Dungeon World - Spout Lore Retry?

As a GM I might be talking about a piece of history and the player would like to chip in and/or reveal extra information by spouting about it. If they fail with a roll of <6, I was wondering what the etiquette or general feelings are from GM’s on letting another player then ask the question again and spout lore themselves. I appreciate the second player may ask in a different way or perhaps propose that a link or connection their character has could have provided them with the insight, so it may feel appropriate.

Here is an example of something I might build into some fiction in my current game:

Kicking through the sewer you notice a scarred bloated corpse floating down the main channel, its about to go past you in in the stinking stream of effluent (assuming they make move to fish the body out or stop it or just discern something about it).

I then explain the corpse has black scars along the stomach and chest and protruding from them and the ears and mouth are green slivers of crystal with odd black raised bumps, as if they have come out of body. As a GM I am sort of expecting them to spout some lore about this topic.

One player starts the spout lore move on the subject of crystals and fails on <6. I might then say the body slips away downstream or a swarm of rats climb onto it like a raft obscuring it or they make a mistake and are sure its zombies that have crystals growing out of them instead of a true fact, or it wakes up, screams and attacks them, or they slip in and under the sewage when they fail the spout lore move etc etc. However I still wonder if a second player did then decide to also take a spout lore move on the subject of the odd crystals on the body and succeeds on the roll, should I consider this fair play that they are adding and give them the clue I denied the first player. It does kind of improve the odds of finding an appropriate clue if I allow another attempt (if the player makes an effort to describe why or how they might know).

Its the kind of thing I would do to keep the fiction growing and the plot moving on, however I am keen to know what other GM’s might consider fair in this respect and what their experiences are?


I have learned that even though “say what honesty demands” is not explicit in DW, it’s still a good idea. So I never give them “false facts”, myself. Instead, I change the fiction in some way: as you suggested, the body may slip away, or they fall into the sewage.

If the next character is standing around trying to think about things rather than reacting to that, then maybe that’s a golden opportunity for you. Because there’s no such thing as “nothing happens” on a roll, it’s not quite like other games where it’s kinda cheap just to have everyone try to do a thing until someone succeeds.


If a Spout Lore-style move has been semi-necessary to moving the story forward, then I usually use a 6- as an opportunity to reveal a really horrible truth. I wouldn’t deny essential clues, but rather decide that the 6- means there are no more clues to be gained here (beyond what they need to move forward), and that the truth they learned is much worse than expected.

Move up the timetable, or increase the power of the villain, or, heck, make the crystalline stuff contagious so that whoever inspected the body contracted it.


First, if you haven’t already, read Suddenly Ogres.

Usually, on a miss, you want to make a move that changes the situation to an extent that another Spout Lore isn’t really relevant or appropriate anymore. You suggest some good ways to do that in your post: having it attack them, or they slip and find themselves in danger, or the evidence and opportunity to study it goes away.

After things calm down, if the players are still interested in Spouting Lore about the topic, there’s no real reason they can’t Spout Lore again (or why someone else couldn’t). But they’re risking another snowball on a 6-.

You could also just outright tell them “nah, you already rolled for that. You don’t have enough data, you’ll need to learn more before trying to Spout Lore again.” Or give them some info… “yeah, after having fought that thing, you recognize it as a __.”


Like technoscad points out, this should not be an issue often in Dungeon World because you are playing to find out what happens. In this case, a 6- could tell them that the cause of the crystals is far worse than the players (or even you as DM) had expected.

Or, they could discover what you have planned BUT that they also just realize they stumbled into a den of creatures that covet and kill for these crystals. Because a 6- is not just spot lore any more but also an MC move. The first case is an example of Reveal an unwelcome truth. In the second case, Put them in a spot is the move.

Edited for clarity


If someone tries something and fails, i usually let one other person assist or have a go themselves.

I do not let everyone have a go, it often makes the stakes/value pointless. Have a go then move on, try some alternative actions or story threads, keep the story going.

Podcast Thatdndpodcast - have a rule that for failed spout lore/discern realities the GM will make up some falsehoods, and if the player acts on it they get 1 exp, knowing it will likely get them into trouble.

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So they get 2 xp on the roll? That seems excessive to me.

they get 1 exp for the failed roll. if they later act upon the information they 1 exp, but at that point the information has led you into a dangerous situation, possibly with former enemies/neglected plot threads

this was in part because after a few levels failed rolls were less common so leveling was slower anyway

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I think this makes from a mechanically POV the most sense to me:
Anyone spouting lore / the GM should ask (the others) for aid or interfere if he has doubts about the outcome. If the result was no success there is no need for repetition because everybody did everything they could. This makes more sense to me than say in DnD where you roll history checks and AFAIR there is no collaborative check.

Of course you could handle a 6- as a disturbance of the process and later come back but I find that like a bit of cheating.

Last but not least: I would use spouting lore only as a supporting move to gain additional knowledge but never essential knowledge of something.


Everything the others said.

In addition, there are situations in which I wouldn’t allow a second try on the basis that the first PC to make the attempt was supposed to be the most, if not the only one, knowledgeable on the subject. And if they don’t know…

Of course this depends a lot on the subject, the fictional positioning and the setting. If the subject is the name of the king’s illegitimate baby, anybody who could have heard a rumor from the castle might spout lore. If instead the Wizard already failed to spout lore on the nature of the arcane guardian that protects the tomb of the Founder of the Wizard Order…


Of course all of the above is excellent and I definitely second reading the Suddenly Ogres resource.

However, since Spout Lore is a knowledge roll, I would also suggest lying to the characters – this may seem like it goes against the “say what honesty demands” dictate, but people and especially their memories are very fallible!
On a 6-, maybe the character confuses a rumor with truth or misdiagnoses, but does it with full confidence that they are correct.
This is especially good dramatic irony, since you can be fully honest with the player that, whatever this knowledge is, it’s untrue, but their character thinks it’s correct.


@darren- Instead of your method, I enjoy to twist it this and ask the player what the lore is. Then, I confirm that whatever is said,is what the character believes but that there is no evidence it is true. This also me to keep honest and keep the player in character :stuck_out_tongue:


I think it’s also useful to think about what the consequences of failure are before the roll. If it’s just that the corpse floats away then I would argue that’s not worth a roll. Either just outright tell them what the crystals are or raise the stakes of failure. There should always be some immediate danger of some kind or other on a failed SL.