Some moves say things like, "when resting for at least and hour or so". What is the most reasonable method to assess this?

I understand that the GM can interrupt resting with moves, but how would a GM differentiate a rest for a few moments from a rest for a few hours? Further, how do you determine day/night cycles while not in travel?


4 Answers 4


You have one wrong assumption. The GM cannot "interrupt with a move" in Dungeon World. The GM makes moves in response to player actions or when "everyone looks to [them]". So the players proclaiming that they rest for a few hours is enough to trigger the move.

Any moves the GM makes in response to the triggered move do not interrupt the first. If it is something that could happen without interrupting (like "Show signs of an approaching threat") then no problem, they can happen in the same time frame. If it is something that would interrupt the rest, then it happens late enough in the time period as not to matter that much.

Also, DW is not a simulation, so things like day/night cycles are irrelevant. The GM is expected to follow the players' lead. So if someone says "I go to the tavern after sunset", then time fast forwards there, unless another player wants to do something before.

But also note that things do change if the player's action triggers a move. Then the game twists in the direction as described by the move. And if the triggered move calls for a GM move (default in a 6- roll, a.k.a. miss) then and only then the GM can interrupt what's going on and throw a wrench in there.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There is no move where the players can declare that any amount of time passes. The players cannot declare that "they rest for a few hours". The players can merely "settle in to rest" and thus trigger "Make Camp", which says nothing about how much time passes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slow Dog
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 12:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe it begs some clarification. Time passing is not by the declaration of players. It is merely a consequence of their actions. Just as a few minutes pass when they "run to the mayor's house", a few hours pass when they "take time off in the roadside inn", or weeks pass when they "travel with the caravan". But that's assuming no moves are triggered in the process. If there are dangers to defy in running to the mayor's house, or if the caravan journey is perilous, then moves are triggered and things happen. \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ As depicted in OotS (last two rows) \$\endgroup\$
    – user11450
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Perfect. That clarifies a lot. Thank you for the help! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, the GM can absolutely interrupt the players - if they give the GM a golden opportunity to do it. Trying to make camp in a sea-cave at low tide, or wait until sunset in a city with an orc army outside the gates that could tighten the siege at any time, can easily see the PCs interrupted by a GM move. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 3:06

In Dungeon World, time is fictional, not mechanical; this is in contrast to something like D&D where you have rounds, turns, etc. The GM and players have a conversation about what's going on and part of that conversation can be about the passage of time. Note here that because we're having a fairly open conversation, we don't need to be slaved to the linear passage of time. A player can say "hey, I think I know this guy; is it okay if we go back in time a bit to when I met them in the pub and find out what happened there?" Or, the GM might say, "Since we won't meet for a few weeks, is it cool with you guys if we fast forward to the end of this dungeon and resolve a few things?"

Though this is a bit tangential to the question, there are some cases where it would be nice to have some mechanics to help manage time. For instance, maybe time pressure for some upcoming event is a big part of your current narrative? You can play this out purely within the fiction or you could create some mechanics. For instance, you could shamelessly steal player-facing clocks from Blades in the Dark and use them as a mechanic to enhance tension and remind everyone of the mounting stakes. You're hacking the game at this point, but as long as you proceed with that knowledge in mind, you can have a lot of fun with it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ NB that Blades got countdown clocks from Apocalypse World, the game it and DW are based on. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 16:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie, I think it was Blades that made them public though, correct? I've only played AW once, but my recollection is that (except for the PC Harm clocks), the threat clocks were all hidden. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan Bryant
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I haven't played Blades yet, so I didn't know about that tweak. I see now: you're suggesting Blades clocks because they're player-facing, not a clock in general and then make it player-facing. Gotcha! I did a small edit to reflect that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:08

Ask the characters what they're doing.

When no specific move is being triggered, DW play proceeds as a conversation. The players say what they're doing, the GM says what happens, back and forth. If it's not clear what one side of a conversation means when they say something, ask them for clarification.


The words matter, so I'm to answer the question by addressing an actual Move, "Make Camp".

The players declare they are going to "settle in to rest" (Make Camp's trigger). There is no roll. Thus you decide whether or not they will succeed.

Essentially, you make a move. Quite often the appropriate response to this is the Opportunity (with no cost) for that rest to succeed, and thus some sensible amount of time passes; enough time to sleep, Commune, Level Up. However long the players want.

Other times, you'll have good reason not to let make camp succeed. If there's a monster stalking the party that they don't know about, you'll Reveal the Unwelcome Truth that they aren't safe, and they'll rest just until the monster arrives; not long enough for anything. If they're in an adventure, you can make an adventure move; they settle in long enough to be disturbed the the cavern's periodic Flooding. Or advance a Grim Portent; they're settling in, but hear the screams of the Goblin that's being sacrificed by the vestal maidens.

How long this takes is then purely driven by the fiction. If they sleep the night, then that's how long it is until morning, or whatever the players say. If something that you do interrupts them, then you say.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is also a great answer, I think. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I read nothing in the Make Camp rules that trigger a GM move. So if the players say they settle in for the night then fry bacon & tomatoes for breakfast; suddenly it's morning. No GM move triggered. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 2:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You, the GM, know the Dragon is diving out of the Sun, unseen, towards the Party. The players say "we're going settle in for the night then fry bacon & tomatoes for breakfast". What happens? What happens is when the players say "we're going settle in for the night" is they look to you to see what happens, and you tell them; either fried bacon for the characters, or fried characters for the Dragon \$\endgroup\$
    – Slow Dog
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 9:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would disagree that is them looking to the GM to see what happens. They are telling the GM what they do. No move is triggered. The way you are interpreting the look to you to see what happens rule, almost every sentence a player says triggers that move. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ And the dragon can't dive out of the sky until a move is triggered. It doesn't matter that GM has that idea in mind for the near future. Now, if during the night a wizard thinks back on his schooling to figure out a problem and gets <=6, in comes the dragon, if you want. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 14:56

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