Triggers are often fictional actions undertaken by the player characters but they can also be part of character creation or trigger at the beginning or end of a session. Note that a trigger never deals with precise units of time. Time in Dungeon World is a bit fluid, like in a movie where pacing depends on the circumstances. Don’t rely on concrete units either around the table (rounds) or in the fiction (seconds, minutes, days).
Don’t write a move that begins “When you start a round adjacent to a dragon.” There’s no rounds (and adjacent is maybe not the best phrasing, as it sounds removed from the fiction of standing next to a damned fire-breathing dragon). Prepare Spells isn’t “When you spend one hour studying your spellbook” for good reason.
Here are some broad types of triggers:
- When a character takes action. Examples: Discern Realities , Arcane Art (Bard ), Command (Ranger ).
- When a character takes action under specific circumstances. Examples: Hack and Slash , Seeing Red (Fighter ), Backstab (Thief).
- When circumstances dictate, no character action. Examples: Order Hirelings , End of Session .
- When a character uses a thing. Examples: Magic items , Heirloom (Fighter).
- From now until circumstances interfere. Examples: Serenity (Cleric), Poisoner (Thief).