Special moves are moves that come up less often or in more specific situations. They’re still the basis of what characters do in Dungeon World— particularly what they do between dungeon crawls and high-flying adventures.
When you’re dying you catch a glimpse of what lies beyond the Black Gates of Death’s Kingdom (the GM will describe it). Then roll (just roll+nothing)
- On a 10+, you’ve cheated Death—you’re in a bad spot but you’re still alive.
- On a 7–9, Death himself will offer you a bargain. Take it and stabilize or refuse and pass beyond the Black Gates into whatever fate awaits you.
- On 6-, your fate is sealed. You’re marked as Death’s own and you’ll cross the threshold soon. The GM will tell you when.
The Last Breath is that moment standing between life and death. Time stands still as Death appears to claim the living for his own. Even those who do not pass beyond the Black Gates catch a glimpse of the other side and what might await them—friends and enemies past, rewards or punishment for acts in life or other, stranger vistas. All are changed in some way by this moment—even those who escape.
There are three outcomes to this move. On a 10+, the Character has cheated Death in some meaningful way. He’s escaped with something that, by rights, isn’t his anymore. Death is powerless to stop this, but he remembers this slight. On a 7–9, the GM should offer a real choice with significant consequence. Think about the behaviors of the character and the things you’ve learned about him in play. Death knows and sees all and tailors his bargains accordingly. This is a trade, remember. Offer something that will be a challenge to play out but will lead the game in fun new direction. On a miss, death is inevitable. The most obvious approach is to say “Death takes you across the threshold, into his bleak kingdom.” and move on. However, sometimes Death comes slowly. You might say “you have a week to live” or “you can feel the cold hand of Death on you…” and leave it at that, for now. The player may want to give in and accept death at this point—that’s okay. Let them create a new character as normal. The key thing to remember is that a brush with death, succeed or fail, is a significant moment that should always lead to change.
When you make a move while carrying weight you may be encumbered. If your weight carried is:
- Equal to or less than your load, you suffer no penalty
Less than or equal to your load+2, you take -1 ongoing until you lighten your burden
Greater than your load+2, you have a choice: drop at least 1 weight and roll at -1, or automatically fail
A PC’s load stat is determined by their class and Str. Being able to haul more is a clear benefit when trying to carry treasure out of a dungeon or just making sure you can bring along what you need.
This move only applies to things a person could walk around with and still act. Carrying a boulder on your back is not encumbrance—you can’t really act or move much with it. It affects what moves you can make appropriately in the fiction.
When you settle in to rest consume a ration. If you’re somewhere dangerous decide the watch order as well. If you have enough XP you may level up. When you wake from at least a few uninterrupted hours of sleep heal damage equal to half your max HP.
You usually make camp so that you can do other things, like prepare spells or commune with your god. Or, you know, sleep soundly at night. Whenever you stop to catch your breath for more than an hour or so, you’ve probably made camp.
Staying a night in an inn or house is making camp, too. Regain your hit points as usual, but only mark off a ration if you’re eating from the food you carry, not paying for a meal or receiving hospitality.
When you’re on watch and something approaches the camp roll+Wis.
- On a 10+, you’re able to wake the camp and prepare a response, everyone in the camp takes +1 forward.
- On a 7–9, you react just a moment too late; your companions in camp are awake but haven’t had time to prepare. They have weapons and armor but little else.
- On a miss, whatever lurks outside the campfire’s light has the drop on you.
Undertake a Perilous Journey
When you travel through hostile territory, choose one member of the party to act as trailblazer, one to scout ahead, and one to be quartermaster. Each character with a job to do rolls+Wis.
- On a 10+:the quartermaster reduces the number of rations required by one the trailblazer reduces the amount of time it takes to reach your destination (the GM will say by how much) the scout will spot any trouble quick enough to let you get the drop on it
- On a 7–9, each role performs their job as expected: the normal number of rations are consumed, the journey takes about as long as expected, no one gets the drop on you but you don’t get the drop on them either. You can’t assign more than one job to a character. If you don’t have enough party members, or choose not to assign a job, treat that job as if it had been assigned and the responsible player had rolled a 6.
