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Originally by bms42 From Reddit

I have this saved because your first question is so vital to running a good game: My best suggestion to a new DW GM is to remember the triggers that allow you to make moves. They are:

  • When everyone looks to you to find out what happens
  • When the players give you a golden opportunity
  • When they roll a 6-

Note the one they put first: "when everyone looks to you to find out what happens". This happens literally all the time if you're watching for it.

It's vital that you use this to make your combats interesting. If you only do stuff when players roll 6-, your combats will be very stilted and stale. The monsters will seem like patsies, and the players will wonder why everyone said this game was so interesting. Here's an example: in the middle of a combat, the fighter succeeds in triggering hack & slash. He rolls 10+ and announces that he's hit the troll for 9 damage. What do the players around the table do at this point? That's right, they look at the GM to find out what happens. They don't know if 9 damage is going to put the troll down, or if it'll keep fighting. They need this information to take further actions.

So the GM can do one of two things here:

  • "The troll is hurt badly but doesn't go down. What do you do?"
  • "The troll is hurt badly, but not so badly that it can't lunge ferociously at the wizard. Wizard, the troll's mouth is gaping open as it comes in for a feral bite attack. At the same time, you see that the goblin shaman has recognized the danger of this situation and he's starting to cast a spell. What do you do?

If you go with option 1, you are not thinking dangerously. You have a bunch of monsters standing around doing nothing until a player rolls badly enough for them to act. As players gain levels and have +3 on their main stats, this doesn't happen that much. It's vital in DW that the GM follow his principles and Give every monster life as well as Think dangerous. If you don't do this, then you could surround high level players with 50 goblins and they'd happily just mow through them without ever rolling 6- and it would be a cake walk. If you set up more soft moves than they can respond to, then you trigger Golden Opportunities that result in hard moves against them, making the situation very dangerous indeed.

After revisiting this while building the FAQ thread, I just wanted to call out the DW Flow Chart and the fact that it illustrates this "whenever the players look to the GM" trigger.