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In Dungeon World, Clerics have a starting move called Turn Undead:

Turn Undead

When you hold your holy symbol aloft and call on your deity for protection, roll+Wis. ✴On a 7+, so long as you continue to pray and brandish your holy symbol, no undead may come within reach of you. ✴On a 10+, you also momentarily daze intelligent undead and cause mindless undead to flee. Aggression breaks the effects and they are able to act as normal. Intelligent undead may still find ways to harry you from afar. They’re clever like that.

Unlike in some (all?) editions of D&D, Dungeon World does not specify a behavior for undead other than being unable to "come within reach of you", unless you roll a 10+ and they are mindless. The trouble happens when a Cleric rolls a 7-9 and then moves toward the undead.

Now, the undead aren't specifically coming within reach of you in this case so does it leave the Cleric vulnerable to the undead's melee attacks? Are they instead pushed out of the circle of protection via some telekinetic force? Note that the 7+ makes no mention of aggression breaking the effects and walking is likely not an aggressive action anyway.

So, what happens when a Cleric moves toward "turned" undead?

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The move doesn't say specifically.

As always when it comes to Dungeon World; start with the fiction. You're brandishing a holy symbol and you're protected by your deity. Undead are scared of the holy energy, which is what's keeping them at bay. A little bit, anyway, because they still want to eat you, they just don't want to touch you right now.

(If you rolled better, the fear would have actually driven them away; now they're kinda just waiting for dinner to cool down.)

Since they want to come close, but they don't want to come within touching range, the most logical thing to happen if you move closer to them is that they'll try to stay just out of reach. But they're not magically driven back; they're just reluctant. So as long as you move slowly enough to give them time, they'll clear a path for you; just barely. If you move too quickly, you'll bump into them. They probably won't bite. Probably. It might also break the spell.

Of course; this is also somewhat dependant on what this effect actually looks like. If your deity's protection takes the form of a glowing magical barrier around you, it might be more reasonable that if you push they'll simply tumble. Doing so might also be considered "aggressive" and break the barrier.

Has the GM asked "This Turn Undead of yours, what does that look like?" yet? That might make it clearer what'd happen in your game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That question is what I (the GM) should have asked. However the player of the Cleric has no exposure to Turn Undead in any other context/game and is also new to roleplaying so that's a little tricky. Also, does "aggressive" apply to all of the effects, or just the stun/fleeing on a 10+? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know, actually. It seems to be part of the 10+ effect based on the layout. I guess it only breaks the "daze / fear" effect, then? Might be a good follow-up question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll ask it as a followup question supposing it isn't answered incidentally in either of my existing questions on this topic. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BlackVegetable wrote "...the player of the Cleric has no exposure to Turn Undead in any other context/game..." Please see this for the huge advantage that it is. They could come up with something so much more original now. Have a conversation and find out what it means. Be a fan of the characters. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2017 at 2:26

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