23 thoughts on “What advice would you give someone who was running Dungeon World for the first time?”

  1. Run smaller encounters than you think so you have room to put them in a spot. 3-4 goblins may seem like too few until they start gathering their buddies. If you start the volume at 11 there’s no way to turn it up if required by the fiction.

  2. Grab one of tony dowler’s microdungeons or something similar. Flesh it out a bit, be sure to put in at least one noteworthy monster or foe, at least one memorable piece of loot, and at least one new and important piece of information about the world, so they can hit all those XP things at the end of their first session.

    Don’t sweat fronts right away, for now you’re just getting a feel for the rules and GM moves/principles/etc.

    Play hard! Trust the PCs to think their way out of tight spots, and if not, nothing livens up a session like 7-9s on the Last Breath move.

    Ask questions like crazy. Especially if they start describing their actions in terms of moves (“I hack and slash it!”), “Cool, how?” or “Okay, what does that look like?”

  3. Agreed on not pulling punches. I would also pitch it to the players as “Let’s see if we’re all going to die!” and “This is totally desparate and crazy!” to make that possibility clear up front.

  4. “Pay attention to what seems to be becoming the status quo, and break it every chance you get.”

    (I’ve actually got a long post on the way on just that subject…)

  5. Try to make soft move / hard move like a rhythm. Soft moves are your kick drum, hard moves are your snare.

    The stock bonds are plenty awesome but player created bonds are hot!

    Jason Morningstar ‘s Slave Pits adventure is a great taste test, it runs in a couple hours and starts in media res.

  6. “What do you do?” should nearly always be a focused question targeted at one individual, not a generalized question to be answered in committee, i.e. “Ajax, what do you do?” not “So what do you guys do now?”.

    “What do you do?” doesn’t mean “what move do you do?”. There’s no mechanical initiative system, and no requirement that attention focuses on a character until they’ve done exactly one move. Sometimes you’ll keep focus on a player for a few moves in a row, sometimes it will make sense to shift focus even if a player doesn’t trigger a move.

    Follow the rules. It’s not your job to keep “the challenge” too hard or too easy, just play it straight and see what happens. Don’t try to shoehorn mechanics from other games in, e.g. there’s no “roll to declare a fact” mechanic.

    “Never speak the name of your move” is a GM-facing rule, not a player-facing rule. Don’t imply that players shouldn’t talk or think in mechanical terms. It’s fine if players start explaining what they do in terms of what move they want to trigger, just do the “Cool, how?” thing to make sure they contribute the fictional component, too. The mechanics are supposed to guide play to an extent, they’re not distasteful.

  7. A while back I wrote some Dungeon Starters to show one way of prepping for a 1st session.  One got posted to the website but a whole bundle got sent out to the Kickstarter backers.  Consider using one of those…

  8. I’ve used 3 of Marshall’s Dungeon Starters to run one-shots so far, and all have been great.  For me they are the perfect level of inspirational detail without being too constraining.  I added some of Dyson Logos’ maps and had more than enough material to sustain a 4 hour session each time.

  9. Really allow your players authorship of the game world, they’ll think of things you would never think of.

    Ask them the questions and make their answers truth. If you feel iffy about it give the judgement to someone else. Don’t make really important decisions, facilitate the answering of questions. 

    Dungeon World is really about thinking on your toes and making an exciting adventure. You’re only goal is that your players have fun. Relay your themes and just let it happen

    Most Importantly. remember Portray a Fantasy World, no one said it has to be anything. in particular.

  10. The idea I’m having trouble with is:  “THINK FANTASTIC.”  It’s so easy to get mired in the gritty realism around the narrative that you forget this is crazy high fantasy.

    Don’t be afraid to throw out hooks like, “You fire the arrow, but it goes wide … pulled up into the vortex of air displaced by the FLYING CASTLE!” 

    … well, at least within the limits of your narrative.  It’s always more fun with lava or lightning in it. 🙂

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