PBTA Dark Night of the Soul Move

Hi folks, this spun out of a recent Dungeon World session. I love moves which really focus on character development. Questions or critiques?

To be used when a character is grappling with an existential crisis or coming to terms with a severely unpleasant situation. Often this move is used late at night, the rest of the world is asleep, while the character is wide awake, tormented.

Describe the emotional state of the character. What are they feeling? What thoughts race through their mind. Where are they? How does the surroundings impact their condition?

State how the character engages their struggle. What aspects do they latch onto? What thoughts or actions give them strength?

Upon daybreak, roll +STAT, the STAT being related to how they engaged their struggle.

  • 10+ - Morning comes and the character feels refreshed and at peace. They have exited the dark night of the soul with a newfound understanding of their situation and life. State how the character now relates to their situation. Furthermore:

    • Remove any mechanical penalties related to the previous struggle
    • +1 ongoing when dealing with the previous struggle
  • 7-9 - Morning comes and the character feels refreshed and at peace. However, this peace comes at the price of some constraint–the character is not fully out of their predicament. Gain a benefit of the 10+ result plus one of the following:

    • The character has doubled-down on some belief or assertion, and whenever that is threatened, their struggle rises anew. The character has some assertion they must continually reinforce or risk plunging back into the dark night of the soul.
    • The character gains -1 ongoing related to any situations which challenge this new assertion.
  • 6- - No peace is found. State how the character’s issues are even more compounded. What new aspect has been introduced? Pick one of the following:

    • Add an additional mechanical disadvantage related to this new aspect
    • -1 ongoing when dealing with the current struggle
    • GM move

This move is inspired by sleepless nights and the concept of The Dark Night of Soul from Roman Catholicism


Very cool! I especially like the 7-9

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I very much like the idea of making existentially-difficult moments a significant thing. It’s hard to explore internal conflict in RPGs, and I’d love to see more of it. This has got me thinking! Thanks for sharing.