Changing Some Core Dungeon World Moves

Some of the core moves of Dungeon World need to be changed and tweaked a bit to fit into the 41st Millenium and the Imperium of Man. I’ve made some changes to the moves Discern Realities, End of Session, and Last Breath.

Discern Realities

I hate this move. Which sucks because it’s a really cool move, I’m just not good at using it. Every time a player asks “Who is really in charge here?” or “What here is not what it appears to be?” I groan. I know I’m going to struggle to think of something interesting to give as answer and the game will stall. Often times the answer is just “nothing” which is also kind of boring.

There are two changes I want to try that will hopefully make this move easier for me to use. The first thing is something I’ve taken from the game The Sprawl by Hamish Cameron of Ardens Ludere. The Sprawl is a Powered by the Apocalypse cyberpunk game with a move called Assess that is very similar to Discern Realities. The big difference here is that instead of immediately asking questions upon rolling, you instead gain hold. You can then spend that hold as you move throughout the area you inspected or advance through the situation you scanned to ask your questions. I like this change of using hold as it gives me as a GM more time to think of answers and keeps the game flowing a bit more.

The second thing I’d like to do to Discern Realities is change the list of questions. Below I’ve listed the Dungeon World questions and crossed out the ones I want to remove, and bolded the ones I want to add:

  • What happened here recently?
  • What is about to happen?
  • What should I be on the lookout for?
  • What here is useful or valuable to me?
  • Who’s really in control here?
  • What here is not what it appears to be?
  • New: What almost escaped my notice?

I got rid of “What is about to happen?” because I think “What should I be on the lookout for?” serves the same purpose.

I changed “What here is not what it appears to be?” to “What almost escaped my notice?” I like this change because it’s less of a loaded question. It doesn’t have to be something that is trying to hide what it is, but it still could be. Here’s the Heresy World version of the move:

Discern Realities
When you closely study a situation or person, roll+Wis. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9 hold 1. As the situation unfolds or as you interact with the person, spend hold to ask the GM questions from the list below.

Either way, take +1 forward when acting on the answers.

  • What happened here recently?
  • What should I be on the lookout for?
  • What here is useful or valuable to me?
  • What nearly escaped my notice?

End of Session

The main issue I have with End of Session special move was the questions the party is asked in order to mark XP. In Dungeon World those questions are:

Did we learn something new and important about the world?
Did we overcome a notable monster or enemy?
Did we loot a memorable treasure?

These need to be retooled to fit into the WH40K universe. The setting of Heresy World spans farther than just “the world,” it spans the entire galaxy. “Monsters” as a term fits much more into the fantasy genre of Dungeon World so I’ve removed that word. The same goes for the words “loot” and “treasure.”  My new list of questions is:

Did we learn something new and important?
Did we overcome a notable enemy?
Did we acquire a notable artifact that will be valuable to the Inquisition?

The general goals for marking XP off of these questions is the same, but I think these questions fit the setting better.

Last Breath

The main thing that needs to be changed about this move is removing the character or personification of Death. If anyone is going to appear before you as you stand at death’s door it would be an Imperial Saint, and in the rarest of circumstances perhaps even the God-Emperor himself. Much more likely you’ll just be in incredible pain and fight through it with sheer grit or your faith in the Emperor. The original Dungeon World moves reads as follows:

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—yeah, Death doesn’t care how tough or cool you are). 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.

My first change to this move will be pure fluff, and remove references to Death, Black Gates, and Death’s Kingdom. It’s possible you’ll be visited by the visage of an Imperial Saint, or feel the holy light of the Emperor fill you, or have the world go dark. That fluff I’ll leave to the GM.

The second thing I will be changing is the 7-9 result. Instead of being offered a deal from Death itself, you’ll instead receive a permanent physical disfigurement. For simplicity’s sake the first version of this move will reduce one of the player’s stats by 1 permanently. While this isn’t as cool making a deal with Death, I think it works quite well mechanically. An important thing to keep it from being just a numbers thing is that the player must describe the physical or mental toll the they take, and the GM chooses the relevant stat to reduce.

I original thought that the permanent effects of cheating death would be a good temporary home for the permanent mental disorders I discussed in the Insanity move I ended up scrapping. This proved to be too much for my first run at this move, so I haven’t added them.

When you’re dying you see the darkness cloud your vision as you drift into death. Describe what thoughts or prayers spur you on and roll (don’t add any stat modifiers).
On a 10+ you’ve defied the odds, and barely cling to life.
On a 7-9 you live, but your brush with death takes its toll. Describe the lasting effects your body or mind take and the GM will tell you which of your stat scores you must reduce permanently by 1.
On a 6-, you join the seemingly endless stream of souls to have been lost under the rule of the Imperium.

As always I’ll be testing these new changes with my groups and putting my findings into later posts using the notes I take.

These changes can be seen in these commits: Discern Realities, End of Session, and Last Breath.

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