm the book's page number, since I've misplaced my copy, much to my dismay.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 5:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie That sucks. To the PoD store! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 5:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WesleyObenshain It really does! On the plus side though, another chance to give Sage and Adam money for their awesome game is good by me, once I give up on finding my copy. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 5:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I replaced the page number. I forgot I was burned by that before. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 14:40

It's just a cue for the discussion that ensues when opponents are using different types of melee weapons. For example, it may be harder to trigger the Hack & Slash move when your opponent is wielding a halberd[reach] and all you have is a dagger[hand]. In such a case, the dagger wielder probably has to do something interesting to get inside the halberdier's guard (Defy Danger, anyone?) and when they do, it becomes the halberdier's problem as they struggle to reel the sharp end in to strike the nimble dagger wielder. Hope you brought a backup weapon.

Another typical case is the environment, as the said halberdier may have a hard time within the confines of a castle or a dense forest, just to make up for their presumed superiority in an open field.

So when someone is trying to Hack & Slash, feel free to ask for more justification, and trigger other moves before (and if) you let it happen (at all).

You could well do all of this without the tags. The tags are there just to give it a bit of semi-official legitimacy, so that rules lawyers and sticklers have one less excuse to drag it out. ;)


Yet another use of the weapon range tags I've found within my group is to indicate whether a character is within attacking distance of something. My example is when character A is under attack by a monster (in melee) and player B is a few feet away. If character B wants to join in and counter-attack the monster, having a halberd makes this much easier than, say, a dagger.

In this case, character B might simply be able to deal her damage to the monster because it wouldn't have time to react to a quick thrust of a halberd while trading blows with character A. If character B had been using a dagger instead, the GM might have stated the monster noticed the rush toward the two of them and backed up enough to defend itself against them both, making the action trigger Hack-and-Slash instead. Or, knowing that it would be a (potentially risky) Hack-and-Slash situation, character B might only threaten to rush into combat range with the monster and simply trigger Aid for character A's next roll.

Additionally, standing in defense of an area would be simpler with a larger weapon (Close range for a battle axe perhaps) than, say, a shiv. The GM might be able to make a soft move to have the monsters move just beyond the reach of the defender and, while taking more time, still begin to pass by the hapless character.


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