Distances in Dungeon World are measured in rations. A ration is the amount of supplies used up in a day. Journeys take more rations when they are long or when travel is slow.
A perilous journey is the whole way between two locations. You don’t roll for one day’s journey and then make camp only to roll for the next day’s journey, too. Make one roll for the entire trip.
This move only applies when you know where you’re going. Setting off to explore is not a perilous journey. It’s wandering around looking for cool things to discover. Use up rations as you camp and the GM will give you details about the world as you discover them.
End of Session
When you reach the end of a session, choose one of your bonds that you feel is resolved (completely explored, no longer relevant, or otherwise). Ask the player of the character you have the bond with if they agree. If they do, mark XP and write a new bond with whomever you wish.
Once bonds have been updated look at your alignment . If you fulfilled that alignment at least once this session, mark XP. Then answer these three questions as a group:
Did we learn something new and important about the world? Did we overcome a notable monster or enemy? Did we loot a memorable treasure? For each “yes” answer everyone marks XP. Level Up When you have downtime (hours or days) and XP equal to (or greater than) your current level+7, you can reflect on your experiences and hone your skills.
Subtract your current level+7 from your XP. Increase your level by 1. Choose a new advanced move from your class. If you are the wizard, you also get to add a new spell to your spellbook. Choose one of your stats and increase it by 1 (this may change your modifier). Changing your Constitution increases your maximum and current HP. Ability scores can’t go higher than 18.
When you return triumphant and throw a big party, spend 100 coins and roll +1 for every extra 100 coins spent.
- On a 10+, choose 3.
- On a 7–9, choose 1.
- On a miss, you still choose one, but things get really out of hand (the GM will say how).
- You befriend a useful NPC.
- You hear rumors of an opportunity.
- You gain useful information.
- You are not entangled, ensorcelled, or tricked.
You can only carouse when you return triumphant. That’s what draws the crowd of revelers to surround adventurers as they celebrate their latest haul. If you don’t proclaim your success or your failure, then who would want to party with you anyway?
When you go to buy something with gold on hand, if it’s something readily available in the settlement you’re in, you can buy it at market price. If it’s something special, beyond what’s usually available here, or non-mundane, roll+Cha
- On a 10+, you find what you’re looking for at a fair price.
- On a 7–9, you’ll have to pay more or settle for something that’s not exactly what you wanted, but close. The GM will tell you what your options are.
When you do nothing but rest in comfort and safety after a day of rest you recover all your HP. After three days of rest you remove one debility of your choice. If you’re under the care of a healer (magical or otherwise) you heal a debility for every two days of rest instead.
When you put out word that you’re looking to hire help, roll:
- +1 if you make it known that your pay is generous
- +1 if you make it known what you’re setting out to do
- +1 if you make it known that they’ll get a share of whatever you find
- +1 if you have a useful reputation around these parts
- On a 10+, you’ve got your pick of a number of skilled applicants, your choice who you hire, no penalty for not taking them along.
- On a 7–9, you’ll have to settle for someone close to what you want or turn them away.
- On a miss someone influential and ill-suited declares they’d like to come along (a foolhardy youth, a loose-cannon, or a veiled enemy, for example), bring them and take the consequences or turn them away. If you turn away applicants you take -1 forward to recruit.
When you return to a civilized place in which you’ve caused trouble before, roll+Cha.
- On a 10+, word has spread of your deeds and everyone recognizes you.
- On a 7–9, as above, and the GM chooses a complication:
- The local constabulary has a warrant out for your arrest.
- Someone has put a price on your head.
- Someone important to you has been put in a bad spot as a result of your actions.
This move is only for places where you’ve caused trouble, not every patch of civilization you enter. Being publicly caught up in someone else’s trouble still triggers this move.
Civilization generally means the villages, towns and cities of humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings but it can also apply to any relatively lawful establishment of monstrous species, such as orcs or goblins. If the PCs have stayed in a place as part of the community, it counts as civilization.
When you spend your leisure time in study, meditation, or hard practice, you gain preparation. If you prepare for a week or more, take 1 preparation. If you prepare for a month or longer, take 3 instead. When your preparation pays off spend 1 preparation for +1 to any roll. You can only spend one preparation per roll.